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RCI Adds 73-Foot Midsection to Enchantment of the Seas
Shipbuilding technology has come a long way since Royal Caribbean International lengthened its last ship 25 years ago. Royal Caribbean's third ship to be extended, Enchantment of the Seas, lies in dry dock, where workmen are laboring round-the-clock to add a 22.2-meter (73-foot) midsection and other major innovations. What once took three months now takes one, and assembly is on dry land.
Royal Caribbean teamed with two European shipyards to stretch the eight-year-old Enchantment of the Seas. Aker Finnyards of Finland, which built the original ship, was given overall responsibility for designing, building and installing the mid-body section. Aker asked Keppel Verolme of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to split the ship in two, insert the midsection, and reassemble the parts. When again whole, Enchantment of the Seas will return to sea for sea trials and soon afterwards will resume service on July 7, 2005.
"This partnership has been outstanding," said Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. "The final product exemplifies not only the very best in shipbuilding, but the very best in what cruisers have come to expect of a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation."
"Aker Finnyards is proud to present this project as one more achievement during the 35-year cooperation with Royal Caribbean, including 14 delivered cruise vessel newbuildings and three lengthenings," said Aker Finnyards President Yrjo Julin.
Planning among the three teams began more than a year ago. Construction started on the mid-body last September, and the finished mid-body sailed the Baltic and North seas by barge 2,300 kilometers (1,430 miles) to Rotterdam earlier this month. Meanwhile, Enchantment of the Seas arrived May 15 at the Keppel Verolme yard and entered dry dock, where the mid-body was waiting. The size of the dry-dock bay, one of the largest in the world, allowed the ship and mid-body to sit side-by-side, and allowed for use of an advanced and faster lengthening process.
Splitting the ship in two took workers six days to cut through more than 600 meters (1,969 linear feet) of steel with gas and oxygen torches and circular saws. Once they were severed, sections were moved into place with skids and hydraulic jacks, which were guided by a laser alignment system. The 10,265-metric-ton (11,315-ton) bow section slid first. The 2,666-metric-ton (2,939-ton) mid-body was then moved into alignment and pushed back toward the ship's aft section. The bow section was then moved back into place.
Twenty-five years ago, when Royal Caribbean stretched Nordic Prince, the yard had to fill the dry dock with water; float the aft section of the ship out of the bay, the midsection into the dock, and the aft section back into the bay; and then drain the dry dock and reconnect the ship. Today, workmen are welding Enchantment of the Seas back together, a painstaking, two-week job that also involves reattaching nearly 1,300 individual cables, pipes and ducts to each end of the new mid-body.
"The scope of this project presented a great challenge for Keppel Verolme and our partner ALE Lastra, which required drawing on our in-house shipbuilding knowledge to optimize the cutting, skidding and insertion process," said Keppel Verolme Managing Director Harold W.M. Linssen. "Making maximum use of our facilities to offer the highest level of service in both quality and safety is our ambition, and we are proud to provide innovative solutions for our marine clients."
The lengthened ship will have 151 new staterooms and a number of new venues and amenities, including soaring suspension bridges on Deck 10, a vitality course with four fitness stops, an interactive water fountain play area and the first bungee trampolines at sea. Several of Royal Caribbean's signature features also are being added, borrowing from the line's latest ships, including Boleros Latin lounge, Chops Grille steakhouse specialty restaurant and Latte'tudes coffee and ice cream shop, offering Seattle's Best Coffee® and Ben & Jerry's®.
Enchantment of the Seas will sail a series of New England/Canada sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., Philadelphia and Boston when she reenters service in July. She returns to Fort Lauderdale in October to resume four- and five-night Caribbean itineraries.
Celebrity Cruises Launches a New Century
For most, the new century begins in 95 years, but for Celebrity Cruises, it will launch next year. The top- rated premium cruise line has announced plans to significantly revitalize its 77,713-ton Century, which entered service in December 1995.
Following an approximately $55-million makeover beginning in April 2006, and marking Celebrity's most extensive refurbishment to-date, Century will emerge from a five-week drydock period on June 2, 2006, with 314 new verandas. "This initiative is nothing short of miraculous, technically and otherwise - particularly the veranda program," said Celebrity's President Dan Hanrahan. "In just five weeks, we will add 314 verandas, which is a first for an existing cruise ship."
The revitalization project also will result in the addition of 14 new suites, 10 new staterooms ranging from inside to veranda category, an expanded number of ConciergeClass category staterooms, a new specialty restaurant, and a series of the "tastes of luxury" that typify the line's acclaimed Millennium-class fleet. "Our goal is to modify the Century to be more aligned with our Millennium-class fleet, in order to maximize guest satisfaction and offer every Celebrity guest a consistently extraordinary vacation experience across the fleet," said Hanrahan.
Like Celebrity's Millennium-class specialty restaurants, Century's new specialty restaurant will present an intimate, elegant dining experience with a menu designed by Celebrity's longtime culinary and wine consultant, Master Chef Michel Roux. The venue, still to be themed, will follow the distinctive style of Celebrity's Millennium-class specialty restaurants, which introduced the industry's first tableside cooking, carving and flambé.
Celebrity's "Casual Dining Boulevard" on the lido deck will be expanded to offer a Sushi Cafe, made-to-order Pasta and Pizza Bar, a small ice cream parlor, along with buffet breakfasts, themed lunches, and dinner service with a casual dress code every night.
In response to growing guest interest in Celebrity's Spa Cafés on the Millennium-class fleet, a new Spa Café will be introduced on Century, offering light, healthy spa cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cova Café Milano, the seagoing version of the stylish coffeehouse in the heart of Milan's fashion district, will adopt the pastry and chocolate displays that have made the venue such a "hot spot" on the line's Millennium-class fleet. At night, the space will transform to a romantic, lamp-lit wine bar, complete with live music.
A sophisticated new Martini Bar offering Celebrity's famed menu of more than 30 versions of the popular libation will be located adjacent to Century's "Michael's Club" piano and jazz bar.
Outdoors on the aft deck, a new bandstand and bar complete with tapas carts will offer the ultimate setting for romantic sailaways at sunset.
"High Seas Computing" will find a home onboard the Century, just as it has on Celebrity's Millennium-class fleet, in a newly dedicated space offering guests Internet access and courses ranging from basic computer use to web site creation to digital photography.
