In this episode, we're discussing the cruise ship that has changed the world of cruising and arguably had the biggest impact on the cruise industry in recent years, Oasis of the Seas. Joining me is Beci Mahnken of MEI-Travel, and we're talking about what makes Oasis of the Seas such an amazing ship to sail on. We're also sharing tips for those who go on an Oasis of the Seas cruise along with more of your listener feedback.
Royal Caribbean has taken its highest ever pre-booking registrations from its customers who are excited to try Oasis of the Seas cruise ship in Europe.
Royal Caribbean will offer a limited number of sailings aboard Oasis in fall 2014, when the largest ship in Europe will sail the Mediterranean as well as stop in Southampton, England.
Royal Caribbean reports its reservation teams have had to work overtime as well as hire part-time employees to handle all of the cruise bookings since the ship's European bookings went on sale to Crown and Anchor Society members this week.
Employees from other departments across the business have even been pulled in to answer phones and take bookings, said Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean Associate VP and general manager UK and Ireland Jo Rzymowska spoke about the demand, "The thousands and thousands of pre-registrations to be one of the first to book Oasis of the Seas' European cruises are simply mind-blowing and the ship really is living up to its incredible reputation as being a game changer for the industry."
"We have increased the size of the team and have contingency team members ready across the whole business to handle the peak in calls we are expecting when the ship opens for general sale on Thursday at midday."
Royal Caribbean sent an email to its Crown and Anchor Society loyalty club members that they will have exclusive access to start booking cruises aboard Oasis of the Seas as she makes a quick trip to Europe.
Starting April 9 at 7am eastern, Royal Caribbean will offer Crown and Anchor Society members two full days to make reservations before the general public gets access.
To reserve, please contact the Crown & Anchor desk at 1-877-722-5266 beginning at 7 AM Eastern time on April 9th, 2013.
Royal Caribbean announced last month it was sending Oasis of the Seas to Europe starting in September 14, where she will offer transatlantic sailings as well as a choice of three European sailings.
Royal Caribbean announced today that it was sending its famous Oasis of the Seas cruise ship to operate in Europe for a short autumn season in 2014.
Oasis of the Seas will offer two trans-Atlantic crossings where passengers will be able to experience an exclusive preview of the Quantum-class experience and join in special programs that will amplify the Oasis-class experience. A 12-night eastbound cruise from the ship’s homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Barcelona departs Sept. 1, 2014 and a 13-night westbound cruise will return Oasis of the Seas to Port Everglades from Rotterdam on Oct. 14. Vacationers also can embark the westbound trans-Atlantic cruise at Southampton on Oct. 15.
Once in Europe, Oasis of the Seas will offer a choice of three European sailings. Guests can choose among two roundtrip sailings on a five-night Western Mediterranean itinerary from Barcelona, and a seven-night Spain itinerary sailing from Barcelona to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where Oasis of the Seas will enter drydock in KéppelVerolme shipyard for routine maintenance. Additionally, a two-night Bahamas cruise departing on Aug. 30 and a five-night Western Caribbean cruise departing on Oct. 27, both roundtrip from Port Everglades, will bookend Oasis of the Seas’ short 2014 Europe season.
Oasis of the Seas' 2014 Europe season will go on sale on April 11, 2013.
“Nothing can compare to the Oasis-class vacation experience, a testament to Royal Caribbean’s more than 40 years of innovation,” said Lisa Bauer, executive vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “Now vacationers can combine Europe’s rich cultures and history with the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ship for a regional experience that can only be found on Royal Caribbean. And for those who have always wanted more time to enjoy the myriad activities on Oasis of the Seas, our two trans-Atlantic cruises will offer more than enough time to do everything on board, as well as some surprises along the way.”
ESPNatSEAannounced a new schedule of ESPN International live network sports viewing-cruise VIP events aboard select Royal Caribbean ships in 2013.
The new events are part of an initiative by ESPN to offer specialized viewing events to sports fans who also want to enjoy a cruise. The first two inaugural events will be held aboard Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.
"Oasis MVP Cruise I" aboard Oasis of the Seas: 7-night cruise round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale to some the hottest Caribbean destination such as Labadee, Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. The biggest football day of the year will be televised live at sea, so be prepared. Dates: February 2 to 9, 2013.
"Jewel MVP Cruise II" aboard Jewel of the Seas: Calling all women soccer fans and football lovers. The biggest day in football is not the only sporting highlight on this 5-night VIP cruise. There will also be a special focus on the international success and rising popularity of women's soccer. This cruise leaves from Tampa, stopping in Key West, Fla. and Cozumel, Mexico. Dates: February 2-7, 2013.
The events will include private VIP cocktail receptions with sport celebrities,behind-the-scenes participation in the production of popular ESPN International programs and sport event viewings.
Participation in both programs will NOT be offered on the cruises. However, interested parties who may have already booked their cruise can contact ESPNatSEA at info@ESPNatSEA.com to register for the VIP Experience.
