5 things to try on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

In:
24Jun2017

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is filled with so many fun things to do.  Whether you are new to Royal Caribbean or have remained "loyal to Royal" for years, here are five things we think everyone should try onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Get a WOWBand

Harmony of the Seas features WOWbands bracelets that allows you to open you stateroom door, charge onboard purchases or check into shows and restaurants. They essentially an optional replacement for your SeaPass card.

They are made of silicone and come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, black and blue. WOWbands use Radio Frequency (RF) technology that can be read by Royal Caribbean's readers that are found at kiosks, tablets and mobile scanners that Royal Caribbean crew operate.

Your WOWband is linked to your SeaPass account and holds all of your information related to your cruise vacation such as your stateroom information, dining reservations and more.  Harmony of the Seas is one of the few Royal Caribbean ships in the fleet to offer WOWbands, making it a little extra special.

Guests on Harmony of the Seas can choose to purchase WOWbands for $4.99 each at Guest Services.  If you are staying in a suite, WOWbands are complimentary.

Try the Escape Room

One of the most fun activities on Harmony of the Seas is Escape the Rubicon, which is an escape room experience. 

This is different kind of onboard activity that was pioneered by a group called Puzzle Break, which have created similar experiences on in a few cities.

After a briefing, guests search a room for clues and hidden messages and then try to put it all together to figure out the key phrase.  There are word searches, patterns and other challenges designed to get you thinking in a lot of different directions.

If you are knew to an escape room game, you might be a little hesitant at the idea of going into a "locked" room for an hour and not really knowing what to expect. Take solace in the fact that Escape the Rubicon might have been the most fun we had onboard the ship. This is truly unlike anything else you have ever done on a cruise ship, and it is incredible appealing.

Eat at Wonderland

Royal Caribbean's Oasis class ships have been known for offering guests a lot of dining options and Harmony of the Seas continues that tradition by offering a new restaurant to the Oasis class.

Wonderland is an imaginative take on specialty dining, where the experience is just as important as the food offered. On Harmony of the Seas, guests will find the first two-story Wonderland restaurant, where guests can enjoy totally inventive and "maddeningly delicious" cuisine.

Wonderland is a specialty restaurant developed by Royal Caribbean that is loosely based on the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland novel by Lewis Carroll. Like all Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants, the food available is different than anywhere else on the ship, but it also is big on the experience.

Go on the bridge wing

Regardless of if you want to take a selfie or just an epic photo of the ocean around you, make plans to go up to the bridge wings during your cruise.

The bridge wings are observational platforms that jet out from the side of the ship, and offer terrific views of the area around you.  The port bridge wing even features a see-through glass floor that you can stand on to add some panache to your photo.

Sunset, sunrise, sailaways and any other time are great for taking photos, and your album will not be complete without a few shots from the bridge wing.

See Columbus: The Musical

Royal Caribbean packed Harmony of the Seas with lots of terrific entertainment, but the one show we cannot get enough of is Columbus, The Musical!. This original Royal Caribbean production is a fun musical that takes inspirations from hit Broadway shows, such as “Spamalot” and “Something Rotten."

Marvin Columbus is the very, very, very, very, very distant relative of Christopher and spent his entire life ‘neath Chris’ shadow. Marvin’s disappointed nobleman father, sends him on a voyage to find his destiny.

The story is fun, the cast energetic and the music perfect to sing along with. Columbus is at the very top of our list of favorite shows we have seen onboard any Royal Caribbean ship.

Your thoughts

Have you been on Harmony of the Seas?  What do you think is something that everyone should try onboard? Share your thoughts in the comments for the blog post!

Friday Photos

In:
23Jun2017

The weekend is here and we love to welcome some well-deserved time off with our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos.  Each week, we ask our readers to submit their best Royal Caribbean photos, so that we can showcase them right here.

Caz starts us off this week with a photo of Independence of the Seas docked in Villefranche.  C'est magnifique!

