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Royal Caribbean unveils details of Symphony of the Seas

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Royal Caribbean International, the contemporary market unit in the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) group, has unveiled details of Symphony of the Seas, its fifth Oasis class ship, which is due to enter service next year.

“New dining concepts and family activities, awe-inspiring theater, aerial, ice and aqua entertainment, and the most dynamic suite in family travel will join the lineup of Royal Caribbean exclusives – such as the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar, powered by Makr Shakr; the iconic AquaTheater showcasing unrivaled high-flying, high-diving performances; and the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea – for a thrilling crescendo of diverse experiences, all set in the unique seven-neighborhood concept of the award-winning Oasis-class ships,” the company said in a statement.

Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuts in April 2018 for her inaugural season in Europe. The architectural marvel will accommodate more balcony staterooms overlooking the open ocean and legendary Boardwalk and Central Park neighborhoods than her popular sister ship Harmony of the Seas. But there is much more to this ship than her impressive size.

"We're excited to introduce Symphony of the Seas, our boldest composition yet, offering the best of Royal Caribbean with some new surprises for our guests to create a vacation that adventurers of all ages can enjoy together," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "We set out to create a new level of vacation adventure and deliver the ultimate escape for families of all shapes and sizes. Symphony will introduce the most cutting-edge, customizable, and digitally-enhanced experiences in the Royal Caribbean fleet."

Symphony of the Seas will introduce the new generation of Royal Caribbean's famed Boardwalk neighborhood, infused with new energy, interactive experiences and lively venues conceptualized for endless entertainment for all ages. Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade will be the place to watch the "big game" from around the world across 30 big-screen TVs, ensuring everyone has the best seat in the house to cheer on their favorite team.

Spanning the length of the Boardwalk, the vibrant sports bar and arcade will be a hot spot for families to enjoy wings, burgers and craft beer on draft, as well as friendly competitions of Ms. Pacman, Star Wars Battle Pod, Ice Skee-ball and other popular games. Across the way, aptly adjacent to the Boardwalk's iconic hand-carved carousel, Sugar Beach candy and ice-cream shop will bring a sugar high of sweet treats to adults and kids alike, enticing them with colorful candy-packed walls and tempting ice cream and toppings galore. The sweetest spot on the high seas also will feature family-friendly activities for aspirational bakers.

The highly anticipated additions to the Boardwalk will round out the signature offerings that propelled the neighborhood's popularity. The Ultimate Abyss will catapult only the brave from the tallest slide at sea into the heart of the Boardwalk to revel in their adrenaline rush. Johnny Rockets is where indulgences of burgers, fries and milkshakes will be celebrated with 1950s diner music and entertainment. The awe-inspiring AquaTheater will activate the ocean backdrop and starry nights with a breathtaking show of aquatic acrobatics and stunning high-diving aerial performances found only on Symphony of the Seas.

Symphony will introduce the world's most adventurous and interactive family suite. The next generation of family accommodations, the two-level Ultimate Family Suite is a dream come true for kids of all ages and will debut eye-popping features, including: an exclusive slide from the kid's only bedroom to the living room below; a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, an air-hockey table and hidden nooks for chilling.

A separate 3D movie theater-style TV room, complete with a popcorn machine and a library of video games across multiple gaming systems will bring a new level of euphoria and competition to gamers in every family. And that's just the inside; the 212-square-foot wraparound balcony touts a bumper pool table, a climbing experience and a full-size whirlpool that will provide unmatched ocean views.

The Ultimate Family Suite spans 1,346 square feet, accommodating a family of up to eight in two bedrooms, and uses every inch of space to activate the imagination and provide the most brag-worthy accommodations imaginable. And if that wasn't enough, guests in the Ultimate Family Suite will have their own personal Royal Genie to take care of their every need while they enjoy all the services and premium amenities of the Royal Suite Class. This ultimate expression of family vacation indulgence joins the wide variety of contemporary suite accommodations available throughout the ship, from the Loft Suites with their breathtaking views to the spacious multi-room Owner's Suites.

Symphony will debut new food and beverage concepts adding to an already diverse lineup of more than 20 specialty and complimentary restaurants across the ship's seven neighborhoods. Hooked Seafood, Royal Caribbean's first New England-style seafood restaurant, will feature fresh seafood and a robust raw bar complete with oysters shucked to order. Located at the front of the ship in the Solarium, the casually sophisticated restaurant will offer expansive views of the open water, serving lunch and dinner. El Loco Fresh will offer mouthwatering made-to-order tacos, burritos and other popular Mexican fare. The open-air restaurant in the Sports Zone will seat more than 100 guests.

The cruise line's signature culinary favorites, including Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, Jamie's Italian by Jamie Oliver, 150 Central Park with its American seasonal menu, Park Café and Izumi Hibachi and Sushi, also will introduce refreshed designs and new menu specialties on Symphony, offering guests the widest choice and variety of dining options.

