News

New Canadian fuel rules could hurt cruise business

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Category: 
12Jul2010

Canada is proposing a cut in the amount of sulfur that cruise ships may have in their fuel for 2012, which could make cruising to Canada much more expensive for cruise lines.  The current regulations stipulate cruise ships within 200 miles of the Canadian coast can use fuel that is 1.5 to 2.5 percent sulfur. The proposed cuts, set in an agreement with the United States, would demand sharp cuts in sulfur in the next five years with the first ones kicking in in 2012.

Fred Olsen, a British cruise line, said it is considering dropping Halifax as a port of call in 2012, saying the new rules could cost it thousands of dollars a day for each ship in Canadian waters.

The new sulfur limit would be 1 percent by 2012 and 0.1 percent by 2015. 

Maritime lobby buying up European Union officials

In:
Category: 
12Jul2010

Fipra, a public relations consultant that actively lobbying on maritime issues in Europe, is busy plucking away European Union officials for their lobbying firm and that has some worried about transparency in the EU administration.  Malta's Joe Borg, the commissioner responsible for maritime affairs and fisheries until last year, has been hired by Fipra and the EU has allowed Borg to work there, citing no evidence of a possible conflict of interest.

Mr Borg is to join his old colleague John Richardson, a former director in the European Commission's "Directorate General Mare," the EU's maritime and fisheries department, who in September 2008 became Fipra's "maritime policy and diplomacy special advisor."

Thus far, a total so far of six of the 13 EU commissioners who retired earlier this year have now gone on to work for banks, lobbying firms, insurance companies and airlines.

This pertains to Royal Caribbean as John RIchardson announced to the EU commission that a client of his will be Royal Caribbean, the second largest cruise company in the world, and the EU reported back "It was considered at that point in time that his envisaged activities would not be incompatible with his former functions."  Making matters more interesting, Fipra's website says that Fipra's chairman, Peter Lehrell, "and his family have a special affection" for the company.

The concern by some is Fipra's close contact with Royal Caribbean and some of their members positions in the European Union could cause conflicts of interest.

Oasis of the Seas continues to enjoy premium pricing

In:
12Jul2010

Oasis of the Seas, the celebrated largest ship in the world and now seven months old, is still generating enough demand to maintain it's premium prices over other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, according to a report by Majestic Research.  In the report, cabins on Oasis of the Seas are selling for 41% more than the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet during the current quarter.  Even interior cabins, the cheapest option, sell for typically 69% more.

Majestic Research's Matthew Jacob had this to say about the future outlook for Oasis of the Seas, "We expect the ship will continue to generate strong premiums throughout most of 2010, although premiums appear to be leveling off sequentially".

When Oasis of the Seas debuted in 2009, an interior cabin cost 142% more than a cabin on Royal Caribbean's other ships.  Majestic Research reports that the premium dropped to 112% in the first quarter of 2010 and then to 74% in the second quarter of the year.

This trend should continue until December 2010 when Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas' sister ship, debuts.

So this sounds like great news for Royal Caribbean, right?  Well, the bad news is Majestic Research says the higher prices on Oasis come at the cost of cannibalizing the premium for cabins found on the rest of Royal Caribbean's fleet.  

Jacob says Freedom class ships have seen their premium for interior cabins versus the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet shrink to 4% during the current quarter from 27% during the same quarter last year (the last full quarter prior to the launch of Oasis). Celebrity's Solstice class ships have seen their premiums decline to 22% during the current quarter from 68% during the same quarter a year ago, he says.

Video of the Day: Take a tour of Explorer of the Seas

In:
10Jul2010

Karen Schaler, a travel contributor for ABC News, takes a tour of Explorer of the Seas and shows you how to maximize the space in your cabin as well show off some of the fun things to do onboard Explorer.

Royal Caribbean confirms Dreamworks additions will not impact everyone

In:
09Jul2010

When the Dreamworks alliance was announced last month, many Royal Caribbean fans were afraid that their favorite ships would be turned into a giant floating shrine to Shrek and his friends.  

In a blog post by Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein, he confirmed that if you have no desire to experience any of the Dreamworks entertainment, you won't have to.  All of it will be isolated in designated areas and like any other form of entertainment on the ship, you will need to seek it out to experience it.

On the other hand, some readers expressed concern that the DWA presence onboard Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas will create too much of kid-centric, theme park style environment.

For guests who are not interested in this additional offering, it will be just as possible as before on these same four ships to have a fantastic Royal Caribbean experience taking advantage of all of the entertainment, programming, culinary and destination experiences that are already so appealing.

The news is not shocking, given that Disney ships, world renown for their characters, make it very possible to cruise with them and never see their characters.  The announcement by Goldstein is in response to a vocal outcry across the internet by concerned cruisers who wanted to know the limits of the Dreamworks team up.

Travel and Leisure Magazine Ranks Large-Ship Cruise Lines

In:
09Jul2010

Travel and Leisure magazine has published their list of the World 's Best Awards including the category of large-ship cruise lines.  T+L readers were given a survey to fill out between December 2009 and March 2010 to rank the cruise lines. For cruise lines, readers rated them based on these categories

  • cabins
  • food
  • service
  • itineraries/destinations
  • activities
  • value
  • families (optional)

Here was the results:

  1. Crystal Cruises 90.47
  2. Regent Seven Seas 89.86
  3. Oceania Cruises 86.65
  4. Disney Cruise Line 84.93
  5. Azamara Cruises 83.91
  6. Cunard 83.35
  7. Celebrity Cruises 81.49
  8. Holland America Line 81.08
  9. Royal Caribbean International 80.92
  10. Princess Cruises 80.38

The good news is Azmara Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, ranked fifth.  The bad news is Royal Caribbean ranked ninth.  If you want to spin this in a more positive light, while Royal Caribbean was ranked ninth, competitor Carnival Cruise Line did not make the top 10. In addition, the difference between ninth place and fifth place is barely a few points.

