Royal Caribbean offering cruise credits to guests on initial Harmony of the Seas sailing

In:
03Jun2016

Royal Caribbean is offering guests that were on pre-inaugural Harmony of the Seas sailings a future cruise credit to make up for the work that was being done on the ship.

Emails were sent to guests on the May 26, 2016 sailing on behalf of Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley.  The email reads as follows:

Each guest on the 3-night sailing is receiving a Future Cruise Certificate for 25% of the cruise fare paid for that sailing.  Guests on the 4-night sailings are receiving 50% of the cruise fare paid back in cruise credit.

It is unclear as of yet if guests from other sailings are also receiving similar offers.

The decision to offer guests future cruise credits appears to be a result of negative press in the UK, that highlighted work was still being done to the ship and allegations that the ship was not complete.

First look: Fitness Center on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

In:
03Jun2016

Staying fit and exercising are some of the many things guests can do on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas and today we have a photo tour of the Fitness Center.

Access to the Fitness Center is complimentary to all guests, with special classes that do have an additional charge.

Fitness equipment from Life Fitness provides guests with cardio and resistance training. 

In terms of classes, here is an example schedule of classes that include yoga, Ryde spin classes, Pilates, fab abs and more.

Some fitness classes have an additional charge, while others are complimentary.

To sign up for any class, just write your name down on the sign up sheet, located in the fitness center.

Harmony of the Seas' Fitness Center features many exercise machines, treadmills, free weights and more.

The Fitness Center on Harmony of the Seas is normally open from 6am until 1am.

Special thanks to Rich Freudenberg for providing these photos.

Friday Photos

In:
03Jun2016

This week's batch of beautiful Royal Caribbean photos is here and it's always fun to share with all of you the great photos our readers take while on their cruise vacation.

The photos we have to show this week are fun and of course anyone can send us their Royal Caribbean photos to use as well!

Our first photo this week is from Marcus of Ovation of the Seas in Barcelona.  I really love how Royal Caribbean lights up their ships at night.

Matt sent in this photo of the Celebrity Constellation leaving from San Cristobal in San Juan Puerto Rico in February. Sure, this isn't Royal Caribbean International, but I thought it was a very pretty view.

Speaking of San Juan, here is a shot by Patrick Weldon sailing away from San Juan on Grandeur of the Seas. I never get sick of seeing this view.

It seems to be Puerto Rico day, as we have this great photo by Timothy Griffin.  Old San Juan is among my favorite port stops.

Let's go over to the Bahamas with this photo by Dave Rimington of Nassau, as seen from Enchantment of the Seas. Great composition!

I love sunset photos, and we have a great one by Earl McGrath.  It was taken on Allure of the Seas as they left Falmouth.  Perfect!

We will round things out with this photo by Shannon of Liberty of the Seas in Labadee.  The black and white effect is quite nice!

Thank you to everyone that sent in their photos this week and if you have Royal Caribbean photos, well, we want to see them!  You can use this form to send us your photos and we will feature them on an upcoming Friday Photos blog post!

Royal Caribbean offering free cruise nights and kids sail free deals

In:
02Jun2016

Royal Caribbean will roll out a new deal in June, that offers every third night of their cruise is free, and if booked by June 20, kids 12 and under sail free on select sailings. 

1-2-Free Promotion

Cruise must be booked between June 7 and July 6, 2016 and is valid on all sailings on or after July 8, 2016, excluding China departures

  •  3-5 Night Sailing – 1 Free Night
  • 6-8 Night Sailing – 2 Free Nights
  • 9-11 Night Sailing – 3 Free Nights
  • 12-14 Night Sailing – 4 Free Nights
  • 15-17 Night Sailing – 5 Free Nights
  • 18-20 Night Sailing – 6 Free Nights
  • 21-23 Night Sailing – 7 Free Nights
  • 24 Night Sailing – 8 Free Nights

The savings amount for each free night is calculated by dividing the total stateroom cruise fare by the number of cruise nights. Savings is deducted from cruise fare at time of booking.

This offer is not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military) or any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, prior promotions, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

This offer is combinable with NextCruise offer, Crown & Anchor discounts and rates, Future Cruise Certificates and Letters of Credit.

Offer available to residents of the United States and Canada. 

