NCL Won't Build 3rd F3; Is Bigger Still Better?

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#1
Boston, MA
1,075 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
NCL announced today that they won't exercise an option to build the third in their upcoming 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger, F3 series of ships.

Cruise lines commonly get the option to order extra vessels in a series when they sign shipyard contracts (they make a firm contract to purchase two, for instance, and then "reserve" shipyard space, with the option, if they decide to build another). Just as commonly, they tend to exercise the options. In fact, it's almost unheard of not to.

We're wondering if this move is the beginning of a new trend, or simply an anomaly.

Is this a good thing? What do you think? Is bigger still better?
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#2
Savage, Minnesota
64 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
we don't like the bigger ships, my traveling partner is my mother and she has had numerous operations for knees and back issues. She can't handle the bigger ships due to all the walking to get to and from places, we even have to limit the shore excursions for this same reason. I am personally happy that they have decided to not go with the larger ship, one of the reasons we only go on NCL is due to the smaller sized ships. But this is just my opinion - everyone has there likes and dislikes!
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#3
1,765 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Although I enjoyed cruising on the Voyager class ships of RCL, I don't think I'd want to go any bigger than that. Even on Voyager you do lose some of the feeling of being at sea.

I'm not sure though that NCL's failure to pick up the option for a third ship refelects a decision to get away from the larger ships...my feeling is that NCL is in some financial difficulties and although they have picked up a new partner with more cash, I wonder if the infusion of cash came with the requirement that NCL pull in on it's expansion program and spend time getting their present line in order and generating more profit before they plan any more large ship acquisitions.

From what I've heard NCLA is bleeding red ink and if you look at most of NCL's upcoming fall and winter cruises they are just not demanding the prices that similar RCL cruises command.
#4
California
1,783 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
As long as the service and food is on par with the smaller ships in the fleet (comparing Genesis to something like the Radiance Class) and the cruise experience is just as spectacular, why not build bigger!!

Only draw back......more and more people around pools, more complainers, more rude people, and maybe even some lines.

Mixed feelings here!! I will try Genesis Class Ships and then make my final opinion. I love the Freedom Class and the Voyager Class....so odds are for me, the bigger they are, the better time I have!
#5
North Carolina
762 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
I want them build ships of all sizes. I am disheartened that the major lines are only building 80'000+ ton ships (which I classify as large). I feel it would be healthier for the industry to have ships of various sizes.

I am happy that Princess is making a commitment to the 30'000 ton R ships. A nice contrast to their mega-ships.
#6
New Jersey
3,652 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
...and we get to it at the end of the news piece is the fact that bigger-bigger-bigger is not necessarily on tap for all lines. I find that refreshing!

Best,

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor
Cruise Critic

Originally posted by pilotdane
I want them build ships of all sizes. I am disheartened that the major lines are only building 80'000+ ton ships (which I classify as large). I feel it would be healthier for the industry to have ships of various sizes.

I am happy that Princess is making a commitment to the 30'000 ton R ships. A nice contrast to their mega-ships.
#7
Nashville, TN
635 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by RCCLCARIB
As long as the service and food is on par with the smaller ships in the fleet (comparing Genesis to something like the Radiance Class) and the cruise experience is just as spectacular, why not build bigger!!

Only draw back......more and more people around pools, more complainers, more rude people, and maybe even some lines.

Mixed feelings here!! I will try Genesis Class Ships and then make my final opinion. I love the Freedom Class and the Voyager Class....so odds are for me, the bigger they are, the better time I have!
Your second paragraph pretty well nailed it. It is like comparing a large city to a small town, and both have their attractions.
I will probably be trying NCL in the near future since RCI seems to be running from those of us who live in the "fly over" part of the country. The only ports on the east coast convenient to us are Jacksonville and Charleston.
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#8
1,482 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
I think ship size depends on itinerary. If I was opting to sail the Carribean with only a few stops, and just cruising for a relaxing week, I would opt for a larger vessel (not mega) with more activities, amentities, and more places to "hang out." However, if I were doing a port intensive cruise with a lot of excursions, I would prefer a smaller vessel where I could get to what and where I want quickly. In other words, I would not want to have to manuver around 4 or 5 thousand people and walk several football fields just to grab a meal. Another concern with these mega ships, what will the cruise lines have to do to attract enough people to fill them. Will they because massive convention centers where the masses will get lost in the shuffle. For those who read these boards on a regular basis, large groups are already overtaking some individual cruises. Could you imagine being on a ship with a convention of 3,000 people and not being part of that group? How cheap will the cabins become to fill the spots? All and all, I prefer a nice mid to large ship (1,800 to 2,000) where I can feel "at home" after a day or so.
Barbara
#9
New Jersey
3,652 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Okay, and I will say right up front that I personally much prefer a mid-size big ship over a mega-size big ship but: if Carnival's Bob Dickinson (former prez) has long preached that cruise lines' biggest competitors were not other cruise lines but instead -- Las Vegas -- doesn't he make a point? Vegas is one of the most popular places in the world! Hotels/Resorts get bigger and bigger. They still seem to fill up. Why wouldn't cruise lines enjoy similar mass growth?

