Cruise Industry Is Alive & Well
Major investments in ships are a healthy sign

by Vanessa Lee

Mark Conroy

The SS United States - current

The SS United States - future

Regent Seven Seas Fleet 

Princess Cruises Come Back New

The Norwegian Edge

Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas

I am in a pickle – so much to write about, so many comments to make and so little space to express my respect, congratulations, my disbelief and delight and what is going on this week - plus so much more! There is so much happening in the cruise biz right now that it is truly hard to keep up. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday or even Monday – there is yet another announcement coming out about changes, new ships, old ships and even slightly older ships!

However my first point is to congratulate my good and long-standing friend and colleague, Mark Conroy on his appointment to lead the Americas for Silversea Cruises. I am thrilled for him and equally as thrilled  for the industry -  to have Mark back in the saddle again, leading a luxury cruise brand, is a very good thing and Silversea will be the better for it as they have not had great leadership in recent years. Yes I did say that!  

Mark and I go back many, many years to his Renaissance Cruises days and onward from there where we worked together at Radisson Seven Seas, later Regent Seven Seas, for many a year. I have sailed every Regent ship and a lot of the Silversea ships and I know it will be fascinating to watch Mark put his unique imprimatur on Silversea and move them forward again in this market.

Other news that just came out, about which I am still somewhat “gob-smacked” is the news that Crystal is – yet again - reaching into their seemingly never-ending, deep, deep pockets and have now decided to get into the ocean liner game. I guess we should have seen that coming as there was practically nothing left in the cruise space (and of course the air space too now) that they have not decided to touch. Bringing back the SS United States, a somewhat older vessel (launched in 1952 – which I may add was a VERY good year) and putting her through a renovation and refit (talk about a face lift my dears) will be quite the task. Watch out Queen Mary 2 here comes a Blue Riband winner that’s only 63 years old…

There’s so much money being spent in the cruise segment right now – the amount to refit the aforementioned SS United States will be $700 - $800 million. The dollars being spent to refurbish the existing Regent fleet which was announced recently is $125 million to be spent on 3 ships over the next 2 years. Andy Stuart of Norwegian recently announced a $400 million investment in the fleet called the Norwegian Edge, to renovate, refurbish, bring on private island destinations and improve the cuisine and food experience on the existing fleet.

Not to be outdone, Princess Cruises have a new “Come Back New Promise” which allocates $450 million to their fleet, upgrades in practically every area and a host of new onboard guest experiences. Then there’s the $30 million Royal Caribbean is spending on one ship – the Jewel of the Seas to relaunch her this spring with a stem to stern makeover and then Holland America, apart from launching their new class of ship the Koningsdam in April, will spend $300 million on their fleet in the next few years too.

This is a series of remarkable investments by a host of brands to keep their ships fresh, contemporary, in marvellous and beautiful condition. And this has nothing to do with the cost of all the new builds coming online between now and 2020 – that’s billions of dollars.  And these funds are not to just renew the ships themselves but to offer guests more and more interesting and experiential moments on board, improved food and a variety of lifestyle offerings to enhance their cruise vacation. A move, on every count, that I applaud and that will have your clients more and more delighted to cruise on these vessels.  Again a sign, that despite so much unsettling news that bombards us every day, the cruise industry is alive and well and extraordinarily healthy.

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