Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Crew Makes the Cruise Line

When Royal Caribbean recently announced that they were increasing the suggested gratuity guidelines, it made me reflect upon my own experiences with the crew aboard the various Royal Caribbean ships I have cruised.  In the fifteen or so cruises I have taken with my family I don’t think I have ever left the suggested gratuity…the Royal Caribbean personnel I’ve encountered have always deserved so much more!

 My family has always felt that the interaction with our dining room wait staff was one of the things we loved most about cruising!  These men and women have always gone above and beyond anything we would expect of them!  Years ago we cruised with another family to Alaska on the Radiance of the Seas.  Although we were cross-referenced for dining, we were surprised to see that we had separate side-by-side tables in the dining room.  When the waiter came over to introduce himself we asked about pushing the tables together. He suggested putting the three children (age 8, 8 and 5) at one table under his care so the adults could dine together.  What an offer!  Our waiter taught them a new napkin fold each night and even insisted on cutting the 5-year old’s meat.  He chatted with them about whales and glaciers and seemed genuinely interested in all they had to say. Our gratefulness was expressed in our gratuity and in our guest satisfaction survey.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Evolution of Celebrity Silhouette & Celebrity Reflection

In 2008 Celebrity Cruise Line debuted the first ship in its new Solstice class and the reviews were unanimous…this was a job well done.  Accolades were given to her crisp modern design, use of space and innovation.  So why fix what’s not broken when rolling out her successors?   According to Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Dan Hanrahan, “We recognize that consumer’s vacation time is precious, and that’s what drives us to continually create new and unique experiences that enhance their rare time away.”  That is exactly what you will see aboard the two new Solstice class ships; Celebrity Silhouette and the Celebrity Reflection.

A significant change to the two new ships will be an update to what Mr. Hanrahan calls the “underutilized” Lawn Club. With the goal being to extend the frequency and length of visits to the area, new dining venues and experiences are being introduced.  “The Porch” will be an alternative to the Oceanview CafĂ©, serving up complimentary breakfast and lunch.  In addition there will be a bar that features specialty coffee, beer and wine for sale.  Its casually chic and comfortably modern design will have magnificent views of both the lawn and the sea. 

The Corning Glass Museum is being replaced with a multi purpose site called “The Lawn Club Grill” (the Corning Glass Museum and demonstrations will remain on the Solstice, Equinox, and Eclipse).  During the day this area will host fun, interactive demos and classes.  Scheduled activities may include hands on cooking like making a pizza, or chef-led demonstrations such as “marinade 101”.  By night “The Lawn Club Grill”, as the name suggests, celebrates the passion of grilling!  Gleaming stainless steel grills, an open kitchen, and a large glass door fridge where you can choose your own meat help to make this a highly social and interactive experience.  There will even be the option of grilling along side the chef!  Beverage features will include wine, buckets of beer and pitchers of sangria.  There is a $30 per person charge.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Single Occupancy Staterooms on Royal Caribbean

Often we hear in the cruise industry from solo travelers that have expressed their disappointment that they must pay a double-occupancy cruise fare. Up until recently, most modern cruise ships did not provide staterooms to accommodate just one passenger. Standard staterooms were made to accommodate 2 to 4 passengers and if a solo traveler chose to use one of these staterooms, they would be required to pay double the cruise fare.

This past July, the Norwegian Epic introduced single occupancy staterooms called Studio cabins. They have been a significant success and in high demand for solo travelers.

Rumors are now circulating that Royal Caribbean is considering single occupancy staterooms on some of their older ships such as the Radiance of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. These ships are scheduled to be refurbished in the near future, so maybe there is a possibility we will see single occupancy cabins become available soon after. We will keep you posted on developments of this story.