With 2017 nearly complete, it's time to look back on the year and see which news stories generated the most interest. There's no doubt that 2017 was a busy year for Royal Caribbean and so it is interesting to see which stories rose to the top of people's interest.
This year's top ten list is based on the Royal Caribbean stories we feel generated the most buzz and interest. There are some stories that made the top ten list that surprised me and others I'm more surprises did not make the list. Let's dive in!
Royal Caribbean brought underwater adventures to Snapchat
In a first-of-its-kind social media innovation, Royal Caribbean hosted underwater Snapchat experience thanks to its Snapchat Spectacles, known as SeaSeekers.
The mask was custom engineered by the cruise line for use with Snapchat Spectacles. It allows the wearer to snap while underwater and will give those above the surface a unique perspective into the intriguing underwater world of marine life.
Three dives took place in June that showed off this new innovation, in places like Cozumel and Belize.
Royal Caribbean celebrated the Great American solar eclipse
On August 21, 2017, millions witnessed a total solar ecliplse, and Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas provided the perfect viewing celebration.
Dubbed the, "Total Eclipse Cruise," Oasis of the Seas offered a 7-night Caribbean sailing, which cruised to the optimal spot at sea for guests to witness the total solar eclipse.
In addition to viewing the eclipse, there were dance parties, lectures, and a special performance by Bonnie Tyler and DNCE onboard.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria
A series of powerful hurricanes wreacked havoc on Royal Caribbean's cruise ship plans, in addition to inflicting horrific damage on certain islands in the storm's path.
The storms impacted a variety of sailings, with delays and even cancellations of some sailings. In fact, Royal Caribbean opted to cancel a few sailings and then use the cruise ships to act as floating hotels and supply delivery mechanisms.
The result was Royal Caribbean providing an incredible amount of relief and support to the peoples of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. The relief efforts lasted a number of weeks, and brought much needed help in the early days of recovery.
Royal Caribbean announced expansion of CocoCay
In March 2017, Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley announced plans for the cruise line to make major enhancements to the cruise line's private destination in the Bahamas, CocoCay.
The expansion will include construction of a pier, additional guest features and amenities, and new opportunities for vendors and craftsmen to promote the culture of The Bahamas to visitors. The pier will be able to handle Oasis class cruise ships.
Bayley described the new additions coming to CocoCay as, "innovative" and "entertaining". He also indicated the construction will take a multi-phased approach, with some elements of the new construction ready in 2018, and construction complete sometime in 2019. In the meantime, Bayley said ships will continue to stop at CocoCay without any disruption.
Royal Caribbean announced new fleetwide technology roll out
Royal Caribbean was forward leaning when the company held a big reveal event in Brooklyn to announce an array of technological innovations that aim to make things simpler and easier for guests going on a cruise.
At the heart of the new technology overhaul is a new smartphone app that will be rolled out to every Royal Caribbean ship over the next two years. The app promises to eliminate check-in lines at ports, equip crew members to anticipate guests’ needs, and enable giant cruise ships to sail through the water on a fuel-saving curtain of air.
The new tech will spread across the fleet by the end of 2019.
Royal Caribbean requiring all adults in same stateroom to purchase unlimited alcohol package
Royal Caribbean decided to change the rules regarding its unlimited alcohol package, and begin requiring all adults in a stateroom to purchase a drink package if one adult in that room elects to purchase one.
The change begins in 2018, but the rule change came out in October 2017. The change occured following an earlier announcement it was going to test the change first on select Harmony of the Seas sailings.
Royal Caribbean introduced non-refundable deposit program
Royal Caribbean announced in May 2017 a new non-refundable deposit program, which is an addition to the traditional refundable deposit model.
When making a cruise reservation at least 6-months prior to sailing, guests who opt to take advantage of nonrefundable deposit fares will automatically qualify to earn up to $100 per stateroom to spend at sea. Early booking credit is combinable with the existing promotional offer available at time of booking.
In an effort to deter continual or late ship/sail date adjustments, a change fee of $100 per guest will be imposed to all reservations booked under a nonrefundable deposit fare that opts to change either the ship and/or sail date originally selected.
