Is the industry facing a new building boom? The question arises after more cruise line executives during the last several weeks have revealed plans for new ships. The new building projects could start in 1994 with deliveries scheduled for 1995/96 and onwards.
While a record number of 18 new ships are being introduced in 1992, this tapers off to four in 1993, two in 1994 and only one scheduled for delivery in 1995.
A new building boom is motivated by the continued growth projections for the American market, the Cuban potential, the need for fleet renewal, and the fact that new ships are more efficient and thus offer higher profit margins.
In addition, new ships have historically generated more passengers. Thus, the introduction of new ships can be expected to help maintain the industry's growth rate.
Overseas shipyard executives have confirmed that they are in negotiations with three to four lines.
Crown Cruise Line, which is launching two new ships - the recently introduced Crown Jewel and next year's Crown Dynasty - has announced plans to build as many as five more ships during the decade. Negotiations for the first ship are already said to be underway with European yards and could lead to a contract before the end of the year.
Crown is reportedly looking to build ships in the same size and price range as its present fleet, that is, with a passenger capacity around 800 and a building cost from $100 million to $140 million.
Majesty Cruise Line, which took delivery of the Royal Majesty this summer, recently announced that it is negotiating for an additional vessel to be deployed in the seven-day market. The Royal Majesty will be sailing three- and four-day cruises year-round from Miami.
Kloster Cruise has said that it has a new ship for the three- and four-day market on the drawing board, but has refused to reveal any more details except that the ship would have a passenger capacity somewhere in the 1,200 to 1,500-passenger range. It would be replacing Norwegian Cruise Line's Westward in Miami.
Kloster Cruise takes delivery of the Dreamward later this year, and a sister ship, the Windward, next year. Last April, the company took delivery of the Royal Viking Queen.
Princess Cruises has said that it is in negotiations with yards for a new generation of ships, code named Princess 3. According to Princess, the new ships will be slightly larger than the line's recent newbuildings, accommodating approximately 2,000 passengers.
Princess has received three large ships over the past three years, the Regal, Crown and Star Princess. Radisson Hotels is said to be planning to build four more cruise ships, including two twin hulled, presumably for Radisson Diamond Cruises, and two mono-hulled vessels. Reports last spring said that the company was prepared to spend more than $500 million on new ships.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has talked about its new project, code-named Project Vision, for some time. These ships are thought to be in the 1,600-passenger range, in other words smaller than RCCL's recent megaliners.
RCCL has taken delivery of two megaliners, the Monarch of the Seas and the Majesty of the Seas in the fall of 1991 and the spring of 1992.
An order by Crystal Cruises may be most imminent, as this cruise line has been planning fleet expansion for some time, but waiting for the opportune time to order. Crystal Cruises launched its first ship the Crystal Harmony in the summer of 1990.
Expansion by Radisson Diamond Cruises is also said to be imminent. The cruise line still has an option on a second Swath concept vessel.
Regency Cruises may also be receiving a new ship, under construction in Greece, especially if the company is acquired by the Lelakis group, which owns the ship.
Seven Seas Cruises has also indicated that it has expansion plans that may include a newbuilding or an acquisition. Seven Seas is owned by "K"' Line.
In addition, the Chandris Group, playing the cards close to its chest, has previously indicated that it is prepared to expand its Celebrity Cruises fleet. Last winter, reports circulated that Chandris was planning a new generation of 1,700- passenger vessels.
In Palm Beach, Grundstad Maritime has stated that is is planning to build a new 1,650- passenger ship for two-, three- and four-day cruises out of Palm Beach. Grundstad Maritime recently sold Crown Cruise Line to the EffJohn Group.
This past summer, Sun Line Cruises also stated that is is planning fleet expansion. Alex Keusseoglou, Vice President, said that his goal is to have three ships in the size range of the 620-passenger Stella Solaris. He indicated the line would acquire ships rather than build.
Delta Queen Steamboat Company has also announced that it will be building a new paddle-steamer for cruise operations on the Mississippi and its tributaries.
Cunard Line is the only major cruise line which has not built or acquired tonnage since 1986, when the line acquired Sea Goddess. Cunard is operating an aging fleet of different types of shlps and would seem to need fleet renewal in order to stay competitive. Although there have been previous reports of newbuilding projects, obviously none of these materialized.
The Cuban Incentive
Industry sources also believe that when Cuba opens up, cruise lines will be scrambling to redeploy ships and will need more ships to fill new and present itinerary programs.
The potential new ship list also includes the 5,600-Phoenix being planned by World City Corporation.
Last winter, Ted Arison, founder and former Chairman of Carnival, who is now in charge of Carnival's new buildings, said that he has a new generation of megaships on the drawing board. His plans called for a wide-beamed vessel resembling an aircraft carrier, with the superstructure on one side and wide open deck space.
The present orderbook includes two newbuildings for Costa Cruise Line, the Costa Allegra and Costa Romantica to be delivered in 1992 and 1993.
Carnival Cruise Lines will be introducing new ships, the Sensation in 1993, the Fascination in 1994 and the Imagination in 1995. In addition, Holland America Line, which is owned by Carnival, will be introducing the Statendam later this year, the Maasdam in 1993 and the Ryndam in 1994.
Carnival is also be expected to continue its building program throughout the decade.