could PASSENGER(not 'cruise') ships ever become viable again, VS airlines?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Squidly-Diddly, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I was reading about Chinese in CONEX boxes and it got me thinking.:idea:

    Could it ever be cheaper to travel in a large fast ship with minimal accommodations than to fly?

    Would there be a market for ANYTHING cheaper than airlines for very price sensitive travelers? I think so.

    How about outfitting that semi-derelict SS United States like a WW2 troop ship for NYC, USA to Brest, France for student priced tourist run? From Wiki "Her construction was partially subsidized by the U.S. government, since she was designed to allow conversion to a troop carrier should the need have arisen.[9]"

    In exchange, the ship was designed to be easily converted in times of war to a troopship with a capacity of 15,000 troops, or a hospital ship.[10]"


    Only prob I'd see would be adding enough lifeboats for the 10,000 or more passengers. I'm assuming "troop ship" wouldn't have same lifeboat regs as legal passenger ship.

    Anybody got the numbers on fuel costs VS airline?


    Might also be attractive option for those traveling with lots of luggage and not wanting to get separated from it.
     
  2. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Simply supply and demand SD?

    If the public will buy it, for whatever reason (sorry, my crystal ball isn't working right now) then it will "fly".

    Only time will tell.
     
  3. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Unless the cost of fuel increases dramatically, like $50/gallon, I really doubt it. While ships are more efficient in terms of the cost/mile/pound, to take people say across the Atlantic, the ship also has to carry huge stores of food, living accommodations, refuse capacity, ect. I haven't run the numbers, but I would bet that when it is all added together the cost per passanger across the ocean is not that much less than the cost of air transportation. And it would add massively to the travel time.

    Even people who place relatively little value on their time do place some, and I doubt the numbers would work. It might be interesting to see actual costs though.
     
  4. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    I got interested so started looking at some numbers... I think the important one is cost round trip per passenger, so let's look at the numbers...

    The SS United States average crossing was right at four days. Assuming a budget of $10/passenger/day in food cost (the bottom of the cruise lines) the trip will cost roughly $40 each way in food.

    The ship burns 900 tonnes of bunker fuel a day at roughly $900/tonn. So figure $810,000/day *4 days=$3,240,000 each way. Divided by 15,000 passengers that's $216 per passenger.

    I have no idea what the other costs are to operate a ship this size, so let's ignore all other costs there may be.


    Currently a round trip flight from New York to London is just under $900 round trip (including airline profit and all fees) our cruise would cost $516 round trip, figure at least a 10% profit margin and that cost jumps to $561. Or a $339 savings versus flying.

    To save that $340 we give up 8 days of travel time. All of which will be spent sleeping in a 3x7 bed with no privacy, sharing a head with 40 other people, have no entertainment, eat terrible food, have nothing to drink (alcoholic), sleep with our luggage, and deal with the possibility of sea sickness, bad weather, ect.

    I just don't see it happening. But since in both cases the primary cost is fuel, but a ship is much more efficient at transport than an airplane, if fuel costs were to get high enough I guess it is possible. At what point that would be though I haven't idea.

    Just for comparison sake, Cunard sells a 7 day transatlantic crossing currently for $1200/person.
     
  5. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    thx for those numbers, where did you get fuel/day for the ship?

    I guess it wouldn't be too viable, but still doable. I was wondering if pushing all that water would cost more than pushing that thin air.

    I guess it wouldn't be popular unless fuel got really bad, or "airport security" gets worse.

    Maybe another volcanic ash eruption becomes an ongoing problem it would be an option.

    Or maybe on "one long day" trips because if you keep it to 'one long day' that cuts out sleeping/bathing quarters, etc.

    Maybe various Western Pacific South East Asia routes could support 15,000+ passengers willing to 'rough it' to save a few beans. Oz to Philippines, Viet Nam to Philippines, Japan to China etc.
     
  6. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    Try the Chicago to Paris route and see how that compares.
     
  7. ldigas
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    ldigas Senior Member

    I'm not sure about the option of travelling cheaper (and based on just the few answers here, something tells me there is not much point going in that direction), but would be interested in knowing whether there is market potential for travelling slower and more comfortable than by air-travel.

    Maybe there are still ladies & gents out there who don't care whether they get to their destination in 16 hours or 4 days, but who wish to travel in comfort (that the airlines cannot provide), don't wish to be separated from their pets maybe, or their luggage, and perhaps enjoy the sea more than they enjoy the clouds, so to say. And they don't really wish to travel with another 3000 people in a large cruiser :-/

    Does anyone else in here finds that kind of travel appealing?
     
  8. J Feenstra
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    J Feenstra Junior Member

    I might find it apealing, but as you stated; the speed of airlines are unmatched at the moment, so if they can create a vessel capable of fast transit, it might work.
    Of course you have to consider the new infrastructure surrounding this new form of traveling.
     
  9. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    Well maybe.--at least no baggage allowance and toilets bigger than a shoe box. But I got to have some decent accommodation.

    If its crap accommodation like sharing --no bloody way. its no better than being stuffed into a tube for the shortest possible time.

    I fly business. ok 3 times the price but 10 times better.
     
  10. ldigas
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    ldigas Senior Member

    No, I didn't ment to travel fast. Just the opposite - travel slow. Passengers can take all the baggage they need, pets included, socialize with 50-100 other passengers (20-50 on more luxurious vessels) during the trip, or just stay and enjoy the trip in silence.

    Of course, it would be more expensive than flying but the way these business class tickets are rising, I'm not sure it wouldn't be a viable alternative for some. Also, some people don't really care whether they get from NY to France in 12 hours or in 4-6 days.
     
  11. J Feenstra
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    J Feenstra Junior Member

    aha, thats called cruising, and that allready exists... allthought not from city to city...
     
  12. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Also needed in a cost comparison is amortizing per passenger trip fixed costs such as vessel/aircraft aquisition, maintenance and crew. For longer distance trips an aircraft can make many more trips in the same time it takes a boat/ship to make one which reduces costs per passenger trip even if costs per hour are higher.

    For short trips the effect of turnaround times reduces the advantage of the higher speed form of transportation.
     
  13. mydauphin
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    Remember you have feed passengers for that week of travel. I see passenger travel by boat only for short trips like ferries. Airplanes are actually very inexpensive to fly per mile, cheaper than driving. Problem is all the associate costs, like security etc. Consider the ease of the plane landing in any city verses docking an disembarking a large ship.

    Consider that ships get cheaper by economy of scale, and why it doesn't work. Very rarely do 4,000 people want to go to the same place at the same time. May be we will have 1000 passenger planes in future, but only from NY to London or Paris.
     
  14. DStaal
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    DStaal Junior Member

    A better price to work with would probably be the $5,000 first-class ticket or $1,500 business class prices for a one-way from New York to London. (Based on a quick check of British Air.) You'd be competing on amenities and travel experience, not speed, so it's a closer equivalence.

    Which then leads to a quick search finding Cunard Line cruises that are New York to Southhampton for $1,600 with a balcony stateroom. So it's within economic range, if only barely.
     

  15. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Idigas,

    The Cunard line has that now. The QE2 does regular transatlantic runs at about $2,400 round trip. Sevens days across the Atlantic and seven back. I am sure it is profitable, but very low numbers compared to the number of people that travel by air.

    And the really rich who might be swayed by such a trip, and completely insensitive to cost are probably flying private anyway. I think long distance passenger ships are just a thing of the past. It is much faster, and not a whole lot more expensive to move by air than plane, so other than the few of us who just love being out of site of land, why do it.
     
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