Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean announces changes to Safety, Environment and Health Team leadership


Royal Caribbean announced today changes to its Safety, Environment and Health Team as the head of the department plans for his retirement.

Gary Bald, Senior Vice President, Safety, Security, Environment, Medical/Public Health and Situation Management for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., will transition his duties to top corporate and federal security executiveJennifer Love as he prepares for his retirement in the Spring of 2016.  Love will join Royal Caribbean on September 28, 2015.

Bald has worked for Royal Caribbean since 2006 and in his time, has overseen the company's environmental practices as well as the safety, security and health of the company's 62,000 employees, more than five million guests annually.

Replacing Bald is Jennifer Love, who has spent nearly 25 years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Most recently, Love was in charge of the enterprise-wide security programs and process for the Cablevision Systems Corporation and served as the company's chief liaison to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

"Gary has been a key figure in the development of Royal Caribbean's approach to safety, environment and health, and an important leader who has made significant contributions to the entire cruise industry," said Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  "Gary's leadership has enhanced the safety and security of our guests, crew and employees.  We are privileged to have had Gary at Royal Caribbean"

Goldstein added: "We are very excited to have Jennifer Love join our team.  I am confident Jennifer's skills and expertise will build on our momentum and take our company to even greater advances in our preparedness, procedures and systems."


Royal Caribbean becomes first corporation certified by RAINN for sexual assault prevention


Washington, D.C.-based Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has certified Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. as the first corporation certified for compliance with new standards aimed at preventing or responding to sexual assault.

RAINN's certification for Royal Caribbean comes after a highly detailed inspection and analysis of onboard plans and practices by Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.

Examiners covered 10 key areas for compliance, including general prevention efforts; victim care and mental health services; medical service and supply; training of general crew, medical and security staff; hiring guidelines; physical ship security; and prospective passenger screening.

In addition to reviewing RCL’s written plans and policies, RAINN inspectors also conducted onboard staff interviews with the three brands.

RAINN auditors spent about four months reviewing more than 2,000 pages of RCL policies, protocols and staff training materials for sexual assault prevention and response.

Onsite inspections and audits included RCL headquarters and ships, and some 200 onboard interviews were conducted with crew members to ensure their full understanding and implementation of RCL policies.

The work was completed this summer, and compliance certification will remain in effect until summer 2017, when RAINN will re-examine RCL’s operations to ensure continued compliance.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of our guests and crew,” RCL Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain says of the distinction awarded by the Washington, D.C.-based Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN. “We set high standards for ourselves – and on the most important subjects, we look to experts for guidance.

“RAINN’s evaluation was complete and thorough, and we take pride in reaching the standards they set for certification.”

Royal Caribbean names Michael Giresi Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer


Royal Caribbean named Michael Giresi new senior vice president and chief information officer. 

Giresi will report directly to Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Goldstein commented on Giresi's hiring, "Michael's background and experience implementing leading edge technology, combined with the skills of our seasoned management team, will be vital as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. continues to innovate and accelerate its global expansion.  His broad experience and proven leadership will provide the company with the necessary tools to marry technology solutions that will continue to differentiate us."

Giresi joins Royal Caribbean after serving as senior vice president and CIO for Tory Burch, where he was responsible for the implementation of new infrastructure and technology initiatives for one of the fastest growing fashion brands in the world.  Throughout his career, he has held various management positions, including executive vice president and CIO for Direct Brands, Inc, CIO for Godiva Chocolatier and director of information technology for the Campbell Soup Company.

"I am looking forward for the opportunity to join Royal Caribbean, a company that stands for excellence in the travel industry," said Giresi. "Working with the IT team, we will create the infrastructure necessary to move the company to the next level."

Royal Caribbean appoints new Chief Marketing Officer


Royal Caribbean announced today it has named Jim Berra its new Chief Marketing Officer.

Photo by Orlando Business Journal

Jim will be responsible for all aspects of the cruise line’s marketing program, including brand strategy and positioning, consumer and trade advertising, web and loyalty marketing, research, brand development and communications. He will report to Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO.

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley commented on the appointment, "We are delighted to have Jim join our team. With so many exciting initiatives on the immediate horizon for our brand, we feel that Jim’s impressive history of creativity and proven results will continue the momentum of innovation the brand has created."

Jim joins Royal Caribbean after most recently serving as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Line, where he oversaw the company's advertising, public relations, customer marketing and digital efforts.

