Cruise line art program builds on past, looks to future

In May of 2010, Royal Caribbean dropped Park West, the company that handles art auctions on most cruise ships ending their cruise line art program. In a post on his blog, the company’s president and CEO, Adam Goldstein, wrote at the time that the contract it had with Park West Art Services to run its auctions expired and that it was not going to renew. Now, continuing to focus on the arts, Royal Caribbean is relaunching its cruise line art program, capitalizing on their extensive fleetwide art collection Art on Royal, offering

“Royal Caribbean International has compiled one of the world’s largest private art collections, valued at $120 million, on display aboard our fleet of ships for our guests’ enjoyment,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International.

The new exclusive program is much more comprehensive and expands the breadth of onboard art-inspired events, with tours, seminars and auctions. Art on Royal integrates the entire onboard collection aboard Royal Caribbean’s fleet featuring Royal Art Icons, select artists among the entire Royal Caribbean Art Collection, and works by Royal Caribbean Signature Artists Romero Britto and Thomas Kinkade. This exclusive program, developed in partnership with Art Actually, was first piloted aboard Oasis of the Seas; is also currently aboard Adventure of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas; and will be available on most ships by the end of the year.

“Guests have always marveled at our art and many have inquired into how to purchase them” said Bauer. “Art on Royal will offer guests the opportunity to take home a lasting work of art as a memory of their cruise vacation, as well as provide a broad menu of enriching, art-inspired programs, featuring Royal Caribbean Signature Artists and Royal Art Icons pieces. This new art program is part of the Royal Advantage, Royal Caribbean’s commitment to deliver a compelling and most contemporary vacation experience.”

Already in place, The BRITTO Gallery aboard Allure of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas will soon to be added to Splendour of the Seas. The Thomas Kinkade Gallery aboard Mariner of the Seas features expressions of love, home, family, peace, community and the beauty of nature by one of the most collected living artists in history.

Through the unique Art on Royal program, guests have the opportunity to view and purchase a one-of-a-kind piece, as well as enjoy events on select sailings throughout the year. In addition, Art on Royal offers a range of gifts, souvenirs and high-valued originals, including limited-edition signed photography, prints and objects, one-off unique pieces, wall pieces and reliefs, miniatures, and artist commissions.

Art on Royal is managed by Art Actually and is inspired by the art that is on permanent display across the Royal Caribbean fleet. This extensive art collection has been compiled over a period of 20 years and contains thousands of unique art works by hundreds of established and emerging artists. The Royal Caribbean Art Collection is one of the largest private collections to be on display in its entirety on a constant basis.

Here is a sample of the artwork currently on display:


Video of the Day: Cruise ship belly flop contest

I’ve never been on cruise but we cover them pretty extensively here at Gadling. Everything I know about the cruise industry I’ve learned from Saturday Night Live. So, you can imagine my confusion when I saw this video posted online today. Apparently, Royal Caribbean ships have belly flop contests. And, apparently some people film them. From the massive crowd watching each flop as if it’s Game 7 of the World Series to the painful water landings to the ultra-perky MC, this video has everything that you need to either brighten your day or send you into a shame spiral after you realize that you scored every single belly flop as if you were an Olympic judge. We apologize for stealing ten minutes of your life.

Cruise ships on the move as traveler demand changes

It was not all that long ago that cruise lines were boasting massive deployment to European waters for 2012 and into 2013. Now, it appears those waters across the pond might not be quite as attractive as at least one cruise line thought. Royal Caribbean is bringing one of their ships back to the U.S. On the other hand, some lines are expanding even beyond Europe as Celebrity Cruises heads to Australia and New Zealand and Carnival Cruise Lines hints at plans to court the UK cruise market. Let’s take a look.

The big news is that Royal Caribbean will redeploy Navigator of the Seas, scheduled to cruise in the Mediterranean, to the Caribbean for the 2011-2012 cruise season and sail out of Port Everglades, Florida.

“We are responding to vacationers’ demand for more Caribbean options this coming winter (and) spring,” Royal Caribbean spokesman Harry Liu told USA Today.

That’s good news for the U.S. cruise market as Navigator of the Seas will offer a unique series of five- to nine-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries between November 20, 2011 and April 14, 2012 when she goes back to Europe.Disney Cruise Line, who will complete the process of doubling it’s fleet soon, will move out of Vancouver after just one season. Sailing from Seattle next year, the line appears to be reacting to “the cost of flying” says the Regina Leader-Post who notes “Flying costs, especially with Disney’s high proportion of children, are important”.

Also, Celebrity Cruises plans to have six ships in the Caribbean during the winter of 2012-13, down from eight this coming winter. Celebrity is sending Celebrity Solstice to Australia and New Zealand and Celebrity Millennium will go to Asia for the first time calling in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Halong Bay.

Even All-American Carnival Cruise Lines which has had a minimal presence in Europe is looking to the UK market for new passenger sourcing.

“We have a desire to source more people from the UK because of the common language we share,” Carnival chief executive Gerry Cahill told TTGLive.

