Royal Caribbean holding contest to find world-trekking Instagram stars

In:
27Mar2017

Royal Caribbean is holding a contest to find Instagram adventure seekers who want to travel the world and compete for the title of "World's Most Adventurous Squad".

The new social media contest will challenge explorers and aspiring Instagram stars, with one group of up to four friends to be crowned the “World’s Most Adventurous Squad,” and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails to help live up to their newly minted title.

Royal Caribbean will hold five adventure-themed Instagram challenges. From highlighting hidden gems in their travels to showcasing their most epic eats, each challenge will give participants the opportunity to share their most impressive photos for a chance to win. Each challenge will run for 72 hours on Royal Caribbean’s Instagram account starting on March 29 and through April 12. To take part in the challenge, adventurers simply post their photo to Instagram, tag three friends that will comprise their squad and use the hashtag #AdventureSquad and #Contest.

Upon completion of each challenge, Royal Caribbean will select one winning squad – based on their creativity and spirit of adventure in line with the theme of the day.

The winners will then set sail on the adventure of a lifetime onboard Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest and most adventurous ship taking over Royal Caribbean's social media channels as they go. The finalists will go head-to-head to capture and share adrenaline-pumping content both from the ship and exotic destinations, including Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean’s private destination; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. At the end of their adventure, the squad that most embodies the spirit of adventure will be named the “World’s Most Adventurous Squad” and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails. In addition, squads’ adventures also will be seen when they light up Royal Caribbean’s digital billboards in New York City in May.

Australian travel blogger Tyson Mayr (@tysontravel) will act as the contest host, announcing each 48-hour Instagram challenge. Mayr is no stranger to social media contests; he won one himself in 2014 and was paid to travel the globe for a year. Since then, he’s made a living as an adventurer and content creator, proving that Internet fame is within reach for social media contest winners.

Those back at home can watch the action unfold by following @RoyalCaribbean and #AdventureSquad on Instagram and Snapchat. For details on how to take part in the Adventure Squad challenge, as well as information on the winning squad, visit www.AdventureSquad.com.

Royal Caribbean adds shorts to approved clothing for main dining room

In:
27Mar2017

Royal Caribbean's website now lists shorts as one of the suggested forms of clothing to adhere to the cruise line's dress code while dining in the main dining room on casual nights.

The website now describes casual night suggested attire as, "Jeans, shorts, tees, tank tops, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck."

While the rule looks to be updated for casual nights, many guests have seen other guests dine in the main dining room wearing shorts on numerous occasions.  Additionally, shorts we never saw shorts explicitly mentions as a prohibited article of clothing in the main dining room.

It is unclear when the webpage was changed, but the good folks at the Internet WayBack Machine show the old version of this web page do not mention shorts, as of August 2016.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
25Mar2017

It is our final day on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, and it is a sea day (are there any cruises where the last day is not a sea day?).

The weather today turned out to be very good, despite being in the Mid-Atlantic states for much of the day. The sun came and went, with temperatures in the 60s-70s.

We had breakfast in the Windjammer, and were treated to complimentary mimosas as a “thank you” by the crew for a great sailing.

We spent the rest of our morning taking it easy, making a few stops around the ship. My oldest went for a swim with grandma, while we took our youngest to the playroom in Adventure Ocean.

For lunch, we decided to stop by Coastal Kitchen. The food was great, but I think what endears guests to Coastal Kitchen is the great service.

After lunch there was adult coloring in Vintages, although that just meant the coloring sheets available were a bit more complex. My wife and oldest daughter took advantage of the offering and enjoyed it.

To my (pleasant) surprise, the temperatures actually got high enough in the late afternoon for it to feel hot outside. Any opportunity to not wear jackets is a welcome one!

We received an invite to tour the bridge of the ship from the Suite Concierge. Bridge tours are always a lot of fun, and on a newer ship like Anthem, it is incredible to see how these ships operate.

