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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.

Royal Caribbean proudly supporting National Cruise Week in Australia


Royal Caribbean is supporting Australia's first ever National Cruise Week promotion.  To celebrate, Royal Caribbean is offering special cruise deals to anyone in Australia that books during the cruise week promotion.

Adam Armstrong, Royal Caribbean commercial director, is excited to see the cruise industry being promoted during the week, "Cruising is rapidly expanding part of the Australian tourism industry and we welcome this new national campaign to promote the sector. We’re delighted to be involved with the International Cruise Council Australasia’s campaign."

“Our deals all include on board credits – of up to $500 in some cases,” he continued. “Our guests will be able to use the credits to take a shore excursion, buy something special in our boutiques or treat themselves to a spa treatment – all on us.”

Royal Caribbean is offering some special deals, such as $100 onboard credit on all cruises out of Australia that are five nights or longer that are made during National Cruise Week.

Royal Caribbean Australia flagship sale breaks records


Royal Caribbean Australia launched a flagship sale last Sunday and it has already broken records as the busiest sales period in the history of Royal Caribbean Australia.

Commercial Director Adam Armstrong is excited to see the sales for Royal Caribbean cruises spike, "Our phones have been ringing off the hook since the flagship sale was announced,” he said. “We know that some agents have been having trouble getting through to us due to the sheer volume of calls, so we have decided to extend the sale until Monday night to ensure we can assist everyone who would like to book with us for the coming season.”

Royal Caribbean will have three ships based in the region, starting in October and will offer itineraries that include ports of call in the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

“We’ve obviously had great interest in our megaliner, Voyager of the Seas,” continued Armstrong. “However, the Aussie favourites Rhapsody of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas have extremely strong bookings too. With Rhapsody of the Seas returning to the region after undergoing a massive refurbishment, passengers are excited to see the improvements made to the ship which is such a familiar sight to Australians.”

Voyager of the Seas will arrive in Fremantle, Australia on her maiden voyage to Australia on November 5.

Royal Caribbean supports new Gold Coast cruise terminal


Veteran developer Bob Ell has a plan to build a new $200 million cruise ship terminal for the Gold Coast of Australia  and Royal Caribbean supports the idea.

The new terminal would include three cruise ship terminal berths, three hotels, a casino, a water park, an underwater observatory, a new North Kirra surf club and a super-yacht marina.

Royal Caribbean managing director for Australia, Gavin Smith, indicated that Royal Caribbean may back the new venture.

"We would investigate the potential for capital involvement in any project," Smith said.

Royal Caribbean was excited by the business community's interest in a new cruise terminal in the area, ""We will certainly work with them and assist with providing any information they require."

"The challenge for the Gold Coast is the marine navigation of the area and building a facility that could be reliably accessed by visiting cruise ships."

Royal Caribbean promotes ice rink at sea at Sydney Winter Festival


Royal Caribbean sent new Public Relations Manager Allison Brennan and Royal Caribbean commercial manager Adam Armstrong to the Sydney Winter Festival to promote Royal Caribbean's own ice rink at sea aboard Voyager of the Seas.

The ice rink at Bondi Beach is a fun opportunity for Australians to ice skate, and Royal Caribbean is hoping to show that passengers aboard Voyager of the Seas can ice skate onboard for free in the Studio B ice rink.

Studio B is a 700-seat venue and offers 45-minutes ice skating sessions at scheduled times on selected sea days, along with evening events including disco skating and rock n’ roll skating.

Complimentary ‘Learn to Skate’ sessions will be offered for beginners while advanced skaters can take advantage of advice from the professional skate team who will be offering lessons for those more adept on the ice.

Twelve professional figure skaters from around the world will take to the ice in “Ice Odyssey”; the 45-minute show that features solo and pair performances.