Trieste - The year that has just begun will have no shortage of cruise ship launches. All the major companies in the shipbuilding industry and some “new entries” will be working hard to deliver a total of 16 new vessels. This large number reflects a contented period for the cruise industry and consequently for the specialist shipyards that build this kind of vessel. Certainly the most important ship, given its size, will be Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas. With almost 230,000 tonnes gross tonnage, and over 6,500 passengers, it will break the world record for size, which is currently held by its little sister Harmony of the Seas. Symphony will leave the Saint-Nazaire shipyard (which will not fly its STX France flag much longer as it is about to join Fincantieri) in the second half of March bound for the Mediterranean, where it will remain for its entire inaugural season with Civitavecchia as its embarkation port. The innovative Celebrity Edge will also be launched from the Loire in November (almost 130,000 tonnes), the first new ship that Celebrity Cruises has built in six years. Norwegian Cruise Line will début its new 165,000-tonne flagship Norwegian Bliss in April: headed for the Alaskan market and therefore designed to pass through the new Panama Canal locks, it stands out for having a go-kart track larger than the one on its sister ship Norwegian Joy. It will be the Meyer Group’s first delivery of the year, to be followed by Aida Kreuzfahrten’s AidaNova in November.
At 180,000 tonnes, it will be the first dual-fuelled cruise ship with engines capable of running on gas even while at sea. And another unit for the German market will launch from its subsidiary Turku, this time Tui Cruises’ Mein Schiff 1, whose gross tonnage will be about 110,000 tonnes. Of course, Fincantieri’s Italian shipyards account for the lion’s share of the list of cruise ships to be delivered, with five deliveries scheduled for calendar year 2018. We are speaking of Carnival Horizon, which is being completed at Marghera (133,000 tonnes, in March), Seabourn Ovation, built at Sestri Ponente (40,000 tonnes, in April), MSC Seaview, built at Monfalcone (154,000 tonnes, in May), Viking Orion, built at Ancona (47,000 tonnes, in June) and finally Nieuw Statendam, which is still in production at Marghera (99,000 tonnes, due in November). Given that the Italian sites are fully booked, Fincantieri subsidiary Vard will also play an important role this year, delivering Ponant’s first two expeditionary cruise ships, both of which are 10,000-tonne vessels: Le Laperouse, and Le Champlain.
Further exploration ships that will launch in 2018 are Roland Amundsen (20,000 tonnes) which will be delivered in August by Kleven Werft, the World Explorer (9,000 tonnes) which will be built by West Sea Shipyard in Portugal, and finally Scenic Eclipse (16,000 tonnes) which will be the first passenger ship built by the Scoglio Olivi shipyard in Pula. Last of all, another first for the Croatian shipbuilding industry, which will deliver a passenger sailing ship in Split, built by Brodosplit. It is the approximately 9,000-tonne Flying Clipper, whose delivery was delayed from last year. 2018 will therefore be a busy year, with lots of launches, and especially for the Mediterranean with the largest ship in the world and Carnival’s new flagship vessel plying its waters. Finally, in Civitavecchia, 2 June is the launch date for Seaview, which will then proceed to its port of embarkation at Genoa.