Spotted: Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas offers luggage storage

In:
28Mar2017

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas might be able to take advantage of a new service to store their carry-on bags until their stateroom is ready.

The carry-on luggage storage service was spotted on Empress of the Seas current sailing.

Photo by Brian Robinson

Guests have the option of taking their carry-on luggage to the Royal Theater and leave their belongings there from 10:45am to 1:00pm.

Guests must reclaim their bags when they want to bring them to their stateroom.

We saw something similar offered on Grandeur of the Seas on past sailings.

Video: Royal Caribbean Brings Energy Efficiency to the High Seas

In:
28Mar2017

Harmony of the Seas is the most energy-efficient and technologically advanced cruise ship ever built. Equipped with next-generation technologies, from a multi-stream exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubbers) to an air lubrication system that allows the ship to float on air, with millions of tiny bubbles created under the hull to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. Harmony of the Seas raises the bar on environmental stewardship technology.

Propulsion problem on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas forces itinerary change

In:
28Mar2017

Guests aboard Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas received a letter in their stateroom yesterday from the Captain, indicating a propulsion problem has caused an itinerary change for its current sailing.

Captain Srecko Ban sent a letter to guests, in which he states "Anthem of the Seas experienced a technical issue on one of its propulsion motors."  He indicated that the engineering team is working on the issue, but in the meantime, the ship will be sailing at a reduced speed.

Anthem of the Seas' itinerary has been revised as follows:

  • March 26: Cape Liberty
  • March 27: At Sea
  • March 28: At Sea
  • March 29: CocoCay 8:00am - 5:00pm
  • March 29: Nassau arrive at 9:00pm
  • March 30: Nassau depart at 6:00pm
  • March 31: Port Canaveral, Florida 9:00am - 4:00pm
  • April 1: Sea Day
  • April 2: Cape Liberty arrive at 6:00am

Thanks to Bill Bartman for providing this letter

Captain Ban made it clear all remaining motors are fully operational, and there is no impact on the maneuverability of the ship or the safety of guests and crew.

Royal Caribbean offering 20% off select shore excursions

In:
27Mar2017

Royal Caribbean has kicked off its "Tour More, Save More" cruise planner sale, where guests can save up to 20% off shore excursions booked through the Cruise Planner.

Guests that log into the Cruise Planner will find 10%, 15% and 20% off select tours offered on select Alaska, Caribbean, and Europe sailings departing between April 15 – November 30, 2017. Tours that qualify for the Offer vary by sailing and port of call. Offer excludes Hop On/Hop Offs, Shuttles, Private Journeys℠, overnight tours, Multi-day Adventures and other special tours.

Offer applies to tours booked March 27-30, 2017.

Royal Caribbean holding contest to find world-trekking Instagram stars

In:
27Mar2017

Royal Caribbean is holding a contest to find Instagram adventure seekers who want to travel the world and compete for the title of "World's Most Adventurous Squad".

The new social media contest will challenge explorers and aspiring Instagram stars, with one group of up to four friends to be crowned the “World’s Most Adventurous Squad,” and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails to help live up to their newly minted title.

Royal Caribbean will hold five adventure-themed Instagram challenges. From highlighting hidden gems in their travels to showcasing their most epic eats, each challenge will give participants the opportunity to share their most impressive photos for a chance to win. Each challenge will run for 72 hours on Royal Caribbean’s Instagram account starting on March 29 and through April 12. To take part in the challenge, adventurers simply post their photo to Instagram, tag three friends that will comprise their squad and use the hashtag #AdventureSquad and #Contest.

Upon completion of each challenge, Royal Caribbean will select one winning squad – based on their creativity and spirit of adventure in line with the theme of the day.

The winners will then set sail on the adventure of a lifetime onboard Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest and most adventurous ship taking over Royal Caribbean's social media channels as they go. The finalists will go head-to-head to capture and share adrenaline-pumping content both from the ship and exotic destinations, including Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean’s private destination; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. At the end of their adventure, the squad that most embodies the spirit of adventure will be named the “World’s Most Adventurous Squad” and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails. In addition, squads’ adventures also will be seen when they light up Royal Caribbean’s digital billboards in New York City in May.

