The Cost of Building a Cruise Ship: Expensive Development of Floating Resorts

The Cost of Building a Cruise Ship: At sea, contemporary cruise ships resemble floating cities. The ships combine elements of a theater, amusement park, dining options, entertainment, bars, and hotel services into one. But as you’ll quickly discover, it’s not inexpensive to develop a floating resort.

What is The Cost of Building a Cruise Ship?

Silversea Cruises
(Credit: Travel + Leisure)

Building a cruise ship typically costs $500 million to $1.2 billion.

A large cruise ship that can accommodate 2000–3000 people costs about $1 billion.

Numerous factors, such as a cruise ship’s size, amenities, and interior design, affect its price.

Conventional cruise lines, like Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival, frequently invest more than $800 million in brand-new cruise ships.

The cost of each ship in the largest class, the Oasis class of Royal Caribbean, ranges from $1.2 million to $1.4 million.

Carnival spent $1 billion to launch the Carnival Celebration in 2022. Norwegian Prima made its debut the same year, spending over $850 million.

Comparing the overall cost to the number of beds (berths) is another method to examine the cost.

Cruise lines favor this method of relating the overall cost to the number of births.

The Oasis of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean vessel, is anchored in St. Maarten.
For instance, the Oasis of the Seas’ construction cost about $250,000 per berth. Also, a berth on Carnival’s Mardi Gras costs almost $188,000.

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Mainstream cruise lines have larger cruise ships than luxury cruise lines. They also cost less to construct than a mega-ship.

The cost-to-berth ratio of an opulent cruise ship is higher, though.

This is due to the more upscale furnishings and services seen on luxury cruise lines. A higher relative cost than major cruise lines can be attributed to these variables.

The construction of the opulent Silver Dawn cruise ship by Silversea cost $380 million. The ship, which could accommodate 576 passengers, cost almost $660,000 per berth.

The construction of Seven Seas Splendor cost $478 million. The ship can accommodate 754 passengers, and each berth costs $634,000.

There’s no doubt that building a new cruise ship is an expensive undertaking, even though the price varies.

Factors Affecting Cost

The size of the ship, the location of the shipyard, taxes, the cost of the materials, and the amenities on board all affect the building cost of a cruise ship.

The most important factor in deciding how much it costs to build a cruise ship is its size. Bigger vessels cost more overall since they require more labor and materials.

Given that labor expenses and taxes differ by nation, the shipyard’s location is also crucial.

For instance, building a warship in Europe is more expensive than in Asia. Although European shipyards produce the majority of cruise ships, Asian shipbuilders are catching up swiftly.

Costs for materials are another factor. All through the year, the cost of materials like as steel and aluminum varies.

The astronomical cost of building a cruise ship seemed ridiculous at first. However, a lot of steel is needed to construct these floating cities at sea, which can reach lengths of over 1,000 feet and heights of up to 20 stories.

Long-term contracts are frequently acquired by shipbuilders to reduce risk and lock in material pricing. However, they are unable to completely remove the risks connected to price fluctuations.

(Credit: Cruise Hive)

The cost of building a cruise ship increases in tandem with increases in material prices.

The cost of creating a cruise ship is also influenced by the standard of the interior design, facilities, onboard features, and construction.

Large sums of money are frequently invested by cruise lines in creating distinctive amenities and features including water parks, rock climbing walls, surf simulators, go-kart courses, and upscale dining establishments.

Consider how many rooms, dining areas, bars, restrooms, entertainment centers, activities, and swimming pools are required to accommodate thousands of passengers. Not to mention the staff, who need their own facilities.

These features are not free because more effort, materials, and engineering are needed to make them. Not to mention the years of planning, development, and market research that go into creating a new ship.

The Costliest Cruise Ships Ever Constructed

Oasis of the Seas Central Park, Oasis of the Seas Central Park royal Caribbean cruise, Oasis of the Seas, Central Park in royal Caribbean cruise
(Credit: Flickr)

At $1.4 billion, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is the most costly cruise ship ever constructed. Oasis was constructed in 2009, and if inflation is taken into account, the project would have cost more than $1.6 billion to construct today.

After Oasis, Royal Caribbean spent $1.4 billion building two new ships: Allure of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas.

However, when taking inflation into account, their construction cost was lower because they were constructed after the Oasis of the Seas. Oasis continues to occupy the top place as the most costly cruise ship ever built due to its higher inflation-adjusted cost.

Oasis of the Seas is not the largest of the Oasis-class ships. However, because their structure is comparable, there are less upfront costs, making them less expensive to create.

However, the newest cruise ship from Royal Caribbean may surpass it.

At the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, Icon of the Seas is now undergoing construction. Furthermore, not much is known about how the ship was built.

It is a known fact that the Icon-class ship will eventually top the global cruise ship size. The ship was said to have cost $2 billion in the beginning. Icon of the Seas would be the most costly cruise ship ever built if these figures prove to be accurate.

Until the ship ships, we most likely won’t know the exact cost. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if Icon surpassed Oasis’ record.

What Was the Price of the Titanic?

Titanic tickets costs
(Credit: Britannica)

For $7.5 million, the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, constructed the Titanic. The cost of building the Titanic, after deducting inflation, comes to approximately $200 million in modern currency.

The Titanic’s construction took about three years to finish, starting in 1909.

The renowned ship was built with the assistance of more than 3,000 construction workers and an astounding 3 million rivets.

When Do They Take To Construct?

A new cruise ship takes between 12 and 24 months to build. And before the first steel is laid, the process starts years in advance.

Every part of the ship is meticulously designed over many years by naval architects and engineers to guarantee its safety, dependability, and—above all—fun.

Not to add, cruise lines are always in competition with one another to offer new features and firsts on their ships. The technology and research needed to create the amazing things we take for granted come at a heavy cost.

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Why Do Cruise Companies Decide to Modernize Their Old Ships?

Viking cruise
(Credit: Viking cruises)

Because it is far less expensive to modify an existing ship than to build a new one, cruise lines choose to do so.

Cruise operators exercise tremendous caution when determining whether to buy or renovate an existing vessel due to the extremely high construction costs associated with designing and building new cruise ships.

A renovation could be as small as painting a room or as large as remodeling it.

Large portions of the ship have been rebuilt during extensive renovations, and new features like water slides, theaters, attractions, and fitness facilities have been added.

A comprehensive makeover is exemplified by Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified initiative. Upgrading ships in the scheme might cost up to $165 million.

When cruise lines renovate well, the amenities offered to guests are comparable to those found on modern ships.

We had the impression that we were traveling on a brand-new ship while we were on one of Royal’s upgraded cruise ships.

Furthermore, we didn’t feel that traveling on an older ship meant we were missing out on any of the newest thrills.

Annually, cruise lines invest millions of dollars in modernizing their current ships to maintain a competitive edge.

The average life of a cruise ship is thirty years. Additionally, updates guarantee that cruise ships stay in service for as long as feasible.

Every year, environmental regulations are updated. When the law changes, it makes sense for cruise operators to renovate an existing ship rather than build a new one.

The cruise business is evolving quickly, and cruise lines would struggle to draw guests to their older ships if it weren’t for the regular modifications.

Additionally, the cruise line is compelled to remove a ship from the fleet if it isn’t well-liked.

Regular modifications guarantee that cruise ships will continue to operate for a very long time. can yield a healthy return on investment for cruise lines.

A cruise line would consider factors such as expenses, rival offerings, passenger expectations, and the state of its current fleet while determining whether to build a new ship or renovate an old one.

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