Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay Drives Rate and Short Market

CocoCay

“To describe Perfect Day as a home run wouldn’t do it justice. It really resets the bar in the short cruise market,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, on the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

Fain highlighted Perfect Day CocoCay as part of Royal Caribbean’s strength to adapt to an ever-changing business environment.

“We continue to do well because we continue to adapt our product to the changing desires of our current and future guests and the changing environment which we operate,” Fain added.

Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said that through 2020, 11 Royal Caribbean ships will call at the private island that now features an expansive water park.

“If you may recall, we put Mariner, Navigator and Independence through Royal Amplified and we completely changed the product offering in the short cruise market and literally put the biggest best ships in that short market, which is about 20-something per cent of the entire American cruise market,” Bayley said. “So we already started to see demand increasing for those products because they are truly great products.”

Bayley said that since May when the new experience opened, the company has taken around 350,000 guests to CocoCay.

Top Two Reasons to Visit Universal Orlando

Top Two Reasons to Visit Universal Orlando

Banking on the popularity of a pair of global franchises, Universal Orlando is bookending the summer of 2013 with two major attractions, Transformers: The Ride-3D and The Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield.

Transformers: The Ride-3D

At the grand opening of Orlando’s Transformers: The Ride-3D on June 20th, Bill Davis, president & COO of Universal Orlando said, “We think [Transformers] is going to kick start the summer for us.” The park hopes that momentum will carry right through to the end of the summer with the unveiling of the completed Springfield.

Recognizing that Transformers is an important franchise worldwide, Universal wanted to create a ride to bring guests right into the action. The Transformers: The Ride-3D attraction debuted in 2011 at Universal Studios Singapore and was followed by a second installment in 2012 at Universal Studios Hollywood.  As a result of the huge success in those two parks, Transformers was fast-tracked to Orlando, taking only one year to complete construction.  While the Transformers ride is the same as it is in Singapore and Hollywood in terms of the experience, the architecture is different and there are technological nuances that are unique to the Orlando attraction, including projection and animation advances that have been implemented in the newest version of the ride.

“This attraction is ground-breaking in the level of immersion [and] it is ground-breaking technologically and visually,” said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative. “It is at the top tier of attractions in the world.”

As a result, the scale and level of execution of the Orlando version of the Transformers attraction is unparalleled. Because the characters of Megatron and Optimus Prime are both about 30 feet tall, the ride’s creators wanted to ensure that guests fully appreciate their massive scale. To accomplish this, they created a “media silo” in which riders travel vertically through a 60-foot high screen. In addition, the attraction incorporates sequences with director Michael Bay’s signature “slow-motion” style, the first attraction of its kind to feature this cinematic device. Another Transformers exclusive is the character of Evac, who was created especially for the ride. In fact, Evac merchandise is not available anywhere except inside Universal’s parks, which makes Evac toys and gifts very popular souvenirs for park visitors.

Springfield Comes to Universal Orlando

Capitalizing on the massive appeal of yet another well-known franchise, Universal created the award-winning The Simpsons Ride in 2008 to take riders into the animation of television’s “The Simpsons,” but now park guests can actually walk into Springfield and immerse themselves completely in the Simpsons’ hometown. Bringing Springfield to life was a group effort by Universal Orlando, Fox Studios and Gracie Films. The result is not only true to the vision of the show but every detail is completely accurate, down to the pickle on the top of every Krusty burger. Currently, about half of Springfield is open to the public including Moe’s Tavern, the Quik-E-Mart and a Simpsons-themed food court offering menu items that are not available in any other area of the park. The remaining construction is expected to be completed by the end of the summer, featuring an entirely new interactive ride called Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, which will make its debut at Universal Orlando.

“People from around the world should definitely put at the top of their [summer] itinerary a visit to Universal Orlando Resort to see the terrific brand new Transformers attraction,” said Tom Williams, chairman and CEO, Universal Parks & Resorts.

Thomson launches flights with ‘world’s most-modern’ aircraft

Thomson launches flights with ‘world’s most-modern’ aircraft

By Ian Taylor

Thomson launches flights with 'world's most-modern' aircraftThomson Airways launched commercial services with the Boeing 787 on Friday, taking 290 passengers from Gatwick to Mahon, Menorca, on the Dreamliner’s maiden UK-operated flight.

Dave Burling, UK managing director of Thomson parent Tui Travel, said the 787 added a key piece to the company strategy of offering upmarket ‘differentiated’ holidays.

The aircraft will be deployed from next month on services to Cancun and Orlando and later to Thailand, Mauritius and the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Burling said: “The Dreamliner is important in differentiating our long-haul holidays. The flight is a bigger part of a long-haul holiday.”

He added: “We are very confident with the product at the other end.” Burling revealed Thomson opened 35 exclusive or differentiated properties in May.

The company describes two-thirds of its mainstream hotel product as ‘differentiated’, a proportion Burling said would increase. More than 90% of hotels in the programme are exclusive to Thomson.

The state-of-the-art Dreamliner is touted to transform long-haul flying because of its fuel efficiency and range, and the comfort it offers passengers.

Thomson Airways had planned to launch its summer 2013 long-haul programme with the 787 on May 1, but only took delivery of the first of its eight Dreamliners at the end of May.

The aircraft was grounded worldwide in January following a battery fire and only resumed flying last month.

Thomson will launch its long-haul 787 programme on July 8 with flights from Glasgow to Cancun and Manchester to Orlando. Gatwick flights will start the following day and services from East Midlands at the end of July.

The airline will add flights to Phuket in Thailand this winter – the first direct flights to the island from the UK – and to Mauritius and Puerta Vallerta in Mexico next summer.

The company has yet to announce plans for other destinations, but the 787 is capable of flying non-stop from the UK as far as Hawaii.

In the meantime, many passengers on Thomson Airways flights around the Mediterranean will get to experience the aircraft as the airline uses short-haul flights to familiarise its crew.

Those aboard on Friday and Saturday had been told in advance they would fly on the 787, but passengers on future short-haul flights will only find out at the airport.

The pilot, Captain John Murphy, told passengers: “This is a historic day for Thomson Airways. You are the first to fly on the 787 in the UK.

“We’ve been modernising our holidays and flights, and the 787 is the most modern aircraft in the world.”