Happy weekend! We hope Spring is starting to arrive where you live. Regardless of the weather, it is time to sit back, relax, and check out the latest in Royal Caribbean news!
Gather three of your closest, thrill seeking friends and you could win a free Royal Caribbean cruise as part of the cruise line's new contest.
Royal Caribbean is holding a contest to find Instagram adventure seekers who want to travel the world and compete for the title of "World's Most Adventurous Squad".
Royal Caribbean will hold five adventure-themed Instagram challenges. Each challenge will run for 72 hours on Royal Caribbean’s Instagram account starting on March 29 and through April 12. To take part in the challenge, adventurers simply post their photo to Instagram, tag three friends that will comprise their squad and use the hashtag #AdventureSquad and #Contest.
Royal Caribbean News
- Royal Caribbean added shorts to the approved clothing list for casual night in the main dining room.
- Anthem of the Seas had a propulsion problem, and had to alter her itinerary.
- Freedom of the Seas will call San Juan, Puerto Rico its new home in 2018-2019.
- We shared a spotlight look at the CocoCay Beach Bungalows.
- Speaking of CocoCay, we also shared a construction progress photo report earlier this week.
- Did you see Royal Caribbean's April Fools Day joke for this year?
- We shared a photo tour of the AquaTheater Suite on Harmony of the Seas.
- Check out our full review of Jamie's Italian on Anthem of the Seas.
- Royal Caribbean released a new Symphony of the Seas construction photo update.
- Empress of the Seas is now offering luggage storage for guests who board early.
Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast
In this episode, Matt shares a review of his recent sailing on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas. It was a fun-filled cruise to the Bahamas, and Matt shares his experiences onboard and onshore.
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
Cruise Tips TV has a new video with Royal Caribbean tips and money saving tricks.
Flights of Fancy Mom has a review of their recent Freedom of the Seas cruise.
CruiseHabit shares helpful information about credit cards and changing currency in Cuba.
Cruise Radio listed their top 9 Royal Caribbean restaurants.
We love to explore the various staterooms on Royal Caribbean cruise ships and today we have a look at the Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite stateroom on Harmony of the Seas.
This category A1 room was photographed by Frank Battiston during his stay in stateroom 8330.
Category A1 staterooms on Harmony of the Seas measure 823 square feet with an additional 772 square feet of space on the balcony.
Guests staying in this room are eligible for the Star Class benefits of the Royal Suite Class. This includes
- Exclusive Access to Royal Genie Service
- All Day Access to Coastal Kitchen
- Complimentary Specialty Restaurants
- Complimentary Ultimate Beverage Package (for guests 21 years or older)
- Complimentary Royal Replenish Package (for guests under 21 years old)
- Complimentary Gratuities
- Complimentary VOOM - The Fastest Internet at Sea
- And more
There are two bathrooms in this suite, with the master bathroom featuring a tub.
There is also a large dining area and living room.
Of course, the compelling reason to book a room like this is the balcony. Not only is the balcony quite large, it offers views of the ocean, Boardwalk neighborhood and the AquaTheater.
Royal Caribbean is offering every third night free for guests that book cruises, with some bonus instant savings.
Essentially, the cruise fare is reduced to reflect every third night of the cruise vacation being free. The longer you sail, the more you will save. The offer applies to cruises that depart on or after May 1, 2017 on bookings made between April 1 - 30, 2017. Offer excludes China departures.
- 3-5 Night Sailing – 1 Free Night
- 6-8 Night Sailing – 2 Free Nights
- 9-11 Night Sailing – 3 Free Nights
- 12-14 Night Sailing – 4 Free Nights
- 15-17 Night Sailing – 5 Free Nights
- 18-20 Night Sailing – 6 Free Nights
- 21-23 Night Sailing – 7 Free Nights
- 24 Night Sailing – 8 Free Nights
If you book between April 1-4, there are bonus instant savings available.
