Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. has signed a letter of intent with shipyard Meyer Werft to build the first of a new generation of Royal Caribbean International cruise ships. Developed under the code-name "Project Sunshine," the new vessel design incorporates new and exciting features that take advantage of the best of Royal Caribbean's experience and imagination. The project is a result of over a year of dedicated research and development.
The order calls for one ship to be delivered in the Fall of 2014 with an option for a second ship for Spring 2015. The 158,000 Gross Registered Tons (GRT) new build will carry just over 4,100 guests based on double occupancy. The estimated all-in cost per berth is about euro 170,000. This all-in cost includes the yard's base contract price plus everything needed to design, operate and build the vessel, from architect fees to supervision costs and all loose inventories from computers to art and bed linens.
"Royal Caribbean has worked hard to earn a reputation of offering the most innovative ships in the cruise industry and this next generation will not disappoint," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "While we continue our policy of keeping our newest ideas and features under wraps during the early stages of construction, I can say that I am very excited about the passion and imagination that our teams have devoted to the project. Project Sunshine builds on the best ideas of our existing ships and adds exciting new activities and entertainment concepts. It will offer features for everyone: from grand, spectacular spaces to small intimate settings; from active, invigorating activities to the serenity of more personal space; and from a plethora of dining alternatives to a cornucopia of opportunities for families. I am also excited about the energy efficiency and environmental technologies which have been incorporated. Our existing ships are some of the most energy efficient in the world and Project Sunshine takes this one further step. Based on our over 20 years of experience with Meyer Werft, along with their compelling proposal, we know they will deliver on all of the innovations Royal Caribbean's guests have come to expect."
"Meyer Werft is pleased to be working with Royal Caribbean especially in light of their reputation for building such innovative ships. I am very happy we are continuing our long time partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and its brand Royal Caribbean International. Their projects always present incredible opportunities for Meyer Werft to create the latest cutting edge hardware in the cruise industry," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft shipyard.
The letter of intent is subject to customary conditions being satisfactorily met.
Mexican authorities have charged a 24-year old national with the murder of Monika Markiewicz. The 32-year old victim was a crew member aboard the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship, Allure of the Seas.
Ms. Markiewicz did not report back to the ship before it departed Cozumel on February 4. Her body was discovered the next day in the water off of a remote beach in Cozumel. Royal Caribbean International has been informed that law enforcement in Cozumel has identified and charged a local resident and bartender, 24-year old Nelson Perez Torres, with the murder. Reports indicate that Torres and Ms. Markiewicz were casually acquainted for several months and he followed her for a period of time before killing her along the roadway on her way back to the ship. Royal Caribbean's Global Security Department fully supported and assisted Mexican officials in their investigation of this isolated and uncharacteristic crime for Cozumel.
"We thank the Mexican authorities for their commitment to quickly solving the murder of our crew member, Monika Markiewicz. Her untimely death is tragic and has saddened all of us at Royal Caribbean. We have informed Monika's family in Poland of today's news update and we will continue to be in contact with them and to support them during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends," said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
Due to the civil unrest in Egypt, Royal Caribbean has become the latest cruise line to stop port calls to this ancient land. Royal Caribbean wasn't scheduled to have a ship stop in Egypt until April but has decided to eliminate all scheduled calls there through June 2011.
Instead of making a stop in Alexandria, Egypt, Mariner of the Seas that depart from Civitavecchia, Italy will now stop in Istanbul or Istanbul and Kusadasi, Turkey, depending on the sailing.
In addition, Royal Caribbean has canceled every stop along the Red Sea for Brilliance of the Seas voyages out of Dubai on April 12. Brilliance will increase its days at sea to nine days after it eliminates three port days in Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan.
Royal Caribbean is close to finalizing plans to send three of its cruise ships back to Australia for the 2012/2013 cruise season. Royal Caribbean managing director for Australia, Gavin Smith, said he is certain that Royal Caribbean will have three ships in Australia.
The decision was easy to make after strong bookings for the 2011/2012 seas have made Rhapsody of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Celebrity Century quite popular. It's expected that all three ships will return for the following season to build upon its success down under, so far.
Smith said adding more ships to the area this year has created challenges, but nothing Royal Caribbean cannot handle, “The pressure is maintaining strong forward booking patterns to give the company confidence that they can continue this level of deployment. The continued success of our deployment and our pricing gains us confidence with the parent company. They are continuing to support our operation with the required level of investment. Without question we will have three ships in Australia in 2012/13 and have made the port bookings."
