Today was our last day of the cruise, so I was just looking to relax today with no real plans. We were docked in Nassau from 8am to 5pm today, but I had already decided to stay on board and enjoy the ship.
I skipped breakfast this morning, so I was eager to get to lunch at Park Café. Again, I went with the salad and roast beef sandwich. The salad’s here are so good, you pick the toppings you want and they prepare it right away.
I asked the crewmember why they were so slow, as this was my second visit here and it’s empty. He mentioned that most guests think they have to pay to eat here.
After lunch I decided to visit the pool deck and that’s where I saw Super Mario working. I approached him and asked for a few minutes of his time.
I spent a good half hour talking to him about traveling at sea for the last 20 years. Look for a new blog post just about him coming soon.
I decided to go grab my computer and write up some info about him while it was still fresh on my mind. That’s where I found an Oktoberfest beer in the Schooner Bar. This beer was included in my drink package and so refreshing.
Tonight I was thinking what haven’t I done yet this cruise, and it hit me I never went up to the diamond or concierge lounge. Surprisingly, I was the only guest up here tonight at one point and enjoyed chatting with the crew.
While we were sitting there chatting I looked over and they were opening the solarium roof. In all my sailings on this ship, I’ve never seen them open it before.
Dinner tonight was in Chops again; tonight they gave me 20% off the cover charge. At this point they should have just put me to work I’ve been here so much! My waitress suggested I try some new items and I agreed. I went with the rack of lamb and they were really good. If you are really hungry this option might not fill you up, but I would order them again.
I can’t say enough about the crew in this Chops Grill, everyone was so friendly and happy to be serving you.
After dinner I went to the parade of flags show in the centrum. They do this around 8pm when first dinner is over and before second dinner starts. It was fun watching them bring a little of their own culture out.
Next I went over to the schooner bar, I spent more time here this weekend than anywhere. I always found a good seat and the bar service is very fast. I also really enjoy watching the sun set while in the lounge.
My final stop was the adult game show, The Quest. If you have read my live blogs before you will know I’m a big fan of The Quest. I don’t want to give the game away, but I highly recommend you go to this show at least once. I’m also happy to report we go first place, so my winning streak is back!
Well this concludes my live blog on board Enchantment of the Seas. It’s been a fun couple of weeks sharing my days with you. I don’t plan on cruising for the rest of the year, but that’s always subject to change!
Royal Caribbean announced today it will resume calls to St. Thomas on November 10, following weeks of skipping the island due to hurricane damage.
Adventure of the Seas will mark Royal Caribbean's return to the island. She will be the first Royal Caribbean ship since early September to visit St. Thomas, which was impacted by hurricanes last month.
In partnership with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Royal Caribbean also has committed to undertaking the complete restoration of Magens Bay, one of St. Thomas’ most popular tourist attractions – with plans for a grand re-opening of the pristine destination during Adventure of the Seas’ visit on Nov. 10.
With power and water to the island fully restored and most downtown shops, restaurants and bars and tour operators fully operational, guests will be able to experience a diverse and extensive array of dining, shopping and activities.
“We are very excited to get back home to our friends in St. Thomas. The Caribbean is our family, having cruised there for nearly 50 years, and the long-standing relationships created in all this time are unwavering,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We are committed to doing everything we can to help and proud to support the restoration of the iconic Magens Bay."
In addition, Royal Caribbean is planning a return to San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten by the end of November and is working closely with local governments to announce the exact dates.
By December 1, all scheduled calls to the three islands will operate as planned.
A reoccurring concern among first time cruisers that book a Royal Caribbean cruise in the warmer months of the year is they see a weather forecast that looks something like this.
Does this mean your cruise is ruined? Not so fast.
Understanding rain in the tropics
The tropics have two seasons: the dry season and the wet season. During the summer months in the tropics, it rains every day. This means there is a high chance of rain, but it is not an all day soaker event.
Unlike rain storms in the north, where fronts move through and saturate the area with rain for much of the day, rain storms in the tropics are sporadic and short-lived. They pop up during the afternoon, move quickly and have been known to actually rain while still sunny.
These sort of afternoon pop up storms are incredibly difficult to predict, so most weather forecasters simply attribute a high percentage chance of rain and hope for the best. Pop up storms are so sporadic that it is too difficult to know exactly where it will rain, so forecasts often look worse than they really are. Despite the fact you see rain in the forecast everyday, it does not mean it will actually rain at all on you, nor will it rain for a long time.
How to plan your day
This may sound crazy, but ignore the forecast.
Rain in the tropics is so common and so unpredictable that it is simply not worth concerning yourself with prior to your trip. Since it is often short-lived, if it does actually rain on you, you can wait it out (with a cocktail in hand) and before you know it, the sun will be back out.
