How to stay in touch with someone on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
27Jul2016

We get a lot of questions about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise, and there is one question that gets asked a lot about how to stay in touch with those on the same ship as them.  Often, the question goes something like this, "I am cruising with several groups of people. How do you recommend we stay connected on the ship besides the room phone?"

Royal Caribbean cruise ships range in a guest capacity of about 2,000 to 6,500, so finding one person onboard is not always a simple task.  If you are also wondering the best way to get a hold of someone you are cruising with, here are some helpful means of doing so.  Each has its advantages or disadvantages, and price will vary as well.

Thanks to Billy Hirsch for contributing a lot to the writing of this blog post!

Royal Caribbean's phones

Utilizing Royal Caribbean's in-room phones and phones in common areas is a simple way to communicate with guests onboard your ship and onshore.

If you are trying to reach a guest onboard the ship, you can make a call to their stateroom and optionally leave a message.  Use of the phones for calls to a guest's stateroom is complimentary.  Of course, it requires the guest to be in the room to answer the call and/or check the voicemail.  This can result in "phone tag," where it seems like you are always missing each other.

If you want to get in contact with someone on land, there are two options.

Calls made from land to your Royal Caribbean cruise (shore to ship) can be achieved by calling (888) 724-7447/(321) 953-9003 to reach passengers.  The cost of this service is $7.95 per minute, and is chargeable to a Visa or MasterCard credit card.

Calls made from your Royal Caribbean ship to somewhere on land (ship to shore) can be made from your stateroom phone and also costs $7.95 per minute, billed to your SeaPass account.

Using your cell phone service

These days, almost everyone has a cell phone with them and your cell phone will function while on a cruise, although the cost of doing so will vary greatly.

Phone calls made while at sea and using Royal Caribbean's cell phone service will come with a hefty cost, depending on your cell phone plan.  Usually, calls cost $6-8 per minute depending on your carrier.

Text messaging, however, is far less expensive. Once again, rates will vary, but most SMS messages that are sent will cost anywhere from 25 cents to $1 per message, with incoming messages free or up to 50 cents per message.  

Using your cell phone's data plan can be prohibitively expensive, with costs of $1 per MB or more.  You are better off skipping this option and looking at Voom options (scroll down to see more about this).

Some cell phone providers offer a special international plan for use on a cruise ship.  For example, AT&T has a partnership with Royal Caribbean, where you can pre-purchase a plan that provides an allotment of phone usage at sea.

For $120 per month, this plan provides

  • 50 minutes of voice calls, with $1 per minute over.
  • 100 SMS messages, with $0.50 per message sent over.
  • 100 MB of data, with $10 per 10 MB over.

Voom for data services

Royal Caribbean's high-speed internet option it offers to its guests on all ships is known as Voom, and it provides an affordable means of using internet data to stay in touch with friends and family.

There are two Voom plans offered:

  • Voom Surf
    • This offers basic web browsing, with no streaming services allowed
    • Starts at $9.99 per day for 1 device
      • The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
      • Most guests can get a 30% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
      • There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard
  • Voom Surf + Stream
    • Full internet access, including streaming services
    • Starts at $12.99 per day for 1 device
      • The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
      • Most guests can get a 30% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
      • There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard

Use Voom Surf + Stream to make calls

Royal Caribbean's top-tier internet option not only can allow for web browsing, but also provides the ability for savvy users to make phone calls while onboard your cruise for significantly less than the other means listed earlier in this blog post.

WiFi calling

The easiest option is to use WiFi calling through your carrier.  Most major cell phone carriers these days provide a means of making phone calls via an internet connection instead of relying on a cell phone connection. 

WiFi calling has no additional cost and works just like you are at home and supports voice calls, text messaging (SMS and MMS).  It works with most newer devices, including iPhone 5C and later, Android and Blackberry devices.  Check with your carrier for exact devices that are supported.

