Symphony of the Seas sea trials delayed due to weather

In:
21Jan2018

The first sea trials for Symphony of the Seas have been pushed back due to inclement weather.

STX France shipyard had originally planned for Symphony of the Seas' first sea trials on January 19, but it had to be postponed 24 hours.  Despite the delay, Symphony was unable to begin her sea trials on Saturday either.

Mer et Marine reports weather conditions, particuluarly wind, exceeded the limits that STX France has for ships to leave the shipyard and enter the English Channel. The weather conditions were deemed too risky.

In addition to wind, certain other sea conditions need to be met, such as the tide needs to be at a certain level for the keel to have enough under it in order for the ship to reach the channel. With the delay due to wind, the tides are now unfavorable and will not offer a favorable window until four weeks from now.

Royal Caribbean is schedueld to take delivery of Symphony of the Seas in late March. 

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: January 21, 2018

In:
21Jan2018

Did you know totday is National Polka Dot Day? You might be wondering what relevance that has to Royal Caribbean and the answer is... nothing!  We wanted to share with you a wrap-up of all of this week's Royal Caribbean news in case you missed any of it!

We got our first look at the menu for the new specialty restaurant on Symphony of the Seas, Hooked Seafood.

Many guests who have sailings coming up this year on Symphony of the Seas have the opportunity to now pre-book reservations via the Cruise Planner and check out the new menu options.

Hooked Seafood will be located in the Solarium of Symphony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 233rd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available and this week, Matt and Pippa talk about the casino experience on Royal Caribbean.

In this episode, Pippa gives an overview of Casino Royale and describes what you can expect to find, as well as some good tips for enjoying the casino.

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

Forbes asked some CEOs (like Royal Caribbean's Michael Bayley) what to look for when evaluating job candidates.

Eat Sleep Cruise recommends some hotels near Port Canaveral.

Travel Pulse reviewed Royal Caribbean's Voom internet offering.

Friday Photos

In:
19Jan2018

The weekend is here and to celebrate the start of the best time of the week, we are sharing some of our readers' best Royal Caribbean cruise photos!

First up this week is a photo by Margo Thorson of Majesty of the Seas docked next to a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Here is a photo of Radiance of the Seas in Alaska, taken by Deborah James.

Kelly Brill managed to get this photo of Harmony of the Seas, as seen from her Family Ocean View stateroom on Independence of the Seas.

Check out this beautiful shot of Explorer of the Seas in San Francisco, as seen from Telegraph Hill by Lisa and Marc Sandhaus.

Bill Barber snapped this photo of an elevator shaft on Liberty of the Seas.

Mary Maas got up close with Harmony of the Seas in this photo.

We will wrap things up with this shot of the pool deck on Adventure of the Seas, taken by Elyssa in the Viking Crown Lounge.

If you want us to include your Royal Caribbean photo in an upcoming post, be sure to use this form to share it with us!

Survey reveals possible Infinite Veranda stateroom on Royal Caribbean

In:
19Jan2018

It is possible Royal Caribbean is considering offering guests a new type of balcony stateroom that offers a convertible indoor/outdoor space.

Email surveys have been sent to past Royal Caribbean cruisers asking them to compare two types of balcony rooms and evaluate interest in each.

The first type of balcony room is a standard balcony room, which is similar to balcony staterooms on existing Royal Caribbean ships.  The other option is something different, described in the survey as follows: 

"Enjoy convertible indoor/outdoor living space with Option Blue.  This stateroom allows you to integrate your balcony to increase overall main living space, if you so choose, thanks to transparent bi-fold doors.  The expansive sea view is enhanced by an operable window, where the top half can be lowered and transformed into a balcony at the touch of a button."

  • ocean-facing balcony with excellent views
  • large picture window that transforms into balcony
  • option to increase indoor living area

This balcony option sounds very similar to Celebrity Cruises' Infinite Verandas feature that was announced last year for the Celebrity Edge cruise ship. It is not uncommon for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises to borrow from each other, since they are sister companies owned by parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

It should be noted surveys sent by Royal Caribbean to the public are means of which to evaluate interest in potential offerings, and do not necessarily reflect a decision made to offer anything yet.

Royal Caribbean offering up to 30% off Cruise Planner purchases with week-long sale

In:
19Jan2018

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off select Cruise Planner purchases through next week, with its Epic Sale Before You Sail offer.

