INSPIRED BY SHIPS
A conversation with ocean liner historian,
author and lecturer, Bill Miller
by Richard H. Wagner
Passenger Ships Today and Tomorrow
In addition to his knowledge of the history of ocean liners, Mr. Miller has a
unique expertise on today's cruise industry by virtue of all the time that he
spends on ships.
He has a deep affection for the more traditional ships, especially
those that do transatlantic crossings like Queen Mary 2. "It is always a
thrill to be on Cunard because they are so rich in history - - 171 years. To
be on the Queen Mary 2 is always a thrill because it is that electric sense
of purpose of going from A to B. It is different than a cruise. There is a
different feel among the passengers than there are on ordinary voyages."
However, he can also speak with enthusiasm about today's modern
cruise ships such as Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the
Seas. "It is an experience. It works so well - - the service was so good, the
food was wonderful and the entertainment is beyond description. I was
aboard in 20 minutes. I was off the ship on the final day in 25 minutes with
my bags at the curb. And we had 6,109 passengers onboard."
"You book your shows online before you board. This way you gain
entrance to your shows, you don't have to wait for the theater to open up.
You have a seat. It really is a magical week of entertainment and being
looked after and cared for."
"The incredible ingredient was how the crew members seemed to
remember you from day to day. There are a lot of faces coming by with
6,109 people. But they seem to remember you They take a kind of
personal interest in you. That is to the credit of the company that runs
those ships, very well done."
"Of course the magic of strolling Central Park between the two tiers
of decks as if you were in a real city park - - the sound of cackling birds,
waterfalls and things like that. It is fantastic, just fantastic."
So what does he see as the future for passenger ships? "Passenger
ships will continue as cruise ships. I do not say that they are going to get
bigger than the Allure and the Oasis of the Seas. No one has anything
planned and Carnival Corporation said they are not going to compete. But I
do see more ships coming. What you will continue to see is a generation
of 100,000 to 150,000 tons."
"There are 24 new cruise ships being built at the moment or at least
on order. That is an encouraging sign in this economic climate when
business is low. Oddly enough, Muamar Quadaffi's government was
building two mega-cruise ships. The shipyard has had to re-claim them and
they are going to have to sell them now. They were not completed. It is
only basic steel. They'll find homes, somebody will want them".
"The big problem from a marketing point of view is that as you
develop new ships, your older ones fall out of step and they become dated.
A 10 year old ship now seems like a 20 year old ship because of the
strides in the development, the raz-ma-taz, the wow factor in the design and
the entertainment [on the new ships]." Thus, when a new ship enters a
fleet, it becomes more difficult to sell cruises on the line's pre-existing
Consequently, the pre-existing ships "have to be more seriously
discounted or moved to secondary markets and so forth." Alternatively,
they can be re-vitalized so that they have the features of their newer
fleetmates. For example, at Royal Caribbean, ships "are now getting Allure
and Oasis amenities so they [can] keep in synch with those two big ships."
Despite such problems, Mr. Miller remains optimistic about the future
of cruising. "Only 15 percent of the American travel public have ever
taken a voyage. There is tremendous potential. It is the best vacation
value on earth. Now with a certain amount of discounting because of the
economy, more people are getting to try cruising and getting hooked. It is
like having one peanut, you want to have more."
Bill Miller before a lecture on Cunard's
Queen Mary 2
|Its all about ships
Above: Queen Mary 2 - - voyages
with "an electric sense of purpose."
Allure of the Seas - - "a magical week
of entertainment and being looked
after and cared for."
Cruise interview - - Bill Miller - - "Inspired By Ships" - - page 2