Rookie mistakes to avoid on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
24Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 273 is available for downloading, which has our listeners sharing their tips for avoiding first time cruiser mistakes.

Matt invited listeners to call in and share mistakes they have made or seen other cruisers make when first trying a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 273. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Live blogging from Adventure of the Seas – Day 3 – Grand Cayman

In:
24Oct2018
By: Michael Poole

Today was our first port of call, Grand Cayman.  The captain decided to switch us to local time, so we fell back to central time zone.  I didn’t mind the extra hour of sleep this morning.  We were in port from 7AM to 3PM, so it wasn’t a very long day, but still plenty of time to explore. 

We started our morning with a quick bite to eat at Café Promenade. They had breakfast sandwiches and burrito’s, reminds me of Park Café breakfast on other ships.  I really enjoyed the egg burrito and fruit cup. 

Since Grand Cayman doesn’t have a pier you must tender over to the island, same process as you do in Coco Cay.  However, they were handing out tickets to get off the ship to help with the traffic flow.  I was up in the diamond lounge and the concierge was able to hand out tickets.  Otherwise you just pick them up on deck 5 in the promenade.  They then call ticket numbers to proceed to exit the ship.  This reminded me how they call numbers to debark on the last day. 

We left the ship at 9AM so the numbers had all been called.  It did take us 15 minutes in line for a tender to arrive to the ship, I guess we just missed it.  Once we boarded the tender boat they wait until it’s full to leave.  Not a huge deal but the whole process from ship to shore was about 45 minutes all-in.    

No real plans today so we jumped into a taxi to the Royal Palms.  If you read my Brilliance live blog in March I also went here.  Today we only had two ships in port so the Royal Palms was very calm.  It’s $5 per person for the taxi and $2 per person to enter.  The $2 entry fee covers the restrooms and chairs around the bar/pool.  If you want beach loungers they are $12 each. 

We grabbed a bucket of beers ($25) and went swimming in the pool most of the morning.  In the past, they have had a DJ playing music but today was a much different experience.  At noon we left to meet some on board friends for lunch. 

 

The restaurant was called Paradise Grill (green roof) all the way to the right when you exit the terminal.  The views during lunch were really nice with the ships in the background.  You could also go snorkeling here, I can report seeing many baby sharks in the water!

On board

After waking up from a much needed 3 hour nap, I decided to go visit the schooner bar.  Since it’s on deck 4 I hadn’t spent much time here.  When I arrived they were playing trivia and it was so packed, but right when it ended the place cleared out.  They also had some live music going so that was nice to enjoy with my cocktail.  I was using my 3 diamond coupons at schooner.  Note if you are looking for straws you are out of luck on Adventure. 

Tonight was the Top Tier Event at 7PM I didn’t attend but I was able to get the Crown and Anchor numbers on board: 883 Gold, 249 Platinum, 131 Emerald, 251 Diamond, 198 Diamond Plus, 33 Pinnacles. 

Speaking of C&A, the Diamond lounge has been packed every night. In fact, I’ve yet to find a seat inside the lounge.  They are doing some overflow out in the Viking Crown area, which is fine.  However, all the food is in the lounge so I’ll go in to grab some snacks and head back out. 

Since we have had two big dinners the previous nights we wanted something just simple tonight.  We decided on having pizza at Sorrento’s on the promenade deck.  They had cheese, peperoni and veggie.  I’m happy to report the pizza has greatly improved since I was last on a cruise.  Seems like they are using a lot more cheese and improved quality. 

We did attend the headliner show at 9PM in the theater.  They had a comedy / musician show.  I was like now this sounds interesting, and needless to say it was.  I laughed a few times and he got the crowd very involved with the show.  It wasn’t more than 45 minutes long, so I’m happy we went. 

Tonight was the 70’s disco party on the promenade deck at 10PM.  We went for a while but it wasn’t the full-blown out 70’s party like I’ve seen on Oasis class ships.  They had a man and a female on the bridge dancing and singing, however no costumes.  Also sorry ladies, no muscle man running around with his shirt off. 

After the party we headed up to the disco party on deck 14.  We danced for a while and ordered some drinks.   Hillary got a martini $12 and I had two kraken and diet $8 each.  So that brings our daily drink total to $30 for the day and $110 for the cruise.  We are also filling up some wine glasses in our room to go out, which has also helped with no drink package. 

Well that’s a wrap on day three in Grand Cayman.  Tomorrow we are headed to Costa Maya and I’m trying something for the first time, so stay tuned!

Royal Caribbean confirms Anthem of the Seas is headed back to UK

In:
24Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

After months of rumors, it now appears Royal Caribbean will move Anthem of the Seas in 2020 from the New York market, and send her over to the Southampton, England.