We spent the afternoon packing up our things, which lead to a late afternoon hankering for a snack. I headed down to Michael’s Genuine Pub to try something that caught my eye since my first day onboard: falafel.

I love falafel and was a little leery about how good cruise ship falafel could be. I can report back it was fresh, crispy and had great flavor.

It was served with sliced beets and tahini sauce, and tasted very good. For $3, I thought it was a great deal!

For our pre-dinner drinks, we started out at the Solarium Bar and regretted we did not spend more time there. The bar staff there were great and you cannot beat that view.

We wandered down to the Schooner Bar as just somewhere to sit for a bit before dinner, and discovered an impromptu show where the cast of We Will Rock You “took over” the piano music being played, and sang Broadway hits along with the music.

The musical director for We Will Rock You was scheduled to be the pianist in the Schooner Bar, but the fact his cast joined him was an added bonus. My wife, who is a big musical fan, absolutely loved the show.

We had seem something like this on Allure of the Seas, but it had been a while since we experienced a show like this again. I hope Royal Caribbean takes advantage of the amazing vocal talents they have onboard and continue to let them entertain guests in this fashion. The guests were loving the performance, and we could tell the cast was enjoying seeing who could sing each song the best.

Dinner was in the main dining room, and we decided to call it an early evening with the impending early start to our departure looming.

I have to say we had a great time on Anthem of the Seas, and it was due to the fantastic crew members, terrific dining onboard and the great places we visited. Having very good weather did not hurt, either.

I believe Anthem of the Seas is a great ship for a first time cruiser because I feel like Royal Caribbean designed this ship with first timers in mind. Likewise, for established cruisers, Anthem is also a very good choice because I liked how it is different from the other classes in the fleet. Those ships tend to have a lot of similarities, but Royal Caribbean built the Quantum class ships to be different, and that made this cruise a bit of a new experience.

We had really great service throughout the cruise, from our stateroom attendant who was always available to help with anything we needed, to the main dining room waiter who figured out I really like coffee ice cream and had it ready for me each evening as a surprise.

I always struggle with how to best wrap up the cruise, so I will list here some of my favorite aspects of the cruise.

  • Favorite port: CocoCay
  • Favorite specialty restaurant: Jamie’s Italian
  • Favorite dish in main dining room: Spaghetti Bolognese (seriously)
  • Favorite show: We Will Rock You

Thank you to everyone for following along in our live blog! I really enjoy sharing these cruises, and I also had a great time reading everyone’s comments and questions along the way.

My next live blog will be coming to you from the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas in September 2017. In fact, you can join the fun and cruise with me and many other Royal Caribbean fans by joining us for our group cruise! Here are more details on how you can join us!

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
25Mar2017

Yesterday’s live blog post briefly mentioned there was a bit more motion in the late evening, but that was just the beginning. Last night saw a lot of movement, thanks to high winds. It extended to this morning as we began our sea day on Anthem of the Seas.

The winds died down as the day progressed, so weather conditions and movement improved each hour of the day and by the afternoon, it felt like a normal day at sea.

We let the kids sleep in, and we rolled into the Windjammer around 10amish.

After breakfast, we went to watch guests trying their hand at circus school in SeaPlex. This entails guests trying to use the trapeze to hang by their knees and do a backflip. The keyword here is “try”. I think we only saw one guest successfully manage to pull it off. Besides the fear factor, it looks to be quite physically challenging.

Later that morning was the Crown and Anchor Top Tier event in the Royal Theater.

It was a well-attended event and it was also the longest Top Tier event I have ever seen. There were a few musical acts that started things off, followed by an introduction to the officers on Anthem of the Seas and culminated with a speech by the Captain.

For lunch, I wanted to try the Japanese restaurant, Izumi. If you have read my previous live blogs, I love sushi and often make multiple stops at Izumi on any given cruise. So the fact my first visit occurred on my second-to-last day of the cruise should indicate I am changing things up (or have been abducted by aliens and replaced by a clone).

