By Michael ColemanÂ
The cruise industrys top players will be positioning five of their latest ships in Fort Lauderdale this winter.
The amenity-laden and technologically-advanced passenger vessels ever constructed, at a combined cost of some four billion dollars, will each offer roundtrip Caribbean voyages from Port Everglades.
Heres a brief look at what life will be like onboard. Passenger capacity in parenthesis.Â
Carnival Splendor (3,006)
The cruise line renowned for bringing fun to the high seas will soon introduce its biggest Fun Ship to the North American market. At 113,000 tons, Carnival Splendor will offer a host of onboard restaurants, a 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa (adjacent to the facility will be 68 spa staterooms and suites a first for Carnival) and numerous family-friendly features. From January March 2009, Splendor hosts 14- to 18-day South America voyages the lines first within the region before repositioning to Long Beach, California, for year-round seven-day Mexican Riviera voyages beginning March 29.
Celebrity Solstice (2,852)
The 122,000 ton Celebrity Solstice will debut Nov. 23 and in a cruise industry first will introduce a half-acre-sized lawn on its top deck. The ship will feature a host of dining venues and varied entertainment options including new theater productions in partnership with Poet Theatricals. Look also for another first: Celebrity has paired with The Corning Museum of Glass to produce a hot glass onboard show from a specially designed, dedicated glass blowing studio.Â
The largest-ever vessel constructed in Holland Americas storied 135-year history, Eurodam debuted in the Netherlands this summer. She transitions to Europe at the end of April for a season in the Baltics. At 86,700-tons, she features 56 spa staterooms named because of their close proximity to the onboard Greenhouse Spa and Salon. The ship has also unveiled The Retreat featuring 14 on-deck cabanas complete with a host of leisure amenities.Â
Independence of the Seas (3,634)
The largest ship debuting in Fort Lauderdale, at 160,000 tons, is also the worlds largest passenger vessel. Independence of the Seas shares such a distinction with sister ships Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas. Look for Royal Caribbean staples: an onboard rock climbing wall and ice skating rink plus an interactive water park complete with a FlowRider surf simulator, nine-hole miniature golf, whirlpools and even a boxing ring at sea. Theres a Johnny Rockets eatery, Sorrento’s Pizzeria and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop onboard.
Ruby Princess (3,080)Â
When the 113,000 tonÂ Ruby Princess launches in early November, look for an English-style onboard pub featuring fish and chips, bangers and mash, cottage pie and an array of British and Irish beers. Look also for unique enrichment programs (from astronomy to mixology), two new stage shows and an Ultimate Ship Tour complete with visits to the engine control room, funnel, bridge and other typically off-limit spaces.