The sea is being flooded with cruise ships. New ships have to face new regulations on emissions, like cars. New ships joining fleets will begin to be LNG-powered ships, and dealing with waste and other compliance is an issue because 54 million people will cruise this year. Only 28% will be over 60. Cruising has changed. Or has it just begun a change we cannot imagine?

  • We reckon there is a need for 6 million new cruisers at least each year and rising, and that is a very conservative estimate.
  • 50,000 trained crew at least.
  • And who knows where we will get that many talented artists, singers and comedians to work 45 weeks a year at sea.

Hopefully they will train the staff and find the talent because we do not want a dozen more versions of the Jersey Boys singing great Frankie Valli songs but not as well as the originals. We don’t want waiters and bar staff poached from ship to ship offering better tips and bigger wages. There will have to be more TV talent shows, and more staff training and it needs to happen quite quickly. WHY?

Take a look at those visionaries who are already preparing for it, the new cruise terminal at Tortola because it is deep enough. The new building works for tourist attractions around Valetta in Malta because it has become so important as the deepest natural harbour in the Mediterranean. Liverpool building a new £50m cruise terminal – these are the smart ones. Ships are not only getting bigger there are not enough car parking spaces, sorry ship berthing places to put them.

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 To be fair we did shout about this when we read Sally Katz’s insightful and dramatic adventure novel American Portrait, a great Cruise book to read at sea. It reveals so much on so many levels. She predicted in American Portrait that the cruise industry would get itself into a high leveraged risk position. That is when smart people make mistakes. She was basing the story on a need for both marketing for cruises, more passengers and the destination tourist attractions to keep them happy and occupied. The very group of directors who are ordering new ships are out in the Caribbean improving their ship’s destinations and how the marketing works best to sell and upsell when on board.

While some of Sally Katz’s books are a touch raunchy, 50 Shades of Cruising, this cruise novel, AMERICAN PORTRAIT sees a dark plot evolve, with a sub plot of the desperate need to improve marketing that sets a company director in a forbidden romance. Without doubt her best book. It bases the story round the inner huge growth of the spa centres, and the connection of the ships to TV game type shows, as a portrait competition plays out on board. The twists are great, the insight gained from the novel is wonderful. It’s also a fantastic statement of how elegant the new older but younger woman is, and no more so than on a cruise. Hey, its a good read and very intuitive. Click the picture.

We ran the maths she inspired way over a year ago, and now it is already very different. Based on the number of new ships and passenger size  – assume 35 new ships to hit the seas, average guest size used is under the new maximum big ship size, and in maybe 3 years. So by 2021.

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35 ships x 4000 guests x 40 weeks (some stay for two weeks) – there is a need for around five million new cruisers a year and we estimate 50,000 trained crew. We were starting lower until we put this list together.

  • Viking have the 4th of six new ships ordered just sailing out in the seas, and have immediately ordered 6 more.
  • Cunard have ordered a new ship making four in the fleet.
  • SAGA have ordered two new ships. (one then changed to two)
  • Marella have lost a small ship, gained two bigger ships (that those lines will replace)
  • P&O have two new 5,200 capacity ships on order. (one then changed to two with the success of Britannia)
  • Princes release the Sky Princess (not one of the order of large ships Carnival have)
  • Carnival Panorama (also not one of their order for 4 x 5200 size ships)
  • Richard Branson has three ships on order.
  • Hurtigruten, Norway’s passenger-cruise service, has plans for at least one 5300 guest capacity ship due for delivery in 2018.
  • NCL the other Norwegian company have the Bliss now at sea, then others scheduled in forthcoming years. This is the one with the go kart track up top.
  • MSC have four smaller Luxury ships on order.
  • MSC have ongoing builds, some think 11 more ships for the main line.
  • Aida have an order for the AIDAnova.
  • Royal Caribbean’s fourth Quantum Class vessel, Spectrum of the seas, then more to follow.
  • Regent Seven Seas are to have a new luxury ship built, making 5 in it’s fleet.
  • The Silverseas cruise ship Spirit is cut in half and extended.
  • Celebrity have the new ship EDGE at the end of this year, and one a year for three more years!
  • Costa will release their new ship Smerelda in 2019, with over 5,000 guests, and others on order.
  • Disney also have a new ship due.
  • China is growing faster, with more cash and guests that the rest of us can match.

