Royal Caribbean expands new smartphone app to Oasis of the Seas

In:
05Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

UPDATE: The app has been updated again and Oasis of the Seas references have been removed. Support for Oasis of the Seas will come in "a few weeks".

The latest version of Royal Caribbean's new smartphone app that is under development has been expanded to work on Oasis of the Seas.

Version 1.1.0 of the Royal Caribbean App was released, which expands functionality and makes it work on Oasis of the Seas, in addition to Allure of the Seas.

The new app version includes a few new features:

  • Learn about the hundreds of activities, movies, and shows available onboard
  • Explore off-ship adventures in places like the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Cozumel, and more
  • Peruse complete restaurant, bar, and lounge options
  • Plan a day of indulgence with our array of Vitality at Sea Spa offerings
  • Use deck plan illustrations to navigate the ship

Additionally, the daily planner is easier to navigate, and added a daily ticker with port, weather, and sunrise/ sunset information.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean requiring all adults in same stateroom to purchase unlimited alcohol package

In:
04Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

It appears guests who look to purchase an unlimited alcohol package for a 2018 or beyond sailing will be required to purchase an unlimited alcohol package for all adults in the same stateroom.

Guests who use Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site will see a new notation in the Deluxe Beverage Package description, that stipulates "each adult of legal drinking age assigned to the same stateroom must purchase this package."

Upon adding the Deluxe Beverage package to the shopping cart, the site requires all adults to purchase the package at that time.

Based on croud sourcing, thus far, the change appears to be for 2018 sailings and some late 2017 sailings.

Based on an email from Royal Caribbean to a concerned guest, there are exclusions to this rule:

  • Pregnancy
  • Recovering Alcoholic
  • Medical Reason
  • Religious Reason
  • Does Not Consume Alcohol Due to Personal Preference

Royal Caribbean announced earlier this year it was going to test this policy change on Harmony of the Seas.  The policy change would match other major cruise lines that Royal Caribbean competes with that already have a similar rule in place.

Live Blogging from Empress of the Seas - Preamble

In:
04Oct2017
By: Michael Poole

It’s almost hard to believe I’m back with another live blog already, as we had so much fun on the Harmony of the Seas group cruise a few weeks ago. Last week, I was in the post-cruise depression looking around at sailings I could jump on. I already have Enchantment of the Seas booked for October 13th, but that’s over the weekend and I have that whole week off work. Then I came across an Empress of the Seas, sailing out of Tampa at an incredible solo rate.


 

Those of you that don’t know, I live downtown Tampa and can actually walk to the ship, so no traveling cost or parking. So I’ll have this four-day cruise, two days back at home, then I’ll head down to Miami for Enchantment of the Seas on October 13th.


 

Itinerary

The cruise leaves on Saturday, October 7th out of the port of Tampa. We sail to Key West, Florida, Havana Cuba, followed by a sea day back home.


 

I am excited to get back to Key West, Florida it’s always a fun day. We are docked in Key West from noon to 7pm, so I’ll be able to spend most of the afternoon around town.


 

The highlight of this cruise is Havana, Cuba. We will be in port from 8am to 8pm, so we have a full 12 hours to explore.

My good friend, Nick Vitani is on this sailing and invited me on his private car tour he had arranged. I’ll be sure to report back on the private excursion and information if you are looking to reserve it. I’ll also report back on the currency exchange process, and what to expect going through Cuba’s terminal into the city.


 

Cabin

Since I booked this sailing last week, the sale was on the guarantee cabins. Often when sailings get within a few weeks from sailing, they have special rates on guarantee cabins, if the sailing isn’t sold out. I booked at $479 solo rate for an ocean view cabin. Just a few hours later I noticed the cabin price had dropped to $449. I did some research and Royal Caribbean actually has a 48-hour price guarantee.

If you see a price drop within 48-hours after booking they will apply the difference + 10% more as on board credit. My price drop was $30, so I received $33 in non-refundable on board credit. My cabin assignment was given to me 3-4 hours after booking, Ocean View – 4038.


 

Drink Package and VOOM

For this sailing, I’ve decided not to purchase the drink package. I know, you must be thinking, ”he will give in on board and buy it!” Since we are in Key West all afternoon and Cuba for 12 hours, I’ve decided to pass. I do plan on taking two bottles of wine on board with me, plus I’ll have a bottle of wine in the room from Crown & Anchor. When I combine that wine with the three cocktails each evening, I think I’ll do just fine without the package.

As far as the VOOM Internet, I thought about buying it day two to save a few bucks. I usually purchase the VOOM on board with my Diamond Plus discount.


 

If you are planning to visit Cuba soon, please feel free to comment below if you have any questions.

Cruise firsts on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
04Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 218 is available for downloading, where Justin and Wendy share a few experiences that were new to them that they tried recently.

Justin and Wendy talk with Matt about some experiences and activities they tried for the first time on a recent Oasis of the Seas cruise.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 218. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS, Stitcher 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!

10 things to know about Sky Class suites on Royal Caribbean

In:
03Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

Have you ever considered upgrading to a suite? Royal Caribbean's Royal Suite Class offers guests a wealth of benefits, across three tiers of suite benefits. The bulk of the suites in the Royal Suite Class fall into the Sky Class of offerings.

If you are considering booking a Sky Class suite, or perhaps have already booked one, here are the ten things you should know about what you can take advantage of on your Royal Caribbean cruise (ascots optional).

Embarkation day is so easy

Royal Caribbean has made embarkation day pretty simple for all guests, but when you stay in a suite, embarkation becomes a real pleasure.

When you arrive to the terminal, there is a dedicated entrance and line just for suite guests. This means you have a shorter line and will get to check-in quicker.  Likewise, there is a special line at the check-in desk for suite guests.

Once checked in, there is a suite lounge that you can wait in.  Often there are light refreshments available while you wait.  And your wait will be short, since suite guests will be the first to board the ship.

All of this means you spend less time waiting, and get your cruise vacation started earlier.  Families with children can appreciate the benefit of minimizing wait times.

There is a concierge lounge

Sky Class guests have access to a dedicated Concierge lounge, which is a private area to relax, enjoy drinks or food, and meet other suite guests. Bar service is available from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm in the Suite Lounge, serving a wide array of beverages for purchase. Hors d'oeuvres, petit fours and complimentary bar setup with a selection of wine, spirits, beer and soft drinks every evening from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Of course, the concierge lounge is where you can find the concierge officer.  This person is a wonderful resource, because they can often do everything Guest Services can do without the usual Guest Services line. The concierge can schedule shows and dining, and often has many resources at their disposal to get problems solved. Even if you think something is not possible, ask the concierge, because they are quite helpful.

Your concierge will email you before the cruise

Speaking of the concierge, they will email you one to two weeks before your embarkation date to introduce themselves.

The email contains some basic information about the concierge.  This will include the name(s) of the onboard concierge, brief summary of services available, and information about special options at a Royal Caribbean private destination.

If you are interested in reserving a cabana at Labadee and CocoCay, be sure to email the concierge to get access to it.

You will get complimentary internet for every guest

Sky Class guests receive one free high-speed Voom Surf and Stream internet package for the duration of the cruise, per guest. 

This means each person booked in the suite will receive an unlimited internet plan to use during the cruise.  This includes children.

Access to the suite sun deck

Sky Class guests have access to a private sun deck that is reserved just for suite guests.

The sun deck includes loungers, a bar, and even cabanas for use.  It is a private oasis that is free of the chair competition that can be an issue later in the day.

Special events for suite guests

During the cruise, the concierge will invite suite guests to special events.  Often there is at least one reception for suite guests with Senior Officers.

Invitations will be sent to your stateroom, but this is a fun opportunity to enjoy a few drinks and chat with high ranking officers on your cruise. 

Oasis class ships in Labadee will often have a private sailaway event on the helipad for suite guests.

Meals at Coastal Kitchen

Royal Suite Class guests can take advantage of a restaurant just for them, Coastal Kitchen. Coastal Kitchen is a relatively new restaurant concept for Royal Caribbean, centered around the the idea of combining Mediterranean influences with California fresh food. Royal Caribbean designed the restaurant to be all about fresh food. From Pacific Coast favorites like sea bass ceviche, to the Central Valley’s sliced avocado and homemade blueberry pie, to Med-inspired tastes like Serrano ham, whipped goat cheese and roasted grapes.

Sky Class guests can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Coastal Kitchen.

Reserved seating for shows

One nice to have perk of being a Sky Class guest is reserved seating in the theater.

Reservations for shows are not necessary for Sky Class guests. Instead, show your SeaPass card at the entrance 20 minutes prior to show time. This is a great option for someone that books a cruise at the last minute, or just likes to figure out their daily plans as they go.

