Shipyards will not receive orders from cruise operators for new ships for five years because of the massive industry slump caused by the global coronavirus pandemic
With demand for cruising down to historic lows, operators will not order new cruise ships until at least 2025 and repeat-business options will be ignored, said RINA project manager for newbuildings XL projects Piero Moncheroni.
He made these comments in a presentation during Riviera Maritime Media’s Passenger ship projects and deliveries: adapting to a new normal webinar on 25 September. That webinar, held in association with Cruise Ship Interiors Expo, Europe, was part of Riviera’s Passenger Shipping Webinar Week.
Mr Moncheroni explained the dire situation for the cruise industry and the shipyards building new cruise vessels in what has turned from a long-term surge in demand to a massive slump.
“Covid-19 has a terrible impact on the cruise industry and no one knows the future,” he said. “This has had an impact on newbuilding schedules and orderbooks. Until 2025, we do not expect any new big contracts.”
Newbuilding projects have been delayed by up to a year or longer. “Even the ones close to delivery are delayed,” Mr Moncheroni said.
He does not think previously signed orders will be cancelled, “but, on the other side, options are not being confirmed”.
This will have considerable impact on shipyards that have invested in facilities for building cruise ships once their existing orderbook is completed, particularly in Europe and east Asia.
With a large portion of the cruise ship fleet still laid up with no passenger demand, there is little demand for ship repairs either.
Although, there could be requirements for recommissioning work and interior design changes as operators attempt to return to business.
Mr Moncheroni said cruise lines will consider reducing the maximum amount of passengers on ships as there could be “potential increases in demand for ships with reduced passenger-carrying capacity”. Perhaps there could be a maximum of 2,000-2,500 passengers on ships.
This would affect interior design with increased crew space “due to the possible limitation on crew movement ashore and extended length of their contracts” said Mr Moncheroni.
He said design changes could include increased onboard hospital facilities, isolation areas and expanded onboard networks for IT applications. “HVAC design and arrangements will change, with advanced filtering, no recirculating and containment capabilities,” said Mr Moncheroni.
“New standards for materials are to be implemented in the marine industries and regulation,” he added.
These changes could be extensive on newbuildings where construction has only recently commenced. They will be less extensive on existing ships or newbuildings close to delivery.
“These design trends will be applied to repair and refurbishment of ships on a less extensive level,” Mr Moncheroni said. “We do not expect huge modifications to the design of current newbuildings where construction has started,” he added.
Swan Hellenic Cruises chief executive Andrea Zito brought a cruise ship owner’s perspective to this webinar. He confirmed Covid-19 had led to an “unprecedented period for the global cruise industry”.
Ship operators were adapting to the poor operational and market conditions by improving hygiene and procedures.
“After six months, we are trying to get back to normal, but we are still far from normal,” said Mr Zito. “We will adapt and will progress, but with Covid-19, there are still many unknowns of this concealed enemy that is difficult to fight,” he said.
Swan Hellenic will provide expedition cruises to Arctic and Antarctic destinations on cruise ships currently under construction in China. SH Minerva is scheduled to start cruises in Q3 2021.
This 115-m ship incorporates a PC5 ice-strengthened hull combined with extra-large stabilisers for voyage comfort to 152 passengers and 120 crew.
Swan Hellenic has a second similar Vega-class cruise ship on order for a provisional delivery date of Q2 2022. These Malta-flagged ships would have a draught of 5.5 m, breadth of 23 m and top speed of 15.5 knots.
Mr Zito expects cruise ship operators to increase hygiene and change onboard processes to prevent diseases. “Our industry is very resilient, and we will find ways to move forward,” he said.
But, he is looking for more support from shore and authorities to help the cruise business. “To get back to normality we need a vaccine and ability to test and get results in a few minutes,” said Mr Zito. “We need safe embarkation and ship cleaning and more segregation on board,” he said.
Use this link to view the Passenger ship projects and deliveries: adapting to a new normal webinar in Riviera’s webinar library