(7 p.m. EST) -- During the next four years, Royal Caribbean International will inject new life into 10 of its cruise ships through a $900 million investment that will begin with Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas.
The "Royal Amplified" program will touch every facet of the passenger experience on all Freedom-class and Voyager-class ships, as well as on Oasis and Allure of the Seas. It will also introduce a wide range of innovative features and new experiences, such as specialized pools (family-only for example) and the VR bungee trampoline experience Sky Pad.
"Royal Amplified is built on our passion for innovation, relentless attention to detail and commitment to always exceeding our guests' expectations," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. "We sail with more than five million guests worldwide each year, and recognize the need to always innovate and stay ahead of the curve."
Pool Deck Changes
The Royal Amplified program will see the outside decks on the 10 selected ships reimagined. Pool spaces, for example, will be designed specifically for family fun or as relaxing spa-like environments and offer differing activities day and night to cater to the line's diverse cruise passengers. The upper decks will be amped up with waterslides and waterparks, as well as new attractions, like Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience.
Dining and Nightlife
As part of the Royal Amplified changes, Royal Caribbean will roll out some of its recently unveiled dining venues onto more ships, including three venues all debuting on Symphony of the Seas: Hooked Seafood, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade and El Loco Fresh.
Beyond these, Royal Caribbean also promises more, new dining concepts, including some additional casual, grab-and-go eateries.
Royal Amplified will also see new bars added to ships, including the Polynesian-themed Bamboo Room (previously announced as part of Mariner of the Seas' refurbishment) and a signature Caribbean Bar. Other new concepts will include a music hall, karaoke spot and lounge-style nightclub.
Independence of the Seas will be the first ship to receive the Royal Amplified refurbishments (as previously announced). Among its new features will be Sky Pad, the Battle for Planet Z laser tag experience, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides and the Escape Room: The Observatorium. New dining venues will be Fish and Ships, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Izumi Hibachi and Sushi and Sugar Beach.
The remaining Freedom-class ships (Freedom and Liberty of the Seas) will be refurbed in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
In summer 2018, Royal Caribbean will put its Voyager-class Mariner of the Seas under the knife for a $90 million refurbishment. Passengers on the ship's popular three- and four-night cruises will have the chance to play with high-tech "toys" usually reserved for ships doing longer sailings. Among the new attractions will be Sky Pad, laser tag, the Bamboo Room and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.
Navigator of the Seas, another Voyager-class ship, will be refurbed in 2019; it will also sail short getaway cruises.
Also undergoing a Royal Amplified upgrade in 2019 will be Oasis of the Seas. It will receive all-new thrill attractions, pools, bars and dining venues, as well as some of the new concepts being introduced on Symphony of the Seas. Allure of the Seas will be refurbed in 2020.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor