Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Guest Blog: Introducing ChoiceAir

Today I have the pleasure of asking Doug Santoni, our Senior VP, Revenue Performance, to tell you in more detail about a new approach to combining a cruise with air travel. I hinted at this recently because I have been so anxious to get the word out that I could not control myself. In the 1990′s, we used to debate internally a concept we called “one stop shopping.” What some of us imagined is now here and actually, with the benefit of today’s technology, the new offering is far beyond what we had envisioned back in the day. Congratulations to Doug and his team.

Doug Santoni

Last month Adam shared some thoughts with you about the “Why Not?” philosophy that we subscribe to in our Nation. As he explained, “Why Not?” is supposed to expand our thinking about something that might surprise you, seem serendipitous, improbable – or even impossible. So it may surprise you that the topic today focuses on “Why not simply do what makes sense and will make our customers happy?”

When it comes to traditional cruise line air/sea programs, we have become more accustomed to hearing our customers ask “why?” Perhaps you have asked some of these same questions:

• Why can’t you tell me my flight itinerary at the time I book my cruise?

• When I finally see my air itinerary, why is it such an inconvenient schedule?

• Why does the fare seem higher than those I see on the internet?

• Why do I have to fly from one of your approved gateways?

Questions like this led us to think…

Why not invent a new Air/Sea program that enables our citizens to choose the flights they want, whenever they’re ready to choose them, paying the most competitive air fares, and being able to take advantage of seat assignments, airline frequent flyer programs, and many other special services that they’ll love?

“Why not?” indeed.

We did.

Introducing ChoiceAir.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll be hearing more about this innovative Royal Caribbean International program that provides our citizens (and guests of our sister brands Celebrity and Azamara Cruises) the opportunity to select the itinerary of their choice, at the time of their choosing, taking advantage of exclusive specials offered just to our guests, as well as nearly any published airline fare.

ChoiceAir will enable our guests to book their airline travel in the same way they book their cruise over the phone with their travel agent, or with our Certified Vacation Planners – or if they prefer – they can simply access the ChoiceAir website and make their choice online. The website has the familiar look and feel of consumer travel sites with a fast, simple way to see what’s offered, choose the flights, and get confirmed.

As much as ChoiceAir is about providing you with all of the available options, it is really about peace of mind. ChoiceAir provides the peace of mind one gets from knowing your itinerary well in advance, knowing you got a great fare, and knowing that our ChoiceAir department has visibility to your flights on the day of travel and can assist you in the event of schedule interruptions.

ChoiceAir will launch in the U.S. and Canada on August 3 through travel agents, our reservations teams, and online. A cost of $15 per person for domestic and $25 per person for international air travel will apply to ChoiceAir bookings, and will include access to the ChoiceAir support desk, aid in cases of flight delays, and assistance in making alternative flight arrangements in the event of missed embarkation. Also, we will be introducing the ChoiceAir option to our guests in many other countries around the world in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned for more details on this.

In the Nation of Why Not? our citizens have the most extraordinary options when it comes to their cruise vacation. We wondered “Why not extend that element of choice to their airline arrangements as well?” With ChoiceAir, we have.

15 responses to:
“Guest Blog: Introducing ChoiceAir”

  1. Bob D

    Great!!! It’s about time for choice air. I remember our first cruise with RCCL. Most of the cruise passengers were in the back of the plane by the galley in the most inconvenient seats such as in the middle of a multi-seat row. We always booked our cruises far in advance but the airline seats we often got looked like the last and cheapest seats sold for that flight. Coming back from our Panama cruise disembarking in San Diego, a straight flight to Tucson would have been less than an hour. And these were readily available for that route. Instead, RCCL routed us on a commuter to LA and then a regular flight from LA to Tucson. Go figure. It took over 4 hours to fly home from San Diego. Things got better for us when we started getting complimentary “custom air” on reaching Platinum and Diamond levels. This leads me to my next concern and pardon me for being skeptical with anything coming out of Royal Caribbean now-a-days, will this choice air, that costs additional fees, compliment or replace custom air that is currently complimentary to the upper level C&A members? I have to ask and I hope I will like the answer. But anyway, kudos to Royal Caribbean for considering this change. It is a welcome change particularly for the new cruisers. My wife and I love cruising but hate the flying portion of it and that plays a significant role in where we choose to cruise.

  2. Albie

    Is Diamond complimentary custom air fee still applicable ?

    If you havn’t asked for particular flights, when does RCL book your flight ( how many days before the cruise )?

  3. Scott Jensen

    Why not also include in the package transportation from the airport to the ship and, then after the cruise, from the ship to the airport? A total stress-free experience. We get this package and we’re guaranteed no stress, no hassles, and no missing the ship or our return flight.