Previously, he served as senior vice president and general manager for Rodale Interactive, where he led the development and marketing of the company’s online businesses. Rodale is a global media company publishing some of the best-known health and wellness lifestyle magazines and books. Prior to that Jim also held various marketing positions at Starwood Hotels & Resorts including as the senior vice president of customer marketing and strategic alliances, where he oversaw Starwood’s loyalty programs, customer relationship management and strategic alliances. Jim began his marketing career at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

Jim received Bachelor’s degrees in economics and philosophy from Northwestern University. He has been recognized with several awards and was listed as one of the World's 50 Most Influential CMOs in 2013 and 2014 by Forbes Magazine; received the Industry Impact Award by Inside Flyer Magazine; and was included in Brand Week’s list of Next Generation Marketers.

Royal Caribbean names new vice president of Food and Beverage Operations


Royal Caribbean announce dtoday John Sulley will be its new vice president of Food and Beverage Operations.

Chef Suley will oversee more than 265 individual restaurants aboard 23 of the most innovative cruise ships sailing around the world.

Prior to this position, Chef Suley was the associate vice president of Food and Beverage Operations for Celebrity Cruises, where he led all menu development and implementation, chef recruitment and training. Most recently, he was instrumental in the brand’s many recognitions in the Wine Spectator 2014 Restaurant Wine List Awards, as well as the lauded launch of Celebrity’s suite-class restaurant Luminae.

Prior to joining Celebrity Cruises in 2011, he was the executive chef at three-time James Beard Award-winner Alfred Portale’s Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City and Gotham Steak, fomerly at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The innovative Chef Suley also has worked at high-profile hospitality brands, including the Ritz Carlton, South Beach, Waldorf Astoria and St. Regis Hotels, and alongside some of the world’s most accomplished chefs, including Daniel Boulud.

Royal Caribbean senior vice president of Hotel Operations for Royal Caribbean, Mark Tamis, commented on Suley's promotion, "We are very excited to welcome John to Royal Caribbean.  John brings awesome experience and unmatched skill in delivering delicious dining experiences on land and at sea. His high-energy leadership will continue to elevate the onboard dining experience for our guests as part of the best vacations that only Royal Caribbean can deliver."

Royal Caribbean names new Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations


Royal Caribbean announced today it has named Mark Tamis as its new senior vice president, Hotel Operations.

Tamis will oversee Royal Caribbean's hotel services, food, beverage, entertainment and private destinations, and will report directly to Royal Caribbean CEO and President Michael Bayley.

"Mark has extensive knowledge and a proven track record of success in the hospitality industry and I look forward to welcoming him to the Royal family," said Bayley. "In his role, Mark will lead the dedicated men and women who work every day to deliver the best vacation adventures to our guests from around the world. And I am confident that he can help us take our award-winning experience to even greater heights."

Tamis comes to Royal Caribbean after serving as senior vice president, Guest Operations with Carnival Cruise Lines.

Tamis is also active in various civic and community service organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters and Special Olympics, and founded, an organization that encourages fathers to volunteer with their children to benefit their communities.

Royal Caribbean leaning towards more promotions and less cruise discounts


During Royal Caribbean's fourth quarter financial results earnings call with investors, Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain indicated the company was opting to offer promotions that offer passengers added benefits in lieu of discounting cruise fares.

Fain discussed the strategy and said passengers prefer to get things like onboard credit, free gratuities or drink packages instead of reducing the overall price of a cruise to get more bookings.

"One of the things you've seen is that we are doing more and more with value added versus discounts. We really feel that the consumer prefers that. It works out better for the travel agents, " Fain said during the call.

In addition, cruise promos are preferred by travel agents who get a higher commissionable cruise fare to sell.

This strategy did exceedingly well with sister brand Celebrity Cruises, who had a "123 Go" offer that was focused only on offering extras to guests.

"I think those kind of value added packages are proving from the market point of view to be very popular with the consumer, " Fain explained.

"And it means that instead of touting ourselves on price, we tout ourselves on what we are offering. We think that the market is ready for, and we are very much focused on trying to upgrade ourselves, the image and do less price-fighting and more 'this why you are better on this kind of a cruise'."

Royal Caribbean relaunches official blog with new design


Royal Caribbean has relaunched its Sea Views Blog that periodically posts updates about what's happening in the fleet with a new design.

In a post by Royal Caribbean President & COO Adam Goldstein, he announced the blog has been, "refreshed, broadened and considerably more visual than it has been in previous years".

The vision of the blog will feature posts all about trending topics, news pieces and behind-the-scenes looks.  It's going to "open up" with more content from across the company.  Most of the updates will come from Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley and his Royal Caribbean International brand leadership team.  Goldstein did indicate he will still chime in once in a while with new posts too.

