On Saturday, Royal Caribbean took a moment to celebrate not just a return to cruising, but the arrival of its newest ship — Odyssey of the Seas. While Odyssey of the Seas has already been sailing from Fort Lauderdale starting this summer, the ship had yet to be officially christened… until now.
The ship is taking a pause from its regular schedule to take a two-day “inaugural” cruise, which Cruzely is attending. While these trips normally take place before a new ship begins sailing its normal routes, in this case, Odyssey has taken a journey that befits her name, pushing the ceremony until now.
It took three-and-a-half years to design and build the ship, which just so happened to be completed in the middle of the pause in cruising. The ship had then planned to sail from Israel beginning in May 2021. That country was among the first to roll out vaccines on a large scale, making it an ideal place to start sailing. However, as with many things in the past two years, the plans had to be adjusted.
Instead, Odyssey of the Seas became one of the first Royal Caribbean ships to offer trips in the United States following the pause, making its debut in July, sailing from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades).
While schedules may have been adjusted, the tradition of naming the ship was simply delayed — not forgotten.
The belated event featured speeches from Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley, who at one point became emotional recollecting all the cruise line has been through to finally see Odyssey of the Seas sailing. Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain — soon to retire from his role after more than three decades — also presented at the ceremony.
As Godmother of Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean tapped Erin Brown, an inspiring Bahamian paratriathlete. Brown, a former college athlete, lost a leg to bone cancer, yet went on to compete internationally.
“From the moment we heard Erin’s story, how her courage and determination inspired others and led to a more inclusive consciousness about succeeding with disabilities, we were moved and knew she was a natural choice for Godmother of our newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas,” said Bayley recently about the decision to ask Brown to serve as Godmother.
Following the ceremonial breaking of the champagne bottle (this time done via button that sent the bottle sliding down a cable to break on the ship’s hull), the ceremony wrapped up with celebratory fireworks in Port Everglades.
A New Addition to the Quantum-Ultra Class, With Lots to Offer
While the christening of any new ship is exciting, the welcome of Odyssey of the Seas carries special interest. It is the first Quantum-Ultra class ship to homeport in North America. At nearly 168,000 gross tons and a 4,200 passenger capacity at double occupancy, it isn’t Royal Caribbean’s largest ship. However, the vessel has a number of features that make it stand out.
At the back of the ship is the SeaPlex, a massive indoor sport and game area. Here there is a massive sports court that doubles as the bumper car arena. Circling the upper level of the SeaPlex is Playmakers Sports Bar and the ship’s arcade.
Head outside and you’ll see the Ripcord by iFly (skydiving), along with other favorites like the Sky Pad, Flowrider, and the North Star — a capsule that lifts up over the ship — providing stunning views. Of course, there are also multiple pool areas, including Splashaway Bay for smaller kids.
Inside there are more than 15 places to eat, including El Loco Fresh, Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, and Wonderland. Other staples include the Solarium, Bionic Bar, Boleros and more.
Perhaps most stunning is a performance venue — Two70. The unique theater sitting at the back of the ship features an innovative stage and wraparound background that blends video with the performers.
A performance called The Book takes full advantage of the space, with aerialists and dancers coming from the ceiling and the floors, along with wild projections displaying on the massive screens. Having seen plenty of performances on cruise ships, it’s something we can safely say we’ve never seen anything like before.
In other words, instead of just another ship, Royal Caribbean continues to push new and interesting aboard Odyssey.
With the arrival and christening of Odyssey of the Seas, it marks another milestone in the “return to normal” in cruising. And with the innovations we’ve seen thus far while aboard Odyssey, it shows that not only is Royal Caribbean looking to just get back to sailing, but they aim to be better than ever.
We will have more about the ship in the coming days.