Thank You: 50 Million Guests - A Celebration with Statistics

Royal Caribbean Celebrates 50 Million Guests - Thank you from Adam Goldstein - President & CEO (Royal Caribbean International®)

Dear Friends,

It is with great pride that I share our most recent Royal Caribbean International® milestone. This summer we welcomed our 50 millionth guest onboard our ships.

Since 1968 we have strived as a company to deliver unparalleled vacation experiences to our guests, and today we pause to reflect on what reaching this milestone means. First and foremost, it means we have phenomenal guests. Thank you for trusting us with your precious vacations. We understand we have an enormous responsibility to uphold each time you cruise with us, and rest assured that this is our number one priority. Your support and feedback is the inspiration behind everything we do, and the reason why we won’t settle at good enough.

It also means that we have the most talented, passionate, and dedicated crew and employees in the business. Not just today, but every day, we have cause to celebrate because the men and women at Royal Caribbean go above and beyond to provide our guests with Gold Anchor ServiceSM and deliver the WOW. I’m honored to work alongside such hard working and inspiring professionals.

Marking our 50 millionth guest also means that the travel agent community believes in us. Simply stated, thank you. We would not have gotten here without you and we believe that your partnership is our most valuable industry asset and a crucial part of our success.

As we look ahead, the future is bright. We have been fortunate over the years to consistently be recognized by Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel Weekly and the World Travel Awards as the best in the travel industry, and are dedicated to exceeding that level of expectation. We guarantee that the next 50 million guests will experience more WOWs filled with innovations, outstanding service and more amazing destinations that only Royal Caribbean International® can deliver.

This milestone kicks off a year-long celebration of WOW. We invite you to share your WOW moments and simply tag all your great stories #ROYALWOW.

Many thanks to you all,

Adam Goldstein
President & CEO
Royal Caribbean International®

Interview with Captain Johannes Tysse, Azamara Club Cruises

It was almost a foregone conclusion that Johannes Tysse would be a sea captain. Learn how the job he dreamed about from an early age is a platform for creating unforgettable experiences for Azamara guests.

Q: Where did you grow up?

I was raised on a small island outside of Bergen, Norway. I knew at a very early age what I wanted to do and what I wanted to become. By the time I was five years old, I wanted to be captain of a ship, though I wasn’t necessarily thinking of a cruise ship. I just wa
nted to be at sea. My inspiration was my dad, who told me stories about times my grandpa went to America and crossed the Atlantic on ocean liners. I loved those stories of how the ship encountered storms, and how my grandpa got to meet the captain…so my very young mind was just filled with images of grandpa sailing across the Atlantic. Back then, as a little boy, the ocean was something that was mysterious and seemed dangerous, you know, being out there on the ocean and not being able to see land. My mom said the first drawing I ever drew was of boats and ships…and during arts and crafts, all I did was make wooden boat models.
Living on an island, we’d go to Bergen on the ferry. (Our island wasn’t connected by a bridge until the late 1990s.) If my dad knew the skippers on the ferries, I wouldn’t leave him alone unless he took me to the bridge. For me, getting up there with the skipper was like walking on Cloud 9.

Q: Sounds like you spent a lot of time dreaming about and imagining the life you live now.

I’m the oldest of six, four boys and then two girls. At one point all my younger brothers followed my footsteps and went to sea. My mother said she didn’t know what she did wrong to have four boys who all went to sea. Now they all work shoreside except for me.

Q: How did you become captain on a cruise ship?

Ship deck at nightI first went to sea in June of 1983 when I was still 16. I needed both of my parents’ signatures to leave the country. I flew to New York, joined a tanker and sailed around the world at 16. That may seem young, but we had a different school system in Norway. We had longer school years, so you were done with the equivalent of Junior High School at age fifteen. From there you could decide if you wanted to specialize. I was interested in seaman apprenticeship school. I did that for a year, and almost the day after I finished, I was on a plane to New York, where I became deck hand on a tanker. Then I entered and did my service time in the Norwegian Navy, where I got my lowest level deck officer license. Followed by a job as Skipper on a local ferry after getting out of the Navy, and from there to the Marine Academy. I held various other positions with different companies, working on ferries, tankers and cruise ships before joining Azamara as captain in 2010.

Q: Where do you live now?

EuropeI live in Charleston, South Carolina, with my wife. She’s a port agent and also works in a travel agency. She worked for eight years at sea as a hostess, so she knows the business. We’ll celebrate our 14th anniversary this month. We met on a Windstar cruise in 1990 when I was a young second officer on my first cruise ship, and she was cruising with her mother and sister. We didn’t speak much on the cruise, but I noticed her. She was still in college, but her older sister had just graduated. I spoke with her mother a few times, who was interested in boating and sailing, and was a second generation Norwegian with relatives in Norway. So after the cruise my future wife (the youngest daughter) wrote me a nice note, and of course I remembered her, so I wrote back. We started writing, calling, and about four years later we became a couple. That was when she started working on cruise ships, so it was a real long distance relationship. We were engaged on January 12, 1998. Exactly one year later, on Jan 12, 1999, we were both in the Panama Canal at the same time, on two different ships. I could see her on the deck with binoculars, but of course it was so far away. We were married later that year in Norway…on a day that surpassed the old rain record from 1861.

Q: How do you relax, stay fit and on top of your game at sea?

I should go to the gym but really don’t do it very regularly…I’m kind of on-and-off with that. Many guests ask, what’s the secret to keeping slim when you’re spending half the year onboard with such great food. I just try to eat healthy food, and that’s not hard with all the choices we have. I try not to clean my plate completely; maybe that’s what makes the difference. I also take the staircases on the ship, not the elevator, because the staff elevators often stop at every deck. So the stairs help keep the weight off, too.

Bartender at the Mosaic CafeQ: Yes, the stairs…I’ll have to remember that next time I’m onboard! How do you spend your free time at sea?

I don’t watch TV. Sometimes I just read magazines or books to relax after long hours of work…I also have various meetings and discussions with staff and crew. And I spend a lot of time on the ship chatting with and meeting our guests, frequently at Windows or Mosaic Cafe. Being on a small ship is much more intimate than the big ones. You get to know people, and it’s nice when they come back time and again. You also get feedback about the good things we’re doing and what we can do better.

Q: What are some of the positive comments you’ve heard?

I hear the same thing over and over. The number-one comment from guests is about the crew, how they love their friendliness, their smiles, their attitudes and how well they work with each other. Many guests have sailed with our competitors, and they say the crew really makes a difference. And they like the visibility of Azamara officers onboard our ships compared to many other cruise ships out there.
In terms of requests, another thing I hear a lot is that guests want us to sail the waters of Australia and New Zealand. Every time we have a Q&A we get asked that. It’s a nonstop repeat request. I tell our guests if you want that, just book another cruise, and another one after that, and pretty soon we’ll get another ship and get you there. The sooner you book another cruise, the sooner we’ll be in Australia!

Q: What are some of your own favorite ports?

AsiaI like the smaller, more intimate ports the bigger ships can’t get into, either because the ports are physically too small or because the number of guests onboard the big ships would overwhelm the place. These are unique places, like sailing up to Seville and docking right downtown. We are the biggest ship that docks there. Also docking in my hometown of Bergen, in the heart of town near the fish market. It gives guests a very different view when you dock close to the heart of town. Bordeaux is like that too, and you’re just minutes away from the shops and restaurants. Or docking in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) downtown—it’s a slow four minute shuttle bus drive to the famous Rex Hotel. You don’t get any closer than that. Same as in Bangkok. We dock downtown, and from what I’ve heard it’s a two-hour bus ride each way on the other ships.

Q: What are some of your most memorable voyages?

