Today was our second sea day and it was even better than yesterday. I guess it helps when it begins not docked in Galveston!
I couldn't help myself and once again woke up early, at 7am. I took the liberty of waking my wife and daughter up so we could get going. Pro tip for all the husbands out there, don't wake your sleeping wife up because you really want to go to the Windjammer.
After getting ready we had breakfast at the Windjammer, which featured the usual selection of breakfast foods. I, of course, opted for the omelette station and we enjoyed a gorgeous view of the ocean with our meal.
We dropped my daughter off at Adventure Ocean and this time were given a beeper just in case there were any issues. We hadn't gotten one before so not sure why now but didn't end up needing it.
My wife and I spent some time walking around the ship some more, including checking out the Peek-a-boo bridge. The peek-a-boo bridge is a window where guests can look in and spy on the ship's bridge. It's up on deck 11 and offers a great view of the bridge's operations.
We also booked my wife a massage package for later today (making up for waking her up early I suppose). She went with the special of the day, which is a five service spa pack that includes back massage, facial, ankle & foot massage, exfoliation and some other relaxing things for $139.
At 10am we had a tour of the galley that Royal Caribbean invited us to partake in. Full disclosure: Royal Caribbean provided this galley tour for free to members of the media. Everything else, including the cost of the cruise, airfare, spa treatments and restaurants have been paid by me.
We met with the head chef for Navigator of the Seas and he took us through the galley on deck 4 to see how food is prepared. It's an impressive operation and very refined. For cruise geeks like me, it provided some cool insight.
After the tour my wife and I headed back up to pool deck for drinks and sun. Interesting side note, we first got a drink at the Sky Bar and got Margaritas for $10 each. We then went down to the Solarium to get another round of drinks and they were $1 cheaper. The tidbit to takeaway isn't that I was drinking at 10:45am but the discrepency in price. I guess it does pay to shop around!
At 11:30am I had another media tour of Navigator of the Seas' bridge. As cool as the galley tour was, the bridge tour was even cooler because we got to see how a ship like Navigator of the Seas works and meet the Captain!
Lunch today was at Izumi, the sushi restaurant on Deck 14 that is new to Navigator of the Seas as part of her revitialization. Izumi used to have a cover charge but now has no cover charge, and just charges food a la carte.
I'll save the full review of Izumi for a different blog post but I will note that there is a different menu for lunch and dinner. The lunch menu has just sushi, whereas the dinner menu has an expanded sushi menu and non-sushi items as well. Moreover, there are no sushi specials during lunch.
I liked my lunch at Izumi, and being a sushi lover, I found their sushi to be of good quality overall. The tuna roll pieces I recieved were small in size but the signature rolls I ordered definitely measured up. And unlike Giovanni's Table yesterday, Izumi was busy!
Next up I had an opportunity to see a functional virtual balcony! Like many of you, I was excited to see one "in the flesh" and this was another Royal Caribbean tour for the media. We saw the two possible views the virtual balconies have and had some time to talk with the outside firm, Control Group, that designed them.
I have to say these virtual balconies are going to be really popular because they are pretty darn cool and the visual aspect is stunning.
While my wife went to get her massage, I took my daughter swimming. The air temperature was definitely warm enough for swimming, however the water temperature did not exactly match. It was fine once you got used to it but my daughter does not believe in slow adjustments, so I had to jump in.
We had a great time swimming and she loved splashing around in there. The pool wasn't terribly crowded either so it was a fun time for us both, although we did quickly towel off and run back inside the ship to warm up.
By now my wife was back and after I showered I took some time to take some dusk photos from the pool deck. I'm not a great photographer by any means but I thought I got a few decent shots. Plus I just love how Royal Caribbean ships look at night!
Prior to dinner I had the opportunity to talk to Tim, the lead developer for the virtual balcony project and spent the better part of an hour picking his brain about the virtual balconies. My discussion with him will appear in a detailed blog post in the days following my cruise but I have to say my takeaway is the virtual balconies are undeniably cool and let's just say what we see today isn't the end of virtual balcony development. Also big shout out to Royal Caribbean Blog reader Ronnie!
