Antoine ADAM
Business development manager- Manufacturing

The biggest cruise ships in the world are built in Saint-Nazaire

On May 15, 2016, Harmony of the Seas left Saint-Nazaire. The dramatic image of the world's largest cruise ship, built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique, was seen worldwide as a symbol of the thriving shipbuilding sector in Nantes Saint-Nazaire. The historical expertise here is boosted by extremely high tech design and manufacturing.

Chantiers de l'Atlantique, Europe's leading builder of cruise ships

STX is taking full advantage of the popularity of cruises. The contracts with Royal Caribbean International and MSC Croisières position Chantiers de l'Atlantique as Europe's leading builder of cruise ships. The four ships to be built for MSC represent 37 million working hours for 2,660 employees. The first ship should be delivered in 2019 and the last one in 2026.

A gigantic gantry crane for a gigantic ship

To build the Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, Chantiers de l'Atlantique had to make some changes. A new giant gantry crane was installed above their pre-assembly area. It has a lifting capacity of 1400 tons.

In Nantes, a wave tank to simulate the open ocean

The towing tank at the École Centrale de Nantes can recreate the conditions ships face on the open ocean. This unique research facility is involved in projects in shipbuilding and marine renewable energy (MRE). ECN and Bureau Veritas have endowed a research chair called Navire du Futur, with the goal of improving the safety and performance of large vessels.

With an order book of six huge cruise ships and an option for three more to be delivered through 2026 for Royal Caribbean International and MSC Croisières, Chantiers de l'Atlantique and its subcontractors have clear sailing ahead. This reflects the skills and expertise of the Nantes Saint-Nazaire shipbuilding industry, inherited from its commercial past when ships carried wood and steel. It is also a challenge that must be met, in terms of constant technological innovation, employment and training. At least 400 to 500 jobs will be created in the shipbuilding sector in Nantes Saint-Nazaire in the coming years. Another major player in military shipbuilding, DCNS has received a large order for submarines from the Australian National Navy. 

Innovation, our hallmark

The shipbuilding industry here is well-equipped to meet these challenges. As the international leader, it has a unique level of experience and a capacity for innovation and design that make all the difference. These strengths make it possible to meet the most stringent demands of its clients, and even to anticipate them. STX ships are environmentally friendly, offer cabin configurations featuring the best technology combining connectivity and design, and provide uniquely new amenities and powerful engines. Chantiers de l'Atlantique and their co-manufacturers are able to reduce both the cost of prototype ships and the production costs of sister ships. With Smart Yard 2020, the new modernization plan, STX will invest another 100 million euros from 2016 to 2020.

Ocean Technocampus, an ultra-modern facility

Inaugurated in 2015, the Ocean Technocampus is an exceptional research and development centre in France that brings together over 18,000 m2 of workshops and offices and more than 300 researchers working on metal processes and structures at sea. At the Technocampus, industrial corporations work hand in hand with SMEs, engineering schools and universities.

Collaborative work

The secret here is that firms in the shipbuilding sector know how to work collaboratively. As part of the Neopolia cluster, some forty Nantes Saint-Nazaire companies are working together to identify new markets and develop new solutions. Together, they designed a purpose-built vessel to provide support and maintenance to the future offshore wind farms. Together, they obtained the contract from cruise company CroisiEurope to build the Loire Princesse, a riverboat with very low draft, giving them a leg up on the river cruise market.

Key figures from Shipbuilding


shipbuilding hub in France


shipbuilding and repair companies in Pays de la Loire.


jobs in the region.

Ocean Technocampus
The Ocean Technocampus opened in late 2015, on the model of the EMC2 Technocampus for composites. This research and pooled technological innovation platform focuses on shipbuilding and MRE.
River transport
In agreement with the Port and the cities of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, in 2018, an operator will set up an expanded river barge transport service in the estuary. This is a way to garner more experience in the market of industrial logistics on inland waterways.

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