In December it was Royal Caribbean in the news when crew members got caught smuggling drugs in Baltimore. In January, US Customs and Border patrol went back and found more. Earlier this month, a drug dealer was busted on shiny new Allure of the Seas dealing to the World’s Largest Gay Cruise. It seems Royal Caribbean is the cruise line of choice for drug dealers in spite of the line’s “zero tolerance” for drugs on board.
Now we have yet another incident with the Associated Press reporting two crew members busted in Jamaica with nearly 75 pounds of cocaine.
“On February 23, Jamaican authorities detained a crew member and found that he was in possession of 18 kilos of cocaine. Authorities then boarded [Grandeur of the Seas] and found an additional 15 kilos in the cabin of a different crew member.” Royal Caribbean said in a statement to CruiseCritic.com.
But yet John Doe and his lovely wife Sally get the bottle of champagne they wanted to bring on board to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary confiscated upon embarkation. That, the cruise line has under control.
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinz also told Cruise Critic in January that drug busts onboard ships are very rare and have occurred “only a handful of times.”
Well, we count four since December. How many is a handful?
Maybe Royal Caribbean should approach drug smuggling by its own crew with the same intensity they do bringing liquids on board by passengers, going so far as to say on their website:
“Please Note: All guests must comply with TSA guidelines for transporting liquids.”
Really? Forget the Tequilla. Mom can’t bring a full bottle of Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo but somehow your crew members bring enough party drugs on board to to fire Manhattan?
Something is not quite right here. No mon, something very bad dis place.
Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas was home this week to 5,400 passengers but one will not be coming back with the ship. A California man was busted in St Thomas for dealing drugs on what was promoted as the World’s Largest Gay Cruise.
“Steven Barry Krumholtz, 51, of West Hollywood was busted aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas as the cruise ship was docked in St. Thomas”, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said in a statement to AOL Travel News.
It looks like that drug dealer charge should stick too.
“Agents searched Krumholz’s cabin and allegedly found more than 142 ecstasy pills, nearly 3 grams of methamphetamine, a small quantity of ketamine and about $51,000 in cash, reports the AP. While waiting for the suspect to return to his cabin, two more passengers came to buy drugs, according to the affidavit.Allure of the Seas departed from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida February 6 with 5,400 passengers on a trip chartered by Atlantis Events. Atlantis specializes in gay and lesbian vacations both on land and at sea. The company has chartered Allure on the same itinerary in 2012. Reservations open on February 23 for a sailing that departs January 29, 2012.
“We take various steps to prevent the transport of illegal narcotics,” says Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told AOL Travel News. “Royal Caribbean cooperated fully with authorities during this investigation and will continue to provide law enforcement with any assistance they may need.”
It’s been a busy week for Royal Caribbean International.
Rumors have been flying around about what the innovative parent company to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises could possibly do to top mega-ship Allure of the Seas. This week we got a glimpse of what might be in store and a little look back at the past.
“While we look forward to a period of slower growth, we do not intend to stagnate,” said Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. “We have been considering our next new building project and we feel that the time may now be right for such a move.”
Fain mentioned the new ship topic in an earnings call that reported a huge gain in earnings for the company over the previous year. The Miami Herald reports that Fain gave few details, but said the ship would be part of the Royal Caribbean International brand and would likely be the first of a series.
“We have been working intensively on developing a design that reflects our innovative spirit, but in an efficient package and we think that we are near to an acceptable outcome,” Fain said.
It will be interesting to see what they come up with.
You can bet whatever direction they go, the result will be unique and exciting with some fun events along the way. For example, last week Royal Caribbean hosted Taylor Swift for a concert on Allure of the Seas.
On the eve of her Speak Now world concert tour, Swift performed favorites and song off her new album. Winners from a Clear Channel Radio promotion packed the ship’s Aqua Theater.
If there is one thing cruise lines are it’s responsive to giving passengers what they want. A big part of the cruise experience has always been the food and these days there are more options than ever before. It’s been an evolution as cruise lines look for just the right mix of dining options to be everything to everyone. For the most part, cruise line dining options have been evolving well but not without moving a bit farther away from the all-inclusive nature cruise vacations are known for.
It wasn’t all that long ago that everybody on a cruise ship piled into the main dining room for dinner. They may have chosen an early or late dining time but that was about it in the way of options. Still, considering the all-inclusive nature of a cruise, it made sense and everyone was happy for the most part. Dancing waiters in the dining room and top-notch banquet-style service pleased pretty much everyone.