Smith expects to have the plans for Australia in 2012/2013 finalized by March.
Mexican authorities report a 24-year-old woman has died in Cozumel while on vacation on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Quintana Roo state prosecutor Francisco Alor Quezada said that the woman died Monday in a Cancun hospital from internal bleeding after ingesting a safety pin that punctured her organs.
Quezada also said the woman had two different names but no additional information was available on where she was from. An autopsy revealed the woman suffered from diabetes, had a brain tumor and was taking anti-anxiety medication
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Michele Nadeem said in a statement that the tourist debarked Friday and didn't return to the ship before departure. Nadeem also said, "out of respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot discuss her medical situation with the media, nor can we release personal information until her next of kin is contacted."
This death is the second in as many days after a Royal Caribbean musician was found dead from being beaten and drowning, but authorities do not believe the two fatalities are related.
A Royal Caribbean crew member, Monika Markiewicz, was found dead in Cozumel this past weekend in Couzmel, Mexico. Authorities report the 32 year old suffered a blow to the head and died of drowning and they believe foul play is to blame.
Markiewicz was a musician on Allure of the Seas and her body was found on the southern part of the Cozumel Island on Saturday.
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez says Royal Caribbean believes Markiewicz "was the victim of a violent crime and did not drown accidentally. Tragically, we recently became aware that the crew member was a victim of a violent crime while ashore in a remote area in Cozume. We extend our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of our crew member."
Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas, the sister ship of the third and final Freedom class ship, is calling the port of Livorno, Italy home for the second time during the 2011 cruise season. Independence will alternate eastern and western Mediterranean cruises, sailing from Southampton in the UK.
In the 2011 season, there are 12 ships calling at Livorno. After Independence of the Seas, will support in the Tuscan port the other ships of the fleet, the first stop will be to Liberty of the Seas April 27, will then be the turn of Brilliance of the Seas May 9, Voyager of the Seas 17 May, Adventure of the Seas May 18, Grandeur of the Seas July 27, and Navigator of the Seas November 7 and Navigator of the Seas November 7.
"Always the port of Livorno, the company has for a role of primary importance - says Lina Mazzucco, general manager of Royal Caribbean Italy. "We were able to significantly increase the scale of the fleet which become 91 against 79 last year. Similarly, increases the flow of passengers, who went from 227,000 in 2010 to over 323,000 in 2011. "
Royal Caribbean Vice President of Commercial Development John Tercek is encouraging Jamaicans to work harder in the development of the new cruise port at Falmouth in Jamaica.
Falmouth is a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority of Jamaica, but the project has been delayed quite a bit from it's initial plans. Tercek's call to action is a response to Royal Caribbean's desire to complete the project.
Speaking at the Stocks and Securities Limited investors forum on Tuesday, Tercek was giving a speech on the topic: 'Falmouth and the cruise-ship pier'. When asked why Jamaica was not realizing its potential in the sector, Tercek responded , "Jamaicans are very good at talking and they are not so good at action. We try to take the initiative. We try to show up, not as talkers but as doers. We are putting a lot of money into the town. We made a lot of commitments to the town and to Jamaica."
"We have been trying to be a catalyst. We can't do it all - we can't restore, rehabilitate ... all of the town (Falmouth). We can do our project. We can bring our guests. We can make further investments into the town, and we are doing all of that ... but it is going to take a lot of initiative, not only from the Government," Tercek said, pointing out that all parties involved will have to take part.
Delays at Falmouth have caused cruise ships to cancel calls to the port. Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas had been scheduled to make its maiden call at the port back on January 7 burt was forced to cancel.
The updated schedule has Voyager of the Seas arriving on February 17, followed by Oasis of the Seas in March.
Royal Caribbean has struck a deal with European low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle to fly about 8,000 Royal Caribbean guests to a number of destinations in the Mediterranean during the upcoming summer season.
As part of the deal, Norwegian Air Shuttle will transport cruise passengers from Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo to Malaga, Barcelona, Palma, Rome and Venice.
"We are very happy with the contract with RCCL. Cruise passengers have high requirements for comfort, which we can satisfy with our many new planes," Norwegian Air Shuttle sales director Lars Sande said.
Photo by Elaine Escorcio