Debate: Why you should book a balcony stateroom

In:
29Jul2014

Today we will begin a fun "debate" between the pros and cons of booking a balcony stateroom versus something less expensive, like inside or ocean view staterooms.  We will begin with the argument for balcony staterooms and then tomorrow will post the rebuttal for booking interior staterooms.

The view!

Without a doubt, the best reason to book a balcony stateroom on a Royal Caribbean cruise is for the view you can have anytime you want.  Waking up to the ocean breeze is something that never gets old.

Plus being on a cruise ship, there's always something to see and enjoy, from other ships and islands passing by to the wildlife and even just the sea.  It's a spectacle that when you see it, you know how great a view it is.

Dinner with a breeze

A really fun way to spice up your meals is to eat on your balcony.  Royal Caribbean provides a table in addition to chairs to enjoy whatever food you bring back to the stateroom on the balcony.

In addition, you can order room service (free of charge) and have it set up on your balcony.  Forget breakfast in bed, breakfast on your balcony is where it's at!  

Alternatively you can bring back a cup of coffee, small snack or full meal enjoy with your feet propped up as you watch the ocean go by.

Balcony means more space inside too

As you move up the categories of Royal Caribbean staterooms, balcony staterooms come with more space compared to interior staterooms.  As anyone that has cruised before will tell you, every square foot matters!

When you book a balcony stateroom, you get more inside as well as the space from your balcony.  It all adds up to more room for everyone to manuever in and makes the entire experience less crowded.

Great spot for sail away

When it's time for your cruise to begin or for your Royal Caribbean ship to leave port, nothing beats being outside to see the ship leave.

Having your own balcony stateroom means you get to experience this anytime without worrying about finding a spot.  You will always have a reserved place to enjoy the ship coming in and out of port.\

Royal Caribbean balconies are more than the ocean

Of course ocean view balconies are what Royal Caribbean offers most of but did you know that you can also get a balcony that overlooks other places onboard your ship?

On the Oasis-class cruise ships, you can choose between Central Park View or Boardwalk View balcony staterooms.

These unique balcony staterooms offer the outdoor experience but with a completely different take on them. Perfect for people watching as well as enjoying the view of what's happening onboard the ship right now.

Are you convinced yet to book a balcony stateroom?  Share your thoughts about booking a balcony stateroom in the comments below.

Tomorrow we will post our reasons why you should book an interior stateroom instead!

Video: Drone video of Oasis of the Seas leaving Port Everglades

In:
26Jul2014

The Port Everglades webcam posted this neat video of Oasis of the Seas leaving Port Everglades earlier today. 

I love these drone videos and this is a great perspective. Enjoy!

Royal Caribbean chooses 2015 Crown and Anchor Member Cruise

In:
26Jul2014

Royal Caribbean is inviting its Crown and Anchor Society members to sail aboard an annual traditon of a member cruise. This year the member cruise is a 12-night fall foliage cruise from Quebec City on Serenade of the Seas on September 25, 2015.

The Crown and Anchor member cruise offers members-only events and activities, surprise parties exclusive benefits, and the opportunity to socialize with other Crown & Anchor Society members.

The 2014 members cruise sailed to the Baltics and North Sea recently and for those that like to sail with other Royal Caribbean fans, the member cruise can be a popular choice.

Friday Photos

In:
25Jul2014

We love to share your Royal Caribbean photos every Friday and give everyone a quick "mental escape" to look at some stunning photos.  We want your photos too, so send us your best Royal Caribbean photos to share with the world.

Leading things off this week is a photo by Michael Poole of Enchantment of the Seas as seen from CocoCay.  Not sure if I wish I was on Enchantment or CocoCay more right now!

Next we have this photo by Greta looking out at her balcony as the sun is rising on Freedom fo the Seas.  If I ever woke up early enough to see sunrise, this would be something great to see.

Here's a photo from Marie Coschigano in St. Maarten of my good friend Leo Brown.  Leo has driven me a few times in St. Maarten and I'm so happy to see others have enjoyed his services too!

Garrett Keating sent me this photo from Explorer of the Seas on his way to Bermuda and because it's well established that I am a sucker for sunset photos, you will understand why I am including this one. Absolutely beautiful photo!

