With MSC Cruises entering the luxury market with dedicated 1,000-guest ships, the family-owned company will be the third biggest luxury operator by 2027, according to Cruise Industry News estimates.
Viking Ocean will control most of the market pie, with 18 ships and an estimated market share of 35.7 per cent based on passenger capacity.
Silversea, with an aggressive newbuilding program and a new owner in Royal Caribbean Cruises, will be the second largest luxury line, with 12 ships and 13 per cent of the market come 2027, based on the existing cruise ship orderbook.
MSC Cruises is next, as the Italian brand will have four 64,000-ton luxury ships, 4,000 berths and just under 10 per cent of the luxury market, not including the company’s Yacht Club berths on its quickly-expanding fleet of megaships.
Crystal and Seabourn round out the top five, as both are expanding into the expedition market with new ships and Crystal has also committed to a new class of larger ocean-going vessels.
Cunard has announced plans to add a fourth ship to its fleet – its first new ship in 12 years.
The new 3,000 passenger ship, which will be built at the Fincantieri shipyard, was announced as Cunard marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the legendary QE2.
The new ship will join the fleet in 2022, joining Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
It will be the first time since 1998 that the brand has had four ships in service at the same time. The new build will be the 249th ship to fly the Cunard flag, according to the line.
Simon Palethorpe, senior vice president of Cunard, said: “We have only recently marked the 50th anniversary of one of Cunard’s much-loved ocean liners, the legendary QE2.
“What better way to celebrate her important role in Cunard’s past than by announcing our commitment to Cunard’s future with the commissioning of a new ship. Cunard offers unrivalled luxury ocean experiences and the new ship firmly underpins our plans to continue our growth across international markets.”
The news of Cunard’s expansion comes just a week after Silversea announced a new ship order.
Silversea said the move signalled buoyancy in the market. These two announcements are the latest sign of the strength of the luxury cruise sector, with Ritz-Carlton recently announcing its plans to enter the cruise sector with three yachts. Meanwhile, Celebrity Cruises has three ships on order, Ponant has four, and Crystal Cruises, Scenic, Seabourn and Star Clippers also have new vessels set to launch.
Silversea said the new Silver Muse will become its flagship vessel.
Silversea Cruises has ordered a 596-passenger ship from Fincantieri that the luxury line is calling its new flagship vessel.
To be called Silver Muse, the 40,000-gross-ton ship is expected to be delivered in the spring of 2017. It will be Silversea’s largest ship and the ninth in its fleet.
“This ship contributes to our ambitious growth plans that will ensure our continued leadership in ultra-luxury cruising,” Silversea CEO Enzo Visone said in a statement.
Silversea’s most recent new ship is the 540-passenger Silver Spirit, delivered in December 2009. It has acquired several small expedition-style ships since then. Silversea said additional specifications and details of the new ship would be announced in the near future.
Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Crystal Cruises are among the luxury lines with new ships in the works.