Photos by Royal Caribbean International
In a press conference on Wednesday, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International Michael Bayley announced plans for the cruise line to make major enhancements to the cruise line's private destination in the Bahamas, CocoCay.
The announcement marks a significant investment in The Bahamas, and it will include construction of a pier, additional guest features and amenities, and new opportunities for vendors and craftsmen to promote the culture of The Bahamas to visitors. The pier will be able to handle Oasis class cruise ships.
Bayley described the new additions coming to CocoCay as, "innovative" and "entertaining". He also indicated the construction will take a multi-phased approach, with some elements of the new construction ready in 2018, and construction complete sometime in 2019. In the meantime, Bayley said ships will continue to stop at CocoCay without any disruption.
In addition to the CocoCay news, Royal Caribbean has committed to a multi-year agreement with the island nation of The Bahamas that will help grow tourism to the destination, rapidly increase the cruise line’s employment of Bahamian nationals and invest in hospitality training to develop talent in the country.
As part of the agreement, Royal Caribbean plans to work with The Bahamas government to develop a training program to provide those who aspire to a career in hospitality with a unique opportunity to participate in innovative training and development. The cruise line will create a curriculum that will prepare many thousands of students for careers at sea on board one of Royal Caribbean’s ships. The classes will be facilitated by dedicated instructors who will provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge to help them develop valuable and marketable hospitality skills. In addition to the classroom experience, students will receive on-site guidance and training from shipboard professionals.
Royal Caribbean has committed to rapidly growing the number of Bahamian nationals employed by the cruise line in the next five years. In addition, they have joint ownership of the Grand Bahamas shipyard in Freeport at which major revitalizations and drydock maintenance of its ships take place.
After months of speculation, Royal Caribbean announced the name and details surrounding its fourth Oasis class cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean revealed the name of the ship, along with some key details surrounding its sailings. Symphony will arrive in April 2018, and begin service by sailing the Mediterranean in Spring and Summer 2018. Symphony of the Seas will make stops at ports in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Rome and Naples.
In Fall 2018, Symphony of the Seas will cross the Atlantic to her new home in at PortMiami in Miami, Florida. From Miami, she will sail from Royal Caribbean's brand new cruise terminal that it broke ground on this morning. Symphony of the Seas will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.
Symphony of the Seas will be joined by sister ship Allure of the Seas, which will move from her current home of Port Everglades, Florida to Miami, Florida. Both ships will arrive just in time for the new ‘Crown of Miami’ cruise terminal to open, which will be a 170,000-square-foot terminal. Royal Caribbean touts this terminal will be the most innovative cruise facility in the U.S. with an expected $500 million in revenue and the addition of 4,000 jobs to Miami-Dade County.
Symphony of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship ever, coming in at 230,000 GRT. She will have 28 more staterooms than her sister ship, Harmony of the Seas, and be 215.5 feet wide and 1,188 feet long. This will make Symphony of the Seas just slightly larger than Harmony of the Seas.
In the coming months, Royal Caribbean will announce more details about the ship, but they have confirmed certain key dining and entertainment options. Symphony of the Seas will offer guests
- Ultimate Abyss slide (with "a new twist")
- FlowRider surf simulator
- Rock climbing wall
- Perfect Storm water slides (three slides)
- Splashaway Bay aqua park
- Ice skating rink
- Vitality Spa
Royal Caribbean did hint at something "daring" coming to Symphony of the Seas as well. The tease on Royal Caribbean's web site simply says, "Adventure hits a high note with a whole new challenge."
There will also be over 20 dining options on Symphony of the Seas for guests to enjoy, including:
- Chops Grille
- Jamie's Italian
- Solarium Bistro
Like the entertainment, Royal Caribbean is hinting at "a few new dishes" that will be available on Symphony of the Seas.
Bookings for 2018-2019 Symphony of the Seas sailings opened late last night over the phone, but the public may now purchase any of her available sailings either online, on the phone or via a travel agent.
