Moving the Quantum of the Seas to China is undoubtedly the biggest deployment news for Royal Caribbean International and perhaps the industry as well. Chris Allen, associate vice president of global deployment and itinerary planning for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, described the move to Cruise Industry News as “bold.”
Also new this year, Royal Caribbean is deploying the 225,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Allure out of Barcelona for the summer season. “It is the first time, we have deployed a ship of that size for a full season outside of the Caribbean,” Allen noted. “We learned a lot from the Oasis last year, which had a very successful micro season.” In addition, the new Anthem of the Seas will spend her first summer sailing from Southampton.
According to Allen, the message is that Royal Caribbean will have the biggest and the newest ships in Europe this summer, increasing their passenger capacity somewhat from 2014.
While less dramatic, Celebrity’s European deployment will be expansive. “I think Celebrity has the most unique itineraries in Europe, and we are expanding that even further in 2016 and 2017,” Allen commented. “We are continuing to push the destination focus of the brand and are adding more short cruises.”
Altogether, European deployment will be up 5 percent over last year, but still below previous years’ levels.
With nine big ships after the Century leaves this spring, Celebrity will have five ships in Europe during the summer, three in Alaska and one sailing from Cape Liberty to Bermuda. The smaller Xpedition sails year-round in the Galapagos.
Royal Caribbean will have nine ships in the Caribbean, six ships in Europe, three in China and two in Alaska.
Next winter, Royal Caribbean will have 13 ships sailing to the Bahamas and the Caribbean; four in Australia; two in Asia (Shanghai and Singapore), one from Dubai and one in South America.
Celebrity will have six ships in the Caribbean, in addition to single ships in Asia, Australia/New Zealand and South America.
“We go where our guests want to go,” Allen said, “and we maximize the deployment according to the key pillars of each brand. Of course, we also look at the less glamorous aspects such as port and fuel costs. We are constantly reaching out for feedback from our passengers and from marketing. ECA is another consideration.
“Itineraries are at the heart of each brand,” he continued, “it is a complex process with many moving pieces and it is getting more complex.”