Kids Sail Free

Kids Sail Free with June 7-20, 2016, guests 12 and under sail free on 5 nights or longer Caribbean, Bermuda, Dubai and Europe sailings departing September 6, 2016-March 9, 2017.

Kids are defined as being 12 years or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom on select sailings. 

Kids Offer excludes sailings departing between 11/17/16-11/24/16, 12/15/16-1/05/17, 2/16/17-2/23/17 and Harmony of the Seas.

This offer is not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military) or any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, prior promotions, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

This offer is combinable with NextCruise offer.

Offer available to residents of the United States and Canada. 

Sabor on Royal Caribbean cruise ships

In:
02Jun2016

One of Royal Caribbean's newest and most popular specialty restaurants is Sabor, which serves up a modern take on what Mexican cuisine can be.

While you will find favorites like tacos, quesadillas and margaritas there, Royal Caribbean also offers contemporary dishes, including ceviche, flautas, seafood and more.

There are two kinds of Sabor experiences on Royal Caribbean ships.

Sabor Modern Mexican was the original implementation, and is found on select Voyager- and Freedom-class cruise ships on Deck 4, near the Schooner Bar.

Guests dining at Sabor Modern Mexican will pay a cover charge ($25 per guest for dinner, $20 per guest for lunch) and have access to all the food on the menu (drinks are excluded).

In addition, there are hand-crafted margaritas that are made table-side at Sabor Modern Mexican.

Sabor Tacqueria & Tequila Bar is a newer form of Sabor, that is found on Oasis-class cruise ships and located in the Boardwalk neighborhood.

At Sabor Tacqueria & Tequila Bar, there is no cover charge, and each item on the menu has an a la carte price.

There are no margaritas made table-side at Sabor Tacqueria & Tequila Bar, but the full margarita menu from Sabor Modern Mexican is still present.

Sabor for lunch

Sabor is open for both lunch and dinner on most days.

Sabor will be open for dinner on all evenings, and is usually open for lunch on sea days.

Additionally, Sabor is sometimes open for lunch on embarkation day.  It will depend on the ship and sailing, but usually the Oasis-class ships that have Sabor are open for lunch on embarkation day.

Reservations are not necessary for lunch.

Sabor tips

  • The table-side made guacamole is arguably the best thing on the menu. Do not miss out on having it made for you.
  • Chips and salsa are complimentary at all Sabor locations.
  • On Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, there is a bar outside Sabor, where you can order drinks and some food without going formally into the restaurant.
  • Do not miss out on the dessert tray.  The banana chocolate empanadas especially are divine.

Royal Caribbean replaces Rhapsody of the Seas with Vision of the Seas in Cape Liberty

In:
02Jun2016

Royal Caribbean announced today it has changed deployment plans for which ship will be based in Cape Liberty, New Jersey, by replacing Rhapsody of the Seas with Vision of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean had announced in April that Rhapsody of the Seas would be based in the New York City area with Anthem of the Seas, but all of these previously announced Rhapsody of the Seas sailings have been canceled.

From May 20, 2017 through the end of October, Rhapsody will offer a variety of exciting 7-night round trip sailings from Venice, Italy.

At the conclusion of the Mediterranean season, Rhapsody will return to Tampa, Florida as planned and begin sailings on November 19, 2017.

On August 22, Vision of the Seas will offer a 16-night Transatlantic sailing from Copenhagen, Denmark to Cape Liberty, New Jersey with several calls in Denmark, Norway, Scotland and Iceland.

On September 7, Vision will offer a 13-night open jaw sailing from Cape Liberty, New Jersey to Quebec City, Canada.  The sailings departing from Cape Liberty on September 20, October 1, and October 11 will replace the previously planned sailings offered on Rhapsody and include calls in Boston, Massachusetts, as well as multiple ports in Maine and Nova Scotia.

Vision’s current fall Europe itineraries, including those departing from Venice, Italy from August 22, 2017 through November 17, 2017 will be canceled.

To accommodate guests booked on the affected sailings, Royal Caribbean will provide vacationers with a full refund of their cruise fare, the opportunity to re-book on another Royal Caribbean ship as well as an onboard credit to use during the newly booked sailing. In addition, vacationers who purchased airfare through Royal Caribbean will receive a full refund. Guests purchasing their own airfare will be given a refund for their airline change fee. All refund transactions will be automatically processed back to the original form of payment within four to six weeks. Commissions for travel agents will be protected for all cruises that are fully paid.

