Last week Richard Fain and I touched down at both shipyards that are building Royal Caribbean International ships. First, in Papenburg, Germany, in conjunction with our company Board meeting, we saw all of Quantum of the Seas and a large section of Anthem of the Seas at Meyer Werft shipyard. That was a Wow. After spending hundreds of hours in conference rooms since early 2010 discussing and designing Quantum-class ships, to enter the “big hall” and see the whole of Quantum was very special. And the one-third section of Anthem was a very tangible reminder that she is coming six months behind Quantum and there will be little room for a breather.
I didn’t have time for as full of a walk-through of Quantum as I would have liked. For one thing, she is so full of scaffolding that I wonder if the provider of the scaffolding has found the most lucrative space in the cruise industry. Our focus was on the four areas that have received the most attention to date: Two70, the SeaPlex, Ripcord by iFly and the North Star. In each of these areas, more than a little imagination is still required to envision what will be the final outcome in October. But one skill we pick up after generations of newbuild cycles is the ability to envision what it will be versus what it is right now. And I’m confident each of these features will be spectacular. It is truly exciting and when I think of these types of amenities plus Dynamic Dining plus the entertainment and technology features we haven’t even revealed yet…well, Wow will have to suffice for now.
We then moved from the northwest of Germany to the northwest of France and the shipyard at STX France. This was bound to be a pleasant stop for several reasons. First, the official purpose for our visit was to participate in one of those enjoyable maritime traditions that we take so seriously (and convivially) at Royal Caribbean – the keel laying of Oasis III. This was not a business as usual keel laying. One reason is that the ship in question will eventually eclipse her sister ships and become the world’s largest cruise ship by approximately 1% as measured in Gross Registered Tons (GRT). Another reason is that the French yard embellished the occasion by using its gigantic 1400 ton rated gantry crane for the first time to lower the first grand block into the dry dock. The grand block in question was in vicinity of 1,000 tons and almost certainly the heaviest grand block ever constructed in one piece and lowered into a dry-dock to become part of a cruise ship.
After I survived the terror of using my rusty French to begin my comments to the attendees about the significance of Oasis III, Richard Fain took the microphone and divulged the second official purpose of our visit to the shipyard – to inform everyone that our company was committing to the order of a 4th Oasis-class ship for delivery in 2018. This is of course a really big deal in many ways, and it was gratifying to witness the expressions of pure joy and pride on the faces of the shipyard workers. While it is far too soon to say where Oasis IV will sail, we noted to the media that with Oasis of the Seas visiting Europe briefly in 2014 and Allure of the Seas sailing a full European season in 2015, there are no meaningful limits on where Oasis-class ships may sail over the years. Together with the three Quantum-class ships we will have by spring 2016, it’s clear that our flagships will be visible in many parts of the world much sooner than many might have expected.
One final note from the trip – our followers often ask about what transpires behind the scenes. One recurring conversation that was renewed at both shipyards was the quest for ever more energy efficiency. It’s remarkable how many useful ideas our clever people and the shipyards’ clever people continue to generate to push well beyond even the state of the art fuel efficiency of our Oasis-class ships. When Quantum enters service later this year, she will replace Oasis and Allure as the world’s most fuel efficient cruise ship. And then when Oasis III is delivered in 2016, she will push the boundaries of energy efficiency well beyond Quantum and her two Oasis-class siblings. These achievements are truly a credit to all of the engineers and architects involved.