New Canadian fuel rules could hurt cruise business

In:
12Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Canada is proposing a cut in the amount of sulfur that cruise ships may have in their fuel for 2012, which could make cruising to Canada much more expensive for cruise lines.  The current regulations stipulate cruise ships within 200 miles of the Canadian coast can use fuel that is 1.5 to 2.5 percent sulfur. The proposed cuts, set in an agreement with the United States, would demand sharp cuts in sulfur in the next five years with the first ones kicking in in 2012.

Fred Olsen, a British cruise line, said it is considering dropping Halifax as a port of call in 2012, saying the new rules could cost it thousands of dollars a day for each ship in Canadian waters.

The new sulfur limit would be 1 percent by 2012 and 0.1 percent by 2015. 

Maritime lobby buying up European Union officials

In:
12Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Fipra, a public relations consultant that actively lobbying on maritime issues in Europe, is busy plucking away European Union officials for their lobbying firm and that has some worried about transparency in the EU administration.  Malta's Joe Borg, the commissioner responsible for maritime affairs and fisheries until last year, has been hired by Fipra and the EU has allowed Borg to work there, citing no evidence of a possible conflict of interest.

Mr Borg is to join his old colleague John Richardson, a former director in the European Commission's "Directorate General Mare," the EU's maritime and fisheries department, who in September 2008 became Fipra's "maritime policy and diplomacy special advisor."

Thus far, a total so far of six of the 13 EU commissioners who retired earlier this year have now gone on to work for banks, lobbying firms, insurance companies and airlines.

This pertains to Royal Caribbean as John RIchardson announced to the EU commission that a client of his will be Royal Caribbean, the second largest cruise company in the world, and the EU reported back "It was considered at that point in time that his envisaged activities would not be incompatible with his former functions."  Making matters more interesting, Fipra's website says that Fipra's chairman, Peter Lehrell, "and his family have a special affection" for the company.

The concern by some is Fipra's close contact with Royal Caribbean and some of their members positions in the European Union could cause conflicts of interest.

Oasis of the Seas continues to enjoy premium pricing

In:
12Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Oasis of the Seas, the celebrated largest ship in the world and now seven months old, is still generating enough demand to maintain it's premium prices over other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, according to a report by Majestic Research.  In the report, cabins on Oasis of the Seas are selling for 41% more than the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet during the current quarter.  Even interior cabins, the cheapest option, sell for typically 69% more.

Majestic Research's Matthew Jacob had this to say about the future outlook for Oasis of the Seas, "We expect the ship will continue to generate strong premiums throughout most of 2010, although premiums appear to be leveling off sequentially".

When Oasis of the Seas debuted in 2009, an interior cabin cost 142% more than a cabin on Royal Caribbean's other ships.  Majestic Research reports that the premium dropped to 112% in the first quarter of 2010 and then to 74% in the second quarter of the year.

This trend should continue until December 2010 when Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas' sister ship, debuts.

So this sounds like great news for Royal Caribbean, right?  Well, the bad news is Majestic Research says the higher prices on Oasis come at the cost of cannibalizing the premium for cabins found on the rest of Royal Caribbean's fleet.  

Jacob says Freedom class ships have seen their premium for interior cabins versus the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet shrink to 4% during the current quarter from 27% during the same quarter last year (the last full quarter prior to the launch of Oasis). Celebrity's Solstice class ships have seen their premiums decline to 22% during the current quarter from 68% during the same quarter a year ago, he says.

Majesty of the Seas to host heavy metal themed cruise

In:
11Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

For fans of cruising and heavy metal music, there is news that a special concert will be held on Majesty of the Seas that will sail Monday, January 24, 2011.  The cruise is called  "70000 Tons Of Metal" and has been dubbed "the world's biggest floating heavy metal festival".  This themed cruise will feature a number of metal acts.  These include..

  • agent steel
  • amon amarth
  • death angel
  • epica
  • exodus
  • fear factory
  • finntroll
  • forbidden
  • moonspell
  • obituary
  • raven
  • saxon
  • sodom
  • sonata arctica
  • stratovarius
  • swashbuckle
  • testament
  • trouble
  • uli jon roth
  • witchburner

More bands will be announced and a total of 40 acts have been promised.

Video of the Day: Take a tour of Explorer of the Seas

In:
10Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Karen Schaler, a travel contributor for ABC News, takes a tour of Explorer of the Seas and shows you how to maximize the space in your cabin as well show off some of the fun things to do onboard Explorer.

Royal Caribbean confirms Dreamworks additions will not impact everyone

In:
09Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

When the Dreamworks alliance was announced last month, many Royal Caribbean fans were afraid that their favorite ships would be turned into a giant floating shrine to Shrek and his friends.  

In a blog post by Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein, he confirmed that if you have no desire to experience any of the Dreamworks entertainment, you won't have to.  All of it will be isolated in designated areas and like any other form of entertainment on the ship, you will need to seek it out to experience it.

On the other hand, some readers expressed concern that the DWA presence onboard Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas will create too much of kid-centric, theme park style environment.

For guests who are not interested in this additional offering, it will be just as possible as before on these same four ships to have a fantastic Royal Caribbean experience taking advantage of all of the entertainment, programming, culinary and destination experiences that are already so appealing.

The news is not shocking, given that Disney ships, world renown for their characters, make it very possible to cruise with them and never see their characters.  The announcement by Goldstein is in response to a vocal outcry across the internet by concerned cruisers who wanted to know the limits of the Dreamworks team up.

Travel and Leisure Magazine Ranks Large-Ship Cruise Lines

In:
09Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Travel and Leisure magazine has published their list of the World 's Best Awards including the category of large-ship cruise lines.  T+L readers were given a survey to fill out between December 2009 and March 2010 to rank the cruise lines. For cruise lines, readers rated them based on these categories

  • cabins
  • food
  • service
  • itineraries/destinations
  • activities
  • value
  • families (optional)

Here was the results:

  1. Crystal Cruises 90.47
  2. Regent Seven Seas 89.86
  3. Oceania Cruises 86.65
  4. Disney Cruise Line 84.93
  5. Azamara Cruises 83.91
  6. Cunard 83.35
  7. Celebrity Cruises 81.49
  8. Holland America Line 81.08
  9. Royal Caribbean International 80.92
  10. Princess Cruises 80.38

The good news is Azmara Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, ranked fifth.  The bad news is Royal Caribbean ranked ninth.  If you want to spin this in a more positive light, while Royal Caribbean was ranked ninth, competitor Carnival Cruise Line did not make the top 10. In addition, the difference between ninth place and fifth place is barely a few points.

Freedom of the Seas: Four Must Do Activities

In:
09Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

If you've got a cruise coming up on Freedom of the Seas, then this is your week as we have even more tips for your next cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas, as provided by CruiseMates.com

  1. Explore the Promenade
  2. Sample the Cuisine
  3. Experience the Entertainment and Nightlife
  4. Activities for Kids

Here is one of the tips, explore the promenade

The Promenade is longer than on other RCI ships, and is similar to a large suburban mall. Three miles of corridors connect the public rooms, and are well marked so passengers don't get hopelessly lost. Boutiques that are on the other Voyager-class ships are on Freedom. The Royal Promenade has special lighting effects for the Mardi Gras-style parades. The Royal Promenade features several spots for snacks and has a book shop, The Book Nook.

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