Archive for the ‘Royal Caribbean (RCI)’ Category

Feature Ship: Brilliance of The Seas

June 17, 2018

Royal Caribbean International are the worlds number two cruise line, yet arguably they are the number one in building some of the worlds most innovative cruise ships. They have also built the worlds biggest cruise ships. These big ships almost generate their own publicity, but do take the focus away from their slightly smaller vessels.

BRILLIANCE OF THE SEAS was the second in a series of four ‘Radiance’ class ships. At 90,090 gross tons she did not break any records for her size at the time, when she entered service in 2002. However she combined very impressive facilities with a slightly more ‘human’ scale.

I took the ships maiden cruise on July 15th, 2002, to the Norwegian Fjord, from Harwich (7 nights, return).

Brilliance of the Seas Review: HERE

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Royal Caribbean Buys Majority Stake In Silversea

June 14, 2018

Royal Caribbean Cruises and Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio, majority owner of Silversea Cruises, today announced an agreement for Royal Caribbean to acquire a stake in privately-owned Silversea Cruises.

Under the agreement, Royal Caribbean will acquire a 66.7% equity stake in Silversea Cruises based on an enterprise value of approximately $2 billion.

(RCI)

Spectrum of the Seas, Revealed

June 13, 2018

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‘Spectrum of the Seas’ is Royal Caribbean’s  first “Quantum Ultra” class of ship and will enter service in spring 2019.

She will be the first of the line’s ships to have a private suite area. She will also get new features and dining concepts and more for its 4,246 guests. The ship debuts in Shanghai next June.

The exclusive suites-only area, which will feature the exquisite Golden and Silver suite accommodations in a private enclave at the forward end of the ship on decks 13 through 16.

Vacationers booked in these luxury suites will have special keycard access, a private elevator and a dedicated restaurant and lounge. In addition to a range of exclusive amenities, guests will have access to The Balcony – a private outdoor space.

The ship will get a three-level main dining room with 1,844 seats to serve a variety of Chinese and Western a la carte options rotating each day of the sailing. For guests looking for a more casual venue, the Windjammer Marketplace – 20 percent larger than those on other Quantum Class ships – will offer a wide buffet selection of Chinese and Western dishes, including noodles, pizza, Japanese teppanyaki and mini hot pot.

Other specialty venues include Wonderland’s Dadong, a new outpost of Chinese chef Dong Zhenxiang, renowned for his much-coveted roast duck dish; Jamie’s Italian by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver; Izumi Japanese cuisine; and Chops Grille will join the lineup as well. In addition, the new Leaf and Bean traditional tea room and café parlor will debut on the Royal Esplanade. The spot will offer a range of authentic Chinese teas, classic coffee drinks as well as freshly baked Chinese and Western desserts and pastries. Also for the local market there will be an energetic karaoke.

Royal Caribbean will enhance SeaPlex – the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea where families can enjoy bumper cars, roller skating and basketball – with new augmented reality walls and floors. Spectrum of the Seas will feature new experiences, including the iconic Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience located on the aft of the ship. Guests will strap in and don their VR headset to transport them to another time and planet. (The Sky Pad will be added to nine additional ships.)

Spectrum of the Seas will also feature the Ultimate Family Suite, which debuted on Symphony of the Seas.

(Royal Caribbean)

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(Courtesy RCI)

Malcolm says: An all-suites complex has of course been pioneered by the likes of NCL (The Haven) and MCS (The Yacht Club) and have proved to be very popular with guests and of course command a premium fare.

As for ‘one large main dining room’, this confirms the death of ‘Dynamic Dining’, RCI’s attempt to copy NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining system. However if RCI fans wanted an NCL experience they would have booked a cruise with NCL, NOT RCI.  I always felt that the ‘Quantum’ class felt more like an NCL ship than an RCI one, see my review:

Windjammer Marketplace (the buffet) will be 20% bigger,  which might suggest the other ‘Quantum’ Class ships have a buffet that are too small!  However the dining have been completely revamped in the move away form ‘Dynamic Dining’.

‘Anthem of the Seas’ review: HERE

RCI’s Project ‘Icon’ Mystery

May 3, 2018

Secret Ship

Royal Caribbean’s Project ‘Icon’ ships are still a bit of a mystery.

There was a time in the past, when a cruise line would announce the construction of a new ship and within a few months, we would have the renderings to look at and most of the details.

Today the cruise lines are so much more secretive. The details are kept under wraps for months, even years,  then slowly leaked to the media, drip by drip,  as the construction nears completion. We may not get the full specification of the new vessels until just before the ship enters service.  If fact booking may well open before all of the public rooms and on-board facilities are revealed. For a very impatient person like me, this is VERY annoying.

