4 Royal Caribbean dining hacks

In:
11Jul2016

Dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise is a favorite activity, because Royal Caribbean put so much into its dining options.  There is plenty of great cuisine to enjoy on every Royal Caribbean cruise, and we have four great tips for getting a little bit more out of your dining experience onboard.

These tips are designed to give you the knowledge ahead of time to be properly prepared for your cruise, rather than perhaps running across one or more of these tips in the course of your vacation.

Order off-menu food in dining room

Each evening in the main dining room, there is a printed menu that guests can order from, but there are many more options you can consider beyond what is written on the menu.

The main dining room dinner menu is designed to appeal to a great majority of guests, but perhaps you have a dietary restriction, or you just really want something else.

Guests can ask to speak to the head waiter at any point and order something special, provided the chef in the galley has the ingredients to make it.  

The example I often share is Royal Caribbean used to offer Indian dishes on its old main dining room dinner menus, but the current version does not offer it.  As a result, I always speak to the head waiter and ask to have an Indian dish prepared for me each evening.  Sure enough, my waiter brings me that special dish every night.

Starbucks is (sometimes) included with the drink package

Royal Caribbean's Ultimate and Royal Replenish drink packages include premium coffee and tea, and on select Royal Caribbean hips that includes Starbucks beverages.

On non-Oasis class cruise ships, Starbucks beverages are brewed at Cafe Promenade or Cafe Latte-tudes locations, which gives guests with these beverage packages the ability to order drinks from the Starbucks menu.

Keep in mind, Royal Caribbean ships that have a free-standing Starbucks location (Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas) do not allow for use of beverage packages to order Starbucks.

First night discount

Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants are incredibly popular, but an under-advertised special offer is some specialty restaurants will offer a discount for guests who dine there on the first night of the cruise.

There is something about the first night of the cruise, where it seems to be the least desirable evening to eat at a specialty restaurant. Perhaps guests prefer to explore or dine in the main dining room on day one, but for whatever the reason many specialty restaurants offer a first night discount.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to reserve a time at a specialty restaurant in advance of your cruise for this discount.  Most of the time, you just go to the restaurant on embarkation day and inquire about the availability of the discount.

Ice cream in a cup

This tip is something I learned from someone on Periscope, and it is sheer genius for someone that loves ice cream.

On all Royal Caribbean ships, there is complimentary soft-serve ice cream on the ship.  Usually, it is near the pools and there are ice cream cones available to pour the ice cream onto.  Ice cream cones are great and all, but you really cannot load them up too much without an incredibly elevated risk of it falling over and you becoming that guy.

For those that want to load up on ice cream without multiple trips to the machine, grab a drink cup from somewhere onboard.  Usually, the water cups in the Windjammer are perfect for this.  Take the cup and fill up the cup with as much ice cream as you can handle.  The result is that ice cream fix you have always dreamed of!

Your tips

Do you have any Royal Caribbean food hacks to share? Post in the comments below the tips and tricks you have learned over the years!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: July 10, 2016

In:
10Jul2016

The weekend is here and that means we have finished up another week with plenty of Royal Caribbean news to share.  If you missed any of it, here is your neatly tied wrap-up of it all!

The Miami-Dade County Commission approved Royal Caribbean's proposal to build a new cruise terminal at PortMiami earlier this week.

The $247 million terminal was unanimously approved by the Board of County Commissioners. 

The new terminal, Terminal A, will be able to handle even Oasis-class cruise ships and open in Late 2018.

Terminal A would house an angular glass center and a parking garage with about 1,000 parking spaces at the northeastern side of the port, designed by England-based global architecture firm Broadway Malyan.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

This week's podcast episode is all about what it is like to cruise on Explorer of the Seas to Alaska.

Our good friend, Beci Mahnken, joins us to discuss her recent cruise on Explorer of the Seas and shares how a Voyager-class ship fares with an intimate experience like an Alaska cruise.

You can listen to the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast for free and hear all our tips, advice and suggestions for a better Royal Caribbean cruise experience.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Cruise Critic has a virtual tour of Harmony of the Seas' Royal Promenade.

Royal Caribbean UK has a list of 10 things you will love about the Boardwalk.

Moms of the Seas answers the question of does her husband have to wear a suit on formal night.

Photo tour of Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas

In:
08Jul2016

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas has rejoined the fleet  and has been offering regular sailings to destinations around the Caribbean, and one of our blog readers was lucky enough to be onboard a recent sailing and shared photos with us.

Empress of the Seas might be the smallest ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet, but she is still an elegant and beautiful ship and these photos by Brian Owens shows off that grandeur in a great way.

Empress of the Seas is currently sailing out of Miami, Florida offering short 4- and 5-night getaways from Miami to Nassau, The Bahamas; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman and Key West, Florida.

Friday Photos

In:
08Jul2016

Friday is here and that means so is the weekend and our opportunity to share Royal Caribbean photos that readers sent us!  Every week, we ask our readers to send in their favorite Royal Caribbean photos, so that we can feature them here.