On sea days, often the Captain will take routes to follow the sun and avoid clouds so that guests can enjoy the kind of sunny day they dreamed about when booking the cruise. Of course, the Captain can only do so much to help, but if it can be helped, he will do what he can.
The exception to all of this are tropical storms (hurricanes), but your Royal Caribbean cruise will not be anywhere near these storms to begin with. Royal Caribbean detours its ships well away from the path of the storm.
We hope everyone reading this is having a wonderful Sunday and enjoying some time this weekend with friends, family and some good food too. There was a lot of Royal Caribbean news this week, and we have summarized all up into one easy-to-read blog post for your convenience!
By far the big news this week was the much anticipated reveal of activities, restaurants, and entertainment on Symphony of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean pulled back the curtains a bit, and showed off what guests can look forward to seeing, doing, and eating on what will be the world's largest cruise ship.
Among the newly announced features, the new Ultimate Family Suite, Hooked seafood restaurant, and Playmakers Sports Bar garnered a lot of the attention.
Royal Caribbean News
- Grandeur of the Seas will be the first cruise ship to return to St. Maarten since Hurricane Irma.
- Royal Caribbean launched a new video series that focuses on the local peoples and culture.
- Michael Poole is live blogging on Empress of the Seas this weekend.
- We shined the light on four Royal Caribbean drink package mistakes to avoid.
- Here is a comparative look at damage to Labadee cabanas from Hurricane Irma.
Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast
Did you hear the news about the recent unlimited alcohol package rule change? On this week's Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast, we talk about the new change and what it means to you.
Matt discusses what the new rule change is, why it changed, and what impact it may have on getting the drink package going forward.
Royal Caribbean Around the Internet
Cruise Habit shared news that Celebrity Cruises now offers legal same-sex marriages at sea.
Cruise Cirtic has a new video about the craziest top-deck activities on cruise ships.
The Voyage Report interviewed Royal Caribbean's Chief Meteorologist on their podcast.
TTG reported that Royal Caribbean is attracting younger families to UK cruises.
Ship Monk reported on the passing of a cruise journalism industry legend, John Honeywell.
Today was our first port of call, my favorite island of Coco Cay. We arrived at 8am and the weather couldn’t have been better. I decided to have breakfast at Chops Grill before I got off the ship. This is special breakfast for Diamond Plus, Pinnacle, and Suites. The real benefit is the service, because it’s the same food you would order in the main dining room. For breakfast I ordered an omelet and a side of bacon. I wanted to eat a large breakfast and skip lunch, since I had Chops again for dinner.
Around 10am I took the tender boat over to the island. On my way over I noticed the pier construction was in progress. They are building a pier here so the Oasis class ships can start visiting Coco Cay. The dock is expected to be complete by summer of 2018. If you are wondering, you cannot hear any noise from the construction while you are on the island.
My plans for today were to relax and have a few drinks at the floating bar. I was recently here in Coco Cay and noticed the floating bar had writing all over it from the guest. Now, they have sanded all the writing off and it looks brand new again. I spent a few hours out here making friends and enjoying the day. At one point we saw a 2-foot shark go under the floating bar, oh I wish I had my camera.
Around 2pm I saw some very dark clouds moving in, so I decided to head back to the ship. By the time I made it to the security line it started to pour rain. Living in Florida, afternoon rain showers are a way of life. Once I made it back on board I managed to grab a two-hour nap.
Tonight was the captain’s reception and formal night. They had Super Mario on stage to present him a bottle of wine. Super Mario has spent more than a decade on board throughout the fleet. He was part of their speech and saying jokes, recommending the Crown and Anchor Society. He’s now at 7,003 points in the society and holds the most points out of 11 million members.
Dinner was in Chops tonight at 6:30pm. I wanted to try something different since I’ve had the filet a lot recently; they recommended the 16oz rib eye. The steak was really good and if you are hungry, I highly recommended going with this steak. I had mushrooms and mac-n-cheese on the side. The restaurant was so busy tonight, but I as still in-and-out in less than 90 minutes. The staff in this Chops Grill is so friendly they want you to have a great experience here and go the extra mile to ensure you do.
After dinner, I attended the under the stars party on the pool deck. The party was like the sail away party but during the evening hours. I must say I was the only person on the pool deck not wearing white. At this pool party they have a wear all white theme.
Tomorrow our last stop is in Nassau, Bahamas so stay tuned!
It’s Friday the 13th so it’s cruise day!
I usually like to fly to south Florida, but I couldn’t find any good deals on flights from Tampa, so I drove. I was on the road at 5am and arrived to my terminal at 9:45am. The parking in the terminal is $20/day and you pay when you leave. The let me in the first checkpoint but the security lines didn’t open until 10am.
