Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu July 14 2016

Who Owns and Operates What in the Cruise Industry?

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Jason Leppert | July 14, 2016

Who Owns and Operates What in the Cruise Industry?

 Photo courtesy of Carnival Corporation 

As much as it surprises people to discover that Lamborghini is owned by Volkswagen and Ferrari was once predominantly owned by Fiat in the auto industry, which corporations control and operate specific cruise lines and brands is also rather fascinating. Besides a handful of independent cruise companies, the bulk of brands are owned by four corporations. Here’s how it all breaks down with a primary focus on U.S.-centric oceangoing cruise lines.

Carnival Corporation

The biggest single company on the list is Carnival Corporation, which collectively deploys over a hundred ships across ten cruise lines. As one would accurately surmise, the ubiquitous Carnival Cruise Line, with 25 ships alone, is the top brand, and the latest brand is Fathom, now deploying the Adonia, (technically still operated by P&O Cruises), to the Dominican Republic and historically to Cuba.

To help differentiate its other brands, their distinctive personalities and individual source markets, the remaining eight are collected under separate groups. The Holland America Group, for instance, heads Holland America Line, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line. This just goes to show, as with cars, a luxury brand like Seabourn is, in fact, owned by what began as a singular standard line in Carnival.

Additional foreign market cruise brands are then handled by Carnival UK and the Costa Group. Carnival UK is the British umbrella over P&O Cruises and Cunard Line, which also has a large American client base. Meanwhile, Costa Group oversees AIDA Cruises, which targets German travelers, and Costa Cruises, which mostly focuses on Italian cruisers.

 READ MORE: Carnival Corporation Airs First Super Bowl Ad 

Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is next, with three Carnival Corp. competitors: Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. The Royal Caribbean International standard line, of course, was the first and is the namesake of the corporation. Much as Carnival built up its portfolio, Royal Caribbean acquired once independent Celebrity Cruises (its premium line) and spun Azamara Club Cruises (its upscale line) off from it.

The parent company also has stakes in CDF Croisieres de France (French market), Pullmantur Cruises (Spanish market) and TUI Cruises (German market). A good portion of these fleets are actually comprised of former Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships: Monarch of the Seas and Sovereign of the Seas now of Pullmantur, the Celebrity Galaxy and Celebrity Mercury now of TUI Cruises and Celebrity’s Horizon and Zenith now of CDF.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Limited

Probably the most confusing of the bunch is Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. which at its simplest, operates Norwegian Cruise Line (its standard line), Oceania Cruises (its upscale line) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises (its luxury line).

In the recent past, Norwegian Cruise Line was 50 percent held by Star Cruises (part of the larger Genting Group) and 50 percent by Apollo Management, which itself wholly controlled Prestige Cruise Holdings and the Oceania and Regent brands under it. Later, Norwegian Cruise Line purchased Prestige Cruise Holdings, thus creating Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which now includes Apollo and Genting as shareholders.

 READ MORE: It’s Official: Norwegian to Buy Oceania, Regent 

Genting Hong Kong

The history of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is interesting in how it relates to Genting Hong Kong (also part of the Genting Group) which owns Dream Cruises, aforementioned Star Cruises and most recently the luxury line Crystal Cruises and its growing abundance of new subsidiaries. This means luxury competitors Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are now technically related corporately. Nonetheless, they still develop products and operate them independently.

The Independents

Speaking of independents, that only leaves those lines that may be owned by a larger corporation but are not affiliated with any other cruise brands. These include Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Star Clippers, Viking Cruises and Windstar Cruises, which was formerly owned by Carnival Corp. That essentially makes MSC the only independent brand in the mainstream standard market, Disney the only in the premium category, Viking for upscale and just Silversea for luxury.


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