Previewing Royal Caribbean's virtual balconies

In:
31Jan2014

When Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas emerges from dry dock next week, among the new changes onboard the ship will be virtual balcony staterooms that feature an 80 inch high definition LCD screen in select inside staterooms.

Fox News interviewed Ronnie Farzad, Royal Caribbean’s head of entertainment technology, and he says the new screens stretch from nearly floor to ceiling and wall to wall, complete with the sound of the seas in real-time from the camera location. Royal Caribbean is also included a banister for a feeling of safety.

Why a banister?  Well, Royal Caribbean told Fox News that they tested a simulated virtual balcony with 30 to 40 people at Royal Caribbean headquarters, and many of the testers complained that an open ocean view is a little scary because there was nothing to keep passengers from “falling in,” especially if the ship is moving in high seas, Farzad said.  

While Navigator of the Seas only has about 80 staterooms with virtual balconies, there will be a virtual balcony in every interior cabin on Quantum of the Seas. There will even be smaller virtual balconies in the studio staterooms that accomodate solo cruisers on Quamtum of the Seas.

Charlie Miller of Control Systems, the concept design company behind the virtual balconies, spoke to Fox News about several of the challenges in creating an authentic feel to Royal Caribbean’s virtual balconies. 

Another challenge was making it all look the way designers envisioned, as Fox News reports, "Designers wanted to create virtual banisters and even balusters, the vertical poles that hold the banisters in place. But the banister had to appear to be outside the window, like on a real balcony. And that created a whole new set of visual challenges, because the look of a real banister changes all the time as the sun and the ship change directions. The answer was to incorporate sun movement charts and powerful GPS data to add “real” shadows and highlights to the virtual banisters. At the same time, they decided not to put virtual glass between the balusters."

 

Getting to your port: Port Canaveral

In:
31Jan2014

One of my favorite ports to sail on a Royal Caribbean ship is Port Canaveral in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Royal Caribbean has had a presence here for years and is adding new ships as well. If you're looking to get to Port Canaveral (the cruise ship terminal in Cape Canaveral), here's a quick guide to getting there easily.

Royal Caribbean operates two cruise ships out of Port Canaveral currently, Enchantment of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas, with Explorer of the Seas slated to join them in November 2014.

Driving to Port Canaveral

Driving yourself to Port Canaveral is pretty simple and one of the easier ports to get to from anywhere in Florida.  It's located on the east coast of Florida.

It is worth mentioning most of our directions take you on S.R. 528 (Beachline Expressway), which is a toll road.  We recommend having exact change to expedite the process if you do not have a SunPass.

From Orlando's Airport (MCO)

  • Take the North Exit from the Airport, staying to the right, to S.R. 528 (Beachline Expressway) East.
  • Take S.R. 528 directly to Port Canaveral. 
  • From there, follow the directional signs for your designated ship's pier terminal.

From Daytona Beach's Airport (DAB) and points north

  • Take I-95 south to S.R. 528 East (Beachline Expressway).
  • From there, follow the directional signs for your designated ship's pier terminal.

From South Florida

  • Take I-95 north to S.R. 528 East (Beachline Expressway).
  • From there, follow the directional signs for your designated ship's pier terminal.

From West Florida (Tampa)

  • Take I-4 east to Orlando.
  • Take exit for S.R. 528 directly to Port Canaveral.
  • From there, follow the directional signs for your designated ship's pier terminal.

From an area hotel

If you're staying in a hotel the night before (or longer), the hotels in Port Canaveral and Coco Beach are very convenient to the port.

Take route A1A north and follow A1A all the way until you reach the port area.  Follow the signs for the terminal of your cruise.

Some hotels in Cape Canaveral will offer cruise and park deals, where you can pay for a one night stay at the hotel and receive complimentary parking for the duration of your cruise as well as shuttle service to the pier terminal.

Renting a car

If you are flying into Orlando or another Florida airport, one option to get to Port Canaveral is to rent a car.  Often, doing a one-way car rental is the cheapest option and all the major car rental companies offer this option.

When reserving your car, make sure you indicate to return the car in a different location and look for locations in Cape Canaveral or Cocoa Beach.  The major rental car companies have locations within 5 miles or so of the cruise terminals.

My advice if you do rent a car is to first drive the car to the cruise terminal, drop off the luggage and everyone else in your party there.  Then, the driver should drive the rental car back to the car rental location and take the free shuttle back to the pier.  

