By End-2016 RCI Will Be Biggest Stand-Alone Cruise Brand, Says Ben Bouldin

By End-2016 RCI Will Be Biggest Stand-Alone Cruise Brand, Says Ben Bouldin

“Royal Caribbean International, by the end of 2016, will be the biggest stand-alone cruise brand,” asserted Ben Bouldin, Director of Sales, UK & Ireland, in an interview with ITTN’s News & Features Editor, Neil Steedman. “About 10% of our business comes from Ireland – while 50% of our UK & Ireland allocations on Quantum of the Seas are for Ireland!

Ben Bouldin, Director of Sales, UK & Ireland, Royal Caribbean International (right), with Jennifer Callister, National Account Manager, Ireland, and Jenny Rafter, Major Account Manager, Ireland


“That is an indication of how successful the ITAA Conference on Quantum’s pre-inaugural sailing out of Southampton was for us last November. Some Irish agents attending had never been on a cruise before and they have now been converted to cruising.

“Royal Caribbean International moved on a long way last year. Following the restructuring of RCCL into separate teams for the three brands, we added resources, including Ireland-dedicated staff in the UK, we have Jenny Rafter and Jennifer Callister here on the ground, and I am in Ireland every month.

March Launch for Espresso

“In March we will also be launching RCCL’s new multi-brand global reservation system, Espresso, a faster, powerful and intuitive reservation system that will assist travel agents to sell more cruises, earn more commission and increase their business.”

Screen grab of Espresso, RCCL’s new multi-brand global reservation system that will be launched in March 2015

Espresso will go live for agent bookings in March, but the existing CruiseMatch reservation system will continue to operate for three to four months to enable travel agents to undertake training and become familiar with the new system. Espresso will also provide side-by-side comparison views of selected itineraries.

Once submitted, the system’s search engine finds the best available price and applicable promotional offers to deliver the best vacation options for travel agents to present to their clients.

Anthem of the Seas

“We have had a really good start to the year, we have high repeat rates, and the advantageous commission rate for Ireland of up to 15% remains for 2015. An average of eight out of 10 bookings come from agents, while from Irish agents the average is a little higher, around 8.5.

“On 18th – 20th April our new, soon-to-be-launched Quantum Class ship, Anthem of the Seas, will make a pre-inaugural sailing out of Southampton for 2,500-plus My Club Royal members.”

(NB: Irish travel agents have until midnight tonight, Thursday 12th February, to enter ITTN’s competition for two places on the Anthem of the Seas pre-inaugural cruise. See

“Anthem of the Seas will be offering ex-Southampton cruises in Europe and the Mediterranean, and later in the year from New Jersey to the Caribbean, where we are doing massive business. Her sister ship Quantum of the Seas will be in Asia, and we will be promoting rest-of-the-world products, including Latin America.

“Oasis of the Seas will be visiting Belfast and, from May, Allure of the Seas will be sailing ex-Barcelona, offering cruises that we will package with Aer Lingus flights. Explorer of the Seas will also sail ex-Southampton and Brilliance of the Seas ex-Harwich.

“A major campaign promotes the all-inclusive benefits of cruising, which makes it easier for travel agents to sell our products.

“Try Selling Cruising”

“For the future, we want to continue growing and continue to build relationships with our travel agent partners, existing and new, as well as with airlines and airports, and we will look at every opportunity. Our message to everybody is: “Try selling cruising – and preferably Royal Caribbean International!”

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 52 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 42 years.

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