Every major cruise line seems to want to outdo their rivals by adding a major new feature to their next ship.
Carnival Cruise Line has added real roller coasters to Mardi Gras and the upcoming celebration, while MSC is planning a virtual roller coaster for its next flagship.
Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean offer bumper cars on some ships, and escape rooms have become common on many cruise lines.
It’s a race to have this feature that attracts customers and entices them to book on one cruise line over another.
And while Royal Caribbean has arguably led the way in this ever-escalating battle to deliver the coolest features, with its Flow Rider surf machines, ice rinks and Aqua Theaters, that may not be what consumers are looking for.
Sure, passengers want all sorts of awesome experiences built into their cruises, but a ride on a virtual dive or a ride in a virtual reality simulator might not be as valuable as the changes to the cruise experience of base.
It’s something Royal Caribbean has taken to heart with its last two moves, and passengers will likely be very happy.
Royal Caribbean Begins Internet Upgrade
After much speculation and a not-so-subtle Freedom of the Seas test, Royal Caribbean confirmed in late August that it plans to add Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite internet to its entire fleet.
The company hadn’t provided any details on a timeline, but work appears to have started, according to a report by Matt Hochberg on Royal Caribbean Blog.
“Over the past two weeks, teams from various Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been deployed to install Starlink. It looks like the Independence of the Seas is the first ship to flip the proverbial switch,” he said on the blog, which is not affiliated with the cruise line.
Readers of the Royal Caribbean blog have also reported seeing crews installing Starlink on Allure, Liberty and Enchantment of the Seas.
Contacted by TheStreet, Royal Caribbean declined to provide a rollout schedule. The cruise line also declined to say whether it plans any price changes for its internet plan. Chief Executive Jason Liberty said in an Aug. 30 press release what customers can expect as the new service rolls out.
“This technology will provide revolutionary internet connectivity onboard our ships, enhancing the cruise experience for passengers and crew. This will improve and enable more high-speed activities like video streaming as well as activities like video calling,” he said.
Starbucks Coffee is coming to other sidewalk cafes
Royal Caribbean has long offered Starbucks kiosks on many of its ships. They are basically separate businesses where you pay for everything you order. You cannot use your beverage package at Starbucks kiosks.
The cruise line’s ships also offer coffee at Cafe Promenade, the snack cafe found on most of its ships. At these locations, basic coffee is free, while more refined espresso-based drinks can be had for an additional fee or with a drinks package.
These locations didn’t offer Starbucks coffee, but Royal Caribbean started changing that when it launched Wonder of the Seas earlier this year.
Promenade Cafe on Wonder of the Seas offered Starbucks coffee with specialty drinks using it being included in beverage packages. Royal Caribbean later confirmed to TheStreet that it plans to roll out Starbucks coffee at Cafe Promenade (and other onboard coffee stations) across the fleet, but did not offer a timeline for the change. .
Now, it appears the change has been made to a number of the cruise line’s ships, according to multiple posts on a Facebook group dedicated to the Royal Caribbean luxury drink package.
Members reported seeing Starbucks at Cafe Promenade (or similar locations) on Harmony, Symphony, Freedom, Oasis, Liberty, and Ovation.
The Starbucks menu on these ships includes a limited selection of drinks (the same ones offered before the change in coffee supplier), while all ships with a dedicated Starbucks kiosk offer the chain’s full menu (more or less ).
Cafe Promenade, however, also offers alcohol, allowing passengers to order drinks they couldn’t get at Starbucks kiosks.
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This story was originally published September 20, 2022 11:10 a.m.
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