Our first photo is of Quantum of the Seas by Anna, and taken on North Star.  What a fantastic view!

Valerie Kammerer sent us this photo of the sunset on the Atlantic. Not sure which ship this was taken from, but I cannot say no to sunset photos!

Here is a night photo from Blake Baldwin, taken on Independence of the Seas.  The ambiance of Royal Caribbean ships at night is really terrific!

Here is a photo of the town of Oia along coast of Santorini, Greece, taken by John Siegmund.  Photos of the Greek coast always seem to be so beautiful to look at, right?

It might be the middle of summer, but this photo by Susan Stewardson is still impressive to look at. It was taken on Quantum of the Seas, while the ship was in New Jersey.  Luckily, it got much warmer very quickly as the ship headed south.

Thank you to everyone that shared these great photos.  Do you want your photo included in our weekly photo showcase?  Use this form to send us your favorite Royal Caribbean photos and we will be sure to show it off to the world!

Spotted: New main dining room menu on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas

In:
07Jul2016

It looks like a new main dining room is available on Oasis of the Seas and that could potentially spread to other ships in the fleet.

Cruise Critic member Eric Markson shared photos of the new menus from a recent sailing in which these new menus appeared.

These menus are from nights two through seven of the cruise.  

What do you think of the new menu on Oasis of the Seas? Please let us know with a comment!

Video: Inside look at 11,000-piece art collection on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas

In:
07Jul2016

With an 11,000-piece art collection on Ovation of the Seas, guests can experience a wide variety of contemporary works by artists from across the world. Iconic pieces - from the playful “Mama and Baby,” featuring larger-than-life pandas on the top of the ship, to the high-tech “Sky Wave,” the first ever kinetic sculpture at sea - are a source of inspiration to international guests.

Miami-Dade County approves new Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in Miami

In:
07Jul2016

Last night, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved Royal Caribbean's proposal to build a new cruise terminal at PortMiami.

Royal Caribbean announced plans to build the new terminal last week and the $247 million terminal was unanimously approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

The Miami Herald is reporting that under the agreement, Royal Caribbean will fully finance the construction of the terminal, minus $15 million that the county-owned port will pay for some road work.  Royal Caribbean will pay $7.5 million in rent to the county.

The new Terminal A facility will be able to handle a ship that is 1,300 feet long.  Terminal G, where Royal Caribbean currently operates, can only handle ships that are about 1,000 feet long.

The new cruise terminal will be open in 2018. Royal Caribbean has indicated it will homeport an Oasis-class cruise ship once the new terminal is fully operational.

Royal Caribbean rewards cab driver with free cruise for returning $187k

In:
07Jul2016

A Boston cab driver returned a bag full of $187,000 in cash to a fare that accidentally left it in the car earlier this week, which has compelled Royal Caribbean to reward this selfless gesture.

The Boston Globe reported Raymond “Buzzy” MacCausland picked up a passenger who was moving from a homeless shelter to a local hotel. The passenger exited the cab but accidentally left a backpack behind. When MacCausland opened the bag to look for identification, he only saw large bundles of cash instead—and he headed straight to the local police station.

Royal Caribbean felt the selfless act deserved more than the $100 tip he received, and the cruise line surprised the driver, Boston-based Raymond “Buzzy” MacCausland, with a “Ticket to Adventure” for a free 7-night Caribbean vacation onboard one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas.

Should he accept, MacCausland and a guest will set sail on a cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to sunny ports of call in their choice of the Eastern or Western Caribbean.

Tips for celebrating on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
06Jul2016

Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons, and graduations, among other things, on a Royal Caribbean cruise is extremely popular, and for good reason. Not only is a Royal Caribbean cruise a great vacation idea, but it is a great place for a celebration!

If you’re celebrating during your Royal Caribbean vacation, there are a lot of special activities and add-ons that can make the trip even more special, but the overall “regular” atmosphere itself is pretty conducive to celebrations. You don’t have to spend a ton (or any) extra money to have great trip celebrating a special event…unless you want to do so.

Celebratory fun on a Royal Caribbean cruise can come both from pre-planned activities and via the spontaneous acts of crew members.  Obviously spontaneity cannot be planned, but here are some of our recommendations for celebrating your special event on Royal Caribbean.

Planning

If you are a planner and want your celebration to be as special as possible, there are a few things you can do.  First, when booking your Royal Caribbean cruise, note on the reservation that you are celebrating an event.  This is easiest done with your travel agent or with the reservation agent on the phone.  Telling someone and having them acknowledge your information seems to go a long way.  

Other things that should be planned in advance are add-ons like cakes, gifts, flowers and other surprises.  These can all be ordered via the Royal Gifts web site, which offers access to pretty much everything you can pre-order.  Orders are accepted up to 48 business hours before debarkation (with the exception of flowers and packages containing flowers).  There are a ton of options to choose from and seems to cover most special occasions we hear about.  This is the best option if you want to have something delivered on a specific day.

