Royal Caribbean bolster fleet

With 23 ships operating around the world, you might be wondering why Royal Caribbean would need additional vessels. Royal Caribbean operates a number of exciting itineraries that vary in length across a number of vessels which also vary in length. Yet, Royal Caribbean has five mega-ships scheduled for launch over the next five years, each of which providing a maximum passenger capacity of over 4,500.

The scheduled new additions to the Royal Caribbean fleet could be in response to Carnival Corporation’s new developments which include a joint venture in China, four new 7,000 capacity vessels, and a voluntourism line. This week, Cruise Franchise takes a closer look at the newest additions to the Royal Caribbean fleet and the predicted direction of the cruise line over the coming year.

Mega Vessels

Royal Caribbean currently holds the record for the largest cruise ship in the world, with both Oasis-class vessels, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, measuring a gross tonnage of 225,282. They also hold the third largest cruise ship in the world, with both Quantum-class vessels, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, measuring a gross tonnage of 168,666.

There are plans to introduce a third ship to each of these fleets in 2016, with Harmony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas being introduced to the Oasis-class and Quantum-class fleets respectively. Furthermore, Royal Caribbean has ordered three new vessels which will be introduced to the Quantum-class and Oasis-class over the coming years. Two currently unnamed vessels will be brought to the Oasis-class in 2019 and 2020, whilst the Quantum-class will be boosted with a new currently unnamed vessel in 2018.

Carnival Corporation has four mega-ships on the way, all of which will provide a maximum capacity of 6,600 passengers – two of which will sail for Costa Cruises, with the other two will operate under AIDA Cruises. Whilst these ships may be large in size, the battle for passengers could well be for the best itineraries, best onboard experience and best amenities.

Cruises in Asia

Far East Asia is currently the fastest growing cruise market in the world and there are plans to introduce many new terminals, some of which will be connected to the mainland via high-speed rail. Both Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corporation have stated their intentions of bringing more vessels to Asian shores, but to what extent?

It has already been confirmed that Ovation of the Seas, which is set to launch in Spring 2016, will homeport in Tianjin, China, until the northern winter, when she will move to Sydney, Australia. Ovation of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas as the second Quantum-class vessel to provide itineraries out of China.

Comparatively, Carnival Corporation's Costa Cruises brand is already operating itineraries in the Far East. Costa Victoria is currently sailing out of Singapore, whilst Costa Fortuna will operate Far East Asia cruises from May 2016. It is possible that one of the fleet's new 6,600 passenger vessels could also be positioned in Asia.

Voluntourism

Amidst the discussion of the future of cruising in Far East Asia and the development of future mega ships, you would be forgiven for missing the news regarding Pullmantur’s Empress. Once operated under Royal Caribbean, Empress joined Pullmantur’s fleet in 2008 but it was announced last month that she would be returning in 2016.

Empress is a much smaller ship than those scheduled for the coming years, with a gross tonnage of 48,563 (just over one-fifth of Harmony of the Seas’ 227,000 GRT). Following an extensive refurbishment in dry-dock, Empress will re-join Royal Caribbean as Empress of the Seas in Spring 2016, but details of her itineraries remain unknown.

Cruisers have speculated that she might offer voluntourism sailings to Cuba, with itineraries similar to those offered by Carnival Corporation’s new cruise line fathom. Carnival Corporation made the decision to move Adonia, a 30,277 GT vessel, to the new voluntourism cruise line from P&O Cruises earlier this year. Alternatively, she could join Majesty of the Seas, currently the oldest ship of the Royal Caribbean fleet, and operate short cruises to the Caribbean.


The world cruise market is certainly experiencing a period of transition, with the Asian cruise market currently the fastest growing. Ships that were once positioned in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are being repositioned either in the Caribbean or Asia. That said, the UK is currently Europe’s second largest cruise market, and there are more people taking a cruise out of UK ports than anywhere else in the European market.

The demand for cruises has never been higher, and this is an exciting time for the industry. If you love cruising and want to turn your passion into a highly rewarding career, why not consider becoming a Cruise Specialist with Cruise Franchise?

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