Carnival Is Taking Over an Entire Cruise Line to Grow Even Larger

Following the pandemic, Carnival Cruise Line has gone on an unprecedented run of growth. Since 2019 the flagship brand of Carnival Corporation has increased its capacity by roughly 25%, thanks to newbuilds like Celebration and Jubilee and the transfer of ships from its sister-line Costa (Carnival Venezia and Firenze).

Now Carnival is adding even more to its fleet. The line announced that in March 2025, P&O Cruises Australia will close and its ships will then sail as part of Carnival Cruise Line.

Carnival Radiance funnel
Carnival Cruise Line will take over two ships from the P&O Cruises Australia brand, increasing the brand’s presence “Down Under.” A third P&O ship will leave the fleet.

According to the company, this is to “strategically align” its portfolio of cruise lines and ships. The P&O Australia fleet is relatively small — just three ships — and with Carnival Cruise Line already sailing Australia, it would make sense to combine the two different lines into one.

“P&O Cruises Australia is a storied brand with an amazing team, and we are extremely proud of everything we have accomplished together in Australia and the broader region,” said Josh Weinstein, chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation. “However, given the strategic reality of the South Pacific’s small population and significantly higher operating and regulatory costs, we’re adjusting our approach…” 

Two of the three P&O ships — Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure — will join Carnival. Its third ship, Pacific Explorer, will leave the fleet.

Carnival has already sailed Australia for more than a decade and currently has two ships (Carnival Luminosa and Splendor) sailing from Sydney and Brisbane. This move will double the brand’s fleet to four ships in the area.

Encounter and Adventure are sister ships that were built in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Both previously sailed under the Princess brand (another sister line in Carnival Corporation) until 2021 before joining P&O Cruises Australia. They are roughly 110,000 gross tons, carrying about 2,600 passengers in the current configuration.

Don’t expect a ton of changes to the ships before they join the Carnival brand.

“While we plan to make some technology upgrades and other small changes to the two P&O Cruises Australia ships, they will continue to be geared to the unique Australian market with a familiar feel and much of the same experiences for P&O Cruises Australia guests,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Duffy said the “most notable change” will be the addition of Carnival’s app to the sailing experience. Passengers will also be able to join Carnival’s loyalty program (VIFP Club).

What about the famous Carnival “whale tail” funnel? It wouldn’t be unprecedented for the newly added ships to not have them. In fact, recent additions like Carnival Venezia and Luminosa (from Costa) have a simple funnel design, instead of the winged version that’s a signature of Carnival Cruise Line.

Following the addition of Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure — as well as upcoming newbuilds in 2027 and 2028 — the Carnival brand will have grown approximately 50% between 2019 and 2028 says the company.

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