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I see a LOT of posts about updates to ships. I see things are being added to Quantum class, Oasis class, Freedom class.....but never the little guys (Vision class, Empress, etc...).  Things like slides and water play areas, interior things like escape room, family friendly fun in general). I just wonder if its only due to the size of the boat, or if its an economics issue?  Something to do with the smaller boats being older, and probably sooner to be pushed out to the other subsidies (example: Sovereign of the Seas) so you dont want to invest too much into them?  I ask because it seems like they are really good at figuring out how to get specialty restaurants into the smaller ships......but not other attractions? 

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Good question.  I think it's great how Royal is making a lot of their ships more family friendly and adding slides and stuff to be more competitive with Disney , NCl and Carnival.  Maybe they want to keep some of the smaller ships more as an adult ship to be of interest for those that don't need all the amenities?  I think it's a good thing how they have variety in the fleet so there is something for everyone.  

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4 minutes ago, WannaCruise said:

I think it's a good thing how they have variety in the fleet so there is something for everyone.  

Which I get, and agree with, really. I just wonder what the reason is.....if I were to wager, my money would be on the economic aspect of it.  If they can invest in something that will get a nice return on investment, they will do it. For WHATEVER reason, be it drawing people with a different preference, or not investing money in an older ship thats going to be put out to pasture sooner than later.....theyve determined that NOT adding things to the smaller ships returns more money. Perhaps the people that want those things are then forced to the bigger ships, where they are able to put in multiple attractions and get into peoples pockets more?  Because im surely going to spend more money with my kids in tow, than if it were just me and my wife. So, draw the families to the ships with the family items, and watch the money pile up. Let the people cruising without kids, and dont care about slides and stuff, go on the smaller ships? Im probably giving this way too much thought, but its what I do...... 

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They have added stuff other then specialty restaurants to the smaller ships over the year just not on the same scale as the Amplification Program.  Most of the smaller ships have had kids splash pads installed, rock walls were added.  The most significant renovation to a smaller ship was when they cut Enchantment in half and lengthened her.  That added an additional pool and pool bar, more shops, Boleros and obviously more cabins.  At some point they also added the trampoline thing to the front of the ship (not that it ever seemed to be open when I was on in 2015).

All that said, I don't think you will see any big changes anymore.  The ships are paid for, just keep them in good shape and make the money.

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2 minutes ago, StayFrosty said:

The most significant renovation to a smaller ship was when they cut Enchantment in half and lengthened her.  

Thank you for sending me to Google on that adventure! Thats cool as (choose your own emphasis).  I was unaware they did that. Too cool to look at the photos and videos. 

As for the changes on the smaller ships.  They just seem minimal, at best. COMPLETELY agree with the "paid for" comment.  Its not like the lack of attractions is keeping people away. 

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Once you get smaller than Voyager Class, you're into basically boutique / exotic sailings that are much more port intensive and not as many sea days. Those itineraries are also less geared towards families with young kids, so I can see where investing in water slides, rock climbing walls, Flow Riders, etc. becomes less "worth it" (although you certainly see some of these features on the smaller ships; even Empress has a rock climbing wall now). Specialty restaurants, on the other hand, make a lot of sense on these smaller ships for added dining variety and ways to break up the "routine" for the passengers who may not want to eat in the MDR or WJ every night, and have a chance to jazz things up a little.

A few of us here have noted the strong similarities in size, capacity, features, etc. of the Radiance class ships with Celebrity's Millennium class ships. Lately it seems even the itinerary pricing is strikingly similar. It's made me wonder if at some point Royal would move the Radiance class over to X to help expand the fleet there while the Royal fleet is growing on the bigger end of the scale; X's fleet is entirely "smaller" ships, even the Edge class holds fewer passengers than a Voyager class ship, so moving the Radiance ships to X would open up new itineraries and give the line's passengers what several consider a really beautiful and well-designed ship class.

I doubt it would happen, only because the Radiance class ships are all around 20 years old now (about the same as the Millennium ships). But if Royal did do something like that, they'd have to refurb the ships to be in line with X's style and decor, so not much point in revamping them with stuff from a Royal Amplification playbook.

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I think this thread has a pretty good handle on the relevant business aspects.  I mean, if it's not broke don't fix it.  If those small ships are still selling well (and they are) then RC will keep them around.  In a way they offer a lot of great cruising to the brand new cruisers (a simple three night to key west and the bahamas) as well as the older, maybe more affluent experienced cruise who wants exotic, remote ports for a 12 nighter.  After having been on symphony during peak spring break, I would be very ready to be on a small ship adults only cruise.  The number of people and kids was evident everywhere around you, 24/7 nonstop, but that's why we and a lot of family groups like us pick those ships, so we all can do our own thing in whichever way we choose.

