Video: Hideaway Heist Steals the Show on Harmony of the Seas

In:
11Apr2017

From cops and robbers to high-divers and synchronized swimmers performing amazing feats in, on and around the deepest pool at sea, Hideaway Heist is an action-packed dive show brought to life at the AquaTheater on board Harmony of the Seas. Set in a swanky 1950’s resort, a crafty burglar has taken off with a bounty of jewels, and the staff of Hideaway Resort must take the audience on a high-flying adventure to solve the crime of the century.

Tropical Cyclone Cook forces Royal Caribbean to alter Voyager of the Seas' itinerary

In:
10Apr2017

Royal Caribbean has altered the itinerary for Voyager of the Seas due to the anticipated path of Tropical Cyclone Cook.

Cruise Critic is reporting Voyager of the Seas skipped a stop at Isles of Pines in New Caledonia on Monday, and instead took a sea day to avoid the path of the storm.

Voyager of the Seas is on a 13-night South Pacific and Fiji cruise, but the path of the Category 3 storm required a change in the cruise.

Excursion Focus: Kennedy Space Center on your own tour

In:
10Apr2017

If there is one shore excursion that stands out as the excursion to try in Port Canaveral, Florida, it has to be Kennedy Space Center.  Kennedy Space Center is known around the world for the incredible history that has taken place, and the new adventures that are coming just around the corner.  

Despite the fact that Kennedy Space Center is one of the premier attractions in the Central Florida area, I had never visited the complex, whether on a land vacation or by cruise.  So when my Anthem of the Seas cruise had a port stop listed for Port Canaveral, I felt it was time to give it a try and see what this was all about.

Description

Kennedy Space Center is about 15 minutes away by car from Port Canaveral, and is the center of NASA's space launch operations.  From the early days of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions to the Space Shuttle and missions of today, Kennedy Space Center has been at the heart of these historic milestones. The Visitor Center allows guests to explore the grounds, see historical artifacts that have global significance, and learn about the history and future of manned space travel.

We booked this shore excursion through Royal Caribbean.  These days, Royal Caribbean offers a variety of different tours to Kennedy Space Center. On our cruise, we took the 5-hour unguided tour.  This means bus transportation is provided to and from Kennedy Space Center, but we would be on our own while at the Visitor's Complex.  I wish I could give you a good rationale for why we choose this tour over the others, but it simply came down to the fact we waited to book this tour onboard the ship and this was the only excursion that was not sold out.

Like most Royal Caribbean shore excursions, we were given a time and place onboard the ship to meet prior to getting on the bus.  Once our group was called, we were escorted off the ship and onto a waiting bus to bring us to Kennedy Space Center.

The bus ride over is short, and our excursion guide gave everyone a brief overview of the Visitor Center and what to expect.  Once we got off the bus, we were on our own.

There are two main components to the Kennedy Space Center, the Visitor Complex and the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

The Apollo/Saturn V Center is open to guests, but requires a bus ride to get there.  Our guide on the bus ride over to Kennedy Space Center recommended doing that sooner than later, so we headed there first.  We waited about 15-20 minutes for our turn to board a bus, and we were on our way.  The bus ride over took us near the Vehicle Assembly Building, various operation centers and provided an excellent view of nature.  Along the way we spotted alligators, various birds and even a Bald Eagle nest.

Once at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, there is a brief exhibition about the Apollo launches, which sits guests in a recreated launch command room to experience the final moments leading up launch.


 

Following that recreation, guests can explore the grounds and see an entire Saturn V rocket, which is incredible to see in person.

In addition to the Saturn V rocket, there are a few smaller exhibits that have some pretty interesting pieces of history from the Apollo era.


Taking the bus back to the Visitor's Complex, there is a lot to see here.  The star attraction is Space Shuttle Atlantis, which features the fourth operational and the second-to-last Space Shuttle built, back in October 1985.  The shuttle conducted 33 missions and orbited the Earth a total of 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 mi (203,000,000 km).

There are many more exhibits, including 3-D IMAX films (included with admission), rocket gardens, Astronaut Hall of Fame and much more.

Comments

I made two mistakes with booking this shore excursion. First, was waiting to book this until I got onboard and the second was worrying I would be bored.  Luckily my first mistake was cleared up thanks to the Shore Excursions team on Anthem of the Seas, and my concern was completely unfounded.

Five hours visiting Kennedy Space Center might sound a bit dull, but I can assure you if anything, we wish we had another few hours to explore even more.  The facility and its history is simply incredible. Being there and bearing witness to the accomplishments of the past, with an eye towards the future really gave me an appreciation for the remarkable work that has happened and is happening at Kennedy Space Center.

