“Carnival Will Stuff More Than 7,000 Humans Into Its New Cruise Ships”

July 3, 2015

Secret ShipHow’s that for a headline about Carnival’s new and still rather secretive ship!

See The Bloomberg Article Here

Having been on a few of the world’s biggest ships, including ‘Oasis of the Seas’, let me dispel one widely held myth:

“Big ship do not necessarily feel more crowded than smaller ones. Some are actually more spacious”.

The key is how much space is shared between the passengers. Although ‘Oasis’ carries 5,400+ passengers, she has a lot of space.

Space per passenger can be calculated by dividing the ships gross tonnage (volume) by the passenger capacity, to get a ratio. So in the case of Oasis it’s 225,000 / 6,296 (maximum occupancy) and you get a figure of 35. This represents 35 gt per passenger.

Now we don’t really know very much about the four new Carnival ships, not even the projects name. However we do know that they are 25% smaller (45 gt) than ‘Oasis’,  at around 180,000 gt, but will carry a maximum of 6,600 passengers. That’s 304 more passengers than Oasis. If we calculate the ratio we get 27, which clearly means less room per-passenger, than on-board Oasis.


(Oasis of the Seas)

Space is directly linked to the fare paid. Premium and luxury ships normally charge more, yet offer more space. I’ve seen passenger-to-space ratios of 50-70 on-board luxury ships.

In fairness there are many other ships out there with a passenger to space ratio of 27 or less offering a reasonable cruise experiences. In addition ships often do not sell every berth within each cabin. For example many four berth cabins, may actually only be sold to 2 or 3 passengers. The ships design will also have an influence on the passenger ‘flow’.

Carnival were obviously well aware that their initial press release might attract some criticism regarding the high passenger capacity. Therefore they were careful to state that they will be:  “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces”.

However, I’m not sure how that can be achieved.

I suppose that they could shrink all of the cabins, but that would not prove very popular.  Megaship cabins and their balconies have tended to get a little more compact in recent years anyway. You can’t easily shrink the public spaces, apart from vertical atriums, which do represent wasted upwards space.

Facilities like retail spaces, spa/gym and the casino are not used by all passengers, but generate a small fortune in revenue. Shrink them and they will make less money. Take away the children’s  facilities, like water chutes and aqua-parks and your ship becomes unattractive to families, another big income stream.

Megaships are suppose to be all about offering more choices, not less.

Now you could eliminate innovations (gimmicks?) like big sports courts, bumper cars, ice skating rinks, carousels and internal promenades. These take up a lot of space, but they do help sell the ship. Carnival don’t tend to include these in their ship designs anyway, they are Royal Caribbean’s speciality.

Another possibility is the creation of more multi-purpose public rooms. Aida cruises (Carnival owned, but aimed at the German market) invented the ‘Theatrium’, a circular theatre-come-central- atrium, which severs as a dual space (see below).


(Image courtesy of Aida)

Maybe it is also possible to combine a formal dining room with a buffet.  Interestingly, Meyer Werft was the shipyard that built the recent Aida ships and will also be building the four new Carnival mega-ships. Maybe Meyer Werft are incorporating lessons learned from the Aida designs.

Maybe to save space, Carnival are eliminating the dining rooms altogether:

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

(If the Carnival lawyers are reading this, that was a JOKE!)

In fact, I would expect the new Carnival ships to have multiple dining rooms, rather than the ‘one big main dining room’ system. Even Royal Caribbean have embraced their version of NCL’s ‘Freestyle’, called ‘Dynamic Dining’. It is featured on their ‘Quantum’ class ships and is being extended to the older vessels in their fleet.  However the multiple dining rooms that are required to operate any form of flexible-dining, probably take up more space, not less.

In addition, the new Carnival ship will not be powered by liquid fuel, but by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Not only will this be more environmentally friendly, creating much lower emissions, it should also prove to be cheaper to operate. However I heard that LNG requires six times more storage space than liquid fuel.  Where on earth will they find that extra to store it all, unless gas storage tanks are located on the deck or on the upper superstructure, somewhere.