There are a few that come to mind. One was in Iceland in 2010. When we left Rejkjavik I asked the pilot if he could show me some good fishing banks off the coast. Earlier I had called our CEO, Larry Pimentel, and asked if we could fish from the ship. He said he would check it out, and then advised me to “Proceed with caution.” My wife was on that voyage, so we went ashore and bought fishing gear. When we departed I told the guests we would go out for about an hour and a half and then try to get some fresh fish for dinner. I don’t think too many of them believed me, but it got a good laugh. But the ones that did, they were up on the deck and their balconies, watching as we caught about 50 or 60 pounds of fish in an hour and half from the tender platform. Nobody wanted to touch the fish, of course, so I got the job of cleaning it. Our chefs served it as catch of the day from our specialty restaurants. Straight from the sea into the pot!
Azamara JourneyThe year before last, Sir Roger Moore—the Roger Moore of James Bond fame—was on board with his wife. His wife is Swedish and he commented on how she loved brown cheese and goat cheese. In fact a number of guests were asking about Norwegian goat cheese. So I got the idea after we left Flåm on the Norwegian coast to stop at a little village known for its goat cheese production. The entire village has 100 inhabitants and 500 goats, along with the smallest church in Scandinavia, with 40 seats. I asked the Hotel Director, Heike, if she had money to buy some cheese. So the executive chef and the safety officer went ashore with the rescue boat and bought 12 pounds of goat cheese and some smoked lamb sausage. When they came out of the store and held up the bags, all the guests watching from the ship were clapping and cheering from the decks and balconies. We served it for breakfast the next morning at the buffet, and it was all gone in a couple of hours. A couple of days later it was on the front page of the regional newspaper in the Sognefjord: Cruise ship stops to buy goat cheese.
On that same trip we stopped to buy fresh seafood. We left Bergen at 6:30 in the evening. An uncle of mine had a cabin a few hours north of Bergen. So I knew there were local fishermen on the island, and asked my uncle if he know any who could deliver fresh seafood and crabs. I got in touch with one of them and he came out with his fishing boat, we stopped in the middle of the fjord and loaded up with fresh salmon, codfish, and 350 live stone crabs and live langoustine. So the chef made a special appetizer out of the stone crab claws and specialty dish out of the langoustine. Again, that’s something guests come back and talk about.
Being able to do special things like that…it leaves memories, and our guests go home and share the Azamara experience with friends and family. And compared to many other cruise ships, these experiences are unique.
Last year we were at Seven Sisters waterfall in the Geirangerfjord. Other cruise ships just go by at cruising speed while heading for the next port. We stopped for half an hour, then did a 360-degree turn so guests on all sides could get a look. Being with a small cruise line like we are, and having a CEO like Larry Pimentel who gives us a bit of freedom, we are able to do things like this. When we see special opportunities we plan accordingly with our home office and local authorities to make them happen.
And there’s spontaneous fun onboard, too. One night I walked through the specialty restaurants and a guest made a joke about “How come I don’t get to see the sunset on this side?” So when I finished greeting guests and got back to the bridge, I made an announcement that all guests should see the sunset, then did a slow 360 degree turn so they did. They still come back and talk about that. And for the rest of the voyage I had guests coming up and saying, I’ve been on 35, 50 or 70 cruises and never had anything like this happen. Our guests love these personal touches.

Ship captainsQ: The sense of community that people talk about on Azamara, and the open friendliness of staff and crew… how do you encourage that and play a role in making it happen?

For me it starts with being approachable. In the old school, some captains look up only to themselves, and you don’t get much time with the captain unless you’re being reprimanded. We’re not like that. I’ll chat with the guys washing pots in the kitchen, or go to the crew mess and have lunch with them. I’ll sometimes go to the division meetings. I want staff and crew to be able to come to me or their supervisor directly if they have issues on the ship or something’s happening at home. It’s an open door, and I—and really our whole crew—want to be helpful with big or small issues. They know I’m available along with the rest of the senior management onboard, and that makes a difference. It leads to a staff and crew that’s relaxed, not stiff, and focused on doing the best possible job.

Q: What are your favorite foods onboard?

Almost every night they have a special in Windows Cafe—I love the Indian food. The Indian chefs are proud of their cooking skills and put their heart and soul into it. I love the sushi up there, too, and in general the variety we have at Windows Cafe is wonderful. I have favorite dishes in our specialty restaurants, but it would be hard to choose. And I love the smoothie bar. And I have a terrible sweet tooth. I like chatting with guests in the Mosaic while enjoying those incredible macaroons.

Q: What’s your motto or creed you live by personally? A philosophy of life, or something that guides your leadership style?

I came here three years ago as captain, straight from the outside, and as one way of communicating my leadership style I started sending out daily quotes—they could be inspirational, funny or uplifting. I had a set of 29 quotes, and had managers print them and post them. I heard back from a number of people, “I love your quotes,” and thought, well then, I’ll do some more. So I came back onboard after my first vacation and asked the crew to send me their favorite quotes, too. I tagged their names to them when I posted them.
So that’s been my thing. Once a year I repeat the 29 that I first sent out. Here’s one of my favorites: Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. To me it means if someone does a good job you don’t take the credit, and you don’t shy away from blame when things go wrong. Basically put your people out there and give them credit for a job well done, and don’t get down on them when something goes wrong. Lessons learned are important; instead of an “I did” or “You did” culture, we work as a team.

Couple looking off balconyQ: How would you characterize Azamara guests?

Very mixed in terms of nationalities. On my current voyage, we have 25 different guest nationalities. The most we’ve had are 38 nationalities on one cruise. If it’s less than 15 or 20 nationalities onboard, it’s unusual. Most of our guests are well traveled. They’ve cruised a lot. But about 20 percent of our guests have never cruised before. And they choose us because of more time in port, the overnights, and in general because we have a great reputation.

