Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd names Adam Goldstein Vice Chairman

In:
19Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd announced today it has appointed Adam Goldstein, to serve as vice chairman.

Goldstein will assume his new post in May 2018. In his new role, Goldstein will continue to oversee RCL’s global government relations and destination development efforts, and will represent the company in industry associations.  Both areas have been a constant focus for Goldstein across a career filled with challenging assignments.

Goldstein ia a 30-year veteran of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, has served as RCL’s president and chief operating officer since 2014.  He also served as the President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International prior to Michael Bayley.

RCL’s chairman and CEO, Richard Fain, said, “Adam has played a pivotal role in our success since he joined the company in 1988. He has exerted a positive influence across the company and provides exemplary leadership in our industry and in the communities we serve. As Adam transitions to his new role, I look forward to working with him to continue to build on these successes.”

Goldstein said: “It remains an incredible privilege to work with the men and women of RCL, who help create the memories of a lifetime for our guests, and who know the importance of doing good while we do well. I look forward to focusing my efforts in a few key areas where I can help advance the cause of both RCL and the cruise industry.”

Rhapsody of the Seas Live Blog Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
18Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Our Rhapsody of the Seas cruise has begun and we could not be more excited. In fact, I am pretty certain my children are more excited for this cruise vacation than I am (which means I have raised them well).

We live in the Orlando, Florida area and since our cruise departs from Tampa, Florida, we are able to easily drive over the morning of the cruise. We got our things together and were on the road a little before 9am.

The drive from Orlando to Tampa is roughly an hour, and uneventful.

Rhapsody of the Seas is docked in Terminal 6, so I dropped the kids and wife (and luggage) off at the terminal right at 10am. Parking is at a surface lot adjacent to the terminal, which is very convenient.

We are in a suite, so there is a dedicated security line. It was so early that the line barely saved us anytime, but I just love having a special line. Check-in was a breeze and by 10:30am, we were onboard Rhapsody.

This is my first time on a Vision class ship, but it reminds me a lot of the Radiance Class. There are a lot of similarities.

The Windjammer was not quite open yet, so we enjoyed some time at the pool deck and the sunny weather.

Lunch at the Windjammer opened around 11am (it said it was to open at 11:30, but it opened a bit earlier). I enjoyed the selection of food available, and we all found plenty to pick from.

After eating, we got changed and headed to the pool. We practically had the pool to ourselves for quite a while, as most people do not have their swimsuits with them.

At 1pm our stateroom was open, and we got our first look at our Owner’s Suite.

We are staying in stateroom 8002, which is known as the Beethoven Suite.

There is lots of space, and I like that the master bed has curtains surrounding it, which will provide some privacy when the kids go to sleep.

We took the kids up to deck 10 to register for Adventure Ocean. Bing that Rhapsody of the Seas is a smaller ship, the Adventure Ocean space is on the small side.

It’s essentially one large room, separated into three sections. The counselors described the set up as the Aquanauts having a glass door separator, but Explorers and Voyagers are basically together since the space is so small.

I also took photos of the nursery onboard, in case you were wondering what it looks like.  The nursery was surprisingly larger than I was expecting.

And here is a look at the teens club/area.

Back to the room for some rest and putting clothes away as we got ready for Muster Drill.

Following muster drill, we went up to the pool deck for sail away on a picture-perfect party.

We headed back to the room to shower and get ready for our evening.  After everyone was dressed, we took the kids up to the Windjammer for dinner. 

The Captain made an announcement that we were approaching the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which marks the entrance (or in this case exist) to Tampa Bay.  Sailing under a bridge is always such a fun experience, and the Captain indicated we cleared the bridge by 9 feet!

On the first day, Adventure Ocean does not open until 8pm, so we had the kids with us for a bit leading into the evening.  We went to the Concierge Lounge, which is located on Deck 11 on the side of the Viking Crown Lounge. The Concierge attendant was extremely kind and welcoming to our kids.

We did a bit of exploring, checking out primarily deck 6 and the Schooner Bar.

