Cruising for women on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
30Apr2014

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

Episode 39 is available for downloading where we look at the "art" of booking back to back Royal Caribbean cruises.

Matt has invited his friend Annette to talk all about cruising on Royal Caribbean for women and what the ladies can look forward to while onboard. Spa, salon, cupcakes and more are here to discuss!

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 39. 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!

Pro tips on how to ride Royal Caribbean's FlowRider (better)

In:
29Apr2014

Royal Caribbean's FlowRider is a very popular (and free) activity aboard select cruise ships but if you're anything like me, you aren't a natural born surfer. 

So we reached out to a couple of professional FlowRider veterans for tips on how to master the art of riding the artificial wave.

Our panel of FlowRider experts include

  • Nick, from All Things Flow13oarding, has been riding the FlowRider for 14 years and is a 7 time bodyboard world champion.
  • Brandon, from Heinen Motorsports, is a pro FlowRider and wakesurfer and uses the FlowRider to tran in the off season.

If you were to give someone brand new to the FlowRider one tip to, what would it be?

Nick: On the bodyboard: Hold the board on the side middle rails, keep your elbows on the board and use your legs in the water for speed and to keep the board straight. And most importantly have fun! 

On the Standup Flowboard: Keep at least a steady 80% pressure/balance on the back foot and lean on your back hip while trying to keep your shoulders balanced and pointing towards the front, Try not to twist and turn your shoulders and try to keep the board straight with your feet and hip. When you go on stay low on your back leg and try to go in a straight line with steady pressure and balance on your feet. About 80% on the back and 20% on the front. If the board starts to turn try to put more pressure on the back so that it straightens out. If you start falling get down lower and try to sit so that you fall safely. 

Brandon: I would say to new flow riders. Jst because you skateboard or snowboard or even wakeboard forget what you know and start from scratch. The flowrider is a beast of its own and there is no other sport that water is rushing at you up to 40 Mph.

What do you think the biggest mistake people new to the FlowRider make in terms of being able to stand up on the board?

Nick: Leaning forwards and jerking the board sideways and twisting your shoulders and hip. You want to try to go in a straight line and keep the pressure down on the board a steady pressure on the back.

Brandon: The trick to flowrider is keeping most of your weight on your back foot. I would say 85% of your weight. Stand up straight and don't hunch over. This keeps your weight more centered. When the board wants to turn just roll with it don't fight it. After a few falls you will be floweriding.

Honestly, how much does it hurt to wipe out on the FlowRider?

Nick: It doesn't really hurt at all! It's much like falling on a trampoline with water as padding. Bodyboarding is a much softer fall so that helps you learn how to fall a little safer.

Brandon: The first few falls might hurt a bit and the next day your neck will be sore. But its all in good fun!

Once you get the whole "standing up on the board" thing, what should people try if they want to learn a trick?

Nick: Stay low so you don't fall as hard and try to go slow; Some of the first tricks you can try are: Carving, 360, Ollie, Shuvit (Board Spin)

Staying low helps you keep your balance and more center of gravity. Recording yourself on video helps a lot and can help show you what you might be doing wrong. Watching videos on youtube helsp a lot as well!

Checkout Pro Flowboarders on our website and youtube! www.13roz.com and www.youtube.com/thirteenareowes. Everything is practice and if you try over and over you'll get it!

Any recommendations on best type of clothing to wear or not wear on the FlowRider?

Nick: The best things to wear are tight board shorts, one pieces, shirts/rash guards. 

You're not allowed to wear accessories so be sure to take off your rings, ear rings etc! You might loose them as well as your bathing suit so be sure to have them on tight! 

Video: Engineering the FlowRider Onboard

In:
29Apr2014

The video features a closer look at the FlowRider surfing simulator, which happens to be one of Royal Caribbean's most popular activities among all ages.

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 4 Falmouth

In:
27Apr2014

We were up early again this morning.

