Sunday, November 27, 2011

Something Splendour-ous Is Happening

Introduced from 1995 through 1998, Royal Caribbean’s Vision-class ships have always been some of the prettiest ships in the fleet, but even pretty girls need a bit of attention as they age. Sister Vision-class ship Enchantment of the Seas was extensively rejuvenated in 2005 when she was cut in half and stretched, but since her launch in 1996, Splendour of the Seas has remained remarkably unchanged. That is, until now, when she emerged from her recent dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, with a plethora of new features. And to balance them all, she even has a new “duck tail” stern for added stability (pictured here being installed).

A variety of new restaurants, some first introduced aboard Oasis-class ships, double the dining options aboard Splendour of the Seas, including:

· Boardwalk Dog House: Guests can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats, sausages and other delicious linked meats and a variety of toppings to split a long bun (open for lunch and dinner, complimentary).
· Chef’s Table: An exclusive experience co-hosted by the Executive Chef and Sommelier for an intimate wine pairing dinner of five courses (open for dinner, $95 cover charge).
· Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse will be located adjacent to the Viking Crown Lounge and features a menu of prime cuts prepared a la minute (open for dinner, $30 cover charge).
· Izumi: Featuring a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking, the pan Asian cuisine restaurant is a no-hassle, authentic dining experience. Izumi will be located adjacent to the Viking Crown Lounge (open for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner, plus a la carte menu pricing).
· Park CafĂ©: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary).
· Viking Crown Lounge: The line’s signature space will feature a new menu of classic dishes such as jumbo shrimp cocktail or Kobe beef sliders, Asian inspired tempuras and soft shell crab, and more (a la carte pricing).
Other new amenities are the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond lounge, a Concierge Lounge, and upgraded technology throughout. And that doesn't include the work done on staterooms that also have an array of new amenities such as flat screen televisions, new bathrooms, and completely remodeled interiors, including luxurious new linens and furniture, as well as an additional 124 balconies. While at the shipyard, Adam Goldstein, President and CEO Royal Caribbean International said, “Watching the ship install the 124 new balcony staterooms was very interesting. It is a true testament to the industrialization process, because historically we would have to add each component separately, and now the balconies are pre constructed and the entire balcony is raised to the ship. It was fascinating to watch and the balconies look like they were always part of the ship!”

In addition, Splendour of the Seas will be outfitted with the award-winning digital wayfinding technology that can be found on the Oasis-class ships. Also on the techonolgy front, since Vision-class ships were introduced before things like interactive television and WiFi became the norm, iPad mobile digital devices will soon be available in every stateroom onboard the newly revitalized ship. The tablet device will offer passengers a medium by which to receive, retrieve, and use information on their cruise vacation. With a touch of the screen, they will be able to access the daily Cruise Compass of events and activities; personal daily itineraries, including shore excursions; monitor their onboard account; order room service; view restaurant menus; access the Internet; and watch movies. The iPads will be available beginning mid-February 2012 on Splendour of the Seas before being extended to all Vision-class ships when each undergoes revitalization in the following two years.

The Centrum, being readied for aerial spectacles and more.
In the entertainment area, Royal Caribbean delivers their Royal Advantage upgrade with the transformation of the elegant 60-foot high Centrum found aboard its Vision-Class ships. Beginning with Splendour of the Seas, the Centrum with its sweeping views and central location on the ship will undergo a re-birth as a new chic and sophisticated venue featuring enriching daytime activities, nightly entertainment, and jaw-dropping aerial spectacles.

Bringing the Centrum’s new entertainment offerings to life is the latest in sound and light technology. The glass elevators facing into the Centrum will feature large LED panels across their entire length providing a spectacular backdrop of moving visuals 5 decks high. During the entertainment experiences, which take place throughout the cruise, the soaring space comes alive with a series of aerial acrobatic vignettes blurring the lines between artful choreography and state-of-the-art technology.

The Centrum’s Champagne Bar also will be reinvented, unveiled as a new venue—the R Bar—featuring a sophisticated 1960s vibe, complete with iconic furnishing and signature cocktails mixed by a savvy mixologist. The R Bar offerings will feature a return to the classics—gimlet, martini, brown liquors, gin and whiskeys—all served in unique glassware with surprising garnishes. The venue’s resident mixologist, selected from the cruise line’s fleet to be the face and personality behind the bar, will create drink specials that will complement each evening’s theme and aerial spectacular.

Throughout each sailing, guests can gather in the Centrum for a variety of interactive daytime activities including chef demonstrations, towel folding demonstrations, dance classes, game shows, Nintendo Wii competitions, and the popular Captain’s Corner where guests can spend time with the Captain. Additionally, guests may sit back, relax and enjoy performances from musicians and singers or take a spin on the dance floor at themed parties such as the popular Disco Inferno dance party.

While I initially thought I’d miss my Vision-class favorite—the Champagne Bar—all I can say is WOW.

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