Mike from Autism on the Seas sent in this photo from Freedom of the Seas this week as it was on its way to Jamaica.  Autism on the Seas is such a wonderful organization and this photo is a great shot!

If we didn't include your photo this week, then that means you need to send it in to us for use on a future Friday Photos post.  We want to see your favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos and you can use this form to send them to us.

What you need to know about Labadee Cabanas

In:
24Jul2014

If you're going to Royal Caribbean's private island of Labadee and intersted in renting a cabana, here's a guide to what you need to know about renting your own cabana.

How much are the cabanas?

Over water Cabana: $250
Beach or Hiltop Cabana: $225
Standard Cabana: $175

Who are cabanas good for

The cabanas at Labadee are perfect for someone who is planning on spending the whole day on Labadee and wants to have a a private beach experience.

What's included

  • Private ocean view cabana rental for the full day
  • Furnished with 2 luxurious resort-style lounge chairs & a sofa
  • Four bottles of water (in a cooler)
  • Floating beach mats and snorkeling gear.
  • Towels for your use during the day
  • Barefoot Beach cabanas have a private beach only for cabana rental guests

How to rent the cabanas

Cabanas may be rented online prior to your cruise through Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner section.  

Suite guests get first access to the cabanas but we have seen access for non-suite guests to book cabanas online.  Suite guests may also email their concierge prior to your cruise to reserve one.

You may also go to the Explorations (shore excursions) desk onboard your Royal Caribbean ship and put your name down on a list.  It's best to put your name down as soon as possible for the best chance at getting a cabana.

In regards to the online system, make sure you are only selecting one person in your party when making the reservation online. Don't worry, the rest of your group will be allowed in as the reservation is good for up to 6 people.

What's the difference between Nellie's Beach cabanas and Barefoot Beach cabanas?

Barefoot beach is reserved for suite guests only, where as Nellies is open to everyone.  As a result, the beach is far more crowded (relatively speaking) at Nellie's Beach.

In addition, those at Nellie's Beach will be escorted over to Barefoot Beach for the private lunch buffet. Your cabin attendant will inform you when it is time and walk you over.

Blog reader Tony mentioned a new policy for those that have cabanas at Nellie's Beach. Nellie's Beach cabana rentals do not have access to the private lunch buffet at Bearfoot Beach. If you booked before October of last year you were eligible after that Nellie's Beach cabanas use the regular buffet areas.

Royal Caribbean reports better than expected second quarter 2014 results

In:
24Jul2014

Royal Caribbean reported its 2014 second quarter financial results today, and higher European deamand helped second-quarter profit beat estimates and the company raised its outlook for the full year.

Royal Caribbean said it earned $137.7 million, or 62 cents a share, in the quarter, up from $24.7 million, or 11 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Royal Caribbean Chief Financial Officer Jason T. Liberty said in a statement, "higher pricing for close-in European sailings propelled us above the top end of our guidance for the quarter.  While the environment in the Caribbean remains promotional, our European itineraries continue to resonate well with strong demand from all markets."

Onboard revenue initiatives continue to deliver positive results with a 3% increase for the quarter. This is the tenth consecutive quarter of onboard revenue growth.

Liberty also commented, "overall business has been solid and our equity investments continue to outperform, allowing us to deliver even better returns to our shareholders."

Tipping & Gratuities on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
23Jul2014

Hey everyone! Episode 51 of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.

This week, Matt discusses where and when tipping is expected and suggested on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  There's been some changes recently in how Royal Caribbean handles tips as well as more "gray areas" of when it may be expected.

Matt discusses who is most likely to get a tip as well as how automatic tipping has been instituted in certain areas of the cruise experience.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 51. 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!

Video: sneak peak at Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas cabin factory

In:
22Jul2014

Go behind the scenes at Meyer Werft's cabin factory where Quantum of the Seas staterooms are constructed using a production line. From carpeting to art on the wall, this manufacturing process ensures the highest quality standards throughout.

Royal Caribbean WiFi, Internet, Prices and tips

In:
22Jul2014

Staying connected at sea is something more and more cruisers want to know how they can get internet access while at sea.  Royal Caribbean WiFi has received renewed emphasis recently with better technology offering superior coverage and faster speeds.  Here's what you need to know to surf, chat and share your cruise vacation via social media.

How can I get connected on my Royal Caribbean cruise?