After a quick walk up on the top deck, we made our way down to the diamond lounge for a bagel or muffin. It’s nice that most mornings it opens up before some of the other options.

Then we made our way down to check out the board walk as we wait to arrive in Falmouth. We noticed the donut shop display cases. There was some interesting flavored like key lime as well as old favorites. The girls played around on the little climb and slide play structure next to Rita's for a bit.

We docked around 10:30. Independence of the seas was in port the same day as us. We had booked a day at Rose Hall Hilton for today. We decided to go through a local company because it was less expensive and stayed longer than the excursion offered through Royal Caribbean.

We ended up leaving 45 minutes late because two people never showed, but we still had plenty of time for the day at the hotel.

We had picked this excursion because of the water park and lazy river for the girls! The hotel was about 20-30 minutes from the ship.

An attendant greeted us after making our way towards the pool and pointed out where to get towels and setup chairs for us. The food and drinks were good and the service was very friendly. We probably will be going back in July because the girls had so much fun.

After we made our way back to port, we wanted to walk around for a bit in the port area, but we had to get ready to take the girls to Izumi for their dinner. We were eating at Chops later. The hostess at Izumi sat us at a window table for sunset. We ordered the hot lava rock for cooking beef tenderloin as well as wonton soup. We happened to order shrimp goyoza as well, but the girls discovered they loved those and ate two orders themselves on top of the soup and beef tenderloin.

We also tried the tempura vegetables and spicy tuna roll that's not listed on the menu. The service was great. We did our best to keep the girls from being disruptive in the restaurant. All the food was wonderful!

After dinner, we made our way down to the boardwalk for the girls to make a Pet-at-sea and get some ice cream before turning them in for the night with the sitters.

We had reservations at Chops Grille with our server Emrah from the first night. We had a great night. He remembers everything from options we liked to the wines we ordered.

The mushroom soup, tuna tartare, and French onion soup are amongst my favorites! He had told us to come with an empty stomach so we could try as many different favorites! One thing I noticed is that the desserts seemed to be made much more simplistic in presentation from what we remembered on Enchantment, but the flaming cream brûlée was fun to watch with the dimly lit restaurant.

Chops Grille is always a great option on board and tonight was the same way.

We finished out the night in the casino for 70s night. We wish we could have seen the 70s party but Chops was calling our names and I didn't bring my yellow leisure suit and wig on this cruise. Next time!

Friday Photos

In:
25Apr2014

When Friday rolls around, then we are sharing our readers' best Royal Caribbean photos that they sent in and it's your opportunity to take a "virtual trip" right now to a Royal Caribbean cruise. Let the day dreaming begin!

Our first photo is from Giulio Saggin of Rhapsody of the Seas departing Fisherman Islands in Brisbane, Australia just as a plane is coming in for a landing.  Talk about an action shot!

Here we have a photo of Ronald Estall who could not resist the ice cream on Allure of the Seas, even if it wasn't real.  He did report that it did not taste as good as he thought it would (can't imagine why).

Steven Brinkman sent us this photo of Navigator of the Seas while anchored off Grand Cayman just a few weeks ago! Wish I was there right now.

Here's a photo of AJ Dreyer as Brilliance of the Seas passes under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, Florida.  AJ says this was his first time seeing a cruise ship go under a bridge and he thought it was pretty cool.  AJ, you are 100% correct!

I love this panoramic shot of the Aqua Theater right before a showing of Aqua Aria on Allure of the Seas by John McCormack.

Last we have Oasis of the Seas departing Port Everglades on March 7, 2014 by Ken Slusser.  What a view!

This was another great week of Royal Caribbean photos and if you have a Royal Caribbean photo or two that you want to share, please use this form to send us them all! Have a great weekend!

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 3 Labadee

In:
25Apr2014

After getting up early, we eventually decide to go to Johnny rockets for breakfast. They have made to order omelets, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches.

