Friday Photos

In:
18Nov2016

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Photos, where we showcase our readers favorite Royal Caribbean photos.  If we all cannot be on a Royal Caribbean cruise at the moment, then the next best thing is to look at photos of a cruise longingly as a means of getting a "cruise fix."

If you want to submit your photos for a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us via this form.

We begin this week with comparing the size of Allure of the Seas to Empress of the Seas in a photo by David.  Quite the contrast!

Heidi shared this photo her 4 year old son, Miki, waiting for his first (but not last) cruise to the Caribbean on Oasis of the Seas.  Great ship to start a lifetime of cruising fun on!

Check out this photo that Gary Brown sent us of the three Oasis class ships meeting, as seen from his airplane as it was flying into Fort Lauderdale.  What an amazing vantage point!

Renato Rossini shared this photo from the second cruise on Oasis of the Seas through the Eastern Caribbean.  Beautiful shot!

Next is a photo of Susan Crossley in front of a jet ski in Labadee, doing her best anthropomorphic lizard impersonation.

This photo by Ricardo Chevalier combines two of my favorite things: sunsets and Harmony of the Seas!

We round out this week's batch of photos with a shot of Harmony of the Seas by David Donnelly.  Another sunset photo is a great way to end this week's post!

That wraps up this week's edition of Friday Photos. If you want your Royal Caribbean photo featured here, use this form to send them in!

Royal Caribbean introduces new multi-course menu at 150 Central Park restaurant

In:
17Nov2016

Royal Caribbean has introduced a new menu highlighting artisanal ingredients at 150 Central Park onboard Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

Highlights include:

  • A straightforward multi-course which allows the guest to explore the restaurant on multiple visits and try something new each time.  Selections include lobster gnocchi with carrot butter sauce, herb salad or Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart with salted caramel, spiced pecans, cranberry chutney and chantilly cream.
  • A world-class cheese cart, tuna tartare or an 18-ounce tenderloin prepared tableside.
  • Chef Schwartz along with Michael’s Genuine sommelier Eric Larkee has crafted a dynamic wine program that makes for an upscale and intimate gastronomic experience

Set in the Central Park neighborhood, 150 Central Park has a $45 cover charge, and includes from a variety of appetizers, entrées and dessert including a tableside cheese cart. 150 Central Park is the creation of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz.

Top water slide insider tips on Harmony of the Seas

In:
17Nov2016

Families going on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas are certain to spend a lot of time at the pool deck and very likely taking multiple rides down the water slides.

Dubbed, "The Perfect Storm", these three water slides provide plenty of fun and thrills during any Harmony of the Seas cruise. If you want to ensure you get as many rides in and go as fast as possible, follow these tips for getting the most out of the Harmony of the Seas water slides.

1. Ride when the lines are the shortest

Waiting in line is never fun, but the popularity of the Harmony of the Seas water slides may leave much choice.  It is important to note that the shortest lines for the water slides will occur at two times of the day.

Check the Cruise Compass for exact times of operation, but try to ride the water slides in the morning when they first open and/or in the evening when many guests are having dinner.

Both of these times will result in much shorter lines.  The late-morning and afternoon are the peak times for the water slides, so expect a longer wait if you want to ride during those times.

2. The secret to going fast(er)

If you have a need for speed, the key is to wear as little clothing as possible.

The more clothing you wear, the more friction between you and the slide.  Rash guards, t-shirts and "ornate" bathing suits are all the kind of swim wear that will slow you down.

Fashion opinions aside, Speedo swimsuits for men are the ideal bathing suit for attaining top speed on Harmony's slides.

3. Cross your legs and arms

Speaking of going fast, regardless of what you wear on the slide, be sure to cross your arms and and legs to get maximum velocity.

The physics of the slide favor those that reduce their body's drag against the slide, and the crossing one's legs and arms will ensure the best overall experience from start to finish.

4. Try all 3 water slides

There are three water slides on Harmony of the Seas, and it is absolutely worth your time to try all three.

There are two racer slides and a champagne bowl slide.  Each slide differs from the others, so be sure to try them all.  

5. Blue racer slide seems faster

Speaking of trying them all, between the two racer slides, many guests we spoke to reported the blue slide is a bit faster ride down than the yellow slide.  

It is hard to quantify in written form, but see if you agree about the blue versus yellow slide's intensity.

Do you have a tip for anyone riding the Harmony of the Seas water slides? Share them in the comments below!

