Private islands, bungee trampolines and the ultimate family suite - is this the future of cruise?
Multi-billion investment targets millennials
A new collection of private islands? Specialised pool spaces and "ultimate" family suites? An entirely new class of cruise ship?
Say what you like about the size and scale of mega-cruise line Royal Caribbean, nobody can accuse it of standing still.
Not content with launching the world's largest cruise ship this spring - Symphony of the Seas, carrying up to 6,680 guests - it has now unveiled a multi-billion dollar programme of upgrades for its ships and collection of private islands.
Yes, you read that right - private islands.
Royal Caribbean has already invested $200 million in a transformation of CocoCay, its existing private island port of call (pictured, top) in the Bahamas.
Rolling out in phases between September of 2018 and November of 2019, highlights of the revamp include the tallest waterslide in North America (at 135-feet), the Caribbean's largest freshwater pool, and a 1,600-foot zip-line.
"Once completed, Perfect Day at CocoCay will be the ultimate family destination in the Caribbean,” says Michael Bayley, President and CEO.
But that's just the beginning.
The cruise line has also unveiled plans for a new 'Perfect Day Island Collection', described as "a series of unrivalled and exclusive private island destinations". Destinations in Asia, Australia and the Caribbean will be announced.
The move comes amidst a global trend towards experiential holidays, with millennial travellers in particular favouring shorter breaks, immersive adventures and shareable experiences over traditional sights and passive attractions.
A separate, $900 million investment in digital innovations on board its ships will see Royal Caribbean "reimagining" its fleet with specialised pool spaces, experiential dining and nightlife concepts, and virtual reality experiences, it says.
The programme, dubbed 'Royal Amplified', will reboot 10 ships over four years, touching "every facet of the guest experience".
Independence of the Seas is the first ship to be updated under the programme, with additions including 'Splashaway Bay', a larger interactive waterpark, a revamped theatre, Panoramic Ocean View staterooms and laser tag.
First-of-type attractions on the cards include 'Sky Pad', described as "an out-of-this-world virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience".
Symphony of the Seas, set for its maiden voyage on March 31, carries a host of innovations - including an 'ultimate family suite' (pictured above).
Royal Caribbean, named Ireland's Favourite Cruise Line in our Reader Travel Awards 2017, also plans to debut a new Quantum Class of ships in 2019 and an entirely new 'Icon' class in 2022 and 2024.