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Almost 1 in 2 Royal Caribbean cruise ship passengers are millennials

25 Apr 2024

Royal Caribbean's demographic is shifting to attract younger passengers. 

Millennials in a hot tub

"Millennials and younger generations have gained 11 percentage points share compared to 2019," said Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean Group's CEO, "And today, almost 1 in 2 guests are millennials or's a very powerful statement."

This isn't necessarily a new trend, as the 2023 State of the Cruise Industry Report released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) revealed that passengers between the ages of 20 and 59 are now making up over 50% of passengers onboard cruise ships. 

Additionally, 88% of millennials expressed enthusiasm for cruising within the next few years. 

Hideaway Beach

The Caribbean remains the company's largest product group. In 2024, sailings to this region make up 55% of their deployment. 

Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's exclusive destination in The Bahamas, is a favorite. With activities designed for those who crave adrenaline rushes or a day of blissful relaxation, the island was created to appeal to a wide array of interests. 

Additionally, Royal Caribbean continues to launch new builds across all of its brands, including Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Silversea. 

Icon of the Seas in CocoCay

Whether cruisers are looking for a refined, destinated-focused sailing onboard Celebrity Ascent or a jam-packed cruise onboard Icon of the Seas, the company continues to provide exciting products and experiences that redefine what it means to take a cruise vacation. 

Royal and Celebrity have plans to grow even more, with Utopia of the Seas scheduled for debut in July 2024, followed by Star of the Seas and Celebrity Xcel in 2025. 

They're also working on creative more exclusive experiences for guests, such as the Royal Beach Clubs in Nassau and Cozumel, indicating that it's both the ships and destinations that are appealing to millennial guests. 

Those who sail with Royal Caribbean are five times more likely to sail with them again

Wonder of the Seas at CocoCay

From top-tier service to delicious dining, one-of-a-kind production shows, and more, the onboard experience onboard Royal Caribbean Group ships is unmatched, regardless of which line appeals to you the most. That, combined with the destinations, created a well-rounded experience. 

"There [are] 25,000 guests a day that come into Nassau," said Liberty, "And we're going to take some of those guests [and] bring them over to the [Royal] Beach Club."

Utopia of the Seas, for instance, will visit both Nassau and Perfect Day. "That's really a phenomenal game charger,' said Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean CEO and President. 

Royal Beach Club in Nassau

"It really is drawing in a huge amount of new to cruise, and it's beautifully positioned in Canaveral right fundamentally in Orlando."

In short, creating exclusive and elevated experiences is attracting a high level of demand from consumers, whether it's a private beach at a popular port or an entire island.

Royal Caribbean's website is seeing record demand


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers got used to online shopping. 

"In the first quarter, we had 100 million visits to our websites...that's twice what we had pre-COVID," said Liberty.

"We have really upped our game, not just on a marketing basis, but [to make our websites help our customers] dream about what they want to do and help them get to the experience that they're looking for."


The Cruise Planner allows guests to easily browse all available options for their sailing, including drink packages, shore excursions, specialty dining experiences, spa treatments, Wi-Fi packages, and more. 

In essence, those who take advantage of the online portal can have their entire cruise planned out before stepping onboard, making the cruise itself as hassle-free as possible. 

Liberty went on to talk about the growth of the mobile app, too. 

Royal Caribbean's website

We are removing friction and unlocking travel planning by investing in a modern digital travel platform, making it easier than ever for guests to book their dream vacations while allowing us to expand wallet share," said Liberty.

Our digital experiences delight guests. Our mobile app is consistently adopted by 94% of our guests on board, and we continue to enhance its capabilities."

Cruise bookings are so hot that Royal Caribbean outperformed all of its predictions, defying slowdown fears

26 Oct 2023

It's not your imagination, a cruise vacation is so in demand right now that even Royal Caribbean can't believe how hot their product has become.

Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Group reported its third quarter 2023 results on Thursday, along with its 2024 outlook. Not only did the company have a one billion dollar profit, but they see even stronger demand to come.

Royal Caribbean Group raised its full-year profit forecast for a third time, which is an important sign of how strong demand is.

During an call with investors, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty talked about how well-positioned a cruise vacation is with consumers, "The unprecedented acceleration in demand and pricing for our leading brands, combined with stronger demand for onboard experiences, were certainly the main drivers of our outperformance."


The business of cruising across the three primary brands of the Royal Caribbean Group: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and SilverSea, have resonated with consumers in bookings.

Some interesting facts:

  • More than 130,000 guests sailing on their ships every day
  • Guest median household income of at least $125,000
  • Guests spending on experiences is currently up 25% compared to 2019, with twice the amount spent on goods
  • A third of pre-booking purchases now coming through the mobile app
  • Cruise fare rates were up approximately 18% in the third quarter compared to 2019

Mr. Liberty pointed out that while airlines and hotels have concerns related to the financial health of those businesses, cruises are seeing no slow down, "our commercial apparatus is firing on all cylinders."

A closer look at who's booking cruises

New Years Party

Royal Caribbean said it saw a significant increase in new to brand and new to cruise customers this year. This is important, because those that have never cruised before represent the single most viable source of new business.

