Royal Caribbean sales event for the week of February 24, 2014

In:
24Feb2014

Each week Royal Caribbean posts new sales for various cruises across its fleet that can offer great discounts on specific sailings in the near future.

This sale runs between February 25 through February 26, 2014, with early access for Crown and Anchor Society members on February 24.

Adventure of the Seas
Itinerary: 7-night Southern Caribbean A Cruise
Departure Port: San Juan
Sail Date: 03/02/2014

Inside: $699 per person (Category Z)
Ocean-view: $749 per person (Category Y)
Balcony: $849 per person (Category X)
Suite: N/A

Adventure of the Seas
Itinerary: 7-night Southern Caribbean B Cruise
Departure Port: San Juan
Sail Date: 03/09/2014

Inside: N/A
Ocean-view: N/A
Balcony: $949 per person (Category X)
Suite: N/A

Allure of the Seas
Itinerary: 7 night Western Caribbean Cruise
Departure Port: Fort Lauderdale
Sail Date: 03/09/2014

Inside: $669 per person (Category L)
Ocean-view: $799 per person (Category F, H, I)
Balcony: $899 per person (Category D3)
​Neighborhood Balcony: N/A
Suite: $2199 per person (Category JS)

Allure of the Seas
Itinerary: 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Departure Port: Fort Lauderdale
Sail Date: 03/16/2014

Inside: N/A
Ocean-view: $799 per person (Category CV, F)
Balcony: $1099 per person (Category D2, D3)
​Neighborhood Balcony: $999 per person (Catetgory B1, B2, C2)
Suite: $2299 per person (Category JS)

Allure of the Seas
Itinerary: 7 night Western Caribbean Cruise
Departure Port: Fort Lauderdale
Sail Date: 03/23/2014

Inside: N/A
Ocean-view: $799 per person (Category F, H)
Balcony: $899 per person (Category D3, D4)
​Neighborhood Balcony: N/A
Suite: $2599 per person (Category JS)


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Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: February 23, 2014

In:
23Feb2014

Hope you had a great week (maybe one week closer to your next Royal Caribbean cruise?) and you had a chance to keep up with what's new with Royal Caribbean this week. But if not, here's a roundup of this week's news.

This week Royal Caribbean signed a deal with the port of Port Canaveral to keep a cruise ship presence there for the next 10 years.

Royal Caribbean will also provide an additional $48 million to Port Canaveral over the next 10 years as part of an agreement to become the primary user of the new Cruise Terminal 1, scheduled to open in November.

For Royal Caribbean, the new agreement will allow for more flexibility to move ships into Port Canaveral and even open the door to the cruise line bringing even larger ships to Port Canaveral.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The twenty-ninth episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available and we're reviewing our recent cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas.

In this episode, Matt is back from his cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas and has a lot to talk about.  We review the changes made to Navigator of the Seas, the ports we visited, the new restaurants we tried and lots more.  It's an in-depth review of why the changes to Navigator of the Seas are really exciting.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Royal Caribbean has a look behind the scenes with world-class #athletes at the Caribbean Cup Challenge

Kuki is writing about things no one knows about cruising.

Excursion Focus: Parrot Tree Beach Resort in Roatan

In:
21Feb2014

Roatan, Honduras is one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean to visit and Royal Caribbean has more and more cruises stopping at this island paradise on their western Caribbean voyages.  If you're looking for a less crowded, yet beautiful beach to visit, it's hard to go wrong with Parrot Tree Beach Resort.

Description

Roatan's west end is well known for its beaches but because of its popularity, the beaches fill up fast and feeling like a sardine on a beach isn't my idea of fun. Enter, Parrot Tree, which is a beach resort on the east end of the island, about a 20 minute car ride from Royal Caribbean's dock without traffic.

Parrot Tree is a resort that offers day passes to cruise guests.  This isn't an all-inclusive resort, just provides access to their facilities.  Like all day-pass destinations, the advantage is smaller crowds and well-manicured grounds.

Arriving at Parrot Tree is like driving into an exotic and exlusive resort you might see in a James Bond movie set.  The road is paved with bricks that resemble something Cortes would have seen on his way to Tenochtitlan (Aztec capital city).  

Parrot Tree is on the ocean but they have built a lagoon that lets sea water in without all the waves.  The lagoon is surrounded by a white sandy beach with palapas and chairs laid out perfectly every dozen or so yards, giving each group their own private space.

