Posted June 18th, 2008, 01:35 PM
Last edited by kingsgirl; June 18th, 2008 at 01:54 PM
Live updates from : http://www.usatoday.com/travel/cruis...=51507930.blog
12:28 PM EST:
Good afternoon, Cruise Loggers. I'm here at the Nokia Theatre at Times Square in New York, where Royal Caribbean has laid out a (Royal Caribbean) blue carpet, complete with rope line, to welcome guests to what they're promising will be quite the extravaganza. The line has invited hundreds of people for the big unveiling, including the media, travel agents, investors, Wall Street analysts and foreign dignitaries from the ports where the ship will dock. I'll be back in a moment as the event begins (be sure to hit the refresh button on your computer as you follow along to see the very latest).
12:38 PM EST:
It looks like it'll be a few more minutes until the event begins, but I already have a bit of news: The itineraries planned for Oasis. A brochure handed out in the press room here shows an Eastern Caribbean itinerary from Fort Lauderdale to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, the Bahamas. It will alternate with a Western Caribbean itinerary to Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico.
12:44 PM EST:
An update on those itineraries: the ship will sail the Eastern Caribbean exclusively until April, 2010. The Western Caribbean voyage begins alternating in starting in May, 2010.
12:53 PM EST:
They've opened the doors and most of the crowd has taken their seats here at the Nokia Theatre. A hint of what may be coming: There are merry-go-round horses hanging from the ceiling.
12:57 PM EST:
The show has begun with . . . a Royal Caribbean dancer doing one of those hanging-from-sheets-attached-to-the-ceiling performances. A sign of something to be unveiled?
1:04 PM EST:
Royal Caribbean cruise director Ken Rush has appeared to MC the event, introducing a video now playing showing illustrations of what's coming, and it includes . . . a new neighborhood called Boardwalk that will have amusements. "It will feel a little like you are on the Boardwalk at Atlantic City," Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain says in the video.
1:06 PM EST:
Another big reveal just showed off in the video . . . an amphiteater on the back of the ship for water-based shows. And now the video is showing us double-decker loft apartments.
1:07 PM EST:
And yet more. The ship will have a Royal Promenade that is twice the width of the ones on the line's Voyager and Freedom class ships. Another innovation: A mezzanine level the overlooks the Royal Promenade.
1:10 PM EST:
That's it for the big reveals. The video has ended and a beaming Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain has taken the stage. "We're beginning to answer the question I have been asked for a long time: Why have you decided to spend a billion or so dollars on something so large," he says. "And the answer is . . . we're listening to our guests (who say) we love the choices that you offer us."
1:14 PM EST:
The head of the Royal Caribbean brand, Adam Goldstein, has taken the stage to talk about the ship's itineraries (which are as I mentioned earlier). One key tidbit is that the Eastern Caribbean cruises will begin Dec. 12, 2009, so that apparently is the date for the ship's maiden voyage. Now he's introducing dignitaries from the various ports on the schedule.
1:17 PM EST:
Goldstein says the line will open bookings for the ship on Sept. 3.
1:19 PM EST:
Apparently we're not going to get it all today. Goldstein notes that, with today's announcement, the line only has announced three of the seven "neighborhoods" planned for the ship (Central Park, Boardwalk and the Aquatheater).
1:22 PM EST:
Goldstein has opened the floor to questions, and CEO Richard Fain has joined him on the stage. The first question? What's the total capacity of the ship with third and fourth passengers included in cabins (until now the line has only revealed the passenger capacity based on double occupancy, which is 5,400). Goldstein says that with third and fourth people included in cabins the ship will be able to hold up to 6,300 passengers.
1:26 PM EST:
Will there ever be a ship larger than this one? Don't count it out, says CEO Richard Fain. "Voyager of the Seas was so large that we were convinced ships wouldn't get any larger," he notes. "But the response to that was so overwhelmingly positive and everyone enjoyed it so much that we found they want even more. At this point we don't envision anything larger, but we have learned to say never say never."
1:29 PM EST:
In response to a question Goldstein notes that there will be 28 of the two-deck-high loft suites. Illustrations put up on the screen show soaring floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows with hip contemporary furniture.
1:32 PM EST:
What will the fares be for the ship? Goldstein is coy on the question, noting that the line has until Sept. 3, when the ship goes on sale, to reveal such details. But don't expect a discount. "Customers are prepared to pay a premium to go on the latest and greatest ships," he notes.
1:36 PM EST:
How did Royal Caribbean pick the ports for the Oasis itineraries? With a ship this big one key element was port facilities. "One of the things that we were very interested in is that each of the ports has a dock and we do not have to tender," notes Goldstein. To that point, Goldstein has some additional news for Royal Caribbean fans: After 25 years of tendering its passengers to the shore at Labadee, the line's private beach area in Haiti, the line will be building a dock.
1:40 PM EST:
The issue of getting on and off has come up. "Those kind of questions are often asked, but actually it's just an issue of scale," says Fain. "We will have more than a proportionally larger number of ways for getting people and luggage off the ship (than current ships). We think this will be as good or better than our norm."
1:43 PM EST:
Surprise . . . another gee-whiz reveal. The ship will have a zip line that let's passengers zoom across the ship, starting (if I heard it correctly) from the new Boardwalk area of the ship.
1:48 PM EST:
Goldstein and Fain are wrapping up the question-and-answer session. Goldstein reiterates that there still are four more neighborhoods on the ship to be announced.
Majesty of the Seas - - Bahamas: Mar. 11, 2013
Majesty of the Seas - - Bahamas: May 5, 2008
Serenade of the Seas - - Alaska: May 26, 2007
Majesty of the Seas - - Bahamas: Jan 31, 2005
"Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things that you didn't
do than by the ones you did do. So throw
off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe
harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."