In the third quarter, approximately two thirds of guests were new to cruise or new to brand, all while also doubling the repeat booking rate. Mr Liberty said this indicates, "strong loyalty and satisfaction."

He added that about 70% of guests made pre-cruise purchases, and this is important because customers who purchased onboard experiences before their cruise spent two and a half times more than those who only bought once on board.

Wonder of the Seas aerial rear

"We have thousands of people making bookings for experiences that are at least 6 to 8 months from today," Mr. Liberty explained. "They're making bookings into 2025. They're even making bookings into 2026."

"So our visibility in terms of how the consumer is looking at things going forward, at least on a vacation experience on our incredible brands is is pretty good based off of where the consumer is standing today."


Moreover, Royal Caribbean is seeing a customer that wants to stay with a Royal Caribbean Group ship, more than any other, "I think what's important is what we're getting is a very sticky consumer who wants to be sailing with us, staying within our ecosystem."

"And so sometimes it's not a question of where they're going to go... but they're going to go somewhere with us. And that's what we're focused on making sure they're doing."

Cruise vs land vacations

Utopia of the Seas overhead render

Mr. Liberty once again beat the drum of comparing cruises to land vacations, and reiterated how competitive cruises are instead.

He admitted the cruise industry is just "a sliver of overall vacation and travel and leisure", but he sees even a 1% shift of that travel demand to cruise would have an incredible impact on cruises.

"We're seeing that with the younger generations who really look at us very much similar to how they would look to go to Orlando or Vegas or skiing, etc."

Magic Kingdom in Disney World

He is fond of referring to the value gap that exists between cruises and land vacations, where cruising is such a better value compared to a land resort.

"If we can close half of that gap and get back to where we were, that's also worth probably about ten Oasis class ships."

Europe was the difference maker

There are many reasons why Royal Caribbean Group has a great third quarter, but European cruises were at the top of the list.

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Natali Holtz explained, "Overall, about 50% of the better than expected yield performance was driven by European itineraries, with the remainder mainly driven by Caribbean and Alaska."

About half of passengers on Royal Caribbean Group's European sailings come from the US, and the other half come from around the world.

The Caribbean and Alaska have always been strong performers, but Europe essentially outperformed itself and catapulted itself up this quarter.

Royal Caribbean is doing better now than it ever has in its history, even after a two year shutdown

28 Jul 2023

Despite being shutdown for almost two years, Royal Caribbean is doing so well in 2023 that it's already outpacing its previous high water marks.

Freedom of the Seas bow

Royal Caribbean Group reported incredible results for the second quarter 2023 that demonstrate a common theme: demand for cruises is higher than ever, and people are willing to pay more for it.

The company's resurgence is remarkable considering the low point it found itself in during the global health crisis between 2020 and 2021.

Royal Caribbean had already started the year off with good numbers, but the second quarter really saw the resurgence come full circle.

More people cruising

New Years Party

Royal Caribbean Group CEO started off the earnings call with some incredible numbers, highlighting how strong demand is for cruises.

The company saw positive indicators in May, and the second quarter proved to be even more fruitful than anticipated.

"During the second quarter, we delivered a record 1.9 million memorable vacations at exceptional guest satisfaction scores. We achieved record yields that were 12.9% higher than 2019."

Yields refers to revenue coming in, and that means people paid more for their cruises than in 2019.

Freedom of the Seas aerial drone

2019 is an important statistic to Royal Caribbean, because it represents the previous high water mark for demand and profits.

Perhaps the most important segment of cruisers Royal Caribbean wants to see grow are people that have never cruised before, and they did just that.

"In the second quarter, the percent of guests who were either new to brand or new to cruise surpassed 2019 levels by a wide margin."

Freedom of the Seas Lime & Coconut

Getting people that have never cruised before is important because it's how to grow the customer base since the vast majority of the public has never been on a cruise before.

Not only are they attracting new cruisers, these new cruisers are coming back for more.

"And we have seen post-cruise repeat booking rates nearly double 2019 levels," Mr. Liberty said to illustrate that they are booking more cruises after trying their first cruise.

The higher demand coupled with higher prices than in 2019 is at the heart of why Royal Caribbean wants to continue to raise cruise prices.

Europe is back


Perhaps a surprising fact is how strong demand was for European cruises in the second quarter.

"While the Caribbean remains the standout performer this year, we were particularly pleased with the strength and quality of close in demand for European itineraries," Mr. Liberty said near the beginning of the call.

Essentially, more European consumers looking to book a summer cruise vacation came to Royal Caribbean.

Kayaking in Palma de Mallorca

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer, Naftali Holtz, talked about the increase in revenue from Europe, "The better than expected performance has mostly been driven by our European customers, which underscores our nimble and global sourcing model."

Later in the call, Mr. Liberty said Europeans were ready again to travel and spend, "their willingness to spend was very competitive with the North American consumer."

"We expected Europe to be a little bit lighter versus '19 in terms of load factor. And it came roaring back."

"And that's a story of one of the North American consumer just feeling that they needed to for certainly certainly vacation in Europe. But also the European consumer was very much part of that story."

