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New Carnival, Holland America and Royal Caribbean cruise ships

Cruise line logosThree cruise lines have announced orders for new ships as of late. Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America, which are brands operated by Carnival Corporation, will each be getting one new vessel; while Royal Caribbean Cruises has announced a new Oasis-type ship.

Carnival Corporation says that it has reached a memorandum of understanding with Fincantieri in Italy for the building of two new vessels. Its Carnival ship will be 135,000 gross tonnes and have a capacity for 4,000 passengers with a 2016 winter launch – four years after the company launched the Carnival Breeze earlier this year. The vessel for Holland America will be 99,000 gross tonnes and have a capacity to carry 2,660 passengers with a fall 2015 launch – five years after the line launched the Nieuw Amsterdam. The group says the combined cost of the two ships will be about $195,000 per lower berth, which would put the total estimate at almost $1.3 billion.

Carnival hasn’t revealed any details about the new ships and only said in a statement that each will represent a new class for each line. However, the size and capacity reveal that the space ratios will be smaller. The new Carnival ship will be 5% bigger than its predecessor but be able to carry 8.4% more passengers. The new Holland America vessel will be 15% bigger than its predecessor but be able to carry 26% more passengers.

Micky Arison, the chairman and chief executive of Carnival Corporation, says that this announcement is in line with the overall new-build strategy of the company, introducing two or three vessels a year across its ten brands. This gives every brand time to grow its base of passengers and fill new capacity while keeping pricing pressure to a minimum. He added that the increased size of the ships is due to replace existing capacity cuts from potential sales of older ships, to an extent.

Fincantieri chief executive Giuseppe Bono says that these extra orders bring the total number of vessels they have built for Carnival Corporation to 61. This confirms the shipyard’s leadership in the global cruise ship industry, even when demand is slowing. They view these orders as a very positive development for the economy of Italy and the worldwide cruise industry.

Carnival Corp.’s announcement followed Royal Caribbean Cruises revealing that it’s in negotiations for a third Allure- and Oasis-class ship to be built. This style of ship is the biggest in the world and has been so popular with travellers that the company says it hopes to enter into a construction agreement for another one to be delivered by 2016. The cruise line has two 4,100-passenger ships on order already from German shipyard Meyer Werft, which are due to be delivered in 2014 and 2015.

Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and chief executive Richard D. Fain said that the Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas have proven to be exceptionally popular by generating the best satisfaction ratings among guests in their fleet. The vessels also have very attractive financial returns.

The cruise industry has been nearly immune to the economic downturn, despite market conditions giving airlines, hotels, tour operators and other travel companies problems. Last year, the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) says that about 20.6 million people are estimated to have taken a cruise. This is nearly a 10% increase on cruise figures from 2010, and the number is expected to increase again this year despite the Costa Concordia tragedy, which caused a temporary decline in cruise bookings.

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