Royal Caribbean boss moves to dispel UK cruise concerns

Independence of the Seas in Southampton photo by Dave Jones.

Royal Caribbean Cruises’ boss has moved to dispel concerns that the UK cruise industry faces a bleak future amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty.

Royal Caribbean International last week cancelled Independence of the Seas’ 2020 UK season and announced the ship would operate out of Florida instead to meet the demand for Perfect Day in CocoCay, the line’s new private island in the Bahamas.

The decision left some agents to question whether a soft UK market due to Brexit had prompted the decision – rather than a soaring interest in the $250 million private island which will be served by 11 Royal ships this year.

Speaking on Celebrity Edge’s maiden ex-UK sailing from Southampton on Monday, Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ chairman and chief executive, said: “We are here for the long term, we are not here for the current climate.

“There is no doubt that the UK market will do very well in the long-term and it continues to be our second largest market. We have been here when it has gone through cycles. The cruise industry is not fickle – it is solid and consistent.”

Fain admitted there was “a modicum of uncertainty” in the UK market as confusion continued over when Britain would leave the EU.

But he added that Royal Caribbean International had to move more capacity to North America due to “an extraordinary surge in interest” in Perfect Day, which launched just over a week ago.

“This is a wonderful problem to have,” he said, adding: “That we don’t have enough ships to satisfy the [customer] demand.”

Plans to expand the existing Perfect Day site were being looked at, said Fain. Only a third of the island is currently being used by Royal Caribbean to accommodate passengers.

Fain also added: “We look at the UK market as more than just ships sailing out of the UK. One of the reasons why the UK market has been so attractive to us is Brits are amazing travellers.”

Sailings in the eastern Mediterranean represented “a great opportunity” for Britons looking for fly-cruise options away from the UK, Fain said.

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P&O Cruises issues Brexit reassurance

Image result for p&o britannia

P&O Cruises has issued a series of promises to its passengers in a bid to ease any fears over Brexit.

As uncertainty mounts over the UK leaving the EU, the line reminded passengers they will avoid foreign currency fluctuations due to onboard spending being in pound sterling.

P&O Cruises also reminded passengers that all cruises with the line will be protected by Atol and Abta.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We want to reassure our guests that whatever is happening in the world of politics, their holiday and peace of mind is of the utmost important to us.

“Our Brexit promise is that no matter what the future brings, our guests can rest assured when booking a P&O Cruises holiday as they will always pay in pounds sterling in advance and can take advantage of a low deposit to secure their holiday.

He added: “Also, a P&O Cruises holiday offers unbeatable value as so much is included as standard including meals, entertainment, children’s clubs, flights and taxes.

“With sailings directly from Southampton and by choosing shore excursions in advance, our guests can explore Europe without the need for euros.

“In addition, the currency on the ships is pounds which covers all shopping, dining, drinks, indulgent treatments in the spa and a range of shops with favourite British jewellery, clothing and cosmetic brands. We also have the protection of both Atol and Abta.

“With over 180 years of P&O history and expertise, we guarantee to manage any potential impact on holiday plans and help our customers sail through Brexit and onto their next cruise.”

ITT 2017: MSC Cruises chief raises fears over Brexit and shipping regulation

ITT 2017: MSC Cruises chief raises fears over Brexit and shipping regulation

MSC Cruises boss Pierfrancesco Vago says the operator is working closely with the UK government on Brexit amid fears over implications for global maritime regulation.

Speaking in the line’s spiritual home of Sorrento in Italy at this week’s annual ITT conference, the operator’s executive chairman said the entire sector is regulated according to British maritime law.

Vago questioned whether there would be time for bilateral deals to be done with every other country in the world and said Brexit could make the current British-based regulatory system invalid.

MSC and other cruise lines are working through the UK Chamber of Shipping with the UK government on what Brexit means for shipping.

“We are all very much engaged, we are very much part of the process,” he said.

“It’s very complex. Sometimes there are questions that can’t be answered so it’s very important we are part of the process.

“The common denominator for shipping in general is the British law, that’s what regulates shipping. Britain from the legal side may have to enter bilateral agreements with everyone else, that makes the shipping law system invalid.

“If we have all the lawyers in the world working to make bilateral agreements to make British law available to the world, two years will not be enough.”

Vago said Brexit could also be a challenge to travel in general due to visa restrictions and border control. “The freedom of movement is everything,” he said. “It’s how everything should work.”

Vago said he was very proud that the growth seen in the cruise sector in recent years has created so many jobs for people from around the world. Globally the sectors sustains nearly one million employees including 360,000 in Europe and 73,000 in the UK. MSC has switched its technical base to the UK to take advantage of British expertise where today it directly employs 250 people.

“This is an industry that creates jobs. That makes me very proud. That’s what Europe needs, that’s what the world needs,” Vago said.

He added the ultimate aim for the next generation of cruise ships was to for them to have zero impact on the environment. The lines recently announced next class of ship, which will be the world’s largest, will be powered by LNG.