Ships

Royal Caribbean's newer ships break-even quicker than older ships

In:
Category: 
21May2020

During Wednesday's call with Wall Street analysts, Royal Caribbean revealed some pretty intriguing statistics about the break even point for its ships.

One analyst asked how many ships Royal Caribbean needs to have sailing to reach a "break even" point in terms of costs.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty answered by saying the company could break even with use of fewer, but newer cruise ships, in lieu of older ships.

"For our newer ships, you need about 30 percent load factors to kind of break even. And then they skew to about 50 percent load factor on onto our older ships."

With the cruise line's recent cost-cutting measures, their return to service does not need the entire fleet operating at full levels to break even. In fact, load factors do not need to be exceptionally high either.

Essentially, Royal Caribbean is eyeing a slow return to service that gets them back to a break even point in a relatively short period of time.

Selling off older ships?

Another question was raised about older ships and if there is a prolonged suspension of cruises, would Royal Caribbean consider selling off or even scrapping its older ships.

Once again, Mr. Liberty answered the question:

"I do think that you will see ships that are retired at a much higher pace than what we have seen in the past with really because there hasn't been that much on the scraping side. I think the combination of what's happening with COVID and then the IMO regulations, you'll see interest in some of the older vessels for possible sale."

"And so you're going to see a permanent shift in the way of new buildings for some time, which is going to weigh on capacity growth numbers for the foreseeable future. Because these, especially the new building side, it's not a shift and catch up. It's what's likely to be a very permanent shift."

Mount Rushmore of Royal Caribbean: Top 4 cruise ships of all time

In:
Category: 
09Apr2020

Mount Rushmore is one of America's most well-known and distinguished sites that honors presidents that have reached a pinnacle of excellence. The four presidents immortalized in granite are a testament to their legacy, and it has me wondering which Royal Caribbean ships are worthy of being called the best of the best.

The idea behind this exercise is determining which Royal Caribbean cruise ships paved the way for not just the cruise line, but the industry as a whole.

When considering which ships make the cut, I think it is important to consider the ship's significance in its own time (especially when it debuted), what made it different, and of course its legacy today.

Over the 50 years of Royal Caribbean's history, there are many ships that might considered for this list, but here are my top picks.

Song of Norway

Just like George Washington's significance as the first president, Song of Norway was Royal Caribbean's first ship and she brought with her a new distinction.

This was a true trailblazing ship.  When she was introduced in 1970, Song of Norway was the industry's first ship built for warm-weather cruising. Later, Song of Norway became the first ever passenger ship to be lengthened.

Prior to the launch of Song of Norway, cruise ships were built for point-to-point ocean transportation with significantly less open space.

Song of Norway introduced the Viking Crown Lounge concept, which was branded in some quarters as a "crazy idea," later softened to "that funny-looking stack."

The Song of Norway was also notable for its open pool and lounging area, which since has become an industry standard.

In short, Song of Norway ushered in a new epoch in Caribbean cruising her success is what paved the way for every other Royal Caribbean ship since.

Sovereign of the Seas

When we look at cruise ships today and are amazed by the features onboard, as well as their sheer size, every single megaship's legacy can be traced back to the original "megaship," Sovereign of the Seas.

At 73,192 tons, the ship featured a five-deck Centrum, glass elevators, fountains in marble pools, and sweeping staircases. She was almost twice the size of Song of America and completely dwarfed every competitor of her time. A ship that large, with those kind of features was unheard of at the time.

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

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. 

Voyager of the Seas

With Sovereign of the Seas' launch in 1988, the cruise industry changed and for about a decade, Sovereign was the defacto standard all other ships were held to, until Voyager of the Seas.

Historically, cruise ships were built following the model set forth by ocean liners of the classic period of transportation.  These ships were designed to be a floating hotel that offered rest, relaxation and a great view.  But as times changed, guests wanted to do more onboard and have a greater variety of choices with it.

