No new cruise ship orders, but no cancellations either

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Holland America Line's Rotterdam, under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, on Oct 1.
Holland America Line's Rotterdam, under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, on Oct 1.

Despite seven months of almost zero revenue and a halt to cruise operations in North America, the world's largest cruise lines have not canceled a single ship order.

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Panelists at the virtual Seatrade Cruise conference this week hailed that reality as a sign of industry resiliency and long-term confidence.

But executives were less committed when it came to placing new orders anytime soon. During the State of the Industry panel, moderator Anne Kalosh said that new ship orders are the "ultimate sign of confidence" in the industry and asked the CEOs of largest cruise companies when they might add to the orderbook.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Frank Del Rio said that with nine vessels currently on order through 2027, he'd like to take delivery of "at least one" before he starts thinking about new orders. However, he did say that the next brand likely to get a new order is its luxe line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. With its last Explorer-class ship due in 2023, Del Rio said a new class and prototype were likely to be ordered.

Richard Fain CEO of that Royal Caribbean Group, said that with all that's going on, "placing a ship order is not top of my mind now," despite his very optimistic long-term view of the industry.

Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises, called the 11 ships his line has on order "enough."

Carnival Corp. has so far this year said it would dispose of 19 of its older, less efficient vessels and defer but not cancel some of the newbuilds it was scheduled to receive this year and next.

"We just took delivery last week of the Enchanted Princess," Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said during the panel. "We have plenty of new ships on order. They are going to be needed."

He added, "The industry was on a good growth path. This has been a disruption, but over time we'll be back to where we were."

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