Some of you asked for photos of the R-Bar, which is my new favorite bar to hang out in. Their bartenders are fantastic, to the point you tell them what kind of alcohol and/or juices you like and they will whip something up just for you. Amazing!
Dinner was once again in the main dining room and it was Italian night. Food was great overall and once again my wait staff was fantastic. Our waiter, Daniel, is really quite funny and the guy is a pleasure to talk to, especially because you aren't sure what joke he has lined up next.
Tomorrow we are back on land and it's our first stop of Roatan in Honduras. My first time there and we have a taxi driver hired to take us around the island. It's a dock port and we are due in at 10. I will have a lot to report from our adventure there!
Today is a sea day but we actually started the day docked in Galveston. That's right, we never left Galveston last night due to fog.
We woke up at 7am for no particular reason and noticed we were still docked. By the time we started getting ready for breakfast, you could feel the ship's engines start up and minutes before 8am we left Galveston (finally).
The Captain made an announcement shorthly after telling us that we should be in Roatan (our first port stop) by 10am despite the fog delays. Even after leaving Galveston, there was heavy fog and the ship was blowing its horn every few minutes. By about 11am or so the fog dissipated and the day got progressively better as time went on.
We started our morning with breakfast at the Windjammer. The upholstery, furnishings and pretty much everything in the Windjammer looked new. Like much of the ship, everything looked bright and new and it really makes Navigator of the Seas seem like a new ship.
After breakfast we dropped my duaghter off at Adventure Ocean. Since we had pre-registered her last night, it was a quick process and she was more than happy to get going.
I had also discovered Navigator of the Seas has two new unlimited internet plans available. One unlimited plan is for two logins at once, whereas the other unlimited internet plan is for one login at once. I opted for the single user unlimited plan but the two-user unlimited plan is good for families or uber-connected groups. The two-login unlimited internet plan is $229.95 and the one-person unlimited internet plan is $189.95. Both plans can have Crown & Anchor discounts applied to them.
I was also informed by someone that the Royal Replinish beverage plan does include Starbucks drinks, which makes the deal quite easy to "break even" if you ask me.
After dropping her off, my wife and I decided to explore Navigator of the Seas some more. We started by walking around the pool deck and walked backwards to the sports deck where a lot of changes were made. It was still cold and very windy so not many people were out doing anything here, but we saw the FlowRider as well as the re-positioned mini-golf course. It's really amazing how much work they put into the ship!
We also took this kid-free opportunity to walk the Royal Promenade and see what wares were available. The shops had a lot of the same things we were accustomed to seeing on Royal Caribbean ships like logo merchandise, designer clothing and of course jewelry.
The fun thing about a sea day is there's something going on everywhere and it's up to you what to do. Due to the cold weather, it wasn't yet practical to be outside so we walked the decks some more. Enjoying the ambiance of a ship for me and my wife is a fun way to spend the day. We wandered in and out of venues to see what, if anything, was different.
In the weeks leading up to the cruise, a few blog readers mentioned they would be on the same cruise as me so I set up a blog meet up in front of Ben & Jerry's at 10:30, and it was a lot of fun meeting other Royal Caribbean fans who I could "talk shop" with!
After the meet, I made my way up to the Viking Crown Lounge for the CruiseCritic meet-n-mingle. For those unaware, the meet-n-mingle's are semi-organized meets for members of CruiseCritic sanctioned by Royal Caribbean. It's basically an opportunity to meet others you may have been talking with prior to the cruise.
This meet there were a lot of people at this meet, more than I've ever seen. Probably 40 or so, if not more. There was also free champagne or alcohol fruit punch and a few snacks along with some Royal Caribbean giveaways. I was lucky enough to win a Royal Caribbean branded laptop bag!
