Cruising by Michael Merali

Second Runner-Up - Cruising, by Michael Merali

What follows is a series of 4 individual articles that combine to construct a single paper assignment. The essay was a fragmented approach to messing around with genre conventions (writing for web and other media outlets). Each file represents one article. Finally, the student writer radically revised all 4 articles into a website.


Cruising 1 - Oasis of the Seas Preview

A Web Article for a Cruise Reviews Website – Cruisecritic/Cruisemates
Oasis of the Seas Preview

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas is an architectural marvel. Would we have imagined a 220,000 Gross Registered Ton (GRT), sized ship 5 years ago? No way, but Royal Caribbean International, best known for its innovation and “size matters” mentality has made it a reality, and we’re giving you a first look into the newly completed supership.

Royal Caribbean’s new approach to ship design divides the Oasis into 7 distinct “neighborhoods.” The neighborhoods represent different amenities available to guests and each neighborhood covers a different section of the ship. Various new features as well as some old ones are noticeable throughout. Lets take a look:

Central Park
Central Park is the new centerpiece of the ship. It replaces the previously popular promenade deck, which has been placed underneath this quite realistic rendition of a park at sea. Balconies overlook the park giving cruisers a whole new aspect to the cruising experience; no cruise line has yet to design inward facing balconies.

Youth Zone
Royal Caribbean has kept its signature Adventure Ocean kids program as well as the “Fuel/Living Room” Teen complex. The real difference here is that the teen complex is now separated from the rest of the Adventure Ocean program – a first for Royal Caribbean.

Entertainment Place
Entertainment Place covers the entertainment onboard as its name suggests. From the 5 deck high theatre, to the various comedy clubs, nightclubs, and bars, Oasis of the Seas has got it all covered.

Promenade Deck
The already wildly popular Promenade Deck makes an encore appearance on Oasis of the Seas. Running beneath the length of the Central Park, the Promenade Deck uses the natural light from Central Park as a primary lighting feature during the daytime leaving a more “natural” look. The Promenade also features a variety of new shops and bars including an “elevator” bar that shifts between the Central Park upstairs and the Promenade.

The Boardwalk
The Boardwalk covers the second half of the ship. The Boardwalk was designed to replicate a real boardwalk (a la Coney Island/Atlantic City), and thus includes a lot of amenities that are sure to bring back childhood memories for quite a few people. Featuring a full-scale amphitheatre and a carousel (the first at sea), the Boardwalk also has its own appeal including a breath-taking view off the stern of the ship which remains, similarly to the rest of the ship, open. The Aquatheatre – the first open air amphitheatre at sea – can be found at the far end of the Boardwalk.

Pool and Sports Zone
Royal Caribbean has placed two major pools on Oasis of the Seas, a “sports” pool for water sports, and a normal pool in addition to the specialized pools found in the spa/gym and the adult’s only retreat as well as the performing pool found in the Aquatheatre. The ship also includes a size basketball court, the dual rock-climbing walls, and the dual “flo-riders” [surf simulators].

Architecturally, Oasis of the Seas represents a whole new class of cruise ships, the likes of which the cruising industry has not envisioned until now. The superstructure itself is divided into two distinct wings with the Central Park and Boardwalk dominating the heart of the ship as far down as Deck 6 (out of 18 total decks). Balconies line both sides of the ship, facing both inward to the Central Park/Boardwalk complex, and outward to the ocean.

Oasis of the Seas was designed as a destination unto itself, and the staterooms onboard are no exception. 32 different types of staterooms can be found onboard ranging from interior rooms to dual-level loft suites to inward facing balconies – the latter two being firsts at sea.

Oasis of the Seas is a marvel unto herself that redefines the cruise industry as we know it. No ship can truly be named a destination unto itself like Oasis. With Oasis, guests will have the ability to experience a cruise vacation like no other.

Oasis of the Seas sails its inaugural voyage and subsequent voyages from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, beginning December 2009. More information is available at


Cruising 2 - How Big is too Big? Has Royal Caribbean Overdone It?

How Big is too Big? Has Royal Caribbean Overdone It?

I recently found out that Royal Caribbean International (Royal Caribbean) will announce a new class of ships sometime during the inaugural sailing of Oasis of the Seas. I took quite an interest to this, because, with Royal Caribbean, size does matter. This is also quite a cause for concern to the industry as well because not only does a bigger ship mean that Royal Caribbean expects more people to sail, it expects more people on its ships. In making that kind of assumption, Royal Caribbean has “broken” the cruise market.


Ship Name Total Maximum Capacity
Monarch 2744
Majesty 2744
Vision 2435
Rhapsody 2435
Enchantment 2446
Grandeur 2446
Splendour 2076
Legend 2076
Serenade 2490
Radiance 2501
Brilliance 2501
Jewel 2501
Mariner 3114
Navigator 3114
Explorer 3114
Adventure 3114
Voyager 3138
Freedom 4370
Liberty 4370
Independence 4370
Oasis 5400
Allure 5400
New Ship (2016) 5400
Total Overall per Sailing Week
(Potential v. Actual)
74,299(Max Potential)
54,897(2016 - Actual)


Royal Caribbean, for several years now, has taken to building bigger and more innovative ships (as opposed to the rest of the industry whose ships have been innovative, but relative in size to available market size). Because Royal Caribbean has built up their fleet with bigger and bigger ships (and has not had any smaller ships that are competitive to Carnival’s dominant Fantasy Class), they have increased their maximum potential capacity astronomically relative to a shrinking market. To put this in perspective, I’ve put Royal Caribbean’s fleet in a chart with maximum capacity (per ship). Just a small side note, all Royal Caribbean’s ships end with “of the Seas” so I have omitted it.