After breakfast, we checked about the waiting list for cabanas on Labadee, but unfortunately they were all booked.

We made our way off the ship and saw that they had a water taxi over to Columbus cove beach near the aqua trek park. The water taxi saved a lot of time and walking.

We picked out our spot and had a beach attendant set up our chairs and even got a shade tent for over a couple of chairs. We also got a couple of floats for the water to rent for the day.

After playing in the slightly cold water for a bit, it was time for our hour in the aqua trek water park. The aqua park was a lot of fun and very tiring. There were various degrees of difficulty to get on the inflatables or trampolines. My daughter lasted about 25 minutes before she was tired and the life vest was irritating her arms.

Then we made our way over to the Dragons Tail coaster. It had said we needed to be there within the hour before or after, but we used one ticket then and one ticket later with no problem. The coaster was a lot of fun. We were much faster the second time down the coaster. It was a lot of fun and the lines were never that long. While waiting in line, it was fun to watch the people go down the zip line overhead. 

Also, I saw the beach beds that they have added on adrenaline beach. They look nice, but they don't seem to be worth the same price as the private cabanas that are offered for suite guests. 

After the finishing up the first run down the coaster, we had lunch over in Columbus cove. It consisted of the usual burger, hot dog, cole slaw, potato salad, but also had jerk chicken and beef ribs.

After lunch, we were feeling hot on the sand so it was time for Labadoozies! Once our daughters tried them, they ditched the strawberry smoothies for the rest of the trip! We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with beach toys that a local had available to rent and enjoyed one of the beach bands that had always been around Labadee and that music that is so quintessential to Labadee now. I even bought their cd since my youngest daughter enjoyed dancing around the beach to the music.

After our second run down the coaster and another round(s) of Labadoozies, we packed up to head back mid afternoon so our youngest could get a nap in at the nursery on board. One nice touch on the way back was the wet towel drop off right outside the security station on Labadee. After getting back on board, I had a small snack at the wipe out cafe up on the sports deck. They were serving pizza, fries, burgers, hot dogs. I had hoped they would be serving nachos or tacos, but this particular afternoon.

After a short nap, we made our way down to the cupcake board for a decorating class for our daughter. They were making a monkey cupcake. She really enjoyed it and so did I since I got to eat it. She wanted a different flavored that she had seen in the display case.

After Nora's nap and getting dressed, we planned on taking the girls to Izumi for their dinner and some sushi for us. We were going to 150 Park later in the evening. Unfortunately we didn't make reservations and they were booked until later. We made a reservation for the next night and decided on Rita's Cantina.

It was better than I had expected. There was fresh guacamole with chunks of avocado. The steak fajitas were really good!

After dinner, we had tickets to see the aqua show OceanAria.  It was one of the best shows I have seen even compared to a cirque du Soleil show. It held our daughters attention the entire time.

After getting the kids settled in for the night, we were off to 150 Park. The concept of the restaurant is farm to ship. The dinner is a five course tasting menu that was presented to us on a personalized menu for us to keep.

The most interesting part was the different salts to try that could be sprinkled on the unsalted butter for the bread.

The food was very good as well as the service. Here is a list of the courses for the evening.

After dinner, we were off to the casino for the rest of our sitter time.

Royal Caribbean reports first quarter 2014 profit dip

In:
24Apr2014

Royal Caribbean reported its first quarter 2014 results today and its quarterly profit fell by two-thirds due to higher costs and less passenger onboard spending.

Royal Caribbean's net income fell 65 percent to $26.5 million, or 12 cents per share, in the first quarter.

Voyage disruptions, notably six shortened or canceled cruises between January and March hurt Royal Caribbean's bottom line.  Navigator of the Seas was impacted due to an oil spill shutting down Galveston while Adventure of the Seas encountered technical problems that impacted its propulsion.

Demand for European sailings and for China sailings remained particularly strong throughout the period and double digit yield improvements are expected for both products. 

