Royal Caribbean Cruises has reassigned another ship to its Pullmantur fleet. The 2,276-passenger Sovereign of the Seas is moving from the Royal Caribbean International brand to the Spanish brand in November 2008. The 2,354-passenger Monarch of the Seas, which is now sailing from Los Angeles, will assume the Sovereign's program out of Port Canaveral.
So while Royal Caribbean will maintain its capacity in Port Canaveral, its capacity in the West Coast/Mexican Riviera market will drop for a few months, before picking up again with the 3,100- passenger Mariner of the Seas starting seven-day cruises from Los Angeles in February 2009.
The 2,000-passenger Vision of the Seas is presently sailing seven-day cruises from Los Angeles, and since Royal Caribbean has not announced any further changes, the brand may be out of the short cruise market on the West Coast.
According to Cruise Industry News' (CIN) estimates, Royal Caribbean's passenger capacity in the West Coast/Mexican Riviera market will drop from approximately 305,000 in 2007 to 260,000 in 2009.
Royal Caribbean also reduces its growth pace in the North American market to 3.5 percent in 2008, from 6.3 percent before, and to 1.4 percent in 2009 from nearly 9 percent before. Provided there are no further ship movements out of the fleet, Royal Caribbean will see 8.5 percent capacity growth in 2010, according to CIN.
In actual numbers, Royal Caribbean will have a passenger capacity of 2.83 million in 2007, 2.93 million in 2008, 2.97 million in 2009 and 3.22 million in 2010, according to CIN.
Pullmantur is on a growth course in the Spanish market, although one of its ships is moving to Royal Caribbean's start-up French brand, CDF Croisieres De France, starting service in May 2008.
After Royal Caribbean completed its acquisition of Pullmantur last year, two of Pullmantur's ships were transferred to a new premium brand, Azamara Cruises, while one ship was initially moved from Celebrity Cruises to Pullmantur.
In 2006, Pullmantur had four ships with an estimated annual capacity of 157,170 passengers, according to CIN.
In 2007, with the removal of 684-passenger Blue Dream and the 700-passenger Blue Moon, but with the addition of the 1,354-passenger Zenith, passenger capacity increased to 209,920, also due to other deployment changes.
In 2008, the 1,000-passenger Holiday Dream moves out of the fleet, but three ships will be added during the course of the year: the 1,400-passenger Pacific Star, which has been acquired from P&O Cruises Australia; and the 1,600-passenger Empress of the Seas and the 2,276-passenger Sovereign from Royal Caribbean, boosting annual passenger capacity to 314,920 in 2008 and 428,720 in 2009.
However, the expected retirement of the 1,080- passenger 1965-built Oceanic will offset the growth rate somewhat to 376,800 in 2009, according to CIN estimates. That is still more than doubling of Pullmantur's capacity over three years.
Silversea Cruises has acquired the 1989- built, 6,000-ton, 140-passenger World Discoverer. A company spokesperson said that Silversea will be targeting a younger market.
The new ship will be used for expedition-style cruises with shorter and more varied itineraries than its traditional luxury focus.
With the addition of the new ship, Silversea will be boosting its passenger capacity from an estimated 44,588 in 2007 to 48,788 in 2008, according to CIN.
Also, with a 540-passenger ship under contract for delivery in 2009 and an option for a sister ship for 2010, Silversea's passenger capacity will increase further to 67,688 in 2009 and 86,588 in 2010.
Star Sells Gemini
STAR CRUISES' sale of the 1992-built, 19,000- ton, 800-passenger Superstar Gemini ( ex-Crown Jewel), could potentially reduce the line's annual passenger capacity by nearly 10 percent, according to CIN.
Assuming Star does not add any new tonnage to its fleet or changes its deployments, passenger capacity will drop from an estimated 478,328 passengers in 2007 to 435,000 in 2009. The Gemini will be chartered back to Star and sail until December 2008. She is presently sailing seven-, 10-, 11- and 21-night cruises from Singapore, and will be sailing out of Australia this coming winter season.
When Star Cruises initially built up its fleet in Asia, its annual capacity at one point exceeded one million passengers. In 2008, with three ships on cruise programs, Star's estimated capacity will be 435,000 compared to 478,328 this year.
In a prepared statement, Star President David Chua said that the sale is part of Star's fleet reorganization plan, in line with the realization of new growth opportunities in the region. He also said that the need to sell or replace selected ships in the fleet will occur when opportunities from potential buyers arise, which in turn, will allow Star to acquire bigger ships and to further enhance its products and services.
More to Come
CIN is expecting more ship movements from the North American brands of Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean to their European brands.
Norwegian Cruise Line is expected to remove the Norwegian Majesty and the Norwegian Dream as new ships join its fleet. Meanwhile, the Marco Polo is leaving Orient Lines in March of 2008.
The ship movements serve several purposes: They allow the cruise lines more efficient North American fleets with newer and bigger ships; and they also allow the build-up and expansion of new brands in new markets.
In addition, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean will also be sailing year-round from Australia and Spain, respectively, and have dedicated ships to foreign source markets, thus effectively removing capacity from North America.