As the Global Economy has stalled, cruise line have worked hard to keep vessels full, and weather the storm. Carnival axed its dividend…Royal Caribbean …er… got the Worlds two largest cruise ships drastically increasing capacity… okay, bad example. (We have a blog for that)
But as the growth of the industry has created a market of ‘large players’ namely Carnival, NCL/Apollo/Star, Royal Caribbean and MSC. The number of smaller-medium sized players have disappeared. This has been great as it has stabilised prices (as these smaller lines where heavy discounters). However the large players used the smaller players to dispose of excess capacity, such as the Song of Norway-era vessels.
However in the late 90’s and early 2000’s Festival, Royal Olympic, Regency, Premier and American Classic Voyages all collapsed into bankruptcy. These are the companies who would have purchased the excess capacity from the growing lines.
This has meant that lines have had to place tonnage elsewhere, the easy card has always been Australia, Asia and Europe. Pullmantur has seen a series of transfers from Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Ibero Cruceros, Carnival’s Spanish brand, has seen a few vessels transferred from Carnival Cruise Lines, as they are no longer competitive in the Caribbean.
Once the worlds largest cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas has been sent to Asia in search of higher yields. (We have a blog for that too!)
The Norwegian Dawn has become the unwanted cruise ship, at an inappropriate age that no cruise market wants her, she has been idle for a few years now and is in ownership of Star Cruises.
Recently this has meant that cruise ships are having expensive ‘refreshment’ programs, keeping them up to date with the other vessels in the fleet. Royal Caribbean has launched a $300 Million refreshment of its fleet bringing aspects from the Oasis class across the fleet, this is widely covered on other websites and blogs, Royal Caribbean is calling it the Royal Advantage program. Interestingly Monarch & Majesty of the Seas are not on the refurbishment list, We expect them to join one of RCI’s other brands.
Carnival has been refurbishing the Carnival Fantasy ships, adding amazing water parks to the ships. Other lines have also been engaged in this such as Celebrity following the arrival of Solstice, and Holland America performed a ‘Signature of Excellence’ refurbishment across the fleet to standardise the product.
So cruise lines are having to keep hold of ships longer, and refurbish them to maintain standards and expectations across the brand, this is due to variety of reasons namely:
– Few middle tier players to sell to (Louis being the main)
– Over capacity in the Med, leading to falling yield
But we are hearing great reviews following the refreshment of these ships such as Radiance of the Seas and Grand Princess. So long may it continue.