Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Focused on Target Markets

Oasis of the Seas

Working for both the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises brands, Chris Allen, vice president of deployment and itinerary planning, said that itineraries are designed to fit the target audience and guest demographics of each brand, supporting their (brand) pillars.

“We work very closely with the leadership groups of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity to ensure that the itineraries fit with their brand. It is a very collaborative approach,” he added.

“We also look at the revenue potential – tickets, onboard and shore excursions – and balance that against key costs. Fuel continues to be the largest expense. Ultimately we look at what the guest experience will be.

“If guests have a great time if they want to come back, and if they tell their friends, then we have been successful.”

“We are looking as far as 10 years out,” he continued. “Before we even order a ship, we have an idea where that ship will be deployed.”

The planning function ranges from minute details to the big picture. “Our team can go from the granular level, like should we depart St. Thomas at 5:00 or 5:30 pm and should we go to St. Maarten or St. Kitts. We go from that level of details, making $10,000 adjustments, to a billion dollar chessboard where we move Oasis-class ships around, and where we are going to place our future new buildings,” he explained. “We are looking at the broad, strategic decisions as well as the micro decisions.”

Among new developments, this spring, Royal Caribbean will be launching Alaska service with the Ovation of the Seas, which will be dividing her time seasonally between Alaska and Australia.

Later this spring, Royal Caribbean will be introducing the Perfect Day at Cococay, after a $200 million transformation of its private island destination in the Bahamas.

“We expect to have 14 ships calling and 2 million guests at CoCoCay for the 2020-2021 season,” Allen said. “We are leveraging Perfect Day throughout the Caribbean for our entire portfolio of itineraries, whether ships are sailing from Southeast Florida, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Galveston, Baltimore or Cape Liberty. All those ships will have the opportunity to call at Cococay.”

Perfect Day at CoCoCay

Royal Caribbean is also upping its game in the short cruise market, with the Mariner from Port Canaveral and the Navigator from Miami, as well as the Independence seasonally from Port Everglades.

For Celebrity in 2020, the new Apex will first sail a brief season out of Southampton before spending the summer in the Mediterranean on mostly seven-night cruises, alongside the Edge, which will have a core program of 10- and 11-night sailings.

“We are expanding the choices and variety of cruises for Celebrity,” Allen said. “Also in the Mediterranean will be the Infinity and the Constellation, and this means one more incremental ship for Celebrity in Europe in 2020.

“Because the Constellation and Infinity are smaller, a lot of their itineraries are concentrated around Venice given the capacity limits there preventing larger ships from calling.”

In Northern Europe, Celebrity will sail the Reflection and Silhouette for the summer.

This fall will see Royal Caribbean returning to the Eastern Mediterranean, calling in Kusadasi, Haifa and Ashdod, and both brands are slated to be back with more calls in 2020.

On the other side of the globe, the new Spectrum of the Seas is being based year-round in Shanghai, while the Quantum moves to Tianjin for the summer season and to Singapore for the winter. “Having these ships in China reinforces our position in the market and region as other brands have vacillated on their position,” Allen said.

“We have also experimented with expanding our itineraries out of China. When we first started up the average cruise length was a little more than four nights. Over time we have added seven- and eight-night cruises, reaching the east coast of Japan and also Vladivostok. By opening up more ports, we are broadening the appeal of our itineraries in the region both for first-timers and repeat cruisers.”

Celebrity is also building up its capacity in Australia for 2020-2021 with the Eclipse to be based out of Melbourne and the Solstice from Sydney.

“The itineraries speak to the different target markets for each brand,” Allen noted.

Kung Fu Panda restaurant opens on Quantum of the Seas

Kung Fu Panda Restaurant.

Royal Caribbean International said its first Kung Fu Panda Noodle Shop has opened on Quantum of the Seas.

It is the first restaurant on land or sea to feature characters from the Dreamworks Animation film “Kung Fu Panda,” which is popular in China where Quantum is now deployed.

Menu items, priced from $2 to $5, include four-piece dim sum and noodle bowls such as Taiwanese spicy beef noodles. Desserts include sesame balls and custard tart.

There is also an opportunity for keepsake pictures with Po and other characters from the movie.

Quantum Technology Delivers Ease

Royal Caribbean International’s new smartship creates a better cruise

By: Marilyn Green

<p>In addition to a skydiving simulator, Quantum of the Seas offers keyless entry to staterooms and robotic bartenders. // © 2014 Royal Caribbean...

The technology on Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) new Quantum of the Seas is so smoothly, logically blended into life onboard that it makes returning home a bit of a shocker — you actually have to take a key and open your door. Guests on the November inaugural cruise were confronted by technological miracles; the designers of Quantum have been able to create a space where spectacular technical strides create a smooth cruise, rather than demand the focus of attention.

Take the online digital check-in. It needs a bit of time (you must create your own photo ID), but if you complete it, there is virtually nothing to do at embarkation — just collect a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) wristband that functions as your ID/room key. You can also track your own bag to your stateroom via RIFD tags, and new guests of all ages quickly mastered the Royal IQ app, clustering around the kiosks or downloading it to set up their appointments, reservations and plans.

New onboard experiences are, of course, technology-driven and incredible feats, but they seem perfectly normal within the world that is Quantum. People simply accepted technological magic and got on with enjoying features such as the North Star gondola that looks enough like the London Eye to seem familiar. And the guests trying out the skydiving simulator merely remarked that it took a lot more effort than it appeared, instead of marveling at the technology that produced the experience.

One of the life-changing features is RCI’s new onboard Wi-Fi access, satisfyingly fast and priced at moderate rates, which is expected to attract many who would otherwise not cruise, such as the huge millennial market.

“For millennials, it’s not a real vacation experience unless they can share it,” said Bill Martin, chief information officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Another popular smartship feature is the Robotic Bartenders at the Bionic Bar, but even those seemed eerily familiar (I couldn’t watch them without looking around to see the alien patrons from Star Wars’ famous cantina scene). The Robotic Bartenders B1-0 and N1-C are programmed to the movements of American Ballet Theater’s principal dancer, but their shapes somewhat resemble aquatic creatures. Drinks are ordered tableside with a tablet, mixed briskly by the robots and brought to the customers by a live waiter.

Two70, the performance space, is backed by six RoboScreens that add an extra troupe of performers or coalesce into one impressive image. The room’s Vistarama transforms floor-to-ceiling glass walls into very real backdrops, shown off in the performance of the Cirque-like spectacle “StarWater.” Although the effects are dramatic, the space somehow is very friendly, and several groups remained chatting and sipping drinks for an hour afterward the show.

When you hear about the 80-inch “virtual balcony” LED screens in the inside cabins, it sounds like a gimmick. But in fact, it opens up the whole space and gives occupants a true vision of the weather and surroundings. The smartship elements also have increased efficiency and environmental responsibility; computer modeling is used to reduce Quantum’s energy consumption, including efficient hull configuration, engine design and energy saving devices.

Even the crew’s superb service has been given a boost with tablets carrying custom apps that help them track guest preferences. And those same personal tablets enable the crew to Skype their families. They can now be a part of key occasions and see for themselves how their relatives are doing. The rest of the RCI crews will also be given these tablets without charge as the technology is installed across the fleet — 40,000 personal tablets in total.

“This isn’t about technology for its own sake,” one guest said, mirroring my own thoughts. “This is technology for making things better.”