Royal Caribbean Int'l expands program of Oasis-class upgrades

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Eager to expand its onboard wow factors, Royal Caribbean International said it would invest $300 million to bring Oasis-class innovations to more of its ships.

The "Royal Advantage" revitalization plan, which began with upgrades to the Radiance of the Seas last spring, now will be expanded to include the Splendour of the Seas in November, the Rhapsody of the Seas in March, Grandeur of the Seas in May and the Serenade of the Seas in November 2012.

The program will continue in 2013 and 2014 with the Legend of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas.

Each ship will enter drydock for approximately a month, the line said.

Among the upgrades will be WiFi; outdoor video screens on the pool decks; nurseries for babies and toddlers; new cabin configurations for families; and interactive, onboard maps that show cruisers the fastest routes between points.

On the dining front, several specialty restaurants will be added, including Chef's Table, Izumi, Chops Grille, Park Cafe, Rita's Cantina and the Boardwalk Doghouse.

Less extensive enhancements are planned for the Independence of the Seas, the Mariner of the Seas and the Enchantment of the Seas, the line said.

Vicki Freed, the line's senior vice president of sales and trade support, said the transfer of popular features enables the brand to be "more consistent from ship to ship."

It benefits frontline sellers, too, she said.

"Let's say someone is trying to sell a family cruise and there's a 2-year-old involved," she said. "They haven't decided where they're going, maybe Europe, maybe Alaska or the Caribbean. An agent can say that Royal is a great brand for kids because of its child care programs, and after these [upgrades], that agent won't have to say, 'Oops, that ship you decided on doesn't have that kids' program."

Doug Crosby, of Holiday Cruises & Tours, in Henderson, Nev., agreed that shared features across a fleet "matters to passengers."

"Not everyone wants to cruise with 5,400 of their closest friends," he said. "They prefer smaller ships but want many of the amenities available on the megaships."

Adam Goldstein, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said, "The Royal Advantage revitalizations takes many of the best features that we have created in recent years and introduces them across our fleet, offering our guests enhanced vacation choices around the world."

Lisa Bauer, the line's senior vice president of hotel operations, said the revitalizations "will result in a virtually brand-new fleet that offers the most contemporary experience."

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