Putting on full-scale productions in the middle of the ocean requires seamless choreography between the marine operations and entertainment teams on board Royal Caribbean’s ships. Precision is key, and not just for the performers. Stage managers communicate with navigational officers and engineers who make the call to use the ship’s stabilizers or adjust course into the wind, in order to cancel out even the slightest motion. From backstage to the bridge, the entire team on board works together to ensure every performance is flawless for guests.
Guests aboard a few Royal Caribbean ships this week have gotten not only confirmation of what the cruise line will name its newest cruise ship, but also when the first sailings will go on sale.
Photo by Damian Rickard
Photo by Karen McWherter Fraser
Flyers posted in the NextCruise office of Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas advertise the name of Royal Caribbean's fourth Oasis class ship, as well as the fact sailings will go on sale on Wednesday, March 8.
Indications from crew onboard are that the Symphony of the Seas will have Mediterranean sailings between June - October, 2018 followed by United States-based sailings in November 2018. Once in the United States, Symphony of the Seas will be homeported in Miami, Florida.
German site Schiffe und Kreuzfahrten is reporting Symphony of the Seas will begin her season in Barcelona on May 6, 2018 and also offer a transatlantic crossing on November 4, 2018 from Barcelona.
Photo by Karen McWherter Fraser
Royal Caribbean has not officially announced the name of its fourth Oasis class ship, although it appears now that announcement, and perhaps other details, are imminent.
Barefoot Beach on Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee is a private beach that is reserved for suite guests and Pinnacle Crown and Anchor Society members, and it includes a variety of cabanas to compliment a day at this exclusive beach.
In addition to the cabanas at Nellie's Beach, Barefoot Beach cabanas are available for an additional cost for guests to reserve. Guests may reserve cabanas at Barefoot Beach via the Concierge or via the Excursions desk onboard. These cabanas are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are three kinds of cabanas available for rent at Barefoot Beach
- Standard ($295 per cabana)
- Hilltop ($395 per cabana)
- Over the water ($495 per cabana)
- Beachfront ($395 per cabana)
Barefoot beach cabana layout map
Standard cabanas are in the main part of the beach, surrounded by trees and hammocks. They are ideal for guests who desire easy access to the beach and other activities in port of Labadee. These cabanas are wheelchair accessible; guests will need to able to climb 2 steps.
Hilltop cabanas offer breathtaking views of Labadee and the ship, providing excellent picture opportunities and a quiet environment to relax away from the crowd. These are the most private cabanas. They are not wheelchair accessible and guests need to climb a full flight of stairs and walk across uneven surfaces to gain access.
Over the water cabanas are in a premium location above the ocean, with direct access to the water and beach. These cabanas are not wheelchair accessible, and guests will need to walk in the water and up the stairs to get to the cabana.
Beachfront cabanas are next to the beach at the waters edge with full views of the bay. They are not wheelchair accessible, however guests with limited mobility may access them.
Cabana reservations are for the entire day in Labadee, and charges are per cabana and not per person. Each cabana can accommodate a maximum of up to 6 guests and includes a variety of benefits
- Dedicated cabana attendant service
- Complimentary bottled water
- Complimentary snorkel gear
- Complimentary water floating mats
- Upgraded private BBQ buffet access
- golf cart service to anywhere on Labadee
Upgrade buffet available to Barefoot Beach guests only
Barefoot Beach bar
Royal Caribbean is working with Boldt to provide glow-in-the-dark decking for two of its Oasis class ships, including the cruise lines fourth Oasis class ship.
Royal Caribbean and Boldt have a contract in place to provide Bolideck Glow, which offers energy efficiency savings by reducing lighting requirements. When used outside, it can also harvest energy, storing solar energy generated by day that can be converted into exterior lighting at night. It could also bring safety benefits, Bolidt points out, by illuminating escape routes and signage, as the luminous material ensures decking areas remain highly visible in the dark.
Bolideck Glow will be added to Harmony of the Seas before the end of 2017, as well as on the fourth Oasis class cruise ship, which is scheduled for delivery in 2018. In both cases, the product will be installed in a 350m2 area to add the ‘wow’ factor for cruisers at the top of the 10-deck Ultimate Abyss slide, which will also be used in the dark.
