Royal Caribbean - Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean - Quantum of the Seas

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Wilson Butler Architects

Royal Caribbean-Quantum of The Seas

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Quantum nears completion in Germany About five years ago, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) began to design what was then dubbed “Project Sunshine” for its Royal Caribbean International brand. This coming October, the first of three 168,000 gross ton ships, now known as the Quantum of the Seas, will be delivered from the shipyard. Cruise Business Review was lucky enough to catch up with Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President Maritime for RCCL, in mid-June when the vessel was almost 70% complete.


By Susan Parker With 19 weeks until delivery, the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg is a very busy place. “As always, first-of-class ships are ones that require more focus because it is a prototype, with new elements and features,” Kulovaara observed. Those new elements include Two70°, North Star and RipCord by iFly, which he said, “are most likely some of the most complex things we have ever dealt with and have kept us busy over the years and still are.”


Project Sunshine was about taking the best parts of RCCL’s existing ships and the lessons learned from them, thinking about itineraries outside the Caribbean and then creating ships designed for those itineraries. The focus was on guest areas, with particular emphasis on dining and entertainment as well as further developing stateroom comfort. On the technical side, every ship ordered over the last 16 years has been dealt with systematically – the goal being that a new class of ship will be 15% more fuel efficient than its predecessor. This is not achieved through any silver bullet, but through a systematic approach focused on small actions in literally hundreds of different areas.


“We are putting energy efficiency as the core of our business. We are constantly moving forward with better tools, looking at different options. Extensive CFD calculations and research has given us the possibility to design on mathematical calculations,” Kulovaara explained. Starting with the hull, which has been optimized for maximum efficiency over the operational speed range, CFD has provided RCCL with detailed design opportunities. For example, he pointed out, “The bulbous bow and ducktail are optimized for where the ship sails and sea states.” For the former alone, about 1,000 different designs were assessed. In the case of the bow thrusters, a grid fitted to the openings allows water to pass through while reducing resistance while underway. Fin stabilizers, too, have been re-assessed. Even while housed, these add to resistance due to the 2-by-15-foot opening for the fin. This disturbs the flow of water, creating turbulence behind the fin and hence increased friction. “By designing carefully, we can reduce the resistance tremendously,” Kulovaara noted.


A first for RCCL is the air lubrication system (ALS) which has been developed over three years. After a small test installation on the ms Celebrity Reflection, the technology is now being put into full-scale operation on the Quantum of the Seas. ALS system checks were carried out simultaneously with the hull design in collaboration with Meyer Werft, Foreship and Process Flow as the system was developed. “Eighty percent of resistance today is from the ship going through the water,” Kulovaara said. “ALS uses bubbles and an air cushion to reduce the friction.” A very welcome by-product is that noise and vibration levels in the stern have been “reduced quite drastically, because the bubbles dampen the excitation from the propeller,” he added.


Energy efficiency throughout Throughout the design phase, the company considered every aspect of power-plant efficiency and energy recovery, with the selection of each component carefully identified. New energy-management systems are being used for the first time in places like the galley. The control and monitoring of the air-conditioning system has been further improved, with Kulovaara believing that substantial benefits will be gained. On lighting, the LED technology that is used throughout the ship has helped with efficiencies. Despite all this, he commented: “Every percentage moving forward is getting harder and harder because the low hanging fruit is less.”


RCCL has been very much involved in the design and definition of the energy management system with Eniram, and Metso for automation. Kulovaara thinks that this and the SeaKing galley management system are both “very unique in scope and the extent used on Quantum of the Seas.” A more advanced monitoring system for the air-conditioning will allow for more optimal operations. Supplier Koja is working with Meyer Werft for the first time. A fancoil system is being used extensively on board, even for the public areas. “We are using a combination of centralized units, taking fresh air from outside cooled to ambient conditions. But then we have additional cooling near to the rooms so we are not transporting air in a long duct, which takes more energy and space.”


While the principles are the same as in the past, the components such as fans and compressors have gained efficiencies. Monitoring now plays a large part, ensuring that not only the amount of air but the quality – for example the amount of CO2 present – is optimized for the space in question. In other words if the theater is empty, the amount and quality of the air is adjusted accordingly. When it comes to the galleys, equipment here is usually used on “full blast,” but now a computer-based system developed by SeaKing is constantly monitoring what is in the ovens, the heat load in various areas, and then adapting it to the demand. Hence, the galley is now very much a demand-based system; for example, most of the pumps and fans have frequency controls. Kulovaara said he believes that Royal Caribbean will save about $1 million a year from its implementation. “It is exceptionally advanced. I don’t think anyone has done this in the cruise ship industry.”


