MOL Sets Sights on Cruise Growth

Executives - MOL

MOL, which manages a fleet of approximately 700 cargo ships, is accelerating its growth in the cruise market, having acquired the Seabourn Odyssey to sail alongside the Nippon Maru, and planning to add two 600-guest newbuilds.

Yusuke Ueno, president, (pictured above, third from the left) said the company was planning a new brand to evolve Mitsui O.S.K. Passenger liens.

“That will include a new brand name and new logo. We need to be well-prepared ahead of getting the Seabourn ship,” he told Cruise Industry News.

“MOL has reviewed its cruise business strategy and decided to make a substantial investment,” added Naohiko Yamaguchi (pictured above) second from the left), senior staff officer and former president.

That includes not only hardware to help diversify its business portfolio, but a new well-being and lifestyle business unit to be run out of Tokyo, overseeing the company’s cruise division.

Also coming aboard is Anthony H. Kaufman (pictured above, far right) as senior executive advisor, cruise business innovation project unit. The former Carnival Corp. executive is a key advisor for MOL’s expansion plans.

With a second ship, the company plans to expand deployment and is considering a push into international sourcing as well. The core product, however, will remain a high-end product for the Japanese domestic market.

The Odyssey acquisition will allow the company to help accelerate capacity growth. Ueno said the ship was very appealing and he had been on it a few months ago.

The newbuilds, according to Yamaguchi, will be under 200 meters in length, about 36,000 tons and with capacity for approximately 600 guests. The company is close to its final specification package and having the general arrangement done and will soon go out to bid to shipyards globally. Delivery could happen as soon as 2027.

Environmentally, the company is aiming to have a triple-fuel ship, capable of running at MGO, LNG and a third fuel, set to be determined soon.

“There are 126 million people in Japan and barely any have taken a cruise,” Kaufman added. “The industry hasn’t really grown in Japan like it grew outside of Japan as there wasn’t investment being made and the local cruise lines weren’t building ships to increase the market. We’ve seen international cruise lines come in and generate demand in the market … we believe the market will grow when we have the capacity to grow it.”



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