Oasis' outdoor theater to to get in indoor neighbor with 3-D
Surfing pools and skating rinks step aside. The latest and greatest craze, 3-D movie viewing, is coming to the high seas. Royal Caribbean International told agents today that a new 3-D screen and related technology will debut within the theater of the new 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, launching later this year.
The Oasis of the Seas’ theater will also be upgraded to incorporate the 3-D technology, as will interior theaters on Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas. The upgrades will occur as early as January 2011. The line will provide 3-D viewing glasses for guests on those ships to use onboard.
Agents are learning about this and other enticing product developments at today’s 2010 All Access Expo, a virtual trade show Royal Caribbean is conducting from 2 p.m. through 8 p.m. Agents may register and participate by signing onto www.RoyalCaribbeanVirtualExpo.com.
Expect live video sessions with Royal Caribbean executives including Adam Goldstein, Vicki Freed, Lisa Bauer and Ken Muskat, as well as career development workshops, live chats and product announcements. CLIA will offer two credits for each of the workshops in which an agent participates.
Freed, the line’s senior vice president of sales, trade support and services, and Bauer, senior vice president of hotel operations, briefed media about the following news items and brand highlights:
Royal Caribbean typically holds a so-called “Wow Sale” once or twice a year. The next Wow Sale is coming up soon on May 18 and May 19. Perks include a reduced deposit to be paid on the booking date.
In addition, for three- to five-night cruises, consumers will receive a $50 onboard credit. For six- to nine-night cruises, they’ll get a $100 onboard credit. And for 10-night or longer cruises, a $200 onboard credit will apply.
The latest Wow Sale promotion is valid for new bookings only on departures on or after September 1. It applies fleetwide and to cruisetours.
More Allure News
Royal Caribbean recently announced that “Chicago: The Musical” will be the showcase Broadway production onboard Allure of the Seas. Now the line plans to introduce two additional shows for that new Oasis-class ship.
One new production show is titled “Blue Planet.” It will feature aerial artistry, acrobats, singers and dancers. Bauer described it as “unlike anything we’ve seen.”
Bauer also said guests will enjoy a new water show in Allure of the Seas’ AquaTheater. Titled “Ocean Aria,” it will be different than what guests have enjoyed in the AquaTheater on Oasis of the Seas. It will still feature Olympic type diving, Bauer said, but also have some unique features to be unveiled at a later date.
On the dining side, Allure of the Seas will feature Rita’s Cantina, a fun Mexican beach bar with a southern California feel and traditional Mexican cuisine. This new venue on Allure’s Boardwalk will occupy the spot that’s Seafood Shack on Oasis of the Seas.
Clients might chow down on shrimp ceviche tostadas, warm tortilla chips with salsa and fiesta guacamole, as well as such entrées as fajitas, fish tacos and Chipotle-style flautas. This specialty casual restaurant will carry a $4.95 per person cover charge.
Bauer said that the line wanted to add a more substantial family offering to the Boardwalk area, and while a seafood restaurant was a natural for the first ship, the Allure’s western Caribbean itinerary makes the debut of a Mexican cantina a great choice.
Rita’s Cantina also will serve a selection of margaritas. The design of the facility will include large open breezeways and an outdoor seating area with high top tables and stools. At night, the venue will become a “Fiesta Zone” with live guitar music, drinks and dancing.
In addition, Allure will introduce a new Boardwalk Dog House; its outdoor counter will be in the spot that’s the Donut Shop on Oasis of the Seas. That donut shop, in turn, will move just a short distance away on Allure, relocating next to the ice cream store in an area now utilized solely for seating on Oasis. Some of that seating will remain.
The Boardwalk Dog House will offer traditional hot dogs, bratwursts and sausages. Families will design their own “dogs” with toppings to their liking.
Allure of the Seas will have a Coach boutique as well as a new shopping venue, GUESS’ first upscale “flagship store” at sea. The GUESS Accessory boutique will sell head-to-toe fashion offerings -- from shoes to jewelry and eyeware.
The new store will be located in the spot where the Focus Photo Shop is located on deck six; in turn, that camera shop will move into the upstairs Photo Gallery.
Royal Caribbean also plans to utilize technology to enhance the guest experience on Allure of the Seas. So it will add guest kiosks where guests may view, print or email their guest folio information.
This should reduce the number of guests requesting a copy of their statement of charges from the purser’s office, as guests can do it anytime.
In addition, at the kiosks, guests may print out a personalized calendar of their onboard arrangements including shows, specialty dining and shore trips. They will be able to view the calendar and print it out.
Perhaps most helpful, guests may view their airline reservation for the return flight home and print boarding passes at the kiosks.
Also on the techno side, Royal Caribbean will add iPod docking stations to every stateroom on Allure of the Seas, and also roll that program out to Oasis of the Seas as well.
