This week's commentary by TravelPage.com's European Cruise Editor, Malcolm Oliver focuses on Royal Caribbean International's announcement that the company was going to build the world's largest cruise ship.
Genesis, a Revelation
It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote about the prolific amount of big new ships in American waters. Then, out of the blue, Royal Caribbean announced their intention to build the biggest Cruise ship of all time.
It is called the 'Genesis' project and will be a ship of 220,000 gross tons and carry more than 5,400 souls. For comparison, the biggest ship at present, the Queen Mary 2, is only a mere 150,000 gross tons, so Genesis will be over 45% bigger. To put this colossal in perspective, the ill-fated Titanic, at around 45,000 gt was about fifth of the size of Genesis, in terms of volume (gross tonnage is a measurement of internal volume, not weight).
I don't think anybody expected to see a ship in excess of 200,000 gt within this decade. However, it is little surprise that RCI are the ones to push the envelope. They are clearly the market leaders in designing state-of-the-art floating 'resorts'.
Before I could even get my breath back, RCI informed us that they have an option on a second Genesis ship. Once again strong debate has raged within our CruiseTalk Forum:
"One word: AAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!"
"Too big!!!! Too big!!!! It's too much of everything. Give me the sizes of our original classics any day".
"I would love to have the chance to go on something like that".
"And to think we used to rush to the rail to see a "giant" 70,000 ton tanker go by".
"Won't the sight of this be sensational? It's testing what humans are capable of. I'm excited!!!!
"Such a big ship, so many thoughts".
Not surprisingly, people are divided into two distincts camps. We will call one camp the 'wow, great' camp and the other the 'far too big' camp. Personally I do not know how big is 'too big'. It's so very subjective. When the first 90,000 gt ships were floated out, many of us thought they were too big. That lasted until the 120,000 gt ships were born, then they took over the mantel of being too big and 90,000 became acceptable. A little later 140,000 gt was considered too big by many, until we got used to it, and so it goes. Yesterday's giants have become today's mid-sized vessels.
As for the question of passenger capacity, a big ship can actually be more spacious than many smaller ships. It is wrong to assume that they will automatically feel more crowded than all smaller ships. However, you probably will not be able to avoid the crowds at times like embarkation, disembarkation and buffet meals etc. And what about those already crowded Caribbean ports of call?
It will be interesting to see how market-leader, Carnival, respond to the Genesis project. Their giant ship project called 'Pnnacle' is currently 'on hold'.
Big ships certainly do offer more choice of public rooms and facilities. There are more shops, dining choices, bars, ice rinks, water parks, climbing walls and surf simulators. Balcony staterooms are plentiful and sundecks are vast. However mega-ships (or should I say ultra-ships) can never offer the intimate feeling and personal service that a small ships can. Lets hope that we continue to have a variety of sizes of ship and styles to choose from, for many years to come.