After the meet, we picked up my daughter from Adventure Ocean and went to our lunch reservation at Giovanni's Table.
Giovanni's Table is a specialty restaurant that is new to Navigator of the Seas, although I had the chance to try it on Oasis of the Seas a few years ago. They are open for lunch and dinner, so I decided to try it for lunch.
When we arrived at about 12:15, the place was literally empty. Even when we left, there was maybe one or two other tables occupied so draw your own conclusions.
I'll save the entire experience at Giovanni's Table for an upcoming review on the blog but I can say we enjoyed our time here. The food is served family style, although most of it was small enough for just one person to eat.
The food was cooked fresh and I enjoyed the various sauces. And you could tell the food was not previously frozen, which definitely added to the taste. Giovanni's isn't the kind of restaurant to turn what you know about Italian food on its head, rather, it's a celebration of classic Italian food.
I should also point out how good the staff was here. My daughter was less than exemplary in her behavior but the staff really went out of their way to cheer her up. Our waiter in particular did a lot to entertain her, which was wonderful for us. Royal Caribbean restaurant staff are always quite good but the efforts of the Giovanni staff were better than I ever remember. Bravo!
In all, I liked Giovanni's Table and for lunch, the cost is less than dinner ($15 per person at lunch) and I felt on a sea day a good choice for something different.
After lunch, my daughter needed a nap in a really bad way so we went back to the room for a nap. My wife and daughter napped while I decided I wasn't tired enough for a nap so I would go to the pool deck to people watch. Well, within about 10 minutes on a lounge chair and I was fast asleep.
When I woke up, I went back downstairs to the stateroom and we lounged around the room some and then got my daughter a snack. She felt special when we went up to the pool deck to get her cranberry juice from the bar and she got to sit at the bar "like a big girl".
Tongiht was also formal night so it was back to the stateroom to get ready for dinner. Our plan was to get me and my wife dressed, then take my daughter to the Windjammer for her to eat and then drop her off at Adventure Ocean while we enjoyed dinner in the main dining room.
We went ahead with the plan and had her fed, potty'd and in Adventure Ocean a few minutes after 7pm. With my daughter take care of, we went down to R-Bar for a pre-dinner drink and I've become a fan of R-Bar. Great vibe and the furniture is so odd and retro it's fun to be there. Plus the drinks offered here are great too! I think R-Bar is an instant Royal Caribbean classic.
We took a few formal photos too although I doubt we will buy them but the lines were short. All over the Royal Promenade there was something going on. Free champagne for the Captain's Reception and a brass band playing really set a fun tone across the ship.
Dinner we were back in the main dining room although it was the first time meeting our wait staff since last night's dinner was such a mess with the fog delay and was open seating. Tonight we were at our table, which was a 6-top although me and my wife were the only people there. Not sure if our tablemates skipped dinner tonight due to formal night or are just not main dining room people.
Nonetheless we had a great time because our wait staff of Daniel and Gabriel were hillarious. Daniel has a dry humor and was very entertaining. Tonight was also coffee ice cream night, which is my all time favorite ice cream and he brought me the biggest helping of ice cream I've ever seen. Best dinner ever?
After dinner we took a post-dinner walk around Deck 4, a vested family tradition, and then picked up my daughter from Adventure Ocean. She had an absolute blast and was sad to have to leave. It's only 1 day in but she loves Adventure Ocean and tomorrow night they have a program of paying extra to keep the kids there as late as 2am! The gears in my mind are turning...
Tomorrow we have another sea day and we have some small plans, like perhaps trying to go for a swim now that the weather is improving. Otherwise we will play things by ear and I'm hoping for another pool-side nap.
Adventure of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas to join Anthem of the Seas in UK in 2015In:
Royal Caribbean announced today that Adventure of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas will join Anthem of the Seas for a large Royal Caribbean presence in the UK in 2015.
