Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: February 12, 2017

In:
12Feb2017

Happy weekend before Valentine's Day! We hope you are having a fun and relaxing weekend. The perfect compliment to any Sunday is our round-up of all of this week's Royal Caribbean news.

Royal Caribbean announced, and then subsequently extended a new WOW Sale promotion, where guests can take advantage of a number of great offers.

The WOW Sale includes 60% off the second guest, up to $200 in onboard credit and 50% reduced deposit for bookings made through February 13.  This offer is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

The WOW Sale is combined with the February Wave Season offer that is going on, and we have heard from lots of readers who have been able to take advantage of this latest promotion.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 184th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available and have an overview of the main dining room on Royal Caribbean ships.

In this episode, Matt discusses what the main dining room offers guests, and shares tips and strategies for a great time dining there throughout the cruise.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Recently added Royal Caribbean Menus

We regularly update our listing of Royal Caribbean menus to help our readers prepare for their cruise experience. Here is a listing of which menus have been updated this week.

    Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

    The Miami Herald looks at how Ovation of the Seas caters to the Chinese guest.

    Royal Caribbean has a look at the "where" and "when" of sailings.

    One Boston Herald writer is enjoying cruising after years of avoiding it.

    TimeOut London has a look at 10 awesome robots (including one on Royal Caribbean).

    Condé Nast Traveler shares 10 amazing Caribbean gems that are sure to move higher up on your travel list.

    Royal Caribbean has a list of the coolest new 2017 cruises.

    Spotted: Labadoozie Tiki mugs on Labadee

    In:
    11Feb2017

    No visit to Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee is complete without the official drink of this oasis, the Labadoozie. And now, Royal Caribbean is offering new tiki cups that will let you toast to good times in style.

    Thanks to Melinda for sharing these photos!

    This new cup design is available as a souvenir cup and sold at many locations in Labadee. The cups come filled with a Labadoozie, and cost $15.28 with alcohol, or $10.18 without alcohol.

    Like all souvenir cups, these are not included in any Royal Caribbean drink package, but can be purchased a la carte with the SeaPass card.

    Do you like these tiki cups? Will you buy one on your next visit? Share your thoughts in our comments!

    Pros and Cons of Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages

    In:
    10Feb2017

    Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages have been available for a few years and are quite popular with guests who are intrigued by the idea of having most of their beverages included, rather than having to pay for each drink.  The beverage packages promise convenience and a fixed cost to ensure one less worry. 

    The common question cruisers ponder is to whether the drink packages are worth the cost.  Of course, the answer depends on you and your family.  Take into consideration some pros and cons that might help you decided if you want to add a drink package on your next cruise.

    Pros

    Drink as much as you want

    By far the best advantage of any drink package is you get to enjoy as many drinks that are included with the package, with no limit.  When people pay for drinks individually, often the cost of running up a large bill enters into their minds, but drink packages assuage that concern.

    Royal Caribbean beverage packages have no daily limit, so guests can enjoy as much or little as they want every day of their cruise. The Deluxe Beverage Package and the Royal Refreshment package also offer a good variety of beverages that are included with the packages, which means added opportunity to mix up the sort of drinks that can be enjoyed.

    One of the best reasons to get a drink package is that you can enjoy all the drinks available, including some new ones. You can order something and not be worried that you might not like it and have to "suffer" through it, simply because you paid for it.

    Use almost anywhere onboard and onshore

    Royal Caribbean drink packages work pretty much everywhere onboard the ship and even in Royal Caribbean's private destinations of CocoCay and Labadee. This means whether you are in the dining room, hanging by the pool or at a specialty restaurant, you can enjoy the drink package benefits at any time.

    There are a few exceptions to where you can use the drink packages, but most guests seem to find plenty of opportunity to take advantage of the benefits. 

    The convenience of being able to get a drink virtually anywhere on your Royal Caribbean cruise means being able to enjoy a refreshment anytime you want.

    Control costs

    By purchasing a drink package, you are capping the maximum cost for drinks during your cruise.  Most families like to be able to budget their vacations and not come home to a monster bill.  The drink package is an easy way to ensure the SeaPass account does not get out of hand.