Finally, passenger capacity is  a ‘knife edge’ issue.  A cruise line needs the maximum number of passengers accommodated on-board, to pay for their billion dollar machines. However, too many passengers on-board will make the whole experience an unpleasant one.

However, Carnival are the worlds most successful cruise line. They have built many impressive ships in the past. I’m sure that the very experienced ship builder Meyer Werft and the Carnival management, know exactly what they are doing. Maybe we just need to trust them to deliver these unique ships.

Malcolm Oliver

More about the Carnival newbuilds: HERE

Oasis Review: HERE

A Brief History of Carnival


Carnival Magic (2011) & Mardi Gras (1961) Lorraine Turner, Carnival

Carnival Cruise Line is an American owned cruise line, based in Doral, Florida, a suburb of Miami in the United States. Originally an independent company founded in 1972 by Ted Arison, the company is now one of nine cruise ship brands owned and operated by Carnival Corporation plc. The company has the largest fleet in the group, with 24 vessels currently in operation that account for 21.1% of the worldwide market share.

Carnival was a pioneer in the concept of shorter, less expensive cruises. Its ships are known for their Las Vegas-style décor and entertainment. The line calls its ships “The Fun Ships”, and there are a wide range of activities offered on board. Its trademark is the funnel which is red, white and blue and shaped like a whale’s tail. The mascot for Carnival is Fun Ship Freddy, a character in the shape of Carnival’s distinctive funnel.

In 1996 Carnival Destiny of 101,000 gross tonnes became the largest passenger ship in the world at the time and first to exceed 100,000 tons.

In 2004, Carnival Corporation ordered for a development program for Carnival’s new ships, which was called the Pinnacle Project, which calls for a 200,000 GT prototype, which would have been the world’s largest cruise ship. However the project was cancelled due to the poor Dollar to Euro exchange rate.

The next Carnival new-build, Carnival Vista will be the largest ship in the Carnival fleet to date. She will be 133,500 and will carry 3,936 passengers (double occupancy). The ship is under construction in the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and is expected to be delivered by April 2016.

In June 2015 Carnival signed a deal with Meyer Werft shipyard, Germany for four 6,600-passenger mega-ships at 180,000 gross tonnes each. These ships will be delivered between 2019-2022 and will be fuelled by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).


MSC Seaside Interiors

July 3, 2015

Thomson to get Celebrity Galaxy and Mercury

July 2, 2015
(Source unknown)

(Mein schiff 2 – source unknown)

It has now been confirmed that Thomson Cruises, the UK based cruise brand in the TUI AG group, will receive ‘Mein Schiff 1′ and ‘Mein Schiff 2′. This will happen once the two 99,300 gross ton newbuilds on order, enter service, TUI Cruises said in a statement.

“The new builds planned for 2018 and 2019 will successively replace Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2. The first two TUI Cruises ships will be passed on to Thomson Cruises within TUI Group,” the company said.

Mein Shift (My Ship) 1 was built in 1996 as ‘Galaxy’ and Mein Shift 2 in 1997 as ‘Mercury’ for Celebrity cruises. Both ship are around 77,000gt and have approximately 1,900 lower berths. At the time they were state of the art ship and being ‘premium’, rather spacious.

British singer, Jane McDonald was ‘discovered’ on-board Galaxy, in a when a fly-on-the-wall documentary called ‘the cruise’ was filmed in the 1990’s.

Both ships went through substantial refurbishment before joining the Hamburg based company that employs them at the moment.

Thomson Cruises will next year receive the 1995 built ‘Splendour of the Seas’ from Royal Caribbean International to replace the 1982 built Island Escape.

She will be renamed ‘Thomson Discovery’.


