Cruising Along

By Christine Neuberger

Been there, done that? Well, picture this: a state-of-the-art, 400-person conference center at sea; a cinema-style screening room for 60 people; and a meeting hall for nearly 700 people. These are some of the possible meeting venues aboard each ship in the Voyager class that Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises began launching with Voyager of the Seas in 1999 and Explorer of the Seas in 2000.

According to Royal Caribbean, the Voyager-series ships are the world’s only vessels to offer these recreational jewels: an ice-skating rink, a rock-climbing wall 200 feet above sea level, an in-line skating track, a basketball court, and interior staterooms overlooking an around-the-clock entertainment and a shopping boulevard. Each Voyager-class ship boasts a Johnny Rocket’s diner, a putt-putt golf course and a sprawling casino. Another Voyager-class vessel, Adventurer of the Seas, will join its two sisters this fall. With each ship built to carry 3,114 passengers, the Voyager series comprises the largest ships on the planet, according to Royal Caribbean.

For work or play, the ships’ space adapts easily. The conference center divides into four breakout spaces. The ice-skating rink and concert venue host trade shows and conventions. When planning a special event, don’t overlook the 1,350-seat La Scala Theater or the various lounges, including the 350-seat Cleopatra’s Needle. This property has its own production company and the latest audiovisual and Broadway-caliber lighting and sound equipment.

Royal Caribbean provides a dedicated convention-services coordinator. “Our coordinator is there as a liaison to personally assist you during the entire cruise,” explains Laura Shaner, national incentive manager for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises. For business, the onboard business center handles photocopying, faxing and other needs. And every Royal Caribbean ship boasts a cafe featuring Internet-equipped computers.

Has the Voyager class found smooth sailing in the incentives and meetings seas? “The demand has been very high. It’s been wonderful. It attracts large meetings we couldn’t accommodate on other ships,” Shaner says.

The all-inclusive rate for an inside cabin on a seven-night cruise is about $1,850 per person on a Voyager-class ship. That includes airfare, meals, lodging, activities, entertainment and more. All meeting space and standard A/V are free of charge. “The value of a meeting on a ship is so much better than a land-based meeting,” says Shaner. “An at-sea meeting can be very economical.” For more information about Royal Caribbean, visit www.royalcaribbean.com.