Kevin Douglas, director of newbuildings
and fleet design for Royal Caribbean Cruises , is consumed by
thoughts of fire.
As the current
director of the revitalization of Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the
Seas, he rarely gets off the ship, partly because of his endless
concern about the possibility of fires, the biggest risk to the
Majesty as it undergoes a radical revitalization at the Grand
Bahama shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas.
possibility of shipboard fires is not the only thing that keeps the
British national awake at night. Douglas is also preoccupied by the
myriad calamities that can happen when the safety of 947 workers
and 986 crewmembers is at stake, when hundreds of containers of
material and garbage need to be accounted for and handled
correctly, and when $36 million of work needs to be completed in
under one month.
Such is the life
of the men and women in charge of the slew of major cruise ship
renovations being done lately. Even as Douglas grapples with the
terrifying thought of what would happen if the shipyard workers
went on strike during this renovation, he is on the phone with
Pullmantur and Royal Caribbean executives discussing the upcoming
refurbishments of the Celebrity Zenith and soon-to-be Celebrity
While most people
only get to see the before and after product of these massive
undertakings, Royal Caribbean invited a group of 15 travel agents
for a glimpse of the Majesty in the midst of being completely torn
On Jan. 24, the
group of agents, all high producers for the Majesty, donned hard
hats and steel-toed shoes to witness Day 12 of the refurbishment of
the 15-year-old vessel. Scheduled to be completed as of Feb. 5, the
ship will reenter service on Feb. 12.
The agents were
treated to the rare occasion of standing under, and being able to
sign with permanent marker, the ship's dark red hull before the
dry-dock slip filled with water for a float-out. They were given
tours by Eric Lewis, project manager of Majesty of the Seas
Revitalization -- and someone who really never gets off the ship --
and Douglas himself.
Agent Uf Tukel,
of WMPH Vacations in Delray Beach, Fla., spoke for many of the
retailers when he walked onto the ship and wondered aloud, "how in
the hell are they going to get all that finished in two
"It looks like
they have a long way to go," he said. "But you know they'll hit
Indeed, the ship
appeared to be years from completion, full of tons of refuse,
exposed wires, dust, containers, exposed floor where carpet once
was, and graveyards of old workout equipment and furniture. There
was little resemblance to any functioning cruise ship
But according to
Douglas, the refurb is on schedule, precisely because of the
meticulous organization of manpower, equipment and supplies that
began six months before the dry-dock.
"We have to have
the men, the materials, and the information in the same place, or
it isn't going to happen," he said. "If you don't feed the monster,
it won't get finished."
The Majesty has a
Liberian container ship and the Atlantis II, the research vessel
that launched the first exploration of the Titanic wreck in 1986,
In many ways, the
Majesty is functioning as it always has. Much of its crew of
waiters, cooks, stewards, pursers and officers -- all in uniform --
are still aboard. But their guests are contractors and laborers,
all living onboard, eating in dining areas and hanging out at the
one bar that is kept open and where only "dry-dock dollars" are
are Finnish and were flown over to work at Grand Bahama, rather
than losing an entire month sailing the ship to Finland and back.
That and the fact, Douglas pointed out, that it's "bloody freezing
there this time of year."
the ship, Douglas explained that the most challenging areas of
conversions were outdoor spaces being converted into indoor ones,
such as the Windjammer Marketplace. An area that needed only tables
and chairs suddenly needs Freon lines for air-conditioning,
insulation, fire-detection devices, drainage and so
brought aboard were excited that a ship revitalized to that extent
would enter the short-itinerary market.
"I can't wait to
see her," said Kimberly Gray, of Travelport in Dunedin, Fla. "It's
a fantastic addition to the three- and four-day market to spur
interest among new cruisers. This will differentiate the product
from its competitors."
president of Viva Voyage in Hollywood, Fla., agreed.
"The visit to the
shipyard totally redefined the meaning of ship revitalization to
me," he said. "I envisioned seeing updated carpeting, furniture and
bedding. I never envisioned seeing all of the public areas
demolished. It will be a completely new ship with many of the
amenities of the newer vessels."
What to expect
The Majesty is
the third Sovereign-class ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet to be
refurbished, after the Monarch of the Seas in 2003, and the
Sovereign of the Seas in 2004.
The dining rooms
are being overhauled and will be renamed the Starlight and
The Windjammer is
being totally rebuilt, and will go from the traditional Windjammer
to a two-level, indoor/outdoor Windjammer Marketplace on Decks 11
and 12 that will house Royal Caribbean's new signature restaurants:
Sorrento's Pizza, the Compass Deli and Johnny Rockets, all
upstairs. The original Windjammer on Deck 11 is connected by an
atrium and staircase.
a coffee shop, and the new Freeze ice-cream shop, sporting a
toppings mix-in concept similar to that used at ice cream chain
Cold Stone Creamery, will take over the former Beauty Shop on Deck
Latin-themed watering hole, Bolero's, will serve mojitos in a
sunken bar that will be handicapped accessible. The casino is being
revitalized with new carpets, window coverings and a refurbished
The spa and
fitness centers will be relocated from Deck 10 to Deck 9 and will
feature a new SpaBar, with technology that can suggest skincare and
skin products (all of which can be purchased onboard) for all skin
types. The spa will have 10 more treatment rooms and a
staterooms are being totally rebuilt and will boast new furniture
and fixtures; all will also have Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs and
bathrooms with new hardware. The cabins will get the enhanced
bedding being installed fleetwide on Royal Caribbean
The Majesty will
also have new and expanded conference and meeting centers with
high-tech multimedia systems for enhanced audiovisual
To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].