(1:00 p.m. EDT) — The boss of Azamara Club Cruises has said it is unlikely the line will see any new ships added to its fleet in the near future, due to the sheer number of new berths that will flood the luxury cruise market in the next few years.
Speaking at a trade event in Southampton, U.K., last week, Larry Pimentel said he wished cruise chiefs had “pushed the button” for a new ship earlier, but it was now too late in the current climate.
Within the next few years, the luxury ocean sector will see a new ship from Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seven Seas Explorer; three new ships from Crystal Cruises; four new ships by Ponant; at least one and the potential for another from Scenic; two new Seabourn ships due for delivery this year and in 2018; Silversea’s Silver Muse which will launch next year and a further four Viking ships, in addition to the two which are already in operation.
“I believe the timing for new capacity [from Azamara] is wrong. I think there is too much coming,” Pimentel said.
“We have only two ships but we are a very profitable little company. I’m worried that there is too much capacity coming too quickly, which will drive everything down. [To build a ship] would send the wrong message to our shareholders.
“I wished we had pressed that button [to order another ship] before,” he added.
Pimentel said the huge amount of new tonnage would likely lead to considerably lower prices, but could also have serious repercussions for the cruise lines themselves.
“The luxury sector is seeing the most amazing growth that it has ever seen in its history,” he said. “But it’s too much, too quickly, and it will drive down pricing.
“It’s a great opportunity for travel agents and for consumers… [but] within the next three years, I believe there will be cruise lines who will [be sold] or will merge, simply because they have to.
Elsewhere Pimentel also spoke of his desire for Azamara, which has made its mark with destination-immersive itineraries, to begin sailing to Cuba. “I think we will see a number of lines going in — I hope we are one of them because of our size,” he said. “Cuba doesn’t have the infrastructure to have the very big ships.”
Azamara recently completed a bow-to-stern refurbishment its two vessels, Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey. The line also pioneered special events on land, with its Azamazing Evenings, and focus on late nights in ports.