Multimillion-dollar makeover for Voyager of the Seas

After undergoing an extensive makeover, Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas has returned to Sydney.

For the first time since its $80 million (£51 million) renovation, the vessel embarked on a 14-day journey from Singapore and arrived in Australia on Monday morning.

Deemed the country’s biggest passenger ship, the Voyager weighs in at around 138,000 tonnes and is over 300 m in length, with 15 levels.

With the capacity to accommodate up to 4,000 passengers, the Voyager of the Seas more than matches the Sydney Opera House in bulk.

Captain Charles Teige, Voyager of the Seas’ Norwegian skipper, first started working in the cruise industry more than 20 years ago, where the main attractions for passengers simply involved a Broadway-style show, sunbathing on the deck and dining.

Now, Royal Caribbean has pulled out all the stops to produce a luxurious, entertainment-filled sailing experience to be enjoyed by all.

Although the Voyager travels to many exciting destinations around the world, Captain Teige explains that it is in fact the ship itself that passengers look forward to experiencing most.

He said: “Now the ship has become the destination. In Brisbane [which Voyager of the Seas visited during its journey to Sydney] we had 1,100 people who decided not to go ashore.”

One of the vessel’s attractions is the FlowRider a modern surf machine, which comes as part of Royal Caribbean’s plan to appeal to younger passengers and extended family groups. but the ship also includes a 3D cinema, rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, mini shopping centre and a full-size basketball court.

And Captain Teige ensured a piece of his heritage was incorporated into the design, with a collage of landscapes that capture Norway’s natural beauty hung just outside the bridge room.

Last month, the cruise line also launched its first Quantum class ship, Quantum of the Seas. The New York-based vessel is the third largest ship ever built and boasts a range of innovative features, such as simulated sky diving and robotic bartenders.


Port Everglades slip to be lengthened

Port Everglades slip to be lengthened

By Tom Stieghorst


Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale said it was awarded a $1.85 million allocation to lengthen Slip 2 by 250 feet to accommodate larger cruise ships.

The award from the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council becomes part of a budget that goes before the Florida legislature next spring.

The slip will be extended west and will be 1,150 feet long and 42 feet deep when completed in September 2016.

The engineering firm Bermello Ajamil & Partner was awarded the planning and design contract.

The work coincides with a $13.4 million renovation of Terminal 4 set to be finished by the fall cruise season in 2014.

Disney Magic cruise cancelled to complete renovations

Disney Magic cruise cancelled to complete renovations

By Tom Stieghorst
Disney Cruise Line has cancelled a sailing of the Disney Magic in order to complete extensive renovations to the 15-year old ship.

The five-day cruise was scheduled to depart Miami Oct. 20, but bad weather during a transatlantic crossing from Spain made it impossible for workers on-board to finish needed refurbishment work on time. The ship had been undergoing renovations in dry dock in Spain following its Mediterranean season.

Passengers booked on the cruise will get a full refund and a complimentary Disney Magic sailing between now and May 16. Airline change fees will also be covered.

Alternately, they can opt for a 35% discount on a Bahamas or Caribbean cruise anytime in the next two years, excluding holiday dates.

The Disney Magic is getting new restaurants, children’s play areas, water slides and other features, along with a complete overhaul of furnishings, fixtures and colour schemes.

Disney Magic renovation aims for ‘something for everybody’

By Tom Stieghorst
Disney Magic AquaDunk renderingGALVESTON, Texas — The 15-year-old Disney Magic will get new water features and more exciting slides in a September refurbishment that will be the biggest in the ship’s history.

The tone is set by the AquaDunk, a thrill slide in which riders step into a chamber, a door closes, the bottom falls out, and a plunge of 40 feet ensues before riders loop out over the ocean in an enclosed tube.

Also new will be “Twist N’ Spout,” which Disney executives describe as a family slide.

It will replace the tamer slide that goes into the Mickey Pool, which will be reborn as AquaLab after the renovations.

The general idea is to make the pool and water areas on the Disney Magic less age-specific, said Joe Lanzisero, senior creative vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Lanzisero, the ship’s chief designer, led a preview tour of upgrades for a handful of journalists during a recent turnaround, using iPads to display renderings of the new features.

He said families on Disney ships prefer to stay together rather than be broken up into smaller units (although the Quiet Cove pool remains adults-only).

“We think now, between the family slide, the AquaLab, the thrill slide, that there should be something for everybody out there,” Lanzisero said.

Disney Magic Andys Room renderingCurrently sailing from Galveston, the Disney Magic will spend the summer in the Mediterranean before its six-week drydock in Cadiz, Spain. Afterward, it will head to Miami to replace the Disney Wonder for the rest of 2013.

The pool deck will get the most noticeable makeover, but Disney is making changes throughout the ship to freshen it, change the predominant color scheme and replace some of the more dated concepts.

One area in need of an update, Lanzisero said, is the casual restaurant now called Parrot Cay, which has a quasi-tiki design. Under its new name, Carioca’s, it will get a more contemporary and “timeless” look, he said.

The children’s play areas will be redone, in part to accommodate Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, whose stable of superheroes, including the Avengers, will be represented for the first time at sea on the Disney Magic, Lanzisero said.

“We definitely wanted to do something with Marvel, especially for boys,” Lanzisero said.

Disney Magic Cabanas renderingAnother big change will be additional space for Topsider, the upper-deck buffet restaurant, which will gain seats by enclosing some walkways and adjacent exterior deck areas. It will be rechristened Cabanas, given an Australian beach theme and have serving stations rather than cafeteria-style lines.

Two areas that won’t change much are Animator’s Palette and the adult restaurant Palo’s, which are both so popular that Disney plans to leave them essentially as they are.

The Magic will keep its art deco design elements but have a lighter, more aquatic color scheme.

The pool changes include building stairs beside the ship’s forward funnel to access the AquaDunk, a follow-on to the bigger AquaDuck water coaster developed for the Disney Dream and Fantasy.

The Disney Magic’s pool changes will also include adding waterplay features from newer Disney ships, such as bucket dumps and, for children under 3, an interactive Nephew’s Splash Zone with pop jets and bubblers similar to Nemo’s Reef on the Disney Dream.