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A cruise ship surf park:

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A cruise ship surf park: What will they think of next?

As the world's largest passenger vessel was unveiled in Miami last week, I had but one question on my mind: What will they think of next?

Royal Caribbean's 160,000 ton, 4,000-plus passenger Freedom of the Seas features an onboard surf park, cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean, a full-size boxing ring, ice-skating rink, teeth-whitening and massage services, rock climbing wall, wave pool and 14-person family suite.

Surf park? Boxing ring? Ice-skating rink?

For an industry that prides itself on firsts, surely even the most skilled cruise ship designer must be running out of new wrinkles to add to the fleets of tomorrow.

Think again.

With new ship building techniques and a global canvass, they've only just begun.

Take for instance Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) new, 93,502-ton, 2,384-passenger Norwegian Pearl. She'll be launched in November and will feature a bowling alley onboard. Yes, a bowling alley at sea.

NCL will also take a page from Royal Caribbean's book with the introduction of a climbing wall in their sports area. This sister-ship to Norwegian Jewel and Pride of Hawaii will also feature two deluxe owner's suites, complete with 1,195-square-foot cabins featuring living room, dining room, hot tub and sundeck. And, oh, did I mention . . . it includes your very own private courtyard with pool.

Elsewhere, it won't just be glitz and glitter headlining the launch of Crown Princess later this month. Instead, look for an adults-only, quiet onboard retreat to garner the attention and it may be a future, industry-wide trend.

When the Princess Cruises ship sets sail for the first time on June 14 look for "The Sanctuary'', located on the uppermost forward deck of the ship, to offer a relaxing alternative to a host of outdoor activities and entertainment options available elsewhere. Solitude seekers will be able to escape completely to this plush, outdoor spa-inspired setting with signature beverages, light meals, massages, attentive service and relaxing personal entertainment.

"With The Sanctuary, we're not only providing an alternative venue for our relaxing spa services, but also offering passengers the opportunity to escape to a tranquil retreat at any time, day or night," said Jan Swartz, Princess' senior vice president of customer service and sales.

When not indulging in spa services, Sanctuary guests will lounge amidst lush greenery, enjoy gentle breezes, ocean waves and softly piped-in spa music which combines to further insulate the area. Guests will relax on plush outdoor furniture including double loungers for couples, as well as deluxe chaise lounges and chairs.

Shore excursions, too, will no longer be a typical walk in the local park. Cruise line executives are fanning out over the globe to make today's new shore excursion experience invigorating, if not unforgettable, for the new wave of active Baby Boomers.

While there are set standards to the formula - a number of lines have offered timely summer tours to coincide with the release of "The Da Vinci Code'' movie - look for cruise lines to soon unveil packages that would make Marco Polo and other great explorers green with envy.

Luxury cruise specialist Crystal Cruises is offering a new overland adventure to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Thrill-seekers will revel at the rare chance to climb 19,340 feet to Uhuru Peak, through an equatorial jungle and dense cloud forest to the snow-capped summit, en route to the highest peak in Africa. The nine-night extended land program debuts in March, 2007, and is available pre- or post-cruise in conjunction with two Crystal Serenity itineraries beginning or ending in Cape Town, South Africa.

"This new excursion is quite literally the pinnacle of adventure, reserved for only the fittest adventure-seekers who have always dreamt of conquering Kilimanjaro," said John Stoll, Crystal's director of land programs.

Proof, yet again, that when it comes to modern cruise ship travel, the sky's the limit.

Source: Michael Coleman, Boca Raton News

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For people such as us who hate glitz, and would consider a surfing area and a rock climbing wall as reasons to avoid a particular ship, most of the new ideas sound awful. On the other hand, "The Sanctuary" is the first good giant ship idea we've heard in several years. If we don't mind being on a ship as large as the Noordam (and that's by no means a sure thing), maybe we'll look into Princess. So far we've avoided Princess because of the large size of their ships (other than the former Renaissance ships.)

The next good idea, which probably won't happen, is a ship with large staterooms and no more than 1,000 passengers. Fat chance!

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God I hope not schatje!

I love RCI and the rock wall nor the ice skating never bothered me but a water park just took it too far. I'd have to win a FREE trip on the Freedom in order to go. We have been expanding to other lines now that the kids won't be traveling with us as often.

I'll be testing out the Sanctuary when we're on the Crown in the fall. Much more my speed.

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If people want Theme Parks why don't they just do a land vacation?

Am I too old when I think that a nice quiet stroll on a deck watching the waves roll by while the sun is on my face is fun? I love to sit and just watch the wake of a ship like watching a campfire. There is something tranquil about it for me as well as my DH. I don't think I could book a ship that has people flying in my face so to speak from all points and something blaring from the speakers. I have little ones flying around me Mon-Fri so to go on a cruise I look forward to quiet during the day and dancing at night. There is a place for activity but let those of us who like the quiet enjoy it. As I have posted before we are going to be looking for ships that have aft decks as well so we can escape the large crowds by the main pools. It is much easier to hold a conversation with people that we meet when you can hear their voice and visa versa. Maybe they think us baby boomers are on our way out already and are gearing up for the next generation who like the pace to be fast all the time. I hope the younger generation comes to realize that life is at a fast enough pace and they need to learn to kick back before their heart can't take the race anylonger. Just my opinion :smiley:

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I'm just waiting for the multi level roller coster to be installed on a ship.

One that starts at say the entry lounge area. Works it's way to the top of the ship. Then at the top and releases you down - past the engin room.

Through the kitchen prep area. Takes a quick bump up through the passanger lower level. Then a sharp turn up to go past the Guest Relations desk. A quick dip and then up the central stair case to go through the Casino. Back through a series of quick S<] turns.

Around the back of the main show lounge. Back onto a catch to pick the cars up to just above the pool decks. Then release down through the shallow end of the pool and past the hot tubs. Aroung and through the owners suites. A quick drop back to the entertainment deck to go past the specialty resturants. Then through a few of the main Bar and lounge areas and into the main dining room. Then finally do a series of loops and quick turns as your in the Arcade and finally drop you back down to the entry lounge area.

Now that would be something. :wink:

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