2011: Attack of the Oasis sisters?

Oasis sistersThe big…make that GIANT story for 2010 in the world of cruise vacations was Allure of the Seas, sister-ship to last year’s 220,000 ton Oasis of the Seas from Royal Caribbean. The monster ship gobbled up headlines, berth space at ports and will send other ships running in 2011.

I liked Allure better than older sibling Oasis but that might have been because they worked all the kinks out that come with moving 5000 people on, off and around a ship each week by the time Allure was born. Technically “twins” they’re really not exactly clones and both ships have a distinct aura about them that’s undeniable. Allure is actually a wee bit longer, enough to give her captain verile bragging rights, and both ships have some different minor features. Still, combined, they close in on half a million tons of ship and that’s nothing to ignore.

Each ship has more restaurants, more cabins, more things to do, more people to see than any other ship at sea. Feature-hungry cruise passengers got everything they had been asking for and more.

Is this a case of “be careful what you ask for, you might just get it?”

Between the two, Royal Caribbean has chased a lot of ships out of South Florida, leaving much of the market to themselves.

Time will tell but so far prices are holding at a high level and the new ships are filling up fast which equals success in any body’s book. They better too, at more than a billon dollars each, there’s a lot riding on their success. Down the line Royal Caribbean is going to have to find some new places for the ships to visit as guests get over the wow-factor and want to get off the ship at ports. That’s no easy task.

Not one port was set up to handle this size vessel before they were built and all ports had to be modified to make it work. Surely, it’s worth it to local economies to have a ship dump 5000 paying tourists off for a day. Southampton is drooling over the possibility and maybe even Brownsville, Texas will throw their hat back in the ring to finally get that cruise port they want so bad.

The future of new-builds for Royal Caribbean holds an empty slate which makes sense. The Oasis sisters will be a tough act to follow.