Royal Caribbean said on Wednesday it has extended for 13 months options on building two $500 million ships to add to its 21-vessel fleet.
The Miami-based operator of the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity lines said in a news release that it had agreed with the Meyer Werft shipyard of Papenburg, Germany, to extend the options to July 26, 2002, on the so-called Radiance-class ships.
Both options on the 2,100-passenger ships were due to expire on June 27. Royal Caribbean's decision comes amid a dramatic increase in the world's cruise fleets blamed by many for sagging profitability in the sector.
The first of the new class, Radiance of the Seas, was launched in Miami last March and is sailing Alaskan routes this summer. A second Radiance-class ship, Brilliance of the Seas, is scheduled to begin sailing next year.
Two more of the Radiance-class ships, which are narrow enough to pass through the Panama Canal, remain on schedule for delivery to Royal Caribbean in 2003 and 2004, the company said. The options cover the fifth and sixth ships in the class.