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It appears I’ve hung around CruiseMates long enough that they’re showing faith in me by giving me my very own space to Blog, unedited. We’ll see if they live to regret it… of if you do.

In the coming weeks and months I’ll be trying to share my views, opinons, and my own slant on cruising, and the cruise industry with you. At times we’ll attempt to take a humorous look at some of the happenings, and when it’s called for, a more serious tone.  I won’t be shy about posting my views about what may be seen as controversial items, and I don’t expect you to be shy about expressing your opinions right back to me. In fact I’m counting on it. Let’s just be respectful of each others views, even when we strongly disagree.

One of the first articles I wrote for CruiseMates when the site first went public was a debate; the topic was small ships vs mega-ships, and I wrote about my preferences, and the advantages I saw in the “Mega-ships”. At the time the “Mega-ships” I was speaking of were just over 100,000 tons (GRT). Today’s big buzz in the industry is the up and coming Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas – at more than twice that size; 220,000 GRT.

So now we’re left to come up with a new “tag” to describe the various ship sizes. Do we call all the ships 150,000 tons and over MONSTER ships? Well, that seems to carry with it a bit of a negative connotation. On the flip-side, do we now call 100,000 ton ships “medium-sized”? Trying to say ships that large are “medium-sized” would likely get stuck in my throat. While I wait for all the outstanding Public Relations writers to come up with the perfect “tags” for their brochures I’ve decided that I’m still going to refer to the ships in the 100,000 ton range as Mega-ships, and I’m going to call the larger ones built, and about to be built, those “REALLY HUGE SUCKERS”.

Now, those “REALLY HUGE SUCKERS” have excited a great many people. In fact, at present thousands await each and every new announcement about the REALLY HUGE SUCKER, Oasis of the Seas. Bookings have recently opened, and people are lining up to place their deposits.

I have to admit I’m not one of those. I do love creature amenities on ships, and that’s perhaps one of the reasons I did like the move from 40,000 ton ships, to 70,000 ton ships, to 100,000 tons plus. With larger ships, came larger pool decks, and one of my favorite features was the addition (because of space availability) of more than one swimming pool.  Some designers opted for indoor atrium-style pools, which I’m personally not that fond of. I am however a fan of two full outdoor pools, though having one of the two with a removable maga-drome roof are a nice comprise in case of bad weather. All of this might seem odd when you learn I’m not a big fan of swimming. I am however a big fan of sunshine, with umbrella drink in hand, people watching, while staring out at miles and miles of sea.

And it’s the “staring out at miles and miles of sea” where the REALLY HUGE SUCKERS lose me. I of course haven’t seen the Oasis design yet, but on her predecessors like the Voyager Class I found the pool deck to be a very small area for the size of the ship, and the size of the passenger loads. These ships seem to drive much of the action on the ship to their indoor Promenade decks, which in my view are much like a visit to a mall. Which by the way was a significant turn from Royal Caribbean’s earlier Vision Class of ships, which I always described in my reviews as the ships with Walls of Glass. On those Vision Class ships the atriums were virtually surrounded with decks high windows, and you could sit in a number of bars and look out at the sea; a far superior design for my tastes.

I know there’s many of you who simply love the Rock Climbing Walls, and the Flow Riders, and whatever the next trick ride innovation that may be coming along. The people who do love those, are also probably those who also love theme parks and fairs, and frankly those numbers are likely higher than the those who are “stick in the muds” or “wall flowers” like me. At 58 I’m just getting to be an “old foggie” who wants to sit and enjoy time on a sunny deck, with glimpses to appreciate the awe of the ocean, enjoy great conversation with fellow cruisemates. Now I do enjoy some “fun activities” as well, but I enjoy the more spontaneous and sometimes mischievous interactive activities that we’ve been known to come up with the odd time.

I’d certainly be interested in hearing your thoughts. Are you chomping at the bit, credit card in hand, waiting to book the next REALLY HUGE SUCKER that escapes from a shipyard?

