Royal Caribbean looking for upgrades to Sydney cruise terminal


Royal Caribbean executives are going to meet with the Australian transport minister this week to discuss a list of improvements to Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal that the company would like to see happen.

Starting July 1, a new $20 per passenger fee will come into effect and Royal Caribbean wants the new revenue to be used to upgrade the cruise facilities.

The new fee is expected to generate $10 million in the first year.

Royal Caribbean regional vice president Gavin Smith commented, "We are asking for a relationship between that fee and infrastructural improvement. We are maintaining our dialogue with the minister about OPT. We are looking for a responsible investment that helps defray our costs.”

Smith said he was "very hopeful" of a favorable outcome to the negotiations.

Royal Caribbean has a list of improvements to the cruise terminal they would like to see, including additional seating in the upper level of the terminal, an expanded shelter for baggage handling (Royal Caribbean currently has a canopy at its own expense), a restroom block to replace existing temporary facilities, upgraded escalators and better air conditioning.

Voyager of the Seas finishes Australian cruise season


Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas arrival in Singapore on Saturday marked the end of its cruise season in Australia.  The massive cruise ship had started offering cruises in Australia in November, when she became the first single cruise ship to carry more than 3000 passengers to Sydney.

Adam Armstrong, Royal Caribbean commercial directory for Australia, described the public's response to Voyager of the Seas as, "phenomonal".

"Judging from the feedback from our guests and trade partners, they can't wait to see her again for the 2013/14 summer season," he said.

During her time down under, Voyager of the Seas transported 40,000 passengers with every single cruise full.  Of the 40,000 passengers, about 85% were from Australia or New Zealand.

"Voyager of the Seas is a big ship, and her size and calibre was only previously available in the Caribbean or Europe. This has meant big things for Australia," Armstrong said.

Armstrong mentioned that Voyager of the Seas had a big impact on Sydney's local economy, with approximately a $25 million contribution along with around $40 million to the overall Australian economy.

Voyager of the Seas will return to Australia in the 2013/14 summer cruise season with four new itineraries and two additional sailings, boosting its program by 10%.

Royal Caribbean hints at growing its fleet in Australia


Royal Caribbean experienced a record week of local sales in Australia and the cruise giant has reiterated the possibility that it may increase the amount of its cruise ships in the area.

Royal Caribbean executive vice president of global sales and marketing, Lisa Bauer, told media in Sydney yesterday that the Australian cruise market has experience a higher level of growth potential and the company is looking to with through infrastructure challenges so it can expand its cruise operations.

"We see this market in two ways. One is developing cruising for the local market, the ability to home port here and to introduce people to cruising. Secondly, once they understand cruising, to travel to the rest of the world on our ships."

Bauer commented that Australia compliments the Asian cruise market and is a"great market in itself."

"We have not announced anything, but we would like to have the opportunity to bring additional ships here. The market has a lot more potential," Bauer said.

Bauer mentioned that the biggest obstacle for cruise growth in Australia today is that cruising "is for the nearly dead, over fed and newly wed".

"Our challenge for cruising in general is trying to break down those barriers," she said, adding that the average age for its Royal Caribbean ships is fourty-two.

"We partner exceptionally well with the travel agent community to try and get the message out that cruising is not the same with every brand," she continued. "We work hard with agents about matching the right customer with the right brand. That is very important."

Deal Alert: Royal Caribbean offering stateroom upgrades on Australia and New Zealand cruises


Royal Caribbean is offering deals on its winter 2013-2014 cruises to Australia and New Zealand of free stateroom upgrades.

Guests can book inside staterooms aboard Rhapsody of the Seas and be upgraded for free to oceanview staterooms, or you can book a balcony stateroom for the cost of an oceanview stateroom aboard Radiance and Voyager of the Seas.

The offer applies to new U.S. and Canadian individual bookings made on Jan. 30 through Feb. 28, 2013 aboard Royal Caribbean International ships departing from Sept. 2013 through April 2014 on 10-night sailings or longer in Australia and New Zealand. 

For more information, please visit

Do Australians pay more for cruises?


The Australian raised concern over the price of a Royal Caribbean cruise for Australians compared to other nationalities.  In the example, a 14-night cruise from Sydney to Auckland was quoted at $1900 per person for someone in Australia while a US-based travel agency online gave a quote of $1100 per person for the same cruise.

Royal Caribbean Australia managing director Gavin Smith addressed the issue and surmises the pricing disparities are a lot like the cost of Evian mineral water, "It is manufactured in France, but it is priced differently around the world."

Smith says generally speaking, the community living closes to the departure port of a cruise will pay the lowest price because they can travel with shorter lead time.

 "A Voyager of the Seas cruise [out of Australia] is cheaper for an Australian than for an American because we are trying to drive volume locally, [so] we adjust the price.

"It is not a deliberate intent by the cruise lines to price differentially between markets.

"We don't encourage Australians to book through non-Australian websites ... if you book through a foreign travel agent, you don't enjoy the [same] consumer protection," he concludes.

Royal Caribbean adjusts 2013/2014 cruise season in Australia


Citing "unprecedented demand", Royal Caribbean has changed its 2013/2014 cruise season in Australia and New Zealand replacing two cruises to New Zealand and Queensland with voyages to the South Pacific.

Royal Caribbean also added a "sampler cruise" to the schedule.

Royal Caribbean says the changes were made to accommodate the demand for cruises to the Pacific Ocean and for shorter itineraries.

