Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) is doubling down on the mega cruise ship. The company currently operates the two largest cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, with a third Oasis-class vessel set to join its fleet in spring 2016.
Today, at a ceremony in France to lay the keel for that third ship, the cruise line announced that it has ordered a fourth Oasis ship, to be completed in 2018. The third Oasis will be even larger than the first two, with space for 6,300 passengers. The two finished Oasis ships—which are constructed around themed “neighborhood zones”—carry about 5,400 passengers and 2,700 staterooms.
Two months ago, at a lunch with Bloomberg Businessweek in New York, Royal Caribbean chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain said his company had not sought to be the line with the largest ships when it began designing the first two Oasis vessels. Their size, he says, is a function of the various activities the company tries to incorporate aboard its ships to appeal to passengers of all ages. Royal Caribbean ships have amenities such as rock-climbing walls, surf pools, bumper cars, a faux food truck, and a miniature version of Manhattan’s Central Park.
More helpful to the cruise lines financially, new cruise ships—especially the largest ones with an abundance of activities—command higher fares. “Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas continue to be in a class by themselves both in terms of guest satisfaction and financial returns,” Fain said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a reflection of their success.”
Both new Oasis ships will be built at the STX France (011810:KS) shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Neither has been named, and Royal Caribbean has yet to disclosed the ports from which they will sail.