Holder of the largest corporate collection of contemporary art, Celebrity Cruises continues to offer guests the opportunity to enjoy great original works throughout each ship in the fleet, as well as in its new art galleries. Like those on the Millennium-class fleet, Century's new art gallery will join the array of trendy boutiques in "The Boulevard," allowing art aficionados to purchase one-of-a-kind works.
Because enrichment isn't appreciated only by adults, the "Fun Factory" children's area will be expanded, and a new teen room will be added, featuring a number of options ideally suited to adventuresome teens.
Century will follow the lead of Celebrity's Millennium-class in presenting a permanent space dedicated solely to the line's exclusive "Acupuncture at Sea" program, offering guests acupuncture treatments, therapies and enrichment lectures by licensed doctors of Oriental Medicine.
Celebrity's ambitious Century revitalization project will be completed during drydock from April 28 through June 1, 2006. The line has begun a bidding process to select the shipyard where the work will be performed. Following its revitalization, the "new" Century will set sail on a series of 12-night Baltic and 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings, a 13-night "Best of Europe" voyage, and a seven-night Norwegian Fjords cruise. Bookings for all itineraries open June 3.
Freedom Is ... A Family Affair
Royal Caribbean International is giving families more opportunities to play together and stay together while cruising the Caribbean. The line's newest ship, Freedom of the Seas, will offer six different family-focused stateroom categories specially designed to accommodate larger families and groups of friends.
"The new stateroom categories on Freedom of the Seas give guests the ability to spend downtime together comfortably between onboard activities and shoreside adventures," said Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO. "We're introducing several new configurations, giving guests the freedom to choose from different stateroom sizes and price ranges."
The biggest addition will be the 14-person Presidential Suite, the largest stateroom the line has offered to date, with 1,215 square feet of interior space and an 810-square-foot outdoor living area. The oversized suite will have dual entryways as well as two master bedrooms, sleeping two people each, with 30-inch, flat-panel televisions and en suite bathrooms with bathtubs. Two additional bedrooms will accommodate four people each, with convertible twin/queen beds and two Pullmans. Both of these rooms will feature a 23-inch, flat-panel television, which also will be found in all staterooms shipwide.
The common area will include two additional bathrooms with showers, a spacious living room with a sectional sofa that sleeps two, a card/dining table and an extensive entertainment center, including a 42-inch, plasma TV. Suite guests will be tempted to spend all their time outdoors on the spacious balcony equipped with a whirlpool, wet bar, eight lounge chairs and a 14- person table for dining al fresco.
Freedom of the Seas will offer five additional types of extended family accommodations over and above the standard triples and quads. Each category includes twin beds, convertible to a queen bed, as well as additional bunks to accommodate the whole family. Guests can choose from:
Families on Freedom of the Seas may find there is too much to do in other areas of the ship to spend much time in their staterooms. Freedom of the Seas will take onboard adventures to new heights with the largest rock-climbing wall at sea. The 43-foot-tall by 44-foot-wide, free-standing wall will feature a central spire that will add a whole new dimension to the experience. Guests will be able to choose from 11 different routes, from easy to expert.
Freedom's younger guests will enjoy Royal Caribbean's award-winning Adventure Ocean Program. From wacky science experiments and Adventure Art by Crayola® crafts projects to sports tournaments and dance parties, guests 3 to 17 will have a full social calendar. Teens, in particular, will have plenty of space to call their own with three, exclusive areas just for them -- Fuel nightclub, The Living Room hangout and the Back Deck sundeck. In addition, Freedom of the Seas will feature the line's Aqua Babies and Aqua Tots playtime programs developed by partner Fisher-Price®, Inc. for cruisers ages 6 months to 36 months and their parents.
Freedom also will offer families plenty of ways and places to enjoy time together, including an unparalleled, top-deck aqua environment with an interactive water park; outstanding production shows in the main theater; ice skating spectaculars and free-skate parties on the ice rink; and non-stop action on the Royal Promenade, a 445-foot-long shopping, dining and entertainment boulevard that will feature nightly entertainment and festive parades.
Freedom Is ... Where the Ocean Comes to Play
Royal Caribbean International's newest ship will give "of the seas" new meaning when it makes its debut in May 2006. Currently under construction at Aker Finnyards in Turku, Finland, Freedom of the Seas will offer guests a top-deck aqua environment unparalleled in the industry, featuring three massive pool areas. Each area will introduce innovative new concepts, including an interactive water park, the most dramatic whirlpools afloat and a dedicated sports pool.
"Freedom of the Seas' combined pool area is 43 percent larger than on our Voyager-class ships, giving us the ability to create three distinctive spaces to appeal to our varied audiences," said Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO. "Guests will have the freedom to splash in the family pool area, relax in the adults-only Solarium or soak in the sun at the main pool area."
One of the most spectacular spaces on Freedom of the Seas will be H2O Zone, the farthest aft of the three areas. H2O Zone will be a colorful wonderland of large, brightly hued sculptures doubling as interactive fountains that spray, sprinkle and spurt water in every direction. The oversized sculptures will depict family members of all shapes and sizes, including the family dog, and will give guests numerous ways to get soaked -- and soak each other -- by turning wheels, setting off sensors and dodging dumping buckets. The sculptures will be spread throughout a large, central wading area that also will include a number of spray cannons, water jets and ground gushers.
In one corner of the water playground, a circular pool will shoot a current of water in a river around a central island. Guests can float with the flow as they are misted by one of the fountain sculptures. Next to the circular pool, a shallow pool, fed by a flamingo-shaped fountain, will create a secluded space for the ship's youngest cruisers. At the back of the park, a rectangular swimming pool will be flanked by wading areas and fed by a waterfall cascading from an overhanging bridge. At night, the water park will turn into a dramatically lit sculpture garden.
Toward the front of the ship, Freedom of the Seas' adult guests will find the most remarkable relaxation areas at sea in the jungle-themed Solarium. This adults-only oasis will feature two large hot tubs cantilevered out 12 feet from the sides of the ship. Suspended 112 feet above the ocean, the hot tubs will offer breathtaking, panoramic views. The Solarium also will feature lush tropical foliage, rainforest-inspired mosaics and murals, towering sculpted metal palm trees and hammocks. Two seven-foot-tall parrot sculptures will edge the Solarium's pool, which will hold a few surprises of its own. Guests willing to immerse themselves in the experience will find music piped in underwater and a photo collage behind glass depicting a coral reef.
