Some things just need a woman's touch. To design a larger stateroom that is also intuitive and stylish on its extraordinary new ship, Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Cruises has gone right to the source: ladies who cruise.
"First, we decided to make the staterooms larger -- an average of 15 percent larger, in our deluxe ocean view verandas -- and then, we decided to make them better," said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL). "To do that, we enlisted the expertise, intuition and wish lists of five exceptional women."
Celebrity engaged a panel of five boomer women, identified by the line as "Celebrity's Leading Ladies," specially selected for their distinct points of view -- a frequent cruiser, a travel agent, a travel writer, a hotelier and a cruise considerer. The women participated in an immersive, four-month process led by Synectics, a world-renowned innovation consultancy firm, to make the staterooms onboard Celebrity Solstice among the most spacious and inviting at sea.
"Our goal was to understand cruisers' real needs and interests, so that our new generation stateroom design would be grounded in genuine consumer insights," said Celebrity Cruises President and CEO, Dan Hanrahan. "Thanks to our Leading Ladies and our Celebrity teams, we've created a larger and more intuitive stateroom space that is significantly more conducive to our guests' overall cruise experience."
Why women? "Women are not only the primary cruise planners; they are the most discerning guests when it comes to the stateroom," said Celebrity's Senior Vice President of Marketing, Ellen Taaffe. "Their standards are high and Celebrity is committed to exceeding them, while also creating a great experience for the spouse, family or friends with whom they may be traveling."
Give me space ... and tone down the colors!
Celebrity's Leading Ladies offered many insights and desires relative to the stateroom design; chief among them, suggestions for improved stateroom flow, made possible by a larger stateroom size and Celebrity's new interlocking technology. Also, in an industry first, Celebrity Solstice will feature an adjoining stateroom design with a double set of doors, allowing guests to open up the space for families or friends traveling together or close the doors for a more private environment. Verandas of adjoining staterooms can also be opened-up to create a veranda that spans both rooms. Clear sight lines and walkways to sea views are found in nearly every stateroom; modular furniture design and vestibule areas facilitate a more spacious flow; and additional storage -- generous hooks, shelves and nooks -- ensures a clean and clutter-free look.
Celebrity and Miami-based design partner RTKL Associates Inc. have taken additional design cues from the Leading Ladies, including their recommendations on color scheme. As a result, Celebrity Solstice will steer away from bright colors and patterns, in favor of neutral colors and elegant textures, for a more sophisticated and timeless look.
Key stateroom innovations include:
• Distinctive interlocking stateroom floor plan for better and more efficient space utilization, resulting in deluxe veranda staterooms that are 15 percent larger than comparable accommodations on the balance of the fleet.
• First-in-industry adjoining stateroom design with double set of doors, allowing guests to open up space for families or friends traveling together, or close doors for a more private environment. Verandas of adjoining staterooms also can be opened up to create a veranda spanning both rooms.
• More spacious bathrooms with glass showers equipped with a foot rail for easy leg shaving in every stateroom, and large fog-free mirrors, which are being introduced in Celebrity's suites and new AquaClass staterooms.
• Individual reading lights at each nightstand, including a shelf for personal items such as reading glasses, books, etc.
• Expanded and "smarter" storage, including increased clearance beneath the bed for larger luggage, and storage units over the bed for personal items such as handbags, shopping bags, etc.
• Modular closets for varied clothing length and additional flexible storage areas.
• 32-inch flat-screen TVs in every stateroom, and larger flat-screen TVs featured in suites.
"While the increased space was helpful, we wanted to do something really special to capitalize on that space," said Hanrahan, "and our Leading Ladies really helped make that happen."
Another key insight provided by Celebrity's Leading Ladies was the desire for a more relaxed, intimate shipboard stateroom experience connected to the sea and linked to highly personalized spa elements. The result? A unique class of veranda staterooms called AquaClass, an oceanside retreat created for guests who are most passionate about pampering and "getting away from it all."
Simplicity and comfort are evident throughout the room, from the bathroom's fog-free mirror and tall, jetted bodywash shower, to the robust pillow menu. Aroma scent selections tied to specific vacation goals (relax, revive, re-energize, etc.) provide guests with a multi-sensory experience, while lavish AquaClass toiletries and refreshing daily teas, juices and bottled water round out the offering.
AquaClass will comprise 130 of the ship's 1,425 staterooms, each double-occupancy only, creating the perfect grown-up getaway. Guests in AquaClass will receive unlimited access to Celebrity Solstice's new AquaSpa relaxation room on the same deck, and the Persian Garden, an exotic aromatherapy and steam room. AquaClass guests also will have an exclusive dining room, Blu, an intimate, 130-seat specialty restaurant with menus developed by Celebrity Cruises' culinary consultant, Blau & Associates, which operates upscale eateries for high-end hotels such as Las Vegas' Bellagio, Miami's Setai and Cabo San Lucas' One & Only Palmilla.