Cruise lines are generally bullish when it comes to potential berth capacity going into the 20 teens. Or at least they were three or four years ago, when cruise line execs signed on to launch six new ships this year One of the primary reasons that seasoned cruise line execs and their investors are mildly optimistic about growth is the general feeling that the industry is maturing as it has come to realize the vast potential in on board amenities that are sold to guests rather than given away. Guests on some ships will pay more for the better cabin locations in a category, all sorts of inducements to get guests to spend more on dining are planned, and entertainment venues will now be more specialized with additional fees as part of the plan. The biggest single goal of many lines is an increase in direct bookings. Since consumers are paying for the built-in travel agent commissions, cruise lines can simply pocket these fees and it goes directly to the bottom line.  One of the most troubling aspects of cost management for a new cruise product is the “free” air program. With many airlines cutting capacity, securing the number of seats to get passengers to port on a 3,000 vessel is getting more and more challenging. But most of the leading lines are showing tidy profits and the notion that, from a yield management standpoint, “bigger is better”, cruise lines are proceeding with their current growth in new berth plans. This year’s new crop of cruise ship infants,  with a total capacity of 16,958 guests, include:

March – The 2,500 pax. Disney Fantasy (atrium featured in photo) – 4 stars +

April – The 1260 pax. Oceania Riviera – 4 stars +

May – The 3,000 Costa Fascinosa – 3 stars

May – The 3,478 MSC Dinina – 3 stars +

June – The 3,690 Carnival Breeze – 3 stars

October – The 3,030 Celebrity Reflection – 4 stars