A Look at Some Concepts We've Been Experimenting With

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There is always something going on somewhere in the fleet or at headquarters. An experiment. A trial. An effort to make the Royal Caribbean cruise experience better for our guests. Sometimes the idea disappears without a trace. Usually something good comes of it. I’d like to mention a few concepts that you will probably be hearing more about in the near future.

The first has to do with a staple of cruising: the muster drill we require our guests to participate in at the beginning of each cruise. This is an International Maritime Law requirement. After 40 years we are still working on improving the drill from both a safety and satisfaction standpoint. We are trying out having our guests come to their muster drill station without first returning to their staterooms to get their life jackets and then returning the life jackets to their staterooms after the drill. The idea is possible, particularly on our larger ships, because we can store a sufficient amount of life jackets at the muster stations in case of a real emergency. Also, in the event of a real emergency, going from wherever you are at the moment to your stateroom and then to your muster station may not be optimal from the safety aspect. This experiment is looking extremely promising for both guest flow and comfort. In addition, we are testing the electronic recording of all present at the muster station so the bridge and safety officers can know real time who is present and accounted for.

The second has to do with promoting family dining at our specialty restaurants. Up to now we have restricted attendance at Chops Grill and Portofino to age 13 and higher. But given that family friendliness is very important to Royal Caribbean International, we want to enable more families to dine together in our specialty restaurants as well as in the main dining room. We have a trial going on right now to see how removing the age restriction works in the specialty restaurants.

Third and finally for now, we will soon announce in detail a new an improved way of allowing travel agents and guests to book air travel in connection with a cruise. When we’re ready in a few weeks I will ask Doug Santoni, SVP, Revenue Performance, to bring you up to speed.

Even in challenging times we are committed to bringing you ‘Wow’ innovations on a regular basis.

  • Diana Jackson

    Great cruise line but why not look into more ships out of Galveston? Others do, so why not RCL?

  • Sandy Schubert

    I like the idea of life jackets at muster stations. Seems it would be safer if the need arose. Thank you for the blog information.

  • John Noakes

    I think removing age restrictions at the specialty restaurants is reasonable for portions of the cruise to make the experience available to families with younger children.
    My only suggestion is that you create sufficient adult only time so that those who are celebrating anniversaries, honeymoons etc. can have the intimate experience we are looking for.

  • Allan Morton

    Family friendliness goes hand-in-hand with family responsibility. Bad behavior or excessive noise should not be tolerated in a specialty restaurant. You seem to have a very hard time enforcing a dress code, how are you going to enforce manners?

  • Robert M

    Please allow those of us that wish to have nice quiet adult only dinners to retain that option. Las Vegas tried to become family destination and alienated there long standing visitors. Is Royal Caribbean risking the same thing? Family vacations are nice but there are some of us that wish to get away, and enjoy a nice quiet adult vacation. That is why adult only communities exist, and that has long been the users of cruise vacations.

  • H. Steele

    We have experienced the new “no jackets required” at the Muster… and what a nice change. Just to respond to the call, a very fast efficient “drill” and then off to enjoy our cruise. A great idea, well executed.
    We are still hoping there will be an “adult” area set aside during the late dinner sitting on ships that can accomodate. If you decide to “test” that… let us know and we will book immediately :-)

  • http://www.cruisenotebook.com Mike

    Adam…PLEASE…Keep the specialty restaurants as an adult environment! (Or, allow kids at earlier times only.) There are many of us who appreciate the quiet ambiance of these rooms. We’re willing to pay to be child free.

  • Mandy

    I like the new muster-drill protocol. It can get uncomfortably hot waiting for stragglers to show up, while wearing those life vests. Thank you!!

    I don’t have young kids anymore, but I love the MyTime Dining option introduced not long ago. I never realized how stressful it can sometimes to feeling like you have to be on-time for dinner.

    I cruised on another line six times before my first cruise on Royal (Adventure of the Seas) and I can tell you that the “WOW” factor you speak of absolutely exists on RCL! The decor, the service, the well-maintained vessels…it all combines to provide an exceptional vacation experience.


