Friday Photos

In:
20Mar2015

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!

We will kick things off this week with a photo with a photo by Tom & Diane Trudnowski of Navigator of the Seas.  Navigator has become one of my favorite ships and I'd love to get back onboard.

Let's go around the world for our next photo! It's from Ross and Pam of Voyager of the Seas in Suva, Fiji.  What a great perspective!

Next we have a photo of the lighthouse you can see as your Royal Caribbean ship comes into or leaves Nassau, Bahamas by Michael Poole.  Love the water color!

Here's a photo of the ship I'll be boarding tomorrow (not that I'm super excited or anything), it's Quantum of the Seas by Kris Jackson.  Here, she's in Labadee and it looks like another day in paradise!

Jorge Toache sent us this photo of a snow covered Quantum of the Seas.  I'm hoping this will not be how the ship will look when I get onboard!

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!

Royal Caribbean to begin 5-day WOW Sale $200 OBC & 50% reduced deposit

In:
19Mar2015

Royal Caribbean will kick off a five-day WOW sale starting March 21, 2015 that will run through March 25.  The sale offers up to $200 onboard credit and 50% off deposits.

The WOW sale is valid on all sailings except Quantum of the Seas,  Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.

The onboard credit breakdown is as follows

  • 5 nights or less
    • $50 onboard credit (per stateroom) & 50% reduced deposit
  • 6-9 nights
    • $100 onboard credit (per stateroom) & 50% reduced deposit
  • 10 nights or longer
    • $200 onboard credit (per stateroom) & 50% reduced deposit

LISTEN TO OUR ADVICE ON WOW SALES AND IF THEY ARE A GOOD DEAL

Offer is combinable with standard/full fare rates and restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, BOGO, Kids Sail Free, ChoiceAir Specials, etc.).

Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Crown & Anchor Discount programs or rates, Shareholder Benefits or Next Cruise offers, promotions, or benefits.

What is a WOW Sale? Are WOW Sales good deals?  Read our Cruise 101: WOW Sale post to get information on what this deal is all about.

Video: Bringing fitness to life on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas

In:
19Mar2015

Quantum Experience Advisor, Dhani Jones steps onboard the newly launched Quantum of the Seas for the first time and marvel’s at the spaces he helped design.

Live Blogging from Quantum of the Seas - Preamble

In:
18Mar2015

Hi everyone, I'm really excited to announce our next live-blog experience as we get ready for a cruise aboard Quantum of the Seas for an 8-night Caribbean adventure.

It is my hope to provide to our readers a daily look at what this cruise will be like and share our experiences with you.  This means I will try to post photos every day along with a written report of how things are going (internet permitting).

If you're new to our live blogs, check out the live blogs we did for Navigator of the SeasFreedom of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas for an idea of what's in store for you. I'm hoping to give our readers a daily look into what we did that day, what was good/not good and what we have planned for the next day.  

For this cruise, I'll be driving to Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Friday, March 20 to start our adventure.  I live close enough to the port to be able to drive there on the day of the cruise, but I'm too excited to stay away and I like the idea of kick starting my vacation a day early.  

As many of you know, this cruise was planned as a group cruise among readers of Royal Caribbean Blog and I cannot wait to meet up with everyone onboard the ship and share in exploring Quantum of the Seas together.  Ever since I planned the group cruise, I've thought the idea of cruising with other Royal Caribbean fans would be a lot of fun.

I'll be leaving for my hotel near the port, Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott, right after work on Friday and I should get to the hotel in the evening (no thanks to the New York City rush hour traffic I will be running into). I picked this hotel because Newark airport hotels are as close to the port as you can get and because of the high level of business travelers, these airport hotels are also typically quite nice.  The next day, I will board Quantum of the Seas as early as humanly possible and start the real fun on March 21st!

This is actually my second time on Quantum of the Seas, having taken a two-night sampler cruise(read the live blog from that cruise here) back in November.  From the day Royal Caribbean announced Quantum of the Seas, I've been infatuated with getting onboard and my two night experience was merely a tease for the real thing.  The Quantum-class in general is a new direction for Royal Caribbean and there's just so much onboard to see, do and eat.  In addition, this will be my first solo cruise, so going on a cruise alone will be an adventure in of itself, but then again I'll be with other Royal Caribbean Blog friends who I'm hoping to see a lot of onboard.