"Despite pressures in the Caribbean, the diversity provided by our global footprint is proving its value. This model has allowed us to take advantage of the strong demand for our European and Asian products, while successfully navigating pressures in the Caribbean," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer.

Royal Caribbean does expect things to get better as 2014 goes forward.  It is expecting double-digit percentage rise in yields in European and Asia Pacific cruises this year. 

Royal Caribbean said booking volumes rose about 18 percent in the past three months. Bookings jumped 20 percent in the past eight weeks.

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 2

In:
23Apr2014

Our day started at 7am. My girls have always been early risers except lately if it's a Monday morning! I took them out to explore the tops decks and other areas.

After letting my wife get a little extra sleep, the girls and I met her in the windjammer for breakfast. We discovered that they don't have an omelet station in the windjammer though another day we discovered you can in the wipe out cafe, MDR, and Johnny rockets.

After breakfast, we went to drop off the girls at camp. Woohoo. We were free! We went down to meet Joan in the MDR for breakfast without the kids.

Then we were off to the solarium to enjoy the kid free time. At first we stayed down below relaxing in the lounge chairs, but then we realized that there were cushioned lounge chairs on the upper level of the solarium. These cushioned lounge chairs were also shaded too and right next to a bar! Yes please! Gentle ocean breezes provided a wonderful relaxing atmosphere and the ride on the ship was still so incredibly smooth! 

The solarium was pretty full but not packed like I expected it to be. After picking the kids up at 12, we took them for lunch at Johnny Rockets. Just outside JR, the girls saw a balloon artist and face painter on the boardwalk and just had to have a poodle on a leash balloon pet. Johnny Rockets wasn't too crowded at all. We sat inside so we could see the action.

I split a Route 66 with Michelle and the girls got cheeseburgers and vanilla milkshakes. The burgers were hot and fresh just like the onion rings. The fries were not so great. The girls enjoyed watching the crew members dance and Dava even joined in the dancing. It was fun to discover that the jukebox machine at our table actually worked. I had always assumed they were just for looks.

Then it was off to the nursery for Nora. They had a cot for her to sleep on which was just like she is used to at her daycare. Dava had a blast playing around the kids’ pool area and lazy river with some friends she made in the morning in camp.

Then Dava and I were off for some boogie board time on the Flowrider. We both enjoyed our first time. We both decided we would need to get the private lesson. Hopefully we can do that in July on Freedom.

Since it was formal night and I forgot my bow tie and vest, I tracked down the tailor and rented a bow tie and cumber bun. 

On my way to see the tailor, the head waiter saw me and stopped me to tell me he had made us a reservation in the MDR tonight at 6:15. Before dinner, we had some pictures taken with the girls in their fancy dresses.

At dinner, he mentioned chops reservation was made as well for us. We mentioned we were going to try the other restaurants this week to on some nights. He offered to make reservations again, but said we hadn't heard back yet. He called his contact again and found out all nights were confirmed except the very last night. He said he would make us our reservations for the specialty restaurants we wanted to do: 150 central, chops, and chef's table.

After dinner, we tucked the girls in when the sitters got to our room. We were off to play some 3 card poker, the Vintages for some more wine and tapas/desserts since we skipped dessert at the end of dinner.

Then we went to our first show of this cruise: Chicago. It was a great show. We really enjoyed it. We usually tend to skip the shows at sea, but the shows this past week on board Allure were anywhere from good to Wow!

Back to back cruises on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
23Apr2014

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

Episode 38 is available for downloading where we look at the "art" of booking back to back Royal Caribbean cruises.

What’s better than a Royal Caribbean cruise? How about two Royal Caribbean cruises? Or even three? Back-to-back cruises are popular among veteran Royal Caribbean cruisers and this week Matt discusses how it all works.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 38. 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!

