RCL Cruises has announced Susan Bonner has officially moved into position as Vice President and Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, effective immediately.
Susan is responsible for the business operations of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises in the region, reporting to Gavin Smith, Senior Vice President International.
“With the highest market penetration for cruising of any country, I’m looking forward to continuing the incredible momentum our brands are experiencing in this region,” said Susan, “We truly believe there is a cruise out there for everyone, and our three distinctive lines offer award-winning cruise experiences to put us top of mind when Aussies consider their next holiday.”
Susan comes to Sydney from Royal Caribbean’s Miami office, where she served as Vice President of Celebrity Cruises’ Revenue Management and Onboard Revenue, and was integral in launching the line’s luxury Solstice Class ships. Prior to that, she led the Revenue Management and Onboard Revenue performance of Royal Caribbean International during the line’s historic introduction of the Quantum Class megaships.
Susan is a passionate advocate of gender equality, women in leadership and workplace diversity, part of an empowering female line-up at RCL which includes the first female CEO of a publicly traded cruise company, Celebrity Cruises’ Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, and an Australian office in which two thirds of the management team are women.
Bonner pursued her higher education by studying marketing at the prestigious Tulane University in New Orleans. As well as holding a passion for travel and cruising, Susan is a hot yoga enthusiast and the proud mother of a 19-year old son who attends military school back in the US.
Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas arrived to her new home at PortMiami today after a $120 million upgrade that added new thrills, restaurants, staterooms and entertainment.
Mariner of the Seas will offer short getaway cruises with 4-night weekday and 3-night weekend cruises from Miami to The Bahamas. Her entrance to the short cruise market radically changes the dynamic of what a weekend cruise can offer. Giving millennial travelers more ways to play, the ship’s short itineraries pack more adventure than ever with Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience; the cruise line’s first Polynesian-inspired, tiki-chic bar, The Bamboo Room; glow-in-the-dark laser tag, racer waterslides and more.
Sky Pad – The gravity-defying bungee trampoline experience amped up with virtual reality
The Perfect Storm – A thrilling pair of three-story-high racer waterslides called Cyclone and Typhoon
Laser Tag: Battle for Planet Z – An epic glow-in-the-dark battle for the last planet in the galaxy
Escape Room: The Observatorium – Royal Caribbean’s newest escape room challenge
FlowRider – The cruise line’s signature 40-foot-long surf simulator, perfect for hanging ten
The Bamboo Room – A laidback Polynesian watering hole with a throwback vibe and kitschy-cool craft cocktails like the Island Old Fashioned and Tiki Tea – the first in Royal Caribbean’s fleet
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade – For fans watching their home team on one of more than 25 TV screens, making their own legendary plays at the arcade, or refueling on game-day favorites
Jamie’s Italian – Serving fresh, handmade and rustic Italian fare by Chef Jamie Oliver, one of Britain’s most famous food exports
Izumi Hibachi and Sushi – Asian-inspired dining featuring hibachi, sushi and sashimi and more – made to order with authentic flavors, the freshest ingredients and impeccable presentation
Mariner of the Seas will welcome guests for the first time on Monday, June 25, as it sets sail on a 4-night cruise to The Bahamas. The newly reimagined ship will continue to offer 4-night weekday and 3-night weekend itineraries from Miami, with visits to Nassau and CocoCay. Beginning May 2019, Mariner will sail to the new Perfect Day at CocoCay, the first destination in Royal Caribbean’s recently announced collection of private island experiences around the world.
Mariner of the Seas is the second ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet to undergo the Royal Amplified program, which is a $900 million commitment to reimagine its fleet.
Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas made her first visit to two different ports in the Philippines this weekend, Subic Bay and Manila. This is the largest ever cruise ship to call at any Filipino port, and with the highest number of guests onboard totalling close to 4,600 from around the world. She is currently on a 5-night cruise from Hong Kong.
