Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 9 - Sea Day

In:
04Apr2016

It’s my ninth and final day on board the Brilliance of the Seas, and these days just fly by. 

Today, we were at sea all day traveling back to Tampa, Florida. 

I started the morning off with room service to the cabin.  I’ll be honest; it’s not the best option if you are looking for great food.  But I really enjoy just eating on the balcony and taking in all the views. 

I’ll also mention, in my past cruises, the coffee they deliver was less than drinkable.  However, on this cruise I actually enjoyed the coffee, so looks like they have made a change. 

I sat on my balcony for over an hour this morning just enjoying my coffee and reflecting on my past 9 days. 

Afternoon onboard

We wanted to relax in the Solarium and just take it easy. 

The ship was starting to rock a little, as we were in the middle of The Gulf of Mexico.  The water in the pool was splashing around a lot and it was like a mini wave pool. 

I really enjoyed my time in this pool; heated water is always a pleasant experience. 

Since it was my final day on board, I had to enjoy one more roast beef sandwich.  Look at all this meat they put on my sandwich! 

I had to take one of them off and eat with a fork, but I didn’t mind.  They also serve salad’s here and have a wide variety of toppings. 

Evening on board

Tonight we got ready early, so we could take full advance of the ship on last evening. 

I went to the photo lounge, to get my free diamond 8x10 photo.  After which, it was time to get a pre dinner cocktail. 

I went down to the R Bar since they were playing live music at 5pm.  It was a band playing beautiful music with violins; it almost felt like formal night again. 

I went with the classic old fashion and Hillary had the champagne cocktail. 

Dinner at Giovanni’s Table

We loved our dinner last night at Giovanni’s Table so much; we decided to go back again. 

I had did met a couple on the Enchantment of the Seas two years ago, and we dined with them this evening to celebrate their birthday. 

They are Pinnacle members, and I’ll say, we received a little extra service at dinner. 

Since it was a special occasion we were celebrating the chef made us lasagna.  If you have dined here before you know they only serve this dish at lunch.  However, if you request it in advance they will prepare some for you. 

For our starters, our waiter just brought out a few to try family style.  I enjoyed dining here with more people, because we got to try more options. 

For the main course, I had the filet and lasagna, I know two dishes!  Again the filet was absolutely amazing, so tender just like at Chops Grill. 

The whole staff came out to sing our friend happy birthday, and made her a large birthday cake. 

I must mention the beautiful sunset we saw this evening.  Our reservations were at 7pm, and we were able to watch the full sunset at dinner. 

I highly recommend eat there at this time, so you are able to watch the sunset while you are eating.  Also, the restaurant is not very large, so no matter where you sit, you will be able to see outside. 

Evening Activities

We decided to end our trip in the pub, this is always were mine started.  They had some live music playing, which I might add seems to be the case all the bars. 

If you are a beer lover like myself, you will love their options here.  They have beers from all around the world, and with the exception of 1 or 2 beers they are included in the drink packages.  I loved being able to try different beers all week, and relaxing in the pub. 

The only downside of the pub is the location itself.  They added this pub during the dry dock, so it’s beside the casino on deck 6.  After a few pints, we called it an evening and headed back to our cabin, this was a sad moment because the cruise was over. 

Thank you for following along with me over the past nine days.  I truly enjoyed sharing my experiences with you from the Brilliance of the Seas. 

If you have any questions about the ship, feel free to comment them below and I’ll respond. 

See you again in two months for another live blog from the Allure of the Seas!  

Six beautiful photos of Royal Caribbean ships in Port Everglades

In:
04Apr2016

We love looking at beautiful Royal Caribbean photos and today we have a handful of great ones to share.

Photographer Rob Starling shared these great shots of four different Royal Caribbean ships coming and leaving Port Everglades, Florida.

Liberty of the Seas

Legend of the Seas

Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas

Independence of the Seas

All photos copyright Rob Starling.

Royal Caribbean pledges to combat wildlife trafficking

In:
04Apr2016

Royal Caribbean announced that it was joining 16 other companies and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (USWTA) in a pledge to crack down on wildlife trafficiking and educate consumers on the dangers trafficking poses to animals around the world.

Royal Caribbean is joining the cause by building awareness of wildlife crime and influencing buying behavior through the education of its 60,000 crew members and upwards of 5 million travelers annually. The cruise line also will work to identify and eliminate any indirect sale of products and souvenirs made from illegal wildlife products, through its on board shopping vendors and suppliers.

