Opposition to proposed Belize cruise port grows

In:
27Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

A public meeting was held last week that featured the members of the Placencia Village Council, Placencia Tour Guide Association and the Placencia chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association.  The meeting was geared to having these locals express their concerns to Royal Caribbean represenatives and to the Belize government about a plan to build a new cruise terminal in Placencia.

Royal Caribbean has already purchased the land for the terminal, but opponents claim the proposal would damage the environment of the area, which is central to Placencia's appeal to begin with.  Obviously the prospect of a cruise terminal in the town would increase the amount of tourists visiting the area, locals are more concerned with the environmental impact the cruise ships and tourists would have in the long run.

"Overnight tourists and foreign home owners are our current and future bread and butter that we have worked so hard for over the last 20 years," said local developer Boris Mannsfeld, who is building the Villas at CocoPlum. "They will be driven away if cruise ships arrive here."

Royal Caribbean to add Starbucks

In:
27Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Guests cruising aboard Royal Caribbean's new Allure of the Seas will have the opportunity to have their usual morning coffee as Starbucks will launch its first coffee shop at sea. 

“We are always looking for unique ways and places to connect with our customers and deliver the Starbucks Experience,” said Chris Carr, senior vice president and general manager of Starbucks Licensed Stores. “Starbucks presence aboard Allure of the Seas is another place where our customers want and expect us to be.”

Starbucks will serve it's usual line of coffee drinks on the Royal Promenade from 7am to 11pm each day.  The Seattle's Best Coffee will remain on the ship (Seattle's Best Coffee is a subsidary of Starbucks) and be served in the Adagio main dining room, conference rooms and the ship's signature specialty restaurants.

“We are passionate about delivering the WOW,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. “Opening the first ever Starbucks at sea is another example of how Royal Caribbean is delivering distinctive beverage and dining options to our guests and exceeding their expectations. We are offering something that no other cruise brand can.”

Royal Caribbean Third Quarter Profits up 55%

In:
26Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean third-quarter earnings rose an amazing 55% thanks to increased cruising demand and operating and fuel costs fell.  Revenue rose to $2.06 billion from $1.76 billion a year before.

Third-quarter earnings were $356.8 million, or $1.64 per share, compared with earnings of $230.4 million, or $1.07 per share, a year earlier.

Royal Caribbean said it's near-term bookings were stronger than they had expected while revenue remained stable and continues to "be characterized as slowly improving,".

In addition to its third-quarter results, Royal Caribbean gave investors a prelimary look at 2011 earnings and expects to exceed Royal Caribbean's previous record of $3.26 a share.

Royal Caribbean Announces Opening of Its New School in Haiti

In:
22Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., one of Haiti's largest foreign investors for almost 30 years, today announced the completion of the L'Ecole Nouvelle Royal Caribbean – one of the first schools to be built in Haiti after the earthquake.  The strategically located 6,500 square foot school complex is in northern Haiti near nine towns and villages: Labadie, Cormier, Ducroix, Fort Bourgeois, Marchegalles, Cimetiere-Juif, Champ de Mars, Port Francais and Cap Haitien.  The campus consists of six buildings, with 12 classrooms, administrative offices, a computer lab and bathrooms. The school will provide children from the area an education, including classes in English and environmental stewardship. In the evenings adults will attend vocational training.

In delivering the school to the Haitian people as promised, Royal Caribbean worked with South Florida based InnoVida and the St. Coleman's School, as well as Haiti based ProDev, L'Ecole Nouvelle Zoranje and the Solano Foundation.
"What better way to help Haiti than by educating the children?" said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  " Haiti's needs are enormous, and although we can only be a small part of the solution, we believe our model school is a good start.  We hope that these children will develop into leaders who will guide Haiti's recovery in the future."  
 
The school is on land Royal Caribbean leases from the Haitian government.  Royal Caribbean worked with InnoVida and used the company's Fiber Composite Panels to build the entire school complex in only four weeks, using 50 local Haitian workers, in time for the 2010-2011 school year.  All construction materials were transported from Miami onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  InnoVida's structures can sustain hurricane winds, resist earthquakes due to their high deflection capacity, are waterproof and are a highly energy efficient system.
 
This first school will be a primary school for grades kindergarten through 5.  There will be three kindergarten classes with 36 students, and each grade 1 through 5 will have 25 students, for a minimum of 230 children educated this school year.  Royal Caribbean's next Haitian school building project is entering into the planning stages now.
Continuing its tradition of promoting innovation and creativity, Royal Caribbean partnered with the YMCA of Greater Miami and provided children an opportunity to name the school in Haiti.  Out of the more than 3,000 submissions received, a seventh grader from the YMCA afterschool program in Miami Lakes proposed the winning name L'Ecole Nouvelle Royal Caribbean.
 
Beginning just three days after the earthquake, Royal Caribbean transported more than 3,000 pallets of much needed supplies on Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises ships that called on Labadee.  Also, to date, Royal Caribbean's monetary contribution to the Haiti relief effort is at least $2.5 million, which includes money raised from the donated Labadee calls, the onboard guest donations, and matching funds.  The company's operations at Labadee impact over 500 local Haitians who are either employees or vendors at Labadee commuting from nearby villages.  Royal Caribbean also employs over 200 Haitian crew members onboard ships.

Taylor Swift to perform on Allure of the Seas

In:
22Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has announced that country music star Taylor Swift will perform on the Jan. 16 sailing of its soon-to-debut, 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas.  Taylor Swift will perform in the Aqua Theater, which has a capacity of 735 people.

In addition, Royal Caribbean is giving away 100 cabins for that cruise in a contest it is running with Clear Channel Radio, Big Machine records adn Pop2Life.  Those cabins that are being given away on the cruise also include passes to the Swift concert.

