Carnival targets UK in £500m cruise ship plan

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Carnival Corporation, the US cruise ship giant that acquired P&O Princess last year, is to spend £500m on new cruise ships to lure UK holidaymakers on to its "floating Americas".

The move, which is aimed at attracting a new swathe of British customers, will boost the group's capacity in the UK market by around 10 per cent next year.

Peter Ratcliffe, a Carnival executive director who runs P&O Princess Cruises, said: "If we can attract [holidaymakers] on to our resorts rather than landstyle resorts, we believe we can grow the UK market."

Carnival yesterday said it planned to re-deploy three ships from its US cruise brands to serve the UK market. It also unveiled plans to build one new "superliner" - the Queen Victoria - for its luxury Cunard brand in an attempt to capitalise on the success it has had with the Queen Mary 2, which took to the seas earlier this year.

The new ship, which is expected to be ready by January 2007, will cost €390m (£260m).

Like the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2, cruises on the Queen Victoria will be marketed both to British and US passengers.

P&O Cruises, Carnival's British-based brand, will take delivery of a new ship, the Arcadia, that was originally meant for Cunard.

The Arcadia will cost £225m to build and will be ready by next April.

Mr Ratcliffe hopes the "informal" American style of some of the US ships that are being transferred to the British market will attract some of those holidaymakers that currently prefer Florida and the Caribbean to the thought of taking a cruise. "The merger has made all this possible because we now have the flexibility of our ships and our brands," he added.