At last check, these carriers supported WiFi calling

  • Verizon
  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • Sprint
  • GoogleFi

To make a phone call over WiFi, put your device into airplane mode and connect to Voom via WiFi.  If set up correctly on your phone, your calls, texts will be routed through Voom.

Free/low cost VoIP Services

There are many applications for your smart phone, computer or tablets that allow for free or low cost phone calls as well. There are a number popular applications we recommend using.

With all of these solutions, we highly recommend testing them out before your Royal Caribbean cruise to ensure you understand how it works and is set up correctly.

Skype

Skype is quite easy to use and offers voice, video and texting between Skype accounts for free.  All you need to do is install Skype on your device and have the person you are communicating with do the same.

Skype users can also make voice calls and text message between Skype and a phone for a low cost.  There is no contract or commitment to use this service, just load up your Skype account with Skype credit.

Google Hangouts

Google's messaging application, Google Hangouts, is completely free and supports free outbound domestic phone calls. Unfortunately, there are no inbound calls possible in most cases.

Google Hangout also allows for free messaging to anyone else with a Google account (which is everyone these days), as well as video chat.

WhatsApp

Another popular messaging application for smart phones is WhatsApp, which supports easy communicating.

Before your cruise, set up an account (you will need to verify your account via SMS messaging).  Once set up, WhatsApp users can message between WhatsApp users, conduct video chat and make calls to and from WhatsApp users.

Facebook Messenger

Another free option is to use Facebook Messenger.  This is totally free, and allows for messaging between Facebook users, as well as video chat.

Facebook Messenger also supports calls to and from Facebook users.

Your Thoughts

Which means of communicating with friends and family on your ship and at sea do you find to be the best option? Did we miss one you know about? Share your comments and suggestions in the comments!

Royal Caribbean weekend cruise deal offers bonus onboard credit

In:
27Jul2016

Royal Caribbean will offer a bonus offer this weekend, with up to an extra $50 onboard credit for qualifying cruises booked.

The July Seek and Save deal is combinable with the July BOGO offer and offers guests bonus onboard credit on all sailings departing on or after August 29, 2016 made between July 29 and 31, 2016. Offer excludes China departures.

The July Seek and Save offer details are:

  • Interior/Oceanview – $25 Onboard Credit per staterom
  • Balcony/Deluxe Suites – $50 Onboard Credit per stateroom

Offer is combinable with current standard/full fare rates, BOGO50, Holiday OBC, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military) and Next Cruise offers. Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including but not limited to Group Standard, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Crown & Anchor Discounts, and Shareholder benefits.

Offer open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Choosing the best time to take a Royal Caribbean cruise podcast

In:
27Jul2016

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

Episode 156 is available for downloading, where we discuss what factors should go into choosing the best time to take a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Often people want to know the best time to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise and Matt considers the different factors everyone should consider to pick that "perfect" time for a cruise.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 156. 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!

Second Zumba Cruise planned onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

In:
27Jul2016

Following the success of the first ever Zumba cruise, the dance-fitness group is organizing another group cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean ship.

The next Zumba Cruise is planned for a 5-night sailing of Navigator of the Seas from Miami on April 23, 2017.

"We were thrilled with the incredible response we got from the success of the 2016 Zumba cruise. There's no better way to enjoy the dance and fitness activities of Zumba than combined with the Royal Caribbean experience, with features such as the ice-skating rinks, rock-climbing walls, delectable dining and world-class entertainment," said Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support and Service. "We're excited to host Zumba once again, and now on Navigator of the Seas."

The exclusive event will feature Zumba activities and experiences on the ship. These events include:

  • Daily Zumba-themed classes
  • Master Zumba classes taught by Zumba creator Beto Perez and more than 50 additional celebrity Zumba instructors
  • 20 live music concerts

Those interested in more details can visit zumba-cruise.com.

Royal Caribbean extends Summer Cyber Sale with up to $200 off per stateroom

In:
26Jul2016

Royal Caribbean announced it has extended the Summer Cyber Sale for another few days, offering guests up to $200 instant savings plus 50% off the second guest.

