Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale offers bonus onboard credit

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale is back, with an opportunity to get up to $200 to spend at sea, plus up to $100 extra on sailings booked 6+ months in advance with a non-refundable deposit.

The WOW Sale applies to cruises booked between July 25 – 29, 2018 on sailings departing on or after August 25, 2018.

The offer includes:

  • "BOGO" Offer includes 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
  • 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.
  • Up to $300 onboard credit (OBC) when booking a non-refundable rate 6 months or more prior to cruise departure date and up to $200 OBC if booking a sailing less than 6 months prior to cruise departure date.
    • Sailings 5 nights and less
      • $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View
      • $75 OBC for Balcony
      • $100 OBC for Suite
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $75 OBC for Interior and Ocean View
      • $125 OBC for Balcony
      • $200 OBC for Suite
    • Onboard credit excludes China departures.
  • Kids Sail for Free Offe
    • Offers free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe and Hawaii sailings departing between August 31, 2018 – May 14, 2019.
    • The Kids Sail Free Bonus excludes sailings between November 17 – November 23, 2018, sailings between December 17, 2018 – January 1, 2019, sailings between February 15 - 18, 2019, sailings between March 16 – 30, 2019 and sailings between April 13 - 22, 2019
  • Deck the Holiday Deals
    • Sale offers instant savings of up to $150 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
    • Sailings 5 nights or less
      • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View
      • $75 for Balconies
      • $75 for Suites
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View
      • $100 for Balconies
      • $150 for Suites
    • Valid on sailings between December 17, 2018 – January 1, 2019 and sailing between December 19, 2019 – December 31, 2019 NRDB

BOGO and Deck the Holiday Deals are combinable with each other as well as with WOW Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. BOGO and Kids Sail Free are combinable with each other as well as with WOW Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. WOW Sale is combinable with NRDB OBC, OBC, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. 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. G

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

Trying to answer the most common Royal Caribbean question

By: Matt Hochberg

One of the most common questions someone new to Royal Caribbean has is how good is a certain Royal Caribbean ship.  Or if a certain ship is too old/new/boring/outdated/flashy these days.  Or better yet, a question along the lines of, "I read a lot of negative reviews about ____ of the Seas, so should I not go on it?".

Based purely on the frequency of these types of questions, we wanted to tackle the general notion of trying to answer this question.  Interestingly enough, the answer is to question the inquiry itself.

Cruise ships are not like takeout diner

Arguably one of the best uses of the internet is the ability to research any venue, show, eatery, book and get instant feedback on how good or bad it is.  Websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google and Rotten Tomatoes have all built their reputations on giving consumers the opportunity to share their experience and thoughts.  So when it comes to a cruise ship vacation, why not apply the same logic?

The reality is cruise ships offer such a varied and experiential vacation that it cannot be properly reviewed in its entirety based on a single experience.  Cruises are by their very design a "create your own adventure" experience.  You could sit at the pool every day of the cruise and never do one activity, whereas the guy next to you could be zip lining, crocheting, belly flopping and dancing the night away.  In short, we all cruise differently.

The age of a ship is equally irrelevant to determining how good or bad it is.  Cruise ships are not like the family car that you own.  In most cases, people buy a car, but never add significant new features after purchasing it.  Cruise ships undergo extensive refurbishments periodically and regular maintenance every few years.  While you could probably look at the corners of a room and see a piece of rust or inspect the upholstery of a chair for worn material, those aspects are superficial and irrelevant to the overall experience. 

...but I read bad things about that ship

Negative reviews have a powerful effect on everyone.  Think about a time someone shared a rotten experience involving a certain restaurant, movie, book or car repair shop and how quickly you probably abandoned any consideration of trying it yourself.

The thing to remember is one person's experience is not indicative of what yours will be.  Think about broccoli.  I could find hundreds of people who hate broccoli and never want to eat it ever again. I could find another few hundred people that love broccoli, and think it is really good.  Then of course you have people who have written negative reviews of Star Wars, chocolate, newborn babies and Alf.  All that proves is we have different tastes in things.

