Megaship Copycat Syndrome

I  call it  ‘Megaship Copycat Syndrome’ (or MCS), which ironically is a mnemonic with the same letters as MSC  (The Mediterranean Shipping Company), but in a different order. This is pure coincidence!

In 1998  Royal Caribbean’s ‘Voyager of the Seas’ entered service, at 138,194 gross tonnes, she was the world’s biggest cruise ship at the time.

Voyager was more like a floating theme park than any ship before her.

Voyager Royal Promenade (RCI)

Although external promenade decks and ‘sheltered’ (internal) promenade decks date back to the great ocean liners, Voyager was the first cruise ship to have an internal ‘street’ down the middle, called the ‘Royal Promenade’. It even had cabins overlooking it.

promenade-deck-queen-mary-ocean-liner-02-thomas-woolworth

Internal Prom, Queen Mary, 1936 (Source unknown)

However the internal promenade concept, with cabins, was originally featured on-board the ‘Sllja Serenade’. This was a ferry operating between Sweden and Finland, in the early 1990’s.

Royal Caribbean obviously borrowed their internal promenade design from Silja.

Internal prom. on-board  Sllja Serenade (Source unknown)

Another milestone in ship design was the introduction of the world’s biggest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class at 225,282 gross tonnes.

Oasis has a unique split-superstructure design accommodating a Boardwalk, a Carousel and a Park.  There were even cabins with balconies overlooking ‘Central Park’ and the’Boardwalk’.

Oasis (Courtesy RCI)

Norwegian Cruise Lines’s impressive ‘Norwegian Breakaway’, which entered service in 2013. NCL took the Promenade concept further than ever before.
Breakaway has a large external promenade running around the the port and starboard sides of the ship and around the bow, called ‘The Waterfront’.  It contains bars and resultants offering sea views.

The Waterfront (NCL)

RCI’s Royal Promenade and the split-superstructure and NCL’s Waterfront were exclusive features to their particular brands for a number of years.

However The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) are undergoing a rapid period of expansion. They are building a series of new mega-ships and have borrowed some ideas from RCI and NCL.

Seaside Prom. Deck (Courtesy MSC)

MSC’s new mega-ship ‘Seaside’ features a wide promenade deck, which I assume will features dining options etc. There are some similarities to NCL’s ‘Waterfront’ feature.

Another MSC’s  newbuild, Meraviglia, features an internal street, not unlike RCI’s ‘Royal Promenade’. The main difference is MSC’s one will have a digital sky.  Meraviglia also has a ‘sports court’ not unlike RCI’s ‘Seaplex’ on-board RCI’s ‘Anthem’ class ships.

Internal prom. deck, MSC Meraviglia (MSC)

MSC, third new class of ship,  the ‘World Class’  will have a split superstructure design rather like that of RCI’s ‘ Oasis’ class. We have yet to find out if the ”World Class’ will also have an internal promenade too.

MSC’s ‘World Class’ (MSC)

However as we have already seen with RCI’s  ‘Royal Promenade’, that they are not beyond a bit of design copying themselves.  Their ‘Quantum class’ ships internal design is very similar to NCL’s Epic/Breakaway/Breakaway+ ships. They had multiple dining and entertainment venues, coupled with a new flexible dining system.  NCL call it ‘Freestyle’, RCI copied it and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’. (Although RCI  have not copied NCL’s  excellent ‘Waterfront’ feature.)

RCI have since revised Dynamic Dining, as it did not impress their passengers.

In conclusion, companies copying other companies ideas and designs is nothing new. However it does seem more commonplace with mega-ships of late.

I hope that this trend does not result in cruise ships becoming more similar to each other – that would be very boring!

“Viva la difference.”

Malcolm