The Summer Cyber Sale is now good through July 28, 2016 and is valid on all sailings departing on or after August 26, 2016. Offer excludes China departures.

The deal offers

  • Cruises 5 nights or less
    • Interior/Oceanview: $25 off per stateroom
    • Balcony: $50 off per stateroom
    • Suite: $100 off per stateroom
  • Cruises 6 nights or longer
    • Interior/Oceanview: $50 off per stateroom
    • Balcony: $100 off per stateroom
    • Suite: $200 off per stateroom
  • 50% off second guest booked in the same stateroom as the first guest
  • 25% off cruise fare for 3rd and 4th guests booked in same stateroom as first two guests

Also, for eligible Bahamas, Bermuda and Caribbean holiday sailings, offer includes a per person onboard credit: $100 OBC per person up to 4 guests for holiday sailings 6 nights or longer departing 18-31, 2016, $50 OBC per person up to 4 guests for holiday sailings 5 nights or less departing December 22-31, 2016.

Offer is combinable with current standard/full fare rates, BOGO50, Resident Bonus, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military) and Next Cruise offers. Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including but not limited to Group Standard, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Crown & Anchor Discounts, and Shareholder Benefits.

Offer open to residents of the United States and Canada. 

Royal Caribbean's Junior Suites: What you need to know

In:
26Jul2016

Guests looking for a larger stateroom that provides a few suite perks combined with a balcony experience often look to a Junior Suite on Royal Caribbean's cruise ships. Junior suite staterooms are available on all Royal Caribbean cruise ships and this blog post is aimed at helping everyone understand better what a Junior Suite cabin offers and why you might want to book one.

Junior Suite Basics

Junior Suites are the first type of suite staterooms that Royal Caribbean offers.  Despite its name, Junior Suites have more in common with balcony staterooms than suites.

The exact layout and size of a Junior Suite will vary between classes of ships, but they all are essentially a large cabin with private balcony that offers more perks than a regular balcony stateroom.

In most cases, you will find in a junior suite two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, a sitting area with sofa bed, private balcony and a private bathroom with a bathtub.

The exact size of a junior suite varies from ship to ship, anywhere from 112 square feet on Empress of the Seas to 299 square feet on Brilliance of the Seas.  Most junior suites are about 290 square feet.

The size of the balcony ranges as well, from 40 square feet on Empress of the Seas to 161 square feet on Quantum-class ships.

Spa Junior Suites

In recent years, Royal Caribbean has begun offering on its Quantum-class ships a new type of Junior Suite, known as the Spa Junior Suite.

The Spa Junior Suite comes in at 267 square feet and offers a large, spa-inspired split bath with soaking tub.  There's also a shower with frosted glass wall that allows natural light from living area.

The bath tub also features a rain shower head and a hand held shower head.

Junior Suite Perks

The most common question about a Junior Suite is why book this category of stateroom and what benefits does one receive by staying in one.

Without question, a Junior Suite offers more space than a regular balcony stateroom and that means more living space in your cabin.  This extra space is in both the cabin and the balcony.  When it comes to accommodations on cruise ships, every extra square foot of living space is wonderful.

In addition to the living space, Junior Suites offer a full size tub, which is is great for families or those who like having more space in their shower, as well as a walk-in closet. 

Junior Suites also offer guests double Crown and Anchor Society points, which means guests can move up the ranks of the Crown and Anchor Society levels much faster. 

Junior suites also include tea and coffee service ensuite and terry bathrobes (for use onboard). In addition, junior suite guests receive silver SeaPass cards to distinguish themselves as suite guests to Royal Caribbean staff.

Royal Suite Class

In May 2016, Royal Caribbean ushered in a new revamped approach to its suite benefits program called the Royal Suite Class, and Junior Suites are included in this.

