5 things you will love about Royal Caribbean's Wonderland

In:
11Dec2015

Some guests may be quick to group all of Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants together as offering similar experiences, but there is one restaurant that breaks the mold.

Wonderland was introduced on Royal Caribbean's Quantum class ships and has quickly become a favorite for its whimsical, over-the-top experience it offers alongside some really good food.

For guests looking to try something different and bring a bit of "show" into their meals, Wonderland is a superb choice and it promises to be a dining experience you will be talking about for a while.

Here are five things guests will love about Wonderland restaurant.

5. The décor

Someone at Royal Caribbean spent a lot of time on the look of Wonderland and it definitely shows!

Before you even set foot inside the restaurant, there are odd features surrounding the entrance that draws attention and gets people thinking about what the heck is inside.

Upon entering Wonderland, there is stuff everywhere.  

Candelabras, odd glasses, all sorts of chairs, mirrors and more.  It all combines to send a message to guests of, "this is not your typical restaurant".

4. The eccentric staff

Much like the decorations, the staff working at Wonderland are as fun to interact with as they are attentive in their duties.

Your waiter is your guide through the Wonderland experience.  He or she will take you along each step of the meal, and many add an element of wit to the experience.

Dining at Wonderland is more than just another place to eat.  Rather, it is an opportunity to try something completely different and the wait staff is part of the experience as much as the food.

The fun thing about the wait staff is they will make jokes, offer suggestions and immerse themselves in the role.  It all combines to make for an unique experience.

3. Painting your menu

There is something undeniably cool about how you get your menu at Wonderland.

After being seated, your waiter will present a blank canvas to you along with a paintbrush and you are encouraged to dip your paintbrush in the water provided and start painting.

Spoiler alert: your brush strokes reveal the menu at Wonderland it is just plain cool!

While the trick may be relatively simple, it is something no other Royal Caribbean restaurant offers and is part of why Wonderland is so much fun.

2. The terroir beef

Of all the food available in Wonderland, our favorite is the fall-off-the-bone terroir beef.

This is a slow cooked beef dish that is served still on the bone, accompanied by river stone potatoes with a bordelaise sauce.

Essentially, this is a super-soft cut of beef that will melt in your mouth.  Oh, and it is really, really tasty too!

1. The desserts

There is a lot of food to try at Wonderland, but if you are going to be adventurous for one part of the meal, make sure it is at dessert.

Wonderland offers a lot of favorites that have been altered slightly, such as yogurt pops, basked Alaska and Boston cream pie maze. 

The strategy for dessert is simple, try them all and leave your belts in your stateroom.

Royal Caribbean promotes Lori Cassidy to Associate Vice President of Global Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales

In:
10Dec2015

Royal Caribbean announced it has promoted Lori Cassidy to Associate Vice President of Global Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales. 

In her her new role, Cassidy is responsible for all sales, service, and marketing efforts pertaining to global meeting, incentive and full-ship charter business, as well as the Royal Caribbean loyalty gift card and individual incentive certificate programs. 

Cassidy will lead the Global Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales and Service team in managing, developing and servicing meeting, incentive and group event opportunities with incentive houses, brokers, independent meeting planners, corporate planners and travel planners around the world. 

Cassidy began working with Royal Caribbean in 2008 as Director, Corporate, Incentive & Charter Sales, and has since taken on increased responsibility and successfully grown the meeting, incentive and charter sales channel for the international cruise line.  Cassidy continues to report directly to Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International. 

"Lori is an asset to our group travel partners and a respected member of our organization.  Her incredible experience, skill and instinct for the business make her a strong leader for her team, resulting in continued momentum and stronger relationships around the world,” said Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International.  “This is a hard-earned, well-deserved promotion within the Royal Caribbean Sales and Trade team, and we look forward to her continued success.” 

Cassidy has been in the cruise industry for over 22 years. Prior to joining Royal Caribbean International, she was with Carnival Cruise Lines for 15 years holding Director positions in Corporate & Incentive Sales for five years and Business Development for 10 years, respectively. 

What you need to know about snorkeling on Royal Caribbean's Labadee

In:
10Dec2015

There is so much to do on Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee and snorkeling is something a lot of guests look to try.

Labadee's clear and calm waters are great for giving snorkeling a try, and if you are interested in going snorkeling on your next visit, here is what you need to know.

Can I rent snorkeling gear on Labadee?

Guests cannot go to Labadee and rent snorkeling gear on the island, but guests can get snorkeling gear via any of the snorkeling excursions.

