For the discerning world travellers, cruise vacations have become one of the most sought after holiday concept and the name Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has evolved as one of the world’s premier cruise line operators. RCL was launched way back in late 60s, 1969 to be precise and since then it has grown exponentially and currently operates luxury cruises to 77 ports crisscrossing all the seven continents.

Today RCL has in its pool three highly respected brands - Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises. Needless to say, these three brands have kind of revolutionised the cruise holiday experience, with innovative itineraries touching as many as 540 world class tourist destinations.

Winning honors and recognitions have been a habit for RCL and this year was no different with Royal Caribbean Cruises being conferred with the honor of being the World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethispere Institute for the third consecutive year, thereby underscoring RCLs commitment to ethical business practices in the highly competitive cruise and recreation in industry.

RCL’s high ethical standards were best summed up by Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO: “I am extremely grateful that Ethisphere has again honored Royal Caribbean as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. At Royal Caribbean, ethical leadership is an important part of our worldview. We value this honor, and will continue to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards in following our mantra of continuous improvement”.

RCL’s obsession with innovation on waters is best exemplified by its latest concept - “Frustration-free Cruise Vacations” and to make your dream cruise holidays even more fascinating, RCL is in the process of introducing cutting edge digital innovations. For instance, an all new guest-friendly App promises to do away with check-in lines at ports, enable crew members to predict guests’ requirements and make it possible for ships to navigate in fuel-saving mode.

This giant technological leap will penetrate areas that are beyond the ordinary guest experience, like making the ships more energy-efficient, improved ship management and offer more options to crew members than it used to be in the past. RCL’s invitation-only Sea Beyond episode, unveiled at the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard offers all of 37,000 square feet of paradigms that showcases how digital technology is transforming RCL’s fleet.

One of RCL’s priority areas is to eliminate ‘time-stealing’ moments from the cruise package. According to a Senior IT Executive: “Time spent in line—whether you’re waiting for your food, waiting for your bags to arrive, waiting on a table, or booking an excursion—is time stolen from your time off”. RCL is working on ways to return that time, which is of invaluable significance to guests and they are coalescing technologies that range from facial recognition to RFID tagging and Global Positioning System aided mapping to Bluetooth-enabled beacons that will help restructure boarding, automated check-ins and a more advanced way- finding methodology.

The new app for instance will ensure hassle-free booking for guests and they will also have the option to plan their cruise holidays from the comforts of their home. Once you are on board, you can navigate your ship with tech-savvy interactive maps, explore the ship more exhaustively with smart features like x-ray vision etc... The App together with RCL’s WOW Bands, will facilitate unlocking guest staterooms and control the lighting and temperature as well. This App is already available on select few ships.

In the foreseeable future, you can let your imagination run wild and it isn’t unlikely that guests will be able to even change the setting from a starlit night to rainforest canopy at the touch of a button.

It does take a lot of energy to move a ship on the oceans and improved navigation of cruise ships is one of the most important elements. RCL has constantly been upgrading their navigation parameters with a focus on energy efficiency. Most ships are custom built and designed to be energy efficient. What is so impressive is that they emit 20 % less carbondioxide per person per day than any other cruise ships.

Being ecologically kinder has been the hallmark of RCL. Be it Air Lubrication, Hull Configuration, use of energy efficient LED Lights, Window tinting, heating and air conditioning, guests can rest assured of impeccable state-of-the-art appliances that are energy efficient.

Take for instance RCL fleet’s window tinting design. They have been custom designed keeping in mind the marine environment that allows natural light to come in, but at the same time reduces the amount of solar heat. The windows are designed to protect ship interiors from sun-ray damage, thereby plummeting waste. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., has been at the forefront of safeguarding and protecting the oceans. Their commitment to ocean sustainability has been impeccable.

Since the year 2007, RCL in collaboration with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has diligently worked on ways to improve the impoverished coastal regions and offer financial support to communities that are in dire need of upliftment.

RCL’s crew members are very active particularly in Latin America and Caribbean ports of call. Their Outreach projects on disaster relief have benefitted countries like Jamaica, Chile, Mexico and Guatemala. When it comes to education and sustainable livelihood projects, RCL’s work in Peru, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, the Bahamas and Honduras have been very impressive. RCL sponsored literacy programs in Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay too have been outstanding.

RCL is a pioneer when it comes to innovation in the competitive cruise line industry and ever since its inception in 1969, it has launched ships that are unquestionably architectural marvels. Be it introducing ice skating, rock climbing or other such ground-breaking on-sea recreation concepts, RCL has constantly been offering inspiring itineraries to some of the world’s most sought after tourist destination.

For instance, on a cruise tour, guests are able to explore fascinating ports, magnificent cities and ethereal sights, all of which under the watchful eyes of expert tour guides. The Alaska cruise tours have been RCL’s most popular tour product. RCL’s pursuit for excellence has meant that guests can rest assured of staying in some of the finest hotels handpicked by RCL experts. In Alaska cruise tours, guests are offered exciting city tours, visits to the world famous Denali National Park and experience Alaska’s wilderness on-board RCL’s custom designed Glass-domed train car.