Even the fastest power-walker will find it impossible to see and do it all at Kennedy Space Center. You really have to prioritize which exhibits you want to see, and even then, you will not have enough time to read about everything on display.  There is a tremendous amount to see and do.

Our tour provided no guide and no lunch.  I felt that not having a guide worked better than I anticipated, just because we were able to move at our pace and stop for the exhibits we really wanted to see, and skipped over others that did not hold our attention. That being said, the guides we ran into across the facility were incredibly knowledgeable.  Our bus drivers that took us to and from the Apollo/Saturn V Center knew so much about Kennedy Space Center, it felt like they were not just employees earning money driving a bus, rather, they were true die-hard fans who knew it all.  Hearing their explanations and stories from the past really made a difference.

After visiting the Kennedy Space Center, I lamented not visiting sooner and definitely need to come back again to see the exhibits we missed the first time around.  

Overall, we loved our time at Kennedy Space Center. It may have been one of the best shore excursions we ever took, and lived up to the reputation as the premiere thing to do in Port Canaveral.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 9, 2017

In:
09Apr2017

They say April showers brings May flowers, but Sundays bring you a round-up of all of this week's Royal Caribbean news!

The Royal Caribbean news everyone was talking about this week was another update to Royal Caribbean's suggested attire, where shorts, tees, and tank tops were removed from the list.

Royal Caribbean revised its dress code suggestions just around two weeks after it added shorts to the list, which generated a lot of discussion as well.

The change applies to the casual dress code, and as many cruise veterans have noted in our comments, the dress code has rarely been enforced.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 192nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, which has five rules for getting a great price on a Royal Caribbean cruise,

Among all the questions typically asked, Matt finds the most common one is about how to get a "deal" on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  In this episode, Matt shares the five things anyone can do to get a great price.

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.

Join us aboard the largest cruise ship in the world!

We are so excited to announce the next group cruise for readers and staff of RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com aboard Harmony of the Seas!  This is an exclusive group where we are inviting you, our readers, to join us on a fantastic Harmony of the Seas sailing on an 7-night cruise to the Western Caribbean.

This Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise is all about enjoying a fun Royal Caribbean cruise along with other fans who are big fans of Royal Caribbean.  Don't miss this opportunity to check out the amazing ship as well as be a part of exclusive events for those that book with our group!

For more details on booking the cruise, the itinerary and prices, check out the Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise page and if you have any questions, email me!

On This Week in Royal Caribbean History

Two years ago this week, Royal Caribbean took delivery of Anthem of the Seas at a ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany.

Ship builder Meyer Werft handed over the second Quantum-class cruise ship to Royal Caribbean. Immediately after that ceremony, Anthem of the Seas began heading to Southampton, U.K. for her inaugrual sailings.

Anthem of the Seas spent the summer in Southampton, prior to crossing the Atlantic to her permanent homeport in Cape Liberty, New Jersey later that year.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Mikayla Jane Travels offers an ultimate guide to Voyager of the Seas.

Travel + Leisure shared five things to know about Symphony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean has a list of how to make the best use of 8 hours in Labadee.

Cruise Habit answers what exactly are harbor pilots.

Royal Caribbean is also working with the WWF to find sustainable tour operators.

Photo tour of Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas

In:
08Apr2017

Staying in a suite is a wonderful way to splurge and enjoy some of the finest accommodations available on a cruise ship.  The Grand Suite staterooms on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas are a popular choice with guests who want to enjoy the benefits of the Sky Class level.

Photos of this room come to us from stateroom 11242.

The Grand Suite can accommodate up to 4 guests. It features a living area that includes a sofa that converts to a double bed, entertainment center and writing desk.

The large closet near the entrance is one of many spots in the room that provides storage.

The bedroom area has two twin beds that convert to a Royal King (measures 72.5 inches wide x 82 inches long), separate dressing area and an entrance to the bathroom.

There is another desk in the bedroom area.

The Grand Suite on Anthem of the Seas has a full bathroom with tub, two sinks, and second entrance that opens to living room.

The Grand Suite measures 351 square feet in size, with a 109 square foot balcony.

Friday Photos

In:
07Apr2017

Friday is here and that means two things: the weekend is beginning and we have some terrific Royal Caribbean photos to share from our readers. Each week, we invite our readers to share with us their favorite Royal Caribbean photos in a kind of virtual escape for everyone.

We begin Friday Photos this week with a photo by Crystal taken on Labadee, looking out to Harmony of the Seas.  Just another day in paradise.

Mike Wagner took this photo from the east coast of Cozumel. He rented a jeep and explored the east side of the island while on an Oasis of the Seas cruise.

RBRSKI sent in this photo of the family's New Years cruise, which was on Independence of the Seas.  They had a corner aft balcony and were definitely in the holiday mood.

Speaking of Independence of the Seas, here is a photo by Anne M. from March 2017.  Few things are as calming and beautiful as the wake from a cruise ship on the ocean.

We are headed back to Labadee for this photo by Denis Beauchemin, and it is also of Harmony of the Seas docked in Royal Caribbean's private destination. Looks like it was taken from an over the water cabana at Nellie's Beach

Matthew Reed sent this photo of Harmony of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas docked next to each other in St. Maarten. 

Our last photo this week comes to us from Emily Knab, and it is of Liberty of the Seas arriving in Roatan, Honduras.

Thank you to everyone who sent in photos this week. We welcome your best Royal Caribbean cruise photos too, and you can send them in by using this form. Have a great weekend!

Royal Caribbean's 100 hour sale offers bonus onboard credit this weekend only

In:
07Apr2017

For 100 hours this weekend, Royal Caribbean is offering bonus onboard credit on top of its current Every Third Night Free sale.

The 100 hour sale is valid on new Royal Caribbean cruises booked between April 7, 2017 at 7:00am EST and April 11, 2017 at 11:59 EST on sailings that depart on or after May. 7, 2017 (excluding China departures).

The total offer includes

Free Nights Savings

  • 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

The savings amount for each free night is calculated by dividing the total stateroom cruise fare by the number of cruise nights. Savings is deducted from cruise fare at time of booking.

Onboard Credit

  • $25 OBC per stateroom for interior and ocean view on sailings 5 nights or less
  • $50 OBC per stateroom for balcony and suite on 5 night sailings or less
  • $75 OBC per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 6 nights or longer
  • $150 OBC per stateroom for balcony and suite on 6 night sailings or longer

Anthem of the Seas Bonus Onboard Credit

Bonus OBC total value per stateroom for Anthem of the Seas sailings departing May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017 determined by sailing length and stateroom category booked:

  • $100 OBC total per stateroom for interior and oceanview
  • $200 OBC total per stateroom for balcony and suite.

Oasis class Upgrades

Bookings made between April 7-11, 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. Free upgrade refers to booking a balcony room at the price of the ocean view room. All other charges including, but not limited to, taxes, fees and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests.

1-2-Free is combinable with adjoining OBC, Bonus Anthem OBC, Crown & Anchor discounts, NextCruise offers and Shareholder Benefits. OBC and Bonus Anthem OBC are not combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts or Shareholder Benefits. 1-2-Free, OBC and Bonus Anthem OBC 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 available to residents of the United States and Canada.

Royal Caribbean announces partnership with Puerto Rico to improve San Juan pier

In:
06Apr2017

Governor Ricardo Rosselló, along with the executive director of the Ports Authority, Lic. Omar Marrero Díaz, announced Thursday improvements to San Juan's Pan American II Pier, in partnership with the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

The announcement comes as Royal Caribbean announced its intention to homeport Freedom of the Seas in San Juan in May 2018.  To do this, investments will be made in this port facility to optimize the infrastructure and in turn improve the experience of the passengers at the dock.

As part of the agreement between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and the Ports Authority, a number of works will be carried out including: improvements to the boarding bridge, improvements and reconfiguration of safety checkpoints, adding passenger registration desks, The capacity of the baggage inspection area, improvements to the bathrooms, dredging to the dock area of ​​the Pan American Wharf II, improvements to the mooring structure of the ships and other miscellaneous improvements to the building.

The economic impact is expected to be momentous and have an increase in Ports Authority revenues of $2.8 million.

For fiscal year 2015-2016 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brought a total of 574,140 passengers and is expected to increase to approximately 700,000 passengers by 2018.

Royal Caribbean updates dining room dress code again and removes shorts

In:
06Apr2017

Royal Caribbean has revised its dress code suggestions on its website and removed shorts from the list, a little more than a week after shorts were discovered as acceptable attire.

The website now lists suggestions for casual, smart casual and formal dress codes.  Under the casual dress code, shorts, tees, and tank tops have been removed from the list.

Royal Caribbean generated a lot of discussion early last week when the web page included shorts as acceptable attire.  That decision drew the ire of many traditionalists, who did not think it was appropriate.  This latest website update reverses the policy and clarifies the cruise line's stance on the issue.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas hidden secrets

In:
05Apr2017

Do you have a cruise booked on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas? If so, there is so much to see and do onboard that is not to be missed.  Of course, with a ship of this size and as many activities onboard as there are, it is easy to overlook some aspects of the ship.

We present our list of the top ten hidden secrets and gems that you should not overlook if you get the chance to sail on Anthem of the Seas.

10. Secret door to the Solarium

The adults-only Solarium at the front of Anthem of the Seas is a popular destination for guests who love the enclosed windows, always warm temperatures and incredible pool.  Did you know there is a secret door that leads directly into the Solarium without having to go back out to the stairwells first?

On deck 13 forward, if you walk all the way forward past all the staterooms, there is a door that leads right out to the lower level of the Solarium.

9. Thermal spa pass

Royal Caribbean's Vitality Spa has always been the perfect place to indulge in a little, "me time," and on Anthem of the Seas, you will find one of the best ways to relax ever in the thermal spa.

Guests can purchase a pass to the thermal spa for $99 per person ($179 per couple) that gets guests access to

  • Heated stone chairs
  • Rainforest shower room
  • Infrared sauna
  • Steam room

The price quoted is for the duration of the cruise and is not just a tremendous value, but also a great way to forget all of your troubles.

8. The "Hershey kiss" chair

If you want to score points for taking a selfie in the coolest chair onboard Anthem of the Seas, check out this chair that reminds us of a Hershey Kiss.

Located in the Via, near Vintages Wine Bar, this chair is a large pear shaped chair that has an opening for one or more guests to jump in and relax.

The chair is more show than function, but we dare you not to take photos of yourself in there to share with others!

7. Open play room for kids

If you have younger children that need to get burn some energy (especially before nap time), there is an open play area in Adventure Ocean that is available for use throughout the day stocked full of toys.

On Anthem of the Seas, the open play area is available for all young children, and features a slide, building blocks, tunnels, toy kitchens and much more.

Parents will find seating around the edge of the play area to monitor the kids (and likely stream something on Netflix via Royal Caribbean's amazing Voom internet).

6. Bridge wings

Looking for the best view of Anthem of the Seas? Then you want to check out the wing viewing areas that are located all the way forward, near the Solarium.

There are wing viewing spots on both sides of the ship, and they are small platforms that extend away from the ship, giving guests amazing views every time.

These wing viewing areas are perfect for sailaways or just getting a great photo of Anthem of the Seas.

To get to the wing viewing areas, go all the way forward on deck 14, then walk through the Solarium all the way to the front and go left or right to find a door that leads to them.

5. Beer selection at Michael's Genuine Pub

If you are a beer lover, and especially enjoy craft beers, the spot onboard Anthem of the Seas for you is Michael's Genuine Pub.

Unfortunately, craft beers are a rare commodity on Royal Caribbean ships but Michael's Genuine Pub is stocked full of some wonderful microbrews.

While you are enjoying a great beer, be sure to order something off Michael's food menu.  Their burger and falafel are outstanding.

4. Planks at Jamie's Italian

Jamie's Italian specialty restaurant is a real winner with guests, who continuously report back glowing reviews of the food offered here.  If you are wondering what the best thing is on the menu: it is the meat planks.

The menu is comprised of Jamie’s Italian Famous Plank piled high with cured meats, pickles and tempting cheeses. It is perfect for sharing with everyone at the table and you will really find it is the perfect way to start any meal at Jamie's Italian.

3. Best uncrowded spot for breakfast: Cafe @ Two70

If you want to have breakfast somewhere on Anthem of the Seas without a large crowd, try Cafe @ Two70.  Royal Caribbean describes this as a "European" style breakfast, and you will find a bagel bar, yogurts, fruit, pastries and some breakfast sandwiches too.

The best part of breakfast here is the view, because you can take your food out to Two70, and enjoy a wonderful view of the ocean.

2. See through floor

It can be easy to forget just how large a ship Anthem of the Seas is, so head to deck 13 aft and walk up to deck 14, where you will get a pretty good reminder.

Royal Caribbean added this see-through floor for one of the steps, which allows guests to peer down more than 10 decks to the Royal Esplanade.  Be sure to bring your camera, especially when kids see this for the first time.

1. The best views of NYC are on the port side

If you are booking a balcony or oceanview stateroom and want to ensure you get a great view of New York City while docked in Cape Liberty (and on your way out to sea), then very likely you will want to book a room on the port side of the ship.

We should mention that Anthem of the Seas does not always dock in the same way, but most often we see the port side of the ship facing the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of Manhattan.

Regardless of which side the ship docks or where your stateroom is, be sure to go to the bridge wing that we noted in secret number 6 to get the perfect vantage point of this iconic skyline.

Did we miss any Anthem of the Seas secrets? Share them in our comments!

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