The reason for this is many people opt to bring the car to the car rental location first and lines can develop for the shuttles since the shuttles aren't very big.  If just one person needs a ride back with no luggage, it can be much easier to hop into the first shuttle back to the terminal since you don't have to worry about fitting luggage or family.

Royal Caribbean Transfers

Royal Caribbean offers a bus service of its own (called transfers) to bring you to the port from Orlando International Airport (MCO).

Royal Caribbean offers transfers in one way increments (you can book two one-ways to create a round trip). 

To purchase a Royal Caribbean Guest Transfer or for additional information consult your travel agent or the Royal Caribbean reservations department at 1-800-327-6700.

The Grande Menu

In:
31Jan2014

Appetizers

PRAWN COCKTAIL

Chilled Jumbo Prawns with Chili-Horseradish Cocktail Sauce

TRADITIONAL LOBSTER BISQUE

Finished with Tarragon Cream

INSALATA CAPRESE BITES

Grape Tomatoes, Bocconcini Mozzarella, Basil Oil and Balsamic Reduction

DUCK PATE TERRINE

Cranberry-Orange Relish, Duck Confit, Toasted Brioche

FRENCH BACON AND EGG SALAD

Poached Egg, Bacon Lardon, Wild Arugula and Dijon dressing

BACON ROASTED SCALLOPS

Apple-Mint Chutney, Browned Butter and Sherry Vinegar

PEAR AND GORGONZOLA SALAD

Butter Lettuce, Candied Walnuts and Aged Balsamic

BEEF CARPACCIO

Wild Arugula, Parmesan Shavings and Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette

Premium Selections

SCALLOPS IN TUXEDO

Black Truffle, Puff Pastry, Champagne Sauce

20 OZ. DRY-AGED PORTERHOUSE STEAK

With Roasted-Garlic Herb Butter

Entrees

THE FISHERMANS CATCH

Shrimp, Scallops, Crab with Shellfish Butter

SOLE ALMONDINE

Toasted Almonds, Broccolini, Brown Butter and Lemon

INDIVIDUAL CHATEAUBRIAND WELLINGTON

Puff Pastry, Mushroom Duxelle with Bordelaise Sauce

CHICKEN A L’ORANGE

Caramelized Fennel, Medjool Dates and Orange Glaze

GRECIAN GRILLED SALMON

Toasted Orzo, Fresh Oregano and Sundried Tomato-Seafood Sauce

PASTA AL FREDO

Crispy Pancetta, Green Peas, Parmesan Cream

EGGPLANT ROLLATINI

Eggplant, Three Cheeses and Marinara Sauce

MEDITERRANEAN RACK OF LAMB

Fruitti di Mostarda and Feta Cheese Cous Cous

Desserts

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE

Marsala Crème Anglaise

CLASSIC NAPOLEON

Fresh Berries, Puff Pastry Layers, Pastry Cream

KEY LIME TARTE

Graham Cracker Crust, Merengue

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Coconut Ice Cream

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE

White Chocolate Sauce

Specialty Cocktails

J’ADORE

This cocktail has it all: a well balanced mix of fresh pear with a hint of raspberry vodka, apple liqueur and some bubbles to finish.

PRICEY PEAR

Fresh muddled pear and mint provide a solid base for the arrival of pear vodka, Cointreau and fresh lime which creates a pear explosion.

SPARKLING POM COCKTAIL

Vodka and fresh lime are joined by Champagne and jeweled with pomegranate seeds.