Anthem of the Seas will offer 19 cruises to the Spanish, French and Italian rivieras, and the Canary Islands on three- to 16-night itineraries, and then reposition in late-October 2015 to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and sail five-night short Caribbean, six-night Western Caribbean and eight-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries through April 2016 for its first winter season.
Anthem of the Seas’ summer 2015 Europe cruises will be available for member bookings starting Feb. 26, 2014 and the ship’s winter 2015-16 Caribbean cruises will be open for members starting Mar. 12, 2014. Bookings for the general public on Anthem of the Seas’ summer 2015 Europe cruises and winter 2015-16 Caribbean sailings will be opened on Mar. 3 and 20, 2014, respectively.
Serenade of the Seas will also be operating in the North Sea in summer 2015, and offer a range of Scandinavia and Russia, as well as Norwegian Fjords, sailings from Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden. Adventure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas will open for booking on Feb. 26, 2014.
Adventure of the Seas will sail three- to 16-night, roundtrip itineraries to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, or Madeira, Azores and Canary Islands. The ship also will sail two trans-Atlantic Ocean Voyages – a 12-night itinerary from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Southampton on May 3, 2015, and from Southampton to Port Canaveral, Fla. on a 15-night return itinerary on Oct. 16.
Brilliance of the Seas will reposition from Tampa, Fla. to its homeport of Harwich, England, on a 14-night trans-Atlantic Ocean Voyage on May 4, 2015, and continue with 12-night roundtrip Scandinavia and Russia sailings from mid-May through August. A July 29 sailing will take guests on a special 12-night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland itinerary, featuring an overnight call at Reykjavik, Iceland.
For its part, Serenade of the Seas also will offer vacationers seven- to 13-night Scandinavia, Russia and Norwegian Fjord itineraries from May through August. The ship will sail from Copenhagen from May through June and in the month of August, bookending sailings from Stockholm from mid-June through July.
Vacationers also can choose four repositioning cruises on Serenade of the Seas. The April 11, 2015, sailing will take guests on a 13-night Caribbean itinerary from New Orleans, La., to Boston, Mass., followed by a 15-night trans-Atlantic Ocean Voyage to Copenhagen via the North Sea. Finally, a 16-night westbound trans-Atlantic Ocean Voyage from Copenhagen to Cape Liberty via Iceland will depart on Aug. 30.
Sometimes unexpected things happen on your vacation and most of the time they are out of your control and today was one of those days.
We woke up early this morning with excitement, around 7:00am, and everyone was ready for the cruise to begin. That was until we checked online and discovered Navigator of the Seas was not letting guests off the ship. In fact, the ship wasn't even in port.
Due to heavy fog, Navigator of the Seas was sitting off the coast of Galveston because the port was closed due to heavy fog. During this time of the year, fog is common and delays due to fog happen because of lower visibility.
I had read tweets, emails and other online messages from passengers onboard Navigator of the Seas indicating they were not docked yet. By 9:00am I had recieved the first automated phone call of the day from Royal Caribbean telling us our departure was delayed and there would be an update at 11:00am.
So we did the best we could and had another breakfast at Miller's Seawall Grill, which was as uninspired as dinner. So we sat around the hotel waiting for something to happen. Thankfully our hotel, the Galveston Beach Hotel, was beyond accomodating. They allowed all the cruise guests to stay in their rooms as long as they needed without any additional cost. It was really quite refreshing because it allowed our daughter to nap and us avoiding hours upon hours in the lobby.
The 11am call told us the earliest we could arrive would be 4pm so we took a walk along Seawall Drive and found a Mexican restaurant called Gorditas Mexico that advertised itself as authentic Mexican and it was pretty darn good. It ended up being about $30 for all of us so it sounded good to me.
By 2:00 I started seeing a flurry of messages saying things were looking better and Navigator was starting to move. At 2:20 Royal Caribbean told us to arrive no earlier than 6:30 for a 7:00 boarding.
There's no question that having your vacation delayed is frustrating but when the delay is a result of something out of your hands, there's really not much you can do. The key is to "go with the flow" and just deal with it. If we had a rental car, I would have driven around Galveston and done more.