To be fair, the reserved seating for Sky Class guests may not be your preferred spot, so making show reservations in advance via the Cruise Planner or Royal iQ app is still a good idea.  

Escorted disembarkation

One of my favorite benefits of being a Royal Suite Class guest is the escorted disembarkation.  Instead of waiting for your luggage number to be called and then wait in line in the terminal, the concierge will offer you times to be escorted off the ship and bypass the line.

At the time you select, the concierge will prioritize an elevator for suite guest use and literally walk them off the ship and essentially take them all the way to where the porters are waiting.  It makes the disembarkation process as seamless as possible.

The amazing rooms

The top reason to book any suite is for the suite stateroom itself. 

Sky Class rooms include

  • Aqua Theater Suite
  • Crown Loft Suite
  • Owner’s Suite
  • Family Suite
  • Superior Grand Suite
  • Grand Suite

These rooms include an incredible amount of living space, along with extra large balconies and sometimes more than one bathroom. The rooms are immaculately decorated and incorporate the latest in modern design.

While the benefits of being in Sky Class mentioned earlier in this post are lovely, the stateroom is what the Royal Suite Class experience is all about. Staying in one of the best staterooms on your ship is a great feeling.

Your thoughts

Have you stayed in a Sky Class suite previously? Do you have questions about Sky Class? Share your questions and experiences in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean releases port status update following hurricanes

In:
03Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released a map of the Caribbean, with an updated look at which ports are open, closed, or ready for departures.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on many Eastern Caribbean cruise ports, and recovery efforts are in-progress at all ports.  Understandably, many Royal Caribbean guests are curious about when these ports will re-open and if there will be any impact to their scheduled cruises in the meantime.

This update was released on October 2, 2017.  The status of any port listed as closed could change at anytime.  If/when there is an impact to your cruise itinerary, Royal Caribbean will contact you with changes.

Symphony of the Seas construction photo update

In:
02Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

We have another batch of fresh photos to share of the construction progress being made on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean released new photos of Symphony of the Seas, which will be the cruise line's fourth Oasis Class ship.

Symphony of the Seas will debut in April 2018.

Royal Caribbean's 100 hour sale offers 50% off Second Guest and up to $200 instant savings

In:
02Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

For 100 hours, Royal Caribbean is offering 50% off the second guest, plus up to $200 instant savings on cruises booked.

Cruise must be booked between October 1, 2017 through October 5, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST and applies to sailings departing on or after November 1, 2017.

Offer includes

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest who must be booked in the same stateroom as a first guest who books at full fare.
  • 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests.
  • Kids Sail Free offer provides 3rd and 4th guests 12 years and younger free cruise fare.
    • Guests 12 & under sail free on 4 nights or longer Europe, Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii, Coastal and Caribbean sailings departing November 1, 2017- December 31, 2018.
    • Excludes Symphony sailings and sailings departing 11/17/17-11/27/17, 12/17/17 – 1/8/18, 2/15/18-2/20/18, 3/10/18-4/1/18, 5/15/18-9/1/18, 11/17/18-11/22/18 and 12/15/18-12/31/18.
  • 100 Hour sale provides instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length:
    • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $75 savings for Balconies and $100 savings for Suites on sailings 5 nights and less
    • $75 savings for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6 nights and longer
    • $125 savings for Balconies and $200 savings for suites on sailings 6 nights or longer
  • Additionally, Deck the Holidays Deals offer provides onboard credit for guests who book a holiday sailing departing from December 19, 2017 through December 31, 2017 and December 18, 2018 through December 31, 2018.
    • Offer includes an onboard credit determined by category booked and sailing length:
      • $25 to spend onboard for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5 nights or less
      • $50 to spend onboard for Balconies and Suites on sailings 5 nights and less
      • $50 to spend onboard for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6 nights and longer
      • $100 to spend onboard for Balconies on sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $150 to spend onboard for Suites on sailings 6 nights or longer

100 Hour sale and Deck the Holidays offer exclude China departures. BOGO does not apply to third and higher occupancy guests. BOGO offer is combinable with Kids Sail Free, NRDB OBC, promotional OBCs and instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits.  Deck the Holidays, Kids Sail Free and 100 Hour sale are combinable with NextCruise offers, NRDB OBC, and restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but is not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. BOGO50 bookings made for China departures are combinable with NextCruise offers and Crown and Anchor balcony/suites discounts only. All offers are not combinable with 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. 