On many Royal Caribbean ships, there will be snorkeling gear to purchase onboard the ship.

Guests staying in a cabana will receive complimentary snorkeling gear to use.

Can I bring my own snorkeling gear?

Yes, guests can bring their own snorkeling gear to Labadee for use in the water.

How "good" is the snorkeling at Labadee?

While the ocean water is clear and fairly calm at Labadee, the snorkeling in the areas immediately surrounding the beach do not have a great deal of underwater sea life to see.

The excursions Royal Caribbean offers brings guests to some of the better spots nearby for snorekling, where there is more to underwater life to see.

Given Labadee is often the first port stop, veteran snorkelers often use Labadee as a chance to check their snorkel gear to make sure it all worked properly.  For those new to snorkeling, Labadee can be a great place for getting some practice in before snorkeling in other ports.

The real benefit of Labadee is that the ocean depth is pretty shallow. Often, you will be swimming in water of 1' to 5' of water, which is much shallower than other snorkeling ports and allows  to swim around coral in many places.

There is a lot of coral and a good variety of fish. There are lots of urchins including some big basketball size ones. It is a unique experience you don't get at the other places.

Where is the snorkeling?

The snorkeling area is off of Adrenaline Beach, on the north east side.

Getting there is fairly simple and about a 10 minute walk once on Labadee. Guests can follow the path or take the tram to bring you closer.

There is also some decent snorkeling at Nellie's beach, closest to the rope on the ship side.

What are some tips for anyone looking to snorkel at Labadee?

  • Go early for optimal water conditions. As the day progresses, the water can get hazy due to guests kicking up the sand.
  • Due to the rockiness, be sure to wear water shoes or fins.

Have you gone snorkeling in Labadee? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Brilliance of the Seas Category E2 Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony photo tour

In:
10Dec2015

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Keith Davis is back to share a photo tour of his Category E2 balcony stateroom on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. Enjoy!

Upon entrance you are flanked by the closet and the bathroom.  The closet features the standard Royal Caribbean features. 

High and low hanger bars are located on either side of a centered cluster of cubbies. The lower bars can be hinged up to provide one long space for taller garments.

The bathroom is a standard Royal Caribbean style bathroom.  The shower, unlike Voyager and Freedom class features a curtain in lieu of doors. 

One must be careful to make sure the curtain is properly placed upon entrance to the shower.  Failure to do so will allow the water to spray outside the shower curb and onto the bathroom floor.

Beyond the closet, as you enter the stateroom, is a desk.  Just above desk level there are electrical outlets.

If you have a lot of electronics to charge I recommend bringing a multi-charger w/ multiple USB ports.  Above the desk are mirrors and lights. On either side of the seating area are drawers.  They are not very large but suitable for small articles of clothing and other small items. 

Beyond the desk is the TV, below the TV is a door behind which is a small refrigerator which acts as a mini-bar.  Above the TV is a cabinet with shelves.  The lowest shelf contains the safe.

Across from the desk is a small love seat and a table, the love seat would be best described as “cozy” if more than one person wants to occupy it at a time.

Beyond the love seat is the bed, Royal Caribbean's standard style, with two separate sections pushed together (or apart if preferred). Each section is curved at the foot of the bed to help accommodate passage in the narrow cabin.

Finally past the bed is the sliding doors to the balcony.  The balcony is your standard RC balcony, listed at 43 Sq. Ft., it contained two chairs and a table.

The unique thing about this cabin is its location.  It is located at the center of the "hump".  An area where the cabins bow out away from the bulk of the cabins.   On the Radiance class ships most of the balcony cabins are inset from the hull of the ship. 

The view straight down is not of the side of the ship and the water but of the structure that covers the life boats and the promenade deck.  As this cabin is located in the center of the hump it allows an unobstructed view both forward and aft as well as down to the water.

One possible drawback to this cabin is its location in proximity to the Centrum.  This cabin located directly adjacent to the Centrum and, as such, is subject to noise from the Centrum (music, activities, etc.)  

I personally found no issue with the noise but if you are sensitive to stray noise this may not be the cabin for you as the music tends to run until 11:30 - 12:00 each night.

The positive to this location is its proximity to the aft stairs and elevators.

Something to keep in mind is the center hump cabins are coveted my many and tend to be booked well in advance.  

Review: Rita's Cantina on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
09Dec2015

It is time to talk about a specialty restaurant that we have never reviewed before, Rita's Cantina on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.

Rita's Cantina is a Tex-Mex inspired restaurant that first launched on Allure of the Seas when she debuted and has since spread to a number of Royal Caribbean ships.

