Last month Royal Caribbean began accepting entries for a contest called "Culinary Challenge" where aspiring chefs could compete to become the next Chef de Cuisine of 150 Central Park, the signature restaurant onboard Allure of the Seas, the cruise line's newest ship which will make her debut in December 2010. Well, voting is now open for the contestants and you can view the video entries and vote on them!
There are six entries that made it to the vote stage. The chef with the highest number of votes will be awarded additional points to his/her overall score at the final challenge held at The Culinary Institute of America's Hyde Park campus in New York on August 5 & 6.
Voting ends on Sunday, July 18 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote once per day.
With huge new ships like Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, new technology has been the solution for Royal Caribbean to make the experience onboard for guests as easy as possible. Royal Caribbean CIO Bill Martin spoke with InformationWeek magazine about five innovations Royal Caribbean has used to make the experience better for guests.
- Facial Recognition Software
When you board the ship for the first time, a high resolution photo is taken of you and this photo is used for security as well as for merchandise systems such as the point of sale system. Facial recognition software allows computers to categorize photos taken all over the ship by Royal Caribbean photographers for easy pick up later.
- Shape Recognition Cameras
At each of the 24 restaurants on the ship, shape-recognition cameras count the number of people seated and if any are waiting. Royal Caribbean works to ensure there is no waiting at its restaurants.
- Interactive Media
Remember the shape recognition cameras from the previous entry? Well that data on restaurant crowds gets sent in real-time, in the form of red-yellow-green signals, to 300 digital signs around the ship, so that people can self-select the least-crowded restaurants.
- Wireless Everywhere
There's Wi-Fi internet coverage onboard, along with wireless wristband for children to allow parents to track their kids movements on an iPhone app. The specially equipped iPhones are for rent during cruises.
- Real-Time Analysis
Royal Caribbean is using the data it receives during the cruise to help make decisions "on the fly" and bring attention to problems as they occur, not after.
Royal Caribbean has more real-time data than ever before because every point of sale terminal and booking system is networked, so analysts can know what’s selling well, what services are being under-used, plus the demographics of who’s on board. Analysts onshore have started crunching that data while the cruise is sailing. Combine that with the interactive media on the ships, and Royal Caribbean has a chance to put customized offers in front of people, say for a particular type of spa treatment that has more openings than usual, to a person most likely to want such a treatment, delivered direct to their interactive TV.
Royal Caribbean already serves a few Canadian ports but Canada is looking for even more cruises to stop north of the border. Canadian ports in Quebec, the Maritimes and Newfoundland are working hard collectively to attract more cruise ships to the region. Currently Royal Caribbean serves Canada from ships out of the port of Bayonne, New Jersey and there are plenty of flights out of Canada into Newark where it's only a 15-kilometre trip between the airport and the port.
Currently, European cruise lines, such as Costa and MSC, are very active in Canada. These cruises feature predominantly European tourists while Royal Caribbean rivals Holland America and Princess Cruise Lines have a long-standing Canadian presence and have the most capacity in this market.
If Canadian markets have their way, they'd like to see Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines increase their presence in Canada to create more options for Canadian cruisers as well as help generate more tourism money in the ports.
Adventure of the Seas has made its debut in the Spanish port of Malaga and the city couldn't be happier. After a series of short cruises out of Barcelona earlier this spring, Adventure of the Seas has moved to Malaga, along with its 3000 passengers, becoming the largest cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Officials expect about 72,000 passengers to pass through this summer.
To commemorate the special occasion, a special ceremony was held in port that was attended by representatives of Royal Caribbean in Spain. Emmanuel Joly, the Director of Marketing and Sales of Royal Caribbean in Spain, highlighted the "commitment" of the company with Spain and the south and said "Proof of this is that we are the only shipping company that has a ship in Malaga the size of the Adventure of the Seas to sail and landed more than 3,000 passengers on each output having an important direct benefit to the region. "
Joly also highlighted the fact that the city of Malaga is a city "high prepared for tourism and interesting options that make it an interesting attraction for passengers from the cruise line" and that thanks to "Puerto de Atocha", the agreement signed between Royal Caribbean and Renfe, "is even closer to the center of Spain."
The Adventure of the Seas will be offering seven-night cruises from Malaga during the summer, with stops in Sardinia, Rome, Corsica and Palma De Mallorca.
