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8 things Royal Caribbean trademarked but never did anything with

In:
Category: 
27Oct2020

Royal Caribbean often trademarks words or phrases that it thinks may have a business use down the line, but these trademarks do not always get used.

Royal Caribbean recently filed a trademark for something called a "tracelet", and while it remains to be seen what that registration might be for, it is a good opportunity to look back at some notable trademarks that were never used (yet).

These trademarks are filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and Royal Caribbean typically registers a couple dozen over the course of a year.

Here is a list of 8 trademarks Royal Caribbean filed recently, but I have not found anything that they have done with them.

Seaface

The current health crisis lead Royal Caribbean to trademark a name for its own brand of sanitary masks named "seaface".

The trademark was filed on April 8, 2020 and is intended for cruise ship services. The trademark lists it as a "medical apparatus".

In June, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said they would not go ahead with any plans for a seaface mask, "that was one idea that was thrown out of which we're not pursuing."

Anchors Up

On February 15, 2020, Royal Caribbean trademarked "Anchors Up" and it sounds like it might have been their own brand of wine.

The registration says it is intended to cover the categories of wine; Red wine; White wine.

Thus far, I have yet to hear or see any reference to a cruise line branded wine.

Floating Vistas

Trademark registrations are always vague, and "Floating Vistas" registration matches that, with simply a description of being for "cruise ship services".

It is possible this is/was intended for the floating cabanas at Perfect Day at CocoCay.  The Coco Beach Club features floating cabanas, and perhaps Floating Vistas sounded like a better marketable name.

Cox & Kings

In January 2020, Royal Caribbean filed a trademark for "Cox & Kings", which sounds like perhaps its own type of British pub.

However, the trademark almost sounds like a hotel brand name.

"Trademark registration is intended to cover the categories of hotel and motel services; restaurant and catering services, arranging and booking of facilities for meetings, conferences, and for exhibitions; reservation services for hotel accommodation, arranging and booking of temporary accommodations, booking agency services for hotel accommodation, arranging and booking of campground and caravan facilities, arranging and letting holiday accommodation, letting of and reservation of tourist accommodation, tourist agency and tourist office services, namely, booking accommodations for others."

The filing was rejected because of a likelihood of confusion between it and three existing trademarks.

Rec Room

Also registered in January was a trademark for "Rec Room", which is described as "intended to cover the category of cruise ship services".

The registration also listed as for use with "night club services", indicating perhaps it would be the name of a new club.

Like Cox & Kings, it was rejected as well for likely confusion with three other trademarks.

Bohio Beach Bar

Royal Caribbean made two different trademark registrations for "Bohio" and "Bohio Beach Bar", and once again fell under the catch-all category of "intended to cover the category of cruise ship services".

The word "bohio" is Spanish, and refers to a small timber dwelling with thatched roof in the Caribbean.

The registration lists it as under an additional category of "bar services", and the words "beach bar" later appear in the registration as well.

Both registrations were approved.

Thrillamanjaro

A play on words for the famous mountain in Africa, "Thrillamanjaro" was registered by Royal Caribbean as the name of a water slide.

"Recreational services in the nature of a water slide."

While no water slide has been announced with that name, the trademark was approved in April 2020 and could still be used later.

Cruise ship names

The most well-known examples of Royal Caribbean filing a trademark but not doing anything with it are cruise ship names.

Royal Caribbean regularly trademarks names of cruise ships that it might use later. Part of the process for coming up with cruise ship names is brain storming new names, and finalists get trademarked.

Here are some recent cruise ship names that never got used (yet):

  • Metropolis of the Seas
  • Eon of the Seas
  • Gallant of the Seas
  • Phenom of the Seas
  • Emblem of the Seas
  • Passion of the Seas
  • Pulse of the Seas
  • Joy of the Seas
  • Apex of the Seas
  • Valhalla of the Seas
  • Sunrise of the Seas

What happened to Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship?

In:
Category: 
09Oct2020

Royal Caribbean just celebrated the 51st anniversary of the cruise line's founding, and in all those years, you may recall Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship.

Photo by John Emery

Song of Norway was the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and it was a revolution in its own right that paved the way for every other cruise ship and advancement the cruise line would have later.

So what happened to Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship and where is it now?

Birth of a cruise nation

Before Royal Caribbean began operations, cruise ships were built for point-to-point ocean transportation with significantly less open space. Royal Caribbean sought to change all of that with its concept of a cruise ship.

Song of Norway is what we now call a real market disruptor when she debuted. She launched in 1970, and was the first cruise ship ever built for warm-weather cruising.

The concept of a Viking Crown Lounge was designed initially for Song of Norway, which some industry insiders felt was a "crazy idea" that later just became "that funny-looking stack."

Included in her many firsts was the open pool and lounging area, which is now an industry standard on any new cruise ship.

Song of Norway's debut instantly changed the landscape of Caribbean cruises, and her near-instant success provided Royal Caribbean the capital to afford more ships and proved they had the right idea about what people wanted in a cruise ship.

She could carry 724 passengers until she became the first passenger ship to be lengthened and then had a capacity of 1,024 passengers.

Departing the fleet

Song of Norway was the pride of Royal Caribbean's fleet for many years, and served for over 25 years as part of Royal Caribbean.

As the decades passed, she was quickly dwarfed by bigger ships in the industry and within Royal Caribbean. The debut of Sovereign of the Seas, the first "mega cruise ship" in 1988, did to Song of Norway what she had done to the rest of the industry two decades earlier.

