I’d signed up for the door prizes and visited all the booths at the regional travel show, so when I realized I had about thirty more minutes before I needed to leave, I was glad Royal Caribbean had a seminar starting. My friend from Azamara was there to do her Royal Caribbean schpiel. The big news was the entire Royal Caribbean fleet is getting a facelift, “so their best ship is every ship.” I’ve cruised with Royal Caribbean on the Monarch of the Seas and even though it was a while back, I’ve got to say it’s been my benchmark ever since. They really earn their many awards.
The Norwegian rep tried to convince me the Epic is Las-Vegas-at-sea, but Royal Caribbean wants to take you wherever you’re going via New York – and the first stop is Broadway. They’re extremely proud of their musical productions which utilize sets, singers and staging right off the Great White Way. Next New York stop? Central Park on the Oasis Class!
Allure and Oasis are the biggest cruise ships on the seas and seem to be crowd pleasers, because Royal Caribbean just commissioned their third Oasis Class ship. I have to admit that I’m among the folks who already think cruise ships have gotten too big. The one negative I’d experienced on the Monarch was way too many people and quite frankly, I’m concerned about the other four thousand or so who will be sharing the Norwegian Epic with me. But according to what I was told at the seminar, I need to put everything I know about large cruise ships out of my mind and embrace Royal Caribbean’s new paradigm.
The RC rep said that other cruise lines just cram more and more people onto a ship with the same old routines, but the Oasis class ships have been completely re-designed. Instead of merely a city at sea, Oasis class ships are a series of neighborhoods, which all just happen to be on the same vessel. Dining, shows, pools, activities, embarking, dis-embarking and other activities have been re-engineered for ease to the thousands on the ship. Visiting the many neighborhoods allows Oasis class cruisers to infuse their experience with more variety than the traditional ship offers. I’m not trying to convince you to sail RC’s Oasis class, I’m just reporting what I was told.
Another interesting thing that seems to come with Oasis Class cruising is Neighborhood Balconies They offer a very spectacular vantage point from which to watch some aerial and aquatic shows. Other RC ship classes also have interior balconies, but it wasn’t clear whether they had the bird’s eye opportunity or not.
RC might be trying to give adult passengers New York, but they give kids The Dreamworks Experience. I don’t have kids, so generally the kid programs don’t interest me very much. However, there was one interesting facet to the experience that I liked. Apparently, at dinner time, parents with children sit in a specific section of the dining room at a specific seating time. While Mom and Dad are served a glass of wine and their appetizers, the kids get dinner. Then Dreamwork characters invade and swoop down on the kids, taking them away to some magical kiddie place, while the other adults at that dinner seating breathe a sigh of relief. Families get their joint dining experience and then the parents get to enjoy a meal without babysitting. Great for the parents. but even better for the adults who didn’t bring kids with them – like me!
The other tid-bits that got my attention were related to the Alaskan cruises – something I have yet to experience. First, for the land portions of their packages, they put you up in locally-owned hotels. I like that. One of my pet peeves is to go to some far away place and get the same old thing I have around the corner from me at home. Inside some big hotel chains, you don’t have a clue what city you might be in. I love the uniqueness of staying and shopping local, so I gave that a big thumbs up.
Another thing they brag about is the fact that they give you one guide to stay with you the whole trip. I may never have been to Alaska, but I knew immediately why this was a benefit. Have you ever visited several museums and historic houses in an area and had to listen to the same story told over and over again. It’s happened to me. There’s no way for the museum docent in the afternoon to know I just toured the historic home that morning and the regional history museum the day before, but I do get tired of hearing the same thing repeated. I’ve noticed that on bus tours too, where every day or so you get a new tour guide. They obviously don’t share notes.
The RC rep also waxed eloquent about the dining room on the newest of RC’s Alaska ships. She said the main (read that free) dining room was so elegant and romantic that she bet there would be empty seats in the specialty (read that with a cover charge) restaurants. Then she decided she shouldn’t have said that and asked us to not tell anyone – so keep this tidbit to yourself, OK?
In the weeks to come, I’ll devour the stack of brochures and CD’s I picked up at the show and will share some of my discoveries with you. In the meantime, think about it – if you could sail anywhere you wanted to go, where would that be?