Royal's Jason Liberty pumps up private islands at CruiseWorld

FORT LAUDERDALE — Weeks before the debut of a new beach at Perfect Day at CoCo Cay, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said travel advisors can expect more private-island-only sailings in the future.

The comment came as a response to a question asked by Travel Weekly editor-in-chief Arnie Weissmann at CruiseWorld Thursday. He asked whether agents should expect to see more or fewer cruises that only call at Royal Caribbean International’s private islands, Liberty said, “I would say more. 

“That’s why we continue to add more and more activities on those islands, to make sure that everyone can have that perfect day,” he said.  

Perfect Day at Coco Cay is Royal Caribbean International’s highest-rated destination in the Caribbean, driving outsized yield and pricing growth, according to company executives. The line will have sent around 2.5 million guests there this year, according to cruise line president Michael Bayley. Celebrity Cruises will send two ships to call at the private island next year.

Royal Caribbean International and several other contemporary lines quietly sail a handful of itineraries that only call on their respective private islands. Such lines include Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises. 

In Royal Caribbean’s case, the line sails four-day cruises from Miami to Perfect Day in the Bahamas or its private beach in Labadee, Haiti, and sometimes to both destinations on one sailing. The line is also developing a private beach on the western end of Paradise Island in Nassau. However, most of Royal Caribbean’s cruises calling at its private islands also visit other destinations in the Caribbean. 

Easing negative tourism sentiment

While Liberty said Perfect Day at CoCo Cay is meant to help a variety of customers create the memories they want, he said the private islands also help to alleviate pressure from destinations that suffer from anti-tourism sentiment. 

“Investing in great things like the Royal Beach Club and Perfect Day take some of that congestion off of those areas where they’re hotter in terms of anti-tourism,” he said. 

The group’s lines, which include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises, diversify where their ships go to take pressure off many of the city centers of the cities the lines visit, Liberty said. 

Royal Caribbean and Israel

As the Israel-Hamas war has caused cruise lines to change and cancel their itineraries, Liberty said one of the first things Royal Caribbean did after fighting escalated was to use a cruise ship to help Americans leave the country.

A few days after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, Royal Caribbean received a call from the U.S. State Department looking for a way to get Americans out of Israel, he said.

The Rhapsody of the Seas was turning out of Haifa, Israel, and had relocated to Cyprus, he said. About an hour after that initial call, the company called the State Department back, saying it could make the cruise ship available and would do so pro bono.

“We quickly mobilized. It took the government a little bit longer to mobilize, and then we assisted in any way that we could,” he said. “These aren’t things that we talk about or debate a lot internally. When our communities are in need, it’s just in our DNA to step up, and we really pride ourselves on always trying to do the right thing,” he said.

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