Guests requesting more information are asked to contact Royal Caribbean International’s customer service team at 1-800-256-6649 or their travel agent.

Royal Caribbean to sell Legend of the Seas

In:
02Jun2016

Royal Caribbean announced today it will sell Legend of the Seas to Thomson Cruises in the spring of 2017.

Legend of the Seas first entered service with Royal Caribbean in 1995. The 69,130-gross-registered-tons ship carries 1,832 guests (double occupancy) and 726 crew.

"Since its inaugural sailing, Legend of the Seas has created many wonderful memories for hundreds of thousands of guests, and we expect this successful history to continue as she transitions to Thomson Cruises," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  "While she will be missed, her transition supports Double-Double and our objective of moderate capacity growth."

Legend of the Seas' final sailing will be on March 13, 2017, with the officers and crew remaining with Royal Caribbean.

The current round trip Brisbane, Australia sailings departing on January 6, 15, 29 and February 8 will operate as scheduled.

All scheduled sailings from February 20, 2017 onward will be canceled.  This includes the summer season cruises from Venice, Italy as well as the balance of the Brisbane itineraries.

A series of three repositioning cruises will be offered beginning on February 20 from Brisbane.  This will include an 11-night sailing from Brisbane to Singapore, as well as a 10-night cruise from Singapore to Dubai and a 13-night sailing from Dubai to Barcelona.

To accommodate guests booked on the affected sailings, Royal Caribbean will provide vacationers with a full refund of their cruise fare, the opportunity to re-book on another Royal Caribbean ship as well as an onboard credit to use during the newly booked sailing. In addition, vacationers who purchased airfare through Royal Caribbean will receive a full refund. Guests purchasing their own airfare will be given a refund for their airline change fee. All refund transactions will be automatically processed back to the original form of payment within four to six weeks. Commissions for travel agents will be protected for all cruises that are fully paid.

Guests requesting more information are asked to contact Royal Caribbean International’s customer service team at 1-800-256-6649 or their travel agent.

Restaurant Review: Izumi on Navigator of the Seas

In:
01Jun2016

There are certain times I really love doing research for this blog, and when I get a chance to dine at Izumi on any Royal Caribbean ship, that would be one of those moments.

While on Navigator of the Seas I took the opportunity (okay, it was more like multiple opportunities) to dine at Izumi and try out a few different dishes. The reason why I relish returning to Izumi time and time again is because I am a self-diagnosed sushi fanatic and the sushi Izumi serves up has been consistently very, very good.

I also aspired on this trip to try something completely new (to me) on the menu and break out of my habit of ordering the same rolls.  How did I manage? How much sushi did I eat on one cruise? Read on to find out!

Atmosphere

Izumi is located on Deck 14 of Navigator of the Seas, adjacent to the Cosmopolitan Club in the Viking Crown of the ship.  Of all the specialty restaurants on Navigator of the Seas, it is probably the easiest to miss out on because there is not nearly as much foot traffic up there, compared to where other specialty restaurants are located.

Walking into Izumi, you will notice one of the best aspects of the restaurant experience that is not directly tied to food: the views!

Izumi overlooks the ocean and the pool deck, which makes lunch time or early evening seatings quite desirable because you have some of the best views on Navigator of the Seas to enjoy a meal with.

The restaurant is one large, slightly curved room with mostly tables, some half-booths along one wall and bar seating.

Walking into Izumi and you will definitely notice the magenta and black motif, along with some eye-catching pop art along the walls.  

Izumi is an interesting blend of traditional Japanese dining mixed with a contemporary feel.

Eats

As you might imagine, Izumi is well known for their sushi (I believe I mentioned their sushi a few times already in just this post), but they do offer some other great Japanese cuisine.

Dining at Izumi means you will pay for your items a la carte, instead of there being a cover charge.  If you are on a Royal Caribbean specialty dining package, you will get $30 per guest allocation for your meal. You can read the entire Izumi menu and get an idea of prices and what is available.

Every meal at Izumi starts with a warm towel that you wash your face and hands with and a complimentary bowl of edamame.

Edamame is a kind of soybean that comes in a pod that is steamed and served with salt.  You pop the soybeans in your mouth like peanuts, discarding the pod.  These are highly addictive!

