Spotted: Chops Grille lunch on Harmony of the Seas

In:
17Apr2017

Chops Grille has been a popular stalwart of Royal Caribbean's specialty dining choices, and Royal Caribbean has recently begun offering a lunch option too.

For years, Royal Caribbean only had Chops Grille open for dinner.  Recently, Royal Caribbean has begun offering a lunch option for guests to book.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Angie La Malfa Muma shared photos from her Chops Grille lunch on Harmony of the Seas. 

The Chops Grille lunch menu is smaller than the Chops Grille dinner menu, yet retains much of the Chops Grille "experience."

There are also two dessert options, boysenberry cheesecake and chocolate mudpie.

There is a $19 cover charge for adults and $10 cover charge for kids for lunch. 

Do you want to try Chops Grille for lunch? Let us know in the comments!

Excursion Focus: Kukoo Kunuku Palm Beach Tour in Aruba

In:
17Apr2017

The island of Aruba is well known for its perfect weather and even prettier beaches. For many Royal Caribbean guests, visiting Aruba might be a one-time opportunity, and for those that want to see some of the cultural and natural highlights of the island, while cruising in an over-the-top fun bus, then the Kukoo Kunuku Palm Beach Tour might be just right for you.

While in Aruba on port stop onboard Navigator of the Seas, we tried out this colorful tour of Aruba to see what it is like to explore Aruba while singing at the top of your lungs.

Description

Kukoo Kunuku is a local tour company that provides bus tours of Aruba that visit some of the island's best known spots. While bus tours tend to be very similar experiences (pile in, go to a spot, pile out, take photos and pile back in, repeat), the folks at Kukoo Kunuku wanted to really change it up.  They took old school buses, painted them all sorts of colors, plastered a ton of funny sayings and metaphors all over the bus, added maracas and blast classic sing-along songs to enjoy as you explore Aruba.

Guests climb aboard the bus (there were three in our tour), and are quickly indoctrinated into the Kukoo Kunuku culture of singing, being loud, and trying to "scare" any bicyclist or person on the street you pass by with hoot and hollering.  The tour is as much about the experience onboard the bus as it is the places you visit.

The Kukoo Kunuku tour visits three spots, but begins with a general tour of Aruba that includes back story of the island and many opportunities to see what life is like in Aruba. 

The first stop is at Alto Vista Chapel, which is a small Catholic chapel that stands on the hills above the north shore of the sea.  It is a beautiful spot that provides some lovely views all around.

Back in the bus, the next stop is the California Lighthouse. The lighthouse was named for a ship that wrecked nearby Aruba in the 19th century.  Guests may not climb to the top of the lighthouse, but like the chapel, the spot provides an excellent vantage point of the surroundings.

The final stop, and bulk of your time in the excursion, is a stop at Palm Beach. 

Palm Beach is one of the two most popular beaches in Aruba (along with Eagle Beach) and the excursion includes the use of a complimentary beach chair. There is food and drink service provided at the beach for an additional fee.

The tour concludes with a fun trip back to the port area, with a good look at the beaches along the way.

Comments

Kukoo Kunuku is one of those excursions you have to experience for yourself to truly understand what it offers.  It is more than a typical bus tour, and the fact we were traveling with many friends in a large group made for an even better time onboard.  The tour's approach to encouraging everyone to sing along to classic rock songs set the tone a very fun day.

The driver of each bus serves as your guide, and will talk about various sights you will see along the way.  The tour takes you through the interior of Aruba to begin with, and then concludes with a ride down the coast on the way back.

The tour culminates with a beach stop at one part of Palm Beach.  Unfortunately during our visit, the beach was quite packed by the time we arrived. Personally, I prefer a spot on the beach with shade (my days of seeking a bronzed look are well past me), and there just was nothing to be found.  There were umbrellas for rent, but they were sold out. We ended up sitting at a picnic table underneath a few trees and that served the purpose just fine (plus I had great bar service).  I definitely would have preferred either a less crowded part of the beach, or a beach with more shade options.  All that being said, we ended up having a nice time once we got settled in.

