Jewel of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - St. Croix


Today we visited the island of St Croix, which is part of the US Virgin Islands and it's also our first visit to this island.  Our plan was simple for the day: to spend the day at a beach resort. Let's see how that worked out.

We woke up early and made our way to the Windjammer for breakfast at 8am.  Our first breakfast in the Windjammer was as good as I remember.  I always go for the omelette station, which had no line at all.  One difference I have noticed between Jewel and the larger ships is lines seem much shorter all around.  Not that Freedom or Oasis-class ships have lines that long but it definitely seems like a more personal experience.

Jewel of the Seas was cleared rather quickly and when we were ready to disembark at 9, no real line.  We were docked in St Croix and once again I was glad to not be tendering because docking is just so much easier.

We had researched on our own prior to the cruise what to do on St Croix and the Sand Castle Beach Resort caught our eye.  $5 per person admission fee and $25 on top of that for 2 beach chairs, an umbrella and 2 rum punches.  Sounds perfect to me.

We walked right into the port and into a sea of taxi drivers.  I decided to push through most of them and talk to some of the less aggressive drivers.  We found one that would drive us for $3 per person.  Great!

He brought an air conditioned van quickly over and what I liked was we did not have to wait for anyone else.  It's a pet peeve when taxi drivers give you a good quote and then make you wait to fill up the van.  Not the case here and the driver gave us his card to call him for pick up later.  He was nice and made good small talk without being overly talkative.  Best kind of taxi driver.

We arrived at the Sand Castle Beach Resort in about 5 minutes and checked in.  We did not make reservations ahead of time but that was no problem since we were the first guests of the day.  The woman working there welcomed us and told us we had access to not just the beach but the pool, showers and any other facilities.  She made it a point to let us know we were to feel as welcome as any other guest.


If you were wondering, the resort is about a mile or so from the port but the walk is pretty substantial and I think a taxi is worth the cost.

The beach was great and one of the workers brought us the chairs and set up the umbrella for us wherever we wanted.  The ocean was crystal clear and barely rocky.  There was a quick drop off about 5 feet in but after that there were no rocks and water was the perfect temperature.

No beach toys or anything else to report for kids but our kids had a good time playing in the sand and in the water.  Given the price, I have no problem with it.  Probably the big issue with the Sand Castle Beach Resort was since it was off season, the restaurant was closed and the bar did not open until about noon.  I get they aren't busy but don't they want to make some money?

By about 11am we tried the sometimes futile effort to get the kids to nap.  My daughter gave it a try but then got it in her head that she wanted to go nap back on the ship.  Frankly, I can't blame her just because it was brutally hot out.  My wife also wanted to take a nap back on the ship so we decided to take a taxi back early while our friends stayed at Sand Castle.

We called the taxi and within 5 minutes he was back to pick us up.  By the time we left at noon, there were probably another 6-8 people there.  That's it.  It's probably bad for the resort but we enjoyed having the beach to ourselves.

We made it back to port and back on board.  My wife and daughter took a nap while I grabbed a quick bite in the Windjammer and then I wanted to explore St Croix a little more.

Personally, I fancy myself someone who enjoys exploring ports beyond the tourist areas.  I had asked our taxi driver about places to go to eat where tourists don't go but he reported most places were closed becase it was Sunday.  So I walked a few blocks in from port and it quickly felt more local than touristy.  That being said, the area did not feel as welcoming for tourists in the "local area" compared to other ports I have explored like Cozumel or St. Maarten.  In addition, it was brutally hot so I had a few beers ($2 each!) and then headed back to the ship.

My take on St Croix is it's far from my favorite port to visit but its beaches are still beautiful. The town has very little to offer in terms of shopping and/or sightseeing.  Basically find a beach and call it a day.  

I went to the Solarium to relax and despite it being a port day, at 1:30-2:00, the Solarium was fairly full.  I found a chaise lounger and jumped in the pool and it felt amazing to cool off. A few drinks of the day later and I was feeling real good.  Quick reminder, you can get the drink of the day minus souvenir cup to save a dollar or two.