Photo by Royal Caribbean International
To celebrate the maiden call at Subic Bay, a traditional plaque exchange ceremony was held onboard between Ovation of the Seas’ Captain Flemming Nielsen and local officials namely Atty. Wilma Eisma, Chairman and Administrator of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Mr Roberto Alabado III, Assistant Secretary of Department of Tourism. Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon and Ms Ma. Cristina Garcia, Vice Governor of Bataan were present at the event as well.
Photo by Royal Caribbean International
Photo by Royal Caribbean International
A similar ceremony was held to celebrate the ship’s maiden call in Manila, with Captain Nielsen and Mr Mancile Francisquiel, Port Manager of Philippine Ports Authority, Mr Pocholo Joselito Paragas, Chief Operating Officer of Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) – Department of Tourism, and Atty. Solfia Arboladura, Director of Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau presented the “key to the City of Manila” to the ship's Captain.
Photo by Royal Caribbean International
Ovation of the Seas is the largest cruise ship to enter the Philippines.
The shipyard charged to build Royal Caribbean's two Icon Class cruise ships has signed a contract for the classification of the ships with DNV GL Maritime.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is envisioned as the primary fuel for the new vessels, which would dramatically reduce or even eliminate emission of nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulphur oxide (SOX) and particulates, as well as cutting carbon dioxide (CO2). The ICON Class will also introduce fuel cell technology, which in combination with hull air lubrication means that the ships could potentially be some of the most fuel efficient cruise vessels ever constructed. The ship will also take advantage of hull air lubrication, which has been used on other ships in the fleet.
The final concept for the first vessel is currently being discussed, and the concept design phase is expected to start this spring. The initial building phase of the first ship will begin next year, with keel laying planned for October 2019.
Royal Caribbean declared its newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is the world's most Instagrammable cruise ship.
To help guests make the most of these Insta-moments, Royal Caribbean has appointed Russ Francis as the company’s first ‘Instagrammer-in-Chief’ as Symphony takes her first guests on their holidays in the Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain.
Russ Francis’ Instagram skills were spotted by the company when he entered Royal Caribbean’s search for the first Instagram Intern-Ship at sea in 2017. His new role will be to help inspire guests to do the ship justice through their Instagram content and establish Symphony of the Seas as the world’s most Instagrammable ship.
“For something to be truly Instagrammable it has to be unique enough that people want to show off about it” comments Russ Francis, Royal Caribbean Instagrammer-in-Chief. “It’s so much more than being a pretty setting. Extraordinary Instagram content causes a reaction whether that’s jaws dropping in amazement or mouths watering at the very best dishes, it’s about capturing experiences that ‘wow’ the viewer. Symphony of the Seas ticks every single box making it the world’s most Instagrammable cruise ship.”
Russ has developed his guide to the ten most Insta-worthy moments that will help achieve the Insta-famous goal.
Ultimate Abyss – The faces of those who have just survived the white-knuckle descents of the tallest slide at sea is not something you want to miss on camera… but can you capture the exhilaration just at the right moment for the perfect Insta shot?
Central Park – Snap the lush greenery of over 12,000 tropical plants in this serene open-air neighbourhood. Packing this picture with as many beautiful and natural colours as possible will make it stand out on Instagram feeds.
Ultimate Family Suite – For a shot at the most exclusive onboard content, make friends with the adventure seeking family staying in the Ultimate Family Suite! With 1,346 square foot filled with a plethora of features including an indoor slide, air hockey table and an eye-popping LEGO wall, you can take advantage of the mix of the bold colours and interesting shapes, making it the most brag-worthy content for Instagram.
Vitality at Sea Spa – The tranquil spa is perfect for an ultra-smug Insta moment in between chilling out and being pampered. ‘Towel selfies’ are very in right now after all.
Pool and Sports Zone – This part of the ship is teeming with action packed Instagram potential. Simply turn your camera towards one of the three colourful waterslides, two FlowRider ® surf simulators or nine-deck high zip line for adrenaline-fueled shots.
Paradox Void– Discover an unusual and strangely captivating reflective art installation stretching high above you in the Royal Promenade. Made from 1,200 steel triangles, getting the lighting right here can work magic to the reflective surfaces, adding instant intrigue for your followers.
