With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to inflict damage on all aspects of the industry, cruise lines and shipyards face unprecedented financial and operational challenges, and they are making difficult decisions to survive. Yet, despite this, the cruise industry has not lost sight of the future. Key newbuilds will play a crucial role in attracting and exciting passengers as they return after the crisis has abated, and cruise lines are continuing to trust in their investments as they look to rebuild.
Carnival Cruise Line’s new Mardi Gras, which was delivered by Finnish shipbuilder Meyer Turku in December 2020, is an example of this commitment to the future. At 180,000gt, the ship is now the largest in Carnival’s fleet, with over 2,600 staterooms and 180 suites across 11 categories. Among her features are Bolt, the first rollercoaster to be built on a ship, and a three-storey-high atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows and movable LED screens. She is scheduled to enter service in May 2021.
“Mardi Gras’ technology, venues and accommodations will make this a game-changing vessel in North America,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, when the ship was delivered. “With this delivery, we can now focus our collective efforts on the building of her sister ship, Carnival Celebration, which will arrive from Turku in 2022 in time for our 50th birthday.”
Meyer Turku is also working on Costa Cruises’ newest LNG-powered cruise ship, Costa Toscana, which was floated out of the building dock in January. The ship has been designed with the circular economy in mind, with an intelligent energy efficiency system and onboard desalination plants to process seawater directly to meet daily water supply requirements. Some of the onboard highlights will include the Solemio Spa, 16 restaurants, themed bars, an open-air balcony with a crystal floor on the top deck, three outdoor pools, an indoor salt-water pool, a new beach club, and the Colosseo, which spans three decks at the centre of the ship. The ship is scheduled for delivery in December.
“We are confident in the recovery of our industry, and we are excited about the arrival of new ships like Costa Toscana, which embody the elements we want to focus on for the future,” said Mario Zanetti, chief commercial officer of Costa Cruises and president of Costa Group Asia. “It is an excellent and innovative ship that will be attractive for new customers, which is going to be fundamental, especially when people will be able to freely travel again and will have a great desire for holidays.”
Meanwhile in Norway, Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot is currently being fitted out at Vard’s Søviknes shipyard ahead of her scheduled delivery in April 2021. According to the cruise line, she will be the first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by LNG, with capacity for 270 guests in 135 staterooms and suites. The vessel will also feature a research laboratory onboard, where guests will be able to help onboard scientists set up experiments on the ice or collect water samples.
Elsewhere in Norway, Ulstein Verft is constructing National Geographic Resolution, the second polar expedition ship to be built for Lindblad Expeditions as part of its partnership with National Geographic, at its shipyard in Ulsteinvik. She will be a Polar Class 5 vessel, able to operate year-round in medium, first-year ice, and will feature Ulstein Group’s X-Bow solution, which is designed to deliver a smoother ride and reduce spray on deck. The ship’s 126 guests will be accommodated in 69 cabins, all of which will face out to sea with large windows or balconies.
Italian shipbuilders have also continued to work on newbuild projects throughout the pandemic. Fincantieri, for example, is carrying out final outfitting work on Rotterdam, the third ship in Holland America Line’s Pinnacle class after floating her out of dry dock in October 2020. The vessel will be the seventh ship to bear the Rotterdam name for Holland America Line when she is delivered on 30 July 2021, honouring the cruise line’s first ship, which sailed her maiden voyage in 1872. The interiors will be designed by Tihany Design and Yran & Storbraaten, with the public areas inspired by the theme of ‘the architecture of music’.
Fincantieri is also working on MSC Cruises’ MSC Seashore, which is the third ship in the Seaside-class and will be the line’s longest vessel at 339 metres when she is delivered in July. As the first Seaside Evo ship, she has received significant changes compared to her sister ships MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview, including newly designed public spaces, more cabins and a higher ratio of outdoor space per guest. The ship will also be equipped with new environmental technologies to help minimise her impact, including a selective catalytic reduction system which the cruise line says will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by around 90 per cent.
“We are committed to our newbuilds programme, which, with each new class of ships, sees us innovating and setting new standards in the industry,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, when the ship was floated out in August 2020. “MSC Seashore will, in fact, be the largest and most innovative cruise vessel ever built in Italy, featuring the latest and most advanced environmental technology currently available.”
Seabourn’s luxury polar expedition vessel Seabourn Venture is currently under construction by shipbuilder T. Mariotti in Genova, Italy. The ship is designed to carry double sea kayaks, mountain bikes and 24 Zodiacs that can accommodate all of the ship’s 264 passengers, as well as two custom-built submarines. All 132 guest suites will have private verandas, with interiors designed by Adam Tihany. The ship will make her debut in December 2021, sailing 10- to 14-day voyages along the Norwegian coast.
The first of Swan Hellenic’s three new Vega-class ships, Minerva, is scheduled to be delivered by Helsinki Shipyard in November 2021. The 113-metre-long vessel will feature a 4.6-megawatt diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction, along with a three-megawatt battery package and an ice-strengthened hull. Interiors for the vessel have been designed by Tillberg Design of Sweden, with onboard venues including the Swan Restaurant, Observation Lounge and panoramic sauna.
“We’re excited and honoured to take Swan Hellenic into this next chapter and look forward to meeting you onboard when we head to Antarctica in November 2021,” said Andrea Zito, CEO of Swan Hellenic. “Join us to see what others don’t!”
This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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