Eventually my wife and kid woke up and I made it back to my stateroom for a shower and change.  They had skipped lunch so we decided to finally try the much talked about Seaview Cafe.

The Seaview Cafe has a near cult-like status online, with people raving about the food.  It's basically a complimentary restaurant where you order food and then sit and wait for it to be delivered.  They have burgers, Nathans hot dogs, Reuben & Cuban sandwiches, onion rings, fries and more. I had the Reuben while my wife had a burger.  My reuben was really, really good and my wife said her burger was better than the burger she had at Johnny Rockets on Freedom of the Seas.  I think the Internets got it right with the hype surrounding Seaview.

Next up was the Cruise Critic mix and mingle.

I've been to a number of mix and mingle events and for those unaware, the Cruise Critic mix and mingle is an event organized by Cruise Critic where if enough people (25) RSVP prior to the cruise, Royal Caribbean will set up a special event to meet other Cruise Critic members and even win a few prizes.  

Our mix and mingle was for St. Croix day at 5:30, whereas other mix and mingles had been on sea days usually.  Since we only have one sea day and that sea day is our last day, Royal Caribbean had to do the best they could do.  I think prior to the cruise we had about 30-35 people who RSVPd for the meet but there was maybe 15-20 people in attendance.  Can't say I was surprised given it was a port day and formal night.

Nonetheless, I met a number of nice people and a few of us won some nice prizes.  I think it's a great idea for Royal Caribbean to recongize their most vocal supporters and I will continue to go to them for the opportunity to meet new people.  And maybe one of these days I might actually win something!

Right after the meet was formal night dinner.  I opted for the linguini pomodoro for my main course which was actually quite tasty.  But the best part of dinner was the fact they had coffee ice cream for dessert!  I love coffee ice cream so I asked for as much as they could give me and our waiter brought me 3 servings.  Best night ever!

After dinner we took formal night photos in the Centrum.  Lines were pretty long but we were in that time between first and second seating dinner.  We should have waited another 30 minutes for second seating dinner to be seated but maybe we will remember for next time.

Quick note on "life" onboard Jewel.  As you may remember, we embarked in Puerto Rico and quite understandably, there are a number of Spanish speaking guests.  I'd guestimate about 20-30% are Spanish speaking.  Nearly all are adults (in fact, barely any school age kids on this cruise).  The announcements are made in English and Spanish and at night in the Centrum there is a live band playing and speaking in Spanish only.  Kind of interesting and certainly different from past cruises. I'm not complaining or anything, just pointing out the difference.

Tomorrow we will be in St Maarten and we have a driver booked that we met on our last cruise there.  It will be another beach day, going somewhere we have been before and trying somewhere new too.  Can't wait!

Jewel of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day


Today the real fun of our cruise vacation begins and without a doubt, embarkation day is my absolute favorite day of the cruise.  Today we got to board Jewel of the Seas and start the fun.

We woke up and had breakfast at a small cafe in San Juan.  It was quaint, quick and cheap and just the right sort of basic breakfast food we needed.  Called Cafeteria Mallorca, it was pretty close to our hotel and I think everyone was happy with it.  Naturally, I went easy on my breakfast in anticipation for our first meal on Jewel of the Seas!

After breakfast we made a pit stop at a CVS to buy wine.  Seriously.  It turns out there really aren't any wine stores in Old San Juan and for whatever reason, this CVS has an amazing selection of wine for a convenience store.  We wanted to bring our alloted amount of 2 bottles of wine for dinner and made out quite well.

Now it was time to get to Jewel, so we went back to our hotel, got a taxi, loaded up our stuff and took the short drive to the port.  Nearly immediately we could see Jewel of the Seas docked in San Juan habror at the Pan American Pier.  The taxi drive was no more than 5 minutes and we arrived at 10:30am.