An example of the change is a 14-night Voyager of the Seas cruise to New Zealand, due to depart on January 10, replaced with a three night ‘cruise to nowhere' followed by an 11-night trip to Fiji and New Caledonia.

An 11-night Rhapsody of the Seas voyage to Queensland, departing Sydney on February 11, has also been axed and replaced with a South Pacific sailing, calling at Noumea, Mare and Isle of Pines, New Caledonia, Luganville and Vanuatu.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia commercial director Adam Armstrong said passengers booked on the cancelled itineraries will be offered alternative voyages. 

Royal Caribbean sees dip in North American demand in Australia


Royal Caribbean is seeing a slight drop in the number of cruise passengers from North America that are cruising their Australian cruises this season due to economic unease across the Pacific.  Royal Caribbean insists that passengers from Australia have made up the difference

Royal Caribbean commercial manager Adam Armstrong confirmed that initial demand from North America has been down because consumers in the United States and Canada are more cautious about spending money.

However, Armstrong said the cruise line was prepared for this and had already increased its marketing efforts in Australian markets in the last few months.

Armstrong commented on the numbers, "Overall, we’re carrying more Australians than ever on our local ships. But we’re still carrying about a quarter to a third, depending on the cruise, of our guests from overseas."

"Broadly speaking, we've booked the same load factor this week as we did this week last year so we've really managed to absorb that additional capacity quite nicely."

Armstrong is confident that as the Australian cruise market grows, capacity issues will become irrelevant.  Armstrong did warn that infrastructure constraints are a major hindrance to growing demand for cruises in Australia.

Armstrong also confirmed that Royal Caribbean is considering ports across Australia and New Zealand such as Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland and Fremantle.  All of those ports could be alternatives for Royal Caribbean to Sydney, which has high costs and limited berths.

"Generally Australia is one of the most expensive countries to operate in,” he said. “So adding that extra cost is always going to be a challenge, particularly if you've got advantageous pricing in other countries where you can put your ships, like Asia."

"Nonetheless, Royal Caribbean remains committed to Australia, with the cruise line becoming “increasingly successful in the market."

Voyager of the Seas arrives in Australia for $1 million economic boost


Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas arrived in Adelaide, Australia today for her first stop down under.  

Locals expect that Voyager of the Seas' one-day visit will produce a $1 million boost to the economy of South Australia.  International Cruise Council Australasia general manager Brett Jardine is excited about what a ship like Voyager of the Seas means to the area, "That is probably a conservative estimate, but when you factor in an average of each passenger spending about $200 on shore tours, plus the extra spending on souvenirs, in bars and cafes, then any money the crew spend while ashore, as well as re-supplies for the ship, fuel and port charges ... it soon adds up."

Voyager of the Seas will instantly become Australia's biggest hotel, with 1556 rooms.  

Voyager of the Seas is scheduled to arrive at Outer Harbor from Fremantle at 5.30am and depart for Melbourne at 7pm. Voyager will be cruising to places such as New Zealand and South Pacific islands until March 12.

Royal Caribbean sees growth restrictions in Australia


Royal Caribbean has done well in recent years in Australia but its plans for further growth may be running into a problem come 2014/2015 but there's still hope for the future.

Cruise ship capacity constraints in Sydney will impact Royal Caribbean come 2014 according to managing director Gavin Smith, who indicated that rival Carnival Cruise Line is holding slots for an additional, unnamed cruise ship.

Smith said itineraries are currently being developed for 2014/15 with Port Botany a potential solution to the problem.

"There are periods in February 2015 when there is no berth space and that is the summer when our growth plans could face material curtailment,” Smith told Travel Today. “It gets very tight from December to February so you finish up with sub optimal itineraries of 16 or 17 nights because you can’t get back to Circular Quay. That is certainly a limitation to our plans. We are working through that at the moment to see how we can get around it."

Royal Caribbean dodged this issue for 2013/2014 when Carnival booked a berth for an unnamed ship, but subsequently withdrew that berth and allowed Royal Caribbean to take up the extra spot.

While declaring it was “unhelpful” for a cruise line to book for a vessel which ultimately doesn’t materialize, Smith refused to condemn Carnival.

"We are all masters of the slow reveal. I can understand what Carnival is doing but it’s certainly unhelpful if they don’t ultimately deliver the ship."

"The potential at Port Botany is for us to say ‘we’ll commit to this ship if you commit to helping us work one of the container terminals.  But for us to make that commitment we’ve got to be very clear on what our deployments need to be."

Royal Caribbean also revealed it was in "active discussions" over developments in Brisbane for 2015/16 that would allow the company to expand into Queensland. Although Royal Caribbean already calls at Brisbane, it does not have permission for a full turnaround.

Sydney, Australia expecting another record season for cruise ships


Royal Caribbean is doing its part to make another record cruise season for Sydney, Australia.  The city expects 265 visits before the cruise season ends in April 2013.

Many of the passengers that will help set that record will be traveling aboard Radiance of the Seas, including the 2100 people it brought to the city yesterday after a 17-night trip from Hawaii.

Royal Caribbean managing director of Royal Caribbean Cruise Australia expects up to 750,000 Australians to take a cruise in 2012.  That is a 34% increase from 2010 when just 620,000 Australians went on a cruise.  

''The stronger economy is providing a better return, and the better return is attracting a better quality of ship."

That's great news for Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry, considering there just a 4% increase in American cruises and 5% among British cruisers over the same period of time.

Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas arrives in Sydney on November 22 and will bring even more passengers than Radiance.