The cruise industry will easily have over 500 vessels in service by 2027, up from some 404 this year, according to the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
A record orderbook of more than 120 ships combined with a minimized withdrawal rate of one to two ships per year is guaranteeing that growth.
Add in the expected filling out of shipyard slots between 2023 and 2027, and the cruise industry could see upwards of 550 ships in service by 2027, and perhaps more if new yards continue to enter the business.
This growth rate has accelerated dramatically, as 220 ships were in service in 1998, according to Cruise Industry News data, and the industry’s annual market capacity was about a third of what it is in 2019.
Going by brands, MSC Cruises has the biggest growth plans of all with 14 ships on order, split between 10 megaships and four smaller, 1,000-guest luxury vessels as the company looks to dominate the high-end market.
Among the big industry players, giant Carnival Corporation has 20 ships on order from 2019, extending its own orderbook through 2024. Carnival has vessels on order for nine cruise brands, including its joint venture with China State Shipbuilding Corporation.
Royal Caribbean Cruises has an orderbook including 15 ships, including five for its Royal Caribbean International brand, four for Celebrity, five for Silversea and a trio of vessels for TUI Cruises. Deliveries extend through 2026.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ growth plans have seven ships on order for the Norwegian brand, plus two for Regent and two for Oceania, totaling 11 ships on the orderbook. The Norwegian brand will get new Leonardo-class ship annually starting in 2022, with six ships spread out through 2027.
Other big growth plans include Torstein Hagen’s Viking Cruises brand, which will have some 18 ships in service by 2027, having launched ocean service with the Viking Star in 2015.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.