Spotted: Coca-Cola souvenir cups designed for Harmony of the Seas

In:
17Nov2016

Guests sailing on Harmony of the Seas can expect to find one of two new designs for the souvenir Coca-Cola cups that come with Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages.

To celebrate Harmony of the Seas' inaugural year, there are two new cup designs guests can possibly receive while on Harmony of the Seas.

The first design has a Boardwalk motif, with the carousel being the primary aspect of the design.

The other cup design is based around the Ultimate Abyss slide.

Both cups make mention of the 2016 inaugural season for Harmony of the Seas.

These souvenir cups are compatible with the self-serve Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which are located around the ship. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the pour function in the machine.

Do you like the design of these souvenir Coca-Cola cups? Tell us in the comments below!

Photo tour of Category B1 Boardwalk View Stateroom with Balcony on Harmony of the Seas

In:
16Nov2016

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas has a lot to offer, including a number of staterooms.  Today, we will look at the category B1 Boardwalk View Stateroom with Balcony, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.

On Harmony of the Seas, we reviewed stateroom 9723, which is located on Deck 9 aft, fairly close to the end of the hall. In fact, it is just four staterooms away from the end of the deck.  Entry to the room is by RFID scanner, which is above the door handle.

Walking into the room, you will immediately see the light from the balcony shining ahead of you.

The bed is joined together but can be split apart if need be. There's a large, flat screen television across from it and two night stands on opposite sides of the bed. Access to the balcony is also on the other side of the bed.

Across from the bed is a widescreen, high definition television.

Beyond the bed is a large sofa, with desk and chair opposite it. This is where the bulk of the indoor living space is located and the room offers a good amount of space to navigate between objects and other guests.

A B1 stateroom features a full bathroom as well with stand up shower.

Of course, the reason to book this stateroom is the balcony.

The balcony provides a full view of the Boardwalk neighborhood, and a partial view of the AquaTheater.

The balcony is 47 square feet in size, with the stateroom measuring 182 square feet.  There is certainly enough room for two adults to enjoy the space together.  In fact, there is a lot of storage space provided in this room, which is more than the storage space provided on Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean offering inexpensive Caribbean shore excursions starting at $19

In:
16Nov2016

Royal Caribbean's Shore Excursions offerings are now featuring some inexpensive shore excursions for guests on shorter sailings to Nassau, Bahamas and Key West, Florida.  Many of our readers are always interested in good and low-cost shore excursion options, so perhaps some of these will be helpful.

 

Through March 7, 2017, guests sailing on Empress of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas can take advantage of these fun and inexpensive tours.

Nassau Tours

Key West Tours

Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
16Nov2016

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

Episode 172 is available for downloading where Matt shares his thoughts on his recent cruises aboard Harmony of the Seas.

Matt experienced a lot onboard Harmony of the Seas, and this week, he dives into what makes Harmony of the Seas unique and discusses the aspects of dining, entertainment and accomodations that stood out and why.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 172. 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!

Video: One-Minute Tour of Harmony of the Seas

In:
15Nov2016

Watch a hyperlapse tour of the world's largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, now sailing out of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale.

Royal Caribbean offering Crown and Anchor members bonus 5% discount on all cruises

In:
15Nov2016

Royal Caribbean is rewarding its loyal customers with bonus savings just for members of Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program, the Crown and Anchor Society.

For a limited time, guests that are Gold tier or higher in Crown and Anchor Society can save an extra 5% on select sailings through June 2017 on bookings made between November 15 - 30, 2016.

With this bonus offer, guests will receive get 30% Savings off sailings departing between December 15, 2016 to March 31, 2017 and Europe Sailings departing between April 15, 2017 to June 30, 2017. Offer excludes China departures. 

Offer is 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, and Shareholder benefits.

Restaurant Review: Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas

In:
15Nov2016

Ever since Royal Caribbean introduced the Wonderland restaurant on Quantum of the Seas, the concept has resonated with many guests who find the aura of this sort of not-so-typical restaurant truly attractive. With Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has seemingly "doubled down" on the idea with its largest Wonderland yet.

Of all the specialty restaurants on Harmony of the Seas, perhaps no other restaurant has attracted as much intrigue surrounding what it is like to dine there, so I made very certain on a recent sailing to try it out for myself.  I had dined at Wonderland on Quantum of the Seas, but I was curious how similar (or dissimilar) the version on Harmony of the Seas was and how this experience stacks up to my memory.

In full disclosure, Royal Caribbean invited me to try Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas as their guest for the purposes of this review. I promise I kept at least one eyebrow raised at any given time, in an effort to be as inquisitive as possible during the meal. 

