Report: Fincantieri is Finalizing $4B Order from Norwegian Cruise Line

Fincantieri to build cruise ships for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
Norwegian Prima is the first of six next-generation cruise ships Fincantieri designed and is building for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Published May 3, 2022 8:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri is rumored to be close to landing the first major construction order for cruise ships since the onset of the pandemic more than two years ago. The Italian newspaper Il Secolo XIX first reported over the weekend that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of three North American cruise brands is finalizing an agreement with Fincantieri.

Details of the order are not known but speculation confirmed by Reuters says the cruise holding company will order up to six ships valued at $4 billion. It is not known if the order would be entirely for larger cruise ships to be used by the company’s contemporary segment brand Norwegian Cruise Line or possibly the order could be split with one or both of the cruise company’s luxury brands. All three of the brands are currently building ships at Fincantieri, while NCLH has made no secrete of its desire to add more ships to its ultra-luxury Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand. Regent is currently building a 750-passenger all-suite 55,500 gross ton cruise ship, Seven Seas Grandeur, at Fincantieri due for delivery in 2023. Unlike the other two brands, Regent is the only one that does not have additional cruise ships on order.

The relationship between Norwegian and Fincantieri dates back more than a decade when the Italian shipyard built two deluxe cruise ships for the Oceania Cruise brand. Before that, Norwegian had been building its large cruise ships at Meyer Werft in Germany, a relationship that dated back to the early 2000s when Norwegian was owned by Genting Hong Kong’s Star Cruises and began building its modern operation based on ships from Meyer Werft.

Oceania was pleased with the two Fincantieri built 66,000 gross ton cruise ships introduced in 2011 and 2012 as Marina and Riviera, which lead to an expansion of the relationship. Regent ultimately is building three ultra-luxury cruise ships with Fincantieri starting with the Seven Seas Explorer in 2016 and the Seven Seas Splendor introduced in February 2020 weeks before the industry paused due to the pandemic.

Fincantieri’s biggest win however came in 2017 when they lured Norwegian Cruise Line away from Meyer with a new concept design called Project Leonardo for a 3,300 passenger 142,500 gross ton cruise ship. Norwegian initially ordered four sister ships and in August 2018 expanded the order by exercising an option for two additional sister ships. 

The first one of the new concept ships, Norwegian Prima is currently completing construction in Italy. Norwegian announced at the end of April that the vessel is behind schedule due to supply chain challenges in the final fitting out of the ship. Due to enter service in August 2022, Norwegian canceled preview voyages for the trade and now has delayed the ship’s maiden voyage until September 2022. The second ship of the class Norwegian Viva is due to enter service in June 2023 with the additional four ships due for completion by 2027.

If Fincantieri is successful in winning the new order from NCLH, it would be the first large order for cruise ships in more than two and a half years. While the shipbuilding industry was successful in retaining all the major cruise ship orders during the pandemic, none of the lines have yet moved forward with future construction plans, although both Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have talked about their interest in continuing forward with additional orders. NCLH is due to provide a financial update for the first quarter of 2023 on May 10.

The order is also being seen as a final achievement from long-term Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono. The 78-year-old executive who lead a turnaround for the shipbuilder over the past 20 years is scheduled to retire after the May 16 shareholder meeting. A newly appointed executive, Pierroberto Folgiero, named by the state, is due to be approved by the shareholders as the next CEO of the company.