The weekend Cruise Planner sale promises savings on select pre-cruise purchases.  Guests can check which discounts, if any, are available for their upcoming sailing by visiting the Cruise Planner site. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

Based on the countdown timer, the sale will expire at midnight on next Friday night.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site and navigate to the Dining & Beverage section to see any available offers.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

First look at menu and prices for Hooked Seafood restaurant on Symphony of the Seas

In:
19Jan2018

Royal Caribbean has started to open up specialty dining reservations on some Symphony of the Seas sailings, with Hooked Seafood now providing more detail on what guests can expect.

Hooked Seafood was one of the brand new specialty restaurants announced by Royal Caribbean that is coming to Symphony of the Seas.

Hooked is described as, "This is the ultimate catch if you’re angling for the freshest seafood. It’s a real taste of New England in a casual atmosphere — and it’s a brand-new addition on our newest ship, Symphony of the Seas. Introducing Hooked Seafood — taste bud-tempting fare to satisfy every seafood craving, including raw bar favorites, a variety of crab claws and a selection of just-shucked East Coast oysters. Plus enjoy classic apps, clam chowder, lobster and fresh caught local fish. It’s reel fresh, real good."

On the Cruise Planner, we are seeing prices of $40 per person and here is what the sample Hooked Seafood menu looks like:

The restaurant description on the Cruise Planner mentions your waiter can provide gluten-free, lactose-free, and vegetarian options.

Hooked Seafood will be located in the Solarium of Symphony of the Seas.

Things to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
18Jan2018

If your Royal Caribbean cruise has a scheduled stop in Cozumel, Mexico, you might be wondering what there is to see and do in this popular Caribbean cruise port. 

Cozumel is the fourth busiest cruise port in the world (by passengers), with many cruise lines offering stops in this eastern Mexico destination.

Many Royal Caribbean ships call on Cozumel as part of their Western Caribbean itineraries. Most Royal Caribbean stops at Cozumel are for part of the day, and if you are trying to decide what to do in Cozumel, here is your guide.

Cozumel Overview & Strategy

Cozumel is an island off the eastern main land of Mexico.  It's a large island with a main city of San Miguel. Cozumel is well known for its beaches, scuba diving and shopping.

Cozumel is located in the tropics and has an average high of 85°F (29°C). Spanish is the official language, although you will find anyone working in the tourist areas to speak enough English to make communicating simple enough. Taxi drivers can sometimes struggle with English, but they know enough keywords to understand where you want to go.

If you are new to Cozumel, you will find no shortage of things to do in Cozumel.  Since Cozumel is an established and old cruise port, the variety of choices over the years have swelled to offer cruise guests a lot to consider.

When trying to figure out what to do, here are a few things to think about.

Weather

Depending on the time of year, the temperature and humidity may play a major factor into what you choose to do.  Temperatures remain constant throughout the year.  Daytime highs are in the 80s in every season and nighttime lows will range from the high 60s to mid-70s. With the exception of a few cold fronts in December and January, plan on a warm day in Cozumel.

The months of November through March will see the most temperate and comfortable temperatures, which means ideal conditions for doing lots of walking, touring and generally being outdoors.  These are the best months for seeing Mayan ruins and walking around downtown.

The rest of the year will see higher temperatures and humidity levels, which makes them an ideal time for swimming and diving.  You can still work in the ruins and other cultural experiences, but a swim break in the afternoon makes a lot of sense. April and May are warmer months, but still part of the dry season.  June through October constitute hurricane season in the Caribbean, which means the wet season arrives in Cozumel.  Expect sunny starts to the day, with increasing heat and humidity into the afternoon.  Pop up showers and/or thunderstorms will appear and disappear quickly.  Rain is short lived in the wet season in Cozumel, but can be heavy at times.

Trying a couple of things

Since there are so many things to do in Cozumel and the island is so small, consider multiple activities during your day in Cozumel.

Most Royal Caribbean stops in Cozumel are generally 8-12 hours in duration.  This leaves plenty of time to do a few activities while in port.  

In the warmer months of the year, you might try doing some sort of activity in the morning hours, and then head to a beach for lunch and swimming.  Taxi service in Cozumel is so plentiful, that getting around is not only simple, it is also economical.

