December 13, 2000
Last week Carnival sold off Tropicale to Costa’s European-based operation and indicated that Holland America’s Westerdam may be on the market. Now Royal Caribbean has announced that it has asked for -- and been granted -- an extension on options to build new ships. In an era when ship overbuilding is one scapegoat for more berths than passengers (and often fantastic deals for cruisers, such as a recent $350 week-long Caribbean on Holland America and the now-not-unusual $499 deals being offered in that region in what should be a premium-priced season) Royal Caribbean’s request for an extension could be evidence of a slowdown. The extension was granted by the Meyer Werft shipyard of Papenburg, Germany, which is building RCI’s newest generation of ships: the Radiance Class. The first of these ships, originally designed in a series of six, is already well underway; Radiance of the Seas is scheduled for an April 1 launch (and is destined to sail Alaskan itineraries this summer). Radiance number two -- Brilliance of the Seas -- is due July 2002 and the third and fourth Radiance-class ships are scheduled for delivery in 2003 and 2004, respectively. As a result of the extension, Royal Caribbean now has until next June 27 to decide whether it wants to build ships five and six. Design elements of the 85,000 ton, 2,000-passenger Radiance-class ships include a 10-story glass atrium, Internet cafe, elevators with sea-views, six alternative eateries and the fleet’s highest percentage of outside cabins.