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Discovery of the Seas


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1 minute ago, baltodave said:

Would that make it small enough for Tampa, Baltimore, Panama Canal and some European Ports (e.g. Montenegro)?

Assuming they're careful with the dimensions,  it should be able to go through the new panama canal locks.

I doubt Tampa will be possible. 

Idk about Baltimore. 

Europe is going to depend on the port.

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Vision class is 70-80k gross tons, Radiance class is 90k and fits those places, voyager 140k.  obviously this is all speculation and would depend on how wide/tall they settle on going.  will also need shore power capability and fuel cell or natural gas burning to meet strict emissions rules, still at such an early stage.  like, drawing on a napkin in the bar stage.   

Project Eagle that led to the voyager class started in 1995 and Voyager entered service in 99.  in that project the ship famously (infamously?) grew 40% from their first projected size.  I think the same inevitable growth happens here, there's just no way they go as small as I've seen some people here talking after all the success the mega ships are bringing them.  this is a business decision.  Icon will be icon, this is a replacement for the tonnage they will lose as vision/radiance/voyager all get retired in the next 15-20 years, think of discovery as a newer, more efficient hybrid of those classes that royal can probably also build a discovery plus of as they evolve and/or share the frame with celebrity.  royal is not an expedition line, they THE mass market big ship, big fun big family line.  

sure vision class still exists and is paid for, but how much EBITDA are they really kicking off vs the newer half of the fleet?  what's the repair/maintenance cost as a % of total net profit that they return and how does that compare with the newer ships?  these are the considerations Royal is weighing much more than "do we still need a ship that fits in new orleans or tampa or every other place?"  We don't have to listen to what they say, look at what they're already doing.  Royal wants to run more, bigger ships out of big port facilities that they control for a better, more efficient experience for the passengers and for suppliers and staffing.  Royal wants to then send those passengers to island/port experiences that they control and can also profit from and on and on.

2,500 passengers with very limited opportunity for upcharge items vs 6-7k passengers on newer classes spending alllll of the extra money on shopping/dining/play.  it's going to become a very simple equation and it's not going to be a 'small' ship in any sense, it's going to need space for the bells and whistles and space for the people needed to pay for those amenities.  

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33 minutes ago, baltodave said:

Would that make it small enough for Tampa, Baltimore, Panama Canal and some European Ports (e.g. Montenegro)?

The Panama Canal is more a factor of hull design and avoiding things hanging off the ship.  That's what is keeping Voyager, Freedom and Quantum class out of the PC.  

I don't see them building a ship just so that they can keep something in Tampa or Baltimore.  They'll want Discovery going to exotic destinations that mega ships can't sail into.  Those types of ports of call aren't within reach of Tampa or Baltimore.  They need the exotic destinations to justify increased cruise fares.  They need elevated cruise fares to satisfy the business model which is increasingly focused at mega ships for the mass cruise market.  Absent of mega pax volumes, exotic destinations with an upscale pricing model can achieve similar revenue margins. 

Neither Tampa or Baltimore scream exotic elevated pricing.  

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16 minutes ago, dr martini said:

Vision class is 70-80k gross tons, Radiance class is 90k and fits those places, voyager 140k.  obviously this is all speculation and would depend on how wide/tall they settle on going.  will also need shore power capability and fuel cell or natural gas burning to meet strict emissions rules, still at such an early stage.  like, drawing on a napkin in the bar stage.   

Project Eagle that led to the voyager class started in 1995 and Voyager entered service in 99.  in that project the ship famously (infamously?) grew 40% from their first projected size.  I think the same inevitable growth happens here, there's just no way they go as small as I've seen some people here talking after all the success the mega ships are bringing them.  this is a business decision.  Icon will be icon, this is a replacement for the tonnage they will lose as vision/radiance/voyager all get retired in the next 15-20 years, think of discovery as a newer, more efficient hybrid of those classes that royal can probably also build a discovery plus of as they evolve and/or share the frame with celebrity.  royal is not an expedition line, they THE mass market big ship, big fun big family line.  

sure vision class still exists and is paid for, but how much EBITDA are they really kicking off vs the newer half of the fleet?  what's the repair/maintenance cost as a % of total net profit that they return and how does that compare with the newer ships?  these are the considerations Royal is weighing much more than "do we still need a ship that fits in new orleans or tampa or every other place?"  We don't have to listen to what they say, look at what they're already doing.  Royal wants to run more, bigger ships out of big port facilities that they control for a better, more efficient experience for the passengers and for suppliers and staffing.  Royal wants to then send those passengers to island/port experiences that they control and can also profit from and on and on.

2,500 passengers with very limited opportunity for upcharge items vs 6-7k passengers on newer classes spending alllll of the extra money on shopping/dining/play.  it's going to become a very simple equation and it's not going to be a 'small' ship in any sense, it's going to need space for the bells and whistles and space for the people needed to pay for those amenities.  

I agree with most of what you say. Bigger ships are Royal's focus and probably their future. 

However, there is one big reason why the size mentioned today is likely in the cards. That is the Panama Canal.

