Philippines meets with Royal Caribbean officials to become major cruise port

In:
21Jul2014

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. issued a statement today about his meeting with officials from three cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, to provide feedback on how the Philippines could become a cruise destination.

“The cruise giants were open to working with the Philippines in destination development while they discussed infrastructure requirements, “ Cuisia said after a recent economic diplomacy mission to the US state of Florida, where he met with cruise-company officials.

During the meeting, Cuisia took the opportunity to emphasize to the cruise-line executives the notable destination possibilities in the Philippines, particularly Vigan City in Ilocos Sur province, which is now vying to be one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.

The Royal Caribbean officials who met with the Embassy team were Guillermo Villa, Vice President for Human Resources; Maria del Busto, Chief Human Resources Officer; and Sonia Diaz-Del Oro, Associate Vice President for Global Learning and Organizational Development.  Royal Caribbean currently employs about 16,000 Filipinos, which is second to Carnival.

First time cruisers: The truth about dress codes

In:
21Jul2014

If you're new to cruising, often there's a lot of confusion and misconceptions surrounding the idea of dress codes and how formal (or informal) you have to be on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  It's time to clear the air about what to wear!

Here's the quick and simple answer: 

You don't have to dress up at all!

That's right, if you want to wear shorts and tanktops all day, every day of your cruise there is no reason you cannot.  Royal Caribbean has a few dress codes that are only for dining in select restaurants. Otherwise, you can wear whatever suits you all the time.

When and where you will need to dress up

The only places you will need to adjust what you wear is in select restaurants.  The main dining room has a dress code for every night, which is stipulated in the Cruise Compass.  It varies from casual to formal and applies to dinner only.  

For breakfast and lunch (if open,), the main dining room has a less stringent dress code of no swimsuits, hats, tanktops or other pool clothing.

The specialty restaurants always have a dress code that falls somewhere between casual and formal that Royal Caribbean calls "smart casual".  Royal Caribbean defines it as, "jackets and ties for men, dresses or pantsuits for women.

Other complimentary restaurants such as the Windjammer or Seaview Cafe simply require shoes and a shirt. 

Casual is okay

Worrying about the dress code can be a major obstacle for those new to cruising but it really does not have to be a problem at all.  

Some people enjoy dressing up and others despise it and it's okay for both people.  Royal Caribbean offers dress code suggestions with alternative dining venues if you choose not to dress up.  

In fact, a lot of veteran Royal Caribbean cruisers will tell you they really enjoy dining in the Windjammer every night for the wide variety of food and relaxed atmosphere.  

If you feel like packing a collared shirt and "nice" jeans and maybe a dress to have a nice night out, that's okay too.  Royal Caribbean wants every guest to feel comfortable and under no pressure when it comes to what to wear at dinner.

Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas

You have heard about Royal Caribbean's newest class of cruise ships coming in 2014 and 2015, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas (there's a third, unnamed ship in that class too) and these ships are turning dress codes upside down.

Royal Caribbean is dropping formal night dress code for ship wide recommendations.  Instead, they will have one restaurant that only offers formal dress every night.  A more relaxed attitude towards dress codes is also going to be felt across the entire ship.

Don't worry!

The bottom line is don't worry about dress codes.  At all.  They exist but they are suggestions and you will not be ostricized for not following them.  

There are lots of places to eat onboard if you choose not to follow them and even when you do follow them, the dress codes are pretty relaxed. Royal Caribbean ships are not full of people in tuxedos and formal ball gowns.  

Enjoy your Royal Caribbean cruise experience without worrying about what you will be wearing at any given time.

Freedom of the Seas Photo Report - July 20, 2014

In:
20Jul2014

One of our blog readers, Shawn Wallace, is beginning his cruise this week on Freedom of the Seas and took some time to share photos of areas around the ship. Enjoy!

The Royal Promenade

KIds pool area, H2O Zone

Mini golf

Enjoying a drink to celebrate the beginning of a Royal Caribbean cruise

Adventure Ocean Explorers Room

Little People poster in Nursery

Galileo main dining room

Everything about Royal Caribbean's Central Park View Balcony Staterooms

In:
19Jul2014

One of the many innovations on the Oasis-class cruise ship are the Central Park view staterooms.  This stateroom category is available on all of Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class ships and we thought it would be useful to look at what this stateroom does (and does not) include and why you might want to consider booking it for your next cruise.