If you choose to go to the mainland, there are beaches and shopping in Playa del Carmen in close proximity to the ferry.

Where you dock

Photo by DunkelBierJay

There are two main docks in Cozumel, and Royal Caribbean ships will dock at the International Pier, which is located south of San Miguel and is about a 5 minute taxi ride away.

As you disembark your ship, you will walk through a shopping plaza that offers a variety of shops, bars and restaurants.  This is an enclosed area that was created exclusively for cruise ship guests.  The shops, restaurants and bars in the port area are open when ships are present in port and offer many souvenirs that can be found around the island. Your best bet is to save this area for when you return, as much of the shopping is similar to what you may find elsewhere in Cozumel, and prices tend to be higher than in San Miguel.

If you booked an excursion with Royal Caribbean, you will see a meeting area set up for tours past the dock, but before the shopping plaza. You will be escorted from this area to your shore excursions.

You can tour the port area as you see fit, or walk through it to get to the exit and gain access to other things to do in Cozumel.

Getting around Cozumel

As you exit the port area, you have a variety of options to consider for the day. A taxi stand is located at the exit of the port area, where you can take a taxi to anywhere in Cozumel.

Rates for the taxis are posted on a sign, with most rates being flat fees that depend on the destination.  Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive in Cozumel.  Even at the most remote areas of Cozumel, vendors are happy to summon a taxi for tourists when needed.  Most often, you can simply walk to the street and find a taxi passing by eventually.

A taxi ride to downtown San Miguel will cost about $8.  Once in San Miguel, it is an easy city to walk around without need of public transportation.

Popular things to do in Cozumel

Beaches

Perhaps no activity is more popular in Cozumel than going to the beach.  Activities such as swimming, snorkeling and especially scuba diving are very popular choices for activities in Cozumel.

There are many beaches in Cozumel to consider, with Royal Caribbean offering shore excursions to some and many more available to try on your own. If you want to swim, you want to stick to the west side of Cozumel. The eastern side of Cozumel is far too rough for swimming (and in general is quite rural and undeveloped).

A taxi can take you to any beaches on the island.  Here are a few of the more popular beach choices

Cozumel became a tourist destination in the 1960s when Jacques Cousteau highlighted the area as a great spot for scuba diving.  Ever since then, Cozumel has been a highlight for anyone looking to dive. If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling, try the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park.

Culture

Cozumel is rich in history and Mayan culture.  The island was once a central part of the Mayan Empire.

Mayan ruins dot the island and the mainland.  Visiting these Mayan ruins is a premier shore excursion for those looking to see the history of this island.  

You can visit any of the Mayan ruins by booking through Royal Caribbean or on your own via a third party. If you are looking to visit the Mayan ruins on the Mexican mainland, such as Chichtzen Itza or Tulum, we recommend to book the tour with Royal Caribbean directly because of the long commute times to these sites.

Speaking of shore excursions to the mainland, a high-speed ferry transports guests from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and it has a reputation of inducing sea sickness.  Be sure to take motion sickness medicine as a precaution. We recommend Bonine as a great once-a-day choice for preventing and/or treating sea sickness.

Our recommendations for Mayan ruins include:

Cozumel also features a number of resorts that combine Mexican culture and heritage with recreation.  These eco-parks are just as much about Mexico's vibrant fauna and flora as it is about enjoying some time in the ocean.  

In fact, many of these shore excursions allow guests

There are lots of other things to see and do in Cozumel that can give you a glimpse beyond tiki bars and margaritas, for a look at the real Cozumel. 

Shopping

A simple and robust choice is to go to downtown San Miguel to peruse the many shops in town.  Shopping in downtown Cozumel offers plenty of touristy gifts, along with some authentic Mexican goods.

For about $8 per taxi, you can reach downtown San Miguel in perhaps five minutes.  Once you arrive in San Miguel, there are a number of streets that intersect in a pseudo-grid layout. The main thoroughfare, Av. General Rafael E Melgar, runs along the ocean and is where a bulk of the shopping takes place.

There are many shops up and down each street, and you should explore the side streets extending away from the ocean.  In general, the touristy shops tend to be closer to the ocean.  As you walk into the city and away from the ocean, the shopping opportunities become more authentic and expand in variety considerably. Going three to four blocks away from the ocean is a great strategy for finding some lesser-frequented shopping choices.