All Royal Caribbean ships offer shared computers and wifi internet access.  Older ships have select locations in public areas where guests can log in, but newer ships and ships that have been refurbished in the last few years have gotten "stem to stern" WiFi coverage that allows internet access from anywhere, including staterooms.

At the very least, you can turn your internet device on and log onto the WiFi signal in common areas such as the Promenade, Library or lounges.  If your Royal Caribbean ship is Oasis or Quantum class, it will have internet access everywhere.  Other older ships have slowly been getting upgrades to allow access everywhere.  You can view a list of ships that have gotten refurbishments here.

How is wifi access controlled?

Your access to the internet onboard your Royal Caribbean ship is tied to your stateroom and account you create.  

When you first logon to Royal Caribbean's wifi, you will see an option to create an account and there you can sign up for a plan or pay for the internet by the minute.  In either case, the charge for internet usage will be applied to your stateroom account.

What devices can access the internet? 

Photo by Nick Jones

Any internet device that can access a 802.11b wireless connection can connect to the intenret.  This include most smart phones, laptops and tablets.  

Royal Caribbean does provide workstations that are shared and available on a first-come, first served basis but we've found them to be slow in terms of performance.

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST EPISODE ABOUT ROYAL CARIBBEAN'S INTERNET ACCESS

Is the internet speeds slow or fast?

Compared to land connections these days, Royal Caribbean's wifi is slow but it's still better than no connection at all.  Speeds will vary based on the ship's location, weather conditions and how many other people are trying to log on.

Generally speaking we've found the internet speeds to be best late at night and in the early morning hours when the least people are online.  Actual speeds and performance vary and normally it's moderately slow but can get bogged down depending on the conditions noted earlier.

Royal Caribbean is about to improve the wifi speed dramatically when it partners with a new internet provider that will launch new satellites that promise speeds just as good as on land. 

Please remember that the internet speed in general is outside of Royal Caribbean's control and because it's satellite based, sometimes there's just nothing they can do.  We do recomend if you do waste a lot of time trying to connect to graciously speak to someone in Guest Services because they will often refund some of your time so you can try again later.

What about using Skype or Facetime on my Royal Caribbean cruise?

In the past Royal Caribbean blocked Skype and other VOIP applications because they were bandwidth hogs and the speeds were just too slow to use.  These days, we've seen them unblocked on some cruises and blocked on other cruises.

When Royal Caribbean implements their speed upgrades, expect those type of services to be available again.

How much does internet access cost?

Royal Caribbean's internet prices vary from ship to ship but the base rate for internet access is 65 cents per minute.  

Royal Caribbean offers a number of internet packages that lower the per-minute cost.  On some newer ships and refurbished ships they also offer unlimited internet access plans for the duration of your cruise.

In general, you should opt for an internet package rather than paying per minute to get the best deal.  Crown and Anchor Society members get discounts on internet packages that you can apply to your plan at Guest Services onboard.

Alternatives to Royal Caribbean WiFi

If the price of Royal Caribbean's internet is too much, you may be better off financially (and speed wise) by connecting when you are in port.

There's lots of restaurants, bars and other establishments that offer WiFi access for free or a small fee. Many will offer you access if you buy something and the cost is negligable compared to what Royal Caribbean charges.

A great tip is to ask crew members on your cruise where they go for internet access because they visit these ports regularly and know where to find the best deals.

Philippines meets with Royal Caribbean officials to become major cruise port

In:
21Jul2014

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. issued a statement today about his meeting with officials from three cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, to provide feedback on how the Philippines could become a cruise destination.

“The cruise giants were open to working with the Philippines in destination development while they discussed infrastructure requirements, “ Cuisia said after a recent economic diplomacy mission to the US state of Florida, where he met with cruise-company officials.

During the meeting, Cuisia took the opportunity to emphasize to the cruise-line executives the notable destination possibilities in the Philippines, particularly Vigan City in Ilocos Sur province, which is now vying to be one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.

The Royal Caribbean officials who met with the Embassy team were Guillermo Villa, Vice President for Human Resources; Maria del Busto, Chief Human Resources Officer; and Sonia Diaz-Del Oro, Associate Vice President for Global Learning and Organizational Development.  Royal Caribbean currently employs about 16,000 Filipinos, which is second to Carnival.

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