▪ The Costa Group is beefing up its presence in China and has ordered two new ships for its Costa Asia brand from Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilder. The ships, each with 135,500 gross tons and carrying 4,200 guests, will be specifically designed for the Chinese market and will be delivered in 2019 and 2020.
The agreement, announced Wednesday, brings to eight the number of ships the Costa Group has on order, for a total of 45,000 berths: four for the German brand Aida Cruises; two for the Italian brand Costa Cruises; two for Costa Asia. The Costa Group is a division of Carnival Corp. The new ships will bring the total capacity of the fleet to 110,000 berths.
Costa, which entered the Chinese market in 2006, has three ships already deployed in China and Asia year-round and will add a fourth ship in April.
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▪ In the same deal, two other Carnival lines will get new ships: P&O Cruises Australia and Princess Cruises. The Princess ship, fourth in the Royal Princess class, will be a 143,700-ton ship that will carry 3,560 passengers. The 135,500-ton ship for P&O Cruises Australia will carry 4,200 passengers. They are to be delivered in 2019 and 2020.
A contract for Fincantieri to build the new ships for Carnival Corp. had been announced previously, but not which lines would get the ships or what size they would be.
▪ Just weeks after it signed a contract for the construction of two 100-passenger expedition ships, Lindblad Expeditions announced Friday that it has reached an agreement to buy the Via Australis from a Chilean cruise line for $18 million. The 96-passenger ship will replace the National Geographic Endeavour and will be used in the Galapagos Islands.
Lindblad said it expects to take possession of the ship in the second quarter of 2016, making it available for cruises in the third quarter, after significant renovations that are expected to cost up to $10 million. It will be renamed National Geographic Endeavour, after the one-time trawler that was built in 1966.
“The Via Australis will be the ideal platform for our Galapagos expeditions far into the future. Opportunities to acquire high quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one,” said Sven Lindblad, president and CEO of Lindblad. “The Via Australis will provide us with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to the National Geographic Endeavour. Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future.”
Lindblad Expeditions announced Dec. 12 that Nichols Brothers Boat Builders would build two U.S. flagged coastal vessels for the expedition line at their shipyard on Whidbey Island, Washington. The ships are to be delivered in the second quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of 2018.
▪ Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas will feature the Broadway musical Grease when it debuts in May. The new Oasis-class ship will do cruises in Europe over the summer, then sail for Fort Lauderdale for the Caribbean season starting in November. A second production is planned for Independence of the Seas next summer. Details: www.royalcaribbean.com.