Royal Caribbean has not only withdrawn its brands from Brazil for the coming cruise season, but also closed all its offices in the country.
Throughout the entire 2016-2017 season, only Celebrity Infinity of group’s Celebrity brand is scheduled to call at Rio de Janeiro for the Carnival in February. No other Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) ship will be present in Brazil during this time. Having also closed its offices in Brazil, the local agent R11 Travel will handle all the sales on behalf of the group.
In recent years, because of the challenging market conditions in Brazil, the annual passenger numbers have fallen from above 900,000 to only about 300,000 (forecasted for the coming season).
RCCL has also switched its focus to “outbound” passengers. Previously, a large proportion of passengers sourced from Brazil were for the so-called “cabotage cruises”; last year, 60% of Brazilian passengers were outbound and only 40% were on cabotage cruises.
Besides the drastic decline in demand, weak infrastructure, high taxes, economic and political uncertainties are among other reasons for this move by RCCL.
Although at this point the withdrawal only concerns the forthcoming season, the office closure does suggest a more permanent policy change. The absence of RCCL brands in the country will have a devastating effect on this once promising ocean cruise market.
Other major cruise lines, such as Costa Crociere, have already reduced their exposure to the region.