Friday Photos

In:
31Mar2017

The start to another weekend has arrived and we like to kick off our Fridays with our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos!

We begin with this week with a sunset photo from onboard Anthem of the Seas, taken by George Alcazar.  I really like the angle of this photo, and how the sun fits in perfectly with the jogging track.

Bob Hoenig took this photo of Rhapsody of the Seas from his balcony on Harmony of the Seas while in Palma de Mallorca.

If you are looking to unwind, try this strategy by Denis Beauchemin.  He snapped this photo while on his Harmony of the Seas balcony, while in Labadee.

Check out this beautiful sunset photo by David Berenbaum from his Owners Suite balcony on Rhapsody of the Seas.  This was taken while leaving Tampa Bay at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Here is Harmony of the Seas next to Freedom of the Seas in St. Maarten, taken by Justin. 

Tina Moore shared this photo with us of three generations enjoying their Freedom of the Seas cruise.  Family cruising is what makes for such great vacation memories!

Our final photo this week is from Bob Carpenter, and it is of the AquaTheater just after sunset.  

Thank you to everyone for sharing photos with us this week.  If you want to share your best Royal Caribbean photos, use this form to send them in!

CocoCay construction progress photo report

In:
30Mar2017

Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean announced a massive expansion to its private destination of CocoCay, and already work has begun in earnest.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michael Osypowski shared with us these photos of the construction progress happening there.

Our first set of photos are of where the new pier appears to be installed.

These photos are from the rear of CocoCay.  It appears a backhoe has been use to dredge out a lagoon.

Royal Caribbean indicated the improvements to CocoCay will take a multi-phased approach, with some elements of the new construction ready in 2018, and construction complete sometime in 2019.

Royal Caribbean to relocate Freedom of the Seas to San Juan for 2018-2019 season

In:
30Mar2017

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas will call San Juan, Puerto Rico its new home in 2018-2019.

The cruise line's 2018-2019 Caribbean deployment has a number of 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises that will sail round trip from San Juan.

View Freedom of the Seas' entire deployment here

Freedom of the Seas will depart her current home of Port Everglades, Florida on May 5, 2018 and reposition to San Juan at the end of that sailing.  From then, through March 2019, Freedom of the Seas will homeport from San Juan.

Freedom of the Seas will replace Adventure of the Seas, which will be moving to Cape Liberty, New Jersey. 

Thanks to Erik Clauson aka Cruiseboy for discovering the deployment plans.

Restaurant Review: Jamie's Italian on Anthem of the Seas

In:
30Mar2017

The collaboration between Royal Caribbean and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver created Jamie’s Italian, which is one of the more popular specialty restaurants on Anthem of the Seas.

It seems like Jamie’s Italian has become quite popular with many Royal Caribbean guests for the tasty, original creations by the famous chef. And yet, I have to admit it never resonated much with me on my previous visits.

It is not to say I disliked Jamie’s Italian by any means, rather, I just preferred other specialty restaurants. To be honest, I felt like I was missing something by not being a bigger fan of the restaurant because so many others seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps I had previously dined there on an off-night, or what I ordered was not indicative of what makes Jamie’s so popular.

When I went back on Anthem of the Seas for a recent cruise, I wanted to start over again and pretend like I had never been there in the first place. Perhaps starting fresh from the beginning would be the right approach.

Atmosphere

Jamie’s Italian is located on deck 5 in an area of Anthem of the Seas known as The Via. It is essentially the middle ground between the Royal Esplanade and Two70. I doubt anyone ever utters the words, “oh, that is located in The Via,” but it is important to be specific.

Royal Caribbean carved out a lot of space for Jamie’s Italian, although it does not necessarily look that from merely passing by. The cruise line designed the restaurant to evoke a street cafe motif to guests passing by, with no real wall separating the restaurant from the walkway. Anyone walking by can easily peer into the restaurant and see other guests dining there, and perhaps more importantly, smell the foods being served.

Unlike a traditional Italian restaurant, there is no red and white checkerboard tablecloth, no Dean Martin songs playing in the background, and no old photos of Italy. Instead, you have a design created by Jamie Oliver that focuses on the simple, yet refined approach Oliver takes in every aspect of the dining experience.

Looking around Jamie’s Italian, one will quickly notice there is no unified design style. Rather, there are metal chairs, wooden chairs and nylon chairs mixed together across booths and tables made out of metal, granite and wood. It reminds me of someone hitting up the clearance area in IKEA, finding great deals on lots of lovely furniture that does not match. Nonetheless, Oliver’s design style somehow works across the breadth of the eatery, and the restaurant maintains its own distinct feel.

Eats

Getting past the décor, I really wanted to give Jamie’s Italian a solid second try by picking some winning dishes. Jamie’s Italian menu is anything but petite, with lots of choices. I mean, there is a lot one can order between the appetizers, small plates, soups, pastas and entrées.

Without a doubt, there is one type of dish Jamie’s Italian is best known for and that is the planks. There are two plank varieties: meat and vegetable. Both come with an array of cheeses that compliment the meaty/vegetarian goodness.

Arguably, the planks could easily be a meal in and of themselves, but our waiter suggested we order a combo plank, that offered the best of each option. We thought it was a great choice, not only because we would be able to sample the best of the best, but because we would not load up too much, too early.