Could they consume the ocean going Asian staff we know so well? We think you could easily double the 30-35 ships we predict above, and suggest that Sally over a year ago was holding back at the shock she saw in her crystal ball. Dare we suggest that these ships not only represent growth and change, but as Sally Katz suggests, the need for clever marketing, which is what the novel twists on. Why? Because cutting costs could lead to disaster. As my old nan used to say, buy cheap, buy twice. If there is a battle for staff and entertainers, ships that work purely on cost reduction will lose out as talent goes, as we all would, to the higher bidder. We saw rumours this week that James Martin may have been tempted away from P&O. 

It might not be outrageous to suggest that 100 million guests will cruise 5 years from now. That requires a difference in ports, people movement, coaches at destinations, tour guides and so much more. Now you can see the problem, if only in feeding that many people. And knowing that 12 planes have to fly over two days to fill the Britannia at Barbados, how many planes will it take to fill a ship twice the size? This chart is old before its time, almost historical, or hysterical.

YEAR PASSENGERS
1 Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2016 5,494
2 Norwegian Escape Norwegian Cruise Line 2015 4,248
3 Quantum of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2014 4,180
4 Anthem of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2015 4,180
5 Ovation of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2016 4,108
6 Norwegian Epic Norwegian Cruise Line 2010 4,100
7 Allure of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2010 4,074
8 Oasis of The Seas Royal Caribbean International 2009 4,074
9 Norwegian Breakaway Norwegian Cruise Line 2013 3,963
10 Carnival Vista Carnival Cruise Line 2016 3,936
11 Norwegian Getaway Norwegian Cruise Line 2014 3,910
12 Norwegian Joy Norwegian Cruise Line 2017 3,883
13 Costa Diadema Costa Cruises 2014 3,700
14 Carnival Breeze Carnival Cruise Line 2012 3,690
15 Carnival Magic Carnival Cruise Line 2011 3,690
16 Britannia P&O Cruises 2015 3,647
17 Carnival Dream Carnival Cruise Line 2009 3,646
18 Liberty of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2007 3,634
19 Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2006 3,634
20 Independence of the Seas Royal Caribbean International 2008 3,634

 

What a bigger ship offers is choice. Private and quiet areas away from the crowds at a small premium so a large ship becomes small, but you still have a choice of fine dining restaurants, of different entertainment. The same ship can be a totally different experience.  You can go with the flow and never spend another penny, or use all the premium facilities and have a better experience but you are expanding your basic cruise cost. And, like in any town, we can all live together and meet down the pub. That is what makes cruising so special. But the bigger ships need bigger ports to facilitate a day visit. Look at the end of this guide film on Valletta in Malta to see (at the end) how the deepest harbour in the Mediterranean is working hard on major works to accept more cruisers. The same forethought that had them build tanks that made them the Hollywood of the Med.

Now take a look at Tortola’s build of a new Port with stone jetty’s. Another stone Jetty would now double its capacity and the buildings are there.

This marks a growing trend and who knows where it will end with thoughts even heading towards building fun cities out at sea on stilts like they do oil rigs. While we are only guessing but super casinos and other operators might just be looking at a future as others look at space. But these new ships are not even built on old models, these are built for entertainment, they are built so generations of families can go to sea and holiday together and then do their own thing. They are built to host complete West End and Broadway shows as ship’s entertainment. The new MSC ships have Cirque du Soleil shows 6 nights a week. Hey, you have to live somewhere, it might as well be at sea, and some people do live permanently on a cruise ship. Maybe the older cruise ships will become prison ships, great fodder for film makers. 

Take a leaf out of Sally’s book. American Portrait. Click picture for circa £2 Kindle or paperback for your next cruise. Then take a look at how those with vision are building for the burst of cruisers.

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