Taking a look at these numbers, we also need to consider several basic factors. Primarily, the state of the economy, the competition, Royal Caribbean’s expected plan of expansion, price per person, and current payload factors.

Royal Caribbean intends to retire all ships less than 90,000 GRT (shown in red on the table), by 2015. This reduces weekly capacity to 54,897 (also in red on the table), however, we also need to assume that these ships are being replaced by larger, higher capacity ships. Jewel, Radiance, Brilliance, and Serenade will continue to operate on a different class market. For all intents and purposes we’ll call this the “exotic” market – this market includes the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii, Alaska, S. America, and some of the more interesting European itineraries. This exotic market is already decently successful within the operating capacity of the ships. Looking at the remaining candidates, the only viable replacements within the fleet are the ships with a capacity upwards of 3,000 guests.

Cruise ship profit is highly dependent on a combination of total guests over ship capacity as well as up-front payment. In order to better understand how cruise ship profit is determined, we need to understand the concept of the cruise itself. Guests pay a price to get on the ship, once on the ship, there is a large variety of ways to spend money; anywhere from the casino to the bars to the shore excursions. It is through these smaller incomes that cruise lines typically derive a large percentage of their profit. However, in order to make profit on these smaller purchases, the ships need to be filled to a certain capacity. If a cruise line feels that they cannot fill ships, the line can opt to raise the initial price to cover the lost profit from the empty rooms. Royal Caribbean has not been filling its ships; instead, they have chosen the alternative of raising prices.


Cruise Price
Carnival Cruise Lines
Western Caribbean
March 13 – 20, 2010
Carnival Liberty
(Not including taxes and fees, interior room)
Royal Caribbean
Western Caribbean
March 14 – 21, 2010
Liberty of the Seas
(Not including taxes and fees, interior room)
Difference $540/pp


The effect of raising the prices over time is clear. By increasing capacity (as they are projected to do), Royal Caribbean has created capacity where there is no demand; more empty rooms means they have to raise prices even higher. The current state of the economy has left the cruising industry with fewer cruisers than usual – while people are hesitant to give up leisurely activities in a recession, the average person simply cannot afford the price-tag of $200+ per person (plus taxes, fees, et al). Comparing dollar to dollar, the price of a Royal Caribbean cruise, on average is over $200 more per person than any other line.

For example, if you compare the price of a Royal Caribbean cruise for the average cruiser in March from the weekend of March 13/14 to March 20/21 of 2010 going to the same ports leaving from Miami, you can see a gigantic $549 per person difference. Both ships are relatively new in that they were both built in the last 5 years. The difference comes down to the fact that Royal Caribbean cannot expect to fill 4370 berths while Carnival can expect to fill their lesser 2974 berths and still make extra profit from the purchases made onboard. Because of the foundering economy, naturally, people are looking for a “bang for their buck” so of course, they’ll be sailing Carnival. The difference between the two is enough to go out for a second week on Carnival and still have saved money.

By increasing available capacity, as well as raising prices in a failing economy, Royal Caribbean, is in danger of failing entirely, particularly if they continue to build bigger ships. Carnival (as a competitor and reference point) has a far wider scope of ships ranging from 70,000 to 136,000 GRT with more conservative expansion plans. The versatility of Carnival’s fleet allows for operation out of various markets without adversely affecting its profit margins.

Ultimately, the introduction of superliners like Oasis of the Seas in the current economy with consideration to competition and given that since 2004, the US cruising market has strongly declined from a 13.8% growth rate to a -2.5% growth rate in 2008 (Cruise Lines International Association, 2009), it is safe to assume that Royal Caribbean is very much overstepping the boundaries of the industry, by creating capacity for cruisers who simply do not exist. To put this into perspective, we can look at the total number of worldwide cruisers in 2008 (13.05 million), and by taking Royal Caribbean’s expected 2016 capacity and multiplying by 52 weeks, we estimate that Royal Caribbean expects to control 2.86 million of this total (we assume that there will be no growth in the next 6 years as the market recovers). Statistically, that’s nearly 25% of the total market. However, accounting for higher prices from Royal Caribbean there is no possible way for Royal Caribbean to successfully control that large a market share with a continued declining total market share in the US of -1.7% (Cruise Lines International Association, 2009).

It would be a tragedy to see any one of the cruise companies fail, but unless action is taken to rectify the “bigger is better” mentality, Royal Caribbean is going to be in for some rough seas.

Figure 1: Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas © 2009 Michael Merali [NOT SHOWN]

Works Cited
Cruise Lines International Association. (2009). The Contribution of the North American Cruise Industry to the U.S. Economy in 2008. Exton: Business Research & Economic Advisors.