There was a great piece in the New York Times titled, "Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews" and it starts off with this wonderful fact:

"The Great Wall of China has more than 9,000 Google reviews, with an average of 4.2 stars. Not bad for one of the most astonishing achievements in human history."

One of the greatest feats of mankind left some people questioning how good it really was.  This is why those people that gave Anthem of the Seas a one star review is frankly ludicrous. The fact negative reviews exist about any Royal Caribbean ship is not a sign of a pitfall or disaster waiting to happen.  Rather, it just goes to show you that you cannot please everyone.

I really love this line from that Times article, which really sums up why online reviews are anything but a definitive way of booking a cruise, "Reviews are subjective, and the tiny subset of people who leave them aren’t average."

The answer is the always the same

Inevitably when someone asks what I think of a certain Royal Caribbean ship, or if they should avoid a certain ship, I always give the same answer because it applies to every single Royal Caribbean ship in the fleet.

They are all great ships and you can have a great time on any of them.

No ship in the fleet is inherently flawed, and no ship is a mistake to sail on.  Are some ships older than others? Of course, that is a chronological fact.  But age does not make a ship better or worse than another.

I firmly believe anyone can have a great time on any Royal Caribbean ship.  It just comes down to a few simple steps you need to take before stepping foot onboad, which are truths that can be applied to any sort of travel:

  1. Cruise with an open mind
  2. Be flexible
  3. Research before booking what the ship does and does not offer

What you should do instead of reading reviews

First and foremost, stop reading online reviews of these ships.  They are at best a quirky form of entertainment, and certainly not a proper barometer of what makes a ship great or not.

What you want to to do instead is look into what features, amenities and entertainment a ship offers and figure out if that is what you are interested in. You need to figure out what you are looking for in a cruise and then see which ship might be a better fit for you.

Some Royal Caribbean ships have water slides, and some do not.  Some have Broadway shows and some do not.  Some have FlowRider surf simulators and some do not.  Some have a multitude of specialty restaurants and some have just a couple. Which of these matters to you? 

The key to going on a great ship is going on a ship that offers the kind of experience that will appeal to you.

One story I like to tell is about a man at the Solarium pool on Brilliance of the Seas that I struck up a conversation with on a past cruise.  We talked about a few topics before he complained, "this ship is terrible.  We went on Oasis of the Seas last time and there was so much more to do."

Naturally I just smiled and went whatever he said to avoid an awkward exchange.  But deep down, I wanted to respond that of course Oasis of the Seas will offer much more to do than Brilliance.  Oasis of the Seas is more than double the size of Brilliance (225,000 GT compared to 90,000 GT).  More space equals more options to pack into the ship.  

Had this person done some research into Brilliance of the Seas, they would have realized that they clearly enjoy the type of experience Oasis of the Seas offers, and the Brilliance of the Seas does not have a number of the onboard activities and entertainment that Oasis of the Seas.  It does not make Brilliance of the Seas a bad ship, just a different one.

What you want to focus on

Now that you know what not to worry about (general reviews of ships), you should know that learning about a ship is still a great idea.  You ought to focus on figuring out what you want from the cruise and which ships offer things to do that appeal the most to you.

If you do not have kids, then picking a ship with a large Adventure Ocean space or DreamWorks Experience may not really matter much.  If you consider yourself a foodie, then a Royal Caribbean ship with lots of specialty dining options might be something to lean towards.

Essentially, you want to look at what the ship and itinerary offer, and determine which combination might be the best option for you.

Your thoughts

How much have online reviews played a role in determining which ship you do or do not cruise on?  Does the ships' age matter in your decision making? Please share your experiences when it comes to recommending one ship over another in our comments.