One of the most revolutionary models of redefining the art of cruise recreation has been RCL’s “Perfect Day at Coco Cay” project. Three decades back RCL bought a piece of bliss in the Bahamas on lease and thereafter wasted no time in rechristening this speck of paradise as - Coco Cay, which is an island with a span of 140 acres.

With the passage of time, cruise vacationers not only had access to white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters, but also a bewildering array of adrenalin pumping activities like Parasailing, Kayaking, guided nature trails and a lot more. No wonder RCL was conferred with the prestigious Gold-Level Eco-Certification by Sustainable Travel International.

In recent times, RCL passion to deliver innovative visitor experiences has driven them to embark on a one-of-its-kind cruise vacation project - “Perfect Day at Coco Cay”, which is a $200 million project aimed to develop exclusive Perfect Day Island Collection with seven outstanding island experiences that promises vacationers with the ultimate family-centric recreation options right here in the Caribbean.

The upbeat mood at Royal Caribbean International was best summed up by President and CEO Michael Bayley thus: “At Royal Caribbean, it’s not just about the hardware. It’s true that our new ships are technological and engineering marvels in their own right, and offer a multitude of unexpected experiences. Our destinations are an equally important part of the cruise vacation. We are introducing Perfect Day Island Collection to ensure that we deliver the most memorable vacation for adventure-seekers on land, as well as onboard our ships”.

Upon project completion, Perfect Day Island Collection will feature the tallest waterslide in North America, Caribbean’s largest wave pool, a helium balloon ride to 450 feet for the highest view in the Bahamas as well as the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

The Coco Cay project will be implemented in phases and as per the schedule, September 2018 saw the introduction of a novel pier and rest of the project ingredients will be launched in the year 2019. Perfect Day Island Collections will also be introduced in key destinations of Asia, Australia and elsewhere later on.

RCL’s fleet of 26 ships, each one a masterpiece traverses to 6 continents covering 240 stupendous destinations spanning 72 countries, means that prospective cruise enthusiasts are spoilt for a choice. Be it Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal or for that matter incredible sea routes of the Pacific North West, Trans Atlantic or the Trans Pacific; the choice is never easy. As many as 957 itineraries have been carefully designed by RCL’s Itinerary Experts, offering cruise vacationers with endless holiday options.

Once on-board, each day on the ship is exciting, filled with possibilities. From Salsa dancing to Ice Skating and indulging in Broadway music to Skydiving, the party never stops. So innovative are the on-board activities that if for instance you are vacationing with kids, you can rest assured your kids will have whale of a time immersed in RCL’s award winning Adventure Ocean Youth Program, while parents get to spend quality time of their own.

Once the red molten ball dips on the far horizon, it doesn’t mean a dip for you if you are on board any of the Royal Caribbean ships. Rather, it’s time to take a sip at any of the high quality bars like - The Schooner, The Trellis, Playmaker’s or for that matter the Boleros and discover a whole new world of excitement by night.

RCL’s Zero Gravity After Hours is awesome. The thrill of on-board skydiving courtesy Rip Cord by iFLY is truly exhilarating stuff. Imagine the ecstasy of floating in thin air on-board this revolutionary simulator! Not for the faint hearted though.

RCL’s Incubation centre has constantly been ahead of the times when it comes to pampering guests. Increasingly, the trend for on-board Weddings and Honeymoons have become quite a phenomenon and lovelorn couples can rest assured of a fabulous wedding experience on board any of RCL’s ships or at any of Royal Caribbean’s private beaches.

Celebrations are a norm rather than an exception at Royal Caribbean and apart from Weddings and Honeymoon, RCL’s innovative settings and ambience have endeared and encouraged guest to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries and Reunions too on board.

Travelers’ Fact File

As per Royal Caribbean International’s recommendation, it is mandatory for guests to travel with a passport that is valid for more than 6 months after the end of the cruise. Apart from Passport, other valid travel documents like Visas, family legal documents and inoculation certificates must be carried at the time of boarding and disembarkation.

Packing Tips - What to Carry
Apart from camera and sunscreen, here are a list of items that will ensure a comfortable cruise vacation for you and your family. A set of clothes, bathing suit, and medicines which you may need. Onboard attires can vary. Casuals are allowed for breakfast and lunch, while smart casuals are meant for dinner. Formals like suits & ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses etc... are to be worn at the Party venue. Please bear in mind that bare feet are not allowed at all on board and tank tops are an absolute NO, NO in the Main Dining Room or any Specialty Dining venues. For the pool, it is advisable to carry two bathing suits and a pair of casual shoes (sandals or sneakers). Casual shorts and t-shirts for getting to and from the pool areas. At the fitness center, shorts, t-shirts, socks and sneakers are a must. If you happen to travel on board the Voyager, Freedom and Oasis Class ships and want to experience the Ice Skating venue, please make sure to carry long pants and socks.

If you book your air travel through the online - Choice Air Travel Program you would do well to also opt for the ground transportation to the ship. Guests are offered with transfers from the arrival airport to the pier on the day of sailing and from the pier to the departure airport on the day of disembarkation only. It is advisable that transfers are obtained at least two weeks in advance so as to avoid any last minute hiccups.