Over the past few years, mainstream cruise lines rushed to build more and more new ships, while the luxury lines sat back and watched with a bemused smile. No longer. The upscale lines have finally realized they can fill (and, therefore, make money on) more ships. [% 1612602 | | Seabourn %] began the trend by announcing two new ships last fall, and this week, Silversea and Oceania jumped on the bandwagon.
Luxury-line Silversea, which boasts four intimate ships, has signed an agreement for one new ship, with the option of a second. Scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2009, the new ship will hold 540 guests and be the first addition to Silversea’s fleet since 1998. It’s interesting to note that this ship will be significantly larger than Silversea’s current ships, which hold between 300 and 400 passengers each. Hopefully, Silversea is working on a plan to maintain its exquisite personalized service with larger numbers of passengers.
Ultra-premium line Oceania (it falls somewhere between the premium and luxury classes) also announced additions to its fleet. The cruise line plans to build two new ships, to be delivered in fall 2010 and summer 2011. Oceania also has the option of a third ship to launch in 2012. The 1,260-guest vessels will feature staterooms that are 50 percent larger than its current cabins, and 93 percent of cabins will feature balconies. Oceania plans to focus on the culinary experience, and the new ships will have six open-seating gourmet restaurants onboard.
New ships are good news for consumers. Soon, more people will be able to sail aboard a luxurious vessel at the same time, and more ships leads to enhanced itinerary options. Plus, we can all hope that while experienced cruisers clamor to book cabins on the fancy new ships, the older vessels will be less in demand and prices will come down enough to make them a little more affordable.