Royal Caribbean‘s ambitious plan to expand its southern California and Mexican Riviera cruise offerings is taking a proverbial torpedo below the bow line. In January 2011, it is withdrawing completely from the market. Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines subsequently announced plans to follow suit. The announcements are devastating to the already battered economies of ports of call such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and even Los Angeles. Royal Caribbean customers are not happy.
“We will not be offering 15 seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from January 16, 2011 to April 24, 2011 that until now have been open for bookings,” President Adam Goldstein recently announced on his blog. “I apologize to our customers who had booked on these sailings. For customers who are affected by this change, we are offering compensation.”
(Don’t worry, the Cougar Cruise is still on.)
Yikes, it was barely a year ago that Royal Caribbean trumpeted its renewed commitment to the California/Mexico market by repositioning Mariner of the Seas - the largest ship to ever serve the area – from the Caribbean.
Instead, RCCL will now send Mariner to Europe, where it already has 10 ships. They are so desperate to get Mariner out of the West Coast, they are taking the ship around Tierra del Fuego (the ship is too big for the Panama Canal) and across the Atlantic. Bring the dramamine, this ship is not made for trans-oceanic crossings.
Why is everyone abandoning the West Coast? The recent violence in Mexico has ravaged the tourism industry; couple that with two years of lousy economic news – that ripples from California to its southern neighbor – and you have the recipe for a market that has, literally, gone south.
Is this game of musical chairs over? Stay tuned, Royal Caribbean must make room in November for the arrival of the mammoth Allure of the Seas, the new and nearly identical twin of Oasis of the Seas – the world’s largest cruise ship. Somehow, RCCL has to squeeze the 6,000-passenger Allure into an already over-saturated Caribbean market. Something will probably have to give.
April 27, 2010