The cruise industry as a whole wants you to book your next cruise vacation early, rather than later. At the recent annual UK Cruise Convention, cruise lines including Royal Caribbean held a summit regarding cruise pricing and defended their pricing strategies. Royal Caribbean General Manager Jo Rzymowska felt that the value of cruising should be more important than the pricing structure, "What ships offer today is phenomenal, we just don't focus on it".
The recent trend has been to have some great deals for last minute bookings but some in the cruise industry want the industry to give more incentive to book early rather than wait for a last minute deal. Furthermore, the cruise industry needs to give customers reason to book early. Cruise experts claim that booking early allows for better deals on airfare as well.
Lots of Americans say that sooner or later, they are going to "see Europe" and hop on over "the pond" to see "the old world" but to be honest, Europe can be a little daunting if you aren't an experienced traveler but the Mercury News recommends trying a European cruise to get a sampling of Europe without the hassle of trying to figure all the details out yourself.
Taking a cruise offers the chance to cover a lot of territory in Europe without the hassle of finding hotels, restaurants and transportation. It's the sampler approach to visiting Europe.
For fans of Royal Caribbean, seeing Europe is easy considering the cruise giant is increasing it's European fleet from eight to eleven ships next year, which will cover 27 countries and 78 ports. If that isn't enough of Europe for you, Royal Caribbean also offers pre- and post-cruise tours for extended visits.
You can read a great report by the author's experience aboard Voyager of the Seas on her Mediterranean Cruise.
But we were more enthralled with Port Grimaud. The port is nicknamed the Venice of France because homes and business are built on canals, complete with boats and bridges. Kitschy jewelry and apparel shops line the canals, most of the restaurants feature outdoor seating, and boat tours show off the seaside town created by architect Francois Spoerry in the 1960s. A sandy beach is also the ideal spot to rest after a long week.
Just a quick note that the first named storm of the 2010 hurricane season, Tropical Storm Alex, has altered Grandeur of the Seas. The ship was scheduled to call in Cozumel, Mexico on Sunday, but now it will stop in Nassau, Bahamas instead.
Good news for Royal Caribbean stock holders, travel agents in Bahrain have reported an 80 percent increase in bookings compared to the first six months of last year and Royal Caribbean is leading the way.
Travel agents said the US-Norwegian company Royal Caribbean International was leading the sales with Princess Cruises and the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) not far behind.
Travel agents there seem to be quite pleased with how well Royal Caribbean itineraries are selling. Oasis of the Seas is generating a lot of interest as well as their most popular package that sets sail from Singapore to Phuket, Thailand and Penang, Malaysia and then back to Singapore over a period of two nights.
"Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruise and NCL are all in the market selling like hot cakes."
There was an interesting article posted about the need for Information Technology (IT) to rebound in growth to help the economy and hidden inside was a tidbit about how Royal Caribbean uses IT to enhance their sales on board. Royal Caribbean International CIO Bill Martin uses an array of computing statistics on several of the company's newest, tech-rich cruise ships to help figure out what to sell next to cruisers.
Port Everglades, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is gaining ground quickly on Miami, Florida for most cruise passengers in the world. Miami has been the traditional "cruise capital of the world" for many years but recent changes have made Port Everglades, located just 28 miles to the north, a close competitor. If current trends continue, Port Everglades will overtake Miami by 2012, thanks to in part, Royal Caribbean.
Liberty of the Seas, currently serving Europe, will return to the United States next year and has been announced to call Port Everglades it's home port. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the two largest cruise ships in the world, already call Port Everglades home. This leaves just Majesty of the Seas left in Miami as Royal Caribbean's presence.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s level of commitment is less clear. Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., declined to comment on its future plans to sail from Miami, nor would he say whether Royal, which owns several brands including Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, intends to keep its headquarters at the port after its building leases expire in 2011 and 2014.
Miami, for it's part, admits it needs to do more to lure Royal Caribbean back to Miami. Recently the port of Miami inked a deal with Carnival to keep Carnival in Miami until at least 2018 and County Manager George Burgess said, "We need to roll up our sleeves and negotiate with Royal, just like we did with Carnival".
Port Everglades earned a lot of Royal Caribbean's new found loyalty thanks in part to how it handled the Oasis of the Seas situation. When Royal Caribbean was shopping for a home port, it received a lukewarm reception from Miami but Port Everglades agreed to double the terminal budget from $37.4 million to $75 million. Royal Caribbean then promised to send even more passengers to Port Everglades to compensate for the extra cost of the 5.5-acre super terminal, which has 90 ticket counters.
The fad these days is to have ships go to Europe to appease the large demand for cruise ships there but the future may lay in China, according to a report by the Shanghai International Port Group. In fact, double-digit growth is expected over the next few years.
Right now, 232 passenger liners serve China, which is an 87 percent rise from last year and it looks like Royal Caribbean is paying attention. Michael Bayley, senior vice president of Royal Caribbean Cruises, had this to say,
"China has a potential of around 40 million cruise guests annually if the market penetration reached the level of US and Europe"
Royal Caribbean has recently moved some of its ships around to new ports, serving Baltimore, Maryland and Maine and the result has been those ports have seen a surge in demand from customers ("If you build it, they will come" anyone?). Enchantment of the Seas moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland and officials say there were 81 cruises with 329,000 passengers in 2009. Ten more cruises are scheduled this year and the total number is expected to grow to 113 next year. This leads to a potential problem because the 113 cruises in 2011 will max out the capacity of Baltimore's cruise terminal.
To counter the problem, the Baltimore Board of Public Works approved a $2.9 million gangway for passenger ships to make embarking and debarking more pleasant for passengers in all types of weather. Even so, others are calling on Baltimore to do more and expand the potential amount of cruises the city can handle.
Meanwhile, Maine is also reporting a surge in demand and local businesses are feeling it.
The Holiday Inn by the Bay says it's booked 200 additional rooms because of the new ships. Enterprise Rent-a-Car says their bookings are up too. A recent University of Maine study found cruise ship passengers spend between $80 and $110 when they're in port, pumping as much as $8 million into the local economy.
Could this news help sway the trend of Royal Caribbean ships going to Europe to seek more money and keep them serving ports in the United States?
There's a new report that Jewel of the Seas has been struck by the norovirus once more.
Approximately 86 passengers were suffering symptoms of the dreaded gastro bug aboard the Royal Caribbean ship which arrived in Harwich today.
Earlier this month there was a report of Jewel of the Seas being affected by the norovirus where 292 guests and 16 staff members were affected by the virus. Royal Caribbean is once again giving the ship an “extensive and thorough sanitization”.