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Rhapsody of the Seas

Royal Caribbean calls for dredging of Australian shipping channel


Royal Caribbean's Managing Director of Australia, Gavin Smith, is calling once again on authorities at the Cairns, Australia to dredge the shipping channel  and the swing basin.

Smith said that while Rhapsody of the Seas was able to safely traverse the Trinity Inlet, it was "at the limit and edge of its physical capabilities".  He said that Royal Caribbean would prefer the dredging take place to allow for easier and safer crossings as well as allow larger ships, such as Radiance of the Seas, to dock at the cruise terminal.

Currently, Radiance of the Seas is required to anchor off Port Douglas when she arrives in February 2012.

Earlier in the year, Smith had asked for the channel to be dredged to allow the ship to dock even in poor weather conditions. Royal Caribbean prefers to dock rather than moor and force its passengers to be transported via tenders ashore.  

Australia's cruise season begins this month with Radiance and Rhapsody of the Seas


Australia's cruise season kicks off in the month of September as ships like Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas call the land down under home for the summer season.

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas will debut in Australia this season on October 15 and it will be the first time she's come to Australia since her major revitalization that took place earlier this year.  Radiance will sail in Australia until April 5, 2012.

Joining Radiance will be Rhapsody of the Seas on November 13, marking her fifth season in Australia. Radiance will remain in Australia until April 13, 2012 and offer 17 different itineraries, such as seven to 18-night South Pacific trips, Queensland voyages and weekend "sampler" trips.

For those cruising on Radiance of the Seas, her maiden Australia itineraries offer cruises as short as two nights or as long as 18, and depart from Sydney and Fremantle.  There's also five 14 and 16-night cruises to New Zealand or a 12-night sailing to the South Pacific.

A new two-night "weekend getaway" itinerary, sailing on November 18, will offer Australians a chance to sample a Radiance-class cruise, while a seven-night Tasmania itinerary, sailing on February 12 next year, will overnight at Melbourne and Hobart.

Radiance will also make a 34-night circumnavigation of Australia.

Royal Caribbean planning major cruise fleet upgrade


Royal Caribbean is planning a spending spree to upgrade its fleet of cruise ships over the next three years to help keeps its older ships competitive in the cruise market.  

This $300 million revitalization called "Royal Advantage", will allow most of its Vision, Voyager and Radiance class vessels to get a series of upgrades including

  • Restaurants from Oasis Class of ships
    • Chops Grille steakhouse
    • Rita's Cantina Mexican restaurants
    • Izumi Restaurant (sushi)
    • Chops Grille (Steak house)
    • Park Café (sandwiches and salads)
    • Boardwalk Doghouse (brats and wieners)
  • New cabin designs
  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery
  • Wi-fi throughout ship
  • Digital Wayfinding Systems
  • Oversized LED video screens on pool decks

There's more planned but no details are available quite yet.  These changes sound quite similar to the changes that have already been made to ships such as Radiance of the Seas mostly recently.

These overhauls will require each ship to enter into a lengthy drydock process where the ship will get its upgrades.  The schedule of upgrades are as follows

  1. Splendour of the Seas - November 2011
  2. Rhapsody of the Seas - March 2012
  3. Grandeur of the Seas - May 2012
  4. Serenade of the Seas - November 2012
  5. Legend of the Seas - 2013 or 2014
  6. Vision of the Seas - 2013 or 2014
  7. Navigator of the Seas - 2013 or 2014
  8. Voyager of the Seas - 2013 or 2014
  9. Explorer of the Seas - 2013 or 2014
  10. Adventure of the Seas - 2013 or 2014
  11. Brilliance of the Seas - 2013 or 2014

We know that the overhaul for Splendour, Grandeur and Serenade of the Seas will take place in Cadiz, Spain after Royal Caribbean signed a deal to have those ships rehauled there last month.

Royal Caribbean also mentioned that Independence of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas will receive smaller, less significant upgrades.

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein is excited about the changes that will help keep the cruise line competitive, "The Royal Advantage revitalizations takes many of the best features that we have created in recent years and introduces them across our fleet, offering our guests enhanced vacation choices around the world."

Details for Voyager of the Seas cruises in Australia released


Royal Caribbean announced last month that Voyager of the Seas would be sailing to Australia for the 2012/2013 season and since then, many fans have wanted to know more details about these sailings so Royal Caribbean has released more details about what we can expect.

Voyager of the Seas will kick off its Australian cruise season on November 23, 2012 and will offer 12 cruises out of Sydney and Fremantle, Australia  This first cruise will begin (and eventually end its run in Australia) with a 14-night repositioning cruise between Singapore and Perth, Australia with stops in Thailand and Vietnam.

Itineraries include four 14-night New Zealand itineraries along with shorter cruises to Tasmania and Fiji.  There's also two 18-night voyages between Fremantle and Sydney, taking in southern Australia along with Milford Sound in New Zealand.

Adam Armstrong, Royal Caribbean's commercial manager, is excited for the debut of Voyager of the Seas down under, "Voyager of the Seas will not only be the biggest ship based here but she also introduces unique concepts never before experienced at sea in the region".

In addition to Voyager of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and the recently refurbished Radiance of the Seas will return to Australia as well for their own set of cruises.

Radiance of the Seas will also operate out of Sydney and Fremantle and offer passengers 10-night cruises to Queensland over the holidays of Christmas and Easter.  They will also offer five night "sampler cruises" to Newcastle and Brisbane.