Royal Caribbean director of corporate incentive and charter sales, Lori Cassidy, commented on the partnership, "Royal Caribbean is very pleased to be the host of the two launch events for ESPNatSEA. ESPN and Royal Caribbean have a long history of supporting each other as partners in televised sporting events - for example ESPN International is a sponsor of the Royal 5K running events."
We reported on Wednesday that a newspaper in Finland claims Royal Caribbean was getting ready to order a third Oasis-class cruise ship from STX Finland's Turku Shipyard.
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez responded to the report by saying, "It's a rumor. We don't comment on rumors."
Martinez also added to a request by USA Today, "As we have done in the past, if/when we have something to announce, we will do so through an official company press release."
The rumored ship order stipulates that Royal Caribbean is looking for financial assistance from the Finnish government to help pay for the ship order.
If the rumor proves to be true, the third ship would be sister to Oasis and Allure of the Seas. It would also be the third ship Royal Caribbean currently has on order, with two other smaller ships known as "Project Sunshine" under construction in Germany.
Finnish newspaper TurunSanomat is reporting that STX Finland's Turku Shipyard is possibly close to receiving a contract from Royal Caribbean to build a third Oasis-class ship. This would be the sister ship to Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
The possible 1 billion Euro order hinges on if the Finnish government is willing to offer export credit construction financing. The newspaper reports the matter will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday of the Finnish Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy.
Royal Caribbean already has two other smaller ships on order, known as Sunshine Class, from a shipyard in Germany.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was designed with technology in mind to make the ship easier to navigate for the passengers and crew onboard through tools like RFID, facial recognition and handheld wireless devices for a variety of purposes, including emergency responses, food safety, point-of-sale (POS) transactions and passenger service.
Royal Caribbean vice president of information Technology, Santiago Abraham, spoke about the important of technology on the ship, "We were keenly aware that we were building the biggest ship in the world and we wanted to make sure the experience nonetheless was an intimate one, and eliminate any sense that you are on a massive ship."
To help get passengers around the ship and find their way, Oasis of the Seas has over 300 digital, interactive signs that people can use to access maps, get directions, see scheduled activities and check in real-time the occupancy level of restaurants.
"The digital signage helps our guests navigate the ship," Abraham said of the system, whose touchscreen devices use Windows 7 on the front end and tap SQL Server and other Windows server products on the back end. "You see guests interacting with it on a pretty continual basis very effectively."
Royal Caribbean's IT department also automated retail transactions and food inspections on board with PAR Technology terminals and tablets running software from Agilysys and the Windows Embedded OS.
The technology helps food inspections be done in two hours instead of five thanks to devices that have temperature probes and readers to scan RFID tags on the food containers.
The Point of Sales and food inspection data is instantly fed to back-end Microsoft SQL Server databases where it is automatically analyzed and acted upon, whether it's to replenish low inventory in a store or to order that a food container be discarded.
From Microsoft's perspective, Royal Caribbean has achieved in Oasis of the Seas the "intelligent system" vision of the Windows Embedded products, in which client devices are used to gather data that is then stored on the back end and analyzed for operational improvements.
Abraham said Royal Caribbean is very satisfied with the way the IT infrastructure in Oasis of the Seas helps passengers and staffers without being intrusive or complicated.
"We were trying to have technology help our guests in terms of their experience on board, whether it's boarding the ship, learning more about activities or planning their day, but we also didn't want to be 'in your face' with the technology, so it's all very embedded in a lot of different elements," Abraham said.
Travel Weekly has awarded Royal Caribbean 15 Magellan Awards for the year. Radiance of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas were singled out among the awards along with Royal Caribbean's "The Sea is Calling" advertising campaign.
“We are much honored to be recognized again by Travel Weekly’s distinguished panel of industry experts and judges,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “We are particularly encouraged that revitalized Radiance of the Seas won Gold for Overall Contemporary Ship. Radiance of the Seas is a glowing example of our ongoing ship revitalizations to introduce some of the most popular Oasis-class amenities across the fleet and make every ship our best ship for vacationers to enjoy.”
Gold Magellan Awards
Radiance of the Seas - Overall - Contemporary Ship
Oasis of the Seas - Overall - Eco-Friendly "Green" Cruise Ship
The Sea is Calling - Advertising/Marketing Campaign
The Sea is Calling - TV Commercial
The Sea is Calling... - Vicki Print Advertising
Oasis’ 150 Central Park - Contemporary Ship - Restaurant Design
DreamWorks Experience - Contemporary Ship - Entertainment
Hairspray - Contemporary Ship - Entertainment
Royal Promenade -Contemporary Ship - Atrium Design
Royal Loft Suites - Contemporary Ship - Suite Design
Silver Magellan Awards :
Allure of the Seas - Overall - Contemporary Ship
Sea Views - Overall - Blog
Crown & Anchor Society - Overall - Loyalty Program
Vitality at Sea Spa - Contemporary Ship - Spa Design