Harmony of the Seas night photos

In:
22Jul2017

We really like night photos on Royal Caribbean ships because of how beautiful everything looks lit up with the lights. So it made sense that on our recent Harmony of the Seas cruise, we flexed our photography muscle (which admittedly is not very strong) and took as many night photos as we could find.

Here is our gallery of the better night photos from Harmony of the Seas. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as we enjoyed taking them!

Do you have a nice nighttime photo from Harmony of the Seas? Feel free to share them in our comments below!

Royal Caribbean extends WOW Sale and adds Kids Sail Free offer

In:
21Jul2017

Royal Caribbean has extended its current WOW Sale for a few more days, and is adding on Kids Sail Free too.

Royal Caribbean cruises booked between July 24 - 25, 2017 on sailings on or after August 24, 2017 (excluding China departures) are eligible for this promotion.

Offer includes:

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full fare guest and 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd and 4th guests booked in the same stateroom as first two qualifying guests.
  • Kids Sail Free
    • Guests 12 years old and younger sail free on Oasis of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas on sailings departing September 2,2017 through October 9, 2017.
  • Deck the Holidays Deals
    • Applies to sailings departing from 12/19/17 - 12/31/17 and 12/18/18 - 12/31/18.
    • Includes an instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length
      • $25 off per stateroom for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5 nights or less
      • $50 off per stateroom for Balconiess and Suites on sailings 5 nights and less
      • $50 off per stateroom for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6 nights and longer
      • $75 off per stateroom for Balconiess on sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $100 off per stateroom for Suites on sailings 6 nights or longer
  • Onboard credit determined by sailing length
    • $50 to spend onboard on sailings 3-5 nights
    • $100 to spend onboard on sailings 6-9 nights
    • $200 to spend onboard on sailings 10 nights and longer

WOW Sale is combinable BOGO50, 25% Savings for 3rd and 4th Guests, NextCruise offers, NRDB OBC, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military). WOW Sale is not combinable with Shareholder Benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

Offer is combinable with select promotions.

Friday Photos

In:
21Jul2017

Welcome back to Friday Photos, our weekly showcase of Royal Caribbean photos that were taken by readers of this blog.  

Every week, we ask our readers to send us their best Royal Caribbean vacation photos to be considered for this post. We love to feature photos of the ships, excursions, activities onboard and anything else that reminds you of a great time while sailing with Royal Caribbean.

So without further adieu, here is this week's batch of photos.

Laura took this photo in Tallinn, Estonia, and she felt it was like being in a fairy tale.

Andy took this photo on Liberty of the Seas and captured a beautiful sunrise while pulling into Port of Galveston.

Here is a favorite photo of Melissa Hershey, who thinks this is the best view ever.

AJ shared this photo of Grandeur of the Seas docked in Portland, Maine, while on a 9 night New England and Canada Cruise.

Here is a photo of Oasis of the Seas in Cozumel, taken by Scott Brooks.

Mandy sent us this photo of Independence of the Seas at the beach in Malaga, Spain.

We end this week's edition of Friday Photos with this rainbow, taken by Don Jackson from aboard Anthem of the Seas.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their photos this week.  Be sure to send your photos in as well by using this form.

Experiences: Royal Mystery escape room game on Harmony of the Seas

In:
20Jul2017

Royal Caribbean recently added a second escape room experience to Harmony of the Seas (as well as some other ships in the fleet), called A Royal Mystery.

Royal Mystery is an onboard activity offered to guests, where they must solve a series of puzzles based on clues hidden throughout the room to help solve a whodunit murder case.  Unlike Escape the Rubicon, Royal Mystery has no cover charge and is held in a public spot (for our game, it was in the On Air Lounge).

Guests participating have a set amount of time to comb over the details provided, as well as clues and puzzles they will discover until they can solve the case.  

What to expect

If you are unfamiliar with an escape room game, essentially it is a timed challenge, where you and those in your group have a set time limit to figure out various puzzles and clues to solve an overall solution that provides the means of "escaping" the room. Royal Mystery was created by Royal Caribbean's partner company, Puzzle Break.