Rhapsody of the Seas will offer 12 cruises to the South Pacific region along with four 11-night voyages to Tropical Queensland.

Royal Caribbean planning overhaul for Rhapsody of the Seas in 2012


Royal Caribbean is planning on sending Rhapsody of the Seas into drydock following the 2011-2012 Australian cruise season for a multi-million dollar revamp.

Work on overhauling the ship will take three to four weeks in March 2012 in what Royal Caribbean is calling a "major revitalisation".

Adam Armstrong, Royal Caribbean's Australia commercial manager described the changes, "This will be major revitalisation. We will be extensively reworking the entire ship. Cabins, entertainment and dining will all be completely renovated.”

Armstrong added that while the Rhapsody will still look like her old self when the work is done, she will boast “a few more special pieces”

Can you stay fit on a cruise ship? Woman challenges herself to try


Cruise ships, Royal Caribbean or not, are well known for their ample supply of food and the fact that many tend to indulge a little too much on a typical cruise but Heather McCracken, a New Zealand reporter, wanted to try to go on a cruise and not gain any weight.

She chronicled her journey of 3 nights aboard Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas from Wellington, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia.

McCracken chose to try a lot of the Vitality options on the menus although she did succumb to temptation on a few occasions, "But at 11pm I'm confronted by a surprise chocolate buffet: chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate truffles, chocolate eclairs, chocolate cocktails, even a giant chocolate Neptune.

My willpower fails.  Cruise ship one, me nil."

To help fight weight gain, she chose to try out a number of activities aboard Rhapsody including stretching classes, conditioning classes, pool volleyball and a gym session.

So how did Heather do?  She gave into temptation a few more times on the cruise but in the end declared a tie.

Do you think you could go on a cruise and not gain weight?  Have you ever tried it?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean cruises to Alaska in 2012 announed


Itineraries for Royal Caribbean cruises to Alaska in 2012 were announced yesterday of 10 to 18 nights.

Cruises include sailings aboard Radiance of the Seas that sail north and south between Vancouver and Seward as well as Rhapsody of the Seas offering round trip cruises out of Seattle, Washington.

Royal Caribbean also announced 20 new land tours including a 12 night offer for families that include a trip to Fox Island and excursions to the Anchorage Museum and Imaginarium.  There are also six-night Canadian Rocky Mountain cruise tours that include an overnight train journey.

Adam Armstrong, commercial manager, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia loves the new Alaska itineraries, “Not only do we have great cruise itineraries on offer, but they can also be packaged with land tours in Alaska and the Canadian Rockies. We call them ‘cruisetours’ and they offer something for everyone – fun, adventure or relaxation – plus once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see the region’s dramatic cliffs, Alpine glaciers, unique marine life and expansive wilderness.”

Other interesting offerings include

  • An 18-night Ultimate Cruisetour couples the Canadian Rockies pre-cruise with a five-night post-cruise escorted Alaska land tour
  • A six night Canadian Rockies cruisetour that combines Calgary, Banff, Jasper, Vancouver and Victoria with an overnight train journey aboard VIA Rail and accommodations throughout at world-renowned Fairmont hotels.

Rhapsody of the Seas to make doubles calls to Newcastle next season


Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas is building upon its success in 2010-2011 by promising a bigger and better season in 2011-12 with double the number of port visits

The port of Newcastle in Australia has been a very popular destination with Royal Caribbean guests as the season has sold out on cruises that have stopped in the New South Wales town.

Royal Caribbean Australia Commercial Manager Adam Armstrong is happy to know their guests are finding what they want, “Royal Caribbean Cruises searches the world for amazing destinations to give our guests a truly memorable holiday experience. Newcastle has it all: beautiful beaches, a buzzing harbour and city life with plenty to see and do, and most of all - friendly, welcoming residents. It is no wonder Lonely Planet voted Newcastle one of the top ten cities in the world. It is a popular stop with most of our guests disembarking to explore the city and beyond to the Hunter Valley, returning with only good things to report. It is why Royal Caribbean has doubled the port visits to Newcastle when Rhapsody of the Seas returns for the next cruising season."

When she returns in November, there will be four port calls in total in her 2011-12 season.  THe popular Newcastle stop is part of the 11 night Queensland itinerary.

Royal Caribbean finalizing Australia plans for 2012/2013


Royal Caribbean is close to finalizing plans to send three of its cruise ships back to Australia for the 2012/2013 cruise season.   Royal Caribbean managing director for Australia, Gavin Smith, said he is certain that Royal Caribbean will have three ships in Australia.

The decision was easy to make after strong bookings for the 2011/2012 seas have made Rhapsody of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Celebrity Century quite popular.  It's expected that all three ships will return for the following season to build upon its success down under, so far.

Smith said adding more ships to the area this year has created challenges, but nothing Royal Caribbean cannot handle, “The pressure is maintaining strong forward booking patterns to give the company confidence that they can continue this level of deployment. The continued success of our deployment and our pricing gains us confidence with the parent company. They are continuing to support our operation with the required level of investment. Without question we will have three ships in Australia in 2012/13 and have made the port bookings."

Smith expects to have the plans for Australia in 2012/2013 finalized by March.

Photo of the Day: Rhapsody of the Seas


Photo by Kevin Kennedy