Written by on Friday June 26, 2015
With mid-summer now passed, it’s about to hit peak season for the cruise industry. There’s plenty of news this week with a new cruise line set to be launched; the world’s biggest cruise ship taking to water for the first time; and building work starting on a huge expansion project.
Cruise Contribution to UK Economy on the increase
New figures have revealed that the cruise industry contributed £2.247 billion to the UK economy during 2014. That’s an increase from the £2.225 billion in the previous year, according to data from Clia. The industry created an additional 800 UK jobs, rising to 71,222 people, which is a fifth of all cruise industry jobs across Europe. Southampton remains Europe’s most significant port with a total of 1.57 passengers embarking and disembarking and 422 ship turnarounds. There were also increases in visitors to other UK ports including Tilbury and Liverpool.
Virgin Cruises to launch in 2020
There’s a new player in the cruise industry with the launch of Virgin Cruises. The line has been founded by British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson with the first ship to be launched in 2020 with fleet mates to follow in 2021 and 2022. The ships will each carry 2,860 passengers and weigh 110,000 tons. The first is set to be based in Miami and will sail the Caribbean all year around. The new line is seeking input from passengers of both the design of the ships and the activities on offer.
Steel is cut on MSC Seaside
Construction has reached a crucial stage on MSC Seaside, the new ship from MSC Cruises. A steel cutting ceremony was held at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The ship is set to make its debut in late 2017 and will be based in Miami all year round alongside MSC Divina as part of the company’s initiative to break into the American market. MSC Seaside is part of a larger construction programme worth $5.8 billion which will see another Seaside-class vessel enter service in 2018 and double the capacity of MSC Cruises by 2022. The new ships will carry 4,140 passengers and weight 154,000-tons.
Harmony of the Seas floats for the first time
Harmony of the Seas, potentially the world’s largest cruise ship, has been floated for the first time leaving dry dock at the STX France shipyard on 18 June 2015 as it was moved to the outfitting dock nearby. It is the third Oasis-class ship from Royal Caribbean International and it is believed it shall be slightly larger than sister ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. It will become the first ever Royal Caribbean ship with waterslides but will conform to similar specifications to the other Oasis-class ships with seven distinct neighbourhoods on board including the leafy Central Park and restaurant lined The Boardwalk. The ship will spend its inaugural season in the Mediterranean and will offer seven night round trips from Barcelona and Rome.