    Additionally, guests that pre-purchase their drink package prior to the cruise can take advantage of discounts and the opportunity to break up the total cost of the cruise. Royal Caribbean charges guests for the drink package at the time of purchase when booked before the cruise, which means guests can potentially pay off parts of their cruise experience on different billing cycles. 

    If you can drink enough every day of your cruise, a Royal Caribbean drink package can definitely save you money. With the ever increasing cost of drinks, many guests have found the drink package to be a good value. Those that enjoy cocktails will find prices regularly $10-13 per drink, which makes a drink package investment much easier to "break even."

    Souvenir cup

    All unlimited drink packages come with a souvenir Coca-Cola cup that not only provides an easy way to get refills, but it can be taken home as a souvenir from the cruise. Souvenirs are rarely cheap, and having a good sized mug back home will provide another reminder of the vacation fun and potentially a new favorite cup at work or home.

    Since the souvenir cups come with the drink package, there is no added cost to get one and the current mugs feature fun Royal Caribbean inspired designs that are sure to put a smile on your face each time you pull it out of the cabinet.

    Cons

    Drinking for the sake of drinking

    It is not uncommon to discover when you have a drink package, you start getting a drink just because you have the package and not because you really want one.  Certainly on the first couple days of a cruise, the opportunity to enjoy plenty of cocktails is novel, but there might be a point where you are ordering drinks simply as a means of getting your package investment back.

    The principle reason to purchase a drink package is that it will save you money over purchasing drinks individually.  Royal Caribbean provides a value proposition to the equation with the drink packages, but often guests find themselves having a drink just because they can, just to "break even." Anyone can drink 5-7 drinks in one day, but 5-7 drinks every day of the cruise could possibly get old.

    Large up-front cost

    Royal Caribbean's drink packages are priced per person, and per day, so the longer your cruise, the more you will have to pay in advance for the drink package. Depending on the length of your cruise and the amount of people that want to get a drink package, that can be a lot of money to shell out.

    Theoretically you will recoup that value over the course of the cruise vacation, but there is a risk of that not happening, and moreover, a big charge to start things off.  Certainly pre-purchasing the drink packages before your cruise can help take the sting out a bit, since they are charged at the time of purchase, but spending $400+ for an unlimited alcohol package per person on a 7-night cruise is never easy.

    Still need to pay for drinks on land

    Your Royal Caribbean cruise will bring you to some amazing ports of call, but your drink packages will not work there. Outside of Labadee or CocoCay, your drink package benefits stop, which means when visiting these different cities and countries, you will still have to pay extra for drinks.

    Moreover, drinks are often much cheaper to purchase while onshore than on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  Some guests prefer to drink very little onboard and then spend their money on drinks while on shore.  Certainly the itinerary you are on may dictate how practical this idea is, but drinking on land might be able to satisfy your drinking needs without the cost of a drink package.

    Loyal cruisers receive complimentary drinks

    Believe it or not, Royal Caribbean does offer complimentary beverages on their cruise, including alcohol. Royal Caribbean includes quite a few non-alcoholic beverages with your cruise fare, and for members of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society customer loyalty program, there are even complimentary alcohol each evening.

    Crown and Anchor Society members that are Diamond or above, can enjoy complimentary beverages in the Diamond lounge onboard the ship, plus the added option of drink coupons to use each evening around the ship. Guests that have access to these beverages will have a subsidy of included alcoholic beverages, which may negate the value of purchasing a drink package. 

    Conclusion

    Overall, whether Royal Caribbean's drink packages make sense for you is a highly personal decision based on a lot of variables.  Depending on your priorities, there decision will greatly sway in one direction or another.  The drink packages absolutely can save you money and time, but it depends on the person and it would be misleading to recommend it for everyone.

    These days, we are seeing discounts being offered on the drink packages, which bring down the total cost. A 20% package saving might be enough to push some folks "over the fence" to make it a worthwhile investment. In fact, anyone considering a drink package should absolutely pre-purchase a package for the discounts that show up from time to time.  