And, btw, do you have a better name for them than REALLY HUGE SUCKERS? If so, I may want to be your agent to sell the new classification to the cruise lines for their brochures…… and hundreds of cruise industry writers will be forever indebted to you.

– A View from the Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Mike M
Time September 22, 2008 at 10:06 am

I completely agree with you. I personally believe that Oasis has crossed the line. Actually I believe Freedom did. I cruise mostly for the destinations and for the feeling of being at sea and being on a ship. Even ships such as Explorer of the Seas make one lose that feeling of being on a ship and taking away that intimacy with the ocean.

I am not one who requires entertaining at all times. I can enjoy myself by a pool, on a balcony or just visiting in a lounge, so hundreds of distractions are basically wasted. I want a ship that can access smaller ports and provide more exotic destinations. Thankfully Royal Caribbean has Azamara to counteract the “Monoliths of the Seas”.

Not a fan:

Comment from Todd De Haven
Time September 23, 2008 at 4:21 am

Kuki, I see your point. I disagree though, with your broadbrush that mega liners lack intimacy. I prefer to say that they can lack a sense of intimacy, but don’t have to as I personally have no problem experiencing intimacy when I so desire on today’s mega ships.

I personally pretty much cruise for the ambience of being aboard ship. I find the Voyager class vessels far less crowded than I ever expected them to be. In fact, I have no problem quickly finding a relaxing area in which to read or simply enjoy the experience of cruising in a quiet atmosphere.

I, as has also been expressed by many others, long for the days of the great transatlantic liners. But what would a voyage be like if we were able to be transported back to that time?

The absolute largest of those “behemoths” didn’t exceed 88 thousand tons. I hasten to add that many of the more famous liners in the 45,000 ton range, carried almost as many passengers as some of today’s ships that are larger than double that tonnage.

Those who were able to enjoy a crossing back in the first half of the last century that would be relative to the experience perceived by some to be only found on today’s smaller cruise ships, did so at prices that would in today’s dollars, be double or treble the cost of of an eight night cruise on a cruise ship of today, yet a transatlantic crossing generally took only four to five days! Consequently, your comparative cost per day comparison with today’s fares skyrockets even higher.

Such experiences enjoyed on transatlantic voyages back then, however, were simply as a result of the passenger often sailing in First Class, the passengers in which were completely divorced from the 1st and 2nd class passenger on the same vessel.

The liners of yesteryear have overall passenger space ratios considerably smaller than even today’s smaller liners simply as a result of more passengers being crammed into a smaller amount of space.

Even on today’s cruise ships, as the size of the vessel increases, generally so does the passenger to space ratio.

That why I personally enjoy cruising upon today’s larger more mass market vessels. Not only can I achieve the ambience I am seeking, but I can do so at a cost that is but a fraction of the cost of cruising on even today’s premium cruise lines.

All the attractions, some of which I even find annoying, are nevertheless still present for those wishing to avail themselves.

I especially do agree with you in one aspect Kuki, I do believe the pools should be much much larger.

Comment from BIG ED
Time September 23, 2008 at 8:50 am

kuki, I like the tag MALL OF THE SEAS. In reading John Heald’s blog for over a year now I’ve read of all the things that a affected by the numbers of passengers. Embarkation, debarkation, tendering to ports, passenger illness and yes even passenger deaths. With almost 6000 passengers on the Mall of the Seas you can double all the unplanned things that can happen to effect the cruise. More tendering ports because of their size and if they build their own docks you know they will be away from the present docks and built with their own shopping areas. I believe the present mega ships, 130,000, are just about right.

Comment from Paul Motter
Time September 23, 2008 at 9:04 am

By the way – anyone who wants to see MY comments can go here:

Anyway – Big Ed, your insight about building their own ports is spot on. RC does plan to build new ports for Oasis so it never has to tender, but one of them is a new port city in Jamaica that is purposely close to a lot of shore attractions I am sure RC plans to sell as shore excursions.

