Photos by Royal Caribbean International & Ian Kesby
Royal Caribbean celebrated with senior Vanuatu government representatives the completion of Mystery Island’s brand new tender pier yesterday with a maiden visit from Explorer of the Seas.
The $2.5 million pier was paid for by Royal CAribbean and replaced an older, smaller pier, which was frequently damaged during cyclones. This new pier ensures that Mystery Island can continue to receive cruise tourists year-round. The bigger pier also allows the island to handle increasingly larger cruise ships as the local industry evolves.
This follows the earlier upgrade of the cruise berth in the capital Port Vila, where Royal Caribbean supported the addition of four new bollards capable of berthing its Voyager Class ships.
The pier was officially opened by Acting Prime Minister, The Honourable Joe Natuman from the Vanuatu government at a ceremony attended by the Captain and senior executive team of Explorer of the Seas.
“Tourism is incredibly important to our economy and the wellbeing of our people. We are committed to working with Royal Caribbean to ensure we can continue to bring Australian, New Zealand and international guests to our beautiful country into the future,” Mr Natuman concluded.
Adam Armstrong, managing director for Royal Caribbean in Australia & New Zealand, said the investments in Mystery Island and Port Vila are the first of several potential infrastructure projects in the South Pacific islands, where the cruise line is investing significantly to ensure the region continues to benefit from cruise tourism as the size of ships increase, and therefore the number of passengers grows.
“Cruises to the South Pacific are the most popular itineraries for Australian travellers – and Vanuatu is one of the highest rated destinations for our guests. Being able to guarantee calls to destinations like Mystery Island and Port Vila with our larger ships is vital to cruise tourism to Vanuatu and is an important economic driver for our island nation neighbour. Our investment here solidifies Royal Caribbean’s long-term commitment to cruising in the South Pacific,” Armstrong said.
Cruise tourism injected $34 million into Vanuatu in 2013 and brought an estimated further $18 million dollars in indirect economic benefits, according to the Assessment of the Economic Impact of Cruise Tourism in Vanuatu. Each cruise ship arriving in Vanuatu brings an estimated $257,000 worth of direct benefits to a range of businesses and organisations – or around $125 in passenger spend per person.
During the 2015/16 summer season alone, which concluded this week, Royal Caribbean made almost 50 calls to ports in Vanuatu and brought more than 120,000 tourists to the country.
There's less than 99 days until Royal Caribbean's brand new Harmony of the Seas debuts and we're counting down each day with a brand new blog post all about this amazing ship. Check into the blog every day for something new to read about Harmony of the Seas.
Harmony of the Seas' cruise director
The heart of any Royal Caribbean cruise is the cruise director, who is the force behind all the onboard activities you find on your cruise. On Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has selected two cruise directors to get the party started on Harmony of the Seas.
Ken Rush will be Harmony of the Seas' cruise director until the ship reaches Barcelona on June 5.
Ken Rush has been working at Royal Caribbean for over 30 years and has been Cruise Director on a number of new Royal Caribbean ships, including Allure of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas.
As cruise director, Rush said he will head all entertainment for guests onboard. In doing so, Rush said he will manage a team of dancers, musicians, youth and activities staff.
From June 5 through October 23, 2016, Bobby Brown will take over the cruise director role while the ship is operating in Europe.
Bobby joined Royal Caribbean in 1995 and has worked on a number of ships, including Majesty of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, and Brilliance of the Seas.
When Harmony of the Seas makes her way to the United States, Ken Rush will return on October 23 to take the ship to Florida. He is expected to remain the cruise director on Harmony of the Seas through at least New Years 2017.
Here is a great interview with Ken Rush from a few years ago, that talks about Ken's role as Cruise Director.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post as we celebrate 99 days of Harmony!
Royal Caribbean offers a lot of activities, events and shows for guests to do onboard their ships, including a themed event that takes us back to the days of the Great Gatsby.
The Prohibition Party is offered on Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class cruise ships and is a themed dance event that has a cover charge for guest to experience it.
While on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, we were able to see what the Prohibition Party is all about and experience it for ourselves.
We reserved the Prohibition Party prior to our cruise and it is usually held late at night, with a start time of 10:00pm.
The premise of the Prohibition Party is you are going to a 1920's-style speakeasy, where the Eighteenth Amendment is in full effect, and guests are there to sing, dance and drink "tea".