Then cruise lines started adding what were called “alternative dining options” to ships. Initially they were a single restaurant in addition to the main dining room where one might go for a super extra special occasion, pay a little more and get even better service and even better food than the already great stuff in main dining room.
I remember sailing on Carnival Legend when this concept first came out. We paid $20 extra for a steak that would have been called a roast back home able to feed a family of four along with a dining experience like no other. In the small venue there was live entertainment, waiters always within arms reach and they did a really good job in a different way than the main dining room. It made sense. It was worth the nominal fee and quite an experience. Not that the main dining room wasn’t, this was different and obviously something they couldn’t just throw in for everyone as part of the deal.
Fast forward to now and Allure of the Seas, Norwegian Epic or any one of a number of other ships where the main dining room experience is almost secondary and not the star of the show as it once was. Today there are more options than ever before for dining at any time of the day or night, for a price.
%Gallery-112282%”Oasis of the Seas features 24 distinct dining experiences, ranging from an exclusive signature restaurant, to neighborhood-specific themed venues, and new twists on Royal Caribbean’s traditional dining areas.” says cruise expert Linda Garrison.
Of those 24 dining options, 12 included in the price and 12 cost more, but prices are reasonable starting at $4.95 for Johnny Rockets, fun and casual indoor/outdoor diner to $35 for 150 Central Park, the ships premiere dining venue.
Other cruise lines and ships have up to a 50/50 split between complementary and extra charge dining options too. Norwegian Cruise Lines new Norwegian Epic has 9 complementary options and 10 extra charge choices.
A number of long-time cruise vacation fans recoil at the mere thought of paying a cover charge for, in their minds, what used to be included in the price. Surely, long ago when these options did not exist, that was true. But now pretty much all major cruise lines have dining options and doing so is consistent with what a cruise is all about
On a cruise, as opposed to other packaged vacation options, we can easily customize the experience to be pretty much what ever we want it to be. This is good news for travelers who are becoming more and more all about custom vacation options rather than a boiler-plate same experience for everyone.
Yes, you can still book a cruise, and have a good time without spending one penny more than the price of the cruise. The lines are well aware that it was the all-inclusive nature and extraordinary value of a cruise compared with other options, that got them where they are today. They are not going to turn their back on that.
Attractive dining options, at an extra charge, allow those who want more than the standard fare to get just that.
In 2011 and beyond, look for this trend to continue as cruise lines as well as other vacation options allow more customization. Those who want to debate the topic need to wake up and smell the coffee, this is not going away.
The big…make that GIANT story for 2010 in the world of cruise vacations was Allure of the Seas, sister-ship to last year’s 220,000 ton Oasis of the Seas from Royal Caribbean. The monster ship gobbled up headlines, berth space at ports and will send other ships running in 2011.
I liked Allure better than older sibling Oasis but that might have been because they worked all the kinks out that come with moving 5000 people on, off and around a ship each week by the time Allure was born. Technically “twins” they’re really not exactly clones and both ships have a distinct aura about them that’s undeniable. Allure is actually a wee bit longer, enough to give her captain verile bragging rights, and both ships have some different minor features. Still, combined, they close in on half a million tons of ship and that’s nothing to ignore.
Each ship has more restaurants, more cabins, more things to do, more people to see than any other ship at sea. Feature-hungry cruise passengers got everything they had been asking for and more.
Is this a case of “be careful what you ask for, you might just get it?”
Between the two, Royal Caribbean has chased a lot of ships out of South Florida, leaving much of the market to themselves.
Time will tell but so far prices are holding at a high level and the new ships are filling up fast which equals success in any body’s book. They better too, at more than a billon dollars each, there’s a lot riding on their success. Down the line Royal Caribbean is going to have to find some new places for the ships to visit as guests get over the wow-factor and want to get off the ship at ports. That’s no easy task.
Not one port was set up to handle this size vessel before they were built and all ports had to be modified to make it work. Surely, it’s worth it to local economies to have a ship dump 5000 paying tourists off for a day. Southampton is drooling over the possibility and maybe even Brownsville, Texas will throw their hat back in the ring to finally get that cruise port they want so bad.
The future of new-builds for Royal Caribbean holds an empty slate which makes sense. The Oasis sisters will be a tough act to follow.