Cruise lines urge Japan ports to get better

By: Matt Hochberg

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.

Royal Caribbean announces new restaurant for Allure of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

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.

What's next for Turku shipyard?

By: Matt Hochberg

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."

Updated Hurricane Earl itinerary changes

By: Matt Hochberg

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 encourages Americans to take more vacation

By: Matt Hochberg

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.

MIAMI, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2010) - Over-worked, over-tired and stressed-out workers have one more thing to worry about this coming Labor Day - how many vacation days they could potentially be losing this year. And if The President of the United States, who just returned from a respite on Martha's Vineyard, can still find time, then shouldn't everyone?
     The fact that people are not using all of their vacation days is well documented and the statistics are staggering. According to data released in a 2009 vacation study, U.S. adults who only receive an average of 13 vacation days per year typically leave three days unused. When considering that the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics has recorded approximately 153 million employed Americans, this means that each year an average of 459 million vacation days are going unused in the United States. Based on these overwhelming facts, Royal Caribbean is encouraging consumers to use their hard-earned vacation days and reminding them that even The President - a person with arguably one of the hardest jobs in America - needs to get away every now and then.
     "Vacations are not a luxury, they're a necessity," says John de Graaf, Executive Director of Take Back Your Time, a nonprofit organization that studies issues related to overwork. "Men who take them are 32% less likely to suffer from heart disease than those who don't. For women, it's 50%. And women who don't take vacations are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression. Pass them by at your peril."
     Championing a "cruise them, don't lose them" message, Royal Caribbean is giving vacation-deprived consumers encouragement to leave their desks behind in favor of some much needed rest and relaxation. The cruise line has recently launched a compelling video - Vacation Daze - showcasing the irony of letting vacation days expire and the absurdity of this unfortunate reality. The video can be seen at For solutions and a variety of cruise options to fit all schedules, visit or contact your travel agent.
     "The average American spends 261 days commuting, filling out time sheets and wondering what's for dinner. As Labor Day marks the end of summer, we wanted to shine a spotlight on this perennial issue and also remind people to take a much needed and hard-earned break, even if it's just for a couple of days," states Betsy O'Rourke, SVP Marketing, Royal Caribbean International.
     A recent travel industry survey suggests that close to half (45%) of working Americans let hard-earned time-away go to waste in 2009; furthermore, three-quarters (78%) anticipate leaving as many as 10 vacation days on the table in 2010. Why the annual commitment to all work and no play? Most confess that coordinating schedules with family and friends is too difficult (51%) or they are not able to afford a "real vacation" (40%); others admit it is less about personal situations and more about work-life being too busy to enjoy time away (47%). While consumers express pessimism towards the possibility of a work escape, adults who choose to go on vacation feel reconnected with the family (53%), more productive and positive about their jobs (34%), as well as the health benefits of being rested and rejuvenated. 

Royal Caribbean CEO updates construction progress of Allure of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

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 selected for next Cruise Director contest

By: Matt Hochberg

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)

Independece of the Seas arrives in Cobh

By: Matt Hochberg

Photo by Margot Dwyer Mulcahy

Oasis of the Seas makes Top 10 cruise ship list

By: Matt Hochberg

Cruise1st, a cruise booking specialist, has compiled a list of what it believes are the top ten cruise ships and Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas has made the list.

  1. Celebrity Century
  2. Pacific Jewel
  3. MS Panorama
  4. Queen Mary 2
  5. MSC Fantasia
  6. Oasis of the Seas
  7. Celebrity Solstice
  8. Ruby Princess
  9. MV Orion
  10. MV True North

The world's largest cruise ship ever, costing over $1 billion, is divided into seven different neighborhoods. Onboard activities include a zip-line, carousel, rock-climbing walls, a 750-seat AquaTheatre amphitheatre hosting water ballet and dinner shows with the option of 25 different restaurants.

Royal Caribbean offers new Asian itineraries in 2011

By: Matt Hochberg

The 2010/2011 schedule for Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas has been announced and will feature a year-round deployment in Asia.  

Legend of the Seas will have over 60 sailings including seven new itineraries, including an exciting new additions such as Bali, Semarang and Lombok in Indonesia, Osaka, Aomori and Beppu in Japan and Dalian in China.  In addition, Legend of the Seas will feature more overnight stays at popular ports-of-call, that will allow travellers to see more of the region.


Legend of the Seas will return to Singapore starting on November 22, 2010 and will offer 3, 4 and 5 night southeast Asian sailings to ports like Malaysia’s Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi as well as Thailand’s Phuket.  Sailings to Singapore will include the popular holidays of Christmas, New Years and Chinese New Year.

In addition there will be new itineraries by Royal Caribbean from Singapore in 2011 such as

  • 2 Night Weekend Cruise in January to Malacca, Malaysia, ideal for a short getaway
  • 8 Night Indonesia Cruise in February to Bali for an overnight, Semarang and Lombok, for an in-depth exploration of Indonesia
  • 7 Night Bali & Semarang Cruise in February to Semarang and Bali for an overnight

Shanghai and Tianjin

Legend of the Seas will move to Shanghai and Tianjin from March to October 2011 and offer cruises to South Korea and Japan that feature almost 10 distinct itineraries such as

  • 5 Night Asian Legacies Cruise from Shanghai to Fukuoka, Japan; Busan and Jeju Island, South Korea
  • 7 Night Pearls of the Orient Cruise from Shanghai to Osaka (overnight) and Fukuoka, Japan; Busan, South Korea
  • 7 Night Kyushu Explorer Cruise from Shanghai to Kagoshima, Beppu and Fukuoka, Japan; Busan, South Korea
  • 7 Night Japan & Korea Cruise from Tianjin to Nagasaki and Fukuoka, Japan; Jeju Island and Seoul, South Korea


Back by popular demand, Legend of the Seas will sail from Yokohama in April and May 2011 as well as in September 2011, with itineraries such as

  • 8 Night Korea & China Cruise in April calling at Osaka, Japan; Shanghai, China (overnight); Jeju Island and Busan, South Korea
  • 9 Night Russia & Hokkaido Cruise in May and September, one way from Yokohama to Shanghai visiting Aomori and Otaru, Japan; Vladivostok, Russia; Busan and Jeju Island, South Korea, ideal for travelers who are extending their stay in Shanghai
  • 7 Night Shanghai to Yokohama Cruise in April and 7 Night Tianjin to Yokohama Cruise in September, which are one-way sailings visiting destinations such as Dalian, China; Seoul, South Korea; Beppu and Nagoya, Japan.

Hong Kong

Rounding out Legend of the Seas schedule will be a Hong Kong sailing season in October to November 2011 that will feature destinations such as Vietnam and Taiwan

  • 5 Night Gems of Asia Cruise to Kaohsiung, Taichung and Taipei, Taiwan
  • 5 Night Indo China Explorer Cruise to Sanya, China; Hue/Danang and Halong Bay, Vietnam