What is a Central Park View stateroom?

The Central Park view stateroom with balcony is a balcony category stateroom but instead of offering a balcony that overlooks the ocean, this stateroom category offers a view of the Central Park neighborhood.

The idea was a first in the cruise industry because prior to Oasis of the Seas, balconies had never been internally facing. 

The Central Park balconies offer the same fresh air and light that ocean view balconies do but with the opportunity to enjoy the ambiance of Central Park along with the people watching aspect.  In addition, Central Park view balcony staterooms are often slightly cheaper than ocean view balconies.

The exact size of a Central Park view stateroom with balcony is 182 square feet with a 50 square foot balcony.

What are the disadvantages of booking a Central Park View stateroom?

To some people, a balcony without an ocean view isn't a balcony so that may be an issue. In addition, overlooking Central Park can add some noise to your balcony experience.  We think the noise factor for Central Park balconies is not as high as their Boardwalk balcony brothers.

There's also less privacy with a Central Park balcony since there are other balcony staterooms on the opposite side of Central Park that face your balcony.

Summary

Central Park balcony staterooms offer the balcony experience for a slight discount and a great way to enjoy Royal Caribbean's magnificent Central Park neighborhood.

The opportunity to have a balcony experience but with a completely unique feel that is unmatched anywhere else is another Royal Caribbean benefit.  Staying in these staterooms gives you space and a different perspective.

While this balcony stateroom doesn't offer a view of the ocean, having a balcony, regardless of view, is still what makes a great cruise experience.

Royal Caribbean puts December holiday cruises on sale

In:
18Jul2014

Royal Caribbean is offering a new deal for those looking to getaway on a cruise during Christmas or New Years this year.  

Book any Caribbean or Bahamas holiday cruise departing from December 15-31, 2014, and Royal Caribbean will give you up to $400 onboard credit and 10% off your cruise fare.

The onboard credit deals is as follows

  • 3-5 night cruises
    • Interior & Ocean View staterooms
      • $100 per stateroom
    • Balcony & Suite Staterooms
      • $200 per stateroom
  • 6 night or longer cruises
    • Interior & Ocean View staterooms
      • $200 per stateroom
    • Balcony & Suite Staterooms
      • $400 per stateroom

This sale runs through July 31, 2014 and excludes Explorer of the Seas and QUantum of the Seas departures as well as Grandeur of the Seas December 27, 2014 sailing. 10% offer is applied per guest, for 1st and 2nd guests in the stateroom.

Offer available in the United States and Canada.

Friday Photos

In:
18Jul2014

We love sharing Royal Caribbean photos with all of our readers and so each week we ask our readers to send us their favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos to be featured right here on the blog!

First up is this photo of Oceanaria on Allure of the Seas by Harry A. Yerikyan.  Great show and love the Aqua Theater!

Next we have this photo from Michael Poole of the beautiful centrum on Enchantment of the Seas. Taken on June 13th 2014. Michael has sent us a lot of photos but this is my favorite so far!

Greta sent us photo of Freedom of the Seas docked in St. Thomas as seen from a ferry headed to St. Johns.

Next we have photo by Steve Ritter from Serenade of the Seas at Tracy Arm Fjord, Sawyer Glacier, in July 2009. The crew decided to capture a large chunk of ice, bring it aboard, and made a beautiful ice sculpture out of it. All this happened while Serenade slowly rotated using her Azipods and thrusters to give everyone a beautiful view of the glacier and surrounding fjords. A wonderful voyage!

Lastly we have this photo of Marie Coschigano posing for a photo while at CocoCay.  Who doesn't wish they were on CocoCay right now too?

Is your Royal Caribbean photo not here? Well, send us your favorite Royal Caribbean photos and we will include them in a future Friday Photos post!

