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Do Cruise Ships Just Want To Be Resorts

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In the past decade the most noticeable “innovations” in the cruise industry ( in the contemporary mass market segment) has been bigger and brasher.

Several years ago I wrote a column about whether Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Oasis of the Sea, was going to change the industry. And even before they introduce their latest and greatest (Quantum of the Seas) next year, I think the answer to my question is YES. They have changed the industry in significant ways. And there’s certainly more to come with what’s been revealed to date about Quantum of the Seas.

Those ships are engineering wonders. And I certainly have to appreciate them as that, even if they hold little attraction to me personally.

Just as Norwegian Cruise Line changed almost all of the line’s cruise ship dining, with the introduction of dine when you want, with who you want, “Free Style” dining, the Oasis class ships, of RCI, have changed the approach to amenities and activities available onboard.

Not long ago the most outrageous activity on deck was a sports court, shuffleboard and some table tennis. Then, it was a big deal when some ships had a single water slide. Now massive water parks are common place on Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean ships.

These days you’re not considered a modern contemporary ship without some forms of
water parks, rock climbing walls, rope courses, zip lines, inline skating (or ice skating), flow riders, aqua theatres, 4D movie experiences, interactive arcade rides, a boxing ring, and coming soon… Bumper cars, a circus school, “Ripchord” ( air supported enclosed sky diving simulator), North Star ( a capsule that will move to offer 360 degree views, 300 Ft. Above the sea), and gymnasiums packed full of the most current work out equipment.

On the onboard entertainment front, cast production shows are being replaced with Broadway shows, well known Las Vegas acts, electronic enhancements, etc.

To enhance the family fun, the cruise lines are entering into affiliation agreements with well established family brand companies such as Hasboro, Dr. Seuss, Nickelodeon, and Dreamworks; replete with the various characters.

Royal Caribbean’s design team introduced “neighbourhoods”, and Carnival responded with “Ocean Plazas”, to act as central gathering areas, and now Norwegian has responded with the “Waterfront” ( having indoor venues extend outdoors, creating patio areas similar in feel to sea side sidewalk cafés).

Even while I write about it all, it all sounds so interesting and innovative. Yet, to my mind it also sounds very much like a resort mind set.

On the positive side, they are resorts that float and do travel to different places.

But, to be frank, I have never been a fan of resort style vacations. They all hold far less draw to me, rather than more. But I do understand that I am likely in a fairly insignificant minority in this regard. The vast majority are likely ecstatic about all the innovation.

The good news for all cruisers, including me, is that there are plenty of options, including somewhat more traditional cruise line offerings for old fogeys like me; ie Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Oceania, Azamara Club Cruises, Cunard; not to mention all the luxury cruise lines.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time March 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

Most of what is outlined, if not nearly all of it, does not interest me at all, be it on land or at sea, with a few exceptions, Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida have some appeal to me. I will book an all inclusive resort for ONE DAY if offered for purchase from the ship that I am sailing, say, a lovely day at the high end sandals in St. Kitts.

Cruise ships must compete with resorts, even Wal Mart, and that is a very sad and low commentary of what some peoples tastes are. That’s not a put down, it is just the way things have evolved. All inclusive, even if the food is awful by even the most tasteful and healthful standards, buffets, cheap and for the glutton, free booze, bottom shelf and watered down will do, sort of a pull a rabbit out of the hat experience at sea.

On the other hand, the best liquor, best menu’s and food, finest décor, superb service, that is the other end of the cruise spectrum.

Then, the ‘tween cruise lines, excellent spa’s, beautiful ships, super-duper food, medium priced drinks, lovely cabins, offering the best of the low and high end cruise lines.

What these three concepts have in common is the land based resort, the Las Vegas and other casino playgrounds, that the cruise industry must provide in a small contained vehicle called a ship. If the cruise industry does not compete, these spectacular ships will fail. Period.

Comment from Joyce
Time March 5, 2014 at 9:48 am

I cruise for the sea, not the extras. Love having my morning coffee at the Great Outdoors at the back of the ship (Norwegian). Guess I’m getting old. Having said that, I am stepping out of my comfort zone and have booked the Breakaway this fall. But have booked a balcony room to still connect with the sea.

Comment from Joyce
Time March 5, 2014 at 9:49 am

Sorry, I meant Getaway. Love port of Miami

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time March 6, 2014 at 5:42 am

It is comments like Joyce’s, be it just the one, having coffee at the Great Outdoors, at the back of the ship that really makes the cruise special, it is what it is all about, that one special place, she speaks volumes about her love of a special spot in very few words, and this wonderful personal pleasure may be enjoyed on any number of ships.

Comment from chelsea potter
Time March 17, 2014 at 5:03 am

I must say i disagree. I think cruise ships accommodate for their guests well but i do believe they are more about ensuring their comfort whilst travelling. The guests are on holiday so making them feel like that whilst they are travelling is purely to make sure they enjoy their journey.

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