Introducing two more “neighborhoods” of the Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International continues to raise the bar for the industry with the first of its two new 220,000-ton ships slated to enter service in December 2009. The second ship, the Allure of the Seas, follows in 2010.
Said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of the parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises: “We have listened to our guests. They love the many choices of activities that bigger ships offer. So when we look to expand the market, people tell us they want choices. Nothing will have as much as this one ship.
“We are satisfying the demand for what people want. As we do that, the satisfaction ratings go up and our prices rise as people are willing to pay more.”
Fain said it was no longer true that only small ships can command premium pricing. He expects the Oasis to command a significant premium.
At the same time, the Oasis will be the most fuel efficient ship that Royal Caribbean has ever built, Fain said. “We expect at least 25 percent improved fuel efficiency over our previous ships. That ameliorates both the cost and the environmental impact.”
Fain added that the ship’s advanced waste water purification system ensures that the only discharge is essentially potable water “that the engineers will drink.”
Ohs and Ahs
To audible ohs and ahs from an audience consisting of media and travel agents gathered in New York City, Royal Caribbean presented the Boardwalk, an area for families to enjoy together, with the first ever carousel-at-sea as the center piece, a psychic and tattoo parlor, novelty photo shop, candy store, teen and children’s retail stores – features associated with boardwalks, plus five restaurants and bars.
Starting inside the ship, the open boardwalk area at the stern leads out to the 750-seat AquaTheater. The amphitheater-style space will feature a full range of day-time and night-time activities, according to Royal Caribbean, including professional diving and theatrical performances.
A zip line will be suspended nine floors above the boardwalk, with riders speeding diagonally across 82-feet of open air atrium.
There will also be six AquaTheater suites, 221 boardwalk-view staterooms with balconies, and eight boardwalk-view window staterooms.
The Royal Promenade
The next evolution of the trademark of the Voyager- and Freedom-class ships, the Royal Promenade, was also presented with a mezzanine level and featuring eight retail outlets and nine restaurants and bars, including the unique Rising Tide bar, spanning three decks, and allowing passengers to enjoy their beverages as they slowly descend from the Central Park neighborhood into the Royal Promenade.
There will also be 18 promenade-view staterooms.
Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean presented the first of its neighborhoods, Central Park, in which the center of the ship opens up to the sky, with tropical grounds with grass, flowers and the trees the length of a football field.
Also presented were a variety of staterooms, including two-level loft suites ranging from the 1,524-square-foot Royal Loft Suite, 722- and 770-square-foot Sky Loft suites; and the 737-square-foot Crown Accessible Loft suite. In addition are a variety of other suites and staterooms.
Royal Caribbean also announced the architects and designers that have been involved with the elements of the Oasis that have been announced thus far: ATKINS GLOBAL, CAROUSEL WORKS, NB&D (Royal Caribbean’s in-house newbuilding and fleet design), RTKL, Waterfield Design Group and Wilson Butler Architects.
“We are not only about neighborhoods,” added Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “We also bring our guests to several destinations, and they do not have to pack and unpack. It’s the totality of it all that makes this so successful.”
The inaugural voyage is scheduled for Dec. 12, 2009 from Ft. Lauderdale. The Oasis of the Seas will begin her inaugural season with 19 consecutive seven-night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean, calling at St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau. Starting May 1, 2010, the Oasis will sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, also calling at Labadee, Falmouth (Jamaica) and Cozumel.
To accommodate the ship, work is underway to enhance the guest welcome facilities in St. Maarten, according to the cruise line, while Cozumel’s pier will be widened. Approaches to the docks in St. Thomas and Nassau will be dredged.
Royal Caribbean is also working the Port Authority of Jamaica to complete the new Falmouth Cruise Pier by March 2010 and is working with the government of Haiti to construct a pier at Labadee.
Fain also said that embarkation and disembarkation procedures were being “scaled up so it will be as good or better than the norm.”
The Oasis and the Allure of the Seas will have 16 decks and 2,700 staterooms, carrying 5,400 passengers each, double occupancy, or 6,300 at maximum occupancy.