The ships get bigger and the activities get bolder. One line adds virtual reality, so the other puts a roller coaster on its newest ships.
This battle has benefitted passengers. Cruising used to be about the stops, spending time on the pool decks, shows, and eating in the main dining room. Now, you can — at least on certain ships — play laser tag, then ride the bumper cars, go indoor skydiving, and, finally, have a meal at an upscale restaurant.
The newest ships have robot bars, bars that move, bars that cantilever over the ocean, and all sorts of other perks.
It’s a lot for any passenger to take in, which is why the largest Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships have traditionally sailed seven-day itineraries — you simply need that long to take everything in.
Now, however, Royal Caribbean plans a big change.
It’s deploying one of its Oasis-class ships, the largest in the fleet, for three- to four-day sailings out of Florida. That throws down a pretty big gauntlet to Carnival, which may not be able to answer this move.
Royal Caribbean Using Allure of the Seas for Short Itineraries
Carnival only has one ship, the Mardi Gras, in its top-class with a second one, the Celebration on the way.
Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, has five ships in its Oasis-Class: Oasis of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas, the brand new biggest cruise ship in the world.
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Having five ships in the class gives Royal Caribbean a lot of freedom when it comes to how it uses those ships.
Now, while it’s still using four of the five Oasis-class ships for longer itineraries, it plans to deploy Allure of the Seas to Port Canaveral Florida starting in late 2023 where it will offer three- and four-day sailings, Matt Hochberg of the Royal Caribbean Blog first reported.
“In recent years, Royal Caribbean has steadily improved the vessels offering weekend cruises from Florida, beginning with amplified Voyager Class ships, and more recently the slightly larger Freedom Class ships,” wrote Hochberg, who has no affiliation with Royal Caribbean. “
Allure has been operating longer cruises out of Galveston, Texas, but will be replaced in that market by Harmony of the Seas in late 2022.
Why Should Carnival Fear This Change?
Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival operate multiple ships running short Caribbean itineraries out of ports on Florida’s eastern coast.
Royal Caribbean already has a couple of edges when it comes to those trips.
First, it has the more developed private island, with an added-fee water park and a huge pool, while Carnival’s island is basically a beach. Second, Royal Caribbean arguably already had nicer, newer ships with more bells and whistles, and bringing in Allure makes that difference much-more pronounced.
Royal Caribbean and Carnival compete for the same customers and having a newer ship in its top-tier class may give Royal an edge.
It may also allow the company to capture a higher ticket price for passengers on Allure while offering more modest fares on its slightly smaller ships sailing out of Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Giving customers a short taste of Allure — a ship so big you can’t experience it all in three or four days — may also help Royal Caribbean sell longer trips on the rest of its Oasis-class ships. That might take further booking away from Carnival, where consumers might otherwise have opted to try Mardi Gras or Celebration.