In the last few weeks I was in Washington DC for meetings with elected officials and their staff and also in New York to do media interviews. There are a lot of differences between those two environments but one thing they have in common is a constant stream of new people in responsible positions. The result is that I spend a lot of time giving a “Cruise 101” seminar. It’s remarkable how little understanding there is of our industry that has a documented impact of $35 billion on the U.S. economy (and directly or indirectly supports several hundred thousand jobs). It’s a glamorous business with a number of well-known consumer brands and still there are so many relevant people who lack the most basic understanding of the magnitude of the industry, the breadth of the offerings, the level of customer satisfaction and the measures we take to maximize safety, security and environmental stewardship. The consequence is I often have a hamster wheel sensation. But there is no substitute for telling Royal Caribbean’s and cruising’s story and so I will continue to work at it.
People often ask how frequently I cruise. Putting aside new ship introductions, the answer is about every other year. I have committed to my family that we will cruise next year. Everyone is happy about that. Meanwhile, I will be in Maine as much as my limited vacation time permits this year. What a wonderful place Maine is. There are two species of humans up there: ocean people and lake people. I am of the lake people species. On July 4th we were on a friend’s pontoon boat to eat strawberry shortcake (don’t tell my coach) and watched two summer camps stage a fireworks duel. Over the din of the fireworks it was just possible to hear 250 screaming girls from one of the camps.
I guess because we have now finalized our deployment for next year, this is the time of the year when many loyal customers ask why we are not basing ships in one place or another or for one season or another. We try to cover as much of the globe as we can with 22 ships. It’s our responsibility to put them in the 22 best places we can to deliver maximum value to our shareholders. The best way to do that is to put ships in places our customers value the highest. This of course requires us to make tough choices. As I have written in the past, we spend enormous time and energy vetting alternatives to what we eventually select. If you don’t see what you would like to see in our 2013/2014 roster of itineraries, hopefully you will in an upcoming year. In the mean time, there are many exciting itineraries in our portfolio and I hope you will book your next cruise as soon as possible to secure the stateroom of your choice and get a head start on booking all of the elements of the cruise that are now available online prior to the start of a cruise.