What makes a Cruise Ship Mega?
When Royal Caribbean announced the introduction of Australia’s first ever megaliner, Voyager of the Seas, to its’ fleet, there was much hype around the word “megaliner”. But why? What is a megaliner and why is it different to any other cruise ship?
Generally, megaliners are defined as ships with a gross registered tonnage (GRT) exceeding 100,000 tonnes. Based on this classification, 2 megaliners have already been based in Australia and have been since 2004 – Princess Cruises’ 116,000 tonne Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess.
And if you count short deployments, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 also falls into this category. In November 2012, Voyager of the Seas will add to this number when it is based in Sydney for months, while in December 2012 Celebrity Cruises’ 122,000 tonne, 2850 passenger Celebrity Solstice will be offer sailings from Auckland and around Australia.
At 101,353 tonnes, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Destiny was the first to make the “megaliner” grade in 1996. Two years later came Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess. Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator and Mariner of the Seas followed between 199 and 2003. These ships upped the ante with ice-skating rinks, rock-climbing walls and a promenade of shops, bars and cafes, setting the standard for the megaliners of today.
With its next class, Royal Caribbean added flow-riders for onboard surfing and ‘water parks’ on the 154,000 tonne Freedom, Liberty and Independence of the Seas (2006 – 2008). The company blew everything out of the water with its 225,000 tonne, 5400 passenger Oasis of the Seas (2009) and twin sister Allure of the seas (2010). These jaw-droppers are separated into ‘neighbourhoods’ to accommodate a zip-line, outdoor amphitheatre and numerous sport facilities, theatres, bars and restaurants.
Carnival, the other big innovator in big ships in America, has produced 10 megaliners, including Carnival Magic. The 128,000 tonne Disney Dream was also unveiled last year – the first new ship from Disney Cruise Line in more than a decade. Norwegian Cruise Line has produced one megaliner – the 4100 passenger Norwegian Epic, which debuted in 2010 with more than 100 single studio cabins.
The world’s newest megaliner is Celebrity Silhouette, launched in July 2011, which has the exclusive Lawn Club with real grass on the top deck, a rooftop barbeque, and The Alcoves, where couples can hire a cabana.
New Builds on the Way:
Several cruise companies have megaliners on the way this year. In March, the 4000-passenger Disney Fantasy will be turned into reality, cruising in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. And in May, the new MSC Divina will offer voyages to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. An extra feature on Divina is the MSC Yacht Club, offering 24-hour concierge and butler service, access to a private pool, bar, hot tubs and a dedicated restaurant. And in June 2012, the 3690-passenger Carnival Breeze will launch, and the line in line, the 3030-passenger Celebrity Reflection is due in October 2012.