Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. signed a letter of intent with German shipyard Meyer Werft to build the first of a new generation of ships for its Royal Caribbean International brand, with a scheduled delivery in 2014.

The letter of intent is subject to customary conditions being satisfactorily met.

RCCL said that the 158,000-ton, 4,100-passenger ship class, code-named "Project Sunshine," would cost approximately $230,146 per berth, based on current exchange rates. RCCL has an option for a second ship with a spring 2015 delivery.

RichardFAIN-cap"This next generation will not disappoint,” said RCCL Chairman Richard Fain in a statement.

Fain told Wall Street analysts in a late-January earnings call that the line had been working on a new ship design, and that the time "may be right" to place the order.

He stated Friday that Project Sunshine would have "exciting new activities and entertainment concepts."

"It will offer features for everyone: from grand, spectacular spaces to small intimate settings; from active, invigorating activities to the serenity of more personal space; and from a plethora of dining alternatives to a cornucopia of opportunities for families," Fain said.

Fain also said the ship would incorporate even better "energy efficiency and environmental technologies" than its current vessels.

The 158,000-ton ships are a step down in tonnage for Royal Caribbean, and is almost exactly the same size as the brand’s 160,000-ton, 3,600-passenger Freedom-class vessels. They will be significantly smaller than the line’s last two newbuilds, the 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ships.

Royal Caribbean opted to go with Meyer Werft over STX Finland, which has been building Royal Caribbean ships for more than 40 years. STX Finland (formerly Aker Yards) built the Oasis-class ships.
"We are exceptionally proud of our 40-year relationship with STX," Fain said. "Our Oasis class of ships could not have been built anywhere other than STX, and they have exceeded all expectations. The reason we signed a letter of intent with Meyer Werft for Project Sunshine is because they had the most compelling proposal. We looked at a lot of shipyards and Meyer Werft offered the best combination of innovation, customer focus, quality and price. We hope to continue our relationship with STX with other opportunities in the future."

Meyer Werft already has a relationship with RCCL, as the company has built and continues to build Celebrity Cruises' five Solstice-class ships.


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