Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas

August 15, 2006

No doubt about it - the cruise industry is healthy. And with each record-breaking cruise ship launch come integrated entertainment and architectural lighting systems in greater scope and increased quality. The opportunities for lighting systems integration on one single ship are enormous – both inside and out – and when you’re talking about the largest cruise ship in the world, with a seemingly never ending choice of entertainment and relaxation areas, the opportunities are simply huge.

Move over Queen Mary 2. Make room for the new champion of mega cruise ships, Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas. Freedom of the Seas is the world's largest and most innovative cruise ship. Built by Norwegian shipbuilder Aker Finnyards in Finland, the ship can carry more than 4,000 passengers and a crew of over 1300. The ship comes in at 160,000 gross registered tons, measures 339 meters long and has 15 passenger decks.

The first in Royal Caribbean's new Freedom class, Freedom of the Seas sails seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami. Among the roster of standout features are a shipboard surf park, a kid-friendly water park with gushing geysers, rock-climbing wall and ice-skating rink; and inside, a five-story theatre and Royal Promenade – not to mention discos, a myriad of themed bars and lounges, casino and more.

An abundance of Martin entertainment and architectural lighting has been supplied for several areas of the ship. The main supplier of the Martin lighting was ship subcontractor TDI with additional Martin lighting supplied by JMP Lighting and Martin’s Finnish distributor, Lightenen. Christopher Vlassopulos, Specialist – Entertainment Technology for Royal Caribbean International, coordinated the design and specification for all the entertainment equipment in the ship’s public spaces, including the ship’s entertainment lighting systems.

Indoor Entertainment
With anywhere from 600-1000 kids on each cruise, modern day cruising is as much about entertainment as it is relaxation and Freedom of the Seas offers prodigious amounts of both. From a night at the theatre followed by a leisurely stroll along the Royal Promenade, to the thrills of the surf park or a rock climbing wall adventure, Freedom of the Seas offers something for everyone.

Arcadia Theatre
The five-story Arcadia Theatre, the ship’s main entertainment space, features contemporary musical stage productions with all the glitz and special effects of a Broadway or Las Vegas production. A pair of production shows features three times a cruise plus a third magic show. Guest entertainers like the Platters and Earth, Wind and Fire may headline and other special events are abundant as well. The Theatre’s lighting rig is impressive to say the least. MAC 550 profile spots, MAC 2000 Profiles, MAC 600 washlights, and MAC 250+ profile spots provide virtually limitless color and pattern possibilities with Atomic 3000 strobes available for extra punch, Raptor effect lights for that dance feel and QFX FiberSource 150’s powering back wall and portal star curtains.

Royal Promenade
A four deck high Royal Promenade runs nearly two thirds the length of the ship and provides an elegant retail shopping thoroughfare and spacious gathering place for guests. Working with LED lighting, Martin MAC 550’s, MAC 600’s and MAC 2000 Performances painted white to work in with the architecture, run the entire length of the Promenade and provide mood lighting effects. The lighting is also an integral part of the theming during a choreographed Promenade parade in which singers, dancers and even the crew entertain dressed in various costumes. RoboScan Pro 918’s located in the ceiling provide effect lighting for the parade and are also used to illuminate a central piece of artwork.

At one end of the Promenade is a unique ‘flying bridge’ with entertainers that emerges from the ceiling. MAC 550’s, MAC 600’s and Atomic strobes, along with MAC 250 Entours located beneath it, make the bridge a light show unto itself. Martin Magnum Hazers are used when a mid-air effect canopy is needed. Lighting design for the Royal Promenade was by Shannon January.

“The Royal Promenade is really a copy and paste from other Voyager ships,” comments Christopher Vlassopulos, “although for this one we’ve added 30 meters of length. It is the core meeting area of the ship and there are always people there so it is important that those fixtures don’t require a lot of maintenance. There are a lot of fixtures and because they are located four decks up they are difficult to get to. We can only access them by a lift in the early morning hours. Of course every moving light has issues from time to time but we know that the MAC’s hold up the best.”

Center Ice at Studio B
Center Ice at Studio B offers professional ice shows and open skating. The ice skating rink converts into Studio B, a concert stadium/television studio, where guests can watch concerts, game shows, fashion shows, and more. Providing lighting effects for the area are MAC 250 Washes, MAC 600’s, MAC 550’s, Stage Cyclo’s, and Atomic 3000’s with MAC 2000’s, MAC 250 Entour’s and QFX 150 FiberSource’s located on an overhead catwalk.

The Crypt , Lounge, Fuel
Freedom of the Seas houses a number of nighttime social spots for adults and kids alike. Above the dancefloor at The Crypt, the ship’s main disco, is a rig of MAC 500’s and 600’s along with CX-4 color and pattern changers, Wizard effect lights, RoboScan 518 moving mirror effects and Atomic 3000 strobes with haze effects from Martin Hazers. Lighting control is from a Martin PC-based LightJockey and 2532 direct access control unit. Meanwhile, Wizard and RoboScan Pro 918 effects liven up one of the many onboard lounges while Wizard and MX-4 scanner effects are used at Fuel, a teens-only club for the younger generation, with Exterior 200’s colorwashing its outside deck.

