New Internationalist

Supersize me cruising

June 2007

Growing demand for mega-cruiseships is causing increasing headaches for port authorities in major tourist destinations struggling to cope with the ever-larger vessels, according to Adapting ports to accommodate the floating giants is a major headache. On the Caribbean island of St Maarten, tourism commissioner Theo Heyliger summed up the problem in a few words: ‘Mega-ships for mega-ports for mega-bucks. That’s what it costs.’

Four mega-ships simultaneously offloading 10,000 tourists – or a quarter of the territory’s population – would cause gridlock on the roads that would be ‘just too hard to handle,’ said Heyliger.

Demand for the mega-ships shows no signs of flagging as cruise lines respond to increasing demand for on-board activities by offering such amenities as climbing walls, surfing pools and even ice-skating rinks. Royal Caribbean is already preparing to break the record for the world’s largest cruise ship it set when it launched the Freedom of the Seas last year. The 5,400-passenger Genesis should take to the seas in 2009.

The supersizing fever has also spread to the luxury yacht industry, with rising demand for super-yachts that fetch in the region of $20 million each. The US subsidiary of Dutch luxury yacht builder Feadship says it received 435 orders for ships of over 100 feet in length last year, up from 87 in 1998. ‘I think it’s frequently an issue of size relating to ego,’ said Larry Pimentel, chair of Seadream, which operates two luxury mega-yachts.

This column was published in the June 2007 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 401

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