Imagine a cruise line where choices include ships with golf courses and rock-climbing walls looming 200 feet over the ocean. Where there is so much happening, so much to discover and experience itâ€™s just possible the crack of dawn will need to be your wake up call.
They say it is the journey and not the destination â€“ and the case can certainly be argued in favor of Royal Caribbean International (known everywhere as RCI). Even the imposing names of the ships are literally synonymous with the experience - Adventure, Grandeur, Rhapsody, and Splendour!
As the thrum of the engines heralds your departure, miles of heaven open ahead of you, filled with overflowing free-spirited fun and entertainment, contagious hospitality, simply superb dining and an infinity of pleasure. Complete escapes from the humdrum, these absolutely nautical wonders, literally packed with adventure and leading edge guest facilities. No wonder Royal Caribbean Internationalâ€™s slogan is â€œGet Out Thereâ„¢â€!Atmosphere
Sparkling, stimulating, sensual, stress-less! You can take a siesta from the world and glory in dinner by candlelight, walks by moonlight, excursions by daylight. As RCI put it: get pampered, get pumped! One of the greatest blessings of a Royal Caribbean cruise is that the atmosphere allows you to go from unassuming to absolute glamour with everything else in between.
Ship dÃ©cor on all vessels is eye-popping, with opulent surroundings unrivalled by the grandest hotel. Multi-storied Centrum's are designed as open atriums and crystal sculpture and cascading waterfalls are not uncommon. Adventure's Royal Promenade is four decks high and the length of two football fields and bustles with charming shops, cafes, colorful street performers and lively street fairs (think New York's Times Square or London's Burlington Arcade).
Exquisite solariums offer sparkling pools, retractable glass ceilings and themes ("India during the Raj" describes the ambience of the solarium on Brilliance where three 16-foot bejeweled elephants stand guard). More than half the surface of the 90,000-ton Radiance of the Seas is glass, giving you masses of open space and unforgettable panoramic views. And speaking of panoramas, the 360-degree view from RCI's signature Viking Crown Lounge, perched hundreds of feet above the ocean is something to behold. Legend of the Seas and Splendor of the Seas have 18-hole miniature golf courses, basketball courts and billiard rooms with self leveling tables. Rock climbing walls are scheduled for all ships. Gold Anchor Service
Three simple words that define the very personal attention to detail you can expect from a crew that is expert in courtly, unpretentious hospitality. The bartender who remembers your extra olive, the server who recalls the name of your child's teddy bear, and the housekeeper who reminds you of your dinner reservation. Friends taking care of friends.Accommodations
A wide variety is available, such as Royal Suites, Owner's Suites, Royal Family Suites, Grand Ocean View Suites, and Superior Ocean View Suites - all with balconies, Ocean-view Staterooms with or without balconies and Interior Staterooms. All accommodations come complete with vanity area, hair-dryer, mini-bar, radio and closed circuit TV with satellite programming, classic movies, and children's programming. Staterooms have phones so you can call home, other guests, or order room service. On some ships you can receive unlimited dial-up Internet access for a reasonable charge if you bring your laptop.
Bedding varies by category. To give you just two "suite" examples, the Royal Family Suite has two bedrooms with twin beds that convert to a queen-size, two bathrooms, one with a tub, a living area with double sofa bed and Pullman bed, fridge and private balcony. It easily accommodates eight. There is also an ocean-view Family Stateroom with two twin beds (convertible to queen) an additional twin bed, a sitting area with a sofa bed and a Pullman bed. Dining
Whether your preference runs to chandeliers and escargot, the glories of Italian cuisine, or perhaps just a simple clubhouse sandwich on your private balcony, you can expect venues and menus guaranteed to suit any frame of mind.
No matter how you wish to dress for dinner (or not dress for dinner - there's 24 hour room service), expect the best in casual dining and elegant multi-course meals from the accomplished chefs in RCI's famous galleys. Lively and witty waiters offer sumptuous cuisine to fashionable crowds in formal, romantic settings, and to those who select more relaxed casual environments. Selection ranges from penne cooked to al dente perfection and juicy steaks with all the trimmings to succulent seafood and voluptuous five-course spectacles in the truly stunning main dining rooms. And will you refuse the sweets served at the sinfully delicious chocolate buffet? Of course not - you're on vacation. Remember that you can always select low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie and/or vegetarian dishes. And there's always pumping up your heart rate in the fitness center (that ought to be good for seconds on the cheesecake). Entertainment
If you thought there were a lot to do during the day, just wait until the stars come out. Life quickens as the ship's illuminations light the sky and the party's on! So when it's time to up the tempo, come and play with fortune in the casino, then cheer the dynamic, showy, contemporary productions performed in the magnificent theatres. You'll think your ship has docked on Broadway. These live productions are offered several times each week and feature the outstanding talents of The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. Plentiful lounges and clubs offer every type of music, from jazz to swing, disco to classic rock.
