First time cruisers: Can I get a table for two people in the main dining room on my Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
06Aug2016

Royal Caribbean's main dining room is elegant, sophisticated and serves guests some amazing food.  It is a staple of the cruise experience, but some guests do not love the idea of sitting with other guests at the same table.

Whether you prefer some time alone at dinner, or just would prefer to sit at your own table, there are some options for getting a table for two on your next Royal Caribbean cruise.

If you are in My Time Dining, tables for two are generally easy to get.  If you do not arrange anything in advance, simply go up to the My Time Dining reservations table and when you make your dinner reservation, simply ask then for a table for two. It shouldn't be a problem, even if you don't have a reservation, although if it's a peak period, you might have to wait about 15 minutes.

If you are in traditional dining, when you make your initial cruise reservation, you can request a table for two.  You also send an email to rcldining@rccl.com about 2-3 weeks prior to your sailing with your request.  This strategy usually works for most folks. 

Once onboard the ship, you can still make the request.  On embarkation day, go to the main dining room and speak to the head waiter and ask for a table for two.  They are usually quite accommodating.  

Royal Caribbean adds more Vision of the Seas sailings from Galveston through April 2018

In:
06Aug2016

Royal Caribbean has added even more Vision of the Seas sailings from Galveston, Texas, with guests now able to book sailings through April 2018.

Royal Caribbean announced initial Vision of the Seas sailings for November and December 2017, but has now expanded those offerings to extend through April 2018.

Vision of the Seas will offer 4- and 5-night itineraries to destinations in the Western Caribbean, such as Costa Maya and Cozumel.

Vision of the Seas is the second Royal Caribbean ship offering cruises from Galveston, joining Liberty of the Seas.

Spotted: Coca-Cola Olympics design souvenir cups on Royal Caribbean cruise ships

In:
06Aug2016

Just in time for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, guests on Royal Caribbean can enjoy new souvenir Coca-Cola cups on their cruise.

The new souvenir cups are available on Royal Caribbean ships when a guest purchases one of the unlimited drink packages.

It is not clear how long these will be available, but it seems to be a recent addition.

These souvenir cups are compatible with the self-serve soda machines on the pool deck as well as the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the machine.

Spark Cooperative helped design Ultimate Abyss slide on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

In:
05Aug2016

Spark Cooperative recently showcased some of their "Experience Design" works, which includes end-to-end development of The Ultimate Abyss slide on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean commissioned Spark to push the envelope of what a cruise ship can contain and build on the cruise line's innovative reputation with a brand new, thrilling experience. 

The Ultimate Abyss is a pair of side-by-side 100 ft- high slides that guests can ride down multiple decks of the ship.  Spark worked to offer a slide experience that offered multi-sensory channels, including spontaneous audio effects, bespoke ride mats and custom uniforms and accessories.  The attraction is designed to thrill guests while maintaining a sense of heart-pumping anticipation.

As part of this engagement, Spark developed 3D renderings of the Ultimate Abyss, as well as the ride's story, logo, visual identity, and signage package.

Ronnie Farzad, Principle at Spark Cooperative, talked about what makes the work his company did on the Ultimate Abyss so unique, "Brands are increasingly using experiences as marketing differentiators.  Research shows customers pay more for a great experience and willing to return for it.  The work Spark did for The Ultimate Abyss around a holistic and integrated activation is focused around this need for a memorable guest experience."

Friday Photos

In:
05Aug2016

It is Friday and with the weekend nearly here, that means we are sharing our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos.  Each week, we ask our readers to send us Royal Caribbean photos to share on the blog.

Who has two thumbs and enjoying a day in paradise? This guy! Roderick Jones sent us this photo from his Oasis of the Seas cruise from Barefoot Beach in Labadee.  Enjoy it!

Isabella sent us this photo of the donkeys from Santorini, Greece.  Fabulous view!

Meagan sent us this photo of Brilliance of the Seas, as seen from Cannes.  C'est magnifique!

Let's head back to Labadee with this photo by Michael Grillo, taken when he and his daughter were enjoy a summer cruise together. 

Here is a photo by Donald Barnett of one of the many towel animals their steward made during our stay on Freedom of the Seas. Love coming back to my room and finding one of these!

No Friday Photos is complete without a sunset photo, and here is one by Danielle from Grandeur of the Seas while on their way to Bermuda. Beautiful!

We are going, "old school" for this photo by John Siegmund, and it is of Crystal Olympia (former Royal Caribbean Song of America) sailing past Splendour of the Seas anchored off shore in Santorini, Greece May 2015. She still looks great!

Thank you to everyone for sharing these great photos.  If you want to include your photos too, please send them to us via this form!

5 awesome local restaurants to try on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Caribbean

In:
04Aug2016

The destinations Royal Caribbean brings you to are fantastic ports of call that are fun to explore each and every time you stop there.  For us, the local cuisine is a major attraction and it reminds us of the old saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" and that means sampling the culture of the area you are visiting by enjoying their food.

Each Caribbean port offers something different with influences from around the world. Dining at the restaurants locals frequent is a great way to get an authentic look at what the port offers, as well as pick up some new favorite dishes.  

We selected five restaurants across our Caribbean travels on Royal Caribbean ships to share with you as our top picks to try on your next Royal Caribbean cruise.

5. Cuzzin's Restaurant - St. Thomas

When we look for the best local food in a town we are new to, we always look at crowd sourcing reviews for a good idea of where to go, and the top ranked restaurant in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas was a little place called Cuzzin's Restaurant.

A short walk from the ample shopping of Charlotte Amalie, Cuzzin's offers some of the best Caribbean food available.

Curried chicken, conch, BBQ ribs, fried shrimp and more are just some of the authentic dishes that draw on the restaurant's local specialties.

In addition, there is a full bar that serves up something called, the lambada boomer drink.  Drink and enjoy the rest of the day!

4. Fish Fry's - Nassau, Bahamas

Many Royal Caribbean cruise ships make stops in Nassau, and if you are in the mood for something local, head over to Fish Fry's for reasonably priced local cuisine.

Fish Fry's is actually the name of a row of restaurants to choose from.  Most of the restaurants here have similar menus, with dishes like lobster, chicken, conch salad, shrimp, burgers and other of course, fresh fish.

You will find a wide selection of food made by locals and pretty good prices too.  The heart of these restaurants is offering fresh and authentic Bahamian food.

3. El Jibarito - San Juan

Old San Juan is full of wonderful restaurants, but if you want the best Puerto Rican food in the old city, you need to stop by El Jibarito.

What El Jibarito lacks in stately decor, it makes up for in its freshly made dishes. Mofongo, shrimp, yellow rice, tamales and more are all available here and it is the place to sample Puerto Rican food.

The word is out on El Jibarito, as there are often lines around meal times but it is worth a stop for the great food.

2. La Sucrière - St. Martin

The island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is half Dutch, and half French and that means there are lot of great spots to enjoy food from both cultures.  If you happen to be craving a traditional French breakfast, look no further than La Sucrière in the French capital.

Set right on the Marigot waterfront, La Sucrière bakes fresh breads, quiches, sandwiches, croissants and other French specialties each day for its customers.  There is nothing fresher without crossing the Atlantic.

Starting your day with breakfast or brunch at La Sucrière is the right way to experience St. Martin!

 

1. Comida Caseras Tonita - Cozumel

The holy grail of great authentic food is something made with pride and love, and at Comida Caseras Tonita, you will find a family run restaurant that will frankly ruin all other Mexican food for you.

Just a few short blocks from the Cozumel waterfront is this hidden gem that has a menu full of fresh and authentic Mexican food. If you are looking for the kind of food the locals eat, Tonita is the place for you.

The staff really do not speak any English, but you can easily point to what you want on the menu and shortly thereafter enjoy some incredible dishes. We have visited Tonita on multiple occasions and it never disappoints.  Come hungry!

Your recommendations

Have you found a great local restaurant that you swear by? Share the details in the comments!

Royal Caribbean offers 30% off all guests and kids sail free deal

In:
04Aug2016

Royal Caribbean has released its newest cruise deal today, offering 30% off all passengers, on all ships, along with a kids sail free offer on select dates.

The 30% off offer allows guests to save 30% off standard cruise fare for all guests in a stateroom. It is available on bookings made between August 4 - 31, 2016 and is valid on all sailings departing on or after September 4, 2016.

Guests can also take advantage of the kids sail free deal on bookings made between August 4 and 18, 2016, where Royal Caribbean will offer free cruise fare of third and higher guests who are 12 years or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two offer qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom.

Kids Sail Free is eligible in 5 nights or longer Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Dubai, and Europe sailing that departs Sept. 6, 2016-May 15, 2017. Kids Sail Free Offer excludes sailings departing between 11/17/16- 11/24/16, 12/15/16-1/05/17, 2/16/17-2/23/17, 3/10/17-3/20/17, 4/06/17-4/16/17 and Harmony of the Seas. Offer excludes China departures.

If you happen to book a holiday cruise, there is one more deal you might be able to take advantage of, where guests can get up to $200 onboard credit per stateroom for eligible Bahamas, Bermuda and Caribbean holiday sailings:

  • $200 OBC per stateroom for eligible holiday sailings 10 nights or longer departing December 15-31, 2016 and December 15-31, 2017
  • $100 OBC per stateroom for eligible holiday sailings 6-9 nights departing December 15-31, 2016 and December 15-31, 2017
  • $100 OBC per stateroom for eligible holiday sailings 3-5 nights departing December 22-31, 2016 and December 22-31, 2017

Offer open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. 