Once there, the pier was closed although they allowed guests to take their luggage and wait in line.  What was weird was the porters were there, but not taking luggage.  However, there was a special line for Platinum Crown and Anchor members and above and in that line, porters were accepting luggage.  I felt bad for the other people in the main line because they had to drag all of their luggage into line and then wait with it.  

The check-in process did not begin until 11 so all guests had to wait outside, which was only a problem because it was oppresively hot and humid.  Luckily we only waited perhaps 20 minutes and at 11am the doors opened and we were let in.  Security and check-in was a breeze and interestingly the ship was open for boarding immediately.  We got onboard and made our way right to the Windjammer.

Although the ship was open, the Windjammer was not open yet.  They informed us the Windjammer would open in another 10 minutes so we hung out until it was ready.

A little background on me, we haven't been on a Royal Caribbean ship this "small" before.  We had been on Voyager, Freedom and Oasis class ships so Radiance class is going to be an interesting comparisson for us.  Just driving to the pier, we noticed it looked smaller than other ships we had been on.  That being said, smaller isn't a bad thing.  It's simply different and throughout these blog posts, I will be making comparissons to note differences.

The Windjammer opened up and I was impressed by how classy it looked compared to the Windjammers on newer ships.  I liked the deep blues and hard wood look.  It reminded me of the Schooner Bar on other ships.  

Food wise, the Windjammer was as good as I remembered.  Wide selection with a lot for everyone.  Of all the food I tried, I had to get the honey stung chicken if only for the sake of embarkation day tradition.  Eating lunch in the Windjammer on my first day is that moment when it starts to sink in that I'm on a Royal Caribbean vacation.

After lunch, we went to Guest Services and booked in-room babysitting.  $19 per hour for up to 3 kids.  The staff member informed us they would take our day and time requests down but they would notify us if there was a staff member was available.  It's kind of like someone puts out a notice to the staff members a guest wants babysitting and if someone signs up for it, then you get a babysitter.  Basically, there isn't a dedicated babysitter.  

We then headed to the Main Dining Room to check our table assignment.  Our table was for six, which is perfect for our group.  I also spoke with the Head Waiter on duty to request Indian curry every night for dinner.  I told him I was vegetarian, which is a lie but it's easier to say that than explain that I can't get enough of their curry.

Next up we took the elevators to the spa for a tour.  Frankly, I think the spa on Jewel was much nicer than the spa on Freedom of the Seas in terms of decor and ammenities.  Quick note, the sauna and steam room are complimentary for all guests.  There's also some really amazing thermal, aroma and massage rooms.  You can book an unlimited pass for the heated chair, rainforest shower, aroma and steam rooms for $69 per person.  My wife is debating it but I think our itinerary (6 islands, 7 nights) is too port intensive to make it worth it.  They do offer a day pass for $20 per person.

After our tour it was 1pm and time for our room to be ready.  Sure enough, we got to our deck and the doors were open for guests to go in.  We had booked a "hump" balcony room and the room was clean and in good working order.  The real reason we booked this room was for the super big balcony that can fit 2 regular chairs, a table and 2 lounge chairs as well.  

After relaxing in the afternoon we went back to the spa for the raffle drawing.  I didn't expect to win but our friends wanted to give it a try and so we went.  As it turns out....we didn't win anything.  Oh well!

The spa raffle took longer than we expected and so it was off to dinner in the main dining room.  I know there are a lot of strong opinions about the main dining room but I really like the experience of the main dining room.  To me. it's something very special to cruising and Royal Caribbean does it well.  Yes, I saw people show up wearing shorts, hats and flip flops.  But I think was way worse were people showing up an hour or longer late for dinner and being seated!  I'm assuming this is a day one thing but I found it incredibly rude personally.  If you are going to be that late, then enjoy the Windjammer or one of the specialty restaurants.  Anyway, off my soap box.

Dinner was great and this was my second time around with the new menu.  I found the vegetarian tortillas to be good while my wife loved her grilled chicken dish.  Our friends raved about the coconut seafood soup.

