Up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases with Royal Caribbean's weekend sale

By: Matt Hochberg

Guests could save up to 30% select pre-cruise purchases made this weekend with Royal Caribbean's Ready, Set, Save sale.

The Ready, Set, Save promotion runs between November 9, 2018 - November 12, 2018 and is valid on select sailings November 15, 2018 - April 30, 2019.

The offer is valid on certain shore excursions, drink packages and internet packages.

Royal Caribbean states guests can expect to see:

  • Beverage Packages: Up to 30% off onboard prices
    • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship
    • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship
    • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices
  • Shore Excursions: Save up to 25% on select tours on select sailings. Discount varies by ship.
  • Internet: up to 60% off on select sailings
    • Voom Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
    • Voom Surf Voyage 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • Dining
    • 3 night Dining Package: Save 20% off. Available on select ships.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

Royal Caribbean's Fall Adventure Sale offers bonus savings this weekend

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering 60% off second guest, plus bonus onboard credit on cruises booked this weekend.

The Fall Adventure Sale is valid on cruises booked between 11/8/18 – 11/13/18 on sailings departing on or after 12/8/18.

BOGO Offer

 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest. 

30% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.

Kids Sail Free

Kids Sail Free provides free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Alaska, Bahamas,Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE,
Coastal, Cuba, Europe and Hawaii sailings departing between 12/1/18 – 12/14/19.

Offer excludes Holiday sailings (Sailings between 12/18/18 – 1/1/19), President’s Day sailings (Sailings between 2/15/19 – 2/18/19), Spring Break sailings (Sailingsbetween 3/16/19 – 3/30/19), Holy Week/Easter sailings (Sailings between 4/13/19 – 4/22/19), Summer sailings (Sailings between5/15/19 – 8/31/19) and 2019Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between 11/23/19 – 11/30/19).

Kids Sail Free is not combinable with Deck the Holidays Deals.

Fall Adventure Sale

Up to $100 to spend at sea per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 OBC for Interiorand Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
  • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites.

Refer to www.RoyalCaribbean.com for complete terms and conditions.

Offer open to residents of US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries inthe Caribbean.

Spotted: Happy hour special at Hooked on Symphony of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Guests sailing on Symphony of the Seas can take advantage of a special Hooked Seafood restaurant runs that can save some money on enjoying an early dinner snack.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader, Twangster, spotted this new offer on Symphony of the Seas.  For $10 you can have the nightly happy hour appetizer and a beer or glass of wine.   The happy hour appetizer changes from night to night.

On one evening, the appetizer was 6 raw oysters. The app lists a menu of appetizer choices that change depending on the day.

Does this happy hour special sound like something you would like to try? Tell us int he comments!

Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown Hotel Review

By: Matt Hochberg

The Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown is located just a mile and a half from PortMiami, making it an extremely convenient place to stay before or after a Royal Caribbean cruise.  This review features photos of the room & hotel, thoughts on the amenities, and our experience in staying here during our recent visit to the Miami area.

The primary rationale for picking this hotel is simply its location.  Being right on Biscayne Boulevard means you can practically see the cruise ships from the hotel's higher floors.  In fact, step outside the hotel in the afternoon and you are likely to hear a ship's horn as it conducts muster drill.  The proximity to PortMiami makes this Holiday Inn an appealing choice.

The hotel offers 200 rooms, including eight "Bayview" suites, and is located in the heart of Downtown Miami.  You can easily walk outside the hotel and check out various shops, hop on the Metro Mover (the city's monorail), or walk across the street to the Bayside Market.

In my opinion, being downtown is a double edged sword.  You are incredibly close to the cruise port, and there is lots around you to explore.  However, downtown Miami like so many major cities has its share of issues.  In the grand scheme of neighborhoods in and around Miami, downtown is not necessarily the most tourist-laden spots you will find.

Being a Holiday Inn hotel, walking into the lobby reminded me of so many other Holiday Inn hotels.  It features a lot of characteristic greens and other Holiday Inn decor. 

Anytime I walked past the Front Desk or had a need to stop by, there seemed to be little to no lines.

