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Monday, June 23, 2008

Royal Caribbean Announces Latest for Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean wowed the cruise world last Wednesday with news that its next ship will have a zip line, a first on the high seas.

The company that pioneered rock climbing walls and ice skating rinks on cruise ships says its latest gee-whiz offering will be located at the back of the much-ballyhooed, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, which sets sail in December 2009.

The largest cruise ship ever built also will have a family-focused amusement area called the Boardwalk that will boast a hand-carved merry-go-round, carnival games and a Coney Island atmosphere -- something that has never been tried before on a cruise ship (see illustration above).

The new features, announced at an extravagant press event Wednesday in New York City's Times Square, are just the tip of the iceberg of what the line plans for the ground-breaking, 220,000-ton vessel.

Also announced at the event:

-- The AquaTheater, a massive amphitheater around a pool at the back of the ship that will be the site of water-based acrobatic and synchronized swimming shows (illustration at right). During the day the freshwater pool, the largest and deepest ever on a ship, will be open to passengers for swimming and SCUBA lessons.

-- A Royal Promenade in the center of the vessel that will be twice as wide as the ones found on Royal Caribbean's eight Freedom and Voyager class vessels. The new Royal Promenade also will have a mezzanine level and connect to another new neighborhood just above it, the previously announced Central Park area, by way of a moving bar on hydraulic lifts.

-- Two rock climbing walls on the back of the ship. Royal Caribbean pioneered the concept of rock climbing walls on ships a decade ago with the launch of Voyager of the Seas, but this is the first time that a ship will have two of them.

-- Two-deck-high "loft suites" that will offer expansive ocean views from soaring floor-to-ceiling windows (illustration below). There will be 28, in all.

The Boardwalk area and the expanded Royal Promenade are the second and third "neighborhoods" to be announced for the ship. The previously announced Central Park area with live trees and outdoor restaurants was the first. Royal Caribbean executives have said the ship will have seven neighborhoods in all, though it hasn't revealed when it will announce the others.

Royal Caribbean is promising that Oasis of the Seas will be a "game-changing" vessel that will revolutionize the experience of cruising. At 220,000 tons, it will be more than 40% larger than the largest cruise ship afloat.

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