Goldstein promised plenty of coverage of what's going on with the brand new Quantum of the Seas and the upcoming launch of sister ship Anthem of the Seas.

First time cruisers: Comparing Royal Caribbean to Disney Cruise Line


For many families, they have to pick the right cruise for their vacation and there's no doubt two of the titans of the family cruise market are Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line.  We get so many questions about this topic that we wanted to look at how they compare to each other.

It should be noted right away that picking a cruise line over another is quite subjective and there's always going to be differing opinions on this, but we try to remain as objective as possible.

What Royal Caribbean does well

Royal Caribbean has a few "core competencies" where it generally exceeds at and these are areas that if important to you, could sway your opinion

Latest and greatest

If you want to cruise on the newest cruise ships with the latest uber-cool cruise ship innovations, then Royal Caribbean is the line for you.  They build new ships quite regularly, with another four cruise ships on order as of this blog post.

Besides bragging rights, these new ships offer the latest in cruise ship trends as well as the very best in accommodations, dining, technology and entertainment.  We love older ships but there's no beating a brand new ship for what it offers.

World wide itineraries

From the Far East, to Australia to the Middle East, Europe and Alaska, there's lots of Royal Caribbean ships sailing these waters throughout the year.   Its ships sail to every continent except Antarctica on cruises ranging from three nights to 18 nights.

Because Royal Caribbean has a substantially larger fleet than Disney, Royal Caribbean has been focusing on serving the international markets to expand its market share and that's resulted in a lot of itinerary variety to choose from.  Often, there's a Royal Caribbean ship in one of these major regions in addition to the well-represented North American cruise corridor.

When you're looking for something more than another cruise to the Bahamas, it's hard to beat what Royal Caribbean offers.

Unlimited alcohol packages

Simply put, you can get reasonably priced unlimited alcohol packages on Royal Caribbean ships that give you a fixed price for your onboard consumption.  

Adults will be able to know in advance how much this cost will be and even pre-pay it to help break up the cost of the trip.  While we personally find the unlimited drink packages to be more than what we need, many adults enjoy the convenience of the packages.


What Disney Cruise Line does well

If you're wondering what Disney Cruise Line does better than most, here's a quick rundown of our experience.

Overall dining experience

Excluding specialty restaurants, we think Disney Cruise Line's complimentary restaurants are quite well planned. Guests get to try a different restaurant each night with the same wait staff "following" them around between restaurants.

In addition, the restaurants on Disney Cruise Line are not just rooms with food.  Each restaurant has a unique look and feel to it and they stand out in terms of their atmosphere.

For sailing of 4-nights or more there are different themed menus. So, even though you eat in the same dining room again you'd have a different dinner. At times they are themed to the region for example Mediterranean or Taste of Alaska.

Free soda

If soft drinks are your thing, there's no beating the complimentary soda available on Disney Cruise Line.  

Royal Caribbean charges per soda or offers beverage packages that cover them, but on Disney Cruise Line offers unlimited fountain soda, regular coffee, tea and water.  

For kids and those that just love a good Coke, it's a big cost savings when you consider how much Royal Caribbean would charge to drink the same amount onboard their ships.

Stateroom size and offerings

Since it's inception, Disney Cruise Line has offered more space and options in its staterooms than anyone else in the cruise industry,

While Royal Caribbean has narrowed the gap in recent years with its newer ships, Disney Cruise Line offers more square footage and bathtubs in the majority of staterooms.

Inside staterooms on the Disney Dream (one of Disney Cruise Line's newest ships) have square footage of 169 square feet, whereas on Oasis of the Seas inside staterooms begin at 150 square feet).

Blurred Lines: How the two compare in other areas

Both cruise lines do a lot of things well and it's harder to pick a winner among the two without getting into some real personal opinions.


Disney came into the cruise space with its well known ability to create compelling shows.  Disney puts on a lot of stage shows that garner rave reviews and they also offer character meets with Mickey, Minine and many other characters and princesses.

Disney Cruise Line also offers fireworks at sea, whereas Royal Caribbean does not.

Royal Caribbean has really upped its game in recent years.  Many Royal Caribbean ships feature Broadway shows such as Cats, Mamma Mia, Chicago and more.  Royal Caribbean has also partnered with DreamWorks Animation to offer just as many character meets, film showings and general character interactions as Disney.

For adults, Royal Caribbean's entertainment may be a stronger choice given their shows gravitate to them more so than children and there's also a greater variety of shows to choose from.  In addition, Broadway shows are of a higher caliber display than Disney's shorter shows based on their films.