Once I checked-in I went into the suite/diamond plus lounge to relax. Other wise in this terminal you stand in a line. So my suggestion is arriving at 10:30-10:45am, so boarding is just starting and you can walk right on board. At 10:45am boarded started and was on board right away.
When I got on board I purchased my drink package. In the cruise planner it was $169 with the 20% off sale. Since I’m Diamond Plus there is a 30% off discount on board, so it came out to $151.
I sat down and enjoyed my first beer and watch countless people buying the package at $214. This always puzzles me, because even if they are a first time cruisers, Royal Caribbean is always sending emails about buying things in the cruise planner.
Windjammer opens at 11:30am and Park Café opens at 12pm. I like to eat Park Café when I can, so I wanted until noon.
When I was on board last year they only had pizza and salad, so I’m happy to report they have brought the roast beef sandwiches back! Lunch was so peaceful it was myself and another table eating here that’s it.
At 1:30pm the cabins opened up, while walking to my cabin I saw my bag in the hall so I grabbed it.
My cabin is a large ocean view cabin number 3134. This cabin feels so big to me, I think it’s because I just came off Empress. There is a lot of storage space, even some in the closet too. Next year I’m booked on deck 2 inside cabin and I’m going to change it to this cabin.
Sail away party was right after the muster drill and a big hit like always. I’ll mention the wait time for a drink was little to none. They had 10-12 bartenders working the Oasis Bar and someone was always there to get you something.
Dinner tonight was in Chops Grill at 7pm. I was going to try the new tomato soup I’ve been seeing on the menu now, but it wasn’t here. This ship still has the lobster soup, so I went with that. I had the same waitress as last year, so it was fun sharing old memories. They were very busy tonight, seems to be quite a few large groups on board all dining together. However, my service was at just the right speed, not too fast or slow.
My main course I went with the filet, mac & cheese (its so good!) and tots. For dessert I had the ice cream Sunday and just couldn’t finish it, the food coma was starting to get real.
After dinner I went into the casino to walk around and I ran in Super Mario. He’s the guy who lives at sea and just hit his next milestone of 7,000 Crown and Anchor points. I wonder if I’ll catch up to him one day…
That’s a wrap for my day 1, after my casino time I decided to get some sleep. Tomorrow we are in my favorite island of Coco Cay!
Friday is here and that means it is time to share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos! Each week, we invite our readers to send us photos from their past Royal Caribbean cruises to be showcased on the blog.
With the weekend nearly upon us, here is this week's batch of fabulous photos!
Our first photo this week is from Don Jackson, and it is a rainbow after a morning storm on Anthem of the Seas.
Firegal2539 sent in this photo of Enchantment of the Seas in Nassau, Bahamas.
Here is Explorer of the Seas in Astoria, Oregon, taken by Allen Shaffer.
Travis N. took this photo of English Harbor, Antigua, as seen from Shirley Heights.
Jeff L. shared this photo of Navigator of the Seas docked next to Allure of the Seas in Nassau, Bahamas.
Bob Carpenter took this photo of Oasis of the Seas in Cozumel, Mexico.
Our final photo this week is by Steven and Sharon Kronick, kicking up their feet with a view of Labadee from their Grand Suite on Oasis of the Seas.
Thank you to everyone for their great photos, and we invite everyone reading to send in their photos too. Use this form to submit your photos to be included in an upcoming Friday Photos post!
Well here we go again with another live blog, this time from my favorite ship in the fleet, Enchantment of the Seas!
This will be my 8th time on board this ship, so I know exactly what to expect. There are quite of few reason why this ship is my favorite, but I think she is a small ship with a lot to offer. Enchantment has an R Bar, Chops Grill, Park Café, a Solarium, and the only pool bar in the fleet that faces the ocean. This ship has a lot if little features that her sister ships in the Vision class don’t have, due to the stretch dry-dock she received in 2005.
I booked this cruise to take my girlfriend on since I had a few cruises recently without her. However, due to her work she can’t make it, so I couldn’t let the cruise go to waste!
When I booked this sailing I picked the cheapest option, an inside cabin on deck 2. It’s not ideal but for a quick three-day cruise I don’t mind. Like always, I keep checking prices and I found an ocean view drop in price. I was able to upgrade from the inside cabin; to a large ocean view cabin for $2, you can’t beat that. Now my cabin is on deck 3, room number 3134.
We set sail from Miami, Florida this Friday, October 13th. On Saturday we will be on my favorite island of Coco Cay from 8am to 5pm. On Sunday we will head to Nassau, Bahamas from 8am to 5pm.
My plans for Coco Cay are to enjoy some sunshine and likely be spotted at the floating bar. For Nassau I’m planning to stay on board and enjoy the pool deck. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Nassau, but this will be my 6th time here this year and don’t have any real interest in doing anything.