Symphony of the Seas reveal
Throughout 2017, Royal Caribbean announced details surrounding its fourth Oasis class cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas. Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuts in April 2018 for her inaugural season in Europe.
In March 2017, Royal Caribbean formally announced Symphony of the Seas, along with some details surrounding the ship. This included some preliminary deployment details, along with the announcement it will be homeported in PortMiami.
In October, Royal Caribbean announced activities, restaurants and entertainment coming to Symphony of the Seas. New dining concepts and family activities, awe-inspiring theater, aerial, ice and aqua entertainment, and the most dynamic suite in family travel will join the lineup of Royal Caribbean exclusives on Symphony.
Spectrum of the Seas reveal
Speaking of cruise ship reveals, Royal Caribbean also shed some light onto another upcoming new ship, Spectrum of the Seas.
The first Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship will be based in the Asia-Pacific region and will join sister ships Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. She had the first piece of steel cut in August and her keel laid in November.
Spectrum of the Seas is set to debut in 2019 and will be the first Quantum Ultra ship that will specifically be designed for guests in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature cutting-edge and unprecedented experiences and amenities.
Royal Caribbean made its inaugural visit to Cuba
Royal Caribbean made history with the cruise line's inaugural visit to Cuba with Empress of the Seas in April 2017.
Empress has since followed up with a number of visits to Havana, Cuba, and Royal Caribbean unveiled new plans to expand Cuban sailings in the years to come.
What did you think was the biggest Royal Caribbean news of 2017? Did we miss one? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Royal Caribbean is offering bonus instant savings during its Sail Into 2018 sale.
In addition to its current December offer, guests can save up to $100 instantly when they book during the Sail Into 2018 Sale, plus up to $50 extra on winter sailings.
The Sail Into 2018 Sale is valid on cruises booked December 28, 2017 through January 3, 2018 on sailings departing on or after January 28, 2018. Offer excludes China departures. Up to $50 additional savings for Caribbean and Bahamas sailings 6 nights or longer departing January 28, 2018 – April 30, 2018.
- 30% off cruise fare for all guests' in the same stateroom.
- Kids Sail Free
- Guests 12 & under sail free on 4 nights or longer Europe, Bahamas, Canada, Bermuda, Hawaii, Coastal and Caribbean sailings departing January 9, 2018- December 15, 2018. Excludes Symphony of the Seas sailings and sailings departing 2/15/18-2/20/18, 3/10/18-4/1/18, 5/15/18- 9/1/18 and 11/17/18-11/22/18.
- Instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length:
- 5 Nights or Less
- Interior / Ocean View: $25
- Balcony: $50
- Suite: $75
- 6 Nights or Longer
- Interior / Ocean View: $75
- Balcony: $125
- Suite: $150
- 5 Nights or Less
- Summer Northeast Upgrade
- Guests can purchase a Balcony at the price of an Ocean View stateroom on Adventure of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas on sailings from May 1, 2018 - September 30, 2018.
- Guests can purchase an Ocean View at the price of an Interior stateroom on Grandeur of the Seas on sailings from May 1, 2018 - September 30, 2018.
30% off is combinable with NRDB OBC, Kids Sail Free, Free Upgrades, promotional OBCs and instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Sail into 2018 is combinable with NextCruise offers, NRDB OBC, and restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but is not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. 30% off bookings made for China departures are combinable with NextCruise offers and Crown and Anchor balcony/suites discounts only. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.
Offer available to residents of United States and Canada.
Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!
Matt shares what these ships offer guests in terms of onboard activities, what distinguishes them from other ships in the fleet, and why you might want to sail on them.
Here’s the podcast page for Episode 230. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS, Stitcher 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!
Royal Caribbean's new smart phone app has been updated to include support for Serenade of the Seas.
Version 1.3.0 of the Royal Caribbean App was released, which expands functionality and makes it work on Serenade of the Seas, in addition to Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
With 2018 right around the corner, a new year of Royal Caribbean cruising is nearly upon us. With the new year comes new changes to Royal Caribbean, and we picked out six of the most noticeable changes that guests will undoubtedly encounter.
Major tech rollout
In November 2017, Royal Caribbean announced an array of technological innovations coming to the fleet that have the goal of making things simpler and easier for guests. In 2018, we will see roughly half the fleet enjoy the fruits of this new push.
It will take until the end of 2019 for the entire breadth of this new tech push to be deployed across the entire fleet, but 2018 should see a number of ships benefit from the new innovations.
There are many components to this tech push, but a new smartphone app and frictionless check-in are at the heart of this initiative.
Three Royal Caribbean cruise ships will have noticeable work done to them in 2018. These ships jump out as worthy of paying close attention to, because they introduce something new onboard.
In the case of Allure of the Seas, the work being done is to repair the propulsion problem it has been hampered with since summer 2017.
Unlimited alcohol package rule change
Beginning in 2018, guests who want to purchase an unlimited alcohol package will be required to purchase an unlimited alcohol package for all adults in the same stateroom.
In an effort to thwart sharing of drink package benefits (which is strictly against the rules of the package), Royal Caribbean is adding this rule. Similar rules exist among other cruise lines that offer an unlimited alcohol package.
Cruises from New Orleans
If you are one of the many cruise fans that have been clamoring for a return to New Orleans, 2018 is your year.
After a three-year hiatus, Royal Caribbean will return to offering cruises from New Orleans, Louisiana with Vision of the Seas in the winter of 2018-2019. Beginning on December 15, 2018, Vision of the Seas will offer 7-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula.
New cruise terminal in Miami
Taking a Royal Caribbean cruise from PortMiami is about to become a whole lot better in 2018 with the opening of its new cruise terminal in late 2018.
Terminal A will be completed in October 2018 and is anticipated that Royal Caribbean will generate at least 1.8 million travelers at PortMiami – representing no less than 30 percent of the port’s projected passenger traffic.
Terminal A at PortMiami will be the new home of the just announced Symphony of the Seas, as well as sister ship Allure of the Seas.
Symphony of the Seas launch
The biggest change in 2018 is the addition of the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.
Symphony will arrive in March 2018, and begin service by sailing the Mediterranean in Spring and Summer 2018. Symphony of the Seas will make stops at ports in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Rome and Naples.
In Fall 2018, Symphony of the Seas will cross the Atlantic to her new home in at PortMiami in Miami, Florida. From Miami, she will sail from Royal Caribbean's brand new cruise terminal that it broke ground on this morning. Symphony of the Seas will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.
Symphony of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship ever, coming in at 230,000 GRT. She will have 28 more staterooms than her sister ship, Harmony of the Seas, and be 215.5 feet wide and 1,188 feet long. This will make Symphony of the Seas just slightly larger than Harmony of the Seas.
Which Royal Caribbean change are you most excited about for 2018? Tell us in the comments!
Merry Christmas! The holidays are here, and so is our weekly round up of this week's Royal Caribbean news.
There was a lot of Royal Caribbean news this week, but a majority of the headlines surrounded a shore excursion accident in Mexico for some guests from Serenade of the Seas.
At least 12 tourists died in the crash. Royal Caribbean has confirmed 27 cruise ship passengers were on the bus that suffered the accident, which were sailing on Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Equinox.
The crash occurred as the bus was on its way to the ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles south of Tulum.
Royal Caribbean News
- We're hearing Royal Caribbean will raise its automatic gratuity rate.
- Independence of the Seas had a gastrointestinal virus that affected 332 passengers.
- Royal Caribbean shared new Symphony of the Seas construction photos.
- Check out these 7 surprising facts about Harmony of the Seas.
- The over the water cabanas at Labadee's Barefoot Beach are back.
- We answer the question of what time to get to your cruise port on embarkation day.
- Royal Caribbean won five awards at the 2017 Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.
- Shay Mitchell has a new Adventurist video to share this week.
- Royal Caribbean is planning to update its casino rewards program.
- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. named a new Chief Information Officer.
Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast
On this episode, Matt and Billy make wishes for changes we would make if we had access to a genie (and opted not to wish for wealth and a long life).
How you can support Royal Caribbean Blog
So many of our readers have reached out to us to ask how they can help the blog and we are introducing the Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders for just that reason.
The Insiders group is a way readers can contribute to Royal Caribbean Blog and help fuel some of the really amazing ideas, projects and new content that we have lined up.
