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More and more travelers opt for a holiday at sea each year. In 2016 alone, 24 million passengers are expected to go on a cruise. And there is no end in sight for this trend that has characterized the cruise industry for the last 10 to 20 years. According to Sokrates Tolgos, Head of Sales Cruise & Ferry at MAN Diesel & Turbo, the cruise ship market is currently the most dynamic segment within the marine industry.
The prevailing statistics drafted in 2014 predicted an average yearly market growth of about 3.8%, while recent forecasts indicate growth rates of 5% to 7%. And, indeed, penetration of cruises within the global tourism industry today can still be described as marginal - together all the cruise ship cabins in the world represent less than 2% of the hotel rooms in the world. "One of the main drivers for growth is developing tourism in non-OECD countries, especially China", says Tolgos. The country could see 4.5 million cruise passengers by 2020, which could exceed 10 million within 20 years.
Trends that have been driving the constant growth are new larger capacity vessels and ship diversification, more local ports, more destinations and new onboard/onshore activities, as well as enticing contemporary features offered on board modern cruise liners. These are the reasons why cruise holidays are becoming increasingly popular with a younger market, including young families, couples and groups of friends.
Norwegian Cruise Line's largest ship, the Norwegian Escape, for example, features the largest ropes courses as well as one of the largest waterparks at sea. Numerous restaurants and bars, a broadway theatre and boutique shops complete the ship’s entertainment package. “Next to the contemporary segment that caters to a wide audience, smaller to midsized ships for luxury cruises are becoming more and more relevant,” explains Tolgos. The Viking Star of Viking Ocean Cruises is an example of the upper premium sector. Typically, cruise ships of this segment have a gross tonnage of 40-90,000 and can accommodate 750 to 1,500 passengers. They are dedicated to destination-oriented cruises with upscale onboard service, calling in ports not often used by contemporary ships.
The positive market development for cruises is mirrored in the number of ships ordered. 300 ships cruised the oceans in 2015, nine new ocean vessels are scheduled to debut this year, another 35 are set to set sail by 2022. “We have a record orderbook. Given the current workload, our shipyards dedicated to the construction of cruise ships are working to capacity now and for the next years,” says Loris Di Giorgio, Head of Cruise Ship Marketing and Sales at Fincantieri. The Italian shipyard is the largest in Europe and it is worth noting that the very first cruise vessels developed by Fincantieri, the Crown and Regal Princess, delivered in 1990 and 1991, were powered by MAN engines.
“Our wide product portfolio of cruise vessels implies such a variety of requirements and applications that the inclusion of MAN among our main equipment suppliers appeared a natural choice,” explains Di Giorgio. Currently, eight ships will be equipped with fuel-efficient Common Rail engines by MAN Diesel & Turbo.
Two of them, the Viking Star and the Viking Sea, which both run on four 32/44CR engines, have already been delivered. The third and most recent delivery is the 133,500 gross tons Carnival Vista with its five engines of type 48/60CR, Carnival Cruise Line’s first vessel powered by MAN engines.
The German shipbuilder Meyer Werft has also profited from the increased demand: “Next to ferries, river cruise liners and gas tankers, cruise ships are our most important market. The growth of the cruise industry has been a significant factor for the growth of our company in the last 20 years,” states Peter Hackmann, Head of Corporate Communications. Meyer Werft and MAN Diesel & Turbo have been cooperating since the 1990s. The latest ship built by the Meyer Werft that is equipped with MAN engines is the Norwegian Escape. The ocean vessel has a gross tonnage of 164,600, boosts a passenger capacity of 4,200 and is powered by five MAN V48/60CR-type engines. “We have worked very successfully with MAN Diesel & Turbo for decades. Meyer Werft is currently working closely with all large suppliers in the market,” explains Jörg Heidelberg, Head of Systems Engineering.
Cruise ships typically sail in environmentally sensitive areas. While ensuring minimal impact on the environment, operators also seek to keep operating costs at economic levels. The growing attention to the combination of fuel consumption and vessel’s efficiency has been one of the main design drivers in the development of the latest generations of cruise vessels. For better energy efficiency, Fincantieri has focused the design on the reduction of propulsion power through the fine tuning of hydrodynamics and on the optimization of hotel electric loads. Paired with modern engines, these measures have allowed for a significant improvement of the vessels’ energy efficiency.
“Apart from energy efficiency, we strive for minimization of the environmental footage of the vessels. In this field, we greatly appreciate the efforts of the main engine manufacturers, including MAN, for the improvement of the design of exhaust gas cleaning devices as well as for the development of new engines,” says Di Giorgio. “Apart from ships running on conventional fuels equipped with scrubbers, we expect a trend towards ship designs that can be powered by LNG. For this we have dual-fuel engines, able to operate with high efficiency both on oil and gas, in our portfolio,” says Sokrates Tolgos. All in all, there seems to be a bright future on the horizon – for passengers, cruise operators, shipbuilders as well as manufacturers.
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Loris Di Giorgio, Head of Cruise Ship Marketing and Sales at Fincantieri
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