Doing better than ever

Splashaway Bay on Freedom of the Seas

If you listen to just what Royal Caribbean Group's CFO had to say about the quarter, it pretty much sums up the demand environment.

The company delivered 17% higher adjusted earnings than they expected to with their prediction in May. Capacity overall was at 105% and net yields up 12.9% comparted to 2019 numbers.

In fact, booking volumes since the last earnings call significantly exceeded 2019 for both North American and European consumers.

Wonder of the Seas aerial rear

So what drove this incredibly high demand?

Mr. Holtz said, "half of the yield growth was driven by new hardware and half driven by a significant increase in rates on like for like hardware, despite being a bit behind on load factors."

This translates to new cruise ships brought in more revenue, and there were higher prices on smaller, older cruise ships.

Perfect Storm waterslides on Wonder of the Seas

In addition to more revenue, cost cutting seemed to have an effect too.

"Our operational and commercial teams are doing an exceptional job, driving strong top line growth and maintaining focus on operating expenses to expand margins."

Caribbean and European sailings saw strong demand, and Alaska cruise capacity is up about 60% versus 2019.

Great cruise ships + Great destinations


Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley talked about the company's new strategy to attract new cruisers by positioning impressive cruise ships on itineraries with well-received ports.

"We've been very thoughtful...about the strategy of putting really outstanding hardware combined with excellent destination into the short product market because it truly is the on ramp for new to cruise and also first to brand."

Read moreRoyal Caribbean has a plan to dominate short cruises with a new ship and private destinations

Utopia of the Seas overhead render

"Utopia will be the first Oasis-class ship that will be entirely focused on short cruises in the Caribbean, supporting our strategy of competing with land-based vacation alternatives and driving new-to-cruise customers into our vacation ecosystem as we seek to close the value gap,” Liberty said.

"Demand and pricing for Utopia has far exceeded our expectations."

Demand for CocoCay

Two cruise ships at CocoCay

Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas is certainly doing its part to bring in cruisers.

Mr. Bayley talked about how much customers are clamoring for sailings that visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.

"Perfect Day is that, it really is perfect, and it is driving a lot of the demand and people are booking the ships and the itineraries that sail to Perfect Day."

"We see the repeat rates going back to Perfect Day accelerating."

He also mentioned the plan is to open the new adults-only beach area at the end of December of this year, "that'll come online at the literally in December of this year."

Royal Caribbean talks higher demand than before Covid, higher capacity, and more

05 May 2022

Royal Caribbean Group held its earnings call with Wall Street investors and touched on a number of interesting things happening in the company that are beyond what you would find in the balance sheet.

Each quarter, the company holds a conference call to go over the quarter results and answer questions from analysts.

Most of the discussions are purely financial back-and-forth, but there are some interesting anecdotes worth noting for cruise fans.

After listening to the entire 2022 first quarter earnings call, here is the most interesting things to come out of the discussion.

Demand is higher than pre-pandemic

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

While Royal Caribbean Group lost another billion dollars this quarter, things are rapidly improving for the company's bottom line.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said the last two months have seen very high demand for a cruise ship vacation, "Over the past sixty days, demand has materially surpassed, both pre-Omicron and 2019, levels. 

"The robust secular trend of experiences over things, that propelled our business in the past years, is now recovering towards pre-Covid levels. Consumers are now re-engaging with the world, and as a result, spending on travel in 2022 is set to out pace pre-pandemic levels with consumers planning to travel more frequently."

"Cruise consideration is the highest it has been in two years, and nearing pre-pandemic levels, with the most significant recovery among those new to cruising."

Guests are spending more thanks to better cruise planner enhancements

If you've noticed more Royal Caribbean emails about buying a drink package or shore excursion, it's no accident.

Royal Caribbean invested heavily in its e-commerce system to provide better sales pitches to guests, and the result is now materializing in passengers spending more money than ever before their cruise begins.

The company reported in the first quarter, total revenue per Passenger Cruise Day in the first quarter was up 4% versus record 2019 levels. This was such a strong driver that cash flow from ships in operation was positive in the first quarter. 

Cruise Planner on an iPad

Mr. Liberty believes more spending on pre-cruise purchases is the result of better software behind the scenes, "Our investment in a new pre-cruise planning system allows guests to better plan and book their onboard experiences. As a result, we continue to see increased penetration of pre-cruise purchases, which is leading to significantly higher total spend per guest."

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Naftali Holtz indicated strong consumer spending and "higher pre-cruise purchase penetration" is what's driving people to spend more on their cruise vacation.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said the increased spending has been, "wonderful", and attributed it in large part to the investment in better software, "The investment that we made in the software for pre-cruise revenue, which continued through the pandemic. We've really leveraged that now, and we've seen a significant increase in penetration and uptick with up-tick sales."

Mr. Bayley illustrated how important the purchases of these items before the cruise is to Royal Caribbean's bottom line, "one pre-cruise dollar gives us another $0.50 onboard spend."

Mr. Holtz added spending isn't limited to one or two categories, "It's everything...from spa to retail, shore excursions, casino, food and beverage."

"It seems like the consumer is really willing to spend on great experiences...make sure that we capture that spend as much as we can as they enjoying our cruises."

