At the Turku Shipyard, the Mein Schiff 3 was in the hull erection phase, and the Mein Schiff 4 was in the prefabrication and block stage at press time, according to Jari Anttila, executive vice president and COO of STX Finland. “The progress of both ships is good and we are exactly on schedule,” Anttila said.

The Turku yard, which delivered the Viking Grace to Viking Line earlier this year, also built the Oasis and Allure of the Seas for Royal Caribbean International.

 “We are busy with TUI orders for now,” he said, “but after those ships are delivered, we will need new orders.” Mein Schiff 3 is slated for delivery next year and Mein Schiff 4 in 2015.

Because of the recession in the global economy, STX Finland has been struggling with low profitability and lack of orders. Thus, the company has launched a restructuring effort and announced at press time that it will be ramping down operations at the Rauma Shipyard and transfering that work to Turku.

Anttila said that the anticipated volume of future demand is not enough to sustain two shipyards at STX Finland.

“During the summer and fall there has been a lot of talk about the financial situation of our parent company,” he said. “The restructuring of the STX group is progressing and is good for us. It clears up the uncertainties that have surrounded our company; the Finnish government is also being supportive of cruise-ship building within EU rules.”

Adding to the rumors earlier this year was the loss of the third Oasis-class ship, which instead went to sister company STX France, in which the French government holds an interest.

“That was, of course, unfortunate,” Anttila said. “We had a good working relationship with the client, but lost out because of the financing.

 “As most of the shipbuilders, we are also struggling to get new orders,” he continued. “In the short term, the lack of work is affecting our results. We have to get new orders and cut costs to improve our financial performance.”

Anttila added that the competitive advantage of Finnish shipbuilding has always been technological leadership and the quality of the end product, and that these factors will continue to be the cornerstone of the Finnish yards.

Future Generations of Ships

“We have to create the future,” said Jukka Vasama, vice president of research and development for cruise and ferries at STX Finland. He was referring to the company’s proactive work on ship designs as well as alternative power sources, including bio fuel, solar, wind and even wave power. “We are working on a variety of options, and with new rules and regulations getting tougher and tougher, new technologies will come.”

Vasama explained that the new research and development department was only a few weeks old and its objective is to coordinate and streamline the shipbuilder’s efforts to create more efficient, more environmentally friendly and safer ships.

“We are coordinating the work within the shipyard,” he said, “and utilizing outside sources such as universities and partner companies. Our overall goal is to improve on all the processes throughout the company.”

The focus is on three product groups:  cruise and passenger vessels, icebreakers, and the high-end offshore market.

For cruise ships, Vasama said they are working on improving the passenger capacity, that is, finding ways to maximize passenger space for more staterooms, which, he said, can be achieved, for example, by minimizing technical spaces for piping and ducts.

Other targets are operational costs, whereby STX is focusing on fuel, manning and energy efficiencies; safety, including damage stability issues, fire and evacuation; environmental aspects, such as emissions; and passenger comfort.

>> Also in this section: Fincantieri's Current Outlook as well as in-depth analysis of newbuilding projects at Norwegian and P&O.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2013