- 5-nights or less
- Inside/Outside Staterooms: $25
- Balcony/Deluxe Staterooms: $50
- 6-nights or more
- Inside/Outside Staterooms: $75
- Balcony/Deluxe Staterooms: $150
Up to $200 instant savings per stateroom on Anthem of the Seas sailings departing May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017
- Inside/Outside Staterooms: $100
- Balcony/Deluxe Staterooms: $200
Oasis Class Upgrades
Cruises booked on Oasis Class ships between April 5 - 17, 2017 will enjoy a free upgrade from an oceanview to balcony stateroom.
1-2- FREE is combinable with adjoining Dollars Off, Bonus Anthem Dollars Off, Crown & Anchor discounts, NextCruise offers and Shareholder Benefits. Dollars Off and Bonus Anthem Dollars Off is not combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts or Shareholder Benefits. 1-2-Free, Dollars Off, and Bonus Anthem Dollars Off are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including but not limited to, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, and Military), Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates
Offer available to residents of the United States and Canada.
Royal Caribbean UK has gotten into the April Fools mood with their "announcement" of the world's first ski resort at sea, Piste of the Seas.
The Oasis Class ship will debut in 2012 that bridges the gap between anyone torn between a ski or cruise break. The ship features five real snow runs, a lift and après-ski restaurants, bars and spa.
- The family sized chalet-style rooms on Piste of the Seas feature wood panelling.
- The ski lift will take guests up to the top of Mount Mast, allowing for wonderful views of the ocean before skiing down.
- The Alpine Spa will offer Nordic deep-tissue massages.
- Enjoy a few drinks after your skiing day at the Après Sail Bar.
If you are wondering, "Piste" is a French word that means, "a ski run of compacted snow."
Last year, Royal Caribbean UK lampooned the internet with its April Fools joke of announcing space cruises.
Guests visiting Royal Caribbean's private destination of CocoCay are certain to find plenty to do in their time onshore, including a private area just for them in the Beach Bungalows.
Royal Caribbean added Beach Bungalows to CocoCay in 2016, which offer guests a private area of the beach just for guests in bungalows. While on a recent cruise to CocoCay, we tried out the bungalows for ourselves to evaluate the option.
The Beach Bungalows cost us $195, and can accommodate up to six guests. Each bungalow rental is good for the entire day spent in CocoCay.
They are located in the South Beach area of the island, which is a good distance from where guests disembark from their tenders. Royal Caribbean offers complimentary transportation to and from the Beach Bungalows via its private Cocolimo shuttle transportation.
The Beach Bungalows are located at #29 on the map
Upon arrival at the Beach Bungalow area, guests check-in with the concierge desk to have a bungalow assigned to them. Each bungalow includes two floating mats, a cooler of bottled water and beach towels.
As mentioned, the Beach Bungalows are located in a rather secluded area of the beach, which means less crowds. It is about a five minute walk down the beach to the floating bar. Other destinations on the island can be reached easily by requesting a cart ride from the concierge, which is complimentary.
The bungalow itself comes with a large couch and coffee table. There is enough room to comfortably seat four adults inside. There are also two beach lounger chairs that are just outside the bungalow, which provide even more seating options.
Each bungalow only has one full wall (in the back), but there are curtains that can be extended to provide more privacy and/or shade.
Unlike the cabanas in CocoCay, the Beach Bungalows have direct beach access, which means guests can exit their bungalow and walk right to the ocean, as opposed to the cabana guests who must exit the cabana area and then go into the ocean nearby.
During our stay, in lieu of the usual lunch buffet offered, all Beach Bungalow guests were given a new menu to pre-order their lunch. The selected options would be delivered to the bungalow when it was ready.
Depending on your culinary preferences, the menu ordering system can be a good or bad thing. Personally, I enjoyed having more options than just typical BBQ food, as well as not having to take my kids to the buffet. Delivery to the bungalow provided an extra level of service than I was expecting.
Just like delivery food at home, certain foods can deteriorate quickly in the interim period between preparation and delivery. Moreover, the cooked food items tended to be not as hot because of the delivery lag time. Still, not having to leave the comfortable confines of my bungalow was not to be overlooked.
