Focus On Cruising

Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

Where’s The Limit?

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We’ve all seen the headlines.  One Caribbean island after another welcoming record numbers of cruise passengers.  It seems every week some cruise line or port is making breathless announcements of old records broken.  The latest is Royal Caribbean’s announcement that Oasis of the Seas boarded 6007 passengers on the March 13th sailing.

We tend to have a fascination with large numbers and new records.  There’s an underlying assumption, unstated but unquestioned, that bigger is better in these matters – that less, in fact, is not more.

One can certainly understand RCCL’s pride.  This, after all, is the reason Oasis of the Seas was built.  She and her sister, Allure of the Seas, were designed to carry unprecedented numbers of passengers.  At the moment, they have a success on their hands.  Interest runs high, sales are brisk, and the sailings on Oasis are heavily booked.

If these two ships do enjoy long term success, how will RCCL’s competitors respond?  I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this trend.  I don’t imagine Oasis and Allure represent the maximum possible size a cruise ship can attain.  It probably wouldn’t break some law of physics to build a ship even bigger.

But if you build it, will they really come?  At which point does a larger ship become possible, but also impractical?  Like some benign invasion, when does the impact of 20,000 or more cruise passengers from several ships not only strain the infrastructure of an island, but also negatively influence the experience of those very same tourists?  This invasion might, in truth, only be interested in plundering the Lladro and Little Switzerland shops.  At some point, however, you can have too much of even a good thing.

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