Insights into the Question, "Will Royal Caribbean Ever Build Smaller Ships?"

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A frequently asked question:  Will Royal Caribbean ever build smaller ships?  A few considerations:

First, even as the average cruise ship size increases over time, it is in our interest to have a balanced and flexible fleet profile.  There are both physical parameters (e.g., Panama Canal) and market parameters (e.g., starting up in Dubai) that dictate a mix of smaller ships as well as Oasis-class ships.  We are very fortunate to have the 1,800 guest Legend of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas in our fleet to spearhead our global expansion.

Second, we are able to utilize larger ships on routes that we would not have believed possible even ten years ago.  The fact that we will have a Freedom-class ship and three Voyager-class ships in Europe in 2010 is remarkable in comparison to our thinking in the late 1990’s that we would have a maximum of one or two Voyager-class ships and they would always be Caribbean-based.  Now our view is we will use any of our ships anywhere in the world where it makes economic and logistical sense.

Third, the preference of the clear majority of our guests for more features and options is clear.  There is simply more demand for larger ships than for smaller ships.  This is especially true of families but applies to couples and singles as well.  I know from personal interaction with cruisers that many don’t accept this to be true.  But this is our experience in our call centers and through our automated reservations every day.

Fourth, while economies of scale are not the controlling variable in the cruise equation, there are scale benefits that contribute to our brand’s preference for larger ships.  The simplest example: whether the ship holds 1,000 or 3,000 guests, it has one Captain.

Fifth, there is an undeniable nostalgia amongst some cruisers for ships under 1,000 guests that provide an extraordinarily high level of customer service.  Although the Royal Caribbean brand is not going to encompass such ships in the future, our company certainly does in the present with our two 700 guest ships in Azamara Cruises not to mention the 100 guest Celebrity Xpedition.  Our company across its six brands has a significantly more diverse fleet profile than the Royal Caribbean International brand has on its own and this will continue to be the case.

So will Royal Caribbean ever build small ships?  It is unlikely for the brand Royal Caribbean International.  But not out of the question for the company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. through one of our other brands.

  • Capt bob

    Bigger is better. Thats how I convinced my wife to go on our first cruise on the Voyager almost 10 years ago. Now we have 3 more on the books for this winter and cannot wait. Got talked into a Princess cruise by our friends last year and will never do that again. There was no WOW factor there at all. Looking forward to Oasis.

  • Mandy

    I sailed on a Freedom class ship in January. While I had a wonderful cruise, I have to admit that I preferred the Voyager Class. You mentioned that the larger ships carry more passengers with only one captain. I noted that the Freedom Class carries over 500 more passengers than the Voyager Class, with the same number of elevators. THAT was a problem.

    I also felt that some of the big public events were far more crowded on Freedom. (Take the 70s party on the Promenade.)

    I’m not among those who feel that ships should get smaller, but I also feel they may be getting TOO large.

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  • Morty

    I norway the smaller Vision Of The Seas has been used this year on short cruises instead of Jewel Of The Seas in 2008. I miss some more restaurants options on Vision compared with Jewel.

    Is there any planes for a bigger ship out of Norway in the future?

  • Zaida Basye

    I sailed on the Navigator of the Seas, Oct 4-10, 2009. Lovely ship, wonderful accommodations. The menu and food in the large dining rooms (Cappiela, Nutcracker, etc) was not up to the standards of other RC ships (i.e. Sovereign of the Seas, now retired). There was a lot of entertainment and shows, however, I couldn’t help but wonder if RC’s budget was being focused on the live entertainment and not on the quality and variety of food. Another glitch had to do with a Spa special; a $109.00 ‘happy hour’. Indeed a was a wonderful value, given the services on the ‘menu’, however, when I tried to schedule an appointment,(impromptu) there were no available staff on hand. There was a receptionit and another young man, but it seems the Spa staff had gone ashore. Appointments were being taken but only after 6pm. Not all guests go ashore such as myself; I enjoy staying on board. It seems counter-intuitive to offer a Spa special which could enhance revenue intake for RC, yet the source of that revenue is limited to the time constraints of the ship’s staff. It is so inconsistent with RC’s philosophy and superior service. I was given another guest’s Sail Pass- it was around 1:00 a.m. I only noticed this when I arrived at my stateroom door; went to Guest Services to ask for a copy of my own pass, the clerk proceeded to lecture and give me stern admonitions as to how I needed to be careful and check to make sure the cocktail server had given me the right Sail Pass. The clerk’s tone and choice of words were inappropriate. Someone’s lack of carelessness should not have created an inconvenience for the guests. Moreover, at 2:00 a.m. I was awakened by a call to ask if I had the other guest’s Sail Pass (!?!?!). Again this was inappropriate. Please schedule re-training with an emphasis on customer care and sensitivity. I’m still irritated at this unfortunate incident.

  • Rod Burne

    I have sailed on the Splendour, Radiance, Brilliance, Constellation, Century, Crown Princess, and lastly the Adventure.. The Ships of Glass are my favorites, offering a views of the sea from within that are worthy of the price.. The Adventure of the Seas Prominade reminds me of my local mall. The only feature of the “Mall” that deserves replication on other classes of ships is the 24 hour coffee and snack area–but with views of the sea! As a platinum member i hope you retrofit and modernize the Splendour and the Legend and bring on more “smaller” ships of Glass!

  • Preston

    I have sailed most of the classes of ships except the Freedom and Oasis (Sailing Sep 2010) classes. I agree with building larger ships do have some economy of scalre of the company and that the amenities can be increased with the size of the ship. As a Diamond Member and stock holder, I would like to put my plug in for a more Radiance Class ships, I personally believe this is a great compromise and a georgous class.

  • Allen R

    Stay with the Voyager and Radiance classes. You can redesing them to get the additional features you want onto them. You can sell Oasis NOW before the novelty wears off and you are giving away half the rooms to keep her “full”. Sell Allure too NOW. This is like selling the star baseball player BEFORE he loses his skill level or better yet when he has maximum value. Too much later than now and you will find the value has dropped below your remaining outstanding debt. Then it will be time for a foreclosure sale and we as stockholders will be demanding some heads to roll.
    We just finished a Freedom class 24 day back to back. As noted above you simply cannot meet quality expectations at this size. Way too many of your on board staff do not want to be there, in fact many we met were drafted by getting their ticket to the ship they expected to be sailing cancelled when they arrived at the airport to fly out and being told they had been reasigned to the larger ship. Their agents are not very happy and neither are the crew members. The type of service they render is clearly substandard when compared to what we have been accustomed to with RCL. Moreover the size of the ship itself hinders your supervision from really getting to know their staff and getting them properly trained. You are promoting young folks with insufficient experience simply because you need intermediate supervision for span and control reasons.
    Your comment about only needing one Captain belies the fact that you need many more crew than you do for a Voyager or Radiance class ship. You are not getting good quality folks and you have higher training and supervision costs none of which improves the bottom line.
    Suffice it to say we have seen the last of the Freedom class and have no intention wahtsoever of booking a voyage on Oasis or Allure assuming of course that you fail to sell them now as you should.

  • Anton

    Hi. I have an excellent business proposition for your CEO Mr Adam Goldstein for a new cruise destination. The new destination should generate Cruise fare income in the region of $ 150 000 000 per 6 months cruise season on a ship like Majesty of the seas. I need to get hold of the CEO direct email details in order to liaise with him and put the concept and proposal forward to him. In all the major companies there is a direct email communication with the CEO available but unfortunately this is not the case with Royal Caribbean. Thank you and looking forward in hearing from the CEO directly.