Royal Caribbean gives agents a tour of its soon-to-launch Symphony of the Seas. Harry Kemble reports from the STX shipyard in Nantes, France

Royal Caribbean’s decision not to run a turn-of-year television campaign has been “vindicated” by a strong wave period.

Ben Bouldin, Royal’s associate vice-president and managing director for the UK and Ireland, hailed the line’s strategy to instead switch the brand’s ‘This is how to holiday’ campaign to video on demand, radio and outdoor advertising. It was a shift “to move with the times”, Royal’s UK marketing director, Mario Bounas, had said in December.

Bouldin was speaking to Travel Weekly at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, where the line’s soon-to‑launch Symphony of the Seas is being built.

He said: “I think our decision not to do a television campaign has been vindicated because we have managed to do the numbers without doing TV for the first time.

“I think it is the realisation of the fact that marketing is moving in a more digital direction.

“There were lots of people in the business that were cynical about not doing TV.”
Despite a slow sales start to the year, Bouldin said the line was “having a really strong February”.

Bouldin admitted Royal Caribbean’s UK sales during the first week of the wave period were down year on year but “on par with the last six-year average”, adding: “Maybe last year was a one‑off”.

“We are quite pleased with what we have done,” he said.

“We have built consistently. We are over-delivering from what we said we would do from a UK market point of view.”

When asked if the UK market was outperforming the rest of Europe, Bouldin said: “I would like to think we are doing our bit for Europe.”

Does Symphony strike a chord?

John Cooper, brand director, Vision Cruise
“I was really impressed. The Quantum-class ships and the Oasis-class ships are the best in the world. Symphony of the Seas is the ultimate holiday resort and the fact that it goes to the destinations too makes it an added bonus.”

Paul Frost, managing director, Holiday Direction
“Royal Caribbean is yet again setting the bar higher with Symphony of the Seas. Its innovative features for couples and families alike will be there for all to see. I think the brand-new Ultimate Family Suite – albeit not for the budget-conscious – will be popular with multigenerational 
family holidaymakers.”

Miles Morgan, managing director, Miles Morgan Travel
“This is my first visit to see an Oasis-class ship and it did not disappoint. Symphony is clearly well-positioned for the family market. There will be plenty of interest because of all the facilities. A lot of ships are built around gizmos, but kids will be on Symphony’s attractions all day. The other thing which impressed me was Central Park.”