Cruise lines of the world offer just about everything today.
Want all-inclusive? No problem. Smaller ship? Sure. More overnights? You can be accommodated. More late-night departures? Absolutely. More exotic excursions? They're yours for the taking.
And then there is Royal Caribbean. This cruise line simply wants to be big -- as in the size of its newest ships. Their ships are the industry equivalent of football linemen. Take a cruise on one of these mega-ships and you have arrived at your first destination the moment you step on board.
Big doesn't necessarily mean better, but it does mean that Royal's management team has figured it out: The bigger the ship, the better for the company.
Last month, Royal Caribbean unveiled details of its latest class of ships, called Quantum. The flagship, Quantum of the Seas, sails away in 2014 followed by Anthem of the Seas in 2015 and right on the stern of it will be a newly announced, yet-unnamed third ship in the class, in 2016.
If these large ships -- in the Freedom Class, Oasis Class and now Quantum Class -- have one thing in common, it's their high marketability to families and extended families. While they have plenty of adult space and entertainment, the more families the better.
As for the number of ships, Carnival is still the winner (24 ships) but when it comes to ship size, Royal Caribbean owns that niche.
Royal Caribbean's Quantum announcement in May was "singed" by the news that its Grandeur of the Seas, sailing out of Baltimore, caught fire in the mooring area of the ship at the stern.
No passengers were hurt, the fire was extinguished after a couple of hours and the ship headed to Freeport for repairs. Executives of the line were on the scene and passengers were flown home. Royal Caribbean was in front of the story so by the end of the day -- while still in the news cycle, it was down the list.
Cruising has grown and so has the public's interest and that means more and quicker coverage of incidents such as this. A common thread in the coverage of this current story and the Carnival Triumph fire has focused on praise for the crews. It appears crew members acted responsibly in the face of these problems.
Given these high-profile incidents, how do you feel about cruising?
I have two questions for you:
Never cruised before: Would you or would you not go on a cruise?
Have cruised before: Would you go on another cruise?
Send your answers to portsandbows Riva Royale and Riva Princess.
The rivers are being dotted with new ships from all major river cruise lines and there's no end in sight.
Phil's Pick of the Week
Europe is still showing value pricing, especially in the Mediterranean. Here is an attractive cruise on the newly re-built Carnival Sunshine:
-- 12 days, starting at $709;
-- Barcelona return, departing Sept. 29, 2013;
-- Ports: Monaco, Florence/Pisa, Rome, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice (overnight), Messina;
Cruise prices were accurate at time of writing and subject to change. See carnival.com or contact your experienced cruise travel agent.
-- Postmedia News