Mercury slide show: HERE

(Splendour) Thomson Discovery: HERE

Splendour Review HERE

Megaship Review: Anthem of The Seas

June 30, 2015



Ripcord -Anthem of The Seas (Click to enlarge)

One of the biggest ships in the world inspired me to write one of the longest reviews in the world (well probably) – it’s around 6,000 words!

Here is a short extract:

Anthem is different to all other RCI ship. If fact she did not feel like a RCI ship to me. This is because the ships basic design is not unlike NCL’s new ships, with multiple dining options and multiple entertainment venues.

‘Dynamic Dining’ is very similar to NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining. It does offer more choice and flexibility than on-board any other class of RCI ship. However RCI still appear to be struggling to manage it effectively.


Anthem of the Seas review HERE


June 30, 2015


Today’s Megaships are offering ‘mega-entertainment’. NCL specialize in Las Vegas style ‘branded’ productions and ‘Broadway’ shows.

Since Norwegian Epic entered service in 2010, NCL have been offering the “Blue Man group” on-board, as the main show.

I cannot recall a ship ever before where the entertainment was marketed e, so enthusiastically, along with the ship itself.

The ‘Blue Man group’ will be replaced later this year by “Priscilla”.

Norwegian Epic Review HERE

The Megaship League

June 28, 2015

I decided to assemble a list of the biggest cruise ships* in service today. However I also added the new-builds that are currently on order with the shipyards. I think it’s an accurate list, but do let me know if you see any errors.

It’s amazing that Royal Caribbean’s ‘Freedom’ class (2006) which were the world biggest class for a while, have now been pushed down to 20th place on the list.

By 2019 Carnival’s first new-builds will make the ‘Quantum Class’ (currently the world’s second biggest class of ship) look a lot smaller!

The MSC Vista class (2017-19) when introduced into service will be quite high on the list, above all the NCL ships, for example.

(100 year apart – RMS Titanic followed by Oasis of the Seas)

For the history buff, RMS Titanic was around 46,000gt, making ‘Oasis’ approximately 5 times bigger!  Titanic would not appear on the list below, there must be hundreds of ships that are bigger.

Harmony 227,000
Oasis Class Unnamed 227,000
Oasis 225,282
Allure 225,282
Carnival unnamed 180,000
Carnival unnamed 180,000
Carnival unnamed 180,000
Carnival unnamed 180,000
Quantum 168,666
Anthem 168,666
Ovation 168,666
Quantum Unnamed 168,666
MSC Meraviglia 167,600
MSC Vista  Unnamed 167,600
Norwegian Escape 164, 600
Norwegian Bliss 164, 600
Breakaway+ Unnamed 164, 600
Breakaway+ unnamed 164, 600
Norwegian Epic 155,873
Freedom 154,407
Liberty 154,407
Independence 154,407
MSC Seaside (1) 154, 000
MSC (2) Unnamed 154,000

*(Based on the standard measurement of comparison, internal volume/gross tonnage).

Carnival Vista Float-Out

June 27, 2015
(Carnival rendering)

(Carnival rendering)

“Carnival Vista”, the new flagship of the Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet was floated-out on 25/06/15 at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

Interior fittings will now begin. The ship is scheduled to enter service in April 2016.

At 133,500 gross tons and 321 meters long, “Carnival Vista” is currently Carnival’s largest ship. She will accommodate 3,936 passengers (double occupancy) and 1,450 crew.

“Carnival Vista” will be a new technological benchmark, in Europe and worldwide, in terms of cutting-edge layout, extremely high performance and high quality technical solutions. The interior fittings will be of an extremely high level quality comfort, offering a wide range of onboard entertainments, such as an IMAX 3D cinema, a brewery (with onboard beer production), restaurants, theatres, shops and wellness centers.

One of Carnival Vista’s innovations will be the Havana Area, a themed private and exclusive area, with cabins, open bars and a swimming pool. The access to this area is limited only to those passengers whose cabins are in the Havana Area.