Royal has been repositioning the radiance class ships through the canal as the Alaska season begins and ends. If they want to continue to do that, then there's a very strict size limit.  If they decide that isn't really important then discovery either gets cancelled or grows to 300,000 tons.

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3 hours ago, baltodave said:

Would that make it small enough for Tampa, Baltimore, Panama Canal and some European Ports (e.g. Montenegro)?

Both Explorer and Voyager have calls in Montenegro this summer and next summer so if the new class is around their size I guess it would also be able to call there.

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Since this thread is already about project Discovery I have some questions.

Virgin Voyages which has been carving out its own path in the cruise industry just announced that its 4th ship Brilliant Lady will be delivered in September 2025.   They also revealed they made purposeful and intentional changes to Brilliant Lady's design so the ship will be able to sail through the Panama Canal and also the ship will enter the already crowed Alaska market. 

I know Virgin only has 4 ships but what kind of pressure if any pressure at all does Virgins entrance into the Panama Canal market put on Royal to get Project Discovery right so that class of ship can fit through the Panama Canal?  Or is the Panama Canal market not that important of a market to Royal?

Also for a few weeks in 2026 Virgin will offer sailing out of Los Angeles but I think Royal is already ready or anticipated this move as Quantum OTS arrives in Los Angeles in late 2025.

https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/virgin-voyages-news

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51 minutes ago, JasonOasis said:

Since this thread is already about project Discovery I have some questions.

Virgin Voyages which has been carving out its own path in the cruise industry just announced that its 4th ship Brilliant Lady will be delivered in September 2025.   They also revealed they made purposeful and intentional changes to Brilliant Lady's design so the ship will be able to sail through the Panama Canal and also the ship will enter the already crowed Alaska market. 

I know Virgin only has 4 ships but what kind of pressure if any pressure at all does Virgins entrance into the Panama Canal market put on Royal to get Project Discovery right so that class of ship can fit through the Panama Canal?  Or is the Panama Canal market not that important of a market to Royal?

Also for a few weeks in 2026 Virgin will offer sailing out of Los Angeles but I think Royal is already ready or anticipated this move as Quantum OTS arrives in Los Angeles in late 2025.

https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/virgin-voyages-news

Since nobody here has access to Royal's internal decision process,  all we can do is guess how much they worry about Virgin Voyages. 

With that in mind, my thoughts are Royal doesn't really pursue the Panama Canal market.  They reposition through the canal,  but that's not the same thing.  What other lines do is really irrelevant.

Therefore,  Royal will have to balance the economy of scale that can be achieved by  going larger than new Panamax vs. The operational flexibility they get by being new Panamax class.

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Royal has said numerous times they don't market themselves and/or compete against other cruise lines.  They go after the people that have never cruised before, because that's about 90% of the population.  It's cheaper and easier to go after them than to try to convince a Carnival or Virgin cruiser to try Royal.

Obviously Royal pays attention what other lines do, and there's a bit of a game of one upmanship. 

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On 5/25/2023 at 5:13 AM, twangster said:

There have been rumors of "Project Discovery".  Royal likes to call new ship class developments a "project".  However that's all that been known.  

Considering that Vision and Radiance class are all that can use the Panama Canal, it stands to reason that Royal would look to create a new class that could.  Mega ships are great but they are a PITA when deploying ships between the Atlantic and Pacific.  They need something that can.

Without any proof or facts, I've always thought that taking the Edge class platform, the basic hull design, not an Edge class ship and painting a Royal name on it, they could leverage a successful hull design and save that engineering cost, and by using LNG engines, build on that hull design to create a new class for Royal.  

  

Vision and Radiance class appear to intersect at the Millennium class for displacement and  passenger count.  I liked that the M class ships had 3 elevator locations (F, M, A) as opposed to 2 found on later designs.

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  • 5 weeks later...

It occurs to me that Royal's new status match program could impact project discovery.  

The status match program could be a way to nudge Royal cruisers to sail Celebrity.  Celebrity has smaller ships.  

Royal Caribbean International has a purpose in corporate life.  It is mass market cruising.  That means mega ships carrying mega passengers.  The whole concept of project discovery flies in the face of the mass market cruise segment.

I've always been curious why a mass market mega cruise line would build a smaller ship.   Instead, why not leverage existing smaller ships in the family of cruise lines under the RCG umbrella?

Time will tell.  Maybe the status match is a test to see if Celebrity can fulfill the role of more interesting itineraries to a broader range of ports leaving RCI to be the mega mass market brand in the family. 

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3 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

I'm not sure the status match for most RC customers moves the needle at all to want to try Celebrity

I agree.  We're "Diamond" and even that doesn't push us to Celebrity. 

Since I live in the Baltimore area (if you didn't guess from my handle), we're looking forward to a Vision replacement that will be able to use the Baltimore port.

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2 hours ago, smokeybandit said:

I'm not sure the status match for most RC customers moves the needle at all to want to try Celebrity

I already cruise Celebrity but the status match is very underwhelming to me. The free drink vouchers on Royal is unmatched in the cruising space and with the price of drink packages nowadays even more so. When Celebrity begins offering free drink vouchers (or a soda package) I'll get excited. 

