Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: March 9, 2014

In:
09Mar2014

Hope you had a great week (maybe one week closer to your next Royal Caribbean cruise?) and you had a chance to keep up with what's new with Royal Caribbean this week. But if not, here's a roundup of this week's news.

The big Royal Caribbean news this week was the new promotion offering kids sail free on select Royal Caribbean cruises from May through December.

The deal boils down to the third and fourth person in any stateroom are free and it turns out they don't even need to be kids!  

In addition, Royal Caribbean is also offering 50 percent-reduced deposit per guest.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The thirty-first episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available and we're reviewing our recent cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas.

In this episode, Matt looks at everything there is to do onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise. It's an in-depth look at all the onboard activities Royal Caribbean offers, from bellyflop competitions to towel folding demonstrations to bingo.  On any given day there's a lot to do on any Royal Caribbean ship and these activities should definitely not be overlooked.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Cruise Radio has a listener review of their cruise on Oasis of the Seas.

In The Loop Travel has a review of their cruise on Navigator of the Seas.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 3 - Cozumel

In:
09Mar2014

Hi blog friends! I’m sorry for the delay but I was just having too much fun in Cozumel, Mexico.

Last night I had a great dinning experience in Chops Grill, which is a specialty restaurant with a cover charge of $30 per person. I had the not so traditional Caesar salad, along with the 10oz filet.

This has become one of my favorite venues over the years with Royal Caribbean, because the quality of the food is simply outstanding. But right when I thought it couldn’t get any better they bring out the crème brûlée, which I might add was on fire! What a great meal and if you are new to cruising or thinking about treating yourself, this is the treat.

Okay enough of talking about food, but I could just go on and on about it. Today was our day in Mexico and I pre-booked the beach day at Nachi-Cocom for $55 per person. This offers all the food and alcohol you can consume along with a beach chair and shade.

One of the unique things about this option is they only let 100 guests per day book this resort. I’ll also note the service is simply outstanding and they work to ensure you are satisfied. If you are seeking a quite day by the beach this is defiantly something to look into, and to me the cover charge is worth the peace and quiet. 

I also got pretty excited to see Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas in port with us today. She made us look so little docked next to her. I will say those Freedom class ships are something special.

Today we are on our final day at sea; gosh these days are flying by! No big plans for my sea day other than soaking up some sunrays. But I might add its one of my favorite events about cruising is the Quest. I’ll be sure go into more detail of this tomorrow and hopefully come home with the 1st place metal.

Until next time, Bon Voyage!

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
07Mar2014

Our guest blogger Michael is blogging LIVE from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas and continues his live blog below.

During my first evening on the Brilliance of the Seas I had dinner in the main dining room. There are two decks featuring a beautiful staircase. I had dinner with a family from Europe and a couple from Florida.

The service was outstanding, but I thought the quality of food was average. For my main course I got the prime rib, along with carrot cake for dessert.

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My favorite thing about cruising is the sea day because I don't have a worry in the world.

Today I spent time in the sun lying by the pool with a great book.

After a few hours I decided to have lunch at Rita’s Cantina. This is a new option to the Brilliance of the Seas, and they built it into the Windjammer all the way aft. I really enjoyed the views from lunch with the open-air aroma and nothing but the sea passing by.

I had a late breakfast, so I only ordered guacamole and chips, which was outstanding with a cold beverage. One thing I noticed at Rita’s is that they no longer charge a cover charge; it's just simply a la carte.

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After lunch I decided to venture back to the pool deck for some afternoon sun. They had some typical Royal Caribbean games going on with the inclusion of a new pool game, which was almost like fan-favorite Quest.

Afterwards, they even did a belly flop contest. This was a lot of fun to watch, and cruise director Steve Davis did a great job creating a lot of excitement and interaction around the event.

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Coming up this evening I’ll be dining at Chops Grille and will feature a full review of my experience. Talk to you then!

Friday Photos

In:
07Mar2014

Happy Friday to everyone and because it's almost the weekend, that means it is time to share with all of you some great Royal Caribbean photos our readers sent to us.

Our first photo is from Stefan, who took this photo on Liberty of the Seas back on February 21, 2014 as they were very close to Cuba and the bird decided to rest on the railing.  Amazing colors!

Here's a photo by Regina Lee simply titled "enjoying the casino".  

Here's a photo by Ryan Feuerstein of Legend of the Seas docked in Antigua back on February 21, 2014.  That's a big ship!

François St-Onge sent in this photo of his view from his "hump" balcony on Explorer of the Seas.  It's a great room!

