June 24, 2020
(2:15 p.m. EDT) –Rates on many sailings are currently at their lowest levels, and that prices are expected to increase in the coming months, a top Royal Caribbean executive said.
Royal Caribbean Vice President of Revenue Management Michael Goldner made the comments today on Vicki Freed's weekly Coffee Chat for travel agents, now in its 16th week. Freed is Royal Caribbean's senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Service.
2021 Bookings on the Rise
"Our intention is to raise prices," said Goldner during the coffee chat. "I don't think we'll be here long. As business comes in, pricing will go up…We are at some of the lowest price points we've seen for several years."
A combination of passengers using Future Cruise Credits, or FCC's, and new bookings are driving demand for 2021 sailings, particularly in Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean.
"We are seeing a pretty significant increase in booking volume for next year," said Goldner. "The majority of business that we're seeing is new bookings, new reservations. These are mostly -- not surprisingly -- [our] Crown & Anchor guests."
Goldner noted that Royal Caribbean has suspended over 600 sailings since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced cruise lines around the world to shut down in mid-March. If every currently unattached Future Cruise Credit, or FCC, was applied to a booking today, he said, the line would be able to fill every single cabin aboard its Oasis-class ships for next year.
"There is a lot of pent-up demand," said Goldner. "Many of us didn't get our summer vacations this year. We certainly are seeing people make the reservation for next year. We're especially seeing that for the summer. We've unfortunately had to cancel our summer 2020 season and people are booking for next summer."
Goldner also noted that news of Quantum of the Seas' deployment to Alaska -- first announced in late March -- was largely overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. Quantum and sister Ovation of the Seas will sail weeklong itineraries to Alaska from Seattle in 2021, with Quantum departing on Mondays and Ovation leaving on Fridays.
Goldner notes that a total of four Royal Caribbean ships, including Radiance and Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver, will cruise to Alaska in 2021.
Odyssey of the Seas Status
Asked by travel agents about the status of Royal Caribbean's forthcoming Odyssey of the Seas, Goldner said that the company should know shortly whether the delivery timeline for the company's second Quantum Ultra Class ship will be affected.
"We will know within the next week or two on whether there's any impact on the delivery," said Goldner. "I don't have an answer for you today but in the next week or two we will have a more definitive answer."
Odyssey of the Seas was scheduled to debut in November on itineraries operating out of Port Everglades. The ship is currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Its inaugural sailing -- a four-night jaunt to the Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay -- is currently scheduled to depart on November 5.
Bermuda Ships to be Laid Up
During Royal Caribbean's most recent sailing suspension updates, Bermuda cruises were cancelled through October 31, effectively ending the 2020 Bermuda cruise season for Royal Caribbean.
Goldner attributed the decision to Transport Canada's ban on cruises to Canadian ports of call that is in effect through October 31, noting that ships on the Bermuda run typically do double-duty itineraries during the summer months, trading Canadian and New England ports of call on one voyage for Bermudan ports on the next.
"Often times Bermuda is mixed in with itineraries out of Canada," remarked Goldner. "As you know, we suspended all of our Canada itineraries. It's just operationally very difficult to have sailings where you're on one week and off another. Those ships will be laid up until we start consistent operations."
Adventure, Anthem, Brilliance, Empress, Grandeur, Rhapsody and Vision of the Seas were set to visit Bermuda during the 2020 cruise season, according to the Bermuda Cruise Schedule posted online.