Skift Take

The "world's largest cruise ship" title gets a lot of attention from cruisers, and Royal Caribbean knows it can pretty much apply the term to any of its Oasis-class ships. More important than a title is the experience, and the cruise line seems to have found the right mix of features to get passengers on board.

Royal Caribbean International is going to keep beating its own big-ship record.

The Miami-based cruise operator announced Wednesday that its next new ship, Symphony of the Seas, will be the largest ship in the world — just by a bit.

It’s a familiar refrain. Royal Caribbean, the world’s largest cruise line measured by passenger capacity, launched the largest cruise ship ever in 2009. That ship, the 225,282-ton Oasis by the Seas, was followed by the slightly longer Allure of the Seas in 2010. Both carry 5,400 passengers at double occupancy.

Last year, sister ship Harmony of the Seas become the biggest, encompassing 226,963 gross registered tons and holding 5,494 passengers. It will have to cede the title to Symphony of the Seas in April of 2018: At 230,000 tons, the new ship will have 28 more rooms than Harmony.

In a call with reporters, Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley called the new ship the “latest, greatest, newest, most beautiful baby that’s coming soon.”

Bayley would not reveal many details about the upcoming ship, but said there were some new features and a different design for the solarium area.

After making its debut in Europe and spending several months there, Symphony of the Seas will be based in Miami along with Allure of the Seas. Both will use a new terminal that is being built to handle the immense crowds that board and depart the megaships in a matter of hours.

The other Oasis-class ships will also sail from Florida, at least in the winter: Oasis from Port Canaveral in Central Florida and Harmony from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. One of the vessels is likely to head to Europe in the summer of 2019.

Bayley said the company is not concerned about having too much capacity sailing the Caribbean next year, even as competitors including Norwegian Cruise Line plan to also sail new ships in the market.

“We’re quite bullish about the Caribbean,” he said. “We’re seeing more and more international guests come into the Caribbean.”

Whether or when an Oasis-class ship might make it to another hot destination — China — is still unclear.

“Oooh, good question. You never know,” Bayley told a reporter who asked about the possibility. He said the company has other classes of ships on order as well, smaller than Oasis but still giant.

“There’s lots of opportunities for the world’s largest ships to go to China,” he said.


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Tags: cruises, royal caribbean

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean's three Oasis-class ships are shown meeting for the first time in this photo. A fourth vessel coming next year will be slightly larger than the others. Royal Caribbean International

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