Royal Caribbean largest reason for increase in tourism in Bahamas

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21Jun2010
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The Ministry of Tourism in the Bahamas released new tourism statistics for the country that first quarter numbers for 2010 are "a new Dawn of Hope" for a country that has been hit hard by the global recession.  Cruise arrivals for Nassau/Paradise Island and Grand Bahama as first ports of call up by 22.9 per cent and 41.8 per cent for the three months of 2010 and the largest reason? Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas.

Assessing the reasons behind the increase in cruise passenger arrivals, the Ministry of Tourism said: "Most of the increase by first port of entry to the Bahamas overall came from Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas. Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas helped to push the increase in cruise arrivals even higher. With the introduction of the Oasis of the Seas and the Freedom of the Seas to the Bahamas itinerary, it increased the number of passengers brought in by Royal Caribbean by 68.3 per cent.

Royal Caribbean organizes day to promote sports for disabled athletes

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21Jun2010
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On a recent cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas, Royal Caribbean used the ship as a showcase to educate the public about the virtues of sports that people with physical disabilities can participate in.  The special day, organized in conjunction with the UESC Foundation, was called "Everyone can" and held in Barcelona, Spain last Sunday.  A total of one hundred people enjoyed meeting with the athletes as well as participate in some pickup games.  The goal of this is to boost Royal Caribbean's integration and awareness to smaller physical disability using sport as a vehicle.

"Royal Caribbean is committed to both the environment and the community and is a reflection of this initiative," said Bethlehem Wangüemert, CEO of Royal Caribbean in Spain. "This time, our company has shown its concern for the company to disclose to the great work UESC Foundation is carrying out in the field of social integration of disabled people through sport and what better way to do it aboard the Voyager of the Seas, a ship that, like the rest of our fleet is 100% accessible for disabled people.. "

UK show TopGear tries to pilot Oasis of the Seas

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21Jun2010
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TopGear, a popular television show and magazine in the United Kingdom recently published an article about what it's like to pilot the Oasis of the Seas.  Given the fact that Oasis of the Seas is the largest passenger cruise ship in the world, this is no easy task. 

The Oasis measures 360 metres from bow to stern - longer than any aircraft carrier in the US navy and 23 metres longer than any other cruise ship in the world

Eventually, they let the Sam Philip from TopGear take the wheel and see just what it takes to pilot the largest cruise ship in the world.

There are a handful of different ways of controlling the Oasis, including a trio of cool-looking, er, 'throttle balls' for adjusting the speed and angle of the Oasis's three thrusters, but I've been given the wheel because, well, it's the most idiot-proof.  Dissapointing wheel, by the way, a skinny race car effort - I was hoping for the classic pirate ship affair, four foot across, and brass.

You can read the full article below.

Maine town to cruises: slow down

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21Jun2010
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Most ports of call welcome cruise ships and their many cruisers, who bring with them an influx of money to the local economy.  However the town of Rockland, Maine has presented some new guidelines to limit the amount of cruise ships that may come to town in a given year.  This move has infuriated local business owners who want more potential customers to come spend their money there.

The Harbor Management Commission, which presented preliminary guidelines to the council, recommended limiting the number of cruise ships to three megaships, 15 medium ships and 35 small ships annually. The commission also recommended that the city tack on a $600 fee for any cruise ship that needs to restrict public traffic by the parks or public landing.

This move impacts Royal Caribbean directly as the fee per passenger would go from $1 to $6 and Royal Caribbean has already requested that the decision be reconsidered or lowered because Royal Caribbean would have to take the loss as it's too late to pass the fee onto the passengers.  About 33 cruise ships visit Rockland each year.

Interesting story that will evoke different reactions, I'm sure.  To me, it seems like a case of the town wanting to have it's cake and eat it too; it wants the tourists to come and spend their money but they want their town to be pristine and devoid of tourists.   

Mariner of the Seas moving to Europe because of violence

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21Jun2010
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It's no secret that Royal Caribbean has been moving its ships from North America to Europe in large part to seek out the higher demand and bigger profits to be found in Europe.  The Los Angeles Business Journal is reporting that the real reason Mariner of the Seas is sailing to Europe after a short stint in Los Angeles is not to find bigger profits but because of the recent surge of violence in Mexico.

The widely publicized war between the country’s federal government and its powerful drug cartels has led to nearly 30,000 deaths since 2007. And on the West Coast – where 90 percent of cruises depart for the Mexican Riviera and other points south – the number of passengers in the last two years has dwindled by 21 percent.

Royal Caribbean stands by its claim that the move to Europe is just for economic reasons and not because of the violence.

The Royal Caribbean cruise line, for its part, will say only that the decision is an economic one.
“We’re looking to maximize our profits,” said Harrison Liu, a spokesman for the cruise line, owned by Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Both Europe and the Caribbean are hotter tickets than the Mexican Riviera, and there’s a stable market out of Galveston.”
Personally, I don't think the violence in Mexico helps the situation any, but given that so many other ships have left American ports for Europe, it isn't hard to believe that Mariner of the Seas is (pardon the pun) in the same boat.  Royal Caribbean isn't trying to hide the fact that they are chasing larger profits based on the numerous statements from Royal Caribbean in the form of statements to the press as well as blog posts.

