Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean announces new head of Europe, Middle East and Africa


Royal Caribbean announced today that it is promoting Stuart Leven, Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland), to become the new Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Managing Director of RCL Cruises Ltd.

This new role will include responsibility for Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland) and Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises across the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Leven will work with Royal Caribbean’s key European markets to ensure the cruise operator has the best investment in place to capitalize on the swell of interest in cruise vacations across the region.

"Stuart is a proven leader with many years’ board experience across the airline, hotel and dotcom sectors" said Gavin Smith, Senior Vice President International, RCL Cruises Ltd. "He joined us with a clear vision to build a distinct brand and attract a new audience to cruise. Royal Caribbean International in the UK and Ireland has seen unprecedented growth under Stuart’s watch and his experience and expertise will be vital as we look to expand our European deployment."

Replacing Leven is Ben Bouldin, who will become Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland), reporting into Leven, also effective immediately.

Bouldin commented: "I’m absolutely delighted to be leading the Royal Caribbean International UK and Ireland business. It’s an incredible opportunity at an exciting time for the cruise market. We have an extraordinary team here in the UK and Ireland and I look forward to building on the work Stuart has started during his tenure."

Royal Caribbean receives perfect score as workplace for LGBT Equality


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) named Royal Caribbean a "2017 Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality", with a perfect score of 100 on its Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

The HRC is one of the oldest gay and lesbian political action committees in the U.S. and launched the index in 2002 to rank American companies.  This year, for the first time since, the HRC required top-scoring companies to have a global non-discrimination policy or code of conduct that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:

  • Non-discrimination policies
  • Employment benefits
  • Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
  • Public commitment to LGBT equality
  • Responsible citizenship

This is the second year running that RCL earned a perfect score on the CEI survey, even with the addition of the new global requirements. In October, Royal Caribbean International became the first cruiseline to be designated “Gay Travel Approved” by

Royal Caribbean building new Innovation Lab with virtual reality simulator


Royal Caribbean announced it is building a new Innovation Lab facility at PortMiami, adjacent to its corporate headquarters.

Royal Caribbean is being touted as a first-of-its-kind facility built entirely designed to promote the “relentless innovation” that powers the cruiseline, the building will house unique collaborative spaces where new ideas can tested and tweaked.

Much of the first floor will be open space large enough to allow the construction of full-size mockups of shipboard spaces and the things that fill them – "real" reality rather than virtual – for trials, tests and aesthetics. he rest of the building will contain "ignition hubs" where people from different departments and vendors will gather to spend hours, days or weeks talking through problems and projects.

The new 20,000-square-foot, two-story lab, is intended to be as functional as it is architecturally stunning. Royal Caribbean vice president of architectural design, Kelly Gonzalez, is very excited about the the lab as an idea mill where most of the moving parts are human, "Innovation is nothing new for us. Our daily existence here is thriving off of always wanting to raise the bar a little higher. And go a little further."

"Imagine a large conference room that eight to 10 people would walk into. Now imagine the floor is one seamless sheet of glass and there’s rear projection underneath it."

"The whole room is Virtual Reality," Gonzalez continues. "But when you put the glasses on, you and the people you’re with are all sharing the same experience in that room."

Completion date for the lab is the end of January.


7 ways Royal Caribbean has revolutionized the cruise industry


We love taking Royal Caribbean cruises because of the amazing experiences available onboard, and as fans of the company, it occurs to us that sometimes Royal Caribbean does not get enough credit for some of the innovations it has brought to the cruise industry over the years.

Innovation is a byproduct of competition among the cruise lines, and Royal Caribbean has brought about a number of changes to its ships with the goal differentiating it from other cruising choices that have since set the new standard for what guests expect onboard.  As guests, we love seeing what Royal Caribbean comes up with next.  It is what makes the cruise line different, special and most importantly, a heck of a lot of fun.

Here are our list of the top seven innovations Royal Caribbean brought about that have since changed the cruise industry.

1. Activities that can be done at sea

Historically, cruise ships were built following the model set forth by ocean liners of the classic period of transportation.  These ships were designed to be a floating hotel that offered rest, relaxation and a great view.  But as times changed, guests wanted to do more onboard and have a greater variety of choices with it.

Royal Caribbean first made an impact when it added the rock climbing walls to its Voyager-class ships, which were an onboard activity that was previously not available anywhere.  More importantly, it introduced the concept of guests being able to do physically activities onboard that were never considered previously.

The rock climbing wall became incredibly popular with guests and was expanded to all ships in the fleet, becoming a staple of a Royal Caribbean cruise experience.

Royal Caribbean then expanded on the idea of offering even more fun activities on its ships, by offering FlowRider surf simulators, ice skating, bumper cars and a lot more.  Cruise ships today on any cruise line are incomplete without the sort of physical activities first introduced by the rock climbing wall.

2. Virtual balcony

Nearly everyone loves the idea of a balcony stateroom, but the price of a balcony stateroom is not always practical for everyone's budget.  When Royal Caribbean was designing its Quantum-class cruise ships, they came up with an idea for a balcony experience without the balcony price: virtual balcony staterooms.

Virtual balconies are 80-inch LED televisions that are in inside staterooms on select Royal Caribbean ships that provide live HD views from outside the cruise ship, right into your stateroom. The screens are 4K ultra high definition capable screens that stretch from floor to ceiling and receive a video feed from the ship's cameras that are mounted at the stem and stern of the ship.  

Virtual balcony staterooms were "inspired" in part by Disney Cruise Line's Virtual Porthole cabins, but Royal Caribbean took the idea and expanded upon it to create something completely different and virtual balcony staterooms have now expanded to many different ships across the fleet.

3. Broadway shows

Cruise ships have offered musical revues and original productions for many years, but Royal Caribbean was the first to bring an actual Broadway show to be shown to its guests in its entirety onboard a ship.

Royal Caribbean debuted the hit-Broadway show, "Hairspray," on Oasis of the Seas and that marked a dramatic shift in the entertainment a cruise ship could offer.  Instead of just a few songs from a show, or stage productions that tried to emulate a Broadway show, Royal Caribbean opted to bring the real thing onboard its ships.

In the years since, Royal Caribbean has expanded the amount of ships that offer Broadway shows to include some fan-favorites, such as Mamma Mia!CatsSaturday Night Fever, and We Will Rock You.

4. Specialty restaurants

If you can remember back to pre-2009, cruise ships offered specialty restaurant options but there were just a couple of choices available.  Most ships had one to two specialty restaurants, and they were not nearly as prevalent as specialty dining today. What changed all of that, was the Oasis-class ships that brought a greater array of specialty dining choices never seen before on a cruise ship.

Oasis of the Seas offers more than 20 dining options onboard its ships, including a number of specialty dining choices.  Instead of one or two, guests can pick between Chops Grille, Sabor, Giovanni's Table, 150 Central Park, Johnny Rockets and Izumi, just to name a few.

Since the debut of Oasis of the Seas, the entire cruise industry has taken notice and new and existing cruise ships greatly expanded the number of dining options available.  Guests love the greater variety of choices, while the cruise lines reap higher onboard spending.

5. Built the largest cruise ships in the world

Many times, Royal Caribbean cruise ships have claimed the title of being the largest in the world, and Royal Caribbean's commitment to building bigger and bigger ships have compelled the rest of the cruise industry to follow as well.

Going back to 1988, when Sovereign of the Seas launched, she was the largest passenger ship in the world.  Sovereign-class ships was the first modern "megaship" to be built, and were also the first class of cruise ships to include a multi-story atrium with glass elevators.  They also had a single deck devoted entirely to cabins with private balconies instead of ocean view cabins.

The rest of the cruise lines took notice and began building bigger ships, as well as ships that had the kind of industry-first innovations like a Centrum.

Many new ships have been built since the days of Sovereign, but Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class and Oasis-class ships continued the tradition set forth by the Sovereign-class.  In fact, the entire industry has built larger and larger cruise ships over the years and this trend can be traced directly back to Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas.

6. Social media in advertising

Cruise lines have advertised cruise vacations for many years in traditional media, with print, radio and television advertisements being the normal means of spreading the word about new ships, deals and getaway ideas.  In 2015, Royal Caribbean completely re-considered its marketing strategy with a new approach that sought to "break through" the usual expectations and reach guests with a vastly different marketing campaign.

Royal Caribbean's "Come Seek" campaign was geared toward the next generation of cruises that leveraged a variety of sales channels, including notably social media.

Royal Caribbean added 230 geo-targeted units across New York City that are capable of showing live broadcasts via Periscope in high traffic commuter areas, such as John F. Kennedy International Airport terminal, newsstands and subways. With these units, Royal Caribbean could provide live tune-ins from the ships to show off the experience as it's happening in real time.

This, and other social media advertising endeavors, forged a new era of marketing that aimed to get past the sort of traditional produced and polished advertising people expect to see, and instead, capture their attention with authentic experiences.

7. True high speed internet at sea

Royal Caribbean's latest innovation is perhaps its most impressive and least-celebrated achievement: offering the kind of high speed internet experience on its cruise ships that guests have had for years on land.

Offering internet service on a cruise ship is nothing new in the industry, as nearly all cruise lines offer internet service onboard, but internet at sea is ridiculously slow compared to what guests have enjoyed at home or work.  Traditional internet on cruise ships were limited to basic web browsing, with absolutely no support for video streaming and constant disconnects and poor overall experiences.

