Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas arrived in Havana, Cuba earlier this morning, marking the first Royal Caribbean International ship to stop in Cuba.
Thanks to Halee Whiting for providing these photos.
Empress of the Seas departed Miami earlier this week, as part of a 5-night sailing that culminated with an historic first visit to Cuba. The cruise has been filled with a number of special events and festivities, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and dancing in the Boleros Latin lounge. There was even a special Cuban-inspired dining room menu.
After months of negotiating, Royal Caribbean announced it would offer cruises to Cuba in December 2016. Royal Caribbean offers regular sailings to Cuba, including some sailings with an overnight visit, through the end of 2016, along with stops in Key West, FL. and Cozumel, Mexico.
We will update this post with additional photos and coverage as the day progresses. Keep checking back.
Spring is here and it is also Sunday, which means we are celebrating warm(er) temperatures and Royal Caribbean news from this week!
Royal Caribbean's CEO made news this week, when he briefly mentioned a number of new initiatives and changes coming to the cruise line over the next few years.
In an interview with Travel Weekly, Michael Bayley talked about adding a water park to CocoCay, Majesty of the Seas going to Cuba and overnight stays in CocoCay.
Bayley also talked about what guests can expect on Symphony of the Seas, and when the next batch of information will be revealed.
Royal Caribbean News
- Royal Caribbean's first cruise to Cuba set sail this week.
- Royal Caribbean added a new floating bar in Labadee.
- Five things to love about Liberty of the Seas.
- Royal Caribbean rolled out a Chops Grille lunch option.
- We added a new Symphony of the Seas construction photo update.
- The internet/drink package combo is back for sale on pre-cruise purchases.
- Royal Caribbean scheduled its first quarter 2017 earnings call with investors.
- There is an option to get a discount on specialty restaurants if you dine there the first night.
- Excursion review of Kukoo Kunuku Palm Beach Tour in Aruba.
Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast
Have you ever struggled with finding the perfect shore excursion for your family? Royal Caribbean has a new custom shore excursion option that we tried out on a recent cruise. In this episode, Matt and Christie discuss their experience with Private Journeys and what to expect if you try it out.
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
Royal Caribbean has a look at the Ultimate Abyss slide on Harmony of the Seas.
TTG Media has a look at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. cruise industry first transgender policy.
Travel Pulse covered the recent dress code updates by Royal Caribbean.
Travel Weekly reported on a new airport luggage service at Port of Seattle.
If you want to enjoy a specialty restaurant on the first night of your Royal Caribbean cruise and are not picky, there is a great deal waiting for you.
Royal Caribbean is offering on select sailings a "First Night Done Right" option in the Cruise Planner, where guests can enjoy dinner at a specialty restaurant on the first night of the cruise for just $15.
When you go to reserve a spot for you, select your preferred time and number of guests, and a courtesy reservation will be made on your behalf. Royal Caribbean will have a confirmation of the restaurant they have selected for you upon arrival in your stateroom, but if you want to change it, you may do so at the hospitality desk or any specialty restaurant.
By taking advantage of this offer, guests can save money compared to booking the same restaurant onboard at the listed price. Unlike the other specialty dining packages, this offer is just for one restaurant.
We love any opportunity to take a virtual escape on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and that is why every Friday we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos. It is a showcase of cruising fun, and you are invited!
Without further ado, we present this week's edition of Friday Photos. Enjoy!
Our first photo is of Freedom of the Seas docked in Costa Maya, taken by Ken in March 2017.
Next is a photo of Columbus Cove in Labadee, taken by Tommy Koth.
Stephanie Anderson sent in this photo of the brand new floating bar in Labadee.
Cristina Myers sent this photo of Sarah looking over the Royal Promenade on Liberty of the Seas.
Irina shared this photo from Navigator of the Seas, taken in March 2017.
Bill Bartman took this photo from his cabana on CocoCay, with a perfect view of Anthem of the Seas.
We round out this week's edition of Friday Photos with this photo of Jimmy Burns' 4-year-old daughter, Madalynn, excited to watch the ocean on her first cruise.
Thank you to everyone who shared their photos this week, and we invite everyone to send in their favorite Royal Caribbean photos by using this form.
Royal Caribbean will hold a conference call on April 28, 2017 at 10am to discuss its first quarter 2017 financial results.
The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations web site, www.rclinvestor.com. To listen to the call by phone, please dial (877) 663-9606 in the US and Canada. International phone calls should be made to (706) 758-4628. There is no passcode or meeting number. A replay of the webcast will be available at the same site for a month following the call.
We have another batch of fresh photos to share of the construction progress being made on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas.
Symphony of the Seas will be the cruise line's fourth Oasis Class ship.
Our friends at Saint Nazaire, une ville à la mer posted these photos, which were taken on April 19, 2017.
© Hervé GLAIS
Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley spoke with Travel Weekly about a variety of topics this week, which confirmed or announced a number of changes coming to the cruise line in the next few years.
Among the topics mentioned were
- Quantum 4 (also known as Quantum Plus), will set sail in 2019 and spend its first winter in China, and, if it is not deployed to the UK earlier that summer, will spend the whole summer in China too.
- Symphony of the Seas will feature, "an experience for kids and the kid in you, something for adventure seekers but in a nice, safe way."
- Royal Caribbean is working on several product enhancements on Symphony of the Seas to improve the dining, entertainment and service. All will start to be revealed next month.
- Bayley indicated Majesty of the Seas could be sailing to Cuba too, "We have 40-50 sailings calling into Havana in 2017, starting in April – mostly on Empress of the Seas but also a few on Majesty of the Seas."
- Royal Caribbean will build a "massive water park" in CocoCay that, "will eclipse any other water park in the world."
- Guests on CocoCay may be able to get off the ship and stay there overnight, "we will be adding some private cabana accommodation for Suite Class guests who may want to get off and stay for a few days in total luxury and privacy before hopping on another ship to come home."
Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas set sail today from Miami, Florida marking the beginning of an historical voyage that will mark Royal Caribbean International's first visit to Cuba.
— JetSetSarah (@JetSetSarah) April 19, 2017
Guests boarded Empress of the Seas to the tune of live music, Cuban coffee and Cuba Libres served to guests as they boarded.
Empress of the Seas is on a 5-night inaugural sailing to Cuba, which will make the historic visit to Havana, Cuba on Sunday, April 23, 2017.
As guests boarded Empress of the Seas, Royal Caribbean had special Cuba photo opportunities set up, along with plenty of fanfare.
— Halee Whiting (@HaleeWithaFlair) April 19, 2017
Royal Caribbean Blog reader Halee Whiting shared the first two days of the Cruise Compass from Empress of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean brought Empress of the Seas back into its fleet in early 2016, specifically because its size was a perfect fit for Havana harbor.
Liberty of the Seas is one of three Freedom Class cruise ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet, and offers some incredible amenities and activities onboard. Here are five really fun things to enjoy while aboard Liberty of the Seas.
What can we say, we really like Sabor Modern Mexican on Royal Caribbean's shjps and if you happen to go on a Liberty of the Seas cruise, a visit to this specialty restaurant is a must do.
Sabor distinguishes itself by offering excellent quality Mexican food. This is not a run-of-the-mill forgetful Mexican food. Rather, you get creative dishes made from fresh ingredients.
By far, the freshly made guacaomole is the star of Sabor. Sure, we cannot get enough ahi tuna tacos, Chicken-Stuffed Jalapeños or those wonderful margaritas, but the guacamole is just so good that it alone is worth the visit.
4. Splashaway Bay Aqua Park
Liberty of the Seas is one of the few Royal Caribbean ships to offer its guests the cruise line's newest take on aquatic adventure park. In fact, Liberty of the Seas was the first ship in the fleet to recieve Splashaway Bay.
So what makes Splashaway Bay so cool? This fun spot is full of waterlides, water cannons, waterfalls and more. It is the kind of place kids will never want to leave. The gigantic drench bucket and a multi-platform jungle-gym mean not only will the kids get (and stay) drenched while playing there, they are going to have a great time doing it.
What makes Splashaway Bay special is the fact it is the latest and greatest water play area option in Royal Caribbean's fleet. Including some of the fun things to do included later on in this blog post, it makes Liberty of the Seas one of the best ships if you are cruising with kids.
3. Panoramic staterooms
If you think staterooms on a cruise ship are the same from ship to ship, then you need to see the panoramic oceanview staterooms on Liberty of the Seas.
A few years ago Royal Caribbean began adding staterooms that have floor-to-ceiling glass windows that provide a spectacular view. Granted, these rooms lack a balcony, but having such an unobstructed view at your disposal is such a treat.
Ranging in size from 191 to 215 square feet, the panoramic oceanview staterooms on Liberty of the Seas offer lots of space and a view you never tire of seeing.
2. Saturday Night Fever
Select Royal Caribbean ships offer Broadway shows for their guests to enjoy, including Liberty of the Seas. Since 2011, Liberty of the Seas has been offering guests the opportunity to see Saturday Night Fever onboard, and the show is included with their cruise fare.
The musical depicts Tony, an ambitious Brooklyn teen who spends his Saturday nights disco dancing. It is a nostalgic look back to the 1970s with plenty of classic music to enjoy.
No sailing aboard Liberty of the Seas is complete without a few rides down its amazing "Perfect Storm" waterslides.
Liberty of the Seas features the first Boomerang style waterslide at sea, named Tidal Wave. The hair-raising slide features a steep drop that propels riders up a near vertical wall for a moment of weightlessness and into free fall.
There are also two racer slides, Cyclone and Typhoon, which promise even more thrills, as guests shoot down each slide for a wet and wild finish.
What is your favorite thing about Liberty of the Seas? Is it on our list or do you have something you think is worth the cruise fare alone? Tell us about in this blog post's comments!
Episode 194 of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, all about Private Journeys shore excursion.
What is this about?
In this episode, Matt and Christie discuss Royal Caribbean's relatively new option for guests that want a completely customizable shore excursion with all the benefits of booking through Royal Caribbean.
It feels like there are certain ports where either no existing excursions stand out as perfect choices, or there is too much compromise with what is available. Enter, Private Journeys, which allows guests to work with Royal Caribbean to come up with the perfect private tour just for them.
We talk about who Private Journeys is a good fit for, share our recent experiences trying it out and review the experience from start to finish.
Thanks for listening! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!