Royal Caribbean sold the ship in 1996 to sold to Sun Cruises (part of the Airtours). They changed her name to Sundream.

One major change made to the ship prior to sailing in her home was the Viking Crown Lounge was removed.

Different owners

The latter years of Song of Norway were marked by moving from new owner to new owner.

In October 2004 she was sold again, refitted and became MS Dream Princess for Caspi Cruises, where she sailed from Israel.

In November 2007, she was sold to Pearl Owner Ltd. She was refitted chartered to the Peace Boat organization and renamed the Clipper Pacific, where she was charted to the Peace Boat organization and renamed Clipper Pacific.

By now, mechanical issues were catching up, and Clipper Pacific's world tours had to conclude earlier than scheduled.

Once again, the ship was sold to International Shipping Partners, Inc. and renamed Festival.

She came into service again as a cruise ship, first in 2009 for Caspi Cruises and as of 2010 for Quail Travel's Happy Cruises.  For the 2010 and 2011 seasons, under the name M/V Ocean Pearl.

Final years

Photo by Tony Hisgett

By the 2010s, the end was in sight for Song of Norway (now sailing as MS Ocean Pearl) in China as a floating casino.

Her last voyages were under the name Formosa Queen, which were operated by Asia Star Cruises as a gambling ship. 

Then in November 2013, she met her fate when was sold for scrap and she was broken up in China in 2014.

Song of Norway had many firsts over the years, including the first Royal Caribbean ship to go to the scrap yard.

How Royal Caribbean was able to add a giant park to its cruise ships

In:
17Sep2020

More than 10 years since Royal Caribbean launched the Oasis Class ships, it remains an engineering marvel that introduced a variety of innovations, including adding a park to a cruise ship.

Kelly Gonzalez, Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President, Architectural Design (Newbuilding & Innovation), recently told the story of how the cruise line engineered a way to bring a live greenery with trees and grass to an ocean going vessel.

Ms. Gonzalez describes the story of creating Central Park as, "both a success story that became a failure story, that became a better success story in the end."

The idea

Royal Caribbean invited various architectural firms to submit ideas for what Royal Caribbean should do with the space on the ship, and the cruise line awarded the contract to a firm from the U.K. that came up with the idea for Central Park.

The original concept for Central Park was not what we see today on Royal Caribbean's ships.

While it did have the split atrium, where you could look up to the sky and then had the atrium-view staterooms looking into it, as well as the skylights that brought daylight down into the Royal Promenade, the design that won the contest was actually based on a series of rolling hills.

These were structural hills that were covered with grass with skylights on the side.

Building Central Park

Royal Caribbean had never done anything on a ship before that involved live greenery and trees and grass and things of that sort, so they brought in experts, including scientists from the University of Florida and landscape architects.

"We looked for a company that we thought would be really bringing the best expertise in a Caribbean environment and all of what that entails seasonally," Ms. Gonzalez recalled.

"We had to spend an extraordinary amount of effort working with structural specialists because we were literally putting these giant holes in a steel structure that typically is not perforated in any way. So the fact that we were breaching that with skylights was something that was very daunting for the conventional ship engineers."

In addition, Royal Caribbean had to bring specialists to address the issue of bugs that live around these plants, and implications of what happens when a ship pulls into a port and the various local laws related to fauna.

Royal Caribbean had to also address the ability to fertilize the plants and not overcomplicate the water systems to the point of impacting the environment or ocean.  Specifically, how could Royal Caribbean capture water runoff that might contain fertilizers.

The experiment

Photo by STX Europe

A major hurdle for Central Park was the rolling hills concept. There was a lot of uncertainty about grass living in an environment where the sun really had an apex high sky for a limited number of hours a day.

To tackle the idea, they constructed a piece of machinery where they mocked up the hills of of grass with real grass on it. Then they created a machine with a long axle of a car that had wheels on it. These wheels had shoes, lined around the rim of the wheel that was simulating people walking up and down the grass down in the atrium. They then simulated the lighting effect to reproduce the conditions that allowed for limited daylight.

This experiment hoped to address concerns such as:

  • How would the grass grow?
  • How often would it have to be watered?
  • How would foot traffic up and down be on the grass?

Ms. Gonzalez summed up the experiment by saying, "Well, to make a long story short, that task failed."

The test showed that regardless what species of grass that was used, and no matter what they would do with fertilization or any watering or anything else in this in this atrium, the grass was not going to be a surviving concept.

Not only had the test failed, but it was right before Christmas and the team had reached a point where they had to go back to the drawing board.

Becoming Central Park

The team spent four weeks over the Christmas holiday working in their London office rethinking the concept of the design and to change it drastically, keeping in mind time was not on their side.

Eventually, they settled on the idea of a Central Park area that looks a lot like what we see on cruise ships today, with more of the flat walkways and the skylights that actually stand up in the sky and capture even more daylight.

Photo by STX Europe

Ms. Gonzalez spoke about the risks the team took to make the concept work, "We understand there's risk, but we put a lot of effort into mitigating that risk. And we're not afraid of failure or failure usually leads us to a better place."

"And I think the Central Park is a story of how we ended up actually in a better place with the design than where we thought we were going to land, where we started it from the very beginning."

 

The team believed so much in the new design for Central Park, that they created a scale mock-up of the entire Central Park neighborhood at the Turku, Finland shipyard.

