Website reviews Independence of the Seas

By: has recently reviewed Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas on a recent Mediterranean cruise and by the sound of the review, it appears that it was a success.

One aspect of the review focused on the entertainment on the ship, which was a little hit or miss.

The main theatre is the Alhambra which has a balcony and seats about 1200 so early arrival is recommended for popular shows. The ships singers and dancers put on two shows a week (each one is shown twice a night); these are passable but not particularly polished. The other performers depend on the schedule and who is around so the quality is very variable.

Some other aspects of the review touches on drinks...

Drinks prices are high but probably not much worse than any cruise line. The soda passes are certainly worth their money if anyone in the family likes soft drinks.

...the gym...

The onboard Gym is huge with up-to-date fitness machines and the best view you could ever hope for whilst working out, there are also a huge range of classes but some carry a fee.

...and the Promenade

The real wow factor for this ship can probably be found inside. Deck 5 consists of a four story atrium promenade with shops, bars and cafes. This is the location of the Captains party and the various street parties that occur through the cruise.

I found this comment about the crowd level interesting.  With these larger ships, one of the most common questions is "does it feel crowded" and the reviewer had an interesting take on the situation.

Independence of the Seas is a huge ship that can have over 4000 passengers in the height of the season. This does lead to a crowded feeling on deck but it is usually possible to find a vacant sun bed somewhere. There are three separate pool areas on the deck and also two large cantilevered whirlpools that stick out from the side of the ship. The large number of guests also seems to result in a certain rowdy element and the pool areas in particular can become almost no-go areas for a lot of the passengers as they are taken over by groups of teens. The RCI staff do not seem to be very keen on sorting out disruptive behaviour which is unfortunate for many of their guest.

Royal Caribbean reaches agreement with family of missing man


Royal Caribbean and the family of a man who was lost on his honeymoon cruise have reached a settlement to settle a mysterious disappearance that is over five years old..

The agreement reportedly includes both additional money and information the family of George Smith IV says will help solve the highly publicized 2005 case.

George Smith's wife, Jennifer Hagel Smith reached a $1.1 million settlement with Royal Caribbean back in 2007, but the family has been mounting a challenge.  According to the Associated Press, the amended settlement is for $1.3 million and requires Royal Caribbean to turn over to the family information the cruise line gathered in its investigation, including witness statements.

George Smith and his new wife Jennifer Hagel Smith were on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the Mediterranean when he disappeared somewhere between Greece and Turkey.  There were reports that he had also been drinking heavily prior to his disappearance.  Smith's body was never found and his family believes he was murdered.

Royal Caribbean had this to say about the incident, "We entered into this agreement in hopes that it will be another step in the healing process for Jennifer and the Smith family. We are confident that the disclosure of any additional information will again demonstrate that we acted properly in assisting Jennifer and the Smith family in the aftermath of their tragic loss."

Royal Caribbean offers new luggage service in UK


Cruisers in the United Kingdom have a new way to get their luggage to the cruise ship a little bit easier now.  Royal Caribbean is offering Brits a home luggage collection service, for a fee of course.

Those going on a cruise can have their luggage picked up from their home and delivered to their cabin and then dropped back off at their home after their cruise.

This new service costs £35 per item each way and is available for cruises on Royal Caribbean ships Independence of the Seas from Southampton, Jewel of the Seas from Harwich and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse from Southampton.

Luggage is picked up by Royal Caribbean between 24 and 96 hours prior to the cruise departure depending on the address in the United Kingdom.

Royal Caribbean Cruises UK and Ireland managing director Dominic Paul was optimistic about the new option, “We see this service as particularly useful to our guests with mobility issues, large families or those who need to travel some distance to the port.”

Hurricane Igor forces Oasis of the Seas to change itinerary


Hurricane Igor is forcing a change in Oasis of the Seas' itinerary.  On Tuesday, Oasis of the Seas will  visit Philipsburg, St. Maarten on Tuesday and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas on Wednesday.

Royal Caribbean stated that the change will allow the ship to visit both ports while avoiding the issues that a storm like Igor can bring.

Panama structures ready for cruise season


Panama is preparing its port facilities and tourism services for the cruise season that begins in October, with aspirations to outperform the previous period, according to Panamanian sources.

Data from the Tourism Authority show that in the activity of this modality for the 2009-2010 period there were 246 trips from various destinations in the Caribbean and the U.S..
More than 300 000 passengers arrived in Panamanian ports, a figure that can be left behind if they meet forecasts for the coming season.
So far it is anticipated that at least seven companies are responsible for providing that option, and two of them (Pullmantour and Royal Caribbean International) used at the port of Colon in the province of the same name as the base.
Pullmantour operate with the ship Ocean Dream (thousand 422 passengers) to offer 36 departures between October this year and July 2011.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean will use the ship Grandeur of the Seas, with capacity for two thousand 466 tourists and 25 trips scheduled to come November to April next year.
In addition to the benefits of this modality to the ports, joins the positive impact on hotels and airlines because of the demand for accommodation and transportation.

