The cruise industry has come a long way since the motto “Newlyweds and nearly deads” was coined to describe cruise passengers. In 2014, over 21 million people are expected to embark on a cruise, now a $117 billion a year industry worldwide. Here are some of the most influential events that have turned the cruise industry into what it is today.
The Love Boat – When The Love Boat premiered on ABC on September 24, 1977, it brought the cruise industry into million of homes each week for the next 10 years. The show was set onboard the Pacific Princess and it gave a small glimpse of what a cruise vacation is all about to millions who have never cruised. Suddenly, everyone wanted to take a cruise.
The cast of The Love Boat have been credited for the overwhelming growth the cruise industry has seen over the past 30 years. Bernie Kopell, who played Dr. Adam Bricker on the show, received a lifetime achievement award in February 2014 to recognize the part he played in cruising success.
When he received the award, he was quick to also give credit to Galvin MacLeod (Captain Merrill Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher), Ted Lange (Isaac the Bartender), Lauren Tewes (Julie the Cruise Director), and the rest of the cast of The Love Boat.
This TV show was by far the most influential event that changed cruising into what it is today.
Freestyle Dining – On May 28, 2000, Norwegian Cruise Line forever changed how cruise passenger dine when they introduced Freestyle Dining on the Norwegian Sky. Passengers no longer had to sit with strangers for dinner and could eat anytime in the evening when they wanted, without the strict dress codes of the past. Norwegian took an idea that Princess introduced and turned it into the bread and butter of their business model. They gave passengers a choice of where to dine with a variety of specialty restaurants for a surcharge.
Freestyle dinning appealed to many who had never cruised due to dinner restrictions. It was such a huge success that nearly all cruise lines now offer some type of “anytime” dining and several specialty restaurants on each ship.
After The Love Boat, Freestyle Dining comes in 2nd for fueling the growth of cruising in the 21st century.
Launching of the Carnival Destiny – Now rebranded as the Carnival Sunshine, the Carnival Destiny ushered in the era of large cruise ships when the ship entered service in 1996. This was the first passenger cruise ship ever built that was over 100,000 gross tons.
Installation of LED Screens on Pool Decks – When Princess Cruises installed the first LED screen on pool deck of the Caribbean Princess in 2004, it was was such a hit that virtually every cruise ship that is now built has a poolside theater. Ships that go into drydock for refurbishments that currently do not have the LED screens will have them added at that time.
The screens are used for movies, live sporting events, early morning news, music videos, and ship announcements. They range from 250 square feet to the largest at sea on the Royal and Regal Princess at 680 square feet.
Launching of the Oasis of the Seas – Royal Caribbean didn’t just build the largest cruise ship in the world when the Oasis of the Seas went into service in 2009, it dwarfed every other passenger ship ever built. At an astounding 225,000 gross tons, the ship can carry over 6,000 passengers and nearly has the same mass as a Nimitz class aircraft carrier.
The Oasis Class ships (Oasis and Allure) gave the term “mega cruise ship” an entirely new meaning. Is bigger better? The Oasis has an 88% approval rating and the Allure 87% on Cruise Critic.
While the size of the Oasis Class ships have been frowned upon by traditionalist cruisers, they remain extremely popular among millenials.