Drink Package / VOOM
I have gone back and forth on the drink package for this sailing. On my last cruise on Empress my bar tab was under $10. But I carried on wine, used my 3 free diamond drinks and they let us take liquor bottles to our cabin from Cuba. However, on this sailing I’m leaning to just buy it.
Since I can use it all day in Coco Cay & planning to stay on board in Nassau, it just make sense to get it. On the cruise planner the deluxe package was listed for $169. Since I’m a Diamond Plus Crown and Anchor member, I’m going to buy in on board with our 30% off discount. With the discount it comes out to around $150, so a savings of $19 from online.
For the VOOM Internet, I’ll get it on board with the same perk discount; it should be $10 - $15 for the weekend.
I’ll also mention Enchantment of the Seas is scheduled to enter her five year dry dock next month. There has been nothing said about what changes are going to happen, so I’m on a mission to see if anything is going to be added/removed. I’m also curious to see how the condition of the ship is looking.
Let me know if you have any questions about Enchantment of the Seas, I’ll be answering the comments below during my sailing. I’m also posting on my Instagram account / live streaming on the Periscope app: @Mpoole3.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Irma, Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas will be the first commercial cruise vessel to return to the destination post-Irma on Sunday, November 5th.
A delegation from Royal Caribbean recently met with Port St. Maarten Board, Management and Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher, to discuss the recover efforts that underway.
The Royal Caribbean delegation discussed the state of various infrastructure on the island with the Port St. Maarten Management and Board. They also got an update on the Great Bay Beach Promenade, the commercial center of Philipsburg, Front Street and other areas of interest from a tourism perspective.
Royal Caribbean carried out a site visit as part of their destination readiness assessment to accept cruise passengers, and the availability by early November of tours, shore excursions, shopping, beaches, and other cruise tourism related amenities.
Following the visit, Royal Caribbean praised the Port St. Maarten Board, Management and Government with respect to the diligence carried out by the aforementioned to get the country ‘cruise ready’ for November in order to bring in much needed foreign exchange into the economy that would kick-start the economic engine of the country – (cruise) tourism.
Today was our last day of the cruise, a sea day as we head back to Tampa, FL. I spent most of the morning working on the Cuba blog post from yesterday. I really enjoyed reflecting on my day and everything I saw. Today was our last day on board and my plans for today were to do nothing!
From 10am – 1pm they have their sea day brunch in the main dining room. On sea days, Empress of the Seas does a very large brunch with free bloody mary’s or mimosa. You will see some classic breakfast items and some things you likely never had before.
I went with a beef burrito and bacon, which both were great. My friend Nick got a waffle and cake for dessert but I was too full. We sat here for a while just talking and enjoying our drinks.
While walking back to my cabin from brunch I came across the captain’s corner in the centrum. This is a Q&A session with the guests and the Captain. I’ve always enjoyed these and usually learn something new every time.
I spent some time just exploring the open decks and relaxing. I did go up to the pool deck but I just wasn’t in the mood to lay out there today. Usually not like me, but I think I was so focused on reflecting from the day before still.
Around 2pm I decided it was time for another snack in the Windjammer. They were closing down from lunch, so the sections were a little limited. That’s okay; I think we had plenty of food at brunch!
After lunch I decided to take a little nap. I usually don’t take naps on vacation, but I was pretty tired after the Windjammer. It’s crazy how that always happens…
Dinner tonight was back in the main dining room. For those of you catching on today’s theme is food! They had a show tonight; the Vegas themed show the created for Empress. I saw it last year and really loved it, but didn’t feel like going to see it again.
For the main course, I had the pork roast and we ordered shrimp mac-n-cheese to share on the table. I thought both were excellent and it was fun ordering different items than I would usually try. Also, Empress has some unique dinner menus that you won’t find across the fleet.
After dinner I went into boleros and they had the orchestra playing. They were outstanding to listen to. It almost reminded me being at Jazz on 4 on Oasis class ships.
Since I live ½ a mile away form the terminal I thought I’d just relax on board all morning and get off at last call. They are usually calling the last group around 9:15am-9:30am. However, this morning they had a major delay getting off the ship through customs. I didn’t exit the ships until 10:30am, and it took an hour to get through the customs line. I never really figured out why the process was so backed up, but perhaps it’s a Cuba sailing thing. For those wondering I did walk home and it took me 10 minutes.
Thanks for following along on this quick four day cruise to Key West and Cuba. I had a lot of fun sharing and I hope you enjoyed also. Now I must go pack as my next cruise is in two day! That’s right, I’ll be bringing you another live blog starting Friday on Enchantment of the Seas. See you soon!