InterContinental Miami Hotel Review

By: Matt Hochberg

The InterContinental Miami Hotel is located in Downtown Miami, just across the bay from PortMiami and where Royal Caribbean sails its cruise ships.  This review covers our stay at the hotel, featuring room photos, thoughts on the InterContinental's amenities and our general thoughts for anyone considering staying here on their next pre or post-cruise visit.

The InterContinental is directly downtown and overlooks Biscayne Bay.  It is a 35-story tower on the eastern edge of downtown Miami, near Bayfront Park.  According to the hotel's website, it was built in 1982 by famed architect Pietro Belluschi and has 641 guest rooms. The hotel's exterior, porte cochere and lobby were redesigned by architect Thomas Roszak, of Lohan Anderson + Roszak in 2012.

We selected the InterContinental primarily for its proximity to PortMiami.  You can not only see PortMiami quite well, but Royal Caribbean's corporate headquarters faces the hotel from across Biscayne Bay.

We also picked the InterContinental because it offered suites in addition to standard hotel rooms, which was important to us because it meant our two children could sleep in a seperate room from us.  Moreover, the suite included concierge lounge access for happy hour drinks each evening (5pm-7pm), as well as a complimentary breakfast set up in the morning from 7am to 11am.  We considered other hotels too, but either the price was higher, location further away, or simply sold out.

We drove to the hotel from Central Florida, so getting to Miami was easy enough via the Florida Turnpike.  Once in Miami, you take the appropriate exit and drive into the city to the plaza that the InterContinental is located.  Like any major American city, once you are in the city, there are many intersections and streets to navigate. More than likely if you are flying into Miami or another nearby airport, you will be taking a taxi or ride sharing service to the hotel, which means navigating to the hotel is someone else's problem.

Overnight valet parking is available at the hotel, as well as street parking nearby.  We used the valet parking option for simplicty and the service was prompt and efficient. It cost about $38 for 24 hours, and that is about what valet parking at any hotel in a city costs in my experience.  

We booked a Club Intercontinental Suite 1 King room. With taxes and fees, it came out to $324.17 for a one night stay.  Not the cheapest hotel we have ever stayed at, but it did include concierge lounge and most importantly, provided us with two sleeping areas.  All suites include high-speed Wi-Fi, Health & Spa Access, and Club Lounge Access.

Speaking of the room, the room was massive. It features a living area with pullout Queen sofa bed, as well as a bedroom and 1.5 bathrooms.

Depending on your room location, you will either have a view of Biscayne Bay or downtown Miami.  My kids loved watching the bustle of the city from our 31st floor vantage point.

Each room had a flatscreen television, which meant the kids could watch whatever weird shows they were into and I could watch something that would result in my feeling less inclined to claw out my own eyes.

The room was immaculate and we had no concerns about anything there.  Being a building built well over 30 years ago, you can tell the building is older, especially if you have stayed at the current generation of suite hotels around the country.  However, the hotel is well-maintained and showing no signs of its age. I felt like the age of the hotel meant that we got more square footage for the room compared to hotel suites I often find in hotels built much more recently.  

The InterContinental has a large pool area with ample seating all round.  In fact, the sheer amount of seating is quite impressive.

The only complaint you could make about the pool is that being in South Florida, passing thunderstorms and rain showers are quite common and there is little to no cover when one rolls past. 

In the morning, breakfast is served in the concierge lounge from 7am to 11am.  In the grand scheme of complimentary hotel breakfasts, this was pretty darn good.  The selection of hot food, cereals, breads and fruit was wide enough to satisfy our family.  In fact, I was impressed by how much was offered.

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at the InterContinental Miami since it provided the sleeping arrangements we wanted along with some nice extras in the form of concierge lounge. The location of the hotel and its proximity to PortMiami make it a fabulous hotel for before or after your cruise, especially if you enjoy watching the cruise ships leave.

I felt like the InterContinental is a safe bet for somewhere reliably upscale and well-maintained to stay in downtown Miami.  I might have been able to get another suite hotel for slightly less per night, or I could have compromised on the location of the hotel or certain amenities included.  Part of the appeal of the InterContinental it being a solid choice for somewhere to stay.

Your thoughts

Have you stayed at the InterContinental Miami? What did you think of the experience? Is this a hotel at which you would consider staying? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas makes a double maiden call in the Philippines

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas made her first visit to two different ports in the Philippines this weekend, Subic Bay and Manila. This is the largest ever cruise ship to call at any Filipino port, and with the highest number of guests onboard totalling close to 4,600 from around the world. She is currently on a 5-night cruise from Hong Kong.

Photo by Royal Caribbean International

To celebrate the maiden call at Subic Bay, a traditional plaque exchange ceremony was held onboard between Ovation of the Seas’ Captain Flemming Nielsen and local officials namely Atty. Wilma Eisma, Chairman and Administrator of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Mr Roberto Alabado III, Assistant Secretary of Department of Tourism. Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon and Ms Ma. Cristina Garcia, Vice Governor of Bataan were present at the event as well.

