Royal Caribbean announces a brand-wide withdrawal of single-use plastic straws

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Single-use plastic straws are to be withdrawn across all 50 ships across Royal Caribbean Cruises brands by the end of the year.

The move is the first step towards a comprehensive plastics elimination across Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Tui Cruises and Pullmantur.

A “straws upon request” policy running for more than a year will see paper straws replacing plastic versions by early next year.

Passengers will start to see Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks as part of the company’s plastic reduction strategy.

The focus will then switch to other single-use plastics such as condiment packets, cups, and bags.

A full plastics audit is underway, with the overall plan to be completed in phases by 2020.

Chairman and chief executive Richard Fain said: “Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company.

“For over 25 years, our Save the Waves programme has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that programme.”


Royal Caribbean staff to receive ‘thank you bonus’ after profits hit target

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Thousands of workers across Royal Caribbean Cruises brands are to share the equivalent of $80 million after the world’s second-largest cruise group hit long-term profit targets.

Each of the company’s 66,000 employees will receive equity awards equal to 5% of their 2017 salaries following a record year.

The individual salary bonuses in the form of equity grants over three years will go to staff working at sea and on land, full-time and part-time, domestic and overseas – but not corporate officers.

The parent company of Royal Caribbean International Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises also pledged to contribute to a crew welfare fund for upgrades to crew living and recreational areas on board ships.

The windfall for staff came as Royal Caribbean announced that it had achieved a three-year goal of doubling earnings per share and recording a double-digit return on invested capital – a so-called ‘double-double’.

Chairman and chief executive Richard Fain said: “Exceptional results require exceptional effort.

“Reaching the double-double required remarkable focus and discipline from our employees, and they delivered.”

The “thank you bonus” had the added benefit of enabling employees to see the company as shareholders do, he added.

“Ours is a people business. We want to thank every one of our people for the hard work that got us to today’s announcement and give them a stake in our success going forward.

“We wanted to show our appreciation in a tangible way and we wanted it to reach every employee regardless of level in the organisation. It was our way of saying thanks a million; in fact, thanks 80 million.”

The group’s net income for 2017 rose to $1.63 billion from $1.28 billion the previous year.

This result was achieved despite what was described as an “unusually ferocious” hurricane season last September which hurt earnings by approximately $55 million.

Passenger carryings nudged up marginally year-on-year to 5.76 million from 5.74 million. Looking forward, bookings for 2018 is better than last year’s record high and at higher rates.

“North American and European consumers continue to drive strong demand for all of our main products,” the company said. “These trends, coupled with strong onboard spend and a positive outlook for our Asia Pacific products, are positioning the company for a ninth consecutive year of yield growth.”

The forecast came as the group prepares for the launch of Symphony of the Seas in April and Azamara Pursuit in August in Europe and the introduction of Celebrity Edge in Fort Lauderdale in November.

“These new ships will be important contributors to 2018 yield growth,” the company said.

Chief financial officer Jason Liberty said: “Our yields are increasing on top of an exceptional 6.4% net yield growth experienced in 2017.

“This is quite extraordinary and a testament to the strength in the demand for cruising and our brands.”

Reviewing last year’s performance, he said: “We started the year very well positioned to achieve our double-double goals, and 2017 ended up being exceptionally good, resulting in the company exceeding these goals.

“Strong demand trends for cruising coupled with disciplined cost management helped deliver another record year for the company.”

A combination of strong demand for North American and European cruises as well as onboard offerings drove growth.

Fain said: “Each of the brands performed excellently during the past year raising their guest satisfaction and employee engagement scores to new heights.”

NCL moving final-payment deadline to 120 days before departure

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Artists impression of the Norwegian Bliss.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Norwegian Cruise Line will advance the deadline for final payment on its cruises from 90 days to 120 days before departure, said Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Details about which cruises would be subject to the 120-day deadline and when the policy will be implemented are forthcoming.

The move means consumers will have to pay in full faster and is likely a reflection of the strong seller’s market for cruising that developed in 2017. The 120-day deadline already applies to Garden Villa and Haven accommodations.

Del Rio, who revealed the news at Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld on Wednesday, told hundreds of travel agents that they will benefit directly from the decision.

“It’s great for both of us,” Del Rio said. “It locks in the customer early. You get your payment 30 days earlier, and it helps you with your cash flow. We think it’s wonderful for our agent community that you get to collect on your hard work 30 days earlier.”

Norwegian Cruise Line established the 90-day deadline in January 2016.

In a Q&A with Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, Del Rio was asked if he wants to acquire any more of the eight former Renaissance Cruises ships for Oceania Cruises, which already has four (Insignia, Regatta, Nautica and Sirena).

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Azamara Club Cruises, a competitor owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., recently acquired a third former Renaissance ship (P&O Cruises’ Adonia, to be renamed Azamara Pursuit). Del Rio said he hopes Azamara gets the one remaining (currently sailing for Princess Cruises as the Pacific Princess).

“It won’t be us,” he said. “We’re happy with our four and we’re happy with our Riviera and Marina ships. But the next introduction for Oceania will likely be a whole new concept we’re working on.”

Turning to Cuba, Del Rio said there’s no doubt that the market has rewarded Norwegian’s decision to use its four-day cruise from Miami to provide two full days and an overnight in Havana.

“The booking curve for a four-day cruise now looks more like a seven-day cruise to Alaska or to Europe. People are booking it way in advance, and therefore the prices have risen. It is now profitable for you to sell four-day cruises where it wasn’t before,” Del Rio said.

Norwegian next year will devote a second ship, the Norwegian Sun sailing from Port Canaveral, to a Havana itinerary. “That gives you an idea of how important, how profitable, Cuba is to us,” he said.