Bit late writing about this but my friend Stella and I went to London on the 21st November 2013 to attend this event, and please excuse quality of the photos as they were from my phone. I was part of the Royal Caribbean UK Facebook page Fan of the Week group. I had asked them about dress code and what time we had to be at the location, but they only replied about clothes (business casual). We had booked into a hostel in Earl’s Court for the night as it was going to be a late night, which wasn’t too far from Victoria Coach Station, had some lunch in Nando’s then caught the tube to Liverpool Street, changing at South Kensington.
We searched for the Heron Tower, in the financial district of the city. I knew it was near the Gherkin) but hadn’t realised how close until we found it – or how high it was! We arrived not long after 3pm and were told registration began at 4pm so the lady suggested we go round the corner to the Drift Bar. All well and good but every table was reserved. In the end we asked if there was anywhere to sit, mentioning we were there for the Royal Caribbean event and that got us a brief stay at a table on the strict understanding we DID leave by 4pm as we said. We had a quick drink then returned to the main building. There were a few other Fan of the Week guests, including Emma Gordon who was with her dad, plus others who made up our small group. We were taken up to floor 31 instead of 29, which was virtually empty apart from everyone getting ready for the live online feed, couple of tables and some workers, we assumed were from Royal Caribbean. We had a good view though as the sun set.
So back down we went to join the crowd of journalists but the lift didn’t take us back to the ground floor so it was an escalator or stairs to complete the task then let back through with their passes. It was good to see John Honeywell (Captain Greybeard) again and under happier circumstances. The last time had been at the funeral of Steve Read. We were all led up in small groups (well the lifts were cramped!) to the correct floor. Some of us went to drop our coats off while others headed straight for the booze! Gradually we all took our seats. Presenter, Lauren Laverne, hosted with assistance from comedian, Stuart Maconie, who I had at least heard of. Must be a generation thing. They were ably assisted with musical interludes by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. We were very surprised and impressed to see CEO, Adam Goldstein there.
And then Adam said those magic words….
Although this was Royal Caribbean’s worst kept secret as they were saying on the ships in 2012 that Indy would be replaced by Anthem and the Le Havre port schedule also gave the game away before hastily changing entires to Indy, it was still great hearing the ship would be coming to Southampton. It showed confidence, not only in the UK market, but also the port. Although we had calls from their ships when new, usually en route somewhere, since Monarch of the Seas in 1991, we had no cruises until 2005 when they gave us Legend for two seasons. She was replaced by Navigator and, before that had even arrived, they announced Independence would take over a year later. In 2012 they added Adventure to Indy and Adventure will remain alongside the new girl on the block. No word on where Indy will go but rumours are Barcelona. It will be sad to say goodbye but exciting to welcome the next type of Royal Caribbean ship to these shores. Then it was time to party!!!! But first, a quick word with Adam Goldstein. I say quick, in one of Stella’s photos she uploaded to Facebook and Twitter, I look like a rabid chipmunk! And contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t demanding Vision be brought back to Europe, mainly because I didn’t think of it. 😉 I asked first about transferring my Quantum booking, having been told when Anthem goes on sale, I have to cancel the cruise and lose the deposit. This is totally unfair when other cruise lines allow you to move it, even for a fee. I once transferred a QM2 booking, paying £146 extra – £100 of which was the admin fee for pressing a few buttons! But even that’s better than losing £150. Another I asked was whether there would be a Quantum/Adventure meeting of the sort Liberty and Navigator had in 2007, which my dad videoed as I was on Celebrity Constellation.
Adam Goldstein said they were working on something so I hope they will, especially with Adventure due to sail at 4,30pm and Quantum half an hour later. I also hope Quantum will meet Indy at least once.
And so the post-announcement party, which Emma and her dad had to sadly leave. I stuck with soft drinks and the lemongrass and ginger they served was nice and, being terrified of heights, it took a lot to stand between the window and sofa for a photo with Stella with London behind. I met the Royal Caribbean girls who do their social media, had a photo taken (I assume the rest left too as it was meant to be a group one) and was interviewed for Royal Caribbean. The nibbles laid on were delicious, as was ‘dessert’, brought around by what looked like cinema usherettes. At one point, the lights came on and a security bloke said they were investigating an alarm but we may have to evacuate the building. Walk down 29 floors???? We decided to leave around 9pm, collected our coats and got a goody bag.
And that was that. A very long but enjoyable day. Thanks to Royal Caribbean.