Cruise lines are trying to cater to new tastes to draw in more travelers as first-time cruisers
By William Ebersold
Addition of new ships, refurbished ones and growing first-time cruisers to fuel growth
i l l bu mper c a rs, sk y d iv i ng , savory culinary choices and luxurious state rooms lure more travelers to take cruise vacations ? The cruise industry thinks so. It enters 2014 with its usual enthusiastic optimism for solid passenger growth. That optimism is driven by the introduction of new ships and recently enhanced existing ones, more multigenerational cruising, Millennials as a growing source of first-time cruisers, and perhaps even some increase in yields that ought to accompany a fourth straight year of fewer new ship deliveries. There is also the unexpressed hope that early positive reports during the wave season for new bookings portend a respite from early-year events that have marred each of the previous three yearsâ€”the Arab Spring, Costa Concordia tragedy and Carnival Triumph public relations nightmare.
Cruise Fleet and Order bOOk As of January 1, 2014, the global cruise f leet (1,000 g t and above) tota led 340 16 MARINE LOG February 2014
ships of 17.8 million gt and 462,000 lower berths. Six new ships were delivered in 2013 (553,000 gt and 14,600 berths), representing 3.2% of the current global fleet, down from 4% the previous year when seven ships were delivered. This level of deliveries will continue at least through 2015, and is less than half the deliveries in 2012, the last year that reflected pre-recession ordering levels. Three of the six ships delivered in 2013 were in the 140,000 gt/ 4,000 passenger category, two were small luxury vessels, and the last at 2,200 passengers has to be considered only a mid-sized vessel among todayâ€™s mass market brands. Despite a f lurry of ordering at end of 2012 that fueled optimism for increasing amounts of new construction, the number of new orders in 2013 was disappointing. New orders were placed or options were exercised for only six new ships during all of 2013, the same as during the fourth quarter of 2012. In terms of capacity, the ships ordered during 2013 had only about half the capacity of the nine ordered in 2012. Of
particular interest is that there were no firm orders from any of the Carnival brands, although Seabourn has now confirmed an order for a 40,000 gt, 604-passenger luxury vessel from Fincantieri. Royal Caribbean is expected to exercise an option for a fourth Oasis Class ship later this year. MSC Cruises is also said to be close to an order with STX France for two new ships with an option for two more, business estimated to be worth more than $3.3 billion. Among the handful of orders that were placed in 2013, an order by Asian market leader Genting Hong Kong (Star Cruises) for one 150,000 gt ship at Meyer Werft ref lects not only optimism towards the Asian market, but also the need to meet growing competition in the region from Royal Caribbean, Costa, Princess and others. In 2014, a total of six ships are planned to be delivered, adding 689,000 gt and 18,200 berths to the global f leet. Beyond that, seven ships are scheduled for delivery in 2015, with a capacity close to that in 2014. Not until 2016 will deliveries exceed