The Skinny On Building New Ships

When a cruise line that already has two new ships still being built announces that it is building two more, as Norwegian did on Monday, there's a tendency to think this is an unprecedented construction explosion.

It's not.

Aggressive…yes. Unheard of…no.

Starting with the Breakaway Class, by 2019 Norwegian will have launched six ships in seven years. The Escape will introduce the Breakaway Plus Class next year, followed by the Bliss in 2017 and two more as-yet unnamed ships in 2018 and 2019. Coupled Breakaway Pluswith the Breakaway (2013) and the Getaway (this year), that'll be six in seven.

Time for a little history lesson.

In one seven-year period (1998-2004), Princess launched 11 ships. In the same seven years, Carnival and Royal Caribbean both introduced 10 ships. From 1995 to 2003 (a nine-year stretch, Royal Caribbean's fleet increased by 14 ships.

The record for the "longest consecutive launching streak" belongs to Royal Caribbean: 10 straight years from 1995 to 2004. Second is Carnival with eight (1998 to 2005).

In fact, Norwegian's most productive period before the upcoming one was six ships in four years, from 2004 to 2007. That was followed by a relative drought, when only the Epic was added to Norwegian's fleet over five years.

The longest any of the so-called "big four" has gone without adding ships is four years. Before the Royal Princess was christened last year, the Ruby Princess was the line's last new ship, in 2008. Holland America, with 15 ships, has built only one ship in eight years and Celebrity, with 11, finished five in a row in 2012 and has no apparent plans to expand.

What Norwegian will accomplish by the end of this decade is it will have pretty well kept pace with its three principal rivals. From the start of the 21st century, Norwegian will have built 17 ships…Royal Caribbean 18, Carnival 16 and Princess 12. 

Unless, of course, more announcements are to come.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Expedition cruising the Seabourn way

Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
September 5, 2014
AnchorageHubbard GlacierJuneauSkagwayIcy Strait PointKetchikanVancouver
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.celebritycruises.com

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