When you arrive, the crew members will instruct everyone in attendance to form teams.  Teams can be between two and six people in total, which often results in teaming up with your fellow guests. Afterwards, a crew member will explain the basics of the game, play a short video introduction and provide the opening clues for all teams. 

Once the game begins, all teams must work to solve the puzzles in order to figure out who the murderer is, with the first team that comes up with the correct answer being the winner.

The puzzle

When you start out, your team will receive a packet full of information.  Some of this information includes puzzles, biographies on all the suspects, and pieces to puzzles that will be important later.  Teams must review the information in their possession, and then try to solve the various puzzles. Once a team has a possible puzzle solution, they bring it to the crew member for review.  If correct, the crew member provides a new clue for the team to use.

During the course of the game, crew members will share tips, advice and hints with all teams.  Most of these hints are suggestions or manners in which to investigate that aim to narrow down possibilities for teams.

The key to success is for teams to work together, but also delegate the various work.  Some puzzles can be solved by one or two team members, while others may need the whole team's input. Clues are hidden throughout the room, which team members may not take with them, but they can take pictures.  Bringing a phone that can take pictures is a good strategy.

Cost: Complimentary

Royal Caribbean is celebrating the holidays with December cruises

In:
20Jul2017

All December long, Royal Caribbean is getting in the holiday spirit with special holiday sailings.  From a tree-lighting ceremony right on deck to an arrival parade with Santa himself. And it all culminates in the biggest New Year’s celebration at sea.

Guests taking one of these sailings can enjoy a number of fun events onboard:

  • Merry Moments
    • Join us for the ultimate Christmas celebration, featuring holiday hangouts, family story time and even a special arrival from the big boss himself during Santa’s Arrival Parade.
  • Decked out Decor
    • We’re decking the halls – and the hulls – for the holidays. You’ll be transported to an onboard winter wonderland as carolers delight with holiday favorites. And a grand tree lighting ceremony will make sprits merry and bright.
  • Festive Fun
    • Celebrate the season with games and parties, including holiday-themed trivia contests, scavenger hunts and even an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.
  • Christmas carolers and yule tide tunes
  • Story time with Santa’s elves
  • Holiday classics shown poolside and at theaters onboard
  • Holiday arts & crafts at Adventure Ocean youth program
  • Letter writing to Santa at the North Pole
  • DreamWorks characters don their holiday finest
  • New Years Eve events
    • Hottest NYE party at sea
    • Festive hats, confetti and party favors
    • Countdown to Balloon Drop

The 2017 holiday sailings are combinable with the recent WOW Sale that began yesterday.

Here are the Royal Caribbean sailings that will enjoy these great events. Pricing for the holiday sailings begin at these rates (prices subject to change):

Christmas Sailings 2017

Adventure of the Seas 12/23/2017 7 NIGHT SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY $ 1,465
Adventure of the Seas 12/22/2018 8 NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,713
Allure of the Seas 12/24/2017 7 NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,839
Allure of the Seas 12/23/2018 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,465
Anthem of the Seas 12/22/2017 8 NIGHT BAHAMAS HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,812
Anthem of the Seas 12/21/2018 8 NIGHT BAHAMAS HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,585
Brilliance of the Seas 12/23/2017 5 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,412
Enchantment of the Seas 12/26/2017 3 NIGHT BAHAMAS CRUISE $ 551
Freedom of the Seas 12/23/2017 8 NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,172
Grandeur of the Seas 12/21/2017 12 NIGHT SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAYS $ 1,599
Harmony of the Seas 12/23/2017 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,999
Independence of the Seas 12/21/2017 9 NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,298
Jewel of the Seas 12/24/2017 7 NIGHT SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY $ 1,332
Liberty of the Seas 12/24/2017 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,265
Majesty of the Seas 12/22/2017 4 NIGHT BAHAMAS HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 715
Empress of the Seas 12/24/2017 5 NIGHT HAVANA OVERNIGHT & COZUMEL $ 1,887
Navigator of the Seas 12/22/2017 9 NIGHT SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE $ 1,527
Oasis of the Seas 12/24/2017 7 NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE $ 1,505
Rhapsody of the Seas 12/24/2017 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE $ 970
Vision of the Seas 12/23/2017 5 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE $ 478

