Carnival drops two Long Beach-based cruise ships; plans to add additional ship in 2021

The Carnival Corporation has dropped two older cruise ships from its Long Beach hub, but will add a new ship in April next year, the company confirmed Friday.

For years, Long Beach had been a hub for three Carnival ships—Splendor (2008); Imagination (1995); and Inspiration (1996).

The company confirmed that it has sold Inspiration and has placed Imagination in long-term lay-up. The Splendor was moved to the Philippines earlier this year.

But the city will become the home of another Carnival ship, the 3,000-passenger Radiance, in April. The Radiance recently underwent a $200 million refit and upgrade and will redeploy to Long Beach from Europe.

The news comes as the world’s largest cruise line recorded $4.4 billion in quarterly losses and extended its cruise cancellations through Sept. 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The canceled cruises mean a significant loss for the city of Long Beach, which collects $3 for each passenger.

The cruise line recently increased the number of aging ships it was selling from six to 13.

Last year, the city had anticipated a significant boost in passenger fees from the new Panorama, which came online in December and can accommodate more than 4,000 passengers. The Panorama was expected to log about 1.5 million passenger movements for 2020, before the pandemic hit.

City leaders are now dipping into Tidelands funds to offset shortfalls in passenger fees for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1.  

The Panorama and the Radiance combined will carry roughly 7,000 passengers, about the same total as the three older cruise ships—Splendor, Imagination and Inspiration—when they were based together in Long Beach.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported the Radiance recently underwent a $200 refit and upgrade. The correct figure is $200 million. The story has been updated. 

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].