Royal Caribbean is introducing another first for the line in the main pool area. One of the ship's two central pools will be designated as a sports pool. Guests will be invited to challenge themselves, and each other, in a variety of water sports, from pool volleyball and basketball to floating golf and pole jousting, in which competitors sit facing each other on a horizontal pole laid across the pool and attempt to knock each other off with inflatable rods. Spectators and contestants will be equally entertained when teams try their hand at water ballet choreography in amateur synchronized swimming competitions. Outside the organized activity times, lane markers will be set up in the sports pool for lap swimming.
At night, the main pool area will transform into an open-air nightclub, with a large dance floor situated between the two pools. Guests will be able to enjoy live music, themed parties and a top-class club DJ.
At 158,000 GRT and holding 3,600 guests double-occupancy, Freedom of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuts in May 2006. The first in Royal Caribbean's new Freedom class, she will be the most forward-looking and innovative ship the company has built to date. Freedom of the Seas will sail seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami calling in Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Royal Caribbean's private destination, Labadee, Hispaniola.
Celebrity Cruises Shines "Spotlight" On Aspiring Vocalists
Timothy Greenidge may not be a household name yet, but his celebrity status might change courtesy of Celebrity Cruises, which has named him winner of the line's Celebrity SpotlightTM vocal talent competition. The grand prize awarded to Greenidge includes $10,000, a free Celebrity cruise for two, and a vocal recording contract.
Twelve finalists - three each in the categories of travel agents, Celebrity guests, employees and Captain's Club members - performed songs of their choice onboard Celebrity's Summit, before a panel of judges including Grammy award winners Michael Bolton and Jon Secada; singer, songwriter and actor Paul Williams; producers Sebastian Krys and Tom McWilliams; songwriter Aaron Barker, and composer Edo Guidotti.
The four finalists then performed "Fueled by Moonlight Dust," the song co-written by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. President & COO Jack Williams, who announced his departure from the company last month. Greenidge's performance of the song received the judges' highest cumulative score.
Greenidge lives in Clackamas, Oregon, with his wife and three daughters. Born in the Bronx, New York, the son of a preacher, Greenidge says he was "blessed with a rich musical heritage of gospel and R&B."
Miami Proclaims Royal Caribbean International
City of Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz has proclaimed Wednesday, April 20, as "Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises Ocean Fund Day."
The proclamation honors the cruise lines for their 8-year-old environmental grant program, know as the Ocean Fund. Since 1996, the Ocean Fund has contributed more than $6.6 million to 48 organizations supporting marine conservation, education and awareness initiatives. In the proclamation, Mayor Diaz said, "I call upon all residents of the City of Miami to join me in paying tribute to Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, whose dedication to the excellent care of our oceans is highly commendable."
The proclamation was presented to Celebrity Cruises President Dan Hanrahan during a luncheon to honor this year's 11 Ocean Fund grant recipients, which will collectively receive $613,000.
"It's a great honor to be recognized by the city in which we live and work," Hanrahan said. "Through the Ocean Fund, we are able to assist groups who share our passion and concern for our world's oceans. Strong environmental stewardship of the seas is everyone's responsibility."
Jack Williams to Leave Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Jack Williams will step down as president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to spend more time championing cystic fibrosis and other charitable causes. Williams has been president of the company since 1997.
"These last eight years have been the most incredible of my executive career," Williams wrote today in a letter to employees. "I have had the pleasure of working with the strongest management team in the industry, and I leave at a time when both brands are industry leaders."
The company has strengthened its brand-management leadership significantly over recent years. Last month, two of its most senior and experienced executives, Dan Hanrahan and Adam Goldstein, were named president of Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, respectively. Williams leaves the company to fulfill a career-long commitment to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Andre Agassi Foundation and a number of other charitable causes. He also will remain executive director of the company's "Shine On" fundraisers, a program he founded two years ago.
"Jack has been passionate about his job and his charities since I have known him, so we knew one day he would arrive at this crossroad," said Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. "In getting there, however, Jack has been an exceptional leader and innovator at our company and a formidable force in the community. As president, he has made lasting and significant contributions to our brand marketing, outreach to shipboard staff, revenue management systems, and safety and environment practices. He has helped put Celebrity on a world-class footing and has sharpened our charitable focus with events such as Shine On."
Williams has served as president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. since 2001, managing both cruise brands. He joined the company in 1997 as president of Royal Caribbean International. He has agreed to help with the transition, which is expected to be completed by June 30.
Third Freedom-Class Ship for Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has signed a letter of intent with Aker Finnyards in Turku, Finland, to add a third ship to its Freedom class of vessels now being built for Royal Caribbean International. The agreement is subject to certain conditions, including board approval.
Like the series' first and second ships, this third Royal Caribbean newbuild is a 158,000-GRT vessel equipped with 1,800 cabins that accommodate 3,600 guests double occupancy. It enters service in early 2008, two years after the class debuts in April, 2006, with Freedom of the Seas.
The company estimates the cost of the third ship, including the contract price (specified in euros), capitalized interest, owner-delivered items, and engineering/construction oversight, to be approximately $230,000 per berth, at current exchange rates. The Freedom series builds on Royal Caribbean's five, highly popular Voyager-class ships -- the vessels that introduced rock-climbing, ice-skating and Royal Promenade into cruising's vernacular. The ships in this newest class will be 15 percent larger than those in the Voyager-class and will have new features, not yet revealed, also destined to become industry icons.
"We have said all along that the continued success of our brands will depend on the steady, sustained growth of our fleet," said Chairman and CEO Richard Fain, "We are pleased to reaffirm that pledge and are excited about the enormous possibilities inherent in these new ships."
Royal Caribbean's newest entrant to its fleet, Jewel of the Seas, its 19th ship, debuted last Spring. The company ordered Freedom of the Seas in September, 2003.
RCI, Celebrity Appoint Goldstein, Hanrahan Brand Presidents
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has appointed two brand presidents. Adam Goldstein was named president of Royal Caribbean International, and Dan Hanrahan was made president of Celebrity Cruises. Both jobs report to Jack Williams, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
The creation of brand presidencies under a corporate president and COO reflects the rapid growth and increasing differentiation between the two brands. As senior executives of the brands, Goldstein and Hanrahan will be responsible for fleet operations, sales and marketing, and brand development. In addition, Goldstein will retain the corporate functions of supply chain management and Royal Celebrity Tours, and Hanrahan will continue to handle marketing and sales responsibilities for Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.
Both Goldstein and Hanrahan are cruise-industry veterans. Goldstein is a 16-year company executive, and Hanrahan is a six-year veteran. Both have been instrumental in shaping the company's direction and global appeal.
