Bringing new meaning to the phrase “raising the bar,” Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is also home to the Rising Tide Bar, the first bar to move vertically between decks on a ship like a massive elevator with bartenders. According to a blog post by the chairman of RCCL, Richard D. Fain, early suggestions for moving passengers between decks included jet packs or a giant teeter-totter, but sitting down with a cold one while gently switching decks proved more popular, if only slightly less technically challenging, than the other options. Thirsty passengers who “miss” the bar and have to wait are treated to a fountain show, as water jets are revealed while the bar rises. When the bar descends, it sits like an island in a pool of water.

International stage engineering company Serapid Inc. and WS Atkins, the UK architects who designed the Central Park and Royal Promenade decks, worked together on the design for raising and lowering the 40-ton bar. Lifting the bar on a standard hydraulic ram proved to be too problematic to implement. As the bar would be moving all day, the smell of hot hydraulic oil would escape into public areas, and there was also the possibility that it would pollute the water display under the lift. Iain Forbester, Serapid’s project manager on the Oasis, explains that another problem would have been placing a large hydraulic cylinder in the casino directly below the Rising Tide Bar, taking away space from patrons below.

Working with WS Atkins’ Tom Wright, Forbester installed four Serapid LinkLift 100R columns, each capable of lifting ten tons the 35' distance between decks. The lifting columns, guide rails, and safety equipment are fitted into four 11m columns at the corners of the oval-shaped bar, so that they glide into protective tubes at the edge of the pool.

Forbester calls the LinkLift system “ideally suited” to this application, noting that the venue “presented us with some new challenges which are always interesting to an engineering-based company such as Serapid. We had always felt that the LinkLift product was suitable for architectural applications, and with this project, we were proved to be correct.”

A unique requirement was the need to accommodate the roll of the ship on the lift guides. “Normally with a lift, you would expect the maximum horizontal loads on the guides to be less than 10% of the weight of the bar, but here, with the ship’s motion, the loads on the guides can be 100% of the weight of the bar,” Forbester says. Serapid developed a steel support structure within the architectural columns to transfer the loads back to the ship’s structure.

Aaron Sporer designed the lighting for the Rising Tide Bar, relying on 364 LED nodes of Philips Color Kinetics iColor Flex LMX, 20 Coemar Parlite LEDs, two Martin Professional Atomic 3000 strobes, and four Rosco PF-1000 fog machines. He also lit the water display with custom fixtures built and provided by OASE, including 14 RGB LED rainbow fountains, 19 RGB LED “stack” fountains, and four RGB LED fixtures. “The fact that the bar moves made the project a lot more interesting and dynamic,” Sporer says. “It makes the interaction between the lighting on the bar, lighting in the fountain, and the fountain itself much more interesting by hiding and revealing different elements over time.”

The fountain and lighting are controlled by a Barco High End Systems Wholehog 3 and run through a series of timed displays of different looks. When the bar is raised up to the peaceful Central Park area, the lighting is relatively subdued. As the bar returns to the bustling Royal Promenade, the fountain shuts off, and the bar lighting integrates with the events on the Promenade.

Stay tuned for more on Oasis of the Seas, or check out the full story in the June/July issue of Live Design.

Hannah Kate Kinnersley began her publishing career at TCI/Lighting Dimensions in 1992, at the age of three. She has contributed stories to every version of the magazine since then, despite occasionally breaking away to work for lesser organs such as The Wall Street Journal and SavetheChildren.com. For this issue, she brings her pond kayaking skills to bear on the largest ship in the world, Oasis of the Seas.