Cozumel is known for jewelry, Mexican artisanal handicrafts, leather goods, and plenty of tourist souvenirs (T-shirts, towels, bags, etc). You can also find Mexican vanilla and tequila around the island. Royal Caribbean will confiscate any liquor you purchase in Cozumel, but return it to you on the last evening of the cruise.

While the Mexican Peso is the official currency of Mexico, all shop owners happily accept the U.S. Dollar.

Food and dining

There are lots of great dining choices all over Cozumel.  You will find familiar restaurant chains, alongside local restaurants that serve up more authentic Mexican cuisine.  

As you might imagine, Cozumel restaurants offer mostly Mexican cuisine although there is a heavy amount of Tex-Mex food that caters to the American visitor.

If you are looking for local cuisine, try some of these restaurants:

Bars and all-inclusive resorts

If you want to enjoy a few cocktails or cervezas, you will find no shortage of them in Cozumel.  In fact, as soon as you leave your ship you will run into many bars.

Many of the touristy bars in Cozumel have a party atmosphere and you may hear lots of stories about some of them.  Most of the bars located in close proximity to the ships cater exclusively to tourists who often are looking to consume a lot drinks.

Popular spots to get your drink on are

You will also find a variety of bars and restaurants in San Miguel.  In short, you will never have to go very far to get a margarita, beer or other frozen concoction while in Cozumel.  Moreover, the price of these drinks should be significantly cheaper than Royal Caribbean's onboard prices.

If you would prefer to lock in your drinking cost, there are a few all-inclusive resorts.

These resorts offer day passes, where guests can purchase passes and have access to everything the resort offers, including drinks, food and entertainment.

Swimming with Dolphins

Another very popular activity on Cozumel is swimming with Dolphins.  Excursions involving dolphins is a very popular Caribbean excursion, and Cozumel offers a few different choices.

A number of businesses offer the chance to swim with dolphins in an event many consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime.

If you have been to Cozumel, share with us in the comments what you enjoyed doing there!

Royal Caribbean offering instant savings bonus on cruises booked this weekend

In:
18Jan2018

Royal Caribbean is offering up to $100 instant savings on cruises booked this weekend, on top of its current WAVE Season offer.

Guests that book a Royal Caribbean cruise between January 18 - 21, 2018 on sailings departing on or after February 18, 2018 are eligible for the Seeker Sale offer (excluding China departures).

The Seeker Sale offer includes:

  • 30% off cruise fare for all guests’ in the stateroom.
  • Instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length:
    • $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $50 savings for Balconies and $75 savings for Suites on sailings 5 nights and less
    • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6 nights and longer
    • $75 savings for Balconies  on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • $100 savings for Suites on sailings 6 nights or longer
  • Up to $100 onboard credit
    • 5 nights and less
      • $25 OBC for Interior and Ocean View
      • $50 OBC for Balconies
      •  $75 OBC for Suites on sailings
    • 6 nights or longer
      • $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View
      • $75 OBC for Balconies
      • $100 OBC for Suites

30% off is combinable with NRDB (Summer Bonus) OBC, Free Gratuities, Kids Sail Free, Free Upgrades, promotional OBCs and instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Seeker Sale is combinable with NextCruise offers, NRDB OBC, and restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but is not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. 30% off bookings made for China departures are combinable with NextCruise offers and Crown and Anchor balcony/suites discounts only. 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.

Royal Caribbean Fourth Quarter 2017 Earnings Call Scheduled

In:
18Jan2018

Royal Caribbean will hold a conference call on January 24, 2018 at 10am to discuss its fourth quarter 2017 financial results.

The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations web site,www.rclinvestor.com. To listen to the call by phone, please dial (877) 663-9606 in the US and Canada. International phone calls should be made to (706) 758-4628. There is no passcode or meeting number. A replay of the webcast will be available at the same site for a month following the call.

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas to begin sea trials

In:
17Jan2018

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas is preparing for her first set sea trials.

The Saint-Nazaire Tourism Board announced the first sea trials for Symphony of the Seas is scheduled for Friday, January 19 at around 5 or 6pm.

Sea trials are subject to weather conditions, which can alter the schedule if the weather proves to be uncooperative for the testing.

Delivery of Symphony of the Seas to Royal Caribbean is scheduled to occur in March 2018.

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