The race to sail the largest mega cruise ships is heating up among the world’s cruise ship companies. Carnival announced its newly ordered ships will hold nearly 7,000 passengers each, making them literally floating cities. This seems consistent with CEO Arnold Donald’s “long-term plan to return double-digit return on invested capital.”
In other words, it is all about profit and making more money for Carnival because larger ships will afford cruise lines greater ability to scale costs per passenger. For example, the salaries of just one captain, one chief security officer, and one chief medical officer will now be spread over a larger number of passenger fares.
Carnival also owns and operates both the German AIDA brand and Italy’s Costa Cruises. However, unlike the typical new Carnival mega cruise ship, these lines will focus on increased cabin and balcony space rather than such kitschy attractions as water slides, surfing simulators, ice skating rinks, and bumper cars.
Not to be outdone, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Silversea Cruises are also set to sail bigger ships than they have ever had to before.
As a lawyer who sues cruise ship companies, I am concerned about the enormous safety issues that surround putting thousands of people at a time on a ship in the open sea, starting with the limitations of certain small ports, such as those in Cuba, when it comes to providing emergency services to a mega ship’s passengers. The arrival of a mega ship could double a small port’s population by adding an entire city of sick people. Moreover, the larger mega cruise ships will, by having more people aboard, increase the passengers’ risk of outbreaks of illnesses like the norovirus.