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Escape Rooms

Escape Rooms will the trend continue at sea

Escape rooms

Escape rooms, thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, have hit the high seas.

Various incarnations of the interactive puzzle experience now exist on eight cruise ships and counting. But how likely is it that Escape rooms popularity will last?

When you think of classic cruise ship activities and attractions, there are several that immediately come to mind. Deck games like shuffleboard have been mainstays for over a century now. Calls of “Bingo!” have been heard for decades just the same. More recently, staples have further included art auctions.

Of course, many of those are also becoming rather stale. Cruise lines have begun seeking out new shoreside attractions and trends to bring aboard in order to substantially jazz things up.

That has meant more and more elaborate waters slides as well as the likes of surf and skydiving simulators. Escape rooms are among the newest ways for passing the time in exciting fashion.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, escape rooms are essentially physical puzzles. Usually themed to a narrative of confinement. Escape rooms require small teams of participants to work together to find a way out. Usually, a series of solutions are required to “escape” the room.

Escape rooms take the virtual puzzle worlds of video games like “Myst” and realize them on land or, in this case, onboard.

Royal Caribbean was first to introduce Escape rooms on the Anthem of the Seas in partnership with Puzzle Break. There, the experience is merely an overlay of challenges applied to the teens club. Across the fleet, Puzzle Break has since expanded to Brilliance of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas.

On the Harmony of the Seas, a dedicated venue was installed: “Escape the Rubicon.” A similarly specific version is anticipated for the upcoming Symphony of the Seas as well.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line has also gotten in the game with its own “Escape The Big Top.  Themed overlays aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Getaway.

On both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, the experience is open to all ages.  But is best geared towards older children, teens and adults with good critical thinking skills. They are also complimentary, with the exception of Harmony of the Seas.  Which is understood to come with a small surcharge, (likely to reduce any no-shows).

From my personal experience trying “Escape the Rubicon” and several others shoreside, the dedicated onboard version was fantastic, with better production quality than most. In fact, the venue itself was designed in collaboration with Hollywood go-to fabricator ShowFX Inc. The challenges were equally engaging.

Whether or not escape rooms will remain hits on land and sea has yet to be determined. Neither iteration has been around for more than a handful of years.

However, unlike, say, bingo or art auctions, Escape rooms are not necessarily revenue makers seeking to draw large crowds. Escape rooms  are actually inherently niche experiences. Usually never exceeding a dozen or so people at a time.

Still, Escape rooms are likely to expand to other ships over time, tapping into an activity that resonates with the coveted millennial audience. Even if only to a limited degree. (As a millennial myself, escape rooms at sea certainly intrigue me.)

Just like any new shipboard partnership or feature that grabs the attention, Escape room is the halo effect that cruise lines are always after. If even one small thing hooks a new cruiser and convinces them to come onboard, it has sufficiently done its job.

Escape rooms, it would seem, are one of those new things.

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Thanks for Reading…….  Dodrey

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