Excursion Focus: Le Galion Beach in St. Martin

In:
09Jun2016

Picking the right shore excursion for families is always a challenge because depending on the age of your kids, what is appealing to one family might be completely uninteresting to another family.  When you have young kids, the choices become even more complicated.

Just over the French side of St. Martin is a small beach that offers the perfect kind of beach day for young children or anyone that enjoys going to the beach without waves.

Description

The appeal of Le Galion beach is a horseshoe shaped beach that has little to no waves, which makes it perfect for kids that cannot swim or are not strong swimmers. 

The beach is a short drive from where Royal Caribbean docks its cruise ships and just over the French side of the border.  Upon arrival, there is a large cove surrounded by a beach that provides easy access to the water.

There is no cost to access the beach, but there are charges to use the chairs and/or umbrellas (5 Euros for either).  The beach is frequented by tourists and locals alike, with locals usually setting up further down the beach where they can just put out a beach blanket.

The chairs and umbrellas are provided by the nearby bar and restaurant, which offers waiter service and has a full bar menu, as well as a good-sized lunch menu.  

Over the years, the amenities and offerings at Le Galion beach have been improved and there are diving platforms (complimentary), kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skis and more available for hourly charges.

Comments

Le Galion is a quiet family beach that is great for non-swimmers and kids to have a relaxing day.  The beach is a shallow lagoon, and adults can walk out many dozens of yards from shore and not have the water go past their waist.  

Le Galion also tends not to get as crowded as some other beaches frequented by cruise guests.  It is a laid back beach experience that offers just enough for kids to do, without relying on a ton of water toys that can turn the ocean into a virtual playground.

We have brought our children to Le Galion for years because the beach experience is perfect for kids that just want to splash around without fear of getting knocked over by waves or suddenly finding them in deeper water than before.

The cost to use the beach chairs and umbrellas is fair and waiter service that brings drinks and food is pretty good.  There is nothing else around, so you are dependent on the beach bar for food and drink, but their prices are fair for the French side of the island and the staff speak English and French fluently.

If you want a quiet, relaxing beach that has little-to-no waves, then Le Galion beach is perfect for you.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas begins maiden season from Barcelona

In:
09Jun2016

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, began her inaugural cruise season from her summer homeport of Barcelona, Spain this week.

The cruise line says the ship is coming off of receiving stellar guest satisfaction scores and feedback on its first repositioning cruise, from Southampton, U.K. to Barcelona.

The world’s largest cruise ship is sailing an exclusive five-night Western Mediterranean itinerary with visits to Rome (Civitavecchia) and Naples, Italy at full capacity, with guests representing more than 34 countries.

Harmony of the Seas’ inaugural summer season will offer seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries, showcasing Europe’s most popular destinations – Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence (Marseilles), France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. The adventure-packed ship will reposition to the U.S. in November, where she will make Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL her permanent homeport.

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day

In:
08Jun2016

Our blogger, Michael Poole, is aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas and LIVE blogging every day his adventure!

Morning Time 

Well, it’s another sea day on board the Allure of the Seas, and I’d say I took full advantage of the day.

I started my day off with off at the Next Cruise Office booking the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise on Harmony of the Seas, September 16, 2017.

They have a notebook outside the office where you can fill in an appointment time.

The big perk of booking on board is bonus on board credit, which you can take now or push to that cruise. This was a fairly easy process and they pull all your information off the sea pass card. 

Now that I’m excited about my new cruise booking, it was time to head to our pre-arranged bar crawl.

We planned to stop at four bars and then end up at Sabor for lunch. Well after the second bar, I think we all decided to go have some lunch, oh well the bar hop was a good idea right? That’s the beauty about cruising; you can change plans and do what you want. 

Lunch at Sabor 

I know what you must be thinking by now, how many times are you going to eat at Sabor?

Our lunch group was for 10 and the service was a little slower, but that’s expected for a large group.

I had the perfect margarita and the world’s famous guacamole.

