Largest Passenger cruise ship

Worlds Largest Passenger

The world’s major cruise ship companies are in supersize mode.

Six years after the launch of the largest passenger ship ever built, cruise giant Carnival Corp. announced that some of its upcoming vessels will hold more passengers than any other at sea: a maximum of 6, 600.

While they will be the most packed, those vessels won’t even be the world’s largest. That superlative belongs to Royal Caribbean International, which in 2016 will launch its biggest megaship yet, Harmony of the Seas. That 5, 479-passenger, 227, 000-gross-ton behemoth is a slightly bigger sister of the $1.4 billion Oasis and Allure of the Seas, which currently hold the “world's largest” title.

With upcoming new builds, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line are also preparing to launch their own biggest-ever vessels; each will hold about 4, 000 or more guests. Although significantly smaller in size, new ships coming from Holland America Line, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises will also set new size records for each line.

“When these ships are brought into the market, people want to try the biggest and the best, ” said travel agent Ralph Santisteban, a CruiseOne franchise owner based in Kendall. “The bigger they are, the more people are interested in finding out about them.”

And new megaships can often command higher fares than older, smaller vessels that sail similar itineraries. A seven-night cruise on Oasis of the Seas, for example, starts at $946 per person during the week of Aug. 22, while the 3, 634-passenger Independence of the Seas, which launched a year before Oasis, has weeklong sailings leaving Aug. 16 that start at $599 per person. Both ships depart Port Everglades and sail the Eastern Caribbean.

No cruise lines are announcing plans to surpass the current record-holder, but few mass-market lines are ruling out such a move in the future, either.

“It’s almost science fiction: How big can big get?” said Christopher Muller, professor of the practice of hospitality at Boston University.

While some observers and safety experts worry about the implications of packing a small city’s worth of people into a floating resort, industry insiders say there’s little to stop cruise lines from growing their fleet with even larger ships.

Vincenzo Petrone, chairman of ship builder Fincantieri, told Seatrade Cruise News that the Italian company is being approached about building ships between 250, 000 and 260, 000 gross tons. A spokesperson for the company would not comment when reached by the Miami Herald, citing confidentiality reasons.

Tony Peisley, a UK-based cruise industry analyst, said in an email that he would “never say never” to the possibility of a company going larger than the Oasis class, especially considering how profitable those ships have been.

He pointed out that a decade has passed since planning first started for the Oasis vessels and no one yet has broken the record.

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