  • http://miketurco.com/library/p2prev.pdf Scott Jensen

    One of the reasons to eat at the specialty restaurants is to get AWAY from the families. Nothing spoils a dinner more than a crying baby wailing away and the parents acting as if they don’t hear it. Then there are the two-year-olds that scream “No!” to anything and everything. Pre-teen thinking that the quiet atmosphere needs to be filled with their constant loud talking. Pre-teen siblings fighting with each other.

    If you want to do this “family” stuff, please limit it to one restaurant at a time. Then those families that want their children to eat food that they will never appreciate can try to force them to eat it while allowing us adults a safe haven in the other specialty restaurants.

    What I would like to see on all cruises is a No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament each day. Start it off in the morning. Those that get knocked out, can go off and do other stuff on the ship. Rig the blinds and antes so it concludes by midnight. Hour break for lunch and hour break for dinner.

  • tom young

    Great idea on the life jackets and it makes sense. Not having to wear them to the Muster Station was a nice improvement and this is nicer yet.
    As far as the Fine Dining part of doing the Fine Dining was an escape from the multitudes and taking advantage of the intamacy it provided for a Special Dinner. With the Steaks from that venue now available in the Main Dining room I feel opening it up to all ages is not a wise move. However you know best.

  • Barbara

    Great idea not having to wear the life vests. On our last trip in June, it was so hot and humid that I finally had to take the vest off so that I wouldn’t pass out! Not so sure that allowing children in the specialty restaurants is a good idea. People who pay extra for the quiet of these dining rooms will find it offensive and usage could drop quite a bit.
    A suggestion for something else you might try: how about giving priority tender departure to diamond and above crown & anchor members, at least for the private island trips. A lot has been taken from us, and this could be a way to give a “little” something back to us. Hey, you give reserved seating to suite guests who may or may not come back. We keep on coming back !!!!!!

  • Melissa

    Are you aware that the pricing and value of RC points, that your employees give over the phone, mean ABSOLUTELY nothing? This happened to me – based on what your employee quoted to me, I booked my last cruise and gave my credit card info., only to find out on a later call that the value of my RC points was not worth what I had been quoted and had dramatically declined. This means that virtually no RC customer can trust what your employees tell them in a verbal quote, even if they decide to book the cruise right at that time. I attempted to email you a letter outlining this huge problem, but no employee would give me your contact info. The department that handled my claim was NOT willing to do any thing about it.

  • Lee

    Great idea on the muster drill but HORRIBLE idea on kids in the SR beyond the times you’re already allowing. We pay extra money to go to Chops in order to get away from the sticky-fingered kids in the dining room. You know, the ones whose parents think it’s cute that they’re wandering around and visiting others. If your staff is not willing to enforce adults only in the hot-tubs or solarium, why do you think they will preserve the atmosphere of Chops? No waiter is going to ask a family with a creaming child to leave the restaurant (and lose his tip).

    Disney (you know, that other family friendly line) has an adults only environment and people love it, as we have loved yours. I hope you reconsider this and if I can appeal to you as a business person, kids don’t drink wine (or they shouldn’t) so you’ll make more money keeping the restaurant open only to adults.

    You say you want to be family friendly but I hope you’ll chose to be adult-friendly too. There’s enough space to go around for everyone. I promise not to ask you to change the age requirement for Adventure Ocean so I can go there if you don’t change the age (and experience) of Chops this way.

  • Eileen

    Adam I absolutely agree with Barbara. As Diamond Plus members we return to Royal time and time again as we enjoy the specialiaty restaurants, Concierge Lounge, etc. I would not want that experience spoiled by sharing it with noisy children who probably wouldn’t appreciate it at all anyway. Parents can always leave their children supervised in the Adventure Ocean facilities while they dine. I also agree that priority tender service should be a no brainer for Diamond and above and recall that on some earlier cruises we did receive this benefit. Why was tht changed?