The food and service were great, and I was able to get a spot at the sushi bar with no problem. My go-to Izumi dish is the DX Sushi Combo and it did not disappoint. In fact, this one came without a shrimp roll, which is great because I do not eat shrimp.

After lunch, I got to see the hit West End show, We Will Rock You. Based on the music of Queen, this show is a really fun show. I knew very little about the show beforehand, so I did not have much in my mind about what to expect.

The story is silly, but I found myself loving the jokes and plot. Plus, the singing performances were outstanding (especially by the two leads). Bravo!

I managed some time up on the pool deck in the late afternoon just to walk around. I figured today may be the last semi-warm day we have left in this sailing.

Dinner this evening was in Chops Grille. I have been to many Chops Grille locations across the fleet, and this edition was as great as the others.

I tried the dry-aged NY Strip steak just because it has been a few years since I tried it last. I freely admit I am no steak connoisseur, so I am far from any kind of expert. I certainly enjoyed the the taste of the steak, and appreciated the massive size. I think dry-aged steaks are aimed at those that enjoy lots of steak and can discern a good cut from a great cut.


 

After dinner I just had to check out something new to me, the Virtual Fireworks show in Two70.

This was developed by Royal Caribbean originally for New Years Eve 2017, but they decided to keep showing it because it is so far impressive.

It is a quick 7 minute show, but I thought it was really neat to see. Of course, I am a sucker for all Vistarama shows, but I really liked the second half when the camera “floated” between the fireworks explosions. Definitely a cool show!

Tomorrow is our last day onboard, and it is another sea day.

Stray Observations

  • Chops Grille is located near the Schooner Bar, which means there is a lot of noise bleed from the musical performances in the bar. I enjoy music with dinner, but wish it was less noticeable. For what it’s worth, this phenomenon of noise bleed occurred on Brilliance of the Seas too.
  • They sold popcorn in the Royal Esplanade tonight for $3.95 for a large box.
  • Prior to the virtual fireworks was a karaoke show in Two70 and that venue was packed! I guess karaoke is more popular than I ever thought.

Royal Caribbean parent company launching new site to help guests book land tours

In:
24Mar2017

Royal Caribbean International's parent company has launched a new site dedicated to offering private excursions and tours.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. launched GoBe this week and is the first non-cruise venture for the company. GoBe will allow travelers to book trips in 97 countries and 896 cities around the world. Excursions range from a $14 bus tour in Cape Town, South Africa, to a helicopter tour of Rome, starting at $3,785 per person.

The goal is simple: Royal Caribbean hopes to attract all travelers, instead of just those with a love for cruising.

GoBe is headed up by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chief Destination Officer. Larry Pimentel. He also serves as president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, “Given our experience in working with tour and attraction operations around the world for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, the launch of a website that can bring this high-demand offering to all travelers was only natural for us."

On GoBe, users enter their destination and scroll through the different excursions, tours, and activities until they find something they like. Each option is accompanied by a full description, including languages spoken, duration and activity level. For an extra cost, customers can even call the GoBe customer care line to have a custom itinerary put together.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Nassau, Bahamas

In:
23Mar2017

Our final port stop of this cruise is bringing us to Nassau, Bahamas for another day of fun in the sun.

We docked in Nassau at 7am, but we chose not to get off the ship until 9am. I am not sure we could have rounded up the children any earlier than that without some serious ice cream.

Prior to the cruise, we booked day passes to the British Colonial Hilton resort. It provides access to their facilities, as well as a food and beverage credit.

After exiting the ship, we took a quick cab ride to the resort and checked in. The resort has a pool and beach access, and we chose to spend time in the pool because the kids love to jump, swim and repeat ad infinitum.

 

We grabbed some chairs by the pool in the shade. There is some shaded seats near the beach, but not a whole lot of shade near the pool. By getting there early, we had no issues with getting the spot we wanted.

The day pass also includes a $40 food and beverage credit per adult ($20 per child), which we used on their lunch options. Drinks were also readily available. In the case of food and drinks, the prices are pretty high ($20 for most entrees and $14 for drinks).

