Cruise Analyst: Carnival Corp. Likely to Order Two New Ships by August

princess cruises
Which Carnival brand will possibly get new ships for 2017? A UBS analyst cites Princess (Island Princess shown here in Ketchikan, AK) as one possibility.

Cruise industry analyst Robin Farley of UBS Investment Research ( expects Carnival Corporation (CCL) to order one to two ships for its brands by August. Farley told investors by e-mail today that the world’s largest cruise company has nothing on order for 2017 and the window will soon close on deliveries in that time frame.

As a result, “we believe Carnival could order two ships this summer for 2017 delivery, since the company currently has no ships on order past 2016,” she said. “We see almost no chance of them ordering more than the two to three ships per year to which they have limited themselves, and, in fact, for 2017 a one-ship year could be more likely than a three-ship year. We think any 2017 delivery would have to be ordered by this August.”

Farley estimated the cost to Carnival Corporation of two new ships for 2017 delivery at about $1.4 to $1.7 billion. That said, the cruise company has made no announcements yet about its firm plans for 2017 ship orders.

The industry already knows about firm orders from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) for 2017, “so there would be little chance of any other cruise capacity coming in the industry that we don't already know about today," Farley said, noting that even the potential Virgin cruise start-up would be extremely unlikely to order for 2017.

RELATED: MSC Cruises Orders Two New Ships From Fincantieri for $2.8 Billion

costa cruises
Costa is one line that Farley says possibly could get a new ship order. Here is Costa Luminosa at PortMiami.

So if Carnival Corp. does order more ships, which brand will they sail for starting in 2017? “Holland America already has a 2016 delivery and P&O will have had one in 2015, and those are not brands that need a new ship every year,” Farley noted. She also said the Carnival Cruise Lines brand will just have taken delivery in Dec 2016 of a new prototype, so she wouldn't expect a 2017 delivery for that brand either.

Farley said the German cruise brand AIDA will be coming through a period of nine new ships in a 10-yr period, “so also not likely to get another in 2017.” Seabourn Cruise Line also has a 2016 delivery planned.

She told investors there are two brands with good potential for a new delivery: “The Princess brand will not have had a delivery for three years by then and Costa will have gone almost three years without a delivery by that point and could be sending more ships to China in the meantime.”

But she also said an advantage for Carnival Corp. is that with 10 brands, it can order a “platform” of vessels, which could be used for more than one brand. The company then would not have to specify the brand until closer to delivery.

“So we wouldn't be surprised to see an unspecified order,” said Farley. “We believe CCL could be looking at a common platform that is used for new ship orders across four to five of CCL's 10 brands." So from a cost saving perspective, the company could put in a two-ship order at a shipyard and then use that order for one ship apiece for two different brands.