What makes it even more annoying is that Royal Caribbean have designed some of the most breathtaking ship afloat. I feel like a child who wants to have  his Christmas present is September, rather than wait until December.

I appreciate that big mass-market ships are not every cruisers ‘cup of tea’, but RCI have certainly pushed the boundaries in terms of on-board facilities and size.  The ‘Oasis’ class, for example, is a remarkable design.

Royal Caribbean first announced ‘Project Icon’ in October 2016. It is now May 2018 and we know nothing more than we did in 2016. For example: we still have no idea what the ship will look like or anything about the facilities on-board. Even people in the cruise industry,  have probably forgotten that that the  ship is even coming!

smaller

Icon: Low greenhouse gas emissions.

What We Do Know:

RCI  signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku in 2016 for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon.” Two vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024.

Royal Caribbean later filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Icon of the Seas”.

‘Icon’ is the first new ship class announced by RCI since Celebrity Cruises’ new ‘Edge’ class, which debuts later in 2018. (Also shrouded in much secrecy, for months.)

Icon  will carry 5,000 passengers  and will be around 200,000 gross tonnes. This suggests that the 5,000 passenger figure look like a lower-berth statistic. 

Icon  will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will introduce the use of fuel cell technology, as used in spacecraft.  These innovations will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

ABB fuel cell being piloted on a RCI ships. (Courtesy ABB)

RCI expect to also be able to operate using conventional maritime fuel as a well, for ports without the necessary LNG infrastructure.

RCI began testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum-class vessels.

(Play within Youtube for larger images/text)

200,000 gt should give RCI plenty of room for innovative public rooms and facillities.

In contrast, the ‘Quantum’ class is  approximately 168,00 gt., carrying 4,905 passengers – all berths. The Oasis class is around 227,000 gt carrying 6, 780 – all berths. Icon will sit in-between the two, in terms of gross tonnage.

However, the arrival of these new ships may well see the departure of  RCI’s older tonnage.

Majesty has now been in the fleet for 26 years, Grandeur 22 years, Enchantment and Rhapsody 21 years and Vision 20 years. Although the life expectancy of a cruise ship can be 30+ years, in 4-6 years time, when the ‘Icons’ arrive, RCI’s older tonnage will look even smaller and even more dated.

Malcolm

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

Update – The RCI unofficial blog says: The final concept for the first (Icon) vessel is currently being discussed, and the concept design phase is expected to start this spring. The initial building phase of the first ship will begin next year, with keel laying planned for October 2019.

Royal Caribbean Welcomes World’s Largest Cruise Ship

March 26, 2018
symphony-stx

(Courtesy RCI)

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oasis_titanic

Little and Large

Titanic v The Oasis Class: HERE

Massive Expansion of RCI’s CocoCay

March 20, 2018

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Royal Caribbean have recently announced that here will be a $200 million transformation of their private island of CocoCay, in the Bahamas.

Highlights include: Thrill Waterpark, Oasis Lagoon, A 1,600-foot zip line, a helium balloon, two specially designed beaches and the exclusive Coco Beach Club, The island transformation will roll out in phases beginning September 2018 until November 2019.

(RCI)

My Worst Cruise Meal Ever!

January 29, 2018

I had my worst cruise meal ever on-board Royal Caribbean’s ‘Anthem Of The Seas’ in 2015, when she had just entered service.

Read on:

Wonderland (Speciality Dining)

(Courtesy RCI)

Wonderland is an intimate dining room which carried a surcharge of £26.50 ($40 approx.) per person at the time. The room has a charming whimsical design.

The food was created by chef is Cornelius Gallagher and the best way I can describe it, is it was like Heston Blumenthal in style.

RCI say: “At Wonderland, our chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent an elaborate dreamscape of never-before-seen fare”.

It was not some much a ‘dreamscape’ as a ‘nightmare’.

I should have realised that I was about to experience something scary, when I noticed that the muzak being played in the restaurant, was the theme tune to “Friday 13th”!

Wonderland should be renamed ‘Marmite’ as some passengers love it and others hate it.

Food is incredibly subjective and the internet is already full of some very positive reviews of wonderland, but this is NOT one of them. I consider myself to be quite adventurous with food, but Wonderland took me to uncharted territory, which I did not enjoy.

The culinary experience starts with a blank menu which you are required to paint with water to reveal the food. The menu contains little that one would recognise, which should all be part of the fun. In fact did not get to choose the dishes at all, the waitress just brought me a selection.

The presentation of the food was quite amazing, an art form in itself, however the flavours ranged from ‘bland’ to ‘unpleasant’, with a touches of very ‘weird’ in between.