You will find plenty of onboard activities for both cruise lines.  Bingo games, dance lessons, demonstrations, tours and more can be found on both cruise lines.  Both lines also offer swimming pools, sports courts, spas, gyms, shows, bars and entertainment lounges.

Royal Caribbean offers ice-skating rinks, rock climbing walls, surf simulators, mini-golf, movie theaters and a lot more.  Oh and did we mention there are no casinos on Disney Cruise Line?

Disney Cruise Line offers a water coaster, water play areas for kids, and slides in their pools.  There's also scavenger hunts, trivia, tasting classes, and more on Disney Cruise Line.

Child Care

Both cruise lines offer child care included in the price of the cruise.  

Both lines offer kids clubs for children, young teens and teens.  In general, Royal Caribbean's clubs are more structured in terms of their daily routine but Disney Cruise Line has a more "open" policy to their child care programs, that encourage the children to explore and try what they find interesting.

Both lines do have nursery options that have a per-hour cost.  

Private islands

Both cruise lines have private islands the cruise line operates that offer a very well-maintained and beautiful destination.  With good weather, it's hard to really which is more beautiful than the other (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?).

Disney Cruise Line has Castaway Cay in the Bahamas that is widely regarded as a beautiful island with lots to do for adults and children.  We also find the beach sand to be softer and less rocky than Royal Caribbean's.  

On Castaway Cay you will find 5k races, great snorkeling, and a private beaches for adults.

Royal Caribbean has two private islands, Labadee in Haiti and CocoCay in the Bahamas.  Both islands are gorgeous and a great place for a beach day.  Given their respective locations, western and eastern Caribbean itineraries usually include a stop at one.

Labadee also offers an aqua park, zip line and roller coaster for an additional cost.  CocoCay is more basic in its offerings and also requires tendering to get to the island.

The crew

Both crews do an admirable job at keeping their guests happy.  From customer service, to wait staff to the people that turn down your bed, both cruise lines work hard to keep guests smiling.

Disney has built a reputation over many decades for a hard working staff that is always looking to improve.  From its theme park origins, the Disney Cruise Line crew members want to make your cruise better and offer tremendous service.

Royal Caribbean's crew is just as good, with their service always looking to "WOW" its guests.  For the crew, wow is more than a marketing slogan, it's the group mantra.  You will find smiling faces and a can-do attitude onboard Royal Caribbean that is always asking how can they make your cruise better. 

The X-Factor: Cost

There is a big difference between Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean that is hard to ignore and that is the cruise fare price.

Royal Caribbean is usually considerably cheaper in cruise fare compared to Disney Cruise Line.  In a study by the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean's prices were on average 60-70% less than Disney for very similar cruise experiences.

To put this in perspective, seven-night eastern Caribbean cruises out of Port Canaveral in the second half of 2015 were over $7200 for an inside cabin (depending on date) compared to Royal Caribbean's prices of about $2200 - $3000.  That's a lot of money.

We are the first to admit the onboard experience of a Disney Cruise and a Royal Caribbean cruise are very similar, so it's hard to justify the prices Disney Cruise Line charges for their product.


After reading all of this, you have to start deciding which aspects of your cruise vacation are more important to you to pick the right choice.

Given the fact this blog is centered around Royal Caribbean cruising, it's obvious where our allegiance lays but it's important to recognize what the competition does well too.  Royal Caribbean is far from perfect and when you look at the right cruise for you, it's always important to have as much information as possible.

In a nutshell, Disney Cruise Line offers a wonderful product with lots of entertainment and plenty for the kids.  Royal Caribbean counters with phenomenal ships, lots of options to choose from at a great value.

I also wanted to give a big thanks to Scott from Disney Cruise Line Blog for making sure I was fair to Disney Cruise Line in this post.  Check out his blog for some really good coverage of all things DCL.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean stories of 2014


With 2014 nearly complete, it's time to look back on the year and see which news stories generated the most interest.  There's no doubt that 2014 was a busy year for Royal Caribbean and so it's interesting to see which stories rose to the top of people's interest.

This year's top ten list of Royal Caribbean stories is based on our statistics of most viewed stories.  There's some stories that made the top ten list that surprised me and others I'm more surprises did not make the list.  Let's dive in!

10. Royal Caribbean confirms Quantum of the Seas will feature Royal Esplanade

There was a lot of rumors swirling but Royal Caribbean confirmed less than a month before the ship launched that there would be a Royal Esplanade instead of a Royal Promenade onboard Quantum of the Seas.

The Royal Promenade had been a staple of new Royal Caribbean ships since the Voyager Class but proving just how different Quantum of the Seas is from ships before it, the company went in a different direction.

The concept of the Royal Esplanade is similar to the Royal Promande: a central indoor area on the ship where you can find shops, restaurants and entertainment.  The difference is the Royal Esplanade had more of a shopping district feel to the Royal Promenade's canyon-like strip.

9. Royal Caribbean to bring Broadway show "Cats" to Oasis of the Seas

As part of Oasis of the Seas' refurbishment, Royal Caribbean announced the Broadway musical CATS would replace Hairspray onboard the ship.

Based on T.S. Eliot's “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats,” CATS was one of the longest running productions on Broadway and is the winner of numerous awards including seven Tonys, two Oliviers and a Grammy.

What was interesting about this announcement was the fact CATS has been off Broadway fro many years but the show has been resurrected on Oasis of the Seas. 

8. Royal Caribbean will offer RFID WOWbands for free to all guests

Royal Caribbean changed its mind on charging money for its new RFID wristbands aboard Quantum of the Seas right around Quantum of the Seas' launch.

When the WOWbands were announced, they came with a small $2 per band fee but Royal Caribbean decided to waive the fee and give them away to all guests.

The decision to change the bands to be free is a move, in part, to increase their adoption rate. Royal Caribbean expects at least half its guests to use the WOWbands on any given cruise.

7. Giant wave hits Explorer of the Seas

Last month, cruisers aboard Explorer of the Seas reported that a 40 foot wave struck Explorer of the Seas and caused damage to a few of the ship's lifeboats.

The wave caused two life boats to be torn from their position along side the ship and struck the Promenade deck.

The wave had very little impact on the cruise and repairs fixed the damage quickly but people love reading about giant anything hitting cruise ships.

6. Royal Caribbean announces Dynamic Dining will expand to Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean announced its ground breaking Dynamic Dining program will expand to Oasis of the Seas back in August and it certainly generated a lot of opinions on the matter.

Following the Quantum-class cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas will become the first cruise ship in the fleet outside the Quantum-class to get the Dynamic Dining makeover.

I think the news was a bit of a shock considering Royal Caribbean had previously said they wanted to wait and see how Dynamic Dining was received before expanding.

5. Royal Caribbean posts updated Quantum of the Seas cutaway

Before Quantum of the Seas launched, we were all desperate for any and all information about this new ship and this released cutaway gave us all a good sense of what to expect.

The giant cutaway showed off many venues on the ship and gave us an idea of where everything is relative to the ship.

4. Royal Caribbean to send Quantum of the Seas on 53-night around the world cruise

Royal Caribbean had previously announced it would send its newest cruise ship to China but then it announced an epic around-the-world journey on its way there.

The 53-night cruise will leave Cape Liberty in the New York area and then eventually end up in Shanghai (Baoshan), China.  Along the way, guests can enjoy cruises across the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

If 53-nights is a bit too much, you can also choose from five other mini-sailings built into the 53-night affair, ranging from three to 16 nights.

3. Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas suffering from propulsion problem

Propulsion problems forced Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas to skip two port calls back in March.

Oil loss from the ship's fixipod propulsion unit had to have the crew shutdown the pod.  The incident occured just before the ship's scheduled drydock later that month.

Royal Caribbean attempted to make repairs in St. Kitts but they could not fully repair the unit and had to leave the unit offline.  

Since Adventure of the Seas' drydock, the problem was fixed and there have not been any other incidents since.

2. Oil spill in Galveston delays Navigator of the Seas

Thanks to a 160,000 gallon oil spill near Galveston, Texas, Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas was delayed from getting back into Galveston port.

The unfortunate incident delayed the passengers onboard Navigator from getting off the ship and of course also delayed the new cruisers from embarking.

The oil spill was something outside of Royal Caribbean's control but luckily it was taken care of in a timely manner and things got back on schedule after the ship got back into port.

1. Royal Caribbean offering kids sail free on select May to December cruises

Back in March, Royal Caribbean offered a great promotion that allowed guests to have the third and fourth passengers sail free on select cruises along with offering complimentary upgrades and reduced deposits.

The kids sail free (which was really any third and fourth passengers) was for all triple or quad occupancy staterooms and people seemed to really get excited about it.

I think once it was established the promotion was not just for kids, people really jumped all over it.  Heck, I was able to use it for my upcoming Freedom of the Seas cruise and it saved me a lot of money too!