They bring a cart over tableside and ask how you would like it prepared: mild, medium, or hot.

For my lunch I went with the chicken quesadilla, not the most exciting thing on the menu but will never let you down.

My total was $10 for the two, so a great option for someone who might be on a budget.

And for those of you who are dying to know, we ordered 6 guacamoles for the table. 

Afternoon on board 

After lunch I had around an hour to kill, so I thought between a nap or swimming for the first time… Well I figure I’ll sleep when I get home, the pool won.

Really surprised myself, but this was my first time in the pool the whole cruise.

The pools have been very busy but I’ve always seen chairs open. I like going to the beach pools because it has tables in between the chairs and umbrella’s to help block some of the sun. 

Mama Mia 

Today we had reservations at Mama Mia and I was so excited about seeing it again.

I saw it a few years back on Broadway when they brought Mama Mia to Quantum of the Seas when she launched.

Our show reservations were for 5pm, but for this show I’d suggest arriving at least 45 minutes early but try for an hour.

If you notice in the picture this was the line at 4pm waiting to get into the show for the prime seat.

The show is two and a half hours long, with a 15-minute intermission.

I’m sad to report I left for coffee at intermission and didn’t return. I was really enjoying the show and they do such a great job, but I was just too sleepy, maybe I should have napped. 

Dinner at Giovanni’s Table 

Tonight we had made reservations for Giovanni’s Table for 13 guests at 8pm. I was really excited about dining here because it’s the best group setting venue with their family style dining.

For our starters, they just brought them all out, so it was fun trying new things you perhaps wouldn’t order before.

I’m a big fan of their lasagna so we contacted our Diamond concierge to have that pre-arranged for us. This is a dish they just serve at lunch, but will often save some for dinner if ask a day before hand.

Our main courses worked the same way; they just brought everything out in the center of the table. At this point in the meal I was getting into what I call a food coma.

The service tonight for a large table like this was absolutely outstanding; we never had empty drink cups, wine glass, ect. After the meal was done, our waiter and chef came out to the table to thank us for dining with them and hoped we had enjoyed their food.

It was funny, because our waiter sat down at the head of the table after to have conversation with us for 10-15 minutes. The cover charge was $25 per person, that also includes gratuities, however we all left extra for their service. 

Well friends today was very action packed from start to finish. At 10:30pm I decided I couldn’t handle anything else except my bed. I wanted to feel very rested for my fun day in St. Maarten. Thanks for following along!

Royal Caribbean offering up to $100 bonus onboard credit during weekend sale

In:
08Jun2016

This weekend only, Royal Caribbean is going to offer up to an additional $100 onboard spending money on top of Royal Caribbean's current offer.

New Royal Caribbean bookings made between June 10 and 14, 2016 on Caribbean and Bahamas sailings departing July 11, 2016 through March 31, 2017 are eligible for the offer.

Offer details

  • Interior stateroom: $25 onboard credit per stateroom
  • Oceanview stateroom: $50 onboard credit per stateroom
  • Balcony stateroom: $75 onboard credit per stateroom
  • Suite: $100 onboard credit per stateroom

This offer is on top of the 1, 2, Free and/or Kids Sail Free deals that debuted this week.

Offer is combinable with current standard/full fare rates, 1,2 Free, Free Children, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military) and Next Cruise offers. Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to Group Standard, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Crown & Anchor Discounts, and Shareholder benefits. 

Offer open to residents of the United States and Canada. 

First time cruisers: Royal Caribbean's Oasis class or Quantum class?

In:
08Jun2016

These days, the latest and greatest Royal Caribbean ships are the Oasis and Quantum class cruise ships and if you are trying to choose between them, it can be difficult to know which is the best choice.

Royal Caribbean has put so much into these amazing new ships, so here is what you need to know about both classes of ships and how they differ.

Quantum class benefits

Royal Caribbean's Quantum class ships are the newest class of ships and have been largely associated with being the most technologically advance cruise ships.