Sunset was slated for 7:45pm, so I raced up to the pool deck to catch a perfect sunset at sea.

We dropped the children off at Adventure Ocean at 8pm and then went down to deck 4 to the Edelweiss dining room for our own dinner.

Rhapsody of the Seas has the "new" main dining room menu, which meant I automatically ordered the spaghetti bolognese (see my Anthem of the Seas live blog for backstory on my infatuation with that dish).

There was just one show this evening, a comedian, but it was at an earlier time so we decided to take it easy and grab the kids for a relatively early night.

Tomorrow is our first port stop in Key West, Florida. We should be there at 11am.

Stray Observations

  • Someone always asks, so the pool water is salt water and I am pretty sure the hot tubs are not salt water.
  • No drink package for me on this cruise.  Hoping for the drink card to show up, especially since I completely forgot to bring my own wine onboard.
  • Being the mature kids that my children are, their favorite thing about our suite is the bidet.
  • I think this is our first cruise with the bread basket served always on our table in the main dining room for dinner.
  • According to paperwork in our suite, it looks like we will switch time zones at 2am in the cruise(I think on day 3) and then switch back on the last day. That way, we will be on the same time as local time for the ports we visit.
  • The Voom internet has performed well enough to facilitate this blog post. I did a speed test in the main dining room (what else would I be doing while waiting for my appetizer) and got 2.74 Mbps down, 2.06 Mps up and a ping of 712ms.  Performance can vary greatly, depending where I am, but I was able to stream classic music without any interruption while writing this blog post.
  • This is our third time sailing out of Tampa, and this might be the best weather we have ever had, both in terms of atmospheric and oceanic conditions.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: March 18, 2018

In:
18Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

This was a busy week with Royal Caribbean news, and we have a summary of all of the news from this week to make certain you did not miss any of it.

Royal Caribbean made headlines around the world this week with the announcement of CocoCay upgrades and ship enhancements.

Royal Caribbean will spend $200 million to transform its private island of CocoCay in the Bahamas and add a ton of activities, aimed at offering, "the ultimate family destination in the Caribbean."

In addition, Royal Caribbean also announced it will invest $900 million to reimagining its fleet through a new modernization effort called Royal Amplified.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 241st episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, and we are previewing Matt's upcoming cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas.

In this episode, Matt is about to cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, and shares why he picked this ship, what his plans are onboard and some of the new experience he has lined up.

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

In The Loop Travel shared its top 13 spots on Brilliance of the Seas.

TradeWinds reports one of Royal Caribbean's co-founders has passed away.

CocoCay construction progress photo report

In:
17Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

If you are wondering what the progress is like for the new pier Royal Caribbean is building at its private island of CocoCay, we have a new look at where it stands.

Annette Jackson from MEI Travel shared with us photos of the pier construction, as seen earlier today during a stopover on Enchantment of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean updated the completion date of the pier at CocoCay will be September 2018. The pier is just one piece of the massive $200 million transformation that will take place over the next year needed to create the Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Friday Photos

In:
16Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Friday is here and we are sharing our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos so that we can all get into a "cruise mood" for the upcoming weekend!

We begin with a look at some of the food from Samba Grill on Allure of the Seas, as seen by Kinny Lee. This would be perfect in our Royal Caribbean Dining Facebook group.

Steve Buch sent in this photo, taken from North Star on Anthem of the Seas while docked in St. Kitts.

Michael Kho sent in this "painful" photo from his partially obstructed ocean view balcony.  It was painful, because his cruise was over at the time of the photo.

HappyBurger sent in this photo as he/she was arriving to Anthem of the Seas.

We warm things up with this photo by Doug B. of a beautiful day in CocoCay.

Ross and Pam sent in this beautiful photo of Explorer of the Seas at the Isle of Pines in the South Pacific.

Thank you to everyone who shared their photos with us this week. As always, we welcome all of our readers to share their favorite Royal Caribbean photos by using this form to submit them. Have a great weekend!

Henry Greenfield shared this photo from lunch at Giovannis Table.