The illegal wildlife trade not only threatens the survival of many species in the wild but generates approximately $10 billion per year in illegal profits for sophisticated criminal syndicates that are masterminding the killing, transport and marketing of illegal wildlife products.

These commitments are part of a broader effort towards sustainability by Royal Caribbean.  As part of its environmental stewardship program, Save the Waves, and global partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), RCL will work towards ensuring that its ships, operations, suppliers, and vendors are not indirectly promoting illegal wildlife products, and has committed to removing high risk seafood species from their procurement.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 8 - Cozumel

In:
03Apr2016

Michael Poole is live blogging from Brilliance of the Seas. Enjoy!

Well friends, we are back in Cozumel, Mexico again. 

We docked promptly at 8am and the Independence of the Seas was docked beside us again. 

This morning, I ordered room service to be delivered to the cabin.  The rooms have cards behind the door, and you can simply fill out what you would like, and the time block you want it delivered.   

We selected the 8:00-8:30am window and it arrived around 8:10am.  The options for room service are eggs, fruit, cereal, coffee and tea.   You can get mimosas delivered to the cabin, but these are not included in the drink package, since they came from room service. 

We enjoyed our breakfast on the balcony and both of us, how happy we were to have it.  Now the question is, can I go back to a standard inside cabin? 

Nachi Cocom

As you know from my day 4 live blog post, I was also at Nachi Cocom. 

Most of my experiences were very similar to the first time; in fact I sat in the very same seat.  The only thing different is I arrived a little later and they greeted us with a welcome glass of champagne. 

I’m a little picky when it comes to champagne, and I found this very pleasant to drink, and they also put strawberries in the glass. 

We did have a beautiful sand creation that said, Cozumel.  It was at the end of my chair and thought it was very beautiful. 

I did ask where it came from and they said a family was sitting in those seats yesterday, and their children made it.  The service this time was much faster than my first trip, but there were also about half the people here today.  I enjoyed some time in the swim up hot tub today, and loved having the bartender just had me a drink over. 

I will note there were about 20 women from a different ship at Nachi that started to get out of hand.  I thought the staff would jump in and ask them to tone it down some, but they never did.  But, this was only on our last hour of the day, and it was almost time to leave. 

We ended up leaving Nachi at 3:45pm, and back on board by 4:15 (last call at 5:00), never been within an hour before.  Once back on board, we napped for two hours. 

Evening Time

For a pre-dinner cocktail we decided to head over to the Schooner Bar, since Giovanni’s Table is right there. 

We have met a really great bartender named, Julie here and she was making better old fashions, than the R Bar.  She would also surprise Hillary every time with a new champagne cocktail. 

They have live music in here each evening, singing on the piano.  I must say, this 4-day sailing the bars are much more crowded than on the 5-day.  If you are happening to sail on the Brilliance anytime soon, stop in and see Julie. 

Dinner – Giovanni’s Table

I had made reservations online prior to my cruise for Giovanni’s Table tonight at 8:30pm.  The cost for the meal is $25 per person and that includes tips for the server. 

The restaurant called our cabin at 5:00pm to confirm our reservation, and that we are welcome to come sooner than our time, if we wanted.  We were seated by the window in a table for two. 

Our server was outstanding; I could just tell he was one of the best, so informative and knowledgeable.  We started out with some sea scallops and mozzarella.  The scallops have so many flavors in them; only problem is we wanted more! 

For the main course, I order the filet and Hillary ordered the shrimp. 

The filet was just as good as chops, maybe even better.  If you are a steak lover and want to save $10 per person in cover charges, just go to Giovanni’s Table.  

They also role a desert cart over table side and all I can say, is save room, because this is the best part. 

Dancing under the Stars

Tonight was the dancing under the stars party again, and I just could not miss that.  Ricky Mathews was the host for the party and it was a fun time. 

There were so many people out on the deck dancing, he decided to extend the party and close the nightclub for the evening. A few times Ricky brought the microphone over for me to sign a few lines of the songs.  

We stayed out on the deck until 11:30pm and then called it a night. 

Stay tuned for one more day, tomorrow we are enjoying our last sea day.  

99 days of Harmony: Where to watch Harmony of the Seas sail away

In:
03Apr2016

To celebrate the launch of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas in less than 100 days, we're counting down each day with some really cool about the ship. Check out our blog each day for a brand new post all about Harmony of the Seas.