Photos by Kelly Gonzalez

Essentially, they printed the design on canvas and strung it up from the trusses in the ship hall, complete with facades of stateroom balconies.

They augmented the look with proper lighting and sound so that Royal Caribbean's Board of Directors could get a good ideas of what Central Park would become.

The team had do all of this for the rest of the company to be able to understand and regain trust behind the design, and the design process, to pull off a concept like Central Park.

Photos by Royal Caribbean

"Once it's proven, and we've gone through the risk mitigation and we kicked all the tires and looked at it inside out and outside in, that we are able to really stay very true to that and deliver on the concept as it is when we presented it to our executives."

Remembering Royal Caribbean's first mega ship, which is about to be scrapped

In:
22Jul2020

Social media has spotted that Royal Caribbean's first mega ship, Sovereign of the Seas, is about to be broken down and scrapped in Turkey.

For some, saying goodbye to this ship (and her sister Monarch of the Seas, which is also facing the maritime guillotine) evoke a great deal of memories from past sailings.

Dreaming a giant

It is difficult to understand in today's terms how impactful Sovereign of the Seas was for her time. She revolutionized an industry, and her debut instantly made every other main stream cruise line ship obsolete.

In 1984, Royal Caribbean had 11% of the cruise market share, compared to NCL at 14% and Carnival at 15%. Royal Caribbean wanted to recapture the leadership edge it had achieved in the early 1970s.

Miami management felt that if anything, they should proceed cautiously, producing a slightly larger Song of America with a 1,600-passenger load. But the committee argued for even greater expansion, constructing a larger ship altogether.

Royal Caribbean had never built a cruise ship with either an indoor café, a casino, a champagne bar or a health club; and having made the decision to include those options inside a suitably large hull, the scale of an inevitable new prototype emerged. Thus, Sovereign of the Seas, the world's largest purpose-built cruise ship at the time, was conceived.

The theoretical phase began with three questions: how many passengers, how fast and how luxurious?

All had to be answered before the vessel's dimensions could be considered. The first answer was awesome: The passenger count, which started at about 1,800, would be 2,673 total occupancy, more than half again Song of America's capacity. Speed would remain at sixteen knots for cruising with a top speed of twenty-one. And, a decisive spatial augmentation, passengers would be accommodated in slightly larger (three percent was the exact increment) cabins than those on board existing Royal Caribbean tonnage.  

Building Sovereign

To build the world's largest cruise ship was not something any shipyard could handle. 

Until that point, all of Royal Caribbean's ships had been built at Wärtsilä in Finland, but Royal Caribbean found a better match with Chantiers de l'Atlantique in France with a $190,000,000 contract price and guaranteed delivery for December 1987, which beat the Finns.

Within weeks of the July 1985 contract signing, steel was ordered and subsequently cut at St.-Nazaire.

In the old days, in every shipyard, the first element of the hull, the keel, would be laid on keel blocks. But modern newbuilding involves the assembly of enormous chunks of ship (called sections) that have been prefabricated hundreds of yards from the ways.

Sovereign's first two keel sections were put into place on June 10, 1986. It was at this time the ship's name was announced, which had been a guarded secret.  It was only referred to up until this point by its pedestrian yard number, A-29.

Sovereign also has the distinction of introducing the now well-known naming convention for every Royal Caribbean ship.

The name of the vessel was suggest and vehemently argued by Mortis Skaugen. "He literally shook the name into me," Richard Fain observes. There have been two prior ships called Sovereign of the Seas. The first, the price of King Charles I, was a towering, intricately carved Royal Navy warship of 1637. The second Sovereign was launched 200 years later from an American yard, a swift clipper ship built by Donald McKay. A handsome model of each vessel decorates the current ship's Schooner Bar.

Although on first hearing the name seemed overlong, it imparted exactly the right sense of royal occasion. Of course, the vessel's workaday generic would, predictably, be abbreviated to Sovereign; "___ of the Seas" would serve as an invaluable class-identifying suffix integrated into the names of both successors.

Sovereign of the Seas was handed over to Royal Caribbean four days earlier than scheduled on December 19, 1987. Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean's CEO accepted the handover from Alain Grill, managing director of Chantiers de l'Atlantique.  Mr. Fain then handed over the completed vessel to Captain Tor Stangeland.

Game changing debut

The first sea trials took place on September 5, 1987, which was a weekend.  

Sovereign of the Seas' naming ceremony was held in Miami on Friday, January 15. 

Taittinger had created a huge new champagne bottle - the largest ever blown - specifically called a sovereign in honor of the ship - the largest of its kind ever built.

President and Mrs. Carter were onboard the ship, as the crowd, serenaded by a large orchestra, took their seats on the pier. It was a festive throng, caparisoned with hats, flowers, company ties, and always, multitudes of cameras.

Led by Chairman Eigil Abrahmsen, Mrs. Carter and the President emerged from the crew gangway and trod a red-carpeted path to the dignitaries' platform. The former First Lady had chosen a yellow suit, prettily matched by a chrysanthemum alee lining her right of way.

Of the many Carters on hand, one of the youngest had shared with Chairman Abrahmsen the ultimate grandmother's accolade. "This young man told me that he knew wat RCCL stands for," the chairman informed his audience. "It stands for Rosalynn Carter's Cruise Line!"

After the speeches and a solemn blessing, Mrs. Carter and the chairman climbed atop the launch platform.  The music stopped. A hush fell over the spectators.  In a clear voice, Rosalynn Carter offered the traditional benison, named the vessel and cut the launch cord.

