As the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, the second Oasis-class vessel, launches this month for Royal Caribbean International, travel agents are likely to benefit from the national publicity, which typically can stir market interest for a new ship and cruise vacations in general.
|Royal Caribbean’s new Allure of the Seas crossed the Atlantic en route to her homeport in Fort Lauderdale.|
The official naming ceremony for the 225,282-ton ship is on November 28, during a one-night celebration to benefit several south Florida charities. A special four-night sailing on December 1 will call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach destination along the north coast of Haiti.
Then, Allure of the Seas will depart for its inaugural seven-night western Caribbean itinerary on December 5. But once it enters regular service in December, who will book it and what sales hooks can agents use to entice qualified clients onboard?
“As time has passed, the passengers who booked Oasis of the Seas to say they’ve cruised the largest cruise ship in the world have already sailed,” notes Amber Blecker, a CruiseOne franchise owner from Aurora, CO. “I’m finding the passengers interested in the Allure of the Seas run the gamut from those who sailed on Oasis and can’t wait for her sister to see the changes to people initially concerned about the ship’s size but now booking as they hear from friends and colleagues about the brilliant design.”
If clients call agents, what hot buttons can they push to lure clients to make a booking?
NURSERY RHYMES: Allure, as with many other family-friendly ships, has robust children’s programs. In fact, the ship has 28,000 square feet of space for its supervised children and teen clubs. But parents who have a “high maintenance” infant or toddler in tow, and hate having no private time onboard, will be singing nursery rhymes of praise for Allure’s new Royal Babies and Tots Nursery. As on Oasis, professional English nannies will care for children as young as six months of age. That’s a positive for parents as most cruise ships won’t accept kids under the age of 2 or, in some cases 3, for any supervised care. Thus, parents on Allure can try out the ship’s dining, activity and entertainment options.
HOLLYWOOD AND BROADWAY: Onboard Allure, cruisers might—based on their activity choices—encounter characters from Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon in onboard parades, character breakfasts, an aqua show, an ice show and 3-D movie screenings.
|The Royal Suite on Allure|
Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean’s senior vice president of sales, says on testing DreamWorks programming presented onboard Oasis, the line was surprised to see that adults loved the characters as much or even more than some kids! But she also says “if somebody doesn’t want [their cruise experience to focus on] DreamWorks, the whole ship is not becoming DreamWorks. It’s a balance, and we’ve taken that into consideration.”
Those who love stage productions and movie musicals, for instance, might attend Chicago: The Musical, the first official Broadway production of the show at sea. The main theater will also host Blue Planet, a new spectacle of music, dance and aerial acrobatics.
BEYOND “ME TOO”: Clients who take land-based vacations at hotels or resorts often return home to find they’ve vacationed on a “me too” product, according to Freed. For example, if clients stay at a resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya or Orlando or on a Caribbean island, they are likely to return home to brag about their trip only to have friends or family members say, “Oh, I’ve visited that kind of resort, too” or “I’ve done those same activities [at another hotel].” Essentially, Freed says, “it’s all fun in the sun.”
But Allure is a unique offering, she says. “If clients are seeking the newest, hottest vacation, and they like to collect [vacation experiences] and brag to their friends,” Freed believes they’ll gravitate to Allure, so they can say, “I’ve been on that ship.”
DINING CHOICES GALORE: Agents can tell culinary-minded clients this ship has 26 different dining options—and more than half of them are complimentary choices. And, “we still change menus in all complimentary venues at night,” Freed says, noting that another line within the contemporary segment doesn’t do that.
The ship’s new options include the fleet’s first Samba Grill (a Brazilian steakhouse), Rita’s Cantina Grill and a new fine-dining experience at 150 Central Park, created by The Culinary Institute of America alumna, Molly Brandt. Allure will also be home to the first Starbucks at sea.
LOOKING FOR LOVE: If clients are looking for a different venue in which to celebrate an anniversary, renew vows or enjoy a destination wedding, Allure of the Seas offers much, including lucrative revenue opportunities for agents.
Freed says the average wedding party that sails onboard Royal Caribbean has 32 people. “So travel agents can make a lot of money and promote themselves as providers of a unique destination wedding. It’s a solid market and [Allure is] perfect for such occasions as a 25th wedding anniversary.”
HEALTHY VACATIONS: Let’s just say Allure—at 16 passenger decks, 1,187 feet in length, and 213 feet high from the water line—is very big. As a result, guests staying onboard likely will spend much time hoofing it from point A to point B during the course of a cruise.
In addition, there is a state-of-the-art spa and fitness center onboard, so agents should let clients know they can continue with a normal fitness regimen. Yoga, aerobics and spinning classes are also available. Healthy cuisine is served in the ship’s restaurants, and an entire Vitality program is designed to promote wellness. The message? People don’t have to gain weight on a ship.
QUIET OR ACTIVE: With Oasis, “we didn’t do a good enough job in articulating the value proposition [of the Central Park and Boardwalk balcony cabins],” Freed says. It’s a balcony experience, not just with a sea view. With Allure, the line is making sure agents understand the value proposition—a balcony overlooking either a quiet neighborhood or an active one, and all are open to the sky.
Guests staying in a Central Park balcony cabin are treated to the lush greenery of tropical plants and serenity of an open-air park. At night, it twinkles with an elegant, yet natural, aura. But for clients who seek constant activity and fun, the Boardwalk balcony cabins promise a totally different experience. Clients will feel in the center of the action as they watch a street parade, view families on the carousel, and gaze as people slide on the zipline across the top of the neighborhood. By booking a cabin far aft, clients may even watch the AquaTheater show. The ship even boasts a new Dog House counter, so if those watching the Boardwalk activity from their balcony want the munchies, they can saunter down for a hot dog with all the “fixins.”
To learn more about Allure of the Seas, visit www.cruisingpower.com and www.allureoftheseas.com or contact the line’s business development manager.