An inside look at Royal Caribbean's latest advertising drive


BrandWeek has an interview with Betsy O’Rourke, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President of Marketing about it's recent advertising campaign dubbed “Vacation Daze".   The new advertising campaign emphasizes the importance of taking vacation days and how many Americans do not use their vacation days and why that's wrong.

The advertising campaign is Royal Caribbean's attempt to induce a viral marketing campaign, advertising primarily on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets in addition to the Royal Caribbean website. O'Rourke hopes consumers will send these videos to folks who are guilty of not taking their vacation days.

O'Rourke also mentioned that Royal Caribbean is doing better business as of late, although Royal Caribbean's numbers still lag a bit below their figures in 2008, before the financial crisis hit, "For Royal Caribbean, we are seeing a build up in demand. I can’t speak for the entire industry, but I follow what the U.S. Travel Association puts out. I came from the hotels business, and RevPAR [revenue per available room, a key metric] is up, and we’ve seen our business travel, meetings and incentives businesses pick up, so those are all very good signs. We also have more than 40 percent of our guests coming from international countries outside of the U.S. We’ve seen very strong demand across the board, but it varies country by country. We have not reached the ’08 levels yet, but we’re getting pretty close."

Also of interest is why Royal Caribbean chose to advertise only online, as opposed to using traditional media such as television.  O'Rourke explains the decision like this, "Television creates a lot of awareness, but what we know is that people go online when they are actually searching to plan their trips. That’s why we’ve chosen these two channels."

Prices for Royal Caribbean cruises fall


Royal Caribbean President and Chief Executive  Adam Goldstein said prices for their voyages have fallen over the past year.  Moreover, Goldstein added that that those on sailings aboard Allure of the Seas would find cheaper rates than those for last year’s prices on her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas.

Goldstein avoided referring to reports of fares for Oasis of the Seas costing less than $1,000, he did reveal that the debut of Allure of the Seas has doubled capacity and therefore, is leading to more space and it's not unusual to see prices drop a bit for them.

Obviously this is great news for consumers who may want to try out the latest and greatest ships Royal Caribbean has to offer, as well as potentially lure new cruisers to give it a try.

Meanwhile Mr Goldstein revealed that “on some cruises I think there are more customers from the UK than from the US”. He added that the UK market remained an increasingly growing sector for the cruise industry, signalling that UK cruisers look set to continue an enjoyment filled relationship with one of the world’s largest cruise operators.

Designer of Central Park on Oasis of the Seas wins award


Ambius, the group responsible for the plants decor in Central Park on Oasis of the seas, was "recognized for excellence in plantscaping sector" at the 18th annual PIA Interior Plantscape Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet at the CalScape Expo 2010 on September 2nd, 2010 at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel & Marina.

Amibus' Mark Hawry accepted four awards for his teams work on bringing the best of land to sea with the Central Park project for Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas ship.  Central Park showcases a revolutionary design that features a center of the ship that is open air and features lots of lush plant life.  

Central Park serves as a public area with pathways, seasonal flower gardens and canopy trees.  It provides cruisers with another and unique choice in outdoor space.  

Hawry accepted three Award of Excellence citations for Oasis of the Seas including oversight of the Exterior Garden, the installation of Central Park and the design and provisioning of the ships' silk replica and preserved foliage. Central Park on Oasis of the Seas also picked up the prestigious Judge's Award, which was awarded for the most outstanding overall project in 2010.

Allure of the Seas features more new restaurants


Showcasing onboard experiences all her own, Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas, the world's next largest and most innovative cruise ship debuting in December 2010, will introduce new culinary concepts and tempting twists to signature Oasis-class restaurants. A Brazilian steakhouse will be a destination restaurant that comes to life for dinner service in the Solarium, featuring authentic Brazilian-style meats and seafood dishes, from Picanha cut sirloin steak to Atlantic salmon marinated with sea salt and garlic, served table-side and sliced straight off the skewer. In Central Park, recently anointed Chef de Cuisine Molly Brandt will present guests with a one-of-a-kind menu and distinct dining experience at Allure of the Seas' 150 Central Park, a signature fine dining experience.