Royal Caribbean UK and Ireland managing director Ben Bouldin confirmed the news to TravelWeekly.

"Not only that, I'm delighted to announce that the UK will see Anthem of the Seas returned to Southampton, and that will go on sale on the 20th of November. We're thrilled to have her back."

Word of a Quantum Class ship coming back to the UK first arose after Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley confirmed one of the ships in the class would sail from Southampton in 2020. Bayley did not mention which Quantum Class ship it would be, but cruise fans quickly narrowed down the choices by process of elimination to Quantum or Anthem.

If you are wondering when Anthem of the Seas sailings will go on sale, Royal Caribbean has indicated that Europe Phase I sailings will go on sale the week of November 19, and Europe Phase II will go on sale the week of December 17.  Bouldin indicated ex-UK and Europe departures in 2020 will be available to book from November 20.

It remains to be seen which ship will replace Anthem of the Seas in Bayonne, New Jersey. The nature of new ship deployment announcements is there are many moving pieces that comprise a deployment schedule.

Video: Spectrum of the Seas Azipod Installation

In:
23Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Spectrum of the Seas is taking shape. Take a closer look at this engineering marvel as her azipods are installed at Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Designed specifically for the Chinese market, Spectrum of the Seas will be the largest and most expensive ship in Asia when she sails from Shanghai, China starting in June 2019.

Royal Caribbean enters TTG Travel Awards' Travel Hall of Fame

In:
23Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean reached a new milestone with its induction into TTG Travel Awards’ Travel Hall of Fame.  After winning the “Best Cruise Operator” Award for 10 consecutive years, the cruise line was honored to be added to the Hall of Fame at the 29th Annual TTG Travel Awards 2018 ceremony in Bangkok this evening.

Angie Stephen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. who accepted the award said, “This is a very proud moment for Royal Caribbean that we wish to share with all our supporters. We are not resting on our laurels however, as we continue to live up to and deliver our award-winning cruise experience and service, by bringing our best ships such as Spectrum of the Seas to the region next year for our customers and agents.”

Royal Caribbean has consistently won the “Best Cruise Operator” Award for offering the best product, services and facilities. 

Live blogging from Adventure of the Seas – Day 2 – Sea Day

In:
23Oct2018
By: Michael Poole

Today was our first sea day, it’s really our first full day on board Adventure of the Seas.   We actually started the morning with a quick jog on the top deck.  With all that food last night at Chef’s Table we thought it would be a good idea to start the day burning some calories.  For those wondering it’s 8 laps for every mile. 

Last night we put the room service card outside our door for this morning for 9am.  We were back to the room by 8:30am, so what better way to kill time than open some Champagne.  I grabbed some orange juice from the windjammer after our workout and make some mimosas to enjoy out on our balcony. 

Our breakfast was nothing to get excited about since we went for the free options.  If you are looking for eggs and bacon they will charge you $7.95 for room service.  We ordered yogurt, fruit and bread that are included at no charge. 

We had some liquid sunshine moving in, so we took to the solarium hot tub.  It was a little after 10AM before we made it to the pool deck and we still saw plenty of pool chairs open.  Not a lot to report from other than relaxing bubbles in the hot tub. 

Around 11:45AM I decided we should go get some lunch.  Try to get an early lunch if you can the Windjammer can get very busy around 12:30-1:30PM.  We had no problem getting a table and service was also good offering us drinks.  I went with a little bit of everything, it’s “research” right?  The food was fine for lunch, nothing special but I did really enjoy the grilled fish.  

Afternoon on board

After lunch I saw the World’s Sexy Man contest happening on the pool deck.  This is when I noticed how busy the pool deck was.  My fiancé wanted to go swimming but the main pool was a little too busy.  So back to the solarium we went and guess what, it was even more packed!  Glad we got our swim time in early because I decided to call it a day on the pool deck.

Something about an afternoon beer I love at the pub on sea days.  I had two beers and enjoyed some time talking to my friend Paul on aboard.  We talked about how we love the cruising community and all the friends we have made over the years.

To report on paying for drinks without a drink package, yesterday we spent around $50.  Today we spent $34, so we are still under the $600 for the drink package.  Let’s see how we finish up. 

At some point this afternoon I wondered up to the helicopter-landing pad all the way forward.  It’s the first time I can remember going to the front without any wind.  The seas were as calm as they could be.  I joked; we should just lay out up here! 

Evening on board

Tonight was formal night, but by the looks of it I’d say it looked like smart casual.  Very few people were dressed up, mostly pants and a button down shirt without a tie.  Not a big deal as far as how you enjoy the cruise, but seems like formal is going away. 