  • Jim


    The life vests are a great idea and I hope that will become reality fleet wide. Children in the Specialty Restaurants is a bad idea and I share all of the previous stated concerns. Of disappointment to me is the fact that staff will not enforce the various rules and regulations that are now in place. An example of this is allowing ADULTS in the dining room in shorts and flip flops, which has been increasing fleet wide for some time now in keeping with your “FAMILY FRIENDLY” attitude. It’s bad enough now with parents that will not and do not discipline their children and they are allowed to run wild throughout the ship. My wife and I are loyal cruisers to RCI having started in 1992 and are Diamond Plus Members. Please before allowing new criteria ENFORCE rules and regulations that are currently in place. Because of parental lack of discipline and RCI staff lack in enforcing rules and regulations we have come to the point of not sailing during Spring Breaks or Summer Vacations for children.

  • Lisa

    Great idea about the life vests. Although a sea of cruisers in orange vests looking like dorks has made some of my best vacation pics!!!! I do agree with the prior poster who wrote about teens in the hot tubs in the solarium. One night I went in there to undwind before bed and the kids were absolutely obnoxious. They were eating pizza in the hot tub and one purposely knocked his plate out of his hand causing the pizza to go into the water. Sometimes just the presence of a staff attendant can be really powerful especially late at night when it’s “super cool” for teens to be out with their friends.

  • Karin

    I agree with the comments about lack of enforcement of rules. On formal night a man came into the dining room in shorts, flip flops, and a t-shirt. Young children come to adult activities. AND at the same time Diamond status is nothing anymore. Now you have to be Super Diamond or some such thing. There is no incentive to being loyal to RC.
    I do like the life boat drill change though.

  • Marlene

    For those of us who have cruised many times, we’d like to see the emergency drill changed as suggested. On our cruise a couple weeks ago there was a lady who was so warm we thought she was going to faint, and the cruise people was insisting that she “wear” the jacket and couldn’t just hold it.

    I agree totally with Barbara’s comments on July 23rd about the things that have been taken away from C&A members and early tendering would be a plus. We have been loyal to RC in order to reach Diamond status and now find what we were trying to achieve has been taken away. We continue to plan our cruise to Australia/New Zealand in March, but our feelings of loyalty to RC is “waning.”

    We continue to have a problem with trying to get RC to make decent gluten-free bread that is edible. Even the people in charge of the dining rooms have told us they would never eat that bread. My husband won’t any more either.

  • Glenn

    We are getting ready to board the Mariner of the Seas and can’t get any informtion about the “water program” – pricing, availability, delivery, etc. If you announce a program, your customer staff ought to know the details. If the details aren’t available, don’t announce it or at least say that details will be forthcoming are you get closer to rollout time.

  • Kathy Rutter

    I think the idea of having passengers proceed directly to the muster station is a good one, rather than first returning to cabins to get life vests and then going to the muster station. In a true emergency, we are asked to proceed to the muster station from where we are, so the first muster drill should work the same.

    I agree with many of the posters that having young children in the specialty restaurants might please families, but not please other diners. There are many dining options on the ship where children of all ages are already welcome. If the policy is changed, I hope it will be for certain days, but not every day, so all cruisers are considered.

    We were on the Freedom of the Seas on the July 12, 2009 cruise and enjoyed our cruise very much. One area needing improvement is the dining room food. There are two many meatless pasta dishes – put these on the every day list on the side of the menu. What we ate tasted good, but the portion sizes are smaller and the choices are more limited. The dish for creme brulee is tiny and the ice cream scoops are the smallest I have ever seen. The Cafe Promenade and Sorrentos pizza had better desserts than the dining room. When people say that the dining room food is better on Princess and Carnival, RCI needs to start listening.

    Also, combine the two menus into one. Put all the Vitality choices on the main menu and designate them as Vitality. Make bold the Chef’s recommendation and do away with the separate section, to create enough room. Two menus create confusion.

    We had a wonderful week on the Freedom and this was our seventh cruise with RCI. We would like to see the food restored to its former level of excellence.