Digging into what the guest wants

Mr. Bayley talked about the level of sophistication Royal Caribbean has to be able to cater the pre-cruise sales to the individual person, "We've over time developed the sophistication and the ability to, not only use the analytics and the information that we know about the customer, to offer them products and experiences and services that we think they're going to like."

"In some cases, we've got customers who prefer gaming and dining. In other cases, we've got families who prefer shore excursions. And we now have the ability to tailor our communications and our promotions to those customers based upon what we think their key preferences are."

Cruise ship capacity

Wonder of the Seas pool deck busy

A big focus of the call was about increasing capacity as Royal Caribbean moves into the summer.

It's no secret that the cruise line is not only bringing more ships back online, but also allowing more and more passengers onboard in an effort to return to pre-pandemic passenger loads.

Mr. Holtz said all remaining cruise ships across the brands will be back in operation by June, we expect load factors of approximately 75 to 80%. Our low factor expectations reflect the higher occupancy we are seeing the Caribbean and lower expectations for repositioning voyages and early season Europe sailings."

He also added that capacity should reach "triple digits" by the end of the year. In short, expect pre-pandemic capacity by the time 2022 ends.

Mr. Bayley added full capacity should come faster on Royal Caribbean International, "we have ships now sailing at 100% and we've had ships sailing at 100% now for several weeks out of the Caribbean, into the Caribbean market and a short product.

"And as we head towards Memorial Day weekend, we're going to see significant percentage of our ship sailing at 100% and greater."

Interestingly, more people are booking suites rather than inside rooms, "From a cumulative standpoint, our load factors on sailings in the second half of the year are booked slightly below historical levels, with a greater mix of high yielding, suite inventory booked versus inside and outside state rooms."

Read moreIs a suite on Royal Caribbean worth it?

Capacity lower in Europe partially due to testing requirements

Mediterranean cruise in Rome

While demand for cruises in North America was exceptionally strong in the first quarter, demand for European cruises was lower, and perhaps the protocols could be at play.

When asked about what is impacting the lower numbers for European cruises, Mr. Liberty talked about the need to get a covid test to return to the United States as an issue.

He said they expect to have lower capacity in Europe due to maintaining price integrity, but also the covid test requirements to re-enter, "It is very much related to price integrity, but some of it's also, that relates to the testing requirement to come back into the U.S. for for Americans."

Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona

"The combination of those things weighs on the consumer in terms of their their travel expectations."

Mr. Bayley added, "many European countries now are stopping that requirement. So they're kind of freeing up the ability for the Europeans to travel around. And I think we're all hopeful that that's going to change fairly soon in returning to the United States."

Mr. Liberty said the Ukraine war has certainly weighed on reducing demand for European cruises, especially for Central and Northern European cruises.

Royal Caribbean breaks its own record for most cruise bookings in a day and week

08 Apr 2022

Royal Caribbean just had one heck of a week in terms of record demand, echoing a strong desire for people to go on a cruise ship.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean said two different internal booking records were eclipsed during the week of March 26 - April 1, 2022.

The company saw both the most bookings in a single day and the higher booking volume booking week that it has ever seen in the entire history of the company.

The record number of bookings came via the Royal Caribbean website, over the phone, and through travel agents.

Royal Caribbean isn't surprised by the news given how well-received cruising has been among the 1.5 million people that have cruised since January 2021 on its line.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley thinks not only do people want to cruise again, but they are eager to get out and vacation, "The enthusiasm and excitement for the successful return of cruising is undeniable."

"We could not have reached this incredible milestone without the unwavering support of our loyal guests, our valued travel advisors and partners, and the Royal Caribbean International team around the world."

"Everyone has made an incredible impact and contributed to this accomplishment in every single way."

Cruise ship in Grand Cayman

Royal Caribbean's strong rebound from two years of shutdown and a cautious restart stems largely from its effective health protocols that demonstrate how safe going on a cruise can be, especially when compared to land-based alternative leisure travel that require few, if any, protocols.

Today's announcement shows consumer demand remains quite strong for cruise ship travel.

Other cruise lines seeing big demand too

There's something in the water, as Royal Caribbean isn't the only cruise line that broke records recently.

Earlier this week, Carnival Cruise Line said it had the busiest booking week in its entire history between March 28 - April 3, 2022.

Oceania Cruises set a new single-day booking record for its 2024 Around the World in 180 Days voyage.

What is the state of the cruise industry? Trends and the cruise comeback

27 Jan 2022

The last two years were anything but easy for the cruise industry, but things look to improve in 2022.

Royal Caribbean wants to buy Covid-19 vaccines from Israel | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) put out its annual State of the Cruise Industry Outlook that highlights how the cruise industry is bouncing back from the pandemic, as well as progress in environmental stewardship and other initiatives.

Royal Caribbean is one of many cruise lines that are part of CLIA, which represents the cruise industry in many aspects of the public and government sectors.

CLIA believes this report highlights the responsible restart process cruise lines have undertaken, which rely heavily on the proven Covid-19 protocols that have been implemented onboard ships.

Here's a look at some of the major highlights from the report.

Restart process

More than 75% of ocean-going member capacity has returned to service.

CLIA projects 100% of that capacity will be back in service by August 2022.

