Multiple media outlets are reporting that Royal Caribbean has received permission by Cuban authorities to offer cruises to Cuba.
"Our guests have expressed real interest in having the opportunity to experience Cuba, and we look forward to bringing them there," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Our discussions with our travel partners indicate that Cuba is a destination that appeals to a new generation of travelers.
Royal Caribbean has been preparing for this opportunity for many months, having brought back Empress of the Seas into the fleet to offer cruises to Cuba. Royal Caribbean engaged in a lengthy refurbishment to the ship and has had it prepared to offer cruises to Cuba as soon as the company had permission.
UPDATE 2:36PM: Royal Caribbean will announce its first Florida-Cuba itineraries, "in the near future."
The cruise itineraries will comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that permit travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in people-to-people activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!
Episode 175 is available for downloading, which offers tips and advice about the final day onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise.
In this episode, Matt and Billy discuss the disembarkation day and what to expect in those final hours. While the last day of a cruise is never a day anyone looks forward to, it is important to be aware of what to expect to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.
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 International, in partnership with James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, has introduced a new menu highlighting artisanal ingredients at 150 Central Park onboard Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. Guests can enjoy Schwartz’s simple, elegant approach to American dining with a variety of appetizers, entrées and dessert including tableside service for guests.
Royal Caribbean announced today that it is promoting Stuart Leven, Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland), to become the new Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Managing Director of RCL Cruises Ltd.
This new role will include responsibility for Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland) and Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises across the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Leven will work with Royal Caribbean’s key European markets to ensure the cruise operator has the best investment in place to capitalize on the swell of interest in cruise vacations across the region.
"Stuart is a proven leader with many years’ board experience across the airline, hotel and dotcom sectors" said Gavin Smith, Senior Vice President International, RCL Cruises Ltd. "He joined us with a clear vision to build a distinct brand and attract a new audience to cruise. Royal Caribbean International in the UK and Ireland has seen unprecedented growth under Stuart’s watch and his experience and expertise will be vital as we look to expand our European deployment."
Replacing Leven is Ben Bouldin, who will become Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland), reporting into Leven, also effective immediately.
Bouldin commented: "I’m absolutely delighted to be leading the Royal Caribbean International UK and Ireland business. It’s an incredible opportunity at an exciting time for the cruise market. We have an extraordinary team here in the UK and Ireland and I look forward to building on the work Stuart has started during his tenure."
In short, there is a lot happening onboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, and that means plenty to see and do during your cruise vacation.
For someone going on Harmony of the Seas for the first time, here are five top tips for enjoying what is sure to be a fantastic time aboard.
1. Do not miss Columbus, the Musical!
Royal Caribbean packed Harmony of the Seas with lots of terrific entertainment, but the one show we cannot get enough of is Columbus, The Musical!. This original Royal Caribbean production is a fun musical that takes inspirations from hit Broadway shows, such as “Spamalot” and “Something Rotten."
Marvin Columbus is the very, very, very, very, very distant relative of Christopher and spent his entire life ‘neath Chris’ shadow. Marvin’s disappointed nobleman father, sends him on a voyage to find his destiny.
The story is fun, the cast energetic and the music perfect to sing along with. Columbus is at the very top of our list of favorite shows we have seen onboard any Royal Caribbean ship.
2. Ride Ultimate Abyss on embarkation day
Without a doubt, many guests going on Harmony of the Seas have their eyes set on trying the world's tallest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss. With that kind of anticipation, one should also expect lines to form regularly for this epic slide.
The key to avoiding those lines, is to to get a ride in as soon as you can. Ultimate Abyss is usually open on embarkation day, and since many guests getting onboard are trying to figure out where everything is, those first few hours onboard are the perfect time.
Looking at a recent Cruise Compass from Harmony of the Seas' first 7-night cruise out of Port Everglades, Ultimate Abyss is open from 11:30am to 3:30pm on embarkation day.
3. Try the escape room
If you want to try something different, challenging and extremely fun, the Escape the Rubicon puzzle break experience is perfect for you.
Escape the Rubicon is a timed game, where guests try to solve a series of clues and puzzles hidden in a room that unlock the secret to "escaping" that room.
Not only is this experience unlike anything on other cruise ships, it is super fun. In fact, Escape the Rubicon was the most fun we had while onboard Harmony of the Seas, and that is why it is a must-do.
4. Get the guacamole at Sabor
There is lots of great food on the Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar menu, but if you eat just one thing at Sabor, make sure it is the guacamole.
Ever since the first Sabor debuted on a Royal Caribbean ship, we have become disciples of the Guacamole faith, preaching to others the virtues of this fantastic dish. Since Sabor restaurants on Oasis class ships are priced a la carte, one might not order the table-side crafted green treat, but that would be a mistake.
Whether you stop in for just the guac and chips or a full meal, you must try the guacamole while onboard Harmony of the Seas. Your taste buds will thank you.
5. Take a selfie on the bridge wings
Regardless of if you want to take a selfie or just an epic photo of the ocean around you, make plans to go up to the bridge wings during your cruise.
The bridge wings are observational platforms that jet out from the side of the ship, and offer terrific views of the area around you. The port bridge wing even features a see-through glass floor that you can stand on to add some panache to your photo.
Sunset, sunrise, sailaways and any other time are great for taking photos, and your album will not be complete without a few shots from the bridge wing.
Bonus: Book the cruise as early as you can
We just could not resist including this tip, because after reading all about these fun opportunities on Harmony of the Seas, you might want to book a cruise on her, and that is why you must do as soon as possible.
