Five years after welcoming the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced Friday it has ordered a fourth edition of the super-sized vessel.
The 5,400-passenger ship, sister of Oasis and Allure of the Seas, will be welcomed to the Royal Caribbean International fleet in 2018. The new order was announced at the STX France shipyard during the keel-laying ceremony for the still-unnamed third ship in the class, due in spring 2016.
“Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas continue to be in a class by themselves both in terms of guest satisfaction and financial returns,” Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a reflection of their success.”
The Miami-based company said the order is still subject to documentation and satisfaction of financing and other conditions.
Royal Caribbean would not confirm a cost for the latest ship, but said Oasis and Allure each cost $1.4 billion. One analyst wrote in a note to investors that she expects the cost of the latest ship to fall between $1.35-$1.49 billion, while another estimated a $1.54 billion price tag.
Analysts had expected the order. UBS Investment Research leisure analyst Robin Farley wrote in a note to investors last month that Royal Caribbean would have to decide whether to execute its option for the ship by fall, and that she anticipated a firm order.
Wells Fargo analyst Timothy Conder said in a note that the latest order fits into the cruise line’s growth plans well.
“In our opinion, the Oasis 4 order is well within the context of RCL’s stated long-term 4 percent annual capacity growth goal and further strengthens RCL’s innovative leadership positioning in the industry,” he wrote.
Where the newest Oasis-class ships will be based is still unknown. Oasis and Allure are both based year-round in Port Everglades. But executives from the parent company have said they want PortMiami to make a case to host the ships once the agreement with the Fort Lauderdale port is up in 2018.
Oasis of the Seas will offer three European sailings this summer, while Allure of the Seas will spend much of next summer sailing European voyages.
Royal Caribbean surprised industry observers with the announcement last month that the 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas, the first in a new class due later this year, would sail from China after a short stint in the New York area.
In his note, Conder said he wouldn’t be surprised by more news about capacity moving to Asia: “We believe that over the next 12-18 months, RCL could announce the movement of an Oasis class ship to Asia (at least for part of the year).”