In addition, 16 new cruise ships will debut in 2022, including five LNG-powered vessels and nine expedition ships. The class of 2022 will be 100% equipped with Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems.

Royal Caribbean will have one of those new cruise ships when Wonder of the Seas makes her debut this spring.

Economic impact of cruisers


It's no secret cruise ship passengers bring extra income to the ports of call they visit, and CLIA demonstrated this fact with specific figures.

  • Every 24 cruisers creates one full-time equivalent job
  • Cruisers spend an average of $750 USD per passenger in port cities over the course of a typical seven-day cruise
  • 6 in 10 people who have taken a cruise say that they have returned to a destination that they first visited via cruise ship

Facts & Trends

12 must have Royal Caribbean tips & tricks for families | Royal Caribbean Blog

CLIA also included in their report some interesting facts about who goes on cruise ships.

Top Five Source Regions on Average from 2018-2020

  1. North America: 51%
  2. Western Europe: 21%
  3. Asia: 12%
  4. Australasia: 5%
  5. South America: 5%

Top Five Destinations by Average Passenger Volume from 2018-2020

  1. Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda: 44%
  2. Asia & China: 13%
  3. Central & Western Mediterranean: 8%
  4. Australasia: 5%
  5. Panama Canal & South America: 5%

Top 5 things to do on Royal Caribbean for adults | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruise Tourist Age Averages from 2018-2020

  1. 60+: 33%
  2. 40-59: 32%
  3. 20-30: 20%
  4. 0-19: 14%

47.6 is the average age of cruise tourist

Percentage of Cruise Passengers Who Plan to Cruise Again

  1. Traditionalists: 73%
  2. Baby Boomers: 77%
  3. Gen-X: 82%
  4. Millennials: 85%
  5. Gen-Z: 79%

Carbon Neutral by 2050


The cruise industry is pursuing carbon neutrality by 2050, which is an initiative the Royal Caribbean Group committed to in October 2021.

Royal Caribbean Group calls it "Destination Net Zero", but the goal is the same for all CLIA members:

  • Delivery of a net zero emissions cruise ship
  • A path to net zero emissions by 2050

To that point, over the next five years, CLIA's ocean-going cruise line member fleet will include 26 LNG-powered cruise ships, 231 ships fitted with Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems, 174 cruise ships with shoreside power connectivity, and 176 cruise ships equipped with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems installed.

Read the full report

You can read the entire State Of The Cruise Industry Outlook 2022 here:

Why aren't cruise ships built in the United States?

07 Dec 2021

Did you know that modern cruise ships are not built at all in the United States?

Regardless if it is Royal Caribbean's newest mega ship, a super yacht for SilverSea, or anything inbetween, no cruise line builds their ships in the United States. Why is that?

When U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) proposed legislation to permanently allow foreign flagged cruise ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada, she included a condition that would eliminate the bill once there is a U.S.-built ship that carries more than 1,000 passengers, if U.S. shipbuilders ever aspired to build cruise ships.

That little caveat in the bill by Senator Murkowski highlights the fact that modern cruise ships simply aren't built in America.

Symphony of the Seas construction photo update | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruise ships are primarily built in shipyards in Europe, such as Meyer Werft in Germany or Chantiers de l'Atlantique in France. All of Royal Caribbean's ships have been built in one shipyard or another in Europe over the years.

I asked Commander Don Goldstein, Retired United States Coast Guard, who has over 32 years of experience working with the cruise industry why ships are not built in the United States.

As you may have guessed, the primary reason why cruise ships are not built in the United States comes down to cost. In short, it costs too much to build a cruise ship in the United States for a few reasons.

Oasis 3 Construction Photos | Royal Caribbean Blog

Commander Goldstein pointed to three primary reasons why it's just too expensive to build a ship domestically:

Labor costs

Shipyard where Odyssey of the Seas is being built to shutdown for six weeks | Royal Caribbean Blog

Just like so many other aspects of manufacturing, labor is cheaper overseas than it is in the United States. The automotive industry is a prime example of why companies choose to build their products outside of the United States.

Union labor in particular is not cheap, and labor costs on a vessel as massive as a cruise ship can add up costs quickly.

Cruise ship construction is a labor intensive industry, and when you factor in the cost of American labor and the tax structure, it becomes unreasonably expensive.

Unlike cars, cruise ships aren't built in places like Mexico. They are built in Europe, so how are those countries that have similar standards of living to the United States able to build ships more reasonably? Essentially, they are heavily mechanized and are considered strategic assets.

Material costs

Symphony of the Seas construction photo update | Royal Caribbean Blog

The cost of materials used in construction of the ship is going to cost more when it comes from the United States, especially U.S. built/manufactured materials.

As you may know, cruise ships are foreign-flagged. In order to be U.S. flagged, most of the material on a vessel must be from the United States.


Coast Guard wont fine you for not wearing a mask on a cruise ship, but you will get kicked off | Royal Caribbean Blog

Building anything in the United States means more regulations by a variety of government entities during the process.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are just two of the agencies Commander Goldstein pointed to that would have oversight in the process, with others likely part of the process.