  4. DON HNIS

    WHAT IS THE URL FOR THE NEW CHOICE AIR WEB SITE I CAN NOT FIND IT

  5. Ron Bryan

    Can you explain why ChoiceAir is nearly $100 higher per person than Expedia for the exact same flights for my Oasis cruise in April 2010?

  6. Edgar A. Vovsi

    Okay Adam, I’ve stopped laughing. Having spent an inordinate amount of time navigating your new site, I’d suggest that you stick to doing what it is you do, providing positive cruise experiences on lovely ships. Booking air isn’t your thing, I think. Whoever you have attempting to do this flight business, can’t even figure out how to bring an airline spreadsheet up on a site. Should have hired a couple of guys from Orbitz or Expedia. Don’t get rid of Custom Air just quite yet.

  7. cheryl Brawders

    CHOICE AIR !!! I THINK NOT !!!
    I have found your prices are higher than what I can book my self on airline web sites. The choices you provide are limited and no option for first class. If you truly wanted our business you would provide competitive pricing and no sur charge. The “CHOICE” is easy no thanks……..

  8. Kirk

    ChoiceAir leaves much to be desired — I want to know what the air fare would cost me “Before” I book my next cruise; Not after I have a Booking ID number (only to find flights cost a $1,000 or more). I guess I’ll have to stick with Expedia / Travelocity / Orbitz, etc…. to determine my Total Vacation Expense. On the phone, they were able to quote me the ChoiceAir price, but it was no different (no cheaper) than anything else I’d seen; Plus over the phone I didn’t know times & lay-over times,etc…. nothing to look at (weak). On the phone, quite nice and helpful, but when it comes down to it — worthless. I’m not booking via ChoiceAir when other sites offer more for less.

  9. Jennie Disilvestri

    Dear Mr. Santoni, I’m writing in favor our your ChoiceAir program. I booked through my trip through Liberty Travel in New York. I was booked to fly out of Newark N.J on Monday August 17 to Ft. Lauderdale to catch Enchantment of the Seas. We live 20 minutes away from Newark. Needless to say it was a debacle of a non-vacation. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! Continental airlines did not assist us to get to our destination inn a timely matter. I recalled that if you booked together the air/cruise package, the airlines would get you there no matter what. Well cutbacks, luggage fees , lack of trained personnel and attention to customer needs caused us to miss our flight and subsequently our cruise. Please help us re-coup credit for our missed cruise . Our situation supports your agenda.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your comment Jennie. Since we are unable to address specific customer service incidents through the public forum on this blog, we encourage you to please visit http://www.royalcaribbean.com and choose the Contact Us option under our Customer Support menu. One of our representatives will be pleased to assist you.

  10. Kathy K

    Not happy at all with Choice Air! While the price we got was OK, the schedule once I got the itinerary, after I got off the phone, was Terrible!!. When I booked I was not told the time of the flight. As it turned out we’d be arriving at the port before the ship even arrived to disembark the previous cruisers.

    What were we going to do with over 6 hours before we could even think about boarding?

    I ended up changing the flight at a steep cost, because the tickets were non-refundable, of course, just to get to the port at a decent hour. While everyone was very pleasant, it did not make my impression of Choice Air a good one. I’ve used RCCL to book my air before and have not been disappointed until this time. I won’t use Choice Air again, it was a costly mistake and left me with a bad impression and less money to spend on the ship…..

  11. Bob carpenter

    When will ChoiceAir start offering return flights from Rome/Fiumicino airport for a return flight from Navigator’s repositioning from Miami to Rome next April?

    • Adam

      Thank you for the comment, Bob. These schedules are available in the Choice Air system. Should you have issues booking them, feel free to contact the ChoiceAir Support Desk. Toll Free Phone: 800-533-7803

  12. Terri l

    Choice Air? What a joke! I booked my 11 day Alaskan Cruisetour and airfare in April 2009 for a July 6th starting date. I didn’t receive my air itinerary until late June, only to find out that I can’t change anything whatsoever. I didn’t arrive in Anchorage from Atlanta until 6:30pm local time and virtually lost the entire first day of my Cruisetour. Coming home was the biggest joke of them all. If you book airfare thru RCCI and have connections thru Canada, you are “Royally” screwed. Once we arrived in Vancouver, we were on our own with everything from carrying bags to going thru customs twice. We did not have the option of having our bags taken care of for us (Choice Air said that they would) because of our connections thru Canada. We did not choose our return flight itinerary, RCCI Choice Air did that for us. Bottom line, DO NOT BOOK AIRFARE THRU RCCI. IT’S NOT WORTH IT BECAUSE THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU!!!!!!

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