Restaurants, cafes, lounges, showrooms, clubs, billiard clubs, card clubs, coffee bars, champagne bars, casinos, ShipShapeÂ® Spa, solariums, pools, whirlpools, sports courts, jogging tracks, internet cafes, miniature golf courses, golf simulators, cinemas, video arcades, shops, libraries. Some ships have in-line skating tracks, rock climbing walls (walls and ice rinks are on Explorer, Voyager, Mariner and Navigator). Rock climbing walls are scheduled for all ships. Adventure Oceanâ„¢ Youth Activities Program
RCI knows that a 16-year-old's idea of fun is a far cry from a 5-year-old's. The Adventure Ocean(SM) Programme is designed with that in mind and it is broken down into five different age groups with activities designed accordingly. Each staff member holds a degree in Education, Recreation or related major. All are certified in CPR and Basic First Aid. They have extensive backgrounds in working with large groups of children 3-17 and from 3 to 5 years working in team situations.
Kids dine with Youth Program staff members and friends (offered on select nights). Special menus at the Windjammer CafÃ© and Solarium are available. Aquanauts Ages 3-5: Adventure Science, Adventure Art, and Pirate Night, Camp Aquanaut Night, Sail into story-time. (Pagers are available to all Aquanaut parents).
Explorers Ages 6-8: Wacky Water Workshop, Wacky Olympics and Talent Show, lots of art projects. Voyagers Ages 9-11: The Mystery of the Making of Motion Ocean and The X Games, beach relays, tug of war and parachute games.
Navigators Ages 12-14: A less structured atmosphere and Navigators can come and go as they please. Activities include scavenger hunts, adventure sports, video game challenge. Guests Ages 15-17: These soon-to-be-adults have more freedom and can come and go at their leisure. Events include a hot tub party, theme parties, and even a battle of the sexes. The Living Room and Fuel are two great places for teens to get away from it all. Living Room has a laid-back atmosphere where kids can just hang and chill, and Fuel is a party where they can gather, dance and enjoy the tunes. Golf AhoyÂ® Program
A unique combination of a world-class cruise and championship golf on courses worldwide. Royal Caribbean is the official cruise line of the PGA TOUR and the Senior PGA TOUR. The Adventure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, are a few ships listed that offer a 9 hole mini-golf course onboard, putting greens or golf simulators. Ship ShapeÂ® Fitness Program
Ship Shape Fitness Program features low- and high- impact aerobics, a jogging track, basketball (on some ships) and wide selection of exercise machines. Ship ShapeÂ® Spa Program
Flawless pampering is practiced by the genies amid the tranquility and serenity of the incomparable ShipShapeÂ® Spa. Through their invigorating therapies, you're pretty much guaranteed a new lease on life. There is also a fitness program, which features low, and high impact aerobics, jogging track and a wide selection of machines. Royal Romance Wedding Program
Royal Romance Wedding Program helps you plan a shipboard wedding, from ceremony to reception to honeymoon. Royal Reunions
Offered on Voyager-family ships sailing Caribbean itineraries only. Events will be scheduled by the ship and based on shipboard needs and requirements. There is a minimum of eight cabins to qualify. Royal Reunions Package #1: Welcome letter from the Captain, Aqua Park passes or Sports Desk Fast Pass, Photo package, Door decorations, Personalized cake, Royal Reunions gift set, Daily Royal Reunions challenge. The Crown & Anchor Society
The Crown & Anchor Society is RCI's past guest programme which rewards their most loyal guests with exciting benefits and savings. There are three membership levels: Gold (after 1st completed cruise), Platinum (after 5th completed cruise) and Diamond (after 10th completed cruise). The benefits increase at each level. The more you cruise, the more you receive. Benefits include a subscription to the award-winning magazine, Crown & Anchor, special on board events and special savings certificates to use in the spas, casinos, bars and more. Other benefits include an invitation to join Member cruises whereby exclusive savings, complimentary wine tasting, welcome back parties and commemorative gifts are available. RCL Fleet:
Royal Caribbean still boasts the largest and most innovative ships at sea with most in the 70,000 to 90,000 ton range. Nordic Empress, even at an impressive 48,000 tons, is a whippersnapper when compared to the Adventure of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and the brand new Mariner of the Seas which weigh in at a staggering 138,000 and 142,000 tons respectively. RCI has just announced a design for an even larger and more spacious class. Dubbed Ultra Voyager and deliverable in 2006, this ship will be full of the world's biggest "this and that's!" Guest capacity will be 3,600 double occupancy, 500 more than its Voyager Class predecessor. Registered tonnage will be just under 160,000.
About the Author
About the author: William Lezubski (Accredited Cruise Counsellor (ACC), and Certified Travel Counsellor(CTC) - William is a professional in the Travel Industry and the author of â€œDiscount Caribbean Vacations Web Siteâ€ available at http://www.discount-caribbean-vacations.com/index.htm