One Cold Visit to Turku

A couple of weeks ago I visited Turku, Finland, to see the latest stage of construction. Visiting the ship at this stage is quite an experience both because of the construction and because of the weather.

The environment was striking—with a temperature of 13º below zero. I arrived with my heaviest winter coat and my warmest boots, but the shipyard always insists that I change from my nice warm stuff into their safety gear. That includes a flame resistant coat, steel toed shoes, a helmet, gloves, protective glasses, ear plugs and a flashlight. I fully support all this from a safety perspective, but it sure is painful when the cold steel of the ship radiates freezing vibrations right through to my bones.

Hare I am all covered up. To the far right is Juhani Pitkanen, next to him is BoErik Laine and behind me is Toivo Ilvonen.
Here I am all covered up. To the far right is Juhani Pitkanen, next to him is BoErik Laine and behind me is Toivo Ilvonen.

The ship itself is fascinating at this stage. She is 80% complete and there are 2,300 workers physically onboard. Seeing the whole project finally coalescing into a real ship is exciting, and witnessing the staggering amount of work necessary to build such an ambitious project is simply awesome. My son (pictured) joined me on the trip which made it especially rewarding for me. The fact that he was as impressed as I was really made me feel good.

My son express his opinion
My son expresses his opinion

The first morning, we went through the construction schedule. The number of workers onboard is about 200 workers short of plan, but the progress has still been good. As a result, the yard management feels confident that they will meet or beat the delivery date specified. We want the ship early to give us more time to train everyone and to show off our baby. We agreed to reconvene in April to fix on the exact delivery schedule and the logistics surrounding it.

We next toured the ship. But it is hard to call it a ship. It seems more like a construction site although a construction site would be warmer. There are people welding and hammering everywhere. The floors are covered with cables and materials. You can barely make out the shape of the spaces where the rooms will be. It is also very cold and we have been pressuring the yard to heat the working areas better. While the choice is theirs to make, the intense cold is tough on the workers and could affect the schedule. Under normal circumstances, we would also be concerned that they were also letting the quality of work suffer, but the Finns are careful about this and our people are vigilant as well. The Finns are very considerate of their workers; they stop outdoor production when the temperature goes below minus 20º. (What wimps.)

Our team is happy with the pace of work and the quality of workmanship, but there is some concern about the financial/operating condition of a couple of the subcontractors. One subcontractor already went bankrupt and had to be replaced. Fortunately, the replacement company has worked with our ships before and we are very happy with their work. It will cost the yard something to make the change, but their budget allows a certain amount of room for such contingencies.

One feature I was especially looking forward to seeing was the loft suites (rendering). The spaces where the loft suites will go were already in place on my last visit, but the stairs were blocked and the yard didn’t feel it was safe for me to climb the makeshift ladder to get there. (Apparently, they felt that injuring their biggest customer might be bad for business). This time the lofts were accessible and they were terrific. There has never been a stateroom like it at sea, ever, and I now wish we had made more of them (we have 27). We had previously built a full scale mockup at a nearby bicycle warehouse (they were the only ones that had enough space for such a large structure). The mockup was fabulous, but seeing the real thing, even without decoration, was thrilling.

Here are some other images from my trip:

The base of the Rising Tide.

The Conference Center takes shape.

A crew cabin at the cabin factory.

Is this half a man-hour?

Here are the cabins nearing completion.

Cabin doors at the cabin factory. Where are the cabins?


18 Responses to “One Cold Visit to Turku”

  1. Crew Office says:

    Wow! The loft is an ingenious concept for a ship. You’re probably right, more would have been better! I think it will be a huge hit with the family crowd, especially if that couch is a pull out. Mom and Dad up, two kids down. Oh well, you can add more on her first refit. :)


  2. tpolensky says:

    The oasis of the seas will be the best ship out there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. says:

    It must to be amazing the new Oasis of the Seas but I think that maybe it will be great if Allure of the seas had an European destination. The new Oasis class ship are going to be just amazing.


  4. Danny says:

    As a member of the new Auatralian RCCL office I look forward to hearing and seeing more about this amazing ship. Though the temp’s you are talking I about have trouble getting my head arround.


  5. Derbygal says:

    WOW – WOW – WOW!!!

    We are so excited about this ship that we can’t adequately express it in words! From the first notice we received we were thrilled, and now after seeing the building progress and reading this blog…well, we’re just absolutely speechless!

    Congratulations to all who have poured so much time and effort into the planning and building of this beautiful work of art, you have MUCH to be proud of! Also, thank you Mr. Fain for this blog, another great example of RCI quality and top notch personal care!

    We had sailed several other cruise lines in the past, but on our first sail with RCI we were so impressed that we immediately joined C&A have never even looked at another line since, nor do we ever plan to! Looking forward to our next sail (180 days on my countdown!), and to sailing on the Oasis as soon as possible – we can’t wait!!!