By the way, the wine we bought?  No problems getting it in and brought it to dinner and at least thus far, no corkage fee charged to me.  This is exactly the same experience I had on Freedom of the Seas in February. I'm certainly not complaining!

Following dinner it was time for muster drill.  Seriously.  8pm muster was so odd because every other cruise we have ever been on had muster in the later afternoon.  But with this Jewel of the Seas cruise, we were sailing at 8pm so a late muster drill was a necessity.  I was quite happy to discover our muster station was in the Schooner bar because that meant it was air conditioned!

After muster it was finally time to sailaway, so we made our way to the front of deck 5 to go to the helipad. There were probably 20 people or so there, so plenty of room.  Helipad is still very much a well kept secret for sailaway!  It was quite beautiful leaving San Juan harbor at night to see everything lit up.

The kids wanted ice cream and the adults were open for another snack so we went to the Windjammer (before you ask, Seaview Cafe was closed and we do have plans to go check it out).  Another good selection of food and their free sushi I found to be MUCH better than the free sushi on Freedom of the Seas.  I'd compare it to supermarket sushi here on Jewel and the rolls with fish were worth a snack.

Tomorrow we will be in St. Croix, a first for us.  St. Croix is part of the United States so we will be tweeting and Instagraming a storm up again so follow us there for up-to-the-minute updates!  Also, post your questions and comments in the comments area below and I will do my best to answer them for you.  

Day 1 Cruise Compass

Day 2 Cruise Compass




Today we were in Cozumel. When we arrived the weather didn't look promising. I'm sure you've all done a better job keeping tabs on the news, and have heard that Mexico has been slammed with some SERIOUS rain. Today, fortunately for us & them nothing but blue skies & fun to be had.

Cozumel is a late port day. We arrived at 10 (ship's time), so like Jamaica sleeping in & missing the WJ crush is easy.

Today, is the day I've stepped out of my 'I only do Royal excursions' box. The dune buggy tour has always intrigued me, but normally it's sold out. So I did some digging online & found A tour company called Groupo America (or Americana, I'll confirm later) that for a fraction of the Royal cost would take you on a 4 hour dune buggy tour.

We got off the boat around 10:30 ST grabbed a cab to the meeting place & found a hidden little gem. I guess 'found' is not accurate, because we had instructions to go there...there being varadero beach restaurant. This sign did say all the tours that leave from there & some business about free wifi (of course did we being our iPad? iPhone? Nope) anyway we did discover the most ah-mazing (see what I did there?) margaritas. The glass was the side if my face & when they say the key lime makes a better drink than the regular lime...lying they are not.

Another great thing about playing outside the royal lines is meeting new people. Not to say that I've met all 4,000 people on board but after being on the love & marriage game show, your cruising anonymity shatters (lesson learned) & you feel like you know everyone or at the very least they know you.

Anyway, we met a fellow newlywed couple from Israel, a federal forensic agent fresh off assignment in Afghanistan, and a diving enthusiast couple from California by way of Maryland.

The tour started right across the street from the restaurant with snorkeling. We didn't take part. I'm not a good snorkeler, plus they don't serve the margs in the water. Fast forward to post snorkel lunch. It was a classic Mexican feast. Fajitas, arroz con pollo, refried beans, guacamole, pico, fresh salsas (the habanero was hot & incredible). It was delish!!!

