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(29-03-2010)

Shipyards Anxious For New Cruise Ship Orders - The "Daily Telegraph" Cruise Show in London - P&O's New Azura Delivered - Pullmantur's English-Language Brochure



by Mark Tre' - "The Cruise Examiner"

In recent years four countries in Europe have built the vast majority of new cruise ships, these being Italy, France, Germany and Finland, and two aspiring countries in Japan and South Korea. That was true until very recently, when STX of Korea took control of the major cruise ship yards in Finland and France.
This week we also look at this year's "Daily Telegraph" cruise show in London, the delivery last week of P&O's new Azura and an English-language brochure from Pullmantur.


STORY OF THE WEEK

Shipyards Anxious for New Orders

In recent years there have been four major cruise ship building yards in Italy (Fincantieri), France (Chantiers de l'Atlantique), Germany (Meyer Werft) and Finland (Aker), and two aspiring yards in Japan (Mitsubishi) and South Korea (STX). That was true at least until recently when STX took control of the majors in Finland and France by acquiring Aker Yards, which had also recently acquired control of the former Chantiers de l'Atlantique.
And two new entries, Samsung and Daewoo, who have both built overnight ferries, are now arriving from South Korea.

The past year or two, with the world financial crisis, has seen a lull until recently in orders for new cruise ships as the world adjusted to the new reality. Without new orders the shipyards will soon begin to lose their skilled workers. However, if they can hold on, there is no question that more new ships will be needed as the cruise market continues to grow worldwide. Literally dozens of new cruises ships will be required over the next few years.
For now, however, the world recession that has stopped new orders means that some shipyards may end up with empty berths.

Most successful so far in landing orders as confidence returns and orders re-commence is Fincantieri, which has already landed one order from Carnival Cruise Lines and two for a new design for Princess Cruises. Even prior to these orders, Fincantieri had work going forward, with four ships for delivery this year (Azura, Le Boréal, Nieuw Amsterdam and Queen Elizabeth), four more for 2011 (Carnival Magic, Costa Favolosa, L'Austral and Marina) and three for 2012 (orders for Compagnie du Ponant, Costa and Oceania's Riviera).

Second most successful in getting new business, and most in need of the work, STX France has managed to obtain an order for a single ship from MSC Cruises. Parent company STX Europe, builder of the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, has built or is now building the fifteen largest cruise ships in the world in its French and Finnish yards. Many of these were three series of large ships for Royal Caribbean, but they also include the Norwegian Epic for NCL, Queen Mary 2 for Cunard and several ships for MSC.

After STX completes the Allure of the Seas, building in Finland, and the Norwegian Epic, building in France, their cruise ship order books come to an end. It is no wonder then that the name of Nicolas Sarkozy came to the fore in the negotiation of the latest MSC order, as employment in the St Nazaire region depends heavily on STX France, in which the French still retain a large number of shares.

Meyer Werft, meanwhile, seems to be in reasonable shape. With only one delivery this year, next month's Celebrity Eclipse, future orders nevertheless include three cruise ships for 2011 (one each for Aida, Celebrity and Disney) and three more for 2012, a direct repeat of the 2011 trio. Meyer Werft has been successful in the past with fill-in orders, building container ships between cruise ships, for example, but container ship tonnage is now in huge oversupply.

Another European yard, niche operator T Marriotti in Genoa, still has two orders yet for delivery, in the Seabourn Sojourn this year and Seabourn Quest in 2011, but no orders beyond. Marriotti is at present converting the Carnival Celebration into the Grand Celebration for Carnival's Spanish subsidiary Iberocruceros.

A recent order of interest, still at letter of intent stage, is the all-suite ship Utopia, for Utopia Residences of Beverly Hills, California. As well as 200 residences, which are selling for prices between $3.7 million and $26 million, the Utopia will feature a 206-suite Utopian Hotel, for those who wish just to take a cruise.

The $1.1 billion Utopia, due for delivery in 2013, is being built by Samsung Heavy Industries, a shipyard that has not yet produced a cruise ship, although it has built a pair of new ferries for Stena Line. With experience from the Stena Line ferries and this 971-foot ship, Samsung will have the fitting out experience that will allow them to go after more cruise ship business.

As well as the Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC and Apollo groiups, which will need dozens of new ships, there are two or three potential new entries into the newbuilding arena. A possible first order, because they have the largest fleet, may come from Louis Cruises of Cyprus, who are said to have been discussing a new design with South Korean builders Daewoo Shipbuilding. To carry around 2,000 passengers, the Louis ship would reportedly be for charter to a tour operator.
The main tour operator to whom Louis now has ships on charter is of course the UK's Thomson Cruises, who are imminently to take over the Costa Europa and Thomson Dream. Daewoo has gained passenger ship experience as it has built and is building a number of new ferries for Blue Star Ferries of Greece.