Lisa Bauer, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations for Royal Caribbean, posted a progress update on Allure of the Seas construction. Here are the highlights.
- Allure seems to be further along at this point in time than Oasis of the Seas was
- The scaffolding is down in the Royal Promenade and tile is being added
- Carpet installed in most areas
- Rita’s Cantina, the Boardwalk Doghouse, and the Guess store are starting to "take shape"
- More stores also taking shape, but yet to be announced what they will be
- Royal Caribbean will be taking delivery of Allure of the Seas a few days earlier than planned
- Costumes for Dreamworks characters will require planning to find space for them all
We had several operational meetings with Captain Hernan Zini, who will be the Master on Allure, as well as the hotel start up team, lead by Raimund Gschaider. The team is very pleased with how the inspections are going, as well as the operational planning.
Royal Caribbean has launched a special July 4th sale on last minute cruises as well as cruises throughout the year. The sale runs July 2nd through July 6th on select sailings. New bookings only. Some great rates to be had if you can act quickly!
Interestingly enough, there are two Oasis of the Seas sailings on sale as well.
Must be something in the water today because there's another cruise ship review that has been posted. Alex from a2zcasino.eu recently took a cruise aboard Enchantment of the Seas and he gives a good overview of everything you can find aboard the ship. He also spells out what he did upon embarkation including the obligatory first buffet meal.
All passengers are instructed to head for the upper decks to dine at the buffet that is waiting for their arrival. Most cruise ships offer this as a way for their guests to kill an hour or so until the staterooms are ready. If you have be smart and skipped lunch before boarding the ship, you will enjoy this large offering of food. The selections are excellent. The staff stays obvious so that any questions that you may have can be resolved.
The article is a good read for anyone who has a cruise booked on Enchantment of the Seas and is looking for something to help get that cruise "fix". It's too bad that the site, a casino guide, didn't spend more time detailing the casino options aboard Enchantment. Oh well, there's always next cruise.
Stephen Sinfield of the Burton Mail Travel returned from another cruise aboard Independence of the Seas and to say he is impressed by his experiences on this ship would be an understatement. Sinfield wrote a review of his time on the ship and more than anything else, it's the amenities and sheer size of the ship that continue to impress him the most.
What makes the ship so special is its size.
Because it is so huge, it has the space to offer 15 decks of activity, entertainment and accommodation.
These 15 decks include everything from an ice skating rink through to a rock climbing wall, surf simulator, miniature golf and full-size basketball court. Not forgetting the gym, swimming pools, whirlpools, three-tier theatre and casino.
If you're considering a cruise on Independence of the Seas, Sinfield writes a good overall review of the ship, outlining the various options available to the cruise guest from entertainment to food to what to do onboard.
The size of the Independence enables it to create an atmosphere suitable for everyone. Yes it has everything needed to create a high-energy fuel-filled adventure at sea, yet at the same time it can be relaxing and cultural.
It's not all positive as at the end of the article, Sinfield can only muster up enough criticism that there are bigger ships out there, such as Oasis of the Seas, and perhaps he needs to go on that ship next time.
The port of Malaga in Spain is reporting that more than 183,000 cruise passengers have passed through their port so far this year, which is an increase of 3% over 2009 numbers. Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas, between June and November, is expected to bring an additional 168,000 passengers. This is the largest amount of passengers that one cruise ship is expected to bring to the port for the rest of the year.
Andy Mayer posted some great tips from his recent experience aboard Freedom of the Seas and they are some good advice. Here's a quick rundown of them.
- Buy Bottles of Wine Not Individual Glasses
- Try the Buffet for Dinner
- Get the Early Dining Seating for Dinner
- Get the Fountain Soda Package
- Prepare to be Disconnected
Here's one full tip is posted about the bottles of wine being a better deal than by the glass
My colleague Mike told me about this before we left, and he was right. Glasses of wine in the dining room can be expensive – in the $15 range. However, if you know that you want wine every night and don’t mind the same wine for two nights or more in a row, buy a bottle. At the end of the meal, your waiter marks the cork with your table number, takes it away, and then brings it back the next night for you to finish. Since we had only two drinkers (my wife and I), this worked better than the RC Wine Plan, where the fewest number of bottles you can buy is five. The per bottle cost of the Wine Plan is less than we paid, but we couldn’t have possibly drunk five bottles in a week.