Royal Caribbean Second Quarter 2013 Earnings Call Scheduled

In:
18Jul2014

Royal Caribbean will hold a conference call on July 24, 2013 at 10am to discuss its second quarter 2014 financial results.

The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations web site, www.rclinvestor.com. To listen to the call by phone, please dial (877) 663-9606 in the US and Canada. International phone calls should be made to (706) 758-4628. There is no passcode or meeting number. A replay of the webcast will be available at the same site for a month following the call.

Cruising 101: Crown and Anchor Society Complimentary Drink Coupons

In:
17Jul2014

Recently Royal Caribbean began a new policy of offering complimentary drink vouchers per night to select levels of Crown and Anchor Society members to help offset congestion in its Diamond and Concierge lounges.

How does these new complimentary drink coupons work?

Three drink vouchers per day will be applied to each eligible Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members corresponding SeasPass card to be used to get a free drink at bars on the ship.

One drink may be redeemed at any one time.

Who is eligible for the drink coupons?

Guests who are Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members.

When can I use the drink coupons?

Between 4:30pm and 8:00pm

Which drinks are available with the coupons

Spirits

  • Bacardi Rum
  • Bailey's Irish Cream
  • Tanqueray Gin
  • Finlandia Vodka
  • Dewar's White Label Scotch Whiskey
  • Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
  • Jose Cuervo Gold Tequilla
  • Courvoisier VS Cognac
  • Sandeman Port Wine

Wines by the glass

  • St. Martin Chardonnay
  • Zonin Pinot Grigio
  • Beringer White Zinfandel
  • St. Martin Cabernet Sauvignon
  • St. Martin Merlot

Beers

  • Budweiser
  • Miller Light
  • Amstel Light
  • Corona
  • Heineken

Can I still go to the Diamond Lounge if I use these coupons?

Yes, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members can continue to enjoy all the amenities in the Diamond Lounge.

Where can I not use the complimentary drink coupons?

Drink vouchers may not be redeemed in the dining room, specialty restaurants, room service or Windjammer.

Are the drink coupons available on all cruises?

Not yet. Royal Caribbean promises they will be rolled out by Fall 2014 but already a number of ships are offering it, including Navigator of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas.

First time cruisers: Ten mistakes to avoid

In:
17Jul2014

Going on your first Royal Caribbean cruise is exciting and it will likely be a lot of fun but people new to cruising can often make mistakes along the way.  The good news is, you can avoid these 10 common mistakes to ensure your first Royal Caribbean cruise is awesome.

10. Not researching your ports

When you get off your ship and into the ports of call that your Royal Caribbean cruise will visit, you do not want to be at a loss for what to do.

The Internet is a wealth of information for figuring out the best activities to do in every port your cruise will visit.  Researching in advance will give you the chance to figure out what your group can do and what may be available.

"Winging it" can be adventurous but being informed about your choices in advance gives you a major advantage, especially if you're interested in an activity that has limited capacity.

9. Not bringing a passport

Let me be as clear as I can: get yourself a passport.

Cruises leaving the United States have the option for Americans to sail with either a passport or birth certificate and for those that do not have a birth certificate but if things go wrong in another country, the difference between having a passport and not having a passport is tremendous.  If you have a passport, you can leave that very minute to go back to the United States. Without it, you will have to go to the embassy and go through a lot of red tape to get a visa back to the country.  It's not fun.

While expensive, passports are still the best way to get you onboard your cruise.

8. Not using a travel agent

When it comes to cruising, I love using travel agents because they make my life so much easier.  

A good travel agent that specializes in cruising can really help make your first Royal Caribbean cruise a big success.  They will help navigate you throughout the whole booking process and be your guide to what makes the most sense for your family.  Early or late dinner? Travel insurance or not? Which day to arrive? These are all great questions that require personal input.

When it comes to making changes to your reservation, such as pricing out different staterooms, changes in fares, adding more people to your reservation or anything else requiring speaking with Royal Caribbean, the hold times for the phone can be downright awful.  But a travel agent will do all that leg work for you.

In addition, a good travel agent will work to get you the best deal on your cruise not only today but every day until the final payment date.  They can be save you money in addition to time.  And did I mention travel agents cost you nothing?