If anything, that's Royal's only weakness.  Trying to be too many things, trying to be everything to everyone, which of course is impossible.  Hence, the variety of the fleet.  To me, the sweet spot for amenities and space is still the voyager class, looking very forward to seeing the amped navigator, would like to try the quantum.  The smaller ships have very loyal followings, they are free to visit a lot of smaller islands and more secluded ports, do long or odd itineraries that clearly the market will not bear for the big ships where most families are still led by working age folks and can't or don't want to take 12 days off.  I see a ton of value in being on a small ship where a higher level of service is easier to maintain consistently and you're with like minded cruisers.  Some would say family friendly is RC's strong suit, some would say they prefer not to be around the kids gone wild all day everyday and with this fleet, you can find what you like.

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Royal has learned a lot over the years and you can see that evolution in the ships over the years.  However Radiance class is an exception to that.  Radiance was introduced after Voyager  class was close to having grown to 3 ships (Radiance and Adventure both started revenue sailings in 2001). 

At one point in time Voyager class was never to leave the Caribbean as they were too big for the rest of the world.   Radiance class was built to not exceed then Panamax standards and designed to be cleaner or greener for eco sensitive environments such as Alaska.  They were built with different missions in mind, never to co-exist in the same market.  Fast forward to modern times and Voyager class are all over the globe.  

Radiance class has the lowest suite count of any class and we all know Royal has grown to become focused on the suites.  

Earlier ships suffer in that they were built in an era prior to azipods and used conventional propulsion with rudders.  While you can add guest conveniences like slides and restaurants it's virtually impossible to replace entire propulsion systems and engines to newer technology.  Ships are built around the engines.  They are the very first components that ships are built upon.  Once installed they are there for life.  Sure they are rebuilt from time to time but changing out an entire engine or replacing the drive system is never economical.  It's generally cheaper to sell it off and build a new ship.   

The same can be said for cabins.  Moving walls and infrastructure like plumbing and electrical is rarely cost effective.  It's one thing to add new cabins in open space but moving existing or converting regular cabins in to suites is very expensive and counterproductive if it costs two cabins to create a single suite.  The resulting difference in revenue never pays for the work required plus you have reduced the number of guests on board that reduces on board revenue (four guests in two balcony cabins will spend more on board compared to two guests in a one suite). 

Smaller ships also suffer from a lack of real estate.  There can be literally no room to place slides or a restaurant, or the weight allocation can't be accommodated without making the ship unstable.  Water slides require pumps and water storage tanks that if located up high can make a small ship tend to roll over in the right conditions.  The engineering often doesn't allow it to happen despite what guests or Royal may desire.   

At the end of the day it's much like owning an old car.  An old car is old, requires more maintenance, burns more fuel and doesn't have the latest features.  However it's paid for.  A brand new car is more fuel efficient, runs with little maintenance, has better safety, performance and comfort but it involves a monthly payment.   Keeping an older car can save money in the long term if you can deal with more frequent breakdowns and not having the latest features.  

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We just got off Vision and did the "All Access Tour".  I'm one of those people fascinated with mechanical things and what makes them tick....I'm one of those guys who took apart an automatic transmission to learn how it all worked...

 While I did enjoy the "official" tour, what I enjoyed even more was looking around at everything in the spaces we were at and seeing how everything fits/works together.

There doesn't look to be a lot of room on that ship to add the bells and whistles of the Amped Up ships.  It's pretty tight down below.

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10 hours ago, SteveinSC said:

I see a LOT of posts about updates to ships. I see things are being added to Quantum class, Oasis class, Freedom class.....but never the little guys (Vision class, Empress, etc...).  Things like slides and water play areas, interior things like escape room, family friendly fun in general). I just wonder if its only due to the size of the boat, or if its an economics issue?  Something to do with the smaller boats being older, and probably sooner to be pushed out to the other subsidies (example: Sovereign of the Seas) so you dont want to invest too much into them?  I ask because it seems like they are really good at figuring out how to get specialty restaurants into the smaller ships......but not other attractions? 