Australian travel blogger Tyson Mayr (@tysontravel) will act as the contest host, announcing each 48-hour Instagram challenge. Mayr is no stranger to social media contests; he won one himself in 2014 and was paid to travel the globe for a year. Since then, he’s made a living as an adventurer and content creator, proving that Internet fame is within reach for social media contest winners.

Those back at home can watch the action unfold by following @RoyalCaribbean and #AdventureSquad on Instagram and Snapchat. For details on how to take part in the Adventure Squad challenge, as well as information on the winning squad, visit www.AdventureSquad.com.

Royal Caribbean adds shorts to approved clothing for main dining room

In:
27Mar2017

Royal Caribbean's website now lists shorts as one of the suggested forms of clothing to adhere to the cruise line's dress code while dining in the main dining room on casual nights.

The website now describes casual night suggested attire as, "Jeans, shorts, tees, tank tops, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck."

While the rule looks to be updated for casual nights, many guests have seen other guests dine in the main dining room wearing shorts on numerous occasions.  Additionally, shorts we never saw shorts explicitly mentions as a prohibited article of clothing in the main dining room.

It is unclear when the webpage was changed, but the good folks at the Internet WayBack Machine show the old version of this web page do not mention shorts, as of August 2016.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
25Mar2017

It is our final day on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, and it is a sea day (are there any cruises where the last day is not a sea day?).

The weather today turned out to be very good, despite being in the Mid-Atlantic states for much of the day. The sun came and went, with temperatures in the 60s-70s.

We had breakfast in the Windjammer, and were treated to complimentary mimosas as a “thank you” by the crew for a great sailing.

We spent the rest of our morning taking it easy, making a few stops around the ship. My oldest went for a swim with grandma, while we took our youngest to the playroom in Adventure Ocean.

For lunch, we decided to stop by Coastal Kitchen. The food was great, but I think what endears guests to Coastal Kitchen is the great service.

After lunch there was adult coloring in Vintages, although that just meant the coloring sheets available were a bit more complex. My wife and oldest daughter took advantage of the offering and enjoyed it.

To my (pleasant) surprise, the temperatures actually got high enough in the late afternoon for it to feel hot outside. Any opportunity to not wear jackets is a welcome one!

We received an invite to tour the bridge of the ship from the Suite Concierge. Bridge tours are always a lot of fun, and on a newer ship like Anthem, it is incredible to see how these ships operate.

We spent the afternoon packing up our things, which lead to a late afternoon hankering for a snack. I headed down to Michael’s Genuine Pub to try something that caught my eye since my first day onboard: falafel.

I love falafel and was a little leery about how good cruise ship falafel could be. I can report back it was fresh, crispy and had great flavor.

It was served with sliced beets and tahini sauce, and tasted very good. For $3, I thought it was a great deal!

For our pre-dinner drinks, we started out at the Solarium Bar and regretted we did not spend more time there. The bar staff there were great and you cannot beat that view.

We wandered down to the Schooner Bar as just somewhere to sit for a bit before dinner, and discovered an impromptu show where the cast of We Will Rock You “took over” the piano music being played, and sang Broadway hits along with the music.

The musical director for We Will Rock You was scheduled to be the pianist in the Schooner Bar, but the fact his cast joined him was an added bonus. My wife, who is a big musical fan, absolutely loved the show.

We had seem something like this on Allure of the Seas, but it had been a while since we experienced a show like this again. I hope Royal Caribbean takes advantage of the amazing vocal talents they have onboard and continue to let them entertain guests in this fashion. The guests were loving the performance, and we could tell the cast was enjoying seeing who could sing each song the best.

Dinner was in the main dining room, and we decided to call it an early evening with the impending early start to our departure looming.

I have to say we had a great time on Anthem of the Seas, and it was due to the fantastic crew members, terrific dining onboard and the great places we visited. Having very good weather did not hurt, either.

