The 1990s saw a frenzy of new builds that featured bigger and more innovative ships. Innovations such as HI-FOG fire suppression systems, GPS, Voyage Data Recorders and Azipod propulsion were introduced. Cool new features such as ice skating rinks, rock walls, weddings at sea, and internet cafes were also emerging.
That decade and the next decade saw new cruise lines formed while some existing cruise lines merged. Unfortunately, September 11, 2001 brought a slow down to travel and the end to a few cruise lines. Luckily, the majority of the cruise industry was resilient and grew stronger. Regulatory and policy development continued to promote a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment.
Amendments were made to SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW95 in an effort to introduce new safety measures, pollution control, and better training standards. The first decade of the millennium also brought wireless internet, bowling alleys, shore-power to cruise ships, female captains and millions of dollars spent on ship upgrades. Here are the details.
Princess Cruises’ Captain’s Circle is introduced, one of the first cruise line loyalty programs.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norway undergoes a $40 million expansion that adds two upper decks to her superstructure which equates to more than 100 more cabins and suites with verandas. The Norway becomes the largest cruise ship afloat again.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Fantasy enters the market. It is the first of eight Fantasy-class ships.
Celebrity Cruises sails its first cruise with the rebuilt SS Meridian, a ship originally built in 1963. During that year the Horizon enters service and Celebrity Cruises orders a sister to Horizon to be delivered in 1992 as the Zenith.
MSC Cruises is founded by its parent company, Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Crystal Cruises launches their first ship, Crystal Harmony. On its maiden voyage in the Caribbean, it catches fire as water enters her engines and she drifts afloat for three days.
First HI-FOG water mist sprinkler system for fire suppression is launched for use on passenger ships.
Royal Caribbean International launches Monarch of the Seas. Although smaller than the Norway in size at less than 74,000 tons, it has the largest passenger capacity at 2,744.
Princess Cruises launches their new private destination on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. They rename their private destination, Princess Cays.
The QE2 runs aground in August on route to New York. Although there was damage to the hull of the ship, no one was injured.
The amendments on the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) enter into force. Search and rescue (SAR) authorities ashore as well as ships within the vicinity of a ship in distress will be alerted to a distress incident so immediate action can follow. The system also provides meteorological warnings to ships.
Royal Caribbean formalizes their “Save the Waves” program focusing on reducing, reusing and recycling.
Genting Hong Kong is incorporated operating its fleet under Star Cruises.
Royal Caribbean goes public trading on the New York stock exchange as RCL.
Carnival changes its name to Carnival Corporation to distinguish itself from their Carnival Cruise Lines brand.
Orient Lines is founded. They rebuild the Alexandr Pushkin and reintroduce their ship as Marco Polo.
In October, Disney ends their partnership with Premier Cruise Lines. By March 1994 Disney characters will not be on the Premier vessels any more.
By December, the Global Positioning System (GPS) has a constellation of 24 satellites. This allows a navigational fix for a ship’s position to be taken 24/7.
In September, cruise ferry, Estonia sinks in the Baltic Sea. The Estonia was crossing from Estonia to Stockholm in rough weather and with poor cargo distribution. The bow door opened, flooding the vehicle deck, capsizing and sinking with 852 passengers and crew.
NCL sends their first ship to Alaska. During that time their “Dive-In” snorkelling program is introduced in Ketchikan, Alaska.
By 1994, Steiner operates 50 salons and spas on cruise ships. They acquire Coiffeur Transocean Limited and become Steiner Transocean Limited, operating over one hundred spas at sea.
New fire safety standards (amendments to SOLAS) are phased in between 1994 and 2000, applying to existing ships as well as new ships. The safety measures include mandatory requirements for fire and smoke detection, general emergency alarm systems, sprinkler systems, emergency lighting and public address systems.
Sun Princess joins the Princess Cruises fleet as the largest cruise ship in the world at over 77,000 tons.
“Guidelines for Care of Cruise Ship Medical Facilities” is approved by American College of Emergency Physician (ACEP) Board of Directors.
International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1995 (STCW95) represents a major revision and replacement to the 1978 convention. As a result of the Estonia accident of 1994, amendments include specific training requirements for crew on passenger ships, such as training in emergency evacuation and training in crowd and crisis management. STCW95 would enter into force in 1997.
Carnival Cruise Lines debuts the first passenger vessel to exceed 100,000 tons. The 101,353-ton Carnival Destiny is the world’s largest cruise ship at the time and can carry 2,642 passengers.
Royal Caribbean signs a deal to build two 130,000 ton ships. These ships would be the largest cruise ships ever built.
MARPOL 1996 Protocol is adopted and will enter force in 2006. Instead of stating which materials a ship may dump, the Protocol prohibits all dumping, except for acceptable wastes on a permitted list (requiring a permit).
Royal Caribbean becomes the first cruise line to employ an environmental officer on each of their ships.
In December, Holland America purchases the uninhabited 2,400-acre island of Little San Salvador, Bahamas for $6 million. They rename their private island, Half Moon Cay.
Norwegian Cruise Line is the first cruise line to launch a website.
Carnival Corporation acquires 50% of Costa Cruises.
