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Counting down the last months before the 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas begins sailing out of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., on Nov. 4, Royal Caribbean International executives brought a preview of Anthem to the New York Times Center in New York City this July and offered news across the fleet.
With a performance from members of the cast of “We Will Rock you,” the shipboard production that was compared favorably to London’s West End production, the company stressed its exceptional entertainment. Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean, and Mark Tamis, senior vice president of hotel operations, recounted the innovations on Anthem and across the fleet.
Anthem comes to Bayonne from a season in Europe with high-tech entertainment, from the Northstar glass viewing capsule high above the ship to Ripcord by iFly skydiving to Two70, where live performance merges with technology.
The new Dynamic Dining Choice program allows guests to dine when and where they wish, with the ability to select from among 18 restaurant concepts, including five complimentary main dining rooms, along with specialty dining venues headed up by chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz and Devin Alexander. Dynamic Dining Classic is designed for guests who prefer traditional set seatings.
Anthem also features the fast, affordable Internet setup Voom, which Bayley described as having more capacity than the entire cruise industry fleet put together. With costs set at approximately $22.50 per day for two devices, the service offers a dramatic a drop in price, as well as its boost in connectivity. It is currently available on Quantum of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas and will also launch with next year’s Ovation of the Seas (Quantum-class) and Harmony of the Seas (Oasis-class).
Harmony, the largest cruise ship yet, will have a 5,479-passenger capacity and features such as a trio of waterslides — Cyclone, Monsoon and Typhoon — and The Abyss, a waterslide with a 10-story vertical drop. Harmony’s staterooms and suites will all be larger than those on Oasis, and they will include a four-bedroom presidential suite. Royal also has a fourth Oasis-class ship launching in 2018, and a fourth Quantum-class vessel in 2019.
The line will introduce more inside staterooms with virtual balconies (a video wall projecting a live feed of the ocean outside) across the fleet, according to Tamis. In addition, he said Royal plans to expand the number of studio staterooms for solo passengers and debut connected staterooms for families that can hold up to 10, two-level loft suites and a four-bedroom Penthouse suite. The company also is launching the Royal Suite Class, designed for the luxury market.
Royal has an aggressive plan for fleet revitalization, as well. Liberty of the Seas will homeport in Galveston next year with firsts including a new waterpark and waterslide. Majesty of the Seas’ spring refurbishment will bring a family Jacuzzi, a poolside movie screen, the line’s signature DreamWorks Experience entertainment, a new casino and more. Jewel of the Seas will undergo revitalization in 2016, and details will be forthcoming soon. New dining choices on Majesty will include Mexican fare at Sabor Taqueria, sushi and sashimi at Izumi Japanese and a new Chef’s Table experience.
In addition, the company has a major commitment to install new scrubbers that reduce emissions by 98 percent.
The land product has not been neglected, either: Royal has grouped its roughly 3,000 shore excursions into special interest categories that allow any travel agent to arrange a themed cruise for clients. These include Active Adventures, Family Connections, Royal Tour Challenge, Culture and Sights, Culinary Delights, Caring Discoveries and Royal Premium Tour Collection.
Concerns from agents that Royal would concentrate on its China market to the neglect of the Americas can be laid to rest with the recent announcements. With all the newbuilds and upgrades, there is a huge new world of product to sell.