After lunch we were in our buggy & off in our tour. First stop, Punta Sur. After a bumpy, muddy (white mud...weird) ride down a road, we came upon a light house that we were able to climb (143 steps!) to get to a breathtaking view. (Just you wait till you see the pictures. Of course to me it could have been great because I had to climb all those GD steps to forth there... Once posted lemme know). On the way from the lighthouse there's a crocodile lookout place. Anyone who knows me knows I don't like anything without shoulders. Or equines/quadrupeds. So the croc stop, not necessarily my cup of tea. But I went across a rickety wooded bridge to see whatever we could see, which was one sitting like a statue, mouth open. Our guide apparently wanted us to see action (i was good with the statue looking one) so he climbed I've the fence & into the area to entice this one to move. Words that would make a sailor blush were said & I was outta there. On the way back to my buggy, a giant lizard scurried across the bridge right in front of me (!!!!! If you ask Sean he says it's was a tiny salamander, but I know what I saw & if I hadn't broken into a dead run, I could have been lizard food. Yeah I know they eat bugs, but still.)
We got on the road again, buzzing around this island on a coastal road, came to our next stop. A beach break that included a place to shop, willingly hold a lizard for a photo op (I opted not to) & to be on a beautiful beach with crashing waves & white sand.

On the road again to the PeePee station for a quick lesson in tequila making, tasting and some helpful hints buying tequila at home. Wouldn't you know Jose Cuervo is not real tequila?!

As the only cruise pax in the tour, this is where our day ended with our group. The second in command tour guide aka the if the first one had gotten eaten by a croc guide, hopped in our buggy & delivered us to the downtown shopping area to complete our day in Cozumel. To break it down. The whole tour was about 5.5 hours for $60/person. With taxi & tips &75/person. Not bad in my opinion. Oh! I meant to add along the whole tour unlimited complimentary water, soda, juice or cervesas all day. Totes worth it.

Back on board, post mud & bugs, showers were required, followed by snack time in the WJ & a nap.

We overslept a bit into dinner but were able to rush there & catch up.

After dinner we attended the 70's dancing in the street party. Always a hit & one of my favorite cruise director activities.

So there's this new activity I've never experienced before in any if my sailings. The silent disco. It's where all the people in the crypt have headphones on & dancing around... But when you slip yours's funny to hear people singing the 'silence'. It's a weird activity.

Tomorrow is the dreaded cruise day 7. The last real day if vacay for most. I know the compass you get says some crap about day 8 but that day doesn't count & we all know it.

We're at sea tomorrow. I anticipate it being a deck chair war kind of day. I probably should have brought a helmet.

Royal Caribbean announces ocean voyages and free alcohol deal


Royal Caribbean announced its ocean voyage itineraries, which are cruises that go from one side of an ocean to another, which includes 11 ships and 35 destinations. Included in this batch is the brand new Quantum of the Seas, which will debut in November 2014.

In coordination with the announcement, Royal Caribbean is offering complimentrary premium beverage package for all new individual bookings made in balcony- and suite-category staterooms on 13 select 2014 Trans-Atlantic Ocean Voyages.  The complimentary premium beverage package offer is available from September 11 through October 15, 2013 and vacationers must ask for option code SPV3 to receive the offer.

Royal Caribbean senior vice president of Marketing Carol Schuster commented on the announcement, "Royal Caribbean’s collection of Ocean Voyages offers unique and enriching WOWs.  Our ships are world-renowned for their wide range of exclusive and innovative onboard amenities and our friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. Combined with exciting onboard enrichment and interesting itineraries, guests on these sailings will enjoy a distinctive experience that can only be found on Royal Caribbean."


Jewel of the Seas Live Blog - San Juan Day


Today our Jewel of the Seas adventure finally begins, after about 18 months of planning, the day is here and we are ready to go.  Well, we aren't actually going on Jewel today but we are flying to San Juan, Puerto Rico to begin our vacation a day early.  

Our flight will leave New York's JFK airport at 8:55am so we set our alarm for 5:40am to get ready.  I think the excitement got the better of me and my wife because we woke up at about 5am and decided to just get up and go.  So up and at 'em we went, getting the last things packed, waking up the daughter and waiting for our town car service from Legends Limousine at 6:30am.  A quick ride to the aiport and we were on our way.

The whole flight experience was great.  We were on time, had minimal turbulence and landed safely, what more could you ask for?  I will give big kudos to Delta because on the flight, WiFi was free while it lasted (once you are 100 miles from United States it ends) and all of their movies on the entertainment system were free.  Plus there were games and customizable music too.  Really good inflight enterainment, especially for free.

