Spoilt for choice in a packed cruise order book

With 118 cruise ships worth nearly US$70 billion currently on order across a broad spread of cruise ship types and sizes, the outlook for newbuilds has never been healthier. Michele Witthaus reports on several upcoming deliveries

Spoilt for choice in a packed cruise order book
Construction is underway on Ponant’s Le Commandant-Charcot (Image: Studio Ponant-Nathalie Michele)

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Carnival Panorama will be Carnival Cruise Line’s first new ship in 20 years on the US West Coast when she arrives in Long Beach, California this December, says Ben Clement, the line’s senior vice president of newbuilds, refurbishments and product innovation. “The ship brings all of the onboard features of her sister ships, Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon, as well as two new features not available on any other ship – a Sky Zone trampoline park – the first of its kind at sea – and a culinary studio.”

Clement says that the construction process of this third vessel in the Vista-class series has been very streamlined and organised. “This is the 15th ship we’ve built at Fincantieri and the team has been a great partner in the construction of Carnival Panorama.”

Following this, Carnival Mardi Gras will enter service in 2020 and an as-yet-unnamed vessel is slated to follow in 2022. In total, Carnival Corporation will have 19 new ships by 2025, says Clement. He adds: “Mardi Gras will be a game changer in the industry with unique features like the first rollercoaster at sea and the first ship in North America to be powered by LNG.”

Other Carnival Corporation newbuilds due soon include Costa Cruises’ Costa Smeralda and Costa Toscana, two new LNG-powered ships with dual-fuel hybrid engines that will join the brand in October 2019 and 2021 respectively. Meanwhile, Princess Cruises will take delivery of its fourth Royal-class ship, Sky Princess, in October 2019. This newcomer to the fleet joins Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess, reprising a name used for a Princess Cruises ship more than three decades ago.

Norwegian Cruise Line will introduce Norwegian Encore, the fourth and final ship in the Breakaway Plus-class and the 17th in the company’s fleet, this Autumn. Constructed at Meyer Werft in Germany, the new ship will ply Caribbean itineraries. Norwegian’s president and CEO Andy Stuart said in a company statement: “Norwegian Encore will be the ultimate Breakaway Plus-class vessel…We continue building on our legacy of innovation with this brand-new, state-of-the-art vessel perfect for exploring the natural beauty of some of the most remarkable islands in the world.”

The third in MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia class, MSC Grandiosa, is set to hit the waves this year too. In company with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Bellissima, the new ship and her successor, MSC Bellissima, will incorporate the ‘Ecorizon’ programme implemented by Chantiers de l’Alantique shipyard. This programme ensures that the Meraviglia-class ships are energy-efficient and do not emit harmful discharges at sea. Exhaust gas cleaning systems and heat recovery systems add to the environmental benefits.

Several iconic smaller ships are also arriving on the scene this season. Ponant’s Le Dumont-d’Urville recently joined three sister ships in the fleet. “New technology onboard all the ships in the Ponant Explorer series helps bring unique travel experiences,” says Hervé Bellaiche, Ponant’s chief sales and marketing officer.

Le Dumont-d’Urville features Ponant’s pioneering concept, the ‘Blue Eye’, a multi-sensory lounge that allows guests to discover and experience the underwater world. Ponant has two more Explorers-class ships coming out in 2020, Le Bellot and Le Jacques-Cartier. Work is ongoing on Ponant’s luxury polar expedition vessel, Le Commandant-Charcot, with delivery scheduled for 2021 and sales for summer 2021 Arctic cruises already opened. “On the operational side, the challenges are to develop new routes that become accessible with this vessel, develop our skills and procedures on heavy polar conditions and use of LNG as fuel,” says Bellaiche.

Vard and Fincantieri continue to build Ponant’s ships. “Ponant is delighted with its ongoing collaboration with Vard, the Norwegian subsidiary of Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard, both in terms of the design and construction of the new vessels and their prompt delivery,” says Bellaiche. “It was therefore no surprise to see that Vard, which now has a deep understanding of our needs, submitted the best proposition during the tender procedure to choose the constructor of Le Commandant-Charcot.”

The Vard Group continues to be a dominant player in the expedition ship construction market. Hot on the heels of Vard delivering Hanseatic Nature this May, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is looking forward to welcoming sister ships Hanseatic Inspiration in October and Hanseatic Spirit in 2021. All three ships have been built at Vard Group’s Romanian and Norwegian yards and have Polar Class 6 ratings, allowing them to take on itineraries in remote regions like the Arctic and the Amazon.

Expedition air-cruise brand Antarctica21 will deploy its ship, Magellan Explorer, on the ice later this year. Built in Santiago, Chile, at Asenav, the 73-passenger ship is a custom build that adheres to the latest Polar Code specifications. There will be seven categories of accommodation (including dedicated staterooms for single travellers) and most of the cabins will feature private balconies. According to the company: “The ship features a glass-enclosed observation lounge and presentation room with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment…the forward-facing observation deck leads to the bow of the ship, which is accessible to guests to offer proximity to marine wildlife.”

Yacht-style cruising is also set to receive a boost with several deliveries over the next 12 months. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will welcome its first yacht from the Hijos De J. Barreras Shipyard in Vigo, Spain, which will begin itineraries in February 2020. The company has also ordered the second yacht in the three-ship series from the same yard. Executive director Doug Prothero was quoted as saying: “This custom-built yacht will be a true sister ship and follow the same design and styling as the first yacht…We are incredibly excited to grow The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and look forward to continuing our partnership with H.J. Barreras Shipyard and the Galicia region.”

Meanwhile, a two-year delay on construction of the largest sailing ship in the world, Star Clippers’ Flying Clipper, ended in late August when Brodosplit completed the vessel. The yard was quoted as saying it was seeking a new buyer, blaming Star Clippers for delays to delivery of masts, rigging and sails. However, Star Clippers said it was still willing to honour the terms of the contract. The vessel features the world’s first Safe Return to Port standards on a sail-powered ship.

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Michele Witthaus
By Michele Witthaus
06 November 2019

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