Time to go through the looking glass (and eat)!

Atmosphere

If you are unfamiliar with Wonderland, it is a specialty restaurant developed by Royal Caribbean that is loosely based on the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland novel by Lewis Carroll.  Like all Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants, the food available is different than anywhere else on the ship, but it also is big on the experience.

Wonderland is located in the aft of Deck 12, in a rather quiet part of the ship. Unlike other specialty restaurants that are in busy neighborhoods, or areas of the ship with a lot of foot traffic, Wonderland is on what is otherwise a deck of staterooms, so one really has to go in search of Wonderland to come across it (unless your stateroom happens to be on Deck 12).

Unlike Wonderland on Quantum class ships, this restaurant does not feature a whole lot of ornate decorations outside the restaurant. Instead, it squeezes them on the interior of the space.  So while you might not get the same sense of curiosity simply by passing by on Harmony of the Seas, the restaurant's look more than makes up for it once inside.

Entering the restaurant is via a tunnel that leads to a golden door.  The door is symbolic, and can easily be side-stepped, but it represents the disconnect between the "real world" and the experiences you will encounter in Wonderland.

Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas is comprised of two decks, a first for any Wonderland restaurant.  The entrance area, along with a bar and a few tables are located on the top deck of Wonderland, while a majority of the seating and the kitchen are located down the stairs on the lower deck.

Like all Wonderland restaurants, the decorations are quite ornate. The motif of the decor is meant to intrigue.  Wonderland is purposefully different, both in look and experience, so stepping foot inside should instantly accompany a thought that this is somewhere unlike anywhere else.

The most prominent part of Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas is the view of the Boardwalk. On the Quantum class ships, Wonderland had no view to speak of, but we have here a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks the Boardwalk.  It is a stunning view, which really looks amazing at night when the ship is lit up.

There are plenty of decorations on and around the tables.  Guests will find odds and ends that evoke the overarching story that you are dining somewhere very different than you are used to dining on land or at sea.

Like Wonderland on other Royal Caribbean ships, the serving staff also dress for the part.  You will see them wearing velvet jackets and playing their part in acting just a little bit silly.

Eats

Sitting down for your meal, the experience of Wonderland begins immediately with the menu.  Each guest is given a picture frame with a blank menu and paintbrush. 

Guests are then instructed to dip their paintbrush into water and "paint" the picture that reveals the menu.  A bit of a spoiler if you have never dined there before, but it is always a fun experience.

Like the restaurant, nothing is conventional with the menu.  For our meal, the waiter brought us out a number of choices he picked from the menu to sample, followed up with an entree of our choice. In all of my meals at Wonderland, this has been the typical experience with the waiter bringing out a variety of bite-size appetizers to sample before the main course.

Each appetizer was shared at the table, and they all tend to look a little different, but ended up tasting better than they look.  The idea is to intrigue guests with the the presentation of the food, and then follow that up with food that is quite tasty.

In terms of the entrees, the terroir beef is still my top pick for what to order.  I had it on Quantum of the Seas, and my wife tried it again on this sailing and it is simply very, very good.  The meat is fall-off-the-bone quality, and the flavor is just perfect.

I also tried the branzino in crispy bread, because the waiter recommended it.  It was a small portion, but tasted great.  Still, hard to beat that terroir beef.

The desserts were a bit different than I had on Quantum of the Seas.  We had three dessert options for us to share at the table.

By far, the chocolate globe was the best.  It tasted like a Snickers candy bar and was something I wanted to have just to myself.

Overall

Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas attracts a lot of attention from guests who are intrigued by the concept, and it is safe to say that it is well-deserved.  On a cruise ship filled with plenty of dining options, Wonderland stands apart as an unique option.

The reason to dine at Wonderland is the blend of an eclectic motif and some very good food. Unlike any other specialty restaurant, the experience and "schtick" of Wonderland are what endears the restaurant to many guests and makes it as compelling an option as it is.

It is important to note that Wonderland does come with a rather high price tag for a specialty restaurant. Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas costs $45 per person, which is not a cheap specialty restaurant, but then again, there is no other specialty restaurant  that compares to the overall experience.

Wonderland certainly has a wide-ranging appeal.  Guests that are new to cruising will love the prospect of trying something new like this, and veteran cruisers will find Wonderland a welcome change from the typical specialty restaurant scene.

In short, Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas is a very different experience and perhaps the most intriguing Royal Caribbean dining experience that needs to be tried at least once to fully appreciate.

Wonderland is open for dinner and we reviewed Wonderland aboard Harmony of the Seas.

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