Available on Quantum- and Oasis-class cruise ships, Junior Suites qualify for Sea Class benefits.  These include:

  • Dinner access to Coastal Kitchen (dinner only)
  • Luxury Pillowtop Mattress
  • L’Occitane Bathroom Amenities

What Junior Suites do not include

Despite the word, "suite" being in the name of the Junior Suite, guests staying in a Junior Suite do not receive the full suite perks.  

This means guests do not receive the same level of benefits and access that guests staying in Grand Suite or higher staterooms do.  Most notably, this includes access to the concierge lounge, concierge service or reserved suites-only areas of the ship.

Are Junior Suites worth it?

The bottom line is Junior Suites are extra large balcony staterooms that provide a less-expensive means of splurging for accommodations on a Royal Caribbean cruise without breaking the bank.

The extra living space and perks of a Junior Suite are a nice to have benefit, that provide for a much more enjoyable experience while in your stateroom. Between the extra storage space, larger balcony and bathroom upgrades, many guests easily can see and appreciate the extras.

Many Royal Caribbean veterans will tell you the determining factor to if a Junior Suite is worth the price is it depends on the price difference between it and a regular balcony stateroom.  Many times, a Junior Suite upgrade cost is nominal, while on other sailings the price difference has been more substantial.  

While a Junior Suite may not offer nearly as many perks and incentives as a traditional suite stateroom, it does include enough advantages to satisfy the needs of most guests looking to enjoy something nicer than a balcony stateroom but cannot or will not opt for a more extravagant suite.

Live Blogging from Empress of the Seas - Preamble

In:
25Jul2016

Hi friends, Michael Poole here again for another live blog!  This time I will be sailing on the newest ship in the fleet - Empress of the Seas.  Well, she is actually the oldest ship in the fleet, but the most recent addition to the fleet.  Empress of the Seas was recently added back into the fleet in May 2016 from their sister company, Pullmantur Cruises. 

There are many speculations on why Royal Caribbean brought Empress of the Seas back in the fleet, to soon be their Cuba sailing ship. 

Why Empress of the Seas?

To be honest, since Royal Caribbean first announced they were bringing Empress of the Seas back into the fleet I have wanted to sail on her.  In fact, I almost changed my March back-to-back cruise over to the Empress, but I decided to stay on the Brilliance. 

Empress of the Seas is a smaller ship, which I tend to enjoy more.  The décor on the ship is all brand new from her recent two-month dry dock.  The ship offers daily brunch in the Main Dining room with complimentary mimosas or bloody marys. Empress of the Seas is going by the slogan: Party. Chill. Repeat.   

Invite by Royal Caribbean

Three weeks ago, I received a phone call from Royal Caribbean extending me the invite for this sailing.  They have also invited some of their top-tier Crown and Anchor members, along with some social media bloggers. 

Needless to say, I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard the news!  Anytime you get to cruise with Royal Caribbean it’s exciting, but to sail with their social media team too!  They have some pre-arranged events during the cruise, but I want to keep those a surprise! 

I just know this is going to be a very special cruise, and I’m so excited to share it with you. 

Itinerary

For this cruise we are sailing to my favorite stop in the Caribbean, Coco Cay.  This island is owned by Royal Caribbean, and offers a relaxing beach day. 

Next we will have a sea day, followed by our final stop in Key West.  Key West is a great port to visit, so much live music and restaurants.  Now the question is, will I go back to Sloppy Joe’s for a third time…

Thanks for joining me for another live blog; I’m truly excited to take you all along with me again.  I will be conducting daily periscopes of the ship, so be sure to follow @mpoole3   If you have any questions about the ship, or during the live blog, please comment below and I will respond. 

See you at sea!  

Royal Caribbean Singapore launches new marketing campaign

In:
25Jul2016

Royal Caribbean Singapore has released a new refreshed marketing campaign, entitled "One Holiday, Endless Adventures".

The new TV commercial shows off the impressive Quantum-class cruise ships that feature the next generation cruise amenities and entertainment.