    Thanks again, & keep up the great work! We love you!


  6. SheilaSailAway says:

    It’s great to see the new pics…especially the Rising Tide Bar…hopefully our large group can all fit in there, LOL Thanks for your latest blog! BTW, our group is called the Rising Tide Rebels…catchy don’t ya think?

    More cabin pics, please! lol


  7. herbrog says:

    The lat photo of the cabin doors made me think of Disney’s Monsters movie. Simply step through the door and you’ll come out somewhere in the Caribbean/Alaska/Mediterranean! Now that would be a terrific concept!

    Any thoughts yet on what a loft might cost on say, a 7 day cruise?


  8. Treborrv says:

    My wife, 2 stepkids (17 & 15), and 3 triplets (2 & 3/4) can not wait for the ships to set sail. We’re trying to plan for either a summer 2010 or summer 2011 trip onboard one of these.

    It’s funny – I was a late convert to cruising. My wife had been on a couple, but I was skeptical. She convinced me to go along on Adventure of the Seas for a week. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to have fun for a week on a boat. I was prepared for the worst.

    I’m thrilled to report on how wrong I was – we’ve been on 3 cruises together now (twice on Adventure and once on Enchantment) and I now can’t wait until we’re able to sail the seas again with the Royal Caribbean crew. I can honestly say those cruises have been the best vacations of my life, and I do not hesitate in recommending Royal Caribbean to my family, friends, and complete strangers.

    Whether we book on Oasis or Allure, I know the next cruise we take will top them all! Thanks Royal Caribbean for the great times we’ve had, and the great times I’m sure are to come!


  9. outerlimits says:

    Thanks for the update. She certainly will be a great ship. Will look forward to more pics. Our group can’t wait to finally get a chance to sail on her and also her sister ship Allure. Nice to know she is being built under temperatures that feel like home to us(that’s why cruising is the ultimate vacation for us). Also thank you for finally starting your blog.

    P.S. Like the new home page


  10. Capt Data says:

    I am glad she is coming to together like the great lady she we be. Glad to hear she is on scedule too!!.


  11. Mike P says:

    Big Question: is RCCL using this opportunity to film another reality show or is travel or discovery channel sending crews over regularly. I would LOVE to see (and show my customers) some very detailed retrospective video of how the ship came together, from design to implementation, to overcoming engineering challenges. The culmination would of course the final push to meet the schedule and the first paid cruise.


  12. johnmary says:

    Its fantastic to see your enthisaism as ceo on this build out. Not many ceo’s share the leadership and qualities that richard fain exhibits


  13. Al says:

    I am looking forward to the zip line and am sure I’m not alone, but I hate to wait in lines. Assuming 2 mins. a person for a ride you would have it open 24 hours 7 days and couldn’t accomodate everyone. I hate to suggest priority times for Diamond plus or have you come up with a unique schedule to avoid large lines?


  14. sollows1 says:

    amazing this is 40 years ahead of my time


  15. BiggestRCCLFanEVER says:

    Hello Mr. Fain,
    I am 14 years old and I probably know as much about Oasis of the Seas as you because I spend my life going to school and studying your company. It is my goal in life to be the CEO and President of Royal Caribbean International by th time I am 40. You have a great company in your hands. I have recently created a 75 slide powerpoint presentation about Oasis of the Seas, and I would love to share it with you if you would post a blog with your e-mail. I want to be on your next teen advisory board as well. I booked a $10,000 cruise for my neighbors just last month. I cannot wait for this ship and hope one day that I have the opportunity to meet someone as fascinating as you. I do have one thing, instead of a carousel on ‘Allure of the Seas’ you should put a playground because I think that would be amazing for all the kids ages 11 and under to play and swing on. Also, you should try putting the Bungee on more of your ships.


    Tyler Good


  16. Jeff S. says:

    Last year (2008) during my families Spring Break on board the Enchantment of the Seas, they announced the next generation of ships the Genesis Class during a “Meet the Captain” event. My kids and I, were so excited to hear of this new ship. It was then that we knew we had to be one of the first to sail on board this massive ship. On September 3rd, 08, we made our resevations for Spring Break 2010. Every few weeks my kids check on the progress of the Oasis of the Seas, anxiously awaiting the day we will finally step foot on this breathtaking ship. As I read your article, we share your excitement and anticipation of the day this ship will sail. You don’t know how much excitement my kids get out of reading your updates and seeing the pictures. I think this is so cool how you have included the public in such a revolutionary design and constructions process. Please keep the updates coming we are watching with great anticipation.


  17. Gary S says:

    Have been watching the updates on the Oasis website. Already have our reservation for july 2010 over looking the boardwalk. Can’t wait. It would be great if we could see more pictures of it’s progress on the website. I’m not as big a fan as Tyler Good is (previous post) LOL but my wife thinks I am. Can’t wait for it’s launch.


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