Before ever stepping foot into Rita's, I had read quite a number of reviews online and most guests seemed to have a negative view of Rita's, especially compared to Sabor Modern Mexican.

I try not to judge anything based purely on what I may read or hear about it, but I will admit I did lower my expectations considerably.  I assumed a meal at Rita's would not be similar to my amazing meals at Sabor, but I wanted to keep as open a mind as possible.

Once on Brilliance of the Seas, I made a point to stop in for lunch on one of our sea days.  Will it be a hit or miss? Time to find out!

Atmosphere

On Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, Rita's Cantina is located on deck 11 behind the Windjammer on the port side of the ship.

Rita's is a half open air restaurant, with covered seating and tables out in the open.  If you have eaten at Johnny Rockets on a Voyager or Freedom class ship, the seating arrangement is somewhat similar in that there is indoor and outdoor seating. 

On Brilliance of the Seas, although there is covered seating, there is no air conditioning (or heat) for the indoor portion, so you are still somewhat at the mercy of the weather conditions outdoors.

Regardless of if you are seating inside or outside, there are views of the ocean from everywhere, except the bar (although you could simply turn around to see the ocean).

To describe the decor of Rita's Cantina, I would have to say there are hints of a Southwestern USA/Mexico motif with teals, dark reds and oranges.

Much of the restaurant, however, is not very well themed and feels more like a table at the Windjammer than a typical Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant.

After I scoped out the restaurant for a bit, it was time to dig into lunch.  Let's check out the menus!

Eats

For my meal at Rita's Cantina, I wanted to sample a little of everything that I could to get a sense of what Rita's really offers.

The first thing I noticed about the menu at Rita's Cantina is that while you could have a meal here, the menu really leans more towards being a restaurant that offers a lot of drinks and some snacks and light fare to go along with the drinks.

There is quite a selection of margaritas available, served on the rocks or frozen.

If mixed drinks or beer are your thing, then there is plenty to choose from as well.  Certainly. no one can complain about there not being a good selection of alcohol at Rita's Cantina.

The food menu is fairly limited, with just eight items listed.

The one thing I did notice immediately about Rita's Cantina menu are the prices.  Everything is incredibly inexpensive.  Most items are about $2-3 each.  That is dirt cheap.

I asked my waiter for a recommendation for a margarita and he pointed me towards the Pineapple Orange Margarita.

I opted for frozen and it was served in a rather large cup.

The margarita was fine, neither the best I have ever had nor the worst.  I prefer my margaritas to have more tequila than what I was served, but not the end of the world.

For my food, I ordered the roasted tomatillo broth, fiesta guacamole, chips & salsa and a grilled Quesadilla.  I figured that would be a good assortment of food to consider.

Service was a bit slower than I expected, but not because of my waiter.  The restaurant was not that busy, so at least I could tell the food was not just sitting around.

First up was the chips and salsa. 

The salsa was more of a pico de gallo, and I really enjoyed it.  We had just been in Cozumel, Mexico the day before, so I had a pretty good idea of what good salsa is and this was freshly made.  I could snack on this any day.  The chips were certainly out of a bag.

Next came the guacamole.

This guacamole was, well, awful.  The consistency was too watery and it was really bland.  I hate to say it, but I have had far better guacamole out of a jar from my local supermarket.  

Luckily, the tomatillo soup came out next and it was a welcome distraction from the guacamole.

The soup was more of a tortilla soup than anything else and it was above average.  I certainly ate much more of the soup than I did the guacamole.

Last out was the chicken Quesadilla, which was served with sour cream and more guacamole.  

I sampled the guacamole that came with the Quesadilla to see if perhaps my first guac serving was a bad batch, but this too was inedible.

The Quesadilla itself was okay and lent itself to the comparison that most Quesadilla are just Mexican grilled cheese's.  I ate a good amount of it, but the Quesadilla was just okay.  

Overall

After hearing mixed reviews of Rita's Cantina for years, I did not know what to expect but after eating at Rita's Cantina, I now know why it has the reputation it has.

I have two takeaways from RIta's Cantina on Brilliance of the Seas:

  1. The food is nothing special and tends to be more lackluster than anything else
  2. The food is really, really inexpensive

I freely admit the food is not going to impress many, but when you consider the low prices (I spent about $8 for all my food), perhaps Rita's Cantina is not an awful value.

I see Rita's Cantina as not a restaurant for a meal, but rather a snack with a few drinks.  If you purchase one of the unlimited alcohol packages, I could easily see Rita's Cantina being a great spot to enjoy the benefits of the drink package with a plate of nachos and salsa.

