If there's one cruise company that has placed the most resources in the idea that European cruise demand is what will drive profits, it's been Royal Caribbean. Over the past couple of years, Royal Caribbean has been moving more and more of their ships to Europe to meet the perceived demand for cruise ships as well as the strong Euro. Yesterday, cruise stock prices fell on the New York Stock Exchange on concerns about demand in Europe and on a drop in the broader stock market.
Royal Caribbean stock dropped 4.9 percent to $26.74 after trading on Wednesday and competitor cruise line stocks followed as well. The reason for the drop in price was a day earlier, Europe's biggest travel company, TUI Travel, said strong booking patterns seen in early May were not sustained during the early summer period.
"TUI Travel (Plc's) cautionary comments coupled (with) recent comments from European-based consumer staple companies of slowing demand cannot be dismissed and will bear ongoing close monitoring," Wells Fargo analyst Timothy Conder said in a research note Wednesday.
All isn't lost quite yet, as Wells Fargo Analyst Timothy Conder also said that booking and pricing trends for European-based cruises remained "encouraging."
Royal Caribbean has joined some other cruise lines in adopting policies to incorporate cage-free eggs into their dining operations. Royal Caribbean worked with the Humane Society of the United States when they created their new policy.
Royal Caribbean will go from 3.2 million eggs to cage-free immediately, and will increase to 6.8 million within one year. The Human Society estimates this change will spare nearly 30,000 hens each year from being crammed inside tiny cages.
"Many vacationers take their concern for animals, food safety and sustainability with them when they travel, and we applaud Royal Caribbean and Carnival for taking those concerns seriously by reducing their reliance on eggs from caged hens," said Matthew Prescott, corporate outreach director of The HSUS' factory farming campaign.
Neil Clarridge of the Star-Tribune, a Virginia newspaper, chronicled his recent cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas. In part one of a three part series, Clarridge embarked on the cruise as a graduation gift for his oldest daughter. Clarridge chose the cruise over the traditional beach vacation to avoid the "most disturbing teenage debauchery accessible to high school graduates in our area" and off they went.
Clarridge seemed to enjoy his time on the ship, and tried a few different venues on the first night of their cruise. Here are some of his thoughts...
- Balcony stateroom: After supper we retired to our stateroom until the show began at 9. Since we had a balcony in our stateroom, we sat outside and watched the ocean go by. There was nothing but blue water as far as the eye could see. Luxury surrounded by beautiful desolation.
- Entertainment for the night: The show was very entertaining. The singers could sing, the dancers could dance, and the comedians were funny.
- Windjammer: Deck 11 was home to the Windjammer caf/. The quality and quantity of the food was superlative. We went to the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch.
The Cruise Lines International Association, a lobbying group that represents cruise lines including Royal Caribbean, spent $529,134 in the second quarter lobbying federal officials on immigration, seaport inspections and other matters, according to a recent report.
If the number seems large, it's actually down from the first quarter, when the CLIA spent $696,000. This quarter's spending is also down from one year ago, when they spent $728,216 last year's second quarter.
The trade group, which represents cruise companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp., also lobbied the federal government on legislation related to vessel sanitation, crew and passenger health issues, vessel waste and port security, among other topics.
The CLIA also lobbied the Department ofHomeland Security, State Department, Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard, among other agencies in the April through June period.
Today we have the exclusive opportunity to interview Maureen Brandt, who just won the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge, and is the new Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park onboard the soon to launch Allure of the Seas. Maureen was generous enough to give us some of her time and offer us a look into how she managed to win this highly touted contest.
Provencal Lamb Loin, Dijon Potato Puree, Ratatouille, Pattypan Squash, and Olive Tapenade
- Favorite food cuisine (Mexican, Italian, chinese, etc)
I'm not sure I have one. I call myself a human garbage can because I'll eat anything. But I really do like bold flavors so I'm a fan of Mexican, Indian, and Thai.
- Favorite drink to have on a cruise (either one you've had or one you think would be great on a cruise)
Corona's in the sunshine, wine pairings at dinner, and a specialty cocktail in a lounge. I take the same unbiased approach to drinking as I do to eating. I like it all! Dark beer, light beer, clear liquor, brown liquor, bubbles, white, and red wine. No I am not an alcoholic! I think the drink I most often order is a Manhattan on the rocks just like my dad!
- Favorite port of call to visit
Monte Carlo. I loved the luxury of it, seeing the palace and the casino, and driving the roads! How fabulous! Plus it's just a hop skip and a jump to France and Italy.
- Favorite song on the radio/iPod today
Somewhat embarrassing, but I'll give. Right before I walked in to the kitchen before the finals I listened to Dynamite from Taio Cruz 3 times as loud as possible. There's a line in it where he sings that he'll be the last one standing, I just took that and ran with it!
Royal Caribbean and The Culinary Institute of America formally name Maureen Brandt winner of the Allure of the Seas Culinary ChallengeIn:
Maureen Brandt of Stillwater, Minn. Nabs Job as Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park Onboard Allure of the Seas
For those looking for Italian food on their next Oasis of the Seas cruise, Giovanni's Table offers family-style Italian in the Central Park area of the ship. Today, we review this Mediterranean enclave.
