Jewel of the Seas Listener Cruise Review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
28Jan2015

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

Episode 78 is available for downloading and this week we are reviewing a listener's recent cruise aboard Jewel of the Seas.

Matt invites Kris back to the podcast to discuss his recent southern Caribbean cruise and discuss what Kris enjoyed about his Royal Caribbean adventure.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 78. 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!

Quantum of the Seas visit to St Thomas will break records for the island

In:
26Jan2015

When Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas visits St. Thomas on Tuesday, it will be a record breaking day on the ship's maiden voyage to the island.

On Tuesday, a Quantum and Oasis-class ship will be docked at the same time.  In total, five cruise ships will be in port, including Oasis of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas.  

St. Thomas saw a record breaking day of passengers last Wednesday when 20,000 visitors came to the island and Tuesday should break that record.  

Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said to prepare they have opened the public restrooms next to the new Tourism office location in town by the USO building and are in communication with the V.I. Police Department and other government agencies.

The department's greeters will be out in full force, leaving the Crown Bay and Havensight areas to have a presence throughout the island.

"The greeters will be out on the streets," she said. "You'll see the bright purple shirts all over town on Tuesday."

North Star review on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas

In:
26Jan2015

One of the highly touted experience on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas is the jewel-like capsule that takes passengers more than 300 feet above sea level for stunning views of the area around you. Today we review this new onboard activity and look at why you might want to try it too.

North Star is available on Quantum-class cruise ships.

Experience

Checking in

To ride North Star, you just have to get in line for it. Unlike some other onboard experiences, Royal Caribbean offers no means of pre-arranging North Star time, unless you happen to book it as part of a special event (like a wedding).

The line for North Star begins on deck 15 and there is an extended queue that can be used if the line gets long enough. Royal Caribbean provides signs at different intervals in the line to let you know about how long your wait is from that point.

Getting onto North Star is a first come, first served basis.  You will climb a set of spiral stairs to the loading area on deck 16 (there is a handicap elevator as well) where the doors to North Star open and you may enter.

Going up

Once inside the 3.6 meters x 4.5 meters space, you can move around to any vantage point you can find.  There are no seats and you will stand the entire time.  

North Star accommodates 13 guests, plus there will be room to accommodate a wheelchair passenger as well, for a total of 14 guests, and one operator.

It's North Star time! #QuantumoftheSeas

A photo posted by Royal Caribbean Blog.com (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

Once the doors close, North Star will begin to ascend, giving you a wide view of your ship as well as the area around you.  The North Star pod is attached to a 135 foot arm that can extend up to an 80-degree angle and move around.  When the ship is in port, the arm only goes up and down due to local laws and will not move over the side of the ship.  While this limits the views somewhat, it does make for quicker ride experiences, which is good if you are waiting in line.

North Star going up! #QuantumfotheSeas

A video posted by Royal Caribbean Blog.com (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

Hyper lapse of North Star #QuantumoftheSeas

A video posted by Royal Caribbean Blog.com (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

At its apex, North Star delivers some really amazing views of the area around you.  You're free to bring cameras to take photos or video and there's enough room in the pod to move around to get a view of everything.

The entire ride lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.

Comments

North Star is one of the highlights of any Quantum of the Seas cruise and it seems like it's a must-do experience given how popular it is. We think Royal Caribbean delivers a really cool opportunity to see not just your ship but the area around you in a way that could only be replicated by taking an airplane or helicopter.

Considering North Star is complimentary, it's something we recommend doing at least once for the fun.  North Star moves quite slowly and despite the 300 plus foot statistic, it's hardly a thrill ride.  Unless you have a crippling fear of heights, this should be a great bit of fun for all.

The issue many guests run into are the lines for North Star.  Long lines will develop for North Star, especially on sea days.  It's a testament to its popularity and we've seen lines for upwards of two or three hours. 

Our tip for avoiding these lines is to see North Star right as it opens in the morning or try for port days when there are less passengers onboard to compete with.  The line will also move faster on port days because North Star is restricted to only go up and down while in port.

Electrical issues caused by flooding delays Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas

In:
25Jan2015

A water pipe burst onboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas yesterday that caused electrical problems onboard the ship and delayed the ship's departure from New Orleans.