Dinner tonight was in Giovanni’s Table at 7:30pm.  We had our friend Paul join us for dinner.  Hillary and I used our Diamond Plus Bogo coupon to cover the meal and it was $33 for the two of us.  Since it was formal night it was extremely busy, but I didn’t think our service suffered any from it. 

We ordered some pasta as a starter, why not you are on vacation.  Hillary ordered the cheese and meat plate, but they made it smaller since it was just for one.  Though it was big enough for our whole table to share.  The dinner was a lot of fun and we just laughed and enjoyed some good wine.   I would say Giovanni’s is my favorite restaurant in the fleet, you know it’s always going to be amazing. 

After dinner we headed up to the silent disco party at 11PM.  I didn’t take my camera with me, but it was a lot of fun. The room is totally silent but you are wearing headphones listening to music dancing.  We made it until midnight and called it a night. 

 

First look at Royal Caribbean smartphone app chat feature

In:
22Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is actively working to roll out new features to its smartphone app that will eventually be available across the fleet.  In the meantime, they are testing a new chat feature between guests that is available only on Allure of the Seas.

Guests simply need to download the new Royal Caribbean app from the iTunes App store or the Google Play store.  The app and its use are completely free.

Once onboard the ship and logged onto Royal Caribbean's Wi-Fi  network (no internet package required to use the app), other guests will show up as offline or online but are only online if they have the app opened and to the “chat” window. If your travel agent linked your reservation before sailing with a friend or family the will automatically show up.

To add another guest, you need to have their last name, birthday, and reservation number.  If you add someone that was not on a linked reservation by your travel agent, then they must add you as well as you adding them for privacy reasons. 

Messages will show as “Sent” and also “Delivered” to give you an idea if it was seen. To be delivered it seems like you need to have opened the Royal app.

At this time, there are no push notifications of messages at all. You have to open the Royal app and it will have a numbered badge on that chat bubble.

Thanks to Doug G. for sharing his experience with this app on Allure of the Seas!

The app is currently available on 10 Royal Caribbean ships, although the chat feature is only available on Allure of the Seas at this time.  

  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Majesty of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has not shared any kind of timeline for when other ships will be added to the app, nor when a particular feature will become available for use.

Live blogging from Adventure of the Seas – Day 1 – Embarkation Day

In:
22Oct2018
By: Michael Poole

My long-awaited cruise has finally arrived; words can’t describe the day one excitement.  Of course, I woke up well before I wanted to, just lying in bed watching time tick-tock. 

Pre – Cruise

I mentioned I booked the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott.  I stayed at the location right beside the airport.  The hotel was fine for one night, but it was extremely dated, even a pink bathroom door.  Since I didn’t arrive until 11pm, I just needed a place to sleep but I don’t recommend this hotel for pre-cruise.  They have two very nice Hyatt’s right behind it around the same price point. 

The morning of the cruise we went to one of my favorite spots for breakfast called Roberts.  I was surprised to see we could walk only being 0.4miles away.  It’s nothing fancy, but great food and not very expensive. 

After breakfast we showered up and headed to Publix to get our wine to carry on board.  Royal Caribbean let’s you bring two 750ml of wine per cabin on board. Since we don’t have a drink package I knew I wanted to take advantage of carrying some on. 

From our hotel to Publix and the cruise terminal in our Uber XL was $30.  We didn’t need an XL but I wanted more space and it worked out we got a very nice luxury SUV.  If we did a standard Uber X it would have been around $18. 

Boarding

We arrived to the ship around 11:15am, I know according to Matt we were two hours late!  Since Allure of the Seas was in port today, Adventure was down terminal 29.  It’s rather old but really no issues to report.  When we pulled up they had porters in the parking lot ready to take our bags. 

Since we arrived a little later than normal they were already boarding.  We used our set sail pass to board the ship; our sea pass cards were in the cabin.  I wish I had used the app to check in, so I could have reported how that went vs set sail. 

On board

Once on board we headed down the Champagne bar for our first drinks of the cruise.  I can report that they didn’t have any Stella at this bar, but oh well.  We met some new friends right away and enjoyed a few drinks.  Once thing I’ve noticed is most of the crew just started their contract.  It was little confusing for a few minor things like using Crown and Anchor BOGO coupon with setsail pass. 

I wanted to make reservations for dinner and found the tables set up on the Promenade deck.  They were offering 40% off Chef’s Table and who could say no to that?  We also schedule dinner tomorrow night at Giovanni’s Table with our good friend Paul Crow. 

Cabin

A few minutes before 1PM our cabins were open.  I booked a deck 6 ocean balcony right by the aft stairs.  But I think I’ve learned a lesson the balcony cabin’s on deck 6 on Adventure don’t have the glass to see through.  Not a big deal, but if you are going to spend a lot of time on the balcony I recommend deck 7 or higher.  We are in cabin 6332. 

I found our bags right down the hall and we got unpacked right away.  That’s a good tip; once you get in the cabin if you usually just walk down the hall you will see all the luggage.  I like to be unpacked right away to start my fun on board.

Afternoon on board

Since we were all unpacked we wanted to take advantage of the pools being so empty on day one.  The pools were very cold, I’m thinking since Adventure just came down from Canada.  We didn’t stay more than an hour but it was relaxing and I was officially in cruise mode!

We had the muster drill at 4:30PM, I was lucky enough to get the dining room as my location.  They still have guest stand on the outside decks I just randomly got the dining room.  It was very fast and only read out in English; sometimes the dual languages can slow it down. 

Chef’s Table

Dinner tonight was at Chef’s Table, this is $85 per person that includes wine pairing over a five-course meal.  I recommend you book this on board and not in the cruise planner for discounts.  They were offering 40% off for guest going night one, so I couldn’t turn that down.  The table had 16 guest and one 1 couple booked online and paid $85pp. 

We had an invite in our cabin to meet down at the Champagne bar at 6:15PM.  We started the meal with a glass of champagne meeting our tablemates.  Around 6:45PM you head to the table, which on Adventure is in the dining room. 

The meal itself started out kind of slow as far as conversation.  Funny how a few glasses of wine really gets the group going.  They talked about the wine tasting matching the food flavors.  Just going off the food itself the meal was top notch, far better than Chops Grill. 

We had scallops, tomato soup, lobster, filet, and cake – all with a wine pairing.  Not that this matters too much, but they weren’t refilling wine pours if you really liked one, it was just one glass of each.  The main course came out with Caymus wine, which is my favorite! 

 

The meal last a little over 3 hours when you count the pre-champagne meet up.  They were offering guest to come back during the cruise for a different menu, so who knows we might return. 

 

After dinner we made our donation to Royal Caribbean in the casino.  We manage to make it until 11pm but called it a night.  Day 1 is also so action packed so we ended up calling it a night.  It was a really fun day, tomorrow will be much slower pace with a day at sea! Feel free to comment below with any questions about Adventure.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 21, 2018

In:
21Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

The fall temperatures may be dropping, but the Royal Caribbean news from this week is as hot as ever, and we have it all summarized for you in this week's round up!

Sit back, and catch-up on all of the Royal Caribbean news and happenings form this week.

Many guests noticed a new option when booking a cruise via the Royal Caribbean website where a new monthly payment option was added.

In addition to the traditional billing method, Royal Caribbean now allows guests to make monthly payments towards a cruise via a third party service.

The montly payment option is financed through a third-party service known as UpLift, in which a first payment is due at booking and subsequent payments taken each month thereafter.  An annual percentage rate (APR) is also tacked onto the total cost for the financing service.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Packing for a Royal Caribbean cruise presents is own challenges, including deciding what to carry on the ship versus have delivered to your stateroom later.

In this week's Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast, Matt lists what he thinks are the most important items to carry-on the ship.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

PR Week shared the news of Royal Caribbean UK & Ireland hiring a new head of PR & Social.

Eyewitness News reports 500 Royal Caribbean jobs are open to Bahamians.

Cruise Critic shared tips for sailing on a China based cruise ship.

Yahoo! posted the results of CN Traveler reader voting for best cruise lines in 2018.

USA Today listed 30 cruise ship attractions that will "blow your mind".

Cruise Habit recorded a podcast all about specialty dining on cruise ships.

Mariner of the Seas to return to new PortMiami cruise terminal

In:
20Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has begun notifying guests sailing on upcoming Mariner of the Seas sailings that their cruise will make use of the brand new cruise terminal the cruise has built in PortMiami.

Terminal A is a brand new, state-of-the-art cruise terminal and the October 26, 2018 Mariner of the Seas sailing will make use of the port when she returns to Miami. The cruise will begin from Terminal G, but return to Terminal A.

Thanks to Nancy Ritter for sharing this screenshot.

The terminal will feature stunning architecture, a new boarding experience, and an impressive gold propellor that is 15,000 lbs. and 56 ft. tall. Terminal A was designed to accommodate the passengers of two of the world’s largest ships, the new Symphony of the Seas and her sister, Allure of the Seas. 

Guests sailing on other Mariner of the Seas sailings received emails informing them that they too will be cruising to and from the new terminal.

Thanks to Frank for providing this email

A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for November 2nd, 2018 that will formally open the the new terminal to the public.

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