With long waits for new builds, current ships get new cabins

Image result for cruise ship renovations

MS Enchantment of the Seas refurbishment/lengthening in 2005

By Tom Stieghorst |Jul 30, 2018.

Ship renovations are big business and getting bigger as cruise lines face long waits at shipyards to build new vessels.

Celebrity Cruises recently announced it will spend $500 million, up from an original target of $400 million, to modernize its fleet and harmonize it with the new class of ships coming, beginning with the Celebrity Edge.

The Edge is coming in November. There are three more copies coming in 2020, 2021 and 2022. So there’s no lack of new capacity for Celebrity. But if it is interested in adding more, getting space at a shipyard is increasingly competitive: major slots already being booked into 2027.

Likewise, at sister-brand Royal Caribbean International, there are newbuilds lined up, starting with the Spectrum of the Seas in 2019. But like Celebrity, Royal is also on a renovation tear. It has budgeted $900 million to upgrade 10 ships over the next four years, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the end amount of its Royal Amplified program is closer to $1 billion.

The first of those ships, the Independence of the Seas, received a total of 107 new cabins in the process of its renovation, which ended up costing Royal $110 million. In addition to a big block of cabins added above the gym, Royal squeezed a few more cabins here and thereby converting areas from other users.

For example, Royal got rid of a cigar smoking venue, moved the library into the former cigar lounge and then carved four cabins from the old library space.

The Mariner of the Seas, the next ship to get amped up, got a $120 million makeover for the short cruise market out of Florida, raising its capacity from 3,114 to 3,344 at a drydock in The Bahamas.

By adding cabins during drydock, Royal Caribbean is swelling its overall fleet capacity in an under the radar way. It is also taking advantage of the availability of renovation shipyards around the world, which although busy, are not as busy as the European yards where ships get built from scratch.

Some of the new entrants that are clogging the shipyard order books, such as Viking Ocean Cruises and Virgin Voyages, are not much competition for drydock space because their ships are all either under construction or are too new to need much work.

So look for the established cruise lines to do more quiet capacity expansion as they upgrade their ships along the way.

Royal Caribbean and Ctrip to Kill SkySea Brand

SkySea Golden Era

Royal Caribbean Cruises and Ctrip announced that they are ending the SkySea Cruise Line joint venture, which has carried well over 200,000 Chinese passengers since launching service in 2015.

The two companies had formed the joint venture in 2014 and installed a new management team early last year, led by Ken Muskat, CEO.

Despite a number of positive major changes for the brand, including an early deployment announcement last August, the joint venture will come to an end later this year.

The news comes on the heels of a number of changes in the Chinese cruise market that has capacity moving downward in 2018 and 2019, according to the 2018-2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report. It’s also in stark contrast to once bullish growth plans for SkySea.

TUI AG’s Marella Cruises has agreed to purchase Golden Era, with delivery expected in December 2018, according to Royal Caribbean.

After the sale of Golden Era, it is expected that SkySea will wind down its business operations before the end of 2018. The companies expect that favourable business conditions in China and elsewhere will allow them to absorb most SkySea employees into available positions at Royal Caribbean and China.

Through its Royal Caribbean International brand, Royal Caribbean will continue to serve the Chinese market, with the largest fleet deployment in the region and a strong collaborative relationship with Ctrip, the company said.

6 Reasons to Consider a Clothing Optional Cruise

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They’ve got special cruises for singles, Weight Watchers members, and foodies. So, why not nudies?

Yes, clothing optional cruises are a thing, and for good reason. With enough people interested in nude cruises, it was inevitable that cruise lines would jump at the chance to get on board.

Bliss Away couple’s cruises offer the world’s only 5.5-star clothing optional cruises for couples “looking for fun, freedom, and exciting vacations.” Of course, other cruise operators have gotten on board, and some travel companies even host nude cruises on Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America ships.

The main thing you should know about these is that you don’t have to go nude, but you should expect plenty of other people to be. If you’re okay with that, then it should be fine.

Meet like-minded people:

The best part about clothing optional cruises is that they attract people who love being naked. If you fall into that category, you should plan on meeting others who feel just like you.

With so much in common already, you’re bound to make friends on a nude cruise. Plus, nude people tend to be carefree, easy-going, and laid-back.

Get comfortable in your own skin:

A lot of people say going nude helps them feel free. With no clothes weighing them down, they’re light as a feather and completely uninhibited.

If you’re someone who has had trouble feeling comfortable in your own skin, being around others who feel so free just being themselves might provide you with comfort. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to experiment with a clothing-optional setting, what better way to get acquainted with one than to dive right in?

You can get away with packing light:

If you hate lugging around a heavy suitcase or planning your apparel for a long trip, you’re going to love a clothing-optional cruising. Pack about half what you normally would and skip checking a bag. Really, you just need lounge wear and clothes to wear on land and in the airport. As a bonus, you won’t return home to a huge pile of laundry, either.

You got a good shot at some action:

While some nude cruisers may just want to mingle with other naked folks, it’s inevitable that a certain percentage of the crowd is there for more than handshakes and hugs. In other words, you may have a better shot at hooking up than you would on, say, a Carnival cruise mostly packed with families.

There’s no guarantee of this type of thing, but it’s safe to say your chances for intimacy will improve in a crowd of people who aren’t interested in wearing clothing.

You’ll get a great, even tan:

Hate tan lines? Boy, have we got a treat for you. You’ll never worry about the placement of your straps or swim trunks on a clothing optional cruise.

If you’re wanting a clear, even tan that lasts, sunbathing nude is your best bet.

No kids:

If you want to have fun in an adults-only atmosphere, you can’t do much better than a clothing-optional cruise. Kids aren’t allowed for obvious reasons, so you’ll never have to endure a crying toddler or kids splashing in the pool.

The Bottom Line:

Clothing optional cruises may not be for everyone, but it’s easy to see why this option exists. Even if they never flaunt their love of nudism, plenty of eager travellers want nothing more than to enjoy a vacation without worrying over what to wear.

Should you join? The naked truth is, only you can decide.