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.
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).
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:
(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.
More about the Carnival newbuilds: HERE
Oasis Review: HERE
A Brief History of 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).