This month, both P&O’s Ventura and Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas will set sail for the first time, sparking a great debate about which of these two immense ships is really the better. With the Ventura claiming to be the largest ship ever built for the UK and Independence of the Seas threatening to be the largest cruise ship in the entire world, let’s take a look at just how closely the two line up.
When you look at the two juggernauts side by side, they don’t look too dissimilar. To give you an idea of just how big Ventura is, it’s over 20m longer than London Bridge. As you can imagine, that’s almost frighteningly big. Yet, if you were to take Independence of the Seas and stand it on its stern, it would be taller than the Chrysler Building in New York. Heck, it would even stand taller than Paris’ Eiffel Tower; it’s quite simply enormous.
Stats aren’t everything, especially when it comes to cruise ships, though it can help to have clout. Looking at how the two match in terms of size and weight, it’s clear that Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas has the slight edge.
|Ventura||Independence of the Seas|
At 160,000 tons, Independence of the Seas weighs more than around 80,000 cars. It makes you wonder how all that can possibly float! Ventura pulls in at a slightly less forceful 115,000 tons, but that’s still pretty impressive. Naturally, it’s not just size that matters, it’s what you do with it. The number of cabins and potential passengers reveal slightly more about the two ships. Ventura’s maximum capacity is around 3,600 passengers, which would end up at a space ratio of something like 35 tons per passenger, when you take the crew into account. This is roughly the same space ratio of tons per passenger as Independence of the Seas, which shows that despite their different sizes and weights, they both use the space similarly.
Onboard each of the ships, things are closer still. There’s very little to choose between the two, besides Venture’s slight advantage on pool numbers and Independence of the Seas’ increase in Jacuzzis (Oh and the lack of a cinema). So what does all this mean? It means that it’s all going to come down to the quality of each room. The dining, the range of drinks, the quality of the cabins, the shows, the decks, the staff and the cleanliness… everything matters. If either of these brutes is going to win this battle, they’ll really need to impress on the inside.
|Ventura||Independence of the Seas|
Which Ship will Please the Foodies?
P&O hope that the Ventura’s fine dining holds the key to the ship. The ship’s signature restaurant, The White Room – crafted by Marco Pierre White, offers Italian cooking at its best. Inspired by the specialist restaurants in Venice and Florence, everything from the décor to the service is assured to be spot on. The rest of the variety of dining areas ranges from the family-orientated Beach House to the reservation-only Bay Tree.
Royal Caribbean aim their Independence of the Seas to be continue to look just as big on the inside as it does on the out. The main dining room is split into three sections named after three of Shakesphere’s plays: Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Othello. With a decent range of other specialist dining, such as the Italian Portofino and the Asian cuisine of Jade, they’ll be plenty to choose from onboard.
Who has the Largest Wine Cellar?
Ventura again turns up the class when it comes to drinking, with the curious Metropolis bar. A 20m floor-to-ceiling plasma screen will effortlessly display your favourite city landscapes as you relax back with a cocktail. The ambitious project captures the skylines of London, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney, taking nearly a year to craft in the process. Elsewhere onboard Ventura, you can indulge with champagne and caviar in Red Bar or join the British bunch in the cosy Exchange, featuring model trains trundling around the bar.
Meanwhile Independence of the Seas offers the signature Schooner Bar with speciality drinks, cosy leather chairs and delightful teak-wood décor. More intimate experiences can be found in the ships vast array of lounges. Vintages wine bar and the Champagne bar are the places to find vintage tipples and Jazz with a cocktail can be found at the Viking Crown.
Leisure and Entertainment
The centrepiece for entertainment on Ventura is the monolithic Arena, located on Deck 7. Seating up to 785 people, the setting promises West End-style shows, cabarets and game shows. Not forgetting the ship’s intriguing ‘Cirque Ventura’, where you can learn all kinds of circus tricks from stilt walking to swinging the trapeze! For fitness and sports, the Ventura will provide five pools; the largest of which will be the Laguna Pool on Deck 15, a beauty salon, a spa, a sports court and gym, which also includes bookable exercise classes.
Independence of the Seas’ Alhambra Theatre will take Broadway as its focal point and provide live musicals, performances and comedy. Elsewhere, Studio B offers professional ice-skating shows and free use of the rink with available instruction for beginners. Along with cookery lessons and wine tasting, there’s a great range to the ship’s entertainment facilities. By way of leisure, you can expect a nine hole miniature golf course, a climbing wall, jogging track, spa and of course the famed FlowRider surf simulator.
Which Would you Cruise on?
Overall, both ships seem to be looking pretty complete. Independence of the Seas has the bigger size and the more options with, such as the climbing wall. Yet, Ventura seems to have gone to considerable effort to produce areas such as the Metropolis bar and The White Room restaurant. Ventura will arrive in Southampton on April 6th, where it will host a variety of launch parties until mid-April when the naming ceremony will be performed by Dame Helen Mirren. Independence of the Seas will arrive in Southampton slightly later on April 25th, their naming ceremony will be on April 30th. They’ve yet to announce the ship’s godmother, but British band Scouting for Girls are set to play onboard. All in all it will be interesting to see this play out and one things for sure – it’s the British cruisers that really win. Never have we had such a great choice of ships on offer. Let battle commence…
Update: Oasis of the Seas to become the world’s largest cruise ship.