Royal Caribbean issues update on San Juan, Puerto Rico recovery

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has issued a new update to guests who are concerned about the status of San Juan, Puerto Rico in the aftermath of damage caused by the 2017 hurricane season.

The cruise line reports that, "tremendous progress has been made with recovery efforts across the island," and that rebuilding tourism and consumer confidence is a top priority.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company continues to collaborate with government agencies to make strides towards a full recovery. Hotels, communities, and local organizations have focused their efforts on the restoration of tourist areas to ensure guests receive a fantastic vacation experience. Most hotels are fully operational and Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) is fully functional welcoming domestic and international visitors.

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding cruising in or out of San Juan. This information was up to date as of July 24, 2018.

Is the port of San Juan open and fully functional? 

Yes, San Juan Harbor is open and has resumed all homeporting operations.

Have airports in Puerto Rico returned to normal flight patterns?

Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan is fully operational with scheduled domestic and international flights. Other airports in surrounding areas are functioning, as well. In addition, main transportation companies, as well as taxi drivers, are available and providing ongoing service to visitors

Have hotels reopened?

At this time, most of the hotels are available and fully operational across the island. In addition, over 4,000 restaurants and approximately 200 casinos and other tourist attractions are open.

Has electrical power been restored across the island?

Though some residential communities throughout Puerto Rico remain without power, San Juan has been restored and is fully operational.

What attractions and/or tours are available for cruise guests to participate in?

The capital city of San Juan is currently the best vacation destination in Puerto Rico and is tourist ready. The beaches of San Juan and nearby Isla Verde make it easy to understand why Puerto Rico is referred to as “The Island of Enchantment” and “The Land of a Thousand Blessings”. There are nearly 60 shore excursions available to choose from, including but not limited to the following:

  • Old San Juan / Old City shops
  • Plaza Las Americas (Mall of San Juan)
  • Biking, Segway, & Walking tours
  • Food tours
  • Yoga on the Green

What humanitarian efforts are available should cruise guests wish to assist?

Tourism plays an instrumental role in the recovery of Puerto Rico’s overall economic status, impacting local jobs and livelihood. Now more than ever, recovering Caribbean islands need you.

Royal Caribbean wins top awards at AFTA National Travel Industry Awards 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean International was named "Best Cruise Operator, International" and "Best Cruise Operator, Domestic" at the AFTA National Travel Industry Awards 2018. 

The annual event was held on Saturday night, and since 2005, Royal Caribbean has received the Best Cruise Operator award nine times.

“We are so grateful to our travel agent partners for their incredible and unrelenting support, year after year,” said Kathryn Valk, Director of Marketing and Sales, Royal Caribbean International Australia and NZ. “We’ll never stop bringing our guests the industry’s most adventure-packed cruise holidays, with some of the best dining, entertainment and accommodations in the world, and we’ll continue coming up with innovative ways to work seamlessly with our agents.”

New Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in PortMiami photo report

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in PortMiami is under construction, and we have a look at the progress being made.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Lovetocruise2002 took photos of the new Terminal A building while sailing away on a cruise over the weekend.

The new state-of-the-art terminal at PortMiami will be home to Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas. Once completed in October 2018, Royal Caribbean will implement the best technologies to deliver a state-of-the-art guest experience.

Voyager of the Seas makes maiden call at Manila, Philippines

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas made her first visit ever to the capital of the Philippines this past weekend.  Voyager is one of the largest ships to call at any Filipino port.

Photo by Royal Caribbean International

To celebrate the maiden call at Manila, a traditional plaque exchange ceremony was held onboard between Voyager of the Seas’ Captain Sindre Borsheim and local officials namely Mr Francisquiel Mancile, Port Manager of Philippine Ports Authority and Mr Patrick Chan, Vice President for Operations of Asian Terminals Inc.

Voyager of the Seas' visit to Manila was part of a 4-night sailing from Shenzhen.

