Officials of Norwegian Cruise Line were giddy with excitement. Speaking to a group of travel agents who had gathered to learn about the cruise line’s new 4,250-passenger ship, the Norwegian Bliss, the executives announced a breathtaking new entertainment facility for that immense vessel.
The Norwegian Bliss, which is going into service next year, will have a giant go-kart track covering much of an upper deck. Grown-ups will be able to experience the thrill enjoyed by children sitting in go-karts at carnivals and theme parks. What’s more, the gigantic ship also will have a water slide extending from one side of the ship to above the ocean below.
Now, if you, like me, are dismayed by the transformation of cruise ships into amusement parks, you are fighting a losing battle. One cannot argue with success. Cruise ships are getting bigger and are being filled with mindless rides.
A recent study by cruise planners has found that the larger the cruise ship, the more profitable it is on a per-passenger basis. The several absurdly-large, billion-dollar cruise ships of Royal Caribbean Cruises are the line’s most profitable vessels. One 6,000-passenger cruise ship is far more profitable on a per-passenger basis than two 3,000-passenger cruise ships. The larger ship is able to house large casinos, bars and other profit-making facilities.
So those of us who yearn for low-cost smaller ships are destined to be disappointed. And the recent movement toward giant ships has brought unprecedented profits to Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, MSC and Carnival Cruises. People seeking the intimacy of smaller ships will need to book aboard the deluxe cruise ships at an elevated price.
Not only are the oceangoing cruises enjoying large profits, but public favor also has turned toward the large river-cruise ships sailing on U.S. rivers….