Expedition cruise newbuild drive creates surge in contracts for Chinese and mid-sized yards - with more orders to come
The boom in expedition cruising has led to a surge in orders to Chinese and smaller European yards – and it is a trend set to grow sharply.
According to BRL Consultants’ data, 23 expedition cruise ships are set to be delivered between 2017-2021. And this sector’s rapid increase can be traced as one ship is due to delivered this year, soaring to nine in 2019.
While the cruise shipbuilding sector is still dominated by the big three yards in Europe: Fincantieri, Meyer Werft and STX France, they are mainly focused on the large cruise ships, so the emergence of expedition cruise ships has allowed Chinese yards and smaller European yards to enter the sector.
Chinese Merchants Industry Holdings shipyard is building all five of SunStone Ships’s expedition newbuilds; expedition cruise ships are likely to be the first cruise sector to strongly develop in China; it is less risky and more controllable than building large cruise ships.
Small European yards are also building expedition cruise ships, with Kleven in Norway building Hurtigruten’s expedition ships and Vard building Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Ponant’s new ships. Indeed, it is an area that Vard is focused on as it said “there are still unrealised opportunities for Vard in this segment”.
And shipyards totally new to cruise ships are being given the opportunity to enter the market. German shipyard Abeking & Rasmussen has developed an expedition cruise ship design using Swath technology to reduce motion.