|Independence of the Seas and the slightly smaller Navigator of the Seas both confirmed for the UK (out of Southampton) in 2017. The Isle of Wight Red Funnel ferry is dwarfed in the foreground.|
Julian Bray is all at sea:
Anyone who has not cruised on the Royal Caribbean International [RCI] Independence of the Seas Cruise ship ( currently on its way to the Canaries) for a couple of years, will probably not notice one of the major modifications to what was briefly 'the worlds largest' cruise ship, until its owners [RCI] decided to build a series of larger ones....
But the modification? You have to look for it, but right next to what at one time would be the funnel, but today is a series of shrouded exhaust stacks, sits a round container structure roughly about half the size of an upended road fuel tanker. Still has some access scaffolding around it, for ongoing fine tuning I'm told, but it ensures that nothing, repeat nothing in a particulate form is dumped in the sea.
The new addition to the eight year old cruise ship is a 'scrubber' device for the on board incinerator, where any waste food product is used to fire it, and in turn produce additional energy. Its all part of strict new maritime emission rules which effectively prohibit the dumping of waste materials and food products into the seas.
The ship is also self sufficient in fresh water production with a massive desalination plant which caters for the ships needs. Colas and carbonated drinks out of the soda machines are truly a unique production a Zero Coke (tm) with desalinated Atlantic Ocean and desalinated Ocean Ice Please - a bit of a mouthful, but just as refreshing.
On a practical level, the shopping mall has a series of bright new concessions, and a never ending 'souk' feel to it with daily time limited bargains and a price offer to match any land based price on the sale of duty free booze. Just capture the price tag on your iPhone!
On the entertainment front, RCI have long led the way in on board at seas entertainment and their live stage production of the NINETY MINUTE !!!! musical Grease which delightfully contains additional songs from the original Broadway stage production, not included in the film. The company acquired performing rights to both the film and staged productions.
Nothing pre-recorded, the on board musicians (many leading session musicians, when not at sea) a 14 piece orchestra pit band, do justice to a difficult songbook, and the slick American choreography, faultlessly rendered by the international resident cast, also included aerial flying (possibly by Foy).
The other major stage production is a song and dance show "Once upon a Time " this was one of the launch productions eight years ago, now back again, hugely refreshed with a few neat twists, (catch the performing line of teddy bears - priceless) and some glorious orchestrations, on the still highly technically proficient stage, where levels rise and fall, props fly or drop in, at the touch of a digital button .
Not to be left out are the two ice show productions, repeated twice, featuring many Russian award winning ice professionals and one Brit who appeared in all the TV editions of Dancing on Ice. In addition, a truly world class violinist provides a musical thread for the Strings production.
Superlative, full on ice dance on the small but perfectly adequate ice rink, even if the female ice dancer is being swung around at speed by her ankles, with her head just millimetres from contact with the ice....
Interspersed are the visiting 'headliner' acts with their own shows who fly in and out of the ship and in some case helicopter on.... and a guest special interest lecturer, whose name escapes me.. but all four talks filled the ships Convention Center. Clearly a demand for these special interest programs...
The Cruise Directors staff also take to the stage from time to time with their own highly popular audience participation game shows. Be warned the show entitled The Quest takes place over a dance floor shell covering the ice rink. They will literally have the shirt of your back, especially if its white...
Other bands around the ship, pop up at all hours, and all with a very different offering.
Piano man Sean McGreevy props up the Schooner Bar, with a non stop repertoire of popular songs.
Talented Guitarist Stephen Burke - during the day catch him doing his delightful classical guitar pieces - when not keeping the Dog & Badger 'British' Pub singing along in true pub entertainment mode. Hopefully, Stephen Burke will be encouraged to increase the classical guitar offering . Another talent more than ready to be signed up..
Latin and Pop are provided by a quartet Bamboleo with a powerfully voiced world class singer in the Tina Turner mode, if she isn't signed up, then the talent scouts are truly sleeping.
Caribbean and Pop Music from a Jamaican group Roots Vibration with a keyboard play who in unguarded moments, is the spit image of Chuck Berry - really uncanny! They are resident in the Viking crown circular space which includes the Olive or Twist night club.
For those who understand these things, a quote "Celebrity Scratch Academy DJ" one DJ Inferno just seems to sample classic pop tracks adds a doo waa drum base line and pumps out the offering at ear bursting levels still it must work as the DJ Inferno (said not to be his real name) rapidly built up a huge if young following. The goth like 'Labyrinth' disco/ night club on two floors is his lair, also featuring the more mainline DJ Spinz.
Party band Pulse meanwhile provide the dance music in what was probably a chamber scooped out from inside an Egyptian Pyramid, complete with an Egyptian royal guard of honour.
The ships own television service has its own daily breakfast show (a looped 30 minutes on air 'Whats On' from one minute past midnight until 12 noon with 'splendid' genial host and truly sainted Cruise Director Joff Eaton (from Chichester) aided by his on-air sidekick Operations Manager Caroline (from Poole).
They add topical live interviews and expand on the daily ship newspaper the Cruise Compass and exploits post cruise can be followed on twitter at @joffeaton. Cruise director Joff Eaton clearly has boundless stamina, turns out that he is also a committed runner, and regularly does a lap when in Barcelona from the docked ship to the centre of town! CRIKEY!
On the hotel side everything you would expect from a five star offer, and truly reflected in the extra ponds around the waistline. Just how many meals and snacks can you eat in a day? Top marks for the multi stranded Windjammer self serve, truly a pulsating Gastro logistic nightmare, but works effortlessly almost around the clock...
The average number of daily meals consumed by cruisers seems to be seven, excluding late night pizza, filled rolls, endless sugar free cakes and desserts....Not convinced, it has to be much higher...
Related item: https://julianbrayrecessionbuster07944217476.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/one-cruise-ship-crew-member-died-and.html
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aerospace & Incident Management Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations, 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