We landed in San Juan at 12:30 and made our way to our hotel to drop off our luggage.  We are staying at the Sheraton Old San Juan, which is located inside Old San Juan and convenient to everything we did.  We dropped our luggage off and started to explore Old San Juan.  We were starving so we tried some Puerto Rico authentic street food, the alcapurrias.  It's basically a fried beef patty and it was really tasty.

Now that we had some real food in our stomachs, we took a tour of the Puerto Rican Governors Mansion.  It's a 20 minute free tour of the mansion grounds and it's quite beautiful.  It's a combination of Spnaish architecture and Moorish revival.  

After our tour, we took a walk to check out El Morro, which is the major Spanish fort on the island.  It's massive and we took the opportunity to explore various areas of the fort.  My daughter loved running around the fort and checking out the various tunnels and areas.  I've never seen her so excited about something not stereotypically childish.  Admission was $3 per adult and kids were free.

We did a little more sight seeing around the city but by this point we were all tired after being up since about 5am.  Our friend recommended a place for another Puerto Rican specialty, mofongo.  

We headed over to Restaurante Raices for dinner and tried a couple kinds of mofongo (fried, mashed plaintains) along with what is described as a giant pork chop.  The restaurant itself is a cross between over-the-top historical decor and real tasty food.  

Overall the food was really good, although the prices were a little high (most entrees were between $15 and $20).  We had a good time there so it wasn't a bad choice by any means.  But next time we are in Old San Juan and want mofongo, I may opt for somewhere else just to see what other choices are out there.  

After dinner the whole group was done physically. I would have loved to go walk around a little more, especially since I haven't been able to check out San Juan at night.  Alas, no need to push myself too much and tomorrow is day one of our Jewel of the Seas cruise so I definitely want to have enough energy for that.

Definitely a great first day and we are all even more excited to get onboard the ship and let the real adventure begin.  Our plan is to have breakfast at 9am and then be ready to go to the cruise terminal by 10ish.  I do need to make a pit stop to buy some wine to bring onboard first but I think we will be at the cruise terminal by 10:30am.

We will have a lot of updates in our live blog here but also on Royal Caribbean Blog Twitter and Instagram.  Follow along and then get the whole summary here tomorrow.  

Friday Photos


We love to share the amazing Royal Caribbean photos our readers have sent us each and every week for Friday Photos.  Basically, it's a showcase of the best Royal Caribbean photos from our readers and this week's batch looks to be the best yet.

If you have photos that you would like included in an upcoming Friday Photos blog post, then please send us your best Royal Caribbean photos!

First up is a photo from Shawn Holmes and it was taken on the Explorer of the Seas while he was watching the bellyflop contest.  Watch out below!

Harry Yerikyan sent us this photo of the Oasis of the Seas' name and I suddenly wish I was onboard Oasis to see this for myself.  That and the seven night cruise that comes with it!

Speaking of Oasis of the Seas, this photo from Travis Rogers says "WOW" because it's from above the Aqua Theater.  Why can't my photos come out this cool?  Travis did say he managed to get this shot from the back of Deck 15 (sports deck) looking down on the Aqua Theater on Deck 6.

Jill Snyder sent us this photo from Allure of the Seas of the Royal Caribbean sign on the back of the ship.  Love this view!

Next up is a photo from Mark DePrimo and he sent in this photo from Explorer of the Seas docked in Bermuda on ‎Tuesday, ‎October ‎27, ‎2009, ‏‎5:27:00 AM. He says he likes to get up early and walk around the ship taking pictures. It's the only time you can get shots without a lot of passengers around.

Bryce J. Griffler sent us this gorgeous photo of Alaska from his cruise there in 2013.  Really cool shot!