Outdoor Fun
Specialty architectural effect lighting has been incorporated into several of the ship’s deck areas including FlowRider® surf park, rock climbing wall, H2O Zone, main pool deck and Solarium. Project International Ltd - Lighting Design consultants to Royal Caribbean International - handled the lighting of the entire ship as well as these outdoor areas with Project International’s CEO, Richard Dixon, playing an instrumental role in managing the lighting design. “Ultimately the public area lighting responsibility was ours,” he comments. “The brief right from the beginning, when the concept was being developed in 2003, was to make it an exciting place to be in the evening and lighting was to play a major part in creating that atmosphere. We had to create a separate task for architectural effect lighting that sat between normal house lighting and show lighting so there is a dual use. We strive to be creative and Christopher was very supportive of that.”

Deck Areas
Several Martin IP65 rated fixtures are used throughout the five main deck areas. Starting at the aft of the ship is the FlowRider, the first-ever shipboard surf park. Both spectator and participant orientated, it is essentially a stationary surfing wave and a unique facility to put on a ship. Participation is filmed and beamed around the ship and guests can buy videos of their surfing exploits as well. “In the evening when it gets dark we wanted to light it up vibrantly,” Richard comments. “We have some flood lighting but have employed Martin Exterior 200 color changers to color wash the FlowRider from the top of the grandstand. We also have an Exterior 600 on the aft mast to beam straight down for additional color or to provide white light for filming purposes.” Lighting control is linked into the main open deck architectural effect lighting control system via Light jockey and with a Martin MC-X user interface available in an adjacent surf shack when local control is needed.

At the rock climbing wall and sports court areas are a combination of Exterior 200’s and 600’s. The Exterior 200’s are used to uplight the climbing wall while the 600’s wash the upper portion of the wall. “We can control that as a backdrop to the surf area so when they are filming we can actually change the wall to a particular color as necessary,” says Richard.

Forward of the climbing wall is the H2O Zone, a unique family pool deck and water theme park that features geysers, waterfalls and current pools. The H2O Zone and main pool show deck transforms from a daytime play area into a nighttime entertainment area complete with a band and lighting. Here, a considerable amount of color changing and effect lighting including Exterior 200’s and 600’s located at the perimeter are used to pick out water spewing sculptures and play lighting onto the water and raised teak dance floor. LED lighting is also prevalent in this area. The family pool deck can also have its own lighting control if needed.

The main pool deck features more lighting from Exterior 200’s and Exterior 600’s for floods, ship profile looks and architecture enhancement while MAC 550’s in protection domes are used for a dance floor and band area. LED lighting also features in this area. Forward of the main pool deck is the Island Oasis-themed Solarium, an outdoor spa/pool area color-enhanced using Exterior 200’s.

Five pre-planned congruent scenes are triggered for the deck zones at particular times of the evening by a PC-based Martin LightJockey system located in a control locker. “For the Martin equipment in the outdoor areas we make sure we can trigger and bring in at predetermined times of the evening all the effects to illuminate the ship and that has to be done with effective coordination of the deck lighting, main house lighting and the entire ship’s flood lighting,” Richard states. “As far as cruise ship technology it’s certainly top of the list out there.”

Arcadia Theatre
27 x FiberSource QFX 150
32 x MAC 600
23 x MAC 550
8 x Atomic 3000
6 x MAC 2000 Profile
10 x MAC 250+
6 x Raptor

Royal Promenade
24 x MAC 550
22 x MAC 600
2 x MAC 2000 Performance
10 x RoboScan Pro 918
9 x MAC 250 Entour
1 x Atomic 3000 with Atomic Colors
2 x Magnum Hazer

Studio B / Ice-Skating Rink
16 x MAC 250 Wash
18 x MAC 600
12 x MAC 550
18 x Stage Cyclo
10 x Atomic 3000
8 x MAC 2000
8 x MAC 250 Entour
8 x FiberSource QFX 150
4 x Magnum Hazer

The Crypt
10 x MAC 500
6 x MAC 600
20 x CX-4
12 x RoboScan 518
4 x Wizard
12 x Atomic 3000
2 x Magnum Hazer
Martin 2532

4 x Wizard
6 x MX-4
2 x Exterior 200

1 x Wizard
3 x RoboScan Pro 918

On Air

FlowRider Surf Park
4 x Exterior 200
1 x Exterior 600
1x MC-X controller (local)

Climbing Wall
2 x Exterior 200
2 x Exterior 600

H2O Zone
14 x Exterior 200
2 x Exterior 600

Main Pool Deck
12 x Exterior 200
4 x Exterior 600
4 x MAC 550
2 x FiberSource QFX 150
1 x LightJockey

4 x Exterior 200