Royal Caribbean Middle East bookings strong in first quarter


Royal Caribbean's first quarter bookings in the Middle East have surged up despite some concern around the world with the state of cruise ship safety.

Royal Caribbean believes the uptick in bookings can be attributed to a recent marketing initiative that worked to increase awareness among potential travellers in the region.

Royal Caribbean Executive Director for the Middle East Lakshmi Durai commented on the good news, "We are 30 per cent up, first quarter to first quarter [last year]. We still have a huge population that is [yet] to experience cruising, so potential is high. Awareness is being created."

The cruise industry is also playing an increasingly important role in the UAE's tourism growth strategies. Growth over the past decade has been phenomenal in the sector. In 2001, Dubai received just 6,900 passengers on a handful of cruises that stopped in the emirate. Now, the UAE is considered to be the regional hub for the industry and last year Dubai received about 135 cruise ships with 375,000 tourists, according to figures from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

By 2015, Dubai hopes to attract 180 cruise calls, carrying 625,000 passengers. In October, the emirate announced plans to build a cruise terminal to accommodate the expected growth in the number of passengers.

Brilliance of the Seas docks at New Mangalore Port


Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas arrived at New Mangalore, India today and is the first cruise vessel of 2012-13.

S. Gopalakrishna, Traffic Manager of New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), said this is the largest cruise vessel ever handled at the port.

P. Tamilvanan, Chairman of NMPT, and the Traffic Manager, interacted with the Captain of the vessel. Dr Tamilvanan said that he got a good feedback on the world class facilities available at the cruise lounge, neat and tidy berth area, and immigration facility from the ship operators.

Royal Caribbean Cruises offers Chateau Lafite Rothschild wine aboard its ships


Royal Caribbean will offer its passengers the French wine Chateau Lafite Rothschild aboard its cruise ships.  

This experience includes one hour of the discovery of four distinct wines: Special Reserve Bordeaux Blanc and Bordeaux Red, Special Reserve Medoc and Pauillac Special Reserve. These four wines illustrate the richness of the Bordeaux appellations. The session, led by a sommelier from the company, is both educational and entertaining. Explanation of the Bordeaux region, winemakers and wine pairings will stake out this moment of conviviality.

This wine courses can be booked in advance in travel agencies, or directly on board.  

Royal Caribbean presents plans for new cruise terminal in Uruguay


Royal Caribbean presented a plan to Uruguay authorities of an exclusive terminal for their ships at the port of Montevideo, which would include a hotel and would involve a total investment of 40 million dollars.

El Pais reports that the Administration National Port Authority (NPA) and the Ministry of Tourism are studying the tourism investment project presented by Royal Caribbean to define an area exclusively for the cruise ship docking at the port of Montevideo and to build a hotel on an adjoining block.

Royal Caribbean looked at investing in Uruguay eight years ago when it considered building a cruise terminal in South America.  After considering their options, Royal Caribbean opted to go to ports in Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires due to costs.

The site of the proposed cruise terminal is an area currently used for shipping, the public moorings A and B of the port of Montevideo, which operates the ANP.

Pacheco said that "initially build a lightweight terminal that also include the actual building of the Ministry of Tourism, which will have to relocate elsewhere, as suggested by the authorities," adding that Royal Caribbean would seek access to a block adjacent to the building the PA to build a hotel on four floors with 200 rooms.

"The idea is to make a base port to embark and disembark passengers from different countries of the company," he said, adding that the shipping company also plans to build in that area a place to set up shopping malls and cultural centers. Similarly, although not official, Royal Caribbean would be interested in a larger project in Punta del Este .

Royal Caribbean completes Rhapsody of the Seas refurbishment


After a month in dry dock in Singapore, Rhapsody of the Seas has completed a $54 million revitalization.  Royal Caribbean characterized the refurbishment as, "deliver guests a host of exciting new dining options, visually stunning entertainment and unique amenities after the ship's bow-to-stern transformation."

Royal Caribbean senior vice president of marketing, Betsy O'Rourke, commented on the refubishment, "Rhapsody of the Seas' dry dock is part of Royal Caribbean's multi-ship enhancement and revitalization strategy to deliver the world's most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries and world-renowned Gold Anchored service to our guests, also known as the Royal Advantage.  With every inch of Rhapsody of the Seas renewed, five new dining restaurants added, the evolution of entertainment in our iconic Centrum, plus an array of new touches, guests will be wowed by what is virtually a new ship."

