The newly opened cruise port of Falmouth (developed by the Port Authority of Jamaica in partnership with Royal Caribbean) is so busy with ships stopping there now that it has overtaken Ocho Rios as the busiest on the island, according to data from the PAJ and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).
Much of the crowds coming to Falmouth is thanks to Royal Caribbean's massive Oasis class ships that visit each week, carrying some 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.
Falmouth's effect is being felt all over the island as this month alone has seen a 41% rise in total cruise passengers at Falmouth, Montego Bay, Ochio Rios and Port Antonio compared to a year ago.
From February to April 2011, the Falmouth pier has had almost 100,000 passengers and 34,650 crew pass through which in turn has generated roughly US$8.7 million in passenger expenditure.
The Jamaica Public Bodies 2011-12 doesn't want to forget about Ochio Rios and plans to keep the former leader competitive, "To further capitalize on developments in the cruise industry and maintain a secured position in this area, plans are also in place to upgrade the Ocho Rios cruise ship pier".
Thanks to the rapid growth of the Spanish cruise market, Royal Caribbean has created a new position of Regional Head of Sales, North Central Spain, including Madrid, Castillaand León, La Rioja, Navarra, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country.
The new position will be occupied by Andres Zambrano, who takes position after more than two years playing the role of Account Manager, has a spotless reputation and extensive experience in the sector. His leadership has allowed him to assume the role of Regional Head of Sales for Central and Northern region of Spain, a strategic location for the company with great growth potential, primarily due to the arrival this year of Liberty of the Seas Barcelona and the Adventure of the Seas, which starts operating at the port of Valencia.
Andres Zambrana, as a strong figure of the sales team at Royal Caribbean, will bring its experience and its treatment and experienced team and good relationships with travel agencies in these areas in order to strengthen and further expand the success of Royal Caribbean in the Central and North of the country.
Photo by Tom Stevenson
Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas recently feaured award-winning chocolatier Then Chui Foong was aboard the cruise ship to create a chocolate sculpture in an exclusive demonstration, which had never been done at sea.
TODAYOnline was able to sample the chocolate offerings aboard this ship, such as a cherry on the ile flottante (a French dessert called "Floating Island").
"It's like a fantasy, so I made it look like flowers blooming. To me, it's like the sea and blossoms and sunshine."
Foong described the art of making chocolate sculptures and the challenges that come with it, "Making a chocolate sculpture is very technical, and I was without the usual equipment and utensils. But I overcame that by using the most basic techniques - just hot water to melt the chocolate slightly and to adjust the temperature quickly, so that I could assemble the showpiece in half an hour."
Cruise ships, Royal Caribbean or not, are well known for their ample supply of food and the fact that many tend to indulge a little too much on a typical cruise but Heather McCracken, a New Zealand reporter, wanted to try to go on a cruise and not gain any weight.
She chronicled her journey of 3 nights aboard Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas from Wellington, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia.
McCracken chose to try a lot of the Vitality options on the menus although she did succumb to temptation on a few occasions, "But at 11pm I'm confronted by a surprise chocolate buffet: chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate truffles, chocolate eclairs, chocolate cocktails, even a giant chocolate Neptune.
My willpower fails. Cruise ship one, me nil."
To help fight weight gain, she chose to try out a number of activities aboard Rhapsody including stretching classes, conditioning classes, pool volleyball and a gym session.
So how did Heather do? She gave into temptation a few more times on the cruise but in the end declared a tie.
Do you think you could go on a cruise and not gain weight? Have you ever tried it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Dr. Kenneth Howard of Rome, Georgia won the Royal Caribbean Cruise for Cash May 31st drawing from the Georgia Lottery. His windfall includes a seven-night cruise for two aboard a Royal Caribbean ship.
"I’m extremely excited. I’ve never been on a cruise before."
The Georgia Lottery allows players to enter a non-winning Cruise for Cash instant ticket into the Second Chance drawing for another chance to win a seven-night cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean ship.
Howard says he will take his wife on the cruise with him, where they will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary next year.
The Port of Miami is working on a plan that would allow it to handle Oasis of the Seas sized ships and compete better with other ports, such as its neighbor to the north, Port Everglades.
A $250 million plan is still being kept under wraps but would center around upgrading the cruise facility to handle larger ships. In addition it would include the construction of a "multi-terminal — a single terminal that can accommodate more than one cruise vessel," according to Kevin Lynskey, port director of business initiatives.
Work on any new terminal wouldn't start for at least four of five years according to Lynskey. He also believes the Caribbean cruise market will continue to grow yearly over the next 10 years.
A greater issue would be how the new project would be financed. Currently the port owes a little more than $490 million in debt with revenues at around $110-115 million.
After 21 days in dry dock, Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas has completed its $19 million "revitalization" program, where the ship has received a number of upgrades aimed at keeping the ship relevant and desirable in a market of cruise ships that increasingly offer more options.
The ship's upgrades include new dining concepts, entertainment options, children's programming and technology advancements that were first developed for Royal Caribbean's newest ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean senior vice president, Hotel Operations Lisa Bauer believes the upgrades to Radiance will make it more desirable to guests, "Radiance of the Seas' drydock is part of Royal Caribbean's multi-ship enhancement and revitalization strategy to deliver the Royal Advantage to our guests. The Royal Advantage comprises some of the industry's most innovative onboard amenities, programs and Gold Anchor Service that make up the most contemporary cruise vacation. By introducing almost all of the same specialty restaurants that can currently be found onboard Allure of the Seas as well some of the Oasis-class ships' most popular concepts to Radiance of the Seas, guests can enjoy a variety of brand new onboard experiences."
Changes to ship include
- Addition of Royal Babies and Tots Nursery
- 12 newly added accommodations – one family, five interior and six exterior staterooms
- Technology enhancements that include Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship and flat-panel interactive televisions in all staterooms
- a new Concierge Lounge for suite guests
- a Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society members
- the Quill and Compass Pub
- an outdoor LED video wall overlooking the main pool area
The new restaurants onboard Radiance include:
- Boardwalk Dog House: Guests can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats, sausages and other delicious linked meats and a variety of toppings to split a long bun (open for lunch and dinner, complimentary)
- Giovanni's Table: An Italian trattoria featuring Italian classics served family-style (open for lunch, $15, and dinner, $20)
- Izumi: Featuring mouthwatering flavors and a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking, the pan Asian cuisine restaurant is a no-hassle, authentic dining experience (open for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner plus a la carte menu pricing)
- Park Cafe: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary)
- Rita's Cantina: A casual yet vibrant indoor/outdoor restaurant, catering to families by day, and adults by night; offering traditional Mexican fare, a comprehensive selection of margaritas and live guitar music and dancing for evening entertainment (open for lunch and dinner, $3 cover charge and a la carte menu pricing)
- Samba Grill: Styled after popular Brazilian steakhouses, the churrascaria is an interactive experience where guests choose from a variety of meats, chicken and seafood brought table-side by servers, ready to slice and serve upon request (open for dinner, $25 per person)
- Chef's Table: An exclusive and private experience co-hosted by the executive Chef and Sommelier for a wine pairing dinner of five courses (open for dinner, $95 per person).
Now that Radiance is out of dry dock, she will embark upon alternating, seven-night Southbound and Northbound Alaska itineraries before repositioning for its first winter 2011 season to Australia and New Zealand.
The next ship to receive upgrades will be Splendour of the Seas in October 2011.