I believe Anthem of the Seas is a great ship for a first time cruiser because I feel like Royal Caribbean designed this ship with first timers in mind. Likewise, for established cruisers, Anthem is also a very good choice because I liked how it is different from the other classes in the fleet. Those ships tend to have a lot of similarities, but Royal Caribbean built the Quantum class ships to be different, and that made this cruise a bit of a new experience.

We had really great service throughout the cruise, from our stateroom attendant who was always available to help with anything we needed, to the main dining room waiter who figured out I really like coffee ice cream and had it ready for me each evening as a surprise.

I always struggle with how to best wrap up the cruise, so I will list here some of my favorite aspects of the cruise.

  • Favorite port: CocoCay
  • Favorite specialty restaurant: Jamie’s Italian
  • Favorite dish in main dining room: Spaghetti Bolognese (seriously)
  • Favorite show: We Will Rock You

Thank you to everyone for following along in our live blog! I really enjoy sharing these cruises, and I also had a great time reading everyone’s comments and questions along the way.

My next live blog will be coming to you from the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas in September 2017. In fact, you can join the fun and cruise with me and many other Royal Caribbean fans by joining us for our group cruise! Here are more details on how you can join us!

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
25Mar2017

Yesterday’s live blog post briefly mentioned there was a bit more motion in the late evening, but that was just the beginning. Last night saw a lot of movement, thanks to high winds. It extended to this morning as we began our sea day on Anthem of the Seas.

The winds died down as the day progressed, so weather conditions and movement improved each hour of the day and by the afternoon, it felt like a normal day at sea.

We let the kids sleep in, and we rolled into the Windjammer around 10amish.

After breakfast, we went to watch guests trying their hand at circus school in SeaPlex. This entails guests trying to use the trapeze to hang by their knees and do a backflip. The keyword here is “try”. I think we only saw one guest successfully manage to pull it off. Besides the fear factor, it looks to be quite physically challenging.

Later that morning was the Crown and Anchor Top Tier event in the Royal Theater.

It was a well-attended event and it was also the longest Top Tier event I have ever seen. There were a few musical acts that started things off, followed by an introduction to the officers on Anthem of the Seas and culminated with a speech by the Captain.

For lunch, I wanted to try the Japanese restaurant, Izumi. If you have read my previous live blogs, I love sushi and often make multiple stops at Izumi on any given cruise. So the fact my first visit occurred on my second-to-last day of the cruise should indicate I am changing things up (or have been abducted by aliens and replaced by a clone).

The food and service were great, and I was able to get a spot at the sushi bar with no problem. My go-to Izumi dish is the DX Sushi Combo and it did not disappoint. In fact, this one came without a shrimp roll, which is great because I do not eat shrimp.

After lunch, I got to see the hit West End show, We Will Rock You. Based on the music of Queen, this show is a really fun show. I knew very little about the show beforehand, so I did not have much in my mind about what to expect.

The story is silly, but I found myself loving the jokes and plot. Plus, the singing performances were outstanding (especially by the two leads). Bravo!

I managed some time up on the pool deck in the late afternoon just to walk around. I figured today may be the last semi-warm day we have left in this sailing.

Dinner this evening was in Chops Grille. I have been to many Chops Grille locations across the fleet, and this edition was as great as the others.

I tried the dry-aged NY Strip steak just because it has been a few years since I tried it last. I freely admit I am no steak connoisseur, so I am far from any kind of expert. I certainly enjoyed the the taste of the steak, and appreciated the massive size. I think dry-aged steaks are aimed at those that enjoy lots of steak and can discern a good cut from a great cut.


 

After dinner I just had to check out something new to me, the Virtual Fireworks show in Two70.

This was developed by Royal Caribbean originally for New Years Eve 2017, but they decided to keep showing it because it is so far impressive.

It is a quick 7 minute show, but I thought it was really neat to see. Of course, I am a sucker for all Vistarama shows, but I really liked the second half when the camera “floated” between the fireworks explosions. Definitely a cool show!

Tomorrow is our last day onboard, and it is another sea day.

Stray Observations

  • Chops Grille is located near the Schooner Bar, which means there is a lot of noise bleed from the musical performances in the bar. I enjoy music with dinner, but wish it was less noticeable. For what it’s worth, this phenomenon of noise bleed occurred on Brilliance of the Seas too.
  • They sold popcorn in the Royal Esplanade tonight for $3.95 for a large box.
  • Prior to the virtual fireworks was a karaoke show in Two70 and that venue was packed! I guess karaoke is more popular than I ever thought.

Royal Caribbean parent company launching new site to help guests book land tours

In:
24Mar2017

Royal Caribbean International's parent company has launched a new site dedicated to offering private excursions and tours.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. launched GoBe this week and is the first non-cruise venture for the company. GoBe will allow travelers to book trips in 97 countries and 896 cities around the world. Excursions range from a $14 bus tour in Cape Town, South Africa, to a helicopter tour of Rome, starting at $3,785 per person.

The goal is simple: Royal Caribbean hopes to attract all travelers, instead of just those with a love for cruising.

GoBe is headed up by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chief Destination Officer. Larry Pimentel. He also serves as president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, “Given our experience in working with tour and attraction operations around the world for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, the launch of a website that can bring this high-demand offering to all travelers was only natural for us."

On GoBe, users enter their destination and scroll through the different excursions, tours, and activities until they find something they like. Each option is accompanied by a full description, including languages spoken, duration and activity level. For an extra cost, customers can even call the GoBe customer care line to have a custom itinerary put together.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Nassau, Bahamas

In:
23Mar2017

Our final port stop of this cruise is bringing us to Nassau, Bahamas for another day of fun in the sun.

We docked in Nassau at 7am, but we chose not to get off the ship until 9am. I am not sure we could have rounded up the children any earlier than that without some serious ice cream.

Prior to the cruise, we booked day passes to the British Colonial Hilton resort. It provides access to their facilities, as well as a food and beverage credit.

After exiting the ship, we took a quick cab ride to the resort and checked in. The resort has a pool and beach access, and we chose to spend time in the pool because the kids love to jump, swim and repeat ad infinitum.

 

We grabbed some chairs by the pool in the shade. There is some shaded seats near the beach, but not a whole lot of shade near the pool. By getting there early, we had no issues with getting the spot we wanted.

The day pass also includes a $40 food and beverage credit per adult ($20 per child), which we used on their lunch options. Drinks were also readily available. In the case of food and drinks, the prices are pretty high ($20 for most entrees and $14 for drinks).

The facility is quite beautiful and our day spent there was exactly what I had hoped for. The kids barely left the pool, and the weather was great for a day spent enjoying being outdoors.

In the afternoon, we decided to head back but walked this time. It is a short walk to/from the cruise pier (perhaps 10 minutes). We did a bit of window shopping, including a pit stop for ice cream.

I think we had a great day in Nassau, and I enjoyed our stop here a bit more than I thought we would, in part because how much fun the kids had, and also because I liked getting a mix of a pool day and city walk.

Back onboard, the kids took showers and subsequent naps. I do not think I minded some quiet time in our air conditioned stateroom to round out our afternoon.

After the usual routine of feeding the kids and bringing them up to Adventure Ocean, my wife and I had a few Diamond drinks in the Schooner Bar. There was a brass band playing jazz standards there, and it was a great backdrop for cocktails.

For dinner, we were back in the main dining room. We had plans to do some bar hopping, but our day in Nassau sapped all of our energy, so we decided to call it an evening a bit early. We figure sleep now so that we have more energy for a full day tomorrow.

Stray Observations

  • Photo ID was needed to get back through the port in Nassau (in addition to the SeaPass card).
  • Soon after leaving Nassau, it became quickly apparent there was going to a bit of chop in the waves. Nothing crazy, but it is the sort of motion that occasionally occurs where you have to watch your step as walking.
  • The Led Zeppelin cover band was playing tonight in Music Hall.
  • Grandeur of the Seas was in port with us, although she was not listed on any port schedules I could find.
  • Because I am a geek, I bought a SIM card to use. The WiFi at the Hilton would cost $10.99, but the SIM card and 2GB of data cost me $27. 

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