Virtual Cruising

In the past decade, Royal Caribbean has radically transformed America's image of the cruise ship, from "Love Boat" camp to casual cool, from Engelbert Humperdinck schmaltz to Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life."

Preparing for the June launch of its new "Freedom of the Seas " line of cruise ships, RC has gone all out on the Web to dramatize just how far it's taken the cruise ship experience beyond shuffleboard tournaments, canasta, and leisure suits.

Created by Arnold Worldwide and IQ Interactive, the new ship's mini-site ( uses 3-D architectural renderings with full-motion video to immerse visitors in the ship's new features. Complete with a launch clock ticking down the minutes and seconds until the line launches, the site enables visitors to explore action sports via "The Rock Wall" (on-ship rock climbing) and "The Flow Rider" (for on-board surfing), take a dip in whirlpool baths, check out an "H2O zone" for kids, and preview the ship's themed bars, dining rooms, and "Royal Promenade."

Design aficionados can access videos illustrating the ship's construction, blueprints, deck plans, and interviews with architects, project planners, and safety specialists. There are frequent news updates about the line's progress, and interactive sales and customer service functions allow visitors to contact a "Freedom Specialist" and book a cruise date.

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