Holland America's RyndamCarnival Corp. said it will transfer two of Holland America Line's ships, the Ryndam and Statendam, to its P&O Australia subsidiary to capitalize on growth prospects in that country.

The ships will depart the HAL fleet in November 2015.

HAL is scheduled to take delivery of a 2,600-passenger newbuild in 2016, and that will more than replace the capacity of the two smaller, older ships.

Statendam and Ryndam, delivered in 1993 and 1994, respectively, each carry 1,260 passengers at double occupancy.

After the move and the delivery of the newbuild in 2016, HAL would have 14 ships in its fleet, and P&O Australia would have five.

The move fits a trend towards replacing a number of smaller ships with fewer, larger ones. Seabourn, a Carnival Corp.-owned luxury line, last year sold three of its 212 passenger ships to Windstar and is taking delivery of a 604-passenger ship in 2016.

Cruise industry capacity has been expanding rapidly in Australia. For Carnival Corp., growth has gone from two P&O ships 10 years ago to six full-time ships, including three from P&O, two from Princess Cruises and one from Carnival Cruise Lines.

The return of the Sun Princess full-time to Australia next year and the two additional P&O ships will increase that number to nine.

Other companies have made similar moves.

The number of Australians taking a cruise has grown 130% in five years, Carnival said. The total of 800,000 last year is projected to grow to 1 million by 2016.

“Our ability to work among our brands to make strategic deployment decisions is a great example of our focus on leveraging our scale and increased collaboration,” commented Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald. "This is an exciting development on many levels."

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.

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