Behind the Brand: Ben Bouldin, Vice President Europe, Middle East and Africa, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd

Rise to the vacation where extraordinary happens; Ben talked to Jennie Carr about the world’s largest cruise brand

Q. Can you give me an overview of Royal Caribbean?  

A. Currently Royal Caribbean has 25 ships, the next to be launched is Wonder of Seas in March 2022, which will be the 5th ship in the Oasis class, which are the world’s largest and longest cruise ships.  And there are 2 more ships in this class under construction.  It is the biggest cruise brand in the world, with around 260 ports of call worldwide.  The next class of ship will be the Icon, with the Icon of the Seas to be launched in 2023.  I am super optimistic regarding the future of cruising.

Q. What 3 words would you use to describe a Royal Caribbean cruise?

A. Jaw-dropping, innovative, fun. Royal Caribbean don’t take themselves too seriously and we encourage our guests not to take themselves too seriously as well.  The cruises are for the young at heart who want to have fun.   On board, you can be assured of loads of innovation and cool things you’ve never before experienced.   

Q. Would you say the 2017 strapline ‘Where extraordinary happens’ still applies to the ships and the cruises?

A. Yes indeed, it describes exactly what you feel when you sit in one of entertainment and theatre spaces, when you watch what is going on around you.

Currently we use the strapline ‘Rise to the vacation’, a play on the phrase ‘rise to occasion’.  The word ‘holiday’ doesn’t work so well and we are a American cruise line after all, although our guests hail from all over the world and our crew is from 75 countries. So we’re a very international brand. 

Q.  What’s the cruise line’s USP?  I’ve heard the phrase the ‘Royal Way’.

A. I would describe myself as ‘Royal’ when speaking to the crew and members of staff.  This captures the ethos of the service we offer, such as greeting everyone with a smile.  We can have the best ships in the world (and I think we do), however they are nothing without the best crew, who are unquestionably the heartbeat of the Royal Caribbean brand.

Q.  Who is your typical passenger? 

A. Royal Caribbean is for everyone, I genuinely believe that.  We are the most welcoming cruise line for children and families, for adventurous couples and for travellers with disabilities.  What we offer is exceptionally broad ranging, allowing the guest, whomsoever they may be, to have the most incredible experience. 

You just can’t do everything onboard in a week: it’s physically not possible to eat in all the restaurants or join in every activity.  We build a framework and within that, guests pick and choose what they wish to do, creating their own schedule via our app.   

Q.  Moving to details, what’s your favourite aspect of the latest ship, Wonder of the Seas, due for launch March 2022?

A. I haven’t seen it yet, it’s all very secret.  However, I know it has an 8th Neighbourhood; the other ships in this class have 7, all themed areas of the vessel.  This new neighbourhood is for premium suites, offering an exclusive bar, pool and restaurant.   It also features the ultimate family suite for 10 guests, perfect multi- generational space, which is certainly becoming a real trend. 

Q. What are Royal Caribbean’s ambitions for the future, say the next 5/10 years? 

A. Building ships will continue.  There will also be exciting land-based development, as Royal Caribbean rides the phenomenal wave of success that stems from 2018 and the island in Coco Cay called Perfect Day, created by Michael Bailey.  

Our commitment to sustainability is now front and centre: we care about the footprint we leave.  It is critical that we are carbon neutral by 2050.  Royal Caribbean has a partnership with WWF, working on scientifically driven numbers and targets. 

We continue to work on destination management, supporting the needs of these places and contributing massively in good ways.   

Q.  We must talk about Coronavirus, clearly it’s affected cruising worldwide. 

A. The cruise industry as a whole has acted responsibly: voluntarily suspending cruises in March 2020, repatriating guests and crew, giving refunds or promising to hold guests’ money safely.  I am most proud of how industry came together in agreement, with no competition and how it is returning together with one set of protocols to combat the pandemic.

Since November 2020 cruises have sailed from Singapore successfully.  From May 2021 over 20 ships have undertaken voyages around the UK, which went exceptionally well.  I believe guests were never safer than when on any of our ships this summer, because the rigour and diligence behind all protocols meant guests were continually looked after and kept healthy.

If there was a positive case of the virus, and this has happened occasionally, the situation was managed sensibly and safely and reported efficiently, ensuring people got the treatment and help they needed. 

I genuinely believe there is nothing stopping the cruise industry being the best executors of a really strong set of protocols, surpassing hotels, venues and other holiday experiences. 

My message is don’t lose the optimism that was returning, there’s lots to look forward to.

Next Steps:

Go to to find out more. 

And to book, get a quote or discuss your cruise options, call 0800 412 5678.

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Jennie Carr

Silver Travel Advisor Creative and Communication Director, member of BGTW

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