Voyager of the Seas launched in 1999, and introduced the first ice-skating rink at sea, the first rock climbing wall at sea, and indoor promenade.These were onboard activities that was previously not available on a cruise ship.  More importantly, it introduced the concept of guests being able to do physically activities onboard that were never considered previously.

Like Song of Norway and Sovereign before her, Voyager of the Seas would innovate ship design for decades and become the new standard going forward.

Oasis of the Seas

If there is a common theme among the Royal Caribbean ships that have made my Mount Rushmore, it has been about redefining what a cruise ship is, incredible innovations, and a new legacy for the cruise line.  You cannot talk about these three categories without instantly thinking about Oasis of the Seas.

There is big, and then there is Oasis of the Seas big. 

In late 2009, Oasis of the Seas became the world's largest cruise ship by a factor previously unseen.

Oasis was more than 40 percent larger than the previous largest ships in the world (Freedom Class), coming in at 225,282-tons and accommodating 5,400 passengers.

Beyond her size, Oasis of the Seas introduced the crowd-control concept of "neighborhoods", with seven in total.  Oasis also was the first ship to have a split-back design that opened the back of the ship up (Boardwalk), as well as an open-air park featuring 12,000 plants in the middle (Central Park).

Then there's the first AquaTheater at sea, the first zip line at sea and much more.

In short, Oasis of the Seas continued Royal Caribbean's legacy of revolutionary cruise ship design.  Any new mass-market cruise ship built since has had to compare itself to the game-changing Oasis of the Seas.

Which ships make your list?

These four ships changed the world, and that's why I put it on my Mount Rushmore, but which ships stand out to you as the "best of the best"? Share with everyone your top four Royal Caribbean ships of all time, and why, in the comments below!

Where are Royal Caribbean's ships during the coronavirus cruise suspension?

In:
Category: 
17Mar2020

There were many questions that popped up after Royal Caribbean announced an unprecedented 60 day pause in sailings due to the coronavirus pandemic, including where their ships would go in the interim.

Royal Caribbean has 26 ships in its fleet today, but there are other cruise lines that have fleets of their own.   Where exactly do all these cruise ships go when they are not conducting a cruise?

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader John Bamber decided to help me out and tracked down where each ship is currently. 

Some are already at a spot to call home for a while, while others are making their way to port or an area just outside a port.

The list will be periodically updated during the cruise hiatus.

Royal Caribbean has said it intends to resume sailings on May 12, 2020.

What Is the Biggest Royal Caribbean ship?

In:
Category: 
01Mar2020

Updated March 1, 2020

The largest Royal Caribbean ship is the Symphony of the Seas, which measures 228,081 gross tons. Symphony is 1,188 feet 1 inch in length (362.12m).

She is very close in size to her sister Oasis Class ships (Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas).

Symphony of the Seas has a capacity of 5,518 passengers at double occupancy, or 6,680 passengers if at maximum capacity.

Symphony offers plenty for guests to do onboard, such as the Ultimate Abyss, waterslides and FlowRider surf simulators. Dining is major component to a cruise on Symphony, with choices of complimentary and specialty dining, including Hooked Seafood, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade and El Loco Fresh.

While not confirmed, the next Oasis Class ship is very likely to be the next biggest Royal Caribbean ship, as each new Oasis Class ship has been slightly larger than the previous one. Wonder of the Seas will debut in 2021.

Newest Royal Caribbean ships

In:
Category: 
22Oct2019

Are you trying to figure out what the newest cruise ships are in Royal Caribbean's fleet? Here is a breakdown of the top ten newest Royal Caribbean ships.