The bottom line is Rita's Cantina will not be at the top of many guests' favorite restaurant lists, but I do like the low prices and ample selection of drinks available.

Have you dined at Rita's Cantina? What's your favorite dish on the menu?

6 things to do on the last morning of your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
08Dec2015

The morning you are scheduled to leave your Royal Caribbean cruise is always a sad day because we all dread having to say goodbye to the place we have called home for a few nights.  So, why not make the best of the hours you have left?

Here are six ways to finish off your Royal Caribbean cruise vacation with a bang!

6. Check your email, voicemail and text messages

If your Royal Caribbean cruise is returning you to your home country, you can now turn your cell phones back on and catch up on any messages you may have missed.

I freely admit checking your messages is hardly the most exciting thing one can do on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but it can be a good way to plan the rest of your day after you leave the ship.

In addition, if any kind of issues have arisen while you were at sea, you can take time now to deal with them while you wait to disembark.

5. Visit the NextCruise office

With your last few hours onboard, be sure to stop by the NextCruise office for one last chance to book another Royal Caribbean cruise to look forward to .

The NextCruise office typically does not take appointments on debarkation day, but they are open for walk-ins.

This is your last opportunity to book another Royal Caribbean cruise, while getting free onboard credit for re-booking onboard.

Remember, nothing gets you over your last Royal Caribbean cruise like your next Royal Caribbean cruise!

4. Use your drink packages one last time

Did you know that your unlimited drink packages still work on the last morning?

Whether you want another soda, coffee or Bloody Mary before you hit the road, your drink packages will work onboard that last morning.

The Windjammer will be your best bet to take advantage of these drink packages, as many of the other bars may be closed in the early morning hours.

3. See the sunrise

Let's face it, you are going to be waking up early to get going, so why not wake up a little bit earlier to see the sunrise?

There is something special about sunrise at sea and even if it is your last day, it can be a fun way to start your morning.

2. Take photos without lots of guests in the way

These days, everyone is looking to take that great photo and show friends and family what their cruise was like.

If you relish a good photo of public areas of the ship, definitely try to take photos on your last morning because many of them will be completely empty.

This can be a great strategy for taking photos around your ship without lots of people you do not know in them!

1. One last meal in the Windjammer

The must-do activity on your last day has to be one last meal in the Windjammer.

Sure there are other places open for breakfast on that last morning, but the Windjammer is that quintessential Royal Caribbean experience.

One last meal here is the perfect send-off so when you leave your Royal Caribbean ship with tears in your eyes, at least your stomach will be full.

What are your favorite last morning traditions? Share them in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas arrives in Brisbane for start of Australia season

In:
08Dec2015

Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas will be based out of Brisbane, Australia for the next five months as she begins offering service in the area for the summer cruise season.

Legend of the Seas arrived at Brisbane’s Portside Wharf yesterday.

With her time there, about 30,000 passengers will arrive and depart on Legend of the Seas while in Brisbane, and is expected to pump $20 million in to the Queensland economy.

Legend of the Seas' first cruise was a three-day cruise and will offer other cruises to the South Pacific, Queensland coast and New Zealand.

Royal Caribbean’s regional vice president Gavin Smith commented on the arrival of Legend of the Seas, "Southeast Queensland is our second biggest market in Australia and lots of our passengers were flying down to Sydney from Queensland anyway."

5 reasons Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages are awesome

In:
07Dec2015

Perhaps no Royal Caribbean add-on purchase has become as popular as the unlimited alcohol packages have.

In just a few short years, many guests have become drink package fans and it seems like more and more guests are purchasing them every cruise.

Whether you count yourself as one of the many that enjoy indulging in the unlimited alcohol packages time and time again, or perhaps you are, "on the fence" about purchasing one, here are five good reasons the unlimited alcohol package is, well, awesome!

5. Perfect for use in specialty restaurants

When you think of the unlimited alcohol packages, most guests instantly envision drinks by the pool or at their favorite bar but a place where the unlimited alcohol packages truly shine are at the specialty restaurants.

Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants often offer a special menu of cocktails and beverages unique to those restaurants, that are not advertised anywhere else onboard.

Furthermore, the drinks at the specialty restaurants are rarely, if ever, discounted, so guests paying cash for these drinks will have to pay the full price.

With the unlimited alcohol packages, guests can sample as many of these specialty cocktails as they like, because most are included in the unlimited alcohol packages.

