Royal Caribbean to Build Next Mega Cruise Ship in France

Royal Caribbean cruise ship
Chantiers is currently building Utopia of the Seas due for delivery in June 2024 (Royal Caribbean)

Published Feb 15, 2024 4:30 PM by The Maritime Executive


As further evidence that the cruise industry is growing increasingly comfortable with its post-pandemic prospects, Royal Caribbean Group entered into an agreement to order another giant cruise ship following Carnival Corporation and MSC Cruises each of which has already confirmed orders for new giant cruise ships. Royal Caribbean is planning the order for its seventh Oasis-class cruise ship with Chantiers de l’Atlantique in France, contingent upon financing, which is expected to be completed later this year.

The ship would add to the group’s pipeline which currently includes two Icon class cruise ships due in 2025 and 2026 and one additional Oasis class ship, Utopia of the Seas, due in July this year. The group also has a smaller, luxury cruise ship Silver Ray under construction in Germany due to enter service for Silversea Cruises this year, and the Celebrity Xcel, a fifth Edge class ship, due for delivery in 2025. The new Oasis ship would arrive in 2028, restarting new ship deliveries after a nearly two-year pause.

“As we prepare the launch of Utopia of the Seas for this summer, we are already imagining its sistership and its positioning within the famous Oasis series,” said Jason Liberty Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.

No details were released on the plans for the next ship, with Royal Caribbean only saying it would continue its “evolutionary” experiences.  The Oasis class was first introduced in 2009, as the then world’s largest cruise ship. After building two ships in Finland, the group expanded the class in France starting with the Harmony of the Seas in 2016 and two sister ships. Each of the ships has been slightly larger, with Utopia of the Seas slatted to enter service at 236,860 gross tons with accommodations for approximately 7,000 passengers.

The Oasis class are ships in the 220,000 to 236,000 gross ton range. They accommodate more than 5,600 guests (double occupancy) and more than 7,000 total on the newest ship, and each has a crew of more than 2,200 people. The class is being eclipsed however for the title of world largest by the new Icon of the Seas introduced last month, her sister ship Star of the Seas launching in 2025, and a third ship of the class, each of which is approximately 250,000 gross tons with accommodations for up to 7,600 passengers.

Construction of the Utopia of the Seas began in April 2022 and assembly started that summer. She was floated in July 2023 with her delivery and departure from France set for June 2024. She introduces several changes to the design including becoming the first ship of the class to use dual-fuel LNG engines. Like each of the brand’s ships, she also adds further amusements including the longest dry slide, new resort-style pools, and more than 40 dining and drinking options. She also becomes the first of the class to be assigned on delivery to the short cruise market, operating 3- and 4-day trips from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas.

The order will also solidify Chantiers’ orderbook out to 2028. After completing the Utopia of the Seas and then the Celebrity cruise ship, Chantiers is also building a 215,000 gross ton cruise ship, MSC World America, for MSC Cruises. The cruise division of the Swiss shipping company also in November 2023 exercised two options for two more members of the class to be built in France for delivery in 2026 and 2027. Chantiers de l’Atlantique is also building smaller, luxury cruise ships.

Carnival Corporation kicked off the wave of new orders for large cruise ships after the pandemic announcing on Monday it will build the tenth Excel class ship at Meyer Werft in Germany. The 180,000 gross ton LNG-fueled ship will be for Carnival Cruise Line and is the corporation’s first order in five years. It will be delivered in 2027 after a two-year pause for Carnival’s new cruise ship deliveries. Carnival’s Princess Cruises took delivery yesterday of the Sun Princess, the largest cruise ship yet built in Italy and they are also currently building a sister ship due for delivery next year.

After a surge in new cruise ship construction in the years leading up to the pandemic, the cruise ship orderbook was dwindling with deliveries and no large ship orders. Currently, there are over 300 ocean going cruise ships with approximately 800,000 berths in service, but the order book is down to under 60 ships total which will represent an addition of 5.6 million gross tons and approximately 130,000 berths by 2028. The shipyards remain anxious to add orders to continue to build back their long-term business prospects.