Royal Caribbean UK is now offfering a new brouchure for families that is in digital format, perfect for today's generation of iPad enthusiasts.
Travolution reports that Royal Caribbean is calling it an "industry first" by having an e-brochure that offers videos and interactive content to help showcase the family-friendly features offered by the cruise line.
With the new e-brochure, you can get access to special early booking offers and a selection of the most popular family-friendly itineraries.
Other features of the e-brocure app are planning guides for parents and a link to the Royal Caribbean's kid-friendly Penguin Ahoy! app.
Marketing and PR director Jo Briody said: “Our new tablet friendly brochure is designed to allow families to plan their holidays together, and to showcase all of our family friendly videos and onboard features in one place.
“We hope that its ease of use and inspiring content will urge more families to consider a cruise for the first time."
The new app is free and available from the iTunes app store.
If you've ever sailed with Royal Caribbean or been researching a cruise with Royal Caribbean, you have heard about other people getting onboard credit for their cruises. In some cases, it can be hundreds of dollars. So how does someone get onboard credit and for how much?
What is onboard credit?
Let's start with defining what onboard credit is. Royal Caribbean can offer guests onboard credit, which is money pre-paid into your onboard account to be used on the cruise.
It's "free" money that you can spend anywhere onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, including at Labadee or CocoCay (Royal Caribbean's private islands). Basically, if it goes on your SeaPass card, you can use your onboard credit.
You don't have to specify to use your onboard credit, Royal Caribbean automatically starts deducting from it as you charge to your onboard account.
How do you get onboard credit?
There's a number of ways to get onboard credit for your Royal Caribbean cruise. Some or all of these methods can be combined but it all depends on everyone's specific case.
Booking a cruise onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise
This won't help you for your current or upcoming cruise, but if you on a Royal Caribbean cruise and book a new cruise reservation or a NextCruise Certificate, you are entitled to up to $200 per booking.
Crown and Anchor Society Advertised Promotional Sailings
Royal Caribbean's loyalty program, Crown and Anchor Soceity, will offer promotions to encourage bookings such as onboard credit. The exact amount of onboard credit will depend on the promotion.
WOW Sales and other cruise deals
Royal Caribbean offers cruise deals throughout the year and often will throw in onboard credit as a way of getting more people to book.
The price of the cruise may be unaffected but Royal Caribbean has offered in the past hundreds of dollars to get guests to book more cruises.
Royal Caribbean Visa card points
Royal Caribbean's Visa card offers reward points for the money you charge to the card. As you reach certain point milestones, you can redeem the points for onboard credit.
Apology from Royal Caribbean
When bad things happen that is out of the ordinary, Royal Caribbean will try to make things right by offering guests onboard credit to offset the problem.
Incidents like poor service, billing inaccuracies and other frustrations are often handled with onboard credit (in addition to remedying the situation as best they can).
Travel Agent promotional offer
Travel agents often can offer customers onboard credit through many different ways. It can sometimes be a result of a group booking space or the amount of money you spend or the category of stateroom you book.
The exact amount offered varies from sailing to sailing, but onboard credit is one way travel agents differentiate themselves from one another and take steps to earn business.
Bring a friend
For each stateroom first time Royal Caribbean passengers book that you refer, Royal Caribbean will offer you onboard credit as a reward.
You will receive $25 in onboard credit for each stateroom your friends reserve on your cruise booked. You may refer up to a maximum of 5 staterooms for any length of cruise.
The first-time guest must be sailing on the same ship and sail date as you, the member.
You can register for this credit by going to RoyalCaribbean.com/BringAFriend.
Can I combine onboard credit offers?
Yes, in many cases you can combine onboard credit offers. There are some offers that do not allow you to "stack" onboard credit offers, so you will need to read the fine print of each offer to see which is more lucrative for you.
What can I spend my onboard credit on?
You can spend your onboard credit on virtually anything you can charge to your SeaPass card. This includes, but not limited to....
- Spa services
- Beverages (alcohol or not)
- Specialty restaurants
The truth is you don't select an individual purchase to spend your onboard credit on. Rather, if you have $100 in onboard credit and you spend $500 total on your SeaPass account, you will be charged $400. Any purchases you make with your SeaPass card first deduct from the onboard credit and then when your onboard credit runs out, charges to your account normally.
Regardless of if the purchase is paid for by your onboard credit or not, each purchase will still appear on your bill.
When do I get my onboard credit?
When you begin your Royal Caribbean cruise, onboard credits are applied as the ship's computer system downloads each guest's account information from Royal Caribbean's central servers.
It's not uncommon for Guest Service to not be able to verify your onboard credit amount until the evening of your first day onboard. Don't worry, they are usually pretty good with making sure it's there.
It may be smart to have printed copies of the onboard credit you are entitled to, just in case there is an issue but you should be able to verify the correct amount is in your account by the end of the first day.
If you're going to Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay and intersted in renting a cabana, here's a guide to what you need to know about renting your own cabana.
Photo by grimoire42
How much are the cabanas?
Cabana rentals are $200 for up to six guests.
Who are cabanas good for
The cabanas at CocoCay are perfect for someone who is planning on spending the whole day on CocoCay and wants to have a a private beach experience.
Photo by mrsfecura
- Private ocean view cabana rental for the full day
- Furnished with 2 luxurious resort-style lounge chairs & a sofa
- Amenities include a deluxe lunch buffet, beach towels, 2 floating beach mats, 4 bottles of water, and 2 sets of snorkeling equipment
- Towels for your use during the day
For the mats and snorkel equipment, you will be given coupons to go get the equipment from the rental location.
There is a bar in the cabana area but here are no attendants that will take your order and bring your drinks (unlike Labadee). There are restrooms near the bar for use by cabana guests.
Some people have reported getting a fruit plate and champagne, although that isn't something that's always been offered.
Photo by cjdixon4
How to rent the cabanas
Suite guests get first access to the cabanas but you can 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.
We have had luck reserving a cabana on the spot in CocoCay after talking with the attendant who allows admission to the area, but that's subject to availability.
If you are not a suite guest, your best is to put your name on the list at the Explorations desk as early as possible and keep checking back on the status of your request.
Water, water everywhere but no where to swim
Your private cabana area gives you a great, private area to admire the ocean but there is no beach access from the cabanas. Instead, you will need to walk out of the cabana area if you plan on going swimming.
The closest swimming area is a short walk away, perhaps a few minutes.
Photo by mrsfecura
Which cabanas to rent
All cabanas on CocoCay are great but the cabanas closest to the water offer the most privacy as well as the best view.
Cabanas 1 through 7 are the ones to try for but you shouldn't be disappointed if you end up with a different cabana.
Quantum Experience Advisor, Genevieve Gorder, is back today with a new webisode detailing her trip to Papenburg, Germany, with Royal Caribbean's newbuild and design team to see Quantum of the Seas first hand and finalize the last few details for the Lofts and Suites.
We have a brand new Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast to share with everyone, so get your downloads going!
Episode 24 is now available for downloading, where we are looking at the categories of Royal Caribbean staterooms.
This week, Matt discusses the categories of Royal Caribbean staterooms, including the differences between the stateroom categories, the good and bad about each, the importance of location, special categories and more. We also have more listener comments to share with everyone.
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!
Royal Caribbean has announced its list of 2013 Loyal to Royal Travel Agent Partners of the Year for the United States and Canada.
The award recognizes the travel agencies that are among the top performers as well as their "loyalty and commitment to the cruise line."
President's Award for Overall Achievement
World Travel Holdings
Home-based Partner of the Year
Cruise Planners-American Express Travel
Coral Springs, Fla.
Consortia Partner of the Year
Online Partner of the Year
Dania Beach, Fla.
Corporate Incentive Partner of the Year
Buy the Sea
Canada Partner of the Year
Air Canada Vacations
Southeast Region Partner of the Year
Northeast Region Partner of the Year
American Discount Cruises
Central Region Partner of the Year
The World of Travel
West Region Partner of the Year
Morris Murdock Travel
Salt Lake City, Utah
For better or worse, plenty of groups plan cruises aboard Royal Caribbean cruises. These group cruises range from just a few cabins to enough people to actually charter an entire cruise ship. On any given cruise, there may be a few groups onboard with you and often our readers ask how to find out which groups are cruising with you.
To be clear, groups that cruise are not organized by Royal Caribbean but are instead third-party groups. As an example, this web site is organizing a Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise on Quantum of the Seas and very much organizing things on our own. Groups can be centered around sports teams, affiliations, professions, lifestyles and more.
Larger groups can cause some of the public venues to be closed to the rest of the passengers at different times because they've rented it out. Large groups can congregate in areas, making access difficult for others and they can be loud. These are generalizations and more often they do not cause issues that you will likely notice.
Regardless of which group is cruising, some people want to know about this ahead of time because there may be a personal conflict. As an example, if a Red Sox fans group cruise was being organized on the same sailing that you're going on and you happen to be a Yankees fan, then perhaps you'd prefer to avoid a cruise with a hundred Red Sox fans. Alternatively, you'd like to know so you can order Derek Jeter banners to post on your stateroom door.
How to find groups on your cruise
Royal Caribbean does not list nor will they divulge groups sailing on any itinerary. It's a matter of privacy in the same way you may not want Royal Caribbean telling others when you are sailing.
Thanks to the Internet, there are ways to find out which groups are sailing or at least most groups sailing. Doing an internet search will do the trick and here's how.
Go to Google and search for a few different search strings related to your sailing. Here is the syntax of a few search strings worth trying.
"SHIP NAME" "DATE"
"SHIP NAME" "DATE" group
"Royal Caribbean" "DATE"
The quotes around the words tell google to search for that phrase. So if your ship is Allure of the Seas, it will search for "Allure of the Seas" as one term rather than the words Allure, of, the, and seas.
Let's use my upcoming Navigator of the Seas cruise as an example. I'm sailing on February 9, 2014 and this is a good way to figure out who else is going.
I did searches for
- "Navigator of the Seas" "February 9"
- "Navigator of the Seas" "February 9" 2014
- "Navigator of the Seas" "February 9" group
- "Royal Caribbean" "February 9"
You will find a lot of results, most of which aren't relevant but within about five minutes I found 4 groups on our cruise.
- Nik L Beer Band
- 2014 Tex Mex Fandango
- Hemmings Car Lover's Cruise
- Medical seminar: “Medical Errors in Primary Care: Can an Error Reporting System Increase Patient Safety?”
None of the groups listed here indicate how many people are in each group but certain group cruises do mention how many people attended last year or how many they expect this year.
I also found some other travel agent listings for my cruise but nothing that really looked like an organized group of any substantial size would be there. You may point out not every group has a web site but groups that have enough people attending to make it fairly large usually do have a website for getting important information out there and generating sales leads.
The fact is most groups on cruises are tame and everyone, regardless of group, is subject to the same rules Royal Caribbean institutes for all of its guests. Groups traveling on a cruise isn't limited to just Royal Caribbean cruise line or even cruises in general. Since some people want to know, now you know how.
As much as you may try your best to play your cruise vacations well out in advance, the reality is work, school and everything else in life seems to always get in the way. So when you find a week to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise but it's last minute, what can you do to take advantage of this and make a cruise vacation happen?
What are last minute deals?
First and foremost, you will need to find a cruise deal on Royal Caribbean. Last minute deals are around but you will need to dig for them and act fast.
Last minute cruises really refers to any cruise leaving in the next 60 days or so, with cruises leaving in the next 30 days being even more lucrative. When Royal Caribbean gets past the point of final payment, they get a good sense of how booked (or unbooked) a sailing is and responds accordingly to fill up the rest of the ship.
If there's a lot of unbooked space, often Royal Caribbean will reduce prices to encourage bookings. The closer to sailing you get, the deeper the price cuts until they reach a good sales point.
With last minute deals, there's a fine line between good prices and the swing back up to expensive prices. One week there may be a deep discount available while next week, prices may be back to "normal".
Where can I find last minute Royal Caribbean deals?
To find last minute Royal Caribbean cruise deals, there are a few places to look.
- Royal Caribbean's Limited-Time Offers page
- Royal Caribbean's Deals Twitter
- Contact a travel agent
- Royal Caribbean sends travel agents deals and offers each week, so they may have knowledge of a deal out there.
- Search popular cruise booking sites
- There's lots and lots of web sites that claim to offer the best deals on cruises. Comparing prices on a few of them is also a good way to see what's out there.
What do I need to be aware of with last minute deals?
Last minute deals are fickle and go quickly. The best deals may only be available for a day or two, or even just a few hours.
Once you know you want to book a cruise, it's best to book once you find something to your liking. Royal Caribbean prices tend to rise more than they tend to drop, so book while you can.
Booking last minute also means you will need to make full payment at the time of booking. That may or may not be a deal-breaker for some people, but it's worth noting.
Also note that select sailings will be on sale with one sailing deeply discounted and the next regular price. Often, the discounted rate is low because most people can't or are unwilling to take time off for a vacation then. As an example. the two weeks after New Years Eve are often discounted last minute because a lot of people just took vacation the week earlier and don't want to dip into vacation time so soon.
The harder thing to find than last minute cruise deals? Last minute airfare
Often you will find great last minute deals on Royal Caribbean cruises only to discover the airlines are not as cheap. In fact, last minute airfare can be prohibitively expensive, to the point it negates any savings the cruise fare had.
The easiest way around high airfare prices is to drive. There's no question last minute cruise deals benefit those within driving distance of cruise ports, such as those living in the southeastern United States.
If driving is out of the question, look at other airports to fly out of or into. If your cruise is out of Fort Lauderdale, consider flying into West Palm Beach, Miami or Fort Myers. Likewise, if you are flying out of New York City, try all the city airports as well as Westchester, Philadelphia or Hartford. A little drive can save a lot of money.
Also consider flying to or from your cruise a day or two earlier/later to see if prices change. It's a fun way to extend your vacation while saving money too.
Hotels and rental cars
Unlike airfare, getting a last minute hotel room and rental car for your trip is usually easier to find assuming you aren't that picky.
Both of those sites are also good for rental cars but you ought to be able to find rates at many popular sites.
Like airfare, if you aren't finding much, try other pickup locations for cars or nearby cities for hotels. Being flexible can open up a lot of other deals to you.
We're wrapping up our trip planning process for our upcoming Navigator of the Seas 7-night western Caribbean cruise on February 9, 2014 by taking you along for the planning process. Today, we're looking at our last port visit in Cozumel, Mexico.
Photo by abiodork
Cozumel is a port I've been to many times, perhaps as many times as four or five, and yet I really like it. I know some people don't care for it that much but I have enjoyed my time there.
What I like about Cozumel is the value of my money as an American, the food (I love me some Mexican food) and the exploring the city. In the grand scheme of Caribbean beaches, Cozumel's beaches are middle of the road because they aren't the best or the worst. So I tend to gravitate towards spending time in the city.
We've done a lot in Cozumel over the years and I'd like to try to hit some favorites while trying something new. One nice thing about Cozumel is it's a very easy place to explore. In a perfect world I would rent a car for the day, but Mexico's laws about car rentals and liability scare me too much to be able to enjoy it.
Interestingly, I haven't done the two biggest things Cozumel is well known for: snorkeling or Mayan ruins. I don't love snorkeling (well, I like snorkeling but I do not like fish) and I've been saving the ruins for something to do someday with my dad (who is not on this cruise).
Isla de Pasion
I wanted to see what's new to try in Cozumel and ran across Isla de Pasion after seeing favorable reviews on TripAdvisor. Basically it's a beautiful private island with unlimited adult beverages and buffet lunch included.
Photo by bayouscrubs
I've done many all-inclusive excursions and generally liked them, although they can be pricey. A little research found the cost is about $70 per person and more research found that the reviews of food wasn't great. And since my daughter will be with me, it's not like I can really drink $70 worth of alcohol to get my moneys worth.
The beach definitely looks great and it would be something nice to do perhaps with a group of people.
Pros: Beautiful beach; Lots of drinks
Cons: Expensive; Will take up most of the day; Reviews of food not great
Chocolateria Isla Bella
If I can, I like to do things in port I know my wife will enjoy and I think a stop at this chocolate shop might be just that. It's ranked as the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor for Cozumel and that really stood out to me.
Photo by eg2002
From the looks, a stop here could be quick and something to try for not a lot of money. Because I enjoy exploring Cozumel on foot, it's always nice to have a few things to do to fill up the day and who doesn't enjoy a chocolate break?