Updates to Liberty and Freedom
Some enhancements won’t just be limited to the Oasis-class ships. Freedom of the Seas, which launched in 2006, and Liberty of the Seas, which debuted in 2007, will also get some of the new brand enhancements from the Oasis-class vessels.
Both ships will undergo a scheduled drydock in first quarter 2011 – Liberty starting on January 23 and Freedom on March 6. So the updates will be made at that time. “The timing could not be more ideal,” noted Bauer.
Those upgrades will include 3-D capability in each ship’s theater, as well as a large outdoor movie screen being installed over each ship’s main pool deck.
Royal Caribbean will also install another yet-to-be-named Broadway show on Liberty of the Seas. Bauer said the Broadway show on Freedom of the Seas, titled “Once Upon a Time,” is so highly rated by guests that the line will continue it at least for the next year.
The line plans to roll out the family musical “Imaginocean” now on Oasis of the Seas in the main theaters of its two Freedom-class ships. The creative show mixes live theater with puppeteering.
On Oasis of the Seas, parents love the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, so Royal Caribbean will introduce that nursery on both Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Babies six months old to 36 months old – and up to 12 at one time – can be left in the care of skilled child care professionals while parents enjoy time on their own.
Bauer said the line will continue the Fisher Price relationship for the nurseries; this is just an expansion of the existing programs for babies and tots.
The Wayfinder digital signage used on Oasis has been a big hit with guests, seeking to find their way with directions to venues on the massive vessel. Guests also may learn what’s happening in those venues. So those interactive digital signs will also be rolled out to both Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas during the drydock.
The two ships’ Vintages lounge will feature trendier décor and offer the Enomatic serving systems as well as a new menu of tapas paired with fine wines.
Since the Cupcake Cupboard has been wildly popular onboard Oasis of the Seas, the line will add it to the promenade of both Freedom-class ships. Cupcake Cupboard will occupy the space in the Royal Promenade now occupied by the camera store, which in turn will be moved up to the photo galley area.
Updates will not be extended to Independence of the Seas, the third Freedom-class vessel which sails from Southampton. More than 90 percent of guests on that ship are British so Bauer said Royal Caribbean wants to have a year’s worth of data from the British market to better understand what’s wanted in terms of any new venues or dining.
Oasis’ New Shoreside Options
Effective immediately, Oasis of the Seas guess may select from three new Cozumel, Mexico, shoreside experiences. During a new “Xcaret Shark Encounter,” guests will snorkel at Xcaret Eco Park near nurse sharks and under the watchful eye of a marine trainer; they’ll also learn about shark physiology, reproduction and eating habits. This experience is priced at $165 per person for adults and children.
During a second new adult-only shore trip, titled “Mexican Wine Tasting at Xcaret Park,” guests will savor a Mexican food and wine pairing and sample from among 180 Mexican wines on display at Xcaret's newly constructed wine cellar. Cost is $135 per person.
Perhaps the most interesting new Oasis shore trip, though, is the first of Royal Caribbean’s new series of voluntourism activities. During the “Voluntourism: The Mexican Red Cross Landscaping Project,” guests will spend a half-day planting trees and shrubs at a new local chapter facility of the Mexican Red Cross on Cozumel.
The $50 per person shore trip fee includes material costs and tools will be provided. Any remaining proceeds from each project session will be donated to the charitable group.
“We want to differentiate what we can do as a brand when [our guests] are off the ships,” Bauer said. “Guests are asking what they can give back,” she said. Over time, Bauer expects the line to introduce other voluntourism projects for other ports.
Freed would like more agents to utilize ChoiceAir, an air-sea program the line introduced in 2009. It replaced what she terms “mystery air,” more typical air ticketing arrangements that agents are accustomed to from cruise lines.
These tend to be air ticket purchases in which the consumer never knows what flight or carrier they are on until 30 days out. At that point, it may be impossible to get seats together on an airline for couples or families.
Freed said ChoiceAir allows people to choose the air carrier based on their frequent flyer program preferences. They may choose either a low-cost restricted ticket or a non-restricted one. And, they may select specific seats, so family members are often able to sit together.
Clients may purchase the ticket instantly. Or, they may wait until closer to the sailing date. Plus, guests' cruise and air arrangements are in a single consolidated booking record, so agents don’t need to manage two separate bookings.
The fares are reportedly more reasonable in price than some cruise line-issued air tickets, which agents have long claimed are inflated in price. A cost of $15 applies for domestic tickets, $25 for international tickets; the cost includes support services.
Among those? One reason for agents to consider the air purchase is what Freed termed “downline protection.” The system has been designed to not allow any air ticketing too close to a cruise departure time – say a 3 p.m. arrival at an airport for a 5 p.m. sailing time.
But if the client books the air within the time cushion deemed appropriate by the system and still misses the cruise departure for some reason, Royal Caribbean “will protect them to get to the first port of call,” said Freed.