New Year's Sailings 2017

Adventure of the Seas 12/30/2017 7 NIGHT SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY $ 1,469
Allure of the Seas 12/31/2017 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,158
Anthem of the Seas 12/30/2017 8 NIGHT BAHAMAS HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,439
Brilliance of the Seas 12/28/2017 5 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,453
Enchantment of the Seas 12/29/2017 4 NIGHT BAHAMAS HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,141
Freedom of the Seas 12/31/2017 6 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,041
Harmony of the Seas 12/30/2017 7 NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 2,639
Independence of the Seas 12/30/2017 5 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 927
Jewel of the Seas 12/31/2017 7 NIGHT SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY $ 1,199
Liberty of the Seas 12/31/2017 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 1,099
Majesty of the Seas 12/29/2017 4 NIGHT BAHAMAS HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 900
Empress of the Seas 12/29/2017 4 NIGHT NASSAU & KEY WEST HOLIDAY CRUISE $ 868
Navigator of the Seas 12/31/2017 5 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN $ 1,265
Oasis of the Seas 12/31/2017 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE $ 1,252
Rhapsody of the Seas 12/31/2017 7 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE $ 999
Vision of the Seas 12/29/2017 5 NIGHT WESTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE $ 489

Last minute cruises on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
19Jul2017

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

Episode 207 is available for downloading, in which we provide an overview of last minute cruises.

Have you ever thought of taking a Royal Caribbean cruise close to the date it sets sail? On this week's episode, Matt talks about the nuances of booking a last minute cruise and what challenges and strategies you will encounter.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 207. 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!

Royal Caribbean WOW Sale offers extra onboard credit and 50% off second passenger

In:
19Jul2017

Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale begins today, with stackable savings that provide bonus onboard credit and reduced deposit on top of the current July BOGO 50% offer.

Cruises booked between 7/19/17 through 7/23/17 on sailings on or after 8/9/17 are eligible for the WOW Sale (excluding China departures).

The WOW Sale includes:

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full fare guest
  • Kids Sail for Less
    • 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd and 4th guests booked in the same stateroom as first two qualifying guests 
  • Onboard credit determined by sailing length 
    • $50 to spend onboard on sailings 3-5 nights
    • $100 to spend onboard on sailings 6-9 nights
    • $200 to spend onboard on sailings 10 nights and longer
  • Deck the Holidays Deals
    • Sailings departing from 12/19/17 through 12/31/17 and 12/18/18 through 12/31/18.
    • Includes an instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length:
      • $25 off per stateroom for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5 nights or less
      • $50 off per stateroom for Balconiess and Suites on sailings 5 nights and less
      • $50 off per stateroom for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6 nights and longer
      • $75 off per stateroom for Balconies on sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $100 off per stateroom for Suites on sailings 6 nights or longer

WOW Sale is combinable BOGO50, 25% Savings for 3rd and 4th Guests, NextCruise offers, NRDB OBC, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military). WOW Sale is not combinable with Shareholder Benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

Offer available to residents of United States and Canada.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean offering swim lessons for kids onboard the ship

In:
18Jul2017

On select Royal Caribbean some kids can spend part of their cruise learning to swim (better) with some new swim lessons available for booking in the Cruise Planner.

On Harmony of the Seas, two shore excursions listed under the Cruising location offer two PADI Swim School options, for level 1 and level 2. 

A team of professionals teaches beginning stroke techniques and more to little swimmers ages 6-8 and cost $49 per child. Up to 6 children can attend the class per swim instructor.

Level 1: Aqua Stars

Little ones from 6-8 years old can learn safety skills and enjoy water thrills during PADI Swim School’s Aqua Stars course. Within the safe hands of a friendly and highly qualified team of professional instructors, young swimmers can get a feel for the water while learning resting positions and forward movement techniques in a small-group setting. Before the lesson, swimmers will be assessed to ensure they can jump into the pool, completely submerge, recover for air and return to the pool’s wall. They will then learn how to tread water, float, swim, rest and breathe properly. After successfully rolling over to rest and breathe, they’ll be taught side breathing and the survival float. The shallow waters of your ship’s pool is the ideal space for new swimmers to learn the basics — all while having some splish-splash aquatic fun.