Others said to have been in play for possible newbuildings once economic conditions turn around include Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Saga Holidays in the UK and Phoenix Reisen in Germany. And no doubt others will appear.


THIS WEEK IN CRUISING

The "Daily Telegraph" Cruise Show in London

Saturday and Sunday saw the 2nd Annual "Daily Telegraph" Cruise show, held at London's Olympia, a show venue that was infinitely better than the 2009 show at Excel, an exhibition hall that is located in London's boondocks, literally, in Docklands. Situated in a wasteland, Excel may be popular for trade shows, but it is no place for a consumer show like the "Daily Telegraph" show. London's Olympia, while an older hall, is close to central London and has its own dedicated Underground line running from Earl's Court station.

Many more cruise lines attended this year than last and attendance was also well up, in fact it was even too crowded on Saturday morning. The Carnival Corp & PLC lines were all there in a large stand for the World's Leading Cruise Lines, with separate sections for each of Carnival, P&O, Holland America, Yachts of Seabourn, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line and Costa Cruises, probably the first time that all these lines have been seen together at a consumer show. Across from them on the same floor were Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara Club Cruises, with each line having a larger area than any of the World's Leading Cruise Lines.

Also in attendance from the UK market were Hebridean Island Cruises, Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery with a single stand, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Saga Holidays and Spirit of Adventure, among others.

In the luxury and ultra-luxury arena all of Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club and Silversea were in attendance (as were Seabourn in the Carnival camp and Azamara), and from the river lines there were AMA Waterways, Avalon Waterways, eWaterways, European Waterways and Viking River Cruises. Adventure and small ship operators Compagnie du Ponant, Galapagos Classic Cruises, Hurtigruten, Noble Caledonia and Voyages to Antiquity were there as well. And Disney Cruise Lines further added to the choice of product.

From elsewhere, Germany's Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, now operating a number of international cruises that cater to English-speakers on its high-end ships including the top-rated Europa, and Spain's Pullmantur Cruises, with an English-language all-inclusive brochure, both attended as well. That two "outside" lines should attend emphasizes the newly-acquired importance not only of this show but also the UK cruise market. The importance of that market was also emphasized by the fact that two Azamara Club Cruises executives, Larry Pimentel and Edie Bornstein chose to attend in person. And Royal Caribbean even brought its climbing wall.

The media were in attendance as well. In addition to a presentation by Douglas Ward from the "Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships" on the last forty years of cruising, from the Atlantic liners to today, and river cruising, there were talks by "Daily Telegraph" cruise writer Jane Archer and a panel moderated by cruise writer Gary Buchanan on small ship cruising, plus others on luxury cruising and adventure cruising. In addition to the presence of "Daily Telegraph" cruise and travel writers, two magazines, "Food and Travel" and "World of Cruising," and web site cruisecritic.co.uk, took stands at the show.

In its second year, this show was much more successful than in its first appearance, largely due to the more central location, one that can be easily reached from both main airports and main line railway stations.


P&O's New Azura Delivered

P&O took delivery on Friday of the 115,055-ton Azura, the first British cruise ship (or cruise ship of any nationality for that matter) to feature an alternative Indian restaurant, headed up by Michelin-starred Indian restaurateur Atul Kochhar. This ship will also feature more than 900 balconies, compared to 880 on the Ventura.

Unlike her near sister ship, the 116,071-ton Ventura of 2008 which is a ship for families, the 3,100-lower-berth Azura, to be introduced at Southampton next month, will be an adults only ship. With the much smaller 700-berth Adonia joining the fleet soon as an adults only ship as well, and the 1,996-berth adults-only Arcadia, this will give P&O passengers a range of ship sizes to choose from for those who wish to avoid children (who can offer naumber around 500 or more during UK school holidays).

Alongside the Azura in the yard is the still-completing Queen Elizabeth for sister company Cunard Line. More to follow when the new P&O ship arrives in Southampton in April.


Pullmantur's English-Language Brochure

Pullmantur's attendance at the "Daily Telegraph" cruise show seems to have coincided with the publication of an English-language brochure for their Mediterranean, Caribbean, Baltic and Mexican Riviera programs. Although a Spanish-speaking product, this Royal Caribbean subsidiary differentiates itself from other main market lines by offering an all-inclusive product that includes bar drinks and wine with lunch and dinner.

Now included in the Pullmantur fleet are two former Royal Caribbean ships, in the Sovereign and Empress (formerly of the Seas), two ex-Celebrity ships, in the Zenith and Pacific Dream (ex-Horizon) and the Ocean Dream, which was once Carnival's first newbuilding, the Tropicale.
Also included in the Pullmantur English-language brochure is the Bleu de France, operated by Pullmantur division Croisières de France in the French market.


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