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Cruise ship interview - Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Hotel Director Raimund Gschaider
A SHIP WITH
OPTIONS

A CONVERSATION
WITH HOTEL
DIRECTOR
RAIMUND GSCAIDER
OF
ALLURE OF THE SEAS


by
Richard H. Wagner
Raimund Gchaider has been with Royal Caribbean International for 25
years.  His most recent assignments have been as the first hotel manager
on Oasis of the Seas and then as the first hotel manger on Allure of the
Seas.  Having played a key role in the formative stages of both ships,
he is uniquely situated to talk about the Oasis class and what is new
about Allure of the Seas.

Ships of Choice

"These ships are all about options.  You can tailor your experience to
what you really like."  Guests can do this because the Oasis class ships
not only have numerous features but there is considerable variety in
those features.  The ships have family-oriented offerings and
adults-only options.  There is elegant fine dining and casual fun foods.  
Guests who want to can be physically active riding the zip line or on the
two surfing simulators or "if you would like to sit in a park and read a
book, it is there.  It is all available within the same wonderful
environment."

RCI's desire "to provide something where you can do many things"
dictated the size of the Oasis class ships.   To enable RCI to offer the
number, variety and quality of experiences that it wanted to offer, the
ships had to be much larger than any prior cruise ship.

"The shows alone, you don't see that on any other ship.  They cannot
produce it.  Blue Planet, the set pieces alone, you could not put them
into the backstage area [on any other ship] because it would fill up the
backstage area and they would have no room for anything else."

At the same time, RCI realized that such large ships might be
intimidating to some people.  Ships that can carry more than 6,000
passengers each seemingly would be crowded and plagued by lines.

"We have worked very hard to ensure that you do not feel the bigness.
In our planning, we tried to eliminate lines. We have looked for ways to
eliminate the feeling of massiveness. That is why Royal Caribbean went
out and worked with Port Everglades to build [a new cruise] terminal."  
As a result of that effort, the average time between entering the terminal
and boarding the ship is only 15 minutes.

In the ports of call, "we took our security operation off the ship onto the
pier and we eliminated the bottleneck.  There is more space, more
processing ability.  The whole experience changed."  Consequently,
passengers move quickly on and off the ships in the
various ports Oasis and Allure visit.

Onboard the ships, the fact that there are many different things for
passengers to do helps prevent overcrowding.  "There are so many
things going on throughout the day.  There are always four or five things
a guest can choose from - - that is the concept of the Oasis class ships.  
We have things going on simultaneously so people can choose [what to
do].  But it also makes sure that none of these events is overwhelmed
by the sheer number of people.  We don't say 'there is a parade [on the
Royal Promenade], everybody come.'  It would not be a good
experience.    Those who want to see a parade, they go.  Those who do
not want to see a parade, there is three or four other things that they can
do at the same time.  It is not overly crowded and everyone has a great
experience wherever they are."

In addition, the shows and the major activities are scheduled more than
once.  For example, "we do the parade multiple times."  Thus everyone
who wants to see the parade does not have to come at one time.   

Also, the ships' size allowed spare capacity to be built into the various
venues.  "You go upstairs and there are plenty of chairs at every pool at
every level.  There is plenty of room everywhere you go."

Thus, even if it is a rainy day and guests do not want to go outdoors,
the day is not lost.  "The pool deck is a big part of our Caribbean
cruise experience but if it rains, we have the various indoor areas.  The
ship functions very well and absorbs a lot of activities which take place
indoors.  It still operates nicely and we are still providing a great
product."

Along the same lines, in the evening "if you can't go outdoors to the
Aqua Theater because it is raining or the weather is rough, those guests
find something else to do.  Some probably will make their way into
another show that is offered, some may go to the casino, some may
watch a movie or whatever else we offer. Because of the reservation
process we have in place, the other shows are not going to become
overrun. It is not a roadblock nor [does it] in any way upset the flow of
the evening."