"Royal Caribbean strives to provide every traveler with the vacation experience they deserve," said Ms Marilen Yaptangco, International Representative of Royal Caribbean International in the Philippines. "This quick stop on Philippine shores is an opportunity for us to showcase the world-class offerings of Voyager of the Seas to Filipinos."

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: July 22, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

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's Gifts website has expanded to offer Royal Caribbean branded souvenirs that can be delivered directly to your home.

Gift items include, but are not limited to T-shirts, Polo Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hats, Visors, Flip Flops, Totes, Tumbler Cups, Glass Mugs, Sunglasses, and Gift Certificates. A wide selection of gift items are fully customizable and ready for purchase.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 259th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt talks about the written and unwritten rules of cruising etiquette.

In this episode, Matt goes over cruising customs that guests should be aware of prior to cruising.

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.

New RCB Video: How to cruise like a Royal Caribbean Pro

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — 8 Things Royal Caribbean Pros Do, and You Should Too! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Mommy for the Win shared the ultimate survival guide to cruising with a baby.

Barrons interviewed Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chief Financial Officer about how Royal Caribbean is leading the industry.

Cruise Fever wrote about a fitness themed cruise that will sail on Mariner of the Seas.

Photo tour of Junior Suite stateroom on Explorer of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Lots of Royal Caribbean fans relish a stay in a Junior Suite (JS) and today, we have a look at one of the Junior Suites from Explorer of the Seas to give you an idea of what to expect if you book a similar stateroom.

We stayed in this particular room aboard a June 2018 Explorer of the Seas sailing from Seattle, Washington. These photos come from stateroom 9614 on deck 9, which is on the "hump" of the ship.

This type of Junior Suite offers 277 square feet of living space.

A private balcony offers 50 square feet of space outside.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean thermal spa pass online

By: Matt Hochberg

It appears that guests can now pre-purchase thermal spa access via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

Up until now, passes to the thermal spa were only sold onboard the ship.  A new "Relaxation Areas" subcategory has been added to the Spa & Fitness area of the Cruise Planner, with two available options: S.E.A Thermal Wellness Experience Week Pass and S.E.A Thermal Wellness Experience Couples Week Pass. Shoutout to Royal Caribbean Blog reader firebuck for alerting us to this new option.

Only Royal Caribbean's Oasis, Quantum and Radiance Class ships offer a thermal spa, and we have spotted this new option for sale on select Symphony of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas sailings.

Select Royal Caribbean ships offer a thermal spa, which is a collection of services that can be enjoyed on your own.  The exact options will depend on your ship, but usually it includes

  • hot stone chairs
  • rainforest shower room
  • infrared sauna
  • steam room

This new option may not be available on all ships or sailings, so check the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner under the Spa & Fitness tab to see if it is available on your upcoming cruise.

Royal Caribbean offering bonus onboard credit on cruises booked this weekend

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Explore More Sale kicks off this weekend, where guests can get 50% off the second guest, Kids Sail Free and up to $200 to spend at sea.

The Explore More Sale is valid on cruises booked between July 20 - 23, 2018 on sailings departing on or after 8/20/18.

Offer includes: 

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
  • 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.
  • Up to $200 onboard credit when booking a non-refundable rate 6 months or more prior to cruise departure, and up to $100 OBC if booking a sailing less than 6 months prior to cruise departure date. Onboard credit is determined by sailing length and category booked:
    • $25 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $50 OBC for Balcony and $75 OBC for Suite on sailings 5 nights and less.
    • $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 OBC for Balcony, and $100 OBC for Suite on sailings 6 nights or longer.
  • Kids Sail Free
    • Free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe and Hawaii sailings departing between 8/31/18 – 5/14/19.
    • The Kids Sail Free Bonus excludes sailings between 11/17/18 – 11/23/18, sailings between 12/17/18 – 1/1/19, sailings between 2/15/19 – 2/18/19, sailings between 3/16/19 – 3/30/19 and sailings between 4/13/19 – 4/22/19.

Offer open to residents of US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries in the Caribbean.