I was skeptical about the zany nature of the tour, but by the end of the 4 hour excursion, I was wanting more.  From singing along to great songs to speeding around traffic circles multiple times, the tour ended up being a lot of fun.

Ultimately, what sets Kukoo Kunuku apart from other tours is the fun you have onboard the bus.  From the moment you sit down, you will notice this is not your typical tour.  Groups, families and anyone who kind of knows a few people on the tour will really enjoy this opportunity to explore Aruba while having a great time. The low cost of the tour (just $34 per adult) made getting a taste of Aruba just what we needed.

Cost: $34.00 per adult or $19.00 per child. Infants are free.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 16, 2017

In:
16Apr2017

Happy Easter! Whether you are celebrating the beautiful Spring holiday with a luxurious meal, or hunting for eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny, I hope that you are having a relaxing Sunday.

Have you ever been to Kennedy Space Center near Port Canaveral, Florida? It is the preeminent attraction near the port, and a monument to some incredible moments in human history.  We visited Kennedy Space Center for the first time on a recent cruise visit.

Royal Caribbean offers a few shore excursions that tour Kennedy Space Center, and we shared our experience at the center, including seeing one of the space shuttles.

Royal Caribbean News

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.

    On This Week in Royal Caribbean History

    Two years ago this week, Royal Caribbean announced it was doing away with the last-minute cruise discounts on cruises more than two to four nights in length.

    Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain called the long-held practice “disruptive” to loyal customers and travel agents during a conference call on first-quarter earnings.

    In the time since, Royal Caribbean tweaked the policy a couple of times, but retains the program to this day.

    Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

    Cruise Habit looks at what documents or authorization one needs to cruise to Cuba.

    Adventures with Beci shares a tip for what to do if your favorite shore excursion is sold out.

    CruiseBe has 9 facts you might not know about Oasis of the Seas.

    EatSleepCruise shared a photo tour of a Central Park View Stateroom on Harmony of the Seas.

    Traveling with Mom has the ultimate guide to cruising with a family on Allure of the Seas.

    Friday Photos

    In:
    14Apr2017

    Are you ready for a virtual escape to a Royal Caribbean cruise? Every Friday we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos in a showcase of why we love going on Royal Caribbean.

    We begin this week with a photo by Tina Moore in Puerto Rico, while sailing on Freedom of the Seas.

    Here is a lovely shot of the beach in CocoCay by Justin.  He took this photo after taking the first tender to the island, and shots like this are worth getting up early!

    Keith Davis sent in this photo of the sunrise, just as Freedom of the Seas was arriving in Labadee.  This is such a beautiful photo!

    Our next photo is from Anthem of the Seas, with Gigi the giraffe "admiring" the sunset.  Marjolaine took this photo, and there are never enough sunset photos to go around!

    Richard Weiss shared this photo of a friendly wave from an officer on Freedom of the Seas, as Harmony of the Seas passed by in St. Martin.  

    One of our favorite photographers, Dave Rimington, sent in this photo of Navigator of the Seas in Bonaire.  Love the colors.

    Our final photo this week is from Henry H, and it is of Explorer of the Seas sailing away from Cartagena, Spain.

    Thank you to everyone who's photos were featured this week, and if you want to share your best Royal Caribbean cruise photos, you can send them in via this form. Have a great weekend!

    Royal Caribbean weekend sale offers up to $100 in instant savings

    In:
    14Apr2017

    Royal Caribbean's Explore More Weekend Sale is offering guests an added bonus of up to $100 in instant savings on top of the cruise line's 1, 2, Free offer.

    Cruises booked between April 14, 2017 7:00AM EST to April 17, 2017 11:59 EST on sailings that depart on or after 5/13/17 (excluding China departures) qualify for the offer.

    Every Third Night Free

    This offer also incudes the 1, 2, Free promotion

    • 3-5 Night Sailing – 1 Free Night
    • 6-8 Night Sailing – 2 Free Nights
    • 9-11 Night Sailing – 3 Free Nights
    • 12-14 Night Sailing – 4 Free Nights
    • 15-17 Night Sailing – 5 Free Nights
    • 18-20 Night Sailing – 6 Free Nights
    • 21-23 Night Sailing – 7 Free Nights
    • 24 Night Sailing – 8 Free Nights

    Instant Savings

    The bonus instant savings are determined by sailing length and stateroom category booked:

    • $25 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $50 off per stateroom for balcony and suite on 5 night sailings or less
    • $50 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • $100 off per stateroom for balcony and suite on 6 night sailings or longer

    Free Balcony Upgrade

    Bookings made between April 14-17, 2017 on Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas sailings departing June 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017 are eligible for a free upgrade from Ocean View to Balcony.

    Along with bookings made between April 14-17, 2017 on Liberty of the Seas sailings departing May 28, 2017 through August 27, 2017 are eligible for a free upgrade from Ocean View to Balcony. Free upgrade refers to booking a balcony room at the price of the ocean view room.

    1-2-Free is combinable with adjoining Dollars Off, Crown & Anchor discounts, NextCruise offers and Shareholder Benefits. Dollars Off is not combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts or Shareholder Benefits. 1-2-Free and Dollars Off are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including but not limited to, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, and Military), Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates.

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

    Answers to 10 commonly asked Royal Caribbean drink package questions

    In:
    13Apr2017

    Our readers ask a lot of questions about the Royal Caribbean cruise experience, especially when it comes to Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages. These all-you-can-drink options have never been more popular with guests, but there is often a concern or two prior to purchasing one.

    We dug through our inbox's, comment threads and message boards to find the sort of questions we get asked a lot and are sharing the answers to help everyone figure out if a Royal Caribbean drink package is right for them.

    1. What drinks are included without a drink package?

    Before you can decide if a drink package is worth the cost, you need to understand which beverages Royal Caribbean includes in your cruise fare.

    You can expect these drinks to be included and available during your cruise for no additional cost

    • regular coffee
    • decaffeinated coffee
    • tea
    • iced tea
    • tap water
    • milk
    • chocolate milk
    • lemonade
    • flavored waters
    • juices (at breakfast, not fresh squeezed)
    • hot chocolate (via instant packets)

    These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free.

    2. Can I get the drink package only for certain days of the cruise?


     

    Not exactly.  You cannot "cherry pick" days to have the drink package benefits.  Basically, when you purchase a drink package, you are buying it for the duration of the cruise.

    There is one way to buy a drink package for only certain days, and that is if you skip a few days at the beginning of your cruise.  Royal Caribbean will sell you the drink package even after the first day.  If you purchase it on day two, three or six, the cruise line will only charge you for the days remaining on the cruise. This can be a good strategy for someone that is unsure how much they will really want to drink onboard.

    3. Is the drink package worth it?

    Trying to determine if Royal Caribbean's drink packages are worth it is ultimately a personal decision. Everyone cruise's differently, and everyone has different needs and wants.

    You must weigh the benefits of having virtually all of your drinks paid for, the ability to try new drinks without much risk and not having to worry about your bar tab at the end of the cruise, versus considering if the drink package will actually save you money compared to buying drinks a la carte, and if you will want to drink enough drinks every day of your cruise to make your package investment worthwhile.

    If you want a completely unscientific means of figuring out if a drink package is for you, ask yourself this question:

    Can I drink 5-7 drinks per day, every day of my cruise?

    If after thinking that you initially thought, "Whoa, that is a lot to drink" or "Whoa, that's it?", then you probably have your answer.

    4. Is Starbucks included with the unlimited alcohol package?

    On non-Oasis Class ships, the drink package includes premium coffee and tea from places like Cafe Promenade, where Starbucks drinks are brewed. It is Starbucks beans, but not a licensed Starbucks location.