AquaTheatre – Head to the aft of the ship to snap the dazzling amphitheatre-style theatre and experience stunning aquatic acrobatics and high-diving aerial performances. This will test your reflexes as you try to capture the live action against an unbeatable ocean backdrop.
Royal Theatre – With unparalleled entertainment onboard there are umpteen content moments every evening, but for something really special just shimmy your way down to the Royal Theatre for a rendition of “Hairspray” to see if you can capture the excitement of live theatre in just one snap.
Solarium Big Wonder (art installation) – A one-of-a-kind work of art comprised of thousands of dichroic acrylic elements is the first to be featured in the Solarium, spanning an area of 2,594 square feet and flooding the pool beneath with natural light. The poolside palm trees bathed in this contrast of light and shadow make it a must-capture shot for any serious Instagrammer.
Hooked - Royal Caribbean’s first New England-style seafood restaurant will feature fresh seafood and a robust raw bar complete with oysters harvested to order. Located at the front of the ship in the adults-only Solarium, the casually sophisticated restaurant will offer expansive views of the open water – the perfect backdrop for a mouth-watering insta-shot.
To celebrate Symphony of the Seas being the world’s most Instagrammable ship, Royal Caribbean is launching a competition for all onboard guests to post in their best Instagram shots of the extraordinary ship. Using the hashtag #SymphonyoftheSeas, Russ Francis, the new Instagrammer-in-Chief will judge the best posts. The Instagrammers of the best ship shots will win an onboard treat from a massage in the spa to a bottle of Champagne in their suite.
Russ also shared some tips for anyone looking to use Instagram.
Take photos in a square frame - Instagram images appear as a square, so take your Instagram snaps in a square frame. This way, all of your picture will appear in the upload, and you won’t need to crop or zoom to ensure everything fits in.
Strong colours, shapes, lines and good lighting - To help your Instagram shot have the WOW factor; make sure it has strong colours and defined shapes and lines. If you’re struggling to make the lighting work and are flexible about timings then return to your shot at the ‘Golden Hour’, the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset, to capture something really shareable.
Use negative space - Negative space means the physical space that surrounds your image subject. Instagram photos that have the right mix of negative space and a tangible object can really stand out.
Reflections - Reflections are a quick and easy way to get an interesting and unusual effect on your Instagram picture. Water, mirrors and glass are three great surfaces to get you started
Use gridlines to balance your shot – Improve snaps by taking the photo outside of the Instagram app and using your phone’s gridlines function. Apply the ‘rule of thirds’ and ensure that compositional elements are placed along the nine lines and their intersections of the grid. Pros claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest than simply centering the subject.
Show some personality – Layering on words and stickers to an Instagram Story can add some fun and individuality to your extraordinary shots that usually encourages greater levels of engagement.
Use a great caption - These days, it isn’t just about the picture or videos. Captions play a big role in how many likes you get and how people engage with your Instagram content. Use emotive descriptions and humour to connect with your followers.
Guests on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas will have the opportunity to see brand new shows that were produced for the largest cruise ship in the world, including a headliner show that combines high-energy with high-tech.
Headlining the playbill will be the all-new show ‘Flight: Dare to Dream,’ a one-of-a-kind journey through the past, present and future of air travel and space exploration that will make history as one of the most ambitious stage productions to date. Guests take off on a spectacular adventure through time, chronicling key milestones in aeronautics, beginning with the first leisure voyage to Mars and ending with a stunning homage to the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk.
A Royal Caribbean Productions original, ‘Flight: Dare to Dream’ introduces cutting-edge 3D flying technology, video and automation to the 1,401-seat Royal Theater. Going where no stage has gone before, space and zero gravity will be simulated as actors “float” within a detailed replica of the International Space Station (ISS). The first theater set piece of its kind, the detailed design of Royal Caribbean’s ISS was informed by Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson, who lived 167 days in space and completed 38 hours and 28 minutes over 6 spacewalks in two separate missions.
