Market Insights: Cruise Shipping ... Now What?

By Guy Cooper

Heading into 2020 the cruise industry was booming. 

The number of passengers who went on cruises in 2019 was at an all time high, a trend mirrored by the exponential fleet growth since the 1950s. However, COVID-19 caused an industry wide shut down. Since the start of the year, ordering activity has fallen nearly 50%. This is a dramatic decrease and is unprecedented in the cruise industry, especially when compared to last year which during the same period, activity never dropped more than 10%. 

These current lows are expected to continue, until normal operations slowly resume.

Like activity, cruise values have also taken a tumble since the start of the year. Some of these billion dollar assets have become financial liabilities with several high priced vessels laid up and out of action. The global cruise fleet has decreased in value by $6.36 billion. The 2010-built mega cruise ships are the hardest hit area, falling in value by over 8% compared to the start of the year.

A total of 103 cruise ships are set for delivery over the next eight years. Seventy-seven of these will be going live by 2024, meaning the global fleet is set to increase by over 20% in the next three years, adding a further $42.3 billion in value to the waters.

The start of 2020 has seen the lowest numbers of cruise ship orders placed since 2012. This year Mystic Cruises placed one order for four small cruise expedition ships. However, the current pause and delays on cruise ship orders can be seen as a positive. With a large number of cruise ships on order leading into the year, the caution here is to ensure the market is not oversupplied by newbuilds without the required increase in demand and confidence of passengers to cruise again.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 42,  Jun 2020

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Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.