First, there are two errors and a couple omissions in your stated plans for the Princess fleet.
>> The present MV Crown Princess is going to Europe this spring. She'll be the first ship of a brand new line, named A'Rosa, in the German market. Sister MV Regal Princess is now scheduled to follow in the spring of 2004.
>> The new MV Crown Princess (3100 passengers) is not a sister to MV Grand Princess (2600 passengers), but rather a substantially larger vessel.
>> MV Ocean Princess will transfer to P&O Cruises, the British division, as MV Oceana in November. MV Sea Princess will follow as MV Adonia in the spring of 2003. These ships will replace MV Victoria (formerly MV Sea Princess), which has been sold, and MV Arcadia (formerly MV Star Princess), which will inaugurate a new "casual" cruise line named Ocean Village.
The press release (http://www.poprincess.com/press_020410.htm
) from P&O Princess Cruises Ltd. (LSE: POC), which is the British parent of Princess Cruises, is a little misleading on the second point. It also provides a handy table of all fleet transfers at the end of the article.
Regarding the merger prospects, it appears that the hostile tender offer from Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL) is running afoul of antitrust regulators in the UK as well as here in the States, where regulators essentially rejected Carnival Corporation's bid for Norwegian Cruise Line about a year ago, if I remember correctly. As the owner of Cunard Line, which probably is the second largest operator in the British market after P&O Princess Cruises, Carnival Corporation is a major player there as well. I don't see any way that antitrust regulators will approve a take-over of P&O Princess Cruises Plc., hostile or otherwise, by Carnival Corporation.
The proposed merger with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) has a lot fewer regulatory problems. The combined size of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and P&O Princess Cruises Plc. is approximately comparable to Carnival Corporation, so the merger creates an equal to the current larger player. Regulators generally regard mergers that create an equal competitor to the largest player in the industry as promoting competion, and thus grant approval pretty readily. In the European cruise market, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has only a joint venture with P&O Princess Cruises that has not even launched yet so loss of competition as a result of the proposed merger is not an issue.