Sovereign of the Seas demonstrated that it is possible for a modern cruise ship to offer a balance of beauty and function and be something more than a container carrier or a ferry.

She sailed with paying customers for the first time on Saturday, January 16, 1988. 

Sovereign of the Seas sailed year-round and offered seven-day cruises from Miami to the Caribbean, proving the viability of a megaship. Her success launched two sister ships (Monarch and Majesty of the Seas), and forced the hand of other competitors to build their own megaships.

In 2008, Royal Caribbean transferred Sovereign to Pullmantur Cruises to help catapult that Spanish cruise line and grow her operations.

Share your fondest Sovereign of the Seas memories in our comments!

Why does the CDC regulate the cruise lines?

In:
Category: 
21Jul2020

Many exasperated cruise fans have openly wondered why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the authority to allow cruise ships to operate in the United States.

Since March, the CDC has instituted a "No Sail" order that prevents cruise ships with customers onboard from operating in U.S. waters. Why does the CDC do this, and under what authority do they operate?

Public Health Service Act of 1944

The origin of the CDC working with the cruise lines begins in 1944 with the passage of the Public Health Service Act into U.S. Federal Law.

This law gives the federal government the authority to quarantine for the first time, and it gave the United States Public Health Service responsibility for preventing the introduction, transmission and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States.

The United States Public Health Service is comprised of a number of divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services, including the CDC.

Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.

The authority for carrying out these functions on a daily basis has been delegated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vessel Sanitation Program

Fast-forward to the 1970s, when the CDC established the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) as "a cooperative activity with the cruise ship industry."

The VSP was created to develop and implement a comprehensive sanitation program in order to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal diseases. This goes back to the mission of the United States Public Health Service, which is to prevent the transmission and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries. Cruise ships visit foreign countries, thus, the CDC acts on this.

The VSP operated continuously at all major U.S. ports from the early 1970's through 1986, when CDC terminated portions of the program. 

Pressure from the public and cruise industry resulted in the Congress compelling the CDC to resume the VSP. As a result, the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) at CDC became responsible for the VSP in 1986. 

Since then, the CDC has played a key role in cruise ships being approved to sail in the United States, as it pertains to the health of passengers onboard its ships.

The No Sail Order

The "No Sail" Order was instituted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the CDC under sections 361 and 365 of the Public Health Service Act.

These sections refer to the ability of HHS/CDC to create policies that "are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States".

Initially, the "No Sail" Order was created following the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess cruise ships experienced outbreaks onboard those vessels in January 2020.

Since then, the CDC has spent an estimated 38,000 person-hours on cruise ship COVID-19 response since March 14, 2020.

Five Royal Caribbean projects that didn't go as planned

In:
Category: 
03Jul2020

Royal Caribbean spends a great deal of energy in planning refurbishments, upgrades, new ship construction and a lot of other initiatives, but sometimes these projects can slip behind schedule.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes delays and unexpected problems will occur in any project, including cruise ships.

With the recent news of Odyssey of the Seas encountering issues at the shipyard, I wanted to take a look back at some other Royal Caribbean projects that also dealt with their fair share of setbacks.

Empress of the Seas return to the fleet

In 2015, Royal Caribbean announced it was bringing back Empress of the Seas to the fleet, following a restructuring of sister company Pullmantur cruises.

In order to get the ship back to service, it would need to undergo an "extensive refurbishment" in Spring 2016.

Unfortunately, the additional work needed took much longer than expected in order to bring the vessel back up to Royal Caribbean's standards, and as a result, the first six sailings in 2016 were cancelled.

Then another seven more sailings were cancelled because Royal Caribbean discovered more significant infrastructure and physical improvements across the ship's multiple galleys and provisioning areas were needed.

In the end, Empress of the Seas rejoined the fleet in May 2016, following two months of cancelled sailings and $50 million in upgrades.

Navigator of the Seas Amplification

In early 2019, Navigator of the Seas had her turn for a much anticipated Royal Amplification, which would add new water slides, restaurants and experiences onboard.

The $115 million shipwide refurbishment was scheduled to be complete by February 2019, but poor weather conditions at the shipyard in the Bahamas caused delays to the progress of the ship’s outer decks.

As a result, the February 24 sailing was cancelled.

Luckily, the delay only impacted one sailing, and Navigator was able to resume service in March 2019 without any other impact.

Galveston cruise terminal delay

The global impact of the current health crisis took its toll on Royal Caribbean's plans to build a brand new cruise terminal in Galveston that could accommodate Allure of the Seas.

In December 2019, Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston signed a long-term agreement to build a $100 million 150,000-square-foot cruise terminal, which was scheduled to open in November 2021.

In March 2019, Royal Caribbean asked the Port of Galveston for a one year delay in starting construction of its new terminal.

Royal Caribbean cited the new terminal delay was caused by the closure of shipyards along with the disruption to the supply chain. Thus, the cruise line decided to postpone construction of a new terminal in an effort to cut costs.

The Galveston Wharves Board voted on the proposal a month later and approved the one year delay to begin construction of Cruise Terminal 3.

As it currently stands, Royal Caribbean has shifted Allure of the Seas' sailings from Galveston until the terminal is ready.

Oasis of the Seas crane accident

Accidents due occur from time to time, including last year when a construction crane collapsed on top of Oasis of the Seas.

