Is a shipbuilding duopoly good for the cruise industry?

In the modern facilities, the most technologically sophisticated cruise ships are being built.
Before the end of 2017, it looks like there will be a worldwide duopoly in the business of building cruise ships. Can this be good for cruise lines, their customers or travel agents?
It would come about if Italy’s Fincantieri buys the French shipyard in Saint-Nazaire where Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas, and a string of other ships, have been built. (Fincantieri won’t buy all of the Saint-Nazaire yard. The French government will hold onto a one-third stake.)
The yard is currently operating under the name STX France, but the STX parent company, based in Korea, has been trying to sell it to consolidate its way out of financial trouble.
A South Korean court recently approved Fincantieri as the approved bidder.
STX already sold its yard in Turku, Finland, to Germany’s Meyer Werft, the other big name in cruise ship building. Together, Fincantieri and Meyer Werft would dominate cruise shipbuilding the way Boeing and Airbus control the world’s output of commercial jetliners. (Fincantieri has built almost all of the recent Carnival Corp. brand vessels while Meyer Werft has delivered most of Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest ships, among others).
The business of building jets and cruise ships is similar. Both are capital intensive businesses, with a need for specialized labor and a network of subcontractors. Both are subject to wicked swings in the business cycle that can leave them with either more work than they can handle or none at all.
Big cruise lines spend billions of dollars annually on new ships. Yet it is telling that there were no bidders other than Fincantieri for the French yard. It is a very specialized and risky business.
Does it matter to the cruise lines that there are only two suppliers left to do business with?  It doesn’t seem to matter much to the airlines, who haven’t been cornered by the Airbus-Boeing duopoly. One difference may be that there are dozens of customers for the plane makers, but less than a dozen for cruise yards.
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Fincantieri’s yard in Trieste. Credit: Fincantieri
One well-informed source in the industry rated Fincantieri’s takeover of STX France as “neutral to slightly negative” for cruise operators. The reduction in negotiating partners is a negative, while the stability of having the yard in the hands of a familiar, known entity somewhat offsets that.
There are some other players in the shipbuilding game. Genting Hong Kong bought several German yards, which will build the future ocean and river ships for Crystal Cruises, the line Genting acquired in 2015, and the Chinese government, which has partnered with Fincantieri to begin building ships in China.
Neither poses much of a current threat to the duopoly. So for the foreseeable future, if you want to build a big cruise ship, the choices are Meyer Werft or Fincantieri.
Let’s hope it doesn’t mean anything negative for the cruise lines or their travel partners.

Norwegian Bliss to debut in Seattle for 2018 Alaska season

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At 167,800gt, Norwegian Bliss will become the largest cruise ship in Alaska

It’s official: Norwegian Cruise Line is calling its 2018 newbuild Norwegian Bliss and will base the ship in Seattle for its inaugural Alaska season after a positioning voyage through the Panama Canal’s new locks.

Bliss will sail from Pier 66 where a $30m upgrade is going to vastly expand check-in space, add a VIP lounge and two new passenger boarding bridges.

‘Norwegian was the first cruise line to begin cruising to Alaska from Seattle in 2000 and it’s only fitting that we bring our newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, directly to this incredible location,’ said Norwegian president and ceo Andy Stuart.

The long-rumored deployment was confirmed Thursday in a ceremony at Pier 66 by Stuart, alongside Port of Seattle ceo Ted Fick and Port of Seattle Commission president John Creighton.

The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss will have undisclosed features that optimize it for Alaska. The 167,800gt ship will also become the largest passenger vessel in the region, outsizing Royal Caribbean International’s 138,000gt Explorer of the Seas which sailed to the Great Land this year.

Under construction at Meyer Werft, Norwegian Bliss is scheduled for delivery in spring 2018. After a trans-Atlantic cruise and a Panama Canal transit through the new locks, the ship will sail north along the US West Coast, reaching Seattle for the start of the summer season.

Weekly Inside Passage cruises will call at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, BC, along with scenic glacier cruising.

Marine life artist Wyland has been commissioned to design the hull artwork for Norwegian Bliss. Known for his iconic whale murals, marine life paintings and sculptures, Wyland raises awareness about the importance of conservation. His design for the hull of Norwegian Bliss will be revealed later this month.

The expansion and upgrades of Pier 66 spring from 2015’s historic 15-year agreement between Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and the Port of Seattle. Collectively they will invest $30m to expand the check-in space by 300% to more than 150,000 square feet and add a VIP lounge with expansive views of Elliott Bay. Two new elevated passenger boarding bridges will be installed, too.

The 15-year lease gives priority to NCLH ships, including those of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and provides passenger volume guarantees estimated to bring $73m to the port.

‘As we cross the one million passenger [movements] mark next year, having the largest vessel scheduled on the West Coast for the 2018 cruise season shows real commitment by Norwegian Cruise Line to invest in Seattle,’ Port Commission president Creighton said. ‘Larger cruise vessels like the Norwegian Blissmean more passengers, bringing more revenue and jobs to our region.’

Undocking at Meyer Werft: Genting legend has left the building dock

The latest cruise giant Meyer Werft, the “Genting Dream” has, II leave the covered building dock in Papenburg today in good weather. Meter by meter of the 335 meter long building for the Asian shipping Dream Cruises pushed ahead slowly.

Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
PAPENBURG. Extensive testing of security systems, mechanical and plant trials and the completion of the interior had determined in the last few weeks the yard everyday. Due to current weather forecasts undocking was still postponed at short notice, but against 14:15 the time had finally come: the “Genting Dream” made her first meters. Supported by 4 tugs they slid stern first slowly toward sunlight. Hundreds of onlookers had gone on Friday afternoon to the Papenburg shipyard basin to ogle the first new construction. special, brightly colored hull paint particularly caught her eye.
The ship made finally fixed at the pier in the shipyard harbor where the installation of the chimney is carried out. On the outfitting of the Meyer Werft the final work and tests are carried out to the ship in the following days. Few days later, the first members of the crew then their cabins reflect on the ship and to become familiar with the ship. Already in mid-September will then begin their Emsüberführung direction Eemshaven, the “Genting Dream”. This is followed by sea trials and the final final outfitting in Bremerhaven before she is expected to be handed over on 12.10.2016 to the shipping company.
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Even the next boat, the “Norwegian Joy ‘that is to follow in the spring of 2017, is making great progress. Already in the morning has a vast 100-meter long swimming part, that was before the “Genting Dream”, also left the building dock. One More was already longer on Werftpier. It had to take place and be hauled. Both sections will now be docked again.
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
Photo: Tobuas Bruns
The “Genting Dream”, or in Chinese also云顶梦, has to have a length of 335 meters, a width of 39.7 meters and a size of 151,300 GT. The client is the Asian shipping Dream Cruises (Hong Kong), which is part of the Genting Group. Also planned for autumn 2017 sistership called “World Dream”.
It will accommodate 3,360 passengers and 2,000 crew members, suggesting a ship for the premium segment. Of the 1,680 cabins, 1,278 are outside cabins. One thing is certain, according to Tan Sri Lim, CEO of the shipping company: “The ship is ready to hold many special features for the Chinese market.”   So is the “Genting Dream” have two small deep-sea submarines, each four passengers up to 200 meters depth can convey. Much aboard similar to Breakaway-class of Norwegian Cruise Line, which also belong to Genting.