Big ships are back. Royal Caribbean Cruises has struck a deal with STX France in Saint-Nazaire to add a third Oasis class ship to its fleet which could enter service in 2016.
The line, which already operates the two largest crusie liners inon the seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, said during their Q3 investor conference call in October that they were close to ordering a third Oasis Class vessel. On St Stephen’s Day they confirmed that order with STX France, based in St Nazaire. STX Finland (formerly Aker) in Turku, which built Royal Caribbean’s first two Oasis-class vessels, was unable to secure the finance to build a third ship of this size.
It is the clearest signal yet of renewed optimism in the sector. “The Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have fundamentally transformed the cruise experience for our guests,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean. “These ships have consistently generated outstanding guest satisfaction ratings and continue to produce superior financial results. We are thrilled to be adding a sister to this extraordinary class of vessels at a compelling price. Being back building in France just adds to the pleasure.”
Just four giant cruise ships are due for delivery next year, the lowest total since the 2008. They will include the stylish Norwegian Breakaway, joint third largest ship on the seas with its sister Epic.
This will be surpassed in late 2014 by two 4,100 passenger Project Sunshine ships from Royal Caribbean which to be delivered six months apart, the second largest class of passenger ships behind Royal Caribbean International’s existing two giants, Oasis and Allure.
Norwegian Cruise Line will launch Project Breakaway Plus in 2015 to reclaim third place after the two Oasis class ships.
Eight large ships were delivered in 2007, four in 2008, eight in 2009, six in 2010, six in 2011 and seven in 2012.
Despite the Costa Concordia disaster and resulting temporary fall in bookings, the number of international cruise customers is expected to rise again this year. Carnival Cruise Line, which already has a fleet of 25, recently ordered a 4,000-capacity ship, while Holland America has commissioned a 2,660-passenger vessel.
Costa’s largest ship ever, due in 2014, will be a variation of Carnival Cruise Line’s Dream class cruise ship.
The 2013 order book:
- MSC Preziosa – 3,502 passengers
- Norwegian Breakaway – 4,028 passengers
- AIDAstella – 2,192 passengers
- Europa 2 – 516 passengers
- Avalon Artistry II – 164 passengers
- Scenic Jewel – 169 passengers
- Royal Princess – 3,600 passengers
- Le Soleal – 264 passengers