German and French Yards Lead in Cruise Ship Contracts

Contracts for newbuildings and refurbishments are more widely dispersed among countries and yards than they have been in the past, according to a CIN roundup of shipyard activities around the world.

The Scandinavian yards, which in the past have been the most active, have fallen behind their German and French competitors for the moment; and some of the lesser-known yards have recently come to the fore.

For example, the Joseph L. Meyer yard in West Germany, which to date has not delivered a cruise ship, leads the world in newbuilding contracts. Under construction here are Home Lines’ 35,000-ton Homeric, scheduled for delivery in May, 1986; and Royal Cruise Line’s two 40,000-ton sister ships, scheduled for delivery in March and April, 1988.

At Howaldstwerke-Deutsche Werft Ag (HDW) in Kiel, West Germany, the Astor is being refurbished for SafMarine. Scheduled for delivery in December, 1986, she will be 20,700 tons, compared to her current 18,800; and she will have 311 cabins – seven more than she has now. HOW originally built the Astor in 1981.

In the past, HDW also has built the 7,800-ton, 330-passenger Berlin, and the 16,300-ton car/passenger ferry, Prinsesse Ragnhild.

There are no new cruise ships or refurbishments underway at Bremer Vulkan Ag in Bremen, but the yard has developed a square rigged sailing ship based on a remote controlled sail system. Named the Pinta, the ship is ocean-capable and designed for the luxury cruise market. Three versions have been developed, to accommodate 80 to 140 passengers, and a 54 to 60-member crew. On-board amenities include a full dining room for single seating, a lounge with a dance floor, bars, a casino, a swimming pool and a beauty salon. There also is a watersports platform similar to Sea Goddess’, and there are permanently installed underwater video cameras for subsea viewing.

In the past, Bremer Vulkan has built the 33,000-ton Europa. It also has provided equipment for the S/S Norway; lengthened the Royal Viking Sky; and designed the Bolshoi Lounge for the Mikhail Lermontov.

The yard recently invested in a new outfitting center, scheduled for completion in April, 1986. In addition to decreasing production costs, the new structure is expected to increase productivity 20 percent.

According to a spokesperson at the yard, Bremer Vulkan would like to participate in the construction of new passenger vessels, but has been unable to win a contract due to “the subsidizing policies of other countries.”

In Bremerhaven, Lloyd Werft, which is part of the Bremer Vulkan group of shipbuilding companies, also has been unable to win a contract. In the past, this yard has been one of the industry’s most active, with the conversions of the S/S Norway, Royal Viking Star, Royal Viking Sea, Mikhail Lermontov, Volendam, Veendam, QE2, Starward, Southward , Skyward, Canberra and Sea Princess to its credit.

At Seebeckwerft Ag, the German yard that built the midsections for the conversions of the Skyward, Southward, and the Royal Viking fleet, the order books for cruise ships also are empty.

In France, several major newbuildings are taking place. Windstar Sail Cruises’ two ships are under construction at Societe Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre, and RCCL’ s two new 74,000-ton ships will be build at Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Spain recently entered the cruise business, undertaking an ambitious program that may add as many as nine new ships to the world fleet by 1992. The first, a 12,000-ton, 600-passenger ship named Isabella, is scheduled to begin operations in the Mediterranean, from Malaga, sometime next year. Her twin, Fernando, is due to arrive one year later, and a third, a 30,000-ton, 1,200-passenger ship named Cristobal Colon, is due shortly after.

The Soviets also are reportedly adding seven new ships to their fleet; and the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese have their eyes on entering the cruise business. One Japanese yard, Sasebo H. Industries, already has, with the refurbishment of American Hawaii’s Liberte.

For cruise lines with their eyes set on fleet expansion, the stepped-up marketing activities from an increased number of yards will mean more options to choose from. For many of the yards, however, it may be the beginning of stiff competition that they may not have had to face in the past.

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