Royal Caribbean CEO apologizes for website upgrade issues

In:
16Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley issued an apology letter to its guests for the issues related to a recent website upgrade that has resulted in many guests unable to access their account at all.

Bayley posted the letter on the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society Facebook page.

"I know that many of you are wasting valuable time and energy migrating to our new Guest Account system. Please know that we hear you, we read everything and we have mobilized the necessary resources to fix the problems."

Bayley went on to note the root cause of the problem is a combination, "many guests having created multiple accounts over the years, the elimination of being able to select amenities and preferences online for our loyal Crown & Anchor members, and mistakes we made in developing and implementing the first release of this new capability."

To remedy the issues, Royal Caribbean has assembled a team to fix the issues.

Bayley also noted if you are continuing to have issues, we’ve also created an email account at guestaccounthelp@rccl.com to reach the dedicated team.

Royal Caribbean's Lucky Saver Sale offers 30% off every guest, kids sail free and up to $200 total savings

In:
16Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is inviting vacationers to enjoy bonus savings on cruises booked this weekend with its Lucky Saver Sale.

Royal Caribbean cruises booked between March 16 and 19, 2018 on sailings departing on or after April 16, 2018 qualify for the deal.

Here is what is included:

  • 30% off cruise fare for all guests in the stateroom.
  • Kids Sail for Free offers free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Europe, Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii, Canada, Coastal and Caribbean sailings departing April 7 – June 1, 2018 or September 1 – December 17, 2018.
    • The Kids Sail Free Bonus excludes sailings between November 17 – 23, 2018.
  • Instant Savings
    • $25 instant savings for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites on sailings 5 nights and less
    • $50 instant savings for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6 nights and longer
    • $75 for Balconies on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • $100 for Suites on sailings 6 nights or longer
  • Caribbean Bonus of up to $100 instant savings is available for those guests who book a 6-night or longer Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada or Northeast sailing departing May 1 – December 31, 2018.
    • Instant savings are determined by sailing length and category booked: $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites.
  • Suite Bonus
    • ASuite Bonus of up to $1000 instant savings per stateroom is available for those guests who book a 7-night or longer Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, or Canada sailing departing on or after May 1, 2018.
    • Savings are determined by Ship and Suite Class: $200 savings for Sea Class, $500 for Sky Class and $1000 for Star Class for those guests sailing on Oasis class or Anthem of the Seas and those guests who book a suite on Jewel, Freedom, Liberty, Adventure, or Grandeur of the Seas sailings will receive instant savings determined by suite category: $200 savings for Junior Suite or above and $1000 for Royal Suite.

30% off, Caribbean Bonus, Kids Sail Free and Suites Bonus are combinable with each other as well as Lucky Saver Sale, NRDB OBC, OBC, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military), Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. Lucky Saver Sale is combinable with NRDB OBC, OBC, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. 30% off bookings made for China departures are combinable with NextCruise offers and Crown and Anchor balcony/suite discounts only. Instant Savings are not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to: Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

Offer available to residents of United States and Canada.

Royal Caribbean offering up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases with weekend Cruise Planner sale

In:
16Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off select drink package and shore excursions purchases this weekend, with its Sip, Tour & Save sale.

The weekend Cruise Planner sale promises savings on certain shore excursions and drink package purchases.  Guests can check which discounts, if any, are available for their upcoming sailing by visiting the Cruise Planner site. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

Based on the countdown timer, the sale will expire at midnight on Sunday night.

If you cannot access the Cruise Planner via the new site yet, use this link to get to the old login in the interim.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site and navigate to the Dining & Beverage section to see any available offers.

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.

A look at everything Royal Caribbean is adding to CocoCay

In:
15Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Have you heard about the big changes coming to CocoCay? Royal Caribbean unveiled its plans for the Perfect Day at CocoCay that is sure to offer a lot for guests of all ages.  

Perfect Day at CocoCay will roll out in phases, beginning Sept. 2018 with the completion of the pier, and the majority of the island will launch spring 2019. Coco Beach Club, the final experience to be completed, is set to open Nov. 2019.

