Royal Caribbean highlights port destination investments

FORT LAUDERDALE — Royal Caribbean International is doing
more to elevate all aspects of a cruise experience so that they match the
improvements made to ships in recent years.

Jason Liberty, CFO of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises
Ltd., outlined the strategy in a talk here to travel agents attending
CruiseWorld, a Travel Weekly event.

A case in point is RCCL’s $247 million glass-walled Terminal
A, which recently opened at PortMiami.

“We’re really trying to take more ownership of the
guest experience from the time they get out of their car to the time they get
off the ship,” Liberty said.

Liberty said another example is Royal Caribbean’s private
island in the Bahamas, CocoCay, which is getting $200 million of “thrill
and chill” upgrades. That will make it more consistent with the experience
guests have on the ships.

“They’re expecting an experience that is common across
everything our brands are producing,” Liberty said.

Liberty joined RCCL in 2005 and was named CFO in 2013. He’s
the company’s chief spokesman on financial strategies.

On another issue, Liberty said that Royal Caribbean
International’s recent decision to add more field sales staff reflects the
complexity of the cruise product and the value of travel agents in selling
it.  

“I get questions from investors all the time about why we
spend so much money on travel agents,” Liberty said. “There’s a real
high level of appreciation of how important the trade is, how important
touching the trade is with training, tools and technology. That really is what
supports why we believe we need a higher level of field sales support.”

Discussing the new Celebrity Edge, a ship due to arrive in
Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 19, Liberty said the long and elaborate introduction of
the ship has been worth the cost.

The push, which began 18 months ago, has worked well,
Liberty said. “It has been a very long time since Celebrity got a new ship,
so we wanted to make this a very special build-up,” he said.

“A lot of things we that revealed have never been seen
before,” Liberty added. “We wanted to make sure that was able to
simmer in the minds of travel agents and guests.”

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