Watching Harmony of the Seas sailaway

With Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas debut, it seems like everyone wants to see this new ship.  Certainly we would all like to cruise on her, but the next best thing would be seeing her in person!

In November 2016, Harmony of the Seas will homeport from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and anyone can watch her sailaway as she begins her regularly scheduled cruises.

To watch Harmony of the Seas (and likely other cruise ships too) depart Port Everglades, take a ride in your car or taxi to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park.

Parking at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park does have a parking fee.

  • $6.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
  • $4.00 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.
  • ​$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

After you enter the park, you will drive 2.2 miles from the gate to the parking lot for the jetty pavilion.  There, you can find a pier and beach area to watch all cruise ships sailing out of Port Everglades pass through.

Ships usually depart in the late afternoon, between 4 and 5pm and it can be a fun experience, especially if you are in town prior to your cruise leaving the next day or sometime thereafter.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post as we celebrate 99 days of Harmony!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 3, 2016

In:
03Apr2016

We have reached the end of another week, and that means we have all the Royal Caribbean news from this week to share with you.

This week, Royal Caribbean announced it was raising the gratuity amount for all sailings that depart on or after May 1, 2016.

Gratuities are going up 55 cents per guest, per day and will have a daily cost of:

  • $13.50 per guest, per day for guests Junior Suite, Balcony, Ocean View, and Interior staterooms.
  • $16.50 per guest, per day for guests in Grand Suite and above staterooms.

The reasoning for increasing the daily gratuity amount is because Royal Caribbean wanted, "to better align with industry standards."

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 139th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we played our own April Fools joke this week.

In this episode, the hosts of the defunct CrownCast podcast host and talk about a variety of Royal Caribbean topics, including the virtues of smaller ships, favorite ports of all and more.

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.

99 Days of Harmony

To celebrate the countdown until Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas debuts, we kicked off a brand new blog series, 99 Days of Harmony, that looks at what makes this new ship so amazing.  

Each day we are posting a new blog post all about Harmony of the Seas, so here's what you might have missed this week.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

From the Deck Chair has a look at Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean has a look at how to book a cruise.

Quartz answers the question of why the best cruise ships are in China.

Porthole Magazine spoke with Royal Caribbean COO Adam Goldstein.

TravelAge West has a first look at Harmony of the Seas.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
02Apr2016

Well, here we are again for another sea day on board Brilliance of the Seas.

Today, I decided to not set an alarm and just wake up naturally. I’m not going to lie; it was really nice sleeping in past 8am.

The first thing I did was to blog a little on my balcony; I sure did enjoy having this to wake up with. Sadly, my internet connection was too weak to send pictures from out here.

Breakfast onboard

This morning I decided to make my first trip into the main dining room for breakfast.

Hard to believe I’ve been on board for six days now, and this is my first trip in here. For breakfast, they had had a few tables in the center to grab some fresh fruit and granola. We started off with some morning mimosas, which were included with our Premium drink package.

I decided to order an omelet, which is made to order.

The breakfast in the dining room is a great option for those looking for an alterative option than the windjammer. The breakfast is a much slower pace, and we were dining in there for an hour.

Pool Deck

At this point in the day 10:00am, I knew our luck for finding a pool chair was most likely not going to happen. And I was correct; there were zero open pool chairs so we sat on the edge of the main pool.

After about five minutes of the wind, it was time move to the Solarium. In all my cruises I’ve never spent anytime in the Solarium and I absolutely loved it.

The water in the pool was heated salt water, which I really enjoyed. For those who are not familiar with this pool, it’s the adult only pool, so no kids here.

They also have the Park Café inside the solarium for fresh made to order salads and sandwiches. I could see me enjoying another day here again for my last sea day, I truly enjoyed this pool.

Afternoon onboard

This afternoon we were just taking things at a much slow pace and relaxing.

We decided to take our lunch to go from the Windjammer and eat on the balcony. I’m also enjoying having the balcony and just watching the ocean go by with a beer, so relaxing. Who knows, maybe I enjoy having the balcony even more than I thought I did.

We had some grilled fish, white rice, and two Guinness’. The fish tasted so fresh, some of the best I’ve had, and well the Guinness, you know that was amazing.

Dinner

Tonight, we had dinner in the main dining room, which was also my first meal in the dining room.

I had previous emailed Royal Caribbean requesting a table for two, however I was placed at a large table of eight. If I planned on eating here the next two nights, I’d request to be moved.

The service was a little slow, but our waiter said he was sorry for the delay. I order the filet of beef, which I think is the best dish served in the dining room.