"RCI’s request for a glow in the dark material has coincided with our development of Bolideck® Glow," adds Jacco Van Overbeek, Director, Maritime Division, Bolidt. "This demonstrates how our long-term customers look to us for new decking solutions, while our continuous development program means we are ready to respond. It’s perfect timing, and highlights how we can help designers to convert the wishes of owners into new concepts and innovative features."
Royal Caribbean, Changi Airport Group and the Singapore Tourism Board signed a new multi-million dollar marketing deal to promote cruising out of Singapore to passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.
In a press release, the three entities indicated they intend to bring in about 45,000 tourists flying in to Singapore for a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas between March and June. The partnership is expected to generate more than S$26 million in tourism dollars over this period, it added.
Royal Caribbean also said it will increase the number of homeported sailings in Singapore. The cruise line will have its longest deployment of ships in Singapore from 2017 to 2019, and Ovation of the Seas will also be docked at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre for its first season in Singapore.
“The announcement of Royal Caribbean’s longest deployment for the next three years is a reflection of how multi-sector collaborations like these are vital to developing the local and regional cruise industry. It is these partnerships that enable Royal Caribbean to bring bigger and more innovative ships to Singapore, enhancing the cruise experience for travelers and ultimately growing the industry here,” said Sean Treacy, Royal Caribbean’s managing director for Asia Pacific.
This is the second partnership between Royal Caribbean and the STB and Changi Airport Group, which was signed in August 2015. Royal Caribbean indicated that deal attracted 40% more visitors than its target goal.
The partnership can be extended for subsequent years if it proves to be successful.
Welcome to March! We hope you are having a great weekend and are ready to sit back, relax and catch up with all the latest Royal Caribbean news!
Royal Caribbean announced this week it will recategorize all of its staterooms across the fleet, in an effort to make things simpler for guests and booking agents.
The new categorizations will introduce new category codes that feature intuitive category names. Stateroom category shifts are based on attributes, size, location, and occupancy.
The changes will go into effect with the upcoming 2018-2019 itineraries. With the exception of Quantum of the Seas, all ships and ship classes are affected equally.
Royal Caribbean News
- Royal Caribbean will add lifeguards to its cruise ships.
- A new Royal Caribbean sales promotion began this week for the month of March.
- Deck plans for Oasis 4 (Symphony of the Seas) were released, but then rescinded.
- Our full review of Royal Caribbean's Private Journeys custom shore excursion in Curacao.
- Five things you can do on Anthem of the Seas (and no other cruise line).
- We reviewed dinner at Sabor Modern Mexican on Navigator of the Seas.
- Royal Caribbean released a video of the escape room experience on Harmony of the Seas.
- Take a photo tour of a Grand Suite on Navigator of the Seas.
- Check out this fun souvenir drink cup that looks like the Viking Crown Lounge.
Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast
In this episode, Matt and everyone that was aboard the Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise recorded a review of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. The group discussed their experiences at these islands, and shared recommendations and advice for someone visiting any of these Southern Caribbean destinations on a future cruise.
Royal Caribbean Around the Internet
Wander-Filled Life has a review of their Adventure of the Seas cruise to the Southern Caribbean.
TravelPulse reveals the top cruise trends for 2017.
Cruise Tips TV has a new video about how to pack a carry on bag only for a 7-night cruise.
Cruise Habit explains what happens if the price goes down after you book a cruise.
DuJour shares a drink recipe from the Bionic Bar.
Travel Agent Central talks about the new Royal Caribbean group tour conductor credit benefiting travel agents.
Have you ever considered staying in a suite on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Suites offer a great deal of living space, along with some very nice benefits. The Grand Suite is the first true level of suites, in which guests enjoy the full benefits of staying in a suite.
We recently enjoyed staying in a Grand Suite while onboard Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. Photo of this room are from stateroom 1586.