Chic menu

In:
31Jan2014

Appetizers

NEW STYLE CAESAR SALAD

Grilled Romaine, Pulled Brioche Croutons and Creamy Caesar

GRILLED CATALAN SHRIMP

Sopressatta, Pickled Peppers, Cilantro Emulsion

FRESH MOZZARELLA & BEET SALAD

Shaved Beets, Fennel, Mozzarella Cheese

BEEF CARPACCIO

Crispy Sourdough Bread & Horseradish Crème Fraiche

BABY LETTUCE SALAD

Goat Cheese & Truffle Honey Vinaigrette

PASTRAMI CURED SALMON

Pommery Mustard, Caper Cream & Bagel Chips

JUMBO LUMP CRAB CAKES

Cayenne Remoulade Sauce

PLUM TOMATO TARTARE

Red Onion, Green Beans, Herb Oils and Sea Salt

Entrees

POTATO CRUSTED ICELANDIC COD

Baby Carrots, Green Peas, Truffle-Champagne Beurre Blanc

BONELESS BEEF RIBEYE

Creamed Spinach & Roasted Corn Salsa

MINT CRUSTED LAMB CHOPS

Yukon Potato and Brie Cheese Gratin with Roasted Pepper Emulsion

GRILLED VEGETABLE NAPOLEON

Feta Cheese & Marcona Almond Crumble with Balsamic Reduction

CHICKEN PAILLARD

Polenta Cake with Shaved Parmesan and Smoked Tomato Caper Vinaigrette

SALMON STRUDEL

Sweet Carrot, Green Asparagus & Dilled Hollandaise

MEDITERRANEAN SEA BASS

With Turnips & Wild Fennel Dressing

PAN ROASTED DIVER SCALLOPS

Smoked Cheese Ravioli with Leek and Carrot Puree

Desserts

CARROT CAKE TRIFLE

Spiced Cake, Cream Cheese Mousse & Raisin Sorbet

MILK CHOCOLATE GELATO

Mocha Sabayon & Cocoa Wafers

DARK CHOCOLATE TORTE

Pretzel Crust, Bittersweet Ganache & Caramel Drizzle

PLUM CREPE MILLEFEUILLE

Lemon Crème & Basil Crystals

YOGURT PANACOTTA

With Fresh Berries

Specialty Cocktails

U2Q

Crème de Cassis lends itself well to root ginger fresh apple juice and lengthened with vodka. This cocktail is no quitter.

COMING UP ROSES

A romantic blend of Champagne and rose water mingle well with rum and a raspberry emulsion.

CUCUMBER JIMMY

Gin and sweet and sour are blended with cucumber and a fresh lime emulsion, then adorned with raspberry caviar.

American Icon Grill Menu

In:
31Jan2014

Appetizers

NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER

Homemade Oyster Crackers

SHRIMP PO'BOY

Toasted Baguette with Creole Mustard

BUFFALO CHICKEN MAC N’ CHEESE

Spicy Pasta, Blue Cheese, Chicken, Celery

CAJUN CHICKEN WINGS

Root Beer Buffalo Sauce and Cauliflower-Ranch Dip

RUEBEN TURNOVER

Pastrami, Puff Pastry, Sauerkraut and Thousand Island Sauce

ROASTED BEET & GOAT CHEESE SALAD

Michigan Cherry Preserve and Toasted Walnuts

HEARTLAND SALAD

Baby Spinach, Hard Boiled Egg, Button Mushroom and Bacon Vinaigrette

YANKEE FRANKS

Pretzel-Wrapped Smoked Sausages, Cheddar Cheese Sauce and Whole Grain Mustard

Entrees

CLASSIC SURF N’ TURF

Maine Lobster and Rib-Eye with Cottage Fries

NEW ORLEANS GUMBO

Gulf Coast Shellfish and Andouille Sausage

COLA BRAISED SHORT RIB

Red Beans and Rice with Root Vegetable Mash

PISTACHIO CRUSTED SALMON

Green Beans and Oregon Mushrooms with Vermont Maple Butter

SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN

Sautéed Okra, Dirty Yams and sweet Candied Pecans

AMERICANA BURGER

Aged Cheddar, Crispy Bacon, Thousand Island Dressing and Steak Fries

APRICOT GLAZED PORK CHOP

Sweet Potato Succotash and Braised Red Cabbage

SOUTHWESTERN FETTUCCINI

Smoked Sausage, Chicken and Poblano Cream Sauce

Desserts

ICON’S CANDY BAR

Peanut Butter Mousse, Nougat Brittle and Caramel Drizzle

FRENCH QUARTER “COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS”

Coffee-Crème Beignets with Chocolate Sauce

WARM SKILLET COOKIE

Buttered-Popcorn Ice Cream

GRILLED BANANA SUNDAE

Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Blueberry Syrup and Chopped Georgia Pecans

PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY TRIFLE

Peanut Butter Mousse, Fresh Berries and Grape Jelly

Specialty Cocktails

THE OLD FASHIONED

Sweet, sour, aromatic and depth, this American classic has everything. Not old fashioned at all.

PERFECT MANHATTAN

A perfect balance of sweet and dry vermouth allows the bourbon to shine in this iconic cocktail.

CALIFORNIA TWIST

Sweet and sour is given a new direction as cane sugar and vodka are introduced to a lemon emulsion.

Quantum of the Seas cruise port construction looks to be back on track

In:
31Jan2014

Last week plans for construction to begin on the renovations of Cape Liberty's cruise terminal were halted after the construction plans impacted a September 11th memorial.  The renovation plans are back on track now after the Port Authority has come up with a plan for ensuring the 9/11 memorial is not destroyed.

