Royal Caribbean working on mobile app

Harmony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said it has a new mobile app under development that should be ready to debut this summer.

On a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter and year-end earnings, RCCL chairman Richard Fain said the project, dubbed Excalibur internally, is expected to debut on six to 11 ships over the next year, followed by a rollout on one to two ships a month after that. RCCL’s major brands are Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

Fain didn’t say much about what the new app will do, but said it will “reflect all of the technologies available today.” He said the Wow bands, a wearable RFID device that assumes many functions of the key card, have been “extremely effective in simplifying the process for our guests. But it’s also obvious that the technology has improved a lot in the last two years.”

Wow bands are available to guests on Quantum-class ships (including Anthem of the Seas) and the Harmony of the Seas.

He called Carnival Corp’s recent unveiling of its Ocean Medallion and Ocean Compass personal technology “a very positive thing for our industry. It was a terrific roll out and got a lot of positive publicity which in the end inures to the benefit of all of us.”

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In other topics discussed on the call, CFO Jason Liberty said that the company’s Wave period “is off to a strong start,” and that it is “trending nicely higher” from last year. He said officials are particularly encouraged by strength in North America.

“Over the past three months, bookings have been well above last year’s levels,” Liberty said. “We turn the year in a record booked position. We have fewer staterooms to sell for the year.”

In the fourth quarter, RCCL had net income of $261 million up from $206 million a year earlier. Revenue was flat.

For all of 2016, net income was $1.2 billion, up from $665.8 million. In 2015, RCCL was impacted by a write-down for the Pullmantur brand. Revenue in 2016 grew 2.4%, to $8.49 billion.

RCCL forecasted 2017 earnings in the range of $1.48 billion to $1.53 billion.


Carnival Ecstasy returns to service following refurbishment

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The Carnival Ecstasy received new restaurants, bars and shops during a two-week dry dock in the Bahamas.

They include installation of a Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina poolside, the Alchemy Bar and a Cherry On Top candy store.

The upgrades took place from Jan. 10 to 24.

The Ecstasy is now back in Charleston, S.C., where it sails year-round on four- to 10-day departures.

Norwegian Cruise Line upgrades loyalty program

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Norwegian Cruise Line has enhanced Latitudes Rewards, its loyalty program. It said there are improved benefits across all tiers.

Two new tiers have been added at the top end for the most frequent cruisers. Platinum Plus applies to guests who have earned 175 points and above, while Ambassador is an elite level for guests earning a minimum of 700 points.

They will get new benefits, including dinner with the ship’s officers for Platinum Plus and Ambassador, and a complimentary seven-day cruise for Ambassador.

New complimentary benefits include a bottle of sparkling wine for all Latitudes Rewards guests, shore excursion discounts for Silver members and above, and bottled water for Gold members and above.

The program awards one point for every cruise night, one additional point for each night spent in a suite or The Haven, and one additional point per night when booking Latitudes Rewards Insider Offer.

Lower tiers are Bronze (1-29 points), Silver (30-54 points), Gold (55-79 points) and Platinum (80-174 points).

The changes are effective Feb. 3.