Royal Caribbean indicated the ship's critical systems, including navigation, were operational. But some areas - including the main theater and medical facility - were without power.

In addition, some guest staterooms have been affected by the flooding and an undetermined amount of guests had to have their cruises cancelled.  Royal Caribbean will offer them a full refund and a certificate towards a future cruise.

Royal Caribbean is working on restoring power to the ship but it's unknown when Serenade of the Seas will be able to leave New Orleans.

UPDATE: The United States Coast Guard cleared Serenade of the Seas for departure shortly after noon today.  It had been scheduled to leave yesterday (January 24) but had to wait for the Coast Guard to okay the ship.

Secrets to a better Quantum of the Seas cruise experience

In:
23Jan2015

Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, has a lot to see and do but as Royal Caribbean fans know there's always tips and tricks to getting the most out of your cruise.

We present here a list of our best Quantum of the Seas secrets to help you have a better time.  Enjoy!

Best uncrowded spot for breakfast: Cafe @ Two70

If the Windjammer or American Icon Grill is just too crowded for your taste, a lesser known breakfast spot to check out is the Cafe @ Two70.  It rarely fills up like the other places and offers some tasty options too!

Least crowds for North Star: port days

North Star is always in demand so lines seem to be long all the time but if you want to check it out without the long line, try to go on North Star on port days.  

In addition to there being less people onboard to compete with on port days, when Quantum of the Seas is in port, North Star has more limited movement and can only go up and down and not over the side of the ship like it does on sea days.  Because of this, the North Star rides are shorter and thus, the lines will move faster.

Best spot for sailaway: bridge wings

Leaving Cape Liberty will result in a crowded pool deck because of the amazing views of New York City and the surrounding area.  If you want a less crowded spot, check out the bridge wings, which are accessible from the Solarium on either side at the very front.

Best spot for sailaway for suite guests: Suite sun deck

If you're lucky enough to be in a suite, there's a special sun deck that is accessible from the pool deck just for suite guests.  It's usually empty and offers great views of the Verazanno Bridge and New York City.

Best day for bumper cars: embarkation day

Just like the pools and hot tub, the bumper cars have the shortest line on embarkation day.  Head there on your first day onboard to be able to smash into your fellow guests without a long line.

Book RipCord online in advance

As you might imagine, lots of passengers want to check out RipCord by iFly because it's the kind of experience lots want to try.  Royal Caribbean allows you to book in advance complimentary sessions so you don't have to worry about long lines.

Try to make reservations early in your cruise, so you can get in before others who have not signed up to reserve times.

Speaking of iFly, you cannot bring a camera into iFly, so if you don't want to spend money on buying photos, make sure someone in your party not scheduled to fly at the same time is available to take pictures.

You need your SeaPass card in port (even with a WOWband)

Royal Caribbean's new RFID bracelets, WOWbands, are pretty nifty but when your ship is in port, you will need to bring your SeaPass card too to use as proof of being a current cruise guests to return to the ship.

Catch the RoboShows on sea days

The amazing new robotic screens in Two70 will start performing on sea days starting at 12:30pm on the hour (more shows at 1:30pm, 2:30pm, etc).  These are fun to watch, especially when the weather outside is not so great.

Discover some hidden gems onboard

It's easy to overlook these rooms, but the Library (rear of Two70) and The Workshop (an arts and crafts room) on deck 6 are two nifty little locations.

Easiest place to get a drink: Michael's Genuine Pub

If you just want a quick drink without any crowds, try Michael's Genuine Pub in the Royal Esplanade for a quiet spot with quick service.

Best spot for deck chairs: Near the FlowRider

Getting a deck chair on sea days when the sun is shining is never an easy task, especially at the height of the day.  A good spot to snag a deck chair are on the back of the ship, port side.  You will find it's a good spot to grab a chair and catch some rays, even late in the day.

Use the Coca-Cola FreeStyle Machines

If you get any soda package, you can use the Coca-Cola FreeStyle machines.  There are three of them: Sorentos (deck 4), Windjammer (Deck 14), and SeaPlex (Deck 15).

