The cruise-ship building industry is finding itself at a crossroads as new orders have slowed down to a trickle, and most yards have had to adapt by cutting back or pursuing alternative projects. Meanwhile, the orderbook is still at an impressive 17 cruise ships for deliveries through 2016, and cruise line executives have stated that they intend to continue to build from seven to eight new ships a year – which they will have to do if they are to continue to grow the market and replace older tonnage.
The challenge for the shipbuilding industry, nevertheless, will be an orderflow that is only half of what has been in recent years and with more shipyards vying for orders as Asian builders seek to compensate for slowdowns in other segments of their business.
It would serve the shipowners to maintain the existing cruise-ship building yards and supplier infrastructure because of their experience and know-how. That maintenance, however, can only come in the form of support, meaning new orders.
If the yards do not stay active in cruise-ship building, or worse, do not survive, the remaining yards would offer the industry less of a competitive field, or force the shipowners to go to new, less experienced yards.
For this issue, we have also prepared a special Asia-Pacific report. Cruise Industry News was the official publication for UBM’s Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific in Singapore last month. Senior executives from Carnival Australia, Costa, Royal Caribbean, Star and other cruise lines are sharing their insight into the challenges they are facing and how they are generating demand. In addition, tourism officials and port executives across the region are telling their stories of infrastructure upgrades, expansion and product enhancements to better service the larger ships and their passengers.
We have titled our introductory Asia-Pacific article Fact and Fiction, because the population numbers alone of these markets may tempt some planners into a fictional state of optimism. The reality is that the markets are growing, but slowly. The industry’s challenge will be to drive growth. The question is: how fast and how far will these markets go?
Angela Reale Mathisen & Oivind Mathisen