Move over Disney, Royal Caribbean is stealing your water slide thunder.
At 800 feet long, a slide called The Blaster that is one of two new slides on Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas will become the longest water coaster in the industry.
There aren’t that many cruise ship water coasters (a water slide roller coaster), but Disney Cruise Line has had the longest on both its Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships in the form of the AquaDuck, a popular ride that runs around a good portion of those ships’ top decks for 765 feet.
The Blaster, which is more serpentine than Disney’s offerings, joins another ride called Riptide, the first head-first mat ride in the industry, as part of Navigator of the Seas’ new Perfect Storm water park.
The two slides are unique to the fleet. The Blaster features a two-person raft with hills, straightaways and curves that include a trip over the edge of the ship while Riptide’s head-first design is something cruise lines avoid.
“I see the new slides coming to Navigator as a sign Royal Caribbean is not content with simply offering the same slide configuration ship after ship,” said Matt Hochberg, who runs the website RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com. “Royal Caribbean has never shied away from innovating the onboard guest experience, and these new slides look to be the next progression of water slides that are as enticing to try, as they are remarkable to new cruisers. There is little doubt the cruise industry has embraced an attention grabbing marketing strategy, primarily of first cruisers, and a new batch of water slides that are longer, faster and less conventional looking promises to do just that for Royal Caribbean.”
Royal Caribbean shares images of revamped CocoCay
The cruise line has only been adding water slides to its cruise ships in the last four years with the first Perfect Storm water park debuting on 2016’s Harmony of the Seas. Navigator of the Seas becomes the seventh ship of its 25-ship fleet to feature adult water slides.
“Royal Caribbean's decision to begin adding water slides to its cruise ships shows me they are committed to offering as compelling a family cruise experience as any other cruise line,” Hochberg said. “Royal Caribbean's ships have always been a family-friendly cruise choice, and the addition of water slides bolsters their position in the family vacation market.”
Navigator of the Seas debuted n 2002, and the water slides are part of the latest $115 million makeover, which is finishing up this month in the Bahamas. Once complete, the 3,686-passenger ship will first sail on 5- and 9-night Caribbean itineraries through May, and then switch to short 3- and 4-night cruises from PortMiami. Beginning in May, Navigator of the Seas will be one of the first ships to visit the cruise line’s new upgraded private Bahamas island, which has been renamed Perfect Day at CocoCay.
In addition to the water park, Navigator of the Seas is getting its own FlowRider surf simulator and a rock wall, a Caribbean-themed top-deck pool area as well as several new bars, restaurants and retail spaces.
One new venue is The Lime and Coconut, a two-level poolside bar that will have extended hours for nightime use and feature live music and what the line calls a “rooftop” deck.
El Loco Fresh, which debuted on Symphony of the Seas, will also be available as well as a Johnny Rockets Express, which is new to the cruise line.
Inside, the ship’s Royal Promenade will see new venue To Dry For, a standalone blow dry bar where cruisers can treat their hair while having a drink. Also on the promenade will be Polynesian-themed cocktail bar The Bamboo Room, which debuted recently on Mariner of the Seas, and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.
Other upgraded dining venues include Chops Grille steakhouse, Jamie’s Italian, Hooked Seafood and Starbucks.
The line’s new glow-in-the-dark laser tag offering, Battle for Planet Z in Studio B, will be available on board as well as mini-golf and the Royal Escape Room: The Observatorium.
The ship will also have a revamped kids and teen spaces.
Navigator of the Seas is the third of 10 ships getting upgrades as part of the cruise line’s Royal Amplified program, which combines the installation of popular venues from other ships as well as unique additions on a ship-by-ship basis. The first two ships to get makeovers were Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas.
“Each Royal Caribbean ship brings a new adventure uniquely designed to deliver on our guests’ preferences from A to Z,” said cruise line President and CEO Michael Bayley. “Every detail matters, and we’ve mapped out an unmatched combination of innovative features and experiences for this top-to-bottom transformation of Navigator of the Seas.”
By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
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