The Costa Twins, 180,000gt
The Carnival cruise line recently ordered four 180,000 gross ton megaships, with the German ship builder Meyer Werft. Their Costa and AIDA brands will get two each.
Each ship will accommodate up to 6,600 passengers (5,200 double occupancy) which is a world record.
180,000gt (Image courtesy of Costa)
Carnival’s new ships won’t be the largest by size (gross tonnes/volume), as Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships at around 225,000 gross tons still wear that crown. However the new Carnival mega-ships will carry up to 300 passengers more than the ‘Oasis’ class ships, yet are smaller.
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”.
The big question is: Will these be the most crowded cruise ships in the world?
Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison, who has been involved with the design process, said that the space ratio on the new vessels is the same as most of the existing ships in the AIDA and Carnival Cruise Line fleets.
We need to do a little math(s) to check if Micky is right.
There are a number of factors which determine how crowded a ship is and/or feels. This includes the ship design which hopefully allows good passenger flow without bottle-necks. However passenger-flow cannot be easily measured, only ‘experienced’.
A quantifiable gauge is to compare the space available per-passenger on-board Carnival’s new mega-ships and compare the figures with some other big mass-market* ships. Although will not reveal the whole story about space on-board a ship, it is a reasonably good measure.
Space per passenger can be calculated by dividing the ships gross tonnage (a measurement of volume) by the passenger capacity, to get a passenger-to-space 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 of space per passenger.
RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class ships have a similar ratio to ‘Oasis’ at 34.
Oasis on the far right dwarfing Carnival, Disney and MSC ships. (Click to enlarge)
We do know that the new Carnival ships will be around 180,000 gt, which is 25% smaller (approx. 45 gt) than the ‘Oasis’ class. However the Carnival ships 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 the Oasis and Quantum classes.
Let’s have a look at the new Norwegian Cruise Line ship, ‘Escape’ (2015). She is NCL’s biggest ship yet at 164,600gt and carries a maximum of 5,400 passengers. She has passenger-to-space ratio of 30. So less generous than Oasis, but only slightly better than the Carnival new builds.
Carnival’s latest ship, ‘Vista’ (2015) is 133,500gt and carries a maximum of 4,683 passengers. That gives us a ratio of 28, only one point more than there 180,000gt new-builds.
The latest Costa ship ‘Costa Diadema’ (2014) is 132,500gt and carries a maximum of 4,947 passengers. This gives us a ratio of 27. (The same as the 180,00gt newbuilds).
The statistics available about AIDA fleets maximum passenger capacity are a little vague. Only the double occupancy figures are generally available. However if I am correctly informed, AIDAstella and AIDAmar appear to have a passenger to space ratio of 26. (Fractionally less than the 180,00get newbuilds)
180,00gt (Courtesy of Costa)
In Conclusion, the press and many commentators have simply picked up on the figure “6,600 passengers” and have assumed that the Carnival new-build megaships will be the most crowded ships ever built. This is simply not true.
Micky Arison is correct; there are many ships in service out there, with passenger-to-space ratios of 27 or lower. These do includes Carnival, AIDA and Costa ships.
However I did not mention that Carnival have sales policy which involves doing their best to sell every berth. For example, I believe they will not sell a 3-4 berth cabin to a couple, if they can avoid it. Some other cruise lines impose this rule far less rigorously. Therefore Carnival ships often sail fuller than the industry standard of 104%.
These ships new mega-ships will definitely feel busy. A quiet corner to read a book will not be so easy to find. However the on-board passenger density will not be unique in the mass-market/budget cruise industry and should not feel unbearable. Carnival are unlikely to sell every berth, every cruise, but they will have a good try!
It will be interesting if Carnival really can ““make more efficient use of the ship’s spaces” to benefit the passenger experience or is that just sales talk?
(*Premium and Luxury ships, even big ones, always offer more space pre passenger)
The new Costa megaships Analysed: HERE
Oasis Review: HERE