We have come a long way since the ill fated RMS Titanic was the world’s biggest ship. Today a ship of the Titanic’s size (about 46,000 gross tonnes) would be regarded as ‘small’.
However, has the mega-ship ‘bubble’ finally burst?
Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class of ships are currently the world biggest cruise ship. ‘Oasis Of The Seas’ entered service in 2007 at around 225,000 gross tonnes. She was more than twice the size* of many of her rivals. She currently has two sisters, which are both slightly bigger.
We are now experience a ‘boom’ period of shipbuilding. However ten years on, the ‘Oasis’ class is still the biggest cruise ship design by far, with nothing bigger on the horizon.
Very big ships do of course have the space for some amazing public rooms, suites and facilities on board. The cruise line also benefit from the economies-of-scale that such a big ship brings.
However ports of call and cruise terminals can be a major issue. Some ports simply cannot physically accommodate such a big ships and their thousands of passengers.
Let’s not forget that some passengers simply do not want to share their cruise with 5,000 other people. They are looking for a more intimate experience.
No one appears to be planning to build a bigger ship than the ‘Oasis’ class, including Royal Caribbean, as far as we know. In fact mega-ships design appears to be shrinking a little.
For many years now, it has been the norm that a cruise lines next class of ship would be bigger than the previous one. However, the Royal Caribbean class which superseded the ‘Oasis’ class, called the’Quantum’ class is around 168,000 gt.
Royal Caribbean’s ‘Project Icon’ (2022) newbuilds will be around 200,000 gt so a step up from the ‘Quantum’ class. However this is still significantly smaller than their ‘Oasis’ class.
NCL’s recently announced new ships will be around 140,000 gt. Once again this is significantly smaller than their current class, the ‘Breakaway Plus’ at 164,000 gt.
The Exceptions To The Rule
They are exceptions to the rule. Some cruise lines will be building their biggest vessels yet, within the next few year and are definitely not down-sizing.
Carnival have newbuilds on order for their brands: Carnival, Costa, AIDA and P&O (2019-22), at around 180,000 gt.
The Mediterranean shipping company are also undergoing an impressive expansion over the next few years.
MSC Seaside (Nov. 2017) will be 154,000 gt. Meraviglia (May 2017) will be 167,000 gt and Megaviglia Plus (2019) will be 177,000. MSC’s ‘World Class ships (2022-2026) will be an impressive 200,000 gt.
Genting (Star cruises) have their ‘Global Class’ ship (2019-20) on order at to 200,000 gt. Either Genting’s ‘Global Class’ and MSC’s ‘World Class’ will be the world’s second biggest class of ship, depending which on is bigger. However it will still be 25,000 gt smaller than the Oasis class.
So back to the opening question: has the mega-ship bubble burst? Will anybody ever build a ship bigger than RCI’s Oasis class?
To be honest, I don’t know. Maybe ship size has reached it’s practical limit. Maybe not?
*(Gross tonnage is a measurement of a ships volume, not weight. GT is the standard way to compare ship sizes to each other).
A few years back I wrote an article for this blog called “Titanic Vs Oasis of the Seas”.
Now I must admit that I did not spend weeks researching it. I put it together quite quickly. It was really just meant to be a bit of fun. Interestingly the article continues to attract more comments than anything else that I have ever written, including some quite negative ones, such as:
“This is stupid, how can you compare these two ships, they are Apples and Oranges”
“These two ships were built 100 year’s apart, of course they are not the same”
“The Titanic was a work of art, Oasis is just a floating shopping mall”
“This article is stupid”
Well, the commentators are fully entitled to their own opinions. The two ships ARE completely different to each other and they WERE built almost 100 years apart. However silly it is to compare these two ships, I still did it!
It’s quite ironic that the article looks like it will be my most viewed again, in 2016 as it was in 2015. If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff!