MIAMI -- Months
before Royal Caribbeans Freedom of the Seas could debut as the
worlds largest ship, the cruise line stole its own thunder.
last week said it has placed an order for what will be the largest
and most expensive cruise vessel in the world. Called Project
Genesis, the 220,000-ton ship will have 5,400 lower berths and is
scheduled for delivery in 2009 from Finnish shipbuilder Aker Yards.
Its $1.24 billion price tag makes it the most expensive cruise ship
Project Genesis is
the latest example of the industry trend toward mega-megaships.
Cunard Lines 151,000-ton Queen Mary 2 debuted in 2004 and will
remain the worlds largest cruise ship until the 160,000-ton Freedom
of the Seas unveiling in June. Many consumers are drawn to the
supersized ships, while others find them crowded and lacking in
service and luxury.
chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean, said that a vessel of this
size is aimed at giving passengers more activities to choose from
The advantage of a
big ship is having more room for our ideas, Fain said from New York
last week, where the line unveiled plans to put a boxing ring on
the Freedom (see accompanying story).
He also noted that
contrary to concerns about the amount of fuel such a ship will
consume, larger ships are more efficient. Freedom of the Seas, for
example, will burn as much fuel as the Voyager while carrying 15%
Some travel agents
were thrilled at the immediate buzz the announcement
People flock to
these ships, said Todd Szopinsk, president of Margate, Fla.-based
Buycruises.com. Many people have no intention of
getting off at any ports of call. They just want the
include the challenges such a ship presents to ports and marine
terminals. Few can accommodate a ship as large as
Royal Caribbean did
not comment on Genesis possible itineraries. But executives said
they were confident that by the time the ship debuts, the ports
will be ready.
We will work with
ports we have good relationships with, Royal Caribbean President
Adam Goldstein said last week. Im sure they will make the
adjustments they need to make.
Scott Lagueux, a
partner at Bermello, Ajamil and Partners, a Miami-based
architecture firm specializing in marine and upland facilities that
support cruise operations, said that not a single port is designed
to accommodate the ships 6,400 upper-berth capacity and that at
1,180 feet long and 154 feet wide, most existing channels and
turning basins are not deep or long enough to handle a vessel of
However, he said he
believes ports will negotiate with Royal Caribbean and make the
recognize the positive attributes in welcoming a ship like that,
Not every cruise
line is ready to make such a huge investment. Carnival Corp.
flirted with the idea of a 4,000- to 6,000-passenger megaship
called Project Pinnacle. It was shelved indefinitely last year
after Carnival CEO Micky Arison declared the project costs too
high. He cited in part the strength of the euro against the
to comment on Project Genesis.
Ken Muskat, vice
president of sales for Royal Caribbean, said cruises on the Freedom
of the Seas are selling fast, and prices are at a
Buycruises.com said he is getting a high volume of calls about the
Freedom of the Seas. He did, however, wish Royal Caribbean was more
forthright about what is on the Genesis ship -- since many people
are already calling and asking what activities it will
will not say what amenities Genesis will have, but some travel
agents wondered how it will top the offerings listed for the
Freedom of the Seas, including the first onboard surfing pool and
regulation boxing ring.
Genesis will also
feature technological advances in running and sailing the ship.
Genesis advanced hull will move through water more efficiently, and
the ship will be able to produce its own water with an advanced
desalinization system. People still wonder what new system it will
use to get 5,400 people on and off the vessel.
My thought is twice
as many people will mean twice as many gangplanks, Szopinsk
reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].