In addition to the ship, the itinerary we are on will bring us to two ports of call.  Our itinerary has been changed a number of times but we will be sailing to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Royal Caribbean's private island of Labadee. I've been to both ports but am looking forward to each for different reasons.  San Juan is a beautiful city, with tons to do and this time we will be there in the evening, so I am looking forward to exploring the San Juan night life.  With Labadee, you never have to twist my arm to go back there.  I love what Royal Caribbean has done with this piece of paradise and it's among my favorite spots for pure relaxation (and Labadoozies).

Of course, I hope you will be joining for me on this cruise virtually. If you have any questions for me while I’m onboard, comment in the post below, email or twitter me, and I’ll do my best to answer. 

Who is going

Matt (me).  That's it. Just me. No one else. Seriously.

Our itinerary

Day Location
Day 1: Saturday, 03/21/2015 Depart from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
Day 2: Sunday, 03/22/2015 Cruising
Day 3: Monday, 03/23/2015 Cruising
Day 4: Tuesday, 03/24/2015 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Day 5: Wednesday, 03/25/2015
Day 6: Thursday, 03/26/2015 Labadee, Haiti
Day 7: Friday, 03/27/2015 Cruising
Day 8: Saturday, 03/28/2015 Cruising
Day 9: Sunday, 03/29/2015 Arrive at Cape Liberty, New Jersey

Next update should be on my pre-cruise arrival day, Friday, November 20.  Stay tuned for all of our live blog updates right here.

Royal Caribbean updates NextCruise offer and will give onboard booking bonus on the same cruise

In:
18Mar2015

Royal Caribbean has changed its onboard re-booking program, NextCruise, once again to offer the bonus on the cruise you are currently on instead of the future cruise.

Under the new terms of NextCruise, when you book a specific sailing while onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, the onboard credit amount you are entitled to will be added to your SeaPass account on the sailing you are on.  Under the old program, the bonus was applied to your onboard account when you took the upcoming cruise.

This change only affects cruises you book that have a specific sail date.  The open booking option will not change with this program.

The deposit will be nonrefundable and will be equal to the amount of onboard credit you get.

The amount of onboard credit you will receive is as follows:

  • 5-7 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $50
    • Balcony/Junior Suite: $100
    • Grand Suite and above: $200
  • 8-10 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $100
    • Balcony/Junior Suite: $150
    • Grand Suite and above: $300
  • 11-14 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $150
    • Balcony/Junior Suite: $200
    • Grand Suite and above: $400
  • 15 nights or longer cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $200
    • Balcony/Junior Suite: $250
    • Grand Suite and above: $500

Tip of the hat to Katina Bradley for alerting us to this news.

Quantum of the Seas Cruise Preview on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
18Mar2015

Hey everyone! Episode 85 of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.

This week, we're sharing the details about our cruise on Quantum of the Seas to the Caribbean that begins this weekend.  Let's look at why we picked this cruise, the cool things to do on Quantum of the Seas and our plans for each port of call.  

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 85. 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!

Royal Caribbean puts Harmony of the Seas cruises on sale for Crown and Anchor Society members

In:
17Mar2015

Royal Caribbean is allowing its Crown and Anchor Society members the first chance to book their spot aboard Harmony of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's third Oasis-class cruise ship, will have her inaugural cruise in June 2016.  The ship combines features found on older Oasis-class cruise ships as well as some innovations first introduced on the Quantum-class of ships. In addition, there are water slides aboard the ship, which is a first for Royal Caribbean.

Those Crown and Anchor members interested in booking can call Royal Caribbean directly, consult a travel agent or book online.

The general public will be able to book their cruise on Harmony of the Seas starting on March 19.

Royal Caribbean releases full Harmony of the Seas deck plans

In:
17Mar2015

Royal Caribbean revealed today the full deck plans for its third Oasis-class cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas.

The deck plans list all of the onboard restaurants, bars, lounges and entertainment the ship will offer.

Harmony of the Seas will feature many restaurants from the Quantum-class of ships as well as the new water slides that will be on the ship.

You can view the full deck plans on Royal Caribbean's site.

How much does a Royal Caribbean cruise cost?

In:
17Mar2015

If you're considering a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation, one of the first questions you may have is, "How much will it cost?".  It's pretty typical to think along these lines and here's a quick guide to getting a good sense of what the real cost will be.