Back by popular demand, the hugely successful "Hairspray" – the brand's first Broadway musical at sea – will return on Symphony with a total refresh to headline the Royal Theater along with a new original Royal Caribbean show, "Flight," a historical satire on the evolution of air travel that ends with homage to the famed Wright Brothers. In the iconic AquaTheater open-air amphitheater, a new aqua show, "HiRo," offers serious wow factor with high-diving and acrobatics. Studio B will showcase a new time-travel adventure. A high-tech ice-skating show,"1977" will bring guests to London on the eve of the Queen's Silver Jubilee when her Crown Jewels are stolen in the heist of the century.

For thrilling live-action adventure at sea, guests can gear up for an epic glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience like no other. State-of-the-art technology and special effects will transform Studio B into the world's largest and ultimate laser tag arena as family, friends and foes battle over the fate of the last planet in the galaxy. Vacationers looking for a challenge can experience a new Puzzle Break experience on Symphony, where teams will race against the clock and learn to work together toward a common goal – to escape the submarine-themed room before time runs out.

The latest technological innovations will be integrated throughout Symphony, including a redesigned check-in experience that eliminates lines and bypasses the counter. The new process will leverage a combination of facial recognition, bar codes and beacons to make boarding fast and frictionless.

Guests will check-in via the brand's new mobile app and seamlessly upload their security "selfie" to create their onboard account from the comfort of their home. Upon arrival, guests will go through a security screening and then head straight to their stateroom, where their key will be ready and waiting. In addition to mobile check-in, Symphony will feature all of the pioneering and award-winning guest technology the cruise line is known for, including VOOM – the fastest internet at sea, state-of-the-art wayfinding and virtual balconies.

One ship, seven distinctive neighborhoods for families to explore together or individually, Symphony is the ultimate playground for guests of all ages, with new surprises at every turn.

Boardwalk – Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade and the Sugar Beach candy and ice-cream shop bring a new spin to this outdoor space inspired by the nostalgic seaside piers of yesteryear. The Boardwalk, with its original hand-carved carousel, will offer classic family fun combined with a high-energy vibe felt throughout its casual eateries, retail shops and activities for a day of family fun. The signature AquaTheater, located at the stern of the ship with a distinct ocean backdrop, is a dazzling amphitheater-style venue where guests can experience stunning aquatic acrobatics and high-diving aerial performances.

Central Park – With more than 12,000 lush tropical plants, this open-air neighborhood is a serene retreat that features meandering walkways with quiet nooks for reading and relaxing, retail boutiques and specialty restaurants including Chops Grille, Jamie's Italian by Jamie Oliver, 150 Central Park and Vintages wine bar. The expanded Park Café, with its communal table and additional outdoor bistro seating overlooking a central piazza, is the perfect spot for meeting friends and people watching.

Entertainment Place – A contemporary night club district, where more intimate venues cater to different moods and preferences, is anchored by Casino Royale, which will take the title of the largest casino at sea, and Studio B, home to a full-scale ice rink and newly introduced glow-in-the-dark laser tag game. The Attic exudes the vibe of a downtown comedy club and transforms into a lounge for late-night drinks and dancing, while Jazz on 4 features live jazz and blues performances with the convenience of table service for couples and groups.

Pool and Sports Zone – Home to the ship's most active adventures, including the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea, The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, two FlowRider surf simulators, a mini-golf course, a nine-deck-high zip line, and the beach pool, plus the all new El Loco Fresh restaurant.

Royal Promenade – Dining, bar-hopping and shopping abound on this bustling main street at sea. The Promenade features a café, the industry-changing robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar, powered by Makr Shakr, and the Rising Tide Bar that transports guests up to Central Park.

Youth Zone – From adventurous tots to teens, young travelers can dive into the widest array of youth facilities and innovative programming at sea, including a yet-to-be-revealed new Puzzle Break challenge where teams will race against the clock to escape the submarine-themed room before time runs out.

Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center – Chill out or work out at the largest spa and fitness center on the high seas.

 

 

UK's third largest cruise line rebranding to Marella Cruises

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Thomson Cruises has announced that later this month, the UK’s third largest cruise line will be embarking on the biggest and most exciting evolution in the company’s history as it is rebranded as Marella Cruises. "The move comes at the same time as Thomson changes to TUI later this month. The rebrand will see the cruise line set sail towards new horizons with sleek, modern additions to the fleet, such as Marella Explorer next year, and exotic new routes in the pipeline," the company said in a statement.