Here is a photo by Jack, taken from the aft of Allure of the Seas.

Jason A Mathis-White shared with us this photo of Navigator of the Seas in Labadee.

Bob Carpenter took this photo of the Terminal Sierra Maestra in Havana, while onboard Empress of the Seas.

Here is a photo of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park on St. Kitts, taken by Keith Davis.

Allen Shaffer took this photo of Radiance of the Seas in Sitka, Alaska.

We wrap things up this week with a photo of Gary the Gnome on Oasis of the Seas, taken by John McCormack.

Thank you to everyone that sent in their photos. Would you like your Royal Caribbean photo to be showcased? Submit your photo via this form and we will use it in a future post!

Royal Caribbean wants to offer guests Snapchat goggles for underwater broadcasts

In:
23Jun2017

Royal Caribbean has been making headlines this week with its waterproof Snapchat spectacles that it invented for underwater exploration.  It now appears the cruise line's ultimate goal is to allow guests to use them too.

According to AdWeek, Royal Caribbean chief marketing officer Jim Berra indicated the goal is to receive a patent for the goggles and then equip ships with the goggles so guests can rent them by this fall. He said one purpose of the campaign is to remind people of the biological diversity of the Caribbean.

"You can get off the beaten path and have these types of water-based adventures and then capture it in a really fun and unique way," Berra told AdWeek.

Berra told PRWeek these goggles represent a first for Royal Caribbean, "This is the first time we’re applying for a patent," Berra said. "We’ve been very successful with the testing, and we think as Spectacles become more prevalent, we’re offering a way to use them that will be very appealing." 

In addition, the Snapchat Spectacles are interchangeable, which means guests can swap out their own pair and continue to use the glasses on land.  This means increased exposure on social media. With the SeaSeekers dive mask, users can livestream photos and videos from depths of 150 feet.

Currently Royal Caribbean made just 10 prototypes of the product.

Royal Caribbean created the goggles for its #SeekDeeper campaign, where Snapchat users could follow along live as divers in the Caribbean explored underwater.

First time cruiser's guide to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Compass

In:
22Jun2017

You just picked the perfect Royal Caribbean cruise for you and your family and it sounds like it will be a blast, but you might be wondering what events, activities and specials may be offered on your cruise.  

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver to your stateroom the Cruise Compass, which is a daily guide to the news, events and activities that will be occurring on your ship the next day.

Royal Caribbean packs a lot of things to do into each day and you are best served by reading it each evening to be aware of what is happening onboard. 

The Cruise Compass is more than just knowing what time bingo is at.  It offers you insight into the next day's weather, which bars will have drink specials, shore excursion information and much more.

Some events are not repeated while other activities can change daily, so it is in your best interest to track what is happening so you do not miss any of it.

Cruise Compass structure

Regardless of which ship you are on, the basic structure of the Cruise Compass is fairly consistent.  Oasis and Quantum class ships have a slightly different look to the Cruise Compass, but the organization of the Compass remains similar.

Page One

The first page has an overview of what to expect that day, including where the ship will be (in port or at sea), a weather report, and various specials, offers and events that are highlighted.  By far, the weather report in the upper right hand corner is the most useful information on this page.

The first page also includes a section of "Important things to know today".  It is always good to skim over the list to see if there is anything that stands out.

Page Two

Opening up the Cruise Compass, you will find more events, sales and other offers.

The most important part of this page is the "Activity and Entertainment Highlights," which lists the headline show/performance of the evening.  Since the evening entertainment is usually the most popular and well-known acts onboard, it is always a good idea to see what performances are scheduled for the evening.

In terms of activities listed here, they will all be listed again in the full daily planner, which is coming up on additional pages.  Page two is usually best for glancing quickly over it for anything that jumps out as interesting.

Page Three

The third page is an important page for referencing which venues are open and what time. You will get a breakdown of open hours for many areas of the ship, and most importantly, restaurants.

