Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas

September 26, 2008

Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas is not only the biggest cruise ship in the world, it is one of the most technologically innovative luxury cruise liners on the seas. Home ported in Southampton, England, she offers all the amenities you would expect from the world’s largest cruise ship: professional theatre, music and ice-skating shows, clubs, decorated public spaces and a wealth of outdoor recreation areas for all ages. In fact, Independence houses 27 different venues in all, all made even more inviting with the latest entertainment technology.

Built by Aker Finnyards in Finland, Independence of the Seas’ 15-decks of space can carry some 3,634 passengers with a crew of over 1300. An abundance of Martin entertainment and architectural lighting has been supplied for several areas of the ship.

Independence stems from the same blueprint as its sister ship, Freedom of the Seas, yet, with the addition of Martin Exterior LED lighting technology, this luxury vessel is a step forward as far as lighting efficiency.

Outdoor zones
Entertainment technology is not confined to entertainment venues alone. Like Freedom of the Seas, specialty architectural effect lighting has been incorporated into five of the ship’s outdoor deck areas - FlowRider® surf park, rock climbing wall and sports deck, H2O zone, main pool deck, and Club 20 Solarium which doubles as a club at night. On Independence, however, the standard Martin Exterior 200s have been replaced by Exterior 200 LEDs, which are used to magnificently light all five outdoor zones.

Exterior 200 LED
“The difference with Independence of the Seas is that we’ve used more up-to-date, more efficient products which is where the Exterior 200 LED comes in,” comments Richard Dixon, managing director of Project International who serves as lighting design consultant to Royal Caribbean International. “The LED gives us several advantages and is a step in the right direction. If we’re cycling between colors for example we’re only using maybe 1/3 of the power compared to a lamp with a color wheel in front so there is efficiency there. We needed to lower the operating temperature as well. It’s not a great difference but something. Also, on an open deck the maintenance aspect is an issue.”

The Exterior 200 LED™ is a long-life programmable luminaire with full color mixing and choice of optional spread angles. Housed in a beautifully designed weatherproof casing, it can be tucked discreetly into architectural design details and requires minimal service and maintenance. The Exterior 200 LEDs onboard Independence operate in some of the harshest conditions imaginable.

“Royal Caribbean is always looking for new products or product upgrades with LED that give similar performance but with greater reliability and lower energy consumption - that is the way forward,” Richard states. “They have the first Exterior 200 LEDs in the cruise industry and the plan is to use these products in the new Genesis class in a greater variety of locations.” It should be noted that Royal Caribbean were the very first in the world to use Martin’s standard Exterior 200 luminaires and have four units with the serial numbers 01-04 onboard their Radiance of the Seas vessel.

Deck Areas
Besides the Exterior 200 LEDs, the Martin lighting equipment used for the ship’s outdoor areas is the same as that on Freedom of the Seas.

Several Martin IP65 rated fixtures are used throughout the five main deck areas. Starting at the aft of the ship is the FlowRider, a 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 (LED) 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.”

At the rock climbing wall and sports court areas are a combination of Exterior 200’s (LED) 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 (LED) 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. Other 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 (LED) 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 Club 20 Solarium, an outdoor spa/pool area color-enhanced using Exterior 200’s (LED).

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.”

That’s Entertainment!
Responsible for the specification and system design of all venues and spaces carrying entertainment systems onboard Independence is Christopher Vlassopulos, head of entertainment technology for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises. Handling the original designs for the three main performance spaces - The Royal Promenade, Alhambra Theatre, and Studio B– was well-respected theatre design and consultancy firm Fisher Dachs of New York.

The Royal Promenade
Central to the ship is a dynamic, color changing central mall - The Royal Promenade – which stretches for 394ft (120m). The four-story-high, atrium-enclosed, pedestrian street is inspired by London’s Burlington Arcade and is lined with a combination of cafés, boutiques, casinos and pubs. Entertainment lighting blends seamlessly with architectural, facilitating flexibility in mood and atmosphere throughout the day and ranging from chilled out to crazy, dynamic and colorful carnival.

Along the length of the Promenade, pairs of Martin MAC 550™ profile spots and MAC 600™ washlights along with MAC 700s and Atomic strobes provide atmospheric and show lighting. The lighting is also an integral part of the theming during two choreographed Promenade parades - street party style events – as well as theme nights. At one end of the Promenade is a unique ‘flying bridge’ from which aerialists and artists perform. It is laden with MAC 250 effects while Martin Magnum Hazers are used when a mid-air effect canopy is needed.

