Royal Caribbean confirms new dining option on Anthem of the Seas

In:
02Feb2015

Royal Caribbean confirmed our earlier report that a new dining option will be added to Dynamic Dining that will offer passengers a more traditional dining experience called Classic, where guests will rotate among the complimentary restaurants each night of their cruise with the same wait staff each evening.

Royal Caribbean issued a statement that Dynamic Dining Classic will be a new option for guests to consider in addition to the existing Dynamic Dining program and will debut first on Anthem of the Seas in April 2015.

Classic dining will offer two set dinner seating times for guests who prefer a traditional cruise dining style.

Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the four main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening. Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” dining option will be available for pre-booking early March.

Royal Caribbean Brand Communications Manager Harrison Liu also discussed the future of Dynamic Dining, "As we continue to gather guest feedback we will evaluate ways to continue to elevate the Dynamic Dining experience to give our guests the choices and flexibility we know they desire.  As we introduce Dynamic Dining to other ships in the fleet, further dates and details will be confirmed. "

Dynamic Dining Classic is part of an effort by Royal Caribbean to improve the Dynamic Dining Experience.  In the last few weeks on Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has introduced new menu options at the four complimentary restaurants, increased staffing levels in the complimentary restaurants and added Devinly Decadence as a complimentary restaurant.

Royal Caribbean offering free unlimited alcohol package to UK residents

In:
02Feb2015

Royal Caribbean UK is offering complimentary unlimited beer and wine packages for select 2015 cruises to residents of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Those that book a Royal Caribbean cruise of six nights or more between February 1 and 28, 2015 will be eligible for the Select beverage package, which includes unlimited

  • Beer
  • Wines by the glass (up to $8 value)
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Unlimited fountain sodas with free souvenir cup

In addition, guests will receive up to $400 to spend onboard in onboard credit.  

  • 6-13 nights: $150 onboard credit per stateroom
  • 14 nights or more: $400 onboard ctedit per stateroom

There's also just a £50pp deposit required.

This deal is good for all sailings except China itineraries as well as Anthem and Quantum of the Seas Caribbean itineraries). Cruises must sail between February 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.

The Drinks & Onboard Spending Money promotion is not combinable with Crown & Anchor Discounts / Travel Agent Rates / Interline Rates / Net Tour Op Rates / Gross Tour Op Rates / Friends & Family / Interline (unless otherwise stated) or any form of Non Revenue price programs such as, but not limited to Seminars at Sea, Perishable Inventory & Complimentary prize winner staterooms. The Drinks & Onboard Spending Money promotion is combinable with the benefits offered by booking onboard via our Future Cruise Consultants (Reserved or Open Bookings) and Future Cruise Certificates only. The Drinks & Onboard Spending Money promotion is combinable with Tesco Clubcard bookings.

Royal Caribbean will adopt new rotational dining program for Anthem of the Seas

In:
31Jan2015

We've received reports that Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley announced to a group of travel agents aboard Freedom of the Seas that the company's ambitious Dynamic Dining program will be augmented with a new rotational dining program.

Under the new program, guests will dine at different complimentary restaurants each night of their cruise based on their rotational schedule.  At each restaurant, guests will have the same wait staff and table mates each evening.

The new rotational dining program will begin with Anthem of the Seas, but there is no indication yet if it will spread to Quantum of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and/or Allure of the Seas.

Back in March 2014, Royal Caribbean had previously announced its Quantum-class cruise ships would usher in a radically new dining program called Dynamic Dining, where there would be no main dining room and instead would offer a combination of complimentary and specialty restaurants for guests to choose from.  

Then in August 2014, Royal Caribbean announced Dynamic Dining would spread to Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

When Quantum of the Seas launched in November 2014, there were a great deal of negative reports from cruisers that Dynamic Dining was troubled by long lones and poor service.  Then in December, Royal Caribbean postponed Dynamic Dining on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas indefinitely.

If the reports are true, it appears the flow of negative reviews online and to Royal Caribbean have forced the company to try something different from Dynamic Dining that is more like traditional dining.

