CARNIVAL Corporation is to rationalise its Australasian and South Pacific operations by folding the P&O Cruises Australia brand into Carnival Cruise Line.

The change will take effect from March next year and will see Pacific Adventure and Pacific Encounter transfer to the CCL identity as Carnival Adventure and Carnival Encounter, while the 1997-built Pacific Explorer will be retired.

Carnival describes the move as “a strategic shift to further leverage its scale and strengthen its performance in Australia and the South Pacific”.  Current itineraries will operate business as usual, and guests will be notified in the coming days of any changes to future bookings as a result of this announcement, Carnival said. 

According to Josh Weinstein, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc, the company remains committed to Australia and the South Pacific. With Carnival Cruise Line’s four ships in the market, including three year-round ships – Sydney-based Carnival Splendor and Carnival Adventure, and Brisbane based Carnival Encounter – as well as Carnival Luminosa sailing seasonally from Brisbane, the company will have seven cruise lines sailing 19 ships calling on 78 destinations and representing almost 60% of the market in 2025, by far the largest cruise operator in the region.

“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,” Mr Weinstein said. “However, given the strategic reality of the South Pacific’s small population and significantly higher operating and regulatory costs, we’re adjusting our approach to give us the efficiencies we need to continue delivering an incredible cruise experience year-round to our guests in the region.” 

CCL president Christine Duffy said there are plans for some technology upgrades and other small changes to the 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”.

Carnival also announced that long-standing company executive Peter Little will continue to lead the team in Australia as country manager, reporting to Ms Duffy.

“In making this important announcement we recognise that P&O Cruises Australia is much loved across the region, having been dedicated to local operations for over 90 years, delighting guests and being welcomed by destinations across the region. We value the pride our P&O Cruises guests, employees, travel partners, public officials and destinations have in our company, and we will find ways to celebrate and honour P&O Cruises Australia in the coming months,” Mr Weinstein said.