About 16 months ago, I interviewed the boss of Azamara Club Cruises at the Clia Conference and asked him about the possibility of adding new ships to his fleet.

He vehemently rejected the idea, saying the luxury sector was becoming saturated with “too much capacity, coming too fast”, and warned prices would come under pressure.

Azamara, he said, would steer well clear of adding tonnage and entering the bun-fight. So what has changed in just over a year for him to do a complete about-turn and buy a third ship?.

It’s not as if anything has slowed down on the capacity front. Just this week, Cunard ordered a fourth luxury liner, adding to a host of orders by the likes of Seabourn, Crystal, Silversea and Celebrity, to name but a few at the upper end of the market.

So, with more ships than ever coming, is demand going through the roof or are operators taking a punt on a period of supply-led growth none can afford to miss out on?

Azamara’s UK boss told us this week that its decision was underpinned by outstanding business metrics – and even hinted its third ship was merely the start of Azamara’s growth plans.

Whatever the driving force, it’s timely that Clia is gearing up for its ‘Plan a Cruise Month’ in October, because operators will be relying on agents to sell
all these new cabins.

Its focus is ensuring the trade knows as much about destinations as the lines themselves in order to clinch sales, ideally without any pressure to discount prices.

Comment from September 28 edition of Travel Weekly