The incident occurred in April 2019 while Oasis was at the Great Bahamas Shipyard near Freeport, Bahamas for scheduled maintenance work. A construction crane hit the ship, and ended up laying against the vessel.

After assessing the damage, Royal Caribbean found damage to the Aqua Theater and some suites, and was forced to cancel the next three scheduled sailings that followed in order for the ship to be fully repaired.

Perfect Day at CocoCay timeline

Perhaps no project has had as many changes to its timeline than Royal Caribbean's ambitious makeover of its private island in the Bahamas.

At a ceremony in March 2018 in New York City, Royal Caribbean announced its plans to expand its private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay

The $200 million transformation (later it increased to $250 million) originally had a multi-phase timeline, with the completion of a new pier in September 2018, and a Spring 2019 date for most of the island's experiences to be open. The final phase, Coco Beach Club was set to open November 2019.

Royal Caribbean broke ground on the new pier on April 27, 2017, and added the pier would be complete in June 2018.

The pier took much longer than anticipated, with multiple delays that lead to it eventually taking the first ship docking there in March 2019.

Luckily, the rest of the project moved forward at a better pace, with Oasis Lagoon pool and some dining venues also opening in March.  Splashaway Bay and Skipper's Grill followed in April 2019, and the Grand Opening of Perfect Day at CocoCay was held in May 2019.

The Coco Beach Club was delayed a few times, but opened in late January 2020.

Five times Royal Caribbean changed its mind after announcing something

In:
Category: 
25Jun2020

Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean announced Allure of the Seas would sail not be able to sail from Galveston in 2021, and offered limited options for guests booked on Allure. An avalanche of negative feedback to the cruise line resulted in Royal Caribbean changing its policy and adding more options to rebook guests.

This example of Royal Caribbean shifting its stance on something it had already announced is not unprecedented. In fact, Royal Caribbean is not shy about changing its mind even after announcing a change.

To its credit, guest feedback has played a major part in "getting it right", and there have been some very public examples of when Royal Caribbean decided to completely change direction based on guest feedback.

While this list is not the entire collection of policy shifts by the cruise line, it is a look back at some notable one-eighties by Royal Caribbean in the recent past.

To buffet or not?

A very recent example occurred when in May Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley spoke to travel agents and alluded to the idea of getting rid of the Windjammer buffet entirely due to the global pandemic.

Speaking about the sort of changes guests can expect to see on a cruise ship once sailings resume, Mr. Bayley indicated the Windjammer buffet concept was all but gone.

"I think in the beginning, there will not be a buffet in the beginning, that's how I see it. It depends again upon the timing. We will utilize the space, we will utilize the Windjammer, but in all probability it won't be a classical buffet. It will be something more akin to a restaurant."

Fast-forward a week later, and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain walked back the notion that there would be no buffet.

"It doesn't mean that you don't have a buffet. I think it's very likely that you're not going to see that on land or sea."

We still do not know what the final result will be, but it was an example of a change to something previously talked about.

Not getting rid of Majesty of the Seas

In 2014, Royal Caribbean announced Majesty of the Seas would be transferred out of the fleet in 2016, joining her sister vessels that had already left the fleet.

Her last sailing was scheduled for April 29, 2016 and then she would be off to join Pullmantur Cruises.

Fast-forward to July 2015, and the cruise line suddenly announced Majesty would remain in the fleet due to "popular demand."

Instead of leaving, Majesty would undergo a drydock to receive a number of enhancements.  

One of the additions to Majesty that was announced, but removed, was free and unlimited Voom internet onboard.

Extending the Oasis Class neighborhood perks

In September 2019, Royal Caribbean announced it would discontinue the extra benefits it offered to guests who booked Boardwalk Balcony and Central Park Balcony staterooms on Oasis Class ships. 

The change initially meant guests who sailed January 1, 2020 and after, following the announcement, would not receive the neighborhood perks anymore.

Many cruisers were upset that they had booked these cabins based, in part, on the idea of receiving extra benefits and so three days later, Royal Caribbean grandfathered in anyone who had a booking made prior to the discontinuation of the neighborhood benefits.

$18 Drink Package

The saga of the $18 drink package blunder of 2019 is one of the prime examples of a complete flip-flop on a decision.

In July 2019, Royal Caribbean accidently put its unlimited alcohol package on sale for $18 per day, which was a substantial price mistake. Usually, the Deluxe Beverage Package runs somewhere between $40 - $52 per person, per day when purchased in advance.

Royal Caribbean apologized for the error, but said it would not honor the price mistake. Instead, the package purchase will be canceled and refunds will be issued.

That decision did not sit well with guests, and following a large amount of guest feedback, Royal Caribbean relented a day later and announced it would own the error and honor the price.

Dynamic Dining

Perhaps the most significant policy change in recent memory is the rise and demise of Dynamic Dining.

In 2014, Royal Caribbean was looking to shake up its complimentary dinner offerings on its Quantum (and later Oasis Class) ships by adopting a new approach called Dynamic Dining.

The core concept of Dynamic Dining is removing the main dining room completely and instead offering a number of smaller complimentary and specialty (cost extra) restaurants for guests to choose from.

Passengers can book specific times for any of these restaurants in advance, prior to their cruise or opt to book reservations onboard the ship.

Off the bat, Dynamic Dining ran into some problems on Quantum and Anthem of the Seas and Royal Caribbean attempted to save it by adopting a new rotational dining program that would seek to address some of the primary concerns guests were having with the new concept.