Q: What’s your favorite onshore nightlife?

If I had to pick my favorite idea of relaxing nightlife, I’d choose dining outside on the piazza in Sorrento. I do that when my wife is with me onboard. There’s fantastic food on the Amalfi Coast and that kind of experience is very relaxing for me.

A different kind of cruise line

Azamara Club Cruises

Larry Pimentel has seen a lot of water under the bridge. Literally and figuratively.

As past CEO of Seabourn, Sea Dream Yacht Club, and Cunard, the veteran travel industry exec has helmed some of the most storied names in cruising. So when Royal Caribbean Cruises lured him out of retirement in 2009 to head its new Azamara Club Cruises brand, he demanded carte blanche to create something the cruise industry hadn’t seen before. And he has.

How is Azamara different? Three things, really: longer stays in port, more overnight stays, and unusual itineraries that include ports that other cruise ships pass by.

For example, on a recent 12-night voyage from Edinburgh, Scotland to Southampton, England, the Azamara Journey spent two nights in Dublin and two-and-a-half days in Rouen, France, which it reached by a fascinating six hour cruise up and down the Seine. On this voyage, the ship stopped at such unlikely, and un-touristy, places as the Orkney Islands and Portree (I had never heard of it either—it’s on the Isle of Skye). Needless to say, we were the only ships in port most of the time, which added to the sense of being somewhere special, far from the crowds. To get a sense of some of the unusual ports that Azamara’s two ships visit, check out this partial list.

I’m embarrassed to say that there are at least 20 that I’ve never even heard of, let alone visited.  

The advantage for you, the passenger, is that with these “longer stay” itineraries you can spend a night (or two) pub-crawling in Dublin, or do an overnight to Paris even though you’ve docked in Rouen, just a short train ride away. What fun is visiting a favourite port on a Greek isle or on the Amalfi Coast and not sampling a meal in a buzzed-about local restaurant or hanging out at the town’s hot new disco? Whereas the typical cruise ship steams out of town at 5 or 6 p.m., Azamara lingers. And lingers. You might not set sail until midnight. Or 2 a.m. Or you might spend the entire night.

By the way, all the other elements of luxury cruising are in place on Azamara. There are two “specialty” restaurants, which cost an extra $25 to dine in but are well worth it, plus free wine selections with lunch and dinner. Tips are included. The spa is lovely and the fitness center’s equipment is new. And the staff has been well trained to engage guests with friendly “good mornings” and “good evenings” when you pass them in the hallways or on deck. I sometimes think that a few guests might get tired of being cheerily greeted each time they encounter a member of the crew onboard, especially if they themselves aren’t in a cheery mood, but it’s a sign of careful training that staff are instructed to greet passengers. Returning to the ship, the security officers seem sincere when they check your key card and say, “welcome home.”

Many of my friends avoid cruising altogether because they think it’s not “destination-immersive” enough or they don’t want to be “trapped” onboard. So Azamara might be just the thing for them. I love “days at sea,” just looking at the ocean, but it’s not for everyone.

Why, you might ask, don’t all cruise lines spend more time in port? Well, as Pimentel explains, it’s pretty simple: when ships are in port, the law requires that casinos and retail outlets on board remain closed. And if guests are boozing it up on shore, they’re not visiting the ship’s bars or the spa, all of which are revenue centres (in fact, some cruise lines probably lose money on those $350 four night cruise fares you sometimes see, but make all their profits on these “extras”). And the more nights in port, the more the ship pays in fees to the port. But after running cruise lines for over 20 years, Pimentel decided the industry needed to be rethought. And it seems to be working.

Oh, and one final Azamara distinction: some sailings offer cabins for solo travellers at just a 25 percent premium over the double-occupancy fare (most cruise lines charge single passengers 100 percent, i.e. double, so that’s a huge savings if you’re travelling alone).

Published August 16, 2012 | 

By George Hobica

Royal Caribbean hosts world`s largest Travel Agency Appreciation Day

ROYAL CARIBBEAN hosts world’s largest 
travel agency appreciation day
Loyal to You Always emphasises past, present and future dedication to travel partners

 Dubai, 6th June 2012: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd is demonstrating its loyalty to travel agents by holding the world’s largest travel agency appreciation day today, June 6th. Loyal to You Always is the company’s way of recognising the valuable role travel agents play while highlighting the ongoing support structure Royal Caribbean has in place.

