The race to sail the largest mega cruise ships is heating up among the world's cruise ship companies. Carnival announced its newly ordered ships will hold nearly 7,000 passengers each, making them literally floating cities. This seems consistent with CEO Arnold Donald's "long-term plan to return double-digit return on invested capital."
In other words, it is all about profit and making more money for Carnival because larger ships will afford cruise lines greater ability to scale costs per passenger. For example, the salaries of just one captain, one chief security officer, and one chief medical officer will now be spread over a larger number of passenger fares.
Carnival also owns and operates both the German AIDA brand and Italy's Costa Cruises. However, unlike the typical new Carnival mega cruise ship, these lines will focus on increased cabin and balcony space rather than such kitschy attractions as water slides, surfing simulators, ice skating rinks, and bumper cars.
Not to be outdone, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Silversea Cruises are also set to sail bigger ships than they have ever had to before.
Is a Bigger Cruise Ship Better or Safer?
Certainly these new mega cruise ships, such as Norwegian's Escape and MSC's Meraviglia, which cost nearly $1 billion dollars to build, will also command higher ticket prices than do the older, smaller cruise ships in the same fleets that sail identical itineraries. For example, currently a ticket for a seven-night cruise on RCCL's Oasis of the Seas, carries a starting fare of $946, compared to the older and far smaller Independence of the Seas, at $599 per person. Both RCCL ships depart from Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades and sail around the Eastern Caribbean.
As a lawyer who sues cruise ship companies, I am concerned about the enormous safety issues that surround putting thousands of people at a time on a ship in the open sea, starting with the limitations of certain small ports, such as those in Cuba, when it comes to providing emergency services to a mega ship's passengers. The arrival of a mega ship could double a small port's population by adding an entire city of sick people. Moreover, the larger mega cruise ships will, by having more people aboard, increase the passengers' risk of outbreaks of illnesses like the norovirus.
The Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2015 (CPPA)
New legislation proposed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey will require man-overboard detection systems as well as other safety protocols; that technology must be included in the buildouts of these new ship. The Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2015 (CPPA) will also require protective measures for passengers who are victims of crime or require medical attention.