A few years ago, I never thought any ship would surpass Royal Caribbean's 3,500-passenger Voyager-class ships in size. Cunard Line's 148,528-ton Queen Mary 2 was even larger (in size, not passenger count), although she was built for transatlantic crossings and longer voyages. This June, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, 158,000 tons and a maximum capacity of 4,200 passengers, will debut. And RCI recently announced it is building a 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger vessel scheduled to enter service in 2009, the "Genesis" class of ship. Even Celebrity Cruises has plans to construct ships significantly larger than those currently in its fleet -- the 118,000-ton, 2,850-passenger "Solstice Class" scheduled to enter service in 2008.
The reason cruise lines build these behemoths is financial -- the more cabins a ship has, the lower the construction price per room (and the more revenue per departure); the line's unit costs to operate the ship are also lower.
But when we get to the point where ships are carrying 5,000 passengers, I start to think: How many is too many? Just the thought of embarking and disembarking in a port with crowds that large turns the cruise experience into an event as mundane as going to a mall -- not to mention the "line time," especially when tenders are involved. There was a time when passengers opted to take a ship for the joy of being at sea, but today cruise lines tout a list of innovations to take your mind off the sea -- like a bowling alley, boxing ring and roller-blading track. It helps to take binoculars if you actually want to view the ocean. Besides, why take a ship to engage in activities easily found in your own city or town?
Please take our poll and add your opinion below. With the announcement of RCI's new "Genesis" class of vessel - are cruise ships getting too big?
I think in horror of trying to tender into a small port that only has a population of half of the capacity of the new ships. I find that 2000 is the maximum that I'm comfortable with and I really enjoyed the Tahitian Princess with 684. I aab just see being in port for 8 hours and it takes 3 hours to get everyone off of the ship. I've talked to others with the same opinion
My wife & I would say no. Any time a cruiseship's population exceeds the port's shore time is going to be impacted negatively. We travel to experience new faces and places. If we wanted to spend all our time with US citizens we'd stay at home. A big plus for us shipboard is quiet tiime is secluded nooks. Hard to find on the mega-ships. We recently spent a week on Carnival's Conquest and it was too big. The thought of twice that size is mind bogglingly unpleasant.
It is amazing how things change. I remember in 1979 sailing on the Norwegian Caribbean Sunward, which held, I believe around 700 passengers. Then, the trend was towad smaller ships. I personally would never consider anything as large as the Freedom of the Seas, and certainly not one that is over 5,000 passengers. I find that around 2000 also works well for me and my family.
I don't think you need a poll to answer this question. I believe the fastest selling ships belong to the megaliners (e.g. Voyager-class). The cruising public has created a lot of demand for larger ships (me included).
I would not like to be on a ship that could hold 4000 to 5000 people. It would be too crowded. Sea days would not be as peaceful. There would have to be too many activities going on to keep people happy. I prefer time sitting on deck, enjoying the ocean, reading, and napping. I'll stick to the smaller ships.
If the support infrastructure doesn't increase in size to meet the increased size (and thus the increased headcount) of the ships, then yes, bigger can and will become too big. For those who choose to sail those ships, that is. IMHO. To each his own, of course, so as long as there's always a variety of ship sizes available, is it really an issue? No.
I think the "bottom line" business decision that led to the mega ships may turn around and bite the CEOs in the wazzoo eventually. What happens if they can't fill these monstrousities? Friends of ours tried an RCL Voyager class ship, and will never cruise one of those behemoth's again. DH and I were considering trying one until we talked to them, and then another couple also said almost the exact same thing. So, no, we don't even plan to bother with these oversized virtual theme parks, we already know they aren't for us. The #1 complaint we've heard and experienced is the food. The bigger the ship, the less appealing the meals become. Seems you just can't have the quality meals cruises are known for, with so many people. You no longer have dining. You have mass feeding. The service suffers--forget personalized attention. Lines are long, there's too much noise, too many uncontrolled kids running around and the wonderful cruise experience is lost. If we want a theme park experience with masses of people, we'll take a land vacation and go to Disney World!
We cruise a lot (at least 2 cruises a year) and wouldn't even consider anything over 100,000 tons with any of the major cruise lines. If and when there comes a time there are no more comfortably-sized, reasonably priced ships to sail on, sadly our cruising days will be over.