This location offers an outdoor pool, business center, complimentary health & fitness center, WiFi (free for IHG members, which is free to sign up for) and daily housekeeping.

I booked a King Suite Nonsmoking room for my stay.  It was located on the third floor at the end of the hallway. The rate for the first night was $179.55 and the second night was $231.83.  If you had booked a regular room, you can easily find rates closer to $110-$150 per night.

Upon walking into the room, it is indeed quite massive.

There is a very large living room, small kitchenette, sprawling bedroom, bathroom and closet.

The living room has plenty of space, and would be great for kids to sleep on the pull out couch.  I like the fact the living room and bedroom are separated by a set of doors.

The kitchenette is quite small, but functional.  There is a fridge, freezer, sink and microwave.  Perfect for storing and reheating food that you will likely get if you are staying a few nights.

The bedroom has a king size bed, along with a large desk area that was perfect for doing work.  

The bathroom seemed to have been more recently updated than the rest of the room.  Its lights were brighter, and the floor and tub appeared to have been replaced.

The room offered a lot of living space and was clean.  It is worth noting that there was an odd smell to the room, which I never complained about because within a few minutes I stopped noticing it.  But anytime I left the room and came back, I would note the smell.  If I had to describe the smell, I would probably peg it as a putrid, but I seemed to adjust quite quickly.  I also have no idea if any other rooms had this experience, but I figured I would note it.

I would also note that the room felt a bit old.  It was well maintained and certainly clean, but you can tell this is not a new construction hotel.  Some of the room walls had that look and feel of being repainted a few times. This is by far not a problem, but I know some people prefer newer hotels.

Overall, the Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown hotel fit the bill of what many look for in any pre- or post-cruise hotel, which is somewhere clean, safe and moderately priced. It is a very utilitarian spot to stay that will get you about as close as you can get to PortMiami.  

If you are just staying one night, I think this hotel is just fine for a place to rest and relax until you depart on your cruise. 

Your thoughts

Have you stayed at Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown? Are you a fan of it? What did you think of the suites? Is this a hotel you’d consider? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!

Royal Caribbean planning its biggest deployment ever to Alaska in 2020

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today it plans to send three ships to Alaska in 2020, marking the cruise line’s biggest presence in the region yet.

Ovation of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas will offer sailings to The Last Frontier in 2020. Before arriving to the Last Frontier, Ovation and Radiance will island-hop along Hawaii, while Serenade sails the Panama Canal and Golden Coast on her way west. 

Ovation of the Seas will return for its second consecutive season to offer 7-night itineraries from Seattle, Wash. 

For the first time since 2009, Serenade of the Seas will head west as it repositions from a winter in the sunny Southern Caribbean to Vancouver, British Columbia, making 2020 Royal Caribbean’s first summer season with three ships in Alaska. Serenade will sail 7-night itineraries through the 500 miles of shoreline that is the Inside Passage, calling on Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point, Alaska.

Radiance of the Seas will once again offer 7-night, open-jaw itineraries between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.

In repositioning to their seasonal summer homeports, all three ships will chart their own course through exotic and off-the-beaten-path locales to discover cultural treasures. Serenade of the Seas will sail through one of the largest and legendary engineering projects ever undertaken as she makes her way from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to Los Angeles, Calif. on a 15-night Westbound Panama Canal sailing departing May 4, 2020. Along the journey, guests can encounter the charming cultures of Central America with visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. On May 19, 2020, Serenade will then head over to Vancouver, British Columbia to navigate the Pacific Coast on a 7-night sailing.

Both Ovation and Radiance of the Seas will say aloha to the islands of Hawaii. Ovation will embark on its 12-night cruise from Honolulu, visiting Maui (Lahaina), Kailua Kona and Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, on May 7, 2020. Also sailing from Honolulu and departing on May 5, 2020, Radiance will offer a 10-night itinerary to the Last Frontier with ports of call including Maui (Lahaina), Kailua Kona, Hilo and Kauai (Nawiliwili), Hawaii.

Royal Caribbean’s 2020 Alaska cruises open for bookings on Thursday, Nov. 8; Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members are able to book one day prior.

