Carnival Corporation & plc  has ordered two 71,000-ton cruise ships for its AIDA Cruises brand, which caters exclusively to the German-speaking market. These two newbuilds mark six new ships that the German cruise operator has ordered in just the past three years.

The 2,174-passenger vessels, which will be built at Germany's Meyer Werft shipyard at an all-in cost of euro 380 million and euro 385 million, are scheduled to enter service in April 2011 and May 2012, respectively.

Additionally, the company announced that it has contracted with Meyer Werft to increase the size of the fourth vessel in the series, set to debut in April 2010, to 71,000 tons with a passenger capacity of 2,174, making it a sister to the two ships ordered today. The all-in cost for that vessel has been increased from euro 335 million to euro 350 million.

All of these vessels will operate under AIDA Cruises' informal "club resort" cruise concept which is marketed exclusively to German-speaking clientele and offers a product aimed at younger, more active guests who enjoy a host of on-board amenities and facilities.

"With the interest in cruise vacations among Europeans continuing to grow significantly, we are committed to investing in our European brands. The addition of these 71,000-ton 'club resort' newbuilds and the increase in capacity for the fourth in the series will help to ensure that we have adequate capacity to meet growing demand, while further reinforcing AIDA's position as the leader in the German cruise industry," said Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation & plc chairman and CEO.

AIDA Cruises' President Michael Thamm added, "Our business has been performing very strongly and our parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, shares our confidence in the potential of the German cruise business as demonstrated by the more than euro 2 billion investment in six exciting new ships."

These vessels will join the 68,500-ton AIDAbella, set to debut in April 2008, and an as-yet-unnamed sister ship in April 2009. The first vessel in the series, AIDAdiva, was introduced earlier this year.

AIDA Cruises revolutionized the German cruise market with the introduction of its first "club ships" in 1996. By 2012, a total of nine "club ships" will be in service, operating voyages to the Mediterranean, the Canaries, the North Sea, the Baltic, the Caribbean, the Arabian Gulf, Asia and Central America.

Carnival Corporation & plc is the largest cruise vacation group in the world, with a portfolio of cruise brands in North America, Europe and Australia, comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Iberocruceros, Ocean Village, P&O Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia.

Together, these brands operate 85 ships totaling more than 158,000 lower berths with 22 new ships scheduled to enter service between April 2008 and May 2012. Carnival Corporation & plc also operates Holland America Tours and Princess Tours, the leading tour companies in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. Traded on both the New York and London Stock Exchanges, Carnival Corporation & plc is the only group in the world to be included in both the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100 indices.