There are three Quantum class ships in service, with two more on order.

  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Unnamed Quantum class ship (to debut in 2019)
  • Unnamed Quantum class ship (to debut in 2020)

The Quantum class ships are best known for excelling in two specific areas: entertainment and dining.

The Quantum class ships offer a great variety of entertainment on its ships. Impressive shows, amazing venues and one-of-a-kind experiences.

Royal Caribbean designed the Quantum class ships to offer some impressive new experiences that stand out.

North Star

North Star is an observation pod that is attached to a giant arm on top of each Quantum class ship. North Star takes passengers 300 feet above the sea to see area around them.

Guests enter the observation pod and then are raised up in the air provide views all around the ship.  Whether in port or at sea, North Star offers the best views on any cruise ship.

Ripcord by iFly

You know what is a lot of fun? Sky diving. You know what is incredibly scary? Jumping out of an airplane.

Ripcord by iFly is the perfect solution, offering a sky diver simulator for guests to enjoy without the risk of jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft.

After a short orientation, guests take turns entering a wind tunnel, where they will experience the sensation of sky diving.

Two70

Royal Caribbean built a brand new venue not available on any other ship with Two70.

Located on the aft of the ship, Two70 offers a sweeping two hundred and seventy degree view of the ocean.  That alone might be a great area to enjoy the view, but there is much more to see here.

Throughout the day, different shows and events will take place.  Chief among them are the Roboshows that feature amazing robot screens that move, dance and synchronize together to provide the kind of show you have never seen.  

Then there's the premier evening show in Two70, which offers a multi-sensory show that combines music, visual effects, acrobats and more to deliver a one-of-a-kind show.

Oasis class benefits

Royal Caribbean's Oasis class redefined what a cruise ship could be and are the world's largest cruise ships in the world.

Everything about the Oasis class is big, and there is a ton of, well, everything to do onboard. 

Like the Quantum class, there are also three Oasis class ships in service with two more on order.

  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Unnamed Oasis class ship (to debut in 2018)
  • Unnamed Oasis class ship (to debut in 2021)

In short, the Oasis class ships offer a lot to see and do.  These ships are the biggest in the world and are packed with entertainment, dining, activities and more.

These ships are divided up into neighborhoods to help guests navigate easily around the ship and feature distinct visual areas of the ship. There is a boardwalk, an entire park in the middle, pools, and a whole lot more.

If your definition of a fun cruise is having plenty to do, then you will love the two FlowRiders, zip line across the Boardwalk, Royal Promenade shopping area, AquaTheater and now water slides.

Slides

While only on Harmony of the Seas, the water slides and Ultimate Abyss slide are truly impressive (and fun) ways to spend your cruise.

Dubbed "The Perfect Storm," three water slides are a beacon for families looking for some high-paced fun.

If that was not enough, there is the tallest slide at sea.  It is 10 stories tall and is an epic adventure. Spontaneous audio effects within each tunnel create a multi-sensory thrill for daring guests willing to test their mettle while traversing 216 feet through the one-of-a-kind slide duo.

AquaTheater

The AquaTheater is a venue on the aft of Oasis class ships that shows original Royal Caribbean productions that will take your breath away.

The AquaTheater shows feature distinct high diving, acrobatic performances with two 10-meter high platforms and hydraulic-floored pool and the largest and deepest freshwater pool at sea.  It all combines to serve as podiums for high-diving, hair-raising aerobatics that AquaTheater audiences have come to love.

It is hard to put into words what AquaTheater shows are all about, but rest assured they are fun and tantalizing entertainment.

More than 20 dining venues

If you love to eat and try lots of different kinds of food, the Oasis class ships offer more dining venues than you can probably dine at in one cruise.

Royal Caribbean stuffed these ships with a great assortment of complimentary and specialty dining that offer something for everyone.

Italian, Hibachi, dry-aged steaks, fresh salads, Mexican are just a whole a few of the great options available.

