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Are Older Ships Stabilized?


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I just watched Matt's vlog about sailing on older ships. I have only sailed on voyager, freedom and oasis class ships. I know that these ships are amazingly stable because of the active stabilization, big wings that stick out underwater to counteract the rocking of the ship. Are the older ships, radiance and vision class, actively stabilized like the newer ships? If not, is there a problem with excessive rocking? I have been in fairly heavy seas (20 ft) in the newer ships with no nausea issues and I am wondering how much the older ships rock.

TIA

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Stabilizers are present on the older ships but keep in mind that stabilizers only work for side to side rolling motions.  This applies to all ships.  There is no stabilization for pitching or front to back motion on any cruise ship on any cruise line.

All ships are subject to motion when the sea conditions are right.  Typically wind driven waves don't cause the motion that gets to most people.  Sweil are low period, low amplitude waves that are harder to see but they tend to produce the motion that most people feel and react to.  Swell comes from weather systems hundreds of miles away and can cause motion on otherwise nice days.  Swell impacts even the largest ships.

Back when Symphony of the Seas was the largest cruise ship in the world I was on her for the transatlantic crossing and we had a lot of motion.  So much so that Captain Rob took some time to talk about it.  Skip to around the 5:30 mark in the video to hear Captain Rob talk about stabilizers and swell.

A couple of weeks ago on Harmony of the Seas we had rough weather leaving Port Canaveral.  Winter in the Caribbean often involves winter storms and the seas can often be more aggressive compared to the summer when the seas are typically calmer except when a tropical storm is in play.  The barf bags came out and where found all over the ship for those guests that struggled with the motion.

Many people experience motion on a ship and that stays with them.  Most people only cruise a few times a year or every few years which is a pretty small sample size to draw any sort of conclusion from.  Yet one bad experience on any ship and that ship or class of ship becomes branded in their mind as subject to motion.  

I've sailed Oasis 6 times.  I've sailed Empress 5 times.  I never experienced any motion on any of the Empress sailings but I did experience motion on 3 of the Oasis cruises.  Based on that I could declare that small ships are more stable and experience less motion compared to mega ships.  The problem is that even a sample size of 11 cruises is too small to draw conclusions from.   If I could sail on 1,000 cruises only then would my experience begin to enter the realm of being large enough to form a conclusion from.   By that point the conclusion would likely be that all ships, regardless of size, can be impacted by motion when the sea conditions are right. 

Don't fear more motion on smaller ships.  You can experience motion on any ship when the sea conditions are right.  Instead prepare yourself with motion remedies that work for you.   Sometimes just knowing you have something in your cabin ready to use "just in case" alleviates the anxiety that comes with fear of motion in the ocean.

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Swell can be harder to see compared to wind driven waves.  Here is a time lapse video that makes swell more obvious:

This was on Symphony of the Seas.  Despite otherwise "flat" seas with no apparent wind driven surface waves you can see the swell and the pitching motion that stabilizers can't compensate for when video is sped up, or in this case, a time lapse video.

All ships regardless of size are impacted by swell.  If another ship, small or large, left the same port two days later also going to the same destination their experience would be completely different.  A guest on that ship might declare "it was great, no motion at all" while a guest on Symphony might draw the conclusion "the Atlantic is always rough" but they would be wrong.

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Yup that was the cruise I was talking about.  Daughter & I spent Monday afternoon taking a Dramamine nap!  Of course hubby & son were on the pool deck watching the sloshing pools!  🤢  And I am that “ the Atlantic is always rough” person.  What? 2 Atlantic cruises isn’t enough to jump to conclusions???

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Back in 2017, we were on Grandeur (Vision Class) ..... Baltimore to Bermuda ..... The only issue was that Hurricane Jose was in the way.  So, we went over Jose on the way out, then under Jose on the way back.  Was the ship rocking?  Yes.  But it wasn't side to side, it was up and down, front to back as we were going through the waves.  The barf bags were out, but in all honesty, we were fine.  I think the real key here is, BE PREPARED - Watch the Weather Channel and if it looks like the weather may be an issue, get the meds that you MAY need.  My wife would wear one of those patches that go behind her ear, and, she was a rockstar.  Would we go through it all over again?  You betcha.

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Oldest ship we went on was Enchantment and we never had any hard rocking. A little swaying on a rough wave day but nothing worse than I've experienced on Liberty in the same conditions.

So I would gather that, yes, they do have stabilizers. I think, given that most major lines sailing now have ships from only the 90s, you'd be hard pressed to find any ship that doesn't have them. They may be a little older and need more speed or whatever to really get their best use, but they're there.

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Worst we ever had was on Song of America back in 1991-ish. We were sitting by the pool  facing aft. When the stern went down, all we saw was blue sky. When the stern went up, all we saw was the ocean. 

Older ladies were being slammed into the metal “gate” that divided the pool. Pool was evacuated and drained, although it appeared most of the pool water ended up on the deck. 

We were in our early 20’s back then so thought it was a lot of fun! 😂

She’s the smallest RC ship we’ve been on. Oasis class the biggest. Oasis class movement is in slow motion to me. 

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37 minutes ago, Jill said:

Worst we ever had was on Song of America back in 1991-ish. We were sitting by the pool  facing aft. When the stern went down, all we saw was blue sky. When the stern went up, all we saw was the ocean. 

 

My grandparents were big cruisers in their prime back in the 80s. My grandmother told me a similar story about a North Sea cruise while they were eating dinner.

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