Royal Caribbean adds Cuba cruises from Fort Lauderdale on Majesty of the Seas

In:
21Nov2017

Royal Caribbean released a new batch of 2018-2019 sailings to Cuba on Majesty of the Seas from Fort Lauderale, Florida.

These new sailings are available for booking and begin in November 2018 and extend through March 2019.  There are also a number of other Majesty of the Seas sailings from Fort Lauderdale, that visit destinations in the Western Caribbean.

Majesty of the Seas will offer 4- and 5-night sailings to Cuba, including some overnight stays.

First look at Royal Caribbean 2019-2020 Short Caribbean itineraries

In:
20Nov2017

Royal Caribbean will be putting on sale this week its 2019-2020 Short Caribbean itineraries, and we have a look at the various itineraries that will be available.

The new bookings will go on sale tomorrow, November 21st, 2017.

You can view each ship's sailings here:

The opening schedule for the 2019-2020 sailings is as follows:

  • Northeast, Canada & Bermuda: Summer 2019: Week of December 4, 2017
  • Europe Phase I & Alaska: Summer 2019: Week of December 11, 2017
  • Remaining deployment: Spring 2018

Live Blogging from Independence of the Seas - Preamble

In:
20Nov2017

Welcome to our next Royal Caribbean adventure, onboard the beautiful Independence of the Seas! Each day, I will be LIVE blogging to share with you what it is like to cruise on a ship as feature-packed as Independence of the Seas.

We are taking a four-night Western Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades on Independence of the Seas.  On this cruise, we will celebrate Thanksgiving on a Royal Caribbean ship for the second time, and take a sailing on Independence of the Seas for the first time.

Why we chose this cruise

Believe it or not, taking a cruise over Thanksgiving was not my first idea.

Two years ago, we took a cruise on Brilliance of the Seas over Thanksgiving and found it to be a great getaway cruise.  Four nights is short, but since the kids are off of school and I even have a few built in days off, so it is an easy logistical vacation.  The issue, however, is telling my family we are going to go on a cruise instead of a traditional Thanksgiving holiday.

As it turns out, my parents informed us they would be travelling this year over Thanksgiving and so, the gears in my head began turning and to no one's surprise, we began looking for a cruise.

Independence of the Seas was a great choice for us, because the sail dates lined up well with the built-in days off and trying a ship that was new to us sounded like a great combination.

Our plans onboard

This is our first time on Independence of the Seas, but not our first time on a Freedom class ship.

Of all the Royal Caribbean ships, I have been on Freedom of the Seas the most, and we have really enjoyed our time on the Freedom class.  While Independence of the Seas has not yet had a recent refurbishment like her two sister ships (it is coming in April 2018), we are excited to try a different Freedom class ship.

We booked two connecting balcony staterooms, which means the kids can sleep in their own room.  That is important to us, because it gives us all a bit of separation, and we can ensure the kids get to sleep on time while allowing my wife and I to stay up later.

Being that it is a shorter sailing than we usually take, I think our family is looking to enjoy some time simply relaxing onboard.  I know my kids are mostly concerned with getting in plenty of swim time, ice cream, and Sorrentos pizza.

I am most curious to see how Independence of the Seas compares to her sister, Freedom of the Seas.  Based on reputation, I know they are very similar ships, but I am looking forward to trying the ship for myself. Plus, with so much attention on the new ships in the fleet, it is great to spend some time seeing an established and well-loved ship like Indy.

Our plans on shore

We only have one port call, Cozumel, and wanted to try something different for our visit.

Usually, we visit Cozumel on longer sailings and opt to leave the kids onboard while my wife and I do some shopping and dining.  On this cruise, however, Cozumel is our only port stop, so we wanted to ensure everyone in the family got a chance to spend some time together on an excursion.

Ultimately, we chose to visit a very well reviewed all-inclusive resort in Cozumel, Nachi Cocom. Over the years, I have heard a lot of favorable reviews of Nachi but have never had a chance to see it myself.  We were surprised to find very reasonable prices for our kids, and it offers the three most important things I look for in any beach excursion: pool option, shade, and good bar/food service.

Based on reputation, I am looking forward to what I expect to be a new adventure in the cruise port I have been to the most times.

Our Itinerary

Three things I am excited to try

3. Grease

Did you know that Independence of the Seas features the Broadway musical, Grease?  In addition to Harmony of the Seas, Grease is offered on Independence of the Seas.  

Not only am I excited to see Grease again, I am curious to see how the production stacks up on Independence of the Seas after seeing it on Harmony of the Seas.  My expectation is that it should be indistinguishable from the Harmony version, but this is the first time I have been able to compare show productions across ships.

