Sovereign of the Seas - Throwback Thursday from 1999

In 1998 I had a growing list of friends who had taken cruises. I had dabbled with the idea of taking a cruise now and then.  As a kid living in southern California I had toured the Queen Mary and toured the old Sitmar Fairwind. I was also a huge Titanic buff even before the movie.  However when the movie came out, and with every friend I have, seemly going on one, I got pushed over the edge. So after vainly trying to find some folks to go with me, and pondering every cruise line on earth, I booked my first cruise.

After going around in circles with my travel agent debating lines, itineraries, dates, and ships, I settled on the Sovereign of the Seas. Several friends had cruised on her, and my research has made the ship of special interest to me.

The 4 and 3 night trips attract a younger crowd, and was highly recommended by my agent, online references, and a friend that was on it recently. I left on August second after driving to Tampa to visit my aunt. I stopped in Kennesaw Georgia on the way down, which is my favorite overnight stop from recent trips south.

Named after the ancient British Sailing ship of the same name, the Sovereign of the Seas was launched in 1988 and was the first of the "mega ships" which revolutionized the cruise industry. Prior to Sovereign, the average Caribbean cruise ship topped out in the 35,000 gross register ton range. The only ships larger were the Cunard Queen Elizabeth II and the former France, which had been rebuilt and named the Norway.

At more than 73,000 tons, she is longer than three football fields, and taller than a 15 story building. She can accommodate over 2,500 passengers, with several hundred crew members. She introduced the "Centrum" concept to the cruise industry, which is a large sky-lit atrium serving as the hub for the ship's passengers.

Royal Caribbean International - A Brief History.

Preface

This history was begun as part of my web project RCIfan.com. It is not intended to be a comprehensive history of Royal Caribbean, but does seek to lend some detail to the average reader's knowledge of the cruise line. The author undertook this project in the belief that knowing more about one's cruise vacation adds to the quality of the experience.

An introduction to the cruise industry.  Taking to the sea as a means of recreation and pleasure dates back to shortly after the first human being fell into a river, lake, or ocean and managed to float to the surface. For as long as mankind has assembled vessels to travel on water, there have been examples of craft designed for the recreation of its passengers. So it should come to no one's surprise that an entire industry has evolved for no other purpose than to provide experiences unthinkable even twenty years ago.

Even as Purser's desks become Customer Service offices, the modern cruise industry retains roots which date back more than a hundred years. A truly comprehensive history of how the modern cruise industry evolved is best left to far more knowledgeable writers and scholarly works than this. Suffice to say that from the construction of modern cruise ships, to traditions subtle and gross, you enter a world far older than you know when taking a cruise.

The modern cruise industry has its roots primarily in the decline of traditional trans-­Atlantic passenger travel.  The rise of jet powered travel lead to the precipitous decline of ocean liners traveling between Europe and the United States. This was true globally, but as it pertains to the modern cruise industry, it was the growth of contrails in the skies over the Atlantic, which drove ship wakes to the Caribbean.

Pleasure cruises were not unheard of in the waters of the Caribbean even as far back as the 1800s. 20th century ocean liners traveled to warmer climate at first for reasons practical to the ship's owners as much as anything else. It was not long before ocean liners that were not scrapped for lack of trans­-Atlantic passengers, were being routed to pleasure itinerary full time. Many, if not most cruise ships were owned by shipping companies, something that is true even today. Often, these ships were valued for their cargo capacity as much as passenger amenities. As travel by sea shifted from a focus on arriving at a destination, and in part became the destination, amenities seen to present day began to take shape. Casinos, pools, and modern cabin arrangements became standard features. The basic model of the modern cruise industry had taken shape.

An Introduction to Cruising on Royal Caribbean.

If you are visiting this page, you are curious about cruise vacations, or my spin on what it is like to travel with RCI.  Don't take this as my final word. If you are new to this site I will warn you that it remains a work in progress. But good things come to those who wait. And so it is here.

But suffice to say this, until I can complete this section. Travel on RCI is a wonderful thing. If you haven't cruised before, realize that each line has its own style and such. This is true of RCI. Where a more festive cruise line is known for garish decor and fun, RCI aims for a look that is easy on the eyes, mind, and body.

If you hear the term mass market used to describe RCI, realize also, that the term doesn't mean what it might have ten years ago. The mass market now defines the cruise industry. The age of trans­atlantic ocean

liners, and 10,000 GRT cruise ships carrying a few hundred people is over.

The modern cruise industry began to truly emerge with the addition of Sovereign of the Seas in 1988. At least, the direction that has lead to ever larger ships began then. At the time, even the industries leaders did not know what would be the norms 12 years later.

RCI ships are generally considered the best designed in the industry. They are a pleasure to see and travel on. The line doesn't try to beat you over the head with neon and garish/tacky decor. The ships look good, and don't have to hide under layers of distraction.

If you have watched much TV at all, you know that RCI ships feature rock climbing walls and many other amazing things. In the 1980s when a certain red­headed woman flew down a waterslide and sang an annoying ditty, people considered that very act the cutting edge of cruise ship design. Some might make the mistake of thinking every cruise line features what you will find on many RCI ships. This is not the case.

Rock climbing walls, in­line skating tracks, mini golf, ice skating, and surfing are innovations RCI brought to the market. While not all of RCI's fleet boast of ice skating and surfing, they all feature the core items and such.

RCI ships tend to appeal to a wider cross section of people than do other lines. Younger than Holland America, more mature in behavior if not age than Carnival. The food is said not to be the very best of the industry, but remains excellent, and surely better than what most of us eat daily.

RCI has excellent crew service, and on­board services are top flight. Given the diversity of cruise experiences, it's wrong to describe any one experience as the best. However, it is more than fair to say that

travel on RCI is an experience you won't regret. The best way to learn that, is to view pictures and read stories of people who have traveled with the line. And it is in this way that I hope RCI Fan will help you.

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