UPDATE: Video of Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley announcing the rotational dining option called "Classic".

Video by Gina Smythe

Royal Caribbean launches Weekend WOW Deals cruise sale

In:
30Jan2015

Royal Caribbean is kicking off a new Weekend WOW deal that offers a deal on cruises booked this weekend.

Royal Caribbean is offering

  • Buy one, get the second guests 50% off and free onboard credit
    • $25 onboard credit per stateroom for interior staterooms
    • $125 onboard credit per stateroom for ocean view staterooms
    • $250 onboard credit per stateroom for balcony and suite staterooms

The deal is valid on all sailings between February 1 – May 31, 2015, excluding Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. Bookings must be made on January 31 or February 1.

Buy One, Get One 50% off is combinable with the adjoining OBC offer, Crown & Anchor discounts and NextCruise offers. Buy One, Get One 50% off offer is not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, Kids Sail Free). OBC offer is combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, BOGO, Kids Sail Free) as well as NextCruise offers. OBC offer is not combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts. Neither offer is combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Shareholder Benefits. After the Offer Period, the Offer will be removed from the booking if the guest cancels and reinstates the booking, applies a fare change, or changes the ship or sail date of the booking; certain other changes to the booking may also result in removal of the Offer.

Post-drydock photos from Freedom of the Seas

In:
30Jan2015

Royal Caribbean just wrapped up a 24 day drydock session for Freedom of the Seas and the ship is back in service for a quick 2-night cruise starting today.  Our good friend Beci Mahnken from MEI Travel is aboard Freedom of the Seas and will be sharing photos throughout her cruise experience.

Be sure to keep checking back for updated photos from all over Freedom of the Seas!

Freedom of the Seas docked in Port Canaveral

Checking into the cruise

Crown and Anchor balloons!

Sabor is located where the old Crypt night club was before the refurbishment

Brand new restaurant, Sabor Modern Mexican, on deck 4

Check-in area for Sabor

One of the larger tables at Sabor

Inside Sabor

Sign outside Windjammer on deck 11 showing new Giovanni's Table restaurant

Entrance to Giovanni's Table

Check-in area for Giovanni's Table

Inside Giovanni's Table, which replaced Portofino

Fresh Italian coffee, anyone?

Seating inside Giovanni's Table offers a view of the ocean

More of the inside of Giovanni's Table


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Friday Photos

In:
30Jan2015

Friday is here and before you start your weekend, let's take a look at some fun Royal Caribbean photos that our readers sent in to be showcased.  Just like you, we love looking at Royal Caribbean photos to get a "quick fix" when it comes to the "I'm not on a cruise" blues.

No Friday Photos is complete without a good sunset photo (or five) and we begin this week with sunset from the pool deck of Quantum of the Seas by John Siegmund.  Love it!

Next is this photo by Lily Lee of the Ice on the Big Top show on Mariner of the Seas.  The ice shows presented across Royal Caribbean's fleet are always entertaining!

Talk about a perfect view! Here's a photo by Ross and Pam from their Voyager of the Seas Singapore to Sydney cruise.  It doesn't get much better than that!

Check out this panoramic photo of Quantum of the Seas in St. Barts with a couple other cruise ships by John McCormack!

Lastly, we have this photo by Gary Kronick of Quantum of the Seas docked in St. Maarten.  Great vantage point!

Do you have fun Royal Caribbean photos to share?  Send us your favorite photos and we will feature them on an upcoming blog post!

Excursion Focus: Junkanoo Beach

In:
29Jan2015

I'd like to officially welcome our newest blog contributor, Michael Poole.  Michael has been a number of podcast episodes so far and joins our team to offer some great insight and advice based on his many Royal Caribbean cruise experiences!

Junkaoo Beach is a beautiful public beach located in Nassau, Bahamas.  I’ve visited this beach seven times within the last two years, and will go again next time I’m in Nassau. 

