||Royal Caribbean Is Spending Over $1.1 Billion To Attract First Time Cruisers
One of the main reasons those of you who haven’t taken a cruise haven’t taken a cruise is you don’t want to risk a full week’s vacation in case you don’t like it, so says research from Royal Caribbean International, a unit of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. While three-and-four day cruises are plentiful, they are typically operated by older vessels, often without all the bells and whistles of new ships. However, Royal Caribbean is hoping more than $1.1 billion split across two major initiatives will change that. The goal is to use that first chance to make the best possible impression and keep you coming back.
The Royal Amplified fleet modernization plan entails spending over $900 million to refurnish 10 ships over the next four years. The idea is to bring the best of its newest vessels to ships that while still modern – built in the past 10 to 20 years – could use a bit more of sizzle. Add to that over $200 million to transform its private island in the Bahamas into a wide ranging resort experience from waterslides and zip lines to overwater day bungalows with private butler service.
Royal Caribbean has spent $120 million on the Mariner of the Seas to attract first-time cruisers.ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
The first step was activated at the end of June when Mariner of the Seas, launched in 2003, came out of a month-long dry dock in Spain and arrived in its new homeport, Miami, sailing every Monday and Friday on three-and four-day cruises to the Bahamas. The Friday departures allow first-timers to get a taste of why cruising attracts over 25 million vacationers annually, still arriving back in port early Monday morning. For cruise lovers, it’s a way to pack in extra days on the high seas without digging into limited vacation days. The Monday departures enable first-timers to combine a weekend in South Florida with a short cruise.
The Sky Pad virtual reality bungee trampoline experience is one of the many new activities designed to get Millennials to cruise.ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
The refurbishment of Mariner saw Royal Caribbean spend $120 million and Forbes.com was given an insider tour while the ship was in port earlier today. The prime target for Mariner is Millennials, which means a plethora of options for food, drinks, activities and lots of Instagram moments.
Some new ways to play include Sky Pad, a gravity-defying bungee trampoline with virtual reality options that enable you to play games like Sugar Loop and Jump Rally. The Perfect Storm is a duo of three-story-high waterslides, while Mariner’s ice skating rink, when covered, now does double duty hosting Battle for Planet Z, a laser tag competition. FlowRider, a 40-foot-long surf simulator that has been a signature attraction on newer vessels, can now be found on the aft of Mariner and there is even an hour-long Escape Room game.
Royal Caribbean's popular Flowrider is now on Mariner of the Seas. The ship is sailing on three and four day itineraries to the Bahamas from Miami.ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
For foodies, Jamie Oliver has opened Jamie’s Italian with handmade pasta, while Izumi Hibachi and Sushi offers an Asian alternative. The Bamboo Room is a tribute to Polynesia with craft cocktails served in mugs and its own resident digital cockatoo that comes to life at unexpected moments. Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade offers live broadcasts of major sports and sporting events so you won’t have to miss the big game. Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for the brand says the timing of the launch during the World Cup has made it an early winner. In addition to more than two dozen screens, there is a pool table, foosball and retro video games such as Donkey Kong and Pac Man. In total, there are over 20 restaurants and bars. Even the shopping has been updated to provide a more contemporary selection of fashion and accessories closer to what you might find on land.
The Bamboo Room features craft cocktails in a retro Polynesian environment.ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
Other additions include a private lounge, outdoor deck and sun area for guests in eligible suites. Smaller touches like an expanded miniature golf course and Lucky Climber, a jungle gym for younger children, include plenty of nearby shaded seating for adults, enabling families to spend more time together.
New restaurants include a sports bar, an Italian restaurant from Jamie Oliver and full sports bar.ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
“Last year we had guests from six months to 101 years old so we have to cater to a wide audience,” says Berra. To that end, to augment its play for Millennials, a new addition is a library, providing a quiet respite, the line's largest Starbucks to date and a completely refurbished theatre with various big stage shows. The dining room, which spans three stories, was also completely redone. Berra says for some guests cost is a factor, so while the line has been expanding options that include surcharges such as signature restaurants, it also wants to offer “lots of content” that is included in the price of your cruise.
Royal Caribbean’s play to attract more landlubbers is expanding to land as well with the remake of Coco Cay into what it’s calling Perfect Day at Coco Cay, opening in stages over the next 18 months. It will be segmented into areas labeled as “thrill” and “chill.” For former there will be a full water park with the largest wave pool in the Caribbean, 13 waterslides, including the two highest waterslides in North America, each reaching up to 135 feet. There will also be a Family Tower with slides for two to six people and even a helium balloon, taking guests to a height of 450 feet for more social sharing to let your friends and family back home see what they are missing, which brings us to WiFi. Berra says that guests who buy Internet packages will have access on Coco Cay as well as onboard. It’s fast enough that you can stream movies or brag in real time with Facetime.
On the chill side will be several beaches and lots of areas to lounge around, including beach cabanas, a variety of activities on land and in the water ranging from basketball courts and sports fields to glass bottom kayaks and snorkeling. Restaurants will be built around play areas so you won’t have to gulp down your meal when the kids want to get back to the beach. There will also be a 30,000 square foot freshwater pool that will have a family area at one end and a separate area with swim up bar for adults. For folks who want 5-star service, there will be a private beach club with its own restaurant serving grilled lobster, a private infinity pool and overwater day bungalows, each with their own waterslides.
One other concern Berra says is typical from non-cruisers is there won’t be enough to do. Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean's president and CEO, adds, “Millennials want more frequent and shorter vacations that offer as much of that exhilarating adventure they seek…With the combination of more thrills than you can count and visits to tropical destinations, Mariner is changing the game and taking the short getaway experience to a whole new level.” Now that Royal Caribbean is rebuilding ships specifically to attract the first-timer market and putting them on shorter journeys, the only question is will they come?