1. Spectrum of the Seas

Year: 2019

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 169,379

Passengers (double/max): 4,246/4,905

2. Symphony of the Seas

Year: 2018

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 228,081

Passengers (double/max): 5,518/6,680

3. Ovation of the Seas

Year: 2016

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 168, 666

Passengers: 4,180/4,905

4. Harmony of the Seas

Year: 2016

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 226,963

Passengers: 5,497/6,410

5. Anthem of the Seas

Year: 2015

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 168,666

Passengers: 4,180/4,905

6. Quantum of the Seas

Year: 2014

Last refurbishment: 2019

Gross Tonnage: 168,666

Passengers: 4,180/4,905

7. Allure of the Seas

Year: 2010

Last refurbishment: 2015. Next one scheduled for Summer 2020

Gross Tonnage: 225,282

Passengers: 5,492/6,410

8. Oasis of the Seas

Year: 2009

Last refurbishment: 2014. Next one scheduled for Summer 2019

Gross Tonnage: 225,282

Passengers: 5,400/6,360

9. Independence of the Seas

Year: 2008

Last refurbishment: 2018.

Gross Tonnage: 154,407

Passengers: 3,634/4,375

10. Liberty of the Seas

Year: 2007

Last refurbishment: 2016. Next one scheduled for 2021.

Gross Tonnage: 155,889

Passengers: 3,798/4,960

More resources

Best Royal Caribbean ships and cruise guide

In:
Category: 
26Apr2018

This guide to Royal Caribbean ships contains short reviews of the best cruise ships based on a variety of considerations.  If you are planning to take a cruise and want the perfect ship for your family, this guide aims to help you. You may be familiar with some of Royal Caribbean's ships, but the different ship classes mean there is a lot to consider.

Of course, everyone has different preferences, so we will also provide a brief description of each ship to give you an idea of whether a particular ship might be a good fit for your family. 

This should help give you an idea of which Royal Caribbean cruise ships are a great choice for you. We are firm believers in the idea that all of Royal Caribbean's ships offer a really fun vacation experience. There is not one ship in the fleet that we would not sail on, but we also recognize there may be some ships better suited for the personal preferences of a family or group.

Let's take a look at the best Royal Caribbean ships for every need.

Thrills and fun aplenty

Symphony of the Seas - There is no denying Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is filled to the brim with the cruise line's latest and greatest offerings.  Not only does it have the coolest new things onboard, but it has them in spades.  Water slides, laser tag, escape room, zip line, Broadway show are just a few of the incredible options available on Symphony of the Seas (with many of those features also available on other Oasis Class ships).

Anthem of the Seas - The Quantum Class ships offer a sleek, yet compelling cruise experience that offers guests onboard a lot to see and do.  In fact, entertainment is at the heart of Anthem of the Seas, with terrific venues to see it all.  In addition, Anthem of the Seas offers the giant indoor sports zone, North Star observation pod and a sky diving simulator.  

Harmony of the Seas - She may be only the second largest cruise ship in the world and second newest ship in the fleet, but Harmony of the Seas remains a great choice for those wanting lots of fun onboard.  In fact, Harmony of the Seas redefined the Oasis Class of cruise ships when she first offered water slides, an interactive aqua park, a new take on the Boardwalk and more. Taking a cruise on Harmony of the Seas means enjoying some of the best Royal Caribbean offers.

Families with young children

Oasis of the Seas - Oasis class ships have redefined what family cruising is all about, and if you have younger children, a cruise on Oasis of the Seas is a great choice.  We like Oasis for a few reasons.  First, she lacks the slides her newer sister ships have and that is not usually a concern for those with young children.  Moreover, she is priced slightly lower (on average) relative to her newer sisters.  Oasis of the Seas still offers plenty for young kids, such as a baby splash area in the pool, nursery, and open play area in Adventure Ocean.

Allure of the Seas - Like her sister Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas is quite similar in her offerings for families with young children. In our experience, having young kids means a slower pace while cruising, but it is important to have the facilities and options for young kids.  Allure of the Seas also offers the DreamWorks experience onboard, which means additional programming for kids of all ages.