Getting There

Once you exit the ship you will see Senior Frogs located to the right.  You can’t miss it; if you don’t see it just follow all the people with wild balloons on their heads.  Once you get to Senior Frogs, you will stay on the sidewalk and it turns to the left. 

This is when you will see the first of 3 signs for Junkanoo Beach (right in front of the Sheraton hotel, which is a free hotspot zone I might add).

The sidewalk will go through the town of Nassau, and takes around 5 minutes once you get to this point. 

So the only direction I can give you is just stay on the side walk until it runs into Junkaoo Beach, remember there will be two more signs saying Junkaoo ahead to ensure you are on the right path. 

About the beach

Now that you have arrived, you must be asking yourself what should I do first? Well explore, I will say it’s not very large and can get a bit crowded, but then again its FREE! 

They have a tiki bar special that includes 3 beers + 4 shots + wifi password (which was Byron98 when I was there) for $10.  For that price, it is a steal, if you ask me.  I’ve never eaten here but the food looked great. They cook it on a grill right in front of you, made to order.  

If you are more into relaxing that’s fine there is plenty of beach area, just remember to bring a beach towel. 

If snorkeling is more your style they rent the equipment right on the beach.  In fact, they also offer the stand up paddle-boards for rent, which looks quite fun and a great photo opportunity with the light house in the background. 

Whether you are a family or simply on a budget, I think Junkaoo Beach is a great way to spend the day in Nassau.  And remember it’s only a short walk back to the pier when ever you want to head back.  

Royal Caribbean leaning towards more promotions and less cruise discounts

In:
29Jan2015

During Royal Caribbean's fourth quarter financial results earnings call with investors, Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain indicated the company was opting to offer promotions that offer passengers added benefits in lieu of discounting cruise fares.

Fain discussed the strategy and said passengers prefer to get things like onboard credit, free gratuities or drink packages instead of reducing the overall price of a cruise to get more bookings.

"One of the things you've seen is that we are doing more and more with value added versus discounts. We really feel that the consumer prefers that. It works out better for the travel agents, " Fain said during the call.

In addition, cruise promos are preferred by travel agents who get a higher commissionable cruise fare to sell.

This strategy did exceedingly well with sister brand Celebrity Cruises, who had a "123 Go" offer that was focused only on offering extras to guests.

"I think those kind of value added packages are proving from the market point of view to be very popular with the consumer, " Fain explained.

"And it means that instead of touting ourselves on price, we tout ourselves on what we are offering. We think that the market is ready for, and we are very much focused on trying to upgrade ourselves, the image and do less price-fighting and more 'this why you are better on this kind of a cruise'."

Royal Caribbean fourth quarter earnings miss analyst expectations

In:
29Jan2015

Royal Caribbean reported fourth-quarter profit of $109.8 million but missed Wall Street expectations, mostly because revenue for the quarter fell two percent.  The decline was attributed to weak pricing in the Caribbean, which is the company's biggest market.

Royal Caribbean has faced stiffed competition in the Caribbean from smaller rivals such as MSC Cruises, who offer cheaper packages.  The good news is pricing is expected to be up low single digits for the remainder of 2015.

Royal Caribbean's net income rose to $109.8 million, or 49 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $7.02 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier.

Royal Caribbean reported $0.32 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.43 by $0.11.

In addition, passenger ticket revenue rose 1% to $1.303B in the fourth quarter but revenue fell to $1.82 billion from $1.85 billion.

Looking forward to 2015, bookings over the past three months have been higher than prior year levels, and the company is experiencing a good, but typical WAVE season.

Construction photos of Royal Caribbean's third Oasis-class cruise ship

In:
28Jan2015

Royal Caribbean's third Oasis-class cruise ship has quietly been under construction at the STX shipyard in St. Nazaire, France for a little while now and today we have some new photos of her progress.

Royal Caribbean took some official shots of this new ship, wich is shceduled to debut in April 2016.

We still do not know her name or where she will be homeported, but this is a good indication of her progress.

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