4. Less complicated billing

If you ask someone who got back from a Royal Caribbean cruise what they thought of the unlimited alcohol packages, inevitably you will hear about how simple it was to order drinks and not worry about receipts.

When you take away all those bar tabs paying a la carte, the SeaPass account quickly gets shorter and easier to read.

In addition, gratuity is included with the unlimited alcohol packages (in North America), so there is no more figuring out how much to tip the bartender or waiter. 

The entire drink ordering process seems to fly by, without feeling you are doing a high school math problem at the end of your cruise.

3. One fixed cost for all drinks

One of the chief benefits of the unlimited alcohol packages is there is one fixed cost for all your drinking onboard.

Instead of worrying about if you really should order one more mojito, the cost is already set, so it is all about what you want, when you want it.

Guests that pre-purchase the unlimited alcohol packages can not only get a fixed cost for their drinks onboard, but can also break apart the total cost of the cruise.

2. Trying new drinks

Since the cost of all your drinks is set with the unlimited alcohol packages, you can sample new drinks without fear of wasting your money.

Royal Caribbean ships offer a lot of drinks to choose from and sometimes you might be tempted to try a drink but worry you might not like it and feel obliged to finish it because you paid for it.

With the drink packages, there is no buyer remorse over drinks you do not like.  Place it to the side and order another! The cost is the same to you.

1. Money saver

By far, the best reason Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages are awesome is because it can save you money.

If you do your part to consume enough drinks each day of your cruise, you should be able to come out ahead with the amount of drinks you ordered versus how much those drinks would have cost you if you paid cash.

While the previous four reasons are all perfectly good rationale for ordering an unlimited alcohol package, the basic point of the packages is to ensure you are drinking enough to break even, if not come out ahead.

With the packages, guests can enjoy as many drinks as they like and (hopefully) come home with more money left in their pocket than if they had bought those drinks a la carte.

Do you think Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages are awesome? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Brilliance of the Seas Category N Inside Stateroom photo tour

In:
07Dec2015

It seems like everyone is curious what the various stateroom types look like, so we bring to you these photo tours of various stateroom categories.

Today, we have an inside stateroom on Brilliance of the Seas in category N.

On Brilliance of the Seas, we reviewed stateroom 3545, which is located on deck 3 closest to the forward elevator bank.  Entry to the room is by your SeaPass card.

Category N staterooms on Brilliance of the Seas are listed at 165 square feet and can accomodate two guests.  There was a surprising amount of space for an inside stateroom, perfect for one or two passengers to live comfortably.

The bed is joined together but can be split apart if need be, with a nightstand on either side of the bed.  

There is a flat screen television attached to a tilting arm, such that the television can be pointed straight across or swung for optimal viewing in bed.

There is also a sofa, closet, sitting area with desk, drawer space and vanity in the room.

The bathroom contains a sink, shower and toilet.  In our room, the shower had no plastic door, but a curtain instead.  I am not certain if this is standard for Brilliance of the Seas, or just a special case in our room.

The desk features two electric outlets.

There is a large closet near the entrance of the room, with the most storage space available.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: December 6, 2015

In:
06Dec2015

Another week has gone by and that means we are all one week closer to our next Royal Caribbean cruise!

This week, the big news was Royal Caribbean's announcement that the Broadway show Grease will be added to Harmony of the Seas and Independence of the Seas in 2016.

The news is unusual, given that in the past Broadway shows have been added to only one ship at a time.

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.

Here is the rest of the Royal Caribbean news you may have missed this week.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 122th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available and this week, Matt reviews his recent cruise aboard Brilliance of the Seas.

In this episode, Matt shares his experiences on Brilliance of the Seas, including dining, activities, shore excursions and entertainment.

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.

How you can support Royal Caribbean Blog

So many of our readers have reached out to us to ask how they can help the blog and we are introducing the Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders for just that reason.

The Insiders group is a way readers can contribute to Royal Caribbean Blog and help fuel some of the really amazing ideas, projects and new content that we have lined up.

As a way of saying thank you for your contribution, there are some fun rewards for being a member of the Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders.

Becoming a member of the Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders is completely up to you and you can cancel at any time. No questions asked! 

As always, thank you for visiting Royal Caribbean Blog and being a part of our community!

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Writing Horseback blogged about the Carousel at Sea on Oasis of the Seas.

Cruise & Ferry interviewed Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain.

In the Loop Travel listed seven thrilling shore excursions in the Caribbean (hint: Labadee made the list).

Cruise Currents shared 6 reasons to love Anthem of the Seas.

Pages