Royal Caribbean International: new fleet, innovation and awards for excellence in tourism

With the fourth edition of “The BRIDGE” event held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company recognized the great representatives of the sector, reaffirmed ties with the Latin American market and presented its most important innovations

(Source: Travel2latam)

Recently, Royal Caribbean Group announced that it has reached an agreement with French shipbuilder Chantiers de l'Atlantique to order a seventh Oasis Class ship for delivery to its Royal Caribbean International fleet in 2028. The announcement follows the recent introduction by part of the Royal Caribbean Group of three new ships, including Silver Nova, Celebrity Ascent and Icon of the Seas.

In the context of the fourth edition of The BRIDGE , the annual awards that bring together and recognize the best travel partners and their colleagues from Latin America and the Caribbean in 21 categories, where representatives from more than 15 countries in the region were present, Travel2latam had the opportunity to talk about current events and company news with Alberto Muñoz, Vice President of Royal Caribbean for Latin America and the Caribbean.

What can you tell us about The Bridge?

The Bridge is our annual event where we invite all the travel partners we have in Latin America and present the awards based on different categories. This is the fourth one we have done, last year we had it in Mexico City. And this year we are very happy to have it here in Buenos Aires. 

What is the meaning of holding an event of this size in a country like Argentina that is in full recovery? 

The objective is to move around the region and have a presence in each of the countries to send a message that it is an important market for us. The Argentine market has been recovering little by little, but despite the crisis it remains relevant for Royal Caribbean. And in addition, we have an entire network of Travel Partners here, which has been increasing, so in some way we seek to support them to be able to generate more business and opportunities.

What does the award consist of and how did they come to define the winner or winners? 

The awards consist of different areas where travel partners stand out. For example, commercial, effective, social media influencer will participate. We give an award to different areas in marketing campaigns and effectiveness. We manage a series of components, and obviously for a person to receive an award they have to have relevant productivity and have met their goals. 

We give an award to a person who has important leadership and already a legacy. We give one for Mexico and another for the rest of Latin America as Industry Leadership. And then the grand prize is The Bridge Award, and it is a travel partner that has stood out with excellent performance in all the areas where there are individual awards.

We see Royal Caribbean increasingly present with alliances in the region. What is the impact on sales?

It is a very positive impact and we have been increasing it for years. We have some very successful stories where a travel partner is managing a point of sale to serve both clients and the trade, and if you pass in front of the point of sale it looks like it is a Royal Caribbean store, that is why the Deluxe Travel logo is always there. to make it clear that it is an alliance. Three weeks ago we also launched the fourth point of sale in Colombia through Deluxe Travel. And in all these points since we opened on the first day there are already people and sales begin to be generated immediately. 

They seem very open to generating new businesses in the region. What did you present to the trade and travel partners? 

The event's slogan is “Creating trends together” and in some way, this is born from the fact that at Royal Caribbean we always have innovation. The best example is summarized in the Icon of the Seas, with innovation that has somehow generated trends, and with those trends new businesses were generated. The message we have passed on to our travel partners is to take advantage of these trends that in some way generate real trade to continue growing in the region.

Speaking of trends, are there any changes in recent times that you want to highlight? 

Some trends that I can mention are that the younger generations are interested in taking a cruise in the next year, but they also want someone to personally assist them to give them a consultation. Another trend that I see very strong, for example, is that the Colombian market continues to grow in terms of air connectivity between Latin America and the US and this has generated growth from secondary cities to the United States.

We have also noticed that cruise passengers want to have the most immersive experience possible on the ship. We no longer have the cruise passenger who simply paid for the cruise and came to see what he discovered, but they really want to maximize the experience based on the gastronomy and entertainment on board. This fits perfectly with the release of Utopia of the Seas. Utopia of the Seas is going to be the most complete weekend, which will not give you time to see even half of the ship. In short, the passenger pays for a better experience, more intimate and with better service. 

We are here at this event, but what are the next steps for the company?

The next steps are Utopia of the Seas, launching in July. Then the Beach Clubs in the Caribbean. We are already building the Star of the Seas, which is Icon's little brother, which will begin sailing from Port Canaveral next year. Then Icon of the Seas' third brother comes a year later. And later we are going to build one more Oasis class ship, in response to the great demand we have for these immersive experiences that passengers are looking for. 

When we started thinking about the Icon, we considered building five and we are going to end up building seven. This shows the strong demand for a product like the Icon of the Seas, which is truly one of the passengers' favorites. Yesterday, for example, a travel agency in Mexico sold the Icon's three-story cabin. This demonstrates the demand for a more luxury product, but always with entertainment.

How do you handle the trend that passengers like to go to the most modern ship, in this case Icon? 

On the one hand we have cruisers who have been with us for generations, so the very knowledgeable cruiser is the profile that you just described, who wants to go to the newest ship. But also when we see the penetration of cruise passengers in the Latin American region, it is actually very low. So many times there are opportunities for a passenger who wants a boat that may not be so new. And many times also people who know our collection of boats and our different classes very well, make the decision based on the destination, then they choose the boats available there.

At the last Seatrade celebration in Miami it was said that the cruise industry had incredible growth potential. What do you think it is due to? 

I think there is more and more awareness of the value proposition of what a cruise product is. And in the specific case of the Icon of the Seas, we continue to be the preferred brand globally and also by Latin Americans. And the level of satisfaction they have is enormous, even we beat luxury hotels by 30 or 40 points. Icon is superior due to experience, which is why today it is already selling very well for next year. 

How are the sales going? How are they handling the numbers? 

Two things have happened, because the Icon generated so much euphoria that if there is no space they are offered another boat, which is a good new boat. But what has also happened is that they are already booking for next year, so as not to run out of space. The concept that matters to them is the ship as the main destination, beyond the stops it makes on its itinerary. Even this happens with Utopia of the Seas. It's really going to be crazy to be on a new ship like Utopia on a weekend or weekday. 

Never has a cruise line put its newest ship, of the caliber of the Oasis class, into a short-duration product. It's the first time it happens. I think this is going to generate greater demand because they are going to get on the ship, fall in love with the product and come back to get to know it completely. In itself, with the oasis class ships, one of the complaints is that passengers did not have time to see everything in seven days. 

How much time do you need to know it completely? 

I think that to see a complete Oasis you need at least one back to back, that is, return one more week. So I anticipate that with Utopia of the Seas that is what will happen, people will want to return. We are talking about more than 20 bars, more than 23 gastronomic options. This will basically generate greater demand. 

What impact has the agreement with Inter Miami with Messi had in Latin America, especially in Argentina? 

Everyone in Latin America is happy, but the Argentines are even more obviously happy, because they are excited about the players who are at Inter. This has generated even greater euphoria for the Icon.

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