Carnival Corporation., which is the world's largest cruise shipowner, is reportedly in negotiations to sell one of its brands to Saudi Arabia.
Preliminary negotiations are currently ongoing exploring the potential sale of Seabourn Cruises to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (an investor in Carnival Corp. since 2020).
At the beginning of 2021, the PIF/Public Investment Fund launched the "Cruise Saudi" initiative as part of the efforts to expand the tourism industry of Saudi Arabia, leveraging its UNESCO sites/natural resources, by establishing/developing Saudi Arabia's cruising industry. Part of the goal is to attract more tourists/international cruise ships to the country. The government has mapped out a plan running from 2021 through to 2025 to increase investments in non-oil industry projects as part of the overall effort to diversify revenue sources away from oil.
The news comes as Carnival Corp continues battling back from financial losses suffered during the COVID crisis. On May 22, the Corporation’s stock fell to a 52-week low of US$11.56 per share.
Carnival Corporation made an initial investment in Seabourn back in 1991 and again in 1996 when it acquired 50% of the company. They bought the remainder of Seabourn in 2001 and after rumors that they were considering selling the ultra-luxury brand, in 2006 were announced plans to expand Seabourn's fleet. The original ships were replaced with 5 bigger (600-passenger) all-suite mega-yachts, and starting in 2022 Seabourn is due to launch the first of two luxury expedition ships.