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How online cruise planning is getting easier

25 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

It's not your imagination, the Royal Caribbean website experience has been refreshed to make things hopefully just a little bit easier in getting what you want.

Royal Caribbean's website has mirrored the larger travel industry trend of trying to improve its web presence and make things easier and faster for its customers.

New cruisers looking to book a cruise are likely to find the options - 2600 rooms, a dozen decks, shows, dining - are overwhelming. It’s no wonder users skip the aging websites and try calling instead.

Ship design in app

Making its website easier is important considering that Royal Caribbean Group disclosed during an earnings call last month that every day there are "millions of interactions on our websites".

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said web traffic is higher than ever, "Our websites are receiving close to double the visits compared to 2019, and we are generating record level of direct bookings."

Cruise planner results

To that point, Royal Caribbean sees opportunity with its online travel tools. Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley talked about the importance of enhancing its web portal, "I think, certainly, the investments that we made in our technology as it relates to getting to customers about their cruise experience and the opportunities and experiences that are available to them has proven to be successful."

"And I think that's connected and reflects the kind of the acceptance that the consumer has now at a much greater level to buy online."

"And I believe that everything that we've done with our pre-cruise marketing is really proving to be very effective."

Here's a look at some of the recent updates and enhancements Royal Caribbean has made to allow guests to book and manage their cruises with greater ease.

Making search easier

Royal Caribbean's website

Finding the perfect cruise vacation starts off with lots of possibilities, which requires the user to comb through the search results for the right option.

Royal Caribbean recently updated its cruise booking site with the goal of returning results in an easier manner.

While the search form looks the same on Royal Caribbean's homepage, the results come through a new simpler layout that is not only easier to use on a mobile device, but provide filtering options with less clicks.

Search results

The search results are in a cleaner layout with less "fluff" around it so you can drill into the itinerary and ship you want. You'll find clear and simple messaging and pricing throughout the booking process. Visuals are important, but text is crucial.

Read moreHow do I pick the perfect first cruise?

Royal Caribbean also included advanced paths, alternate routes, and exits throughout the booking process - so that experienced users can rapidly dial in the exact cruise they want.

Search results

The new search results seem to come up some of the time, which perhaps indicates they are testing it out until it's ready to fully replace the legacy search results. 

Upgraded cruise planner

Just as important to Royal Caribbean's bottom line as someone booking a cruise is someone booking a cruise add-on.

According to Royal Caribbean Group executives, every dollar a guest spends before the voyage, translates into about $0.70 more on the dollar when they sail and double the overall spending compared to other guests.

This year, guests are spending 30% more across all categories of pre-cruise spend than they did in 2019 before the pandemic.

It certainly is easier for guests to buy a drink package, wifi, or shore excursion if the website is simpler.

In early 2021, Royal Caribbean began rolling out a new look to its cruise planner tool.

Dubbed, "My Royal Cruise", it has slowly replaced the old Cruise Planner site where guests can browse the various add-ons for their sailing.

Read moreEverything you should book before the cruise to avoid it being sold out

The goal for this refresh was to make it more intuitive for guests to plan their sailing.

My Royal Cruise features a cleaner look, which takes advantage of contemporary web design.  It is simple and functional, while still visually appealing.

Moreover, returning guests have more of their personal information saved so purchases can be completed significantly faster than with the old site that required the user to enter all their information in over and over for each transaction.

App upgrades

Royal Caribbean app

Royal Caribbean's app has evolved from "nice to have" to "essential" since cruises restarted in June 2021.

For most cruises, scanning your passport and uploading a security photo will generate a mobile boarding pass that’s going to help make for a better experience at the terminal.

You can then choose your arrival time from a list of staggered options so you know what time to arrive.

The new eMuster process has also been rolled into the app, which allows you to start the mandatory safety briefing even before you board.

On several ships, like Odyssey of the Seas, the app can also be your very own Digital Key to unlock your stateroom.

Once inside, you can control the TV and even stream content right from your phone. The room temperature, lights and curtains for some staterooms can also be controlled.

Book a pre-cruise hotel

Miami hotel

Because a lot of its guests were already booking a pre- or post-cruise hotel, Royal Caribbean made that option easier.

The Royal Caribbean Hotels program was launched in March of this year, and it gives cruisers an easy way to lock in a pre- or post-cruise stay.

Royal Caribbean says this new program offers exclusive rates with thousands of hotels in every Royal Caribbean departure and arrival port, including those in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific as well as North, South and Central America.

Hotel search results can easily be filtered based on the number of travelers in your group, the sailing’s departure or arrival city, and dates — plus preferences such as hotel rating, amenities and more.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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