Cruise cools to China

Image result for china cruises

By Tom Stieghorst
The cruise industry’s gold rush to China, if not over, has entered a new phase: For the first time in at least four years, cruise capacity in China will not grow in 2018.

That means that the focus and management attention that has been lavished on the world’s most populous country may now be turning elsewhere.

To hear evidence of that, listen to the list of places that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio reeled off when asked if he’s ready to put the second ship in China.

“We have many other either unserved or underserved markets that we would also consider in the mix, should ships become available to us,” Del Rio said in response to a question from a Wells Fargo analyst. “We don’t have a presence in the mid-Atlantic states. We’re not in Baltimore. We’re not in Charleston. We don’t have a presence at all in the world’s second-largest port, which is Fort Lauderdale. We don’t have a presence in the Gulf States of Texas or Alabama. We don’t have a year-round presence in Tampa or New Orleans or in Los Angeles.”

Del Rio went on to say that the Norwegian Cruise Line brand will have three ships in Alaska this summer, where some competitors have as many as eight.

“So, given our fleet size today and the fact that we will only be taking one ship per year, it could be a couple of years before we consider adding more tonnage to China, if the conditions in the rest of the world remain as robust as they are today,” Del Rio said.

The Chinese boom really got going in 2014 when Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced it would devote its brand-new Quantum of the Seas, the first of a new class of ship, to the Chinese market.

In a world full of supposedly bold moves, that one really was. And it prompted other lines for the first time to put brand new ships in China, as everyone feared being left behind in the scramble to impress the Chinese.

Being the preferred brand in a market that was projected to be the biggest in the world in a decade or so was worth the gamble of putting brand new tonnage in an unproven and opaque market.

So when Princess Cruises sent the Majestic Princess to Shanghai last year and Norwegian sent the Norwegian Joy, in addition to the Quantum and ships from Costa Cruises and others, the result was a crowded field.

Throw into the mix the spat between China and South Korea that limited itineraries out of northern China, and China became a much weaker cruise market last year.

While cruise lines insist that they’re in it for the long haul, and even in the short term it has been profitable, the sense that China is going to deliver a big increase in global cruise revenues has been tempered.

Already Norwegian’s focus for 2018 has turned to introducing Norwegian Bliss to the North American market, and in particular the U.S. West Coast. Who knows where else in the U.S. Norwegian ships might be coming next?


Norwegian Encore Will Debut in 2019 in Miami, not China

Norwegian Encore Steel Cutting

Norwegian Cruise Line marked today the start of construction for its newest ship with a steel cutting ceremony.

Named Norwegian Encore, the latest addition to its fleet will sail the Caribbean from Miami seasonally beginning fall 2019.

No mention was made of the previous announcement that the ship would be designed for the Chinese market.

Norwegian confirmed the ship will begin sailings from Miami in fall 2019 in a prepared statement.

“Norwegian Encore will be the ultimate Breakaway Plus Class vessel and we are thrilled to celebrate the start of construction for this incredible new ship,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “Over 50 years ago the Norwegian brand began creating unforgettable vacation moments with the first inter-island cruise in the Caribbean from Miami. We continue building on our legacy of innovation with this brand-new state-of-the-art vessel perfect for exploring the natural beauty of some of the most remarkable islands in the world.”

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will sail weekly seven-day Caribbean cruises each Sunday from PortMiami.

“We are excited to start production for Norwegian Encore and to create another floating destination for Norwegian Cruise Line,” said Stephan Schmees, Executive Board Member Project Management Ships, Meyer Werft.

The Norwegian Encore will be the seventeenth ship in the Norwegian fleet and the line’s fourth and final ship in the Breakaway Plus Class, described as the most successful class in the brand’s history.

In addition, Norwegian recently made changes to its China management team.

Cruise Fleet to Reach 315 Ships and $35.5 Billion in Revenue in 2016

The cruise industry will reach 315 ships this year, generating an estimated $35.5 billion in ticket and onboard revenue worldwide, up from $33.2 billion last year according to the 2016-2017 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

The North American market will represent approximately 56 percent of the global industry in terms of passenger sourcing and revenue; Europe 27 percent, and the Asia/Pacific region 17 percent.

Year-over-year, the market shares for North America and Europe have contracted from 59 and 29 percent respectively in 2015, while the Asia/Pacific region has grown from 12 to 17 percent.

The global passenger capacity is estimated at 23.6 million this year, up from 22 million last year.

About the Annual Report:

The Cruise Industry News Annual Report is the only book of its kind, presenting the worldwide cruise industry through 2025 in 350+ pages. Statistics are independently researched. Learn more by clicking here.

The report covers everything from new ships on order to supply-and-demand scenarios from 1987 through 2021+. Plus there is a future outlook, complete growth projections for each cruise line, regional market reports, and detailed ship deployment by region and market, covering all the cruise lines. New for 2016-2017 based on customer feedback are detailed Chinese market statistics and projections.