Mexican tourist officials meet with major cruise lines to promote new routes


Mexican tourism officials met with representatives of Royal Caribbean and other major cruise lines to promote new routes and increasing tourists Pacific Mexican states and the Gulf of Mexico. The cruise line representatives were part of the Cruise Association of Florida and the Caribbean.

Secretaries of Tourism of Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Colima, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche, and the secretaries of Chiapas and Guerrero met with representatives from major cruise lines including Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Undersecretary of Tourism Operation of the Mexican Secretariat of Tourism, Alfredo Moreno commented, "For the first time we are in a dialogue to build public policy on cruise ships". 
Last year the Mexican ports were five million cruise passengers and this year expect to receive nearly six million, according to projections by the Ministry of Tourism.
The goal of this conference was to address basic issues such as development and differentiation of ports, standards and certification of providers of services, facilitation and costs, promotion, and effective communication.
Moreno noted that Mexico is investing nearly $40 million in all cruise ship destinations, with the idea to increase that amount by 2011 with a focus even more timely in these areas.
"We seek to improve the flow of cruising and spending of visitors and for our part theming conditions of our ports and differences between destinations," said Francisco de la Vega Aragón, secretary of Tourism of Sinaloa, noting that the port of Mazatlan receives 200 cruises a year and a half million cruise passengers.

Royal Caribbean study reveals 25% of Spanish plan a cruise in the future


Royal Caribbean sponsored a study of "Study on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Market in Spain" and announced the results, which were prepared by the market research institute IPSOS Marketing.  The goal of the study was to analyze the current situation of the cruise market in Spain.  

The study indicates that 75.4% of people who have taken a cruise are quite or very satisfied with their cruising experience.  In addition, the study listed profiles of most cruise passengers, with families and couples with children topping the list of potential cruisers, with an average age of 35-50 years old.  The study also revealed that 25% of the population plans on taking a cruise in the future.

Royal Caribbean CEO in Spain, Belén Wangüemert, commented, "The growing number of families on cruise ships is a phenomenon that, in the case of Royal Caribbean, is mainly due to the fun and excitement of the program for children and young people, Ocean Adventure, as well as the agreement we have recently signed with Dreamworks".

It appears cruising is becoming very popular in Spain as 33.5% of respondents of respondents that have taken a cruise before do not want to do something else on their vacation. This surprising data "supports the high levels of loyalty and satisfaction between cruisers' admits Wangüemert Bethlehem.  "Once a person chooses this type holiday, the chances are high that you return to make another cruise."

The study also revealed that the 70% of Spanish people prefer Mediterranean cruises, followed by Northern Europe (8.1%) and the Caribbean (6.4%) . While there was a large majority preferring where they cruise, respondents were less clear when they like to cruise with 56% of them choosing the summer, 23.9% prefer the autumn and only 17.8% and 2.3% prefer the spring and winter, respectively.

Interestingly, 42% say they have not completed a cruise yet because of price "Obviously this is a false belief and we have to explain everything that is obtained at a reasonable price. The price-quality ratio is excellent cruise, "says Wangüemert.

Jewel of the Seas suffering mechanical problems


A mechanical problem today caused Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas to miss a port on its scheduled itinerary.  Jewel of the Seas was scheduled to stop in Stockholm, Sweden but had to skip the port after a problem with the ship's propulsion.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez, stated that it was a problem with “one of the four hydraulic motors on the starboard propulsion system”.  Martinez confirmed that the problem is expected to be fixed within a matter of days.

"We carried out preliminary repairs in Harwich (England) on Saturday," Martinez tells USA TODAY. "However, we are awaiting a replacement hydraulic motor and will conduct (further) repairs while the ship is in St. Petersburg, Russia."

Martinez added that the Jewel of the Seas today is skipping Stockhold and instead stopping at Visby, Sweden, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. On Wednesday, she will arrive at Helsinki, Finland and remain there from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. By Thursday the ship will arrive in St. Petersburg at 7:30 a.m. and depart on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Royal Caribbean's presence in Italy is growing


Royal Caribbean Vice President Michael Bayley visited the new Royal Caribbean headquarters in Italy, the second largest in the world, that had opened in 2010 to announce that Royal Caribbean will handle 60% more passengers in 2011.  Next year will see 2.5 million passengers, airports will grow by 35% to a total of 671 calls at 17 ports.

With Royal Caribbean's addition of 3 Voyager class ships to Italy, about 3,300 passengers will now sail in and out of Italy. Navigator of the Seas docks at Civitavecchia, Voyager of the Seas for the first time in Venice and Mariner of the Seas for the first time will dock in Genoa.

Royal Caribbean is planning on its ships visiting a number of Italian ports, including Civitavecchia, Venice, Livorno, Naples, Messina, Ravenna, Bari, Cagliari, Palermo, La Spezia, Sorrento Salerno, Portofino, Genoa, Portoferraio, Santa Margherita and Trieste.

Royal Caribbean warns cruisers Turkey of potential terrorist violence


Guests aboard the Splendour of the Seas received a letter in their cabins last week warning them to be extra careful if they were getting off the ship in Turkey to be extra careful because Turkey is experiencing "an increase in threats of terrorist actions" and "It is not recommended that guests travel alone, or visit any remote locations".  The warning was signed by the ship's Captain, Tommy Nyseter.

Splendour of the Seas distributed these letters at the port of Piraeus in Greece to a ship which had a majority of its cruising guests as Americans.  The letter hopes to warn its guests about potential risks found in the country that can be overlooked due Turkey's "warm and welcoming" residents.

