If you ever thought about owning your own cruise ship, Cruise Ship Manager is the simulator you want. You will take your cruise ship across the sea, giving passengers the best experience possible. As you reach new destinations, you upgrade your cruise ship and unlock new facilities to entertain passengers. With enough voyages under your belt, you will be known for having the best cruises in the world.
You must construct the rooms aboard your cruise ship and ensure that you have enough crew to staff them. Your cruise ship’s reputation is built on successful voyages where everyone is happy. While it’s a tough balancing act at first, you will manage to make successful voyages and build your reputation. Unfortunately, most of your time will be spent grinding to get more reputation. Upgrades are also dependent on location, meaning you must hope your new destination has the upgrades you want. As good as the simulation experience is, the repetition quickly leads to boredom and it interferes with your enjoyment.
Cruise Ship Manager is currently on PC for USD 9.99.
Story – Having the Best Cruise Line
Your beginning is similar to Full Metal Sergeant as you only have one cruise ship which is empty. You must fill the ship with rooms and staff it with a crew before you set sail. The ship’s options are limited by your lack of reputation and ship size. As you gain more reputation, you gain access to more upgrades and locations.
As with all management simulators, there’s only one goal which is to be the best cruise line. It’s nothing special and you have no internal motive for doing so. You are shaping a cruise line from the ground up and building its reputation to charge high prices for the tickets. There’s no dream or campaign that you go on to achieve your goals. It’s just sailing from one destination to another, providing the best experience for your guests.
It might be boring to make your way to the top with no motivation other than money, but that’s true of most management simulators. There’s no secret story or overarching goal, as you are just making money as all cruise lines do. The bulk of the game lies in the gameplay, which will take all of your time.
Gameplay – Managing Your Cruise Ship
Your cruise ship is where you spend the majority of your time, just like the rooms in Rogue AI Simulator. Building rooms and ensuring they properly fit while maximising profit is important. You must hire crew members to run those rooms and maintain the ship itself. Happiness is the key metric of success and you must satisfy passengers by providing the best service.
What makes the gameplay stand out are the constant ship management and port upgrades. Unlike some simulators, you can’t rest once the ship sets sail. Problems will occur on the ship, such as fires breaking out or messes being made. If you don’t address those problems with crew members, they result in massive unhappiness hits. You must also manage the ship’s fuel and supplies, which can spell problems for your voyage and happiness respectively.
Journey lengths are not set in stone and depend on the destination you sail to. The farther the destination is, the longer the voyage and the more fuel you require. Longer voyages mean more chances that something goes wrong, and more supplies to feed passengers. Going on autopilot isn’t recommended since it could cost you your entire investment. The constant management is a double-edged sword for Cruise Ship Manager.
Management – Takes Up Your Attention
You must pay attention to your ship at all times. Beds must get regular cleaning and repairs or they will make passengers unhappy. Messes and fires occur without warning, forcing you to get crew members to solve the problem. Staff will tire in their roles and must switch with other crew to get some rest.
This forces players to pay attention to their supplies and crew levels before setting off. If they don’t have enough supplies, they must cut back on the quality of food and drink. With several rooms requiring crew members, there must be enough spares to replace them and attend to problems. It’s a lot of micromanaging that makes a player focus and stops them from taking their eyes off the cruise ship.
The intense management comes at a cost, because you spend a lot of effort on a single trip. It is tiring to constantly keep an eye on your cruise ship, then realise you must continue this effort for several voyages. While it’s fun to do for a few trips, the monotony wears on you slowly. Eventually, you start feeling the effort you put in every trip isn’t worth it.
It’s made worse by the fact that you can’t queue orders for your crew. You must keep an eye out for crew statuses with bubbles over their heads. Crew can only take on one order at a time and are prone to forgetting multiple orders. This means you must manage one crew member at a time and slow down other operations as a result. It’s slow and inefficient, forcing you to pay constant attention.
It would be easier if you could queue commands or automate some parts of the process. But because you are paying attention all the time, it’s draining and gradually takes out the fun.
Audio & Visuals – Some Unclear Graphics
The audio of Cruise Ship Manager sounds nice as it is mostly ambient sounds. Docking at a port and listening to general music or sailing at sea is easy to miss. The sounds never interfere with your work because it’s in the background. It’s almost soothing at times and makes you feel like you are a traveller.
The graphics run into some unfortunate problems which are notable when crises happen. Bubbles appearing over a customer’s head indicates a problem, and for your crew it means they are getting tired. It’s hard to tell who these bubbles belong to because they blend in with the background. Unless you are zooming in and only seeing one bubble, you are likely at the wrong angle to be certain. It’s also hard to see problems occurring because they often appear behind walls.
If you turn on indicators, it does make things easier but it does require heavier graphical performance. This slows down your game, sometimes significantly, making the game harder to play. It’s a painful tradeoff that won’t make the game unplayable, but will certainly make you feel less inclined to continue.
Cruise Ship Manager was previewed on Steam with a code provided by PlayWay.