2. Self disembarkation

Let me be clear, I am never excited for disembarkation day. However, there is a new Royal Caribbean experience wrapped up in this otherwise depressing last morning of the cruise.

Our cruise ends on a Monday, and I have to get back home for work and my oldest daughter needs to get home for school.  Thus, we are going to take our own luggage off the ship and attempt to get off the ship early so that we can drive home and make it back in time.

1. Swim on embarkation day

We have never taken the advice of bringing our swim suits for an embarkation day swim, but I think we are going to give it a try this time around.  My kids love to swim, so we are going to pack swimsuits in our carry-on luggage and try it out after we get onboard and eat (waiting 30 minutes after eating, of course).

The only way this may not happen is if the weather does not cooperate.  This time of year, it is a bit cooler than usual in Florida, but while my kids will not mind at all, as the supervising adult, I will definitely mind if it is cool out!

What's next

Our Independence of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, November 23rd, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 19, 2017

In:
19Nov2017

We wrapped up a busy week of Royal Caribbean fun, but if you missed any of it, we have it all wrapped up nicely for you in this weekly news round-up!

Royal Caribbean began releasing its 2019-2020 itineraries, starting with the 7-night Caribbean sailings across six ships.

Bookings opened up earlier this week for Allure, Freedom, Harmony, Liberty, Oasis, and Symphony of the Seas.  Bookings will open next week for short Caribbean summer 2019 sailings.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Podcast

The 224th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, which features Matt's take on Royal Caribbean's recent tech announcement.

In this episode, Matt reviews what was announced by Royal Caribbean in its Project Excalibur reveal.  Matt talks about why each of these new innovations represent a major shift in the guest experience.

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

Travel Agent Central talks with a Royal Genie, to get a sense of what to expect from Star Class.

The Cruisington Times shared what they saw at Royal Caribbean's tech announcement.

Eat Sleep Cruise has a list of 10 foods you must try on Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Grand Loft Suite Photo Tour

In:
18Nov2017

Have you ever wondered what the Grand Loft Suite on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas looks like? Today, we are happy to share a photo tour of one such room.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michael C. took photos of his room from a recent Anthem of the Seas sailing.  These photos are from stateroom 10724.

Main level

Main level bathroom

Upper level

Upper level bathroom

Royal Caribbean completes Adrenaline Beach work in Labadee

In:
17Nov2017

After a few months of work, it appears at least some of the beach enhancements at Adrenaline Beach on Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee are complete.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader twangster shared photos from his visit to Labadee that occured today.

In September 2017 there was construction on the Labadee beach with areas sectioned off by fences.

The work is now complete and they have introduced small bump outs into the water complete with palm trees as a mini-oasis.

There are three such areas under the length of the zip-line.

This side of Labadee faces the Atlantic Ocean and large rocks serve as a break wall to protect from crashing waves

.

Each of the three bump outs feature a number of palm trees for shade.

These areas provide a relaxing panoramic view of the water complete with the sound of waves crashing against the rocks to soothe you to sleep as you enjoy a Labradoozie.

Unrelated to Adrenaline Beach, the over the water cabanas at Barefoot Beach are still missing. Those cabanas are missing due to recent hurricane damage.

6 cool features coming to Royal Caribbean's new smartphone app

In:
17Nov2017

Royal Caribbean made big headlines with their recent tech announcement that will usher in a new generation of smart technology to enhance the guest experience. At the heart of this new initiative is a brand new smart phone app that the company has been working on in earnest to provide a seamless experience online.

The new app is packed with features, and we picked our six important ones you should be aware of before using it.

6. Track your luggage

With the new app, guests can see exactly where their luggage is on embarkation day to know precisely when it has been delivered to their stateroom.

This feature means you do not have to play the game of walking back to your room on a number of occasions to see if luggage has been delivered.  Instead, simply open the app and follow the luggage's status, just like you would a package in the mail.

5. Book shore excursions and dining reservations

From the palm of your hand, you can manage your shore excursions and dining reservations onboard your Royal Caribbean ship.  This is great for when you are at the pool, breakfast table, or milling about in your stateroom and have your family around to make a decision.  Open the app, select the option you want and you are all set.

The new app means guests can quickly manage their onboard and on shore plans without making a trip to Guest Services, or anywhere else onboard.  This means less lines to wait in, and no restaurant phone extensions to look up.

4. Chat with friends

A really common question we get asked is how to stay in contact with friends and family on a Royal Caribbean ship.  The new Royal Caribbean app will allow for easy text communication, and no internet plan is required.

Unlike Royal Caribbean's previous smart phone app, Royal iQ, there is no additional cost to use the texting feature in the app.  This means everyone can easily communicate onboard and synch up.