Our next photo is from John McCormack and it's of a 17th century canon taking aim at the cruise port in St. Maarten. John says, "If you want to avoid the tourist crush in Philisburg, take a bike tour to see some of the history of the island."

It just wouldn't be a Friday Photos blog post without a photo from Kayla, who sent in this one of her last night of her Alaskan cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas.  The photo is of Myra, her assistant waiter in the main dining room.  

Kalya writes, "She told us about her culture, all the places she has visited and about her life on board for months at a time. These crew members aren't just had working individuals, they are also relatable and caring. We exchanged emails and Myra and I are still in touch to this day! WE LOVE YOU MYRA! :)"

Thank you to everyone who sent in these great photos!  If you have a Royal Caribbean vaction photo to share, send yours in too and we may feature it right here on the blog!

Royal Caribbean against David Beckham soccer stadium in Miami

In:
07Mar2014

Royal Caribbean has announced it is against a plan to build a new soccer stadium in PortMiami because of traffic concerns and because the cruise line has its own ideas for the land.

The Miami Herald is reporting that Royal Caribbean has its own confidential plans to develop the 12 acres that Beckham and his investors want to lease. 

Soccer star David Beckham is behind the soccer stadium plans but Royal Caribbean cites "deep reservations" over the port stadium. If the stadium were to happen, Royal Caribbean's existing parking lot, daycare center and employee gym would need to move to make way for a stadium that could contain 25,000 to 40,000 seats. The port’s southwest corner is too shallow to accommodate cruise or cargo ships.

Royal Caribbean vice president and chief communications officer, Rob Zeiger, commented briefly, “We have deep reservations about using this port as a location for a stadium."

Royal Caribbean chose not to elaborate more on its own plans.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1

In:
06Mar2014

Day 1 - Embarkation on the Brilliance of the Seas Hi, blog friends! The day I’ve been waiting for is finally here -- boarding the Brilliance of the Seas! The weather is unpleasant today, but, then again, I could be sitting at my desk at work, so I can't complain too much.

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I arrived at the terminal around 10:30 a.m. and noticed almost no one was here. In fact, there were still guests getting off from the last sailing. I went through security and checked in within five minutes. The boarding process started around 10:45 a.m. and I was right on board.

My first impression of the ship was: WOW, this ship looks great with all the latest upgrades. The champagne lounge has been turned into vintages. They also added King & Country Pub along with the new and favorite R-Bar. I noticed the Schooner Bar was extremely large, and probably the largest I’ve seen in the fleet, so I'm pretty excited to head there this evening.

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Now that I’ve explored Brilliance of the Seas there is only one thing to do -- have lunch at the Windjammer. The lunch was very fresh and the selection was great for everyone. I even noticed they had veggie sausage balls and gluten-free bread, so there is literally something for everyone on board.

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After lunch I headed off to explore my cabin (E2, Deck 7, forward). The room features a flat-screen TV, new carpet and a large balcony. I’ve never seen a balcony so large! Now I understand why everyone likes the Radiance Class ships so much.

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One of my favorite things about blogging about my cruise experience is to share with you all, the readers, where I am when I’m actually writing the post. So I’m currently in the new pub which is right outside the casino on Deck 6, forward. I’ve noticed a lot of people walking by, but not actually coming in, so we'll see how the turnout is this evening. The decor in the pub is exactly like the Oasis Class ships, which offers a very vintage look with a wide selection of beers from all over the world.

I hope you all are enjoying my live blogging so far, and if you have any special requests please let me know in the comments below.

- Michael Poole

Top 5 Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package drink values

In:
06Mar2014

On my last cruise on Navigator of the Seas I noticed Royal Caribbean offers a lot of alcoholic drinks to choose from and the prices of each vary considerably.  It got me thinking, "Is there a strategy to maximizing the unlimited alcohol packages faster?"

Obviously no one wants to spend money on something they know in advance is a waste of money and there is a physical limit to the amount of drinks anyone can drink.  So I took a look at the most recent Royal Caribbean drink menu to figure out which drinks would give passengers the best value if they are using the unlimited alcohol packages.

What are Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages?

Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages are optional add-ons you can purchase to allow you as many beverages as you like for a flat fee per day.

If you do decide to indulge in one of the packages, consider these five drinks as the best ways to get your moneys worth from the investment!

Any margarita from Sabor Modern Mexican - $12

The brand new Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant on Navigator of the Seas specializes in Mexico's most famous liquor, tequila.  Their selection of margairtas is both tasty and a great value for those on the unlimited alcohol packages.

Click here for my review of Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant.

