Genting Announces New Class of Cruise Ships for Long-Term Charter

The future Universal Class (Genting / MV Werften)

Published Dec 9, 2019 9:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cruise line operator Genting has announced a plan to build a series of new midsize cruise ships which it will operate on a charter basis for global hotel brands. The cruise line intends to order the vessels from its own wholly-owned shipbuilding company, MV Werften, and the project will provide enough work to keep its three German yards busy until 2024. 

MV Werften is currently building two giant "Global Class" vessels for Genting, with the first delivery scheduled for 2021. The keel-laying ceremony for the second in the series was held on Monday, and Genting CEO Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay used the occasion to announce the future Universal Class.

"After the delivery of the two Global Class ships, the largest ships ever built in Germany, we will contribute our experience to the construction of the Universal Class," said MV Werften CEO Peter Fetten at the ceremony. 

While smaller than RCL's chart-topping 230,000 GT Oasis Class, the 208,000 GT Global Class ships will each have the stateroom capacity to house 9,000 passengers - far more than any other cruise ship in operation or on order. 

The future Universal Class will be smaller than the Global Class at about 90,000 GT and about 2,000 passengers. The class will be powered by LNG propulsion and the interior design will offer a more spacious environment, according to Genting. 

With the global cruise industry booming, demand for new vessels has outstripped yard capacity, creating a challenge for new entrants. Efforts to break into the market by ordering high-end cruise ships from non-cruise commercial shipyards have met with mixed success, as found by hotelier Ritz-Carlton, which ordered a series of three smaller vessels at Spanish yard Hijos de J. Barreras. Ritz-Carlton's project has been beset by delays and rising costs, and the company has been forced to postpone its first sailings. 

Genting sidestepped these issues by buying its own shipyards. Since March 2016, the former Nordic Yards facilities in Wismar, Rostock and Stralsund have been operating as MV Werften under Genting's ownership. Employment at the yards has doubled since the construction of the Global Class began, and Genting is investing $300 million in yard modernization. The Nordic Yards teams had prior experience with ro/pax passenger vessels, but not with cruise; for cruise-specific expertise, Genting also owns Bremerhaven-based Lloyd Werft, which focuses on cruise ship repairs and superyacht construction. 

"The acquisition of our shipyards is part of the strong strategy of [Genting], which now has its ships built on its own shipyards," said CFO Carsten J. Haake. "It recognized the need to renew the infrastructure and has demonstrated willingness to invest."