Indeed, with new Carnival Magic debuting on May 1, 2011 and next-up Carnival Breeze coming out next year, the line will have plenty of experience and hardware in the area. Still, no announcements have been made on exactly how the Funship line will go after UK passengers.

“The UK market is a key priority for us, but how we try to attract it will be decided at a later date,” Cahill said, adding “There are a lot of options, and basing a ship in the UK could be one of those options.”

Flickr photo by Heroiclife

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Tanganyika Wildlife Park gets a helping hand

Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita, Kansas is a non-profit specialty zoo charged with educating the public about endangered species. At the park, visitors are invited to get up close and personal with kangaroos, giraffes and other wildlife not exactly roaming the plains of the great Midwest on a normal day. Today, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Azamara Cruises employees are on the scene as volunteers making a difference.

Over 150 volunteers will spend today cleaning, planting and handling other projects as part of Royal Caribbean’s 14th annual “G.I.V.E.” Day (Get Involved, Volunteer Everywhere) and this year will help prepare the wildlife park for its summer season, assisting the park’s small staff with such laborious tasks as erecting fences, laying sod, cleaning animal enclosures and tackling other landscaping projects in the wildlife park.

What is a cruise line doing in Kansas? Royal Caribbean maintains a remote call-in center in Wichita that travel agents and consumers might get connected to when inquiring about a cruise vacation.

“Our company is committed to supporting and helping the communities in which we live and work,” said RCL’s Director of Trade Support & Services Mike Semler. “We hope the personal satisfaction and fun of assisting our neighbors on G.I.V.E. Daywill help inspire our participants to pursue volunteer and public service opportunities throughout the year.”

Indeed, it was not all that long ago that Gadling reported ongoing efforts by Royal Caribbean in Haiti where the line is making a difference.

Flickr photo by Jobar6721

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Old cruise ships get new features

When a new cruise ship comes out, it has all the latest features and what cruise ship designers hope will provide the best, most relevant experience for today’s cruise passenger. Later, after those new features turn out to be of an enduring nature, cruise lines often add them to older ships. Sometimes this process adds value to older ships that would otherwise be lacking in features by comparison. Other times when old cruise ships get new features it only makes a good ship better.
Royal Caribbean’s (@RoyalCaribbean) Freedom of the Seas, one of the most popular ships in the fleet, just completed a series of upgrades at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. This is a ship that was already popular and selling well so new features, many made popular on the newest Oasis-class ships, will be a welcome addition to an already successful operation. Here is what has been added:
  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery
  • Large 18.5-foot video screen overlooking family pool area
  • LCD wayfinder system
  • Cupcake Cupboard restaurant
  • Vintages lounge will be redone
  • DreamWorks Experience
  • 3D movie screen
  • Imaginocean! puppet show
  • Outdoor LED video walls

It’s not like Royal Caribbean got a special deal on giant TV screens so they needed someplace to put them either. Fueled by passenger response, the line is giving them what they want. Called the Royal Advantage program, the line is investing $70 million to keep older ships current.

“The outdoor video screen installed aboard Liberty of the Seas in January has already been so well received that we have decided to deploy it aboard all the ships scheduled to undergo the Royal Advantage revitalization in 2011.” said Royal Caribbean vice president of hotel operations Lisa Bauer said Royal Caribbean blog. (@theRCLblog)

Sometimes a bit of tweaking is done after that new ship launches but cruise lines know their passengers well and most often they get it right. Still, there are always some people who just don’t like change.

Princess Cruises
(@PrincessCruises) found that out when they invented Movies Under The Stars several years ago when Caribbean Princess debuted. The new feature was wildly popular with most guests but some did not care for the new feature. When the line (logically) announced it would be added to other ships in the fleet, tempers flared and cruise message boards were afire with heated debates.

Occasionally, cruise lines do get it wrong though and have to figure out what to do with/about features that don’t pan out to be everything they dreamed or are what they dreamed but just did not catch on.

In their ongoing efforts to be innovative, Norwegian Cruise Line (@NCLFreestyle) tried adding a mock-ice skating feature to new Norwegian Epic. When CEO Kevin Sheehan looked at shipboard operations from a different angle on the CBS television program Undercover Boss it was clear: this is not a good idea. That idea did not make it and was scrapped but you have to give them credit for trying something different. Still, popular features like Cirque Dreams and Dinner (the best at-sea entertainment I have ever seen), Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert and more get rave reviews on Norwegian Epic. The first-of-their-kind solo studios are the answer to solo traveler’s prayers.

Sometimes cruise lines take spaces already on existing ships that may under-utilized and do something different as multi-use spaces become more popular on new ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines (@CarnivalCruise) recently added Punchliner Comedy Clubs to every ship in the fleet after testing revealed them to be wildly popular with guests. Located in the ship’s aft lounge, each Punchliner Comedy Club offers guests loads of laughs with five 35-minute shows on multiple nights during each voyage, with at least two comedians performing each night. The two early-evening shows offer fun for the whole family while the later performances will feature adult-oriented comedy.

Cruise passengers are finding out that older ships can be some of the very best values too. With new ships demanding the premium “I wanna be on the newest ship” price, older ships which may indeed have some of the newest features, are almost always less expensive.

Flickr photo by Monica R