    Keep in mind if you are unsure about purchasing a drink package, you can always opt to purchase the drink package after your cruise begins. Royal Caribbean will prorate the package based on the remaining days of your cruise, which means you can take a couple of days to see how much you really want to drink before deciding to try the package out.

    Your thoughts

    What is your experience with the Royal Caribbean drink packages? Thinking about using it? Please to share your thoughts about Royal Caribbean's drink packages and how it works (or does not work) for you in the comments.  If you have comments, ask them there as well.

    Friday Photos

    In:
    10Feb2017

    Friday is here and we are sharing our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos, because who does not enjoy a "virtual escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise? 

    Put your sunglasses on in your cubicle, and enjoy this week's edition of Friday Photos.

    Our first photo is from Fatima of sunset in the Mediterranean while aboard Rhapsody of the Seas.

    Here is a great shot of the water slides on Harmony of the Seas by Sarah Plazak, which was taken shortly after Harmony of the Seas left port in Port Everglades. 

    Lynn Thomas sent this photo of Oasis of the Seas while docked in Falmouth, Jamaica.  Look at the size of the ship relative to the buildings in the port!

    Here is the view from Cynthia Barbour's cabana in Labadee, which looks like the perfect way to spend the day. In fact, it is my favorite spot on Labadee!

    Our next photo is of Susan Widdowson dipping her toes in the Mediterranean, right before Harmony of the Seas made her transatlantic crossing.

    Here is a photo from a gondola excursion through the canals of Venice that D J Ep took last year. 

    We wrap up this week's edition with this photo by Mark Reed and his girlfriend on their first day on Harmony of the Seas.

    Thank you to everyone who shared their Royal Caribbean photos this week, and if you want to share yours, please use this form to send them in for a future Friday Photos post. Happy weekend!

    The secrets to taking better photos on your Royal Caribbean cruise

    In:
    09Feb2017

    Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise means you will be seeing new sights, both on your ship and on land, with the opportunity to see ancient architecture, nature at its finest and incredible cities. Naturally, capturing these moments through photos is something many people want to do because it provides the perfect souvenir from any vacation.

    Whether you are shooting with a fancy DSLR camera or just your smartphone, there are some good strategies to employ, which can ensure some lovely photos after your trip is complete.

    Practice before your cruise

    Whether you just purchased a new camera or have had it for years, it is important to get acclimated to the nuances of your camera before your cruise.  The more you can practice, the better your cruise photos will come out.  

    Try going to a local beach or lake to practice beach photos, or take photos at the mall or shopping center to get used to indoor photography.  Regardless of if you have a DSLR camera or a point-and-shoot, the key to taking better photos is knowing how your hardware works and trying things out.

    Plan your shots

    While you cannot anticipate every photo you will take on a cruise, doing a bit of research into the type of photos you want to take can mean you do not come home with regrets about missing out on a photo idea. If you have cruised before, think about the sort of spots you might want to take photos and make notes about which ones are important to you.  Perhaps a family photo on the balcony, or the kids meeting Shrek on the Royal Promenade.

    If you are new to cruising, or new to the ship, consider looking through what others have shot and use that for inspiration for your own photos. Flickr is a great resource for seeing other people's cruise photos, and it might serve to offer ideas you had not thought of previously.

    Invest in a good smartphone app

    The standard photo app on your smartphone seems like it can do a lot, but third-party apps can provide a lot of extra features that can make taking great photos easier.  Look for smartphone apps that offer additional features, such as a grid overlay that helps establish the Rule of Thirds when taking a photo. Composition of the photo is arguably one of the most important factors to creating a great photo, and you want to ensure the subject of your photo is properly aligned, and what is important in the photo is the focal point of the shot.

    In addition, a good app will provide additional settings to manually control things like the image sensor (ISO), shutter speed and focus on the smartphone camera. You may not need it all every time, but having some control over these sort of features can help a lot depending on the type of photo you are taking.

    Seek good lighting

    Regardless of what you use to take photos, or where you are, ideally you will want photos that have plenty of light.  The more light, the less shadows and off-colors you will run into.  

    Having well-lit photos is important, so try for when the light will be lower in the sky (early or late in the day). Also, the mid-day sun is typically the hottest and can be harsh, so work around that time to have photos that will come out well, and subjects who are not dealing with higher temperatures.

    Of course, a cruise has so much subject matter available to shoot, so it all comes down to what you see as beautiful. Sunrise, sunset and the "blue hour" are the times of days many photographers always look for when shooting.

    Check your corners before taking a photo

    A common mistake aspiring photographers make is not accounting for everything in the shot.  A good way to avoid unwanted objects or people in your shot is to look at every corner of the frame to see what will show up in the background and in the photo minus the subject.

    Look for objects, people, and obstructions that if you just shift a little to one side or another can improve the photo greatly.

    Avoid the flash

    Regardless if it is day or night, do not use the flash on your camera. Ever.  The flash will flood the foreground with bright light at the moment of the photo is taken but often colors get washed out and the background disappears.

    What you want to do instead is learn to control the shutter and aperture of your lens to control the amount of light that is let in without the assistance of a flash. Most cameras have these sort of controls and even smartphone cameras now have basic options to assist.

    To avoid blurry photos when using this technique, try to stabilize your shot.  Use nearby stationary objects like garbage cans (or bring a tripod) to take a steady shot. 

    Your thoughts

    What are your tips for better photos on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Any recommendations or ideas of your own that you would like to share? We love hearing from readers, so if you have any other comments or questions, please feel free to post those, too.

    Photo tour of water slides on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas

    In:
    08Feb2017

    Royal Caribbean completed a major revitalization of Adventure of the Seas in late 2016, spending $61 million to add some great new features for guests to enjoy. Among the many changes and additions, the new dual racer water slides are something guests of all ages have become excited to try for themselves.

    The water slides were added to the aft of the ship and are named Cyclone and Typhoon.  Similar to the racing water slides that were added to Liberty of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, the water slides on Adventure of the Seas offer guests a thrill ride experience onboard their ship.

    Guests have the choice between riding the blue or yellow slide. To add to the thrill on the ride down, part of the slide is made of clear tubing and actually goes over the side of the ship.

    Adventure of the Seas is the first Voyager class ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet to receive water slides.

    Guide to the Main Dining Room on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

    In:
    08Feb2017

    We have a brand new Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast episode for everyone to enjoy today!

    Episode 184 of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available and this week we are taking a look at the main dining room.

    Matt explains what the main dining room experience is all about, outlining how dinner works, what you need to know about special requests and why Matt has come to enjoy eating in the main dining room over the years.

    Here’s the podcast page for Episode 184.  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!

    Guide to Royal Caribbean Voom WiFi Internet prices and tips

    In:
    07Feb2017

    Staying connected while on your Royal Caribbean cruise is easier and faster than ever. Royal Caribbean has invested heavily in onboard internet, offering its unique branded service that offers guests superior coverage and faster speeds than the competition. Here is your guide to being online while on your Royal Caribbean cruise.

    How can I get connected on my Royal Caribbean cruise?

    The primary means of connecting to the internet is via WiFi that prevalent throughout the ship. Guests with WiFi enabled devices may connect at any time for "stem to stern" coverage from anywhere, including your stateroom.

    All guests need to do is connect to the Royal WiFi wireless network and then open a web browser and attempt to visit any web site.  From that point, the Royal Caribbean WiFi login page will appear, with options to purchase an internet package or allow guests that already have a package to login.

    What is Voom?

    You might hear and read about something called, "Voom," which is what Royal Caribbean calls its onboard internet service. Unlike traditional internet options at sea, Voom utilizes a different kind of satellite technology to provide much faster connectivity.  

    Voom offers guests the ability to stream music and movies, upload pictures, video chat with family and friends using FaceTime or Skype, check their email, lookup their stock prices, surf the web and stay connected with work via VPN.

    In fact, on Oasis and Quantum class ships, you can easily stream video from services like Hulu or Netflix, or engage in Facetime and Skype video calls.