The Grand Suite can accomodate up to 4 guests and features a spacious living room with desk, drawer space, vanity, sofa, and chairs.
There is a large private bathroom with tub and shower. Emphasis on the word "large", because this bathroom has a lot of space.
The two twin beds can convert to a queen-sized bed and also has a curtain that can completely cut off the bedroom from the rest of the suite.
This Grand Suite has floor-to-ceiling glass doors that lead to your private veranda. The balcony offers a table, chairs and a lounge chair.
The Grand Suite measures 401 square feet with a 104 square foot balcony.
When Royal Caribbean built Anthem of the Seas, they called her a "smart ship", because she offers so many innovations that distinguishes her from not just Royal Caribbean's fleet, but the entire cruise industry. There is a lot to love about Anthem of the Seas, but here are five things that stand out to us as exceptionally fun and cool experiences that cannot be duplicated on other cruise lines.
Live stream anywhere, anytime
Internet connectivity on cruise ships is not new, but having internet speeds fast enough to be able to use Facebook Live, watch Netflix, play XBox Live or Skype friends and family at home is something Anthem of the Seas offers.
Royal Caribbean offers the same kind of high-speed internet service on Anthem of the Seas that you would expect to find on land. It works whether you are docked in port, or somewhere in the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean calls this service, Voom, and it is perfect for (not-so) humbly bragging about how much fun you are having onboard.
If you are thinking high-speed internet at sea must come with high-costs, you would be mistaken. Royal Caribbean offers a variety of internet plans that a cost between $10-$20 per day (with online discounts that bring the price down as much as 30%).
Sky dive at sea
I am certain sky diving is quite exhilarating, but jumping out of an airplane does not sit well with me. The good news is tepid thrill-seekers, such as myself, can experience what it is like to fall gracefully through the sky without fear of ending up like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon on Anthem of the Seas. Ripcord by iFly offers guests of all ages the thrill of skydiving out on the deep blue ocean.
Ripcord is situated on the aft (rear) of the ship and is a large wind tunnel that is 10 feet in diameter and 23 feet tall. Guests don a special suit and enter the wind tunnel, where an instructor assists in achieving the perfect position for optimal "flight".
Did we mention that Ripcord by iFly is included in your cruise fare?
Ride bumper cars
Regardless of age, bumper cars (or dodgems in the UK) are a whimsical ride that highlights the many activities found in the SeaPlex on Anthem of the Seas.
In addition to roller skating and sports throughout the day, bumper cars are available to all passengers who want to try their hand at navigating the bumper car course, while avoiding being bumped and inflicting maximum bumping on others.
Try to escape the Escape room
A great way to challenge yourself, make friends and get a little competitive is to try out the escape room on Anthem of the Seas. The "Escape from the Future" game is a complimentary activity on Anthem of the Seas, where a team of guests try to solve riddles and puzzles to find the key to "escaping" the room.
The challenge of the Escape room is you have just 60 minutes to figure it all out, which forces you and your teammates to consider all options when trying to figure it all out. There are word searches, patterns and other challenges designed to get you thinking in a lot of different directions.
This is different kind of onboard activity that was pioneered by a group called Puzzle Break, which have created similar experiences on in a few cities.
Dine at Jamie Oliver's restaurant
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is known around the world for his incredible culinary offerings, and on Anthem of the Seas, guests can enjoy dinner at a restaurant that Chef Jamie created just for Royal Caribbean.
Jamie's Italian was created by Jamie Oliver because of all the types of food to choose from, he loves Italian the most. Jamie designed the menu to strip food down to its essence, working with simple, quality ingredients with no pretense or ego.
You will find an antipasti plank that's piled high with cured meats, pickles and tempting cheeses, pumpkin panzerotti, Prawn linguine. Plus there is a whole array of antipasti, small plates, a gorgeous selection of grills and tempting desserts that are not to be missed.
Have you been on Anthem of the Seas yet? What is your favorite "I can't believe they put that on a cruise ship" offering? If you have not been on Anthem of the Seas yet, which activity are you most excited to try? Share the answers in our comments!