There is a dedicated bar at the rear of the Beach Bungalow area, along with servers coming occasionally by to offer Coco Loco drinks. Additionally, restrooms are located just behind the Beach Bungalow area and are a very short walk.
Overall, the Beach Bungalows save a little bit of money over their cabana counterparts while providing significantly more living space and privacy than the less expensive Beach Beds.
The CocoCay Beach Bungalows are a great choice for families or groups that want to have a private area to sit, with easy access to the beach and lots included with the price.
The start to another weekend has arrived and we like to kick off our Fridays with our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos!
We begin with this week with a sunset photo from onboard Anthem of the Seas, taken by George Alcazar. I really like the angle of this photo, and how the sun fits in perfectly with the jogging track.
Bob Hoenig took this photo of Rhapsody of the Seas from his balcony on Harmony of the Seas while in Palma de Mallorca.
If you are looking to unwind, try this strategy by Denis Beauchemin. He snapped this photo while on his Harmony of the Seas balcony, while in Labadee.
Check out this beautiful sunset photo by David Berenbaum from his Owners Suite balcony on Rhapsody of the Seas. This was taken while leaving Tampa Bay at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Here is Harmony of the Seas next to Freedom of the Seas in St. Maarten, taken by Justin.
Tina Moore shared this photo with us of three generations enjoying their Freedom of the Seas cruise. Family cruising is what makes for such great vacation memories!
Our final photo this week is from Bob Carpenter, and it is of the AquaTheater just after sunset.
Thank you to everyone for sharing photos with us this week. If you want to share your best Royal Caribbean photos, use this form to send them in!
Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean announced a massive expansion to its private destination of CocoCay, and already work has begun in earnest.
RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michael Osypowski shared with us these photos of the construction progress happening there.
Our first set of photos are of where the new pier appears to be installed.
These photos are from the rear of CocoCay. It appears a backhoe has been use to dredge out a lagoon.
Royal Caribbean indicated the improvements to CocoCay will take a multi-phased approach, with some elements of the new construction ready in 2018, and construction complete sometime in 2019.
Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas will call San Juan, Puerto Rico its new home in 2018-2019.
The cruise line's 2018-2019 Caribbean deployment has a number of 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises that will sail round trip from San Juan.
Freedom of the Seas will depart her current home of Port Everglades, Florida on May 5, 2018 and reposition to San Juan at the end of that sailing. From then, through March 2019, Freedom of the Seas will homeport from San Juan.
Freedom of the Seas will replace Adventure of the Seas, which will be moving to Cape Liberty, New Jersey.
Thanks to Erik Clauson aka Cruiseboy for discovering the deployment plans.
The collaboration between Royal Caribbean and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver created Jamie’s Italian, which is one of the more popular specialty restaurants on Anthem of the Seas.
It seems like Jamie’s Italian has become quite popular with many Royal Caribbean guests for the tasty, original creations by the famous chef. And yet, I have to admit it never resonated much with me on my previous visits.
It is not to say I disliked Jamie’s Italian by any means, rather, I just preferred other specialty restaurants. To be honest, I felt like I was missing something by not being a bigger fan of the restaurant because so many others seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps I had previously dined there on an off-night, or what I ordered was not indicative of what makes Jamie’s so popular.
When I went back on Anthem of the Seas for a recent cruise, I wanted to start over again and pretend like I had never been there in the first place. Perhaps starting fresh from the beginning would be the right approach.
Jamie’s Italian is located on deck 5 in an area of Anthem of the Seas known as The Via. It is essentially the middle ground between the Royal Esplanade and Two70. I doubt anyone ever utters the words, “oh, that is located in The Via,” but it is important to be specific.
Royal Caribbean carved out a lot of space for Jamie’s Italian, although it does not necessarily look that from merely passing by. The cruise line designed the restaurant to evoke a street cafe motif to guests passing by, with no real wall separating the restaurant from the walkway. Anyone walking by can easily peer into the restaurant and see other guests dining there, and perhaps more importantly, smell the foods being served.