  • alma bozeman


    I have seen this question asked several times on your blogs and never seen an answer. Please answer this time. When are you bringing a ship to Galveston full time?

  • http://IsabellaandJosephLoiacono Isabella Loiacono

    Adam, Just returned from our 2nd cruise of the year and looking forward to our next one on the “Oasis” with our friends. We were very disappointed on the Liberty of The Seas, all the on line check-in was completed June 1st. When we arrived, we were herded in line with everyone, we have been loyal customers and are Diamond C & R members, but ‘did not’ enjoy this experience. When we arrived at the counter, the person was very blunt, saying that the information I had on the online status information was not enough, clearly she could see everything was complete and all the information was there. I was made to complete another form, which was the same as the one I had in hand to proceed with the check-in. We arrived in our cabin only to find that it was not cleaned properly, the bedside tables were dirty and one sidetable had condoms and condom wrapers in it….it was appalling. The muster was a big improvement, since it was dangerous for people to be walking down steps with the life jackets on and standing in the heat. Being a Diamond member we were not permitted on the 10th level for conciere status, but on Independence of the Seas we were permitted on both levels…could not understand why both ships do not have the same standards. We enjoyed the 10th level very much on the Independence. The Windjammer was very untidy, the carpet was always dirty with crumbs and food and the windows sills always had crumbs and debris on them, very disappointing, since every ship we have been on, the Windjammer was always kept up. I agree with the others as far as having a child friendly area for dining, so that others could enjoy a peaceful evening. The food in the dining rooms was below standard, except for one evening. The staff is always friendly and accommodating on every cruise. We hope you will accept these comments for improvement since we really care about RC and want to enjoy many more cruises. We have been to Alaska, Mediterraen, many Caribbean cruises etc.

  • Adir Levine

    Hi Adam,

    Great Idea on the drill! Cant wait to take a cruise with that in mind. Also, being that I have well behaved children, I love the idea of being able to take them to the nicer restaurants.

    One thing in the “family friendly” arena though: Third and fourth guests are considerably more expensive on your line than on others! Most times if you factor in the increased price for the first two guests for rooms which have the capability of handling 3 or four guests, it would be the same price if not cheaper to get two rooms! I have been loyal to Royal Caribbean for a long time, but with the significant drop in price I would experience trying another line now that we and other family and friends we like to travel with have multiple kids (and even the one that is under a year old we will be paying FULL price for), we just might do that because a seven day cruise is often times $1200-$1800 less for a comparable stateroom. Please let me know if there are any plans to change in this regard considering you are trying to be more “family Friendly”. Thanks!

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  • John Keely

    Well another day and another drop in RCL stock (15%).I wonder what Diamond benefits they will take away today.It would seem that RCL would be giving thier loyal repeat passengers more benefits not less.NEXT QUESTION:Why did I recruit 9 other people for a RCL cruise on 11/12/09?My wife and I are trying out Carnival on 9/6/09.I’ii let you know how it went.

  • Ellie

    My husband and I love the specialty restaurants which we enjoy 2-3 times on every cruise. We even have friends who alternate every night of a cruise between the two restaurants. Having young children dining in Chops or Portofino’s at 8:00 pm would totally ruin the special ambiance of this dining venue. It would totally defeat the purpose of going there. Please don’t make the change.
    Lifeboat drill without the jackets is a great idea; much more convenient.

  • Marty


    Kudos on the safety drill. I always found it ironic that the safety drill on every ship and every cruise line is very unsafe as people crowd the stairwells with straps dragging across the ground.

    On the specialty restaurants, I am apparently in the minority. Since we now have two kids, 3 and 1, I have missed Chops on our last few cruises. However, before kids, my wife and I dined in the specialty restaurants for the food more than the ambiance. After all, on some ships, the running heard from the deck above is not exactly peace and tranquility. In wanting to dine in the specialty restaurants, we would be more than happy to be limited to reservation times prior to 7:00 pm.