Royal Caribbean merges with Celebrity Cruises. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line changes its brand name to Royal Caribbean International to reflect its international operations as well as distinguish itself from the parent company.
Windstar Cruises purchases Club Med I and renames it Windsurf.
Royal Caribbean announces that it will equip all its new Voyager class ships with the Azipod propulsion system, a technology that eliminates the need for rudders and stern thrusters.
The Grand Princess joins the Princess Cruises fleet as the world’s largest ship at 109,000 tons. It is also the first ship to feature an on board wedding chapel to offer weddings at sea.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Paradise enters service as the industry’s first non-smoking ship.
Carnival Corporation acquires Cunard Line.
NCL acquires Orient Lines. During this year they also reintroduce the Dreamward and Windward after they are stretched. The ships are renamed Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Wind respectively.
In July, Disney Cruise Line launches Disney Magic.
Royal Caribbean is fined $18 million because its ships were caught repeatedly illegally dumping waste.
In July, Carnival Ecstasy departs Miami and a fire starts in the main laundry room. The fire travels through the ventilation system and spreads to the aft mooring station, igniting the mooring lines. There were only minor injuries.
NCL’s Norwegian Sky enters service and becomes first cruise ship to offer an internet café and Freestyle Cruising. On Norwegian Sky’s maiden voyage in the St. Lawrence Seaway it runs aground, requiring the assistance of the Canada Coast Guard. The ship proceeds to Quebec City for repairs. Earlier in the year, Norwegian Dream collides with cargo vessel in the English Channel.
Voyager of the Seas enters service as the biggest cruise ship in the industry at 138,000 tons. It features a rock wall, an ice skating rink and a golf simulator.
NCL’s Norway experiences an engine room fire while docking in Barcelona, Spain. She is taken out of service for a few weeks to make repairs.
Carnival Corporation assumes full ownership of Seabourn Cruise Line and Cunard Line.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Triumph is launched. It is 101,509 tons and 893 feet. It breaks a capacity record with 3,413 passengers on August 22nd.
Holland America’s Rotterdam (62,000 GRT) makes HAL’s first ever visit to Antarctica.
Genting Hong Kong (formerly Star Cruises) acquires Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and becomes the third largest cruise company in the world. As a result, NCL embarks on an expansion programme that involves new ships, on-board product enhancements, Freestyle Cruising, and innovative itineraries.
Costa Cruises becomes 100% owned by Carnival.
Starboard Cruise Services, Inc. is officially established as a retailer for cruise ships’ on board boutiques.
The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) initiates to amend SOLAS by reviewing passenger ship safety with the aim of assessing whether the current regulations are adequate, in particular for the large passenger ships now being built. It would be adopted in 2006.
The International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) is adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in order to provide international standards for the fire safety systems and equipment on passenger ships.
Celebrity Cruises launches Millennium. It features the industry’s first application of gas turbine engines, which reduce exhaust emissions.
Steiner acquires Mandara Spas, a resort spa group with nearly 50 resort spas in Asia and throughout the United States.
In Juneau, Alaska, Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess becomes the first cruise ship to be operated by shore power alone.
On September 11th, terrorists hijack passenger airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
Princess Cruises converts more ships to use shore power while in Juneau, Alaska.
Norwegian Cruise Line is the first in the industry to provide remote wireless Internet access to guests fleet-wide.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires that all new ships over 3,000 GRT on international voyages carry voyage data recorders (aka: VDR).
Carnival Cruise Lines introduces three new ships this year, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Legend, and Carnival Pride.
Shipyard fire damages Diamond Princess while it is under construction.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) is developed. It is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities.
Royal Caribbean adds rock walls to all the ships in their fleet.
Oceania Cruises is formed as an upper premium cruise line. The Regatta is introduced.
In November, Holland America Line announces a $225-million Signature of Excellence initiative.
Product and service enhancements to its fleet include such amenities as plush Euro-top mattresses, a Culinary Arts Center and Explorations Cafe.
The MARPOL Annex regarding the Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships enters into force. It contains requirements to control pollution of the sea by prohibiting the discharge of sewage into the sea with specified exceptions.
The merger between P&O Princess Cruises and Carnival Corporation is finalized, making Carnival Corporation one of the world’s largest cruise companies.
Outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) disrupts cruise schedules. The cruise industry institutes screening and control protocols including pre-embarkation screening, isolation of ill people, infection control, and antiviral treatment of ill people and contacts.
Norwegian Cruise Line announces that their new brand, NCL America will start operations in 2004. NCL purchases SS United States to restore it for the new brand. (They change their mind about the conversion once they do the math. They eventually sell the SS United States in 2011.)
NCL’s Norway suffers a boiler explosion on May 25th. Although no passengers are injured, 8 crew members are killed. After this incident, the Norway would never cruise again with passengers.
Celebrity Cruises introduces Acupuncture at Sea on select cruises.
Norwegian Cruise Line renovates their Norwegian Sky and renames it Pride of Aloha. It is re-flagged as a US registered ship to cruise under their new brand NCL America. It’s all US-crewed ship operates in Hawaii incompliance to the Passenger Vessel Services Act.