The multiple starters were served cold. There is a limit to how much cold food I like to eat for dinner and this experience exceeded it.

One of the early dishes was “baby vegetables in the garden”. It actually looked amazing, like vegetables growing in soil. However the vegetables were tasteless and the ‘soil’ component tasted like what I imagine soil might taste like – yuk!  I did not finish it and very few of the other diners appeared to finish it either.

Appetising or not?

Appetising or not?

The ‘Slow cooked baby beetroots’, were tasteless. I’ve has better from a jar.

‘Buffalo Chicken Eggs’ were cold Boiled eggs, served in a cloud of nitrogen. They tasted like intense charcoal and made me gag.

The ‘crispy crab cones’ were also cold and tasted bitter. Although small, I could only eat one.

The ‘crispy tempura chee leaves’ were fried in a very greasy batter and also made me feel nauseous.

I was beginning to dread the waitress bringing out each new course. I began fantasizing about pizza and was getting very close to walking out.

In a regular restaurant the staff will normally ask you once: “Is everything OK”. In wonderland they were much more specific and repeatedly asked me: “Are you enjoying the food”. I could see in the waitresses’ eyes that she was dreading my response. My reply was “well it’s very different and I would not call it enjoyment”.

Like myself, the diners on the three surrounding tables were also very dissatisfied with the food quality.

One table of four actually walked out, the two other tables shared their complaints with each other, then the manager.

One dish saved the meal and was more conventional in style. The ‘Terroir Beef’ was a large portion of marinated beef on the bone. It was very tender and very tasty.

The ‘slow roasted chicken’ looked unconventional and tasted very bland, but at least it did not actually taste weird or bad.

Towards the end of the meal, the thought of a sweet began to fill me with dread.

I was actually allowed to choose a sweet. I choose the ‘Boston cream pie maz’. Once again it looked great on the plate, but was just four cubes of incredibly bland cake. I’ve had better cake for from a supermarket for £1.

The quantity (not quality) of food was good, but I did not eat very much, as I was simply did not enjoy it. I’m sure that I could have had even more dishes, if I had wanted, but I could simply not stomach them.

In short, this was the worst meal that I have ever had afloat. In fact it is probably one of the worst meal that I have has anywhere. It was a total waste of £53.10p. If they had served me with KFC or McDonald’s, it would have been more preferable. I really regretted that i had not chosen the buffet instead.

Wonderland’s concept is great and the food presentation is amazing, but the flavours were very poor. Maybe I’m just more into tradition ‘plain cooking’ than I ever thought possible?

The menu is far too ambitious for most people. A mass market ship is probably not the right vehicle for these avant-garde creations, in my opinion.

I’d be amazed if the menu is not dramatically revised or the restaurant completely re-branded.

Malcolm

(Postscript: Wonderland is still alive and well. Wonderland has been added to other RCI ships, such as the ‘Oasis’ class. The concept has not changed, but I’d be surprised if the food is still as weird and inedible. However food is very subjective.)

Full Anthem review: HERE

Titanic Vs Oasis of The Seas

December 27, 2017

wHyxSE0

A few years back I wrote an article for this blog called “Titanic Vs Oasis of the Seas”.

Now I must admit that I did not spend weeks researching it. I put it together quite quickly. It was really just meant to be a bit of fun. The article has attracted more views than anything else that I have ever written. It has also attracted some interesting comments, including some quite negative ones, such as:

“This is stupid, how can you compare these two ships, they are Apples and Oranges”

“These two ships were built 100 year’s apart, of course they are not the same”

“The Titanic was a work of art, Oasis is just a floating shopping mall”

“This article is stupid”

Little and Large

Well, the commentators are fully entitled to their own opinions.  The two ships ARE completely different to each other and they WERE built almost 100 years apart. However silly it is to compare these two ships, I still did it!

It’s quite ironic that the article looks like it will be my  most viewed again in 2017, as it was in 2016 and 2015.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff.

You can read my Titanic article: HERE

A Modern & A Vintage Ocean Liner Compared

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Malcolm

Oasis For Holyhead?

December 26, 2017

(Courtesy Richard Williams)

A multi-million pound cruise ship berth could be built in Holyhead (U.K) by 2020 as liner visits continue to surge.

Holyhead will welcome 34% more passengers next year than in 2017, bringing the total to 36,000 on 43 ships.

These will include vessels like the 2,500 passenger Brilliance of the Seas and help pump extra money into the tourism economy across north west Wales. But the port is still restricted by its berthing facilities – currently using the Orthios jetty or anchorage and tender vessels to bring passengers to and from shore.

Now a multi-use berth development is again under consideration on Salt Island which could accommodate the biggest cruise ships in the world in Holyhead port.

