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.

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Royal Caribbean Cuts Steel on Fifth Oasis Class Ship

Royal, Caribbean, ship
PHOTO: Royal Caribbean steel cutting of a fifth Oasis Class ship. (photo via Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean: New Experiences at Sea and on Land

The Symphony of the Seas

Introducing the Symphony of the Seas in the North American market in November, Royal Caribbean International President Michael Bayley said that the features on the new ship will be introduced on the 2009-built Oasis, the first ship in the class, when she goes into a two-month drydock in Europe this year, and then on the sister ship, the 2010-built Allure, next year. “Through our Royal Amplified program the Oasis and the Allure will re-enter service with literally all the services and features we have on the Symphony,” Bayley said in a press conference aboard the Symphony.

With the continued growth of the industry, Bayley said it is important to attract more first-time cruise passengers. However, as they often start by taking a short cruise they are not experiencing the best that the industry has to offer.

“We have been using our old ships to convince people to start cruising,” he explained. “We are now changing that strategy by upgrading our short-cruise ships. As a result, we have seen a strong increase in demand.”

In May, Royal Caribbean expects to introduce its Perfect Day concept on CoCoCay. Redoing its private out-island in the Bahamas, passengers will find a state-of-the-art water park in addition to beaches and a variety of water sports offerings.

“Perfect Day has been designed after feedback from our guests,” Bayley said. “We asked them what would be their perfect day. The sweet spot is multi-generational travel – there will be something to do for all ages, whether they want ‘thrill or chill.’”

The United States generates about 55 per cent of Royal Caribbean’s total business, according to Bayley, who added that Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific are also huge markets for the brand.

As for ship deployment, he said that is based on the business viability of each market.

But despite the Symphony being the world’s largest ship at 228,081 tons and literally a destination by herself, while also receiving a top net promoter score, Bayley said that one of the biggest drivers selling cruises are destinations. “People want to go somewhere and explore,” he added.

“But as we plan our future with bigger ships and new onboard features and services, destinations must also plan their future, and sometimes they can do better. We are open to partnering with destinations to help them in their development. Today, we are looking at some 50 port projects around the world.”

The Symphony’s arrival in the Port of Miami coincided with the introduction of Royal Caribbean’s new Terminal A. Resembling the shape of a ship, the sleek terminal will homeport the Symphony and the Allure.

Up to now, Miami has handled about 750,000 passengers a year for Royal Caribbean. With the new terminal, the cruise line hopes to boost that number to 2 million passengers a year.

This year Royal Caribbean will also be introducing the new Spectrum of the Seas in China, while the Ovation redeploys to Alaska.

At press time, Royal Caribbean had five more ships on order, including the Spectrum of the Seas, slated to enter service this spring; another Quantum-class ship in 2020; another Oasis-class vessel for 2021 delivery; and the first of the new Icon class of LNG-fueled vessels in 2022, with a sister ship following in 2024.