The new TV commercial is part of Royal Caribbean’s refreshed marketing campaign ‘One Holiday, Endless Adventures’ with a new checklist logo design, which was recently launched through a variety of print and TV advertisements, outdoor panels on MRT train platform screens and collaterals.  It aims to highlight on the multitude of unique and surprising experiences that guests can enjoy onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, whether as a new or repeat cruiser, such as the North Star elevated glass capsule, FlowRider surf simulator and bumper cars.

Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD Marketing Manager, Nicole Lai, said, “A cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean is all inclusive.  It’s up to our guests to get whatever kind of adventures they seek as there are so many things to do onboard, be it sports, parties, shows and dining, hence the handy ‘checklist’.  Most of all, we want people to start thinking about putting a Royal Caribbean cruise on their holiday checklist.”

This campaign which was launched islandwide this month and is running for 4 weeks, is expected to reach an estimated 2 million consumers in Singapore.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: July 24, 2016

In:
24Jul2016

Happy Sunday! We hope you are having a great weekend! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and catch up on all the Royal Caribbean news from the week!

Royal Caribbean rolled out a new feature on its website, aimed at making it simpler for guests to know where their staterooms are on the ship.

 

The new feature allows guests to see staterooms in the aft, middle or forward of a ship and better understand the room's position, relative to the rest of the ship.

Through each step, guests can easily see which area of the ship their room is located and also understand the difference in pricing based on their stateroom location choice.

There is Royal Caribbean news to share, so check it out!

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 155th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we are answering your Royal Caribbean emails

In this episode, a podcast listener joins Matt to talk about his first Royal Caribbean cruise.  Chris talks why he decided to try Royal Caribbean and what his experience on Freedom of the Seas was like.

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

Royal Caribbean has a look at how it built the azipods for its Oasis-class ships.

Cruise Hive shared a video of a man failing to ride the waves made by Oasis of the Seas...on a bike.

First time cruisers: When can I prebook entertainment, dining and more for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
23Jul2016

We get a lot of questions from those new to cruising and one of the most common questions is about when can guests begin to reserve shows, restaurants, drink packages and more prior to their cruise.

Right after booking a cruise, Royal Caribbean allows guests to register their cruise on their My Cruises section of the Royal Caribbean web site and manage their reservation, with the option of booking dining, entertainment and other purchases prior to the cruise.  Often, not all options are available for prebooking and it leaves some guests wondering when they can do it. 

Why prebook?

The best reason to book certain activities, entertainment and dining in advance is to guarantee a spot for you and your family, as well as break up the total cost of the cruise.

There is limited capacity for shows, dining and other activities and Royal Caribbean tends to offer guests the option of reserving them prior to their cruise. 

By booking these activities early, you can ensure you have the time and day that you want all lined up.

When can I prebook?

Royal Caribbean will post its cruises to purchase years in advance, but shore excursions, specialty dining, shows and more may not be available to reserve that far in advance.

The truth is, there is no rule about when these kinds of activities become available for booking, and every sailing can be different. Based on our experience, we do have some basic guidelines for when Royal Caribbean usually makes them available for guests to reserve.

Please keep in mind all of the time frames discussed here are general observations, and your sailing may be vastly different.

Entertainment: Royal Caribbean only allows guests to reserve seats for shows on Oasis and Quantum-class cruise ships.  All other ships, will have seating available on a first-come, first-served basis and/or complimentary tickets once guests are onboard.  

If entertainment is available to reserve for your cruise, we have typically seen shows become available for booking around 75-60 days prior to the sail date, but your experience may vary.

Dining: Specialty restaurant reservations can become available 90-60 days prior to a cruise.  The exact time frame will depend on a variety of factors.

Shore Excursions: Royal Caribbean shore excursions will be among the first activities to become available for pre-booking.  We have seen them available as early as 24-12 months prior to a cruise.  

Spa treatments: In my experience, spa treatments are almost always available for pre-booking via the web site. 

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