On this page you will find the dress code for the main dining in the evening, as well as open hours for every eatery onboard the ship. Knowing when restaurants are open is always helpful, because hours stagger quite a bit.

At the bottom of the page, you will find the drink of the day, which features one cocktail that can be purchased at a discount.  If you do not have an unlimited alcohol package, this can be a good value.

Page Four

If you read only one page of the Cruise Compass, make sure it is this one because it lists all of the day's activities.  

Activities are broken down by time of day (morning, afternoon, evening) and provides a chronological list of events throughout the ship.  Each event has a time, title and location for quick reference.

A great strategy for managing this page is to use a highlighter and mark off any events of interest for easy reference later. 

You should also know that the activities listing can be teared off for easy reference later on. Many guests will tear them off, fold it up and place in their pocket.

Kids and Adventure Ocean

Royal Caribbean provides a lot of programming for children and teenagers on their ship.  Some events make it onto the regular Cruise Compass, but there are even more events listed in special daily planners just for the kids.

Just like the Cruise Compass, Adventure Ocean publishes a Kids Daily Planner for children 3-11 years old.  It breaks down the activities lined up for the day while the kids are enrolled in Adventure Ocean.  The activities are broken up by ages for easy reference.

Teenagers get their own planner too, specifically for kids that are 12-17 years old. The Teen planner is a bit more similar to the Cruise Compass in structure, with a chronological breakdown of events and activities that are just for teenagers.

Past Cruise Compasses

Royal Caribbean does not post or publish Cruise Compasses for upcoming sailings in advance.  Nor do they publish their entertainment schedules prior to a cruise. With that in mind, many veteran Royal Caribbean cruisers reference past Cruise Compasses to get an idea of what to expect on an upcoming sailing. 

There is no way to know in absolute terms what your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise will or will not offer, but Royal Caribbean insiders will consult past Cruise Compass' to see what was available on those similar sailings to get an idea of what to expect.

Generally speaking, Royal Caribbean sailings on a particular ship do not change that much from week to week in terms of the activities or entertainment offered.  There will be some discrepancies, but an old Cruise Compass can give you a good ballpark of expectations to plan around.

By reading an old Cruise Compass, you can prepare yourself for activities and events that you might want to participate in, such as themed dance parties, sporting events and anything inbetween.

You can reference our Cruise Compass archive for a listing of past Cruise Compasses that we have found.

Digital Cruise Compass

Royal Caribbean's Royal iQ app is available on select ships and has among its features a digital copy of the Cruise Compass.

In addition to a listing of everything happening onboard, guests can add specific events directly to their own digital calendar for easy tracking. As you make reservations or add activities directly from the daily Cruise Compass to your calendar, your schedule is automatically updated. 

Royal iQ only works when onboard Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's Summer Cyber Sale will offer 60% off second guest and up to $200 instant savings

In:
22Jun2017

Cyber Monday may still be many months away, but Royal Caribbean is offering a "Summer Cyber Sale" later this week with up to $200 instant savings plus 60% off the second guest.

The Summer Cyber Sale will run between June 22-27, 2017 and is valid on all sailings departing on or after July 22, 2017. Offer excludes China departures.

The deal offers

  • 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full fare guest
  • 30% cruise fare savings for 3rd and 4th guests booked in the same stateroom as first two qualifying guests
  • Kids Sail Free offer
    • Free cruise fare of third and higher guests who are 12 years or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom on 5 nights or longer Bahamas and Caribbean sailings departing Sep. 1, 2017-May 31, 2018
    • Excluding sailings departing 11/17/17-11/27/17, 12/17/17–1/8/18, 2/15/18-2/20/18 and 3/10/18-4/1/18
  • Instant Savings
    • $25 off per stateroom for interior and Oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $50 off per stateroom for balcony and suite on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $50 off per stateroom for interior and Oceanview on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • $150 per stateroom for balcony on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • $200 per stateroom for suite on sailings 6 nights or longer.
  • Bonus Instant Savings
    • Bonus instant savings total per stateroom for Crown and Anchor members sailings departing October 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018
      • $50 off per stateroom total for interior and Oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less
      • $100 off per stateroom total for balcony and suite on sailings 5 nights or less
      • $100 off per stateroom total for interior and Oceanview on sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $250 per stateroom total for balcony on sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $300 per stateroom total for suite on sailings 6 nights or longer.

BOGO60 is combinable with Kids Sail Free, Instant Savings Offer, 3rd and 4th Guest Savings, Crown & Anchor discounts and NextCruise offers. BOGO60, Kids Sail Free, Instant Savings Offer and 3rd and 4th Guest Savings are not combinable with restricted rates. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion.

Offer open to residents of U.S. or Canada. 

Video: Constructing the World’s Largest Ship: Symphony of the Seas Brings New Adventures

In:
21Jun2017

Symphony of the Seas is one step closer to claiming the title of the world’s largest cruise ship. The ship’s construction continues right on schedule, with Royal Caribbean innovators developing even more groundbreaking wow’s for the latest member of the Oasis class of ships. From the iconic waterfront AquaTheater to the Bionic Bar robot bartenders, the cruise line's best features will combine with exciting new experiences for the ultimate adventure.

Using the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
21Jun2017

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

Episode 203 is available for downloading, which takes a close look at Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner.

Perhaps no resource is as central to pre-cruise planning as the Cruise Planner. This week, Matt looks at what the Cruise Planner offers guests and what strategies work best for taking advantage of it.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 203. 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!

Video: How Royal Caribbean supplies its "floating hotels"

In:
20Jun2017

Royal Caribbean’s hotel procurement team sources all consumables and replaceables aboard some 48 “floating hotels” in its global fleet. Such items as plants and flowers, dishware, bed linens and uniforms, among many others, are obvious. Others – tear-away shorts for “sexy man” contests on the pool deck and holiday decorations – not so much.

Royal Caribbean brings underwater adventures to Snapchat users

In:
19Jun2017

Royal Caribbean is offering everyone experience an undersea adventure with a first-of-its-kind social media innovation.

From June 21-25, Through the lens of Snapchat Spectacles, Royal Caribbean's Snapchat Channel will take viewers underwater, thanks to a custom-design scuba mask dubbed "SeaSeekers."

The mask was custom engineered by the cruise line for use with Snapchat Spectacles. It allows the wearer to snap while underwater and will give those above the surface a unique perspective into the intriguing underwater world of marine life. Fans can #SeekDeeper by following @RoyalCaribbean on Snapchat.

There will be three dives that will show what it is like to take an underwater adventure through the eyes of three well-known divers.

  • In Cozumel, Mexico marine wildlife photographer and conservationist Roberto Ochoa will give viewers a rare glimpse into the annual migration of Whale Sharks.
  • Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava and co-founder of the organization Oceanus, A.C. based in Mexico, will then take viewers to see a coral reef restoration project where she and her team have been working to restore the local reefs.
  • In Belize, fans can follow along as free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that is believed to be the largest of its kind.

"The SeaSeeker will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before," said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer and SVP of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "Snapchat continues to be a favorite channel for curious travellers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration. We are excited to find an innovative way to use the Snapchat Spectacles with our SeaSeeker mask so that we can bring the underwater experience to our guests as they visit the incredible destinations we sail to. We’ve even taken the added step of applying for a patent for the SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring it to our guests exclusively."

Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s Snapchat channel or by searching on other social platforms by using #SeekDeeper.

Top things to do in St. Maarten on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
19Jun2017

Many Royal Caribbean cruises that visit the Eastern Caribbean will make a stop in St. Maarten, an island split between The Netherlands and France.  St. Maarten is known for its beautiful beaches, and exquisite examples of Dutch and French culture.