This ship is not meant to be a destination-oriented ship, I never disputed that. And I love destination-oriented cruising arguable more than most people. But there are many, probably the majority of cruisers if you read CruiseMates forums, who enjoy the ship as THE destination, and for people like this I don’t see how you can beat Oasis of the Seas.

Comment from Kuki
Time September 23, 2008 at 10:16 am

I actually have no doubt at all that Oasisi will VERY popular with probably a majority of cruisers, and certainly those who only cruise the Caribbean.

And, no doubt the ship will be the destination for many. After numerous times in the Caribbean there are times, and islands where I sometimes don’t bother getting off the ship.

That would be even more likely if I board one of the REALLY HUGE SUCKERS, because when it arrives in port, dropping it’s 6000 people to mix with the passengers from other ships, the entire port of call could be like a Christmas rush at the Mall.

It’s very like that the REALLY HUGE SUCKERS will also attract the “resort vacationers” who won’t care if the ships visits any ports at all. There will be plenty of entertainment options for those who don’t care if they’re at sea.

Honestly my hope is that EVERYONE books the REALLY HUGE SUCKERS, and then there’ll be great reduced pricing for those us who want to cruise the smaller ships.


Comment from Trip
Time September 23, 2008 at 11:58 am

My first foray into a mega ship, was a media cruise on the Freedom of the Seas. I was unsure how I would take to the size of the ship,and was happily surprised, although it really was not a cruise to judge the a ship, filled with agents, and, reporters, most at cafes and bars, and not using the facilities, as they were meant to be used.

Most of the new innovations on these ships, are not my cup of tea..the flow rider, rock wall, and rollerskating is just not of interest to me, and while I first mocked having a skating rink at sea, I loved watching the ice show.

That said, the Oasis, with even more innovations, is at the moment, not on my radar…never say never, especially if we did a Cruisemate Cruise on her:)

I will say I was a bit surprised by so many people booking the Oasis, well into 2010, and I bet booking that far ahead was a first for many cruisers.

Comment from RayB
Time September 23, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Short BLOG for me. Many times I 2 do not get off the ship While in the Caribbean. Too many people if there are more ships in port and also I have seen all there is in the Carib.

Comment from Lisa
Time September 25, 2008 at 7:47 pm

I agree with Kuki…..I do NOT want to cruise on a ship with more than 5,000 of my not so closest and dearest friends (not including crew). I do not want to be on a ship that has everything a land resort can offer. I cruise to be on the ocean, to FEEL like I am on the ocean and to enjoy the ocean. I have never been on a Vision class ship, but I have been on two Radiance class ships and love them with their glass and outward looking designs.

I will be on the Freedom OTS next September because that is what my group of friends chose to do……not my first choice, but I will enjoy being with my friends. But, I feel that class of ship is going to be too big for my taste. I agree and hope with Kuki, but I hope that so many families want to cruise the Oasis that the smaller ships revert to those of us who enjoy cruising for what it used to be.

Comment from monkeythyme
Time September 23, 2009 at 10:00 am

Of my eight cruises, three have been on Holiday, my preference is fairly obvious. However, I have been on Navigator, and will probably have a go at Freedom so the less experienced friends we cruise with can have the RHS experience.
In the long run, I see the future of Oasis as dependent on the comparison of build cost with a land-based resort adjusted for tax advantage. The recent crash in real estate values may create a reversal of fortunes if it holds.
Demographics matter too. In my view, it takes money plus kids to make Oasis succeed, because I see it as Disney on steroids. I could be wrong, though. Most Americans over 30 today grew up in a mall, and their idea of fun is light years removed from ours.

Comment from Frem
Time November 28, 2009 at 11:48 pm

So um, have you been on Oasis yet ?

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