Royal Caribbean has followed a bigger is better approach for the past few years. The cruise line continually tops itself to claim the title of “biggest cruise ship in the world.”
That’s an honor currently held by Wonder of the Seas, but that ship will soon cede the title to Icon of the Seas, the cruise line’s first Icon class ship. Royal Caribbean will follow the launch of Icon of the Seas with another Oasis-class ship, Utopia of the Seas, which won’t claim the title but will still be one of the biggest ships at sea.
After Icon and Utopia, Royal Caribbean’s (RCL) – Get Free Report order book only contains big ships. There’s at least one more Icon-class ship on order and the cruise line has not built a smaller ship in over a decade.
That’s something many of the cruise line’s biggest fans have been upset about. Oasis and Icon-class ships are limited in the ports they can stop in. Older, smaller ships have more options, which many long-time cruisers like.
Recurring passengers enjoy the amenities offered on the larger, newer ships, but they would prefer cruises that don’t stop in ports like Nassau and Cozumel, which can accommodate the largest ships.
That currently forces Royal Caribbean customers to decide between sailing on newer, larger ships with all the amenities, but limited ports of call, or older ships which offer less, but can stop in more ports.
It’s a situation that has led passengers to call for the company to build a new class of smaller ships. That’s a message Royal Caribbean appears to be listening to.
Wonder of the Seas is currently the largest cruise ship in the world.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Royal Caribbean planning smaller ships
Royal Caribbean clearly knows how to build smaller ships. The company’s Celebrity Cruises brand’s latest ship. Celebrity Ascent has about two-thirds the passenger capacity of Wonder of the Seas. That’s still roughly twice the size of Royal Caribbean’s Vision and Radiance-class ships.
Many longtime fans of Royal Caribbean enjoy sailing on smaller ships. They may lack some of the bells and whistles that the bigger ships offer, but they deliver a more intimate experience where passengers get to know crew members well.
Royal Caribbean has teased a return to building smaller ships but has yet to announce one. That’s something the cruise line’s CEO, Michael Bayley addressed after he was asked about it on social media.
“Mr Bayley, you said years ago that Royal Caribbean was going to come out with smaller ships to get to smaller ports that people want, but the ships get larger and larger – and it’s repetitive for CocoCay. It’s time to listen to guests who have stayed loyal for over 30 years. People want different ports,” Thomas Budzyn asked on Facebook.
Bayley answered him in a surprisingly candid way which was first reported by the Royal Caribbean Blog.
“The Royal team is working on a new class and I hope if all the needed hurdles are tackled, we can announce something this year. It is a journey. Don’t forget, Serenade just sailed on the Ultimate World [Cruise] with 274 days of global adventures! Lots of new ports,” the CEO shared.
Royal Caribbean goes big for now
While Royal Caribbean has now acknowledged that it’s at least considering building smaller ships, that’s something that’s at least a couple of years away. The cruise line will welcome Icon of the Seas, the new largest cruise ship in the world to its Miami home port on January 9.
Icon will be making regular stops at CocoCay, the cruise line’s private island, which has recently been enhanced. That’s something Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty talked about during the cruise line’s third-quarter earnings call.
“With each new ship, we raised the bar in the travel industry while enhancing what our guests already know and love. Also debuting in January 2024, just in time for the arrival of Icon of the Seas is Hideaway Beach. Hideaway Beach is our newest adult-only ultimate beachfront paradise at Perfect Day at CocoCay,” he shared.
The new area of CocoCay appears to already be a big success.
“Pre-cruise sales for Hideaway Beach and premium offerings are exceeding our expectations,” he added.