NJ.com is reporting the small group of memorial pavers that encircle the 9/11 Teardrop Memorial at the south end of the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor will be temporarily removed when repair work at the site begins.

The renovation work on the terminal is necessary to allow the port to accomodate Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship Quantum of the Seas for her November 2014 arrival.

“The start of the construction is contingent on the city of Bayonne’s approval,” said Port Authority spokesman, Steve Coleman.

Coleman estimates the pavers will be out of the 9/11 memorial ground for roughly three to five months.

“These pavers will be restored to their original locations when the work is finished,” said Coleman.

Friday Photos

In:
31Jan2014

It's Friday and naturally we are sharing fun Royal Caribbean photos that our readers sent in.  In fact, every week we ask our readers to send us their best Royal Caribbean photos to share with everyone!

Our first photo this week comes from Don Donahue, who took this photo of a Cruise Critic cabin crawl while on Brilliance of the Seas. A cabin crawl is when everyone in the group allows others in the group to come see their cabins so people can get a sense of the differences.  

Next we have a photo from Kayla of her husband on Radiance of the Seas enjoying a beer while playing mini golf.  If this isn't relaxing then I don't know what is.

Here's a photo from Phil Catarella of Radiance of the Seas anchored in Moorea, French Polynesia.  I'd love to take a Royal Caribbean cruise like this to be able to visit the south Pacific!

How about a perfect pool day on Adventure of the Seas?  Neil Davies sent us this photo from his trans-Atlantic cruise and it looks lovely!

Chris Davis sent us this photo of Explorer of the Seas, as seen from the top of the Empire State Building in January 2014.  Great view (and zoom lens)!

Lastly we have Enchantment of the Seas coming into port at 6:30 the morning of January 10th. Kelly Tarman sent us this photo and she writes, "It was our kids first cruise and they were very excited to board her just a few short hours later, so we drove to the pier to capture her arrival into Port Canaveral."  Love that excitement Kelly!

Is your photo missing from here?  Well, send all your Royal Caribbean photos in right now and we can use it for upcoming Friday Photo blog posts! 

How to Make Specialty Restaurant Reservations

In:
30Jan2014

Royal Caribbean is adding more and more specialty restaurants to its cruise ships and if you want to try one (or more) of these eateries on your next cruise, here's a guide to reserving a spot for you.

How to make a reservation online

Prior to your cruise, you can reserve specialty restaurants up to 4 days prior to your cruise departure date.  Booking reservations online in advance gets a time and day for you but you will also have to pay for the experience at the time of booking.

1. The first step in booking a Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant is to go to RoyalCaribbean.com and click My Cruises from the top navigation.  

You will need to have an account with Royal Caribbean (free) and have linked your upcoming cruise with your account.  We won't cover how to do this in this article, but I will assume you have done this earlier.

2. Once logged in, click on the Reservation Number for the cruise you want to book a specialty restaurant.

3. There are a couple of ways to book restaurants but I find this method to be the easiest to follow. Click Pre-Cruise Planner.

4. Scroll down the page and locate the section titled Specialty Restaurants & Dining Experiences  and then click the button that says Shop or Modify Specialty Restaurants.

5. The page you are brought to has what I consider to be a confusing interface so I prefer to locate the drop down menu towards the top right of the page and select Specialty Restaurants from it and click Go.


Continue Reading

Brit TV star Tom Daley helps kick off new Caribbean cruise promotion for UK

In:
30Jan2014

British TV star Tom Daley, who is well known in the UK for his television show on ITV called, "Splash", helped begin Royal Caribbean's new marketing campaign to highlight Caribbean cruises aboard Allure of the Seas.

The campaign is called "Caribbean Cup" and stars Daley along with Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe and American gymnast Gabby Douglas in a variety of athletic challenges including surfing, rock climbing and dodgeball on board Allure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean UK recruited the athletes to show off the fun things you can on a Royal Caribbean ship while enjoying a Caribbean cruise.

CocoCay on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
29Jan2014

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 26 is available for downloading where we look at why you might want to book a transatlantic cruise.

Matt looks at Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay and explores what there is to see and do here.  The private oasis is the perfect place for a day by the sea and also offers activities for those looking to be more active.  From the beaches to the food to the cabanas, there's a lot of great activities to choose from when visiting CocoCay.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 26. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Pages