Following World War 2, the United States added strong protectionist legislation meant to preserve the maritime industry, but it actually had the opposite effect. Many shipyards domestically closed, and the few left are only focused on military work that rely on government paid contracts to ensure there is a profit.

Odyssey of the Seas December construction photo update | Royal Caribbean Blog

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times argued that instead of protecting U.S. jobs, these protectionist laws actually ruined American cruises and cost American jobs.

Commander Goldstein said the only reason a company would build a cruise ship in the U.S. would be to flag it here for coastwise voyages, like NCL's Pride of America.

By going that route, it brings into play a lot of regulatory protocols, such as using U.S. materials and equipment, U.S. shipyards which are subject to U.S. labor laws, OSHA requirements, and USCG inspection. 

New photos of Royal Caribbean's fourth Oasis class ship construction | Royal Caribbean Blog

"Most other countries do not have a regulatory agency like the USCG," Commander Goldstein explained. "Instead, they let classification societies do the majority of the inspection/certification work.

"Some are very good and some are not so carful about adherence to the international requirements.  OSHA rules, designed to keep shipyard workers safe, are expensive."

"When I worked on U.S. vessels in foreign shipyards, the difference is safety protocols was very obvious."

Video: Royal Caribbean Lays Keel for Oasis III & Announces Oasis IV | Royal Caribbean Blog

To illustrate the point further, Commander Goldstein recalled inspecting a U.S. flagged tanker that was at the Hyundai Shipyard in South Korea in 1987. He was dispatched to oversee the significant work being done there that was required to be reviewed by the USCG.

"Before the work was done overseas, the company that owned the vessel put the work up for bids, both in the U.S. and overseas."  

"The Korean shipyard won the bid, even though when work on a U.S. flagged tanker is done overseas, when the vessel is brought back to the U.S. to work in the Jones Act trade, there is a 30% tariff applied to the cost of the overseas work."

"Even with that tariff, I was told that the cost of the work at Hyundai was half what the cheapest bid from a U.S. shipyard."

As you can see, the extra costs to build a cruise ship in the United States are substantially more than overseas, and it is why cruise lines choose to build their ships elsewhere.

Foreign-flagged cruise ships

The unconfirmed cruise ship rumors that get repeated a lot by cruise fans | Royal Caribbean Blog

Since the cruise ships are built outside the United States, they cannot be flagged as an American vessel.

American shipyards are not equipped with the experience building modern cruise ships, nor do they have the capacity or supply chain to assemble cruise ships. 

Cruise ships these days are almost all foreign-flagged, with registrations in places like Panama, The Bahamas, Liberia or elsewhere.

To register a ship with any country - and fly their flag - a company has to pay them a fee to join their ship registry. Besides the issues outlined earlier in this article, the costs for a ship registry in the U.S. is much higher than other countries.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO doesn't see Virgin Voyages as competition

28 Sep 2021

Is the cruise industry's newest cruise line, Virgin Voyages, competition for Royal Caribbean? Maybe not.

Speaking at Seatrade Global 2021, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain was asked how he viewed his newest competition in the cruise industry, and he said he thinks the new cruise line is actually a good thing.

Virgin Voyages is a joint venture between Bain Capital and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and their first ship has finally made her U.S. debut after many pandemic-related delays.

Scarlet Lady is the first ship for Virgin, and she offered sailings around Britain this summer, and is now in North America to begin sailings from here.

Mr. Fain was asked if he is worried about this new cruise line represents a new threat to Royal Caribbean's bottom line, but he thought it was actually the opposite.

"Actually, no," Mr. Fain responded quickly to the question. "I also think it's important to look at the industry and say that new players are actually are a big benefit to us because they attract attention."

Mr. Fain compared Virgin Voyage's entrance to the industry to when Disney started its cruise line in the 1990s.

Disney Cruise Line gets approval to start test cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

"I do remember I was asked that question when Disney got into the cruise business. Oh, my goodness, isn't that going to be a terrible thing because Disney has come in and there's such a powerful brand name?"

In the case of Disney Cruise Line, the new line brought new customers to cruising.

"They added two percent to the supply in our industry, and they added 10 percent to the demand because it showed the important thing about our industry is getting the message across that we are an amazing vacation, just an amazing even on my competitor friends here."

"Having Virgin come in, I think all of that adds to the to the the impact of the cruise industry has."

"The important thing is they're adding more to the demand than they are to the supply. And so I think overall, I welcome them."

Mr. Fain said the real competition to Royal Caribbean isn't other cruise lines, but other forms of travel.

"We don't compete with each other as much as we compete with all the other activities that that compete for our dollar, whether it's a hotel or resort or a travel somewhere else."

5 times Royal Caribbean trolled other cruise lines

18 May 2021

Royal Caribbean is as competitive in the cruise industry as any line, and part of vying for market share is occasionally "throwing shade" from time to time.

Like all companies that compete for money, customers, and notoriety, cruise lines play a game every day of trying to outdo other lines in nearly all aspects of operations. From new ships, to attractions onboard, to partnerships, there is no shortage of innovative change among the lines.

Sometimes, this game of one upmanship can get a little spicy, with public jabs at other lines, or simple bragging.  For consumers, it is as intriguing as it is fun to watch it all go down.