Royal Caribbean's Executive Vice President (EVP) since 2002, Goldstein has held progressively senior positions at the company in Legal, Sales and Marketing, International, Total Guest Satisfaction (Hotel) and Brand Operations. As EVP, he managed Fleet Operations, Sales and Marketing, Supply Chain Management and Royal Celebrity Tours. National chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) in 2001, Goldstein now sits on the travel organization's Board of Directors and Executive Committee.
Hanrahan has been Royal Caribbean's senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, since joining the company in 1999. Responsible for brand marketing, marketing automation and company sales, he developed the standout "Get Out There" marketing campaign that many credit with changing the image of cruising. Previously, Hanrahan was vice president and general manager, North America, for Polaroid Corporation, and vice president, Global Marketing, for Reebok International, Ltd. Currently, Hanrahan serves as vice chairman and Executive Committee member of the Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA). Last year, he was honored as one of the "Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales and Marketing" by Hospitality and Sales Marketing Association International.
"We are pleased Adam and Dan have accepted these new challenges," Williams said. "Both individuals are exceptional -- in their passion for our brands, their vision for the future, and their caring for our employees. Both take on brands that are at tremendously exciting stages of growth, which they will help drive to even greater success."
Celebrity Cruises' Master Chef Michel Roux
As Celebrity Cruises celebrates its third consecutive year sweeping Condé Nast Traveler's readers' survey of the world's best ships, the line's culinary and wine consultant, Master Chef Michel Roux, marks his 20th consecutive year of receiving three stars -- the highest possible rating -- from the discriminating Michelin Guide.
This year's highly respected European restaurant guide features 5,500 entries. Only two in the U.K. received a three-star rating. One of them is Roux's Waterside Inn in Bray-on-Thames, just outside of London. "Fine cuisine has always been synonymous with Celebrity, largely due to Michel Roux," said Celebrity's President & COO Jack Williams. "Chef Roux has successfully translated his award-winning concept at the Waterside Inn into an extraordinary gourmet dining experience across our fleet. We congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition."
As Celebrity's culinary and wine consultant, Roux creates the line's award-winning menus and wine lists, and assists with training the executive restaurant staff. Approximately six times a year, he cruises on Celebrity ships to evaluate the consistency of the quality and performance of culinary operations. He revises menus every six months.
Roux says his philosophy for delivering outstanding cuisine is simple: "Use the finest, freshest ingredients. Prepare everything -- from main courses to desserts -- from scratch." He applies the same, exacting standards whether serving one guest or 2,500 onboard every ship.
Roux is recognized as one of the world's most famous French chefs. Winner of a number of honors from the world's most noted culinary institutions, in addition to his Michelin Guide stars, Roux was awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France en Patisserie in 1976, Chevalier de L'Ordre National du Merite in 1987, and an Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in 2002. Roux also received the Five-Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, the Gold Medal Award of Prestige from Les Cuisiniers Français, the Madrid Fusion Award acknowledging his creative implementation of nouvelle cuisine, and the prestigious Chevalier de la Legion D'Honneur from the French Government.
Author of numerous cookbooks and his critically acclaimed 2002 autobiography, Life is a Menu, Roux's latest book, New Creative Techniques from a French Master Chef, received a nomination at the James Beard Foundation Awards in 2004. Roux is a member of L'Academie Culinaire de France, the Association Relais et Desserts, the Benedicts Club, and is vice president of the Association Relais et Chateaux.
Royal Caribbean Opens New Attraction on Labadee
A new attraction is changing Royal Caribbean's exclusive port of call Labadee from a private paradise to a privateer's paradise. The line has opened a new pirate-themed water playground, sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, featuring a "sunken" pirate ship and a new mascot, Labadee Luc, who will appear on signage throughout the peninsula.
"The new Splash Bash is the perfect addition for guests who want to become pirates of the Caribbean for the day," said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, for Royal Caribbean International. "With Labadee's buccaneer past, the Labadee Luc character and the water park's pirate theme will spark imaginations and add to the enjoyment of our private paradise."
Labadee Luc's Splash Bash drips, drizzles and drenches with ground geysers, toppling water buckets, and water archways. Would-be pirates can stage mock battles with four water cannons mounted on the climb-aboard ship and connected wharf, or follow the splash pad's painted-on treasure map trail. The Splash Bash also features a special play area for kids ages 3 to 5 with a central pipe that sends water into three separate play areas with dams, water wheels and other fun activities designed to keep young children captivated. Admission to the new water playground is $5 per guest for a two-hour period.
After getting soaked at the Splash Bash, guests can dry off during hot competition on one of two new volleyball courts or relax in the shade on the spectator bleachers. Plenty of beach chairs also are available for weary buccaneers who want to bask in the sun.
Located on the mountainous, secluded north coast of Hispaniola, Labadee is a 260-acre wooded peninsula that features five spectacular beaches, nature trails, open-air dining areas, beachside bars, native entertainment and a marketplace complete with fine arts and crafts.
Celebrity Maintains Lead in Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Survey
"Three-peats" aren't just limited to the world of sports. For the third consecutive year, Celebrity Cruises has swept Condé Nast Traveler's readers' survey ranking "The Best Cruise Ships in the World."
Seven Celebrity ships -- every ship in the fleet that falls into the large-ship category -- ranked in the top 11 in the annual survey, results of which are published in the February 2005 edition. Infinity and Constellation ranked first and second, respectively, bettering their scores of 2004, which were then the highest in the history of the survey. Mercury, Summit and Galaxy ranked fourth, fifth and sixth, Millennium ranked ninth, and Century eleventh. The balance of Celebrity's fleet -- the 1,354-guest Horizon and Zenith -- were among those honored in the medium-ship category.
The savvy subscribers of Condé Nast Traveler evaluated ships on five criteria: itineraries, crew/service, cabins/design, food/dining, and activities/excursions. Celebrity made a clean sweep of the survey's rankings in the category of food/dining -- with Constellation, Infinity and Galaxy shutting out the competition. The same held true for Constellation, Infinity and Galaxy, honored as the best of the best in the area of crew/service.
"Very few surveys mean more than Condé Nast Traveler's, so this is a particularly meaningful validation of what we're doing at Celebrity," said the line's President & COO, Jack Williams. "We've built increasing momentum and excitement behind the brand, and this recognition reinforces what we're doing, and encourages us to continue."