Symphony of the Seas Cruise Preview on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

Hey everyone! Episode 275 of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.

This week, we're sharing the details about our cruise on Symphony of the Seas to the Western Caribbean along with many Royal Caribbean Blog readers! This seven-night adventure has lots of fun packed in, and Matt and Annette preview the fun planned for this seven night adventure.

Be sure to also check out our pre-cruise summary of what Matt's plans are for the cruise and for how you can read the live blog each day from the cruise.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 275. 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!

Video: Why book a balcony cabin for your Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

We have a brand new Royal Caribbean Blog video today, and we are listing the top reasons to book a balcony cabin on your Royal Caribbean cruise!

There are many great stateroom choices when booking a cruise, and certainly a room with private balcony is one of the most intriguing options. Having your own private space to enjoy the view of the ocean, a gentle breeze and the activities in port are a fabulous way to spend any cruise.

Why would booking this type of cruise room be a good idea? We are sharing some compelling reasons to go for a balcony cabin when you book a cruise.

And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

Symphony of the Seas 2018 Live Blog - Cruise Preview

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas is nearly at her new home of PortMiami, Florida, and I will be onboard a few of the first few sailings and LIVE blogging every day of the cruise, to share with you what it is like to experience this amazing ship.

This is a somewhat different type of live blog, and cruise experience, for me.  I will be on three different sailings, separated by two days between sailing two and three.  Our cruise begins later this week, but here is a cruise preview to share with you what to expect on our trip!

The Cruise

As I mentioned, I will be on three different Symphony of the Seas sailings. Here are the three sailings:

  • November 9: 4-night Western Caribbean sailing
  • November 13: 2-night media sailing to Nassau
  • November 17: 7-night Western Caribbean Thanksgiving sailing

I did not intend to go on three different Symphony sailings off the bat, but I am certainly not objecting to it.  Originally, I booked the November 17 Symphony of the Seas Thanksgiving sailing to make it a Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise.  I figured a lot of other folks would want to not only go on the first full sailing Symphony offered from North America, but also enjoy a fun holiday sailing together.

Then I noticed the quick 4-night weekend cruise Symphony of the Seas will offer when she first arrives and opted to hop on that sailing since living in Florida we could make that happen fairly easily.

On top of that, Royal Caribbean invited me to come aboard a two-night Symphony of the Seas preview cruise, where members of the media, travel agents and other VIP's are invited to check out this new ship. Royal Caribbean Blog has been lucky enough to have been invited to a couple other preview sailings on Anthem of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, so to be honored with an invite for this sailing is quite gratifying.

The nice thing about going on these three sailings is that I should sufficient time to conduct research and collect information for future Royal Caribbean Blog content.  The group cruise is the icing on the cake, with the opportunity to enjoy Symphony of the Seas with a group of friends and have a great time together onboard.


We will be staying in three different stateroom categories across our sailings.

On the 4-night sailing, we have a Central Park balcony stateroom.  I have stayed in this room category multiple times across other Oasis Class ships and it is a favorite of mine.  I love the ambiance you get with this room category and the bonus neighborhood balcony perks really sweeten the deal.

On the two-night sailing, we will move to an oceanview balcony. This is a classic stateroom option.

On the Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise, our kids join us and we move up to a Grand Suite.  

I booked the Grand Suite on the first day sailings became available and the price only went up from there.  Having the suite perks is always nice, and we decided to splurge a little for a nicer room.  


Our first sailing is a 4-night cruise with one port stop in Cozumel, Mexico.

While in Cozumel, we will check out the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort and see how it compares to other day pass places in Cozumel.

Our 2-night preview cruise will visit Nassau, Bahamas.  I am not certain if I will get off the ship or not.  There is usually a lot going on during these media preview sailings, so I may just stay onboard and take advantage of what the ship has to offer.

For the 7-night Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise, we will visit four ports along the way. 

  • Roatan, Honduras
  • Costa Maya, Mexico
  • Cozumel, Mexico
  • Nassau, Bahamas

Our first stop is Roatan, where everyone who booked with MEI Travel on the Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise gets to enjoy the Mayan Princess Resort Beach Break excursion.