Offer available to residents of United States and Canada. 

7 things you might not know about Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas

In:
01Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas offers a lovely family vacation opportunity, and has some interesting anecdotes related to the ship's development and operation that we wanted to share.

This list is not a list of hidden secrets of things and ways to improve your Oasis of the Seas cruise experience.  Rather, this is an opportunity to share fun tidbits and factoids about a very popular Royal Caribbean cruise ship that continues to capture the attention of the cruising public.

Oasis of the Seas has seven Godmothers

It is maritime tradition for a ship to have a Godmother, which is a ceremonial position that serves more of a marketing role than anything else these days. Royal Caribbean decided to change things up and have not one, but seven Godmothers.  Why seven? The answer is one for each neighborhood on Oasis of the Seas.

Oasis of the Seas' Godmothers are Shawn Johnson, Daisy Fuentes, Jane Seymour, Michelle Kwan, Gloria Estefan, Darra Torres and Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oasis of the Seas was known as Project Genesis

It's common in the cruise industry to begin working on a new class of ships under a project name and then announce a formal name later on. In the case of the Oasis-class, it was known as Project Genesis.

There is a small homage to the Project Genesis name on the Royal Promenade of Oasis of the Seas.

Name for crew area

The crew-only super highway that funnels food, services, and supplies to the 16 decks above stretches the entire length of the ship, and is called I-95. This is a reference to the major American highway that runs north and south on the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida.

A new terminal was created for Oasis of the Seas

When Royal Caribbean designed Oasis of the Seas, they realized she was so large and so different that they needed to also build a brand new cruise terminal to accommodate her.

The new terminal would need to be able to handle all the passengers, equipment, and supplies for the largest cruise ship in the world, so Royal Caribbean built the largest cruise ship terminal in the world at Terminal 18 in Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A 9,000 piece art collection

Oasis of the Seas is proud to blend spectacular art with its revolutionary architecture-over 9,000 art pieces have led it to be dubbed ’’a museum at sea.’’ 

The Boardwalk's inspiration

The Boardwalk neighborhood is a fun spot onboard for guests to catch a show, a bite to eat, or enjoy the ocean breeze any time of day or night.  Royal Caribbean's ship designers were inspired by the seaside piers that dot the coast of England and the nostalgic boardwalks of the past, such as Coney Island.

The centerpiece of Boardwalk is a one-of-a-kind carousel. The Boardwalk Neighborhood on Oasis is designed to be a breathtaking space for families inspired by the nostalgic seaside boardwalks of yesteryear; so the carousel was created using inspiration from turn-of-the-century carousel designs down to the very last detail.

Solar panels help light up the ship

21,000 square feet of thin solar film that produce enough power to light the ship’s Royal Promenade and Central Park areas.

Oasis of the Seas received the solar panels, after Royal Caribbean tested solar panel use on two of its Celebrity Solstice class ships.

While the solar panels may not a rapid payoff on its solar panel investment, the installation of these solar panels is what sustainability architects call “future proofing.” In other words, utilizing imperfect existing technology will pave the way for easy adoption of more efficient solar panels in the future. Old panels can be ripped off and new ones installed.

Other Royal Caribbean efforts to include more energy-efficient lighting and air-conditioning systems that can turn off automatically when balcony doors are left open too long.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 1, 2017

In:
01Oct2017
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday and welcome to October, which means there is plenty of pumpkin flavored everything, changing colors of the leaves and plenty of Royal Caribbean news!

We finally got some new Symphony of the Seas news this week, with word of the Broadway musical Royal Caribbean will feature on its fourth Oasis Class ship.

In a short tweet, Royal Caribbean announced Hairspray will return to Royal Caribbean as the Broadway show on Symphony of the Seas.

Hairspray was originally performed on Oasis of the Seas for a few years before being replaced by Cats.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 217th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we reviewed the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise on Harmony of the Seas.

In this episode, Matt and everyone on the group cruise discussed their experiences on Harmony of the Seas and shared tips and advice for someone considering cruising on Harmony.

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

Eat Sleep Cruise shared 10 reasons to cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas.

Michael Poole shared a cabin tour of his stateroom on Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean UK discussed what life is like onboard Independence of the Seas for the crew.

USA Today had a look at Key West with the first cruise ship to dock there since Hurricane Irma.

Do you Cruise? wrote about why she blogs about cruising.

Cruise Habit wrote about why cruising today is the best.

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