Last up is a photo from Matt who said he surprised his wife with an upgrade to a Crown Loft Suite on Allure for their 5 year anniversary on 8/18/13.  Husband of the year material right here!

Thank you to everyone who sent in their photos this week. Have a great weekend and be sure to send us your photos so we can post them next week by using this form.

Grand Cayman no plans no problem


Thank goodness for the day marker in the elevator. Day 7

You ever have one of those days when you think, née you know it's one day but in reality you're wrong? That was me today. What sucks is I almost cheated myself out of a day of vacay! Phew thank you to the WJ greeter for not wearing a sombrero & for our bfast table mates for asking 'what are y'all doin' in Grand Cayman' aha! So Cozumel is tomorrow! (I never did admit today wasn't Friday...)

Being a tender island, and since we didn't have a plan past finding some cute souvenirs & going to hubbs Mecca, Margaritaville, we took our time making our way to deck 1.

A tender later & we're on one of the most gorgeous, friendliest islands in the western Caribbean. Shopping guides in hand, we set off to find some trinkets.

It is incredibly easy to schmy around Georgetown, it's like Boston, a walking city, although instead of neighborhoods they have little groups of shops.

We did our shopping & headed to Margaritaville, where they have 2 for 1 margs! We sat at the bar, because that's where the magic happens. Literally. There is a magician who walks around showing off his slight of hand.

A few more margaritas and a BUCKET of nachos later & it was time to head back to the Freedom. It's such a shame to have such a short port day in such a great place.

I've been here more than a few times, but if you haven't, you should check out stingray city, the turtle farm, Hell & the rum cake factory. There are local as well as Royal excursions that'll take you there. Some all in one trip. I can only say this because I've been fortunate to do them all & have loved them all.

Back on board we lounged relaxed & napped. This night is a big night onboard. The quest, 80's dance party, Twenty & the after hours party.

A quick shout out to all my friends following this blog who were on Freedom with me in April 2009. I walk around the ship, and think off you all & wish you were here.

Back to the quest, Sean was picked to be a captain & the game ended with him dancing shirtless in an orange bra. I'm so thankful that he's so willing to do all of these things. And he's not affected by my cruising been there done that.
Our team placed Third. We returned to our cabin with our winnings, & hubbs said now we have one of each medal, we're like the Michael Phelps of cruising.

Back out we went to Twenty. Lots of flashy cups, people fully clothed in the pool & dancing. One of my favorite events of the whole cruise.

We crawled to bed around 2 (eek). Thankfully Royal plans events well. Late nights turn into late port days. Totes preesh.

See you all tomorrow in Cozumel.

Deuces & smooches!
Stephanie & Sean

Deal Alert: Royal Caribbean offering up to $300 onboard credit for winter cruises


Royal Caribbean is offering guests who book a Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean or Alaska cruise between September 23, 2013 and October 15, 2013 up to $300 in onboard credit per stateroom for salings between November 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

Royal Caribbean is reminding us all that winter is around the corner and for most of us, that means cold temperatures but the good news is Royal Caribbean has escapes to some very warm places.

Onboard credit will break down as follows

  • Up to 5 night cruises
    • Interior and Oceanview staterooms: $25
    • Balcony and Junior Suite staterooms: $50
    • Grand Suite or higher staterooms: $150
  • Six nights or longer
    • Interior and Oceanview staterooms: $25
    • Balcony and Junior Suite staterooms: $100
    • Grand Suite or higher staterooms: $300

The Winter Offer is applicable for all new individual U.S. and Canadian bookings.  The onboard credit offer is applicable for all new individual bookings.

Best ways to be Romantic on a Royal Caribbean cruise


Whether you are a newly wed, been married for many years or just met someone, there are a number of ways to have a romantic time on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  Here's a few of our favorite ways to show that special someone you care.

1. Buy flowers

You don't mess with what works and buying your sweetie flowers is a special way to show that you care.  Not to mention flowers are not very expensive either.   It can be just the right kind of surprise, be it just one rose or a full bouquet.