While the Oasis class ships have won critical acclaim, perhaps the best
indication of their success is that passengers "are coming multiple
times.  For me, it is very rewarding to see a lot of people that we saw
last year.  Numerous guests are coming back.  You see a lot of repeat
business from Oasis to Allure and within Oasis already.   I think once
you are on these ships and you take a liking to all the options you have,
this is the only place to really go."

Not a copy

Although Oasis of the Seas has been very successful, RCI did not want
Allure of the Seas to be a mere clone of Oasis.  "We never build
cookie-cutters even within the same class.  {Accordingly,] we really
wanted to make sure that we had enough to talk about with Allure to
differentiate her so that people who have sailed on Oasis would feel
even more desire to come back to the class and to expand the
experience."

"The art is the first thing that gets the attention.  We have some amazing
art onboard.  We incorporated the Britto Gallery onboard the ship.   The
color schemes vary slightly, which is a good thing.  It keeps [the] ship
fresh.  It gives its own identity. And it makes sure there is a difference."

There were also technological enhancements.  For example, "if you go
to the guest services desk, right in front of it on Oasis you had this
structure which had a couple of TV screens that displayed the Cruise
Compasses.  Here, we have taken that away and we have introduced
our kiosks, which allow you to swipe your [cruise] card, print your
statement and print your flight reservations, your boarding pass.  This is
an amazing technology.  I do not know a ship where you have that. It is
free of charge."

Another set of enhancements was the addition of several new food
concepts - - Rita's Cantina, a Mexican restaurant; the Samba Grill, a
Brazilian steakhouse; and the Dog House, a deluxe hot dog stand.

Allure also received a new set of shows, not just for the main theater
but also for its ice rink and for its Aqua Theater.

In addition, the Allure experience is being enhanced by new
relationships with internationally known brands from outside the cruise
industry.

For example, Allure premiered RCI's new relationship with
Dreamworks Animation.  Dreamworks on Allure "is a very
multi-faceted type of experience because we have them in the aqua
show, the ice show, and we have a parade element. We have the 3D
movies and we have the character meals.  So it is not just one
dimensional."

Dreamworks did not merely lend RCI some character costumes but is
actively involved with the onboard experience.  "They have provided
very detailed guidelines on how the Dreamworks experience needs to
be presented.  We have to conform to whatever guidance Dreamworks
provides to make sure that their brand is being maintained and shown as
such.  We consult with them every step along the way.  For example,
you never see the various character families mixed up.  There is Shrek
and you only see the Shrek characters. There is Madagascar and you
only see the Madagascar characters.  They are all separate entities.  We
are working very, very closely."

"It is the same with Starbucks."  Another new feature on Allure is the
first Starbucks at sea.  "Starbucks tells us how we have to make a
coffee and we make it exactly.  Our team here underwent 80 hours of
training.  Like every Starbucks employee, our employees are trained
and will be trained true to Starbucks guidelines.  It is not a Royal
Caribbean Starbucks, it is a Starbucks' Starbucks on a Royal Caribbean
ship.   We are taking those relationships very seriously."

Similarly, RCI worked with the show's Broadway producers on the
production of Chicago: The Musical that is being performed on Allure.  
"The owners were here with us every step of the way.  They were very
much a part of the cast selection.  The whole production is true meaning
all the dancers are singing live, meaning all the music is live.  They
were here during the inaugurals and they acknowledge that it is as good
as the productions that you find on Broadway.  That is quite amazing."

                            *        *        *
\
Mr. Gschaider is also amazed by how much the cruise experience has
changed just during his time with Royal Caribbean.   "When I started,
we had a dining room and a little hole-in-the-wall where you could get a
hamburger and hot dog.  Today, on this ship, we have 26 different
culinary options.  When I started we had a couple of entertainers
coming on board the ship.  Today, we have a dance cast, we have an ice
cast, we have divers, we have acrobats and we have character
performers."  This reflects   "what Royal Caribbean has been doing for
years and years now - - driving the cruise experience into new and more
enjoyable directions."      
no
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The living tree set from Blue Planet.
The Guest Services Desk
The Starbucks Coffee Bar.
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