Guests will receive in their stateroom an invitation for the special event and a place to meet. Once there, they are instructed to give the person at the side door the secret password and are then allowed admission.
The event occurs on Jazz on Four and encourages all guests to dress up for the event with clothing fitting of the 1920's. A vast majority of guests elect to dress up and it is highly recommended you do so as well.
Your $35 per guest admission charge includes entertainment, food and of course, drink. There are plenty of alcoholic beverages provided throughout the event in the form of various cocktails. Most of the drinks we had were fruit based drinks.
There is a loose storyline as part of the event, but it is mostly about guests enjoying some drinks and getting onto the dance floor to dance to some great live jazz music.
One interesting part of the event is when all guests are handed play money and betting cards to bet on a horse race. Guests fill out their betting cards and then a recorded radio broadcast plays to reveal the winner. Pretty neat!
Overall, the Prohibition Party is a fun excuse to get dressed up, enjoy ample cocktails with live jazz music. Guests looking for something different in their evening entertainment are sure to enjoy this fun choice.
What we liked: Lots to drink for the money, different event from anything else offered, great live music.
What we did not like: It starts fairly late, limited food choices.
Cost: $35 per guest
This week, we're sharing the details about our cruise on Navigator of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean that begins this weekend. Let's look at why we picked this cruise, the cool things to do on Navigator of the Seas and our plans for each port of call.
Be sure to also check out our pre-cruise summary of what our plans are for the cruise and for how you can read our live blog each day from the cruise.
Royal Caribbean will unveil a new deal that will offer 60% off a 2nd guest, plus 30% off 3rd and 4th guests.
The BOGO60 deal applies to sailings departing on or after June 2, 2016, excluding China departures.
- Buy One Guest, Get Second Guest 60% off
- 30% off for 3rd and 4th guests
This new deal is valid on new bookings made May 2, 2016 – June 6, 2016.
The 60% off second guest discount offer is not combinable with restricted rates including Seniors, Residents and Military or any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.
This offer is combinable with NextCruise offer, Future Cruise Certificates, Letters of Credit. and Crown & Anchor Society savings benefits.
As a parent, I am keenly aware of the saying that you do not have favorite children, but when it comes to Royal Caribbean ships, it is a completely different story.
This week, we are heading back for our second cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, which I am unabashidly call my favorite Royal Caribbean ship.
I sailed on Navigator of the Seas back in 2014, following her refurbishment that added a lot to the ship. You can read the live blog I did from that cruise here. We are returning to Navigator of the Seas largely in part because of the great experience we had the first time.
I think it is insightful to share why people book the Royal Caribbean cruises they end up going on, because it reveals the thought process in picking between the 24 ships in the fleet and what compels us to pick one ship over another.
In booking this cruise, I engaged in some pro spouse strategy. I figured my wife would be somewhat hesitant to book a cruise around this time of year, so I did the sensible thing: I told my wife I was booking a cruise for her birthday!
Despite some eye rolling and that look wives give their husbands when they know there is scheming going on, she went along for the ride and we started looking for cruises.
We had some requirements when booking this cruise: it had to be on or around her birthday, it had to be reasonably priced and it would be nice to get a special stateroom category to make this cruise more memorable.
The issue with cruises in late-April is Royal Caribbean is about to move many of its ships over to Europe for the summer season, so the inventory of possible cruises to choose from is somewhat varied.
We ended up picking this eight night eastern Caribbean cruise on Navigator of the Seas because it meant a return to a ship we really enjoyed, a somewhat different itinerary than we had done in the last few years and we managed to snag a junior suite.
First and foremost, I really liked the idea of going back on Navigator of the Seas. I thought the 2014 refurbishment added a lot of great amenities that breathed new life into the ship. I really liked the assortment of specialty restaurants added and the ship in general was a lot of fun.
We also booked a Junior Suite, which is something we have not done since our honeymoon cruise on Mariner of the Seas. With 2 kids, we should have plenty of space and a balcony that faces the ocean (my wife loves these).
Our itinerary is also interesting to us, because we get to visit some favorite ports and a new one too.
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- St. Kitts
- St. Maarten
Labadee will naturally be a beach day. No cabana this time, but I did reserve a beach lounger because it was something I have never seen available on Labadee previously.
In San Juan, we are there from 2pm - 9pm, and that is some odd timing. Nonetheless, our plan is to leave the kids in Adventure Ocean and my wife and I walk around Old San Juan.
