Over the past several days, I have been standing in tall cotton . . . as we are wont to say in the south. Just consider these three fortuitous and unexpected events. First, as mentioned in my previous post, I was one of five travel professionals selected from a pool of more than five hundred entrants to accompany approximately seventy other folks from the travel industry and the media on a special charter flight to Papenburg, Germany. Our express purpose was to take a sneak peek at the soon to be launched Quantum of the Seas and later on the Anthem of the Seas.
Secondly, in the departure lounge, my name was randomly drawn from among the four other contest winners for a seat in business class. Finally, upon arrival, we were dispersed to various small hotels and I was dropped off at the Arkadanhaus Papenburg. This beautiful boutique hotel had only been opened two weeks. No guest had ever slept in my room which pretty much eliminates all possibility of bed bugs (assuming I am not a carrier, of course!) and was situated on the canal in the picturesque heart of the city. Our hotel soon became the envy of the other participants.
In some circles of Christian theology, there is a doctrine called “dying grace” which holds that pious Christians who depart this life somewhat precipitously (as opposed to a protracted illness, for example) are often granted a few particularly glorious days just prior to their demise. My wife’s uncle, for example . . . a true saint . . . was called home during a peaceful sleep following an especially memorable family Thanksgiving gathering a few years back.
Now when you consider that I will soon be boarding a flimsy aluminum tube where I will be careening through the lower levels of the stratosphere at 500 plus miles per hour over a vast ocean, I am sincerely hoping that the items catalogued above merely represent a run of Las Vegas style good luck rather than my personal experience of “dying grace”. I’m not quite ready, Uncle Murray!
Starting with the previous post and for the next several, I will devote my modest literary talents to bringing you along on my whirlwind 48 hour touchdown to lift-off odyssey. My challenge will to be to distill a barrel of fun into a few drops of valuable insight. Given the enormity of the task, you will find embedded in some of these posts a very liberal sprinkling of hyperlinks. In that fashion, what catches your fancy here can be perused in detail at your leisure.
Let’s begin, shall we, with the title? Merriam-Webster defines a quantum leap as “a sudden large change, development, or improvement.” A quantum leapfrog is both coined and defined by your humble squire as “any sudden large change, development, or improvement that leaves your competition whimpering like a small child lost in the food court of the neighborhood mall.” Royal Caribbean has thrown down the gauntlet and it remains to other cruise lines to accept the challenge. Those other cruise lines are in the unenviable position of having just watched RCCL vault over them in this multi-billion dollar game of leapfrog as if their feet were planted in concrete.
The remainder of this post, as well as subsequent posts on this subject, will be devoted to demonstrating the veracity of this admittedly bold assertion.
If you want a watch made, you go to Switzerland. If you want a world class ship built, you hire the Germans. You should take a moment and read this brief history of the Meyer Werft shipyard. Upon our arrival, we lunched in a building converted from the former Meyer Werft factory replete with the original moveable cranes overhead.
Following lunch, we toured the Ems PreCab Cabin Factory. Did you know that every cabin (some 2000 or so) will be built as a separate module and delivered to the ship to be inserted into its precise location? Nor did I. They have borrowed from the automotive industry the concept of a slow-moving (v e r y s l o w m o v i n g) assembly line where workers sequentially apply their own expertise. The picture on the left is Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Services, and your humble servant about to enter the factory. It speaks volumes about Vicki’s generosity in risking her stellar reputation by allowing her photo to be taken with moi!
Following the visit to the PreCab factory, we moved over to the Meyer Werft shipyard’s Laser Hall and the Block Assembly and Building Hall where we saw the Anthem of the Seas in an earlier stage of construction. These great ships are built in sections and joined together with a very strong, water-resistant superglue. OK, I made up that last bit.
At 4:00 pm, sensing that sleep deprivation and our forced march were threatening to render us comatose, they allowed us to park our weary carcasses for the highlight of the day, the live web cast “Reveal” staring RCCL’s own Chairman of the Board Richard Fain and technology guru David Pogue. “And what exactly did they reveal?”, I know you are dying to ask. I will tell you . . . next time. That is what those in the news biz call “a tease”. For those who were hoping for a detailed listing of the many virtues of the Quantum of the Seas, just watch for the next post. The Quantum tour was day two of our trip.
Here is a quick summary of the remainder of day one. Enjoyed a very nice dinner. Crashed and burned. Awoke half an hour later to the ear-piercing sound of fireworks being set off directly outside my window which thunderous racket in my stupor I somehow wove into a dream about a surprise Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Let’s all pray that part was just a bad dream.
If you would like to see all the pictures I took on my trip, click here. Now is your chance to participate by taking this short survey.