Shake-A-Leg Miami to Reclaim Biscayne Bay Islands
Shake-A-Leg Miami will work with the City of Miami to transform two debris-strewn islands in Biscayne Bay into state-of-the-art recreational and educational sites for disabled and disadvantaged children with help from a $150,000 grant from the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises Ocean Fund. The Shake-A-Leg grant is one of 11 awarded this year by the Ocean Fund in support of marine conservation, education and awareness initiatives.
A portion of Shake-A-Leg's Ocean Fund grant also will be used to outfit a donated 37-foot trimaran, making it a fully accessible science and vocational training vessel, and to develop a marine-science curriculum it will offer to schools throughout Miami-Dade County.
"With the generous support of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, we will be able to develop and operate unique environmental programs for adults and youth of all abilities," said Harry Horgan, executive director of Shake-A- Leg Miami, which serves the disabled, the disadvantaged and members of the community at large by providing accessible water sports opportunities. Shake-A-Leg Miami is one of 11 organizations in 2005 to receive a total of $613,000 in Ocean Fund grants. More than $6.6 million has been awarded to 48 organizations since the fund's inception in 1996.
"We understand our responsibility to protect the oceans," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We also recognize that, through our Ocean Fund, we can play a pivotal role in raising awareness of the fragility of the world's marine ecosystems and support, in a tangible way, efforts to preserve those environments."
The 10 other 2005 Ocean Fund grant recipients are:
Exclusive European Cruisetours for 2005
From sipping an espresso in Madrid's Plaza Mayor to shopping along the Champs-Elysées, Royal Caribbean International is once again offering guests unforgettable experiences in some of the most beautiful and historic areas of Spain, France and England.
Four exclusive cruisetour vacations will be offered in 2005, allowing guests the opportunity to pair a multi-day land vacation package with either a Mediterranean or Northern Europe cruise aboard one of Royal Caribbean's three ships in the region.
"A Royal Caribbean cruisetour is an ideal way to explore Europe. Guests get the chance to sample the attractions of numerous countries by sea and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the customs and cultures of a specific region by land," said Craig Milan, president of Royal Caribbean International's cruisetour division. "Guests also get a great value in Europe with the current exchange rate since our cruisetours, like our cruises, are purchased in advance in U.S. dollars."
In 2005, Royal Caribbean is offering four land packages to pair with its European cruises -- one to London and Paris, two to Spain, and one to the historic English cities of London and York. The cruise line has partnered with Akorn, a division of Abercrombie and Kent and one of the leading customized tour operators in Europe, to provide a superior experience for guests.
Land tour portions range from three to five nights and are escorted by knowledgeable, local tour directors who not only provide historical and expert commentary, but also serve as personal concierges to assist with anything from dinner reservations to show or museum tickets. Also included are four- and five-star hotel accommodations in the heart of the city centers, breakfast each morning, a farewell group dinner, and guided tours of top cultural attractions, as well as plenty of free time to pursue individual interests.
Guests on seven-night Splendour of the Seas Mediterranean itineraries or 12-night Brilliance of the Seas Mediterranean/Venice or Mediterranean/Greek Isles sailings can enhance their cruise with a three-night Madrid and Barcelona land tour. A five-night land tour, which includes visits to Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, also is available to Brilliance of the Seas' guests.
Ten-night cruisetours on Splendour of the Seas start at $2,199 per person, double occupancy. Fifteen- and 17-night cruisetours on Brilliance of the Seas start at $3,199 and $3,949 per person, double occupancy.
Jewel of the Seas will sail 12-night Scandinavia/Russia cruises from Harwich, England, and will offer guests the option of either a four-night London and Paris land tour or the four-night Journey through England. The London and Paris cruisetour begins in Paris with a half-day free for sightseeing and shopping. After another full day of sightseeing in Paris, guests board the Eurostar for a train ride through the Chunnel to London. While in London, guests enjoy two days with both city tours as well as free time for shopping and sightseeing.
The Journey Through England cruisetour begins in London where guests enjoy both a guided bus tour and plenty of free time to enjoy the city's famous sites such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, before heading north by train to explore the historic, walled city of York. Prices start at $3,949 per person, double occupancy for the London and Paris cruisetour and $3,599 per person, double occupancy for the Journey Through England cruisetour.
Celebrity Cruises Announces Plans to Sail in Asia-Pacific
Vividly illustrating its commitment to offering exotic travel experiences in faraway lands, Celebrity Cruises has announced plans to sail in the Far East and South Pacific in 2006. The 1,950-guest Summit, ranked first in service and second overall in Condé Nast Traveler's "Best Cruise Ships in the World" survey, will be deployed to Asia and the Pacific, offering cruises in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and other destinations.
"This is a natural evolution for Celebrity, coming on the heels of our launch of Celebrity Xpeditions in the Galapagos Islands, our tripling of capacity in Europe over the past two years, and our deployment of new hardware in South America," said Celebrity's President & COO Jack Williams. "Our guests and travel partners told us they want to experience Asia with Celebrity, and now they can."
While specific itineraries are still being developed, Celebrity envisions a series of round-trip and open-jaw cruises of varying lengths. The line expects bookings for its new Asia-Pacific product to open by April 2005.
Celebrity Cruises Expands 'Celebrity Xpeditions'
Just one year after launching "Celebrity Xpeditions," an extension of Celebrity Cruises offering elite, exotic travel experiences, the line is making good on its promise to offer one Xpeditions experience on every major cruise itinerary.
"Our goal at Celebrity is to fulfill dreams, and what we're announcing today is a compelling example of that," said Williams. "Who hasn't imagined visiting locations like the Great Pyramids, Easter Island, or the Matterhorn? The exotic destinations and exclusive experiences we offer through Celebrity Xpeditions are what many people only dream about." Celebrity Xpeditions launched in January 2004 as a one-of-a-kind program offering travelers the premium experiences they expect of Celebrity -- in entirely new and different venues, such as the Galapagos Islands, the Arctic, the Antarctic, and Moscow.
The new Celebrity Xpeditions offerings, by cruising region, include:
The new lineup joins the existing series of Celebrity Xpeditions, including cruise vacations in the enchanting Galapagos Islands onboard the 296-foot megayacht, Celebrity Xpedition; voyages in the isolated Arctic and Antarctic aboard the polar-class, 434-foot icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov in partnership with Quark Expeditions; a behind-the-scenes tour of the former headquarters of the KGB and Kremlin in Moscow; a race car driving academy led by professional drivers Justin and Derek Bell in Palm Beach, Fla., and the line's pre- and post-cruise land tours on luxurious, domed rail cars and motor coaches in Alaska and the Canadian Rockies.
