Carnival Cruise Lines is founded by entrepreneur Ted Arison as part of a subsidiary of Boston-based American International Travel Service (AITS). The company’s first cruise ship, the TSS Mardi Gras, runs aground on a sandbar during its inaugural voyage.
Arison purchases Carnival for $1 and the assumption of AITS’ $5 million in debt.
- After growing steadily through the acquisition of existing tonnage, Carnival stuns the cruise industry with its plans to build the Tropicale, which entered service in 1982 and fueled an industry-wide shipbuilding boom.
Carnival completes an initial public offering of 20 percent of its common stock, generating approximately $400 million. This influx of capital allowed the company to begin expanding through acquisition.
Carnival purchases premium cruise operator Holland America Line, niche operator Windstar Cruises, Westours (now called Holland America Tours), a leading tour operator in Alaska and the Canadian Rockies.
Carnival purchases a 25 percent stake in ultra-luxury Seabourn Cruise Line, which at the time consisted of two 208-passenger all-suite vessels. Carnival’s ownership in Seabourn increased to 50 percent in 1996 and the company assumed full ownership 1999.
The company changes the name of its parent company to Carnival Corporation to distinguish between it and its flagship cruise line.
Carnival acquires 50 percent of Costa Cruises, Europe’s leading cruise company and takes 100 percent ownership of the Italian cruise operator three years later.
Carnival acquires a 68 percent stake in the venerable Cunard Line, operator of the famed Queen Elizabeth 2 (Carnival purchases the remaining 32 percent share of Cunard in 1999 and simultaneously takes 100 percent control of Seabourn).
A combination of Carnival Corporation and P&O Princess Cruises – comprised of Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, AIDA, P&O Cruises Australia, and tour operator Princess Tours – is completed, creating the first global cruise company.
Carnival Corporation & plc announced on June 25 its plan to split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer, effective July 3, 2013. Micky Arison will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Arnold W. Donald, a member of the Board of Directors, assumes the role of CEO.
Carnival Corporation & plc is comprised of a portfolio of distinct brands operating in North and South America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Australia. Carnival Corporation & plc’s current fleet comprises more than 100 ships with eight new vessels scheduled for delivery between now and spring 2017.