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Escape rooms are all the rage on land, so why shouldn’t they be at sea?
That’s the question a growing number of cruise lines are asking — and for good reason. Entering a cryptic space where puzzle-solving is the only means of getting out is a very entertaining experience for a small group of participants. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International already feature such venues, and Princess Cruises is getting in on the act.
Nerdy millennials like me who fondly remember the computer game franchise “Myst” from their childhoods are perfect candidates for this type of experience. In the series, players are immersed in a mysterious virtual world that is revealed to them as more clues are unlocked. Escape rooms take that concept and apply it to the real world, with expert set design and challenging tasks for about six players.
Royal Caribbean permanently introduced an escape room to Harmony of the Seas with Escape the Rubicon, a spaceship-themed containment area where teams have just hour to solve their way out before “life support runs out.” The narrative and call for teams to work together creates an engaging and rewarding experience, especially for those who succeed. The level of difficulty ranges based on how well everyone gels as a group. (Thus, it’s always more enjoyable to participate with friends and family members than strangers.)
Royal Caribbean had previously debuted the activity onboard Anthem of the Seas as an overlay to an existing venue, temporarily presenting clues and puzzles in a compelling — but less immersive — fashion. Since then, it has expanded to include additional permanent spaces onboard Navigator of the Seas — dubbed Royal Escape Room: The Observatorium — and onboard Symphony of the Seas, where Escape the Rubicon features a submarine theme. There is a fee to participate.
Like Royal Caribbean’s original overlay approach, Norwegian temporarily implements its carnivalesque Escape the Big Top into multipurpose dinner theaters. Described as a carnival that takes an unusual turn when an act goes wrong, Escape the Big Top invites guests to solve the clues be-fore it’s too late. The complimentary experience is currently available onboard Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Escape. Up to 80 people at a time can partake in the experience; four to six sessions are offered each cruise, depending on demand.
And Princess will be next to jump on the escape room bandwagon. The line is developing Phantom Bridge — featuring more than 700 different outcomes — for its upcoming Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess. Usually, escape rooms have a singular set of puzzle solutions, and guests either egress or they don’t. Using Mediascape Room gaming technology, Princess will be able to vary the results for a uniquely repeatable activity.
Differing from most hourlong escape rooms, Phantom Bridge will only last 23 minutes for up to six people at a time — but the randomization promises far more intrigue. Added interactivity is expected from navigation simulations, projection mapping, touch-screen surfaces and hidden attributes, and the experience is even tailored to the ages, heights and physical abilities of its players so that everyone can participate. Although there will be a small fee to participate, such high tech is congruent with the line’s proprietary OceanMedallion solutions.
The DetailsNorwegian Cruise Linewww.ncl.com
Royal Caribbean Internationalwww.royalcaribbean.com