Rio de Janeiro to host 500,000 cruisers in 2010/2011 cruise season

In:
20Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

The Brazilian Cruise Associaton has announced that the port of Rio de Janeiro is expected to welcome almost 500,000 cruisers for the 2010-2011 season, which begins in October. About 17 ships will make a stop in Rio and according to the Brazilian Cruise Association, 479 000 cruisers will disembark in Rio de Janeiro. This number represents a 7% increase compared to the quota registered last season.

Along with many other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean will have two of it's ships visiting Rio.  These ships include Mariner of the Seas and Vision of the Seas.

The Brazilian season of 2010/2011 Cruise will have 20 ships, two more than in 2009/2010, which will sail along the coast of Brazil until May 2011. In 2008/2009, Rio de Janeiro received 112 cruises, which took almost 270 000 cruisers, and in the 2009/2010 season were 448,000 tourists on 193 routes.

Rockland Maine reverses cruise tax increase

In:
20Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Last month, the town of Rockland, Maine announced it was going to increase its fee for passengers that arrive on cruise ships from $1 to $6 and that didn't leave Royal Caribbean happy, as they complained the new measures did not give the cruise line enough time in advance to react to the changes and felt the fee hike was unfair. 

On Monday night, the Rockland city council voted 3-2 to reverse its decision, however, the decision only applies to Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas.  Jewel of the Seas will arrive in Rockland in October. This is a short-term victory for Royal Caribbean, who will not have to foot the bill for the difference in the rate increase, but the future of Royal Caribbean's presence in the town or even the area may still be in doubt.

The European invasion of American cruise ships

In:
20Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

CruiseLineFans posted an article that is looking at the effects of cruising on Europe and the overall trend that cruise lines are experiencing to move their ships to Europe to meet the growing demand there.  In the article, there's a mention about Royal Caribbean's strategy of increasing their presence in Europe and competing against not only their traditional counterparts (NCL, Carnival) but also stalwarts of European cruising such as P&O, Thomson and others. 

Royal Caribbean International will have eleven ships in Europe in 2011, with the latest addition being Mariner of the Seas, having left Los Angeles for Rome. Mariner will sail from March to November 2011, while the Liberty of the Seas will be based in Barcelona and the Independence of the Seas now will sail year-round from Southampton, England.

Royal Caribbean will also base a ship in Palma, the traditional base for tour operator ships (such as TUI/Thomson, with whom they halve a half interest in TUI Cruises) and also to take on Aida Cruises.

Lewis Black to headline Liberty of the Seas cruise in November

In:
19Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Quick note for anyone sailing on Liberty of the Seas, comedian Lewis Black will be headlining a seven-day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas on Nov. 7, sailing out of Miami.

Joining Lewis will be some other comedians including

  • John Pinette
  • Dom Irrera
  • Kathleen Madigan
  • John Bowman
  • Larry Wilmore
  • Ted Alexandro
  • Joe Grifasi
  • Mark Linn-Baker
  • Vic Henley
In addition to comedy acts in the evening, there's also a number of events taking place such as Mark Linn Baker, from Perfect Strangers, will be screening Mel Brooks' My Favorite Year, the first movie in which he starred, and hosting a Q&A afterwards; Dom Irrera, Star of Comedy Court, will do the show with some of you felons participating; Lewis Black will be doing book signings and Q&A sessions.

Waterslide and aqua park fad started by Royal Caribbean

In:
19Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Today it seems like every cruise ship has lots of different amenities to choose from like water slides, pools or other fun recreational activities.  HospitalityNet wrote an article about the advent of water based fun on cruise ships and looks back to Royal Caribbean pioneering the idea of physical entertainment on a cruise ship when they debuted rock climbing walls, mini-golf and ice-skating rinks in 2005.  Then in 2006, Royal Caribbean launched the industry’s largest passenger ship at the time, Freedom of the Seas, with an onboard surf simulator called a FlowRider and an H2O Zone aqua park. Ever since then, it's been a competition among the cruise lines to out do each other.

The article talks about what the different cruise lines have, but here is the write up on Oasis of the Seas.

Oasis of the Seas is the largest cruise ship at sea. It is the first to have a carousel, a full Broadway show, a zipline, two FlowRiders, a beach pool and an aqua theater that offers synchronized swimming and high-dive performances.
 
It is the first ship to offer seven distinctly themed neighborhoods --- (1) Central Park, (2) Boardwalk, (3) Royal Promenade, (4) H2O & Sports Zone, (5) Spa & Fitness Center, (6) Entertainment Place and (7) Youth Zone. Think you might be bored? Think again.
 