RCCL’s first scrubbers The energy management system also covers other machinery related systems, engine performance, lighting, trim, route optimization and hull performance. In addition to the waste-heat recovery system is a new design which optimizes usage, for example, of evaporators, pools, HVAC and so forth. Quantum of the Seas is the first RCCL vessel to be fitted with two full hybrid open/close loop scrubbers. This means it can be operated depending on the need: Open loop with seawater, hybrid with sea and fresh water and closed loop – which means zero discharge with fresh water. The latter is for operation while in port or coastal waters. This Wartsila advanced exhaust purification (AEP) system has just been fitted on TUI Cruises’ ms Mein Schiff 3. It is designed for continuous operation regardless of whether the ship is sailing in an Emission Control Area (ECA) or not. By using the Scheme B continuous monitoring system (rather than Scheme A, which is cast in concrete), the AEP is designed to scrub HFO 3.5% sulfur fuel down to 0.1%.


“It is a humongously complex installation,” Kulovaara emphasized. “Marineizing it has been very complex. There are all kinds of operational and reliability issues. It has to be taken into account in the ship’s design.” The volume is huge, with the main cylinder/tower being 3.5 meters in diameter and 10 meters to 12 meters high, and the whole system weighs about 1,000 tons. Scrubbers consume a lot of energy, first to pump large amounts of water to a high level and secondly, because fans are required to compensate for back pressure on the engines. Although designed to run on maximum power, considerable effort has been put into minimizing the actual energy consumption in various operating conditions. When running at lower power levels, energy can be reduced as less air and water is required.


The main engines are the first F-version of the Wartsila 46 (2 x 12V46F at 14.4mW and 2 x 16V46F at 19.2mW). While fundamentally the same engine, these have been upgraded and are now equipped with twin pump and twin needle technology to optimize performance and minimize fuel consumption when operating at different loads. Over recent years, RCCL has been challenging propeller manufacturers to make improvements not just to the propellers, but to the pods themselves. The Celebrity Reflection was the first RCCL ship to be fitted with XO Azipods, but the two on the Quantum of the Seas have a greater output at 20.5mW.


The black and grey water AWP plant from Scanship is different from those aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class vessels. For grey water, individual collection tanks feed the system, and for black water the collection tanks serve as vacuum tanks reducing energy requirements. The system is performing 50% below Alaska standards, and is also equipped with a de-nitrification system according to HELCOM standards. As far as garbage is concerned, RCCL has “worked very hard to come with zero landfill from the ship.” This has meant a “drastic amount of source reduction,” as well as recycling of glass, metals and so forth. However, Deerberg incinerators are really the only way to effectively handle the balance of the waste, according to Kulovaara.


In matters of safety and evacuation, all spaces onboard are protected by the Marioff Hi-Fog system. There are three systems onboard the Quantum of the Seas rather than the standard two, providing a higher degree of redundancy. A new design from Marioff and Autronica is in place, which will improve the efficiency and lifecycle of the nozzles. The 313-person lifeboats are supplied by Fassmer. On the bridge, the safety center has been developed further with input from nautical experts. The equipment, information and space have been organized more effectively for safety-related activities, Kulovaara said. The equipment available today also is easier to use. Whereas in the past everything had its own screen, the 80-inch TV screen on the Quantum of the Seas allows the operator to view many functions at the same time. Consoles are less bulky and take up less space than in the past, and placing the equipment being closer together ensures more efficient man/machine interaction.


Challenging new interior spaces As far as the vessel’s interior spaces are concerned, Kulovaara said that Two70° is “the most complex room I have ever been part of building.” Designed to function as a large living room by day and an entertainment venue at night, it is situated at the stern above 41mW of propulsion power, which requires a “very good comfort design to make sure the noise and vibration is minimized.” In addition, Two70° requires very good seakeeping capabilities from the vessel, so that the impact from rough seas is very low. Moreover, there has to be a very high degree of structural sophistication, because the whole room is supported by four main pillars. Achieving this has had an impact on the entire design of the vessel, with Royal Caribbean drawing upon its own experience and experts from both the shipyard and Det Norske Veritas, who worked together for more than a year to configure the steel structure that supports the space.


Without a traditional backstage, all the theater elements such as lighting and catwalks had to be concealed without being obvious to passengers. Scott Wilson, Director at Wilson Butler Architects (WBA), said this presented “a huge technical challenge for the yard, which stepped up to the plate.” Not only did space have to be created above to house equipment, but there had to be an acoustical layer between the suites above and the showroom. “A lot of passion has been put into Two70°,” Wilson said. “There is always concern whether a big room can hang on to its intimacy and still feel cozy to the guests, but I think it is quite successful in that way.”


Another new element called North Star – a gondola that lifts passengers 300 feet above sea level – has brought another set of challenges that involved working with people outside the industry. To bring such a feature to a marine environment has required considerable technical skill from the manufacturers as well as working with a technology verification process that comes from the offshore oil and gas industries, where complex processes are often handled. “The German safety authority [TUV Sued] has been very much part of it, as well as amusement ride consultants [Celtic Engineering and TWT] from the U.S.” While the base for the equipment is a customized ship’s crane from MacGregor, everything else has come from a non-marine environment; for instance, VTT Technical Research Centre tested for vibration and acceleration. “It is clearly a technical challenge and a solution that everyone is very proud of,” Wilson said. “It North Star has a great deal of safety redundancy so that the gondola can return safely back to the dock in any possible unexpected scenario. A stroke of genius is that it sits directly on top of the lift shafts, which are big structural structures creating a phenomenal foundation.”