Their margaritas all cost $12, which is by far the most expensive drink we ran across included in the unlimited alcohol packages. 

Besides being a good value for those on the package, it's also a really, really good drink!  The Sweet and Spice Margarita and Sabor Grand Margarita are made at your table for ultimate taste.  The other margaritas offered are also the same price and worth your time as well.

Elderphire - $10.25

If you're a fan of gin, try this drink that was a Bacardi Cruise Competition winner. Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower, sugarcane and fresh lemon make this a great drink and a great value on the drink package.

Photo by Bacardi Cruise Competition

Ultimate cosmopolitan - $9.50

For something a little smoother, the ultimate cosmopolitan is a great choice and also available fleet-wide.  It's sweet and does the trick for someone who enjoys a good cosmo in the evening.

Photo by Calvin Timothy Leong

Sparkling Peach Martini - $10.50

Vodka and wine, together again.  That's what makes up this drink and when you start combining multiple kinds of alcohol, you drive the price up.  At just over $10, a couple of these will help get you to the "break even" point on your daily alcohol package quest that much easier.

Patron Perfect Margarita - $9.25

While we love the margaritas from Sabor, if you're not on Navigator of the Seas, try the Patron Perfect Margarita that is available on all Royal Caribbean ships.  As the name implies, it uses a better brand of tequila to give you a strong drink.

Photo by Quick_Fox

Honorable mentions

These drinks didn't make our list of the best values but they are still good choices for maximizing your unlimited alcohol package value

  • Red Bull & Vodka - $9.00
  • Long Island Iced Tea/Long Beach Iced Tea - $9.50
  • Hendrick's Gimlet - $9.50
  • Luxury martini - $9.50
  • Appletini - $9.50
  • The Grand Margarita - $9.25
  • Grolsch beer - $6.50

Live Blog on Brilliance of the Seas - Intro

In:
06Mar2014

I want to welcome Michael as our guest live blogger, as he will be posting daily blog posts about his experience on Brilliance of the Seas.  I hope this will offer everyone a fun insight into what a cruise on Brilliance of the Seas is like, especially for someone who may be new to the Radiance class of ships.  Enjoy!

Hi I’m Michael Poole fellow listener of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast, and avid cruiser.

You might recognize me from the recent, round-table discussion podcast on episode 28 or even way back to episode 13 and 17 discussing my Oasis of the Seas cruise.

This will be my 16th cruise and lucky number 13th with Royal Caribbean and will also be my 3rd solo cruise. Needless to say, I’m excited to be sharing my upcoming cruise with all the Royal Caribbean Blog fans and I will be Live blogging while at sea.

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I’ve booked the 4 day Western Caribbean cruise on Brilliance of the Seas, which is in the Radiance class ships. I've sailed on every class with Royal Caribbean expect Radiance class, so I’m really excited to try something different.

I decided to book this cruise around three weeks ago when home on a snow day. I just looked outside and said I cannot take much more of this, and thought Why Not! I booked an E2 balcony on deck 7 forward, I’ve read mix review of balconies on this deck, some with views of lifeboats below so I’ll be sure to provide all the details.

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This cruise will offer two sea days and a port day in Cozumel Mexico.

For my sea days I'll be pool side soaking up the sun rays and for my day in Cozumel, Mexico I've made reservations at an all-inclusive beach resort called, Nachi-Cocom.

This should be a great experience and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with all of you. That’s all for now and my next post will be from Brilliance of the Seas!

Royal Caribbean could be adding an even bigger cruise ship to Port Canaveral

In:
06Mar2014

More and more, it looks like Royal Caribbean is poised to move a cruise ship to Port Canaveral that is even larger than what they currently have stationed there.

Consider these recent news items

  1. Port Canaveral has had plans to build a new cruise terminal to accomodate even the largest cruise ships in the world, such as Oasis-class
  2. Two weeks ago Port Canaveral announced Royal Caribbean had signed a 10-year agreement to stay in Port Canaveral

Currently Royal Caribbean operates Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas from Port Canaveral, with Explorer of the Seas joining the duo later this year.

Royal Caribbean has two more cruise ships on order that have no home port announced yet, a third Oasis-class ship and a third Quantum-class ship.  Nor has it said if any changes to the deployment of the existing Oasis or Quantum class ships would be changed when these new ships arrive.

Travel Weekly is reporting Port CEO John Walsh said Royal Caribbean and the port are finalizing a letter of intent that would raise Royal Caribbean's minimum annual payment. It guarantees the port $7 million a year in the current agreement that expires in December. That would increase to $10.7 million next year and ultimately $18.4 million by the last year, Walsh said.