    On Oasis-Class ships (Oasis, Allure and Harmony of the Seas), the drink package does not work at the Starbucks location onboard, but there will be Premium Coffee offered at Cafe Promenade or Park Cafe.

    5. If a drink costs more than my drink packages covers, can I just pay the difference?

    Yes, your unlimited alcohol package covers the cost of your drinks up to $12 or $13 per drink (the exact amount depends on which ship you are on). Above that price threshold, anything you order will be charged you the difference.

    So if you purchase a $25 shot of whiskey on Oasis of the Seas, you will be charged $12 to your SeaPass account.

    6. How many drinks can I order at one time?

    You may order one drink per drink package at a time. 

    You are allowed to bring your spouse/friend/parent/guy you met 10 minutes ago/neighbor SeaPass card up to the bar with you and make a group order, provided each SeaPass card has purchased an unlimited drink package.

    Royal Caribbean does not have a minimum amount of time to wait between alcoholic drink orders, so you can keep the good times flowing as you see fit.  This is probably the part of the blog post where we recommend drinking responsibly.

    7. Does the unlimited alcohol package work in all specialty restaurants? Can I get a glass of wine at dinner?

    Yes it does. You can use any drink package benefits (alcohol or not) at any of the specialty restaurants.  In terms of what is included or not, the same rules apply to specialty restaurants, as they do at the bars around the ship.

    You can order glasses of wine at dinner, whether in a specialty restaurant or the main dining room.

    8. If I get a drink package, why am I charged for the last day of my cruise?

    Despite the fact a lot of verbiage you see refers to the drink packages being charged per day, the reality is you are charged for each night.

    So on a seven night cruise, you will be charged seven times the daily rate (plus gratuity). This means you get to use the drink package benefits on embarkation day and disembarkation day.

    9. How can I get a discount on a drink package?

    The most reliable way to get a drink package discount is to purchase it before your cruise on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner. Here are directions on how to take advantage of the online discount.

    To be clear, if you are going to purchase a drink package, you will save money if you purchase it online rather than waiting to buy it onboard. 

    10. Someone in my stateroom wants a drink package, but I do not.  Does Royal Caribbean require all adults in a room to get a drink package?

    Royal Caribbean has no rule requiring all guests in a stateroom to purchase a drink package.  So if your spouse wants to get a drink package and you do not, there is no problem at all.

    Royal Caribbean offering free balcony upgrades on Liberty of the Seas

    In:
    13Apr2017

    For just a few days, Royal Caribbean is offering a balcony cabin for the price of an oceanview cabin on select Liberty of the Seas sailings, plus the current 1, 2, Free Promotion.

    Bookings made between April 12 - 17, 2017 on sailings that depart May 28, 2017 through August 27, 2017 are eligible for a free upgrade from Ocean View to Balcony.

    Free upgrade refers to booking a balcony room at the price of the ocean view room.

    This offer also incudes the 1, 2, Free promotion

    • 3-5 Night Sailing – 1 Free Night
    • 6-8 Night Sailing – 2 Free Nights
    • 9-11 Night Sailing – 3 Free Nights
    • 12-14 Night Sailing – 4 Free Nights
    • 15-17 Night Sailing – 5 Free Nights
    • 18-20 Night Sailing – 6 Free Nights
    • 21-23 Night Sailing – 7 Free Nights
    • 24 Night Sailing – 8 Free Nights

    1-2-Free is combinable with select promotions. 1-2-Free is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including but not limited to, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, and Military), Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates.

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

    First time cruiser's guide to Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas

    In:
    12Apr2017

    Designed to be one of the most technologically advanced cruise ships in the world, Anthem of the Seas has made a name for itself as one of the premier cruise ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet. She debuted in 2015 and combines first class style, exquisite dining and original entertainment productions to provide an incredible cruise experience. Anthem of the Seas is the sort of cruise ship that has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you are new to cruising or an established veteran.

