- Royal Caribbean Cruises has defended the use of big ships
- Its chief executive claimed that big ships are safer than the smaller older vessels
- Commentators suggest that it's more difficult to evacuating the vessel in a big ship
The chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises has defended the use of big ships, claiming that they are safer and more popular with holidaymakers than the smaller older vessels.
Richard Fain, whose company sails the world's biggest cruise liners, said evacuation was faster from large ships in emergencies such as the recent capsizing of the Costa Concordia because of the greater number of entrances and exits built into their bodies.
"The truth is that the newer, bigger ships are as safe or safer than any comparable smaller ships," he said.
The Concordia, operated by a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation , was carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew when disaster struck. Commentators were quick to suggest that the problems of quickly evacuating the vessel made the ships fundamentally dangerous.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are much larger than the Concordia, each carrying 5,400 passengers and just short of 2,400 crew.
Mr Fain claimed that they were not only safer, but a more pleasant way to travel because the money saved from the economies of scale could be spent on improving onboard facilities.
Royal Caribbean's bigger ships tended to earn higher guest satisfaction scores and higher spend per passenger, he added.
Mr Fain acknowledged that big ships would never be suited to every market. Royal Caribbean's second-highest satisfaction ratings and yields were on the 92-berth Celebrity Xpedition, the group's smallest ship.
Royal Caribbean, the second-biggest cruise operator by revenues, said in February that its North American bookings had fallen in the "low to mid teens" following the Concordia accident and by more in Europe.
Carnival, the market leader, said earlier this month that it expected full-year net revenue yields down 2 to 4 per cent over last year as a result of the accident.