The facility is quite beautiful and our day spent there was exactly what I had hoped for. The kids barely left the pool, and the weather was great for a day spent enjoying being outdoors.

In the afternoon, we decided to head back but walked this time. It is a short walk to/from the cruise pier (perhaps 10 minutes). We did a bit of window shopping, including a pit stop for ice cream.

I think we had a great day in Nassau, and I enjoyed our stop here a bit more than I thought we would, in part because how much fun the kids had, and also because I liked getting a mix of a pool day and city walk.

Back onboard, the kids took showers and subsequent naps. I do not think I minded some quiet time in our air conditioned stateroom to round out our afternoon.

After the usual routine of feeding the kids and bringing them up to Adventure Ocean, my wife and I had a few Diamond drinks in the Schooner Bar. There was a brass band playing jazz standards there, and it was a great backdrop for cocktails.

For dinner, we were back in the main dining room. We had plans to do some bar hopping, but our day in Nassau sapped all of our energy, so we decided to call it an evening a bit early. We figure sleep now so that we have more energy for a full day tomorrow.

Stray Observations

  • Photo ID was needed to get back through the port in Nassau (in addition to the SeaPass card).
  • Soon after leaving Nassau, it became quickly apparent there was going to a bit of chop in the waves. Nothing crazy, but it is the sort of motion that occasionally occurs where you have to watch your step as walking.
  • The Led Zeppelin cover band was playing tonight in Music Hall.
  • Grandeur of the Seas was in port with us, although she was not listed on any port schedules I could find.
  • Because I am a geek, I bought a SIM card to use. The WiFi at the Hilton would cost $10.99, but the SIM card and 2GB of data cost me $27. 

Royal Caribbean announces 2018 European itineraries

In:
23Mar2017

Royal Caribbean released today its 2018 sailings in Europe, which is headlined by the fleet's brand new Symphony of the Seas.

Across the continent, adventure awaits guests onboard eight of the world’s most innovative ships, with Spanish landmarks, Italian landscapes, French icons, Greek legends and Nordic Castles, comprising an unbelievable collection of more than 110 European odysseys. All itineraries are available to book as of March 23, 2017.

Making her debut in Barcelona, Spain in April 2018, Symphony of the Seas, the fourth sister ship in the Oasis-class, will spend her inaugural summer season sailing the striking blue waters of the Western Mediterranean. Starting April 21, she will offer seven-night itineraries from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples/Capri, Italy, where travelers can discover the breathtaking views from atop Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, and revel in the artwork of the old masters housed within the museums of Florence. For those wishing to start and end their trip in Italy, round-trip sailings from Rome are also available.

New in 2018, Vision of the Seas will join Symphony for the season offering 12-night sailings from Barcelona with ports-of-call in Rome, Italy; Nice, France; Santorini and Athens, Greece. In Northern Europe, Brilliance of the Seas will sail new 12-night itineraries from Amsterdam visiting countries throughout the Baltics, Norway and the British Isles, including Holyhead, Wales.

Barcelona

  • Oasis-class returns to Barcelona with Symphony of the Seas, which will headline Europe’s summer season exploring the Western Mediterranean on seven-night sailings, round-trip from Barcelona, Spain or Rome, Italy.
  • Vision of the Seas will embark on new 12-night Greek Isles itineraries from Barcelona, plus 12-night Mediterranean adventures to France and Italy, including stops in Rome and Florence/Pisa, the Amalfi Coast and an overnight in Venice.

British and Scandinavian Cruises

  • Brilliance of the Seas will call Northern Europe home for the first time, sailing 12-night itineraries from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, exploring the Baltics and British Isles, featuring new port-of-call Holyhead, Wales.
  • Independence of the Seas returns to Southampton, offering three- to 14-night voyages to the Mediterranean and a 14-night adventure to the Canary Islands all from Southampton. Navigator of the Seas will join Independence, sailing five- to 14- night itineraries.
  • Serenade of the Seas will offer seven-night sailings to the Norwegian Fjords, plus the ultimate Scandinavia and Russian adventure with departures from Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden.