I decided to pass on desert, because I think the drink calories from today was enough.

70’s Disco Party

Tonight was the 70’s disco party in the Centrum at 10:30pm.

It was already 10pm when we left dinner, so quickly changed out of formal attire and off went. The Centrum was packed, shoulder-to-shoulder. 

Cruise Director, Ricky Mathews certain surprised me again, with an amazing time. He has so much energy and really brings the guest into the dancing mode.

In all my cruises on the smaller ships, with a Centrum, I can’t recall a disco party this packed. This party last until 11:15pm, and then off to bed we went. I would recommend getting to this party around 10pm if you want a good seat.   

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Tampa, Florida

In:
01Apr2016

Michael Poole is on Brilliance of the Seas and live blogging for us!

Well, my first cruise leg has already come to an end, but that just means the next adventure is right around the counter.

I woke up this morning at 5:30am (I know, way too early), but I just happen to wake up, so I decided to head out to the pool deck to watch us dock in Tampa, Florida.

The first thing I noticed was the weather was much cooler than I was used to in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was a fun experience watching us dock in Tampa, and only once have I done that before.

After we docked around 6:45AM, I decided to have my first breakfast in the Windjammer. They had the usual breakfast options, but I decided to go for the made-to-order omelet.

On the larger ships, like Matt’s live blog on the Allure of the Seas, you won’t find the fresh omelets due to the number of guest.

Disembarkation

At 7:00 am, they started the disembarkation process for the guest doing express departure.

This lasted for an hour, but I noticed there were not long lines like you might find on the Enchantment of the Seas, due to so many families.

I received a letter to meet in the conference center at 9:00am for sailing again. I arrived a few minutes after, and there were about 20 other guests in the room, with a few others after me.

Around 9:30am, we were escorted off the ship, just like all the same passengers just did. We were held in the United States customs area for 10-15 minutes until they fully cleared the ship.

At 10:05am, we were headed back on board to start our next cruise. The process was fairly easy, but it was a little longer than my previous back-to-back cruise.

Morning onboard

I was a little excited to have an hour on board without any new passengers because I really enjoy taking some pictures without guests in the shot.

But, I didn’t have long, the new guests started coming on board at 10:20AM. I’ve never boarded a ship that early, but I’ve heard they like to flip this ship pretty fast. I then decided to purchase the Premium drink package for $49 per day + 18% cover charge.

I wanted this package since my friend was coming on board, and I new I’d be drinking a little more on this sailing.

Once my friend was onboard, I went up to the helicopter pad and those views just never get old. If you want to go up there, head out to deck 5, where you stand for the muster drill, and walk forward. You will come across two sets of steps, and then you will be standing on the helicopter pad.

Afternoon onboard

I decided to finally enjoy some pool time before the kids over took it again.

The weather was perfect around 85 degrees outside and I got some sun.

So I thought I would report a pretty scary story that happen today on the pool deck. A child got into the water without her mother seeing; the child could not swim at all. Within seconds the child had gone under the water and the mother notice her son was missing.

At this point I noticed the child in the pool and started to make a move to grab him. There was someone else closer than I was, who was able to safely put his head above water. Needless to say, these types of accidents can happen within seconds, and I’m grateful for the outcome.

A few months ago, Royal Caribbean added life jackets for children on every ship.The pool staff then required this child to wear a jacket going forward to get into the pool.

Dinner at Izumi

Tonight’s dinner was in Izumi, and I was really excited about it. I haven’t been to Izumi since Oasis of the Seas in 2012, so I was long over due.

I tried to order saki with the premium drink package, but they trying to force me to purchase a bottle. I went with a few of their cocktails and let’s just say that’s not their specialty.

However, their sushi rolls are their specialty, and I must say I was truly wowed.

The service was very fast, but the restaurant was pretty empty.

We ordered a tuna roll that was so good; I had them bring me another order.

However, this is where I ran into an issue with my SeaPass card. My SeaPass card was actually declined at dinner, boo!

Long story short, they did not link my credit card to leg two of the cruise, and a type of payment was not linked to my account.

It did take about 15-20 minutes for guest services to resolve the issue, but they were able to.

Tomorrow is our first sea day as we head back to Cozumel, Mexico!

Five things Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas has that sound like April Fool jokes

In:
01Apr2016

In honor of Harmony of the Seas' launch in less than 99 days, we are counting down each day with a new blog post all about this amazing ship.

