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CRUISE


This year marked the arrival of three ocean ships from upmarket brands, a wealth of river ships and even a high-end boutique expedition yacht. The growth looks set to continue with Seabourn launching the first of two new ships, Seabourn Encore, in January, and further vessels slated for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea and Crystal Cruises, which has three ocean ships on order. But in the years leading up to 2016, the


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sector went through a slight dip, with no additional capacity and pretty stagnant passenger figures. In fact, capacity in the luxury sector fell slightly between 2012, when it hit a record number, and 2015. Figures from Clia UK & Ireland show


that 18,515 Brits took an ‘ultra-luxury’ cruise in 2006. The figure peaked at 28,450 in 2012, before falling to 26,513 in 2014. The total did rise, however, in 2015, albeit by fewer than 100 passengers, hopefully signalling an end to the hiatus. There’s no doubt that new and


innovative ships will provide a big boost to the industry.


But the rapid growth that is plotted, particularly by Crystal Cruises, has split opinion among industry bosses. While most support the growth of the sector, others are fearful it will drive prices down. Larry Pimentel, president and chief


38 — aspire december 2016


This industry is one that works for the saying ‘build and they will come’


executive of Azamara Club Cruises, is one of those with anxieties. Earlier this year, he told delegates at the Clia Conference in Southampton that he was putting his growth plans on hold due to fears that other lines were flooding the market with too much capacity. He said: “Capacity is a sensitive issue.


The luxury sector has amazing growth plans and there are more ships coming into service than I’ve seen in my three decades in cruise. “It’s too much, too fast – it will drive down prices. I firmly believe that there will be cruises lines that will sell, merge or collaborate because they will have to.” But when Frank Del Rio, chairman and president of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, was asked his thoughts on Pimentel’s views, he dismissed them. This is likely to be linked to the fact that he runs two of the lines spearheading the growth, with Regent launching Seven Seas Explorer and Oceania Cruises launching Sirena earlier this year. Del Rio is bullish about the “build them and they will come” adage, believing that creating supply boosts demand.


he luxury cruise market is going through somewhat of a renaissance.


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