RCI Announces Cruise News for 2005
From extreme makeovers to outstanding new itineraries from the Northeast, Royal Caribbean International is offering even more innovative amenities and exciting vacation options for guests in 2005.
Freedom of the Seas Under Construction
This spring, the line is going to new lengths with Enchantment of the Seas, which will receive a 73-foot midsection insert, dramatic suspension bridges, a splash deck for kids, and bungee trampolines that send guests soaring into the air. Returning to service in July 2005, Enchantment of the Seas will offer a series of special summer and fall Canada/New England sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, as well as from Philadelphia and Boston, before returning to year-round Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale.
Exotic Caribbean Itineraries
Royal Caribbean guests can explore Alaska and Canada with cruisetour packages in conjunction with seven-night Alaska cruise itineraries. Vision of the Seas sails one-way Gulf of Alaska itineraries between Vancouver and Seward, while Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas sail roundtrip Hubbard Glacier itineraries from Vancouver. Guests aboard Vision of the Seas sailings can choose from 19 cruisetours that explore Alaska's natural wonders and include travel by deluxe motorcoach and luxurious glass-domed railcars, the Wilderness Express. Adventurous land excursion options include white-water rafting, glacier flight-seeing and heli-hiking. The line also offers Canadian Rockies and Whistler cruisetours in conjunction with the roundtrip Hubbard Glacier cruises.
Royal Caribbean International Gives
Generation Y is getting a taste of adult treats -- and treatments -- with the introduction of Royal Caribbean's Y spa, a menu of teen spa treatments and services specifically tailored to the line's younger guests. "Y Spa provides the perfect opportunity for our teen guests to forget about school stress and return from vacation refreshed and ready to go," said David Stanley, vice president, Fleet Operations Revenue, for Royal Caribbean International. "It is also a chance for mothers and daughters or fathers and sons to share some quality time while being pampered by our spa staff."
Offered fleetwide to male and female guests ages 13 to 17, Y Spa features treatments including massages, facials, hair and nail treatments, and fitness classes.
To melt muscle tension away, teens can choose a 25-minute aromatherapy massage or a Surfers Scrub. The Scrub, an invigorating sea salt scrub with seaweed, is perfect for tired muscles after a day of rock climbing onboard or exploring ashore. Moms and dads can get in on the special treats and spend time with their teens with a 25-minute Mother and Daughter Paradise Massage or a Father and Son Chill Out Massage.
Teen cruisers can tackle skin problems with a 50-minute Acne Attack facial, featuring an advanced oxygen treatment, or enjoy the sweet scents of a Fabulous Fruity facial that deep cleans skin with a mixture of organic, fresh fruits. Teens looking for a safe tanning alternative can take advantage of the Fake Bake -- an invigorating body scrub followed by an application of self-tanning cream to the face and body.
For special evenings out at the teen disco, Royal Caribbean's salons offer styling sessions with a personalized consultation followed by color and a cut, as well as 25-minute manicures or 45-minute pedicures.
At the gym, fitness buffs wanting to stay in shape on vacation can sign up for the Fitness Frenzy package. Participants sweat it out in three specialized boot-camp style classes run by the ships' fitness staff and also receive a personalized metabolism test.
Teen guests must receive parental consent to receive treatment from the Y Spa menu. Only teens 16 years or older will be able to participate in the Fitness Frenzy classes. Prices range from $23 for a manicure to $100 for a Stylin' Session, which includes a personal consultation, color and cut. The Y Spa treatments were developed by Elemis for the Royal Caribbean day spas, which are operated by Steiner Leisure Management.
Celebrity Cruises Deploys Fourth Ship to Europe
Steadily increasing demand for Celebrity Cruises' vacation experiences in Europe has led the top-rated premium line to deploy a fourth ship to the region in 2005. The 1,750-guest Century, previously scheduled to sail 9- and 10-night Caribbean cruises next spring and summer, will join Celebrity's Constellation, Galaxy and Millennium in Europe, offering vacationers the greatest capacity and broadest array of options Celebrity has offered to-date in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Following a 14-night transatlantic cruise departing from Fort Lauderdale on May 7, Century will sail a series of 12-night Baltic cruises roundtrip from Amsterdam, a unique Norwegian Fjords cruise, and 10- and 11-night Mediterranean cruises, before returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, departing roundtrip on alternating 9- and 10-night Caribbean cruises. The new European sailings open for booking January 4, 2005.
"We've enjoyed offering a year-round option in the Caribbean with Century, but our guests' demand for more Celebrity vacation options in Europe can't be ignored," said Celebrity Cruises President & COO Jack Williams. The sheer value of a Celebrity vacation also can't be ignored. As the U.S. dollar continues to decline against the euro, a growing number of savvy travelers are homing in on cruising as the definitive way to experience Europe.
"Celebrity Cruises has always represented incredible value, and next year, particularly compared with traditional land-based vacations in Europe, it's absolutely incomparable," said Williams. "There's the convenience factor as well. You unpack once, and your premium hotel moves with you, from one magnificent port to the next."
Williams tagged Century "the obvious choice" for the fourth ship to sail in Europe next year. The ship was the first in the Celebrity fleet to sail in the region when the line launched regular service there in 1999. The sophistication of Europe is echoed in Century's onboard experience, featuring the fresh, gourmet cuisine of renowned Master Chef Michel Roux; the stylish Cova Café Milano, Celebrity's seagoing version of the chic coffeehouse in the fashion district of Milan; the exotic AquaSpa® by Elemis, and a host of sumptuous services and amenities, including Les Clefs d'Or -- certified Concierges, expertly trained Sommeliers, and 24-hour butler service in every suite.
Celebrity has established special toll-free numbers to reaccommodate guests booked on Century's Caribbean cruises affected by the new European sailings. Guests with individual bookings are asked to call 1-888-837-5676. Groups are asked to call 1-888-305-4549.
Celebrity Cruises' Horizon Moves to Island Cruises Fleet
Celebrity Cruises' Horizon will move to the Island Cruises fleet in October 2005 under a six-year lease agreement arrangement with the British-based cruise line. Island Cruises, created in May 2000, is the brand name of Sunshine Cruises Limited, a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and First Choice Holidays PLC, one of the United Kingdom's largest integrated tour operators.
"Island Cruises has performed well in its first three years," said Jack Williams, president and chief operating officer of Celebrity Cruises. "By adding a ship, Island Cruises can continue to grow its brand and overall presence in Europe and South America. Horizon has served our Celebrity Cruises guests very well during the past 14 years and will continue to do so for the guests of Island Cruises."
