New builds, new partnerships and other news from the cruise industry
Viking Ocean Cruises will premier it's brand new ship, Viking Star, in Bergen on May 17th, 2015 which is also Norway's constitution day. The ship can accommodate 930 guests and will be sailing in Europe with itineraries in the Mediterranean, the Baltics and Scandinavia. Staying in the luxury segment, Seabourn Cruise Line is adding to their fleet. The Seabourn Encore debuts in 2016 while the Ovation will see the ocean in 2018. Both will be built similar to the Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest which have turned out to be great successes to the company. Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit will be leaving Sebourn for Windstar in the first half of 2015.
The bigger players are adding to their fleets as well. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is adding Anthem of the Seas in the late spring of 2015. She is the sister ship of Quantum of the Seas which is now sailing out of New York before re-positioning to China for her new home port in Shanghai, China. While Quantum and Anthem are both a little bit smaller than their bigger sisters Oasis and Allure of the Seas, they are not exactly small with their GT of 168.666, guest count of almost 4.200 and 1500 crew members. Third sister ship, Ovation of the Seas, will see the light of day in 2016.
Norwegian Cruise Line are not only buying other companies such as Prestige Holdings (Regent and Oceania Cruises), they are also adding to their own brand. Norwegian Escape is set to debut in October 2015 from her home port Miami where she will replace Norwegian Epic. Measuring in at 164.000 GT, she is a little bit smaller than her competitor Quantum of the Seas, but still a very sizeable ship. Sister ship Norwegian Bliss will be ready for passengers in 2017. They both belong to the so called Breakaway Plus class and are being built at Meyer Werft in Germany, as so many ships seem to be these days. There are two additional sisters in the pipeline for Norwegian expected to hit the waves in 2018 and 2019.
Following a couple of rough years, Carnival is now ready for new, bigger ships again. Carnival Vista is currently being built in Italy and she can carry almost 4000 passengers and will debut in the spring of 2016. She will be the 25th ship in the Carnival brand fleet.
More and more cruise lines see the potential in new markets, and China in particular. Both RCCL and Carnival are setting up partnerships to build chinese brand cruise ships in China for the chinese market. RCCL is partnering with Ctirp which is China's largest online travle platform to launch the SkySea which is a refurbished version of the Celebrity Century which has been customized for chinese passengers. Carnival has signed an MOU with Chinese Merchants Group (CMG) to potentially own and operate their own domestic chinese cruise line targeting the chinese market.
Costa Cruises just underwent a shake-up in their Marine department, where they are moving a number of technical positions to Hamburg Germany in an effort to create a central Marine Operations Center for the Costa Group, which is Costa Cruises and AIDA. The new center which will be called Carnival Maritime will be led by Jens Lassen, current Sr. VP Marine Operations for AIDA. This change is much to the dissatisfaction of the current support staff in Genova, Italy.
Norwegian Cruise Line also had their share of organizational changes; Former CEO Kevin Sheenan left his post suddenly and left the position to Frank Del Rio who held the same position for Prestige Holdings. Mr. Del Rio brought with him five Executive VPs and direct reports so effectively, the Prestige team has taken over.