Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that it will open a dedicated office in New Zealand to cater to the increasing numbers of New Zealanders taking cruise holidays.
RCL has acquired part of Cruise Vacations, the Auckland-based general sales agent, which had previously represented the line’s cruise brands in New Zealand since 1990. This long standing and effective relationship has been instrumental in developing the business for RCL in this region.
The New Zealand office will be overseen by Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia, headed by local managing director, Gavin Smith. The new office in Auckland will support the commercial and operational efforts in New Zealand for the company’s three cruise brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, and is expected to be fully operational from 01 April 2010.
"New Zealanders are avid cruise enthusiasts," says Gavin Smith. In 2008, nearly 40,000 New Zealanders went on a cruise, compared with 30,215 in 2007.* New Zealanders spent an amazing 421,000 days at sea in 2008.
"We are delighted to be stepping up our operations in New Zealand and to be offering New Zealanders more cruising choices. We believe the New Zealand market is ready for greater choices in cruising, and our expansion will raise the bar in terms of what New Zealanders can expect from their cruise holidays," said Mr. Smith.
The New Zealand office will be run by Mark Kinchley, who has previously worked with RCL in the United Kingdom where his main role was to introduce automated reservation tools to U.K. and European travel agents. U.K.-born Kinchley emigrated to New Zealand in 1996 and was previously general manager, Insight Vacations and Abercrombie & Kent. Most recently he worked with EuroVista Holidays.
Says Kinchley: "Although I am changing direction somewhat from land-based, escorted touring to ocean cruising, I bring with me a wealth of experience and success of working with leading travel brands. I am delighted to be rejoining the Royal Caribbean family and I look forward to getting out on the road to meet agents and develop strategies to build sales."
Gavin Smith also announced that Royal Caribbean International will double the number of sailings to New Zealand by the end of next year.
Royal Caribbean has had a presence in Australia since it opened a Sydney office in December 2008, and its Sydney-based ship Rhapsody of the Seas has been a familiar sight in New Zealand waters for the past two summers, calling regularly at the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin and Milford Sound.
From October to April 2011, Rhapsody of the Seas will be joined by Radiance of the Seas, which will offer cruises in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. At 293 metres long, Radiance of the Seas, is the newest, largest and most modern ship in the Royal Caribbean International fleet to sail in Australasian waters.
"That’s all good news for the New Zealand economy," added Smith, reporting that on some of the company’s cruises to New Zealand, between 60 to 70 percent of guests originate from North America, U.K./Europe and Asia. "New Zealand has great potential as a destination for our inbound cruise guests. The country has breathtaking scenery and local land-based tours offer a wide range of touring and activities, from bungy jumping for the brave, to farm visits and bush walks, to more relaxing winery visits."
To enjoy an even more comprehensive holiday experience in the region, cruise holidaymakers can choose an Australia/New Zealand cruisetour. Guests can combine a Royal Caribbean cruise with a pre- or post-sailing cruisetour land package to destinations like Rotorua, Milford Sound, Queenstown and Auckland, including winery and Wildlife reserves visits, a Hangi and Maori Concert Experience and flightseeing tours. Each land tour is escorted by a Tour Director, and ground transfers, hotel reservations, city tours and some meals are inclusive.
Royal Caribbean International is known for its onboard innovations, such as rock-climbing walls, Broadway-style shows, and its award-winning Adventure Ocean activity programme for children aged from six months to 17 years. The Miami-based company has a combined total of 21 ships in service, including the world’s largest and most innovative superliner, Oasis of the Seas, launched late last year.
As someone who has been involved in the travel and cruise industry for more 20 years, Gavin Smith says he can truly appreciate the allure of cruising. Apart from the sheer enjoyment of getting away from it all, Smith says: "I think it is also the fact that the majority of your expenses are taken care of in one upfront cost, and that during the one holiday, you stop at a number of exotic destinations you have always wanted to experience."
In 2009, Royal Caribbean International ships visited 290 destinations in 72 countries on six continents with destinations including Alaska, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal and South America. Itineraries on Rhapsody of the Seas range between eight and 18 nights and include a variety of Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific destinations.