If something were to go wrong during your cruise, contact your agent and it's now their problem to solve. Always enlist your agent to handle issues on your behalf.

7. Sailing to the wrong place

Which itinerary you pick is important so make sure which sailing you choose is right for you.  

Very short sailings (3-4 nights) may be appealing but anyone who has cruised before will tell you those are just too short.  Five to seven night sailings seem to be a better balance in general and give you a real sense of what cruising is like.

Likewise, where you sail to is important.  Try picking an itinerary that stops in ports of call that really interest you instead of just choosing the cheapest fare available.  There are so many ports Royal Caribbean visits these days but make sure they are in line with the sort of activities you enjoy.  The Caribbean is full of beautiful beaches while Europe is more about urban exploration.  

6. Picking the wrong stateroom

Price is not the end all, be all of choosing the right Royal Caribbean cruise but it certainly is important and the stateroom you pick out first will be important.

In general, staterooms in the middle of the ship are the most desirable for their convenient location as well as least motion felt by the ocean.  For first timer cruisers, staterooms in the very front or rear of the ship can save you some money but you may not find it as enjoyable being there.

In addition, paying a little extra for ocean view or balcony staterooms may be worth the money for the extra space.  Don't under-estimate the imporant of a few extra square feet when it comes to stateroom size.

5. Skipping the specialty restaurants

Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants, which have an additional cost to dine there, are among the best dining locations at sea and you're missing out if you don't try one or four.

You can always dine at the complimentary restaurants but working in a specialty restaurant on a few nights of your cruise can really give you a nice change of pace and exposure to cuisines that aren't available elsewhere for free onboard.

Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants are wonderful and it's hard to go wrong at any of them, so it's worth spending a little bit more to eat here a few times.

4.Picking the wrong ship class (for you)

Royal Caribbean has over 20 ships in their fleet and there's new ships coming online all the time but the reality is not every Royal Caribbean ship is perfect for everyone.

I've loved exploring many of the ships Royal Caribbean has but there's no question in my mind the ships that are either new or recently refurbished are among the best choice for first time cruisers.  The reason is the newer ships have the most new ammenities and offer the largest variety of activities onboard.

For families especially, the newer ships have larger kid spaces and more for them to do.  I'm a fan of the Oasis, Freedom and Voyager class specifically as good choices for first timers.

3. Only booking Royal Caribbean excursions

Royal Caribbean offers a lot of great excursions that are easy to book and offer tremendous convenience but often it comes at a price.  Booking excursions on your own can be a great way to have more choices and save you some money.

We're not saying never book Royal Caribbean's excursions, but at least consider third party excursions for their tremendous value and smaller group size.  

2. Tipping on top of the auto-gratuity

Royal Caribbean adds an automatic gratuity to pretty much everything you spend onboard, from booze to spa treatments to food.

When you buy something with your SeaPass card, look at the receipt before adding a tip because most often there is already a 18% tip there.  

And while over tipping is something to avoid, you do want to make sure that you are tipping good service, especially waiters, porters and attendants.

Of course, if the Royal Caribbean crew member did a tremendous job, then please feel free to reward them appropriately!

1. Flying to your cruise on embarkation day

If you have to fly to your cruise, do not book your flight for the same day your cruise leaves because you're only setting yourself up for a potential problem.

Veteran cruisers will always fly in at least one day before their cruise leaves and that's to avoid travel nightmares that the airlines are notorious for. Delays, weather and breakdowns happen consistantly so don't let those kind of inconveniences cause you to miss your cruise.

Getting in a day early will give you plenty of time to get past any travel delays you encounter with the added bonus of beginning your vacation a day earlier!

Royal Caribbean versus Disney Cruise Line Podcast Episode

In:
16Jul2014

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

Episode 50 is available for downloading where we have an in-depth comparisson of Royal Caribbean versus Disney Cruise Line.

Authors Len Testa and Laurel Stewart are back from their first Royal Caribbean cruise aboard Allure of the Seas and this week we're comparing the two cruise line experiences and seeing which line does better in various aspects of the cruise experience.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 50. 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!

Pages