Giant cruise ship almost ready at Fincantieri yard

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 1996, 12:00am

The shipbuilder Fincantieri is preparing the largest cruise ship in the world, taller than the Statue of Liberty, in the Italian port of Trieste for its October delivery.

Fincantieri, heir to Italy's shipbuilding tradition and world leader in the large cruise ship sector, is part of state industrial holding IRI and one of the largest and most diversified shipbuilding groups in Europe.

The 100,000 gross tonne ship is the Carnival Destiny, in the last stages of internal fitting out at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard in northeastern Italy before its handover to Carnival Corp, largest cruise line in the world.

'The ship reflects state-of-the-art technology and design and sets a seal on the turning point in Fincantieri's history,' a company spokesman said.

Fincantieri, which was transformed into an operating company from a state holding company in 1984, has chalked up its third consecutive year of profits after years in the red.

It had new cruise ship orders worth some six trillion lire (about HK$3.01 billion) last year, taking its total portfolio of orders to nine trillion lire, close to saturating the group's capacity until the end of 1998.

Operating profits were 116 billion lire, up 11 per cent from 1994, lifted by a high delivery rate and especially due to a stringent cost-cutting policy.

'The trend is for a further improvement but we can't hope for trebled profits again,' a Fincantieri source said.

Fincantieri slashed its overall workforce to less than 12,000 at the end of 1995 from 23,000 about 10 years earlier, introducing computer aided design and robotics.

The group tripled production per employee over the period.

'Fincantieri's competitiveness is based on blood, sweat and tears,' the source said. 'Its success is due to sheer dedication to research and development, top-class quality and design.' Carnival Corp began its association with Fincantieri in 1989, contracting for three new vessels for its Holland America Line subsidiary. Since then it has ordered two more new ships for Holland America and two for Carnival Cruise Lines.

This represents more than US$2 billion in contracts.

The Carnival Destiny marks Fincantieri's first vessel for Carnival's 'Fun Ship' fleet.

Before the Carnival Destiny, the largest cruise ship in the world was the 77,000 gross tonnes Sun Princess for P&O's Princess Cruises US unit, which Fincantieri handed over last November.