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Old January 26th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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Default Last of the Greatest Generation?

Tom Brokaw coined the term "The Greatest Generation" for the people who grew up during the Great Depression, fought with the Allies in WWII and then made America the world's beacon of hope. Unfortunately, this generation is on its last legs, with very few veterans remaining.

I don't think it is a coincidence that this same generation invented modern cruising, and especially defined today's luxury cruising standards. Why? Because they grew up with the knowledge of the finer things in life, but most of those things were out of their reach before they grew up. They acquired the good life; it was not handed to them.

Just like that "Greatest Generation" of people, it can also be said that the creation of the world's greatest generation of cruise ships is coming to end. Between 2005 and 2007, before the 2008 economic meltdown, a number of cruise lines announced new builds with brand new stem to stern designs - many of them with innovation beyond our wildest imagination.

All of these new designs were scheduled for delivery in 2009 or later, beginning with Solstice on October 24, 2008. But little did any of us know that these ships would arrive after the world had become a vastly different place from what we expected when they were ordered.

September 17, 2008, was the exact date the current economic meltdown started. Importantly, for the first time in decades and just as they were accepting delivery of some of the most amazing creuise ships ever, 2009 became the first year in cruise industry history when no cruise line ordered a new cruise ship with a new design.

But like the human "Greatest Generation" the cruise industry dreamers persevered with commitments to build the ships already ordered - even though financing anything had become nearly impossible. The undisputed winner in the innovation and the cost categories, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, did not have a single penny of financing in place even as late as six months before the ship was scheduled to begin service - at a final cost of almost $1.4 billion dollars.

But Royal Caribbean persevered in building Oasis and followed up with sister ship Allure, as did Norwegian Cruise Lines with Norwegian Epic, Celebrity with Solstice, Seabourn with Odyssey, Holland America with Eurodam, MSC with Splendida, Carnival with Carnival Dream and Silversea with Silver Spirit.

All of these ships are now in service with Disney Dream arriving just last week, and now it is time to welcome the last of the "Greatest Generation" of new builds in the cruise industry - Oceania Marina.

Now, to be clear, most of these ships have sister ships - some still under construction and scheduled to sail into service in the near future; Disney Fantasy, Celebrity Silhouette and Reflection, Carnival Magic, Seabourn Quest and a sister ship to Oceania's Marina called Riviera.

But Marina will be the last debut of what was a beautiful slate of brand new ship designs conceived before the 2008 economic meltdown.
Oceania announced Marina way back in March of 2006. Almost five years later the ship is now completed and currently sailing the Atlantic Ocean from its shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Its first preview cruise is scheduled to sail from Miami starting February 5th and it will be christened by Mary Hart on February 8.

Like the ships mentioned above, it appears to me that Marina will be a vastly impressive ship; with the largest staterooms at sea (on average), 10 dining venues largely coordinated by culinary icon Jacques Pepin, a spa by Canyon Ranch and stateroom amenities by Ralph Lauren. The suites will offer butler service, 42-inch flat panel televisions and in-suite laptops with wireless Internet access.

After 2009, a very bad year for shipyards with no new ships ordered, in late 2010 Norwegian Cruise Lines and then Princess Cruise Line finally ordered new ships to be delivered starting in 2013. But these new ships will not be like the "Greatest Generation" of cruise ships we just received.

They will expand the number of staterooms onboard but not grow in size proportionately. The next generation of cruise ships is consolidating - packing in more people but not giving them more space per person - the very opposite of say, Oasis of the Seas or Celebrity Solstice, both of which grew in size but also offered more space per person. Royal Caribbean has said on record that it won't be building any more ships like Oasis.

What an amazing transition the last two and a half years have brought. And while we all celebrate the arrival of Marina we will also be closing one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the cruise industry - the "Greatest Generation" of new builds ever.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 03:06 PM
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Personally, I think the present generation of cruise ships have grown far too big & impersonal.

Whatever some might think, they don't look like ships any more, they look more like floating bricks. Ok, they have many outside staterooms with balconies, but I've never felt the need for a balcony, I prefer a good stroll around the promenade deck (when there is one).

My last cruise (2010) was on P & O Oceana, in an inside cabin, which was quite adequate. My first cruise was back in 1981 on CTC Lines MV Mikhail Kalinin which by todays standards was quite small & basic, but I enjoyed every minute of it (well apart from crossing the North Sea in rough weather).
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Old January 27th, 2011, 05:22 PM
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I startd cruising back in 1971 and after 45 plus sailings I have seen ships change from Ocean Liners and small built for cruises only ships to floating resorts. I think that a lot has been lost over the years. Prices are crazy, drinks and extras are totally nuts. It is all about sell, sell, sell.

While RCCI now sails the largest ever built, I don't think I would call them SHIPS. They are Resort Hotels that float. Also I notice that RCCI in 2010 had hugh profits and they except 2011 to be even better. I long for a relaxing 7 - 10 cruise with lots of days at sea, just a couple of ports, good food, good company, good service, and passengers who did want to over eat and run from one boring event on ship to another. Oh, and what about those of us that think dress-up in the evening dinner and dancing is fun. I enjoy wearing jeans and a "t" shirt as much as the next guy, but when I go out for a nice evening I want to dress up a bit and dine with others that do the same. It is good that ship no long have more than one class, but does that mean the it all has to be "low class"?
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Old January 28th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by droylsden_kid View Post
Personally, I think the present generation of cruise ships have grown far too big & impersonal.

Whatever some might think, they don't look like ships any more, they look more like floating bricks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Tobey View Post
I started cruising back in 1971 and after 45 plus sailings I have seen ships change from Ocean Liners and small built for cruises only ships to floating resorts. I think that a lot has been lost over the years. Prices are crazy, drinks and extras are totally nuts. It is all about sell, sell, sell.

While RCCI now sails the largest ever built, I don't think I would call them SHIPS. They are Resort Hotels that float. Also I notice that RCCI in 2010 had hugh profits and they except 2011 to be even better. I long for a relaxing 7 - 10 cruise with lots of days at sea, just a couple of ports, good food, good company, good service, and passengers who did want to over eat and run from one boring event on ship to another. Oh, and what about those of us that think dress-up in the evening dinner and dancing is fun. I enjoy wearing jeans and a "t" shirt as much as the next guy, but when I go out for a nice evening I want to dress up a bit and dine with others that do the same. It is good that ship no long have more than one class, but does that mean the it all has to be "low class"?
I concur with the posts above. Each have their personal preference, but the dominant corporate marketing thought to aggressively capture the cruise dollar, perverts the esteemed concept of cruising.
The "cruise" concept, idea, experience or whatever you deem it to be, is mutated by the incessant demand for extra charges for all services. I can eventually picture that the dinning experince will be "restaurant" style; you will be handed a menu and charged per item ordered. (Just like on land)...
~~Sad commentary~~
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