Enchantment of the Seas debuts at Baltimore today

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18Jun2010
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Today marks the debut of Enchantment of the Seas from it's new home port of Balitmore, Maryland.  You may recall that Enchantment of the Seas previously called Norfolk, Virginia home until Royal Caribbean decided to move the ship to Baltimore because of higher demand.  Baltimore is situated on the busy I-95 corridor between Boston - New York - Washington and is also close to many major airports.  Enchantment of the Seas will sail a series of five-night Bermuda and nine-night Eastern Caribbean round trip itineraries from Baltimore.

Starting in the fall, Enchantment will sail a series of nine-night cruises to Canada and New England (Enchantment also is sailing a special eight-night roundtrip itinerary to Canada and New England today that will boast extended port time in Halifax and Bar Harbor). The ship also will sail nine-night Bahamas and 12-night Southern Caribbean itineraries starting this coming winter.

Oasis of the Seas to move to Europe?

In:
18Jun2010
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There's a rumor swirling through the cruise industry right now that Oasis of the Seas may move over to serve European ports sooner rather than later.  Classic Cruises cites a few anonymous rumors they've heard that Oasis of the Seas could be headed for the Mediterranean as several ports are ramping up their facilities to handle larger passenger volumes.  In addition, And Royal Caribbean executives have been reminding Mediterranean port officials that Port Everglades and all the Caribbean ports where Oasis of the Seas pulls into required investments in their infrastructure upgrades.

Given Royal Caribbean's recent track history of moving their larger ships "across the pond", (Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas just to name a few), it isn't out of the question and just recently Cruise Manager Carla Salvado said at the recent MedCruise assembly in Constantza that she would welcome the giant ship.

Royal Caribbean does have a 10-year agreement with Port Everglades that stipulates that the it must move 17 million passenger between 2008 and 2018 for its three brands, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara, according to a spokesperson.  Royal Caribbean has also said Oasis and Allure of the Seas will home port in Port Everglades.  Of course, at one point in time Royal Caribbean did also say that its Voyager Class ships would never leave Florida.  

It's likely too early to get worried that Oasis will be leaving soon, but you never know what can happen in just a few short years and given Royal Caribbean's recent love affair with Europe (and it's high cruise demand), you can never count this out as a possibility.

Photo of the Day: Majesty of the Seas

In:
18Jun2010
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Here's a great photo of Majesty of the Seas pulling into port in Miami earlier this morning.

Photo by Erika

Royal Caribbean revamps its online training

In:
18Jun2010
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Royal Caribbean announced it is revamping its web based training program known as "Cruising for Excellence Online".  The program is meant to train travel agents that features  bite-sized learning modules, podcasts and games. Michelle Russell, Royal Caribbean’s trade training manager, UK and Ireland, said the aim was to make the online training portal bigger and better. 

Cruising for Excellence Online has seen an unprecedented increase since its launch in 2006, with 16,330 agents registering and using the program”.

Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to introduce an online based web training program and over 6,000 travel agents have completed the training just last year.  Michelle Russell also announced that Royal Caribbean was going to increase the amount of day tours travel agents receive after research indicated that these tours were effective in helping agents to sell more cruises.

Cruise safety bill honors past victims

In:
17Jun2010
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The Cruise Safety Bill was passed by the United States Senate last Friday and the new legislation requires tighter security and transparency on cruise ships.  The Congressional investigation that went along with the deliberations related to this bill were not kind to the cruise industry, and subsequent civil trials have revealed the statistics that the cruise industry is willing to acknowledge may be far less than in reality.  

After a civil lawsuit in 2006, Royal Caribbean was forced to turn over internal documents that showed that these numbers were actually much higher, with 273 sexual assaults from 2003 to 2006. Several other passengers have also been reported missing since then.

The Greenwich-Post posted an article detailing some of the stories of those who were victims of crimes aboard cruise ships and the new legislation hopes to make getting justice for the victims a far easier task than it has been in the past.  President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before July 5th, a move that is welcomed by many.  Meanwhile, the cruise industry has been against the bill. 

In March, Business Week reported that the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) spent almost $400,000 in federal lobbying in the fourth quarter, and a total of $2.9 million from January 2004 to July 2005. This total is in addition to lobbying money spent by individual cruise lines. Dr. Ross Klein, an industry analyst who is affiliated with Memorial University in Newfoundland, reported that Royal Caribbean alone spent nearly $3 million for lobbyists in the past three years.

The bill would require crimes on cruise ships to be reported to the Coast Guard as well as requires ship safety improvements such as 42-inch guardrails, peep holes in every passenger and crew member’s door, on-deck video surveillance, and an emergency sound system; and improvements to crime scene response by requiring “rape kits, anti-retroviral medications, and a trained forensic sexual assault specialist be aboard each ship.”

The cruise industry was against the bill because, among other reasons, it forced the industry to spend money to upgrade all it's ships to meet the standards as well as acknowledge there was a problem.  The CLIA has since dropped its opposition to the bill and had this to say about it, "“The safety and security of our guests and crew is CLIA’s number one priority. The cruise industry has reported allegations of serious crimes to federal law enforcement agencies for many years and looks forward to continuing our longstanding work with the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI and law enforcement both here and elsewhere around the world”.

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