The Genesis of a New Type of Ship
It's official. The first block for Royal Caribbean's new 220,000 ton Genesis-class ship was laid on Tuesday in Turku, Finland. (The Freedom class, by comparison, is only 160,000 tons, and the Crown Princess only 113,000 tons). This new endeavor is likely not just to bring new features and a MUCH larger ship to the market, but an entirely different type of cruising.
Already, ports in the Caribbean are making changes to accommodate these ships. Ft. Lauderdale is preparing the port. Islands are assessing the cost/benefit of bringing in this type of ship with the number of passengers she could potentially deliver. I say potentially for a reason. I'm not sure how many cruisers will actually go ashore.
On a ship like this, I believe the ship truly becomes the destination. Yes, you'll still be able to go ashore, but I think they'll have a maximum of 3 ports on a 7-night cruise. And likely they're the ones most repeat cruisers have visited several times before. Can you imagine tendering ashore all these passengers in a port like Grand Cayman (unless they do actually build the long-discussed pier there)? A ship this size would overwhelm even the rebuilt Costa Maya.
There is an allure to many in the big ships - there is no lack of things to do. In fact, on a ship this size, likely you can't do everything even if you never step off the ship in your week aboard. While many of the details are still secret, I think you'll see even more attractions to keep you aboard and part you from your spare change. For some, it will be almost a mind shift from ship as transportation and part of the mix to simply floating resort that goes to places which are warmer and different than home, but no need to leave - much like an all-inclusive resort where the scenery changes frequently. This isn't a bad thing, as it brings one more option and style of cruising to match people's preferences. Won't be for everyone, but I know a lot of my clients are excited to be among the first onboard, just like they were for the Freedom Class (and conversely, for totally different options like the newbuilds for some of the luxury brands or deluxe ships like the new Azamara offerings). More options are good for all of us as they keep the industry strong.
Royal Caribbean has been going this direction for some time, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some of their advertisements emphasizing not the shore activities ,like the pictures of snorkeling with stingrays or jet skiing, as the onboard action to be had. Will they simply change their "Get Out There" campaign to "Get On Here"?