I agree with what has been said, but I'd like to emphasize two points:  (1) most middle-class travelers are limited by the the nearby ports and the ships that sail from them; (2) the itinerary is more important to me than the ship.   We sailed small ships out of Baltimore because we lived nearby, and it wasn't cost-effective to fly elsewhere.  When we splurged, we tried Europe, which was infinitely more exciting than the Bahamas, and guess what, the ships were small or middle-sized.  None had slides.  My son is now an adult in college and I don't think he missed not being on a ship with a slide over several cruises as a minor.  We have sailed the Oasis and Harmony and enjoy what they offer, but we only sail them because, well, they are there.  We would sail whatever ship is in Port Canaveral because it is easier to drive there than to Baltimore (DC traffic is a killer).   Since my wife now wants to sail the South Pacific, I am hard pressed to book RCI because they don't spend enough time in French Polynesia -- the ships are too large.  So I think there will always be an itinerary-based niche for smaller ships, but I'm glad families can enjoy larger ships when they are conveniently located.

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I'd share that I have zero desire to cruise on any of the ships that are like amusement parks on water. I don't want or need water slides or zip lines or any of that. I am probably in the minority but there has to be more than one of me that is okay with just sitting quietly and reading a book while I sip a drink. There has to be more than one of me out there but probably not many so they leave the smaller ships to us folks who actually avoid slides and zip lines and all that. I have nothing against them personally but it's just not what I want when I cruise. I'd like to think they realize there are still a few of us left around. Let me have that illusion.

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Loving all the feedback here. Thanks everyone! @twangster you knocked it out of the park with your feedback. Exactly the deep dog answers I was hoping for. 

I have always selected cruises based on date availability and itinerary....and I don't see that changing. If I'm destined to always be on a smaller ship....no complaints. 

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I really like both types of ships, but for different reasons.  

The big ships I like for party type getaways to places like Coco Cay.  Those I expect the slides and the amusement parks at sea.  But on those I'm expecting more children, and more party music, and a lot less quiet.  When I expect a party, I like to go big.  But I do miss finding those little places to get some peace and quiet other than my room.  

But when I want to relax, I love the smaller ships.  Its more intimate, it doesnt feel as rushed.  No slides, no amusement parks, no party party party til you drop atmosphere.  The pools tend to be a little more available.  The dining rooms feel more intimate.  The Windjammer doesnt feel so packed.  But on a smaller ship, I do miss the broadway musicals and aquashows of the big ships.

My end thought, enjoy what you enjoy.  I can find enjoyment pretty much anywhere though.  

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After my recent cruise on Serenade, my question is how often ships go in for general maintenance.  There were a variety of signs that the ship needs work, from the large pool deck screen not operating to a general smell in the corridors indicating that the carpets are probably due for replacement.  The annoyances were minor and did not impact my enjoyment, but some of these older ships certainly need some work, not necessarily amping.

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5 minutes ago, PatsFanBrian said:

After my recent cruise on Serenade, my question is how often ships go in for general maintenance.

All ships have to go in for mandatory maintenance dry dock every 5 years. Not to say that they get a makeover each time, but things like you mentioned would probably be taken care of at the next one as they can be scheduled and are reasonably straightforward to take care of.

Something like the broken jumbotron screen on the pool might even be repairable without a dry dock, depending on the issue. If it's something minor like an electrical connection that degraded, the engineers on board could possibly take care of that once they got the required materials in a port. The only thing that might require it to wait for a dry dock is if the whole panel just wore out or something broke that's in a location the engineers can't get to without moving the panel.

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Well today the news is that Grandeur is leaving the fleet and headed to Spain to join Sovereign and Monarch at Pullmantur Cruises. RC own 49% of Pullmantur. 

 

I would imagine as these ships age with their dated systems, RC might bring in new, smaller ships? With the newest ICON technology being built it would make sense to me to begin replacing the older, smaller ships with the same technology in a smaller package. 

At some point these smaller ships will need to be replaced in order to keep most of the European itineraries that simply cannot handle the mega ships.

I’d love to see some new smaller ships. 

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20 hours ago, twangster said:

Radiance class was built to not exceed then Panamax standards and designed to be cleaner or greener for eco sensitive environments such as Alaska. 

Earlier ships suffer in that they were built in an era prior to azipods and used conventional propulsion with rudders.  While you can add guest conveniences like slides and restaurants it's virtually impossible to replace entire propulsion systems and engines to newer technology.  Ships are built around the engines.  They are the very first components that ships are built upon.  Once installed they are there for life.  Sure they are rebuilt from time to time but changing out an entire engine or replacing the drive system is never economical.  It's generally cheaper to sell it off and build a new ship.

Smaller ships also suffer from a lack of real estate.  There can be literally no room to place slides or a restaurant, or the weight allocation can't be accommodated without making the ship unstable.  Water slides require pumps and water storage tanks that if located up high can make a small ship tend to roll over in the right conditions.

