COMMUNITY CRUISING by Linda Holt
The Latest Big Ship Amenities
I am amazed at all the firsts being unveiled on the new cruise ships with all the lines trying to outdo each other and themselves. The Caribbean itineraries that are very popular with families may soon be taking a back seat to all of the fun activities onboard the newer ships. Relaxation-deprived adults can enjoy a vacation where the cruise ship’s family-friendly facilities are matched to children’s ages and interests and also take advantage of the adult-only areas, combining the right balance of togetherness and privacy to meet a family’s needs.
As the mother of an action-craving teen and Coney Island native raised on the original Nathan’s hot dogs, I am very jazzed about the first-time features on Royal Caribbean’s $1 billion Oasis of the Seas which will have seven unique neighborhoods, one of which is the Boardwalk, a Coney Island-like stretch complete with hot dog stand and the first carousel at sea with two huge signature rock climbing walls at one end. A bonus is an 82 feet long zip-line suspended nine decks above the Boardwalk. Due to make a big splash when it hits the water in December 2009 and opens for reservations this fall, the Oasis it will be the largest vessel on the planet with room for 5,400 passengers. Also, promising to be very entertaining on this ship is the water-show ampitheater with the largest freshwater pool at sea featuring theatrical performances such as water ballet and professional high diving with elaborate fountain shows synchronized to music and lights.
Cruise ships already feature miniature golf courses, golf simulators, ice skating rinks, waterslides, bungee trampolines, self-leveling pool tables, and full-size sports courts which are enjoyed by all ages. Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, the newest and largest ship to offer short cruises on the West Coast starting in the fall of 2009, has some of these amenities. I couldn’t believe another first on this line’s Freedom of the Seas -- a boxing ring at sea! Celebrity’s biggest ship, the Solstice, launches in December and will have a grassy area three times larger than Rockefeller Center’s ice skating rink for picnicing, golf putting or playing bocce ball and croquet out in the middle of the ocean! If that’s too low key for you, you can take in the Hot Glass Show, an industry first, with glass blowing artisans giving demonstrations and workshops.
What family wouldn’t enjoy bowling together on Norwegian’s Gem and Pearl which offer the first floating four lane, 10-pin bowling alleys complete with gutter bumpers which transforms into a nightclub and lounge in the evening complete with a full bar and dance floor. Your older kids may get excited about the FlowRider, the first surf park at sea, that shoots out constant 20 mile-an-hour waves, a novelty premiered by Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas or the Wii games competitions with mammoth screens so that everybody can watch the action. The younger cruisers will be happy all day with Disney Wonder’s “Splash Zone” with its interactive fountains, or Royal Caribbean’s Liberty, Freedom, and Independence of the Seas “H2O Zone” mini water parks, and Carnival Splendor’s water spray park and signature 214-foot long “Twister Waterslide.”
If enjoying some serene, kid-free moments is more to your liking, you will be pleased to learn that adult-only decks are the wave of the future. The “Sanctuary”, a Zen-like retreat on the Crown and Emerald Princess ships and the upcoming Ruby Princess, will provide you with some lounging time during the day to listen to piped-in music while you are being pampered by stewards bringing you chilled face towels and Evian water atomizers (for a small fee, of course). A romantic evening could include snuggling with your honey on padded loungers at a retro drive-in at “Movies Under the Stars.” In the spring of 2010, Norwegian Cruise Line will offer distinct entertainment venues, including the new “Ice Bar”, made of real ice blocks which will serve up fur coats, gloves, and hats with its chilled vodka drinks. Ships have sprawling spas with services from acupuncture to teeth-whitening and even Botox injections currently offered on three of Norwegian’s ships.
Please feel free to email, write, call, or drop by our office with any cruise or travel related questions. Questions can be submitted in writing to LindaHolt@HoltTravel.com or mailed to Holt Travel & Tours, 2241 W. Victoria Drive, Alpine, CA 91901. If you have any interesting cruise stories you would like to share, please submit by mail or email for publication on our website, www.HoltTravel.com. Call 619-445-9193 for information and reservations. CST # 2003503-10