The complete list of changes to Rhapsody of the Seas includes

  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery
  • a Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members
  • a Concierge Lounge for suite guests and top-tier loyalty guests
  • Completely refreshed staterooms
  • Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship
  • Flat-panel televisions in all staterooms
  • Outdoor LED movie screen on the pool deck
  • a digital way-finding system
  • Reinvented Centrum

New restaurants aboard Rhapsody of the Seas include

  • Giovanni's Table (lunch, $15, and dinner, $20)
  • Izumi Asian Cuisine restaurant (lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner plus a la carte menu pricing)
  • Park Cafe deli-style restaurant (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary)
  • Chop's Grille steakhouse (dinner, $30 per person)
  • Chef's Table (dinner, $95 per person)

Royal Caribbean to transfer Monarch of the Seas out of fleet


The oldest ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet, Monarch of the Seas, will be transferred to sister company Pullmantur Cruises in April 2013.

Monarch of the Seas, built in 1991, was sailing 3 and 4 night cruises out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and will conduct its last sailing on March 29, 2013.

Royal Caribbean will announce a replacement for Monarch in the next few months.\

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein commented on the news, "She will go on creating wonderful travel memories through her final sailings for our brand through next March and then continue doing the same for Pullmantur's guests."

New Zealand cruise passenger totals expected to rise in 2013


Demand for cruise ships is expected to rise in New Zealand by more than 20 percent in 2013 and Royal Caribbean's commercial manager for Australia and New Zealand cites Royal Caribbean's efforts to convince the public that cruising is still safe.

The effects of the Costa Concordia disaster have effected even New Zealand but Armstrong does not believe it will be a long-term concern, "Australians and Kiwis seem to have been able to process it as a one-off, probably human error, incident."

Royal Caribbean's business in New Zealand is growing quickly, with about 55,000 guests forecast for next season, compared to about 30,000 this year.

To meet the demand, Royal Caribbean will have five ships across two brands in the area.

Royal Caribbean plans on sending Adventure of the Seas to UK in 2013


Royal Caribbean announced it is planning on doubling its presence in the UK next year.

Coming to the UK in the summer of 2013 will be Adventure of the Seas, which will join Independence of the Seas.  Independence is returning for its fifth season in the UK.

Adventure of the Seas will offer seven-night cruises to France and Spain, and include stops in ports such as Vigo, Gijon and Le Havre (Paris).  In addition, Adventure of the Seas will offer 12-night Baltic cruises to ports like Oslo, Copenhagen, Talinn and Helsinki.  Royal Caribbean is also planning to send Adventure of the Seas on 14-night Mediterranean cruises.

Royal Caribbean's Vice President and Group Managing Director in Europe, Dominic Paul, commented on the addition, "The UK cruise market has long been a success story for Royal Caribbean International and doubling the number of ships sailing from Southampton is another great milestone."

Royal Caribbean announces 2013 Alaska cruises


Royal Caribbean unveiled its summer 2013 cruise itineraries for Alaska to the public.  The soon-to-be revitalized Rhapsody of the Seas will be one of Royal Caribbean's ships offering trips to Alaska for that season along with Radiance of the Seas, which was also revitalized in 2011.

From May 17 through Aug. 30, 2013, Radiance of the Seas will offer alternate seven night north and southbound cruises between Vancouver, Canada and Seward, Alaska.  laskan ports of call include Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Skagway. Additionally, guests will cruise the Inside Passage as well as get an up-close view of Hubbard Glacier.

Rhapsody of the Seas also will sail every Friday on seven-night, round-trip Alaska cruises from Seattle, stopping at Juneau and Skagway, Alaska, and Victoria, British Columbia. Passengers will also visit through Alaska’s Inside Passage, as well as venture up Tracy Arm Fjord to see Sawyer Glacier.

In addition to just cruises, Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruisetours combine a Radiance of the Seas’ sailing with a pre- or post-cruise land tour that totals to a 10- to 13-night land and sea adventure that ranges as far north as Fairbanks. For the land tour portion, guests are escorted by a Royal Caribbean Tour Director. Royal Caribbean Cruisetours include premium hotel accommodations, motorcoach transportation and admission into select attractions. Almost all 2013 Alaska Cruisetours also include a leg aboard the Wilderness Express.

Royal Caribbean shows off new safety simulator


Royal Caribbean showed off its brand new training simulator at its$6.5 million facility in Fort Lauderdale, where crew can train to handle a ship in all sorts of weather conditions.

Royal Caribbean teamed up with Resolve Maritime Academy long before the Costa Concordia incident brought renewed attention to the area of cruise ship safety.

Royal Caribbean Captain William Wright, who is the senior vice president of maritime operations for Royal Caribbean, summed up the new facility's role as, “This was not a knee-jerk reaction to recent events."

Resolve agreed to build the new simulators to Royal Caribbean’s specifications; the first training courses will take place on April 30. Royal Caribbean has used the company for more than a decade for firefighting, search and rescue and other emergency training.