Malcolm says: Let’s not forget that Carnival have also ordered four 180,000gt mega-ships which are expected to be a completely new design of ship and their biggest yet. After a decade of a ‘playing safe’ by adapting existing ship designs, Carnival are innovating once again.

Vista cabin slide-show: Here

Official Vista video (annoying voice-over) HERE

News: Carnival’s new 180,000gt mega-ships: HERE

So What’s An LNG Powered Cruise Ship?

June 25, 2015
(A past rendering which was never built - Fincantieri)

(A past rendering which was never built – Fincantieri)

The Carnival Corporation announced in June 2015 that they have finalized a multi-billion dollar contract to build four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the industry.

The contract with Meyer Werft is part of larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022.

The four new ships will also feature a new “green cruising” design. The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

These new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored on-board and used to generate 100 percent power at sea.

Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulphur oxides.

Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea. However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly for a megaship design.

LNG is superior to pipeline gas in quality. This is because LNG is purer, has more methane as well as other energy content, and also because of its chemical structure since it has a stable composition. Its combustion generates no unburned residues, particulates or soot, and releases less greenhouse gas than traditional marine gas oil (MGO). Future maritime emissions regulations, especially in sensitive environments are likely to demand this.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect about LNG is that under the right operating conditions it  can reduce fuel costs.

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG.

Gas take up more space than fuel-oil. In fact six times more space. Therefore large tanks for the gas are located on deck, of then ferry, to save space in the hull (See image above). Will the Carnival newbuilds mimic this feature, somehow?

Carnival have already said “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces”. Maybe this means storing the LNG tanks on deck/upper superstructure, freeing up internal space traditionally used for fuel storage, for passengers.

Just a guess!

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

LNG cruise ship ‘concepts’ have been around a long time. The renderings below are a design by Wärtsilä, the marine engine company.

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

Interestingly the concept ship uses drive shaft technology, rather than pods. The LNG tans are located internally, below the funnel area.


( Wärtsilä)

There is some speculation that the engines on-board the new Carnival ships will not exclusively be powered by LNG, but ‘dual fuel’ being capable of burring both LNG and liquid fuel, and combinations of both at the same time. burning exclusively LNG could be saved for environmentally sensitive areas.  This would reduce the fuel storage space required.


Three Virgin Ships, But Smaller

June 24, 2015


Virgin Cruises has selected Port Miami as the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020. They have also signed a binding letter of intent with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri, for three new mid-size ships.

Virgin Cruises’ three new ships, of about 110,000 gross tonnes each, are scheduled  for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to accomodate more than 2,800 guests. There will also be 1,150 crew on board to look after the guests and deliver the Virgin service. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.

Always pose with pretty girls! (Virgin image)

Always pose with pretty girls! (Virgin image)

“This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travellers around the globe,” Richard Branson said. “We now have the right partners in place to build a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike, and we look forward to being in Miami and delivering an experience for people who want a new way to cruise.”

Virgin Cruises’ binding letter of intent with Fincantieri is the first part of a two-step process with both companies committed to signing a contract at the end of 2015. The PortMiami agreement will be present at the Miami-Dad County Board of Commissioners meeting on June 30th, 2015.

(A possible rendering of a Virgin ship?)

(A possible rendering of a Virgin ship?)

“We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that,” said Virgin Cruises CEO Tom McAlpine. “Today’s announcement brings together important ingredients in our future success – Miami’s vibrant culture paired with the excellent Port infrastructure and Port team; and Fincantieri’s expertise in prototyping, their creativity and understanding of our vision.”

(Virgin concept/rendering)

(Virgin concept/rendering)

Customers are invited to join the journey by visiting the Virgin Cruises website to share their ideas on what the new cruise line can do to deliver an incredible experience at sea.


Malcolm Says: This Virgin rendering/concept below has also been leaked:

(Click to enlarge - Acknowledgment: E. Thakkar)

(Click to enlarge – Acknowledgment: E. Thakkar)

Externally the ship rendering looks unique – rather like an Art Deco railway train , which I fully approve of.