Without a doubt, the plank lives up to its reputation for being a must-order. This antipasto serving is not just a great starter, it sets the tone for the meal to come. Ample servings of salami, prosciutto, mozzarella, olives and more are yours for the picking. We picked that plank to the wood surface extremely quickly.

We also tried the ultimate garlic bread from the starters.  At first, we did not realize the bread served to our table was this dish, but what they lack in presentation, they make up for in flavor.  Without a doubt, there is a good amount of garlic provided in these bad boys.

Choosing among the entrées is where I believe the greatest difficulty arises. In short, there is a lot to choose from and many dishes sounds really good.

It is worth noting that Jamie’s Italian prides itself on the fact it creates handmade pasta everyday at the restaurant. That is a giant indication that you should probably order something with pasta. I certainly felt I could not leave Jamie’s Italian without trying something of a noodle variety.

On the other hand, I am an absolute sucker for eggplant Parmesan (or pretty much any Parmesan dish). It is one of those dishes that I can never get enough of, and it is my Italian food staple. Much like when my kids are complaining about the other having something they do not, I just decided to get both the eggplant and a pasta dish. I mean, I would totally walk off those calories skipping the elevators, rights?

The eggplant Parmesan was terrific, and not overloaded with cheese or deep fried to the point any hint of eggplant is removed.  

The texture of the homemade pasta was wonderful, and I think everyone at our table remarked they could absolutely tell the difference between this freshly made pasta, and the boxed stuff.  

My wife opted for the truffle tagliatelle, with the simple logic that anything with black truffles must be amazing.  Indeed, that logic holds up at Jamie's Italian as well.

If you manage to leave room for dessert, the epic homemade brownie is always a great choice.  

My wife also reported the Italian limoncello is superb, although she consumed it before I could even snap a photo of it.  So you will have to take that as proof that it is quite good.

Overall

After eating at Jamie's Italian on Anthem of the Seas, I am completely onboard the bandwagon of fans that enjoy the restaurant.  The freshness of everything here really stands out, even more than Jamie Oliver's excellent recipes.

If you choose to dine at Jamie's Italian, there is no question you need to order at least one of the planks and something with pasta.  It is without a doubt, the dishes the restaurant does the best.

Cost: The price of Jamie's Italian on Anthem of the Seas is $30 per guest for dinner and $25 per guest for lunch.

Anthem of the Seas Cruise Review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
29Mar2017

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

Episode 191 is available for downloading where Matt shares his thoughts on his recent cruises aboard Anthem of the Seas.

Matt experienced a lot onboard Anthem of the Seas, and this week, he dives into what makes Anthem 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 191. 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!

Symphony of the Seas construction photo update

In:
29Mar2017

Royal Caribbean has released new photos of Symphony of the Seas' construction progress.  We can see the bow being attached to the ship's superstructure.


 

Symphony of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean's fourth Oasis Class cruise ship, and will debut in Spring 2018.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas offers luggage storage

In:
28Mar2017

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas might be able to take advantage of a new service to store their carry-on bags until their stateroom is ready.

The carry-on luggage storage service was spotted on Empress of the Seas current sailing.

Photo by Brian Robinson

Guests have the option of taking their carry-on luggage to the Royal Theater and leave their belongings there from 10:45am to 1:00pm.

Guests must reclaim their bags when they want to bring them to their stateroom.

We saw something similar offered on Grandeur of the Seas on past sailings.

Video: Royal Caribbean Brings Energy Efficiency to the High Seas

In:
28Mar2017

Harmony of the Seas is the most energy-efficient and technologically advanced cruise ship ever built. Equipped with next-generation technologies, from a multi-stream exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubbers) to an air lubrication system that allows the ship to float on air, with millions of tiny bubbles created under the hull to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. Harmony of the Seas raises the bar on environmental stewardship technology.

Propulsion problem on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas forces itinerary change

In:
28Mar2017

Guests aboard Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas received a letter in their stateroom yesterday from the Captain, indicating a propulsion problem has caused an itinerary change for its current sailing.

Captain Srecko Ban sent a letter to guests, in which he states "Anthem of the Seas experienced a technical issue on one of its propulsion motors."  He indicated that the engineering team is working on the issue, but in the meantime, the ship will be sailing at a reduced speed.

Anthem of the Seas' itinerary has been revised as follows:

  • March 26: Cape Liberty
  • March 27: At Sea
  • March 28: At Sea
  • March 29: CocoCay 8:00am - 5:00pm
  • March 29: Nassau arrive at 9:00pm
  • March 30: Nassau depart at 6:00pm
  • March 31: Port Canaveral, Florida 9:00am - 4:00pm
  • April 1: Sea Day
  • April 2: Cape Liberty arrive at 6:00am

Thanks to Bill Bartman for providing this letter

Captain Ban made it clear all remaining motors are fully operational, and there is no impact on the maneuverability of the ship or the safety of guests and crew.

Royal Caribbean offering 20% off select shore excursions

In:
27Mar2017

Royal Caribbean has kicked off its "Tour More, Save More" cruise planner sale, where guests can save up to 20% off shore excursions booked through the Cruise Planner.

Guests that log into the Cruise Planner will find 10%, 15% and 20% off select tours offered on select Alaska, Caribbean, and Europe sailings departing between April 15 – November 30, 2017. Tours that qualify for the Offer vary by sailing and port of call. Offer excludes Hop On/Hop Offs, Shuttles, Private Journeys℠, overnight tours, Multi-day Adventures and other special tours.

Offer applies to tours booked March 27-30, 2017.

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