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Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I've always hoped that the name "Discovery" hints at a Royal Caribbean marketing scheme aimed at promoting visits to smaller ports and rarer destinations. This would necessitate smaller, more agile ships compared to the mega-sized ones. While it's possible that in 10 or 20 years every port in the Caribbean could accommodate an Oasis-class ship, currently, these enormous vessels are limited to fewer ports. Thus, smaller ships can provide unique and diverse experiences, opening up a wider array of destinations for exploration and enjoyment.

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I've got nothing to back this take outside of where Royal is positioning themselves in the mass cruise market.  My take is Project Discovery is supposed to target families who'd prefer national park lodges and towns like West Yellowstone to major theme parks. Or families who'd want more cultural experiences than thrill rides. With both Icon class and what's speculated about Discovery class, Royal would offer a cruise experience for nearly every type of family group who doesn't mind a resort experience. It'd basically cement themselves (if successful) as THE family cruise line where if a family can afford the rates, it's where they'd start when booking a cruise. Or, at least, that's what Royal could be hoping.

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2 hours ago, Rackham said:

I've got nothing to back this take outside of where Royal is positioning themselves in the mass cruise market.  My take is Project Discovery is supposed to target families who'd prefer national park lodges and towns like West Yellowstone to major theme parks. Or families who'd want more cultural experiences than thrill rides. With both Icon class and what's speculated about Discovery class, Royal would offer a cruise experience for nearly every type of family group who doesn't mind a resort experience. It'd basically cement themselves (if successful) as THE family cruise line where if a family can afford the rates, it's where they'd start when booking a cruise. Or, at least, that's what Royal could be hoping.

Interesting take on where Royal is heading.  Your guess on the matter is as mine. They may actually be considering a combination of both our thoughts.

My thought is that Royal doesn't want to abandon cold weather cruises. Those would be Alaska, northern Europe and New Zealand. The only classes suitable for that is Quantum, Voyager, Radiance and Vision. As you can see, most of these ships are getting near end of life. 

I think Discovery will be smaller to make repositioning easier (read passage through the Panama Canal) and many of the cold weather ports are too small for a megaship.

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40 minutes ago, steverk said:

Interesting take on where Royal is heading.  Your guess on the matter is as mine. They may actually be considering a combination of both our thoughts.

My thought is that Royal doesn't want to abandon cold weather cruises. Those would be Alaska, northern Europe and New Zealand. The only classes suitable for that is Quantum, Voyager, Radiance and Vision. As you can see, most of these ships are getting near end of life. 

I think Discovery will be smaller to make repositioning easier (read passage through the Panama Canal) and many of the cold weather ports are too small for a megaship.

Quantum class has been wildly successful in Alaska.  Alaska is solved for Royal, for what a mass market cruise line hopes to accomplish.

The problem with Northern Europe is the vast distances are no longer attainable by HFO/MGO ships.  IMO 2023 all but eliminates mass market ships carrying masses vast distances at high speed, as required for Northern Europe.   Lines like MSC and AIDA who have invested in LNG will be able to do some, lines like Royal that only have mega LNG ships, not so much.  Royal is making too much money in the Caribbean to send one of the few LNG ships they have to Northern Europe, which is not the right size market for a full mega ship.

That is why we see kind of dull Indy cruises in Europe going forward.

America is not (yet) tabling the type of emission changes that other regions are moving forward with.  Royal is playing the hand of cards they were dealt, having stacked the deck with what they thought was the right thing to do by not updating recent ships like Odyssey to LNG (as a cost saving measure).  

I'm so confused why people seem to think Royal is compelled to serve all markets for ever.  They are not.  They will not.  

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On 6/5/2024 at 9:44 PM, twangster said:

I'm so confused why people seem to think Royal is compelled to serve all markets for ever.  They are not.  They will not.  

I don't think anyone is arguing that Royal is compelled to stay in any market. Rather, they recognize that it's very difficult to grow as a company while simultaneously pulling out of established markets.

Therefore, I expect Royal to develop the Discovery class to address the shortcomings outlined above and allow Royal to maintain an even greater presence in these markets. 

Could I be wrong? Of course! Royal doesn't consult with me and my opinion is no better or worse than anyone else. 

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I agree with @twangster that what makes the most sense is utilizing the already smaller celebrity ships to the smaller ports. It just seems logical. We chose Apex over Indy to the fjords next year because Indy’s itineraries are not good. We wanted the deep fjords. 
 

Im ready to make the jump to Celebrity for the bucket list cruises. Not honoring the drink vouchers is my biggest sticking point. Seems silly but that’s an incredible perk that’s hard to give up for a 2 hour happy hour with limited menu (just like the old Royal happy hour). It’s hard to go back to that! 
 

There’s no real incentive to go from Royal to Celebrity. Those celebrity captain’s club members get a sweet deal though coming to Royal. The only ones who get the better deal are Pinns going to Celebrity 

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