3. Interactive Cruise Compass

Carrying around a paper copy of all of the events and remembering to pack a highlighter is so twentieth century.  With Royal Caribbean's app, you can easily see what events and activities are occurring onboard.

Moreover, you can add any Cruise Compass entry to your own personal calendar, so you never forget which events you wanted to check out.

2. Board the ship even faster

Royal Caribbean wants to streamline the check-in process to the point that it is as simple as walking in.  Forget the forms to fill out, pictures to take, or agents to speak with.  The new app will allow for a "frictionless check-in" that gets you onboard your ship very quickly.

Royal Caribbean is utilizing technologies ranging from facial recognition to RFID tagging to GPS mapping to Bluetooth-enabled beacons to streamline boarding, manage check-ins automatically and improve wayfinding.

This means other than the security check, there are no lines to stand in.

1. Order drinks to delivered to you

By far the most intriguing feature of the new app is the option to order beverages and have them delivered to wherever you happen to be seated or standing.

You simply order the drink from the app, and the bar staff use software on their end to triangulate your position.  The waiter has a photo of you that you took when you set up the app, so it is easy enough to track you down and deliver your drink.

This means there is no more trying to flag down a waiter, or squirm your way to the bar in hopes of getting an order in among other guests competing to do the same.

Which feature are you most excited about to use? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday Photos

In:
17Nov2017

If you're ready for a mental escape to a Royal Caribbean cruise, then you're at the right place because we have some great Royal Caribbean photos our readers have sent in.  Each week we ask our readers to send us their best Royal Caribbean photos to showcase right here on the blog so be sure to send yours in too!

First up this week is a photo by Thomas Bissland of Empress of the Seas docked in Havana, Cuba.  

Pascal Everard sent in this photo  of Jewel of the Seas in Santorini, Greece.

Next is a photo of Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas side by side in Cozumel, taken by Stephanie Bally.

JV Miranda took this photo while trying out Ripcord by iFly on Quantum of the Seas.

Robert Snipes took this photo from Rhapsody of the Seas as the ship approached the Dawes Glacier in Alaska.

Here is a look at Singapore, as seen from Mariner of the Seas.  Photo by Connor.

Our final photo this week is by Nicole DiChristina of Allure of the Seas in Cozumel.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their photos this week.  Be sure to send your photos in as well by using this form.

Royal Caribbean redeploying four cruise ships for 2018-2019

In:
16Nov2017

Royal Caribbean informed travel partners that four of its cruise ships will be redeployed in 2018-2019.

In an unusual occurrence, Royal Caribbean is changing the deployment of ships that have already been announced.  Much of the change is merely swapping one cruise ship for another, but there are some cancellations included as well.

Majesty of the Seas will move to Tampa for sailings between 6/22/18 - 4/29/19.

The following Majesty of the Seas sailings are being cancelled: 5/7/18 - 6/18/18.

Guests on these canceled sailings will have their ship changed to Enchantment of the Seas.

Empress of the Seas sailings for 5/9/18 - 3/30/19 will be changed to Majesty of the Seas.

In addition to the change in ship, the 6/25/18, 8/6/18, 9/3/18, 9/17/18, and 10/1/18 sailings' itineraries will be modified.

Enchantment of the Seas will move to Port Canaveral, Florida for sailings between: 5/4/18 - 4/15/19

Guests on these sailings will be moved to Vision of the Seas, a ship in the same class.

The following Enchantment of the Seas sailings are being cancelled: 6/23/18 - 3/13/19 & 4/19/19.

Vision of the Seas is being moved to Galveston. 

The following Vision of the Seas sailings are being cancelled: 3/9/19 - 4/13/19.

New sailings will be open and ready to book on November 21st, 2017.

Royal Caribbean offering bonus instant savings with Thanks & Thrills sale

In:
16Nov2017

Royal Caribbean's Thanks & Thrills Sale starts today, which offers bonus instant savings.

Guests can save up to $100 instantly when they book Royal Caribbean cruises between November 16 - 20, 2017 11:59 p.m. EST on sailings departing on or after December 16, 2017.

The Thanks & Thrills sale offers

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest who must be booked in the same stateroom as a first guest who books at full fare
  • 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests
  • Thanks and Thrills sale provides 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
    • $100 savings for Suites on sailings 6 nights or longer

Deck the Holidays and Thanks and Thrills offer exclude China departures.

BOGO offer is combinable with NRDB OBC, promotional OBCs and instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Deck the Holidays and Thanks and Thrills are combinable with each other, NextCruise offers, NRDB OBC, and restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but is not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. BOGO50 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.

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