Five Harmony of the Seas features that sound like April Fool jokes

The first of April brings with it a slew of April Fool jokes across the internet (including two from Royal Caribbean), but there are some prominent features aboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas that are the real deal and definitely, no foolin'.

Today, we are counting down the top five things on Harmony of the Seas that might sound like an April Fools joke but really are available onboard.

Robots serve drinks

Harmony of the Seas will feature two robot arms designed to serve guests drink at the Bionic Bar.

The single armed robot will get the ice, mints and lemon and then squeeze and shake them to make your drink. Eventually, there wont be a limit on what the drinks the robots can make. The customization is what Royal Caribbean is aiming for.

Royal Caribbean has teamed up with Makr Shakr, a company with ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to create the Bionic Bars and on the Quantum class ships, they have become very popular with guests from a pure spectacle standpoint (and they make some pretty good drinks too).

Guests walk up to tablets, where they can place orders for drinks, choosing from classic cocktails, signature drinks like Mnemonic Madness (a rum, pineapple juice and Midori concoction) or test the robot bartenders’ skills with their own creations.

Full Broadway show included

Royal Caribbean ships are known for offering some great family entertainment, and on Harmony of the Seas you can see a classic Broadway show for absolutely no additional cost.

Guests on Harmony of the Seas can enjoy the timeless tale of Grease.

The all-new, never-before-seen stage production, specially adapted by Royal Caribbean Productions, will boast a soundtrack of crowd favorites such as “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” “Born to Hand-Jive,” “Beauty School Dropout” and more.

The best part is the show is included with your cruise fare, so there is no additional cost to see this amazing show.

A park in the middle of the ship

Of all the things people expect to find on a cruise ship, a park is probably not one of them, but Harmony of the Seas features a really big one onboard!

Central Park is one seven neighborhoods on Harmony of the Seas, and it is an immense area in the middle of the ship that offers a lush park for guests to enjoy with tropical plants, trees and walkways.

At its heart, Central Park is a public area on the ship that offers restaurants, shopping, galleries and of course lots of nature. It is the perfect quiet place onboard to "get away" and just relax as the world goes by.

A giant 10-story slide off the back of the ship

On the back of Harmony of the Seas is something brand new to Royal Caribbean: a slide more than 150 feet above sea level that sends guests down 10 decks at 9 miles per hour!

The Ultimate Abyss is a brand new thrill for guests and it launches from a glass platform on the Sports Deck, and descends 10 decks down to the Boardwalk.

Spontaneous audio effects within each tunnel create a multi-sensory thrill for daring guests willing to test their mettle while traversing 216 feet through the one-of-a-kind slide duo.

Ultimate Abyss will be the tallest slide at sea and also an epic adventure.

Internet as fast as your home

Imagining using the internet on Harmony of the Seas just like you would at home definitely sounds like an April Fools joke, but it is definitely true.

Voom is Royal Caribbean's revolutionary high speed internet service that lets guests share their adventure in real time through Facebook and Instagram, post videos on YouTube, tweet about shore excursions, and have face-to-face conversations via Skype and FaceTime. Plus, you can even stream movies, games and apps via your personal accounts with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and more.

How is it possible? Voom utilizes a new kind of satellite internet technology that targets each ship specifically, rather than trying to cover a wide expanse of the ocean.

Friday Photos

In:
01Apr2016

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Photos, where we share our readers' Royal Caribbean photos with all of you.  

To me, this weekly feature is an opportunity to enjoy a quick "mental escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation.  Let's get started with this week's batch!

Our first photo this week is of sunset, as seen from Anthem of the Seas by Jorge C Toache Alcázar.  Beautiful!

Shawn Crossley provides us with a divers view of the Oasis of the Seas.  Great angle and even better show!

Here is a view of the Opera House, Sydney, Australia from the balcony of cabin 9076 on Radiance of the Seas.  This must have been quite a sight to enjoy for Alison.

Here is a photo of Justin York's wife at Chankannab in Cozumel, Mexico, during their March 2015 sailing.  Looks like paradise, to me!

It pains me to not have a photo from Labadee, so here is one of Grandeur of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas docked in Labadee, by Ken Slusser.  Ken indicated that surprisingly, it didn't seem overly crowded.

Let's go back down under with this photo by Murray, of Voyager of the Seas Sailing out of Sydney Harbour. Love the composition of this photo.

Our last photo this week is from Zoltán Marton, who sent us this photo of Serenade of the Seas that was taken by his brother while in Saguenay, Canada.

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.

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