News

Royal Caribbean talks social media, Symphony of the Seas, Cuba, guest spending and more

In:
26Apr2018

During Royal Caribbean's first quarter 2018 financial call with investors, the company shared some interesting anecdotes, facts, and insight into the ever changing cruising environment.  While most of the information discussed in these earnings calls deal primarily with financial indicators, cruise guests can glean some insight into how Royal Caribbean runs its business.

Social media driving demand

Off the bat, Royal Caribbean's top brass was quick to point out that social media is crushing it in terms of raising the brand's awareness to consumers, assuaging myths about cruising and most importantly, driving demand.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke about the impact of social media, "I attribute some of the recent healthy growth and demand to our success in the social media environment. Our social media teams really are doing an amazing job."

RCL Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty also talked about how social media has helped Royal Caribbean this quarter, "Levers, like social media and so forth, are really helping break through stereotypes on cruise and we have seen a real change in our new to cruise volumes.  That is also suggesting that a lot of these past detractors are becoming fans of cruise."

Symphony receiving tons of good press for a sister ship

There is no question that Royal Caribbean is proud of the launch of its newest ship, but the executives were down right impressed by how well Symphony of the Seas is selling, especially considering she is the fourth sister ship in the class.

Mr. Fain spoke about the public's reaction to Symphony of the Seas, "The public reaction to Symphony of the Seas was surprising even to us. Even though she is the fourth in the amazing Oasis Class series of ships, she has so many new amenities and attractions, that our guests and the media were simply blow away. Rarely has a sister ship received such press, and rarely has it been so deserving of it."

Mr. Liberty expanded on the results Symphony of the Seas has brought to the cruise line, "Prices for Symphony have not only exceeded our lofty expectations, they have also been even better than we saw from Harmony last year."

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley shared an anecdote about Symphony of the Seas' early success, "The week after we introduced Symphony of the Seas, our bookings beat track by 50%. That is the week after we introduced the ship, so it's really performing well."

Consumers want shorter, more frequent vacations

A trend that Royal Caribbean has picked up on is the desire for short Caribbean getaway cruises.  As a result, Royal Caribbean has invested heavily in Mariner of the Seas and the improvements coming to CocoCay.

"We're seeing more and more people opting for shorter, but more frequent vacations. We are responding to that call by modernizing Mariner of the Seas, which is one of our Voyager Class ships, and we're raising our game in the short cruise market with this upgraded vessel, " Mr. Fain explained, "At the same time we also announced a major upgrade to our private destination in the Bahamas at CocoCay that we are calling, appropriately I might add, Perfect Day. Perfect Day in that destination will be another great addition to our Caribbean offering.  It is really thrilling to see the work take shape, and I'm certain that this destination will get tongues wagging just as much as our new hardware has done."

Michael Bayley also spoke about what Royal Caribbean is doing to meet customer demand, "We're very excited about Mariner as a product coming into the shorts market, and that's very much focused on new to cruise, and Millennial, and that really is the on ramp for that market.  That ship is literally like having an Oasis Class ship in the short product market, because its capacity is just over 3200-3400 every three or four days."

Guest spend & onboard revenue is up a lot

If you want to find the "secret sauce" to what is making the biggest difference in Royal Caribbean's quarterly growth, onboard revenue is a big factor.  This means the things guests spend on their cruise above and beyond the cruise fare.

Mr Liberty spoke about the growth the cruise line is seeing in this area, "The main driver of the positive earnings in yield was the continued strength in onboard revenue, which was up 6.3% for the quarter. This result is notable considering that it follows an 8.9% improvement from the first quarter of 2017."

"Guest spend from onboard activities has continued to shift towards areas that involve experiences over buying things, and this quarter was no different. Beverage packages, specialty restaurants and internet were the main revenue streams driving the quarterly beat."

Mr. Bailey also spoke about the onboard revenue growth that Royal Caribbean is seeing, "We've been really pleased with our pre-cruise sales, and we've seen a significant uplift year over year that's been increasing for the past couple of years and it's been a big driver of onboard spend.  We kind of figure, for every dollar that we earn pre-cruise, we'll see somewhere between a 30 and a 50% uptick in the onboard spend."

"And then of course over the years, we've invested quite heavily in new venues, new attractions onboard of our ships and many of those are revenue generating.  We're beginning to see a lot of those now yielding superior revenue because of the kind of services they provide."

