News

Innovation luring Aussies out to sea: RCI

The lack of innovation in Australian land-based tourism is seeing cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean prosper in the local market, according to its local boss.

Regional vice president Asia Pacific, Gavin Smith, described local tourism attractions on offer as "pretty basic" compared with their North American counterparts.

"There's not a lot of cutting edge investment going that's going into land-based tourism infrastructure in Australia," he told media.

"So I think we're doubly impactful because of the innovation we bring to the amenity offering on board a ship."

Las Vegas and Orlando were held up as examples of US attractions which have created substantial amenities targeted at tourists – the likes of which have not yet been seen in the Australian market.

"The North American mindset is very competitive because you've got such capable shoreside heavily amenity-based offerings which really the Australian market hasn't had exposure to," Smith said.

While Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Hotel has in the order of 3,309 rooms, a water park and a 12,000 seat auditorium, the largest hotel in Sydney has a substantially smaller offering.

"So Voyager with around 1500 rooms is by far the largest hotel and largest restaurant in town," he said.

Cruises have traditionally been seen as "sedentary" compared with the other nature-based attractions on offer in Australia such as the beaches and Uluru, but Smith said the advent of cruise ships like Voyager, which features a rock climbing wall and ice skating rink, is changing that perception.

"That's part of the excitement about the Royal cruising brand because we're doing stuff nobody else has done," he said.

Meanwhile, Royal's president and chief executive, Adam Goldstein, said such innovations meant additional fees on board for services such as speciality restaurants, private instruction and vow renewal have to be implemented.

"We want the ticket purchase to encompass tremendous value but we need to have a user fee in the equation otherwise a lot of the things we have on board wouldn't be on offer," he said.

Goldstein promised the features aboard new ship Quantum which will launch in November 2014, will be among the "most exciting" ever offered by the cruise line, with more to be announced down the line.

However, he admitted that the sense of excitement around the new vessel, which will be Royal's first new ship in a number of years, had been somewhat muted by its size although it will still be the third biggest cruise ship ever built.

"Although we tried not to obssess about her size when we were designing her, everyone else was obssessing about her size," he said.

"But most would agree that nobody else goes to the lengths we go to to build new ships."



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