Each palapa location offers 3 beach lounge chairs, a table and a beach bed.  There's also waiter service to bring you food or drink.  You can also walk to the nearby bar to get your own food and drink as well as use the free internet WiFi.

The food at Parrot Tree is a blend of traditional American food and a few local creations.  Burgers, fries and chicken nuggets are available along with the fresh fish of the day.  There's also plenty of drinks to choose from, including drinks that come in a hollowed out coconut.

The lagoon offers little to no waves, which is great for those who aren't strong swimmers or just someone who wants to relax in the water without fear of a large wave surprising them.

Because it's a private beach, there aren't any beach vendors offering you things to buy although we did see a woman offering massages, whom we assumed worked for the resort.

Comments

Given the price of admission ($15 per adult), it's really hard to beat what you get for the money.  Having your own private beach spot and far less crowded than other beaches is a wonderful treat.

The hidden gem here is the beach bed, which is perfect for laying down to enjoy the breeze, read a book or even take a nap.  For our 3 year old daughter, it made for the perfect nap spot and that isn't easy since she rarely naps at the beach because there's rarely anywhere comfortable for her to lay down.

In terms of the food and drink, we found the food to be quite good and good prices.  The chicken fingers were breaded in something quite good and the fried fish was particularly delicious.  You can charge food and drinks to a credit card, which means less of a need to carry as much cash on you.

The lagoon is quite nice to splash around in or just sit down and enjoy.  It's not very deep but great for wading and enjoying the view.  While the ocean is on the other side of the lagoon, there is no beach to speak of, just a lot of rocks so swimming there is likely not an option.

The web site for the resort claims your admission also includes access to their pool, although we were not aware of that and did not use it. 

The appeal of Parrot Tree is somewhere to go for a relaxed, low-key beach day.  For those that like to have a drink and enjoy a day in the sun, this is the place for you.  The grounds are beautiful and the value for the cost is really quite high. 

Address: Parrot Tree Plantation Roatan, Bay Islands Honduras, Central America

Cost: Adults: $15; Children 6-11: $5; Children 0-5: Free

Friday Photos

In:
21Feb2014

We love sharing Royal Caribbean photos with all of our readers and so each week we ask our readers to send us their favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos to be featured right here on the blog!

Our first photo comes from Kayla (who loves to send us photos of her husband) from her Radiance of the Seas cruise, which was her first cruise and she credits that cruise for making her an avid cruising fan.

Speaking of husbands at a balcony, Kathy Geiger sent us this photo of her husband, John Geiger, on the balcony of his cabin on the Navigator of the Sewas last spring while docking in Turkey.

Michael Poole sent in this photo of Freedom of the Seas while they sailed away from Falmouth, Jamaica in March 2013. Ya mon!

Paulette and Lee Herron sent us this photo of yoga on the beach at Cococay.  They mentioned, "Wonderful excursion from Freedom of the Seas!"  I'd contort myself into a pretzel right now if that meant I could be on CocoCay too!

Next we have a photo from Woodrow Herron with the Captain of Freedom of the Seas. They write, "First time we felt really, really little. He gave us a great cruise!"

Lastly, we have this photo from Connor De La Pena, who included no description so I'm guessing this is on a Royal Caribbean cruise taken before today.  You don't get to write blogs without being this smart!

Is your Royal Caribbean photo not here? Well, send us your favorite Royal Caribbean photos and we will include them in a future Friday Photos post!

New state-of-the-art data management system installed on Allure of the Seas

In:
20Feb2014

The world's largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, has received a new state-of-the-art, customized data management system that operates over a global, secure and highly scalable infrastructure called K-IMS.

K-IMS includes a number of applications in one package that gives engineers and management access to high level vessel data. The user interface is available on board and on the Royal Caribbean office network in Miramar, Florida. K-IMS data is also accessed on board using tablets and is displayed on a large screen in the Engine Control Room on Allure.

K-IMS was installed during a significant upgrade to the existing Kongsberg Maritime K-Chief automation system on board. The new K-Chief on Allure of the Seas is one of the most extensive ever installed by Kongsberg Maritime, consisting 76 Remote Control Units (RCUs) controlling over 40,000 Input/Output (IO) points. K-IMS replaces the exiting K-Chief History Station and as the data logging system of choice on board, will provide data from 21,000 I/O points (up from 14,500) and data storage for seven years (up from one year). This provides Royal Caribbean with extensive data and statistics with which to improve vessel operational performance.

