Cruise Ship Segment Once Again Recipient Of Good News, Orders
Legislator Preps Bill Aiming To Jump-start Cruise Ship Building In The U.S. In the eyes of many insiders cruise ship owner/ operators were over-optimistic in ordering several new ships at the beginning of 1993. The impressive run of orders gave business to Chantiers de l'Atlantique, Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani, Kvaerner Masa-Yards, and Meyerwerft, and included an order for the largest cruise ship ever, the 95,000-gt Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) vessel being built at Fincantieri. To the chagrin of number crunchers and delight of cruise ship builders, suppliers and owner/ operators, a mini-ordering spree has started again. And there has been a rumbling of legislation in the U.S., a bill in its infancy (at press time, it was being redrafted) which aims to help U.S. shipyards get in on the cruise ship building action.
RECENT ORDERS At the end of 1993, shipbuilders Kvaerner Masa-Yards and Chantiers de l'Atlantique received early Christmas presents in the form of cruise ship orders.
Kvaerner Masa-Yards received orders for three ships (one is an option), with a total value of $871 million. Carnival Cruise Lines Inc. (CCL) signed a letter of intent for the sixth M/S Fantasy class cruise liner. To be built at Kvaerner Masa- Yards'Helsinki New Shipyard and delivered in the beginning of 1996, the value of the order is for $270 million. The shipyard has already built three 70,000-gt vessels for the CCL fleet—the Fantasy, Ecstasy and Sensation—and is currently building the Fascination and Imagination.
"The consumer acceptance of Fantasy, Ecstasy and Sensation consistently went beyond our expectations with the introduction of each new ship," said CCL president Bob Dickinson, in a prepared statement. "It has provided a clear indication that there is a need for additional tonnage and passenger demand to support it." In addition, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) signed a letter of intent for two (approx.) 73,000-gt cruise liners (the second vessel is an option).
The order is for approximately $610 million, bringing the Kvaerner Masa-Yard take for the three ships nearly $900 million. The first RCCL ship is scheduled for delivery in late 1996; the second is scheduled for September 1997. RCCL already has contracted with Chantiers de l'Atlantique to build a pair of 1,800-passenger ships for delivery in April 1995 and March 1996 under the working project name Project Vision. RCCL recently confirmed the order for the second 1,800-passenger vessel with Chantiers de l'Atlantique.
The two additional ships, coupled with the two vessels already on order, would increase Royal Caribbean's capacity by as much as 53 percent, giving the line a fleetwide total of up t 21,728 lower berths double occupancy.
"The commitment to build these additions ships is a reflection of our belief in the health c the cruise industry, and the strength of Roya Caribbean's position within that industry," sai< Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Roya Caribbean.
U.S. SHIPYARDS* READY FOR ACTION As U.S. shipbuilders work toward being more competitive on commercial contracts on an inter national level, there is a piece of legislation brewing which aims to help the U.S. builders do just at. Representative Jolene isoeld (D-Wash.) is currently eparing the final draft of a bill, atatively dubbed the U.S. Passenr Vessel Development Act, which geared to immediately bolster the askan cruise business out of Setle and in the long run provide uise ship business for U.S. shiptrds. According to Representative nsoeld's chief of staff, Jim Hoff, ancouver is experiencing a boomig cruise ship business, business hich very well could be U.S.-based. he key feature to the proposed bill, ccording to Mr. Hoff, is a provision rhich would provide for US.-flag essels to capture business on the oute. In the plan, foreign-flag vesels would be offered an Interim Jertificate of Documentation by the lecretary of Transportation, which rould in essence demand the vessel iperate as a U.S.-flag ship. The :ertificates would require the op- :rator to replace the vessel with a J.S.-built ship, requiring construction to begin within three years of ;he issuance of the certificate. The highlight of the bill focuses an means to jump-start the U.S. shipbuilding industry; the guts of the bill includes a myriad of incentives for the owner/operators, including specifics on allocations from the Capitol Construction Fund, Title XI Loan Guarantees and tax credits. The specifics are scheduled to be unveiled soon.