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 1

In:
22Apr2014

We welcome Royal Caribbean Blog reader Shawn Wallace, who recently sailed on Allure of the Seas and wrote up this "almost live" blog post series to share. Enjoy!

Hi everyone! This is a review of our cruise that started back on April 6th. 

We had booked this cruise last year in July while on board Enchantment. This cruise on Allure was a retirement gift for my wife's mother.

For this cruise, I was traveling with my wife Michelle, our two daughters Dava (6) & Nora (2), and wife's mother Joan. We had selected this particular cruise based on being Spring break week and also take her on an oasis class ship. Since Allure leaves on Sunday, we chose Allure so we could travel down on Saturday. After spending the night with local family, we got to the port around 11 am.

The terminal that Allure was docked at seemed to be small. I wondered how congestion was later in the day. We got through security and checked in within minutes! We had to wait to board until 12pm. At first I thought that might be due to cleaning on board due to norovirus cases from previous cruise which was mentioned in a letter they passed out with our first compass, but now I think it was just due to the time it took to get everyone off.

My first impression when we walked into the promenade was Wow! The promenade was so grand and gorgeous!

We made our way to guest relations to make our requests for sitters at sea which we had hoped for days 2-7 as well as get on the waiting list for a cabana. 

Then we made our way up to Adventure Ocean to register the girls in camp. The nursery lets you pre-scheduled up to 15 hours at first and let us know they can only take a set number of kids which I think was 10-12 but I never saw any more than 4 in there the entire week. From there we made our way to Park Cafe only to find a long line out the door.

We thought after all the comments about Windjammer being crowded and that Park Cafe might be the better idea for lunch. So we decided to go up and try the Windjammer! I loved that they found you a table first. I looked all over but missed the honey stung chicken! Oh well, it's something for me to look for on the next cruise! I did find some great beef curry! My daughter was even able to get the cheese melted on her burger.

After lunch, we made our way down to check out the sports deck. First up was playing a round of mini golf. Then we watched the people on the Flowriders and zip line. After, we wanted to drop off our carry-on baggage and made our way down to our rooms.

We had two rooms on this cruise. We had an ocean view balcony (8714) with our youngest daughter. This room also had a Pullman over the sleeper sofa. Joan and my older daughter had a room across from us in 8715 that had a balcony over the boardwalk neighborhood. When we got to our room, our bags were already waiting on us.

After getting unpacked, it was time for our muster station. Thankfully it was in the main dining room. This was a great change from being outside next to the lifeboats. I missed the sail away party as our youngest daughter passed out during the muster drill, but I thought sleep would be better for her and give me a chance to look over the compass before dinner.

We made our reservations for My Time for 6:30. After changing, we made our way down to deck 5.

Tonight is where we met the best dining room staff we have ever had wait on us. Our assistant waiter, Emrah, for this evening was normally a waiter in Chops. We mentioned that we would be making a reservation later this week when we knew what nights we had sitters at sea. Emrah was so lively and engaging with us and our kids.

While we were talking to Emrah, our head waiter happened to walk by while we were talking about chops. He spoke up and said he would make us a reservation, but we explained we didn't know our plans yet. He called guest services himself on the spot and found out that we were confirmed for the next night. He had us a reservation for chops that we would later have to change, but what wonderful service. He gave my wife his business card with his extension if we needed anything! I say this because of all the extra help and changes he made for us just like that the rest of week! We were his VIP even though I could tell he made everyone feel like that!

I had the great bay scallops dish that was a great replacement especially for when escargot was not available. My second appetizer was the watermelon raspberry soup followed by prime rib.

After dinner we checked out the arcade after hearing earlier in the day that the games would be free for an hour. Unfortunately we missed the free hour, but the girls got plenty of games in that night. Then we were off to the ice cream parlor for a little treat before turning in for the night to let them get some rest. I noticed this evening on our way out that this ship was going to be so smooth!

The first day, I never felt it rock or the vibration of the engine! After checking out the compass for the next day, we called it a night.

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