Interesting note about Giovanni's Table, prior to our cruise, we tried to get a reservation online but couldn't get one for the time and day we wanted. We decided to wait until we boarded the ship and try to go to the restaurant on the first day of the ship and get a reservation. Sure enough, we showed up on the first day and got the day and time we wanted without a problem. Might be worth trying this idea out if you are in a similar situation.
Giovanni's Table is situated in Central Park and features a very quaint and somewhat romantic setting. It kind of looks like that restaurant from Lady and the Tramp meets chic restaurant downtown. Inside the restaurant, you will find the place small enough to have some charm while big enough to handle a lot of hungry customers. There are tables that have a window to Central Park as well as seating outside to choose from. Further inside the restaurant are more tables that can accommodate larger groups.
Giovanni's is meant to remind you of a restaurant in the Tuscany region of Italy along the coast. With it's northern Italy influences, Giovanni's Table certainly exudes the atmosphere one would expect from an Italian restaurant that serves traditional Italian dishes. Serving to help sell the idea of a real Italian restaurant is the fresh meat slicer that frequently is used by the wait staff to slice fresh prosciutto ham in razor-thin slices. The smell fills the room each time and it adds to the charm of the restaurant.
For dinner, Giovanni's Table offers a fairly large selection of Italian food. There are three main courses, appetizers and salads, pastas and entrees. The appetizers, salads and pastas are all served family style, meaning large plates are brought out of each item with the understand that you will share the items between the members of your party. In most cases, there was enough food on each family style dish to easily satisfy two people and more than likely could be enough for 3-4 people.
To start with, appetizers are the first course and there's a lot to choose from. For just me and my wife, we found three options that we both wanted to try before we even got to the soups.
For our starters, we chose fresh mozzarella and tomato, caesar salad and focaccia alla Giovanni. The mozzarella and tomato was good, much like any other time we've had this dish before. The ingredients were fresh and we chose to add olive oil and vinegar to give the dish a little something extra. The caesar salad wasn't anything special and tasted perhaps a tad bit better than the caesar salad we had elsewhere on the ship and wasn't something I'd feel obligated to get again. The foccaccia alla Giovanni can best be described as cheese bread with a little potato between the cheese and the bread that comes with the option of dipping the bread in a pesto sauce along with other accompaniments such as green and black olives. This was surprisingly good and was the best choice we had among the appetizers.
Next up is pasta and we decided to share one dish, the gnocchi, which are small potato filled pastas in a white sauce. Gnocchi isn't by any means a favorite pasta of mine, but it seemed like a decent choice. While the gnocchi was good, we both felt after a few each that the pasta "got old". As in, it was still good, but we couldn't eat a lot of it at once. More than likely going to pass on this for our next visit.
By the time we got to our entrees, we were both feeling a little stuffed. To Giovanni's Table's credit, they give you a lot of food and you're best served to try bites of each even though we felt guilty leaving any of the food on the dish to be thrown out. For my entree, I opted for the tuna dish, which was kind of like an Italian version of ahi tuna. A lightly cooked tuna that is rare on the inside (warm on the inside, unlike ahi which can be cold). This was really good and was easily the best thing I ate that evening. The sauce was light, which is key because the fish should be the focal point of the taste, not an overbearing sauce and with the baked tomatoes and potatoes along side, it was enough to stimulate my appetite to want to eat it all.
My wife opted for the filetto di Manzo alla griglia, a grilled 8oz beef filet tenderloin. It was a good cut of beef and definitely better than the steaks we had in the Main Dining Room. It also wasn't the best steak we've ever had but it certainly was something we could enjoy and I had a bite of it as well. We both thought it was good and were satisfied with the option.
In terms of pricing, we found Giovanni's Table to be a good option at $15 for dinner per person and $10 for lunch. We opted to eat here on "lobster night" (neither of us eat lobster) so a night at Giovanni's Table may be best for a night where the menu doesn't look very good in the main dining room. The wide selection of food and mostly tasty options really left us happy that we stopped by. I think we both felt like it was worth the extra cost for a nice evening out and found the service better than the food.
The Italian food is mostly traditional Italian food that many Americans love to enjoy. The food here wasn't as good as the Italian food we had previously tried at the specialty restaurant Palo on the Disney Wonder, but felt it was still a good meal overall. We did not try lunch, although we did notice that the lunch menu offers less options than the dinner menu.
Giovanni's Table is open for lunch 11:30am to 3:30pm and open for dinner 6:00pm to 10:00pm.
And I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve been here! What did you order? Any suggestions or favorite items? Let me know in the comments below!
Photo by Andrew Ryno
Two weeks ago, Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) announced better than expected earnings for its second quarter report with EPS of $0.28 on sales of $1.6 billion, beating EPS estimates by $0.09 and missing revenues estimates by $19 million. Since then, the Royal Caribbean stock price has risen 6.35%, from $27.56 to $29.31 in the last 15 days.
This is obviously great news for those who own Royal Caribbean stock as well as fans of the company, given that a stronger stock price translates out to a stronger company overall.
Royal Caribbean had sales growth of 18.7% during the last fiscal year. The company reported $6.3 billion in sales over the past 12 months and is expected to report $7.5 billion in sales in the next fiscal year according to SmarTrend.