Cuba update

Another area that we received an update on was Cuba and cruises there.  A recent leadership change alongside strong demand for cruises to Cuba generated an update on where the cruise line stands with regard to this newly offered destination.

Royal Caribbean Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldstein spoke about Cuba, "We've been commenting over time about the fact that the Cuban market has been a good market for us to enter. The customer satisfaction about Havana has been very, very high. But the reality is that there is still just one functioning pier that ships can go to on either side of the pier in Havana.  There is going to have to be some type of considerable infrastructure improvement that takes place over the next several years, that will probably take time."

"I think what we've been seeing lately is that the Cuban Government has gotten a little bit more efficient in maximizing the use of the pier on both sides, and our company has definitely been a beneficiary of that. We've been able to increase the number of sailings on a year over year basis, even though their capacity hasn't increased."

"For what it is, it's been terrific, but in the overall sense of our portfolio, it is still fairly small. And we haven't seen any change whatsoever in their attitude towards us or their dealings with us, as it relates to their change in government to this point."

A look at the state of digital marketing

Michael Bayley provided a look at how Royal Caribbean is leveraging digital marketing (as opposed to traditional marketing) to better reach customers.

"We think that there's better targeting, and it's a more efficient channel. And certainly, with our social media presence, we believe that we've maneuvered ourselves into a really strong position in our space. In fact, we just recently conducted an independent survey of where we are positioned in terms of the social media universe, and we came out of it exceptionally well, in terms of how people view Royal Caribbean through that lens and how they are engaging with Royal Caribbean."

"We are also seeing that with the response from onboard internet, and how people are using the accelerated internet to utilize social media to actually promote our brands, which has been really quite effective."

Royal Caribbean talks fleet changes, marketing shifts, Caribbean recovery and more

In:
24Jan2018

Royal Caribbean held a conference call with investors to review the fourth quarter 2017 results, and within the discussion, we picked out some interesting anecdotes that cruise fans would enjoy.

Fleet wide refurbishment

Of particular interest to cruisers, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain alluded to a "transformational fleet upgrading program" which will kick off this year.

Royal Caribbean International ships will be part of what the company is calling Royal Amplified.  This program aims to extend the appeal of the brand with new cruisers and returning cruisers.  

Mr. Fain summed up Royal Amplified as, "We're redefining the experiences that drive, choice, guest satisfaction, and ultimately revenue."

If you are wondering what exactly Royal Amplified entails, there does not appear to be much information on that yet. Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley alluded to Royal Amplified in November 2017, when he mentioned the program as part of a way the cruise line is rethinking some of its onboard venues.

Caribbean recovery after the hurricanes

Photo by TheTwangster

Following the hurricanes of 2017, Royal Caribbean saw soft bookings in the six weeks that followed these storms.

Royal Caribbean Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty noted that trends normalized in November, and have been in-line with the cruise line's expectations since then.

"First quarter Caribbean sailings were in a very strong booked position before the storms, recovered relatively quickly afterwards, and are currently booked ahead."

Project Excalibur potential

Royal Caribbean's next-gen technology initiative, codenamed Project Excalibur, has Richard Fain very excited for the prospects of the future.

"I really think it is going to transform. I think it is going to be fantastic.  I think it will take a little while for it roll out and for the public to see just how exciting it is."

No change in reducing last minute discounts

When questioned about the possibility of Royal Caribbean revisiting its Price Integrity Policy that curbs last-minute cruise discounts, Richard Fain was quite firm in his answer.

"Absolutely not."

"The Price Integrity Program was a part of [the Double Double Program], and we think the benefit keeps growing over time.  The Price Integrity Program has been a big success for us.  We have been fairly religious about executing against it, and we continue to expect to do that."

Michael Bayley added another point, "We introduced several months ago a non-refundable deposit pricing program for the Royal brand, and that has proven to be very successful for us. So we have a significant percentage of our '18 bookings are in this non-refundable category, which means that we will see significantly less churn in our bookings as we move through the calendar year for '18 and into '19."

Emphasis on digital over traditional marketing

Michael Bayley also talked about the emphasis the cruise line has placed in digital marketing over traditional marketing, primarily for cost savings and for better tracking ability.

"What we are seeing is an improvement in the efficiency of that marketing investment over time, because of digital - because it is a lot easier to track and understand the results that you are generating through digital versus traditional.  Yes, we are investing more in our marketing, and yes we are investing more as we look into the future, but, we're also seeing an improvement in the efficiency of that investment."

