By Wendy Laursen 2015-10-12 18:08:05
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the introduction of the first purpose-built ship customized for the China market in 2017, part of a wider industry push for newbuildings and the Asian market.
Currently under construction at Meyer Werft, the new 4,200 guest ship Norwegian Bliss is designed specifically for the Chinese market with accommodations, cuisine and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests.
The new ship will be the second of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus class and will be delivered in Spring 2017. Norwegian will take delivery of the line’s first Breakaway Plus class ship, Norwegian Escape, next week on October 22. Two additional ships in this class are on order for delivery in 2018 and 2019.
Like 2014, the last year has seen a flurry of new orders, with most of the established brands now represented in the orderbook, along with newcomers Viking Ocean and newest of all Virgin Cruises.
Following deliveries of six ships in each of 2014 and 2015, 28 ships averaging almost 29,000 lower berths per annum are now on order for delivery during the following three years, 2016-18, reports analyst GP Wild. The seven year stretch of the current orderbook is unprecedented, and it is likely that further vessels will be ordered beyond 2018.
“As well as latent demand built up during the aftermath of the global downturn and the loss of confidence post-Costa Concordia the expansion of the Chinese market is a major driver of fleet growth,” says Peter Wild of GP Wild.
China is expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world. From 2012 to 2014, the number of Chinese passengers grew 79 percent per year. In 2014, 697,000 passengers were from mainland China which is almost as many passengers as all other Asian markets combined (701,000).
Carnival Adds More
Earlier this year, Carnival Corporation announced the addition of two ships to its China fleet in 2016. With the two new ships, Carnival’s total capacity in China will increase by an additional 58 percent in 2016, a response to the double-digit annual returns the group is experiencing in China.
Carnival’s fleet of six China-based ships will include expanded offerings from Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises. Together, the brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016.
Princess Cruises will send its Golden Princess ship to northern China, sailing out of Tianjin on a seasonal basis. Golden Princess joins the brand’s first China-based ship, Sapphire Princess, which has been homeported in Shanghai since 2014 and will start sailing year-round in China in 2016.
The brand’s two-ship deployment in 2016 will more than double its total available guest capacity in China compared to 2015 and includes its exclusive Princess Class experience designed specifically for the Chinese market.
Costa Cruises will debut Costa Fortuna in April 2016 as its fourth ship based in China. Costa Fortuna joins Costa Serena, Costa Atlantica and Costa Victoria already based in China, increasing the brand’s total available capacity in China by 43 percent in 2016.
In addition to expanding its presence in China in 2016, Carnival recently announced that the latest ship under construction for its Princess brand will be based in China year-round when introduced in summer 2017.
Carnival is also exploring potential joint ventures in China with China Merchants Group (CMG) and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) designed to accelerate the growth of the overall cruise industry in China, including the possibility of launching a world-class Chinese domestic cruise brand, building new ships in China, and supporting port and infrastructure development.
Royal Caribbean’s Expansion
Royal Caribbean International celebrated the arrival of Quantum of the Seas in Shanghai in June. The vessel will sail on three- to eight-night, roundtrip itineraries, year-round from Shanghai to North Asia destinations.
Quantum of the Seas joined Voyager of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in China and together reaffirm the brand’s commitment to the Asian market.