The largest cruise line plans to push the limits of cruise ship capacity. Carnival will introduce the world’s largest cruise ship by passenger count—although not by size—with four new vessels capable of accommodating 6,600 passengers alongside hundreds of crew members. The large-capacity cruise ships will set sail between 2019 and 2022.
As part of the news, Carnival sought to stress that the experience won’t make the new vessels any more crowded than other options in its fleet. “A major part of the innovative design involves making much more efficient use of the ship's spaces, creating an enhanced onboard experience for guests,” the company said Monday in a news release. That means about a 99.9999 percent chance you won’t find bumper cars, skating rinks, or a full-size basketball court, some of the amenities now offered on rival ships with fewer passenger cabins.
The extra space for all the people will come from harvesting some space from the ships' public areas, keeping the space ratio and cabin sizes the same as on Carnival's other ships. “It won’t feel congested, it won’t feel confined,” Carnival Chief Executive Arnold W. Donald said Monday in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “People will find it to be a great experience.”
The ships will sail as part of Carnival’s European brands, with the first two planned for German-based AIDA. The other two are also expected to be deployed in Europe, either with AIDA or Costa, the company’s brand in Italy. The AIDA brand targets a younger, more active German traveler who doesn't want much of the formality of a traditional cruise.
The largest cruise ship by size is Royal Caribbean Cruise’s Harmony of the Seas, which is under construction in France and scheduled for delivery next spring. That ship will carry 5,479 passengers and is about seven feet longer than the two other Oasis-class ships in RCL’s fleet, which can hold 5,400 passengers. When fully packed, the Oasis-class vessels can hold more than 6,300 passengers and nearly 2,400 crew. These megaships boast a multistory waterfall water ride and are designed with the idea that the ship is the destination.
The new Carnival ships will top 180,000 gross tons, a measure of a ship’s internal volume, making them the largest vessels in the company's fleet—yet far smaller than the 227,700 gross tons of Harmony of the Seas.
In addition to being the largest by passenger count, the new Carnival ships will be the first in the industry to be powered by liquefied natural gas in an effort to reduce their carbon output. The technology, which has become common for municipal buses and airport shuttles, is designed to eliminate soot emissions and meet strict European greenhouse gas regulations.