Handling Specialty lifts the stage at Royal Caribbean
Handling Specialty made history in 1995 when it was contracted to produce the underwater stage lift system for Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio, in Las Vegas. The ‘O’ show continues to perform two shows per night after 24 years on the original Handling Specialty lift systems. It is an extraordinary engineering feat from an SME located in the heart of Niagara, in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada.
Since that monumental moment for the company, several underwater stage lift systems have been designed, built and installed into multiple theatres including the City of Dreams theatre, which runs The House of Dancing Water show in Macau. This epic undertaking gained Handling Specialty a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Handling Specialty is a world leader in underwater theatrical spectacles, and is installing systems all over the world. The company is also flown to remote vacation locations to provide highly skilled technicians to repair or maintain these multi million-dollar systems efficiently to ensure that the show goes on.
This latest win for the company is the accumulation of an almost 20-year relationship designing and building for Royal Caribbean International. “This project began 2.5-years ago with technical sales and conceptual engineering leading the charge to win this prestigious venture,” says Tom Beach, president of Handling Specialty and the lead sales associate on this project. “We cherish our relationship with Royal Caribbean and with a revenue stream via new builds, service, and dry dock overhauls that will last over 10-plus-years, we understand what it takes to keep our customers happy.”
Handling Specialty’s turnkey solutions for Royal Caribbean includes conceptual engineering and contract settlements to full design including all electrical and hydraulic networks, custom stage flooring, installation, training, commissioning and on-going MRO.
“Experience goes a long way in winning a project as large as this,” Beach goes on to say. “Deploying professionals and skilled technicians to Finland over the next six years to install our equipment will be a challenge, but we’ve completed similar scenarios many times before.”
In March of 2021, Handling Specialty sent a team of technicians to Barbados where they quarantined on the Allure of the Seas for 14 days, one of the Oasis class of ships, and then performed planned maintenance on the ship’s underwater stage lift equipment. This same group of people went on to Spain where they completed similar work on Harmony of the Seas. Freighting the parts and flying people to these locations during a pandemic and successfully completing the work ahead of schedule is another nod to Handling Specialty’s abilities to organise massive projects and perform the work without interruption. It also speaks to the quality of the people working at Handling Specialty, and the lengths they will go to, to see a job through.
Christopher Vlassopulos, superintendent SLVR & Architectural Lighting for Royal Caribbean International & Celebrity Cruises, says, “Having worked together for almost 20 years on our Oasis class ships, I’m thrilled to be partnering with Handling Specialty again.”
The financial impact on the Niagara-based company is a welcome one. Entertainment industry builds have been scarce through the pandemic and to come out the other end with a project of this size is a boost to company moral and another nod to Handling Specialty’s impressive track record designing and building stage lift systems for the entertainment industry.
Beach says of the future, “I feel certain that Handling Specialty will continue our relationship with Royal Caribbean International and international shipyards for decades.”