Cruise review from Alaska

In:
14Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Marc Liberts of edhat.com posted a very thorough trip report from his recent cruise to Alaska aboard Rhapsody of the Seas and shared not only his report of what happened, but also gave some tips and lessons he learned through his cruise.  For those that enjoy reading some thorough reports about past cruises, this is a real treat. 

"My wife and I have been on about 10 cruises of varying length and in cabins varying from inside to suites. Overall, we like to have a balcony, and we like suites, but have decided that the suites aren't worth the extra expense. Normally we would have done the balcony, but we wanted to be near the kids who had ocean-view cabins, and we were only 3 doors down from them. They had 2 adjoining cabins for the 5 of them. One of their cabins had 2 single beds and 2 bunk beds over the singles. The kids loved the bunk beds, so that was a great idea and mom & dad loved having their own room."

Seems like Marc had a great trip and also shared some fantastic photos he took from his trip.  Definitely a good read.

Royal Caribbean ends cruises out of Norfolk, Virginia

In:
14Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

This past Saturday marked the last cruise out of Norfolk, Virginia for Royal Caribbean.  The company has decided to move Enchantment of the Seas north Baltimore, and the reason for the change seems to be about demand.  Company spokesman Harrison Liu mentioned that Baltimore offers "a year-round demand for passengers". 

Royal Caribbean had been serving Norfolk since 2007 and Enchantment of the Seas was the final ship to call Norfolk home.  

New England expecting record cruise ship season

In:
14Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has offered cruises to the New England coast area as well as Canada's eastern coast for some years now but ports in the area as projecting elevated number of cruisers to be visiting this year.

"Maine ports are expecting 335 cruise ship calls this year, up from 281 last year. Ports in the Canadian Maritimes and in Newfoundland are projecting 467 calls, 84 more than in 2009. Boston is anticipating a record 300,000-plus cruise ship passengers to pass through its port."

Currently three Royal Caribbean ships serve New England, including Jewel of the Seas (out of Boston), Explorer of the Seas (out of Bayonne, NJ) and Enchantment of the Seas (out of Balitmore).  For those looking for something a little different than just a cruise to the Caribbean, a summer cruise to the northeast can be a fun and exciting opportunity. Interestingly enough, the peak season for a New England cruise is early fall, which coincides with the changing of the autumn leaves, which can make for some really pretty landscapes.

"September and October remain the peak months for cruise ship trips, but more ships are now showing up in the region in July and August and earlier."

Royal Caribbean receives Readers’ Choice Platinum Award

In:
14Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean lead the field in this years Readers’ Choice Platinum Award, which was awarded by Celebrated Living magazine. The magazine is described as "The Luxury Magazine for American Airlines Premium Class Passengers" and ranked a few different cruise lines but in the end, Royal Caribbean garnered the top choice.

"Despite its name, Royal Caribbean International has expanded beyond steel bands and limbo contests to make the whole world its oyster, including sophisticated operations in Asia and the Pacific as well as traditional itineraries in Alaska, Europe, and, yes, the Caribbean. Coming this December is the Allure of the Seas, sister ship of 2009’s spectacular 18-deck Oasis of the Seas, currently known as the world’s largest cruise ship."

Considering the competition for this award included cruise lines such as Seabourn, Princess, Norwegian and others, it's definitely an award that Royal Caribbean is sure to be proud of.

Over 800,000 passengers to visit Bahamas thanks to Royal Caribbean in 2011

In:
11Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Vice-President of government relations for the Caribbean and Latin America, Michael Ronan, told Bahemian newspaper The Tribune, that in 2011 Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will "be back up over 800,000 passengers" brought to the Bahamas.  That figure is over 100,000 more than in 2010, thanks in part to the anticipated delivery of Allure of the Seas.

These figures include stops in Nassau, Freeport and its Bahamian private islands.  The news comes after a report that Oasis of the Seas was rumored to be ending stops in Nassau, but Ronan said the change was merely due to a difference in Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries, where Oasis of the Seas only stops in Nassau on it's eastern Caribbean trips.  Ronan went on to explain that once Allure of the Seas became operational, it would start rotating Nassau calls with the Oasis of the Seas on a schedule that would be maintained through Spring 2012, with one of the ships stopping in Nassau opposite the other.

"With the Oasis vessels, we are significantly increasing the number of passengers that are going to be coming," Mr Ronan told Tribune Business. "We will be back up over 800,000 passengers in 2011. This year, I think we will be in the 700,000 in change, because we're still waiting for the arrival of the Allure, which will put us with a full year of Oasis class ships in Nassau every week. Last year, 2009, we bottomed out."

For the people of the Bahamas, the more cruisers that stop by, the better for the local economy.  For cruisers, a better economy in the Bahamas typically means less crime and better upkeep of the city (that's a generalization).  

Royal Caribbean employee arrested for burglarizing customers homes

In:
11Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Bethsaida Sandoval, a Royal Caribbean vacation planner in the Miami, Florida office, was arrested yesterday on 24 counts of burglary and one count of racketeering.  She allegedly broke into homes of customers that were on a Royal Caribbean cruise and along with her husband, would go around in her black SUV to these homes when they knew no one was home.