Cruising 3 - A Magazine Article – AAA Magazine/Travel + Leisure

A Magazine Article – AAA Magazine/Travel + Leisure
Why Should We Cruise?

The cruise industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with billions of passengers on a yearly basis choosing to take their vacations on a ship. However, with the sting of the current recession still fresh, more and more people are asking, “Why should we cruise?”

Cruising is a great way to really “get out there” and see multiple places in one shot. Kind of like a tester plate of appetizers at a restaurant; while the stops are only for a few hours, you do get to experience a taste of the particular destination. The 8 or so hours on shore are enough time to check out the beaches, culture, and various shopping destinations.

Not only are there a variety of destinations to choose from, but there are also a variety of ships to choose from as well; the ships themselves have almost become destinations. Gone are the days where sailing on a ship meant seasickness and crowded spaces with little or no activities onboard; today’s ships feature everything from surfing to rock-climbing to a spa, to an onboard casino. With all those features within a short walk of your cabin, it’s hard not to consider it a condensed resort. On top of it all, the top priority of customer service is to ensure your relaxation, so, you can almost guarantee that you’ll be spending most of your time worry free.

In terms of pricing, cruising is competitive. Considering the average price of a cruise to be around $500 USD, one can pretty much consider cruising to be quite the “bang for your buck”; meals are paid for “x” amount of nights, travel roundtrip from your port of embarkation to a variety of destinations, entertainment onboard, a place to sleep, various ship-wide events and competitions, and facilities usage are all covered by the initial fare. Keep in mind though, that there are associated costs, like getting around on the islands, drinks, casino/game-room usage, and shore excursions. Some of the specialty restaurants onboard also charge for meals, but the main dining areas are always included in your fare.
Cruising is a great way to explore the world, get out on the ocean and experience a truly diverse vacation without breaking the bank. A cruise vacation is really unlike any land vacation in the sense that it takes you to a variety of places while still keeping your ultimate comfort in mind.


Cruising 4 - A Newspaper Article – Travel Section, New York Times/USA Today

A Newspaper Article – Travel Section, New York Times/USA Today
AP Press

Carnival Cruise Lines Takes Delivery of New Ship, Carnival Dream

Monfalcone, Italy – Carnival Cruise Lines, a subsidy of Carnival Corporation and plc (NYSE: CCL, LSE: CCL), took delivery of its much-anticipated new cruise liner, the Carnival Dream, earlier today during a ceremony held at the Fincantieri shipyard where she was built.

After delivery, the Dream will complete a series of Mediterranean cruises followed by a repositioning cruise to Port Canaveral where she will sail year-round alternating 7-day itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

Weighing in at 130,000 Gross Registered Tons (GRT), the Dream represents the largest class of ship ever operated by the cruise line, and features a large number of improvements over previous classes of ships. From the largest onboard spa in the entire fleet, to the longest waterslide at sea (as a part of the Waterworks aqua park), the Dream represents several years of innovation, and consideration of guest opinions according to Carnival CEO, Gary Cahill.

For more information on Carnival Cruise Lines and the Carnival Dream visit


Cruising - Radical Revision

Please follow the link to view Radical Revision:
Cruise Blog


Cruising - Process Memo

Process Memo Paper 2

I chose to write about cruising because I feel I can relate most easily to it and therefore am able to write a lot about it without as much effort as a topic I’m not as passionate about. The series of three articles includes one magazine piece, one web article, and one press release.

The first piece – the web article – was an interest piece. A lot of people find interest in a new ship, and thus I had a topic. I started with a simple introduction, then proceeded to get down to the facts that I thought most people would be interested in – the new features. Of course, this led to a division in the paper into 7 sub-paragraphs. First draft, I thought, was quite good, but on second reading, I realized that some of the language was awkward. Between first and second I made changes in verb usage as well as the language I mentioned in order to keep the flow of the paper stable. Second draft to final draft was more grammatical changes (minor) and the decision to single space the piece because it would over space the sub-paragraphs if double-spaced. I didn’t see anything that required major changes other than addition of new information.

The second piece – the press release – was done based on research on corporate press releases, and I simply picked an event that had occurred relatively recently. Again, it was an easy write, and I didn’t really see any issues with the piece other than minor grammatical changes and flow.

The third piece – the magazine article for AAA/a travel magazine – I replaced from my initial draft with a longer piece more focused on the future of the cruising industry. While I liked the first draft, I was more passionate about the piece that replaced it, even though adding it meant increasing the total number of pages to around 12. I feel that the new piece is a lot more of a researched and well-developed piece than was the lesser article that preceded it. Initially, I had written this piece for the assignment, but had removed it before the first draft because of the length constriction. Now I realize that it fits a lot better with the paper overall. In terms of moving between drafts on this piece, it mainly consisted of statistical research, and once again, fluidity of the piece itself. Having visuals to assist with the presentation of information in the paper, I feel, is also beneficial to the reader because I’m not just throwing numbers at them anymore, but rather I am allowing them to see the numbers in an organized fashion.