Original Run Date - September 2007
Splishing and Splashing and Lot More
Two guests relax in their Balinese Bed "compounds" on the top deck of a SeaDream Yacht Club vessel, while above right, the Solarium retreat on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas is designed just for adults -- offering quiet pool action without children.*
By Anne Kalosh
Taking a Caribbean or Bahamas cruise? Chances are you’ll be poolside for some or all of your vacation. On today’s great ships, big and small, you’ll have your pick of tanning and umbrella-drink-sipping spots.
You’ve probably heard about the hot tubs, water slides and surf parks.
But did you know you can also relax in a private cabana? Have a massage on deck? Watch a movie on a big screen (as with the Carnival Liberty's movie screen at right)?
You might also bounce on a bungee trampoline or soak in a whirlpool suspended over the side of the ship, high above the sea.
Plus, on a growing number of vessels, adults and even teens get their own special deck areas.
Here’s a sample of the latest Lido delights:
Cabanas and Pools Area Just for Adults
Disney Cruise Line was an early proponent of giving grown-ups their own space. The Quiet Cove Pool is reserved for passengers 18 and older.
This adult pool (shown at left*) offers comfy chaise lounges, two whirlpool tubs, a bar and a perfect location: adjacent to the spa and the Cove Café (also reserved for adults). This cafe is the spot for specialty coffees, cocktails, magazines and high-speed Internet.
Disney Magic and Disney Wonder sail this winter from Florida’s Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Other ships with pools reserved solely for adults include Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.
As the world’s largest cruise ships, this duo has ample space for the grown-ups at the open-air Solarium.
On some nights, the Solarium bar hosts poolside parties with South Beach-style dance music.
Steps away, a pair of glass-enclosed whirlpools (again, just for adults) are cantilevered over each side of the ship, a spine-tingling 112 feet above the sea.
One of those cantilevered whirlpools is shown above right.*
Both Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas sail week-long cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean year-round from Miami. Visit www.royalcaribbean.com
From Big to Small
Petter Yran, the Norwegian architect known for his luxury ship designs, came up with the idea of putting double Balinese sun beds on the top decks of the SeaDream Yacht Club vessels.
These Balinese DreamBeds are chic and semi-secluded with privacy dividers and shaded with canvas umbrellas. And they have reading lights for relaxation after dark.
See photo at right for ground level view, while the shot below takes an aerial approach.*
The DreamBeds are just a few steps from the Top of the Yacht Bar and the Topside Restaurant, two of the best spots on board.
SeaDream Yacht Club, which thinks of every detail, even provides pajamas for guests who wish to sleep under the stars. Staff make up the beds for overnighters.
Both SeaDream yachts will explore the more exclusive Caribbean harbors this winter. One voyage begins in Miami on Nov. 14 when SeaDream II sails for St. Thomas. Visit www.seadreamyachtclub.com
Architect Yran took the Balinese beds concept one step further for Oceania Cruises by placing them in canvas-draped Cabanas.
At left, a couple amble along to their Oceania cabana.*
These eight indulgent spots may be reserved by the day or by the cruise. (Rates vary by sailing.)
A dedicated attendant looks after the Cabana crowd, serving food, drinks and treats, from fruit skewers to afternoon tea. Below the attendant pours this couple a glass of champagne.*
Massages may be booked. Passengers who buy a full-cruise Cabana package with Oceania get perks like a chair massage and a goodie bag of sun products.
Pricing for Oceania's Cabanas is $50 on port days and $100 on sea days (obviously, not including the cost of the cruise).
Oceania Cruises’ Regatta is plying the Caribbean on diverse, longer voyages from Miami this winter. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com.
On Princess Cruises’ two newest ships, Crown Princess and Emerald Princess, there’s a deck space dubbed The Sanctuary, which perfectly describes this retreat for adults. Accessed via the spa, it’s one flight up from a swim-against-the-current lap pool.
You’ll find cushioned chairs and chaise lounges in a shady space. Massages can be booked.
Guests may choose from a special menu of healthy drinks and snacks served by “Serenity Stewards.” These crew members also offer MP3 rental players with headphones.
The Sanctuary (shown at left; the author is at right) is available on a first-come, first-served basis at $15 per half day.
(Pssst! Usually after 5 p.m., the crowd sets with the sun, and the space is accessible at no charge.)
Sailing from Port Everglades (Greater Fort Lauderdale) this winter, Emerald Princess will operate 10-day cruises to the southern and eastern Caribbean on two alternating itineraries.
If relaxed pool decks seem the antithesis of the “party on” Carnival Cruise Lines image, well, even Fun Ships passengers need a rest sometimes.
Carnival is retrofitting its eight 2,600-passenger Fantasy-class ships to add new “Serenity” retreats for adults.
See artist's renderings of the Serenity retreat at right and below.*
They will be tucked in an out-of-the-way aft section of each vessel, with two whirlpools, oversized umbrellas and cushioned chaise lounges and chairs. The casual Lido Restaurant is close by for snacks.