Photo by Royal Caribbean International

Photo by Royal Caribbean International

A similar ceremony was held to celebrate the ship’s maiden call in Manila, with Captain Nielsen and Mr Mancile Francisquiel, Port Manager of Philippine Ports Authority, Mr Pocholo Joselito Paragas, Chief Operating Officer of Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) – Department of Tourism, and Atty. Solfia Arboladura, Director of Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau presented the “key to the City of Manila” to the ship's Captain.

Photo by Royal Caribbean International

Ovation of the Seas is the largest cruise ship to enter the Philippines.

Friday Photos

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Friday and welcome to the weekend! Each week, we share our reader's favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos for everyone to enjoy.

Our first photo this week is by Tom Geyer, and it is of Port Everglades as Oasis of the Seas returned home.

Nikki Nothstein sent in this photo of Allure of the Seas docked in Old San Juan.

Bob Carpenter took this photo from his Navigator of the Seas stateroom.  His stateroom attendant, Donna from St. Vincent, had a great sense of humor.

Our next photo might make you hungry.  Tammy took this photo from Sabor on Harmony of the Seas.

Bill Barber snapped this photo of Empress of the Seas in Cozumel.

Here is a look at Grandeur of the Seas, as seen from CocoCay.  Photo by David Epstein.

Our final photo this week is by Jason Nolan of the Carousel on Harmony of the Seas at night.

Thanks to everyone who shared photos with us this week. You can always send in your favorite photos to be shared on a future edition of Friday Photos!

Royal Caribbean offering up to 30% off excursions, drink and internet packages during weekend sale

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Summer Countdown Cruise Planner sale begins today, with up to 30% off shore excursions, drink packages and internet packages.

Offer applies to new purchases made June 8 - June 11, 2018. Discount applies to shore excursion, beverage, and internet purchases on select sailings departing 6/15/2018 - 12/15/2018.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site to view 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.

Royal Caribbean will stop using plastic straws by end of 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

All of Royal Caribbean's cruise ships will eliminate the use of plastic drinking straws by the end 2018 in an effort to reach a comprehensive plastics elimination program.

The policy will be mirrored with sister brands Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises, and Pullmantur Cruceros.

Royal Caribbean has already implemented a "straws upon request" policy, and this new policy will go a step further to eliminate the plastic option all together. That program will be taken a step further by the start of 2019, when guests requesting a straw will receive a paper straw instead of a plastic one. Guests also will begin seeing Forrest Stewardship Council-certified wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks as part of the plastic reduction strategy.

After straws, stirrers and picks, the company's next efforts will focus on other single-use plastics such as condiment packets, cups, and bags. A full plastics audit is underway, with the overall plan to be completed in phases by 2020.

Fun finds: Royal Caribbean Monopoly edition

By: Matt Hochberg

As part of the festivities surrounding the new upgrades to Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas, the cruise line gave away a special edition of the classic board game Monopoly themed to Royal Caribbean International.

Before you ask, no, this is not for sale to the public yet.  From what we understand, this edition of the game was given away to travel agents on Independence of the Seas as a gift, but we have not seen nor heard of it being for sale to the public.  We purchased our copy off eBay, so you can take your chances there.

Monopoly has many different variations that have been produced over the years, including editions based on Star Wars, Pokemon, Game of Thrones, Disney and so many more. 

The Royal Caribbean monopoly edition draws on Royal Caribbean's ships and private destinations as the basis for this game.  


  • Players buy ships instead of properties
  • Travel spaces now cover ports
  • Community Chest has been renamed Treasure Chest
  • Houses have been renamed rooms and hotels have become suites

Like pretty much any Monopoly variation, the gameplay is the same but the aesthetics have changed. 

I thought it was particularly neat that the Treasure Chest cards (also known as Community Chest) were based on Royal Caribbean activities and events.

Here is hoping this Monopoly variation will eventually make it to become publicly available, because it is a really neat and fun idea!

Should I upgrade on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 253 is available for downloading where we debate if it is worth the money to upgrade a stateroom.

For a little fun, Matt and Michael consider a few examples of folks who asked for advice if they should upgrade their stateroom.  Matt and Michael engage in a spirited debate of whether it is a good idea or not to pay more for a better room.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 253. 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!

Royal Caribbean offering up to $200 instant savings and up to $200 onboard credit with new promotion

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Double Up sale begins today with up to $200 instantly and up to $200 to spend at sea.

The Double Up offer is valid on bookings made between June 6 - 10, 2018 on all sailings departing on or after July 6, 2018.

