Royal Caribbean 2011: A Year in Review

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All years in the cruise industry are special. There is no such thing as a normal year or an uneventful year. 2011 will likely be remembered first and foremost as the year in which the earthquake/tsunami/radiation in Japan and the “Arab spring” had a profound impact on the business.

Notwithstanding these geopolitical and macroeconomic shockwaves, there were many notable and even wonderful developments that have advanced the Royal Caribbean International brand. Before I recap some of them, I would like to thank the 3,537,225 guests from all over the world who chose to cruise with us in 2011 as well as the travel agents who produced the overwhelming majority of those guests.

We entered 2011 with the momentum of a very successful launch of Allure of the Seas. We were worried Allure could not match the success of Oasis of the Seas launch one year earlier. In the event, the changes we announced on Allure (first Starbucks at Seas, Rita’s Cantina, the DreamWorks experience, 3-D movies, etc.) were so successful that we “rolled back” many of them to Oasis, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas early in the year. We also started the year with Taylor Swift’s concert on Allure (and bookended the year with Martina McBride’s concert on Voyager of the Seas in New Orleans).

In another early year development, we strengthened the Crown & Anchor Society by adding two new loyalty tiers with additional benefits and instituting cruise points in place of cruise credits.

In February we began to dock our ships at Falmouth, Jamaica. This huge commercial development effort, to my knowledge the largest infrastructure project in the Caribbean region in recent years, promises to be a mainstay of the cruise industry for decades to come. Falmouth was named Port of the Year at the Seatrade Insider Cruise Awards in its first year! In addition, Falmouth won the award for “Caribbean’s Leading Tourism Development” at the World Travel Awards – Caribbean & Americas Gala.

Behind the scenes, we negotiated a deal with Meyer Werft in Germany for the construction of a new Sunshine-class ship for delivery in 2014. A lot of our efforts are devoted to the design of this exciting ship. Unfortunately we cannot say much about it for the time being as we are in a very competitive business and we cannot divulge ship features that would represent helpful information to our competitors.

2011 has been Royal Caribbean’s year on the red carpet. Our immersion in the film business began with the release of our two Ocean Views movie shorts, The Allure of Love directed by Jenny McCarthy and Royal Reunion directed by James Brolin. Later in the year, our good friends at DreamWorks Animation held the world premiere of Puss in Boots on Allure of the Seas. Finally, Adam Sandler’s latest comedy film Jack and Jill opened in theaters with an important portion of the film taking place on Allure.

In May we completed a major renovation of Radiance of the Seas, the first of our revitalizations under the Royal Advantage umbrella. More recently we completed the revitalization of Splendour of the Seas. We are adding features to the Vision-, Radiance- and Voyager-class ships that that have distinguished our newest ship classes including new dining options, entertainment, technology and children’s programming. We are particularly excited by the addition of specialty restaurants to the Viking Crown on Splendour as well as the introduction of aerial entertainment into Splendour’s Centrum.

On the culinary front, we entered into a relationship with noted Miami-based chef Michael Schwartz. Michael has created the menu for our 150 Central Park restaurant on Oasis of the Seas. We are very pleased to bring Michael’s talents to Oasis.

While all of the above was unfolding, Royal Caribbean International continued to expand its presence throughout the world with additional programs in Brazil, Australia, China and Europe. We are extremely pleased to have won prestigious awards for best cruise line and/or for specific product elements in countries across the globe. I’m grateful for the recognition particularly as it reflects the phenomenal effort, skill and creativity of our people. But the ultimate praise occurs each time one of our guests says “Wow”.

Was there something about 2011 that you found memorable as it relates to Royal Caribbean? If so, I’d enjoy hearing about it. Please share your memorable moments with me by posting a comment here. Thank you.

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