(12:30 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean has confirmed it will introduce an all-suite, separate elevator-access suite complex on its next cruise ship, Spectrum of the Seas.
In a first for the line, Royal's first "Quantum Ultra" class of ship -- set to launch next spring -- will feature a dedicated suite zone that will include a private pool, sun deck and restaurant for suite passengers only.
Spectrum of the Seas will also feature the Ultimate Family Suite, which debuted on Symphony of the Seas; the Sky Pad, a virtual realty bungee trampoline experience that debuted on Independence of the Seas; and one large main dining room, as opposed to four on previous Quantum-class ships. The Sky Pad will be added to nine additional ships.
Check out our roundup of hits and misses from Independence of the Seas, following its multimillion-dollar refurbishment.
Speaking exclusively to Cruise Critic on the newly-refurbished Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's President and CEO, Michael Bayley, said: "For the first time on a Royal Caribbean ship, we will have a dedicated suite zone on Spectrum of the Seas. "With private elevator, private pool, private restaurant, which is something quite unique, which is very specific to the China market."
A suite-only complex is not new for the industry. Norwegian Cruise Line has The Haven and MSC Cruises has the Yacht Club, both of which are keycard-access only suites zones with private bars, restaurants, pools and sundecks.
Royal has been moving closer and close in this direction on its Oasis-class ships, with a top deck now dedicated to suites, a suites-only bar and restaurant, Coastal Kitchen.
When asked whether the next Oasis-class ship -- due to launch in 2021 -- could feature a suites complex, he said: "We are certainly looking at that, but it's not something that is of direct focus. On Oasis V our focus will really be on experience."
Bayley, who was previously CEO of Celebrity Cruises, was instrumental in introducing suite-only areas such as Luminae Restaurant and Michael's Club on Celebrity cruise ships.
He also revealed that the next Quantum Ultra-class ship is slated to be deployed to China.
--By Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, UK