Vlassopulos comments, “The Royal Promenade is the ship’s central meeting place, where shopping and eating combine with entertainment and fun. There’s rarely a time when customers are not around to allow us maintenance access. Our emphasis therefore has to be on fixture reliability and whilst every moving light has its issues, we know Martin MACs will always hold up very well.”

Alhambra Theatre
The three-story Alhambra 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. The Theatre’s lighting rig is impressive to say the least. MAC 500 and 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. Martin Stagebar 54S LED bars are used for floodlighting effect and FiberSource QFX 150 fiber optic illuminators are used to power a back wall and star curtains. Theatrical low lying fog is available from Jem Glaciators when needed and Jem ZR 24/7 Hazers provide the mid air projection canopy.

Mark Scott, head of lighting in the Alhambra, comments, “In terms of shows, ships are the same as any other theatre. Where there is disparity is in the day-to-day running of the venues. Once we’re out at sea, should any equipment or system fail we have to be able to fix it. This means that for practical reasons it’s good to try and keep the kit we have on every ship and in each venue consistent. The Martin Professional and the ETC kit is great. You can get into them easily, they’re modular, spare parts are easy to transport and the most common problems are simple to fix. Because of this situation we require good kit servicing training and all our chosen kit manufacturers offer that.”

Studio B / Ice Skating Rink
The second venue, the multi-configurable Studio B and ice rink, is built on the second deck above the water, almost exactly in the center of the ship. Studio B can also be transformed into a television studio where they run game shows, which can then be broadcast ship wide.

Telescopic seating and a sliding floor retract to reveal the 40ft by 60ft ice rink, used for professional ice shows or for recreational skating, while alternative seating arrangement and a retractable floor allow the space to be used for exhibits, trade shows, fashion shows and rock concerts. In charge of overall show control is Theodore Tsevas.

In terms of lighting, Studio B has a pretty low grid and therefore a relatively short throw. The rig contains Martin MAC 250 Washes, MAC 250 Entours, MAC 550s, MAC 600s and Atomic 3000 strobes. Award-winning New York lighting designer Marsha Madeira works with programmer Marty Postma to put the cue-heavy, sharp and dynamic lighting designs together for the ice shows. A recent addition to the standard rig has been the Martin Stagebar 54 LED battens, and Madeira has been delighted with them: “They are so bright and brilliant to work with, you can make any color you like including the paler colors - we made a marvelously strange lavender, very grey - they are perfect for cyc’ lighting.”

The Labyrinth , Lounge, Fuel
Independence of the Seas houses a number of nighttime social spots for adults and kids alike. Above the dancefloor at The Labyrinth, 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. Even the spinning room in the gym features numerous Martin Mania fixtures, all keeping pace with the crazy pedal music.

TeleDimensions International (TDI) and Funa Nachrichtentechnik GmbH Inc were contracted to work on the practical design and installation of the audio, lighting and much of the video and show control systems for all RCCL ships.

Christopher Vlassopulos: Head of entertainment technology for RCI and Celebrity Cruises
Richard Dixon: Architectural lighting design and implementation; Project International
Mark Scott: Head of lighting
Marty Postma: Programmer
Val Foster: Sound technician
Theodore Tsevas: Show control
Ben Couling: Lighting designer and technician
Martin Ready: Stage and production manager

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

Climbing Wall
2 x Exterior 200 LED
2 x Exterior 600

H2O Zone
14 x Exterior 200 LED
2 x Exterior 600

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

4 x Exterior 200 LED

Alhambra Theatre
16 x Stagebar 54S
8 x Atomic 3000
17 x MAC 500
6 x MAC 550
32 x MAC 600E
10 x MAC 250+
10 x MAC 2000 Profile
15 x FiberSource QFX 150
2 x Jem ZR24/7 Hazer
2 x AF-1
2 x Jem Glaciator

Royal Promenade
10 x MAC 250
23 x MAC 550
18 x MAC 600
4 x MAC 600 E
2 x MAC 700 Profile
2 x Atomic 3000
6 x Jem Magnum Hazer

Studio B / Ice Skating Rink
14 x MAC 250 Wash
14 x MAC 550
18 x MAC 600
12 x MAC 250 Entour
18 x MAC 250 Wash
10 x Atomic 3000
8 x FiberSource QFX 150
Stagebar 54
4 x Martin Magnum Hazer

The Labyrinth
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

1 x Wizard
3 x RoboScan Pro 918