Meyer Werft lands first cruise ship newbuild contract since start of pandemic

Meyer Werft is the first shipyard in the world to have succeeded in securing a cruise ship newbuild contract since the beginning of the pandemic. The relatively small cruise ship of 229 metres in length and 51,950 GT will be built for Japanese cruise shipping company NYK Cruises and will run on LNG.

According to the shipyard it is an important signal for its Papenburg site with the world’s largest covered building dock, even if the newbuilding is relatively small. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the global cruise industry to come to a standstill.

‘It is another very important step towards securing the Papenburg site. New orders are absolutely necessary for our current programme for the future with enormously important savings and very many different measures,’ says Jan Meyer, Managing Director of Meyer Werft.

He adds: ‘We have been able to win our new customer from Japan as a new customer in this extremely difficult global market situation and worldwide competition with the best ship concept, innovations, quality and a very challenging price for us. My thanks go to the entire staff and especially to the Sales & Design department, which has done a great job in this tense phase. This is the first order in the shipyard’s 226-year history where all contract documents and plans were prepared and negotiated via video conferencing. The effort has paid off.’

Price pressure

The new order is an important addition in 2025; from 2021-2025 the shipyard’s capacity utilisation will remain at a lower level.

Imke Knoop, Head of Sales & Design: ‘The pandemic allows shipping companies all over the world to freely choose shipyard locations. The challenge is to survive with our combination of design, quality, innovation and, of course, under ever-increasing price pressure in the face of worldwide, sometimes heavily subsidised, competition. The order has come just in time; so far only one new building has been in our halls for 2025.’

‘Of course we are delighted about the newbuilding order, but at the same time we have to push ahead with our future programme, continue to convert and optimise the shipyard so that we can also deliver the ship with economic success,’ explains Thomas Weigend, Managing Director of Meyer Werft. Thanks to this order, we now also have a second ship in the works in 2025, namely a small and a large ship. But it remains the case that we still have a lot of work missing for the year 2025. Our production in Papenburg is designed for an annual construction volume of 420,000 GT, but the two ships in 2025 have a total volume of only 182,000 GT.’

No series production

‘The current newbuilding order is not a turnaround from our difficult situation. In Papenburg we are designed for the series production of very large cruise ships,’ adds Meyer. ‘Now we are building the prototype of a small ship without the option of sister ships. Therefore, it is to be classified as another step among many necessary measures. At the same time, it is also a positive signal: it is a completely new customer for Meyer Werft, we have asserted ourselves on a global market against global competition.’

Also read: Meyer Werft delivers cruise ship Iona to P&O

LNG and air-conditioning innovations

The newbuilding for NYK Cruises is scheduled for delivery in 2025. The shipyard will also install LNG propulsion here. This modern and currently most environmentally friendly technology for cruise ships was successfully used for the first time by the shipyard in 2018 as a global innovation for complete ship propulsion.

Meyer Werft is also implementing numerous customised solutions for the current new order. These include hydrodynamics optimised in accordance with the planned routes as well as on-board facilities adapted to the needs of Japanese passengers and, as a result of the pandemic, also offering innovations to the air-conditioning systems and contactless controls.

The NYK Group, with 400 ships, is primarily active in the container, bulk and energy transportation, RoRo and logistics markets. NYK Cruises, group company of NYK, operates one luxury cruise ship, the Asuka II, which was delivered by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan) in 1990 and serves a luxury segment as Japan’s largest cruise ship.

Only in February Meyer Werft transferred the cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas via the Ems to the North Sea. Despite the pandemic, eight ships have been delivered from the Meyer Group shipyards in Papenburg, Rostock and Turku (Finland) in the past twelve months.

Also read: Cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas has left Meyer Werft for sea trials

Technical data new building for NYK Group:

  • Length: 228.86 metres
  • Width: 29.80 metres
  • Tonnage: 51,950 GT
  • Passenger cabins: 385 cabins
  • Capacity: 744 passengers
  • Crew: 470 crew
  • Fuel: LNG propulsion

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.