Freedom of the Seas - Families with young children will likely find the best value with Freedom of the Seas.  She offers the type of facilities families look for in a cruise ship (nursery, baby splash pool, DreamWorks experience, etc) and is usually priced much less than any Oasis Class ship.  Later in 2018, she will move to San Juan, Puerto Rico and that means some incredible itineraries to enjoy alongside a fabulous ship.

Families with older children

Liberty of the Seas - If there is one thing older children typically enjoy a lot of, it is water slides and Liberty of the Seas has arguably the best collection of water slides in the fleet.  It has racer water slides, which typical now of any Royal Caribbean ship that has water slides, but it is the only ship with the Tidal Wave slide.  Liberty of the Seas also offers a rock climbing wall, FlowRider surf simulator, ice skating and more.  Moreover, Liberty of the Seas is a terrific value.

Anthem of the Seas - Older kids will find Anthem of the Seas to be one of the best suited for them, especially teens.  The SeaPlex area alone is home to so many activities that are perfect for older kids.  Bumper cars, roller skating, XBox, circus school...there is so much.  Plus, Anthem of the Seas has the FlowRider surf simulator, Ripcord by iFly sky diving simulator and an impressive teens club.  If you are a parent, do not plan on seeing much of your kids if cruising on Anthem (that is not a bad thing)!

Symphony of the Seas - The strength of the Oasis Class ships are the staggering amount of activities and things to do.  For older kids, having plenty of options is usually the best bet and Symphony of the Seas has plenty to keep the older kids busy.  Dual FlowRiders, ice skating, a large Adventure Ocean area, teens club, Boardwalk...that just barely scratches the surface of what is offered.  

Need to get away

Mariner of the Seas - Following Mariner of the Seas finishes $90 million refurbishment, Mariner of the Seas will call Miami, Florida home in 2018, and will be the first Voyager Class ship to offer short Caribbean sailings. Mariner of the Seas will offer 3- and 4-night itineraries from PortMiami.  That means an impressive ship offering the weekend getaways you are looking for without compromising on the ship.

Navigator of the Seas - Navigator of the Seas will also offer short Caribbean sailings, beginning in 2019.  Navigator of the Seas is a fabulous choice for the amount of fun activities onboard, plus the great prices we typically see on Navigator of the Seas. In addition, Navigator of the Seas will offer short cruises with stops in the newly expanded Perfect Day at CocoCay. Talk about an incredible long weekend!

Brilliance of the Seas - In the winter, Brilliance of the Seas offers short sailings that mix a great price and a terrific ship.  Being a Radiance class ship, weekend getaways on Brilliance of the Seas means a classic, relaxing cruise experience. If your idea of a get away cruise is enjoying drinks by the pool, Brilliance of the Seas is a perfect choice for you.

Honeymooners

Harmony of the Seas - Love birds will find lots to do and plenty of time for romance on Harmony of the Seas.  Harmony boasts a ton of activities, terrific specialty dining choices, adults-only Solarium, a beautiful spa and more. With all of the fun things to do onboard, we think Harmony of the Seas is a great choice for honeymooners that want fun in the sun.

Freedom of the Seas - Of all the cruise ships we have cruised on, Freedom of the Seas stands out as a great ship for nearly any cruiser.  It offers a well-rounded cruise experience, with enough activities and dining choices to cater to any honeymooner.  On top of that, Freedom of the Seas is priced so well, that a honeymooner can likely get more for their money and perhaps upgrade to a higher category stateroom than if they went on a newer ship.  

Anthem of the Seas - Going on a honeymoon? Anthem of the Seas is hard to beat as a great  option.  You can sip a fine wine at Vintages, take a dip in arguably one the most beautiful adults-only Solarium, watch the sunset from North Star observation pod, or maybe just enjoy a brunch date on your balcony. With sailings to Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada and more, Anthem of the Seas is a new ship with lots of options.

Exotic itineraries

Empress of the Seas - One word: Cuba.  Perhaps no cruise stop in the Caribbean is as intriguing or fun to try as Cuba.  Empress of the Seas was refitted specifically for the Cuban cruise market, and is the best choice for taking a cruise that will bring you to any one of the Cuban ports of call.  In fact, Empress of the Seas also offers to stops in Cuba beyond Havana, which means a greater opportunity to tour this newly opened up country.

Ovation of the Seas - Australia, the South Pacific, Alaska...a cruise on Ovation of the Seas is very likely to bring you to some of the most beautiful spots on the planet.  Perhaps no other Royal Caribbean cruise ship can boast the sort of impressive itineraries that Ovation of the Seas enjoys. Being a Quantum Class ship, she offers an equally fun time onboard as well.

Rhapsody of the Seas - If exploring Europe is more your game, Rhapsody of the Seas will take you to some of the most beautiful European ports around.  Visits in the Adriatic, Aegean and Mediterranean seas will bring you to iconic ports of call.  Rhapsody of the Seas is no stranger to Europe, having become a stalwart of Royal Caribbean's European cruising season. 

Budget cruising

Majesty of the Seas - If your goal is to get on a cruise ship for as little money as possible, Majesty of the Seas is typically the first place to look.  Sure she is an older ship, but Majesty of the Seas offers the kind of chill cruise experience we all need from time to time.  Majesty was recently updated and has several whirlpools, plenty of bars, a revamped casino, and full-service spa. Majesty of the Seas often has some of the lowest cruise fares available on any Royal Caribbean ship, so it is unlikely to break any budget, regardless of time of year.

Enchantment of the Seas - Enchantment of the Seas combines a fun ship experience for bargain prices.  There are some great dining choices onboard, an expansive pool area, and all for a price you will likely not have to think twice about. For families, Enchantment of the Seas packs a lot into a small package, with an outdoor poolside movie screen, three pools—including the adults-only Solarium—and six different whirlpools. After a day spent lounging, there’s plenty of nighttime entertainment, like Broadway-style shows in the main theater, blackjack at Casino Royale, and eight different bars and lounges.

Mariner of the Seas - By offering short 3- and 4-night cruises, Mariner of the Seas is set up to offer a big ship experience for a small ship price.  Those that want to save money, but not compromise on the onboard experience may find the perfect fit with Mariner of the Seas.  With a full-sized basketball and volleyball court, as well as a rock-climbing wall that shoots up 200 feet above the sea, there’s no shortage of athletic action onboard any ship. The Royal Promenade regularly hosts parades, dance parties and many wonderful bars.

Your thoughts

Which Royal Caribbean ships are your favorites and which might you skip?  Do you agree or disagree with our ratings?  If you have not taken a Royal Caribbean cruise yet, which cruise ships are you most excited about?  Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!

All about Royal Caribbean's ship classes

In:
Category: 
17Apr2018

Are you wondering what the differences are between Royal Caribbean's ship classes?  Here is an easy-to-understand breakdown of each class of ship, and what they offer.

Oasis Class

The largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships offer the latest and greatest features found on any ship in the fleet, as well as in the industry.  

The Oasis Class ships can handle just about 5,500 passengers and have a gross tonnage of over 225,000 tons.  

If you are concerned about crowds and navigating a ship of this size, Royal Caribbean has you covered.  Royal Caribbean designed the ship to be easy to get around, and break up crowds.  Seven neighborhoods help distinguish parts of the ship apart to guests, and there are so many activities on Oasis Class ships that everyone will be on their own schedule.

Why choose Oasis Class: You want it all on one ship! The latest features, tons of activities, and great dining.

Oasis Class ships

Oasis Class highlights

  • Neighborhoods
  • AquaTheater
  • 3D Movies
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Waterslides (Harmony and Symphony only)
  • Zip Line
  • Central Park
  • 2 FlowRider Surf Simulators
  • Boardwalk 
  • Carousel
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Loft Suites
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area

Quantum Class

The innovative Quantum Class ships were designed to user in the 21st century with a blend of high-tech, and tried-and-true family vacation experiences. These stylish new ships offer incredible views and activities onboard. 

Quantum Class ships have signature features found just on these ships, and are a big hit with families of varied ages.  Quantum Class ships are the sort of cruise ship that has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you are new to cruising or an established veteran.

In 2019, Spectrum of the Seas will launch, becoming the first Quantum Ultra Class ship. The revolutionary Quantum Ultra ship will specifically be designed for guests in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature cutting-edge and unprecedented experiences and amenities.

Why choose Quantum Class: Families looking for lots to do onboard, along with some incredible features.

Quantum Class ships

Quantum Class highlights

  • North Star
  • RipCord by iFLY 
  • Seaplex
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Two70 
  • Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • 3D Movies
  • Loft Suites
  • Music Hall
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area

Freedom Class

Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class ships offer a big ship experience, with plenty to see and do onboard.  In fact, Royal Caribbean has added new features over the years, and plans another round of updates beginning in 2020 (although Independence of the Seas will get her update in 2018).

Freedom Class ships represent an excellent value for families that want to cruise on a large ship, have lots of activities, but not break their budget.  From a pure value standpoint, the Freedom Class ships are a great choice for a fabulous cruise experience.

Freedom Class ships are essentially a slightly larger version of their Voyager Class sisters.

Why choose Freedom Class: Big ship experience, minus the premium price tag that the newer ships in the fleet currently command.

Freedom Class ships

Freedom Class highlights

  • Aqua park
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Designer Shopping
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Panoramic staterooms
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Water slides (Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas)

Voyager Class

When Royal Caribbean introduced the Voyager Class, it revolutionized the industry with features and activities that we cannot dream of not having on a cruise ship these days.  Mini-golf, the Royal Promenade, ice skating and more all had their start on the Voyager Class.

Just like the larger Freedom Class ships, Voyager Class vessels are a terrific value, and offer some incredible itineraries.  Royal Caribbean is not done investing in these ships, having added new restaurants, surf simulators, aqua parks, entertainment and more over the last few years, with another round of updates beginning in 2018 and going through 2019.

Why choose Voyager Class: Plenty to do onboard, newly added features and terrific pricing.  It is a great choice for families looking to save.

Voyager Class ships

Voyager Class highlights

  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator

Radiance Class

Radiance of the Seas combine lots of glass and open areas to provide guests with a classic cruise experience.  

Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class ships are stylish, and get into many of the smaller cruise ports around the world that Royal Caribbean's larger ships cannot.  

Radiance Class ships do not skimp on things to do, offering varied dining experiences, as well as terrific live entertainment. Veteran cruisers enjoy the Radiance Class for the ship's refined offering and easy going atmosphere.

Why choose Radiance Class: Beautiful ships that offer a time-honored cruise experience, with a connection to the ocean itself.

Radiance Class ships

Radiance Class highlights

  • Sunlit Glass-Covered Spaces
  • Glass Elevators
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Self-Leveling Pool Tables
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Indoor movie theater
  • Mini-golf

Vision Class

Royal Caribbean designed their Vision Class ships to fit into almost any port, which means guests can travel to exotic ports of call around the world.

Like the Radiance Class, Vision Class ships combine a small size with many activities that have been added over the years. Whether you are looking to "do it all" or just relax, Vision Class ships are a good choice.

Why choose Vision Class: Impressive itineraries that other ships in the fleet cannot offer. 

Vision Class ships

  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas

Vision Class highlights

  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Bungee Trampoline (Enchantment of the Seas)
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Specialty Dining Options
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Broadway-Style Shows

Sovereign Class

Do not judge the last Sovereign Class ship by her age or size, because Royal Caribbean has been updating her regularly to keep her in-line with the rest of the fleet's offerings.