Here is a breakdown of everything we know that is being added to CocoCay, from racing down the tallest and most thrilling waterslide in North America or riding the tide of the Caribbean’s largest wave pool, to taking in the highest view in The Bahamas from a helium balloon 450 feet in the air, unwinding at the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, or enjoying the perfect beach day.

Splash and play

As you arrive in CocoCay (on the newly added pier), the opportunity to get soaked and cool off is right around the corner.  The shipwrecked Galleon features 30 water cannons to play with, along with Sprayaway Geyser, spraying water 82 feet in the air.

Royal Caribbean has been adding a new aquatic adventure park to its cruise ships, dubbed Splashaway Bay.  On CocoCay, Royal Caribbean will create the largest version of its aqua park yet.

Splashaway Bay will feature fountains, pools, sprinklers, geysers, water cannons and whirlpools – plus five kid-size waterslides and two massive drench buckets.

Dining

At Captain Jack’s, the island hangout and meet-up spot, guests can grab a drink at the rowboat bar and enjoy waterfront views or chow down on chicken wings and crispy steak fries – the house specialty.

For a nautical, world-traveled vibe, guests can opt to head to Skipper’s Grill for lunchtime favorites like burgers, sandwiches, tacos and salads.

Thrills

The home for adrenaline-seeking guests is Thrill Waterpark, and it will be in the middle of Perfect Day at CocoCay.  It is home to two brag-worthy water towers with 13 slides – the most slides found in any waterpark in the Caribbean – as well as the Caribbean’s largest wave pool and a kid-friendly obstacle course pool.

Key features of Thrill Waterpark will include:

  • Daredevil’s Tower – Guests will push their limits on seven exhilarating slides, including twin Dueling Demons drop slides and the duo of Manta Raycers; the high-speed, fully vertical Screeching Serpent; the coiling Green Mamba; and the 135-foot-tall Daredevil’s Peak – the tallest waterslide in North America.
  • Family Tower – Adventurous squads will share the thrill with six multi-rider slides, including The Twister, a winding tube slide for two sharing a raft; The Slingshot, a zero-gravity slide for four; and the four-lane Splash Speedway racing slides.

There will also be a 1,600-foot zip line that ends with the only splash water landing in the region.

For younger kids, Adventure Pool will offer an obstacle course of lily pads, a rock-climbing wall and swing ropes to bounce, climb and swing to their heart’s content.

Birds-eye View

You will be able to see it all with Up, Up and Away.  This colorful helium baloon will take guests 450 feet above CocoCay to provide the highest vantage point in The Bahamas and offer views all around the island.

Largest Freshwater Pool

Royal Caribbean is planning to add the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean at Oasis Lagoon.

Guests can find a spot among three distinct coves, each with their own vibe.  There will be a swim-up bar, zero entry pool access, or three mini swim-up islands with in-water loungers. 

If indulgence is more your style, private cabanas area available, complete with its own cabana attendant.

Beach time

If you are looking to enjoy time on the beach, Chill Island may be the place for you.  Royal Caribbean promises vacationers can find pristine, crystal-clear tropical waters and white powder-like sand

Chill Grill, the largest dining venue on the island, will offer beachside dining with fresh bites. Guests will also find beach day favorites here, including wave runner excursions, boat tours, snorkeling to see the spectacular marine life, as well as plentiful cabanas and daybeds for relaxation under the shade. There will also be beach bars with roaming bartenders.

South Beach will offer many activities to do while at the beach, such as volleyball, beachside basketball, soccer, paddle boarding, glass-bottom kayaking and zorbing in an inflatable zorb ball.

You can grab a bite at the Snack Shack or wade out to the floating bar to cool off with a drink.

If relaxation is more their speed, photo-worthy teepee cabanas, as well as daybeds, are perfect for napping and snapping in the shade.

An exclusive retreat

The Coco Beach Club will offer the first and only overwater cabanas in The Bahamas that seeks to offer guests with an additional level of luxury.