As a way of saying thank you for your contribution, there are some fun rewards for being a member of the Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders.
Becoming a member of the Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders is completely up to you and you can cancel at any time. No questions asked!
As always, thank you for visiting Royal Caribbean Blog and being a part of our community!
Royal Caribbean Around the Internet
Daily Post is reporting Holyhead, England is considering building a new cruise berth to accomodate large cruise ships.
Skift is reporting on how cruise lines will keep trying to get your attention in 2018.
Eat Sleep Cruise shared 20 top family cruise tips.
Cruise Critic reported on Royal Caribbean's return to St. Maarten.
Shooting the Sea Breeze shared the different sanitation levels Royal Caribbean employs.
Royal Caribbean has just released new construction photos of Symphony of the Seas from the STX shipyard in France.
The ship is scheduled to be delivered in March 2018.
Royal Caribbean has replaced the Over The Water cabanas at Barefoot Beach on Labadee, following removing them due to hurricane damage.
RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Twangster reports construction of the replacement cabanas completed two weeks ago.
The original cabanas were damaged by waves as Hurricane Irma passed by Labadee well off shore. The new cabanas have been fortified with rocks below them to reduce potential damage from waves in the future. No other notable damage occurred to Labadee from hurricanes this year.
With the new cabanas in place, all hurricane restoration at Labadee is complete and the suite exclusive Barefoot Beach remains as beautiful as it always has been.
Royal Caribbean will be raising its automatic daily gratuity amount that guests pay night of their cruise beginning on January 2, 2018.
Beginning January 2, 2018, guests will pay a $14.50 per guest per day service charge to each guest's SeaPass account on a daily basis. For guests in a Grand Suite or above, the amount is $17.50.
Prior to this change, the daily gratuity amount was $13.50 and $16.50. Royal Caribbean last increased their daily gratuity amount in May 2016.
If you have already prepaid your gratuities, you will be grandfathered into the current rates. Should guests opt not to pay gratuities until onboard, they will be subject to the newly suggested gratuity amounts.
Guests currently booked that have not yet prepaid their gratuities will have until the time of sailing to do so at the old rate. After January 2nd, 2018, gratuities paid while onboard are subject to the new, increased rates. If not prepaid prior to sailing, the new gratuity rate will be automatically applied to your account onboard.
The change has already appeared on Royal Caribbean's UK and Japan sites.
Note: we used Google Translate to translate the Japanese site.
December 26 UPDATE: Royal Caribbean has confirmed the change in gratuity. Royal Caribbean described the increase as, "Royal Caribbean is constantly reviewing our competitive environment and this adjustment positions us in-line with our competitors. The additional gratuity collected will be disbursed to our onboard crew".
After January 2nd, 2018, regardless of when the booking was created, gratuities paid while onboard are subject to the new, increased rates. Pre-existing bookings confirmed prior to January 2nd, 2018 will not be subject to the increased guidelines as long as gratuities are paid in advance of sailing.
Should guests opt not to pay gratuities until onboard, they will be subject to the newly suggested gratuity amounts.
This week's batch of beautiful Royal Caribbean photos is here and it's always fun to share with all of you the great photos our readers take while on their cruise vacation.
The photos we have to show this week are fun and of course anyone can send us their Royal Caribbean photos to use as well!
Our first photo is from Blake Baldwin fo Explorer of the Seas pulling into Skagway, Alaska, as seen from Radiance of the Seas.
David Donnelly took this photo of Independence of the Seas coming into Southampton, England early in the morning.
This beautiful photo is by Stuart Etheridge, taken on his first trip to Labadee. Stuart reported trying a cabana based on my recommendation, and he loved it.
Our next photo is by Leon Umans of Adventure of the Seas while in Sint Maarten.
Here is Cindy Graf and her husband standing in front of Anthem of the Seas while in Martinique.
Allen Shaffer shared this photo of Empress of the Seas.
Our last photo this week is of Pascal Everard on his way back to his Royal Caribbean ship.
Thank you to everyone that sent in their photos this week and if you have Royal Caribbean photos, well, we want to see them! You can use this form to send us your photos and we will feature them on an upcoming Friday Photos blog post!