Majesty of the Seas is homeported in New Orelans, offering cruises around the Caribbean.  A sailing on Majesty is great for relaxing by the pool, and enjoying taking things easy.  

Majesty of the Seas received a large update in 2016, along with regular maintenance work that offer a fun ship experience.

Why choose Sovereign Class: Getaway cruises for folks that want to relax by the pool, have a beach day, and get away from it all.

Sovereign Class ships

  • Majesty of the Seas

Sovereign Class highlights

  • Poolside movie screen
  • Family Jacuzzis
  • Live entertainment and shows

Empress of the Seas

Royal Caribbean brought Empress of the Seas back to the fleet to offer cruises to Cuba, but with Cuban cruises coming to an end, she now offers some of the most varied Caribbean itineraries out there.

Empress of the Seas is the smallest Royal Caribbean ship, but if offers other destinations in the Caribbean. 

Cuban culture is reflected throughout Empress of the Seas with cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal, salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin lounge, and a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life while at sea.

Why choose Empress of the Seas: Terrific value. You will find a great mix of low prices and varied itineraries.

Empress of the Seas highlights

  • Poolside Movie Screen
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Sunday Brunch every day
  • Poolside party
  • Latin experience infused lounges

The future: Icon Class

Something to keep an eye on will be Royal Caribbean's Icon class ships, which promise to bring us a new evolution in cruising.

Royal Caribbean has been quiet on exactly what the Icon Class will offer, but these new ships will handle about 5,000 passengers and will be built using new fuel technology including liquid nitrogen gas and fuel cells. This technology has been used on space shuttles and satellites for years, and is a much greener way of powering ships.

The first two Icon Class ships will debut in 2022 and 2024.

Royal Caribbean talks changes to ship design, cultural shifts, millennials and more

In:
Category: 
07Nov2017

During Royal Caribbean's third quarter 2017 financial call with investors, the company shared some interesting anecdotes, facts, and insight into the ever changing cruising environment.  While most of the information discussed in these earnings calls deal primarily with financial indicators, cruise guests can glean some insight into how Royal Caribbean runs its business.

Cultural change to responding to major events

Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain took a few minutes to talk about the response the company has noticed from the general public, when it comes to major events like a hurricane disrupting the flow and life of the islands visited, and the cruise itineraries planned.

"We've noticed a significant change in the way people in general seem to respond to unusual events, whether those events are weather, geo-political acts, or something else.

Years ago, a bad incident would have a bad and lasting impact.  Whenever something happened, our bookings would fall and they would stay down for an extended period. People seemed to curl up in a ball and obsess about whatever the issue was.  It could, and did impact bookings, for a really long time. Even after the event left the front page, people would persist in focusing on it.  Eventually, they would move on and bookings would recover, but that process seemed to take forever.

More recently, we have seen a much more sanguine response. Instead of the incident lingering for a long time, the recovery seems much quicker. People seemed to be more apt today to see such events as ordinary, with little impact. The events still aren't normal, but they are seen as less relevant to the broader audience.  In effect, the public appears to become inured to such one off events.  They are still interested in the event, and concerned about it, but people seem to continue living their lives with less change. They move on.

From a societal point of view, I have to say that it's discouraging that we've reached such a point. It's distressing that incidents are now so common, that society seems to have formed a thicker skin towards them. On the other hand, as a response to the actual events, it's probably more constructive if society doesn't allow such things to interfere with our normal day-to-day existence.

From a purely commercial point of view, this cultural shift is very helpful.  It's much better for us if the negative impact of such incidents are so much more fleeting than in the past. "

Design changes in ships over decades

Over the last couple of years, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has been fond of noting a cultural shift among consumers, where they are tending to prefer buying experiences over buying things. In the past, consumers seemed to be focused on buying things like new televisions, appliances, or other items of the like. More recently, Mr. Fain believes the focus has shifted to people looking for experiences, especially ones that include the whole family.

This shift has made Royal Caribbean change as well, to meet the needs and habits of consumers.

"Over the years, as people's habits and tastes, we've shifted our product to take advantage of these new consumer buying practices. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a dramatic shift in the way ships were designed and built. Instead of ships being designed as a form of transportation, we shifted to ships that were designed specifically for cruising. Our aspirations at the time were for ships to be more yacht-like. Now, that change really brought cruising into the modern era.

But in the '80s and '90s, there was another change in people's expectations.  The public's vacation desires changed, and we needed to shift with them. We shifted our design focus from trying to be yacht-like, to be more like hotels.  We started to design ships with more spacious public areas, better outfitting, and more amenities onboard.  We wanted the ships to feel more open, to have more things to do and to have a more luxurious feel of a modern hotel.  Our design metaphor changed from trying to seem like a yacht, to feeling more like a full service hotel.  Again, that fit in nicely with trends in consumer interests, and it resulted in better sales.

Now, over the last decade or so, travel habits have further changed and our ship designs have shifted yet again. Consumers now want a more active vacation, a more things to do and to experience. In response, we changed our design metaphor, from trying to be like hotels to be more like cities. Today, our ships have more features of cities, with a cornucopia of activities, amenity, and design.  We don't simply check the box with bars and restaurants and discos, we talk about designing parks, and gardens, and neighborhoods and quiet spaces. We model our medical facilities on urgent care facilities. Our specialty restaurants compare to anything you will find on land.  We have every stripe of nightlife, you can sail with us for seven nights and never experiencing the same things twice.

And again, adjusting our products to suit the changing wishes of the consumer has paid off in a very nice way. Our guests really enjoy the broader choice and amenities that the new ships offer.  And again, accommodating these wishes has resulted in improved demand for our product. "

Winning the perception war

One of the "battles" that Royal Caribbean (and the cruising industry) has faced over the years have been old stereotypes about what a cruise experience is all about.  It has been a stumbling point for the cruise industry, but Mr. Fain believes things are changing now and consumers are far more educated than ever.

"Many consumers thought of cruising through the lens of outdated stereotypes. We in the industry often complained about the inaccuracies of such misconceptions and our marketing was geared to correct the image. This sense of not being properly understood pervaded our industry, and profoundly influenced all of our communications.

But then, a strange thing happened. The evolution of consumer's changing tastes, and of our changing product, converged. The prevalence of these old, erroneous perceptions has waned. In effect, we have won the perception war.  We have crossed a tipping point, and moving beyond it.

Yes, there are still many people out there who suffer from these old misperceptions, but their numbers are dwindling everyday. Today, while this issue remains an issue at the margin, cruising has now firmly established itself as a relevant and a desirable vacation option for consumers generally."

Rethinking retail spaces

With the shift in consumers looking for experiences instead of products, and the news that particularly higher guest spending on shore excursions and internet packages, an investor asked if Royal Caribbean was going to rethink its allocation of retail space onboard their cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley spoke to this question, "When we talk about the two programs, Celebrity Revolution and Royal Amplified, really a lot of thinking going into that is really thinking  through how our guest spend is changing. You will start to see that when we bring these ships out of the moderinzation programs that we have really reallocated space to generate better revenues in areas that we see guests now naturally gravitating towards."

Millennial cruising is on the rebound

When asked about new to cruise guests, and millennial demand, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley talked about the reversal in fortunes the cruise line has seen over the last few years, "In fact, if you go back before that three year period, we were actually in a situation where year over year we saw a decline in new to cruise and millennial.  Over the past three years, we've seen a very good increase year over year.  That's very much part of our marketing and communication focus on new to cruise and millennial, and we are seeing good progress."

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chief Financial Officer, Jason Liberty, provided a bit more feedback on what those numbers look like, "Over the past several years, we are carrying about 30-33% more millennials than we did several years ago."

Pages