By Michael Coleman
VENICE, Italy — July 30, 2011 – The largest cruise ship in the world, just a decade ago, is set to make a big splash in the world’s largest market.
Voyager of the Seas, the globe’s most innovative cruise ship when it was launched in Nov. 1999 and which spawned the large cruise ship building boom in the 2000s, is presently in the midst of a series of Mediterranean cruises.
In June 2012, however, the 3,114-passenger vessel will arrive in Shanghai to offer four-to 10-night itineraries to a huge new market and while the ship’s iconic rock climbing wall and onboard ice skating rink will remain — Voyager was the first vessel of any kind to introduce such amenities at sea — look for Royal Caribbean to customize shipboard products and services for the new market, including more Chinese language services, authentic Chinese food and culturally appropriate recreational activities and duty-free items.
The move, according to company officials, is designed to offer not only exciting new cruise experiences to Chinese vacationers but to also attract cruise guests from around the world to visit China and Asia.
Spanning 14 passenger decks and with some 1,557 staterooms, the 137,276 ton vessel will sail to Shanghai from Europe and offer a variety of port calls in China, Japan and Korea until August, including Fukuoka and Kobe in Japan, and Busan and Jeju in Korea.
The ship will introduce several unique concepts never before seen at sea in Asia, among them: The Royal Promenade, an indoor “main street” stretching nearly the full length of the middle of the ship, lined with places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained; “Studio B” Ice Rink, an ice skating rink for guests that doubles as a cozy, 700-seat venue for ice show productions with world-class figure skaters; 11 dining venues include specialty restaurant “Portofino” for classic Italian fine dining, 50’s inspired American diner “Johnny Rockets”, plus Voyager’s most stunning eatery, its grand, three-story, 1,919-seat main dining room.
The ship will depart Singapore for Sydney, Australia, in late October 2012 for a series of Down Under voyages before returning to Singapore and the Asian market in March, 2013.
The move is a part of Royal Caribbean’s growing, global marketing strategy. Royal Caribbean owns/operates over 40 ships under respective Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara Club Cruises and other European banners and expects to host some 5 million passengers worldwide in 2012.