The Freedom of the Seas will be a very powerful vacation offering when she enters service next spring, according to Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International. “It is a fantastic product,” he continued. “We are confident it is the right product for the right time.”

Goldstein said that the Freedom-class of ships will give customers even more freedom to enjoy the cruise experience the way they want to. “We are able to let people select activities and entertainment that are most fulfilling to them,” he added.

As an example, Goldstein pointed to the Flow Rider, a device similar to a lap pool, creating waves, except it allows users to surf standing up, or body board. “When we introduced it (in August), the reaction was spontaneous. It was more than applause. People were really enthusiastic. It was something special,” he continued.

"We have retained the features that have been successful on the Voyager class,” Goldstein explained. “Some are identical on the Freedom class, while a number has evolved – some very noticeably. The rock wall, for instance, is much bigger and much more elaborate. The new ships will have also cantilevered hot tubs and hammocks in addition to deck chairs.

“We are focused on innovation and continuous improvement,” Goldstein said.

Step-By-Step

Looking back over the past 35 years of Royal Caribbean’s different classes of ships, there has been a step-by-step evolution. “It would not have been possible to jump from the Song of Norway to the Freedom of the Seas,” Goldstein said. “With our present classes of the ships – the Sovereign, Vision, Voyager and Radiance – we have evolved all our systems.”

The 1,200 crew on the Voyager class, for instance, requires tremendous infrastructure, Goldstein explained, including worldwide crew sourcing, continuous training with dedicated onboard trainers and human-resource specialists, enabling the crew to perform and manage what he called the incredibly diverse guest experience.

“When the Freedom comes out, we will be very tuned to the new ship and how best to operate her. But remember, we have gotten this far with 35 years of experience,” Goldstein said.

Behind the scenes are several efforts that speak to Royal Caribbean’s commitment to product delivery. One of these is – which is "where everything starts," according to Goldstein.  The internal program includes annual visits to each ship by management, where they interact with all crew and managers. Goldstein said that he has never missed a ship visit during his time with Royal Caribbean and can look back upon 117 such exchanges. The program was initiated eight years ago. Without going into further detail, Goldstein instead said: “It helps define our relationship with our people.”

Another internal program – – provides rules and procedures for everything the company does – especially on the water. SQM is ISO 9001 and 14001 certified.

In addition are the so-called , which sets guidelines for how Royal Caribbean delivers the product to the customer.

Royal Caribbean also recently announced that the Adventure of the Seas was selected to receive the company's sixth annual "Environmentally Innovative Ship of the Year Award."

The cruise line cited the Adventure's crew for its achievements in resource conservation and environmental stewardship.

Goldstein said that these efforts allow Royal Caribbean to "programmatically" enable its people to perform. “If we do all these things, we are able to deliver the ‘wow’ factor,” he said. - Oivind Mathisen

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2005