The 125,000gt cruise ship AIDAprima, currently under construction in Japan for Aida Cruises, has suffered delay after delay in its building schedule. The ship was originally due to be handed over in March 2015, but just under a year before that date, the builders, Mitsubishi Heavy industries Shipyard & Machinery Works in Nagasaki, announced that the launch would take place in May. It was then rescheduled for September 2015 instead. A month before this new date the yard then announced that there would be a further seven month delay, with the ship not being ready until April 2016.
The AIDAprima’s sister ship, AIDAmia, which is also due to be built by the same yard, was due for delivery in March 2016, but this will obviously incur similar delays or even a cancellation of the order.
Like all of our readers I bemoan the demise of shipbuilding in the United Kingdom, having seen the heyday of the wonderful shipyards on the Clyde, Tyne, Wear and Tees. The British, in fact, introduced large ship building to Japan in 1895 when a naval architect, James Clark, went to the very same yard in Nagasaki with the plans to build the 6,172grt passenger/cargo liner Hitachi Maru for Nippon Yusen Kaisha.
This kick started the boom in Japanese shipbuilding which took orders away from the strife-ridden British yards in the 1960s and 1970s.
Then during the 1970s shipbuilding in South Korea developed, in most cases, assisted by young South Korean naval architects that had trained in the United Kingdom. Later the Chinese also entered the fray.
These Far Eastern yards gained a good reputation for building freighters, bulk carriers, container ships and tankers but stayed clear of building large passenger vessels.
Then just after the new millennium the Mitsubishi Heavy industries Shipyard at Nagasaki received an order from Princess Cruises to build two 116,000gt cruise ships, the Sapphire Princess and the Diamond Princess. In 2002 during construction there was a very serious fire aboard the Diamond Princess. In order to keep to the scheduled delivery of the Diamond Princess, the under construction and already launched Sapphire Princess, was renamed Diamond Princess.
Apart from the AIDAprima and the two Princess ships Japanese shipyards have built only a handful of cruise ships, exclusively for Japanese companies such as NYK, Mitsui OSK and Japan Cruise Line.
Now, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) has been linked to a joint venture with the Carnival Corporation. The company would order five ships, if established, to be built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Company.
To date, building cruise ships is unknown in China. If this project goes ahead, let’s hope that the Chinese yard is more efficient than the Japanese one in building these specialised vessels.
Or perhaps Carnival would be better advised to have them built in Europe!