Heading Out To Sea

Next week, I leave for the OASIS sea trial.  Sea Trials for a ship are just what they sound like . . . taking the ship out to sea to make sure she operates properly in the ocean. The ship has been afloat for six months, but this is the first time that we will get to test out all the systems in a fully operating environment.   The trial lasts about four days and the ship is tested for many key operating performance factors.  The primary purpose is to test out those aspects of the ship that can’t be tested at the pier such as speed, noise, vibration, seakeeping etc.  I am excited to see and feel how well the ship performs as we put her through paces.

Our contract with the shipyard includes extensive technical requirements and this is the yard’s first opportunity to make sure they meet them.  Based on the quality of construction we have witnessed and all the modeling and simulations we have done, our technical people expect that the yard will comfortably exceed the requirements.  BUT, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  This is not the full dinner; this is more like the chef tasting the soup before he serves it.  There will be a second sea trial later on where the official measurements are made and where the official grade will be awarded.

Another reason that the sea trials are so interesting relates to the interiors.  During construction, the yard fills all the spaces with scaffolding and other material (which I continue to assert is designed purely to frustrate me).  In order to be able to run these tests, much of that construction equipment has to be removed, and so we will get to see many of these areas uncovered for the first time.  I am looking forward to it.

Another aspect of this early sea trial is that it gives us an opportunity to experiment with new ideas.  One of the nice things about working at Royal Caribbean is the imaginativeness and creativity of our people.  The upside of this is they often come up with weird and wonderful ideas that thrill our guests.  The downside is that they often come up with weird and wonderful ideas that don’t really work in practice.

How do we distinguish?  We try them out on sea trials where there are no guests and where we can experiment to our heart’s content.  The trials take place far from land where there are no curious eyes except the passing fish.  That way, when an idea fails the practicality test, we simply send it to the idea graveyard and no one hears about it again.

Fortunately or unfortunately, such privacy no longer exists, even out in the middle of the ocean.  There will be about 350 people onboard overseeing the testing and most will have camera phones.  In addition, many of these people have not been involved in the ship’s design and will therefore make a lot of wild assumptions about things they see.  Accordingly, we can reasonably assume that these people will swamp the Internet with rumors – accurate and inaccurate – about things they see onboard.

In advance of the likely deluge of rumors, I would like to comment on two aspects.  Firstly, we will not confirm or deny the accuracy of any such rumors and we will attempt to be evenhanded; we will be equally fuzzy about accurate rumors as we are about inaccurate ones.  Nevertheless, I’d love to hear any rumors that arise and will comment to the extent I can, but don’t expect True Revelations here.

Secondly, I will comment on one experiment we are performing which has already been the subject of some rumors.  This idea is to put an aerostat[1] onboard tethered to the ship.  The idea is interesting, but it has such a cornucopia of practical issues that I give it less than a 50% chance of being used on Oasis.  If we don’t use it on the ship, I will consider it just another of the many ideas our people develop that didn’t work.  On the other hand, if it is successful and we do decide to use it on the ship, I will consider it another of my better ideas. Remember, this is just one of many experiments we undertake and, unless we actually decide to go forward with it, one that you will never hear about again.[2]

I will report on the sea trial from the ship and look forward to seeing the inevitable rumors.  Our PR people worry about these rumors, but I welcome them because they show just how much interest there is in the development of this exciting new vessel.


[1] An aerostat is a lighter than air object that usually remains tethered to its base by a long wire.  Some people erroneously use words like blimp or dirigible, but, the latter normally transport people or cargo over long distances. “Aerostat” is the broader and more accurate term.  If this experiment ends up on the cutting room floor with many of our other discarded ideas, you will never again need to use the word “aerostat”.  If it should succeed, we will make all our guests learn to say “an aerostat is not synonymous with a blimp” three times quickly before boarding.

[2] On reflection, I have to be realistic and acknowledge that having mentioned it, I won’t get away with never mentioning the aerostat again.  I will therefore promise to report on our decision but please be patient; it may well take us several weeks to review all the test results and reach a decision.