Since its first sailing in spring 2002, Island Cruises has attracted a high number of first-time cruisers with its casual ambiance. The cruise line offers informal, flexible and affordable cruise vacations with open-seating dining and a relaxed dress code. It currently offers two transatlantic, six Brazilian and three Mediterranean itineraries on the 1,740-guest Island Escape. The line also offers combination cruise/hotel packages with 20 resort hotels in Majorca, Sâo Paolo and Rio De Janeiro, as well as air/sea packages originating from 16 regional airports. Island Escape previously sailed as Royal Caribbean International's Viking Serenade.
"We couldn't be happier about the expansion of our fleet, especially with such a wonderful ship," said Michael Bayley, managing director of Island Cruises. "We look forward to growing our cruise line and providing our guests with even more alternatives for their cruise vacations."
Horizon will complete its current winter sailings to the Caribbean from the Port of Tampa and its summer 2005 Bermuda sailings from the Port of Philadelphia. The ship will be turned over to Island Cruises in late October. It will then enter drydock in Freeport, Bahamas, where it will undergo extensive refurbishment, including the addition of two restaurants, 59 staterooms and 50 balconies. The ship will enter service for Island Cruises in December in Brazil under a new name. The ship will sail from Brazil during winters and in the Mediterranean during summers.
Horizon joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in May 1990 and was built by Jos. L. Myer GmbH & Co. of Papenburg, Germany. It was refurbished in October 1998. The 47,000 gross-registered-ton ship carries 1,700 guests and 642 crew members. Celebrity Cruises currently operates the ship primarily in Bermuda in summers and in the Caribbean in winters.
Royal Caribbean Re-Launches Sovereign Of The Seas
Royal Caribbean International's Sovereign of the Seas re-entered service on Monday, Dec. 13, after an extreme makeover that includes bow-to-stern renovations and several new entertainment and dining options. Sovereign, which offers year-round three- and four-night Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral, also added sixty-two individual balconies on Deck 10, creating the ship's first balcony staterooms.
"Sovereign of the Seas was the world's biggest and most exciting ship when she debuted in 1988, and she has remained a favorite despite the introduction of new, larger ships," said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, for Royal Caribbean International. "With her latest renovations, she is once again at the forefront of some of our latest concepts, such as our hot Latin lounge."
Entertainment is high-octane on the new Sovereign of the Seas. Boleros Latin lounge is sure to be the ship's hottest nighttime spot, with drink favorites from Brazil, Cuba and Central America, such as caipirinhas, mojitos and specialty tequilas, as well as dueling piano players and live Latin jazz performances. The newly refurbished Follies Theater features two musical production shows that take guests back in time with favorite songs throughout the ages. "Dancin' Thru the Movies" brings back classic movie soundtracks, including Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever and The Blues Brothers. "Flashback" revisits '50s to '80s music with songs from legends from Elvis to Aretha to Prince.
Sovereign serves up several new dining options, including a new casual dining concept, the Windjammer Marketplace, which builds on the line's Windjammer Café concept. Windjammer Marketplace features multiple self-service islands, each offering regional dishes. Initial island themes include Asian, Latin, Mediterranean and American/Eclectic. A cooked-to-order pasta station, carving station, deli, and soup and salad bar round out the Marketplace offerings. Above the Windjammer, guests can grab a slice at the new pizzeria, Sorrento's, or enjoy juicy hamburgers and thick shakes at the specialty restaurant, Johnny Rockets®, an all-American diner at sea. They also can sip specialty espresso drinks from Seattle's Best Coffee®, and sample their favorite flavors from Ben & Jerry's® at the sit-down Latte'tudes coffee shop and ice cream parlor.
Fitness buffs have everything they need for a full workout at the relocated and expanded ShipShape Fitness Center and Sovereign Day Spa. The new facilities feature a bigger gym with additional cardio equipment, and a full- service spa with a hair and nails salon and 11 treatment rooms, including a two-person room for couples. Royal Caribbean's younger set now have more space just for them in an expanded Adventure Ocean Youth Program center. Teens can stake out their own turf in three exclusive areas -- the ultra-hip Fuel nightclub; a cool hangout lounge called The Living Room; and The Back Deck, a sun deck with an outdoor dance floor. Guests needing to combine work and play have a new multi-purpose business complex, housing a conference center and business services office, to meet their meeting and communications needs.
Sovereign of the Seas offers three- and four-night Bahamas itineraries year-round from Port Canaveral, calling at Nassau and CocoCay. Through Royal Caribbean's Explorations! shore excursions program, guests going ashore can snorkel with stingrays or follow in the footsteps of pirates in Nassau, or wade into the many water sports at CocoCay - from parasailing, kayaking and snorkeling to a sun-filled day at Caylana's Castle Cove Aqua Park.
New Way To Stay In Touch At Sea
Guests on Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises ships can soon use their personal cell phones to stay in touch while at sea. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has teamed with Wireless Maritime Services, a joint venture of Cingular Wireless and Maritime Telecommunications Network (MTN), to provide a convenient and affordable new communications option that allows guests to make and receive calls on their own cell phones -- at their personal numbers -- while in international waters. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which pioneered the use of this service on Island Cruises' Island Escape, a joint venture with First Choice Holidays PLC, has now begun to offer this service to guests sailing on its Royal Caribbean and Celebrity brands.
"Our guests know they can count on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity to bring them the latest innovations, whether in onboard programming, ship amenities or technology," said Jack Williams, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We know many of our guests will welcome this opportunity to stay within easy reach of their families, check voicemails or make calls."
The new capability is now available on Majesty of the Seas and is slated to launch in the coming weeks on Navigator of the Seas and the Celebrity ship Summit. The company plans to extend this service to its 29-ship Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet within the next year. Most cruise guests with GSM phones will be able to take advantage of the new service, making and receiving both voice calls and text messages as they usually do while roaming on land. Guests with data-capable GSM/GPRS devices may also be able to access data services, such as email and picture messaging. In addition, the companies intend to expand the offering so that customers of CDMA carriers also can take advantage of the service.
Guests will be billed by their own wireless phone carrier at the roaming rates set by that carrier. The new shipboard service will activate when the ship leaves the range of the closest land-based cell tower. While in port, cell service will revert to the local, land-based towers.
