Introducing a new side to Damen Shipyards Group

Rebecca Gibson asks Andrea Trevisan how the firm is growing its reputation of shipbuilding excellence by moving into cruise ship construction.

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

International shipbuilding, repair, conversion and maritime services company Damen Shipyards Group has more than 12,000 employees and over 36 shipyards and service hubs. No stranger to innovation, the company has evolved its business model to meet maritime industry needs over the past 91 years. Its latest venture is Damen Cruise, which will enable Damen to carry out large, engineered-to-order projects, such as designing and building cruise ships, large ro-pax ferries and complex offshore vessels.

“Damen Cruise offers a comprehensive, full lifecycle proposition that includes, ship design, construction, maintenance and upgrades services (through Damen Repair and Conversion) for the global cruise industry,” says Andrea Trevisan, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing at Damen Cruise. “Shipbuilding is in our veins and we’ve embraced the spirit of the Damen Shipyards Group – we do everything with passion and pride. We’re hiring skilled experts from the international cruise industry and combining them with Damen Group’s team of highly trained and accomplished engineers. We’re excited to take up the challenge using our world-class shipbuilding skills and facilities.”

All sales, marketing and project management activities will be coordinated from Rotterdam, Netherlands and the company will build and outfit the vessels at its yard in Mangalia, Romania.

“Damen Shipyards Mangalia will be a centre of excellence for cruise ship building,” says Trevisan. “It’s one of the largest shipyards in Europe, which will enable us to offer operators much needed capacity as the global order book continues to grow rapidly. We’re partnering with prime European suppliers, including experienced outfitting companies that have a successful track record with luxury cruise projects.”

Initially, Damen Cruise will focus on building expedition and small- and medium-sized cruise ships, primarily for the luxury sector. Noting that the company’s relationship with fellow Damen Shipyards Group member mega yacht builder Amels will be advantageous, Trevisan says: “We’re taking a step-by-step approach to joining the cruise market because we intend to be here for a long time. However, Mangalia does have large dry docks (360 metres by 60 metres) so we could build bigger ships in future.”

The company has already secured its first expedition cruise ship contract. “It’s the first cruise newbuild contract in Damen’s 91-year history, so we’re very proud,” remarks Trevisan. “Meanwhile, our specialists at the ConcordiaDamen joint venture are busy concluding negotiations for an important river cruise vessel contract.”

Recognising the important connection between newbuild, upgrade and maintenance services, Damen Cruise aims to establish long-term partnerships with cruise clients. “We’ll collaborate with Damen Shiprepair and Conversion to leverage its successful cruise maintenance and upgrade services, so we can be partner for the lifecycle of the ship,” says Trevisan. “Plus, we have a team that works with AAA financing institutions to help clients with their business plan to ensure it becomes bankable.”

Trevisan is confident that Damen Group’s reputation for delivering high-quality projects on time and within budget will lead to the success of the new venture. “Although Damen Cruise is the new kid on the block when it comes to designing and building cruise ships, we’re supported by the strong knowledge and experience of the wider Damen Group,” he says. “We’ll soon become a well-recognised and leading supplier for the cruise industry.”