Over the years, there have been a few memorable times Royal Caribbean has gone off script a little bit and done or said something about other lines that left us with a smirk on our faces.

Here are the top five memorable times Royal Caribbean did or said something about another cruise line that got attention.

America's Cruise Line

The impetus for this post came just a few weeks ago when Royal Caribbean trademarked the phrases, "America's Cruise Line" and "America's Favorite Cruise Line".

These new filings for a trademark may not really mean much on the surface other than a new marketing plan, until you understand the timing of these trademarks.

The week prior, Carnival Cruise Line CEO Christine Duffy said in a video, "I've always said Carnival Cruise Line is America's cruise line."

A few days later, Royal Caribbean trademarked the phrase.  Hard to imagine that is not a coincidence.

Who's #1?

Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings teamed up recently to form an independent panel of health experts that will guide cruise lines in restart plans with a bevy of new protocols.

This is an example of two cruise lines working together towards a common cause, but the CEO's could not help having a little fun at each other's expenses, with Royal Caribbean having the last word.

In a television interview in September 2020 with both Richard Fain and Frank Del Rio, the host attempted to compliment Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line as the industry leaders of cruising, by comparing the two cruise lines to the #1 and #2 soft drink manufacturers, Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

While being complimented as the top two cruise lines is a pleasant honor, it is well known how much more dominant Coke is over Pepsi, and Mr. Del Rio couldn't help but quickly say that NCL was the Coke of the two.

Mr. Fain, equally feeling his cruise line was worthy of the top honor, quickly retorted back "In your dreams, Frank! In your dreams."

Being the fastest

It should be clear that cruise lines love to compete in pretty much everything, including internet speeds.

When Princess Cruises rolled out their MedallionNet internet access, they claimed it was the best wifi at sea.

During a question and answer session, a cruise fan asked Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley if Royal Caribbean would improve their onboard internet speeds to match.

Mr. Bayley dismissed the claim, "It was the fastest internat at sea, it is the fastest internet at sea, and it's going to be the fastest internet at sea."

"People can claim things, but we have got the fastest internet at sea."

Towel animals welcome

Back in April 2019, Norwegian Cruise Line made headlines when they announced they would no longer automatically create towel animals for all of its passengers on some of its ships.

The rationale was to reduce laundry load on its ships, which would help the environment.

The conservation effort was nice, but many cruise fans quickly pushed back on the decision because of the long standing tradition of having a towel animal waiting in their cabin.

A few days later, Royal Caribbean's social media team posted, "All towel animals welcome at Royal."

Boaty McBoatface

A British government agency held a competition in 2016 to name a new polar research ship, and the internet responded with the most ridiculous name it could come up with: R.R.S. Boaty McBoatface.

The man who came up with the name is James Hand, a public relations professional and former BBC employee.

Royal Caribbean saw all of this and decided to jump in and call the internet's bluff, by inviting Mr. Hand to help Royal Caribbean develop the name for a future ship.

"The people of the United Kingdom know the name of a great ship when they see it," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Like the rest of the world, we fell in love with the name Boaty McBoatface when we heard it, and we knew immediately that Royal Caribbean could use James Hand’s talent to name our next ship."

Of course, this was all done on April 1st.

Bonus: trolling back

These are example of Royal Caribbean doing or saying something, but there was a great example of responding to a troll that I just could not leave out.

Celebrity Cruises (sister company to Royal Caribbean International) has a well-known female Captain, Kate McCue, who has no patience for trolls.

In late 2020, Captain McCue read a sexist comment attack towards her on TikTok, which said, "How can you be a captain? Your [sic] only a woman."

Captain McCue responded to the comment with her own snark, "Normally, when I’m scrolling through comments and I see something like this, I totally ignore it and move on with my life."

"But I think it’s about high time that I address this, because it’s 2020, and in this day and age, I’m shocked …that someone still doesn’t know the difference between you’re and your."

"So just a quick reference: You’re — as in ‘you are’ — like, ‘you are sexist.’ Your is something possessive, it belongs to you, like ‘your ignorance'. But don’t worry. I’m here for you. If you need any more clarification, you can find me here, in my captain’s chair."

5 cruise trends Royal Caribbean doesn't do (and 1 it jumped on)

10 May 2021

Every cruise line does things just a little bit different from the rest, but there are at least a few industry-wide trends that Royal Caribbean simply does not do across the board.

Part of making each cruise brand stand out is adopting certain policies, incorporating a vision, and providing passengers with something that appeals to their base.  Royal Caribbean is no different, and has made a name for itself by offering a cruise vacation with its own flavor of offerings.

Some new cruisers, as well as people new to Royal Caribbean, may be surprised by some of the things Royal Caribbean does not do, which are found on other cruise lines.  There are any number of reasons why Royal Caribbean has not followed other lines with these trends, but when comparing lines, some of these omissions may stand out.

Here are the top five cruise industry trends I have noticed Royal Caribbean does not do, as well as one that they recently changed their minds about.

Ship within a ship

One of the hottest trends in cruises is the "ship within a ship" concept, which takes the suite level offerings to a new height.