    Just looking at Anthem of the Seas it becomes quite clear that is a lot to see and do onboard, but first time cruisers will find the experience to be easy to navigate.  In fact, Royal Caribbean designed this class of cruise ships with first time cruisers in mind. 

    If you are trying Anthem of the Seas for your first cruise, or just first sailing on her, we provide this planning guide to aid in becoming acclimated with the ship quickly. Here is your quick-start guide to Anthem of the Seas!

    Overview of Anthem of the Seas

    Anthem of the Seas is a Quantum Class cruise ship, and first debuted in 2015.  This 4,180-passenger ship offers a lot of entertainment and dining onboard, and is best known for some of the headliner attractions, such as bumper cars, the observation pod that takes guests 300 feet above sea level, and a skydiving simulator.  

    At the heart of Anthem of the Seas is an area known as the Royal Esplanade, which is a dining and shopping district right in the middle of the ship. It is the main thoroughfare for guests on the ship, going from one part of the ship to the other.  It is also a hub of activity and stretches from one end of the ship to the other. The Royal Esplanade connects to an area known as The Via, which offers high-end shops, restaurants and drinking venues.

    Elsewhere, guests will quickly pick up on distinct areas of the ship that make navigating the vessel more tangible.  

    The SeaPlex is an indoor hub of physical activities.  You will find basketball, bumper cars, table tennis, foosball, XBox Live, Circus School and a whole lot more to do there.  The activities vary from day to day, so check the Cruise Compass for more information on specific programming.  Typically, teens and older children enjoy the options found in the SeaPlex. At the rear of the SeaPlex, guests can venture outside to experience the FlowRider surf simulator and Ripcord by iFly skydiving simulator.

    Two70 is an area at the aft of the ship, which gets its name from the fact it has a two hundred and seventy degree view of the ocean.  Some of the signature Royal Caribbean entertainment is found in Two70, and it is also where many other events are held, such as lectures, meet-n-greets and more. Be sure to check out the amazing robot screens found in Two70 as well.

    In terms of crowds, despite the fact Anthem of the Seas can accommodate over 4000 passengers, she handles crowds exceptionally well.  When designing this ship, Royal Caribbean wanted to deliver some game-changing features and to make that happen, they needed to build a larger ship. Royal Caribbean re-thought the flow of passengers on Anthem of the Seas, and that resulted in a large ship feeling less crowded than more traditional cruise ships. By offering multiple show performances, having more activities scheduled, crowds are dispersed because they do not feel they have to be at a certain place at a certain time.

    Getting acclimated to where everything is on Anthem of the Seas is best accomplished by walking around and exploring the ship early.  Royal Caribbean packed Anthem of the Seas with impressive activities and entertainment, so the earlier you can get around the ship to see it all, the more great things you might discover. We especially love the 3,000 piece art collection that is based on the theme, "What makes life worth living."  Be sure to always be looking up, down and around you anywhere on the ship, because there are many wonderful pieces to discover in this extensive art collection.


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    Australia cruises on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

    In:
    12Apr2017

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

    Episode 193 is available for downloading, which is all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise from Australia.

    Perhaps no cruise market has become as popular in such a short time as Australia, and this week's episode is dedicated to all things cruising from the land down under.  Pippa joins Matt to talk about the basics of taking a cruise from Australia, including what to pack, what to do and the lovely places you will visit.

    Here’s the podcast page for Episode 193. 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!

    Royal Caribbean UK launches new fly-cruise packages

    In:
    12Apr2017

    Royal Caribbean UK announced new fly-cruise packages for residents of the UK to get them to their Orlando cruises.

    Beginning in September 2017, the packages include flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick and Manchester, packaged with private transfers and hotel accommodation close to International Drive, Orlando.

    The new packages include a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas out of Port Canaveral, Florida with stops in Labadee in Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico.

    A standard fly-cruise package, including direct return flights, transfers and a night's stay in a hotel before the cruise, costs from £1197pp.

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