Two Trios of Mega Ships A Century Apart – Other Cruise News: Norwegian Cruise Line Float – Costa Concordia One Year On
by Kevin Griffin
A hundred years ago, the Hamburg America Line introduced the largest ship in the world when it christened the 52,117-ton Imperator, the first of a trio. And last month Royal Caribbean announced that it had ordered a third ship of its 225,000-ton Oasis class, for delivery in 2016. Meanwhile, Hamburg America’s successor is this year introducing its Europa 2, which if not the largest in the world may be the most luxurious for today’s generation, something that the Imperator boasted as well. Elsewhere, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it is floating on the NASDAQ and Costa Cruises commemorates the first anniversary of the loss of the 114,137-ton Costa Concordia, the largest passenger ship loss ever, at Giglio.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
Two Trios of Mega-Ships A Century Apart
Just as Royal Caribbean Cruises ordered its third 225,000-ton mega-ship last month, so a hundred years ago another line was in the process of producing three gigantic ocean liners larger than any the world had yet seen. The line was Hapag, also known as Hamburg America Line, and the first of its mammoths was the 52,117-ton Imperator.
With dimensions of 906 x 98 feet, she was almost 6,000 tons larger than the White Star Line’s Titanic, lost in 1912. When introduced, the Imperator was the largest ship in the world.
The Imperator had originally been intended to carry the name Europa, but the Kaiser thought Imperator (meaning Emperor in German) was more fitting. The huge ship boasted public areas such as a winter garden, social hall, grill room and, in the era, a smoking room.
There was also an entire row of shops, a travel bureau, a bank and a gymnasium and pool complex. The new ship carried 4,594 passengers, of whom 708 travelled in First Class and 1,772 in steerage, with the balance spread almost evenly between 2nd and 3rd class.
The second of the trio, the 54,282-ton Vaterland, was introduced in 1914. At 948 x 100 feet, she was slightly larger than the Imperator and took her title as largest ship in the world. The Vaterland made only seven Atlantic crossings before the First World War broke out and she was ordered to remain at New York, which was a neutral port for the duration. She stayed there for the next three years, until the United States entered the war in 1917 and she became the American troopship Leviathan.
The third of these mega-ships of a century ago, the 56,551-ton Bismarck, in turn became the largest in the world, but although launched in 1914, she would not enter service until 1922. When she did so it was as the Majestic, flagship of the Britain’s White Star Line, as reparations for the loss of their two-year-old 48.158-ton Britannic to a mine in the Aegean in 1916.
Equally, at the end of the war, her sister ships too became war reparations, the Imperator becoming Cunard Line’s Berengaria, replacing the 31,550-ton Lusitania, torpedoed by a U-Boat in 1915, and the Vaterland the United States Lines’ Leviathan.
A hundred years after the introduction of the Imperator, Hamburg America’s successor line, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, is preparing to introduce its 39,500-ton Europa 2. Her fleetmate, today’s Europ,a has been the top-rated ship in the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships ever since she was introduced in 1999, and it is hoped that the Europa 2, a contemporary interpretation of the same theme, will score highly as well.
The Europa 2 has been designed to carry up to 512 guests, almost a ninth of what the Imperator of 1913 carried, and fewer than even her 708 First Class.
Meanwhile, on the mega-ships front, Royal Caribbean will become the first line in a century to be able to boast of the largest ship in the world three times consecutively, with the Oasis of the Seas of 2009, 1181 x 154′, and her ever so slightly larger 2010-built sister ship Allure of the Seas, two inches longer than her earlier sister, and the latest order. The extra two inches on Allure was not intentional, by the way. It came about due to the process of shipbuilding, possibly due to the temperature of the steel during construction.
Although the first two ships both measure 225,282 gross tons, it is possible that the third, to be introduced in 2016, might be slightly larger, especially coming from another shipyard. Royal Caribbean has also negotiated an option for a fourth such ship, for possible delivery in 2018. Their lower berth passenger count of 5,408 is about 18% more than Imperator’s 4,594, but on more than four times the tonnage.
Meanwhile, the Finnish government has asked the European Commission to investigate whether France fully played by the rules for state support in enabling STX France to win the order for the third Oasis class ship.
The government is reacting to public opinion that questions why they haven’t done more to help protect jobs at STX Finland, which lost the order for the third ship to STX France after having built the Oasis and Allure.
For many months there has been controversy over possible government financing assistance. The same seems to have occurred when STX France lost its own provisional order for two mid-size luxury ships for Viking Ocean Cruises to Fincantieri in Italy, again because of possible government financing packages.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Norwegian Cruise Line Float
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd announced last week the launch of Norwegian’s initial public offering of 23,529,412 ordinary shares in a registration with the US Securities & Exchange Commission. Norwegian will grant underwriters a 30-day option to purchase an aggregate of up to 3,529,412 additional ordinary shares. Norwegian intends to list the ordinary shares on the NASDAQ under the symbol “NCLH.” It expects to raise about $370 million in the share sale. The issue is expected to be priced between $16 and $18 per share.
UBS Investment Bank and Barclays are acting as book runners and the representatives of the underwriters for the offering. Citigroup, Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman, Sachs & Co and J P Morgan are also acting as book runners. DNB Markets, HSBC, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Wells Fargo Securities and Apollo Global Securities are acting as co-managers for the offering. Less than 14% of the company will be traded, with existing owners Genting Hong Kong Ltd, Apollo Global Management and TPG, which invested in 2008, among them will control about 88% of the outstanding shares after the float.
The offering of these ordinary shares will be made only by prospectus. A written prospectus, which meets the requirements of Section 10 of the US Securities Act of 1933, has been published and is now available to interested parties. Norwegian presently operate a fleet of eleven ships and have three more on order at Meyer Werft in Germany.
Costa Concordia One Year On
Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the Costa Concordia tragedy that took 32 lives on Friday, January 13, 2012. A ceremony was held on the island of Giglio for the families of those who lost their lives, while Costa ships at sea flew their flags at half mast and other memorial services were held in Goa, Mumbai, Bali, Jakarta, Shanghai and Lima and on boar ships of the fleet.
Although thousands of words have been written about this incident, perhaps “Maritime Executive” magazine put it the most succinctly:
January 13, 2012: There were 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew were on board when the Costa Concordia ran aground last January, opening a 230-ft gash in the ship’s hull that sent the vessel on its side, where it remains today. Thirty bodies have been recovered; two remain missing and are presumed dead.
Captain Francesco Schettino and First Officer Ciro Ambrosio were arrested following the incident. The captain was detained on suspicion of manslaughter and for violations of the Italian Penal Code and Code of Navigation for having caused a shipwreck resulting in deaths, abandoning passengers and a shipwreck. On January 17, 2012 Schettino was released from jail and placed under house arrest. On July 5, 2012 his house arrest was lifted, but he was ordered to remain in Meta di Sorrento. The captain’s charges have a combined prison conviction of more than 2,500 years.
Salvage Operations: Titan Salvage and Micoperi continue working on the refloat and removal of the Concordia wreck. In December the ship’s funnel was removed and eight anchor blocks were being installed for the parbuckling rotation phase. Underwater activities also continue with drilling operations for platforms and the placement of more than 200 removable grout bags. The wreck is expected to be removed by the end of summer 2013. Full details of the salvage operations can be found on Costa’s information site, TheParbucklingProject.com
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)