Top 10 Royal Caribbean stories of 2017

In:
Category: 
28Dec2017

With 2017 nearly complete, it's time to look back on the year and see which news stories generated the most interest.  There's no doubt that 2017 was a busy year for Royal Caribbean and so it is interesting to see which stories rose to the top of people's interest.

This year's top ten list is based on the Royal Caribbean stories we feel generated the most buzz and interest.  There are some stories that made the top ten list that surprised me and others I'm more surprises did not make the list.  Let's dive in!

Royal Caribbean brought underwater adventures to Snapchat

In a first-of-its-kind social media innovation, Royal Caribbean hosted underwater Snapchat experience thanks to its Snapchat Spectacles, known as SeaSeekers.

The mask was custom engineered by the cruise line for use with Snapchat Spectacles. It allows the wearer to snap while underwater and will give those above the surface a unique perspective into the intriguing underwater world of marine life.

Three dives took place in June that showed off this new innovation, in places like Cozumel and Belize.

Royal Caribbean celebrated the Great American solar eclipse

On August 21, 2017, millions witnessed a total solar ecliplse, and Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas provided the perfect viewing celebration.

Dubbed the, "Total Eclipse Cruise," Oasis of the Seas offered a 7-night Caribbean sailing, which cruised to the optimal spot at sea for guests to witness the total solar eclipse. 

In addition to viewing the eclipse, there were dance parties, lectures, and a special performance by Bonnie Tyler and DNCE onboard.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

A series of powerful hurricanes wreacked havoc on Royal Caribbean's cruise ship plans, in addition to inflicting horrific damage on certain islands in the storm's path.

The storms impacted a variety of sailings, with delays and even cancellations of some sailings.  In fact, Royal Caribbean opted to cancel a few sailings and then use the cruise ships to act as floating hotels and supply delivery mechanisms.  

The result was Royal Caribbean providing an incredible amount of relief and support to the peoples of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.  The relief efforts lasted a number of weeks, and brought much needed help in the early days of recovery.

Royal Caribbean announced expansion of CocoCay

In March 2017, Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley announced plans for the cruise line to make major enhancements to the cruise line's private destination in the Bahamas, CocoCay.

The expansion will include construction of a pier, additional guest features and amenities, and new opportunities for vendors and craftsmen to promote the culture of The Bahamas to visitors. The pier will be able to handle Oasis class cruise ships.

Bayley described the new additions coming to CocoCay as, "innovative" and "entertaining". He also indicated the construction will take a multi-phased approach, with some elements of the new construction ready in 2018, and construction complete sometime in 2019. In the meantime, Bayley said ships will continue to stop at CocoCay without any disruption.

Royal Caribbean announced new fleetwide technology roll out

Royal Caribbean was forward leaning when the company held a big reveal event in Brooklyn to announce an array of technological innovations that aim to make things simpler and easier for guests going on a cruise.

At the heart of the new technology overhaul is a new smartphone app that will be rolled out to every Royal Caribbean ship over the next two years. The app promises to eliminate check-in lines at ports, equip crew members to anticipate guests’ needs, and enable giant cruise ships to sail through the water on a fuel-saving curtain of air.

The new tech will spread across the fleet by the end of 2019.

Royal Caribbean requiring all adults in same stateroom to purchase unlimited alcohol package

Royal Caribbean decided to change the rules regarding its unlimited alcohol package, and begin requiring all adults in a stateroom to purchase a drink package if one adult in that room elects to purchase one.

The change begins in 2018, but the rule change came out in October 2017.  The change occured following an earlier announcement it was going to test the change first on select Harmony of the Seas sailings.

Royal Caribbean introduced non-refundable deposit program

Royal Caribbean announced in May 2017 a new non-refundable deposit program, which is an addition to the traditional refundable deposit model.

When making a cruise reservation at least 6-months prior to sailing, guests who opt to take advantage of nonrefundable deposit fares will automatically qualify to earn up to $100 per stateroom to spend at sea. Early booking credit is combinable with the existing promotional offer available at time of booking.

In an effort to deter continual or late ship/sail date adjustments, a change fee of $100 per guest will be imposed to all reservations booked under a nonrefundable deposit fare that opts to change either the ship and/or sail date originally selected.

Symphony of the Seas reveal

Throughout 2017, Royal Caribbean announced details surrounding its fourth Oasis class cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas. Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuts in April 2018 for her inaugural season in Europe.

In March 2017, Royal Caribbean formally announced Symphony of the Seas, along with some details surrounding the ship. This included some preliminary deployment details, along with the announcement it will be homeported in PortMiami.

In October, Royal Caribbean announced activities, restaurants and entertainment coming to Symphony of the Seas. New dining concepts and family activities, awe-inspiring theater, aerial, ice and aqua entertainment, and the most dynamic suite in family travel will join the lineup of Royal Caribbean exclusives on Symphony.

Spectrum of the Seas reveal

Speaking of cruise ship reveals, Royal Caribbean also shed some light onto another upcoming new ship, Spectrum of the Seas.

The first Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship will be based in the Asia-Pacific region and will join sister ships Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. She had the first piece of steel cut in August and her keel laid in November.

Spectrum of the Seas is set to debut in 2019 and will be the first Quantum Ultra ship that will specifically be designed for guests in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature cutting-edge and unprecedented experiences and amenities.

Royal Caribbean made its inaugural visit to Cuba

Royal Caribbean made history with the cruise line's inaugural visit to Cuba with Empress of the Seas in April 2017.

Empress has since followed up with a number of visits to Havana, Cuba, and Royal Caribbean unveiled new plans to expand Cuban sailings in the years to come.

Your thoughts

What did you think was the biggest Royal Caribbean news of 2017? Did we miss one? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean talks changes to ship design, cultural shifts, millennials and more

In:
Category: 
07Nov2017

During Royal Caribbean's third quarter 2017 financial call with investors, the company shared some interesting anecdotes, facts, and insight into the ever changing cruising environment.  While most of the information discussed in these earnings calls deal primarily with financial indicators, cruise guests can glean some insight into how Royal Caribbean runs its business.

Cultural change to responding to major events

Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain took a few minutes to talk about the response the company has noticed from the general public, when it comes to major events like a hurricane disrupting the flow and life of the islands visited, and the cruise itineraries planned.

"We've noticed a significant change in the way people in general seem to respond to unusual events, whether those events are weather, geo-political acts, or something else.

Years ago, a bad incident would have a bad and lasting impact.  Whenever something happened, our bookings would fall and they would stay down for an extended period. People seemed to curl up in a ball and obsess about whatever the issue was.  It could, and did impact bookings, for a really long time. Even after the event left the front page, people would persist in focusing on it.  Eventually, they would move on and bookings would recover, but that process seemed to take forever.

More recently, we have seen a much more sanguine response. Instead of the incident lingering for a long time, the recovery seems much quicker. People seemed to be more apt today to see such events as ordinary, with little impact. The events still aren't normal, but they are seen as less relevant to the broader audience.  In effect, the public appears to become inured to such one off events.  They are still interested in the event, and concerned about it, but people seem to continue living their lives with less change. They move on.

From a societal point of view, I have to say that it's discouraging that we've reached such a point. It's distressing that incidents are now so common, that society seems to have formed a thicker skin towards them. On the other hand, as a response to the actual events, it's probably more constructive if society doesn't allow such things to interfere with our normal day-to-day existence.

From a purely commercial point of view, this cultural shift is very helpful.  It's much better for us if the negative impact of such incidents are so much more fleeting than in the past. "

Design changes in ships over decades

Over the last couple of years, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has been fond of noting a cultural shift among consumers, where they are tending to prefer buying experiences over buying things. In the past, consumers seemed to be focused on buying things like new televisions, appliances, or other items of the like. More recently, Mr. Fain believes the focus has shifted to people looking for experiences, especially ones that include the whole family.

This shift has made Royal Caribbean change as well, to meet the needs and habits of consumers.

"Over the years, as people's habits and tastes, we've shifted our product to take advantage of these new consumer buying practices. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a dramatic shift in the way ships were designed and built. Instead of ships being designed as a form of transportation, we shifted to ships that were designed specifically for cruising. Our aspirations at the time were for ships to be more yacht-like. Now, that change really brought cruising into the modern era.

But in the '80s and '90s, there was another change in people's expectations.  The public's vacation desires changed, and we needed to shift with them. We shifted our design focus from trying to be yacht-like, to be more like hotels.  We started to design ships with more spacious public areas, better outfitting, and more amenities onboard.  We wanted the ships to feel more open, to have more things to do and to have a more luxurious feel of a modern hotel.  Our design metaphor changed from trying to seem like a yacht, to feeling more like a full service hotel.  Again, that fit in nicely with trends in consumer interests, and it resulted in better sales.

Now, over the last decade or so, travel habits have further changed and our ship designs have shifted yet again. Consumers now want a more active vacation, a more things to do and to experience. In response, we changed our design metaphor, from trying to be like hotels to be more like cities. Today, our ships have more features of cities, with a cornucopia of activities, amenity, and design.  We don't simply check the box with bars and restaurants and discos, we talk about designing parks, and gardens, and neighborhoods and quiet spaces. We model our medical facilities on urgent care facilities. Our specialty restaurants compare to anything you will find on land.  We have every stripe of nightlife, you can sail with us for seven nights and never experiencing the same things twice.

And again, adjusting our products to suit the changing wishes of the consumer has paid off in a very nice way. Our guests really enjoy the broader choice and amenities that the new ships offer.  And again, accommodating these wishes has resulted in improved demand for our product. "

Winning the perception war

One of the "battles" that Royal Caribbean (and the cruising industry) has faced over the years have been old stereotypes about what a cruise experience is all about.  It has been a stumbling point for the cruise industry, but Mr. Fain believes things are changing now and consumers are far more educated than ever.

"Many consumers thought of cruising through the lens of outdated stereotypes. We in the industry often complained about the inaccuracies of such misconceptions and our marketing was geared to correct the image. This sense of not being properly understood pervaded our industry, and profoundly influenced all of our communications.

But then, a strange thing happened. The evolution of consumer's changing tastes, and of our changing product, converged. The prevalence of these old, erroneous perceptions has waned. In effect, we have won the perception war.  We have crossed a tipping point, and moving beyond it.

Yes, there are still many people out there who suffer from these old misperceptions, but their numbers are dwindling everyday. Today, while this issue remains an issue at the margin, cruising has now firmly established itself as a relevant and a desirable vacation option for consumers generally."

Rethinking retail spaces

With the shift in consumers looking for experiences instead of products, and the news that particularly higher guest spending on shore excursions and internet packages, an investor asked if Royal Caribbean was going to rethink its allocation of retail space onboard their cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley spoke to this question, "When we talk about the two programs, Celebrity Revolution and Royal Amplified, really a lot of thinking going into that is really thinking  through how our guest spend is changing. You will start to see that when we bring these ships out of the moderinzation programs that we have really reallocated space to generate better revenues in areas that we see guests now naturally gravitating towards."

Millennial cruising is on the rebound

When asked about new to cruise guests, and millennial demand, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley talked about the reversal in fortunes the cruise line has seen over the last few years, "In fact, if you go back before that three year period, we were actually in a situation where year over year we saw a decline in new to cruise and millennial.  Over the past three years, we've seen a very good increase year over year.  That's very much part of our marketing and communication focus on new to cruise and millennial, and we are seeing good progress."

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chief Financial Officer, Jason Liberty, provided a bit more feedback on what those numbers look like, "Over the past several years, we are carrying about 30-33% more millennials than we did several years ago."

Royal Caribbean hints at big reveal next week

In:
Category: 
02Nov2017

Royal Caribbean has posted a new teaser hinting at an announcement coming next week.

Royal Caribbean alerted travel agents to the news that will be announced next Tuesday, with simply the tag line of, "Mark your calendars and tune in on November 7, 2017! The Thrills are about to get even bigger."

A couple of observations that may or may not have any relationship to the announcement:

  • The teaser image does not have a cruise ship in it, just land (although there is a beached boat on the left side).
  • The image file is named 17059107_Deployment_Tease_1024x640.jpg.
  • The word "thrills" is prominently mentioned.

What do you think this announcement will be about? Share your ideas in the comments!

Top 10 Royal Caribbean stories of 2016

In:
Category: 
29Dec2016

With 2016 nearly complete, it's time to look back on the year and see which news stories generated the most interest.  There's no doubt that 2016 was a busy year for Royal Caribbean and so it is interesting to see which stories rose to the top of people's interest.

This year's top ten list is based on the Royal Caribbean stories we feel generated the most buzz and interest.  There's some stories that made the top ten list that surprised me and others I'm more surprises did not make the list.  Let's dive in!