"As churrascaria concept restaurants gain popularity on land, Royal Caribbean is taking advantage of having a new ship to introduce a Brazilian steakhouse and bring a new dynamic and colorful nightlife ambiance for adults in the Solarium," says Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "Guests onboard Allure of the Seas will have a new arrangement of dining experiences throughout the ship, from the Adagio Main Dining Room to new venues on the Boardwalk and Royal Promenade."
Combining the best of classic Mexican beach bars and Southern California's famed taquerias, Rita's Cantina will be a vibrant new restaurant in the Boardwalk neighborhood. Adults and kids alike will enjoy some of their favorite Mexican fare, such as shrimp ceviche tostadas, warm tortilla chips with salsa and fiesta guacamole, as well as entrees, such as fajitas, fish tacos and Chipotle-style flautas. The more casual setting will be a favorite lunch, snack or dinner spot for guests seeking a flavorful fiesta onboard Allure of the Seas. Rita's Cantina also will boast some of the best and widest selection of margaritas at sea, offering both authentic and signature concoctions mixed with a choice from the extensive list of quality tequilas, served on the rocks or frozen in a variety of fruit-flavor combinations. In addition, the restaurant will introduce new nightlife to Boardwalk with live guitar music, drinks and dancing. Rita Cantina's design will include large open breezeways and an outdoor seating area complete with high top tables and stools, and will be located in place of Seafood Shack onboard sister-ship Oasis of the Seas.
Also new to Boardwalk's dynamic and engaging scene will be The Boardwalk Dog House, an outdoor hot-dog specialty counter located where The Donut Shop is on Oasis of the Seas. Guests can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats, sausages and other delicious linked meats and a variety of toppings to split a long bun. The Donut Shop will remain on Boardwalk in a new location next to the Ice Cream Parlor.
The following includes a variety of other palate-pleasing options available throughout the neighborhoods on Allure:


Rita's Cantina: A casual yet vibrant indoor/outdoor restaurant exclusively on Allure's Boardwalk, caters to families by day, and adults by night; traditional Mexican fare, comprehensive selection of margaritas and live guitar music and dancing for evening entertainment
Boardwalk Bar: The main bar on the Boardwalk; offering fruit, salads and sandwiches
Boardwalk Donut Shop: A classic haunt for casual snacks and delicious treats
Ice Cream Parlor: A variety of ice cream flavors and toppings take center stage against a backdrop of 1950s kitsch
Johnny Rockets: '50's-style diner with server-entertainers


150 Central Park: A trendy, upscale and intimate restaurant with a tasting menu and customized wine pairings created by Molly Brandt, winner of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge co-hosted with The Culinary Institute of America, as well as Food and Wine's 2006 best student chef
Giovanni's Table: An Italian trattoria with both indoor and alfresco seating featuring Italian classics served family-style
Park Cafe: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and to-die-for fudge
Vintages: A wine bar with pre-dinner tapas and cheeses along with a robust selection of fine wines
Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean's signature steakhouse with views of Central Park, and premium cuts or quality meats


Exclusive to Allure of the Seas, the new churascarria, styled after popular Brazilian steakhouses, is an interactive experience where guests choose from a variety of meats, chicken and seafood brought table-side by servers, ready to slice and serve upon request
Solarium Bistro: A health-conscious dining option for breakfast and lunch
The Wipe Out Cafe: A casual self-service buffet with pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches and fresh salads
Izumi Asian Cuisine: Featuring mouthwatering flavors and a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking


Sorrento's Pizzeria: Featuring New York style pizza, with both made-to-order pies and by the slice
Cafe Promenade: Offering Seattle's Best coffee, fruit shakes, pastries and sandwiches all day
The Cupcake Cupboard: Featuring fresh-baked gourmet cupcakes as well as parties and design classes


The Vitality Cafe: Offering healthy snacks, sandwiches, wraps, fruit and smoothies
THE CLASSICS, Royal Caribbean hasn't forgotten the classics of its fleet:
Adagio Dining Room: The ship's main restaurant features a three-tier venue with a 1920s Art Deco style; flexible My Time Dining and traditional assigned seatings, as well as the highly anticipated DreamWorks Character Breakfast
Windjammer Marketplace: A casual buffet fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner
In-Stateroom Service: Order from the complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, or choose an original Johnny Rockets hamburger or Ghirardelli chocolate cookies from the new Dine In Delights menu

Royal Caribbean Names Managing Director of New Mexico Office


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today it has named Gabriela Gonzalez Saul managing director for their operations in Mexico. In her position, Gonzalez Saul will lead the new office in Mexico, which will open in December 2010 to support the Sales, Marketing and Commercial Operations for the company's three cruise brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.

"We are delighted to have Gabriela join our team," said Michael Bayley, executive vice president of international for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Gabriela's experience developing new business and increasing product awareness will be invaluable in this new role of managing our Mexican activities and implementing our market growth strategies."
"In her new role, Gabriela and her team will build on the success and strong position we have achieved in Mexico, as well as further strengthen our ongoing commitment to providing unique and award-winning cruise experiences to the Mexican market," Bayley added.
Gonzalez Saul has more than 20 years of experience managing business relationships, increasing market penetration and generating significant profit. She spent 16 years in various roles of increasing responsibility for American Express in Mexico, where she handled business development, product awareness and marketing strategies. Gonzalez Saul received a degree in International Commerce from the Academia in Maddox, Mexico.