Flowers are usually available for sale from a cart on ships with a Royal Promenade, but are also available on other ships.  You can also order flowers prior to your cruise departure via the Royal Caribbean web site.

2. Dinner date at a specialty restaurant

Dressing up and going to a special meal just the two of you might be the recipe for the start of a perfect evening. These days, Royal Caribbean has a number of restaurants to choose from and with the Adventure Ocean and Royal Tots Nursery to leave your kids at, there's a great opportunity to have some alone time at dinner.

It's hard to go wrong with dinner at Chops Grille or Giovanni's Table.  If you want to really go all out, try 150 Central Park.  Whichever restaurant you choose, ask for a table for two near the window.

3. Decorate your stateroom

Royal Caribbean offers stateroom decorations to celebrate a number of occasions.  They usually consist of signs, streamers and other decorations on the walls and doors of your cabin.  It's an easy and relatively inexpensive way to show you care.

Purchase the decorations before your cruise via the Gifts & Gear section of the Royal Caribbean web site and be sure to keep it a secret until you arrive at your room.  You can choose between decoration packages to celebrate being just married, a honeymoon just celebrating the cruise.

4. Buy a romance package

Just like the stateroom decorations, Royal Caribbean offers a number of special romance packages to purchase to surprise your signifigant other with.  

Booked via the Gifts & Gears section of the Royal Caribbean web site, there's rose petals, champagne, and lots of other gifts you can select from.

5. Couples massage

The Royal Caribbean spa is a great way to relax and for couples, there are couples massaged offered on every cruise to share in a relaxing moment.  Don't forget there are couples massages also offered on Royal Caribbean's private islands if you prefer land based relaxation.

Tour the spa when you board your cruise ship and see which massage package sounds perfect to you.  Look for deals on port days to save a little money.

6. Put a special message in the Cruise Compass

If you want a special way to say you love someone, how about a personal message in the daily Cruise Compass?  Guests may have messages added to the Cruise Compass by speaking with someone in Guest Services onboard your ship and costs $25 per message.

7. Order room service

Room service is always a ritzy way to have a private meal and ordering room service breakfast to be delivered to your balcony might be the perfect way to start a romantic day.

Room service is complimentary on Royal Caribbean ships, so order it the night before and have it arrive right on time and set up for you and your special someone where ever in your stateroom or balcony you think will be best.

8. Renew your vows or get married

Royal Caribbean recently revamped its onboard wedding and vow renewal offerings and if you have the money for it, having a special ceremony onboard may be a great way to show your affection (again). 

Royal Caribbean offers a number of packages to choose from and your best bet is to start at the Royal Weddings department and browse what is available.

Royal Caribbean launches new 3G cellular service on Oasis and Allure of the Seas


Royal Caribbean and Wireless Maritime Services (WMS) have launched the second phase of 3G cellular data services onboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. 

Having already launched EVDO in November 2010, WMS has followed that up with the launch of UMTS (3G) services.  This marks the first time that both 3G services have been successfully deployed onboard cruise ships, and marks a major milestone in passenger connectivity.

EVDO stands for “evolution data only” which is the 3G path for CDMA carriers.  UMTS stands for “universal mobile telephone service” and is the 3G path for GSM carriers.  

Prior to this, cellular data speeds onboard cruise ships were regulated to 2G speeds, but now guests can experience speeds of four to six times those speeds with these upgrades.

“It’s one thing to have UMTS work in a lab environment, it’s an entirely different and thrilling level of success to have it working as well is it is onboard these ships,” said Tony Patino, vice president of engineering at WMS.  “Leveraging the expertise of our parent, AT&T, the WMS Engineering and Deployment teams have been working diligently to optimize and develop better use of parameters, finely honing our technology in order to achieve this great result.”

WMS recently announced the signing of a new four-year contract renewing its relationship with Royal Caribbean Cruises continue providing cellular at sea wireless services to guests and crew on all existing ships across the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises brands.