Royal Caribbean vice-president praises role of trade in selling Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s vice-president for the EMEA region has hailed the performance of UK agents in selling new ship Icon of the Seas, saying the UK is responsible for about 5% of bookings.

Ben Bouldin said UK agents have been “terrific” in driving sales for the first Icon-class ship, which is due to be officially named at a ceremony in Miami on Tuesday.

The 7,600-passenger vessel, which sets sail on its maiden voyage on January 27, is the largest in the world with eight “neighbourhoods”, 21 dining concepts, a water park and 28 stateroom categories.

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Bouldin said the timing of the ship’s launch is “unfortunate” as it clashes with the peak selling season, but he is optimistic more UK agents will have the opportunity to sail on board in the coming months, as “you can’t really believe it until you see it”.

“The timing of this particular launch versus some others hasn’t really leant itself to whipping up a frenzy of agents coming here because, of course, it’s peaks in the UK,” he said. “January and February are a critical time – if you don’t hit your January and February [targets], you don’t hit your year if you’re a travel agent in the UK.

“So we haven’t had as many come out here but we have had huge interest and demand. We’ve been working very closely with [agents] and I’m delighted to say the UK market is probably supplying about 5% of the sale for Icon which is terrific and we’re really excited about that continuing as the class evolves and expands.

“We’ve got lots of incentives and competitions and the fantastic Club Royal scheme in the UK which really incentivises people to lean into our products.”

Royal Caribbean Group chief executive Jason Liberty described Icon of the Seas as the “biggest, baddest ship on the planet”, and said the Icon class reflects the line’s “culture of dreaming”.

Chief executive Michael Bayley added the ship “ticks all the boxes” and has driven “unbelievable” demand.

“It’s really exciting when you introduce a new class of ship, but it’s even more exciting when it seems to be spot on, and for our demographic and our customer, this ship seems to have ticked all the boxes,” said Bayley.

“We feel like all the new features and spaces we’ve created are just right.”

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