Royal Caribbean has been considering bringing RipCord (a skydiving simulator) aboard for a number of years, but to date it has been “too noisy, too heavy, too bulky and energy consuming,” Kulovaara said. Nevertheless, two years ago the company decided to go ahead with it for the Quantum of the Seas. While the technology has been on land for some time, yet again it is a first for the marine world. Wilson explained that “being on top of a ship which moves and not wanting it to be abnormally heavy, the aeronautical engineering had to be completely re-imagined. RCCL has the ability to put the right technical force behind the idea without taking any chances and that every possibility has been explored and understood. It is always a big collaboration. Everybody understands that it is an option of last resort to prove that it cannot be done.”


Entire building process upgraded Turning to the shipyard and production processes, Kulovaara said that Meyer Werft has developed an innovative and effective building strategy in order to build two Quantum-class vessels in parallel. “They have created highly sophisticated production processes, taking principles from car manufacturing and combining it with shipbuilding. The entire building process has been upgraded.” What this means, for example, is that a cabin is coming off the flow line every 17 minutes, having taken eight hours to build. He praises the German yard’s ability to not only build in such a short timeframe, but to customize each ship. This is different from yards in the Far East, which can build ships in a series very effectively, but each is identical. In summary he added, “This is very systematic work. We are dedicated people constantly aiming higher. We challenge the way we do it, and look at innovative technology opportunities.”


Wilson Butler Architects played a core and integral role in coordinating the project’s other architects, as well as providing its own designs for some spaces. The word “light” kept cropping up as Wilson walked CBR through the vessel’s interiors. “The first thing we decided to do was strive to make sure that every public space was really well connected to the sea,” Wilson said. “From the early planning diagrams, we would evaluate it each space for light and air and view. Every prime piece of real estate on the ship has been given to the public spaces.” The aim was not to “out-wow” the Oasis-class, but to make a “new ship that is just different.” To achieve this, Wilson said, “We took the best of the best of everything we have done, evaluated what has been done on other ships and looked at what we can do differently.” One significant change aboard the Quantum of the Seas is that instead of the horizontal Royal Promenade that’s found on the Oasis-class ships, there is an asymmetric Royal Esplanade that alters the vessel’s passenger flow.


Like Kulovaara, Wilson names Two70°, North Star and RipCord as being the project’s most challenging new concepts but admits, “One of the things I love the most is the solarium and cascading pool with stepped terraces and commanding views over the bow of the ship.” Here, four lagoons/circular pools are connected with water flowing from one to another. “The imagery is of sitting in a mountain stream in pools of water,” he explained, which caused “quite a few eyes to roll.” However, RCCL “let us run with it, and now that it is built, it is seen as being really cool,” he said. WBA is no stranger to the challenges of creating new shipboard venues, having been involved with Studio B and the ice rink, the Aqua Theatre, Central Park and the Lawn Club and glass blowing, all firsts at sea aboard other RCCL ships.


Wilson explained that from the very start, the concept for the Quantum of the Seas was different. “This is not a ship like Oasis, where you make a list of what you want and then decide the size of the ship. With Quantum, this is the size of ship and what can we put in it?” Another big difference is that the ship was largely planned and designed before the shipyard was chosen. “Together with the RCCL team, we decided what we wanted the ship to look like before engaging the shipyard, so we could then compare shipyard offers to a baseline that was created by us,” Wilson explained. This is a huge advantage, because the designers are “not yet tethered to predisposed information such as fire zones and length of elevators, but have a loose framework in which the technical will be fitted.” Building a ship is like planning an entire little city in two years and then having another two years to build it, according to Wilson. “It is a lot nicer to have the flexibility to figure out where the main street is. We could not have made those choices if we had been locked down closely to a yard’s plan.”


Through discussions with Meyer Werft, a middle ground was achieved where everything still works. “It is a great process to go through – to have them understand what you are trying to achieve,” Wilson said. It also gave rise to some building firsts: “We have bulkhead openings with doors bigger than ever before. The flow through the ship is very generous – it rarely shrinks down to something narrow.” On working with the shipyard, Wilson added, “It is like any business, they are going to be cooperative and collaborative if you are equally cooperative and collaborative. When there is mutual respect around the table, then things work for the better.” This way of building has produced a ship which differs little from the original concept. “There is very little that I see that has been compromised on from the initial design, which is a credit to everyone including the yard,” he concluded.


ALAYKSET: “It is all about drawing the eye out to the ocean and so never losing memory of being at sea.” – Scott Wilson –


“We are putting energy efficiency as the core of our business.” – Harri Kulovaara –


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