Royal Caribbean offering late checkout in Europe

In:
08Jul2010

Royal Caribbean is testing out a new option on its European based ships.  For $35, you can opt for a "late departure".  Rather than hurry in the early morning to be off the ship, you can pay extra and stay onboard until the mid afternoon. If you opt into the program, you will be able to stay on the ship until 90 minutes prior to its next sailing.  The cost is $35 for adults and $17.50 for children.

Now available on all eight Royal Caribbean ships in Europe, the program allows passengers to stay aboard the vessels through lunchtime and into the afternoon on disembarkation day instead of a traditional early-morning departure. Passengers who sign up for the program can stay on their ship until 90 minutes prior to its next sailing.

Passengers who stay onboard later will have access to all the public areas on the ship as well as select restaurants but will need to be out of their stateroom by 9am.

Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines drop lawsuit against Alaska

In:
06Jul2010

The Alaska Cruise Association, a group that Royal Caribbean is part of, has dropped its lawsuit against the state of Alaska over a cruise ship passenger tax.  The bill passed by Alaska lawmakers this past Friday cuts the head tax from $46 to $34.50 and allows deeper offsets for ships stopping in at least one of two ports. It was signed by Governor Sean Parnell last week, and hailed as both as a way to settle the litigation and attract more ships and tourists.

In addition, cruise lines will be reimbursed an additional amount each time a ship calls in Juneau, Ketchikan or both.

The cruise association had placed at least partial blame on the tax and Alaska's regulatory climate for an expected loss of ships, and about 140,000 passengers, this season.

The tax was voted into law by Alaska residents in 2006 and was highly unpopular among the cruise lines and even argued to be illegal as it discriminates against the larger ships that carry more than 250 passengers.  Experts blame much of the relocation of cruise ships away from Alaska stemming from the tax increase.  

Five Ways Royal Caribbean Uses Emerging Technology

In:
06Jul2010

With huge new ships like Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, new technology has been the solution for Royal Caribbean to make the experience onboard for guests as easy as possible.  Royal Caribbean CIO Bill Martin spoke with InformationWeek magazine about five innovations Royal Caribbean has used to make the experience better for guests.

  1. Facial Recognition Software
    When you board the ship for the first time, a high resolution photo is taken of you and this photo is used for security as well as for merchandise systems such as the point of sale system.  Facial recognition software allows computers to categorize photos taken all over the ship by Royal Caribbean photographers for easy pick up later.
  2. Shape Recognition Cameras
    At each of the 24 restaurants on the ship, shape-recognition cameras count the number of people seated and if any are waiting.  Royal Caribbean works to ensure there is no waiting at its restaurants.
  3. Interactive Media
    Remember the shape recognition cameras from the previous entry?  Well that data on restaurant crowds gets sent in real-time, in the form of red-yellow-green signals, to 300 digital signs around the ship, so that people can self-select the least-crowded restaurants.
  4. Wireless Everywhere
    There's Wi-Fi internet coverage onboard, along with wireless wristband for children to allow parents to track their kids movements on an iPhone app.  The specially equipped iPhones are for rent during cruises.
  5. Real-Time Analysis
    Royal Caribbean is using the data it receives during the cruise to help make decisions "on the fly" and bring attention to problems as they occur, not after.

Royal Caribbean has more real-time data than ever before because every point of sale terminal and booking system is networked, so analysts can know what’s selling well, what services are being under-used, plus the demographics of who’s on board. Analysts onshore have started crunching that data while the cruise is sailing. Combine that with the interactive media on the ships, and Royal Caribbean has a chance to put customized offers in front of people, say for a particular type of spa treatment that has more openings than usual, to a person most likely to want such a treatment, delivered direct to their interactive TV.

Royal Caribbean shows its commitment to Malaga and introduces the Adventure of the Seas

In:
03Jul2010

Adventure of the Seas has made its debut in the Spanish port of Malaga and the city couldn't be happier.  After a series of short cruises out of Barcelona earlier this spring, Adventure of the Seas has moved to Malaga, along with its 3000 passengers, becoming the largest cruise ship in the Mediterranean.  Officials expect about 72,000 passengers to pass through this summer.  

To commemorate the special occasion, a special ceremony was held in port that was attended by representatives of Royal Caribbean in Spain. Emmanuel Joly, the Director of Marketing and Sales of Royal Caribbean in Spain, highlighted the "commitment" of the company with Spain and the south and said "Proof of this is that we are the only shipping company that has a ship in Malaga the size of the Adventure of the Seas to sail and landed more than 3,000 passengers on each output having an important direct benefit to the region. "

Joly also highlighted the fact that the city of Malaga is a city "high prepared for tourism and interesting options that make it an interesting attraction for passengers from the cruise line" and that thanks to "Puerto de Atocha", the agreement signed between Royal Caribbean and Renfe, "is even closer to the center of Spain."

The Adventure of the Seas will be offering seven-night cruises from Malaga during the summer, with stops in Sardinia, Rome, Corsica and Palma De Mallorca. 

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