Julian Bray writes: In what will be seen as a major blow to the UK coalition government, and to any future revival of the UK shipbuilding and ship repair industry; the US owned cruise line Royal Caribbean's third multiple Azipod driven Oasis-class ship (and as is usual a lucrative ongoing maintenance contract for years ahead is also tied in) will be built by the STX shipyard in France, and the vessel delivered, to fully enter service in mid-2016.
The cruise line also confirmed that it took an option for a second ship with a potential delivery of mid-2018. The shock decision to use France rather than Finland, finally slams the door for the UK, in securing any substantive orders or ongoing ship repair contracts for this new megaclass of cruise ships, which will service European waters, although the cruise line rarely caters for French and German speaking guests, but relies on its English speaking clientele for its continuing revenue streams.
The order for the ship was flagged up in October, but it has been unclear until now, which shipyard or country would actually build it. Both Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas were built at STX Turku in Finland, but Finland was unable to underwrite adequate up front funding to secure the ship order. The ship being handed over in stages, so it is essentially down to the shipyard to initially carry the financial burden. The fact that France in the eurozone and is also said to be on the verge of EC special measures, it begs the question of how France was able to finance the whole deal without assistance from both the EC and the French government, which of course flies in the face of community eurozone monetary rules.
The South Florida Business Journal, let slip that the price per berth for the ship will cost less than either Oasis or Allure, pointing strongly to French Goverment fixers to deliver the lower price option, possibly with EC Eurozone backing. Although the cruise line did not provide the actual price, its projected capital expenditures for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 are $1.3 billion, $700 million, $1.2 billion, $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively. STX France also built Cunard's Queen Mary 2.
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