I think Royal Caribbean's automated responses were adequate and I hear we are getting $20 per person in onboard credit (although I have no first hand confirmation) to cover lunch, which is certainly a nice gesture. So for anyone cruising from Galveston in winter, keep this in mind as a possibility just like a hurricane impacting Florida ports in the fall.
At any rate we left the hotel at about 5:30 and arrived to the terminal to find a really big line. I guess most people ignored the 6:30 time or had no where else to go. The line was massive but it's what I expected. Luckily the lines did move, which is better than long lines that do not move. I think we made it through all the lines and onboard in about 45 minutes.
Once onboard, it was an odd embarkation day because everything was out of whack. The main dining room was open for everyone and it was just open seating instead of assigned times. The Windjammer was open too as per usual. I overheard a crew member at Chops announcing a 30% off just for tonight deal.
Some of the bars were open, although an announcement indicated due to Texas law they could only open a few bars while in port.
All staterooms were ready so we went up to our family ocean view stateroom. We're in room 6500 and it's all the way forward and massive! It's meant for 5-6 people but we were able to book it for just the three of us. My daughter even gets her own room with a curtain door.
We went to Adventure Ocean to register our daughter. This is the kids club on Royal Caribbean and it looked great. No Adventure Ocean activities today but it will all get going tomorrow. My daughter loved it in there and was upset when we had to leave. She'd prefer to spend the whole week there right now!
Walking around the ship, you can tell it's been refurbished and this will be a continuing theme of our posts this week. The carpets smell and feel new. Everything looks bright and fresh. It's really quite nice and exceeded what I was expecting going on this ship.
We walked around the decks a bit to see a little bit more but decided to head to dinner to eat before our 10pm muster drill. At the main dining room, it was open seating because of the delay in boarding but the menu was otherwise normal. In fact, they had escargot on the menu, which was the first time it was actually available since 2012 for me.
Tomorrow is a sea day, although it may be Galveston day two at the rate this fog is going. Honestly, I don't really care although the advantage of a sea day is we will go south and it could be warm enough to go swimming (it's too cool out to really go swimming).
All in all, Royal Caribbean did the best they could with the situation they had. I think they handled the situation well and the automated calls were informative and timely enough to keep us in the know. It was frustrating and I cannot imagine what people disembarking did if they had flights but I'm happy to be onboard now and enjoying the cruise, even if we haven't moved a foot yet.
We have lunch planned at Giovanni's Table but otherwise the day is open. Hoping our daughter will love her time in Adventure Ocean so me and my wife can go explore the ship more and really start to relax.
I'll also have more photos of what's new and different on the ship. Post your requests in the comments!
All day today, we're onboard the newly refurbished Navigator of the Seas and will be sharing our photos as we explore what's new and different onboard this beautiful cruise ship.
This post will be updated regularly throughout the day with new photos, so check back often to see what else is new. Of course, you can also see photos posted to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts too.
Sit back and catch up on this week's Royal Caribbean news. We've gone through and hand-picked some fun articles for you to take a look at in case you missed any of it.
Royal Caribbean dropped the news this week that it will send the largest cruise ship in the world across the Atlantic to Spain in 2015 to offer Mediterranean cruises.
Beginning in May 2015, Allure of the Seas will sail from Barcelona and offer seven night cruises with calls in Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, La Spezia (Florence and Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), and Naples.
The Mediterranean cruises will go on sale to Crown and Anchor Society members Febryary 12, 2014 and then go on sale to the general public on February 18.
Royal Caribbean News
- The CDC confirmed the gastrointestinal outbreak on Explorer of the Seas was indeed Norovirus.
- Royal Caribbean appointed Coca-Cola's CEO to its Board of Directors.
- Royal Caribbean completed its refurbishment of Navigator of the Seas.
- It looks like Navigator of the Seas will replace Jewel of the Seas in 2015.
- We posted our pre-cruise introduction for our Navigator of the Seas live blog series.
Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast
Matt is going on the newly refurbished Navigator of the Seas cruise this week and so he previews his upcoming adventure including why he booked the cruise, some of the plans he has onboard and on shore and why he's excited to see what Navigator of the Seas has to offer.
Royal Caribbean Around the Internet
Royal Caribbean recognized National Weatherperson's Day.
Ship Monk has an interview with Royal Caribbean officials regarding Allure of the Seas going to Europe in 2015.
Cruise International has its list of the top 10 cruises for families in 2014.
Today our Navigator of the Seas finally begins and we couldn't have been more excited to get it started. We weren't going to be boarding Navigator of the Seas today but our vacation can really begin as we flew down to Galveston, Texas to be ready for the cruise fun tomorrow.
Like every cruiser that looks forward to their next cruise, I went to bed too late last night and woke up too early all because of excitement. I mean, I can sleep later right? We got up around 6:00am to get the last things ready and be ready for our 7:30am car service to pick us up to bring us to LaGuardia Airport.
So up and at 'em we went, getting the last things packed, waking up the daughter and waiting for our town car service from Legends Limousine at 7:30am. A quick ride to the aiport and we were on our way.
About two weeks ago I decided to surprise my wife with something to make this vacation a little more fun. I found on eBay people selling day passes to United's airport lounge. Usually these passes for for $50 from the airline but I was able to get two passes for about $30! So I kept the whole thing a secret until this morning when we were in the car to the airport.
LaGaurdia was quite empty and no lines to deal with. Unfortunately, there was no United Club in the Terminal we were flying out of, so I guess I will save the passes for our flight home.
The flight to Houston was mostly fine. I hate flying so I'm not exactly unbiased but there were a few bumpy moments but a majority of the time the flight was smooth and I managed to find an empty row in the back of the plane to lie down and take a nap.
We landed in Houston early and our friend Paul picked us up. We took the highway from IAH to Galveston, with a stop along the way at Whataburger because I've never been to one before and I had heard its a decent burger. Considering we were starving from barely eating at 8:00am and no food on the plane, it was a welcome pit stop.
We checked into the Galveston Beach Hotel, which is located right on Seawall Drive. It's a former Holiday Inn Sunspree and is perfect for what we need: a clean, well furnished hotel room for one night.
Our room was available and we also booked a shuttle to bring us to the cruise terminal tomorrow. The shuttle costs $20 per family and originally they said it would leave at 11:00am. I want to leave for the terminal by 10:00am and so the staff called the shuttle guy and arranged for us to leave at 10!
After dropping our stuff off, Paul drove us to Wal-Mart to get some supplies that we didn't want to pack like shampoo and what not. I also took this opportunity to purchase two bottles of wine to bring aboard the cruise ship, which Royal Caribbean permits. Wal-Mart's wine selection isn't exactly top shelf, but it'll do for what I need.
By now the early start and lack of sleep was starting to catch up with my daughter and even us so we decided to head back to the hotel and order something to the room while relaxing and hopefully getting some shut eye early.
Seawall Drive, the road our hotel is on, is a real tourist mecca with plenty of restaurants, shops and attractions along the way. It reminds me of A1A in Florida. Being early February, it's off-season here so there isn't a whole lot happening but it's a very nice area. Paul was telling me in the summer the water front of Galveston is filled with cars and people so it's quite a different vibe right now. Still, it's a nice area to walk and explore.
As for the Galveston Beach Hotel, as I said earlier it's clean, quiet and a good choice for someone who needs a place to stay for a night before their cruise. There's a restaurant in front of the restaurant that shares a pool between the hotel and the restaurant with a swim up bar attached. It's too cold for swim up bars now but could be a really fun place for adults to enjoy.
For dinner we tried out the nearby Miller's Seawall Grill. It's an American seafood restaurant that has a little of everything. We ordered a couple of sandwiches and they were just okay. Nothing special but since Paul had left, we had no car and delivery options were limited. It wasn't great but I can't say I'd order from them again.
After dinner we were ready to relax and take it easy for the evening. I would have loved to go walk around a little more to see Galveston's night life. Alas, no need to push myself too much and tomorrow is day one of our Navigator of the Seas cruise so I certainly want to have enough energy for that.
Definitely a great first day and we are all even more excited to get onboard the ship and let the real adventure begin. Our plan is to have breakfast at 9am and then be ready to go to the cruise terminal by 10:00am.
I also wanted to thank everyone who sent me such great comments and suggestions via email, Twitter and Facebook. I appreciate the support and hope this will be as fun for you to read as it is for me to write.
We will have a lot of updates in our live blog here but also on Royal Caribbean Blog Twitter and Instagram. I'm also planning on live streaming sailaway with a web cam so look for the stream right here on the log. Follow along and then get the whole summary here tomorrow.
Royal Caribbean has released the 2015-2016 deployment schedule for its world wide cruise itineraries.
The deployment schedules gives consumers an idea of when to expect particular cruise schedules to become available to start looking at future cruises.
Here is the full schedule
- Week of February 10
- Summer/Fall Caribbean
- Northeast and Fall Canada
- Week of February 17
- Week of February 24
- Additional Europe
- Week of March 3
- Additional Europe*
- Week of March 17
- Winter Caribbean*
- Week of March 24
- Winter Caribbean
- Week of March 31
- Short Caribbean & Bahamas
- Week of April 7
- Brazil & South America
- Mid 2014
- Future Deployment
Asterisk denotes Crown and Anchor Society members will be eligible for advance booking on select ships.
The tests are in and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that Norovirus was indeed the culprit in over 600 cruise passengers getting sick on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas last month.
The CDC says the particular strain of Norovirus was identified as the GII.4 Sydney strain, which is named after originating in Australia.
Furthermore, the CDC confirmed today that it is the most common norovirus of about 20 different types in the country right now. In fact, it affects many more people on land than on cruise ships.
In fact, according to the CDC, over 21 million people are infected with Norovirus each year with less than 1 percent of out breaks occuring on cruise ships.
The GII.4 Sydney strain was identified in 2012 in Sydney, Australia.
Jan Vinje, the head virologist who tested the Royal Caribbean germ samples in the CDC’s lab, said Americans should not postpone cruises because of this new norovirus strain. “When we did the math last time, and looked at the total number of voyages annually, maybe less than half a percent had outbreaks. They are perfectly safe.”
If it's Friday, that means it is time to share some more awesome photos our readers have sent in of their Royal Caribbean cruise vacations! As always, we want your photos too, so send us your best Royal Caribbean photos so we can share it with the world.
Our first photo this week is from Neil Davies and it's of Liberty of the Seas and Vision of the Seas in St. Maarten. Quite a difference in size!
Next is this photo from Glenn Wildenmann taken aboard Independence of the Seas in December 2012. The ship you're seeing is actually a Celebrity ship. Glenn notes that him, his wife and four daughters are scheduled to sail December 2014 on Allure of the Seas. Have a great time Glenn!
This photo is from johnpaulla and he writes, "10,000 lbs…that's what the weight on the ground said…not of my wife after a week of feasting on the Mariner of the Seas over the New Year cruise, but of the helicopter allowed on the pad."
Ken sent us this photo of his "shrine for his passion". The 3 pictures on the wall are of the Mariner of the sea from right to left Anchored in Cabo San Lucas docked in Cozumel and docked in Puerto Vallarta. Great idea Ken!
Here's a photo of the Royal Promenade on Liberty of the Seas, sent to us by Capt. John. Looks like there's a table waiting for me at the pub!
Our last photo is from Kayla when she was watching the famous cliff divers in Acapulco, Mexico. Beautiful (and scary)!
Thank you to everyone who sent in their photos this week. Have a great weekend and be sure to send us your photos so we can post them next week by using this form.