The U.S. Department of State issued a warning to American tourists "to be alert to the potential for these types of incidents in urban and tourist areas" and Royal Caribbean's letter echoes the sentiment of this warning bu making in no uncertain terms a firm warning to be vigilant.

Dana Point City California looks for a Royal Caribbean stop


Here's an interesting story where a council member from Dana Point City, California tried to contact Royal Caribbean about seeing what it would take for their cruise ships to stop in their city as a port of call.  Lara Anderson contacted Royal Caribbean to get an answer after questions were raised by the Pacific town on the viability.

Christopher Allen, Director, Deployment and Itinerary Planning for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara Club Cruises responded to the request and cited these issues that Royal Caribbean uses to determine what ports to stop at: Location, marketability, tour/shore excursion offerings, port fees, politics and regulations.

Of more interest are the tough requirements a city needs to be able to handle Royal Caribbean's large vessels.

The port must have the infrastructure to handle our ships. We do not have any small ships. Most of our ships are actually too big to fit through the Panama Canal. As a result, only our ‘small’ ships are over on the West Coast of North America. But even our small ships average about 2000 guests and are about 290 meters in length. Our strong preference for all ports is to be able to dock. Most, but not all, of our ships carry tenders and can tender guests into a port if the distance is below 1.5 miles. However, we try to avoid tender ports as it can create lines, weather disruptions and lesser guest experience. That said, if the appeal is strong enough we will still tender.

It looks like Dana Point City wont be a port city anytime soon short of a major port overhaul, but nonetheless, it's an interesting look at what it takes to be a port destination.

Updates for Monarch of the Seas


Royal Caribbean detailed some of the new updates that have come to Monarch of the Seas in a report from the ship.  Royal Caribbean gave some TLC to its crew areas by adding an updated gym, new food stations and the crew outdoor deck areas.

Also of interest was the fact that Monarch of the Seas is the "number two ship in the fleet and her ratings are consistently improving and above target".  Legend of the Seas currently holds the number one position.

In addition there was a bit of trivia. Monarch of the Seas was a "test bed" for the Izumi restaurant that is currently on Oasis of the Seas and can still be found on here as a treat for those who love sushi.

Royal Caribbean launching specialty food cruises


Do you consider yourself a foodie?  Or maybe you're just a fan of great food?  Well, Royal Caribbean is launching a new series of themed cruises that is right up your alley. There will be 12 specialty voyages onboard Freedom of the Seas that are part of the cruise line’s “Epicurean Discovery” series.

Designed for culinary enthusiasts, the package features a variety of special events throughout the week devoted to cuisine and fine dining.

Each cruise is by a different celebrity chef for the cruise. Here is the schedule of celebrity chefs:

  • Chef Cindy Hutson - September 19, 2010 
  • Chef Johnny Vinczencz - October 3, 2010
  • Chef Tim Andriola - October 17, 2010
  • Chef Carlos Fernandez - October 31, 2010
  • Chef Lauren De Rouen - November 7, 2010
  • Chef Roberto Treviño November 14, 2010
  • TBD - December 5, 2010
  • TBD - December 12, 2010
  • Chef Michael Schwartz - January 2, 2011
  • Chef Nick Weber - January 9, 2011
  • Chef Spike Mendelsohn - February 6, 2011
  • TBD - February 20, 2011

By booking into this package, here are the exclusive options you can look forward to:

  • Participate in Exclusive Culinary Experiences
  • Enjoy a Cocktail Reception Meet & Greet Photo Opportunity with Celebrity Chefs
  • Receive Special In-Suite Gifts
  • Private Dining Experience with Celebrity Chef in our Specialty Restaurants
  • Take a VIP Behind the Scenes Tour of our Private Galley
  • Sample Appetizers in a Private Tapas Welcome
  • Savor Succulent Vintages in a Special Wine Tasting Event
  • Attend a Question & Answer Session with Celebrity Chef and Ship's Executive Chef
  • Receive a Special Kit with Photos, Recipes, Menus and Guest Chef Signature
  • Learn Cooking Tips from the Pros
  • Take Home a Commemorative Epicurean Discovery Apron & Chef's Hat

The Epicurean Discovery is available exclusively to guests booking suite accommodations or higher.  Price begins at $1,874 per person, based on double occupancy.

Royal Caribbean opens first showroom in Beijing


Royal Caribbean and China Youth Travel Group have opened their first cruise showroom in Beijing's Asian Games Village.  In the booth, Royal Caribbean is offering visitors several packages, including an eight days and seven nights cruise to Japan and South Korea aboard Legend of the Seas.

These cruises that are being showcased depart from Tianjin, northern China's first cruise home port.  This showroom is part of the Asian Games, also called the Asiad, which is a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Asian Games are the world's second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.

More women becoming sailors


Like many industries, cruising and maritime work has been dominated by men but lately there's been a change in that as more and more women are looking to become sailors.  According to the International Maritime University of Panama, cruising crews have opened doors to women.

Luis Fabrega, director of International Maritime University Panama (PICU) confirmed that the integration of women into the maritime area is growing.  Why the influx of women now?  Fabrega attributes the change to the impulse to create working places for cruise companies.

"We have noticed that the female cadets increasingly embark on cruise ships, which are ships that many prefer and are frequently asking for more personal," described Fabrega, adding "this does not limit the participation of women in other vessels" .

Royal Caribbean is helping in this endeavor to open up maritime jobs to women by having an agreement with the International Maritime University Panama to provide students an opportunity to do internships on their ships.  The results have produced 15 female cadets since 2008 and of the approximately 1,200 students at PICU, 25% are now women.