Royal Caribbean cruise ships dock on the Dutch side of the island, right outside of the Dutch capital of Philipsburg.  Visitors to St. Maarten will find a good mix of aquatic activities, shopping, dining and more.  Here are some popular options for what to do on your day in St. Maarten.

Shopping in Marigot

The French capital of Saint-Martin is Marigot, and walking its streets evokes a sense of being in a small French village, rather than an island in the Caribbean.

Marigot is full of wonderful shopping and dining choices, along with easy access to the the water.  A visit to Marigot is a great choice for guests looking to do a bit of shopping, or enjoy French food while in town. You can wander the streets of central Marigot, and discover old Creole houses, restored in the traditional Saint Martinoise style and often housing luxury boutiques.

Marigot is also well known for its duty-free shopping, with a focus on luxury and French fashion.

Getting to Marigot requires a short taxi ride.

Airplanes at Maho Beach

It is likely you have seen at some point a video of an airplane landing near Maho Beach, without knowing it is located in St. Maarten.  

Maho Beach is a small beach on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island, located adjacent to Princess Juliana International Airport. Maho Beach is unusually close to the threshold of a runway, and is directly under the flight path, resulting in aircraft on their final approach flying over the beach at altitudes of less than 100 feet above ground level.

The beach itself is white sand and has little to no vegetation because of jet blast erosion. The reason to visit Maho Beach is to see planes landing, and experience the thrill of seeing them in person. The Sunset Bar and Grill is located at the beach, which offers refreshments between landings.

Orient Bay

Orient Bay beach, situated in the north-eastern part of the island, is one of the island’s largest and most popular beaches. The beach offers a full range of tourist amenities, including beach restaurants, hotels, shops and water sports.

Orient Bay is widely regarded to be among the best beaches in the Caribbean, and is the perfect setting for a day at the beach. Orient Beach is the most developed, the most popular and the busiest beach on the island and is reputed as much for its natural beauty and setting as it is for being the island´s foremost swimsuit optional beach.

Orient Bay is the only beach on St. Martin with a large number of beach bars and restaurants directly located on the beach.

Grand-Case

If you want to experience the French side of St. Martin with a bit more authenticity, head over the Grand-Case. The village of Grand Case has retained all its authenticity, particularly in its housing.

Grand-Case is well known for its exquisite dining and has the perfect mix of attractions in and around its center. Grand-Case has all the flavors of French 'haute cuisine' and 'savoir vivre'.

Nearby, visitors can check out the beach that offers several beach bars, restaurants, and small hotels. Frugal travelers, will appreciate the beach side market square with the 'lolos', serving grilled lobster, barbecue food, and local treats.

Phillipsburg

The capital of St. Maarten is Phillipsburg, which was settled by the Dutch in 1631 for the Great Salt Pond located nearby.  Jewelry and souvenir stalls line the main street. A promenade has been developed along the waterfront and is lined with a vast range of restaurants and bars.

Like Marigot, Philipsburg offers duty-free shopping to visitors at the many shops that line the two main streets downtown: Front Street and Back Street. Shoppers will find jewelry, perfumes, appliances, clothing and more for sale throughout the town.

There are also a number of cultural hot spots to check out, including the St. Maarten Museum, Courthouse and Sint Maarten National Heritage Foundation.

Island Tour

Since there is so much to see in St. Maarten, a lot of times a tour of the island makes a lot of sense. Taking a tour of St. Maarten allows you to get a "taste" of the highlights and maybe set yourself up for something on a future visit.

There are a lot of tours you can take, either on your own, with a private driver or through a group tour.  Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and one of the big factors will be cost. Group tours will be the least expensive options, but you will be at the mercy of the pace of the group.  Conversely, a private tour will allow you to do what you want, when you want, but with the caveat that you will pay more for it.

Island tours are very popular shore excursions and available through third parties or with Royal Caribbean.  Taxis are readily available at the port area, as well as around Philipsburg and most popular tourist areas.

Your Thoughts

Have you tried any of the places we outlined? Do you have a recommendation for something to do in St. Maarten? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

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