Of course, the cost of any Royal Caribbean cruise depends on who is taking the cruise.  Everyone has different tastes, preferences and spending habits and this will largely dictate how much your cruise will really cost.  What you have to understand is any Royal Caribbean cruise has a base cost that everyone pays and then there's other options you can opt to purchase.

Here's a quick guide to getting a general sense of what a cruise will cost you when it's all said and done.  Royal Caribbean cruises are a great value but much of it depends on what you want.

Cruise Fare

The easiest place to begin budgeting is with the cost Royal Caribbean charges you to go aboard its ships.  

It's up to you to find the cruise sailing that appeals to you, but it's a fixed cost that everyone has to pay and you can always price out a cruise based on what your travel agent quotes you or you find via Royal Caribbean's web site.

Transportation

Next, you need to figure out how you are getting to the cruise.  In most cases, this will be a decision between flying and driving to the embarkation port.

If you're flying, price out airfare costs between your nearest airport and the airport closest to the port.  You can save money on airfare sometimes by considering other airports nearby to either location.  

Don't forget to factor in the cost of a taxi, rental car or car service to get you to the port from the airport.

If you're driving, use AAA's Fuel Cost Calculator to determine the cost of your drive to the port.  

Whether you are flying or driving, don't forget to factor in the cost of a hotel night (or more) if you plan on arriving to your embarkation port at least one day early, as well as any hotel costs involved in driving.

Gratuities

Royal Caribbean has a policy of automatic gratuities that will be deducted from your onboard account for each person in your party, each evening. 

The daily cost of gratuities are $12 per day, per person.  Passengers in suites will pay $14.25, per day, per person.

You may also pre-pay your gratuities online or added to your booking by your travel agent, before your sail date. 

Multiply the gratuity amount by the people in your party and how many nights your cruise is.

Also keep in mind a 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to all bar bills, as well as salon and spa services.

Food and Drink

Wait a minute, I thought food and drinks were included on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  You are correct, some food and drink are included in your fare.  The reality is, most people opt to get more than just what's included.  

From sodas and beers to meals in the specialty restaurants, there's a lot to choose from.

Starting with the drink packages, take a look at Royal Caribbean's drink packages and which, if any, you would be interested in.

Next, find out which specialty restaurants are available on your ship and determine which, if any, you would like to dine at.  

With either the beverage packages or the restaurants, it's a good idea to book them in advance to help break up the cost of your cruise because Royal Caribbean will charge you for any of them at the time of reservation.

Excursions

Your Royal Caribbean will visit some interesting and fun destinations and many passengers choose to get off the ship and explore.  

There's a number of options in any port of what to do, so begin by considering the ports you are visiting and looking into what is available and what is of interest to you.  You can book Royal Caribbean's shore excursions or opt to do something on your own.

There's a lot of choice involved here and depending on what you like to do for fun, your costs can vary wildly.  You could walk around the port and not spend a dime or done your part to personally stimulate the local economy.  

If you go with an organized excursion, it's usually safe to estimate a cost of about $40-50 per person.  Prices jump from there if your activity includes alcohol, animal encounters or private aircraft.

Extras

Beyond what we've listed so far, there's even more for you to spend on your cruise vacation.  

Spa services, gym classes, souvenirs, onboard internet and more are just a few of the choices you have in purchasing extras on your Royal Caribbean cruise.

The costs for all of these can vary greatly, but you should take a look at some of the extras available for booking in Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner website.

And the total is...

Add up the numbers you came up with in all the of the steps above and you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect your final cruise cost to be.

It's important to understand there's a lot of choice involved with your cruise vacation.  It's easy to point out much of the extra costs are optional and you can withstand the temptation but when you're on the ship, it's a different story.

Hopefully this will give you a guide on what to expect and ultimately, you have the power to determine how much higher the cost will be in the end!

Royal Caribbean launches production studio partnership with Florida International University

In:
16Mar2015

Royal Caribbean and Florida International University (FIU) will unveil a 130,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art rehearsal and production studio on Friday and announce details of a new partnership that will include collaborative research and talent development.

The Royal@FIU World Stage Collaborative will include paid internships, custom curricula and behind-the-scenes access to Royal Caribbean’s experts and facilities.

Students will gain hands-on experience in cruise line operations, stage management, lighting, stage design, audio engineering and production. In addition, FIU faculty and staff will have access to Royal Caribbean marketing and sales data from its six cruise brands to conduct original research and present findings to Royal Caribbean.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place from 10:15 a.m. to noon Friday at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus.

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