Royal Caribbean Premium Drink Package vs. Ultimate Drink Package

In:
03Aug2016

Having a Royal Caribbean drink package can provide guests with a simple means of controlling the total cost of enjoying beer, wine and cocktails onboard their Royal Caribbean cruise.  Beverage packages allow guests to pay a fixed cost for all the drinks they care to enjoy on their Royal Caribbean cruise, including mixed drinks, cocktails, soda, beer, wine and more.

A very common question our readers are curious about are figuring the differences between Royal Caribbean's Premium drink package and Ultimate drink package and how to know which one is right for them?  At quick glance, both of these packages are very similar, but here is an in-depth look at the package differences and similarities to help you make the right decision.

Premium drink package

The Premium drink package costs $57 per guest, per day (including gratuity) and provides guests with unlimited beer, wine by the glass (up to $12 value), all well, call, and premium cocktails (up to $12 value), frozen cocktails and fountain soda with Coca-Cola souvenir cup.

Guests can also get bottled water still (500ml) and receive 20% off bottles of wine.

The Premium drink package is a good choice for guests that want to have more than just beer and wine on their cruise, namely mixed cocktails.  Most guests choose the Premium drink package for the inclusion of cocktails, as well as the increased wine by the glass allotment of $12 per glass, compared to the Select drink package.

Ultimate drink package

The Ultimate drink package costs $69.62 per guest, per day (including gratuity) and offers guests unlimited beer, wine by the glass (up to $12 value) , mixed cocktails, frozen cocktails along with premium coffee, premium tea, bottled water (sparkling and still) , fresh squeezed juice, fountain sodas with the Coca-Cola souvenir cup.  It is essentially a combination of the Premium drink package with the Royal Replenish drink package.

If you purchase an Ultimate drink package, guests can get 40% discount on wines under $100 and 20% off bottles of wine above $100.

The Ultimate drink package is great for someone that wants to pick from the widest variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.  According to Royal Caribbean, the Ultimate drink package offers guests "virtually unlimited options."

Comparing the two drink packages

When looking at the Premium drink package versus the Ultimate drink package, it comes down a decision on how important juices, premium coffees and teas and other non-alcoholic benefits matter to you.  The primary difference between the ultimate drink package and the premium drink package is the ultimate package includes premium coffee, premium tea, bottled water (sparkling and still) and fresh squeezed juice.  By purchasing the Ultimate drink package, guests will save money when compared to purchasing the Premium and Royal Replenish drink packages separately.

Before any discounts, the Ultimate drink package costs about $12 more per day than the Premium drink package, and it is a good fit for guests that want juice, coffee and tea along with their mixed drinks.  If having an unlimited amount of those types of beverages is not that important, then guests are better off going with the Premium drink package instead.

Recently, Royal Caribbean has been experimenting with offering its guests discounts on its drink packages prior to the cruise on the Cruise Planner web site.  Discounts on the drink packages have resulted in a difference of about $2-5 between the Premium and Ultimate drink package, which means the cost difference is down to about one beverage per day.  There is no consistency yet as to which sailings and which ships will have a discount offered, but to see if your cruise has one, log into your Royal Caribbean account and navigate to the Cruise Planner to check if there is a discount. If you do not see any discounts, keep checking up until your sail date to see if discounts are added later.

Your thoughts

How would you compare these two drink packages? Do you tend to purchase the Premium or Ultimate package and why?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Interview with Anthem of the Seas' Godmother Emma Wilby on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
03Aug2016

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

Episode 157 is available for downloading, and this week we have an exclusive interview with the Godmother of Anthem of the Seas, Emma Wilby.

Hear about how Emma was chosen to become Anthem's Godmother, what she did to prepare for the role and what her favorite aspects of Anthem of the Seas are.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 157. 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!

Spotted: New swim up bar at Royal Caribbean's private island Coco Cay

In:
02Aug2016

Guests visiting Royal Caribbean's private destination of Coco Cay in the Bahamas will have something new to try on their next visit.

Royal Caribbean added a new swim up bar for guests to enjoy while out for a swim.  It is located near South Beach/Barefoot Beach.

The new bar is floating in the ocean, which means guests have to swim to it in order to get a drink.  Michael Poole reports the new bar was added just a few weeks ago.

The rules of the bar are posted at the bar

  • Adult Only Bar - No children under the age of 18
  • Must be able to swim
  • No diving, flips, horseplay, stunts, trucks or pushing allowed
  • No diving or swimming under bar

Royal Caribbean is in the midst of upgrading a number of experiences on the island, including new cabanas and even a dock for the island.

Do you want to try this bar on your next cruise stop in Coco Cay? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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