Totally agree with your assessment reasons why in another thread, I suggested this one option......

Build a fleet(6) of 116,000-124,000t LNG, state-of-the-art ships, to replace(sell off) the Vision Class, Majesty, & Empress; while slowly renaming the new ships by those previous, much-loved names...including pass names like Splendour, Legend, Sovereign, & Monarch, if chosing to build more than six of these smaller ships. These ships would serve the more exotic port of calls, all over the world, that only the smaller and/or older ports can receive or ports that has bridge-height restriction issues; as well as, server some of the major ports along side the mid-size to mega-size ships & easily transverse canals on trans-positioning. Of course, LNG infrastructure would need to be invested...something the cruise & cargo industry could look to, as possible joint investment efforts with local governments, in some of these areas. This may help to open up new port of calls for RCCL in South America, some parts of Africa & India regions, and Western Australia...all that are now ports of call on World Cruises by other cruise lines; as well as, create a market for smaller private islands, in some future timeframe, in some of these regions, giving RCCL more itinerary choices and building newer local clientele, of these regions. Not all ships now days, have to be mega-size...less not forget the durable smaller ships...but at least let's move beyond the days of the less-than 100,000t ships.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Jill said:

I would imagine as these ships age with their dated systems, RC might bring in new, smaller ships?

Good question! Seems like the strategy is to build juast big, and bigger ships.  Cant continue to service ports that require smaller ships, AND build bigger ships....something has to give, eventually. I know, personally, Id rather have more ports than more big ships. Part of the reason I love cruising is seeing places I couldnt, otherwise.   

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Just now, SteveinSC said:

Good question! Seems like the strategy is to build juast big, and bigger ships.  Cant continue to service ports that require smaller ships, AND build bigger ships....something has to give, eventually. I know, personally, Id rather have more ports than more big ships. Part of the reason I love cruising is seeing places I couldnt, otherwise.   

We are slooowly aging out of the party scene and now that we are empty nesters, we’re looking to grow up and experience more than just the Caribbean 😂

We are bright and shiny new Diamond members and looking forward to exploring Europe with RC. Our very first cruise with RC was when we were 23 and 26 years old on Song of America back in 1990. We’ve only sailed RC. I feel like I’ve grown old with them! Lol 

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2 minutes ago, Zambia-Zaire said:

Totally agree with your assessment reasons why in another thread, I suggested this one option......

Build a fleet(6) of 116,000-124,000t LNG, state-of-the-art ships, to replace(sell off) the Vision Class, Majesty, & Empress;

Empress and Majesty are hanging around for when Cuba opens up again.  Cuba can't take large ships, even Radiance class is too big.  

Here's why I don't see Royal going back to building small ships.  They have learned that there is more profit to be had with big ships.  One Captain, one Hotel Director can manage a slightly larger crew and 6,800 guests.  Two ships with two sets of crews paying two sets of docking fees, requiring twice as many 5 year dry docks accomodating a combined 6,800 guests simply isn't as cost efficient to operate.

Mega ships produce higher revenue per dollar of operating cost.  Besides, RCCL has other brands that are building mid-size ships.   

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15 minutes ago, twangster said:

They have learned that there is more profit to be had with big ships. 

Bottom line....if they can make more profit by building bigger ships, even at the cost of losing ports, they will. Its ALWAYS, ALWAYS about maximizing profit. 

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18 minutes ago, Zambia-Zaire said:

You don't think Royal itself, don't want to continue hitting the more exotic ports & new ones that may be opening in the future...that is only accessible by the smaller to mid-size ships?

When Voyager class were the largest cruise ships in the world they were pretty much contained to the Caribbean.  Many places around the world grew port capacity to keep up.  Some destinations won't or can't.  Voyager class ships now can sail to a large number of destinations that was unthinkable 20 years ago.   When a port is looking to expand they are building to Oasis class standards if they can.  Twenty years from now will look a lot different than today.

Smaller destinations don't have the infrastructure to handle large volumes of day visitors.  Some don't want to be cruise ship destinations.  There will always be some smaller destinations that remain "boutique" in nature and geared for small ships.  Royal isn't trying to be everything possible across the cruise industry.  They are growing into a mass cruise line geared for destinations that can accommodate large volumes of day visitors.   

Volume is where the big money is.  Smaller lines can tailor themselves to smaller destination and still be profitable but at revenue numbers that are a fraction of where the big cruise lines are operating.  

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