K-IMS provides the ability to review statistical data, condition based monitoring, alarms and events and ship performance monitoring data. Condition Based maintenance on Allure provides a long term overview of the equipment performance and mechanical degradation, which supports preventative maintenance. Alarms and Events reporting provide the ability to review the most commonly repeating alarms and fix issues with equipment before they become emergencies.

The K-IMS solution on Allure is a triple redundant data access and storage system with servers located in three zones – two on board and one in a hosted cloud service. This configuration enables Royal Caribbeanmanagement to access the vessel’s data without having to use satellite communications, thereby saving on communication costs. A malware protection system to filter out any malicious attacks from the web or via USB on board is included whilst an admin server allows secure remote access to the vessel from authorized locations including the Kongsberg Maritime customer support team.

Royal Caribbean becomes first autism-friendly cruise line

In:
20Feb2014

Royal Caribbean has become the first cruise line to be certified as "autism-friendly" by Autism on the Seas.

USA Today is reporting the certification means Royal Caribbean will take specific measures to help its guests with autistic families enjoy their cruise.

Royal Caribbean's entire fleet now has Bronze Level certification, which means it will provide sensory-related toys, autism-friendly modification to youth activities (where appropriate), autism-friendly movies, priority boarding and dietary offerings (including gluten-free and dairy-free).

One tool is a personalized story book folder called a social story that will help explain to autistic children what to expect on a cruise. It covers everything from finding the stateroom to the muster drill, which can be crowded and chaotic. This can help children adapt to the unfamiliar surroundings of a cruise.

Another addition will be autism-friendly movies, which will be offered on any trip with at least five autistic passengers. These films, based on accommodations offered by some land-based theaters, will feature family-friendly films. The lights will not be completely turned off, the sound will be lower and it will be acceptable for guests to talk or walk around during the films..

Royal Caribbean plans to reach silver level certification for each of its ships by the end of the year, which will ensure that all youth staff have received basic awareness training in autism and other developmental disabilities. There are also higher-standard gold and platinum levels.

The certification standards examine several areas, including staff training, youth programs, pre-vacation planning and services, dining and dietary, disability accommodations, guest satisfaction and feedback, and willingness to work with Autism at Sea staff.

An inside look behind the making of Royal Caribbean's virtual balcony

In:
20Feb2014

Of all the new and intriguing innovations coming to Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, few have captured the public's imagination quite like the virtual balcony.

Photo by Control Group

These 80-inch LED screens offer cruisers in select inside staterooms the opportunity to get views around the cruise ship in real-time displayed in their cabin.  We had a chance to talk with the technical lead of the virtual balcony, Tim Mattison from Control Group, and dive into the details of how he and his team created these new virtual windows to the sea.

From the project's creation, Mattison and his team had a good idea of how they wanted to tackle the project but there definitely some technical hurdles to overcome, "We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to accomplish. There were a few features that were trickier to implement than we thought, but I think the bulk of it was tying together all the different systems it talks to."

So what's so difficult about getting a video feed from one end of the ship and displaying it somewhere else on the ship?  The answer is far more complex than you might think.  Mattison said it took a team of network engineers and software engineers just to get it working in a prototype environment, "there's so much behind the scenes to make it happen."

Tim Mattison and team member working on RED camera. Photo by Control Group

Mattison was particularly proud of the two RED Epic cinematic cameras mounted at the stem and stern of the ship to deliver the video to the virtual balcony displays.

"We had a couple of requirements for a camera and we spent a very, very long time finding a camera that met them.  RED was the only company that would warranty the camera and said it would run indefinitely.  According to RED, we have the record for the longest running RED camera.

We approached plenty of them [other manufacturers] and all of them said our camera will not do this and if we find out that you're doing this, we will not honor your warranty.  RED said please do this, this is what we want you to do with our camera.

The RED camera has fantastic dynamic range and it supports incredible resolutions and the sensor is huge.  This camera supports up to 240 frames per second in certain resolutions."

Interestingly the camera itself supports 4k resolution, which is a generic term for ultra high definition television (UHDTV), and while the output in the virtual balcony is currently downsampled to the virtual balcony's native resolution. In fact, in the future with a few upgrades, the virtual balcony could upgrade to deliver a true 4k experience without major hurdles thanks largely to the RED cameras.