At course’s end young swimmers will know how to float, tread water, swim, and rollover to breathe.

Level 2: Splash Pros

Calling all little swimmers, ages 6-8: Here’s your chance to soak up new aquatic skills with PADI Swim School instructors during our Splash Pros course. Enjoy an interactive in-water swimming lesson amid the safe hands of professional trainers and the shallow waters of your ship’s onboard pool. For this small-group, intermediate-level lesson, your instructor will first evaluate your skills to ensure you can jump into the pool, completely submerge and swim at least 15 feet. Then learn how to properly reach, pull and roll to the side for rest and to catch your breathe. You’ll get a feel for the freestyle and backstroke while focusing on maintaining correct techniques for swimming short distances. Not only will you build confidence in the water, but you’ll also have tons of fun along the way.

At the end of the lesson young swimmers will know how to freestyle and backstroke around the water.

If your kids are old enough for the classes, is this something you would consider? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Review: Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar on Harmony of the Seas

In:
18Jul2017

I believe it was the great American thinker, Cher, who postulated, "do you believe in life after love" and I had to consider the same conundrum when it came to trying Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar on Harmony of the Seas following a recent menu change.

Ever since the Sabor specialty restaurant debuted on Navigator of the Seas in 2014, I fell in love with the whole menu, but the tuna crudo tacos held a special place in my heart.  They were as flavorful, and my go-to order each and every time I dined at Sabor.  

However, with the recent menu change the tuna tacos were removed and I began to wonder if the food at Sabor would be able to stack up with my previous experiences.  On our recent Harmony of the Seas sailing, I had to investigate the new menu change and determine if anything could fill the void in my heart that the tuna tacos once occupied.

Atmosphere

While the Sabor menu and pricing has changed, the look of Sabor remains intact.  Sabor is located in the Boardwalk neighborhood and encompasses a large area, with ample indoor and outdoor seating.  The restaurant is open air, although there is some air conditioning blowing on guests inside, there are no walls to contain it.  The restaurant is safe from rain (unless it is really blowing in sideways), but the temperature and wind can still be felt.

Sabor is imbued with bright colors, primarily blue, magenta and yellow.  Sabor has that feel of a Mexican restaurant, but without the over the top common motifs. After all, Sabor is meant to be more a more modern take on Mexican cuisine.

Much of the seating in Sabor is at standard tables of varying sizes, but there are booths along the back wall as well.

Unlike Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas, the Sabor bar is attached to the main restaurant, and offers additional seating on the left side of the restaurant.  

Most guests opt to grab a beer or cocktail from the bar, but you can also order off the menu.

Eats

As I mentioned, Sabor changed from an a la carte menu to a cover charge menu earlier this year on Oasis class ships, which mirror the pricing found on Voyager and Freedom class ships.  With the pricing change came a new menu, with some items removed from the old menu, others added and most of the menu remaining the same. I would estimate half the menu contains the same items as before, but the other half has seen items swapped it out in some manner.

Many Sabor fans relished the margarita menu for the creative and extremely tasty beverages offered.  I am pleased to report the margarita menu has not changed at all, and guests can continue to order their favorites. The avocado and Sabor Grand margaritas are my wife's and my favorite drinks, but I encourage you to try them all, especially if you have the deluxe beverage package that includes them.

The new Sabor menu on Harmony of the Seas has a lot to offer, and with your cover charge, you are at liberty to order as much as you like.  We have met no resistance in ordering multiple entrees, appetizers or anything else on the menu.  With larger groups (more than 4 people), your best bet is to order a lot and share.  Much of the menu comes in a very shareable manner.

No meal at Sabor is complete without a bowl of handmade guacamole.  Sabor's reputation has been built on its guacamole, and while the guacamole is no longer crafted at your table (health regulations emerged last year that curbed that practice), your server will still ask you how you like it and prepare it in the kitchen.  Our favorite is medium spice, extra lime juice.

Suffice to say, the guacamole is still exceptional and the pico de gallo salsa is especially good.  The only downside is all too often I fill up on this stuff before my food arrives.

