Royal Caribbean and Celebrity bring a European summer
The highlight of the year for Royal Caribbean is the upcoming launch of Wonder of the Seas. The biggest ship in the world at 237,000 gross tonnage, 1200 feet long and 210 feet wide, the vessel has 2,867 staterooms, 24 guest elevators and 33 plus food and beverage outlets. “The aptly named Wonder of the Seas will set sail on its maiden voyage on March 4 this year when she will set to the US for her Caribbean itineraries, and do her European debut on May 8.”
Saeed explains, “Europe has always been the highest demand for the Middle East market and this is the right product for our clients here in the Middle East. This summer, from May to early October we are going to have Odyssey of the Seas out of Rome, and Wonder of the Seas out of Barcelona, both doing seven-night itineraries visiting Spain, Italy and France.”
“Listen to your clients - recognize their needs and wants, and then offer them the best cruise option. Have a clear understanding of what every brand delivers”
– Mohammed Saeed
Royal Caribbean Group has five distinct cruise brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea, Tui Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
Celebrity Beyond, the third ship in the highly acclaimed, award-winning Edge Series from Celebrity Cruises, will set sail in April this year for a summer of Europe. Pegged to be one step ahead of the Edge Series’ first two ships, Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex, The Retreat aboard Celebrity Beyond is 40 per cent larger with an expanded two-storey sundeck and stunningly redesigned exclusive spaces that are all adjacent to create a true resort-within-a-resort feel.
“Wellness is so fundamental to our philosophy, we’ve created a whole new way to nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Celebrity Beyond will introduce AquaClass Sky Suites, which combine the best of our AquaClass stateroom experiences with the luxurious spaces, services, and amenities of The Retreat.”
Starting on a Western Europe voyage on April 27, Celebrity Beyond will traverse several nine to ten night itineraries around the Greek Isles, Italian Riviera, France, Malta and Spain before heading on a transatlantic journey on October 12 to pursue Caribbean itineraries.
“This is our biggest win in 2022: we're not going to have one but two beautiful, brand new Celebrity ships – Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Beyond - in Europe this summer.”
Celebrity Cruises is being offered as an all-inclusive concept to guests. “It's one price across all the fleet, all inclusive of premium beverages, internet, laundry, Wi-Fi, tips, you name it. We're making a new segment in cruising, which is called new luxury – we're sitting on a different scale,” explains Saeed.
If safety and cleanliness protocols are anything to go by, cruising is safer than it has been ever before. Aboard Royal Caribbean ships it is now mandatory that all guests aged 12 and older be fully vaccinated to sail. Kids who are too young to be vaccinated are tested before boarding. All crew members onboard ships, and at RCI’s private destinations, are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and tested at least once a week and provided six-monthly booster shots.
The cruise’s evolved sanitisation protocols use EPA-certified disinfectants and medical-grade techniques like electrostatic fogging to clean frequently and consistently. While there's nothing like the fresh air of the open ocean, Royal Caribbean’s HVAC system continuously supplies 100 per cent fresh, filtered air from outdoors to all indoor spaces. The transmission of aerosol particles between spaces (like those from a cough) is extremely low to virtually impossible – as validated in an independent assessment conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Strategic Research Institute on board a Royal Caribbean ship.
“The vessels now have more doctors and nurses on each ship and state-of-the-art equipment enhancements. In the event of a suspected case of Covid-19, we’re fully prepared with sound care plans, including rapid testing onboard. There’s no longer just a doctor on board with a small nursing station, there are facilities of a hospital with a full medical staff, who have immunology experience.”
Saeed’s key message to the travel agent community is to book in advance and to understand the client’s needs so as to sell them the right product.
“Take advantage of the current Wave Promotions because they are very, very generous. I know we're a last minute market, but we need to change that mindset as other global markets are taking advantage of this promotion now. Royal and Celebrity Cruises both have very generous Wave Promotions that we have already shared across with our newsletters, where you can save up to $700 to $900 per cabin.
“Listen carefully to your clients and recognize their needs and wants, and then offer them the best cruise option by understanding what every brand delivers. If you have a family that is keen to have their kids enjoy their time day and night, Royal Caribbean is for you. If you have a family who appreciate luxury, and wants to spend time together as a family, enjoying culinary experiences, making memories together – typically with older kids, then Celebrity is the right choice.”
Saeed also adds that agents should book without the fear of losing their money. “Book at ease, knowing that you will get your money back in future cruise credits that may be used up to 12 to 18 months, when you cancel up to 48 hours ahead of the sailing.”