I dined at Izumi a couple of times on my cruise and on one occasion I was glancing at the drink menu and noticed the "Call a cab! Sakirita" listed.  I am a sucker for cleverly named drinks, so I had to try it.

I was concerned it would be overly sweet, but the drink was surprisingly smoother than I was expecting and I did not feel like my blood sugar levels were going to shoot up either.  Very tasty and it certainly put a smile on my face.

Anytime I have sushi, I always start my meal with a bowl of miso soup.  Izumi makes a darn good miso soup and it is the perfect starter for everything else to come.

In terms of main courses, there is a lot to choose from. Izumi is not a "one trick pony" that offers just a few sushi rolls. There are salads, soups, hot rocks and of course, plenty of sushi.

If you like sushi as much as I do, the sushi combos really offer some tremendous value.  My favorite is the DX Sushi Combo: 8 pieces of nigiri, 2 tamago and 8 pieces of spicy tuna roll for $16. 

While the value is good, the sushi is even better and it has become my go-to sushi dish of choice.

As I mentioned earlier, I also wanted to try something brand new to me and something I have never had at Izumi before.

I picked the Ahi and Albacore Tataki Salad, partly because it sounded good and partly because it was listed on the menu as a chef's recommendation.

This is a great pick if you are looking for something low-carb (there is no rice) or like to combine sushi-grade fish with a great assortment of greens. I thought it was a terrific salad and quite a large serving.

I still had to order some sushi, and went with a great standard: yellowtail.

Overall

As someone that loves sushi and dines at plenty of Japanese restaurants on land, I really love what Izumi offers on Navigator of the Seas (and across Royal Caribbean's fleet in general). Great quality sushi at reasonable prices leave me happy and satisfied.

One of the advantages of Izumi being a la carte pricing is that you can drop in for a bowl of soup and a roll and not have to spend a lot of money.  Whether you want a full meal experience or just something quick, I have always found Izumi to handle what I need.

I really feel like their menu is varied enough to meet the needs of pretty much anyone that enjoys Japanese cuisine. There are the usual "starter" sushi rolls (California rolls, rainbow rolls, etc) as well as the more adventurous rolls.  There is no lowest common denominator and I think that really works to make the restaurant as popular as it has become with Royal Caribbean fans.

There is plenty to try at Izumi and it is a fantastic spot for lunch, dinner or something inbetween.

Izumi is open for dinner from 6:00pm to 9:30pm and for lunch on most sea days from noon to 1:30pm. We reviewed Izumi on Navigator of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas makes maiden call to Vigo, Spain

In:
01Jun2016

The world's largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, made a stop in Vigo, Spain today on its maiden voyage from Southampton, with some 8,000 people on board, including passengers and crew.

The massive ship, which was build at STX France, made her first stop in the city earlier today.

To commemorate the occasion, the ship's captain and the President of the Vigo Port Authority met to officially welcome Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's General Director of Spain and France, Bethlehem Wanguemert, has been estimated  an economic impact to Vigo of some 350,000 euros. 

Harmony of the Seas spent almost 12 hours in port, and as the ship sailed away from Vigo, about 200 blue balloons were released to celebrate the world 's largest cruise ship's presence.

Harmony of the Seas headed next to Malaga, Spain and from there to Barcelona, ​​where he is scheduled to arrive on Sunday.

First look: Starbucks opens on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

In:
01Jun2016

It took a few extra days, but the latest Starbucks at Sea location as opened up on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas.

One change Royal Caribbean fans may notice is Starbucks on Harmony of the Seas is located in the Boardwalk neighborhood, instead of the Royal Promenade.

Inside, the new Starbucks location is very bright and colorful, with plenty of whites, teals and tans around the venue.

There is not a whole lot of seating in this Starbucks, but there is a walk-up bar that guests can use for casually enjoying the drinks, as well as some stools that line the wall.

Naturally, you may be wondering what is available to order at this Starbucks.  There is a fairly standard Starbucks menu available for guests to choose from.

Ordering your drinks at this Starbucks is very similar to ordering at any Starbucks location. The barista takes your order, as well as your payment.  You then step to the preparation area and pick up your Starbucks drink when it is ready.

Thanks to Rich Freudenberg for providing these photos!

Let us know what you think of this new Starbucks location in the comments below!

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