Royal Caribbean: Goodbye California, Hello Europe!

April 22, 2010

Mariner of the Seas

(6:10 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean announced today that Mariner of the Seas will leave its California homeport in January 2011 to spend its summers cruising Europe and winters sailing the Caribbean out of Galveston.

Though a press release issued by the line focused on how Mariner will augment its already hefty 2011 Europe program, the underlying message -- no more Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles on the ship -- did not go unnoticed on the Cruise Critic Message Boards. Within an hour, a thread on the topic had reached three pages, with loyal cruise fans mourning the loss of the ship and hoping for a bigger and newer one to replace it.

Cruise Critic members on the West Coast are especially upset about the move because, as it stands now, it means Royal Caribbean will have no ships sailing Mexican Riviera or any other itineraries out of California after January 2011. "I am completely heartbroken, I must say," posts member Rellyrooly. "It's as if we don't exist over here!" PhoenixDawgCruising laments, "So first we lose Monarch, now Mariner?? They really are ignoring their strong West Coast base, and that's not good….Where the heck does that leave me now???"

So what's going on? "Our deployment decision reflects both strategic and financial considerations," Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean's president, wrote on his blog today. "Unfortunately, while the ship delivered great value to its guests on that itinerary, it will deliver superior performance for our shareholders as well as great value for our guests on the routes that we have announced today." Cruise Critic member cruisingator2 put it more simply: "If RCI or any cruise line can make more money in another area, they are going to move [the ship]."

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It's true that California was hit hard in the recent recession, and deals have been plentiful on Mexican Riviera cruises across all lines and cruising seasons for quite some time. However, all hope is not lost for West Coast cruisers. Carnival, Holland America, NCL, Princess and even Disney will have cruise ships sailing the Mexican Riviera in winter 2011.

Mariner's new itinerary includes a short South America season before crossing the Atlantic to its new homeport in Rome. From March through October 2011, the ship will cruise the Mediterranean, before returning to the U.S. to sail seven-night Western Caribbean cruises out of Galveston. (Galveston's Voyager of the Seas, meanwhile, will find a new home in New Orleans.)

Mariner's last Mexican Riviera cruise will be on January 9, 2011, and passengers booked on Mexico cruises after this date have a few choices. They can choose a full refund, or receive an onboard credit of $200 per cabin ($400 per suite) if they rebook on a Mexican Riviera sailing on an earlier date or a Voyager of the Seas cruise on the same departure date. Rebookings must be made by May 6, 2010.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

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