Italian Adventures from Venice and Rome

  • Jewel of the Seas will sail seven- and nine-night sailings though the Greek Isles and Western Mediterranean.
  • Rhapsody of the Seas will return to Venice, Italy with seven-night excursions to the Greek Isles, and Greece & Croatia.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - CocoCay

In:
22Mar2017

Our second port stop has brought us to the Bahamas, and to Royal Caribbean’s private destination of CocoCay.

While we have been to CocoCay a few times, this visit would have a few firsts. Visiting CocoCay on Anthem of the Seas is the largest cruise ship that we have been on to visit. You may have read the announcement earlier this month that Royal Caribbean is adding a pier and other enhancements to CocoCay in 2018-2019, but for now we have to tender there.

We had booked a beach bungalow for our visit to CocoCay primarily for the comfort and private space it affords. We are big fans of the cabanas on Labadee, but felt the beach bungalows would offer a similar experience here, and also a bit less expensive.

Unlike other ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, tendering requires tickets because having 4.5 thousand guests contending for a tender might not work out too well. Instead, you can get complimentary tickets for a tender and this avoids lines for tenders.

Since we booked a beach bungalow, we did not have to worry about tickets for tenders. We received a note in our stateroom to report to the Royal Theater at 9am to board a reserved tender.

The weather today was absolutely stunning. High temperatures in the upper 70’s, few clouds and low humidity. It was a picture perfect day and if I could, I would sign up for this kind of weather on every port stop.

The tender ride to CocoCay is quite short (perhaps five minutes) and we met with a tram that provided a private ride to our beach bungalows.

The beach bungalows are located down the beach in their own area. There are quite a few of them, with towels, bottles of water, floating mats and bar service provided.

For my family, the bungalow was perfect because it allowed easy access to the beach for the kids, a napping spot for everyone and waiter service to bring us our lunch and drinks.

Our lunch was different than usual, because instead of a BBQ buffet, we pre-ordered from a menu of sandwiches, fruit and seafood. I have nothing against hot dogs and burgers, but it does not make my favorite food list, so having this menu was a welcome change.

The food we ordered was delivered to our bungalow in the 11:00 hour and it was just as advertised. Of course, any food that is delivered is not going to be as hot as when it comes off the grill, but I enjoyed not having to leave the confines of my bungalow and eating a few fish tacos.

I walked around a little bit, and got to try out the floating bar that was added a few months ago. It is hard to deny the fun atmosphere of enjoying drinks on the water.

Next to the bungalows are some beach beds, which offer a bit less living space than a bungalow, but are also a bit less expensive.

We spent our day on CocoCay enjoying the sun, beach and drinks. A lovely day indeed.

We took the tender back to the ship in the afternoon and headed back to our room for showers and some relaxation.

We saw on the Cruise Compass our first Two70 show that involves the amazing technology, and it was something I had never seen before: Virtual Concert.

Virtual Concert is a show that has a recorded performance by Sante Fe and the Fat City Horns. This is a well-known band that regularly performs in Las Vegas, and the show has the band performing on the Vistarama screens, with select performances highlighted on the Roboscreens.

I thought it was a neat use of the technology,which allows for a performance that would be too large, and too expensive to offer on a cruise, to be performed for everyone on the ship.

I also managed to check out the Concierge Lounge for the first time. It is located all the way aft on deck 12.

The room itself is quite large and has an impressive view of the rear of the ship. My only complaint is that because it is all the way at the end of deck 12, it is along walk so not very convenient.

Dinner this evening was in Jamie’s Italian. Jamie’s Italian is the creation of celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, and I have dined here on Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.

Tonight’s dinner was excellent, and I think everything we ate resonated with us. A sign of a good meal is when you struggle to figure out what was your favorite dish because everything was great.

