Cruising With the Family on Royal Caribbean

Cruising With the Family on Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean gets families onboard By: Marilyn Green
<p>Quantum Class ships feature a bumper-car arena. // © 2014 Royal Caribbean International</p><p>Feature image (above): Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum...

Quantum Class ships feature a bumper-car arena. // © 2014 Royal Caribbean International

Feature image (above): Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum Class will appeal to families. // © 2014 Royal Caribbean International

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Royal Caribbean International

Families come in many shapes and sizes: multigenerational, multihousehold, single parent, stepfamilies, friends who are chosen family — the list goes on. No matter the configuration, though, what they have in common is that family members make one another a priority.

This feeling of mutual importance is a boon to the cruise sector, which has strong appeal for families because of its ability to satisfy the wishes of a group of individuals with different ages, tastes and interests. Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and service for Royal Caribbean International, says families are the brand’s biggest market.

“Multigenerational families, in particular, are huge for us,” she says. “Often the matriarch will bring the adult kids and grandchildren on a cruise.”

The cruise line is particularly well-suited to family groups, Freed says.

“Ours have always been high-energy ships for families, and activities are getting richer and richer,” she adds.

Royal’s new Quantum Class line offers everything from bumper cars and an adult-only solarium pool to a circus school and Broadway shows. The tremendous range of onboard choices means there are plenty of opportunities for family members to enjoy time together and solo. All Royal ships have accommodations geared to the needs of families traveling together, Freed says. For example, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom Presidential Family Suite can sleep up to 14 people. On Quantum of the Seas, the company has introduced Family Connected Junior Suites, which feature three different categories of staterooms connected through a vestibule, with flexibility in the arrangements and pricing.

“I may want a suite for myself, but book a balcony stateroom for my children,” Freed says. “When my mother was alive, she could have had privacy in the single stateroom, but still been connected to the rest of the family.”

Increased demand has prompted additional offerings, Freed says. Oasis of the Seas, for example, recently added more family suites to accommodate the numbers onboard.

“[Families] want separate sleeping areas, but they also want to be together,” she says.

Family programs are expanding, too. Oasis Class ships introduced the Royal Babies & Tots nursery, which, according to Freed, has proved to be right on target for baby boomers, who tend to have children later in life and like to bring them on vacation. This year, Royal launched an initiative to accommodate autistic family members, training youth staff and partnering with Autism on the Seas to create programs and services that allow families with autistic children to have successful vacations.

“Children are the most precious asset a couple has,” Freed says. “When parents trust their children to us, we want to be sure they feel secure. We do extensive background checks, and we only hire youth counselors with a minimum of a four-year college degree and at least two years of experience.”

Freed’s own family works hard to continue their tradition of taking a New Year’s getaway together each year — one they have maintained for more than 20 years.

“My daughter, who is a teacher, had to leave in the middle of the cruise last year because of her school schedule,” she says. “But we do whatever we have to in order to be together.”

One of the big prospective markets for Royal is millennials, according to Freed.

“This is the most-traveled generation ever because their parents are the boomers,” she says. “And they have tremendous buying power; many of them, especially those whose careers are involved with technology, are affluent very early.”

Her son is an example, she says: He and his friends are experience-seekers, uninterested in the acquisition of things — a focus more defining of their parents’ generation.

“It’s going to be interesting as they become parents themselves,” she says. “We have to be ready to offer the things they and their families will expect.”