Royal Caribbean and Azamara to operate Cuba cruises

Image result for empress of the seas

Newly refitted Empress of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said that two of its cruise brands, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Crises, have been approved by the Cuban government to bring passengers to the island.

The company said it plans to announce its first Florida-Cuba itineraries in the near future.

“Our guests have expressed real interest in having the opportunity to experience Cuba, and we look forward to bringing them there,” said RCCL chairman Richard Fain.

Like other cruise companies, RCCL has been waiting for most of the year to begin service to Cuba. Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas went through a $50 million drydock earlier this year and inventories were offered on a rolling basis only several months ahead of time in hopes of quick approval.

RCCL’s brief statement mentioned that it will comply with Treasury Department rules regarding people-to-people excursions on all of its cruises.


Royal confirms plans for fifth Oasis-class ship

Royal Caribbean Cruises has confirmed plans to build a fifth Oasis-class ship and two more ships for Celebrity Cruises.

The parent company of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises has signed a memorandum of understanding with French shipyard STX France for a fifth Oasis ship, to be delivered in Spring 2021. It comes just days following the launch of the third Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas (pictured). The fourth in class will launch in 2018.

An order has also been placed for two additional Edge-class ships for sister brand Celebrity Cruises, being delivered in autumn 2021 and 2022.

The line already has two Edge vessels on order, the first coming in 2018 and the second in 2020. Each will carry 2,900 passengers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and chief executive, Richard Fain, said: “The response to the arrival of Harmony of the Seas is staggering, eliciting excitement from eager cruisers from markets on both sides of the Atlantic.

“And Edge-class is one of the most highly anticipated new projects, following the high bar of Modern Luxury design set by its predecessors.”

Royal Caribbean International boss, Michael Bayley, added that the positive response to Harmony was proof that “this class of ship will continue to drive exceptional performance for the brand”.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and chief executive of Celebrity, said: “Although our first Edge-class vessel is still over two years away from delivery, there has been a tremendous amount of interest around the new standard of style Edge-class will introduce.”

Final contracts for the ships are set to be complete this financial quarter.

Royal Caribbean’s Suite Class product includes butler service

Royal Caribbean International said that for the first time in its history it will offer butler service in some of its top-end suites.

The cruise line made the disclosure in announcing the details of its Royal Suite Class product in 2016.

Suite Class debuted earlier this year on Celebrity Cruises, and Royal executives have said it was coming to Royal Caribbean, as well.

In the top level of Royal Suite Class, called Star Class, guests will receive the services of a butler whose training will be certified by the British Butler Institute. Rather than calling them butlers, however, Royal Caribbean refers to them as Royal Genies.

The Star Class encompasses the high-end two-story Royal Loft Suite, the Owner’s Loft Suite, the four bedroom Family Suite, Grand Loft Suite, Sky Loft Suite and two bedroom Aqua Theater Suite. Other suites will be included in the Sky Class and Sea Class levels.

Royal Suite Class will use the existing suites on Royal’s Oasis- and Quantum-class ships, but package or add amenities and privileges into the fare for those suites.

In addition to the butlers, the amenities at various levels could include free Internet service; special linens and mattresses; bath and beauty products; access to the Coastal Kitchen restaurant; priority reservations for private cabanas at Royal’s private resort in Labadee, Haiti; a separate sun deck; and reserved VIP seating for entertainment productions.  Also included will be complimentary specialty dining; an ultimate beverage package; and inclusive gratuities, Royal said.

Reservations for Suite Class can be booked on cruises beginning in May 2016.