"She and her husband, John Lopez, later broke into nearly two dozen homes and took off with flat-screen televisions and other expensive items, the report said."

It goes without saying that this is a terrible crime and if she is found guilty in court, then I hope she receives the time in jail that she will deserve for not only breaking the law but betraying the trust of so many Royal Caribbean fans.

Mariner, Radiance & Serenade of the Seas win Port of San Francisco Environmental Gold Award

In:
11Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

The Royal Caribbean Twitter account announced that Mariner of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas had won the prestigious Port of San Francisco Environmental Gold Award.  The annual award recognizes vessels for demonstrating “the strong environmental commitment of Princess Cruises in the areas of air emission reduction, waste water treatment, and recycling and disposal programs for solid waste.” This distinction is awarded by San Francisco’s Cruise Terminal Environmental Advisory Committee.

The CTEAC operates the program to recognize cruise lines that are committed to environmentally responsible operations, include the deployment of ships using reduced emission system technology or cleaner-burning fuel.

Royal Caribbean ships have long been proponents of environmental awareness and their ships have a number of "green technology" elements on board such as advanced wastewater purification systems, window tinting and operational conservation measures.

Weddings on a cruise a rising trend

In:
11Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Destination weddings, or weddings that take place somewhere other than home, have always been an intriguing option for couples looking to tie the knot but according to a recent report by thestar.com, weddings on cruise ships have increased in popularity by 10% in the past few years because of affordability, the convenience of having your wedding and honeymoon in one place, and the exotic locations you can have your wedding held.

Valery Rene, manager of on-board revenue for Royal Caribbean says that they handle "about 1,000 weddings a year and can meet many other special requests.”  Certainly it's hard to argue with the price as the average cruise wedding ceremony and reception with Royal Caribbean costs about $10,000 for a 100-person event, excluding the cruise costs and airfare for sailing guests. Considering the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is now between $21,000 and $24,000, that is a real bargain.

For those looking to get hitched on their next cruise, the basic wedding package on Royal Caribbean starts at about $2,000 and includes three hours of planning with a consultant, priority check-in, non-denominational official, ceremony, recorded music, bridal bouquet, marriage certificate, photographer (but not photos; they’re purchased separately) and more.

We help the couple decide whether they would like a shipboard or shoreside wedding and then choose which destination and ship that works for them and their budget,” says Rene. “We often do weddings that cost more than $20,000 and a recent lavish wedding we did was well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There were about 180 sailing guests.”

Given all that $10,000 gets you, it's hard to go wrong with that option and it's hard for your wedding guests to argue with "forcing" them to go on a cruise.

Royal Caribbean a great investment

In:
11Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

For all you financial mavens out there, there's good some good news.  It turns out that while we all enjoy our cruises aboard Royal Caribbean, it's actually a good company to invest in (beyond the money you're already giving them for your next cruise!).  SmartTrend ranked Royal Caribbean (RCL) as the best investment in the top five companies in the Hotels, Resorts & Cruise Lines industry as measured by relative performance.

  • Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) ranks first with a gain of 6.5%
  • Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE:WYN) ranks second with a gain of 5.31%
  • Home Inns & Hotels Management (NASDAQ:HMIN) ranks third with a gain of 4.95%.
  • Carnival (NYSE:CCL) follows with a gain of 4.67%
  • Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE:GET) rounds out the top five with a gain of 4.55%.
The news gets better as they also ranked Royal Caribbean in the top 5 stocks in the Hotels, Resorts & Cruise Lines industry as measured by the potential gains between the current stock price and the projected average analyst target
  • Great Wolf Resorts (NASDAQ:WOLF) has a potential upside of 121.2% based on a current price of $2.26 and an average consensus analyst price target of $5.
  • Red Lion Hotels (NYSE:RLH) has a potential upside of 40.4% based on a current price of $6.41 and an average consensus analyst price target of $9.
  • Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE:GET) has a potential upside of 35.7% based on a current price of $24.37 and an average consensus analyst price target of $33.06.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) has a potential upside of 35.7% based on a current price of $28.52 and an average consensus analyst price target of $38.69.
  • Morgans Hotel (NASDAQ:MHGC) has a potential upside of 29.1% based on a current price of $7.02 and an average consensus analyst price target of $9.06.
If you were not already aware, being a Royal Caribbean stockholder does get you a discount on cruises so there's another good reason to buy stock in Royal Caribbean.  Of course, please don't rely on this blog for investment advice, we're just passing along the info (we also cheated our way through algebra)!

Norovirus on Jewel of the Seas?

In:
10Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

A user on Cruises.co.uk is reporting that their cruise aboard Jewel of the Seas has had an outbreak of norovirus onboard.  Those passengers that are scheduled to sail on Jewel of the Seas on June 12, 2010 have been informed that they should arrive late because embarkation will start at 4:30pm instead as no passengers will be allowed on board before that time.  

In addition, the ship is going through "enhanced sanitizing" on Saturday and that if any passengers have had gastrointestinal symptoms within the last three days, they should consider rescheduling their cruise.

Royal Caribbean, as well as other cruise lines, take the threat of norovirus very seriously.  Norovirus, or norwalk gastroenteritis, is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods.

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