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Billions in New Cruise Ships Are Ready to Sail, With Nowhere to Go

Around the world, cruise lines are cutting the ribbon on extremely expensive new vessels—then keeping them indefinitely docked.

The newly christened Silversea Silver Moon.

The newly christened Silversea Silver Moon.

Source: Silversea Cruises

Normally, when a new ship wraps construction at a shipyard, it’s cause for a party, with executives in sharp suits and free-flowing Champagne. But when the sparkling 596-passenger ultraluxury ship Silver Moon joined Royal Caribbean Group’s elite Silversea Cruises brand in late October—the culmination of a $380 million, 20-month project—there was little pomp and circumstance. No media were on hand at the Italian shipyard to ooh and ahh over such exquisite design features as bespoke Lalique panels in the French restaurant and handcrafted Savoir beds in the top suites.

This time, even Royal Caribbean’s top brass bowed out of the celebration and teleconferenced from Miami. And the ship’s handover, in Ancona, Italy, came with a cringe. After all, Silver Moon has nowhere to go. With border restrictions and a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic freezing all kinds of travel, she may have to wait at least until spring to make her maiden voyage—and start turning any kind of profit.