One of the questions our readers wanted to ask Mattison was what happens at night and how good the picture is during the evening.  

Mattison replied simply, "You see basically what you see when you look out the [real] balcony.   But if you have moonlight coming off the waves, you see that.  They wanted it to be as authentic as possible; if you were to look out your balcony and see nothing, that's what you're going to see."

Another good question from our readers was why the virtual balcony shows a view forward or aft but not sideways, like a real balcony does.

Mattison responded, "There was no place to place a port or starboard screen.  If you have a forward screen, you want have it face forward. There were some concerns about sea sickness and things like that. There may be port and starboard views eventually, but that's about all I can say."

From my talk with Mattison and others from Control Group, I got the subtle notion that what we know about virtual balconies today will not be the final version and that more virtual balcony features will be announced in the future.

We also wanted to know if guests can change the view between forward and aft currently.  Mattison said, "No, it was one of the things that was under consideration. We wanted to keep the remote control as simple as possible. And again, with wanting to have an authentic view they wanted to make sure that people couldn't change the view. At least for now.  If you had a real balcony, you can't just say I'd want to see the balcony on the other side."

Mattison did indicate there were no limits to what the technology could do and if Royal Caribbean wanted to allow guests to change the view or offer other views, it could be done, "If people are interested in it, it's totally possible.  There are no limits to the technology that would stop us from doing that.  So if you want it, request it."

Royal Caribbean signs 10-year deal with Port Canaveral

In:
20Feb2014

Royal Caribbean has signed a 10-year agreement with Port Canaveral to keep a cruise ship presence there for quite a while.

Florida Today reports Royal Caribbean will also provide an additional $48 million to Port Canaveral over the next 10 years as part of an agreement to become the primary user of the new Cruise Terminal 1, scheduled to open in November.

The $48 million will come from a $4 to $5 fee on tickets for Royal Caribbean passengers using Port Canaveral, according to Florida Today. The port plans to use the $48 million to help pay for construction of the $68.5 million terminal complex, which is just east of the Cove restaurant district. That cost includes site work, the gangways and an adjacent 1,000-vehicle parking garage.

The new decade-long agreement will more than double the guaranteed annual revenue to Port Canaveral. By 2024, Port Canaveral will get $18.4 million in guaranteed money compared to just $7 million in 2013.

For Royal Caribbean, the new agreement will allow for more flexibility to move ships into Port Canaveral and even open the door to the cruise line bringing even larger ships to Port Canaveral.

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Walsh is excited about the new deal, “I’ve literally heard four or five scenarios” on how the shifting of Royal Caribbean ships could affect Port Canaveral For us, it’s a win-win, without tying their hands on flexibility.”

Walsh also indicated that Royal Caribbean will get preferred scheduling at the 188,514-square-foot Cruise Terminal 1, which is being designed to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships. But other cruise lines also will use the terminal.

Walsh said port commissioners likely will vote on the Royal Caribbean deal next month.

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
19Feb2014

Hey everyone! Episode 29 of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.

This week, Matt is back from his latest Royal Caribbean cruise on Navigator of the Seas and is sharing everything about his experience onboard this newly refurbished ship.  From what's new on the ship to the dining to the ports of call, this episode is full of details from Matt's cruise experience.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 29. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS 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!

FlowRider to be added to Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas

In:
19Feb2014

Royal Caribbean has signed a contract with Mobimar to add the FlowRider surf simulator to Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas.  

Mobimar, a construction firm in Finland, also was contracted to add the FlowRider to Navigator of the Seas, which it already completed.

The FlowRiders will be installed on Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas later this year, with no specific date.  Voyager of the Seas is scheduled for a refurbishment in May 2014 and Explorer of the Seas will have her refurbishment in February 2015.

Each Flowrider module contains the surrounding stands, canopies, lights, water treatment system, Hi-Fog system, piping and cabling connections to the ship. The installation of each module requires approximately 30 days with minor advance preparation prior to entry into drydock.

Mobimar has been Royal Caribbean's partner for installing FlowRiders on its cruise ships since 2004 when it added them to Freedom of the Seas.  Mobimar is also working currently to add a FlowRider to Quantum of the Seas.

Tip of the hat to CruiseCurrents for the news.

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