Block being laid for the Costa SerenaWhile cruise-ship building is concentrated at four yards in Europe, repairs and refurbishments take place on a broader scale, usually near where the ships are sailing.

But the repair business may be consolidating into fewer yards as well, as the builders are also looking to get into the repair and maintenance side of the business; as the ships are getting so big that fewer yards have the capability to drydock them; and as Homeland Security makes it more difficult for foreign subcontractors to work in the U.S. In addition, Princess Cruises is on a five-year drydocking schedule, and other cruise lines are considering following suit.

 New Direction?

There are signs that competition for the repair business is about to heat up.

Fincantieri, the major shipbuilder in today’s cruise industry, is dedicating its Palermo facility to repair and refurbishment – covering the Mediterranean, while the Italian builder has stated that it intends to cover Northern Europe by acquiring an interest in Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven and the Caribbean by acquiring Grand Bahama Shipyard. The deals are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Aker Finnyards has established its lifecycle services division, offering technical and extended warranty services, refurbishment, spare parts inventory and delivery, and maintenance.

“Our objective is to build our share of the (repair) business,” said Yrjo Julin, president of Aker Finnyards. “But we will not be dependent on any one location; we will work anywhere in the world.” He pointed out that in the case of the recent lengthening of the Enchantment of the Seas, the Dutch yard where the lengthening took place, was subcontracted by Aker Finnyards, which also built the midsection, and carried out most of the work.

At Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Chairman and CEO Patrick Boissier told this past spring that the French builder is also interested in becoming more involved in upgrading existing ships “as soon as the projects go beyond painting and carpet-laying.”

In addition, Meyer Werft, which has previously also lengthened a cruise ship, recently drydocked AIDAcara at its Nepthun Stahlbau facility in Rostock.

But before the impact of any involvement by the builders can be ascertained, the capable yards located near the major cruising regions are continuing to benefit from the growing fleet of ships.  – Wayne D. Scheiderman

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2005