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Rising Fuel Prices Not Hampering Cruise Innovations

The price of skyrocketing oil is making waves for the cruising industry, but it has not stopped cruising giant Royal Caribbean International from coming up with new innovations they hope will attract new customers and boost revenue.

The new Genesis Class series of ships will be the largest in the world weighing in at 220,000 tons and carrying an average of 40 percent more passengers and offering new over-the-top features, like an area based on Central Park in New York City.

The park design opens to the sky in the center of the ship, featuring “lush, tropical grounds” reaching the length of an entire football field, according to the company. The area will feature restaurants, an art gallery, vintage wine bar and more than 300 guest suites that overlook the park.

The first ship is set to debut in the fall of 2009 followed by its sister ship in 2010.

Innovations are nothing new to the cruising industry. Companies have been coming up with new ideas to attract business for years. Most recently, Carnival Corporation launched the Queen Victoria, featuring recreational fencing and a theatre with private boxes. Celebrity Cruises plans to launch the Solistice next winter — the first ship to feature live glass blowing and a manicured lawn at sea.

Amid all this innovation, however, is the harsh reality of climbing fuel prices. The industry as a whole is struggling to keep fuel-related costs down. Recently, Carnival reported that first-quarter profit fell 17 percent, squeezed by climbing fuel prices. It forced the world's largest cruise operator to lower full-year profit guidance. Likewise, Royal Caribbean is adopting several new practices to control fuel costs, such as applying different hull paint to reduce drag in the water, using new lighting and window tinting to help keep energy consumption down. Royal Caribbean will be reporting its first quarter results on April 24th.

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