ONBOARD ODYSSEY OF THE SEAS — When Erin Brown unleashed the magnum of Veuve Clicquot to formalize the name of Royal Caribbean’s new ship, Odyssey of the Seas, cheers mingled with emotions for the cruise line’s historic moment in time.
Buoyed by music pumping Caribbean beats, guests gathered around the pool deck had just seen Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain and Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley choke back emotion as they praised Brown, RCI’s first Bahamian Godmother, for representing the line’s determination and endurance to sail through 20 months of pandemic.
An icon in the Bahamas, where RCI started cruising 50 years ago, Brown survived cancer with an amputated leg, yet persevered to come back as a paratriathlete in the Paralympic Games qualifier.
Like ‘Bionic Brown,’ the new ship Odyssey of the Seas is a game-changer, and the travel trade got a sneak peek earlier this week. The first Quantum Class Ultra vessel, its genius architectural and technical features are designed to dazzle. And dazzle they do. Sailing from Port Everglades, the ship’s North Star capsule looms above like an extraterrestrial beacon of futuristic fun. The Odyssey exudes the visual vibes of the spirited Caribbean. Its exterior feels like a joyful resort, its two adult pools and kids’ splash pool playfully decked in hues of orange, turquoise, pink and lime. Its interior promenade radiates urbane cachet, opening to cafes, bars and shops.
Built with ample space to carry 5,510 passengers in comfortable cabins and suites, the 16-deck ship is a wonderland afloat for families, adventure lovers and thrill seekers.
My favourite highlight, the glassy North Star capsule, lifts passengers to the world’s highest point above sea for breathtaking ocean views. Teens at Odyssey’s SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea, “liked the bumper cars best.” With more time, I’d have tried Virtual Adventure Zone, where immersive virtual attractions simulate sensations of free-fall sky diving, bungee jumping, and surf riding. All activities are free to passengers.
For dining, people crave authentic cuisine, says Executive Chef Gary Thomas, Director of Culinary Operations for RCI’s entire fleet. Culinary capers abound in Odyssey’s Dining Room and specialty restaurants. During our two nights at sea, I enjoyed Teppanyaki’s Japanese showmanship. At Chops Grille, it was the fragrant truffle mushroom soup, filet steak and apple pie. In between, I viewed Wonderland’s fanciful dishes, including one resembling speckled toadstools. And I loved tasting the variety of spiced gourmet pizzas in Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar, where people may order whatever they want for a flat fee.
Entertainment is a must-see at Odyssey’s Two70 Theatre, where multi-media ingenuity and virtual reality conjure up extravagant productions. Mingling on deck, I met passengers who raved about ‘The Effectors’ superheroes show, where 50 drones fly above the audience. Others “loved” the sequins and feathers fantasy ‘Showgirl’!
RCI’s private island, Perfect Day at Coco Cay provided a Caribbean beach day escapade. Top thrills – ballooning high in the sky, zip-lining over the island, waterpark and water sports activities – require reservations. Thatch-roofed cabanas perched on stilts over the sea provide serene indulgence.
Read more about Toby’s Odyssey of the Seas experience, plus her Perfect Day at Coco Cay, in the feature article in Travelweek’s next edition of Travel Professional magazine.