Of course, the only way I can really see going here is if I do a city tour and if we opt to do a full day excursion elsewhere, then we won't have time to stop by.
Pros: Inexpensive; quick stop; happy wife
Cons: Not the most exciting thing to do; Not going means unhappy wife
If I go with the explore the city choice for Cozumel, where we eat for lunch will be a highlight for me. Every trip to Cozumel I've tried a new restaurant in an effort to find the most authentic local food. I love Mexican food but I really love authentic Mexican food. Diego's is listed as #3 on TripAdvisor and the photos and reviews point to this as being an authentic experience.
Photo by Brucrew
It will be hard to top my current favorite Cozumel restaurant for authentic food, Comidas Caseras Tonita, but Diego's looks promising. Chips, salsa, guacamole and fajitas seem to be big here and I love to try a little of everything.
There are two downsides I can see by trying Diego's. First, on a map it's quite a way from the cruise ship and the main hub of downtown Cozumel. I don't mind walking but it will be a hike. Second, there is always the chance the food will not live up to my expectations. I enjoyed Comidas Caseras Tonita so much last time that other places will have a lot to live up to.
Pros: Authentic food; inexpensive; good reviews
Cons: Far away from city center; How good the food is remains to be determined.
Mezcalitos Restaurant & Beach Bar
Inevitably, a beach break in Cozumel is a must and we've tried a number of beaches in the past in Cozumel, including Paradise Beach and Playa Palancar. Mezcalitos is a beach bar on the east side of the island that sounds like the perfect combination of relaxation, uncrowded and a little bit authentic.
Photo by Hawkfish
What appeals to me about Mezcalitos is it's off the beat path. In fact, this bar has no electricity but is pretty to look at and may be a good place to get a little bit of a beach break plus some food and drink. When we were in Bikini Beach in St. Maarten, I liked having a restaurant, bar and beach tightly integrated and this sounds like more of the same.
The downside to Mezcalitos is the surf appears to be much stronger, which may be an issue since I have a 3 year old. Granted, she has fun playing in the sand where the waves come in so it's not th end of the world. Also, it's a bit of a drive to the east coast and once again will require a taxi fare.
Pros: Great scenery; Good food; Relaxing atmosphere; Good reviews
Cons: Relatively far away from cruise ship; Surf is strong(er)
After considering our options, we ended up choosing.... Chocolateria Isla Bella + Diego's + Mezcalitos.
The great and bad thing about Cozumel is there are so many choices of what to do, more so than any other island we are visiting on this cruise. With so many good choices, it's hard to just pick one or two.
What I love about Cozumel is how easy it is to explore the city and the island. I think our basic plan will be to explore San Miguel and try the chocolateria, shop and have lunch at Diego's before taking a cab to Mezcalitos for the afternoon.
I think what we have here is a good, open ended day with opportunities to try something different if it comes up. While Isla de Pasion looks great, in Cozumel I know how much there is to choose so I'd prefer to sample as much as I can rather than spend my day in just one place.
Each week Royal Caribbean posts new sales for various cruises across its fleet that can offer great discounts on specific sailings in the near future.
If you're looking for a quick escape, there are some great deals on Liberty of the Seas. Likewise, if you'd like to try Royal Caribbean's premier class of cruise ships, Oasis class, there's a number of Oasis of the Seas sailings with good prices as well.
This sale runs between January 14 and 15, 2014 with an exclusive preview sale open to Crown and Anchor Society members on January 13, 2014.
Freedom of the Seas
Itinerary: 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Departure Port: Port Canaveral
Sail Date: 01/26/2014
Inside: $529 per person (Category K)
Freedom of the Seas
Itinerary: 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Departure Port: Port Canaveral
Sail Date: 02/09/2014
Inside: $579 per person (Category K)
Legend of the Seas
Itinerary: 11 night Southern Caribbean Cruise
Departure Port: Fort Lauderdale
Sail Date: 02/032014
Inside: $899 per person (Category M)
Liberty of the Seas
Itinerary: 4 night Western Caribbean Cruise
Departure Port: Fort Lauderdale
Sail Date: 01/23/2014
Inside: $164 per person (Category M, N)
Ocean-view: $274 per person (Category G, I)
Balcony: $344 per person (Category D2, D3)