Royal Caribbean may have added so many restaurants to Oasis class ships as a means of offering enough places for guests to eat, but the class has become a foodie's dream.

Picking the one for you

We think those new to cruising, or at least new to Royal Caribbean, will really love the Oasis and Quantum class ships because of everything they offer.

The reality is you cannot go wrong picking either class, but there are certain advantages each class offers that might have appeal for certain guests.

You should lean towards Quantum class if...

Cruising with teens

Bumper cars, Ripcord, dance clubs and more make the Quantum class a great choice for teens and older kids.  

There are a lot of great activities onboard and it seems to favor older children who want to do it all.

Where you live

If you live in the Northeast United States, Anthem of the Seas is in your backyard and not having to fly is a big deal. Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas serve China and Australia.

Not only does cruising from the a port near your home save money on airfare, but it allows for year-round escapes to the warm and exotic destinations.

Love tech

Quantum class ships offer RFID bracelets, robot bartenders, smart phone planning app, virtual balconies and other "gee-wiz" innovations.

In short, Quantum class ships are about packing in the latest technology that enhances the guest experience instead of defining it.

On the other hand, you should lean towards the Oasis class if...

Want more to do than you can do

The sheer amount of activities and events on Oasis class ships are staggering.  They even have a day time and night time edition of the Cruise Compass, because they cannot fit all the events in one Compass, like on other ships.

If you love variety of activities and want lots of choices, then the Oasis class ships are good for you.

Love getting physical

For those that like to "get out there" and do a lot, then the Oasis class is a great fit.  Two FlowRiders, two rock climbing walls, ice skating, zip lining, mini-golf, running tracks and more are available for those that need a good physical challenge.

The sports facilities on Oasis class ships are truly impressive because of many options there are and the unique opportunities available only on an Oasis class ship.

Need (or want) lots of dining choices

While the Quantum class ships are no slouch in offering great dining, the Oasis class ships just offer a ton of dining choices that cannot be overlooked.

Bars, restaurants and lounges are found all over the ship and that means plenty of variety.  Foodies or just those that are hungry will enjoy the great selection of restaurants that are in all likelihood too many to sample in just one cruise.

Your thoughts

Have you ever set sail on the a Quantum or Oasis class ship? What do you think of it? If you’ve sailed other ships, how do you think it stacks up to those? Any other tips to add or recommendations? If you have questions or thoughts, please share them below and we’ll try to respond!

Aerial photos of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

In:
08Jun2016

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is a truly impressive looking cruise ship, but aerial photos really give you the perfect perspective for appreciating her grandeur.

Royal Caribbean shared these new aerial photos of Harmony of the Seas, taken during her recent inaugural sailings.

Aerial of Ultimate Abyss

Aerial of water slides and pool decks

How much does a Royal Caribbean cruise cost on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
08Jun2016

This week's podcast episode is ready to go, as we present episode 149 of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast for your downloading pleasure.

This week, Matt tries to answer the always tricky question of, "How much does a Royal Caribbean cost?".  There are a lot of aspects that contribute to the total cost, and we take a look at it all.

There's also lots of reader emails to share this week about everything Royal Caribbean.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 149. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS 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!

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
07Jun2016

Michael Poole is live blogging from Allure of the Seas this week. Follow along to see his journey!

Over the years I've started to enjoy the ship just as much, if not more than the actual destinations so any time I have a sea day, I’m in paradise.

Today I woke up and grabbed a coffee at Café Promenade. They have free coffee or you can order one for an up charge. If you have a drink package that includes coffee this is where you us it on Oasis class ships, as the true Starbucks is excluded.

After my coffee I decided to go on the outside track, but sadly not to run! I wanted to enjoy my coffee while taking in the views of the aft of the ships. 

Lunch at Park Café & Sabor 

Lunch today was back at Park Café, there was no line so the first day rush appears to be over. I did not take a picture of my lunch because I got the very same thing as yesterday, roast beef sandwich and a salad.

