First, we will not be offering 15 seven night Mexican Riviera cruises from January 16, 2011 to April 24, 2011 that until now have been open for bookings. I apologize to our customers who had booked on these sailings. We felt obligated to make this change in order to align the ship’s new itineraries with the seasonality of traveling around the southern end of South America as well as the timing of the Brazilian and European cruise seasons. For customers who are affected by this change, we are offering compensation as explained on our website under itinerary updates or you can contact your travel partner for further details.
Second, just to be clear about what Mariner of the Seas will be doing as well as the implications for two of our other ships, here is a summary of the new information:
Mariner of the Seas
On January 16, 2011 Mariner will begin her odyssey to Europe. She will depart from Los Angeles on a special 16-night voyage to Valparaiso, Chile and then continue on as part of an exotic 14-night voyage through the Chilean Fjords, the straits of Magellan and around Cape Horn of Chile and on to Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil.
Once in Sao Paulo (Santos), Mariner of the Seas will offer a short season of 6-night Brazilian sailings in addition to a special 8-night voyage which will be offered over the Carnaval holiday. On March 13, 2011, Mariner of the Seas will offer a transatlantic sailing from Sao Paulo (Santos) to Rome (Civitavechia). In Rome, Mariner of the Seas will offer a unique 9-night Eastern Mediterranean sailing followed by a series of alternating 12-night Holy Land and Egypt itineraries. This program will be offered from March 27, 2011 to July 10, 2011 and again from September 8, 2011 to October 14, 2011.
From July 22, 2011 through September 2, 2011, Mariner of the Seas will offer 7-night Western Mediterranean sailings from Rome. In addition to Rome, guests will have the option to embark in Genoa, Italy.
For the winter of 2011-2012, Mariner of the Seas will head to Galveston and offer a series of alternating 7-night Western Caribbean voyages starting on November 20, 2011.
With Mariner of the Seas now heading to Rome, we will be able to offer a new program for Splendour of the Seas out of Venice. On April 14, 2011 Splendour of the Seas will sail from Lisbon to Venice on an 8-night voyage. Once in Venice, she will conduct an alternating series of 10-night Greek Isles and 11-night Greek Isles and Turkey itineraries. This program will commence on April 22, 2011 and end November 18, 2011.
At the conclusion of the Europe season, Splendour of the Seas will once again return to Brazil.
Guests booked on the previously announced sailings from Rome will be given the option of rebooking on the new Mariner of the Seas program.
As previously announced Voyager of the Seas will homeport in Venice, Italy for the summer of 2011. Starting May 15, 2011, she will offer a unique 6-night Mediterranean voyage from Barcelona to Venice. Once in Venice, she will offer a weekly 7-night Adriatic Sea Coastal program from May 21, 2011 to October 15, 2011. On October 22, 2011, a new 8-night Mediterranean voyage between Venice and Barcelona will be offered. This will be followed by a transatlantic voyage from Barcelona to New Orleans.
When Mariner of Seas returns to the U.S. in the fall of 2011, she will homeport in Galveston. This will enable Voyager of the Seas to relocate to New Orleans and restart our New Orleans program that we stopped after Hurricane Katrina. The program will commence on November 12, 2011 and last until April of 2012. The weekly 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary will offer Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico and George Town, Grand Cayman.
Our deployment decision reflects both strategic and financial considerations. Royal Caribbean has had a major presence at the Port of Los Angeles and on the west coast of Mexico for many years with various ships and it is our hope to return in the not too distant future. Our preference would have been to continue to deliver Mariner of the Seas’ Mexico Riviera itinerary. Unfortunately, while the ship delivered great value to its guests on that itinerary, it will deliver superior performance for our shareholders as well as great value for our guests on the routes that we have announced today.
Our readers will see that Mariner of the Seas’ move continues to increase Royal Caribbean’s capacity in Europe. In 2011, half of our 22 ship fleet will be there for the summer season. Our ships in the rapidly growing European market are capturing demand from Europeans to cruise closer to home. Our increasing range of itineraries also provides customers from North America, Latin America and Asia/Pacific with a wonderful array of choices of destinations and length of cruise throughout Europe. In particular, we are pleased that our Venice-based itineraries on Voyager of the Seas (7-nights including Koper, Slovenia; Ravenna and Bari, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia as well as an overnight in Venice) and on Splendour of the Seas (10- & 11-nights including Split, Croatia; Chania (Souda), Crete; Corfu, Athens (Piraeus), Mykonos, Santorini and Katakolon, Greece on the 10-night itinerary and Kotor, Montenegro; Split, Croatia; Ephesus (Kusadasi) and Bodrum Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Mykonos and Santorini Greece as well as an overnight in Venice the 11-night itinerary) will provide guests with so many unique destinations.
We look forward to operating Mariner of the Seas in Los Angeles until next January and I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who works with us and serves our guests in California and in Mexico.
One postscript from behind the scenes – in the days leading up to this announcement our team created and then implemented (today) an entire communications strategy. We had to take into account local, regional and federal authorities in multiple countries including of course port authorities who will be affected by these changes whether favorably or unfavorably. Given that our ships move and that cruise industry trends and consumer preferences are dynamic, it’s critical that we maintain positive relationships around the world. While it’s not fun to call someone and tell them we are going to move our ship from their port, it’s better to let them know directly from us than for them to see it first online or in a newspaper.