Royal Caribbean plans beach enhancements at private destination of Labadee

In:
07Aug2017

Royal Caribbean announced new beach enhancements for its private destination of Labadee, that will begin this month.

Adrenaline Beach will be undergoing a beach enhancement, beginning on August 14, 2017. The footprint and quality of the beach and surrounding areas will be nourished. In addition, reef balls will be added to increase the tranquility of the water and to provide exciting new marine habitats and snorkeling paths for cruise line guests.

Work will take place in four phases from August 14th through October 2017. Work will not take place when guests are on the island.

During the enhancement, some beach bungalows may be have obstructed views. Please note that the lounge chairs at Adrenaline beach will still be available.

The surrounding beach will be unaffected and will remain open for guest’s enjoyment.

UPDATE: We noticed on Royal Caribbean's Labadee map that Adrenaline Beach cabanas are listed, which would be a new addition.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: August 6, 2017

In:
06Aug2017

Can you believe August is already here? It is the middle of Summer and there is a lot of Royal Caribbean news to catch up from during this week.

Royal Caribbean made changes to its NextCruise program this week that eliminated the reduced deposit option.

Effective on August 1, 2017, reduced deposits for cruises booked at NextCruise have been removed. In addition, the amount of onboard credit has been changed.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 209th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we talk about how to use credit cards to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

In this episode, Matt and John discuss the Royal Caribbean credit card as well as other credit cards and how to use credit cards to save money on your cruise vacation.

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.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Royal Caribbean shared its tips for what clothing to pack for a cruise.

Moms of the Seas answers if kids that are close in age can stay in same Adventure Ocean group.

CNBC interviewed Richard Fain about Royal Caribbean's second quarter results.

Cruise Habit has a look at onboard booking incentives.

Royal Caribbean tests Diamond drink redemption change

In:
04Aug2017

Royal Caribbean is testing a new means for Diamond level guests to receive their complimentary beverages each evening.

Onboard Majesty of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Blog reader Nick Vitani shared this photo of a notice given to guests who are at least Diamond level in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society.  The note advises guests that a pilot program is in effect, where guests that go to the Viking Crown Lounge for their complimentary Diamond beverages will be required to swipe their SeaPass card.

There is no charge for these drinks, but the note states the test is, "to better understand the level of service we are providing during the nightly Diamond event."

Each evening, Royal Caribbean offers complimentary alcoholic beverages in its Diamond lounges for Diamond members and above. In addition, Diamond members and above receive three complimentary drink vouchers to use at bars and lounges around the ship during the same time.  There is no change in how the drink vouchers are being redeemed as part of this test.

This is the first occurrence of this test we have heard about on any ship in the fleet.

Friday Photos

In:
04Aug2017

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.

Our first photo this week is from Cindy Perez & Mario Nunez in front of Allure of the Seas.

Rob Lantz shared this photo of the AquaTheater on Allure of the Seas, taken from his Boardwalk Balcony cabin (12729).

Here is a photo of Explorer of the Seas in San Juan, Puerto Rico from 2001.

Check out Anthem of the Seas, off the coast of Grand Cayman.  Thomas Lemmer shared this photo with us.

Next is a photo of Harmony of the Seas docked in Cozumel, taken by Crystal.

Jan took this beautiful photo of Explorer of the Seas in Australia, with the Sydney Harbour bridge in the background.

We wrap up with this photo by Bob (aka Sailor_to_Cruiser) of his first grandson, Noah.  After cruising on Oasis of the Seas, he brought Noah this gift for being born. How cute!

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!

Royal Caribbean's Back to Cruise sale offers instant savings bonus

In:
04Aug2017

Royal Caribbean is offering bonus instant savings on cruises booked this weekend, on top of the cruise line's August BOGO 50% off promotion.

Cruises booked between 8/4/17 though 8/7/17 12:00AM EST on sailings departing on or after 9/4/17 (excluding China departures) are valid for this offer.