RCI and Fisher-Price, Inc. Announce Unprecedented Partnership
Royal Caribbean International and Fisher-Price, Inc. have big plans for small cruisers. Royal Caribbean, an innovator in family cruise vacations, and Fisher-Price, a leading brand of infant and preschool toys worldwide, today announced a new partnership to develop a series of programs and services for the line's youngest cruisers and their parents.
"Since 2000, we have seen more than a 50-percent increase in the number of children under three cruising with their parents aboard our ships," said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, for Royal Caribbean International. "We already have the outstanding Adventure Ocean Youth Program for children ages three and up, and are pleased to partner with the early-childhood experts at Fisher-Price to now offer families with younger children enriching experiences of their own, designed to further enhance their cruise vacation."
"Our research reveals an increase in family travel and, with that trend, a strong desire among today's parents to use vacation time to strengthen family bonds and create lasting memories," said Chuck Scothon, senior vice president, Marketing and Brand Development, for Fisher-Price. "These innovative programs beautifully underscore our mission to help families play, laugh and grow together. Royal Caribbean is recognized as the leader in family cruise vacations and together, we believe we can help families with young children truly experience the ultimate family vacation."
The first programs to head to sea will be a series of fun and interactive educational sessions for children six months to three years old and their parents, developed by the specialists at Fisher-Price's famous Play Laboratory. These daily, 45-minute playgroups offer age-appropriate activities that expose children to new experiences and teach parents tools for incorporating skill-building into playtime through storytelling, creative arts, music, and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games.
Aqua Babies targets parents with children ages six months to 18 months with six themed sessions, each designed to introduce babies to different types of skills and activities to enhance development in a particular area. For example, "Get Up & Go" utilizes activities and Fisher-Price toys such as the Stride-to-Ride WalkerTM and the Stand-Up Ball BlastTM to help promote physical development and problem-solving skills through active and imaginative play.
Other Aqua Babies sessions focus on promoting self-confidence by experiencing cause and effect, exploring rhythm and movement through music, encouraging baby's sense of accomplishment, reinforcing early learning, and making new discoveries about the world around them.
The six Aqua Tots sessions encourage toddlers ages 18 months to 3 years old to explore their expanding world, develop their imaginations and build self-confidence. Playful activities are incorporated into familiar themes that create enriching, educational interactive play experiences.
"Fun on the Farm" uses the Little People® characters and the Animal SoundsTM Farm to help kids make the connection between farm animals, the sounds they make and the ways they move. "Learning Fundamentals" gets kids -- and their parents -- moving and singing as they learn their ABCs and 123s, as well as shapes, colors and phonics. Additional Aqua Tots themes tap into toddler favorites, including creative play with cars and trucks; constructing cities and farms with building blocks and toys; learning about the people in their neighborhoods; and discovering more about what they'll see and do on their family cruise vacation.
Parents who participate in either program will receive a special newsletter and daily Cruise Compass onboard that explain the theme and objectives of each session and include "Playtips to Go" -- related ideas for continuing to strengthen their child's newly found skills through themed play activity back at home. The Aqua Babies and Aqua Tots programs debut on Explorer of the Seas in November and will be available on all Royal Caribbean ships by the end of March 2005. The sessions are free of charge and are hosted by Royal Caribbean's specially trained youth staff. Each child must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver.
The companies also will extend the Aqua Babies and Aqua Tots programs into guest staterooms with "Fisher-Price TV," age-appropriate programming for Royal Caribbean's in-room televisions fleetwide. "Fisher-Price TV" will include popular Fisher-Price programs such as the company's award-winning "Baby Development" and Little People® video series. In addition, Fisher-Price's director of Child Research, Dr. Kathleen Alfano, provides parents with valuable tips for traveling with children and on-the-go play.
Aqua Babies, Aqua Tots and FPTV are just the first wave in programs to come out of the Royal Caribbean and Fisher-Price partnership. Additional programs and services are in development and will be announced in 2005.
Getting Out There With Just the Girls
Girlfriends getaways are gaining ground, according to a recent independent study conducted by Royal Caribbean International of more than 1,500 women nationwide. Close to half of the women surveyed (48 percent) have taken a girlfriends-only trip in the past three years, and nearly nine out of 10 said they either have plans for a trip in the near future (33 percent) or would like to take one (56 percent).
"We host more women than men each year and see many groups of women cruising to enjoy time together and share new experiences," said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, for Royal Caribbean International. "This new survey confirms this popular trend, and reinforces Royal Caribbean offers all of the top elements women look for in a getaway -- new destinations to explore, spa treatments, beach and pool time, and great shopping, dining and nightlife."
According to the survey, girlfriends on the go are most interested in sharing a special spa retreat (66 percent), beach vacation (65 percent), shopping trip (57 percent), cruise (53 percent) or city visit (42 percent).
While where to go is important, the majority of women in favor of girls-only getaways said they feel the top reason to take these trips is to bond with friends and family (70 percent). Other motivations selected include sharing new experiences (45 percent), exploring new destinations together (40 percent), taking a break from a significant other (39 percent), taking a break from work (37 percent), taking a break from kids (35 percent) and celebrating an important occasion (33 percent).
Despite the fact that a third of women planning or hoping to get away said they would enjoy a break from their significant other, 86 percent said that men are the most popular topic of conversation. Talking about the past came in a close second at 69 percent, followed by sex (59 percent), children (57 percent) and the future (57 percent).
Although women love to take time to talk and catch up, according to the survey findings, they also like to stay active. While dining out was the most popular activity cited (89 percent), shopping (81 percent), spa sessions (75 percent), beach/pool activities (73 percent), makeovers (64 percent) and nightlife (56 percent) also proved popular.
The biggest barriers to bringing girlfriends together, according to respondents, are finding a time that works for everyone (85 percent) and selecting a trip to suit all budgets (80 percent). Not in question, however, is what they would pack differently -- more money, more makeup and more clothes. Old photos of friends on the trip and current photos of loved ones also are must-haves.
Royal Caribbean Offers Girlfriends Outstanding Options for Getaways
Onboard, girlfriends cruising together will find a wide range of activities to enjoy, including day spas, fitness centers, duty-free shopping, multiple dining options, casinos, and nightlife from nightclubs to musical productions. Girlfriends can cheer each other on to reach new heights on the line's signature rock-climbing walls, practice their putting on miniature-golf courses, or simply catch up poolside at the adults-only Solariums.
Royal Caribbean also has introduced a new program to make group travel even more memorable. Royal Reunions offers guests special amenities and activities, including festive stateroom door decorations, Royal Reunions logo gifts, a group photo and group challenges run by the cruise staff.
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