Feedback on Dynamic Dining was so negative, that at one point the cruise line gave guests $100 each for the trouble they had endured.

Guests never warmed up to the idea, and in September 2016, Royal Caribbean announced that Dynamic Dining would be abandoned in favor of a return to traditional dining.

Your thoughts

Is there an example of a time Royal Caribbean completely changed its mind that deserves to be on the list? Which one of the examples in this post do you recall? Share your memories in our comments!

Look back: Passenger lists from Sovereign of the Seas

In:
Category: 
15May2020

Cruising has changed a lot over the years, and while some traditions remain a part of the experience (formal night), others have gone away.

It is interesting to look back at how cruising used to be, and what norms then seem odd now.  One of those "not a thing anymore" cruise experiences was a passenger list.

Similar to a phone book, Royal Caribbean would compile a list of guests and crew on a given sailing and distribute it across the ship. It would include the name of each guest, and their home town.

Passenger lists were a vestige of the early days of cruising. They were provided in order to make introductions among fellow guests easier, as well as serve as a souvenir from the voyage. They were given to all passengers aboard liners and cruise ships until the 1970s and 1980s.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Bret Chafe shared a copy of one such passenger list from Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas sailing he sailed on back on September 23, 1989.

Take a look at who the ship's purser was on this sailing. Yes, the man that would eventually become Royal Caribbean International's President & CEO, Michael Bayley!

Not only was the passenger list an accumulation of names, titles and locations, it included some facts about the ship and the sailing.

The bulk of the publication was a listing of guests and their names, which by today's standards sounds a bit odd to share this information among guests.

So what happened to passenger lists? The evolution of cruises, along with an added desire for privacy among guests, saw the passenger list become obsolete. 

When passengers were given the choice of listing their names or not, many opted not to be included, and thus a list of only some passengers was not useful. In other cases, cruise lines removed it as an option in order to save time and money required in the purser’s department that might be better used elsewhere.

Would you want to see passenger lists still available on cruise ships? Or did these go away for a good reason? Did you ever sail on a ship that had one? Share your thoughts on this throwback to cruising's past in our comments!

Royal Caribbean celebrates one year anniversary of Perfect Day at CocoCay opening

In:
05May2020

It may be hard to imagine, but it has been exactly one year since Royal Caribbean officially opened its revamped private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

In the year since Perfect Day at CocoCay opened, it has quickly become a favorite destination of so many cruisers, even those who questioned the massive overhaul concept.

In celebrating the anniversary of the opening, I thought it might be fun to look back at the highlights from the first year of paradise.

The announcement

At a ceremony in March 2018 in New York City, Royal Caribbean announced its plans to expand its private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.

The $200 million transformation (later it increased to $250 million) was part of an even bigger announcement to reveal the Royal Amplified fleet upgrades.

Originally, the timeline had an early opening in September 2018 with the completion of the pier, followed by the majority of the island will launch spring 2019. This timeline changed quite a few times in the months to come, but the objectives remained in tact.

Royal Caribbean hoped this destination would offer guests more than just a beach day experience.  A water park, zip-line, cabanas, dining venues, and even an upgraded luxury beach option were part of the initial plans.

“It’s true that our ships are technological and engineering marvels in their own right and offer a multitude of unexpected experiences; but our destinations are an equally important part of the cruise vacation,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We are introducing the Perfect Day Island Collection to deliver the most memorable vacation for adventure seekers on land and on board our ships. Once completed Perfect Day at CocoCay will be the ultimate family destination in the Caribbean.”

Pre-opening - March 2019

Royal Caribbean took a phased approach to opening its private destination, beginning with opening its new pier, along with the Oasis Lagoon pool, Snack Shack and Chill Grill.

On March 16, 2019, Mariner of the Seas docked at CocoCay, marking the first time a Royal Caribbean ship docked and disembarked guests on the island.  

While the water park and other venues were still under construction, guests got their first look at what Royal Caribbean had in mind.

The largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, Oasis Lagoon,offered a massive complimentary pool day for guests to enjoy. This included a swim-up bar, fountains and in-pool seating.

Two dining venues opened as well, Snack Shack and Chill Grill. These venues served up more than hot dogs and hamburgers, with the largest variety of private island food Royal Caribbean has ever had.

The Artisan Market was also revamped and opened, where Bahamians could sell guests their many wares in a straw market environment.

April 2019 - Splashaway Bay and Skipper's Grill open

A few short weeks after the initial venues opened, Royal Caribbean opened up two new areas: Splashaway Bay and Skipper's Grill.

Splashaway Bay is a complimentary aqua park for kids that features geysers, drench buckets, sprays and more. A complimentary option, it is a real hit with younger kids who enjoy non-stop splashing.

Skipper's Grill is another complimentary dining option on the island that provides lunch and snacks to guests.

In addition to the newly opened venues, it appears Royal Caribbean has expanded its Voom internet access to the island, marking the first time any of its private destinations offer internet access on the island.  

Up, Up and Away goes up for the first time

About a week later, one of the signature attractions Royal Caribbean added to Perfect Day at CocoCay launched.

The Up, Up and Away helium balloon takes guests 450 feet above Perfect Day at CocoCay, providing the highest vantage point in The Bahamas.

May 4 - Grand Opening of Perfect Day at CocoCay

Fourteen months after being announced, Royal Caribbean officially opened Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Guests sailing on Navigator of the Seas were welcomed to Perfect Day at CocoCay, where a number of new venues, activities and offerings were officially open for guest use.