With cruise ship pricing in general, the best prices are found the earlier one books. Sure, there are sales and promotions throughout the year that can change the price, but generally speaking, the lowest fares are attained when guests book their cruise months and years in advance.
As soon as you know which sailing you want to reserve, be sure to book it and lock in your price. It is still the best tip for getting the lowest fare on Harmony of the Seas, or any Royal Caribbean cruise.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) named Royal Caribbean a "2017 Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality", with a perfect score of 100 on its Corporate Equality Index (CEI).
The HRC is one of the oldest gay and lesbian political action committees in the U.S. and launched the index in 2002 to rank American companies. This year, for the first time since, the HRC required top-scoring companies to have a global non-discrimination policy or code of conduct that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:
- Non-discrimination policies
- Employment benefits
- Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
- Public commitment to LGBT equality
- Responsible citizenship
This is the second year running that RCL earned a perfect score on the CEI survey, even with the addition of the new global requirements. In October, Royal Caribbean International became the first cruiseline to be designated “Gay Travel Approved” by GayTravel.com.
Another week has gone by and that means we are all one week closer to our next Royal Caribbean cruise!
This week, Royal Caribbean entered the record books when North Star was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Guinness Book of World Records named North Star the “Highest Viewing Deck on a Cruise Ship".
The North Star is a one-of-a-kind and intimate experience that takes guests on an exhilarating journey high above the sea. This glass observation capsule gently rises more than 300 feet in the air and rotates upwards and over the sides of the ship to provide the most breathtaking, 360-degree views imaginable.
Royal Caribbean News
- Royal Caribbean Australia will now include gratuities in the cruise fare.
- Royal Caribbean released a variety of new discounts for the month of December.
- A photo tour of a balcony stateroom on Harmony of the Seas.
- Is a Royal Caribbean drink package right for you?
- We spotted a new specialty coffee card option guests can prepurchase.
- A guide to breakfast options on Harmony of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast
In this episode, Matt offers advice for someone new to Royal Caribbean and wanting to try their first cruise.
Royal Caribbean Around the Internet
Royal Caribbean wrote about its dedication to offering cruises to guests with special needs.
Cruise & Ferry interviewed the people that created the Ultimate Abyss slide on Harmony of the Seas.
Travelzoo takes a look at Harmony of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas has a lot to offer, including a number of staterooms. Today, we will look at the category D6 Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.
On Harmony of the Seas, we reviewed stateroom 10662, which is located on Deck 10 aft, although it is very close to the aft elevators. The room was very convenient to be so close to the elevator bank. Entry to the room is by RFID scanner, which is above the door handle.
Like all staterooms on Harmony of the Seas, the light controls require a SeaPass card to be inserted into a slot near the entrance.
Staterooms on Harmony of the Seas look more like staterooms on Quantum class ships than other previous Oasis class ships. Plenty of storage space and a great aesthetic.
The bed is joined together but can be split apart if need be. There's a large, flat screen television across from it and two night stands on opposite sides of the bed. Access to the balcony is also on the other side of the bed.
A D6 stateroom features a full bathroom, including a stand up shower.
The room also has a rather large sofa to sit on during the day.
Arguably the best feature of this stateroom is the balcony, which provides a private space to enjoy the view of port or the ocean.
The balcony is 53 square feet in size, with the stateroom measuring 182 square feet.
Royal Caribbean Australia announced today a new fare structure that includes gratuities for stateroom attendants and dining room staff in the cruise price.
With this change, guests will pay a single inclusive cruise fare incorporating all main meals, accommodation, kids club, entertainment and activities. Passengers will continue to have the option to provide a discretional additional gratuity.
The new cruise fares begin on new bookings made December 12, 2016 and onwards, on sailings departing on or after January 15, 2017.
The change means free gratuities will no longer be available as one of the perks included in the Go Big, Go Better, Go Best promotion.
"Guests will see no change to the published price of cruises via any Royal Caribbean point of sale, including website, advertising and call centre pricing," the company said.
Friday is here and that means so is the weekend and our opportunity to share Royal Caribbean photos that readers sent us! Every week, we ask our readers to send in their favorite Royal Caribbean photos, so that we can feature them here.
Enjoy this week's photo set!
Our first photo this week is from Scott Shaffer of Oasis of the Seas sailing away from Cozumel. What a beautiful ship!
Speaking of sailaway, here is a shot of New York City from Thomas while he was onboard Navigator of the Seas. There is nothing like the Big Apple at night!
Congratulations to Alex and Curtis, who got married recently on Harmony of the Seas. Nadege Barnes shared this wonderful photo from their special day onboard.
Adrian Tassone sent in this photo of Explorer of the Seas docked in Circular Quay, Sydney. A beautiful ship in a beautiful city.
I never get sick of sunrise or sunset photos, and here is one by Khadijah that was taken on Harmony of the Seas during her transatlantic crossing. Simply stunning.
Speaking of Harmony of the Seas, here is another photo of Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship when she met Anthem of the Seas in St. Maarten, taken by Daniel.
Our last photo this week is from D J Epstein of Falmouth, Jamaica. I can still remember when the Falmouth port was being built, so it is still impressive to see what it has become in just a few short years.
Thank you to everyone that shared these great photos. Do you want your photo included in our weekly photo showcase? Use this form to send us your favorite Royal Caribbean photos and we will be sure to show it off to the world!