The Back to Cruise sale includes

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest who must be booked in the same stateroom as a first guest who books at full fare
  • 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests
  • Back to Cruise instant savings
    • Instant savings of up to $300 determined by category booked and sailing length
      • $25 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less
      • $50 off per stateroom for balconies and suites on sailings 5 nights and less
      • $50 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 6 nights and longer
      • $100 off per stateroom for balconies on sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $200 off for suites on sailings 6 nights or longer
  • Kids Sail Free
    • 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 qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom.
    • Valid on 4-night or longer Europe, Bahamas, and Caribbean Sailings departing 9/4/17 – 5/15/18 excluding holiday sailings departing 11/17/17-11/27/17, 12/17/17–1/8/18, 2/15/18-2/20/18 and 3/10/18-4/1/18.
  • Deck the Holidays Deals
    • Savings for guests who book a holiday sailing departing from 12/19/17 through 12/31/17 and 12/18/18 through 12/31/18
    • Instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length
      • $25 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less
      • $50 off per stateroom for balconies and suites on sailings 5 nights and less
      • $50 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 6 nights and longer
      • $75 offer per stateroom for balconies
      • $100 off for suites on sailings 6 nights or longer

Back to Cruise sale is combinable with Deck the Holidays for savings equaling: $50 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less, $100 off per stateroom for balconies and suites on sailings 5 nights and less, $100 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 6 nights and longer, $175 off per stateroom for balconies on sailings 6 nights or longer and $300 off for suites on sailings 6 nights or longer.

Additionally, guests who book a Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas or an Oasis of the Seas sailing departing on or after September 4, 2017, will receive an additional $50 savings per stateroom.

Offer is combinable with select promotions.

Offer open to residents of U.S. or Canada. 

Weather Channel to broadcast from Royal Caribbean cruise ship during total eclipse

In:
02Aug2017

Later this month, the Weather Channel will be aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas for a live look at the Total Eclipse occuring in North America.

In partnership with Royal Caribbean, the Weather Channel will broadcast live from the Total Eclipse Cruise in the Atlantic, to show viewers at home the totality of the eclipse from sea. 

David Malkoff of the Weather Channel will be onboard to provide a network broadcast of the eclipse from sea. He will join a number of other Weather Channel meteorologists that will report live from each time zone across the United States.

The 7-night Total Eclipse Cruise on board Oasis of the Seas will set sail on Aug. 20, 2017 from Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida, and visit Caribbean destinations in the Eastern Caribbean.

The total solar eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017, at which point the sun will be entirely covered by the moon. Royal Caribbean is planning a number of events onboard Oasis of the Seas to celebrate the historical occasion, including dance parties, enrichment lectures and even a special performance by rock band DNCE.

Restaurant Review: 150 Central Park on Harmony of the Seas

In:
02Aug2017

Of all the specialty restaurants on Harmony of the Seas, perhaps none are as synonymous with the ship as 150 Central Park.  The creation of Miami chef Michael Schwartz, 150 Central Park is an iconic specialty restaurant among the Oasis Class cruise ships, and yet a restaurant I had never visited much in the past.  In fact, I had only been once, so on my recent Harmony of the Seas cruise I wanted to give it another visit.

150 Central Park may look hoity toity, but in reality it is no more formal than nearby Chops Grille.  In fact, the sophisticated charm of 150 Central Park is what makes the restaurant stand out.  With a varied menu and the rise of specialty dining packages, it seems more and more guests are giving 150 Central Park a try, and I wanted to join in.

Atmosphere

As the restaurant's name implies, 150 Central Park is located in the Central Park neighborhood of Harmony of the Seas. In fact, it is smack dab in the middle of the park.

Walking into the restaurant, you will enter a large dining room comprised mostly of tables (no booth seating here). 


 

The restaurant's decorations evoke a modern feel, with a refined look to it.  To me, it can best be described with the oxymoron of being casually elegant.

Eats

What drew me to trying 150 Central Park on Harmony of the Seas was a recent experience by fellow blogger, Michael Poole. Michael had raved about his dining experience and the food he wrote about looked quite compelling, so I wanted to give it a try.

150 Central Park has a cover charge, which means all the food on the menu is included in your fare (minus select beverages).

Every meal at 150 Central Park begins with an assortment of breads, butter and six (yes, six!) varieties of salt.  


 

Your waiter explains what each salt is, and they all have various flavors.  Some are tame, while others have some kick to it.  While I doubt anyone ever goes to a restaurant and wishes they had more salt varieties, having this choice was a nice touch and it makes the usual bread appetizer a bit more interesting.

Looking over the 150 Central Park menu, it is among the simplest menus of any Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant.  I was expecting to find more haute cuisine, but there were so many great choices to consider.

My wife and I started off the meal with slow roasted butternut squash soup.  

I have not found a butternut soup that I did not enjoy, and this was no disappointment either.  Great flavor.

I also decided to try the veal Bolognese agnolotti.  I wanted to branch out a bit, and I generally always enjoy a good Bolognese sauce.