“I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to relive my five months aboard the International Space Station for this out-of-this-world Royal Caribbean production,” said Clayton C. Anderson, U.S. astronaut, author & speaker. “I worked with Royal Caribbean to ensure the show’s zero gravity simulation, and appearance of the ISS replica were as true to life as possible to further enhance the show’s wow factor.”
Royal Caribbean Productions is the first team to consult with an astronaut that lived in space for a live theatrical production. Complex, high-impact choreography and production also take form in 3D flying with a custom built recreation of the Wright Flyer that will take off into the house; the set piece will have a 22 foot wingspan and single seat “cockpit.”
“We continue to push the envelope with high-tech, immersive entertainment at Royal Caribbean, and we couldn’t be prouder with how ‘Flight: Dare to Dream’ has brought to life the awe and wonder of flying,” said Nick Weir, Vice President, Entertainment, Royal Caribbean International. “Guests from 5 to 95 years old will not believe their eyes, as all our shows onboard Symphony of the Seas capture their imagination and create jaw-dropping I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened moments they won’t soon forget.”
Clayton Anderson & Nick Weir. Photo by Nick Weir.
Three additional headline shows across three distinct stage venues on Symphony of the Seas, include:
1977 in Studio B is the continuation to “1877,” the ice-skating show introduced on sister-ship Harmony of the Seas, featuring the time-traveling hero, Tempus. In his latest adventure, Tempus heads to London where a mysterious jewel thief with special powers has stolen the Queen’s crown jewels on the eve of her Silver Jubilee. Timing is everything in this imaginative original ice show, featuring high-tech projection mapping images that bring the ‘70s to life on the ice.
Hairspray, a guest favorite, gets a makeover for Symphony of the Seas with new choreography and staging of the Tony Award- winning musical. The larger-than-life, Royal Caribbean Productions’ original introduces revolutionary set design, taking the story of loveable teen Tracy Turnblad in 1960s Baltimore, to the next level.
HiRO raises the bar on Royal Caribbean’s aqua shows with more high flying feats, unexpected stunts and extraordinary acrobatics than ever before. Brought to life by the world’s best extreme-sport athletes, HiRO pushes the limits of a theatrical production at sea with cutting-edge technology and choreography and. No two shows are the same, making it worth seeing twice. The show features 3D flying technology used by aerialists as they literally soar above the crowd, plus acrobats and professional divers.
Royal Caribbean's Ovation fo the Seas is helping test a new satellite tracking system that aims to be even more precise and accurate than any system before it.
Ovation of the Seas is testing the highly accurate positioning technology, as part of the trial of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Australasian region. Standalone GPS positioning is giving you five to 10 metre level positioning, whereas SBAS allows for corrections at the 10 centimere level to the entire area.
SBAS technology was used by Acoustic Imaging in consultation with the Port Authority of New South Wales to help dock Ovation of the Seas on its most recent visit to Sydney Harbour.
The Chief Operating Officer of Port Authority of New South Wales and Harbour Master, Philip Holliday said Ovation of the Seas is one of the biggest cruise ships to dock in Sydney Harbour during the cruise season.
"Sydney is extremely busy during the cruise season; we have enormous cruise ships coming in virtually every day and intermingled into all of that is ferry and recreation traffic. It's a busy working harbour," Mr Holliday said.
The lead scientist of Acoustic Imaging's maritime programs, Nicole Bergersen said the docking of Ovation of the Seas, which is over 330 metres long and too tall to sail beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was a unique opportunity to test how the use of SBAS technology could potentially benefit the ports of Sydney Harbour.
"The berth box inside Circular Quay is marginally smaller than the Ovation of the Seas, so the Ovation of the Seas is actually parking with nose protruding out in front of that parking spot. We're on a level where metres matter, and centimetres matter." Ms Bergersen said.
"What SBAS is allowing us to do is have the pilot rely just on the information on the computer screen and if we can enable instrument navigation, then the pilot no longer needs visibility to be able to steer a ship.
"That's going to allow the Port Authority of New South Wales to bring in more ships, more frequently and in adverse conditions."