My family enjoys the larger ships due to the number of activities. We have sailed all sizes of ships from 26 ton to 138 ton. The food can vary greatly from line to line. Generally, The dining room food is better than the food troughs at the buffet lines. We have found that no matter what size the ship the pool areas are not sufficient- perhaps that will be the undoing of the mega liner as the ships tend to be taller - not neccessarily longer.
I did take a cruise on board of Carnival Triumph with other 3330 pax on. The deck space has been too crowded on the sea days. Every time lots of people. Because of the number of salons, bars, etc. it has not been too crowded during the night.
But in small ports such as St.Thomas, St.Martin, etc. it is heavy ... not only when disembarking at every port, but in those of small islands you feel like in a rush hour in London or New York. We did escape to those places where the crowds did not go. And disembarking did took too long tiime ...
The smaller ships are much more familiar. The service is more personally. The food is better - even on lower standard ships.
And for the ports and the people living there smaller ships up to 1000 pax are much better to avoid the crowds of tourists in the streets plus them who stay there for longer - yes crowds will spend a lot of money. But relaxed people in vacancy will spend a lot more because they have time. F.e. one day on a cruise in Rhodes we had been with 10 vessels there and the main shopping street has been only a see of heads ... The biggest vessels has been the Mistral. And now I think of with the same number in port of the new giants ... horryfing. And I belive a horror for the people of Rhodes even every 7th day in the season. They have to make vacancy after for themselves ...
For the Cruise lines it is logical to build more cost effective.
But where will be the lust to feel the see on the megas? The relaxation for those who love to relaxe? The "gusto" to dine ...
Isn´t space the true luxury? ... as on board of the Europa ... or in ports like those on the Coté a Sur ...
I'm a people person, but I prefer not to cruise on large ships; just too many people and I'm not able to attend all events that I'd like to. If the schedule includes a lot of time in port, I am involved in land tours, etc., and I find no time for all those extras. Celebrity's Millennium is as large as I care to go.
My prespective is ... I sailed a few days on two "Tiger Cruises" (USS Carl Vincen and USS Nimitz ) at the end of 2 of my son's naval tours. Those aircraft carriers house some 5000 sailors. Considering that these new cruise ships house 5000 or more passengers plus a large staff and include large entertainment and dining areas... that's a lot of people and a lot of ship.
Last year I took a cruise on a much smaller ship (Insignia) but found it to be somewhat limited primarily because of the many days at sea and few port calls. It had a very inviting pool, and wonderful library, and because of open seating I met a lot of wonderful people.
A couple years ago I took a no frills Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, which is in a class of its own. I enjoyed every minute of my cruise with them.
The huge ships leave us cold. They take the genuine fun and romance out of cruising. If it can't get through the canal it's way to big for us. 50 to 75,000 tons is a good size. I can certainly understand why a family would want to go on a mega-ship for a short family vacation. But it's not cruising, its more of a resort experience.
Landlocked in Denver, but cruisin every chance we get.
Polynesia, Carib. '86
Cr. Odyssey, Scandinavia, '91, 30 Day S Pac. 2002
Crystal Harm, Aust., N.Z., '94
Royal Odyssey, AK,'96
Old Cr. Pr. Canal, '97
RCCL, Carib, 1998
Volendam, Car, 2000
Ryndam, 35 day S. Am., Antarctica, '03
Is. Pr., Canal, 2004
Statendam, 34 day China, Japan, AK '06
Cr.Pr., Carib. 08
Eurodam, Atlantic, Med. '10
Like everyone else, I too feel bigger in this case is not better. Too many people create a nightmare disembarking, dining, etc. Too many activities like rock climbing and skating - not necessary. Stay home if you want to do these. They're getting away from what cruising is all about - relaxing and taking time to chill out from the pressures of normal everyday life, and enjoying the peacefulness of the ocean. 8)
Interesting that people are now talking total number of passengers and how it affects ports. If you look at passenger/space ratio, then a 110K-ton Carnival ship that holds 3000 passengers is more crowded than a 220K-ton ship that holds 5400 passengers.