Loyal to You Always is part of Royal Caribbean’s year-round campaign to provide support, training and loyalty to travel agents around the world. In the Middle East, the company provides regional support through its hub in Dubai.

Lakshmi Durai, Executive Director Middle East, said Royal Caribbean Arabia had been providing support, training and assistance in the region for more than 17 years. “We have a number of initiatives and programmes that show our loyalty to travel agents, which helps them not only sell more cruises and increase their profits, but build valuable relationships.

“We offer the travel agents the opportunity to visit the ships when they are in Dubai, so they get to see what a cruise holiday is all about. Every year, we take them on board for the Seminar at Sea to give them a firsthand experience of a cruise holiday, which helps the agents to sell Royal Caribbean cruise products effectively. We also have a very interactive online training programme called Cruising for Excellence, which helps our travel partners to learn more about our cruises and what we offer.”

In addition, the sales team in the Dubai representative office offers one-to-one training and presentations for travel agents throughout the year and provides ongoing reservation support through its help desk.

Ms Durai said Loyal to You Always would enable the company to emphasise its support structure and loyalty to travel agents, while also offering them bonus commission to book cruises on Thursday, June 7th.  “Loyal to You Always is built on four principles: personal interaction and support; valuable resources that get results; increasing profits for travel agents; and award-winning travel agent education and development programmes,” she said.

Recognising the valuable role travel agents play in the company’s success, Loyal to You Always offers agents up to US$100 in bonus commission per stateroom for cruises aboard Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.

With Royal Caribbean’s ongoing fleetwide revitalisation and enhancements, the cruise line is helping to drive customer demand and superior guest satisfaction, which reinforces client loyalty and repeat business. Royal Caribbean is investing more than US$100 million over the next five years on its internal reservation system and automation tools to help travel agents sell cruises more easily and service their clients more effectively by leveraging the latest technologies.

Wedding & Romance at Sea!

Wedding is one of the most important & memorable event in everyone’s life. A cruise ship is a perfect location for a memorable wedding. Cruise weddings can take place onboard in a public room, a lounge or Wedding Chapel on the ship or on a romantic shore such as a beach, a glacier or any other destination of guest’s choice. Your can choose to have the wedding in one of the ports & then sail off on a honeymoon!
Most of the major cruise lines offer different wedding packages for different budgets and wedding party sizes. The Cruise lines now have a variety of services to help your guests plan a shipboard or shore side ceremony which could be combined with a romantic cruise honeymoon.

Planning a cruise wedding is very simple & hassle free. The major cruise lines have dedicated wedding coordinators to help with all arrangements including floral arrangements, table linens, photography, music, cake and special menus to make your wedding a unique event. Some will even help the guests to obtain wedding licenses or provide invitations and thank you notes. In addition, the coordinators also handle all the extras from tuxedo rental to hair and spa appointments. The Cruise Wedding experience will make your wedding extra special. B
eing the most exciting time of life, the guests can relax enjoying the activities onboard the cruise ship, while the wedding coordinator takes care of every details of this special day.
An onboard wedding can be a great value as well. The price range of a shipboard wedding is just like one ashore ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands. You need to consult the cruise specialists to select the best package. The options of arranging Cruise Weddings are endless. With Cruise Weddings you can be sure that your dreams will fit well into your budget.

Is cruising expensive?

One of the biggest concerns people have while planning a vacation is the total cost. On a cruise vacation, the food, accommodation, entertainment and most of the activities are included in the fare. This makes it easy for the vacationers to stick to their budget.
The cruise cost depends upon when the guest cruise, the ship they choose, the cabin category and how far in advance they make their reservation. In addition to the fabulous cuisine, world class entertainment, plenty of activities on board a floating resort, on a cruise holiday the guests also get to visit many different ports of call. It’s an amazing fact that the guests just unpack once and settle in for a journey that takes them anywhere they want to go. If you consider everything that is included in the cruise fare, you will realize that cruising is the vacation with best value for money. It's an incredible value that cannot be matched by any other vacation package.
The families and couples could travel and make wonderful memories within a small budget. Although the cruise fare includes a lot, there are certain elements that are charged separately on a cruise like alcohol and soft drinks, shore excursions, spa treatments, tips, laundry services, medical treatment, babysitting, Internet access and some specialty coffees and pastries. When you factor in all of the costs that the guest will incur on a land vacation as well as the great deals they could find on cruise vacation, you will discover that they can actually save money by booking a cruise as opposed to a land-based vacation.
The bottom line is guests can set a budget, watch what they spend and have great time on a cruise holiday.