Anthem of the Seas ran into an unexpected storm

In February 2016, Anthem of the Seas was beginning a normal cruise from the New York area to somewhere much warmer when it ran into a winter storm off the coast of the Carolinas, which generated waves of over 30 feet and hurricane force winds. As you might imagine, that caused quite a bit of motion onboard the ship and even some minor damage.

At first, the plan was to continue with the sailing but the news of the encounter with the storm generated a ton of negative coverage in the media, and Royal Caribbean decided to cancel the remainder of the sailing and offer refunds to guests.

This event was as noteworthy for the storm it encountered, as much as the negative publicity the event generated. Luckily there very few injuries, and Anthem of the Seas was back in operation very quickly.

Harmony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas arrived

Royal Caribbean took delivery of two new cruise ships this year, which made for a very busy spring.

Ovation of the Seas, the cruise line's third Quantum class ship, was delivered to Royal Caribbean in April 2016 and then promptly headed to Southampton, England, where she offered a few quick cruises. Following those getaway cruises, Ovation began a 52-night “Global Odyssey” cruise that culminated in the arrival to her homeport in Tianjin, China.

Just one month later, Harmony of the Seas was delivered to Royal Caribbean, and she spent the summer in Europe before heading to the United States in November 2016.

Political protests in Haiti prevent Royal Caribbean guests from going to Labadee

The year started off with a series of unexpected protests in Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee.  Civil unrest related to the Haitian political situation caused some locals to protest in the waters of Labadee. 

Royal Caribbean decided to skip the scheduled stops in Labadee because of the protests. Although the protest was peaceful in nature, Royal Caribbean felt it was clear that if the protest continued, there would be a significant impact on our guests’ ability to enjoy Labadee.

The protests continued for a few more days before subsiding, and cruise ships were able to resume visits shortly thereafter.

Three Oasis class ships met in one place

It was an undeniably fun sight to witness Royal Caribbean's three Oasis class cruise ships meeting each other for the first (and perhaps only) time.

The three ships rendezvoused off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida in a celebration of the arrival of Harmony of the Seas to her new homeport of Port Everglades. It was the kind of cruise eye candy that any Royal Caribbean fan relished seeing.

Royal Caribbean abandoned Dynamic Dining on Anthem of the Seas

Filed in the "I cannot believe it actually happened" category, Royal Caribbean dropped the bombshell news that it decided to abandon the Dynamic Dining concept on its ships.

Guest feedback proved to be too loud to ignore, and Royal Caribbean decided to offer on Anthem of the Seas My Time Dining program, with traditional and flexible options, as well as introduce new, upgraded dinner menus.

The decision to change how guests dine on Anthem of the Seas marks a tremendous reversal in fortunes for the Dynamic Dining program, which at one time was arguably heralded as the future of cruise ship dining. Nonetheless, the cancelation is a great example of how important guest feedback is to Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean announced Icon class ships

Royal Caribbean made a big impact with the announcement it was ordering two new cruise ships that would be powered by liquefied natural gas and fuel cell technology.

These ships would represent the first two members of the new Icon class of ships. The Icon ships would likely accommodate approximately 5,000 passengers, but details are still being worked out.

The vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024. In the meantime, the company said, it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum class vessels being built in the next several years.

Royal Caribbean began offering cruises to Cuba

Royal Caribbean had been hinting at offering cruises to Cuba for most of this year, but it finally received the go-ahead to offer sailings in December.

In fact, Royal Caribbean had a very quick turnaround from when it received permission from the Cuban and American governments to offer cruises to when sailings on Empress of the Seas went on sale. As expected, Empress of the Seas was the ship chosen to offer the company's first sailings to Cuba, which will take place in late spring of 2017.

Royal Caribbean will build a new cruise terminal in Miami

Royal Caribbean is making a comeback in Miami in a big way, with the announcement over the summer that it will build a brand new cruise terminal.

Terminal A will open in late 2018 and be able to handle Oasis-class ships (which has spawned a great deal of speculation as to which ship might call PortMiami home).

The new terminal features a cutting-edge design and has been nicknamed the ‘Crown of Miami’ because of its distinct shape. The design evokes the points of the symbolic headgear when viewed from the water; the ‘M’ of Miami when viewed from the east or western approaches; and a sense of waves rising or ships passing when viewed from the terminal side. At night, the terminal’s facade will be lit ensuring that the building makes a striking impression and providing a dynamic addition to the PortMiami landscape.

Changes to the unlimited alcohol packages

Royal Caribbean's drink packages have been quite popular since they were first introduced, but in 2016 we saw some big changes to the offerings that seemed to resonate with many guests.

