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Cruise For the latest cruise news, visit ttgmedia.com/cruise


Symphony set to drive new-to-cruise sales


RECORD PRE-LAUNCH bookings for Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas proves the line is “making inroads” in attracting new- to-cruise, the line’s UK boss believes. Ben Bouldin, associate vice-


president and managing director UK and Ireland, said: “Each new ship we bring out now typically fi lls quicker than the last... and forward sales [for Symphony] have been really good.” The Oasis-class ship began sea trials on February 15 ahead of its delivery on March 23. It is 2,000 gross tonnes larger than sister ship Harmony of the Seas, currently the largest passenger ship in the world, and includes a longer “new generation” Boardwalk, allowing the line to add 14 cabins on each side – seven ocean-view and seven Boardwalk-view. Among a number of attractions


debuting onboard Symphony is the Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, which Bouldin said would feature about 30


PROMOTION PLAN


Royal Caribbean to focus on luxury


ROYAL CARIBBEAN International will put itself “front of mind” for luxury agents who “dismiss” it too easily. That was the message from Ben Bouldin, associate vice-president and managing director for the UK and Ireland, who told TTG he believed investment in luxury cabins and the creation of the line’s double- fl oor Ultimate Family Suite, set to debut onboard Symphony of the Seas this year, emphasised its high-end off ering.


18 22.02.2018 The new generation Boardwalk


screens showing European sport. Speaking at the STX shipyard


in Saint-Nazaire, France, Bouldin added: “It’ll also be a fun space for families, with food and loads of sport-themed games.” Bouldin also highlighted the ship’s New England-style Hooked restaurant inside a redesigned Solarium – the line’s fi rst dedicated seafood eatery – as another area he was excited about onboard the 6,680-passenger ship. On the entertainment front, it


“It’s very easy to pigeonhole


Royal as the family brand that’s got loads of cool, exciting activities and innovations, and I think people forget that you can go and have a very high- end experience onboard our ships,” he said. “I don’t think there are many lines in the world that give you that [amount of] square footage with that dynamic feel and have you within arm’s reach of such a world of entertainment – we just have to do more to promote it.” The Ultimate Family Suite was shown during the line’s pre-launch tour of Symphony, which when completed will feature a Lego wall,


will stage its own production, Flight: Dare to Dream, which celebrates aerospace through the ages. The line worked with former US astronaut Clayton Anderson on the show. Elsewhere, Bouldin said the line had been “thrilled” by the reaction to Royal Caribbean’s consumer pop-up event Symphony of the Senses in London last month. In future the line could look to use the consumer-facing events to drive more agent business, Bouldin said: “I’m hoping we can package something up to give our agents to use as a new-to-cruise driver within their own website – and I think we’ve got a role to play there.” Bouldin added the switch away


from TV advertising during this year’s wave period had “worked well” for the line, and had allowed it to “elongate our spend” and invest more money with trade partners as a result. Symphony of the Seas begins sailing the Mediterranean in April.


Captain Rob Hampstead and Tom Parry


‘STILL DARING TO DREAM’


While headlines surrounding Symphony of the Seas focus on its being the largest ship at sea, my fi rst impressions are that it will be the amount of choice for customers that will really strike a chord, writes T


om Parry. The Ultimate Family Suite


slide, 3D television, gaming table and hot tub. Royal Caribbean said the suite had sold out for this year. “Now we can show what it looks like, we’re in a much better place to build a proper training programme around it,” Bouldin added.


We were treated to an ice- skating routine inside Studio B, after which we were given a teaser of the ship’s original production, Flight: Dare to dream, hearing how the line had teamed up with a former astronaut to make the show as accurate as possible. As well as our imaginations, our taste buds were also stimulated, with a delicious hot chocolate – akin to those off ered by newly- added sweet shop Sugar Beach – and mountains of seafood from speciality restaurant Hooked, which was added following customer feedback. On the bridge, Symphony’s captain Rob Hampstead told us how the ship will be “every bit an improvement on Harmony” in the way it sails – more smoothly and in a more eco-friendly manner. Despite Symphony being Royal Caribbean’s fourth Oasis-class ship, the line has not stopped innovating around an already popular formula.


Tom Parry 020 3405 6530 tparry@ttgmedia.com


 Tom Parry 


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