TAW Exclusive: The Royal Reveal

RCCL's new top-secret ship seems to be making waves

By: Ana Figueroa

Are you ready for the “Royal Reveal?” We’re talking about Royal Caribbean International’s much-anticipated announcement about a new cruising “first” on Freedom of the Seas. Debuting in June 2006, Freedom of the Seas will be the world’s largest cruise ship. Select media, including TravelAge West, have already received a sneak preview of the ship, at the Aker Finnyards shipyard in Finland.

But Royal Caribbean execs were tight-lipped about the big “surprise feature” that they plan to reveal in a major media event in Bayonne, N. J. on Aug. 31st.

Rumors are flying about the new onboard attraction on the 158,000-ton ship whose passenger and crew capacity will exceed 5,000. How will the line that brought us the first rock climbing walls and ice-skating rinks at sea outdo itself this time? Are they planning to add a roller coaster? Or, perhaps, a skydiving parachute? (They already have bungee jumping trampolines.)

No doubt, this new top-secret feature is bound to make a splash. In fact, splash may be the operative word. A source tells TravelAge West that the new attraction may very well be a “wave riding” device that will allow passengers to surf onboard. That wouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen the ship’s immense “aqua environment,” which is 43 percent larger than the pool decks on the line’s Voyager Class of vessels. The aqua environment already features three separate pool areas, a water park, waterfall, Jacuzzis cantilevered over the sides of the ship, and an area that transforms into a disco at night.

Heck, surfing will fit right in.

Royal Caribbean, not surprisingly, is remaining mum until the 31st.

“We’re not commenting on any speculations as to what the new feature might be. We’ve heard a wide variety of interesting guesses, though,” said a spokesperson, when asked to comment on the surfing rumors.

Looks like we’ll have to wait until the official announcement for confirmation. But we here at TravelAge West are waxing our surfboards.