News

Oasis of the Seas breaks sound system record

In:
14Jun2010

Oasis of the Seas has a lot of distinctions already, such as being the largest passenger cruise ship in the world, but there's yet another record that Oasis of the Seas has set. It is the largest ocean-going Meyer Sound systems.  These sound systems are the top of the line music entertainment systems that feature 268 loudspeakers that include Meyer Sound's most compact subwoofer, custom designed to meet the stringent space requirements on the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean contracted the sound system work to FUNA International and it was their task to make the sound system work onboard the new ship.  Derek Warner, FUNA's senior project manager for Oasis of the Seas described the installation of the sound system as, "This was like building a full-scale Las Vegas hotel-casino or themed resort inside a ship".

The Royal Promenade on Oasis of the Seas is an open boulevard more than 100 meters long and features, bars, cafés, and nightclubs.  To make the sound system work in this vast and cavernous area, FUNA installed 42 UPA-1P loudspeakers concealed in dual overhead beams. To provide low-end support for the Disco Inferno Street Party and other events, 13 ultracompact self-powered subwoofers were deployed. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' director of entertainment technology and technical design, Christopher Vlassopulos had an idea to conceal subwoofers in some of the lamp posts and in response, Meyer Sound custom designed the MM-10, which it has since released as a new product for sale to the pubic.

Royal Caribbean ends cruises out of Norfolk, Virginia

In:
14Jun2010

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.  

Royal Caribbean receives Readers’ Choice Platinum Award

In:
14Jun2010

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

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

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.

Weddings on a cruise a rising trend

In:
11Jun2010

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 ditches cruise documents for eDoc

In:
09Jun2010

It's become a tradition before your cruise to get that packet of cruise documents in the mail that you will need for embarkation onto the ship.  It's a traditional part of the cruise planning process that's about to change completely.  Back in March 2010, Royal Caribbean announced they were doing away with the paper based cruise documents in favor of an e-ticket, that they've called "eDoc".

Royal Caribbean Director of Sales and Marketing Services Angela Stephen describes the eDoc as a "customized mini-website, pre-cruise planner, get-excited-about-your-cruise, and brag-to-your-friends-and-family-what-an-incredible-vacation-you-are-about-to-take” type of document.   The eDoc is basically a better means of marketing all that Royal Caribbean offers (read: activities that cost extra) to the cruiser who may not have been aware of it.  Given that the majority of cruises never visit cruise planning sites like this or Cruise Critic, they are unaware of many aspects of cruising until they got on board the ship.  The eDoc seems to be an attempt to educate guests about what is available on the ship before they board the ship so that they can book ahead of time.

Click here to preview what a sample eDoc looks like

For those that miss the old paper documents, you can order them for $35 per person, although Stephen mentions only 5% prefer the printed version (more like only 5% are willing to shell out the money for it, as opposed to expressing an opinion on the matter).  

What do you think of the eDoc idea?  Do you like it? Do you prefer the old way?  Share your thoughts!

Oasis of the Seas driving social media revolution in cruising

In:
07Jun2010

Technocrati posted a really interesting article about how social media (Twitter, Facebook, et al) were a great means of generating hype about their latest ship, Oasis of the Seas and how other cruise lines are taking notice now.

Travel trade publication Travel Weekly reported that as of a couple of weeks ago, 10 million unique visitors made their way to OasisoftheSea.com. Additionally, the publications reported that a whopping 200,000 people in a 24-hour period tuned in to watch videos of the Oasis captain, more viewers than Anderson Cooper drew on CNN in the same time period.

It's an axiom in social media marketing and public relations campaigns that the social web has an enormous capacity to bring mainstream media into the marketing and PR loop by generating deep consumer involvement in creating an on-line buzz. This, in turn, catches the attention of off-line media who are forced to take notice when they might ordinarily not — and the cruise industry apparently is getting this message.

I really think Royal Caribbean has been doing a great job with social media, especially on Twitter.  What contributes to their success is the fact they use Twitter not just as a one way means of letting their customers know when a sale or something is going on, but as a communication medium where they actually respond often to those who tweet to them.  In addition, you have the CEO of Royal Caribbean posting on a blog (and it appears to actually be him, not some intern) and it all contributes to making the customer feel like they have a connection to the company.  Bravo RCI!

Royal Caribbean joins other cruise lines in adding toys to older ships

In:
07Jun2010
These days it seems all the focus is on the newest generation of mega cruise ships, such as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, that Royal Caribbean and other lines are rolling out of the shipyards.  A recent article by the Orlando Sentinel shows that when older ships go in for rehabs, they are getting more than their carpets and upholstery cleaned and updated, cruise lines are investing more money in the big ticket item amenities to keep them as viable competitors to their own bigger and more glamorous ships.
 
One ship that is used as an example is Voyager of the Seas, a ship that was launched more than 10 years ago in 1999 and was the first ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet to feature a rock wall.  The rock wall was so popular that it was subsequently installed on all the other ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet.
 
Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch, chairman and CEO of Grand Bahama Shipyard, which has done much of the refurbishing of these older ships notes that these updates are integral in keeping older ships relevant,, "Quite a few novelty features have been included on the new ships, like champagne bars, Johnny Rocket, surf machines . . . and the old ships suddenly start to look very old because they don't have those features."
 
It's funny how the cruise line can have a perfectly great ship but the newer ships debut and you can feel like in a way that by going on the older ones, it's the cruise line equivalent of driving a green '72 Dodge around town.  These older ships are still wonderful vessels to vacation on, but they can be a little blurred behind the glitz of what's newer and prettier.  This is how the auto industry keeps consumers wanting to buy new cars when their older cars are still perfectly viable.  Cruise lines are adding fun things like giant movie screens and other upgrades to to keep the older ships still relevant and intriguing to consumers.

Shrek and other Dreamworks characters coming to Royal Caribbean ships

In:
04Jun2010

Royal Caribbean announced today a strategic alliance with Dreamworks Animation studios to provide the Dreamworks characters such as Shrek, onboard select Royal Caribbean ships.   Characters from Dreamworks Animation's most popular feature films will be featured, including the films – "Shrek," "Madagascar," "Kung Fu Panda" and "How to Train Your Dragon".

The new characters will first appear on the soon-to-be-launched Allure of the Seas, which debuts in December 2010.  Following Allure, Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas will receive characters on board their ships as well.

The move comes as an answer to the Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line that feature their own assortment of characters for guests to meet with during their vacation.  As the number two cruise line in the world, Royal Caribbean felt a need to add their own assortment of characters for their guests to meet.

Throughout the year, characters including Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots from Shrek; Alex, Marty and the Penguins of Madagascar; Po of Kung Fu Panda and Hiccup of How to Train Your Dragon will appear on board the ships at select times.  Activities that the characters will participate in include parades, special events, special character meals andphoto meet-n-greets.  Characters also will appear in an AquaTheater show on Allure of the Seas, and in an ice skating show on the ship.

There will be no additional cost to guests to experience any of these character activities.

Analysis

The move by Royal Caribbean to bring characters on their ships is interesting, although not completely unexpected.  Disney introduced the idea of having characters on their ships and once Norwegian brought the Nickelodean characters, it only made sense for Royal Caribbean to make a move to counter that.  Obviously this announcement will resonate most with families although the Shrek characters especially seem to resonate beyond kids.

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