The world’s cruise ships are about to leave the storage buoys. At the same time, the fleet gets several new ships. Many of the oldest, and environmental, evils have ended up in the junk heap under the crown.
Few industries have lost more to the corona pandemic than the cruise industry. For long periods, almost all the world’s cruise ships have been in storage. Several of the big US and European shipping companies have each lost more than NOK 100 billion in the last year and a half.
Next year, they depend on navigation to avoid bankruptcy.
– But now the industry’s darkest period is over. We can look forward to better times, Richard D. Fain said in a press release a few weeks ago.
He is the senior manager of the partially Norwegian-owned Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. shipping company. (RCCL), based in Miami.
New sailing patterns: extend the season
The optimistic message of the head of the RCCL has extended to the Norwegian players. Arthur Kordt of Norway’s cruise agent, European Cruise Service is one of the largest in the Norwegian cruise industry. From him, the message is clear: now the cruise ships are making a comeback.
– In Norway, next year will be like 2019, before the crown, he says with great certainty.
But something has changed. Ship calls will extend throughout the year to a greater extent than before. In addition, there is a certain change in the choice of ports:
- Traditional cruise ports like Geiranger and Flåm are declining due to environmental requirements.
- The search for alternative ports has given more stops to ports such as Vik and Nordfjordeid, as well as to some cities.
– We strive to explain to the world that we have spare capacity without congestion if we fill it up, says Kordt.
It has sent more than 25 ships for scrapping.
The crown has also helped accelerate the renewal of the fleet. Over the course of a year and a half, more than 25 of the oldest and most polluting ships have been sold for scrap. That’s five to six times more than in the five-year period before the crown.
The trend is best illustrated by a scrapyard in Turkey. A few kilometers north of Izmir, the old cruise ship has been in a row for a year, more or less dismantled.
– We have never experienced something like this, Kamil Onal has told various media in the last year.
Onal is chairman of the board of the Turkish Shipyard Association, which specializes in shipbreaking. Previously, they mostly dismantled only old cargo ships. Now they also travel on cruise ships.
Several of the cruise ships now being decommissioned have been regular in Norwegian ports. Among these we find 56 years Marco Polo and 33 years Astor.
Various new and larger ships
The scrapping has meant a partial renewal of the fleet. Despite the crown pandemic and heavy losses, the largest shipping companies have stuck to the construction program.
Next year, at least 12 new larger ships will be on the market, including ships from Carnival, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises. Most of them carry at least 3,000 passengers, several of them more than 5,000.
But nobody beats Wonder of the seas. After two years of construction, the 362-meter-long ship can take on the largest cruise ship position in the world. A few days ago, the giant left the courtyard in French Saint Nazaire.
The first passengers will be able to board in March. By then, shipping companies believe that much will return to normal.
Sailed with reduced capacity
Several shipping companies that Aftenposten / E24 has been in contact with confirm that they have an escalation plan during the winter and spring.
- Costa Cruises now has five of the 12 ships in operation.
- 7 of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 17 ships are in operation.
- MSC Cruises has 13 of the 20 ships in operation.
- In RCCL, 17 of the 26 ships remain.
– We have taken a cautious approach to reopening the cruise offering, with, among other things, reduced capacity on board, says public relations manager Lucy Radford at RCCL.
On land, the return of the cruise ships will likely have a mixed reception. The challenges related to emissions and the mass tourism it represents have given the industry a reputation problem.
Create jobs: fight with reputation
But the industry has taken steps to respond to the criticism. Power plants are being installed on land and several of the new ships run on natural gas. But there is still a long way to go.
At the same time, it’s no secret that cruise tourism creates jobs on land, from transportation to guiding activities.
According to Arthur Kordt of European Cruise Service, 2,000 suppliers in Norway are more or less dependent on the cruise industry. Many of them have been struggling for the past year and a half.
– The fact that the cruise ships have started up again will save a good part of these companies, he believes.
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