Not sure of the answer, just asking the question.

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor
Cruise Critic


Originally posted by barbon2
I think ship size depends on itinerary. If I was opting to sail the Carribean with only a few stops, and just cruising for a relaxing week, I would opt for a larger vessel (not mega) with more activities, amentities, and more places to "hang out." However, if I were doing a port intensive cruise with a lot of excursions, I would prefer a smaller vessel where I could get to what and where I want quickly. In other words, I would not want to have to manuver around 4 or 5 thousand people and walk several football fields just to grab a meal. Another concern with these mega ships, what will the cruise lines have to do to attract enough people to fill them. Will they because massive convention centers where the masses will get lost in the shuffle. For those who read these boards on a regular basis, large groups are already overtaking some individual cruises. Could you imagine being on a ship with a convention of 3,000 people and not being part of that group? How cheap will the cabins become to fill the spots? All and all, I prefer a nice mid to large ship (1,800 to 2,000) where I can feel "at home" after a day or so.
Barbara
#10
Derby, Kansas
765 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
I was in Las Vegas in June, the size of the resorts there on the strip is unbelievable. There is also a massive amount of new construction happening on the strip at this time. I was Las Vegas in the middle of the week, I arrived on a Tuesday and departed on Friday, and the place felt crowded, I can't imagine being there over a weekend. Where do all of the people come from?
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#11
Southern California
37,525 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
I have been on seven cruises. The ship's sizes ranged from 23,000 GRT 740 passengers to a fully booked (4200 passengers) Freedom of the Seas. I have also been on a 46,000 GRT 1450 passengers ship, two Panamax ships and two post-Panamax ships, including the Navigator of the Seas.

In fact, I sailed the exact same itinerary on the Freedom of the Seas as I did on the Navigator of the Seas. While I enjoy the extra amenities that the bigger ships have to offer (especially the H2O Zone on the Freedom of the Seas), tendering on the Freedom OTS was much worse than tendering on the Navigator OTS.

The problem is, that as the ships get bigger, the tenders remain the same size and the number of tender ports on the ship remains the same (two per side). The Freedom OTS needs to have three tender ports per side and Genesis, which I am guessing will also have only two tender ports per side, should have at least three, and possibly four tender ports per side.

As a result of my experience on the Freedom OTS, I will only consider itineraries for ships that are bigger than the Voyager class of ships if the ship docks at all ports that I want to get off at.

These four photos show the tender line at Grand Cayman ...









While the line moved reasonably fast, we ended up floating for about 15 minutes about 100 meters from the side of the ship waiting for a tender port, on the ship, to open up so we could re-board the ship.
#12
3,405 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
I have cruised on 70,000 to 160,000(FOS & Liberty Nov.10) and I much prefer the bigger ships..while I agree that you may have more lines(especially with tendering and elevators),my thing is options & amenities.We cruised on the Enchantment in April,and while she was a nice ship,we were bored to death without the Royal Promenade & ice-show,the 19 bars & lounges,etc...we also were on the Disney Wonder last year on a 3 nighter,and she was terrific-at only 82,000 tons,I thought I'd be bored,but she had plenty to do(best production shows I've EVER seen!).....we will definitely try Genesis and the new NCL 150,000 ton ships...BTW,I'm the same way with hotels-I prefer a sprawling resort with 50+ acres,3-4 pools,several restaurants,shops,lots of lounges/bars,etc.,than a small intimate B & B......On smaller ships,you get better service,maybe better food,and maybe even a better "cruise ship" feeling rather than a "Vegas" style ship-but we still love the Voyager/Freedom class mega ships where you will NEVER be bored and still find some solitude if you just look for it(I.E.,the Viking Crown Lounge is wonderful during the day,even if a bit bright & big w/great views!)