We have never been to St. Kitts before and because I love exploring new ports, I cannot wait to see what St. Kitts offers. We were going to book an old time train tour of the island, but it was no longer available to book online. Our plan is to try to book it onboard or just get off the ship and see where we end up.
In St. Maarten, we will be using the services of a taxi driver that we have used many times, Leo Brown, and will likely do a few different things. I would like to go to Marigot first and then end up at the beach, rather than beach first and then take tired (and wet) children to try to eat.
Onboard Navigator of the Seas, we made reservations at Sabor Modern Mexican on Cinco de Mayo, because... why not? We also aspire to try as many of the specialty restaurants as we can. My wife has requested we hit up Chops Grille, because we did not go there on Allure of the Seas.
Otherwise, this should be a great family cruise and we are all super excited to get onboard and start our adventure. Follow along right here for a new blog post every day all about what we did that day. I will also be sharing the experience on Twitter and Instagram, if you enjoy lots of photos.
Hope you will follow along with us and please feel free to post questions and thoughts in the comments of this and any post. I want this live blog to be an interactive experience, so please join in and don't be shy!
Our next update will be on Saturday, April 30, when we board Navigator of the Seas!
Live Blog Index
One of the most beloved forms of entertainment on a Royal Caribbean Oasis-class cruise ship is the carousel in the Boardwalk neighborhood and we have a photo update of it to share today!
The installation of the carousel is underway on Harmony of the Seas, as shown in this photo provided by Carousel Works.
The carousel on Harmony of the Seas is hand-crafted and especially designed by Carousel Works for Royal Caribbean and is one-of-a-kind.
The inspiration for the carousel was taken from turn-of-the-century carousel designs. Even the original artwork scenery panels located on the carousel’s eight Rounding Boards feature custom painted scenes to highlight the wistfulness of life on the historic boardwalks.
Meet the newest crew members on the newest and world’s most technologically advanced ship, Ovation of the Seas. A mother and her baby panda have made the ship their home as it makes a global odyssey to China. “Mama and Baby” are part of Royal Caribbean International’s 11,000-piece art collection displayed on the ship and together weigh approximately six-and-a-half tons. Mama is 10 meters/approximately 33 feet, from the ship deck to the top of the sculpture, while Baby is approximately three meters, or ten feet tall.
Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas made her final call to Sydney on Saturday, officially marking the end of the summer cruise season for Australia.
Between Royal Caribbean and sister brands Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, the three brands carried over 250,000 guests throughout the season from October 2015 to April 2016, an increase in passengers of 27 per cent year-on-year and representing an injection of more than $140 million in passenger spend into the Australian economy.
Two Royal Caribbean ships were introduced to the region in the 2015/2016 cruise season: Explorer of the Seas to Sydney and Legend of the Seas to Brisbane.
Explorer of the Seas made a dramatic arrival in Sydney for her inaugural season, reuniting with Voyager of the Seas in a historic harbour rendezvous – a meeting of the two most feature packed ships based in the region. Combined, the ships carried 10,000 passengers and crew and injected almost $1.6 million into the Sydney economy in passenger spend in one day alone.
Together with Radiance of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, home-ported in Brisbane for her inaugural season down under, the four locally-based ships in the Royal Caribbean International fleet sailed 72 itineraries, making 371 port calls in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Asia.
“With our three brands and their six locally based ships in Australia, this was our biggest and most varied season to date. The substantial growth demonstrates the success of our strategy in delivering the newest, most feature-packed and the most technologically advanced ships to our doorstep,” said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Australasia.
Royal Caribbean will be adding its high-speed internet service to Navigator of the Seas and Vision of the Seas at some time in May 2016.
Royal Caribbean UK confirmed via Twitter that the service, known as Voom, will be coming to both ships at sometime in May 2016.
— Royal Caribbean UK (@MyRoyalUK) April 25, 2016
@Mistyrobert Hi Robert, Vision will have VOOM from May onwards.
— Royal Caribbean UK (@MyRoyalUK) April 25, 2016
No word on which sailings will be the first for either ship that it will have Voom, but there is now confirmation these two ships are getting it.
Royal Caribbean rolled out new tiered internet plans last week for its Voom service and with that change, more Royal Caribbean ships are now offering the Voom service than were previously offered.
Voom has been spotted for sale on other Royal Caribbean ships that did not previously offer Voom, including Liberty of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas.