Royal Caribbean redeploying Jewel of the Seas to Miami in January 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

It looks like Royal Caribbean will be re-deploying Jewel of the Seas to PortMiami, beginning in January 2019.

Royal Caribbean has begun informing guests that were booked on Jewel of the Seas via email that sailings between January and April 2019 are cancelled.

Guests who were already booked on Jewel of the Seas on one of the affected itineraries are being offered rebooking options, which include onboard credit.  Guests can also opt for a full refund.

On Royal Caribbean's website, Jewel of the Seas shows sailings leaving from Miami in early 2019 to a variety of destinations in the Western and Southern Caribbean.

There is no word yet which, if any, ship will replace Jewel of the Seas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Brilliance of the Seas B2B Live Blog – Michael’s Cruise Preview

By: Michael Poole

Thankfully my "cruise gap" was not a long time, as my next adventure will start March 3rd on Brilliance of the Seas.

I live in Tampa, Florida, close to the Port of Tampa, so I have been seeing the Brilliance sail in and out of Tampa for a few months now. I have been counting down the days until it is finally my turn to board her!

The Cruise

In March 2016, I booked two back-to-back sailings on Brilliance of the Seas. It was one of my favorite sailings, so relaxing. I noticed that the five night and the four night only required one week of vacation, since it’s Saturday through the following Monday.

One day last summer I suggested to my girlfriend we should do that cruise again, and she said yes! So here we are doing the very same cruise again and the best part is we can now walk to the cruise ship from home. For the five-night I’ll be cruising solo and she will join me on the second leg, for the four-night sailing.

The Cabins

For the first cruise, since I’m sailing solo I booked a solo passenger cabin. The Brilliance of the Seas only has three solo cabins, and they go fast. I usually have to book them around a year in advance to get one. The average price is $100 per night, which is great for a solo passenger.

For the second sailing, I’ll be moving up to deck 9 for my first aft facing ocean balcony. I’m really excited to experience this type of cabin and I plan on taking full advantage of those loungers on the balcony.


On the first cruise I have two port stops, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. I’ve only visited Grand Cayman once and it was a little over five years ago, so I’m really looking forward to going back. In Cozumel, I’m planning to visit my favorite beach resort Nachi Cocom.

On the second cruise we only have one port stop, and I’m headed back to Cozumel, Mexico. But on this trip I’m doing something different, I’m getting on a catamaran for three hours booked through Royal Caribbean. On the catamaran they will stop for some snorkeling and lunch. I booked the early time slot so we could explore in town after.


Dining and Drink Packages

The most popular topic on any Royal Caribbean cruise is food and alcohol. A few months ago I saw some of the dining packages start to change in price by a few dollars.

I decided to go ahead and purchase the BOGO offer for $30 per person. Sure enough one week later, I looked online and it had gone up to $40 per person. With this offer, we can pick two restaurants on board for night 1 & 2. I booked this offer for my solo sailing and again on the second sailing with my girlfriend.

For this cruise I’m going to pass on the drink package. I’m on board for 9 nights and to be honest it was more about cost savings more than anything. I’ll carry on 4 bottles of wine, since I’m on board for two cruises. I’ll also take advantage of the diamond drinks in the evening. Each day on my live blog I’m going to report on how much I spent on drinks vs if I had the drink package. Fingers crossed those drink cards come out on my sailing.

Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions about Brilliance of the Seas. I’ll be on board for 9 nights, so I’ll do my best to cover everything Brilliance has to offer.

I’ll also be streaming on board with the Persicope app, as well as posting on my Instagram.

Royal Caribbean announces remaining 2019-2020 deployment schedule

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has announced the deployment openings for the remaining 2019-2020 sailings.

Royal Caribbean has released the schedule for which sailings will be released on which weeks, for the remaining sailings that have not been announced yet.

  • Week of March 5, 2018 Europe Phase II: Summer 2019
  • Week of April 2, 2018 Seasonal Caribbean & Northeast: Winter 2020
  • Week of April 9, 2018 Australia & Asia: Summer 2019- Winter 2020
  • Week of April 16, 2018 Short Caribbean: Summer 2019- Winter 2020
  • Week of April 30, 2018 China Phase I: 2019
  • Week of May 15, 2018 China Phase II: 2019

Royal Caribbean released some 2019-2020 itineraries late last year:

Deployment schedules gives consumers an idea of when to expect particular cruise schedules to become available to start looking at future cruises.

First look at pub changes on Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class ships

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced two weeks ago Michael's Genuine Pub locations on Quantum Class ships will be replaced with a new pub concept, and we have our first look at the changes.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Richard Wrather shared these photos of the new Brass & Bock pub on Anthem of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Rich Freudenberg shared this look the Amber & Oak pub, along with the menu on Ovation of the Seas.

The photos in this post reflect the changes made to each of the Quantum Class ships to replace Michael's Genuine Pub with the kind of pub typically found on other Royal Caribbean ships.

Royal Caribbean names Sean Treacy new Associate Vice President Strategic Planning for International

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that Sean Treacy, Managing Director, Asia Pacific who is based in Singapore, will relocate back to Miami in August 2018 to take up the new role of Associate Vice President Strategic Planning for International.

Treacy has played a key role in both Australia and Singapore during his four years in the Asia Pacific region.

Angie Stephen, currently Associate Vice President, Market Development, China, will relocate to Singapore to take on Treacy’s role.

Stephen who comes with almost 20 years of experience in the company, has fulfilled a key market development role in China for the past year. She will take on the management of the Singapore source market for the brands Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises.

5 common myths people use to avoid trying a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

There are many reasons why people who have not cruised yet cite why they have avoided taking a cruise.  As a past cruiser, if you ever talk to someone who has never cruised before, they will likely mention some commonly cited reason they have not tried a cruise yet.  In most cases, these fears or concerns are largely based on untrue speculation.

If you have never cruised before, here is a list of some common reasons we often hear from people not to cruise that is frankly untrue.

It's expensive

Not only is cruising not more expensive than other vacation options, they typically offer more value for the dollar than any other international vacation option.

One thing someone who has never cruised before is to take into account how much is actually included in the cruise fare.  Accommodations, plenty of meals (and snacks), entertainment and transportation between ports is all included.

According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, the cruise industry’s establishment of over 30 North American embarkation ports provides consumers with unprecedented convenience, cost savings and value by placing cruise ships within driving distance of 75% of North American vacationers. By providing significant cost savings through the convenience of avoiding air travel, the new homeports have introduced leisure cruising to a wider customer base.

Often I see people who price shop a cruise to a land vacation failing to account for the meals and entertainment they will inevitably have to pay for when going on any land vacation. 

In recent years, Royal Caribbean has offered more options to get guests closer to a true all-inclusive option that has many of the added expenses guests may encounter, pre-purchased prior to the cruise.

Lots of kids

Going on a family cruise line, like Royal Caribbean International, is sure to find a ship full of kids running around like they were part of Peter Pan's Lost Boys group, right?

Of course there will be children on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but the reality is a Royal Caribbean cruise is not dominated by children.  

According to Cruise Critic, the demographic often seen on Royal Caribbean are families, plus couples and singles in their 30s to 50s. The median age is low 40s, but it's slightly lower on shorter cruises and slightly higher on cruises of 10 nights or more.

The bottom line is there is a healthy mix, and the idea that a Royal Caribbean cruise is equivalent to a floating Chucky Cheese's, is just not true.

Not enough for kids to do

You might think this myth directly conflicts with what I just spoke about in the previous myth, but often a person citing one will not mention the other.  Regardless, there is plenty for kids to do on Royal Caribbean.

In the last two decades, Royal Caribbean has significantly increased its programming for children and widened the amount of space dedicated to them. 

Starting with the staff, all children’s activities are supervised by male or female youth staff that must have a four year University degree or international equivalent in Education, Recreation or a related field. All staff also has at least three to five years qualified experience in working with children ages six months to 17 years. Nursery staff must have the same above qualifications as well attend a 30 hour Nursery Training where the curriculum and hands on experience is in line with Florida State Standards of care.

On the ship, kids will have a variety of options open to them. These include:

  • Movies for children and teens.
  • Supervised and complimentary programming for children ages 3-17 years old (Adventure Ocean).
  • Royal Babies & Tots 6 mos – 36 mos. (drop off nursery offered on select ships).
  • Art, science, theater and story time in Adventure Ocean.
  • My Family Time Dining, where parents can have a complete dinner with their kids in the main dining room, with the kids escorted up to Adventure Ocean, leaving parents to enjoy the evening at their own pace.

There is plenty more, such as dedicated pool areas, water slides (on select ships), kids and teens-only events and more.

I'll be bored

A common misconception about cruises is they will run out of things to do and be bored.  I think they imagine a cruise ship is a bunch of hotel rooms, with a dining room in the middle.

Royal Caribbean builds its cruise ships to be floating destinations.  The best way to understand what is available to do on a cruise is to look at a past Cruise Compass.  The Cruise Compass is the daily newspaper distributed to all guests that lists everything happening on the ship that day. From pre-dawn to the the late night hours, there is lots going on.  

Of course, these activities are optional to attend, and that means you can do as much or as little as you like. 

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), J.D. Power conducted a web-based survey in August 2016 from its Consumer Panel, targeting consumers who:

  1. Earn more than $50,000 annually
  2. Had taken a vacation within the past three years

When these people were asked if cruises are better or worse than land-based vacations in terms of…

  • Variety of Activities: 77% thought cruises were better than land vacations
  • Having good activities for children: 76% thought cruises were better than land vacations
  • Offers something for everyone: 80% thought cruises were better than land vacations

In short, a vast majority of people who try cruising find more to do on a cruise than on a land vacation.  

Getting sea sick

If there is one thing many first time cruisers ask a lot of questions about it, it is about getting sea sick.

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise is nothing like going out on your buddy's fishing boat.  Royal Caribbean ships are massive vessels, equipped with precise GPS and stablizing technology. Moreover, the Captain will regularly plot courses that take optimal routes for guest comfort.

For those extra sensitive to motion, there are certain steps you can take to mitigate the risk of getting sea sick, such as over the counter medications and homeopathic treatments

The bottom line is while one could get sea sick on a cruise, it is a very low risk.  In fact, if you ask veteran cruisers, they will likely tell you their concern over getting sea sick is ranked somewhere around the feature film selection shown onboard.

Your thoughts

Have you been avoiding taking a cruise for one of the reasons listed here?  Did some family member or friend send you a link to this, with bold letters to "read this now"? Were you someone who felt this way about cruising, but has since come to see it is not what you expected? Share your experiences, concerns, and questions in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean partners with Malaysia cruise port to expand port to accommodate larger cruise ships

By: Matt Hochberg

The Port of Penang, Malaysia is partnering with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd expand berth from the current 480m to 700m, so that it can handle up to two large cruise ships simultaneously.

New Straight Times reports Royal Caribbean and the Port entered into a joint-venture about a year ago to upgrade and improve Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) in Georgetown, Penang.  The work aims to accommodate berthing of larger cruise ships at its facilities.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd managing director, Asia Pacific, Sean Treacy said Malaysia has been a strong performer for our business and it is now the fastest growing market for Southeast Asia, doubling between 2015 and 2016.

“While we expect a similar performance this year, this strong growth is driven by our deployment of more ships, and newer and larger ones such as Ovation of the Seas and Voyager Class ships like Voyager of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas are attracting a growing number of travellers in Malaysia,” he said in a recent interview.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: February 25, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Hope you are having a great weekend.  Here is all of this week's Royal Caribbean cruise news.

Symphony of the Seas completed its first set of sea trials earlier this week.

The sea trials took place between February 15 and 18, where almost every onboard system was tested. The ship is in its "completion phase", which means it is getting prepared to be delivered to Royal Caribbean in late March.

The sea trials included over 80 hours of sailing that covered 1,000 nautical miles off Belle-Île island. During the trials, the full range of the ship’s systems were activated at sea, most of those being already adjusted and presented for commissioning, both to Royal Caribbean and to the classification society.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 238th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available that focuses on answering the many emails we receive from podcast listeners.

In this episode, Matt opens up the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast inbox and dedicates the entire episode to answering questions and comments sent in by listeners.

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

Tampa Bay Business Journal reports Port Tampa Bay saw record cruise passenger weekends (thanks in part to Royal Caribbean).

Travel Codex looked at Liberty of the Seas and the activities offered onboard a recent cruise.

Symphony of the Seas to hold second sea trials on March 3

By: Matt Hochberg

STX France shipyard has scheduled Symphony of the Seas for a 24 hour set of sea trials, which will depart on March 3rd and return 24 hours later.

Ouest France reports the second set of sea trials will take place between Saturday March 3rd and Sunday March 4th. 

The purpose of this set of sea trials is to mainly test the propulsion system tests that, "were not quite satisfactory during the previous campaign."

Symphony of the Seas completed her first set of sea trials earlier this month, where more than 80 tests were performed onboard.

Delivery of Symphony of the Seas is scheduled to take place on Friday, March 23rd.

Friday Photos

By: Matt Hochberg

Love Royal Caribbean? Need a "fix" until your next cruise? Every week we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos so that we can all enjoy a "virtual escape" onboard!

We begin this week with a photo of a busy day on Anthem of the Seas, taken by Jason Nolan.

Next is this beautiful photo taken on Harmony of the Seas by Twangster.

John Bamber took this photo of DNCE performing on Oasis of the Seas.

We are back on Anthem of the Seas for this photo, this time of the SeaPlex.  This photo was taken by Matt (not me).

Jean Francois "Jay" Bekono took this photo from a day at sea.

Here is a look at a glacier, taken by Kinny Lee on Explorer of the Seas.

Kay Lynn Akers took this photo of Harmony of the Seas from onboard the Carnival Glory.

Thank you to everyone for sharing these wonderful photos with us.  If you would like to share your best Royal Caribbean cruise photos, use this form to submit them.

Have a great weekend!