Cruising in China is expected to grow this year, with a 5% increase in domestic cruises, and the future for China looks bright. The Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal in downtown Hongkou District opened in 2008 and already construction of another port, the Shanghai Wusongkou Terminal, is scheduled to be completed by 2012. Once the second terminal is complete, Shanghai will be able to handle eight cruise ships per day, with home-ported ships stopping there 66 times in this year alone, more than double the amount from last year.
At the All Asia Cruise Convention, Royal Caribbean senior vice-president Michael Bayley sounded optimistic about the future of cruises in China, "China has a potential of around 40 million cruise guests annually if the market penetration reaches the level of the U.S. and Europe".
Royal Caribbean already has a vested interest in the growth of cruising in China, as Royal Caribbean signed a memorandum of understanding last year with Shanghai International Port Group to form a strategic partnership in cruise operation areas, such as market promotion, port, staff training and management-experience exchange.
"Such strategic partnerships are an important and valuable element of our activity to increase penetration in China," Bayley said.
Photo by Royal Caribbean
The Japan Cruise Symposium taking place in Fukuoka, Japan is looking at opportunities for Japan to become a major cruise line destination but before that can happen, Japanese ports need to become more appealing for cruise lines to visit.
Royal Caribbean Regional Vice President Rama Rebbapragada said that Royal Caribbean ships stopping in Japan have doubled in recent years. Rebbapragada is also the current chairman of the Asia Cruise Association (ACA) saw the symposium as a great opportunity to build better partnerships with more communication about shore attractions in Japan.
Other concerns raised by other cruise line representatives include changing the perception that Japan is a very expensive destination, encourage Japanese ports to aim to be marquee ports and promote cruising in the country better to its people.
There will be a new specialty restaurant on the soon-to-be-completed Allure of the Seas, Samba Grill, a Brazilian-style Churrascaria restaurant.
The new restaurant will be a little different depending on the time of day. During the evening, Samba Grill will be adults only while during the day it will revert to being the Solarium Bistro, where it will serve light breakfasts and lunches.
Samba Grill will be a notable difference between what you will find on Allure of the Seas' sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, where the Solarium Bistro serves healthier choices for all three meals during the day and dinner in the evening for a supplementary charge of $20.
While eating at Samba Grill, guests will be served by waiters dressed as gauchos, who will offer grilled meat off skewers while live music is playing.
The new restaurant will have a charge of $25 per person, as well as a vegetarian alternative, featuring a wide-ranging salad bar, for $15 per person.
STX Finland's Torku shipyards are home to the soon to be completed Allure of the Seas. Allure is floated, painted and almost ready to leave for her international press gala and start her service in Royal Caribbean's fleet, but once Allure of the Seas leaves, there's a lot of doubt in the Torku shipyards about what's next.
There isn't any news of any other ships on order and that's been the case now for a few years. The main competitor to the shipyards are in Germany, Italy and France and all of them have received orders over the last few years. Turku shipyard is the only one who has no job pending.
One issue for Torku is that cruise lines tend to build cruise ships where previous ships were built, such as Carnival Cruises, who ordered a new ship to be built at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard because the ship of the previous series of ships was ordered from there.
There's no question that Turku shipyard's future depends largely on Royal Caribbean, the shipowner whose ships have been built in the shipyard for 40 years.
So what are Royal Caribbean's future ship building plans beyond Allure of the Seas? The company has not yet committed to anything since the beginning of the financial crisis ended. It is, however, considering new ships, since the company's main competitor Carinval Cruise Line is looking to take a bigger lead in the cruise market.
Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein hasn't said much about what the future will hold, opting to focus on what's still in front of him, "We are going to grow as a company and brand, but today we focus on fully Allure of the Seas ship."
Here is an updated list of itinerary changes for select Royal Caribbeah ships due to Hurricane Earl. Thanks to Cruise Critic for the information
- Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was unable to make its scheduled port calls in St. Thomas on Tuesday and St. Maarten today. Instead, the ship made an extended visit to Nassau on Sunday, spent Monday and Tuesday at sea, calls on Costa Maya today and Cozumel on Thursday. It will then spend Friday at sea as it returns to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, as scheduled.
- Freedom of the Seas, which left Port Canaveral on August 29, will be unable to make its scheduled port calls to St. Thomas today and St. Maarten on Thursday. The ship called on CocoCay, Bahamas on Monday, as scheduled, spent Tuesday at sea, and will call in Grand Cayman today. On Thursday, Freedom will visit Cozumel. The ship will then spend Friday and Saturday at sea as it returns to Port Canaveral on Sunday as scheduled.
- Monarch of the Seas, which departed from Port Canaveral on Monday, was unable to call on CocoCay, Bahamas on Tuesday. The ship will now sail directly to Nassau were it will stay until midnight tonight. The ship will spend Thursday at sea as it returns to Port Canaveral on Friday, as scheduled.
- Majesty of the Seas, which departed from Miami on Monday, extended its port call in Key West, Florida on Tuesday until early this morning. It will spend the remainder of Wednesday at sea and call on Nassau on Thursday, September 2. The ship will return to Miami on Friday as scheduled
- Enchantment of the Seas, which left Baltimore last Thursday, called on San Juan on Sunday. On Monday, it visited Samana, Dominican Republic instead of St. Thomas as originally scheduled. It stopped in Labadee on Tuesday and spends Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at sea as it returns to Baltimore on Saturday.
Royal Caribbean is looking to convince some last minute planners that a Labor Day weekend cruise could be just the thing to help if you're feeling a little low on energy from working a lot this summer.
Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain posted an update on the construction progress of Allure of the Seas, sister ship to Oasis of the Seas. Allure is scheduled for delivery on October 28th and it sounds like Royal Caribbean is still on progress to meet that date. After a visit to the shipyards in Finland, Fain seemed optimistic about the soon to be released vessel.
She is scheduled for delivery on October 28th and the state of her construction was remarkable. I don’t think that I have ever seen a ship at this stage of construction so ready. Despite regular status reports and photographs from the newbuilding team, I was astounded by how far along she was.
Of real interest was something Fain mentioned about "remarks". Simply put, remarks are little issues that Royal Caribbean needs to address that are caught by the inspection team and can vary in scope from a minor scratch to something major like a broken critical systenm. Fain mentioned when Oasis of the Seas left the shipyards, she had 6,000 remarks to resolve but surprisingly, Fain and his team think there may be zero remarks to worry about.
That would be virtually unthinkable for a normal ship, but for ALLURE it is an amazing target. The beauty of such a target is not that the remarks are an issue (virtually all the remarks would never be noticed by our guests) but that it frees both teams from having to deal with them and allows them to focus on more important things like making the perfect Mojito.
Five finalists have been selected for Royal Caribbean's contest to find it's next cruise director in Brazil. The finalists are: Ronaldo Costa, Edvaldo Junior, Elaine Santana, José Carlos Moraes and João Alberto Fontes.
Royal Caribbean also announced the start of a campaign in which fans can vote for the candidate and also qualify to win a lunch aboard the Mariner of the Seas.
You can see finalist videos and vote here (note the page is in Portuguese)