Royal Caribbean has big plans for the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, especially when it comes to offering more for families to do than on any of its ships since.
Families on Symphony of the Seas can try a glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure, take the plunge down the tallest slide at sea, or soak up some sun after getting drenched on the ship’s epic waterslides and surf simulators.
The highlights for families on Symphony of the Seas include:
The Ultimate Family Suite
The new Ultimate Family Suite is two stories of thrills on every level. This one-of-a-kind stateroom has some "swoon-worthy" features, whimsical color schemes and a whole lot of awesome.
The 1,346-square-foot interactive space is designed for both the young and young at heart, providing a space for families to come together during their cruise vacation, while also offering enough room and amenities to relax during that special “me time.”
Family Friendly Menus
Eating on Symphony of the Seas will be a pleasure, as the ship offers a little bit of everything onboard to ensure even the pickiest eaters can find something to enjoy. Symphony will make it easy for families to taste the ultimate kid’s menus at sea across more than 20 restaurants found on board, four of which are new concepts for the cruise line.
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade is where families cheer on their home team playing on any of more than 30 big-screen TVs, while they munch on American classics like wings, popcorn shrimp, sliders, burgers and picture-perfect sundaes. After finding inspiration in celebrating a win, it is game on at the arcade with Ms. Pac-Man, Star Wars Battle Pod, Ice Skee-ball and a lineup of other popular arcade games.
El Loco Fresh is perfect for the family on the go with a fiesta of flavors, from made-from-scratch mole sauce and tangy salsa verde to the made-to-order tacos and burritos. This crazy delicious Mexican fare is fresh and fast for those looking to fuel up for their next onboard adventure.
Hooked Seafood is the ultimate catch for families looking for fresh seafood. Those angling for a real taste of New England-inspired classics can enjoy lobster and crab claws, or take their pick of local fish and just-shucked oysters at the ice-cold raw bar.
Sugar Beach candy and ice cream shop is the ultimate spot for that sweet tooth. Adults and kids alike can take their pick from a family’s favorite confections and ice creams, alongside a few sugarcoated surprises. The sweetest place on the high seas also features family-friendly DIY activities for aspirational culinary artists.
Things to do
Royal Caribbean has added new high-tech, high-energy original productions that will captivate children and grownups alike.
Battle for Planet Z has family, friends and foes go head to head for control of the last planet in the galaxy in this new glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience, complete with state-of-the-art technology and special effects.
Puzzle Break: Escape the Rubicon challenges teams to race against the clock as they learn to work together toward one common goal – to escape the submarine-themed room before time runs out.
Fun for all ages
Symphony of the Seas will also offer plenty of family favorites onboard, such as
Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea
The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides
Two FlowRider surf simulators
Splashaway Bay, a vibrant waterscape for kids and toddlers
Skating in a real-ice rink at Studio B
A nine-deck-high zip line
Two rock-climbing walls that stand 43 feet high
Full-size basketball court
19 pools across 1,188 feet
Symphony of the Seas will also offer complimentary programming for kids, in the form of the Adventure Ocean youth program. Guests ages 3 to 17 years old can participate in entertaining and educational experiences and activities infused with innovative fun and excitement. Highlights include:
Aquanauts (ages 3-5 years) serves up cool experiments and the chance to become Certified Jr. Adventure Scientists.
Explorers (ages 6-8 years) includes fun events and adventures, such as themed parties.
Voyagers (ages 9-11 years) offers a range of activities that puts the "cool" back into learning.
Babies and toddlers also have their own array of options to consider.
Royal Babies (ages 6-18 months) offers the tiniest guests and their parents interactive classes filled with enriching activities developed by early childhood experts.
Royal Tots (ages 18-36 months) provides 45-minute interactive playground sessions filled with age-appropriate activities and toys.
Tweens & Teens Program (ages 12-17 years) allows older kids the freedom to come and go from their dedicated spaces on board, while checking out games, sports and parties with others their age.
Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas was the staging ground for the Biggest Game of Hide and Seek, with Ben Harrison, age 26, from Hornsby NSW, taking home the AUD$10,000 prize, and a family cruise for four, all thanks to his stealthy hiding techniques.
In an Australian first, Aussies aged eight and over boarded the megaship docked in Sydney Harbour to play a huge version of the iconic childhood game, as part of a unique competition to celebrate 10 years of Royal Caribbean sailing Down Under.
Two games were held – one for adults aged 15 and over and another for kids aged 8-14. Competitors were picked from over 20,000 entrants and came from far and wide; NSW, QLD, NT, SA, WA, VIC - to seek out the best hiding spots onboard in an attempt to outwit the “Seekers”, Australia’s national Hide & Seek team The Nascondingos, who competed in the 2017 annual World Championships in Italy.
12-year-old Ryan S from Kincup in regional QLD took home the kids’ prize which was a family cruise for four, after hiding from the Nascondingos under a couch. Runner up Benjamin H from NSW is also taking his family on a holiday.
Winner of the adults’ game, Ben Harrison aka ‘Big Red’ used sheer distance as his tactic, attempting to get as far away from home base as he could in the allocated hiding time. He chose curtains to hide under in rounds one and two, and in the third – his winning spot – Ben managed to squeeze underneath a table that was concealed by a curtain. After being awarded his novelty size check, Ben said “It’s a pretty big accomplishment. I am very surprised, I still have butterflies in my stomach. I’m very very happy”. He and fiancé Jess will be putting the $10,000 towards their wedding at the end of the year, and will use the cruise for their honeymoon.
The Nascondingos have heralded it their hardest game yet, “There was just a lot of ground to cover. We’re short twitch athletes and we’re used to five-minute rounds. These 20 minute rounds covering eight football fields really put us under pressure. It was far more challenging than we thought it would be. Curtain and couch hiding were the most popular spots” said Alan Jones, Nascondingo’s Captain.
From attempts to host unofficial games in a certain Swedish furniture store, to a campaign for Hide and Seek to appear as an official exhibition sport in Tokyo in 2020, the event took place as the game gains traction as a serious sport among people of all ages.
MC for the day, TV personality Jason Dundas said of the frivolity; “I’ve been travelling the world filming Getaway from over 100 countries for 11 years and I’ve never been on a cooler ship and had more of a fun experience onboard in my life”.
Royal Caribbean celebrated its valued travel agent community with its annual Travel Partners of the Year Awards for North America.
The awards recognize travel agencies that do show a commitment to selling Royal Caribbean cruises, and this year's accolades recognized more than 10 top performers.
“These are extremely exciting times for the cruise industry – cruise lines and travel partners alike. The sky’s the limit at Royal Caribbean, and the strong performance we’ve seen is thanks in large part to our valued travel professionals and their incredible knowledge when it comes to planning inspiring vacations on our ships,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Royal Caribbean International. “I’m very proud to honor these experts who consistently work with us and continue to see success with their businesses. Congratulations to the returning and first-time Travel Partners of the Year award recipients.”
Royal Caribbean’s 2017 Travel Partners of the Year winners are as follows:
Chairman's Award for Overall Achievement Cruise Planners – an American Express Travel Representative
President's Award for Overall Achievement Expedia CruiseShipCenters
National Account Partner of the Year World Travel Holdings
Host Agency Partner of the Year Travel Planners International
New-to-Cruise Partner of the Year International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (ICE) *First-time winner
Home-Based Partner of the Year CruiseOne, Dream Vacations & Cruises Inc. *First-time winner
Online Partner of the Year Cruise.com
Rising Star Partner of the Year Cruises-N-More *First-time winner
Consortia Partner of the Year Virtuoso
Corporate Incentive Partner of the Year Buy the Sea
Marketing Partner of the Year Travel Leaders Network
Southeast Partner of the Year Tourico Holidays *First-time winner
Northeast Partner of the Year Autism on the Seas
Central Partner of the Year KHM Travel Group
West Partner of the Year Morris Murdock
Canada Partner of the Year Maritime Travel – LeGrow’s Travel *First-time winner