The supply of new cruise berths continues to grow with confirmed new berths now exceeding previous projections. In 1990, it is now expected that 11,520 new berths will be introduced compared to 10,184 projected at the start of the year.
The lengthening of the Westerdam added 490 berths; the Norway will add 270 berths when she returns to service in October; and the Seawind Crown, which will enter seven-day service from Aruba in December, is bringing 576 berths into the market.
Next year’s projections have also been inflated by the addition of 500 berths to the Viking Serenade, bringing the expected supply of new berths in 1991 to 8,540 compared to 8,040. In addition, Starlite Cruises has announced intentions to launch a vessel in the 700-passenger range into seven-day service from San Diego. That would inflate 1991 new berth projections further to a total of 9,240.
Projections for 1992, meanwhile, have now increased from 7,740 berths at the start of this year, to 9,296 confirmed berths, largely through the confirmation of new ship orders by Club Med, Costa Cruises, and Kloster Cruise Limited.
So far, projections for 1993 and 1994 remain pretty much on target with 3,750 and 1,250 confirmed new berths to be introduced in ’93 and ’94 respectively. However, if already announced building intentions by several cruise lines materialize, the supply of new berths in 1993 and 1994 could increase dramatically as previously projected – to as much as 10,404 new berths in 1993 and 16,910 new berths in 1994.
The historical development of the modern cruise industry so far indicates that more, rather than fewer berths, can be expected to be introduced.
In 1990, the Southern Florida to Bahamas market has experienced a 46 percent increase in berths, and while the smaller operators are now beginning to admit that they are feeling the squeeze by the new Fantasy and Nordic Empress, Carnival has also noted a softening of the four-day market.
The Caribbean will see an increase of some 6,346 new berths during the year, which on top of the more than 40,000 berths that already service the region, is an increase of about 15 percent.
The 2/5-day and 3/4-day markets have experienced a 34.2 percent boost in new berths, from 10,650 berths to 14,325, for an annual double occupancy capacity of 1.3 million passengers.
The seven-day cruise market will have to absorb some 5,896 new berths in the premium and quality standard segments, an increase of 10 percent to the existing supply of 57,700 berths.
The Crystal Harmony has added 960 new berths to the traditional, upscale luxury market, a berth increase of 23 percent to the fleet of some 4,140 berths in this segment.
In the sailing ship niche market, the combined double occupancy of 444 of the three Windstar Sail Cruises was suddenly equalled by the 450-passenger Club Med I.
Meanwhile, in 1990, the expedition and education-experience markets are seeing the addition of three to four Renaissance vessels offering 100 berths each, and the 164-passenger Frontier Spirit, more than doubling the berth supply in these sometimes overlapping niche markets. The markets consisted of less than 500 berths available on a year-round basis.
The only markets that are not growing are the domestic-flagged cruises where Clipper Cruise Line has returned one of its vessels, the 138-passenger Yorktown Clipper, to its owners.
Things are also quiet on the Mississippi and in Hawaii.