Cruise ship order book: Bigger, safer, smarter

High-tech expedition craft and mega ships dominate the order book, signalling a confident return to business. Michele Witthaus reports

Cruise ship order book: Bigger, safer, smarter
Silversea’s new Silver Dawn is in the final stages of construction at Fincantieri’s yard

Environmental performance takes centre stage in several of the biggest cruise newbuilds. Delivered in July 2021, MSC Cruises’ new flagship MSC Seashore is the company’s first ‘Evo’ ship, its second newbuild to come into service in 2021 and the third of four in the Seaside class. The ship features advanced innovative environmental technology and has one of the highest ratios of. outdoor space per guest of any ship in the MSC Cruises fleet. 

Trevor Young, vice president of newbuilding at MSC Cruises, told CFR: “MSC Seashore is an evolution of the Seaside prototype with 65 per cent of the public areas reimagined. We have designed brand new venues, optimised other parts of the ship and worked on different spaces to create new experiences  for our guests.” 

Despite delays to the delivery pipeline due to Covid-19, new ships for Carnival Corporation’s brands arriving this year are reinforcing its eco profile. AIDA Cruises’ LNG-powered AIDAcosma (sister ship for the fuel’s cruise pioneer AIDAnova) entered service in the spring. Highlights of the 20-deck ship include a bouldering wall, a large pool area with waterslides, an indoor playground and a running track, as well as an infinity pool and a sea-view sauna. 

Meanwhile, Costa Cruises’ Costa Toscana is scheduled to set sail in late 2021. The sister ship of Costa Smeralda, Toscana is also powered by LNG, both while in port and at sea. The 185,010gt ship features premium sports facilities and will be one of the largest cruise ships in the world, measuring 337 metres in length with capacity for over 6,554 passengers. 

Princess Cruises’ Discovery Princess, built at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone yard, will be delivered in spring 2022. The sixth and final Royal-class ship and the third Medallion-class vessel will offer 270-degree sweeping views from the largest balconies at sea. 

Speaking to CFR, Mario Siebaldi, senior vice president of guest experience and product development at Princess Cruises, said: “Italian craftsmanship, from ship design to creating unique experiences, is a legacy on every Princess ship. Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria on Discovery Princess reflects this with The Pasta Room, where guests can watch artisanal pastas being made by hand. Authentic Italian flavours, wines, cocktails and desserts complete this modern trattoria experience.” 

In the smaller luxury ship segment, Silversea Cruises’ Silver Dawn, the 10th ship in the line’s fleet and third in the Muse series, is the fourth ship built for the company by Fincantieri. President and CEO of Silversea Cruises Roberto Martinoli said: “Our long-term collaboration with Fincantieri continues to push boundaries in the ultra-luxury cruise industry, while the ongoing support and expertise of the Royal Caribbean Group has been invaluable to the ship’s build.”  

Several trailblazing expedition ships are set to enter service in the coming months. Built in China, SunStone Ships’ Sylvia Earle is its second Infinity-class vessel. Like its sister, the ship is built to Ice Class 1A and Polar Code 6 standards and features X-Bow technology by Ulstein Design & Solutions, Safe Return to Port systems (SRtP), dynamic positioning and zero-speed stabilisers. SunStone CEO Niels-Erik Lund, said: “We are very pleased with the quality and high building standards of China Merchants Heavy Industry, which are fully at the level of European shipyards. We are looking forward to continuing our relationships with all our partners in the Infinity-class project and we, even considering the Covid-19 world crisis, are moving fast forward as planned at very satisfactory speed, safety and quality level.”  

Swan Hellenic’s first bespoke expedition cruise ship Minerva is one of three ships under construction for delivery by Finland’s Helsinki Shipyard in October 2021. Minerva features a five-megawatt diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction and Polar Class 5 ice-strengthened hull that is fully SRtP-certified. Hygiene technology onboard includes air conditioning with high-efficiency particulate absorbing filters and ultraviolet sanitisation systems. 

Esko Karvonen, CEO of Helsinki Shipyard, said: “Minerva is very much a next-generation expedition ship and we are very proud of our contribution to everything she represents. The construction of her ice-strengthened hull, for example, benefits from Helsinki Shipyard’s solid experience in building ice-class vessels.” 

Andrea Zito, CEO of Swan Hellenic, remarked: “We are delighted with the quality of Helsinki’s work. It’s wonderful to see our vision realised so well. We know guests will be wowed from the moment they step aboard, but even more so after they become familiar with the unique lifestyle experience.” 

Oceanwide Expeditions’ Janssonius polar cruise ship, constructed at Brodosplit in Croatia, is 108.6 metres long, 17.6 metres wide, and will achieve a speed of 15 knots thanks to two main engines with a total power of 4,260 kilowatts. Brodosplit CEO Tomislav Debeljak said: “We built this ship during the pandemic…we succeeded thanks to the responsibility, knowledge, and diligence of our workers, but also because we bravely, smartly, and effectively fought Coronavirus and made Brodosplit one of the safest workspaces as well as protected the health of our workers and their families.” 

Constructed at Ulstein Verft’s yard in Norway, the second new polar build from National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions, National Geographic Resolution, is the sister vessel to National Geographic Endurance, delivered in 2020. A fully stabilised vessel of Polar Class 5 Category A, the ship incorporates the Ulstein X-Bow design, aimed at creating a smoother and quieter sailing experience in all conditions. The X-Bow provides a wave-slicing action in rough seas, which also reduces spray on deck and allows for superior observation with a closer view of the hull due to the shape. The Polar Class 5 ice class will enable Lindblad to start its polar itineraries up to two weeks ahead of many other expedition cruise companies. 

Seabourn’s first purpose-built expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, was built at T. Mariotti yard for a winter 2022 inaugural season. Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn, said: “I am very proud of everyone involved in the construction of Seabourn Venture and thank our teams for helping us reach this point under the circumstances we have faced over the past year.”  

A sister ship is due to launch later in 2022. Both ships will be designed and built to Polar Class 6 standards. They will carry custom-built submarines in addition to the line’s customary Zodiacs and kayaks. 

Viking Ocean’s Viking Octantis is under construction at Fincantieri’s Vard yard for delivery in early 2022. As the company’s first expedition ship, it will follow itineraries in Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes. A twin vessel, Viking Polaris, will be delivered in summer 2022, for cruises in Antarctica and the Arctic. Design highlights include straight bows, longer ice-strengthened Polar Class hulls and fin stabilisers. U-tank stabilisers will decrease rolling by up to 50 per cent when the ships are stationary. 

“Working with Fincantieri over the last eight years, we have built the world’s most beautiful ocean ships. We are pleased to continue our partnership with Fincantieri’s Vard and celebrate this important milestone in the construction of our first expedition vessel,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking.

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Michele Witthaus
By Michele Witthaus
24 November 2021

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