|This intentional 'cutaway' view of the new Harmony of the Seas' will all be safely contained before the 'maiden voyage'.|
Julian Bray writes: A quick trip to Rotterdam on the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas is certainly not and was never intended to be a maiden voyage (which is scheduled to depart on its official maiden voyage tomorrow May 29th, fireworks and all from Southampton to Barcelona), but more a trip to pick up the bulk of soft furnishings, music and theatre kits, drumsets, amplifiers, retail shop stores and products from all over Europe and beyond, from the worlds largest Europort which just happens to be Rotterdam.
However one fair maiden Georgina Beaton (from Southampton by all accounts) is livid, and has posted videos all over the internet.
Far from the fair maiden being bowled over, a walking video 'moanalogue', highlighting areas that are little more than a building site or complete 'off limits' sections; but has posted little of the areas that are finished off and fully working.
True the lady concerned had paid the full advertised price for the pre-maiden voyage trip, but this was deeply discounted from the post maiden voyage schedule when the ship is based this summer in Barcelona and will be offering seven day cruises (or rotations) of the Mediterranean; whilst an earlier ship the splendid 'Independence of the Seas' (once briefly the worlds largest cruise ship will be 'steaming' out of Southampton - hopefully with ace Cruise Director team Joff and Amber Eaton still in charge - and is essentially what the trade calls a 'shakedown' cruise, however cruise company PR people hate the shorthand term as it has unsavoury connotations outside of the cruise industry, and wish us hacks to call it a 'pre-inaugural sailing' but the shortform for this is unfortunate possibly a p-i-s-take... so its a shakedown....
When the RMS Titanic went on its true maiden voyage, it too had an army of craftsmen on board, some left the fated ship at Cobh (Queenstown) Nr Cork Ireland, their fellow workers perished when the ship went down having hit an iceberg.
A 'shakedown' or 'pre-inaugural sailing' is when the basic hotel and technical services are all tried out, virtually to destruction and people/travel agents can get a first impression of most of the ship.
Harmony of the Seas will have in addition to its regular crew an army of tradespeople travelling with the ship, essentially fitting out the public areas and testing under seagoing conditions the technical elements of this very complex ship.
The BBC News channel has been running some of the videos, and clearly the mainly French tradesmen need to brush up on PR skills!
The shakedown' additionally gives the cruise ship an opportunity to pick up fittings and furniture from the worlds largest port Rotterdam, and there will be huge container loads of kit leaving for other ports of call on these proving trips.
A vast warehouse operation operates below decks supporting an ever changing population of some 6,000 souls. It was never intended that all areas pre-shakedown would be at presentation level, and indeed the shakedown series of cruises are also used to train up the staff and iron out any technical and/or access problems.
The flowrider surf machine first seen on the Independence of the Seas wasn't working the lady says. Thank goodness. It will take a few weeks for that to be technically up and running, as the safety staff need to be first tested, at expert level, to surf along with the full fare paying guests.
The zipline wasn't working, and again I suggest, its training up the safety staff possibly during the early hours or when onboard guests are normally sound asleep in the blissfully comfortable beds, and enjoying power showers that would put a water cannon to shame.
Nothing about the virtual balconies for inside cabins either. Floor to ceiling video screens mirroring the sea flow outside.
Simply the Southampton maiden needed to read the small print and sadly if successive British Governments hadn't killed off our own shipbuilding industry these new cruise ships would have been built in the UK rather than in France.
And you know what they say about French plumbing? Just as well all UK plumbers seem to hail from Poland !
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com