The only other advance planning to speak of is booking any add-on experiences described below in advance.  You cannot (and likely should not) ask for something special, but often just mentioning it is your anniversary/honeymoon/birthday will get someone thinking about a way to make the event more special because of that.

What to do?

The degree to which you celebrate the occasion is entirely up to you. Royal Caribbean cruises are usually a celebration unto themselves, so if you only want to do a little to acknowledge the celebration, that’s pretty easy. If you want the trip to revolve around the celebration, that’s possible, too!

Decorate - A very easy way to make someone feel special and inform others that this is a special cruise, is to decorate your stateroom door.  As you walk around the ship, you may spot others who have decorated their stateroom doors as well, and this time-honored tradition involves appending streamers, photos, print outs and pretty much anything else that can be attached via a magnet to the door.  It is important to know that guests may not use tape or another adhesive to decorate their doors, so be sure to purchase plenty of magnets to use instead.

Surprises - Try to spice things up with some surprises unique to the person for whom you are celebrating.  If you just got engaged, a bottle of champagne in the room is great. Same goes for a honeymoon…you can use your imagination for some other in-room honeymoon options…this is a family friendly blog. For a kid celebrating a birthday, consider an onboard scavenger hunt leading them to a present “from” their favorite DreamWorks character.

For example, if they are a Shrek fan, buy some Shrek toy(s) on eBay or your local retailer and have the clues lead to somewhere on the ship that someone in your party can be at with the gift waiting.  Just remember that there are a few thousand other guests on the ship with you, so plan appropriately when it comes to hiding clues and/or gifts and expecting them to remain there.

Guests can also reserve private rides on North Star.  Special events like proposals -- and even wedding ceremonies -- can take place during private rides on the North Star.

Spa - Man, woman or child generally have a tough time resisting the amazing and relaxing experiences of the Vitality Spa. Reserving a special treatment for someone as a means to indulge is usually quite popular, and a great way to let them really enjoy their special day. Whether it is a massage, facial, shave or other pampering, the spa is a great way to celebrate because often people overlook the spa services.  Prices at the spa will vary from the inexpensive to full-on pampering.  

Drink around the ship - Royal Caribbean is well known for creating some wonderful cocktails and it designed its bars and lounges around its ships to offer different experiences at each one.  Doing a bar crawl around the ship is a really fun way to explore the ship, celebrate a special occasion and have an incredibly fun time. The special person should drink for free, while the group picks up his/her tab.  You could get custom-made t-shirts for the occasion, too!

Special dinner - In addition to the great specialty restaurants offered on all Royal Caribbean ships, there are a few select dining options that are above and beyond the norm, which can be the perfect way to celebrate.

There are several special dining options to choose from, and which you can pick from will depend on your ship and sailing.  Some of the best ones include:

  • 150 Central Park
  • Chef's Table
  • Prime Table

These restaurants offer special menus that focus on elegance and a different kind of experience than the usual dining fare.  We think these kind of private dining choices are perfect for couples that want some romance. These are the epitome of a special dining experience, but if you want something a bit more pedestrian in nature (and less expensive too), try these dining options:

  • Wonderland
  • Chops Grille
  • Izumi Hibachi

You can also speak to your head waiter in the Main Dining Room and inform them about the special occasion you are celebrating.  The head waiter is your best friend when it comes to anything above and beyond the norm.  They can arrange for cakes, singing and other ideas to make for celebrating.  Plus, in most cases, the services of the head waiter are complimentary.  

Private shore excursions - Depending on what you want to do, there are a ton of shore excursion options to choose from. We love the offerings that Royal Caribbean has, but if you want to do something extra special, consider booking a private tour that allows the tour operator to focus on your group and what will make your celebration extra special.  The price and subject of the excursion will depend on what you want to do, but a private tour of the port you are visiting, a trip to the spa on shore, renting a yacht or maybe private lessons with a surf instructor are just a few ideas we have run across.  

Do your research to find the perfect shore excursion that will fit what you are looking to do, but picking one port for something extra special can be a great way to accentuate an already fun vacation.

Fun for the kids - If you have kids celebrating something special, there are some great choices for them too. Girls of a certain age will enjoy the Barbie Experience available on many ships.  There are also packages available for Sweet 16's, Quinceañeras and Bar & Bat-Mitzvahs via Royal Caribbean's Gifts site.

If your Royal Caribbean ship has a FlowRider, you could reserve private lessons so that they can get a better chance at learning how to really surf (or just stand up without immediately falling down).

Your thoughts

What have you celebrated on a Royal Caribbean cruise Do you have any tips or additional suggestions for celebrating? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Explorer of the Seas to Alaska on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
06Jul2016

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

Episode 153 is available for downloading, where we are discussing Explorer of the Seas' inaugural Alaska season.

Explorer of the Seas entry to the Alaska cruise season is a BIG change, considering she is the first ship of her size that Royal Caribbean has deployed to Alaska.  Beci Mahnken joins us to give everyone a first-hand look at what cruising to Alaska on Explorer of the Seas is all about.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 153. 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!

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