Royal Caribbean partnered with O3b Networks to provide a next-generation satellite internet service, known as Voom, that allows guests to do everything they are accustomed to doing on land while on their Royal Caribbean cruise.

With Voom, guests can surf, stream and share their vacation experiences with their friends and family back home without any of the slow speeds that have traditionally hampered sea-based internet solutions.  Moreover, Royal Caribbean expanded Voom service to every ship in its fleet earlier this year, which means no one has to take a Royal Caribbean cruise with a slow internet connection again.

Your thoughts

Which innovations do you think Royal Caribbean deserves recognition for the most? Is there something that stands out in your mind? Tell us about in the comments.

Royal Caribbean appoints Gavin Smith as Senior Vice President International


Royal Caribbean announced today it has appointed Gavin Smith to the role of Senior Vice President International, effective immediately.

In his new role, Smith will be responsible for all sales, marketing and commercial operations for the cruise brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises in Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and Australasia, and he will report to Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley.

Smith opened Royal Caribbean's first Australian office in December 2008 as a Managing Director.

Smith will replace Dominic Paul, who announced his is leaving Royal Caribbean on May 1, 2016.

Royal Caribbean promotes Lori Cassidy to Associate Vice President of Global Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales


Royal Caribbean announced it has promoted Lori Cassidy to Associate Vice President of Global Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales. 

In her her new role, Cassidy is responsible for all sales, service, and marketing efforts pertaining to global meeting, incentive and full-ship charter business, as well as the Royal Caribbean loyalty gift card and individual incentive certificate programs. 

Cassidy will lead the Global Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales and Service team in managing, developing and servicing meeting, incentive and group event opportunities with incentive houses, brokers, independent meeting planners, corporate planners and travel planners around the world. 

Cassidy began working with Royal Caribbean in 2008 as Director, Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales, and has since taken on increased responsibility and successfully grown the meeting, incentive and charter sales channel for the international cruise line.  Cassidy continues to report directly to Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International. 

"Lori is an asset to our group travel partners and a respected member of our organization.  Her incredible experience, skill and instinct for the business make her a strong leader for her team, resulting in continued momentum and stronger relationships around the world,” said Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International.  “This is a hard-earned, well-deserved promotion within the Royal Caribbean Sales and Trade team, and we look forward to her continued success.” 

Cassidy has been in the cruise industry for over 22 years. Prior to joining Royal Caribbean International, she was with Carnival Cruise Lines for 15 years holding Director positions in Corporate & Incentive Sales for five years and Business Development for 10 years, respectively. 

Royal Caribbean focuses on brand messaging to manage public relations


Royal Caribbean Vice President and Global Chief Communications Officer, Rob Zeiger, is the head of the cruise line's branding and a new interview with him showcases the challenges of what the company is trying to do in marketing itself.

PR Week posted a lengthy interview with Zeiger that looked at what he and his team do each day to deliver the message Royal Caribbean wants to offer.

There is plenty of negative cruise ship coverage in the media, so Zeiger focuses on how fun and affordable a cruise ship vacation can be.

"Royal Caribbean is aimed at families who want to do stuff, so on some ships we have skydiving, surfing, rock climbing, ice skating, and ziplining.  There is something for every generation."

A great example of marketing specific to a region is when Navigator of the Seas went to Texas and a pair of enormous, inflatable longhorns were adorned on the ship.  But when Royal Caribbean announced Anthem of the Seas was coming to the UK market, they went for something far more subdued.

Also of interest is the fact Royal Caribbean has completely revamped its crisis room.  This summer, Royal Caribbean tore down its crisis room and replaced it with a new state-of-the-art notification system.

When a fire broke out on Freedom of the Seas in July, Zeiger says his team’s comms approach was similar to a telegraph system, providing the public with constant updates. He adds that his team prefers that strategy, as opposed to waiting until they have all the information to send out a press release be-cause "it is a given" that people want to know what is happening as quickly as possible.

You can read the entire interview with Rob Zeiger here.

Royal Caribbean updates website with new look to booking engine


Royal Caribbean gave a face lift to part of its web site last night, which updated the look of the site that guests use to book their cruises.

Back in March 2015, Royal Caribbean updated the look of its web site but the update was largely only for the home page and a few pages outside of it.  Much of the rest of the site retained the old design look.

With the latest update, the part of the site that allows guests to price cruises and book a sailing online now matches the homepage in terms of look and feel.

With the new design, guests can more easily flow between the steps of choosing the right sailing and stateroom for them.  The updated look provides a more "at a glance" look at everything occurring in the reservation process.

This latest update to the site's design does not include all parts of the site.  Other areas of the site still retain the old look, including My Cruises and the FAQ sections.

Do you like the new design for the cruise booking engine? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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.”