Big Al
#13
Holmdel, NJ US
10,722 Posts
Joined Mar 2000
Originally posted by sunshine 229
I'm not sure though that NCL's failure to pick up the option for a third ship refelects a decision to get away from the larger ships...my feeling is that NCL is in some financial difficulties and although they have picked up a new partner with more cash, I wonder if the infusion of cash came with the requirement that NCL pull in on it's expansion program and spend time getting their present line in order and generating more profit before they plan any more large ship acquisitions.

From what I've heard NCLA is bleeding red ink and if you look at most of NCL's upcoming fall and winter cruises they are just not demanding the prices that similar RCL cruises command.
I think we may be seeing the begining stages of what will eventually be a business contraction. Regardless of size, cruise lines need passengers to fill their cabins and the more cabins there are to fill, the cheaper most cabins become and the greater the pressure to cut costs and push onboard spending, a never ending cycle.

Apollo Management, part owner of NCL (and Oceonia) seems to acquire significant financial interests in a huge range of different businesses sectors, on the cusp of a downturn. Because Apollo is private capital, the details of these transactions and the identity of their shareholders are not public information.
#14
42 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
We have been on the Disney Magic, Grand Princess, Liberty of the Seas, Norwegin Star and Sun. We are looking at cruising Europe next. My wife and I are both in agreement that if we are on a 12 to 15 day cruise, it better be a bigger ship with alot to do onboard.
#15
Queen Mary 2 ;)
4 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
I ,personally, love big crusie ships. But RCI is planning to build 220,000 (i hope i put the right tonnage) and i think that is a little too big.
Yeah, and I really liked the QM2 being the largest in the world.
As I read my cruise brochures, the bigger ships cost more to cruise on(most of them) and I think they should stick to the ships that are the size of the NORWEGIAN DAWN and PEARl..
#16
Los Angeles, CA
10,710 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
Originally posted by bandman10
We have been on the Disney Magic, Grand Princess, Liberty of the Seas, Norwegin Star and Sun. We are looking at cruising Europe next. My wife and I are both in agreement that if we are on a 12 to 15 day cruise, it better be a bigger ship with alot to do onboard.
What's the point of taking a European cruise if you go on a mega-ship with malls, rock climbing walls, surf parks, etc.?

The whole point of going to Europe is to see Europe - not to bring the Mall of America with you.

Might as well go to the Caribbean (or Las Vegas) again...
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#17
920 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
The absolute best way to see Europe is on one of the small (100-200) passenger river cruises! You really get the total experience that way, especially if you don't cruise on one that has been chartered for only US citizens!

I travel solo, so I'm sure that makes a difference in my view. I prefer ships with much smaller capacity (up to 1000 pax). Remember taking a New England cruise on a Carnival ship. Don't remember the name. Actually have tried to forget the whole experience! Each time we stopped at a port, the entire place was flooded with us tourists. Luckily, I had been to most of the ports before, so it wasn't entirely ruined for me. I went because I got an unbelievable deal. Got what I paid for!

Used to love the old HAL Noordam. She, alas, is no more. Now I've been "Crystalized" and only sail on their ships.

So, it takes all kinds to make the world. Aren't we lucky! So much depends on what kind of experience you're looking for....
#18
Georgia
9,088 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
I think different ships serve different needs. If you're going for fun, a bigger ship is better. If you're going to tour, in many cases, a smaller ship is better.
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#19
Holmdel, NJ US
10,722 Posts
Joined Mar 2000
Originally posted by bicker
I think different ships serve different needs. If you're going for fun, a bigger ship is better. If you're going to tour, in many cases, a smaller ship is better.
And if you are going for price, most often, bigger is better, especially in Europe where the USD is weaker than ever.
#20
Victoria BC
537 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
...give me a small to medium size ship anyday over the new behemoth mega ships, my wife and I have cruised with friends onboard both very small and medium size ships and find that the smaller they are, the more you get to know the other passengers, which we enjoy doing. We also hate waiting in long lines for everything thats going on, so far our largest ship has been 1600 passengers and that was as large as we want to go. That limits our choices for some of the lines, but Oceania, HAL, and Princess still have small ships with reasonably priced cruises and interesting itineraries, so we'll look to them for our cruising 'needs'...
...we also find the overall atmosphere is vastly different between a large ship and a small one. As has been mentioned, if you want a Vegas strip atmosphere, than the megaships will provide that for you, but if you prefer something a bit more romantic and intimate, then go for one of the smaller ships...a lot more classy IMHO...