In early October, Carnival Inspiration, sailing four- and five-day cruises to the western Caribbean from Tampa, will be the first to unveil the Serenity retreat.
Carnival Imagination, which offers four- and five-day western and eastern Caribbean jaunts from Miami, will follow this winter.
Serenity spaces will be aboard other Fantasy-class ships by 2009.
Splash Fun for Kids
Carnival hasn’t forgotten the youngsters in its Fantasy-class pool deck plans. New WaterWorks aqua parks will be introduced with a four-deck-high, 300-foot-long spiraling tube water slide.
A separate 82-foot-long triple-lane water slide will be featured, as well, and a spray park will stretch across most of the deck area.
Carnival WaterWorks is a kids' delight -- but we believe adults will want to share in the fun!*
It’s no secret that many adults will want to try these attractions, too. Carnival Inspiration will be the first ship to offer a WaterWorks park, starting with its October cruises.
For splashy fun, Carnival ships fleetwide already provide a Water Wars game that allows participants to pelt each other with water balloons catapulted from “battle stations.”
Watery Kids' Zones
Colorful, interactive sculpture fountains, ground geysers and a waterfall distinguish the expansive H2O Zone water parks on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.
Near to the ships’ main pools, the H2O Zones (shown at right*) are magnets for families.
On their first-ever cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas, two young sisters from Miami whispered to me that their favorite thing on the entire ship was the free, soft-serve ice cream machine near the H2O Zone.
Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, a vessel that was cut in half and enlarged with a new midships section two years ago, emerged with its own dramatic pool area.
Soaring suspension bridges arch over the Lido area with its interactive splash fountains and multiple pools, one dedicated to sports and games.
A glass cut-out in the deck overhang gives a dizzying glimpse of the sea below.
Sailing year-round from Port Everglades (Greater Fort Lauderdale), Enchantment of the Seas offers four- and five-night get-aways to the western Caribbean.
Naturally, Disney ships feature special pools for kids. On Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, families flock to the large Goofy Pool with its jumbo movie screen, while the Mickey Pool (shown at left*) is reserved for the youngest children.
Disney Wonder’s Mickey Pool recently added star- and moon-shaped interactive fountains in a splash zone for toddlers.
Holland America Line, known in the past for catering to older passengers, is now enticing Baby Boomers and families with new ship features.
The company’s teen facilities are trend-setters. Seven vessels sport a club-like space called The Loft for 13- to 17-year-olds. A staircase leads up to a teens-only deck (shown at right*).
With faux palm trees, bamboo, wooden casks and hammocks, The Oasis has a rustic, castaway look.
A nine-foot waterfall tumbles into a wading pool with a cave. At left, teens are shown wading to the waterfall.*
There’s also a juice bar and a sophisticated sound system.
The Oasis is available on four ships sailing the Caribbean this winter from Port Everglades or Tampa -- Amsterdam, Statendam, Veendam and Volendam.
Among the ample teen areas on Royal Caribbean ships is The Back Deck, a special outdoor hide-away for ages 12 to 17.
The Back Deck is found on six ships sailing from Florida: Miami-based Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas; Port Canaveral-based Sovereign of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas; and Port Everglades-based Navigator of the Seas. On Freedom and Liberty, The Back Deck is just steps from the FlowRider surf park.
Movies, Surfing and More
Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess sparked the poolside movies craze in 2004. The idea of being able to watch music videos, films and sports events from the pool deck, day and night, caught on like cinematic wildfire. The ship and its big movie screen are shown at right.*
Now there are poolside screens on a growing number of ships across several lines.
Even such small luxury lines as Seabourn Cruise Line (www.seabourn.com) offer movies outside on a starry night.
Surf’s up! Adrenalin junkies will love the FlowRider surf parks on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.
The ships give free classes for stand-up surfing and boogie-boarding and even separate teen sessions.
Professional surfers tell me it’s tough to stand up on FlowRider, but I’ve seen some novices, young and old, manage to do it. If you don’t dare to try, it’s still entertaining to watch. See photo at left.*
Word to the wise: A snug-fitting one-piece swimming suit is advised.
For daredevils who prefer to stay dry, Enchantment of the Seas offers bungee trampolines, one deck up from the Lido area.
Whether your pool preferences are curling up with a book, unwinding with a massage, snoozing beneath the stars or getting your heart pumping on a boogie board or a bungee cord, you’ll have ample choices on a Caribbean cruise this winter.
Anne Kalosh is a Miami-based journalist who has been covering the cruise industry for national and international publications for 25 years. She is the U.S. editor for Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Insider. Kalosh got hooked on cruising when, fresh out of college, she signed on with Royal Viking Line as a shipboard newspaper editor sailing the world.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, SeaDream Yacht Club, Princess Cruises, Anne Kalosh and Susan J. Young. All rights reserved. Do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.