“We are going to keep pushing the envelope. At Royal Caribbean we are never satisfied with the status quo,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and trade support and service.
“That is why, as we Royal Amplify an Oasis-class ship, people might say ‘Vicki, there was nothing wrong with it, why do you need more bells and whistles?’ But we do not build ships like cookie cutters. With the Oasis, Allure, Harmony and Symphony, we continued to innovate aboard each new ship in the class, while most cruise lines build identical ships after the first one in a class, just changing the decor,” she continued.
“Our chairman has always said ‘Do not think about cost, (instead) think about how we can make our product better and better.’ And if you push the cost aspect aside and are driven by what is going to be the best experience for the consumer, that does change how you think about your product.
“So we will keep pushing the envelope, with new features aboard our ships, a new class of ships, the Icon class, and enhancing Perfect Day at CocoCay and other islands in the Perfect Day Collection.
“Perfect Day at CocoCay is probably the most talked about destination today,” Freed continued. “Of all the places we call at around the world, this is our number one rated port of call, so it is definitely resonating with our guests.”
The island has turned out to be so popular, in fact, that on some itineraries ships call twice during the same cruise.
Royal Caribbean is also driving innovation elsewhere, its latest newbuilding, the Quantum Ultra-class, 158,000-ton, 4,100-passenger Spectrum of the Seas, introduced in 2019, is deployed in the Chinese market.
Also going to China in 2021 will be the next Oasis-class ship, the 227,626-ton, 5,448-passenger Wonder of the Seas.
Meanwhile, the Quantum-ultra class Odyssey of the Seas will be deployed in the North American market, launching service from Port Everglades in November, moving to the Mediterranean for the 2021 summer season.
In addition, the 2009-built Oasis of the Seas just underwent a $165 million renovation last fall.
“Even though the ship is only 10 years young,” Freed said, “we are adding some new features. We always want to out-wow ourselves.”
The Oasis is sailing seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami this winter before moving to Cape Liberty for the summer season.
Added Freed: “She will be very popular in the Northeast market. Our guests will be able to get on an Oasis-class ship in their own backyard. They will also call at Perfect Day at CocoCay.”
Building a new port facility in Galveston, the port said it will be able to accommodate Oasis-class ships.
“Anytime we build brand-new facilities, we want to make sure that all our ships will fit into that facility,” Freed commented.
Freed continues to be as committed to travel agents as ever. And despite the changing industry, fewer retail store fronts, and the internet, she said that travel advisors are very important to cruise sales.
“Cruising is a complex product. You are talking about somebody’s vacation that they have worked hard for all year long, and we see the need for travel advisors becoming even more important, because people want to make sure they get it right.
“It is true they can go to the internet and find a lot of information, but at the end of the day, there can be too much information, and you get consumer confusion. That is when you need a professional who can guide you to make the right buying decision. You need someone who can be a value interpreter.”
The new-to-cruise are asking for a shorter cruise experience, according to Freed. They are looking for a three-, four- or five-day getaway, which is a good way for them to test the waters and find out if cruising is right for them.
“This was one of the motivators that led us to flip the short-cruise market upside down. Instead of putting older hardware in the market, we put in the Royal Amplified (modernized) Navigator and Mariner of the Seas, ships that typically in the past would not have been in the short-cruise market.
“Their next step may be a seven-day cruise on an Oasis-class ship. Or they can be millennials who prefer shorter vacations, but may repeat their short cruise three to four times a year.”
What are the basic selling points for Royal Caribbean? “There is so much I can say,” Freed answered, “but I like to sum it up in a few words: we are a combination of quality and energy.
“There are some beautiful quality brands out there – Celebrity is a quality brand, and then there are some lines that have energy, but nobody has the unique combination of Royal Caribbean.”