Cruise consultant Jennifer Crivelli offers this advice: “Mom can visit Central Park right on Deck 8, complete with trees, gardens and dining. In the evening, she can attend the Broadway musical Hair Spray on board in the Opal Theater. She can even visit the Vitality at Sea Day Spa to enjoy a massage or facial. Dad can spend his days at sea on Deck 16, practicing his surfing on the FlowRider in the H2O Zone. Who wants to climb a mountain, when you can climb a 30-foot rock wall a hundred feet above the ocean? And there is even a zipline. Sports practice is not a problem either. Oasis of the Seas has a full-sized basketball/volley court and fitness center in the Sports Zone. At the beach, Junior can walk the Boardwalk, eat cotton candy and ride the carousel. Sis can lounge by one of the four pools and work on her tan.”

Increased police presence in St Thomas to combat violence

In:
19Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Following last week's killing of a cruise passenger, the United States Virgin Islands say they are making strides to make the island safer for tourists.  The police on the island are increasing their foot patrols across the island to stem violence from occuring.

Police commissioner Novelle Francis issued a statement regarding the measures the police are taking, "In response to the tragic incident at Coki Point on July 12, the (Virgin Islands police department) has quickly augmented its efforts to increase police officer presence on the streets and patrol specific areas visited most often by tourists, including but not limited to cruise ports, beaches, historical attractions, hotels and popular sightseeing areas".

The increased measures to combat violence include

  • Increased mobile patrols of other areas with high visitor traffic
  • The upgrading of security surveillance apparatus across the territory, including the addition of surveillance cameras in towns with 24 hour monitoring
  • New intelligence gathering prior to and during visits of the areas frequented by visitors
  • Monitoring of the movement of visitors
  • Increased high intensity patrols of popular attractions throughout the territory

In addition, the U.S. Virgin Islands' tourist office announced plans this past Friday for a $1.2 million advertising and marketing campaign that will hopefully help portray the territory in a better light than it has been recently due to the news of the killing and violence on the island. The money will also be spent on new public relations efforts and to bring travel writers to the territory to write about it.

Smooth sailing and comfy lodging aboard Oasis of the Seas

In:
18Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Charles J. Adams III took a cruise recently on Oasis of the Seas to see what was so great about the ship and he came back with a simple conclusion: everything!  From the amenities to the layout of the ship, Charlie (as he's often called), liked all of it.

I found it surprisingly easy to find my way through the Oasis, despite its enormity. It is divided into distinct "neighborhoods" and "zones" and each passenger is provided with a pocket-sized map and guide. Interactive and static signs throughout the common areas also were very helpful.

Even after a week, Charlie admits he was hard pressed to find anything to complain about on Oasis, but did mention that some of the issues raised about Oasis are being addressed with its sister ship Allure of the Seas.

The Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line's bar-raising behemoth is incomprehensibly immense and, at first, intimidating. But after a bit of exhaustive virtual and exhausting physical exploration, I quickly became comfortable within the confines of the ship that is taller than the Berks County Court House and almost as long as the Maple Grove Drag Strip. Stood on end, it would easily be the tallest building in Philadelphia.

Seeing Italy on Royal Caribbean

In:
18Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Robin Robinson of the Toronto Sun recently took a cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas and liked it as a great way to see Italy.  She took notes on her cruise and shared her tips from her cruise as well as why she enjoyed the entire vacation as well.

Distances between Italian ports are short, so on a seven-night itinerary -- like one I sailed recently aboard Royal Caribbean International's Voyageur of the Seas -- a ship can visit a different place each day. Add the numerous architectural masterpieces and ruins, must-see museums and art galleries, and more World Heritage sites than any other country on Earth and it's easy to see why exploring Italy from a cruise ship is attracting not only North American travellers but also an international crowd.

It's been well documented that Royal Caribbean has been adding more ships to Europe and Royal Caribbean public relations representative Celia de la Llama mentions that this year Royal Caribbean has seven ships sailing in Mediterranean waters but next year the total will jump to 11 ships sailing a broad range of different itineraries from European ports.

Some highlights of her cruise included

  • A drive along the steep and winding Amalfi Coast road -- dubbed the "Mamma Mia Road" because Italians are known to exclaim "mamma mia" while taking in the breathtaking views along its hairpin turns
  • A visit to Tuscany's Varramista wine estate
  • Ogling multimillion-dollar yachts along the St. Tropez waterfront

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