A spokesperson for Anglesey County Council said: “Royal Caribbean have been advising uson all the technical aspects with regard to the Oasis class(cruise vessels)”.  In addition they said: “43 cruise ships have already been confirmed for 2018. A traditional Welsh welcome will be included in all of the visits as well as a full itinerary of fun activities for all to do in Anglesey and North Wales.”

(Daily Post)

Independence of the Seas – Refit

December 19, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas will receive a bow-to-stern makeover in April 2018.

During the revitalization the ship will receive several new features including, A trampoline park, Water slide, Escape rooms and Laser tag.

These ideas were proposed by travel agents in the UK and Ireland as part of a contest held with Travel Weekly UK.

The ‘Royal CaribbeanBlog’ has listed the changes:

Deck 3

  • Alhambra Theatre name changed to Royal Theater.
  • The Raven nightclub replaced with new staterooms.
  • On Air Club replaced with staterooms.
  • Photo Gallery moved to Deck 3.
  • Art Gallery area reduced, with more staterooms added.
  • Romeo & Juliet Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

Deck 4

  • Alhambra Theatre name changed to Royal Theater.
  • The Raven nightclub replaced with Izumi.
  • Photo Gallery replaced with Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade.
  • Macbeth Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

Deck 5

  • Pyramid Lounge becomes Star Lounge.
  • Connoisseur Club becomes Library and RC Online.
  • God & Badger Pub becomes Ale & Anchor.
  • Cupcake Cupboard replaced with Sugar Beach.
  • King Lear Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

(Unofficial Royal CaribbeanBlog)

Malcolm says: There’s nothing wrong with a good refit. However It’s always a shame when they add more cabins to an already busy ship! Many will be inside cabins too. Calling the ‘Dining Room’ the ‘Dining Room’ would seem to lack a little imagination.

RCI’s Passion & Pulse To be LNG Powered

March 24, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

Royal Caribbean’s fourth ‘Quantum’ class ship (actually called ‘Quantum-Plus’ class) will be named ‘Passion of the Seas’ and will be delivered by Meyer Werft, Germany, in 2019.

Their fifth ‘Quantum-Plus’ class ship, to be named ‘Pulse of the Seas’, will be deliver in 2020.

It has been strongly rumored that both ships will be LNG powered, in keeping with many newbuilds form other major cruise lines, such as Carnival and MSC.

Royal Caribbean’s next class of ship, currently shrouded in secrecy, know as ‘Project Icon’ will also be LNG powered.

Quantum Class: Anthem of the Seas review HERE

What is LNG?

Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea. However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly for a megaship design.

LNG is superior to pipeline gas in quality. This is because LNG is purer, has more methane as well as other energy content, and also because of its chemical structure since it has a stable composition. Its combustion generates no unburned residues, particulates or soot, and releases less greenhouse gas than traditional marine gas oil (MGO). Future maritime emissions regulations, especially in sensitive environments are likely to demand this. Perhaps the most appealing aspect about LNG is that under the right operating conditions it can reduce fuel costs.

In addition, using  LNG can double the maintenance intervals, because the gas is so clean,  ship owners may get  25,000 hours between maintenance intervals, maybe more, opposed to 12,500 hours with standard fuel.

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG. Gas take up more space than fuel-oil. In fact six times more space. Therefore large tanks for the gas are located on deck, of the ferry, to save space in the hull (See image above).

However the renderings of  Carnival’s newbuilds do not appear to have LNG storage tanks on the deck.

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

LNG cruise ship ‘concepts’ have been around a long time. The renderings below are a design by Wärtsilä, the marine engine company.

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

Interestingly the concept ship uses drive shaft technology, rather than pods. The LNG tans are located internally, below the funnel area.

2-ship-innards

( Wärtsilä)

The engines on-board the new Carnival ships will not exclusively be powered by LNG, but will be ‘dual fuel’ being capable of burring both LNG and liquid fuel, and combinations of both at the same time. burning exclusively LNG could be saved for environmentally sensitive areas. This would reduce the fuel storage space required.

Malcolm

Large and Larger

March 5, 2013
(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

‘Celebrity Solstice’ (122,000 gt, 2,850 passengers) dwarfed ‘Oasis of the Seas’ (225,000 gt, 5,400 passengers).  Solstice is hardly a small ship!

So How Big Is ‘Oasis of the Seas’?

December 9, 2009

Does my bum look big in this?

The image above is a web cam grab of ‘Oasis of the Seas’ at St. Thomas. She is docked next to ‘Costa Atlantica’ (85,700 gross tons) a Vista class ship like Cunard’s Queen Victoria and many others.  It’s not so long ago that a ship the size of ‘Atlantica’ would have been the worlds biggest cruise ship, but NOT now!