It started back in 2005 when Royal Caribbean Cruise Line added rock climbing walls, mini-golf and ice-skating rinks to their cruise ships. In 2006, they launched the industry’s largest passenger ship, Freedom of the Seas, with an onboard surf simulator called a FlowRider and an H2O Zone aqua park. And the race began.
In 2009, Carnival Cruise Line added an aqua park called WaterWorks to its Ecstasy Cruise Ship at Galveston TX and its Dream Cruise Ship at Port Canaveral FL. Last December, RCCI launched its newest big ship, Oasis of the Seas, with an H2O Zone and two FlowRiders.
And if that is not enough, here comes Norwegian Cruise Lines launching its Norwegian Epic on July 10, 2010. The race continues to see which cruise line can launch the biggest ship with the most attractions at sea.
During July 2010, Norwegian Cruise Line expects to add a waterslide to each of four ships — Jewel, Jade, Pearl and Gem. And Costa Cruises plans to add waterslides to seven of its ships. The marketing objective is to attract the bread and butter family segment.
The worldwide database of hotel waterpark resorts open, under construction and in development is maintained by Phoenix AZ-based JLC Hospitality Consulting, which reports a surge in waterpark features opening on cruise ships during 2009 and 2010. As the economy improves, people are starting to spend money on vacations again. That’s good news for the mostly-Florida based cruise industry.
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas Has Many Firsts
Oasis of the Seas is the largest cruise ship at sea. It is the first to have a carousel, a full Broadway show, a zipline, two FlowRiders, a beach pool and an aqua theater that offers synchronized swimming and high-dive performances.
It is the first ship to offer seven distinctly themed neighborhoods — (1) Central Park, (2) Boardwalk, (3) Royal Promenade, (4) H2O & Sports Zone, (5) Spa & Fitness Center, (6) Entertainment Place and (7) Youth Zone. Think you might be bored? Think again.
Cruise consultant Jennifer Crivelli offers this advice: “Mom can visit Central Park right on Deck 8, complete with trees, gardens and dining. In the evening, she can attend the Broadway musical Hair Spray on board in the Opal Theater. She can even visit the Vitality at Sea Day Spa to enjoy a massage or facial. Dad can spend his days at sea on Deck 16, practicing his surfing on the FlowRider in the H2O Zone. Who wants to climb a mountain, when you can climb a 30-foot rock wall a hundred feet above the ocean? And there is even a zipline. Sports practice is not a problem either. Oasis of the Seas has a full-sized basketball/volley court and fitness center in the Sports Zone. At the beach, Junior can walk the Boardwalk, eat cotton candy and ride the carousel. Sis can lounge by one of the four pools and work on her tan.”
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd was formed in 1969, has 20 ships in operation and visits 251 ports in 76 countries. Richard D. Fain is chairman & ceo. For more, go to www.royalcaribbean.com.
Norwegian Epic Adds Aqua Park
On July 17, 2010, Norwegian Cruise Line is launching the Norwegian Epic, which will sail year round from Miami for 7 night tours of the Eastern and Western Caribbean. The Norwegian Epic is by far the most anticipated new ship launch this year, introducing new features such as 128 solo studios (100 sf) for singles, curved walls, lots of balconies and Blue Man Group in the Epic Theater.
Aqua Park is the ship’s expansive deck-top water play area. The family-friendly zone includes the only tube slide and largest bowl slide at sea — bound to be a big hit with the under-18 set. The tube slide twists and turns down three stories. The Epic Plunge is a family raft goes down a slide, spins around the inside of a bowl and then drops 200 feet into a splashdown lane. A third waterslide, designed for younger children, zips straight through the rock climbing wall The Aqua Park has two main pools with arching water effects that illuminate at night, 5 hot tubs, a wading pool and a kid’s pool with play toys, water sprays and a small slide. For the active passenger, the Epic offers the most sports & fitness options in the Norwegian fleet. Along with three waterslides, a tradition pool and fitness center, the Epic features batting cages, rock climbing wall, rope rappelling, bowling alleys and basketball court.
Unlike Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line is not a publicly traded company in the US. It is half owned by Apollo Management LP, a private equity firm and half owned by Genting Hong Kong, which is publicly traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Genting’s portfolio includes land-based resorts, cruise ships, casinos and entertainment venues.
NCL’s ceo is Kevin Sheehan and Apollo Management partner is Steve Martinez. Apollo, a private equity firm, is one of NCL’s owners. For more go to www.ncl.com.
Carnival Adds WaterWorks to its Cruise Ships
Carnival got in on the waterpark craze in 2009 when it added four waterslides on the new Carnival Dream. By year end 2010, Carnival plans to add its branded WaterWorks aqua park and a Twister waterslide to seven of its cruise ships.
The WaterWorks concept includes a pair of twin 80-foot long racing slides or a 104-foot long enclosed spiral slide called the DrainPipe.
The biggest thrill is the Twister, a 4-deck high corkscrew that runs 303 feet long, currently the longest at sea until Disney Dream debuts in 2011.
The Carnival Splendor and six of Carnival’s eight Fantasy-class ships have all been retrofitted with WaterWorks features.
Elation and Paradise each have 2-deck high Twister slides and are scheduled to get the works within the next few years.
The rest of the Carnival fleet all have 3-deck Twister slides that range in length from 72 feet to 214 feet.
Waterslides are the latest must-have cruise features. With each new ship that is outfitted with waterslides and rides, the cruising experience becomes more and more like a land-based resort. For more, go to www.carnival.com.
Costa Cruise Line Adds Waterslides
Costa Cruises offers less thrilling waterslides aboard seven of its ships, including Fortuna, Magica, Concordia, Serena, Pacifica, Mediterranea and Atlantica. On the Costa Atlantica, there are two outdoor swimming pools; but one can be used during foul weather because it is covered by an airtight macrodome which has a retractable roof. The children’s pool has a 2-story winding waterslide.
Costa ships, known for artwork, pasta and gelato, sail Europe and the Caribbean with activities for kids. Costa Cruises is an Italian company that has been a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation since 2000. For more, go to www.costacruise.com.
Disney Dream Cruise to Add Aqua Duck
In January 2011, the Disney Dream will trump all its cruise competitors when she debuts a theme park style water flume ride that shoots riders out over the edge of the ship high above the ocean. “Driven by land-based waterparks and their unique ride experiences, there is definitely a trend to go larger, faster, more exciting and more experiential,” says Andrew Mowatt, vp of resorts for Whitewater West, which designs and manufactures most of the waterslides for the cruise industry.
The 2,500 passenger Disney Dream will introduce a giant 765-foot long, 4-deck high waterslide called the Aqua Duck.
Riders will board a 2-person raft and be propelled by high-powered water jets on a high-speed rider around the perimeter of the ship’s top deck.
The Aqua Duct takes passengers 13 feet out over the edge of the ship inside a transparent acrylic tube, 150 feet above the sea.
The ride zips past the Tween Kid’s Club and glides through 335 feet of river rapids before the final splashdown. Special lights inside the flume make it exciting at night. For more, go to www.disneycruise.disney.go.com.