The most attention-getting development will undoubtedly be the industry’s build-up in China, which in turn is causing some capacity adjustments in existing markets. However, with new 11 ships being introduced in 2016, all the major markets will see growth, as about 24 million passengers are expected to cruise, up from 22 million last year.
Earnings are also forecast to be up as both Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises are on the way to reach their targets for return on investment and earnings, although aided a bit by share buyback programs.
We are also going to see the start up of cruises from Miami to Cuba, while MSC Cruises is already homeporting in Havana. Cuba has the potential to boost demand for Caribbean cruises in general.
Company organizations may also change as they seek to become more efficient. In this issue, we spoke with Jens Lassen, executive vice president of Carnival Maritime in Hamburg, who said that in addition to improving safety, his goals are to lower costs by reducing energy consumption, lowering repair and maintenance costs and by operating more efficiently across the board. We trust these are goals that are reflected not only throughout the Carnival group, but also at Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and other cruise brands.
On the other side of the equation we have talked to Jacqueline Smith, maritime coordinator for the International Transport Workers’ Federation, who is working with the unions that are seeking better terms for their seafarer membership, meaning higher costs for the cruise lines. But as Smith said, there has to be a (fair) balance between shipowners and seafarers. And competent seafarers are key to the industry’s health.
Bon Voyage and Happy New Year!
Angela Reale Mathisen & Oivind Mathisen