Next up is Ccosta Maya and I get to return to my favorite all-inclusive resort in Maya Chan.  In fact, we're taking all the Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders on the cruise with us! Maya Chan is one of the best all-inclusive day passes I have ever been to, so the day will offer more time at the beach, and unlimited Shirley Temple's for my older daughter.

In Cozumel, we get to try one of the most popular day pass resorts on the island, Mr. Sanchos.  I have never been there, but heard some really good things for many years so I just had to try it.

Our last stop will bring us to Nassau, and we may go with a few friends cruising with us to check out a flight simulator experience.

Three things I am excited to try

3. El Loco Fresh

As many readers of this blog are keenly aware, I am quite the fan of Mexican food and more specifically, Sabor.  Symphony of the Seas does not have Sabor, so this will be my first opportunity to try the new Mexican option, El Loco Fresh.

El Loco Fresh is complimentary and I have heard generally good things.  While it may not match Sabor's excellent margarita collection or its freshly made guacamole, I am hoping it can satisfy my Mexican food cravings onboard.  If nothing else, the fact it is complimentary is a blessing to my SeaPass account (and a curse to my waist line).

2. Laser tag

I think it has been roughly twenty years since I last played laser tag, but I am excited to try this out on Symphony of the Seas.  

Laser tag has become a go-to activity that Royal Caribbean has added to its ships, and I am excited to see what Royal Caribbean's version of this game ends up looking like.  

1. Return to Roatan

I have not been to Roatan since my Navigator of the Seas cruise in 2014, so this has been a port we have not visited in quite some time.  The opportunity to come back excites me, especially since it has been so long since our last visit that it almost feels like a new port stop.

What's next

Our Symphony of the Seas cruise begins on Friday, November 9th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have. I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Dredging begins at Perfect Day at CocoCay

By: Matt Hochberg

Dredging boats were spotted at Royal Caribbean's private destination of CocoCay in the Bahamas, signaling the start of a pivotal milestone in creating a pier for ships to dock.

Majesty of the Seas visited CocoCay this past weekend, and dredging vessels were onhand to indicate work had begun recently.  

Dredging is a form of excavation carried out underwater to provide a waterway for cruise ships to access the pier that is under construction. Once the new pier and dredging are complete, Royal Caribbean's cruise ships can visit CocoCay by docking instead of tendering.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley estimates out of all the sailings to CocoCay, about 10 or 11% would be missed due to unfavorable tendering conditions. With the new pier, he believes the missed calls will drop to about 2%.

Royal Caribbean releases 2020 Alaska and Hawaii sailings

By: Matt Hochberg

UPDATE: While the sailings appear on Royal Caribbean's website, the sailings do not appear to be bookable.

Royal Caribbean's website is now showing 2020 Alaska and Hawaii sailings are viewable on the website.

While no official announcement has been made, we were able to browse the Royal Caribbean website to see and book the new sailings.

There will be three ships sailing to Alaska in 2020.

Ovation of the Seas will offer a 12-night sailing from Honolulu to Vancouver on May 7, 2020, before starting 7-night roundtrip Alaska Glacier cruises from Seattle, Washington that will begin later in May 2020. Following her Alaska season, Ovation will sail a 10-night Hawaii cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu.

Radiance of the Seas will first sail from Honolulu, Hawaii to Vancouver in May 2020, prior to offering 9-night Destination Denali open-jaw sailings between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska. She will also offer 10-night and 13-night open-jaw sailings between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia (optionally in both directions). Radiance of the Seas will offer a 10-night Hawaii cruise  from Vancouver, British Columbia to Honolulu, Hawaii in September 2020.

By August 2020, Serenade of the Seas will offer primarily 7-night roundtrip Alaska Glacier cruises from Vancouver, British Columbia. Serenade of the Seas will offer a 11-night Hawaii cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia to Honolulu, Hawaii in September 2020.

Be sure to consult the Royal Caribbean website or your travel professional for further assistance with itinerary options and booking.