Moving onto the appetizers, you will find some good starters offered.  The menu refers to them as "small plates" and it is appropriately named, as these are great for sharing and wont fill anyone up on their own.

The red snapper ceviche is a light starter that goes great with the chips they serve at your table, or just enjoy on your fork.  

The spicy beef empanadas are terrific.  The flaky crust they are baked in is lovely, and it has just the right amount of "kick" to set the tone for the meal.  

Many of our readers swear by the chicken-stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon, and while we did not order them, we would be remiss if we did not mention them as something to try if you are a bacon lover.

Moving onto the tacos, it was time to find a new love.  The tuna tacos are no longer available on the Sabor menu on Harmony of the Seas, but there is still a fish taco option in the grilled cobia.  Over the course of my cruise, I decided to employ the Love Connection methodology and try out three different tacos: the shredded beef short rib tacos, the spicy chicken tacos and the grilled cobia tacos.

Shredded beef tacos

Spicy chicken tacos

Grtilled cobia  tacos

Another change to the tacos from the old menu is the tacos are now build your own.  This means you are served the protein of your taco in a bowl that you can fill your soft tortillas with, along with an assortment of toppings, such as lettuce, salsa and sauces.  Be sure to save some guacamole for this part of the meal to use that too (or just ask your server for some more if you lack the ability to not eat every last ounce of guac in your bowl).

I was not too sure about the build your own tacos, but I ended up really enjoying the idea.  I am the kind of person that goes into "mad scientist" mode when it comes to crafting my own food, and I loved lopping on as much as I can into my tacos before eating them.  Granted, my tacos probably ended up looking more like burritos, but making them was half the fun.

The grilled cobia tacos ended up being my favorite of the three I tried, and I suppose it shows I am truly a fish taco lover at heart.  The spicy chicken was also quite good, and a close second. 

In addition to tacos, there are a few quesadillas to try.

My advice is take the quesadillas and top them off with guacamole, salsa and anything else on your table to essentially make them into Mexican pizzas.  Regardless of how you eat them, they are really good and flowing with melted cheese.  

If there is one area of the Sabor menu I never bother with anymore, it is the sides.  I have never found them particularly compelling, but perhaps you will find them to be different.  The new menu features a grilled corn on the cob option, so if you have tried that, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

By far the most under appreciated aspect of Sabor's menu are the desserts.  No meal is complete without a few, and you should save room for them, even if that means turning down another serving of guacamole.

If you are new to Sabor, order them all and sample them.  

Our favorites are the banana and chocolate chimichanga and café con leche.  

Overall

Looking at the new Sabor menu and pricing, I really enjoyed the new offering.  As a repeat cruiser, getting some new choices on the menu is a welcome change and I found the menu to remain true to what made Sabor so wonderful all these years.

It seems the biggest issue some folks have with the new menu is not the food, but the pricing.  There are a number of vocal guests that enjoyed Sabor, but preferred the a la carte pricing structure so that they could drop in for quick bites to eat at a cheaper price than the all-inclusive model.  I cannot deny the virtue of that concept.  Frankly, I do not mind the cover charge pricing, perhaps because I first tried Sabor on Royal Caribbean ships that had a cover charge so I was indoctrinated into that concept early on. For those that refuse to pay a cover charge, you can still grab some guacamole and chips during happy hour.

For the cost, I feel guests can get a lot of value out of the meal.  Sabor is still among the least expensive specialty restaurants on Harmony of the Seas, and I cannot complain I have ever left Sabor hungry.  Moreover, the strength of the appetizers and guacamole make for a compelling dining experience.  

Cost: The price for Sabor on Harmony of the Seas is $19 per guest for lunch and dinner.

Video: Royal Caribbean’s Innovation Lab Fuses Technology and Creativity

In:
18Jul2017

Royal Caribbean’s new Innovation Lab takes the ship design process to new heights by bringing the best creative minds and the latest technology together under one roof. From engaging virtual reality rooms to collaborative work spaces, the cruise line’s new facility in Miami helps accelerate innovation and gives experts the ability to tangibly play and push the envelope before construction even begins.

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