Mariner of the Seas getting massive makeover

Mariner of the Seas

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.

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Carnival devotes more resources to travel agents

Carnival Paradise

Carnival Cruise Line will carve out four new sales territories in fast-growing areas of the country, each to be headed by a business development manager.

At the same time, Carnival made other changes to its sales structure, including the formation of a program to focus management attention on independent agents.

The four new territories are Boston and Rhode Island; Jacksonville, Fla.; western Texas; and the four corners region that includes parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

Carnival also highlighted the formation of a new groups desk that was inaugurated earlier in October. The desk is designed to provide additional technical support for travel agent questions related to group bookings, Carnival said. It can be reached at (800) 327-5782.

“We created these new sales regions and the independent agent program to provide added business development support for travel partners,” said Carnival vice president of sales and trade marketing Adolfo Perez. “The growth in these geographies and the independent agent channel, combined with our recent preferred supplier agreements with Travelsavers/Nest, Signature, and Ensemble, make this the right time for us to expand our field team resources.”

Costa Serena to Sail Two Cruises from South Korea

Costa Serena
Costa Serena

The Costa Serena will deploy to South Korea for a pair of week-long sailings next May as the ship has been chartered by Lotte Tour.

The first voyage sails for seven days and six nights, from Incheon to Busan, according to a spokesperson. Calls include Ishigaki, Taipei, and Keelung.

Second cruise sails eight days and seven nights, round-trip from Busan, with calls in Sokcho, Vladivostok, Tomakomai, and Hakodate.