CARNIVAL ORDERS FIRST NEW BUILD FOR P&O CRUISES, AUSTRALIA

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P&O Australia is ploughing full speed a head with a first ever, dedicated new build

Carnival Corporation has announced the construction of a first ever, purpose built cruise ship for it’s P&O Australia brand.

The ship is part of a brand new, four ship order from Italy’s Fincantieri yard for the Carnival portfolio of lines. In addition to the P&O Australia build, there will be two dedicated vessels for Costa’s operation for the Chinese market in Asia, and another ship for Princess Cruises, based on the popular Royal Princess platform.

All four new vessels are expected to be delivered between 2019 and 2020.

But it is the new build for the Australian market that is especially interesting. Thus far, all of the P&O Australia fleet has been reconditioned former tonnage, taken from the likes of Ocean Village, and Holland America Line.

The new, as yet nameless vessel is said to have a passenger capacity of 4,200. Following on from the projected 2017 debut of the Pacific Explorer (currently sailing as the Dawn Princess) the new ship will bring the P&O Australia fleet up to a total of six vessels- a quite remarkable achievement in such a relatively short space of time.

She will also constitute the first, purpose built vessel for the P&O Australia fleet, and her much larger passenger capacity puts her on a par with the 150,000 ton class of cruise ships that seems to be becoming the worldwide industry standard size these days.

Interesting times, for sure. As ever, stay tuned.

THREE OF THE BEST; UPCOMING NEWBUILDS FOR 2016

As 2015 goes full steam ahead into it’s second half, I thought now might be a good time to look forward to some of the new builds coming on line in 2016.

All three represent a pioneering new class of vessel for their respective owners. And, while two of these could well simply prove to be the lead ships of a new platform over time, one of them is almost certainly a total one off, a ship as individual as each of her three current fleet mates.

Firstly, Holland America Line has the superb new Koningsdam.  Coming on line in February, she is the first of a so-called new ‘Pinnacle class’ of vessels. Due to be delivered in March 2016, the 99,500 ton, 2,650 passenger Koningsdam will be the largest vessel ever delivered to Holland America.

Also being built in same Fincantieri yard as the Koningsdam is a larger, first of class vessel for parent company, Carnival Corporation. The brand new Carnival Vista is scheduled for an April delivery. Her maiden, thirteen night Mediterranean sailing on May 1st will mark not only the formal start of her career, but the first series of Carnival cruises anywhere in Europe for several years.

Carnival Vista is essentially an expanded and updated version of the very popular Dream class trio; she will have a gross tonnage of 133,500, and a passenger capacity of 3,936. After an inaugural season of Mediterranean cruises, the Carnival Vista will cross from Barcelona to New York in late October, prior to starting a season of winter cruises from the American east coast.

Definitely set to make a big splash- in every sense of the word- is the new, ultra deluxe Seven Seas Explorer, also fitting out at the ubiquitous, seemingly all conquering Fincantieri yard in Italy.

The first new build for Regent Seven Seas Cruises since 2003, this ultra luxury ship is setting its sights firmly on being, quite simply, the most luxurious ship in the world. Coming in at around 54,000 tons, the 700 guest ship will feature all balcony suites, making her one of the few ships in the world that can make such a claim.

These three ships offer a trio of very diverse products that largely cross the spectrum of the modern cruise industry. Each will be a trailblazer in it’s own way. And it is for certain that the progress and performance of each vessel will be very closely monitored by the competition.

Interesting times. As ever, stay tuned.

Regent's new masterpiece, Seven Seas Explorer, is set to be unveiled in 2016

Regent’s new masterpiece, Seven Seas Explorer, is set to be unveiled in 2016

VIKING STAR HANDED OVER AT FINCANTIERI

In a low key but none the less auspicious ceremony, the brand new 47,800 ton. 930 passenger Viking Star was handed over to her owners, Viking Ocean Cruises, by the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy on Saturday, March 28th.

The yard- itself said to be on the verge of taking over the rival STX yard at Saint Nazaire- delivered the first of three confirmed orders for the premium grade company that has come to dominate European river cruising. Two sister ships of the same size and class- Viking Sky and Viking Sea- are due to debut in 2016, and the company also has an option for a fourth ship in the same class.

The ship- very much aimed at a classic style of cruising that emphasises in depth destination visits and on board hospitality rather than gimmicks and glitz- will make a series of shakedown cruises before being finally named in Oslo, Norway, on May 17th- Norwegian Constitution Day.

The advent of Viking Star is hugely symbolic, and redolent with memories of the old Royal Viking Line of the 1970’s and 80’s. Firmly ensconced in the intimate, small ship category, Viking Star will offer free beer and wine with dinner, making the product wholly compatible in terms of value with the river cruise fleet.

I’ll be looking in depth at this new, very special ship as more details become available. As always, stay tuned.

FOUR NEW ORDERS FOR FINCANTIERI?

MSC look set to confirm yet another two ship order from Fincantieri

MSC look set to confirm yet another two ship order from Fincantieri

I mentioned in a previous blog that MSC Cruises were very strongly rumoured to be about to announce a second pair of new builds, in addition to the pair of new mega ships just ordered from the French shipyard, STX. It now looks like that announcement could be imminent.

The two new Italian builds are bruited to be of around 152,000 tons, with a length of some 310 metres each, and a projected total cost of some 1.4 billion euros. The first ship could be slated for delivery as early as 2017.

And- as previously alluded- the same yard is also expected to announce confirmation of yet another order, this time for a brace of sister ships for Oceania Cruises. Unlike the new MSC designs, these two vessels are reported to be another pair of sisters for that company’s first two, highly popular new builds, Marina and Riviera.

The Italian yard has been fantastically busy, and indeed it still is. As well as the above projected announcements, Fincantieri is also cutting the steel, ready for all four of the Lirica class lengthenings. Beginning at the end of the autumn, each ship will be cut in half, then have a new mid section inserted.

The yard is also in the process of putting the finishing touches to the rival Costa Cruises new flagship, the Costa Diadema, which is due to debut this coming November, and is also building the fourth, expanded Odyssey class ship for Seabourn, as well as the new Seven Seas Explorer for Regent Seven Seas, the first new ship for that line in more than a decade.

The yard has literally just delivered the second of class Regal Princess, and is working now on outfitting the Britannia for P&O Cruises, a vessel built to the same design. In addition, the yard is also building the 47,000 ton cruise ship, Viking Star, for Viking Cruises, and also two similar sized sister ships which have recently been confirmed.

This construction programme amounts to a quite astonishing coup for the Fincantieri yard. While the likes of Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean continue to favour the Meyer Werft yard at Papenburg for their new builds, and the once dominant shipyards of Finland seem to be floundering, it is the Italian yard that is picking up orders for a whole raft of diverse new cruise ship designs, ranging from the mass market to the ultra luxury products.

With an enviable record for delivering superb quality vessels, on time and within budgets, the dominance of Fincantieri as the world’s pre eminent builder of cruise ships seems assured, at least for the next few years.

As always, stay tuned.