    Some other ships, notably Royal Caribbean ships that spend time outside the United States, the speeds may not be quite as fast, but fleetwide, the Voom service is significantly better than onboard internet available through other cruise lines.

    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? 

    Any internet device that can access a 802.11b wireless connection can connect to the internet.  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 have found the workstations to be slow in terms of performance.

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

    With Voom internet, Skype, Facetime and other VOIP applications are allowed to be used by guests.

    How much does internet access cost?

    Royal Caribbean offers unlimited plans that can be purchased onboard the ship or pre-purchased prior to the cruise. Royal Caribbean offers unlimited plans as follows for guests that purchase it onboard the ship:

    • Surf & Stream Voom
      • 1 device: $17.99 per day, per device
      • 2 devices: $15.99 per day, per device
      • 4 devices: $13.99 per day, per device
      • Single Day Pass: $27.99 per day, per device
    • Surf
      • 1 device: $12.99 per day, per device
      • 2 devices: $11.99 per day, per device
      • 4 devices: $9.99 per day, per device
      • Single Day Pass: $19.99 per day, per device

    The good news is Royal Caribbean routinely offers a discount on its Voom internet packages for guests that pre-purchase their internet packages via the Cruise Planner.  There is also a Crown and Anchor Society discount on Voom packages purchased onboard, however we have found the online purchases to be a much better value than onboard discounts.

    In general, you should opt for an internet package rather than paying per minute to get the best deal.  

    Can I switch between devices while using a Voom package?

    Yes, you may use as many devices as you like, but whichever plan you purchase will limit you to the number of devices that may be connected at the same time.  

    To change devices, first log off the first device by typing logoff.com into your web browser.  This will log your first device out.  Afterwards, log back in with the other device.  You can do this as many times as necessary.

    Alternatives to Royal Caribbean WiFi

    If the price of Royal Caribbean's Voom internet is too much for you, or you do not feel you need to buy a package for the duration of your cruise, there are some other options consider, including connecting while at port.

    Your Royal Caribbean ship will visit different ports of call during your cruise, and there will be lots of restaurants, bars and other establishments that offer WiFi access, either for free or a small cost.  Many of these places may simply offer WiFi access if you purchase something.  In almost all cases, the costs to connect in these ports is significantly cheaper than what Royal Caribbean offers.

    If you want to find a good place to connect, try asking a Royal Caribbean crew member where they go for internet access because they visit these ports regularly and know where to find the best deals.

    Video: A Day in the Life on Anthem of the Seas

    In:
    07Feb2017

    A never-before-seen look at the unique features on Anthem of the Seas. Besides lounging by the pool, guests can get a bird's eye view in the North Star or be dazzled by the blend of entertainment and technology in Two70 and many more.

    Royal Caribbean WOW Sale offers extra onboard credit and reduced deposit

    In:
    07Feb2017

    Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale begins today, with stackable savings that provide bonus onboard credit and reduced deposit on top of the current February WAVE offer.

    For five days only, guests can enjoy bigger savings with this WOW Sale. Cruise must be booked Feb. 7-11, 2017. Offer applies to all sailings departing on or after Mar. 9, 2017 (excluding China departures). Here is the breakdown for this new promotion.

    • Buy one guest, get one guest 60% off
    • 30% off third and fourth guests
    • 50% reduced deposits
    • Onboard credit
      • Cruises 5 nights or less
        • $50 USD per stateroom
      • Cruises 5 to 9 nights
        • $100 USD per stateroom
      • Cruises 10 nights or longer
        • $200 USD per stateroom
    • Balcony upgrade offer on Anthem of the Seas
      • Free upgrade from Ocean view to balcony on Anthem of the Seas sailings departing on or after April 2, 2017.

    WOW Sale is combinable with BOGO60, 30% Savings for 3rd and 4th guests, Anthem Upgrade, standard/full fare and restricted rates and Next Cruise offers. WOW Sale is not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, etc.) Crown & Anchor discounts, Shareholder Benefits or Loyal to Royal Sales. 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, and Net Rates.

    Offer available to residents of United States and Canada. 

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