However, in this case it appears people have a concern for the sheer number of passengers on a ship, and how that affects things like food delivery and disembarkation - all valid points.
I am just curious to see how the theater and dining rooms look on these new megaships - maybe we have reached the pinnacle <g> on size, so instead of mega-ships we have to call them maxi-ships, or ultraships.
There is no way my husband and myself would go on a cruise ship with 5000 to 6000 others. We feel most comfortable with cruise ships with no more that 2000 capacity. We were on the Miracle and did not enjoy it at all. Too many people around the pool area - casino - bars and even the library. It took all the enjoyment out of the relaxing?? cruise.
I live in a town by the sea. I sure as heck don't want to cruise on a city on the sea.
I used to sail often on Princess and occasionally with RCCL and Celebrity: but no more . I'm sticking with ships carrying about twelve hundred or less.
I personally will not sail on a ship this big. We are going on the Carnival Liberty for our next cruise, but that is really too large for me and will be the exception, not the rule. I prefer Spirit Class size ships, mainly due to the walking time between areas of the ship. I want the conveniece of being able to pop back to my room whenever the notion takes me without spending 20 minutes of my time to get there.
Sheila<-----------thinks the Star Princess was also borderline to the size ship I will cruise again
There will always be demand for the large ships with the first-time cruisers...
However, I know that most experienced cruisers, and there are a lot of us, will choose not to go larger than they are now, so whatever the size, they will always be booked. I also don't think that all new ships will be mega ships. I think (I hope) the cruiselines will replace retiring smaller ships sometimes with ships the same size.
What surprises do have in store for us to justify having a ship so big. It seems like all the things we used to kid about putting on ships have actually come true: bowling alleys for example. We used to kid about goofy golf and other past-times where gravity is a factor, but they actually did it. We have kidded about pool tables, but why not?
What BIG things will they put on there: full water parks (snorkle on the ship, don't bother going ashore). Roller coasters (I have been kidding about this for years, but I think it's coming sooner rather than later). How about Merry-go-rounds and other amusement park rides? How about luge? did you ever think you would see a skating rink?
Much too big. Our preference is for sub 2000. Cruising is popular at the moment but I guess a lot of 'new cruisers' will find it not for them and the demand may ease up. What is going to happen to all the juggernauts then ?
We have sailed large and small. This summer we are booked on the Freedom as we always book a new ship when it is launched. That being said, I feel the larger ships SEEM to have less people on them! There are always places in a ship with 2000 passangers where you are the only person. It never feels like a cattle call and we have never had any delays in boarding or disembarkation. I like the smaller ships some times, but on a recent two week cruise to Hawaii, the large ship was the way to go.
Don't knock em until you have tried them. You don't need to climb a rock wall (I never have) or play golf on the ship (I have) to have a good time on a larger ship. And by the way, the BEST people in customer service (telephone support) have got to be the people who handle Princess. Quick story... we all remember that Hurricane headed for the Gulf last fall. Well my family was supposed to leave Galviston the day they closed the port and the airports. I was packed and ready to go, but RCCL had nothing else leaving from anywhere I could get to. I called Princess and after an hour on the phone, we left for California for two weeks on one of their ships. Though we paid full rack rate (ouch), they bent over backward to make this happen for us.
My husband and I love to cruise we have been on the old Pacific Princess (The Love boat in 2003) and the Zenith, and the Constellation. of the three ships we prefer the smaller of the three. the Constellation was a terrific ship but any bigger then that and I think you lose the personal touch from the staff. I have also noticed that the larger ships have fewer public spaces and smaller state rooms.
I realize the companies want to make money but I think they are truly turning the cruise experience into more of a theme park affair rather then a relaxing romantic vacation. Family cruises are nice too and Celebrity does the whole youth program very classy and you would not know there were any children on the cruise since they are always kept busy doing fun stuff.
Just my opinion but thats what you asked for right????? 8)
My wife and I HATE the trend toward larger and larger cruise ships. It's hard to relax when constantly surrounded by a mass of humanity. The embarkation lines are too long, tendering is a nightmare, finding room in a hottub is difficult and finding a poolside lounge chair is impossible (except when the weather is bad)! We actively seek out the smaller, older ships and have been doing more river cruising as well.