"With Marella Cruises still part of the world of TUI, customers will still be offered fantastic itineraries, great service and entertainment on board all six ships with the friendliest staff at sea. The word Marella, which means ‘shining sea’ in Celtic, was chosen by the company to reflect its spirit of exploration and discovery across the seas. Those choosing a Marella Cruises holiday will be able to take advantage of flights on their doorstep across 22 regional UK airports, as well as a wide Cruise & Stay programme that combines a cruise holiday with a stay at one of more than 140 hotels across 10 destinations worldwide, including the luxurious TUI Sensatori collection," it continued

"All of the extras that customers have grown to know and love with a Thomson Cruises holiday will still be offered with Marella Cruises, such as tips and service charges included in the price, All Inclusive as standard on Marella Explorer, Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2, previously TUI Discovery and TUI Discovery 2, and cruises setting sail at night meaning fewer days spent at sea and more time spent ashore. Thomson Cruises’ industry-renowned staff and crew will also still be a big part of the holiday experience; ensuring passengers receive the warmest of welcomes and the friendliest service at sea throughout their time onboard."

Helen Caron, Distribution and Cruise Director said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for our business. We’re really proud to offer an experience that guests can, and want to, come back to again and again and moving forward as Marella we’ve got brand new, modern additions to our fleet and more destinations, choice and experiences than ever before which really reflects our spirit of exploration and discovery within the new brand.”

Viking Line selects ABB Azipod propulsion for its Chinese-built cruise ferry

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

ABB will provide Azipod propulsion system for new Viking Line cruise ferry to be built in China, the first installation of Azipod propulsion in a cruise-ferry application. The vessel is to be built by Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry co., Ltd. Additional scope of ABB’s supply includes electrical power generation and distribution systems and bow thruster motors.

Scheduled for delivery in 2020, the 13-deck, 63,000 gross ton vessel, 2,800-passenger capacity ship will connect the Finnish port of Turku, Åland Islands and Stockholm Sweden. Azipod electrical propulsion is especially suited to the high efficiency and fast turnaround required to navigate the archipelago between Finland and Sweden.

Like her high-profile, European-built predecessor Viking Grace, the new cruise-ferry will feature LNG engines. However, while the earlier Viking Line ship includes conventional shaftline propulsion technology, the latest contract calls for the first installation in a cruise-ferry application of twin XO 2100-type Azipod propulsion. Azipod XO units are the propulsion solution of choice in the cruise ship market. Like all Azipod propulsion units, the XO-type features intelligent control systems and advanced condition monitoring, and is designed for optimized energy efficiency and maintainability. Classed by DNV-GL the ship will also draw on ABB’s long experience in providing Azipod propulsion systems for ships operating in ice conditions, with the Azipod XO units designed to match the ship’s ice class 1A Super notation.

Engineered for vessel comfort, maneuverability and efficiency, Azipod XO units are designed and built in Helsinki. In fact, the majority of the marine equipment onboard the new vessel will be sourced in Northern Europe. ABB’s experience in running major projects in China also proved pivotal, with the company’s local production set to contribute power distribution systems and bow thruster motors to the project.

“Our expectations for this vessel is that she will be the most efficient cruise ferry operating in the Baltic, if not the world, and our choice of ABB is based on our experience of them as a reliable, innovative supply partner with the knowledge and understanding to run major projects in Finland and locally with shipbuilders,” says, Jan Hanses, President and CEO, Viking Line.

“Following on from our power and propulsion systems role in Viking Grace, we are very excited that the continuation of our cooperation with Viking Line involves the groundbreaking order for Azipod propulsion for this cruise ferry,” says Marcus Högblom Vice President, Global Sales, Azipod and Passenger Ship Segment.

“By utilizing ABBs knowledge in the cruise sector, Viking Line’s expertise in ferry operations and our joint experience from Viking Grace we are - together - writing the future of how propulsion systems will look,” adds Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB BU Marine and Ports.

Viking Line has stated that its contract with XSI includes an option to build a second cruise ferry at the yard.

Celebrity Cruises unveils $400 million fleet wide upgrade

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Celebrity Cruises, the premium market unit in the Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd (RCCL) group, has unveiled a $400 million fleet wide upgrade programme called Celebrity Revolution that will run over four years from 2019.

All cabins will be upgraded and refurbished onboard the nine ships of the company, which will include the fitting of 11,579 cashmere mattresses onboard. Storage facilities will be improved in the cabins as well.

Retreat Sundeck and Retreat Lounge will be introduced to suite guests that will offer complimentary beverages, entertainment and “gourmet bites,” the company said in a statement.

Oceanview Café will be another new feature to be introduced onboard the ships of the line.

P&O Cruises Australia plans ‘more efficient assets”

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

 P&O Cruisess Australia, the Sydney based contemporary market unit in the Carnival Corporation & plc group, plans to replace its existing fleet of five ships, all of which were built in the 1990s to other brands,  with more modern tonnage over time.

“We also expect to replace existing ships over time with more efficient assets for this market. We will make announcements when relevant, Sandy Olsen, Vice President Corporate Affairs, Carnival Australia, told Cruise Business Online

She was referring to the news that the company will receive the 2001 built Golden Princess from sister company Princess Cruises in 2020, a year later than it had been envisaged to receive a 135,000 gross ton newbuilding from Fincantieri.

This would have been the line’s first newbuilding, but the Carnival group decided to allocate the ship to Carnival Cruise Line instead.

 

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