    To piggy back on some other comments made here:

    – As Diamond Members, we would love to receive some enhancements to the coupon book. No free picture, Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry’s, or drink makes dramatically decreased our use of this “perk.”

    – Your C&A members are your best advocates…why not recognize them. I think it would be brilliant if C&A members had a nice “Welcome Back” sign on the stateroom door. New cruisers to RCL should be constantly reminded of the great “club” known as Crown & Anchor.

    – 3rd & 4th guest rates definitely deserve some consideration. While I understand ship capacity considerations, it is a legitimate point that the 3rd & 4th person rates are not exactly family friendly. We are RCL loyalists, but I can certainly empathize with people who can get a Carnival cruise for their family for better than $1000 less in total price.

    – Look at some creative options for food, especially in Windjammer. Knowing people who travel Carnival, ideas like made to order deli sandwiches, toppings for soft serve ice cream, and better dessert selection should be considered.

    – Lastly, bring back the juice to the soda card. We used it all the time and miss it. I understand the potential for juices encouraging alcohol “smuggling.” However, people still are smuggling their alcohol at the same rate. In the mean time, you are losing our revenue because we can’t get juices on the card.

    Keep up the good work and great product!!!


    We just returned from a Baltic cruise on Jewel–overall great trip! However, I thought smoking was only allowed outside/on certain decks/sides, unfortunately on Jewel, smoke odors were so bad in the Safari lounge and Vortex, we could not attend ‘events’ there–just horrible smells! The casino, while it had a ‘non-smoking night’, smelled very bad as well! Also, after reading other comments above, I must agree about maintaining adult-only areas. The majority of children on this cruise were not well behaved; they disrupted the shows (running in front of the stage, climbing on steps, crying/yelling loudly), dinners (crying, walking around tables,etc), and were in bar areas (very inappropriate for young children) late into the evening. One solution might be to have a curfew, that would be ENFORCED by the staff; most of the children I saw were tired and wanted to go to bed, therefore were very cranky–NOT their fault–yet the parents ignored the noise and did not seem to care that others were impacted. PLEASE keep and add more Adult/over 18 only areas on ship!

  • Robert t

    We have cruised only once, on Princess Cruises, so I don’t understand the complaints about wearing life vests at the muster drill. On our recent cruise, we were specifically told NOT to wear our vests during the drill. We listened to the instructions and watched the crew put their vests on. Then, at the end of the drill, we put our vests on just to ensure that we knew how to do so. But, we immediately took them off – no inconvenience whatsoever. Hopefully, this is now the practice on Royal Caribbean.

    I hope that some fine dining specialty restaurants will remain adults only. We are booked on the Oasis of the Seas and, with its many dining venues, it should not inconvenience families if some restaurants have age restrictions.

    Also, considering that there are many dining alternatives, I hope that RCI will enforce dress codes in the main dining room and fine dining specialty restaurants. Each restaurant should have the evening’s dress code prominently displayed at its entrance. Hopefully, the reminder will deter the obvious offenders and, if not, to at least support the staff whose jobs are on the line. Or, if not their jobs, at least their gratuities. If I see inappropriate attire, I will withhold gratuities and tell the staff why. RCI recommends $6.25/person/day for dining staff, so the loss of $43.75 (for a 7-day cruise) from every guest in the dining room should quickly ensure that the dress code is enforced.

  • Ann Schiele

    As a diamond C&A member I, too, am disappointed in the removal of certain benefits – such as not being allowed in the concierge club on certain ships. It took a long time to get to this level and now I’m wondering what the big deal was to get here! As with most other writers, I too am against allowing children in the specialty restaurants unless there is a giveen time as to when they can go. I’ll never forget a cruise I went on several years ago out of New Jersey. We went in November when I thought kids would be in school. Unfortunately that week was called “Jersey Week” and RCI offered New Jersey families special rates. I thought there seemed to be an abundance of kids onboard (not yet knowing about this Jersey Week) and one night the Captain proudly announced that there were over 700 kids on this particular cruise! The dining room was like a circus every night with kids carrying on, crying, laying on the floors, and running up and down the curved staircase. I could barely get into my seat at the table because of the stroller and infant directly behind me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have just a few of these kids in the small specialty locations! I was so disappointed in that trip and the things that went on – teens spitting on all the buttons in the elevators, throwing basketballs over the sides of the ship, rollerblading up and down the halls… Maybe an enforced curfew would help. I can understand that RCI wants to make cruising a family affair but please, not at the expense of those who enjoy peace and quite when they go on vacation!

  • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

    Eddie, thank you for your thoughts on our recent dining experiment. As I mentioned in my blog this is just a test and as you said could be blown away if we see that our guests do not appreciate this. As with all of our onboard initiatives we try to strike a balance so that all of our guests have an appropriate space and venue where they feel comfortable. We will see where this experiment ends up.

  • dEBBIE Langford


    My husband and I are diamond plus members and very upset over having to pay for drinks in the concierge. I, myself, drink wine, but my husband does not. We have began sailing Princess and Holland more to build up our status in their programs in case we need to switch from RCCL. We stayed with your cruiseline to be able to enjoy the free drinks and company of other diamond plus members, but refuse to pay for our drinks, even at a 25% discount.

    We also miss the “coupons” that were taken away from us, (Johnny Rockets, free picture, etc). As far as we are concerned, save more money by not printing the useless coupons in the book that is just thrown away.
    If children are allowed after 7:00 PM in the specialty resturants, we will not be using them anymore. Chops is the main reason we cruise on the larger ships, and it is because of the peace and quiet along with the great food.

    I love the idea of no lifejackets at the drill. One good idea in 3 years.

  • caroline watts

    Hi Adam
    We are platinum C & R close to being a diamond. Enjoy your ships but the food REALLY NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED ESP. THE WINDJAMMER. sOMETIMES I CAN’T EVEN RECOGNIZE WHAT THE FOOD IS ???

  • Greg Fadick

    Hi, Adam,

    Allow children in the specialty restaurants? Horrible idea! On an Enchantment Of The Seas cruise in May, the Main Dining Room was full of children who spent the entire dinner running through the room, playing hide and seek behind the tables, chairs and diners, and screaming at the top of their lungs. And this was at the 8:30 pm seating. To be truthful, this should not be allowed in any dining room or restaurant on RCL.

    While we’re at it, let me add my voice in favor of enforcing dress codes in the Main Dining Room. On that same May cruise at least a third of the passengers in the Main Dining Room were dressed in shorts, flip flops, tank tops, bikini tops and even some with bare feet!

    Casual dining is always available in the Windjammer. So please go back to enforcing the dining room dress codes.

  • Suzanne Burkhart

    After reading these comments I’m afraid of my first upcomming trip on Freedom of Seas. We’ve always done Disney and their specialty resturant is all adult and even in their revolving resturants at late seating, the children were well behaved. Some of the comments above are appalling. We have been looking forward to your Chops and Portifino but not if childrean are allowed at all times and if they are let run wild as in earlier comments. Hope this idea is done away with by October when we sail. I can’t even tell the other couple we’re sailing with(their first cruise ever) as we are signed up 3 times for specialty venues and if that couple finds out they will cancel trip.

  • Louise debrino

    I agree with the no “jackets” but please no young children at the specialty restaurants. As to the Diamond members losing some of their “perks,” I think it is unfair. Each cruise we go on (#17 coming up on Freedom & #18 on Oasis)costs us a lot of money but we do it because we enjoy it. We spend a lot of money, not only on the cruise itself but on board ship. What it costs to give a cruiser a “free” picture or a free “hamburger” is nothing compared to what we spend. We don’t abuse these previledges but it really makes us feel special. As to the dress code, it should be enforced in the dining rooms. It is disgraceful the way some of the cruisers come dressed for dinner – I wouldn’t go into a Denny’s dressed like that. If they don’t have as suit/tie, at least a collared shirt and slacks, not cutoffs and flip flops.