I am adding this thread here in Carnival because the demographics that frequent Carnival is also the demographics that cruised the Big Red Boats in their day.
If anyone knows more than what is written below, please expound.
I did a little research and this is what I have been able to find out.
The Big Red Boats were not new when they hit the scene. They were originally designed to be two-class vessels so the layout on these ships were a bit odd. Near the end, because of financial problems, these ships had fallen into disrepair and were severely understaff.
The Big Red Boats were at one time in partnership with Disney. The BRB provided the cruise portion of the Land & Sea vacations that Disney pushed aggressively in the late 80's and 90's. In 1996 Disney severed their relationship with the BRBs because Disney felt it was more economical to build their own ship. After the lost of their main sponsor the BRB's (Premier Cruiseline) never recovered.
In September 2000, they ceased operations without any warning. They put everyone (crew and passengers) off of the ships at whatever port they were closest to. Most of the passengers were debarked in Nassau and were flown back to their point of embarkation. However, Premier Cruiselines left the crew were to fend for themselves without money (they didn't get paid), documentations, provisions or any assistance from Premier. Word has it that most of the crew were stuck living at the port in Nassau for over three days while the Bahamian government tried to make sense of this disaster. The crew were provided with blankets, cots, food, water, etc. but were not allowed to leave the port area. Eventually, the crew were flown to various points on the globe. Those that were flown to a U.S. port were treated to a free ticket home and a food voucher courtesy of the United States government. Those that were flown to ports other than the U.S. did not make out as well. What happened to them, I have not found out yet.
Basically, once Disney abandoned their partnership, this cruiseline was not prepared to operate as a solo entity. This was right about the time that Carnival, RCCL and Disney were grabbing all of the attention with their big, shiny, new ships. The Big Red Boats could not compete with these larger companies because BRB simply did not have the ability to match the amenities offered by the larger companies.
It is sad actually because, while I have never cruised on them, the Big Red Boats were the start of affordable cruising for the Middle Class.
Will do more research later.