We were just enjoying each other at Park Café and I made the suggestion to move over to Sabor for a drink.

I actually starting laughing when I got there because, we left one lunch walked straight to the next, I think I know somebody that does that too…

I ordered a spicy margarita and boy was it spicy. I took around three sips and just started to get very and sweating, so I asked the bartender if there was any way to bring the spice down. However, she just suggested making me another drink at no charge.

If you have the premium drink package the margarita’s are included here. We enjoyed most of the afternoon at Sabor 

Formal Night 

Tonight was formal night with the Captain’s reception on the promenade.

One of my favorite spots on formal night is the Schooner Bar by the glass looking over. I arrived here at 6pm to start building our section of seats.

I like sitting here so you are not packed on the promenade. The captain’s reception is a great option if you don’t have the drink package because they hand out free champagne from 8pm.

The captain made talked about how many passengers were on board, where everyone was from, and a little history about the ship. 

Dinner 

Tonight we headed back to the main dining room for dinner.

One of my second favorite meals in the dining room is tonight for the lobster bisque soup and filet of beef. I went with the two orders of soup and double meat on filet of beef.

Tonight’s dinner was going at a much faster pace than last night. I noticed the table beside us tell the waiter they had a show in 30 minutes so their dinner was rushed out to the table. After dinner we went to dazzles where they had a game going to sing the song when they cut the music off. At first I did not think I would like the game, but I stayed and thought it was really fun.

After the game was over the had a live band playing 80’s music, which I loved. 

Tomorrow is another sea day, but it’s action packed with a bar hop, Mama Mia, and Giovanni’s Table!

Royal Caribbean offering kids sail free deal on select sailings

In:
07Jun2016

Beginning today, Royal Caribbean is offering a deal for families where children 12 and under sail free on select sailings when travelling as the third or higher guest in a stateroom.

From June 7 through June 20, 2016, Royal Caribbean is giving free cruise fare to third and higher guests who are 12 years or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom on a 5 nights or longer Caribbean, Bermuda, Dubai, and Europe sailing that departs Sept. 6, 2016-Mar. 9, 2017.

Kids sail free offer is for new bookings and excludes sailings departing between 11/17/16-11/24/16, 12/15/16-1/05/17, 2/16/17-2/23/17 and Harmony of the Seas.

All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests.

1-2-Free Deal

In addition, Royal Caribbean is allowing the Kids Sail Free deal to be combined with another new promotion, where Royal Caribbean is offering every third night of a cruise for free.

The longer you cruise, the more free nights you get:

  • 1 night free for 3-5 night cruises
  • 2 nights free for 6-8 night cruises
  • 3 nights free for 9-11 night cruises
  • 4 nights free for 12-14 night cruises
  • 5 nights free for 15-17 night cruises
  • 6 nights free for 18-20 night cruises
  • 7 nights free for 21-23 night cruises
  • 8 nights free for 24 night cruises

The 1-2-Free deal is available o night cruises booked June 7-July 6, 2016 and applies to cruises that depart on or after July 8, 2016 (excluding China departures). 

The "Free night(s)" issued in the form of a savings applied to the total stateroom cruise fare. The savings amount for each free night is calculated by dividing the total stateroom cruise fare by the number of cruise nights. Savings is deducted from cruise fare at time of booking.

1-2-Free Offer is combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts and rates, Next Cruise offers, and Shareholders benefits. Any dollar-off discounts or promotions, such as Crown & Anchor discounts, are applied first, followed by 1-2-Free Offer, which is applied to final balance.

Offer is not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military) or any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, prior promotions, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

Offer available to residents of the United States and Canada.

Video: Royal Caribbean Premieres Grease Onboard Harmony of the Seas

In:
07Jun2016

Royal Caribbean International is the first cruise line to feature fully licensed, Tony Award-winning Broadway productions, and now the line is bringing Grease to Harmony of the Seas. Get a glimpse of the show's opening night and how it is thrilling audiences.

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