Written by: Kuki
In the past decade the most noticeable “innovations” in the cruise industry ( in the contemporary mass market segment) has been bigger and brasher.
Several years ago I wrote a column about whether Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Oasis of the Sea, was going to change the industry. And even before they introduce their latest and greatest (Quantum of the Seas) next year, I think the answer to my question is YES. They have changed the industry in significant ways. And there’s certainly more to come with what’s been revealed to date about Quantum of the Seas.
Those ships are engineering wonders. And I certainly have to appreciate them as that, even if they hold little attraction to me personally.
Just as Norwegian Cruise Line changed almost all of the line’s cruise ship dining, with the introduction of dine when you want, with who you want, “Free Style” dining, the Oasis class ships, of RCI, have changed the approach to amenities and activities available onboard.
Not long ago the most outrageous activity on deck was a sports court, shuffleboard and some table tennis. Then, it was a big deal when some ships had a single water slide. Now massive water parks are common place on Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean ships.
These days you’re not considered a modern contemporary ship without some forms of
water parks, rock climbing walls, rope courses, zip lines, inline skating (or ice skating), flow riders, aqua theatres, 4D movie experiences, interactive arcade rides, a boxing ring, and coming soon… Bumper cars, a circus school, “Ripchord” ( air supported enclosed sky diving simulator), North Star ( a capsule that will move to offer 360 degree views, 300 Ft. Above the sea), and gymnasiums packed full of the most current work out equipment.
On the onboard entertainment front, cast production shows are being replaced with Broadway shows, well known Las Vegas acts, electronic enhancements, etc.
To enhance the family fun, the cruise lines are entering into affiliation agreements with well established family brand companies such as Hasboro, Dr. Seuss, Nickelodeon, and Dreamworks; replete with the various characters.
Royal Caribbean’s design team introduced “neighbourhoods”, and Carnival responded with “Ocean Plazas”, to act as central gathering areas, and now Norwegian has responded with the “Waterfront” ( having indoor venues extend outdoors, creating patio areas similar in feel to sea side sidewalk cafés).
Even while I write about it all, it all sounds so interesting and innovative. Yet, to my mind it also sounds very much like a resort mind set.
On the positive side, they are resorts that float and do travel to different places.
But, to be frank, I have never been a fan of resort style vacations. They all hold far less draw to me, rather than more. But I do understand that I am likely in a fairly insignificant minority in this regard. The vast majority are likely ecstatic about all the innovation.
The good news for all cruisers, including me, is that there are plenty of options, including somewhat more traditional cruise line offerings for old fogeys like me; ie Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Oceania, Azamara Club Cruises, Cunard; not to mention all the luxury cruise lines.
- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -