Royal Caribbean International plans a major improvement in its short-cruise product, starting with a massive makeover of the 14-year-old Mariner of the Seas.
Speaking to a conference of Cruise One/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. agents aboard the Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean president Michael Bayley said the line will spend over $100 million on the ship.
Plans call for a six-week drydock in Cadiz, Spain, in March and April. Bayley said it is the most money Royal Caribbean has ever spent renovating a ship.
“I’m calling it a modernization, not a refurbishment,” Bayley said. “We’re going to be adding concepts and redoing concepts,” he said.
When the work is finished, the 3,114-passenger Mariner will sail three- and four-day cruises from Miami. The ship is currently sailing in Asia.
The move will coincide with the June 2018 opening of the newly constructed dock at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, which will play a major role in the Mariner’s itineraries.
Bayley hinted there is more reinvestment yet to be disclosed. “It is attached to the Mariner and it is attached to the idea of boosting up the shore experience,” he said.
He said that the combined ship-shore package will be a “game changer” in the short-cruise market.
In May 2016, the Empress of the Seas started sailing short cruises after a $50 million renovation. That ship is now doing four-, five- and six-day cruises from Tampa on Caribbean itineraries that include Cuba.
The only other cruise line to spend more than $100 million in a single refurbishment was Carnival, which refitted the Carnival Destiny and renamed it the Carnival Sunshine in 2013 at a cost of $155 million.