24 Responses to “Heading Out To Sea”

  1. Bryan says:

    Hello,
    What exactly would be the purpose of having an aerostat onboard? What does it do or how would it benefit guests?
    Thank you for your time!
    Bryan

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  2. hankidic says:

    I’m very happy that she finally gets to strech her legs at sea!

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  3. Prof. John Naclerio says:

    Good sailing and best of success with the trials….
    Well are your PR people filming any of these key managerial decisons////Looking for the film ,I hope you are producing

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  4. franota says:

    You really write well, and funny! It sounds fascinating…green with envy here. The sea trials are probably more interesting than an actual cruise. What a tough job you have :)

    Please say hello to Captain Tor from the members of the Cutie Captains Fan Club. He might show you the bear…..:)

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  5. RCL4ever says:

    I’m hoping since Oasis is the first cruise ship of this size and magnitude she receives her very own “special” horn! Louder and slightly different from Voyager/Freedom class horn to really make her stand apart from all other ships like the QM2!

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  6. YANNICK says:

    IF YOU EVER NEED A “TEST PASSENGER”, SIGN ME UP!!! GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING, BUT I KNOW EVERYTHING WILL BE PERFECT AS IT ALWAYS IS WITH YOUR SHIPS!!!

    [Reply]

  7. outerlimits says:

    hello

    Just a couple of questions. Since Freedom and her sister ships had to travel under the center span of the Great Belt Bridge in the Dannish Straits and just cleared==how will Oasis and her sister do for clearance? Also will there ever be a documentary on Oasis as was done for Freedom?

    Thank You for all the Great information on your blog

    Paul & Crystal

    P.S. Am looking forward to travel on these impressive ships

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  8. [...] erste Seeerprobung der Oasis of the Seas soll in dieser Woche stattfinden. Das schreibt Richard D. Fain, CEO von Royal Caribbean Cruises, in seinem [...]

  9. After checking out your aerostat, perhaps you will be curious about future Lighter-than-Air craft that are far more capable. Truly independant, safe, large, solar powered, amphibious airships.

    http://www.turtleairships.blogspot.com

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  10. sherriz366 says:

    I’m really enjoying your blog — it’s bringing Oasis to life!! Will RCI being putting a DVD together about the planning, building and sea trials for Oasis like you did for the Voyager? The Voyager video was very enjoyable and was also great to watch while exercising on a treadmill or glider. The creativity behind the project really came through in the video!

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  11. FlyBoy says:

    Greetings,

    I think this is a GREAT idea. I work for a U.S. Defense Contractor in partnership with NASA and the aerostat is a proven technology that has provided outstanding support for our troops in the middle-east and U.S. border patrol. We’ve talked about what a fun idea it would be to “give rides” instead of elevating our high-tech sensors and communications systems. We will be operating from a barge (not as exciting as the Oasis) on the Lake Erie shoreline next month for Environmental Studies and Border Security. I’m interested to see how your sea trials work out.

    This is truly an attractive innovative customer offering!

    Dean

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  12. [...] D. Fain, CEO von Royal Caribbean Cruises, schreibt in seinem Blog, dass er eine Chance von 50 Prozent für einen späteren Einsatz sieht. Man darf [...]

  13. amurray says:

    Hi Richard,
    I made a query to my travel agent and then to the customer service of Royal Caribbean about my honeymoon onboard Oasis of the Seas in October 2010 however I did not receive what I saw as a satisfactory answer. Would I be able to send you the query and if so how would I do it.
    Thank You,
    Anthony Murray

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  14. Blondynka says:

    I agree with Outerlimits about the documentary.. that would be awesome! I am cruising on Oasis in December, and have been following progress religiously. Being able to see it all in feature length in more detail would be a huge treat!

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  15. organd13 says:

    Keep up the phenomenal work you all have been doing! We are hanging on your every word, eager for more and more information on this exciting project! Try to take and post more pictures while you are on your test run, so we can get a glimpse of the spaciousness and prestige you are so proud to be a part of!