Unlike a traditional Italian restaurant, there is no red and white checkerboard tablecloth, no Dean Martin songs playing in the background, and no old photos of Italy. Instead, you have a design created by Jamie Oliver that focuses on the simple, yet refined approach Oliver takes in every aspect of the dining experience.
Looking around Jamie’s Italian, one will quickly notice there is no unified design style. Rather, there are metal chairs, wooden chairs and nylon chairs mixed together across booths and tables made out of metal, granite and wood. It reminds me of someone hitting up the clearance area in IKEA, finding great deals on lots of lovely furniture that does not match. Nonetheless, Oliver’s design style somehow works across the breadth of the eatery, and the restaurant maintains its own distinct feel.
Getting past the décor, I really wanted to give Jamie’s Italian a solid second try by picking some winning dishes. Jamie’s Italian menu is anything but petite, with lots of choices. I mean, there is a lot one can order between the appetizers, small plates, soups, pastas and entrées.
Without a doubt, there is one type of dish Jamie’s Italian is best known for and that is the planks. There are two plank varieties: meat and vegetable. Both come with an array of cheeses that compliment the meaty/vegetarian goodness.
Arguably, the planks could easily be a meal in and of themselves, but our waiter suggested we order a combo plank, that offered the best of each option. We thought it was a great choice, not only because we would be able to sample the best of the best, but because we would not load up too much, too early.
Without a doubt, the plank lives up to its reputation for being a must-order. This antipasto serving is not just a great starter, it sets the tone for the meal to come. Ample servings of salami, prosciutto, mozzarella, olives and more are yours for the picking. We picked that plank to the wood surface extremely quickly.
We also tried the ultimate garlic bread from the starters. At first, we did not realize the bread served to our table was this dish, but what they lack in presentation, they make up for in flavor. Without a doubt, there is a good amount of garlic provided in these bad boys.
Choosing among the entrées is where I believe the greatest difficulty arises. In short, there is a lot to choose from and many dishes sounds really good.
It is worth noting that Jamie’s Italian prides itself on the fact it creates handmade pasta everyday at the restaurant. That is a giant indication that you should probably order something with pasta. I certainly felt I could not leave Jamie’s Italian without trying something of a noodle variety.
On the other hand, I am an absolute sucker for eggplant Parmesan (or pretty much any Parmesan dish). It is one of those dishes that I can never get enough of, and it is my Italian food staple. Much like when my kids are complaining about the other having something they do not, I just decided to get both the eggplant and a pasta dish. I mean, I would totally walk off those calories skipping the elevators, rights?
The eggplant Parmesan was terrific, and not overloaded with cheese or deep fried to the point any hint of eggplant is removed.
The texture of the homemade pasta was wonderful, and I think everyone at our table remarked they could absolutely tell the difference between this freshly made pasta, and the boxed stuff.
My wife opted for the truffle tagliatelle, with the simple logic that anything with black truffles must be amazing. Indeed, that logic holds up at Jamie's Italian as well.
If you manage to leave room for dessert, the epic homemade brownie is always a great choice.
My wife also reported the Italian limoncello is superb, although she consumed it before I could even snap a photo of it. So you will have to take that as proof that it is quite good.
After eating at Jamie's Italian on Anthem of the Seas, I am completely onboard the bandwagon of fans that enjoy the restaurant. The freshness of everything here really stands out, even more than Jamie Oliver's excellent recipes.
If you choose to dine at Jamie's Italian, there is no question you need to order at least one of the planks and something with pasta. It is without a doubt, the dishes the restaurant does the best.
Cost: The price of Jamie's Italian on Anthem of the Seas is $30 per guest for dinner and $25 per guest for lunch.
Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!
Episode 191 is available for downloading where Matt shares his thoughts on his recent cruises aboard Anthem of the Seas.
Matt experienced a lot onboard Anthem of the Seas, and this week, he dives into what makes Anthem of the Seas unique and discusses the aspects of dining, entertainment and accomodations that stood out and why.
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!