Royal Caribbean ‘amplifying’ luxury offering

Royal Caribbean’s EMEA vice-president said the line is “amplifying” its luxury offering in response to surging demand for more premium accommodation.

Speaking on board the line’s newest and biggest ship Wonder of the Seas as it made its European debut, Ben Bouldin said higher cabin grades are now selling faster than standard staterooms.

With the trend expected to continue, he also hinted that the line will continue to focus on more luxury elements on the forthcoming Icon of the Seas, set to launch in autumn next year.

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“I think we’re seeing it already [people opting for more premium cruises],” he said. “We used to sell all the insides (cabins) pretty quickly but now we’re seeing people booking outer staterooms first; we’re selling balconies, upper space and suites more quickly.

“The luxury market within our product has always been there to a degree so I’m not going to say we’ve suddenly generated this new area of cruising, but we’re amplifying luxury now.”

Bouldin said Royal Caribbean will continue to increase its premium offering, largely through the addition of more suites, for as long as the surge in demand continues.

“People are paying a lot of money for that suite space, and if they’re paying a lot of money for it and they want it, we’ll keep building it,” he added.

The luxury element of Royal Caribbean’s fleet has developed with each new ship, said Bouldin, who added the line’s first Icon-class vessel is likely to have an even greater high-end offering when it makes its inaugural voyage in 2023.

He explained: “‘Luxury’ on this cruise line started with a slightly bigger stateroom, maybe a couple more amenities, and then moved to the state-of-the-art stateroom design on our Quantum-class.

“We then introduced Royal Genies, our version of a butler, and now it has evolved again into a dedicated suite neighbourhood across decks 17 and 18 [on Wonder of the Seas] with its own restaurant and its own sundeck with pools, hot tubs, bars and social areas.

“It’s evolving all the time, but what’s consistent is that it keeps booking first. Where we get to I don’t know, but I can see luxury being an area that continues to grow across the fleet, and you’ll see that again when we launch Icon.”

While Bouldin was keen to emphasise the growing number of high-end options available to guests, he stressed the line still has ample accommodation suited to those with more modest budgets.

“This ship has a whole array of balconies,” he said. “You’ve got Boardwalk balconies, sea view balconies, Central Park balconies. As a minimum, people staying in the inside cabins get a live camera projection of the sea, which gives them a dramatic sense of being more in touch with the outside.”

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