Australian cruisers can look forward to an enormous variety of new cruise ships and refurbished vessels to choose from, with more than 30 new ships launched or promised in the past 24 hours.
Cruise giant Carnival Corporation announced today nine new ships and Carnival Australia pledged a half-billion dollar refurbishment to its homeported fleet.
The parent company of Carnival Australia, Holland America, Princess, P&O and five other major lines said the new cruise ships “would be based on Carnival Corporation’s next-generation ship designs, which will produce the most efficient ships in the company’s history.”
They will add to the line’s 101 vessels flying its flags, including Cunard, Italy-based Costa Cruises, German line Aida Cruises; UK-based P&O; and luxury line Seabourn.
Carnival’s nine brands currently have 101 ships in operation.
No-one at Carnival Australia was saying whether the announcement would impact the homeported fleet, though a new ship based in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne would be an enormous boon.
Australia is, after all, the cruise market with the world’s biggest growth figures. P&O is taking the Aria and the Eden from Holland America later this year, and Carnival Australia has the Legend and Spirit. A third vessel for the line has long been speculated.
Five of the new vessels are to be built in Italy and four in Germany or Finland. The yards had given options to build even more if needed. Carnival said the new ships are expected to serve established cruise markets in North America and Europe, as well as newer markets, including China.
There has been some concern among US Passengers, particularly those of Royal Caribbean, about the number of new ships like Quantum of the Seas heading for the South China Sea.
The vessels will be in addition to several new ships already ordered for delivery between now and 2019.
Both the Carnival and Holland America brands are scheduled for new ships in 2016 and 2018, with a new Princess ship in 2017 and Seabourn to take two luxury ships in the same year. Carnival is not the only line looking to expand.
This weekend sees the launch of a brand new Ocean brand – and Viking Cruises founder Torstein Hagen has flagged he will have a fleet of 10 liners over the next few years, making the Viking Line one of the most aggressive players. Viking already launched 12 new river ships in Europe this month, bringing their fleet to 64. AND the line is planning a wave of river ships on the Mississippi and other American rivers to challenge the paddle-ships.
But first, the line has to make the tantalizing transition from mass river cruise operator to luxury ocean liner, with the 930-passenger Viking Star as the vanguard.
The 47,800 tonne Star has 14 decks, two pools including a main pool and an infinity pool. There’s also a spa and fitness centre. She will have two specialty restaurants, the Italian Manfredi and The Chef’s Table.
Two sister ships, the Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are on order and expect to be launched next year.
The all-verandah Star will enter service on April 11. Its maiden season will see the line cruise on itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the British Isles.
Meanwhile Royal Caribbean has announced its third Quantum class ship, Ovation of the Seas, will be homeported in Tianjin when it launches in April 2016.
Tianjin acts as a cruise port for the capital, Beijing. This move gives Royal Caribbean five ships based in the region, the largest fleet for any brand. Ovation joins sister ships Quantum, Voyager, Legend and Mariner in Chinese waters with homeports in Shanghai, Xiamen and Hong Kong. Royal Caribbean’s president and CEO Michael Bayley said of the decision “cruising has become very popular for Chinese consumers and Royal Caribbean is already capturing their imaginations with our industry-leading cruise ships. We are furthering our commitment by bringing two of the world’s newest and most advanced Quantum class cruise ships to the region.”
This move is again good news for Australian cruisers, putting five Royal Caribbean ships – including two Quantum class ships – with almost 20,000 beds into the region.
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