Cabanas at the Coco Beach Club come with an overwater hammock, waterslide and private attendant.

In addition, beachside cabanas and daybeds will offer up a private slice of paradise. Elsewhere, guests can find zen at a freshwater infinity edge pool and bar, spanning an expansive 2,600-plus feet, or enjoy an exclusive dining venue that serves up freshly made Mediterranean fare with a side of ocean views.

Your thoughts

Which addition to CocoCay are you most excited to try?  Are you brave enough to go down the Daredevil’s Tower? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean announces massive expansion for private destinations and new ship upgrades

In:
14Mar2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced plans for a massive expansion to its private islands, as well as fleet modernization effort.

CocoCay

Leading the big news is the announcement of a $200 million transformation of Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay in the Bahamas.

CocoCay will be the first in the cruise line's most ambitious project yet, which they are dubbing the Perfect Day Island Collection.  This will be a series of unrivaled and exclusive private island destinations around the world.

Perfect Day at CocoCay is aimed at offering "the ultimate family destination in the Caribbean."

Highlights include:

  • Thrill Waterpark, featuring two brag-worthy water towers with 13 slides – the most slides found in any waterpark in the Caribbean – will include the 135-foot-tall Daredevil’s Peak, the tallest waterslide in North America. In addition, the waterpark will feature the Caribbean’s largest wave pool and a kid-friendly obstacle course pool.
  • Oasis Lagoon, the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool, with a swim-up bar and in-pool loungers.
  • A 1,600-foot zip line that crisscrosses the island at up to 50 feet high and features the only water landing in the Caribbean.
  • A helium balloon, dubbed Up, Up and Away, floats up to 450 feet above the ground providing for the highest vantage point in The Bahamas.
  • Two specially designed beaches – Chill Island for the ultimate beach escape, complete with pristine, crystal-clear tropical waters and white powder-like sand – and plentiful cabanas and daybeds for relaxation; and the action-packed South Beach with volleyball, beachside basketball, soccer, paddle boarding, glass-bottom kayaking and zorbing in an inflatable zorb ball.
  • The exclusive Coco Beach Club, will offer an upscale island experience that will feature the first overwater cabanas in The Bahamas.

The island transformation will roll out in phases beginning September 2018 with the completion of a new pier, and by spring 2019 the majority of the island’s experiences will be open. Coco Beach Club, the final phase, is set to open November 2019.

Additional Perfect Day Island Collection destinations in Asia, Australia and the Caribbean will be announced at a later date.

Ship revitalizations

Royal Caribbean also announced it will invest $900 million to reimagining its fleet through a new modernization effort called Royal Amplified.

Royal Amplified will cover 10 ships over four years, and Royal Caribbean promises the program will touch every facet of the guest experience, and introduce a wide range of innovative features and bold, new experiences, including specialized pool spaces, experiential dining and nightlife concepts, and first-of-its-kind attractions.

Royal Amplified will include the Oasis, Freedom and Voyager class ships.

Independence of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to receive updates under the Royal Amplified program. Mariner of the Seas will receive her upgrades in time for this summer. The program will continue in 2019 on sister ship Navigator of the Seas, which also will be redesigned to specifically cater to those who seek a quick getaway.

Oasis of the Seas will be completely reimagined in fall 2019, ten years after her revolutionary debut. The ship will gain new thrills, pools, bars and culinary creations, as well as introduce new restaurants and onboard adventures found on the newest Oasis Class ship, Symphony of the Seas. These enhancements will cascade to Allure of the Seas in spring 2020, making every ship in the class more adventurous than ever.

Freedom of the Seas will be up next, debuting new features in 2020, followed by Liberty of the Seas in 2021.

In developing Royal Amplified, the global cruise line analyzed multiple years of guest satisfaction ratings, venue utilization data and crew interviews to focus the major investment on key features and experiences that matter most to travelers.

Full details on each ship’s new amenities will be revealed on a continuous basis in the next three years.

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