Sunday, June 24, 2018

From Carnival to Royal Caribbean, new cruise ship designs keep evolving

MIAMI — The Celebrity Reflection that arrived at PortMiami last month had changed so much from the original ship in its class that it was 2 feet wider in order to balance the weight of an additional deck and other new features.

Carnival Breeze, which also arrived last month, is only the third ship in the Dream class, but its public spaces are very different since they incorporate features from Carnival's new Fun Ship 2.0 program, launched after the first two Dream-class ships were built.

Both are the last ships in their class.

Of 2012's three new ships, only the Oceania Riviera is not significantly different from the first ship in its class. Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Oceania's parent company, says he'll use the same design to build the next Oceania ship, although that will be at least two years off.

In the world of cruise ships, the end of this year will mark a graduation of sorts. Most major U.S.-based lines have wrapped up one ship design and are moving on to a new one.

Why? Guests demand changes, technology allows for features that didn't used to be possible, and ships need to keep up with the competition — or get out in front of it.

The result: Ship designs are more fluid; there are more differences between ships built from the same basic blueprint, and older ships are sent into dry dock to be retrofitted with features from newer ships.

Among the features on the last class of ships that seem to be keepers are more elaborate water parks and sports decks, Norwegian's cabins for the solo traveler, spa-linked staterooms, exclusive luxury areas on nonluxury ships, more niche bars and ever-more-specialized restaurants.

"One thing they all have in common is increasing options, especially for dining and drinking," said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of Cruise Critic. "Norwegian Cruise Line has been the innovator here, and now others are following suit in significant ways. It's recognizing that travelers don't want to be limited to set dining hours.

"Definitely the increasing use of outdoor spaces during the night as well as the day is a really great new innovation, a nice change from the days when people went inside at sundown. Princess Cruises gets a lot of credit for jump-starting this; its Movies Under the Stars has led to other really cool uses, from Celebrity's Lawn Club (where live jazz under the stars is a highlight) to Royal Caribbean's high dive acrobatics and its Central Park."

Ship design changes reflect the lifestyle that passengers have on shore, Del Rio said. Just as homes are bigger than they were a generation or two ago, his line's ships are bigger and so are staterooms. Dining is healthier and has more of a gourmet flair, the ambience and dress are more casual and the stateroom has more amenities.

Carnival already has a larger ship with a new design under construction. So do Princess, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. Not all the old blueprints are being thrown out. In addition to its two new Project Sunshine ships on order, Royal Caribbean is negotiating for construction of a third Oasis-class ship, the megaship that carries 5,400 passengers, to be delivered in 2016.

But most lines are looking for change. "We're always looking at how to improve," said Gus Antorcha, Carnival's senior vice president for guest commerce. "Guests are expecting more. . . . That has really forced us to think a lot about the product, how to keep pace with consumer preferences. With Fun Ship 2.0, that's what we have been doing. We have been focused on improving the dining experience, bars, entertainment and the outer decks.

"Our product is very 'fun in the sun.' Our guests want to be in the pool and in the sun."

So Carnival beefed up the experience around the pool deck with Fun Ship 2.0, expanding the water park, adding outdoor seating on a lower deck, bars and eateries including Guy Fieri's Burger Joint, interactive Hasbro game shows and new entertainment. The line is also retrofitting more than a dozen older ships with some of the amenities.

Or consider the Celebrity Solstice-class ships, a design so popular that most of the line's older ships have been retrofitted with some of its features, including spa staterooms, several new bars and restaurants and the iLounge, a computer center. Even within the Solstice class, the ships continued to evolve. On the last two, the Lawn Club Grill was added in space formerly occupied by the Corning glass-blowing shop, and cabanalike alcoves were added to the Lawn Club.

Comments
Iran coach lambasts World Cup use of VAR on close calls

Iran coach lambasts World Cup use of VAR on close calls

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz says he's concerned the World Cup is overusing the video assistant referee system to judge close and debatable calls instead of limiting its use to correcting obvious mistakes
Updated: 1 hour ago
England scores 6 but falls well short of World Cup record

England scores 6 but falls well short of World Cup record

England's 6-1 rout of Panama is the biggest winning margin at this year's World Cup, but it falls well short of the tournament record
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Latest: Senegal, Japan are 2-2 after Honda scores

The Latest: Senegal, Japan are 2-2 after Honda scores

It's 2-2 with 12 minutes to go in regulation after Keisuke Honda scored an equalizer for Japan to offset a goal from Senegal's Moussa Wague in the second half.
Updated: 1 hour ago

Turkish president Erdogan is winning re-election with 56.5 percent of the vote and more than half of ballots counted

Turkish president Erdogan is winning re-election with 56.5 percent of the vote and more than half of ballots counted
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

ST. PETERSBURG ó A 22-year-old driver fell asleep at the wheel after drinking and ran a red light, hitting and killing a motorcyclist Saturday night, police said.Just before midnight, Michael P. Majchrowski, 48, was riding a 2016 BMW motorcycle eastb...
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 12:45 p.m. EDT

AP Top News at 12:45 p.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump officials pledge to reunite families amid border chaos

Trump officials pledge to reunite families amid border chaos

The Trump administration is trying to counter concerns about how to find migrant children separated from their families at the border
Updated: 1 hour ago
Kane scores hat trick in England's 6-1 rout of Panama

Kane scores hat trick in England's 6-1 rout of Panama

Harry Kane scored a hat trick to help England to its most one-sided World Cup victory, a 6-1 rout of Panama that secured a place in the last 16 with a game to spare
Updated: 1 hour ago
Salah in better shape before Egypt's last World Cup match

Salah in better shape before Egypt's last World Cup match

Egypt striker Mohamed Salah's shoulder injury appears to have significantly improved before the Pharaohs' last World Cup game against Saudi Arabia
Updated: 1 hour ago
Former US poet laureate Donald Hall dies in New Hampshire

Former US poet laureate Donald Hall dies in New Hampshire

The daughter of former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall says he has died at age 8 at his home in Wilmot, New Hampshire
Updated: 1 hour ago