From another major new ship order to construction updates and christenings, it's been another big week for fleet expansion in the cruise industry.
MSC Cruises announced that it has signed a letter of intent with STX France for four new "World Class" ships that will be based on a new, next-generation prototype.
The four new ships will be in addition to the seven new builds that MSC Cruises already has on order with four Meraviglia and Meraviglia-Plus class ships at STX France and three Seaside class ships at Fincantieri – meaning a total of 11 new cruise ships on order between 2017 and 2026 and an investment plan worth a total of $10.2 billion.
In terms of construction updates, Crystal Cruises announced that it has pushed back the debut of its new ocean ships, which were originally set to sail in 2018, to fall 2019. The Polar Class vessels will include a top deck of luxury Residences with their own private facilities, dining venues and amenities, as well as many other signature Crystal features.
Also new in the latest update is Crystal's 2019 World Cruise, the "Grand Continental Odysseys." On the World Cruise Crystal Serenity will sail from Los Angeles to Monte Carlo on January 14, exploring Hawaii; Australia and New Zealand; South Africa; the Mediterranean; the Indian Ocean; and the South Pacific. The luxury line also offered a complete timeline on its expansion plans.
Carnival Cruise Line also held a keel-laying ceremony this week for its second Vista-class ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy.
The new, as-yet-unnamed ship will debut in spring 2018 with a number of the line's dining, bar and entertainment options, as well as some features unique to the vessel. It will have a capacity of 3,954 passengers.
In Asia cruise news, this week Royal Caribbean officially took delivery of its 24th ship, Ovation of the Seas, in a ceremony held April 8 in Bremerhaven, Germany.
Ovation of the Seas is the third Quantum-class ship built at Meyer Werft, a class which also includes Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. Ovation of the Seas will sail to Southampton, UK, where the ship will offer a series of short getaways before it sets sail on its 52-night “Global Odyssey,” culminating in the arrival to its homeport in Tianjin, China. The ship will begin its first homeport sailing season in China from Tianjin in June 2016. Ovation, together with Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, will make up the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing in China, Royal Caribbean said.
Finally, this week saw the christening of Tauck's new Grace river cruise ship in a ceremony in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The launch of the new ship comes as Tauck is more than doubling the size of its European riverboat fleet, from four vessels at the start of 2014 to nine later this year with the June christening of another new ship, the Joy.
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