Among the many options now available to guests, Thrill Waterpark was highly anticipated and open as well. 

Thrill Waterpark is home to Daredevil’s Tower, where guests can try a number of single-rider waterslides of various heights, including the 135-foot-tall Daredevil’s Peak – the tallest waterslide in North America.

Additional highlights are the twin Dueling Demon drop slides, launching riders from a vertical position; the Manta Raycers, where friends can race down twin open flume slides; the high-speed, fully vertical Screeching Serpent; and the coiling Green Mamba, a massive aqua tube slide.

Younger kids could enjoy the complimentary Captain Jill’s Galleon, which is an interactive play structure loaded with swashbuckling thrills.

Royal Caribbean also revamped its beach offerings with the dedication of Chill Island.

The 1,600 foot zipline opened as well, marking yet another fun activity for families to try.

Summer 2019: Late night stays & Two-stops

Off the bat, Perfect Day at CocoCay was such a hit with guests that Royal Caribbean announced it would add select sailings that visit Perfect Day at CocoCay twice, along with late night stays.

Beginning September 30, 2019, Royal Caribbean began to offer 4-night itineraries to the private island destination across nearly 40 sailings. 

In addition, three one-of-a-kind cruises with late-night visits to the island were offered on Navigator of the Seas. These visits included traditional Bahamian-inspired activities, including a Junkanoo Jam Up Party, an island barbeque and performances by a calypso band and fire dancers, topped off with unforgettable farewell fireworks before setting sail.

The official beer of Perfect Day at CocoCay!

In the fall, Royal Caribbean teamed up with Funky Buddha Brewery to create an exclusive beer for Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The Chilla Thrilla beer is available only at the island, and offers a fun and different option for guests to enjoy while spending the day there.

Coco Beach Club opens - January 2020

The final phase of Perfect Day at CocoCay opened on January 31, 2020 with the grand opening of the Coco Beach Club.

The Coco Beach Club is a exclusive area of Perfect Day at CocoCay that offers an oceanfront infinity pool, upgraded cuisine and the only floating cabanas in the Bahamas. Plus, there is a complimentary restaurant at Coco Beach Club featuring lobster, snapper, and steak— plus a buffet of soups, salads, and starters. 

Entry to the Coco Beach Club requires an additional cost. Guests can choose between a day pass to the Coco Beach Club, as well as the option to reserve a cabana or floating cabana.

The attention-grabbing floating cabanas also debuted, which sought to bring a bit of Bora Bora to the Bahamas.

The 20 luxurious cabanas feature a private slide into the ocean, overwater hammock, dining area, freshwater shower, wet bar and an unbeatable ocean vista.

Have you visited Perfect Day at CocoCay yet? What is your favorite spot on the island? Share your memories, tips and advice in the comments!

The story of how Royal Caribbean cut a cruise ship in half and lengthened it

In:
22Apr2020

One of the truly incredible engineering feats is when a cruise line cuts a cruise ship in half, adds a new section in the middle, and welds the halves back together. 

While not a common practice anymore, Royal Caribbean endeavored to lengthen its first cruise ship, Song of Norway, in 1977.

The story of lengthening Song of Norway comes from the out-of-print book Under Crown and Anchor.

Why stretch?

If you are wondering why any cruise line would stretch a cruise ship, then you must understand the term, "economy of scale".

The quintessential economy for all cruise lines is a watchword chiseled in stone, an elementary shipboard truism identified as economy of scale.

In its simplest terms, economy of scale is a principle that argues for reducing the number of crew per passenger to a comprehensive minimum. Imagine, for a moment, a pool of 1,500 Royal Caribbean passengers waiting eagerly at Dodge Island to embark. They can be divided in half so that two groups of 750 each board Song of Norway and Nordic Prince.

Now count the crewmen who must look after those 1,500 passengers on two separate ships. Each vessel requires a master, a staff captain, a chief engineer, a cruise director and so on, all the way down the operational hierarchy.

Suppose instead, we embark those 1,500 on board a single ship. The manning requirements per passengers are reduced dramatically. Only one master, one staff captain, one chief engineer, one cruise director and so on are required to look after the same number of passengers on the larger vessel.

This is economy of scale at work. Such resounding financial advantage encourages—nay, mandates! the construction of larger, more commodious vessels. Medium-size cruise ships, yesterday's typical 20,000-Conners accommodating 600 passengers, are now endangered species. It is the megaships, vessels with passenger loads in the thousands, that make economic sense today.

But economy of scale has an inevitable flip side: The market must always continue to expand. Mammoth ships require continuous large passenger loads. In fact, the relentlessly increasing tonnage of today's newbuilding exactly parallels the situation on the North Atlantic a century ago when increasingly bigger ocean liners were launched in response to an apparently unending demand for emigrant berths. Giant ships the size of Olympic, Aquitania, Imperator, France and Rotterdam were rushed into service, towering, multiclassed hulls designed with a broad-based pyramidal load factor in mind. While several hundred first- and second-class passengers were comfortably accommodated above, down below, humble but profitable emigrants were jammed into high-density berthing compartments.

Stretching Song of Norway

In the fall of 1977, Royal Caribbean decided to stretch Song of Norway.

She would return to the shipyard that built her to have a specially built midsection added into the middle of her hull, increasing the overall length from 550 to 635 feet, while increasing passenger capacity by 328.