Best time for Bionic Bar: Later afternoon on sea days

We think the Bionic Bar is a bit of a gimmick but there's no denying it is a really cool concept.  If you want to be able to "belly up to the (bionic) bar", try for late afternoon on sea days.  There will be less people around before the bar starts to get crowded again at night.

Friday Photos

In:
23Jan2015

The best part about Friday (aside from the impending weekend) is sharing great Royal Caribbean photos that our readers have sent in with all of you. Each week we ask everyone reading this to send us your best, favorite and fun Royal Caribbean photos to share with the world.

First up this week is a photo of Brilliance of the Seas at Grand Cayman by Francois St-Onge.  Francois said this was the hottest day he's ever experienced.  That doesn't surprise me considering there's a place on Grand Caymen called Hell!

Next is a panoramic photo by Lily Lee of Singapore from Mariner of the Seas.  Great view!

Let's move from Singapore to Australia with this photo by Ross and Pam of Voyager of the Seas being welcomed "home" for the Aussie summer.

 Let's keep the international theme going with this photo by Kevin Van Ruyteghem of Independence of the Seas in Flam during her Norwegian fjords cruise last year.  Check out the reflection in the water! I think we have a nomination for photo of the year!

Lastly, we have this shot of Quantum of the Seas in San Juan by Lucille Mackie.  Nothing like peeking over some trees to see this beauty in the distance!

If we didn't include your photo this week, then that means you need to send it in to us for use on a future Friday Photos post.  We want to see your favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos and you can use this form to send them to us.

Royal Caribbean Fourth Quarter Earnings Call Scheduled

In:
22Jan2015

Royal Caribbean will hold a conference call on January 29, 2015 at 10am to discuss its fourth quarter 2015 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 launches new menus on Quantum of the Seas complimentary restaurants

In:
22Jan2015

Last night Royal Caribbean rolled out new menus to four of its complimentary restaurants onboard.

Reports from cruisers aboard Quantum of the Seas this week say that new menus debuted at Chic, The Grande, Silk and American Icon Grill.

There's speculation that these menu changes are part of a new effort to improve the Dynamic Dining experience overall.  Just last week Royal Caribbean dropped the cover charge at Devinly Decadence to add more complimentary restaurant capacity.

Credit to Debra Hirsh and Daniel VanDam for the photos of the new menus.

Deck by deck drydock changes to Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas

In:
22Jan2015

Royal Caribbean is almost done with Freedom of the Seas refurbishment and that means a lot of changes are coming to the ship.  After receving lots of questions related to how where the changes are onboard the ship, we've compiled a list of the changes coming visually.

Deck 2

No changes

Deck 3

  • New interior staterooms added (Category Q), replacing The Crypt
  • New Ocean View Staterooms added (3640, 3642, 3644, 3646, 3648;  3340, 3342, 3344, 3346, 3348)

Deck 4

  • Sabor restaurant replaces The Crypt
  • Photo Gallery & Shop renamed to Focus

Deck 5

  • Pharaoh's Palace renamed Star Lounge
  • R-Bar replaces Champagne Bar 

Deck 6

  • Added Interior stateroom (6137)
  • Next Cruise replaces Business Services 

Deck 7

  • Added new Interior stateroom (7139)

Deck 8

  • Added new Interior stateroom (8237)

Deck 9

  • Added new Interior stateroom (9237)

Deck 10

No changes

Deck 11

  • Giovanni's Table replaces Portofino

Deck 12

  • Added new balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms at front of the ship

Deck 13

No changes

Deck 14

No changes

Deck 15

No changes

Elvis fan cruises planned aboard Royal Caribbean

In:
21Jan2015

For fans of Elvis Presley, there's a couple of Royal Caribbean cruises for you!

Mahwey Productions is offering themed cruises entitled, "Cruising with the King", where guests can have a "full King experience" on select Royal Caribbean ships.

Events include a Welcome Aboard Tribute concert, tribute performances, "Sing Like the King" karaoke, Elvis trivia and Elvis sightings onboard the ship.

There are three cruises planned

  • Brilliance of the Seas 5-night cruise on February 9, 2015
  • Navigator of the Seas 7-night cruise on October 18, 2015
  • Navigator of the Seas 8-night cruise on January 9, 2016

More details about the group cruise can be found at the group website.

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