Prior to 2016, drink packages rarely had discounts to them, but early in 2016 we began seeing a steady stream of discounts for the drink packages if they were purchased prior to a cruise. These new discounts helped "push" many guests over the proverbial fence of making that decision to invest in the package.

In addition, Royal Caribbean revamped its drink package options in September 2016, but simplifying the options available. Three unlimited alcohol packages became just one package and the non-alcoholic packages were also reconsidered. The idea behind the change in the drink package options was to make things simpler to understand for guests and crew.  

Liberty of the Seas received a major refurbishment

Speaking of refurbishments, the revitalization of the year goes to Liberty of the Seas, which added a ton of new activities and experiences including water slides and an aqua park way before Harmony of the Seas had one.

Royal Caribbean regularly uses the Galveston cruise market as a "testing ground" for new ideas that make it to the fleet later on, and Liberty of the Seas was the beneficiary of these new ideas.  Chief among them was the new Tidal Wave water slide, which took a bit longer than expected to get working correctly, but has since become quite popular with guests.

Your thoughts

What did you think was the biggest Royal Caribbean news of 2016? Did we miss one? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean stops issuing luggage tags

In:
Category: 
08Aug2012

Royal Caribbean is stopping the practice of sending its passengers luggage tags in the mail prior to its cruises, effecting August 8, 2012.

Instead, bag tags will now be included as a page within the eDoc ticket booklets, which can then be printed and attached by the guest.  The exception will be for Crown & Anchor Society Pinnacle members and Suite guests (Grand Suites and above), who will still receive baggage tags in the mail.

At this time, this change only applies to Royal Caribbean International and not its sister companies Celebrity Cruises or Azamara Club Cruises.

Passengers can still get bag tags at the port they embark at, from the porters that handle the bags.  There's no indication as to why the practice of sending luggage tags in the mail is being stopped, although we can assume there's a cost savings benefit for Royal Caribbean.

Increased cruise bookings in US for 2012

In:
Category: 
19Jul2012

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said more than half of travel agents they polled are claiming to be selling more cruises this year, compared to last year.  Moreover, 25% said by midyear the numbers were similar to 2011.

This is good news for the cruise industry after the Costa Concordia shipwreck hurt bookings, but the industry sees that as an "isolated event".

Travel agents report that 15 percent expected growth of more than 25% this year compared to last year and another 25% predict a rise of 11-15 percent.

CLIA president, Christine Duffy, commented on the news, ""Particularly for the U.S. consumer market, people certainly saw the Costa Concordia as a terrible tragedy that was a very isolated event and not indicative of how the broader cruise industry operates. And I think that bears out in the fact that we are seeing cruise bookings up over the same time last year. There is still a lot of consumer confidence in the cruise product."

Problems with Proposed Royal Caribbean cruise ship terminal in Uruguay

In:
11Jul2012

A proposed cruise ship terminal in Montevideo, Uruguay that would be for Royal Caribbean has run into some trouble.

According to reports, port executives evaluated the $40 million cruise terminal proposal but could not commit to the idea, because the port is "multipurpose".  Meaning, they could not guarantee a space for cruise operations.

Royal Caribbean presented the plan to port officials back in March that would give Royal Caribbean an exclusive terminal for their ships at the port of Montevideo, which would include a 200-room hotel, shopping mall and cultural center.

In addition, port officials said they are not denying the idea completely, but cannot approve the plan proposed.

Royal Caribbean announces memorial service for Mike Semler

In:
Category: 
03Jul2012

Royal Caribbean has announced a memorial service to remember Mike Semler, who recently passed away suddenly last month.  Semler was Royal Caribbean's Wichita call center director.

Royal Caribbean said the public service will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at the Beech Activity Center, 9710 E. Central in Wichita, Kansas.

Semler, 50, was the director of trade support and service and was director of the facility in Wichita, which he helped to launch in 1999.

An active community leader, Semler held board appointments for United Way of the Plains, Kansas Communities in Schools, Go Witchita, and most was Chairman of the Kansas Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

In lieu of flowers, the family has established that donations may be made to either the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas or the Kansas Humane Society. Donations may be sent to:

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas
2016 N. Amidon
Wichita, KS 67203
Please indicate that it is in Memory of Mikel Semler.
Credit card donations may be made via phone at (316) 838-9474.

Pages