Smart phone app

Royal Caribbean retires mobile app for iOS


Royal Caribbean sent an update to users that its current smartphone app for iOS devices is being retired.

The app was updated in the iTunes App Store on May 17, 2017, with the notice, "Unfortunately, this Royal Caribbean App is being retired and will no longer be supported. Make sure to visit our mobile experience on to book your next adventure and stay informed when you're on the go."

The official Royal Caribbean app was rarely updated, with just one update in all of 2016 and a few updates in 2015.

While not confirmed, it is believed retiring the current Royal Caribbean app may be the precursor to the release of the new smart phone app that Royal Caribbean is actively developing. According to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain, the new smart phone app should be out sometime this summer.

Thanks to Jason Percival Sr. and Marc Schwartz for alerting us to this app change.

5 interesting facts from Royal Caribbean's first quarter earnings call


Each quarter, Royal Caribbean's management gets on the phone with investors to discuss its quarterly earnings.  Much of the call is dedicated to the discussion of rather uninteresting fiscal reports, however, there are a number of tidbits that Royal Caribbean fans can glean during the discussion.

During Royal Caribbean's first quarter 2017 earnings call with investors, we picked up on five interesting points worth noting.

Sneak peak at features for new smart phone app

Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain made a quick reference to some of features coming to the new smart phone app that the cruise line is developing. 

Dubbed, "Project Excalibur," this new app will offer new ways for guests to have a simpler experience onboard.

"Starting over two years ago, we have found intuitive digital applications to make the guest experience simpler and more comfortable," Fain announced during the call. "You'll be able to open the door to your room without pulling out a card or a key, request a beverage real-time from the comfort of your lounge chair, and get recommendations for your traveling companion based on their preferences."

"We take our guest vacation time seriously, and technology is a great enabler to improve the use of that."

Guest spending is fundamentally changing

Royal Caribbean CFO Jason Liberty made mention of the fact onboard revenue continues to grow, and that is a reflection of a shift in where guests spend their money.  Specifically, they are spending more money on experiences, in lieu of buying things.

Onboard revenue yield was up 8.9% for the quarter, which was driven by new hardware, shore excursions and Voom.

"As I mentioned over the past couple quarters, guests spend has continuing to shift towards areas that involve experiences over buying things," Liberty explained.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley added, "What we are seeing is a switch to more experience-related revenue streams, and obviously we are trying to leverage that. Things like shore excursions obviously, and beverages and beverage packages. "

"I think really what we are seeing is we're seeing a really good pick up on our pre-cruise sales, and that has been driving a lot of these revenues. There's various theories on how impactful pre-cruises sales are, and one of the theories is that if you sell a dollar pre-cruise, you'll probably see anywhere from 20 to 50% uptick in the onboard spend by the very same guest."

Mariner of the Seas will receive a drydock

Two days ago, Royal Caribbean announced that Mariner of the Seas would return to North America after spending many years in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley explained, "With Mariner moving back into the States, that was really about timing. Mariner was coming out anyway when Quantum Plus came into the market, and we had an opportunity because we have some revitalization and drydock work that's quite extensive that we're planning for Mariner."

Symphony of the Seas bookings are doing well

Bookings in general are quite good for Royal Caribbean, and even the yet-to-be-launched Symphony of the Seas is doing well with guests booking it.

"Symphony of the Seas, which comes out in April of next year, the forward bookings are terrific."

How millennials cruise

An investor asked how passengers under 35 years old view Royal Caribbean, and Michael Bayley elaborated on the appeal of cruising to millennials.

"When a millennial has a child, they really come into our sweet spot...for Royal Caribbean certainly. As soon as those millennials get kids, then they really want to have a great time with their family, and we work very well for them. "

"The one obvious thing that's quite meaningful is digital technology and access through Voom to the world around them. Of course, that's something we put into place a couple of years ago, and I think that's really proven to be successful."

"The other component is the whole idea of multi-generational vacations, and that's something we really do focus on. This idea that we can offer a multi-generational experience to our customers. And of course, the Oasis Class ships really are  the great expression of that."

"And then dining I think is becoming something that's slightly different with the millennial market, and that's something we're obviously focused on, both in our current fleet, and also as we look at our new builds coming online."

Royal Caribbean hires former Disney digital guru to create new mobile app


 Royal Caribbean has hired a former "mastermind" behind Walt Disney World's Magic Band mobile app to help create the cruise line's new smart phone app that is set to debut this summer.

TechRepublic is reporting four months ago, Royal Caribbean hired former Walt Disney Co. guru Jay Schneider as senior vice president of digital to lead its digital transformation. After joining the company in November 2016, the real work began in earnest on the new mobile app.

"We have no dates yet on how soon this [app] might roll out, but with six ships scheduled [to have it] in 2017, it means we're going quickly," Schneider said. Privacy and security is an important consideration. Guests' privacy is crucial, so Schneider said he has his team working from the ground up to create best practices for privacy in the devices.

There are few details known about the app, which is being referred to internally as Project Excalibur. Royal Caribbean CEO and Chairman Richard Fain told analysts earlier this year to expect the app to debut sometime this summer.

Fain said he's not worried about competition from Carnival Corp. "We started developing our WOWband two years ago, so because we had that head start, we will have this in 20% of our ships by the end of the year, compared to 1% [on Carnival]. We'll have it on more or less 50% of our ships by the end of next year."

One of the ways that Royal Caribbean will be able to move quickly, Fain said, is because "we're using more open source technology that makes it easier to build as the world of technology improves."

Royal Caribbean sheds more light on its new smart phone app plans


Royal Caribbean revealed some additional information about its new smart phone app that will debut later this year.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke to analysts earlier today about the company's fourth-quarter 2016 results, and provided more detail on the company's plans to roll out new technology initiatives.

Fain mentioned its new smart phone app, which is being called internally, "Excalibur".

Mr. Fain provided more detail on when guests can start using the new app, "We would expect to be coming out this summer with a new and upgraded, new app, that does reflect the technologies that are available today. Over this next year we would expect to roll this out to 6 to 11 new vessels. And then the next year we would expect to be rolling it out at a rate of 1 to 2 a month over the period."

"Technology can be used to help attack what is really our biggest single problem, which is not enough people understand about cruising. Anything we can do to make the experience better and particularly easier for our guests and for the people who haven't yet been our guests, is very helpful."

News of a new smart phone app was first announced earlier this year, when Royal Caribbean CIO Michael Giresi mentioned the development. It was unclear at the time whether this would be a new app or a continuation of the Royal iQ app, but Mr. Fain's comments suggest this will be a brand new endeavor.

The comments on Excalibur came as a result of financial analysts inquiring about Royal Caribbean's response to Carnival Corporation's Ocean Medallion program, which garnered a lot of media attention earlier this month.

"We started a project with what we call our WOWbands a couple of years ago that's been extremely effective in simplifying the process for our guests," said Fain.  He continued, "But it's also obvious that the technologies improved a lot in the last two years, and what we can all do today is much better than we could do two years ago. So I think you will continue to see us, and I hope the rest of the industry, continue to move forward with that."

"I remember at the time that we rolled out WOWbands, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo's comment was we wanted to give people their first day back. And I think that's a really very good way to look at it. The more that we can do to ease that process, not only makes it more comfortable for them, but gives them the time to do the other stuff. One of the benefits is not only more in ticket revenue, but also on the onboard revenue because we facilitate those kinds of processes. "

"So I think this is a trend that is happening in our industry, but is happening throughout industry and I think it will enhance the cruise experience and therefore, be good for all of us."