Now formally described as the ship of entertainment by Royal Caribbean International, the new 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas was living up to its reputation during a preview cruise this past weekend whereby guests were able to watch Chicago: The Musical; a new ice show, How to Train Your Dragon, with the appropriate DreamWorks characters; samples of aqua shows; and Megamind, a new 3D animated DreamWorks movie; in addition to a myriad of other offerings ranging from a comedy club to dance music and sing-alongs.
If that is not enough, scenes for a new motion picture, Jack and Jill, featuring Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes and Al Pacino, were being shot onboard.
Sister ship to the Oasis of the Seas, the Allure is equally impressive. And in a press conference onboard, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, said that going forward Oasis attributes will be introduced on other ships in the fleet. Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of hotel operations, described the efforts as “polishing the gold” – making the ships even better. The DreamWorks features will also be expanded to the Oasis, the Freedom and the Liberty of the Seas as early as January 2011.
For now, the Oasis and the Allure are sailing seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Port Everglades, but both ships are scheduled for their five-year drydock intervals in Europe, so don’t be surprised to see the ships spending summers in Europe in 2014 and 2015.
A second ship in a series usually attracts less attention and commands a lower price than the first, Fain commented, but in this case, both ships are essentially getting the same price, with Allure a little bit ahead. He described the price as “an adequate one.”
Fain also repeated his earlier comments from the company’s third quarter earnings call that he expects 2011 to be a record year and noted that by the end of this year, he expects half of next year’s capacity to be booked.
“All six of our brands are showing improvement and are helping us move forward financially. The business is doing well and responding (to doing well) by doing (even) better.”
Fain also noted that while the “economy was still lousy” it may in fact benefit the cruise lines by encouraging people to look for value. Although, he said in good form, “frankly, I would like it be a little less of a good value.”
Still, Royal Caribbean is filling its berths at rising prices.
Crew of 2,175
With a normal crew contingent of 2,175, representing 74 different nationalities, Bauer noted that 90 percent of the crew came from existing ships and not more than 10 percent from any one ship.
“It is important that all crew is motivated,” said Captain Hernan Zini. “They all want to be here. They were not sent here,” he added. “They are passionate and have knowledge and experience to do their jobs.”
In a unique twist, the crew was allowed to experience the ship during the training and crossing so they are extra motivated and have “spring” in their step, Captain Zini explained.
Commenting on the building process, Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president of maritime, said he has never seen a building move along so well, adding that the ship was completely ready when she arrived in Port Everglades.
He also said that the Oasis and Allure, in addition to the Solstice class, are basically built according to the safe-return-to-port requirements, meaning they can “lose” one engine room or one watertight compartment, but still offer passengers a safe area with basic services and make her way back to port.
Jamie Sweeting, vice president of environmental stewardship and Richard Pruitt, director of environmental programs, also noted that the new ships are 22 to 28 percent more energy efficient than the previous class of ships. Six main engines produce 97 MW or 135,000 horsepower.
Among the many areas onboard with environmental protection equipment and procedures are also the laundry and the photo lab.
Captain William Wright, senior vice president of marine operations, pointed out the advanced wastewater treatment plant (AWP), which he said that Royal Caribbean has been instrumental in developing. By 2013, all the ships in the fleet will have AWPs.
26 Dining Options
New features include the Dog House, instead of the Seafood Shack on the Oasis, offering eight different sausages and hot dogs with unique breads baked for each.
Also new is the Brazilian churrascaria Samba Grill in the Solarium, Mexican cuisine in Rita’s Cantina on the Boardwalk; and Starbucks on the main Promenade.
The three-level dining room has three separate galleys, which Weber explained, ensures better quality as each prepares 900 to 1,000 meals instead of 3,000.
Altogether, however, the different restaurants serves an average of 24,000 meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, in addition to the offerings in all the other venues – whether hot dogs, pizza, ice cream or cupcakes.
The Allure also produces and bottles its own water under the brand name of Natura still water.
Once the Allure starts regular service, more entertainment options will be offered, Blue Planet, more Royal Caribbean-produced entertainment in the main theater, and Let You Entertain Me and Oceanaria in the Aqua Theater.
DreamWorks characters are featured in one of the ice shows, How to Train Your Dragon, and water show Let You Entertain Me, as well as parades on the Promenade and photo opportunities for and with guests. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, who was onboard, commented that he was very pleased with the cruise line’s interpretation of his film studio’s characters in their portrayal and costumes. He noted that the two brands (Dreamworks and Royal Caribbean) have a lot in common, appealing to family audiences, but also to adult audiences. “This is a city,” he said (about the ship), “it has every kind of citizen, from the littlest to grandparents.”
(A further report on the Allure of the Seas will be in the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine – Winter 2010/2011 edition. Click here to subscribe today!)