I had never had agnolotti pasta, which consists of small pieces of flattened pasta dough, folded over and stuffed with veal.  All in all, I really liked this too.

I am a self-described tuna fiend, and when I saw tuna tartare on the menu, I jumped right for it.

The tuna tartare is prepared table side by your waiter.  Our waiter brought the card to our table and explained what he was doing as he prepared it, and then served it to me.

I liked it (and ate the whole thing) although the consistency of it was closer to tuna fish than chunks of tuna.  Still, a very smooth taste and I enjoyed the various ingredients they combined with the tuna to make it all work.

For our entree, my wife and I ordered the 18oz. roast tenderloin of beef.  We had seen photos of it from Michael's blog post, and really wanted to try it out.

Like the tuna, the beef tenderloin is prepared and carved at your table.  The menu says it is for two guests, and I definitely found there to be enough for both of us.  

Having previously eaten at Chops Grille the night before, and would later eat at other specialty restaurants onboard, I can safely say the beef tenderloin at 150 Central Park was the best steak I ate on Harmony of the Seas.  Moreover, I think this might have been the best steak I have had in recent memory.  It had incredible flavor and was cooked to perfection.  I later tried to convince my wife to book 150 Central Park again in the sailing purely as an excuse to eat the steak again.

The desserts were up next, and I selected the lychee tres leches.

Flavor was great, although not sure it was my favorite thing ever.

My wife opted for the warm doughnuts.

We both sampled them and thought the doughnuts tasted more like type of doughnuts you might find at a Chinese restaurant, rather than Dunkin Donuts.  Still, a good choice, especially when dipped in the chocolate sauce.

Conclusion

After eating at 150 Central Park, I regretted not eating there sooner on prior Oasis Class cruises.  The steak for two alone is worth the price of admission, and I will be making a point of dining there again on my upcoming Harmony of the Seas sailing.

Service sometimes gets overlooked in my restaurant reviews, but our waiter, Adel, was excellent.  Very attentive, good sense of humor and paced the meal perfectly. 

Overall, I enjoyed the meal quite a bit. I think 150 Central Park is a perfect choice for a night out to celebrate a special occasion, but the food holds up for any excuse to dine out.  Do not make the mistake I did of assuming it is some sort of fancy restaurant for those that are super-adventurous eaters and prefer to dine in formal wear. 

Cost: The cost for 150 Central Park on Harmony of the Seas is $45 per guest for dinner.

Using credit cards to save on a cruise vacation on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
02Aug2017

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

Episode 209 is available for downloading, focusing on how to use credit cards to potentially save money on a cruise vacation.

Credit cards, when used responsibly, can be a good tool for saving money on a cruise vacation.  Reward programs can rack up savings, and we share some tips and strategies for using credit cards.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 209. 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!

6 interesting facts from Royal Caribbean's second quarter earnings call

In:
01Aug2017

Each quarter, Royal Caribbean's management gets on the phone with investors to discuss its quarterly earnings.  Much of the call is dedicated to the discussion of rather uninteresting fiscal reports, however, there are a number of tidbits that Royal Caribbean fans can glean during the discussion.

During Royal Caribbean's second quarter 2017 earnings call with investors, we picked up on five interesting points worth noting.

New trend: People are buying memories

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain started off the earnings call with an observation on the changing ways consumers are spending their money.  A strong cruise market seems to suggest to Mr. Fain that consumers have less they need to buy, and are instead investing in their memories.

"People have bought all the stuff that they need, and they're now looking towards gaining more experiences. Instead of buying TVs and cars, they seem to be buying memories as never before. Since we're in an industry that specializes in providing great memories, that trend plays to our sweet spot. Even better, the trend shows no respect for borders and seems to be occurring all around the world.  Our sailings in the U.S., Europe, Alaska, Asia, all demonstrate this fabulous phenomenon."

Smart phone app update

Royal Caribbean provided another sneak peek at what it's working on for its new smart phone app and digital strategy, dubbed internally as Project Excalibur.

While no additional information was provided in terms of what Project Excalibur will do, Richard Fain did provide an idea of how many ships will have the new feature ready for use. 

"We expect to have Excalibur functioning on 15% of our fleet within in 5 months of today, and half of our fleet by the end of next year."

Moreover, Fain elaborated on the importance of developing Project Excalibur to the long-term sustainability of the cruise line, "I've said before that our efforts in this arena are not nice to have, they are vital to keeping cruises relevant as a great vacation experience."

Price Integrity Policy rewarding those that book early

Richard Fain provided an update on its no last-minute price drop efforts, known as the Price Integrity Policy.

"As we have predicted, the early stages cost us revenue in both 2015 and 2016.  That hurt, but once we established our consistency and credibility with the travel agents, with the public, and with our own revenue managers, the benefits started flowing in.  Today, it's clearer that the program is accomplishing our goal of rewarding those who book early, while disincentivizing those who push for last minute discounts."

"The key to this consistency has been consistency. We don't do it only when it's painless or convenient. We maintain the program, even when it hurts, and sometimes, we have to let cabins sail empty. That goes against every one of our instincts. But the focus and the discipline have proven their value."

"Ironically, the program has been so successful, that we're now expecting to achieve a record load factor this year. That in turn, causes slightly higher operating costs per lower berth, but obviously, the bottom line impact is very positive."

Strategy of premium hardware in China

Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean announced the first Quantum Ultra class ship will be sailing in China, and that is in line with the cruise line's plan to bring new and impressive ships to sail from China. 

Fain explained, "With the Quantum Class of ships, we're giving the most technologically advanced hardware to a market that is very digitally focused. This move is a continuation of our strategy to have premium hardware in China.  And that strategy is what has enabled us to gain, and to hold, a leadership position in the eyes of the Chinese consumers, such that today, Quantum is essentially synonymous with cruising in China."

North American passengers are cruising more than ever

Cruisers from the United States and Canada have always been a strong source of Royal Caribbean's market, but the cruise line is seeing even higher demand for its cruise products from North American consumers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty elaborated as to how North Americans are cruising now more than ever, "North America remains our largest sourcing market, and the strength and demand we have seen from U.S. and Canadian guests have been unwavering for both sides of the Atlantic."

"While we most itineraries have benefited from strength of the North American consumer, we have seen particularly strong trends on European sailings, both in the Mediterranean and the Baltics. Fewer geo-political events and stable air pricing have contributed to a surge in demand from our higher paying North American guests. As a result, North American guests will account for a larger percentage of Europe itinerary sourcing than in any other recent year."

"The North American consumer does not only spend more on the ticket, but they also spend quite a bit more on the ships, and the driver of that has to do with the shore excursion side, because it's more of a bucket list vacation experience for them.  So they tend to more onboard than the European guest. It's a more profitable opportunity for us if we are sourcing more North American guests versus European guests. As the North American consumer is eating up a lot of that capacity, that also puts the European consumer in a position where they have to spend more in order to get onto the ships."

Royal Caribbean's marketing strategy targets those new to cruising and Millennials (and it's working)

It is no secret that Royal Caribbean (and really the entire cruise industry) has been targeting those that have never taken a cruise before, but we got a bit of insight into Royal Caribbean's marketing strategy in today's earnings call.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley elaborated how the cruise line targets the American cruise market, "We have been quite focused on developing the new to cruise and the Millennial market, and we've have been making very good progress over the past couple of years.  If you look back over time, you'd see a decrease year over year in new to cruise and Millennial to Royal Caribbean International, but over the past two years, we've seen a good increase.  Part of that's related to our messaging and our marketing strategy, where we've moved from really traditional marketing to more digital, and we're seeing a good pickup from new to cruise."

Royal Caribbean reports highest second quarter earnings in company history

In:
01Aug2017

Royal Caribbean reported its second quarter 2017 financial results today, with positive news all around. The company reported US GAAP and Adjusted Earnings per Share ("EPS") of $1.71 for the second quarter. This represents EPS growth of nearly 60% over same time last year. Better than anticipated performance in the second quarter combined with favorable booking trends are driving an increase in the Company's full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $7.35 to $7.45.

"Our brands are executing beautifully, keeping the business in an exceptionally strong position," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO. "Strong close-in demand for cruise bolstered the quarter, and we see further uplift for the balance of the year, positioning us well for the Double-Double and beyond."

US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income was $369.5 million or $1.71 per share. Last year, US GAAP Net Income was $229.9 million or $1.06 per share and Adjusted Net Income was $235.2 million, or $1.09 per share in 2016.

"Demand has remained strong, and we have captured the related revenue opportunity," said Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and CFO. "These demand trends and continued cost discipline have resulted in the highest second quarter earnings in company history and have put us in position for another record year and achieving our Double-Double targets."

You can read the full financial results from Royal Caribbean's second quarter.

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