Traditionally, passengers in suites enjoyed their luxurious amenities in their cabin, as well as a few perks sprinkled around the ship, such as a suite lounge, reserved seating and more.

A number of main stream lines, including Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), MSC Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises, have all adopted a new take on the suite life by dedicating entire sections of the ship exclusively to their top tier suite guests.

The idea is to give suite guests not just perks, but exclusive areas for them, including their own pool decks, restaurants, and concierge services.  Think of it like a mega velvet roped off area.

While Royal Caribbean has done more to offer its suite guests upgraded amenities for suite guests in recent years (Royal Suite Class), their ships lack a true "ship within a ship" offering that you find on some competitors.

Spectrum of the Seas does offer the closest thing to a ship within a ship concept, but that ship is heavily focused on the Chinese cruise market and sister ship Odyssey of the Seas did not retain that feature.

Read moreWhat is Star Class?

All-inclusive options

While a lot of people may think of cruises as sort of all-inclusive, they really are not, and Royal Caribbean purposefully leaves a lot of extra costs and options from the base cruise fare.

To be fair, main stream mass market cruise lines generally shy away from all-inclusive fares, but a number of cruise lines are starting to move in that direction in an effort to make pricing simpler for the guest.

Celebrity Cruises recently changed their pricing model to now include things like gratuities, wi-fi, drink packages and more. Likewise, Holland America Line also shifted to include shore excursions, beverages, WiFi and more.

Traditionally, Royal Caribbean's promotions tend to favor giving guests a discount on the cruise fare, and then allowing guests to add-on things like a drink package or wifi if they want it.

Cruise lines like Holland America or Celebrity are considered to be a premium cruise line, whereas Royal Caribbean is a contemporary line.  This means pricing and what is included traditionally differs to begin with.

That being said, cruise fares for certain countries include more in their base fare than in North America.  In the UK, drink packages and gratuities are often included with the cruise fare (albeit at a higher price).

Read moreCould Royal Caribbean follow Celebrity Cruises move to all-inclusive pricing?

Onboard brewery

A new trend many cruise lines are adding to their new cruise ships is an onboard brewery.

NCL recently developed their own brewery in partnership with Miami-based Wynwood Brewing Company by developing District Brew House. 

Onboard the NCL Bliss and Escape, you will find 24 rotating beers on tap, in addition to a wide variety of bottled beer, and even exclusive brews for NCL.

Carnival offers the RedFrog Pub, and even has its own private-label draft beer: ThirstyFrog Red.

The Carnival Vista has an actual working brewery onboard, and the Carnival Horizon has a combination Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse & Brewhouse.

Royal Caribbean has not gone in that direction quite yet.  At one time, they partnered with Chef Michael Schwartz to offer Michael's Genuine Pub on its Quantum Class ships, but their beers were all bottled and was more bar than brewery.

Kids partnerships programming

Partnering with a well-known children brand is a cruise industry trend that Royal Caribbean used to do, but went away from.

Carnival has a partnership with Dr. Seuss® and offers kids programming onboard that includes a special onboard character parade, interactive story time, arts & crafts activities, character breakfast featuring their favorite Dr. Seuss friends and more. 

MSC Cruises partners with LEGO®, which include larger LEGO play areas, building contests, video games and more.

Royal Caribbean has a partnership with Dreamworks Entertainment for many years, but ended the brand partnership in 2019 in order to focus on offering its own take on what kids could do onboard.

Royal Caribbean said the decision was made as part of its regular process of reviewing and refreshing their onboard offerings.

Read moreCruising with kids on Royal Caribbean

Celebrity Chefs

Royal Caribbean at one time dipped their toe into the celebrity chef pool, but they have generally shied away from this hot trend in cruises.

Specialty restaurants are very popular with passengers, and some lines have sought celebrities to make their offering stand out.

Carnival's new Mardi Gras will have Shaq's Big Chicken restaurant to capitalize on American's love affair with the fast-food chicken sandwich. Emeril Lagasse will also have a restaurant on the Mardi Gras.

Carnival also has a partnership with Guy Fieri, which serves up Guy's Burger Joint.  MSC Cruises partnered with Roy Yamaguchi to bring Asian Market Kitchen to MSC Seaside.

Royal Caribbean still has a partnership with Jamie Oliver to offer Jamie's Italian on its ships, but the newest ships in the fleet and most recent refurbishments have focused on revamping its in-house Italian specialty restaurant Giovanni's Table.

Other celebrity chef partnerships on Quantum and Anthem of the Seas have since ended.

The trend they changed their minds about: Waterslides

Strangely, Royal Caribbean did not have giant water slides on its ships for many years, while Carnival, Norwegian and just about every cruise line included waterslides on their ships.

We may never know why Royal Caribbean resisted adding waterslides onboard, but it was a noticeable omission among families. Sure, the Radiance Class had one kiddy slide, but compared to the other ships, it was a lacking feature.

A few years ago, Royal Caribbean decided to change that and begin adding waterslides to its existing ships, and incorporating them into the designs of new ships.

Today, Royal Caribbean offers a few different water slides on its cruise ships, and most of its larger ships have at least a couple slides to enjoy.

Read moreWhich Royal Caribbean ships have water slides?

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