Tomorrow we will be visiting Nassau, Bahamas.

Stray Observations

  • All the deck signs still refer to Devinly Decadence, which is a restaurant that changed names in December 2015.
  • The Voom internet onboard works extremely well everywhere, but in my room. Not a big problem, but it is interesting to see that its performance degrades within the walls of my stateroom.
  • Speaking of the internet, it has worked quite well (outside of my room). I have been able to live video stream, post photos and otherwise surf to my geeky heart's content.
  • No visible signs of major construction on CocoCay. They are doing something at the south end of the island, but not certain if it is where the new dock will go or not.
  • I recieved my first crystal block (that I actually earned and did not buy on eBay)!

Royal Caribbean changes policy towards booking suites on future cruises

In:
22Mar2017

Royal Caribbean is introducing a nonrefundable deposit and a change fee for all Grand Suites and above booked through the cruise line's onboard booking program, known as the NextCruise program.

WIth the change, suite guests who reserve their future cruise while onboard will now require a full, nonrefundable deposit. Assuming these guests commit to the original selection and do not adjust their ship or sail date in the future, there is no impact imposed by this new policy adjustment. Should guests opt to alter their cruise selection in the future, a change fee of $100 per guest will be incurred. All Suite cancellations are now subject to a nonrefundable fee in the amount of the deposit. 

Here is a breakdown of the changes:

  • For Guests whose NextCruise Booking is for a Grand Suite stateroom or higher, changes made during the first thirty (30) days after the NextCruise Booking was made shall not be subject to a Change Fee but will remain nonrefundable. After the expiration of that thirty day period, a Change Fee (currently $100 per person per change but subject to adjustment without notice) shall apply.
  • For Guests who chose the Instant Onboard Credit offer for their NextCruise Booking (regardless of the stateroom category booked), the deposit is nonrefundable for all staterooms. Downgrades to your NextCruise booking will result in an additional charge of between $50 to $500 on your booking and in the loss of your special promotional offer.
  • Downgrades include booking a shorter duration cruise or booking a lower class of staterooms. Grand Suite Staterooms and above bookings require full deposit and are only eligible for Future Onboard Credit. For Guests who choose the Future Onboard Credit offer and later Downgrade their NEXTCRUISE BOOKING, the amount of that future onboard credit shall be reduced. 

The change is described as, "an effort to preserve our Suite inventory and to ensure that our committed Suite guests have abundant access to premium accommodations." The new change fee has been imposed to encourage solid business and to deter continual or late changes to the selected ship and sail date. During the first 30 days after creation, unlimited changes can be made without a change fee incurred. If a booking is cancelled within the 30 days, the deposit remains non-refundable.

If guests book a suite outside the NextCruise program, the deposit remains fully refundable until final payment. The benefit of booking onboard, however, is the advantage of the rich NextCruise Onboard Credit program, which will not apply if the reservation is not confirmed while onboard.

When asked if non-refundable deposits will become standard for Royal Caribbean, the cruise line's response via a statement was, "In recognition of the high demand onboard for our Suite inventory and the added value of the NextCruise onboard credit, non-refundable deposits are currently only applicable to onboard Suite bookings."

Any Suite bookings made prior to the policy change will not be affected by the change fees and non-refundable deposit policies.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Port Canaveral

In:
21Mar2017

Our first port stop has brought us to Port Canaveral, Florida and it is actually a cruise port I have never been to as a port stop. I have taken plenty of cruises out of Port Canaveral, but never stopped here as a stop along the way.

We were not scheduled to dock in Port Canaveral until noon, so the morning was a bit of sea day. We let the kids wake us up, and then decided to try out Coastal Kitchen for breakfast.

Coastal Kitchen is the suites-only restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is located on deck 14 near the Windjammer.

The breakfast menu has many similarities to the main dining room menu, but there were a few options I had not seen before.

I believe what makes Coastal Kitchen stand out is the excellent service and ease of getting a table. Considering we rolled in a bit after 9am, there were no delays or issues getting a table immediately.