The aft-rendering above resembles RCI’s ‘Oasis of the Seas’  split-hull design, with staterooms overlooking the inner space and an aft pool, which is not unlike the RCI’s Aqua-Theatre. In addition there is a ‘Quantum of the Seas’ style ‘Ripcord’ (free-fall simulator) thrown in for good measure.  All very interesting, but hardly very original.

However it’s just a concept/rendering, which does not mean that the ship will ever be built like that. The offices of marine architects must be full of drawings of unfulfilled concepts. The final design of the ship may be very different and probably more conventional.

So we have gone form two ships to three, but they have shrunk. Originally it was said that they would each be 172,000 gt but now they are 110,000 gt.  That’s mega-ship to mid-sized.  As for innovation, a 7 night itinerary from Miami to the Caribbean is hardly ground-breaking, is it?  However this will allow ‘Virgin Cruises’ to have a strong links with ‘Virgin Atlantic’, Branson’s airline.

Branson is a great entrepreneur, but I wonder what the Virgin brand can bring to cruising that is genuinely new?  I don’t doubt that the product will be well marketed and aimed at a younger clientele. We can also expect the entertainment and technology on-board to be impressive, after all Virgin started as a record label and diversified into communication and travel.

The problem is that the completion: Royal Caribbean, the Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival, already offer some very Hi-Tech ships aimed at a younger market. MSC also have some very impressive ships on order.




MSC Meraviglia Interior Images released

June 22, 2015

“Meraviglia”, or “Wonder” in English, is the feeling of being amazed when we see something new, extraordinary or unimaginable. MSC Meraviglia will be the first ship with three homeports and will spend her inaugural summer sailing the Mediterranean in Summer 2017.

Designed to amaze, the new flagship MSC Meraviglia, will be the biggest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line.

The sophisticated combination of state-of-the-art-technology, a love of the sea, bold design, comfort and genuine practicality will allow MSC Meraviglia to dock at any cruise port around the world essentially expanding the choice of itineraries and destinations.

(Duplex site - MSC image)

(Duplex site – MSC image)

The cutting-edge MSC Meraviglia will have more than 355 sq. feet of stunning panoramic spaces, spectacular sea views, an indoor promenade with shops, bars, and restaurants, and a super amusement park. Also, the ship will be one of the greenest and safest ships in the industry.

The on-board technological advances alone are incredible. With ‘Near Field Communication’ technology, guests will be able to do things like make on-board payments, access their staterooms or geo-locate children, friends and on-board locations simply by using their cruise card, bracelet or smartphone. In addition, it will feature a jaw-dropping, and industry first, LED screen, which forms the entire ceiling of the ship’s interior promenade and will act as a digital sky beaming out compelling images and vistas throughout the day.

Guests can also experience a new level of luxury with the “Enhanced” MSC Yacht Club, entirely self-contained with restaurants, a solarium with its own pool, a private lounge and fascinating suites with private whirlpool baths.

Yacht Club Royal Suite - MSC image

Yacht Club Royal Suite – MSC image

•1033 feet long with more than 355,209 sq. ft. of public spaces
•2,250 guest staterooms with luxury accommodations for up to 4,500 guests (double occupancy)
•New family staterooms (combining 2 to 3 staterooms) for more comfort for all the members of the family
•Outdoor Aqua Park connected to a double deck indoor amusement park
•Double deck aft lounge designed for ground-breaking entertainment
•Double deck atrium with glass wall for spectacular sea views
•Double deck indoor promenade with shops, innovative bars, specialty restaurants and the longest LED digital sky
•Duplex suites with private whirpool baths
•Enhanced MSC Yacht Club with vast solarium with pool and dedicated restaurant
•World-leading environmental and safety technologies

(Courtesy of MSC)

Malcolm says: The aft lounge and Indoor amusement park are rather reminiscent of RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class.  The internal Promenade was of course also popularised by RCI. So impressive, but hardly very original.


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