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    Fall 2011: Shipbuilding: Yards Battle for Orders

    There were 22 ships on the orderbooks at press time, including options and memoranda of agreement, for deliveries from 2012 through 2016. While all the new ships are trending larger, they are not going anywhere near the size of the Oasis class. Instead, Royal Caribbean International's new so-called Sunshine class is the largest among the next generation of ships at 158,000 tons with a double-occupancy passenger capacity of 4,100. They are slated for deliveries in 2014 and 2015.

    The latest single-ship orders have come from TUI Cruises and Compagnie du Ponant, and before that from Carnival Corporation for two ships for AIDA Cruises, going to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and one for Costa Crociere, going to Fincantieri.

    According to Carnival, the delivery of the Costa ship in 2014 is expected to replace capacity from the sale of certain older ships beginning with the sale of the Marina, which will be leaving the fleet in November.

    AIDA, meanwhile, is making a giant step, breaking with its medium-sized ship tradition, which has been its trademark.

    The German brand is jumping from its current series of newbuildings at 71,000 tons and 2,174 double occupancy passengers to 125,000 tons and 3,250 passengers. But that is not all. AIDA is also abandoning its long-time German building partner in favor of Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

    Company executives would not comment on the change in strategy, but pricing may have something to do with it as the published construction cost for the new ships are approximately 140,000 euro or $200,000 per berth (at exchange rates at press time) compared to $265,000 for its current newbuildings in Germany.

    At present there is more cruise-ship building capacity than there is demand.

    Fincantieri has the lion's share of orders, but still more capacity, according to company executives.

    Meyer Werft also has a solid orderbook, which industry sources suggest is partially due to Germany being able to offer better export financing with its stronger economy.

    The new ship orders from Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean went to Meyer.

    Meanwhile, STX France is completing one ship for MSC Cruises, the MSC Divina, which is on schedule for May 2012 delivery, and the Europa 2, which will be operated by Hapag-Lloyd. Delivery is slated for 2013. In addition, the yard is completing the ship ordered by Libyan owner, although that contract was cancelled. Instead, STX France is negotiating a sale to a new owner.

    STX Finland has one cruise ship for TUI, plus an option, on its orderbook.

    Carnival Chairman and CEO Micky Arison has stated several times that the company intends to build two to three ships per year going forward. Royal Caribbean Cruises' chairman and CEO Richard Fain has indicated that future buildings would be at a slower pace. MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line have also built regularly, and Norwegian has two ships on order. In addition will be the occasional orders from premium and luxury lines.

    What it boils down to is a future near-term building pace of six to eight ships per year.

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