After breakfast we headed back to our stateroom to relax for a little bit. We wandered to the SeaPlex to check things out and they were doing roller skating.

My oldest daughter wanted to try it out, so I got her signed up and took her out on the rink. I think she underestimated the critical necessity of having good balance, because within a few minutes she wanted to be done. Oh well.

Back in our stateroom, we enjoyed some time on our balcony because it was finally warm enough outside to truly enjoy it. The weather today was gorgeous: high temperatures in the upper 70s, no clouds and low humidity. Sign me up for this weather any day!

Our plans today in Port Canaveral were centered around a shore excursion to Kennedy Space Center. Many of the tours met in the Royal Theater at 11:45am and we were called shortly after noon to board our bus.

Once on the bus, we took the very short bus ride to Kennedy Space Center (perhaps 15 minutes). Our tour operator gave us an overview of the Kennedy Space Center facility. We would have about five hours on our own to explore the facility (we booked the Kennedy Space Center Express tour, which is different from the other tour that is guided). Admittedly, I was concerned with what happens if you run out of things to do after 2-3 hours.

After pulling into the entrance, we went through security and into the visitor’s center. Our tour guide recommended taking the bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V rocket area, because it takes a bit of time. We followed through on her advice and headed straight there.

We boarded another bus and took a tour of the launch area, and got a good look at the Kennedy Space Center facility prior to be dropped off at the Apollo/Saturn V area. Once there, we got to be part of a re-enactment of the Apollo 11 launch, as if we were in the launch bay.

Following the bit of historical drama, we were free to explore the area. The big attraction here is a full Saturn V rocket, which is the same rocket that took the Apollo series astronauts to the moon.

It was so impressive to see in person and it was also quite a moving experience to see this important piece of American (and world) history standing before us.

There were a few other exhibits in the area, including the option to touch a moon rock.

We took the bus back to the Visitor’s Center and headed to the Atlantis space shuttle building.

Here, guests can see the Atlantis space shuttle up close. I had seen the Enterprise space shuttle in New York City, but that shuttle had never been in space. Atlantis conducted many successful missions and it is an incredible sight.

We rounded out our tour with an IMAX film and a tour of the rocket garden.

My fears of running out of things to do were quickly extinguished. In fact, I wish we had more time to explore because we still missed out on a great deal of the exhibits. I will write a full review of the Kennedy Space Center in a future blog post, but rest assured I can recommend this a lot. Frankly, I wish I had done it earlier.  In fact, I really enjoyed our time there and any fears of regret were quickly dismissed seeing this tribute to our history and future in person.

We took the bus back to Anthem of the Seas and got changed quickly so that we could drop the kids off at Adventure Ocean. Since we were in Port Canaveral until 9:30pm, Adventure Ocean is open all day for guests that spend all day on shore.

My wife and I grabbed a few drinks from Michael’s Genuine Pub with our Diamond level coupons.

Next, it was over to the Royal Theater for a showing of The Gift.

The Gift is an original Royal Caribbean production that is difficult to describe because the story is...unique. The storyline is a bit difficult to follow, but the musical numbers were well put together and the sets are very good.

We enjoyed dinner in the main dining room before deciding to take it easy and head back to our room, following a few after-dinner drinks.

Tomorrow we will be in Royal Caribbean’s private destination of CocoCay.

Stray Observations

  • I have tried to reserve specialty restaurants twice via the Royal iQ app. Both times, the app reports an error at the very end of actually placing the reservation. Nonetheless, the reservation appears in my calendar of the app. So I think it has worked, but we shall see.
  • For those keeping score at home, the curry selection tonight in the main dining room was also quite extravagant.
  • This might just be me, but the port stop in Port Canaveral is largely being referred to interchangably as "Orlando".  Sure, they are kind of close, but being 45 minutes away, I think there are bound to be alot of guests surprised by how not so close Orlando really is to Port Canaveral.

Pages