Advancements in Royal Caribbean's Pre-Cruise Experience

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It seems the more excitement there is during the cruise, the more we want to give our guests the opportunity to arrange key aspects of their cruise in advance. This has been a focus for several years and continues to occupy our attention. Almost everything about cruising is positive, but the mad dash to secure valuable components of the experience on the first afternoon has not been a cherished part of the vacation for many guests. Our intention over time is to retire that mad dash. More importantly, we want our guests to have the highest possible confidence that they will enjoy the vacation of their dreams.

The first big advance in this respect was the introduction of advance booking of our Explorations! Shore excursions a few years ago. This offering has blossomed into our Cruise Enhancements offerings which also include soda packages, wine and water packages and specialty dining reservations. Soon we will be offering spa appointments in advance as well.

Participation in our SetSail advance check-in offering is now over 80% and has facilitated improved guest satisfaction with the embarkation experience even as the security regime at the piers has evolved over recent years.

Other opportunities are emerging to support our cruise experience in advance of the cruise departure. We have recently written here about our Show Tickets concept that will allow our guests to reserve the timing of the entertainment offerings they would like to see such as Hairspray or the Oasis of Dreams Aquatheater show. Oasis guests will also be able to take advantage of the ability to complete an electronic universal waiver in advance for activities that require a waiver, such as the flowrider, zipline, and rockwall. Another pre-cruise electronic convenience is the ability to prepay gratuities.

We have also put the spotlight on My Time Dining and Choice Air this year, which allow guests to pursue their individual preferences in onboard dining and air travel with greater flexibility than before.

On top of these pre-cruise opportunities, we have improved the muster drill procedure with the removal of the requirement to return to the stateroom to get the life jacket and then return again after the drill to put the life jacket back in the stateroom.

Together with improvements in progress to our e-docs and our Countdown to Cruise communications platform, we are confident that over a five year period ending during 2010 we will have revolutionized the pre-cruise environment and made the first afternoon a considerably more pleasant experience. Thank you for your support of this change process.

Unusual note of the week – last week our friends at the Coca-Cola Company revealed to us an all aluminum Coke bottle commemorating the arrival of Oasis of the Seas. There will be a special production run of several hundred thousand of these unique bottles.

  • marie fisher

    I have found these enhancements to be just great! They have taken away the anxiety of getting everything organized the 1st day onboard. Now when we board we can just start our vacation, because all of the planning and reserving is over with. My husband and I will sail Dec.1st and we just can’t wait to experience Oasis. Thank you for making what could have been an overwhelming task, something we could plan and have fun booking from the comfort of our living room.

  • Trisha

    I’m most excited about the pre-booking spa appointments. On my cruise in June we went to the spa first thing and we still couldn’t get appointments at a time when we didn’t have a shore excursion.

  • Steve

    While I agree that the ability to prebook many of your onboard experiences may be convenient for some, the requirement to pay for that priviledge in advance is not!

    I for one, do not intend to prebook any of my activities. My vacations, will remain vacations without stress. I will do what I please when the mood strikes me, without adhering to a prebooked schedule!

  • Capt Bob

    Just booked everything for Oasis and the system worked well. Now if we could only pick our MDR table……

  • Scott Jensen

    What about a package called something like “from home to home”. Not just airline tickets but transportation from at least the port’s airport to the ship and back. Ideally, even from one’s home to one’s departure airport and then back when coming back home. In other words, a totally stress-free transportation option.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your question, Scott. We currently do offer these types of programs in certain ports. One example is our Cape Liberty Cruise Port; we offer bus service from select cities. The cost is $100 per person and reservations and more information can be found at or by calling 1-800-310-9900 for this specific region.

  • carol grap

    RE: Shore excursions out of Bermuda first week of November. Curious about the “Helmet Snorkel” I want to take my 7-yr old granddaughter snorkeling and debating off-Beach Snorkel or “Helmet”, also wondering about the water temperature that time of year.

