Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean names new vice president of Food and Beverage Operations

In:
04May2015

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

In:
Category: 
20Feb2015

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 www.dadsforgiving.org, an organization that encourages fathers to volunteer with their children to benefit their communities.

Royal Caribbean leaning towards more promotions and less cruise discounts

In:
Category: 
29Jan2015

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

In:
Category: 
05Jan2015

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

In:
22Dec2014

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.

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST EPISODE COMPARING ROYAL CARIBBEAN TO DISNEY CRUISE LINE

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.

Entertainment

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.

Activities

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.

Summary

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

In:
Category: 
16Dec2014

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!

10 things you'll miss the day after your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
17Oct2014

Your best Royal Caribbean cruise ever has just wrapped up and you're back home and already you're longing for the next one.  If you're anyting like my family, we start missing certain aspects of the cruise experience right away.

Here are the things we always think about "the day after" that we wish we could see/eat/do again.

10.Someone to bring new towels every day

You get home, take a shower after a long trip back home and when you put your towel on the floor... no one replaces it with a clean one!  There's something nice about having fresh towels brought to you every day to keep things nice and fresh.

9. Being welcomed to each meal with a smile, a wave and some hand sanitizer

When my daughter sees hand sanitzer these days, she always mentions going on a cruise.  Whether you are walking into the Windjammer, Main Dining Room or a specialty restaurant, being greeted warmly always makes you feel good.  

I especially enjoy the "antics" of the early morning Windjammer staff who combine their hellos with dances, songs and high-fives. 

8. Knowing what day it is by looking down on the ground

Granted most people do not have elevators in their houses, but it's nice to be able to look down on the ground and know what day it is.  It's a little touch that makes a Royal Caribbean cruise feel like a Royal Caribbean cruise.

7. Having all of our meals cooked for us

Who doesn't enjoy having all your meals and snacks prepared for you every night?  When you get home, you start thinking about all the preperation and work involved in cooking and it makes you yearn for one more night in the Main Dining Room.

6. Being able to see the ocean all the time

Whether you're walking around the deck, going out to your balcony or disembarking at a new port, the ocean is always there and getting that ocean breeze is something you just can't beat.  Being back at home, I miss that smell of the ocean and hearing the waves crashing into the ship.  

5. The only schedule to worry about is in your Cruise Compass

When you're onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, the Cruise Compass is all you need to figure out what to do that day.  Being back at home, work emails, kids practices, errands and the rest all dictate where you have to be when.  Call me crazy, but I greatly prefer deciding between the bellyflop competition or towel folding seminar to carpooling the kids to school.

4. Someone making your bed each day with turndown service

Since I was a kid, I've felt making up your bed was silly since the only person that sees it is me.  But when you're on a Royal Caribbean cruise, it's great having the bed made up for you each and every morning.

And at night, turn down service is the perfect way to get ready for bed.  I may not ever do it myself at home, but turn down service is the way to get into bed if I had a choice!

3. Waking up somewhere new every day

One of the best things about cruising is the idea you go to sleep in one place and you wake up somewhere else.  Going to new ports every day and exploring is what makes a Royal Caribbean vacation so much fun!  

At home, you go to sleep and wake up in the same place every night.  There's no question the cruise alternative is the way to go!

2. Basically everything on the pool deck

I was thinking about something regarding being by the pool is something I miss when I'm home but I decided that first day back you just miss the entire pool deck experience.

Sunning yourself, being in the water, getting unlimited free ice cream cones and having someone bring you the drink of the day all contribute to the pool deck experience.  When you're home, you miss out on pretty much all of that and it feels odd not going up to deck 11 for a swim.

1. Not being at work

'Nuff said.

Royal Caribbean removes corkage fee for bottles of wine

In:
Category: 
11Oct2014

Royal Caribbean has quietly removed the $25 corkage fee it previously charged to open a bottle of wine in its restaurants and lounges.  The removal of the corkage fee is effective immediately.

Royal Caribbean first started letting guests bring up to two bottles of wine (up to 750ml) per stateroom but included a $25 corkage fee to open the bottles in its restaurants, bars and lounges.

In practice, the corkage fee was infrequently charged and now the policy has been completely removed.

There's no official word from Royal Caribbean why the policy changed but it has been confirmed via Royal Caribbean's official Facebook page.

Thanks to Stacey Cruisedivanj for alerting us to the change.

Royal Caribbean signs maintenance contract with ABB

In:
Category: 
08Sep2014

Royal Caribbean has signed a $50 million contract with ABB to provide extensive maintenance to its cruise ships.  

The new deal will last 15 years and will cover two Oasis-class cruise ships as well as four ships for sister company Celebrity Cruises.  The goal of the deal for Royal Caribbean is to increase cost efficiency and predictability of maintenance costs. 

The contract also includes an option to extend the agreement to additional existing vessels, vessels that are currently under construction and future newbuilds. 

The contract provides Royal Caribbean with a range of services that optimize the life cycle of the vessels: scheduled dry docking services, Azipod propulsion unit modernizations and condition based maintenance services, which contributes to better predictability of maintenance  costs. 

 

Royal Caribbean call center in Oregon to add 200 new jobs

In:
Category: 
27Aug2014

Royal Caribbean is looking to hire 200 new employees for its call center in Springfield, Oregon. 

Royal Caribbean will be looking to fill the newly created entry level jobs in their customer service and sales departments.

Since the opening of the Springfield office eight years ago, trade support director Rita Stolze said they've gone from 100 employees to a staff of nearly 750.

“Well it’s great for our community, because we are a business that continues to grow and expand our employee base year after year. So it continues to show the community our commitment,” said Stolze.

Stolze said there's also a lot of room for internal growth and promotions. They are accepting applications on their website.

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