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Carnival Celebration is ready for the Big Party

As Carnival Cruise Line hits 50, Turku Shipyard has come up with the perfect present – delivered right on time

article picture: Carnival Celebration is ready for the Big Party

Despite both geopolitical and pandemic turmoil, Carnival Celebration is steadily moving towards completion in Turku. The second of Carnival Cruise Line’s new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-powered ships, Carnival Celebration will begin service in early November with a 14-day transatlantic voyage from London (Southampton) to its homeport of Port Miami. Her arrival highlights the celebration of Carnival Cruise Line’s 50th birthday quite well, indeed.

Carnival Celebration is the sister ship to Mardi Gras, which entered service last year as the first ship in North America to run on an LNG propulsion system. Carnival has pioneered the introduction of LNG fuel in the passenger cruise sector as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and emissions reduction.

For the Turku shipyard, however, Celebration is already the sixth LNG-powered vessel. Viking Grace and Megastar got the ball running, and Costa Smeralda, Costa Toscana, Mardi Gras and Celebration represent the new generation of LNG cruise ships.

“Right now, LNG is the most sustainable, practical choice we have for fuel in these large cruise ships,” says Project Director Jaakko Leinonen, who is charged with taking Celebration across the finish line as he did with Mardi Gras.

Carnival Cruise Line is expecting as many as 11 LNG-powered cruise ships to join the fleet by 2025, representing 20% of the company’s capacity.

NO SHORTAGE OF CHALLENGES

Leinonen says that some of the challenges faced by the construction can probably be described as “biblical,” as a global pandemic rages on and the winds of war keep blowing. Nevertheless, Celebration has been able to clear all the hurdles.

“Over five years ago, when the contract for Celebration was made, we wrote down the timeline for production and we have been able to stick with it, even though the headwinds have been considerable at times.” Celebration is slated for delivery in early November 2022, with a sea voyage to Southampton to kick off four days later.

“Already in mid-October, we’re getting around 300 members of the ship’s crew onboard as they start learning the ropes.” The total number of the crew is around 2,000.

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ACING THE SEA TRIALS

Interviewed in late September, Leinonen is relieved that inspections are already taking.

“It’s the final stretch of a long, long journey.”

Looking back, Leinonen is especially proud of the sea trials which commenced on the morning of 5th September, exactly as planned years before. To say that the vessel proved sea-worthy would be a vast understatement:

“We concluded the sea trials in just eight days, which is a new record for us. That made us feel really good that all our hard work is paying off,” says Leinonen, a 20-year industry veteran.

MAKE THE PROCESS MORE STRATEGIC

A big part of that hard work had to do with thinking ahead. Facing potential availability issues, the shipyard got in front of the problem and set up a special forum in early 2021 to make sure there are no bottlenecks in production. Logistics was the key here:

“The forum found out, for example, what components and materials were missing and discussed ways to replace them. We worked as a team to find solutions that carried the project forward, without delays.”

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EXCEL-CLASS GETS GOING

Carnival Celebration, Mardi Gras and Carnival Jubilee, which is also under construction and set to enter service next year, are part of the cruise line’s new Excel-class. Each Excel ship includes a three-deck atrium and newly designed suites and staterooms – and the award-winning BOLT roller coaster. BOLT is an industry-first inship rollercoaster that debuted on Mardi Gras, letting the cruise patron do the driving and control the speed of the ride with a top speed of 64km/h.

According to Leinonen, “the rollercoaster on the waves” features design and build that was certainly demanding enough – BOLT has to be able to withstand fierce storms, and to be, in essence, hurricane-proof.

Having led the construction of both Celebration and Mardi Gras, Leinonen knows that the two vessels are pretty similar, with few notable differences – such as the restaurant concepts.

“Celebration is also slightly bigger, with more cabins, but the technology in use is the same.”

RETAIL REACH

Celebration will be home to nine retail collections, the most expansive selection across the fleet. With something for every type of cruiser – and shopper – the retail offerings will include new designs such as the special Miami-inspired line, 305 Deco Celebration. The line pays homage to the city where Carnival was founded 50 years ago – so get ready for all the pastels, tropical colors and vibes of Miami with beach totes, drink coasters, bucket hats, towelsÂ…

Celebration’s retail offerings will be spread throughout the ship’s six zones: The Gateway, 820 Biscayne, Celebration Central, The Ultimate Playground, Summer Landing and Lido.

While Celebration heads out to, well, celebrate, the crew at Turku shipyard will put their champagne glasses down and get back to work. After Carnival Celebration sails away, the attention turns Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of The Seas (2023 delivery) and the TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 7 (2024 delivery).

by: Sami J. Anteroinen
photos: Meyer Turku

Weather the Storm
Meyer Turku has been able to cope in the midst of a protracted pandemic, also financially. The company’s turnover for 2021 was EUR 1.08 billion – somewhat higher than in the previous year, but still showing a loss of EUR 17.0 million.
CEO Tim Meyer comments that exceptional times have lasted longer than the shipyard expected.
“The global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as labor and material mobility, affected our operations as well. However, despite significant challenges, we were able to keep our production and processes running.”
In the spring of 2021, the company also launched a major transformation program in Turku and Papenburg to increase its cost efficiency and to ensure a sustainable profitability level.
Meyer Turku is confident that its customers see growth in the market after the pandemic. Furthermore, the shipyard’s order books extend to 2026 which offers great continuity.
The direction of the shipyard is decidedly green: Tim Meyer notes that today, the surrounding society, customers and ship passengers require proper action to enhance responsibility.
“Our focus will increasingly shift to sustainable shipbuilding,” he says.

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