To enter the contest, simply go to http://www.theallureoftaylor.com/

Allure of the Seas to serve as movie shoot location

In:
20Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Allure of the Seas is booked to be the set for a few scenes of a new film starring Adam Sandler, Al Pacino and Katie Homles.  When Allure of the Seas arrives in Florida in November, the cast will board the ship to shoot scenes for the film "Jack and Jill".  Filming will take place on the ship from November 12 to 23, during which time final preparations to Allure of the Seas will be underway.

The crew of Allure of the Seas will be in some of the scenes of the movie as extras.

An internal memo invites staff to send a photograph of themselves to the extras casting department, and says: "The movie production is looking for people between 30-60 years of age of all ethnicities, plus kids between the ages of 6-14. They also are looking for couples or pairs that can share staterooms."

Don't worry, the movie shoot will not affect your planned cruise on Allure of the Seas as her maiden voyage wont happen until December 1, 2010.

Falmouth, Jamaica port still not ready

In:
20Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Unfortunately the brand new port at Falmouth, Jamaica is still not ready for cruise business yet, a fact that cannot sit well with Royal Caribbean.  Royal Caribbean has tried infusing the project with millions of dollars to get things going and the port is still not ready for cruises due to a number of construction delays.

All was expected to be ready in time to welcome 1,800 passengers from P&O's Aurora and another 1,250 from Holland America's Ryndam on November 3, but those visits have now been cancelled and the ships will divert to Ocho Rios.

The new plan is to have Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas make the inaugural visit to the port on January 7, with Oasis and Allure following in March.  A Royal Caribbean spokesperson had this to say about the progress and future of the port.

"The revitalisation of Historic Falmouth Port is moving forward as scheduled and we look forward to beginning ship calls at what will be a great cruise port.
 
By mutual agreement between the Jamaica Port Authority and Holland America, initial ship calls to Falmouth that were scheduled during November and December 2010 will now anchor at Ocho Rios. This modification will minimize interference with the ongoing construction efforts that include more than 300 workers on site.
 
Royal Caribbean looks forward to the cruise port's successful completion and readiness by January 2011."

Royal Caribbean Third Quarter Earnings Report Scheduled

In:
19Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has scheduled a conference call for Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 10am Eastern time to announce the results of it's third quarter fiscal calendar earnings.

If you're interested in hearing the results live, you can listen on-line at Royal Caribbean's investor relations web site, www.rclinvestor.com. To listen to the call by phone, please dial (877) 663-9606 in the US and Canada. International phone calls should be made to (706) 758-4628. A replay of the webcast will be available at the same site for a month following the call.

Rhapsody of the Seas makes maiden call to Australia

In:
19Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Australia’s youngest and newest superliner, Rhapsody of the Seas, sailed into Newcastle Harbour at Dyke Point for the first time.

Not only is she Royal Caribbean International’s first cruise ship to visit Newcastle, but she was also the first international cruise ship to arrive for the Australian cruising season when she sailed into Sydney harbour on Saturday.
 
“We’re very excited to have included Newcastle as one of our new ports of call. It’s an exciting destination for visitors and an excellent gateway to the Hunter Valley and beyond for our guests,” said Adam Armstrong, commercial manager, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia Limited. “Each year more and more Australians step onboard Rhapsody of the Seas, and we are committed to growing our operations in the local market and adding new and exciting ports of call.”
 
Over 2,000 guests disembarked the ship yesterday and took a variety of shore tours, including the wineries of the Hunter Valley, as well as spending time in the city of Newcastle itself. Guests also included a large number of tourists travelling on the ship from America, Europe and Asia.
 
Rhapsody of the Seas will be Newcastle’s largest cruise ship visitor this season with a further call in the city on 25 March 2011 as part of her 11-night Tropical Queensland cruise.
 
The popular cruise ship has returned this year for her fourth consecutive summer cruise season operating out of Australia, offering a total of 17 cruises for 2010-11.
 
Approximately 35,000 passengers will travel on Rhapsody of the Seas for the 2010-11 season, visiting 16 cities across Australia and generating income for local communities as part of the travel industry’s fastest growing sectors.
 
In addition to Newcastle, her other maiden calls this season include Champagne Bay in Vanuatu and Lautoka in Fiji.

Cruise guide labels Royal Caribbean's food as the worst

In:
18Oct2010
By: Matt Hochberg

The Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships has labeled Royal Caribbean's food as the worst of the major cruise lines, giving it five out of ten stars for its cuisine.

Book author Douglas Ward was particularly harsh on Royal Caribbean's dining room, afternoon teas and wine lists as being the worst. He did concede that Oasis of the Seas managed to earn a rating of more than six out of 10 in only one category: informal dining/buffet.

Ward attributes the poor rating to Royal Caribbean's unwillingness to spend more for their food.  He cited guest complaints that the food didn't look or taste as good as the brochures promised and the meats tended to be cheaper cuts.  Other issues contributing to the lower score include lack of green vegetables, herbs or garnishes; the quality of pastry items; the choice of salt, pepper or olive oils; and a lack of fresh fish.

How did Royal Caribbean's competitors do?  Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises did not do much better, while Cunard, Celebrity and Princess Cruises earned the best marks.

A spokesman for RCI said the company was surprised by the results. "Customer satisfaction is our number one priority. We have a very robust customer feedback system that we measure our on-board experience through. Some 250,000 guests have completed the survey this year. Over 90 per cent have scored our on-board service as meeting or exceeding their expectations.
 
"While we respect Mr Ward as an expert in his field, his ratings reflect his own personal opinions and differ strongly from the feedback from our many millions of paying guests."

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