Vision of the Seas

Latvian capital sees 19% jump in tourists

In:
09Aug2010

The port of Riga, the capital of Latvia, saw a 19% jump in tourism in July 2010 compared to the figures from July 2009.  Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas made her first stop there and with it, brought to Latvia's capital more than 2 thousand passengers. 

With these figures, the city bureau of tourism, Maxim Tolstoy, intends to maximize the flow of tourists for next season. Most of the tourists that visited Riga were tourists from Sweden, USA, UK, Germany and Norway. 

Riga, and Latvia in general, is still an outsider in terms of tourism among its fellow Baltic countries. Riga spends 2.1 million Euros on tourism, which is dwarfed by the city of Tallinn that spends four times that and the city of Vilnius three times that figure.

Blogger reviews Vision of the Seas

In:
07Aug2010

Tom Truxton of the RVTimes, an online guide for camping, posted an interesting review of their trip on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas.  What's interesting about the review is it not only documents much of the trip, but also harps on negative elements of their cruise to bring up the issues they experienced.

To start things off, after boarding Vision of the Seas, Truxton went to the Windjammer for lunch and were disappointed in the food they had.

The food for the boarding lunch was dry and bland, kind of like the foods the kids cook at home when it is their turn to cook; compared to the Monarch we were greatly disappointed and hoped that it was not the norm for this Windjammer. Unfortunately this did prove to be the norm for the Windjammer on this cruise but a glass of lemonade improved things some and gave it a tangy taste. Every time we ate in the Windjammer we found the food to be dry and relatively bland, I looked around the restaurant and peeked into the kitchen but I didn’t see my kids working, there were a few dishes that broke the pattern but not many.

The good news is they also took the time to highlight what they liked about the cruise, like dinner in the main dining room.

Dinner in the Aquarius Dining Room was fantastic; we were not disappointed once by the quality of the food or the service that we received there. We ate dinner in the Aquarius every night, breakfast every morning but one, and lunch twice. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very attentive, after the first night the waiters called us by name as we were arriving, had our preferred drinks waiting for us and made us feel at home (Unlike our kids who make us feel like we shouldn’t be home.) Where the Windjammer disappointed the Aquarius made up for.

In the casino, things weren't very good 

The Casino table game staff did not seem to know what they were doing, it seemed as if I constantly had to remind them that they did not pay a bet, did not remove a lost bet, paid my winnings to another player, or they just did not seem to understand their games themselves. My biggest disappointment in the Casino came from the Texas Hold-Em table, which was only opened once during the cruise, was dealt by a dealer that did not seem to understand the game, and had an outrageous rake of 10%

In the end, their cruise was a positive experience for Truxton and his family.

While I identified a lot of negatives in this review overall we did enjoy ourselves, but we can see several areas where the crew of the Vision of the Seas could improve if this is reflective of their normal attitude. Hopefully we can schedule a trip on the Vision when it is on a regular itinerary and we can see what a trip then would be like.

Rio de Janeiro to host 500,000 cruisers in 2010/2011 cruise season

In:
20Jul2010

The Brazilian Cruise Associaton has announced that the port of Rio de Janeiro is expected to welcome almost 500,000 cruisers for the 2010-2011 season, which begins in October. About 17 ships will make a stop in Rio and according to the Brazilian Cruise Association, 479 000 cruisers will disembark in Rio de Janeiro. This number represents a 7% increase compared to the quota registered last season.

Along with many other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean will have two of it's ships visiting Rio.  These ships include Mariner of the Seas and Vision of the Seas.

The Brazilian season of 2010/2011 Cruise will have 20 ships, two more than in 2009/2010, which will sail along the coast of Brazil until May 2011. In 2008/2009, Rio de Janeiro received 112 cruises, which took almost 270 000 cruisers, and in the 2009/2010 season were 448,000 tourists on 193 routes.

Southampton, England booming with cruise business

In:
22Jun2010

Southampton, England is called the cruise capital of the United Kingdom and for good reason.  The BBC is reporting that business here is booming with lots of cruise ships calling the port home as well as making stops here.  Royal Caribbean is no different, having Independence of the Seas and Vision of the Seas call this port home.  With steady business from Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines, the people of Southampton are reaping the benefits of having so many cruisers come through their city.

"Every cruise ship brings in the average of £1.2m per ship, so you're talking in terms of £350m benefit to the local economy."

It's no secret that Royal Caribbean has been favoring sending their ships from North America to Europe to help quench the demand for cruises that many Europeans have been seeking.  This seems to be just one of many popular ports in Europe that is benefiting from an upswing in Europeans' desire to go on a cruise vacation.

Vision of the Seas suffers fifth cruise in two months with Norovirus

In:
15Jun2010

A Norwegian media site, dagbladet.no, is reporting that Vision of the Seas has had five separate cruises in the last two months that have resulted in passengers getting ill from the Norovirus.  The latest cruise had 50 sick, according to the company with a total of around 600 passengers infected since the outbreak began on May 1st.

Vision of the Seas set sail from port this past Saturday and that evening was the first report of the disease case according to Norden manager Roar Meidal by the shipping company Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines told Dagbladet.  49 passengers and a crew member became ill during the seven-day cruise.

Compounding the issue of eradicating the disease from the ship is the fact of how easy it is to spread Norovirus.  Between people, the virus can spread quite easily and once an issue, it's difficult to fully remove it.

Discussion: Mariner of the Seas leaving Los Angeles

In:
09Jun2010

Last month, Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein announced that Royal Caribbean was pulling Mariner of the Seas from it's Los Angeles port in favor of moving her to Europe to help with the ever rising demand.  This decision leaves Royal Caribbean without a ship cruising the Mexican Riviera at the moment and needless to say, it's left some folks upset.  Mariner of the Seas replaced Vision of the Seas, which also left it's Mexican Riviera route in favor of Europe.

The problems many have lay in a few categories.  First, there is no option for fans of Royal Caribbean out of Los Angeles.  Those in the western United States are without an option for a nearby ship that serves warm water ports.  Second, many Royal Caribbean fans in the United States are upset over the trend of much of the Royal Caribbean fleet heading to Europe to chase the all mighty Euro and the demand there for cruises. Third, many who have gone on Mariner of the Seas report that the ship is routinely full and that it's not like she was sailing half empty.  All of these concerns have left many with a combination of anger, disgust and frustration.

Royal Caribbean clarified its position on the move in a blog post by Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein when he acknowledged that while Mariner of the Seas was meeting its capacity while in Los Angeles, it was still being moved to Europe because "we are unable to generate acceptable levels of performance for Mariner of the Seas. We are obligated to our shareholders to deploy her where she can earn superior returns".  

For most in the United States, European cruises are interesting options, but ultimately too expensive for most given the high cost of airfare just to get onboard the ship as well as the time off needed for such vacations.  The problem of Mariner of the Seas leaving is compounded by the fact that there is no ship scheduled to replace her yet, and if you do live in a western state, it means you must travel east for warm water cruises, which adds extra cost for travel.  On the one hand, it's hard to blame Royal Caribbean for doing what they're doing.  After all, they are a corporation and their first goal is produce profit for their shareholders (as any publicly traded company does).  On the other hand, the cruise industry is built upon the notion of building customer loyalty and Royal Caribbean has demonstrated a strong will to retain its customers for future cruises.

So what do you think about the decision to move Mariner of the Seas to Europe?  Is Royal Caribbean justified in moving it, and many other ships to Europe to make larger profits?  Or should Royal Caribbean stem the flow of ships east and maintain the fleet it has serving the western hemisphere?

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