Wärtsilä estimated the cost for the 8-year old ship to be $12 million, only $1.5 million less than the original cost of the ship!

Work began on stretching the ship in December 1977, with completion scheduled for slightly less than a year later.

The work took place within a shipyard fixture new since Song of Norway's launch, a huge gray-green shed called the Building Hail, completed in 1978. At the dry dock's end, a towering assemblage of prefabricated sections was welded together until there arose a self-sustaining section of hull, looking from afar like a giant rusted Rubic's Cube.

The conversion work was, in effect, a miniature ship, with neither bow nor stern but ragged transom ends. Each side boasted Song of Norway's familiar fenestration, spray-painted white. Only the company's customary blue racing stripe was missing; that would await the subsequent attachment of stout longitudinal two-inch steel straps that, above and below the waterline, would sustain the rejoined hull like tape around a parcel.

At the midsection's raw open ends, which would be married to the exposed faces of Song of Norway halves, plywood blockades were erected to protect interior corridors from the weather. On the lowest decks, chest-high bulkheads kept water out of open-ended provision rooms at the after end. In effect, the configuration of that surreal vertical slice of ship com-prised a logistically complete passenger-ship cross section: From top to bottom, there was an out-thrust bulge of sun walk enclosing a new swimming pool, some upper deck cabins, two-thirds of an enlarged dining room and a shop extension on Restaurant Deck, standard cabins below that, crew cabins underneath and, at the very bottom, provision rooms and then layers of ballast and freshwater tanks.

On August 19, 1977, the last passengers were offloaded in PortMiami and preparations began for the crossing to Helsinki.

Among the Finnish shipyard workers that boarded the ship was Mogens Hammer, the ship's interior designer, to oversee the dismantling and storing of all works of art.

Making the cut

Among other preparatory work, the passenger galley was stripped down to steel; all crew and Finnish workers ate on D Deck forward, in the crew mess. Additionally, carpeting, paneling and ceiling in the way of the proposed cut were stripped, and the cut mark chalked on the naked steel. 

As the vessel tied up at Wärtsilä's fitting-out basin on September 1, just outside the Building Hall, workers with oxyacetylene torches initiated the monumental cut, following chalk line to waterline. They had to slice not only through the outer hull and superstructure but through every deck and interior wall as well.

While the cutters worked below, colleagues atop the vessel removed that portion of the funnel above the Viking Crown Lounge, enabling Song of Norway to fit beneath the Building Hall's lintel. All the vessel's dozen lifeboats were removed as well. Then, on September 4, yard tugs nudged Song of Norway inside the Building Hall. 

Workers had welded stout supporting pontoons beneath both the counter and bows while Song of Norway was still afloat. Once the dock was drained, the vessel and her cumbersome pontoon extensions settled down onto keel blocks. Only then could the final separation be completed. Crouched awkward-ly in the mucky, noisome crawl space beneath the hull, cutting teams finished chair gargantuan slice beneath the double bottom, while coworkers above and inside concentrated on the tank tops. By the end of the day, suddenly and soundlessly, Song of Norway had been separated into two parts.

Putting her back together

The new midsection, parked nearby, was prodded inside and snugged with winches as tightly as possible aft of the immobilized bow. The ultimate reentry was the stern section's; once inside the Building Hall, it was positioned firmly up against the midsection's after end.

Although one cut had separated Song of Norway, two joints would be required to make her whole again. And rejoining, in the shipyard as in life, is more demanding. Compounding the difficulty, each section floated at maddeningly different depths: The stern, containing the engines, rode lowest. So Wärtsilä engineers had to play a patient juggling game, with ballast tanks and winches, scrupulously aligning their trio of disparate floating craft into one seamless, horizontally aligned whole. The stern and midsection were joined first, then finally the bow section was winched aft to complete that historic reassembly.

Once the bow was tightly in place, there was more fine-tuning inside. Throughout the hull, bridging and shrinking gaps between adjacent decks, powerful hydraulic pull jacks drew each reluctant deck level to its neighbor, close enough for a welding bead to seal them together forever. After all three sections had been completely united, stout longitudinal steel strapping was welded along both flanks and to either side of the keel, binding those disparate thirds irrevocably into one. Inside the hull, electrical junction boxes were hooked up, illuminating the new section's formerly gloomy labyrinths. Ancillary improvements were added to Song of Norway. To serve her longer hull, a second bow thruster was installed paralleling the original. 

The midsection's 328 new occupants would trigger a host of "mores": more crew, more air-conditioning, more linen, more laundry, more fresh water, more electricity, more galley capacity, more waste water and sewage disposal. 

The new Song of Norway

By November 24, Song of Norway had completed her sea trials and been handed over to Royal Caribbean.

Following a brief stop in Rotterdam for a press tour, she began her crossing back to Miami.

As they cleared the channel and the first Atlantic swells were encountered, those on the bridge could tell that their lengthened vessel rode well: The longer hull negotiated the oncoming parade of waves with an easier pitch. But best of all, after a few days at sea, positive engineering feedback came from below. Chief Engineer Johan Tranvaag reported elatedly to Captain Andreassen that Song of Norway's fuel consumption had increased only marginally. These were indeed invaluable technological and navigational dividends realized from a pioneering engineering investment.

Song of Norway resumed her normal cruising schedule on Saturday, December 16, having been out of service slightly less than four months. She sailed out of Miami with her passenger capacity increased by a remarkable forty-four percent. 

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