The New Wave in Cruising

A whole lot of surfing going on

By: Ana Figueroa

Royal Caribbean International the line that brought us onboard rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks and in-line skating tracks has taken the plunge once again with another industry first: onboard surfing. A new “surf park” featuring a device called a FlowRider will launch on Freedom of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, set to debut in May 2006.

The much-ballyhooed surf park attraction was introduced during a special event at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., on Aug. 31. Royal Caribbean executives donned flip-flops and other surf attire as they showed off the FlowRider to media and invited guests.

The surf park is part of a massive onboard “aqua environment” that also boasts a waterpark, geysers, current pool and waterfall. There’s also a sports pool and an adults-only Solarium with two cantilevered whirlpools that extend over the sides of the ship.

The FlowRider’s manufacturer, WaveLoch, Inc. of La Jolla, Calif., has provided simulated surfing attractions around the world. As demonstrated at the Cape Liberty event, the 32-foot-wide by 40-foot-long attraction generates a thin sheet of water that flows over the ride surface and creates a “wave.” The effect is something like swimming against a current in a stationary lap pool. Riders can either surf or body board on a wave current of 30,000 gallons per minute. The FlowRider’s tensioned-fabric surface, similar to that of a trampoline, will cushion the impact of falls. The attraction is free of charge, so passengers can “hang ten” all they like.

For those more interested in observing the watery spectacle, there’s plenty of space nearby for cheering on the soaked surfers. An adjacent sports bar will even feature flat-screen TVs with a live feed of the surf park.

“There’s no greater feeling of freedom than challenging yourself to expand your limits,” said Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean International’s president. “In the same way that our rock-climbing walls have inspired cruisers to get out there and try new things, we know the FlowRider will add to our guests’ excitement with an adrenaline-pumping, unforgettable new experience.”

A new TV commercial designed to introduce cruisers to the new attraction shows the evolution of surfing through the years and contains a punchy message: “Long board. Short board. Boogie board. Onboard.”

Without a doubt, it’s going to catch the attention of a new type of cruiser. Now, the only question is, will it inspire them enough to catch a wave?


Royal Caribbean International

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