Royal Caribbean will also collect a per-passenger fee dedicated to financing the terminal complex, which includes a 1,000-car garage. 

A look at Royal Caribbean's kids club for 3 to 5 year olds

In:
05Mar2014

Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean is the award winning kids club the cruise line offers to families of daily activities for kids.  The Aquanauts program is designed for children between the ages of 3 to 5 five years old and on our recent Navigator of the Seas we got a first-hand look at how it all works.

The basics

Aquanauts, and Adventure Ocean in general, is complimentary and offered to all children in the age group.  

The only requirements are the child be 100% potty trained and able to go to the restroom on their own without adult help.  In addition, children cannot wear pull ups or diapers of any kind.

Prior to first bringing your child to Aquanauts, you will need to register him or her.  It involves sharing pertinent information about the children and signing the proper waivers.

There's only one entrance and exit to the Aquanauts room, which requires a a buzzer to be pressed to open the door that also sounds a chime.  This prevents kids from getting out without someone noticing.

Once in, the kids are introduced to the staff via funny names the Adventure Ocean staff give themselves.  Some of the staff on our cruise were nicknamed "Tinker Bell" and "Dino".  Kids are also instructed to take their shoes off, put them away and wash their hands before being allowed to participate.

You can check up on the kids at anytime by calling the Aquanauts room directly and seeing how your child is doing.  

Times

On our cruise, there were three main sessions per day on a sea day: 9am to noon, 2pm to 5pm, 7pm - 10pm. 

On port days, the schedule was simplified to two sessions per day: 9am to 5pm, 7pm - 10pm.

You could also opt in to the 10pm - 2am session for an additional fee of $7 per hour.

Activities

One of the first things you might be wondering is what exactly do the kids do.  The Aquanauts program is based around a combination of structured activities and free play.

Activities include story time, coloring, face painting, pirate night and central-theme based activities.  They did a lot and my three year old daughter would come back telling us about the funny things the Adventure Ocean staff took them through.  

They also did a lot of arts and crafts work that would be on display in the room and then eventually brought back to your stateroom.

Of course, there's plenty of free-play time with the toys and facilities available to the kids. Play time is supervised by the Adventure Ocean staff to ensure the kids are safe.

Food

There's only two times the kids are fed and that is on port days around noon or in the Adventure Dining session from 5pm to 7pm.  

The food options depend on how many kids are in that day.  If they have a fair amount of kids, they will order pizza or chicken nuggets from the Windjammer to be delivered to the Aquanauts room.  If they only have a few kids, the staff will escort the children to the Windjammer and let the kids pick their own meal.

For dinner, you can opt into the My Family Time Dining, where if you are in first seating of the Main Dining Room, you can bring your kids to the Main Dining Room, where the kids will be served within 40 minutes and then escorted to Adventure Ocean by the staff directly from the Main Dining Room.  This is open to Adventure Ocean kids between the ages of 3-11.

Observations

The staff were quite good at making the kids feel welcome and they really seemed to enjoy their time there.

On paper, Adventure Ocean says Aquanauts parents will get a beeper when dropping the kids off in case the staff needs to get a hold of them.  In practice, we only got a beeper about half the time.  Not a big deal since we never needed it but worth noting nonetheless.

If you're wondering how well the program is run, look no further than the fact my daughter cried just about every time we picked her up because she did not want to leave.  Once she got over it, she would then begin telling us everything she did that day and would constantly ask us when she could go next.

There are no means for the children to nap at Aquanauts, but the break in sessions between noon and 2pm is when I assume most kids take their naps.  

The late night session starting at 10pm was a great bonus, even with the additional cost.  Getting a little extra time after dinner was a treat for me and my wife since we had second seating dinner on our cruise.  Well worth the extra cost.

The biggest concern for us going into this cruise was the potty situation and often people wonder how strict they are with the potty training.  Any parent will tell you it's very rare for a three year old to be 100%, completely potty trained.  

Basically it comes down to your child not wearing a pull up or a diaper and not soiling themselves during Adventure Ocean.  Our plan was to always bring her to the bathroom right before going to Aquanauts.  This worked well although she did report going to to the restroom on her own multiple times so clearly when properly motivated she did well with it.

I think the key is to make sure your child is aware that they need to be able to go by themselves to the bathroom without anyone helping.  Going beforehand is also good practice to ensure it's less of an issue.

`Overall I found the Adventure Ocean program to be run well and the thing my daughter looked forward to the most about the cruise. For parents, the Adventure Ocean programis a great means of getting some time to yourselves while the kids have a blast playing with other kids in a supervised environment.

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