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  16. Deborah Guimaraes says:

    WOOOOW x 1000 !!!!The aerostat is simply amazing !!!!!I am impressed !!Mr. Fain, I wanna ride it !!!Please use it on Oasis, it will be great !!!!

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  17. Nighteyes says:

    Mr Fain,

    The ship looks great, I can’t wait for the Maiden voyage. I’m currently deployed to Afghanistan, but after some wrangling with the Army, I’ll be able to make the voyage. The ship looks great and I’m sure the crew will be as wonderful as every cruise I have been on. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the interior pictures. Good luck with the sea trials, I’m sure things will go wonderful.

    Looking forward to the 5th of Dec.

    Regards,

    Kris

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  18. ednafrank says:

    I’m with Yannick, if you need a “test passenger” sign me up :)

    Speaking of first passengers, we entered the contest to win a trip on the 2 day inaugural cruise, has the winner been chosen yet?

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  19. I appreciate your blog on the new ship, Congratulations! I am new cruiser that just completed a Freedom of the Seas Carribean trip this past Sunday. While on ship we viewed the construction films of the Voyager and viewed the upgrades in the Freedom ships first hand.

    Would you mind if this, blog and the Oasis ebrochures are used for a High School Student Engineering dicussion group to follow your progress this summer? The Voyager to Oasis process is a testimony to great engineering.

    Currently, I work within Louisiana (USA) and we are rebuilding from hurricane devastations (3 recently) . The Royal Carribean “WHY NOT” attitudes are evident in your Voyager, Freedom and Oasis development processes. It is apparent Royal Carribean embodies their corporate philosophy daily at every stage. The Freedom’s operational excellence highlights not only an engineering feat but also a managerial feat. You can truly see the creativity that is inspired by your corporate philosophies to keep reaching forward. I will be in awe of the Oasis’ future, but I am impressed with the Freedom of the Sea’s operation.

    The Royal Carribean comprehensive processes are a breath of fresh air and encouragement for those struggling to rebuild or recover. Thanks for being a good model for collective engineering, management and cultural integration.

    Has Royal Carribean considered any corporate outreach programs to encourage engineering and managerial programs for communities struggling with blight or recovery from hurricane devastations?

    Wendi
    Very Recent Passenger
    Cape Caniveral Eastern Carribean Cruise

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  20. AprilG. says:

    I am a crown and anchor member and have been watching the updates on the Oasis. Our family can’t wait to board…we have already booked her for Jan ’10. This ship is a thing of beauty…good luck with the sea trials! By the way…I really enjoyed your blog.

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  21. overtyme says:

    There was a DVD that I purchased when I was aboard the Adventure of the Seas called “Ships of the Voyager Class” with a sub-title, “The In-Depth Story How They Build The World’s Larges Cruise Ships”
    This was a 3 hour award winning documentary hosted/narrated by Rolland Smith.
    I wonder if there is something comparable being created for the Oasis.

    Regards,
    Scott

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  22. rov1998 says:

    It is truly amazing to see the first in the Oasis – Class of cruise vessels take to the open water under her own steam. Royal Caribbean are, and always have been the leader in cruise innovation and that is what i find incredible about your cruise line.
    However as the ships you build seem to keep growing and growing, isnt there still a market out there to build smaller vessels such as radiance – class or vision – class? or maybe bring all smaller, older vessels in the fleet to the standard of the larger vessels as you did with enchantment of the seas?

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  23. Brian Waisanen says:

    One suggestion for a ship feature (left on a previous comment card while onboard Freedom of the Seas) is an under water camera system. During previous cruises I truly enjoyed watching the creatures of the sea, from on deck or snorkeling. Like the bow camera, this system of cameras could be set-up to allow passengers to view under and around the ship from the comfort of their TV’s, providing a truly otherwise unavailable expierence. I would certainly love to see this idea become a reality on this class of ship.

    I have already booked on Oasis – and looking forward to it every second of every day. Keep up the excellent work.

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  24. Good sailing and best of success with the trials….
    Well are your PR people filming any of these key managerial decisons////Looking for the film ,I hope you are producing

    [Reply]

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