  • tom young

    I just returned from my 5th cruise. We love booking what is doable in advance and pay it down each month This works well or us.
    Just a quick note as I will elaborate how the cruise went in a review. The Jewel of the Seas is still your diamond of cruise ships. The WOW factor was back for me.
    As for all the negativity that made me nervous it is extremely unwarranted. I had some small issues with my last cruise on the Mariner last year but even though one or two of those concerns are still evident this cruise was wonderful.
    The only two conerns I will address of some of the other writers are first about the dinners in the Main Dining Room. Steak and a good one is offered every night at no charge. It is a Black Angus Top Sirloin. Three nights two steaks are offered at no charge. Prime Rib or N.Y. Strip Steak. In addition to that you can order the Chops steak for 14.99. The ship is not making extra here but offering a choice. The beauty of doing this is you do not have to dress up in a jacket and tie as it is The Main Dining Room.
    The second issue is the Mints on the Pillow. This in addition to the loss of a couple of coupons out of the C&A discount book, and the no gift policy for returning cruisers. Let me say the last time I took this cruise in 2006 the room cost 2400.00 with insurance. This time I paid 1800.00 with insurance, for the same room. So 600.00 in my pocket, no mints no hat, free picture frame, no free wine tasting. I bought a bag of mints and put one on my wife’s pillow, I bought a hat, bought a picture frame, and paid for the wine tasting and was ahead 520.00. Do the math. They have taken a loss in revenue cut back a few ammenities and have to hear horror stories about the choices.
    Adam job well done some of the choices you had to make I’m sure were tough but you have not diminished the experience.
    Can I post a complete review somewhere? I he always used public websites but would like to do tis ne on your website?

  • Ann Marie

    With regard to your new nursery for babies, let me first say that I am very excited that you are now offering this service. That said, I have a few concerns already. My family and I are book in an Aquatheater Suite on the 12/5 inaugural. According to your website, I am encouraged to book this service online, prior to embarkation as we are limited to 12 hours per cruise. Unfortunately, this option is not yet available online. I am also hoping that additional time will be allowed onboard depending on participation durind a particular sailing. When I subitted a question via email. I recieved a completely erroneous response which did not acknowledge such a nursery even exists… Additionally, I am quite disappointed to hear that there will be a charge. When I booked many months ago, I was told this would be free of charge to “justify” the $1300 I am being charged for my 10-month old’s fare. I hope that you will soon educate your staff on this new and exciting feature so that we, as guests, may gain a better understanding of what we may expect. The nursery was a major consideration in our decision to book on this sailing.
    Thank you.

  • Theresa

    We have a very large group booked for Oct 30, 2010. This happens to be halloween weekend. Will they be having, and announcing prior to cruise, that the ship will be offering a halloween/costume party for the guests? This way we can bring our costumes.
    Also will you be publishing any/all activities and dining locations that will be free of charge, and others that will require paying a fee?

    • Adam

      There will be a Halloween party, and costumes are encouraged. Yes, all activities including dining locations will be published so you are informed of everything taking place onboard. We’re looking forward to having you, Theresa.

  • fredct

    I must concur with ‘Steve’ above. While its great you offer the ability to pre-book, having to pay for it at the time of booking is a major letdown.

    I’ve been on multiple cruiselines before where you simply reserve the excursion and it bills to the room. The idea of needing to pay (possibly months in advance) of your event is seriously disappointing.

  • Kevin

    I am booked on Osis for the 30 Oct 2010 sail date. Is their anyway to find out exactly what special events are being held for the Holiday. I found a web page on your website listing the following:

    Costume contest
    Halloween decorations
    Monster Bash dance party
    Professional face painter or caricaturist (may be offered on select ships)
    Halloween movies
    Kids’ haunted house
    Costume-making activities
    Trick or treat for candy
    Costume parade
    Halloween arts and crafts
    Kids’ Halloween theme party
    Scary Halloween story time

    But it also says not on all ships.

    can you advise if which ones or hopefully all of teh above will be on Oasis?

    Also do they do Holloween only on the 31st or does the theme run all week?

    Also how can you find out which nights are formal and semi formal so I can plan clothing prior to the cruise.

    Thanks again cant wait to go…….

    • Adam

      Thank you for reserving Oasis of the Seas Kevin. All of our ships, including Oasis of the Seas, will have fun Halloween festivities. Please check your cruise compass once onboard as festivity times vary per ship.