Here is a breakdown of the offer details:

  • 50% off second guest
  • 25% off third and fourth guests
  • Up to $200 onboard credit if booking a non-refundable rate 6 months or more prior to cruise departure date and up to $100 OBC if booking a sailing less than 6 months prior to cruise departure date
    • Onboard credit is determined by sailing length and category booked: $25 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balcony and $75 for Suite on sailings 5 nights and less, $25 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balcony, and $100 for Suite on sailings 6 nights or longer.
  • Up to $200 instant savings per stateroom.
    • The amount is determined by sailing length and category booked: $25 instant savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balcony and $75 for Suite on sailings 5 nights and less, $25 instant savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balcony, and $200 for Suite on sailings 6 nights or longer.
  • Deck the Holiday Deals
    • Instant savings of up to $150 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length
    • Valid on sailings between December 17, 2018 – January 1, 2019 and sailing between December 19, 2019 – December 31, 2019.
    • On sailings 5 nights or less, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $75 for Suites; on sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $150 for Suites

BOGO and Deck the Holiday Deals are combinable with each other as well as with Double Up Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Double Up Sale is combinable with NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military) but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. 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.

Instant savings do not apply to China departures.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean.

Video: Mariner of the Seas - Constructing Bold, New Adventures for Quick Caribbean Getaways

By: Matt Hochberg

Mariner of the Seas is being amped up with $120 million worth of bold, new features and experiences. When complete, Mariner will offer exciting 3- and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas, giving thrill seekers a break from their ordinary routine and adding adventure to their weekends. The transformation will include an out-of-this-world and first-of-its-kind virtual reality bungee trampoline experience at sea, glow-in-the-dark laser tag, a tiki-chic lounge and a wide range of dining experiences.

Royal Caribbean officially opens perfect Day Island Experiences for bookings

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today that its Perfect Day Island at CocoCay experiences are now ready to book for upcoming sailings from May 2019 and beyond.

Guests booked on these sailings can now reserve their perfect day activities, including Up, Up and Away, a tethered helium balloon that takes guests to new heights 450 feet above the island, and Thrill Waterpark, with the tallest waterslide in North America.

The new experiences may be booked through the Cruise Planner ( site.

We first reported last week that Royal Caribbean had begun adding certain Perfect Day Island Experiences into the Cruise Planner for select sailings, and the cruise line has now confirmed the roll out as of today.

Perfect Day at CocoCay Timeline

Perfect Day at CocoCay is what Royal Caribbean is renaming its private destination in the Bahamas, which will see the island transformed with a $200 million upgrade.

  • The new pier will open in November 2018.
  • Up, Up and Away helium balloon, Chill Island, and Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool will open in December 2018.
  • Thrill Waterpark, the Zip Line, Splashaway Bay aquapark, Captain Jack’s dining, Skipper’s Grill dining, and Captain
    Jack’s Galleon will open in May 2019.
  • South Beach, Coco Beach Club and the overwater cabanas will open in December 2019.

Perfect Day at CocoCay Costs

Royal Caribbean has also provided additional details as to which activities will be complimentary and which activities will have an extra charge.

Perfect Day at CocoCay will offer Voom high speed internet.  In addition, Beverage and Wi-Fi packages purchased onboard will be active on the island. You can also enjoy five new complimentary dining venues located throughout the island.

Towels and beach chairs are complimentary to all cruise guests. Umbrellas are available to rent for a nominal fee.

Lockers are available throughout the island for a nominal rental fee. You’ll also find complimentary freshwater showers, restrooms, and changing rooms available on the island.

Cabana Prices

Perfect Day at CocoCay will offer beach umbrellas, clamshells and daybeds for a rental charge.

In addition, cabanas will be available at beaches, Thrill Waterpark, and Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool. Or elevate your beach day with an overwater cabana at Coco Beach Club, which accommodates up to eight guests and comes with attendant service, a private hammock, a minibar, and your own personal slide into the sea.

Some cabanas come with extra perks, too. If you reserve a cabana at Thrill Waterpark, you’ll enjoy complimentary entry to all of the slides and activities inside for up to six guests. If you reserve a cabana at Coco Beach Club (including the overwater cabanas), you’ll enjoy complimentary access to the club for up to eight guests.

Cabana pricing varies by season. See price ranges below.

Perfect Day at CocoCay Height & Weight Restrictions

There are no age restrictions for the experiences at Perfect Day at CocoCay. Some slides and activities have height and weight restrictions; see the chart below for specifics. Many of the island’s other experiences, such as Up, Up and Away helium balloon, Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool, and Captain Jack’s Galleon, are open to all adventurers.

Royal Caribbean is partnering with h StarGuard, the leading provider of lifeguard services, to ensure there are lifeguards at every pool and every slide, as well as in recommended locations on the beach.

Perfect Day at CocoCay Access Policies

Currently, all venues and activities are open to guests of all ages. 

There will not be a dedicated daycare on the island, but the Adventure Ocean team will be hosting activities onshore for children and their families. Island programming is still being developed. And Adventure Ocean will remain open onboard for families who choose to stay on the ship.

At this time, Royal Caribbean does not have plans for any exclusive areas for Crown and Anchor Society members and Suite guests.

Getting Around Perfect Day at CocoCay

A tram service will run at all times on the island with four stops every 15 minutes: arrivals plaza, South Beach, Coco Beach Club, and Oasis Lagoon. All trams are ADA compliant.

The island is ADA compliant, but some experiences are not. There are complimentary beach access wheelchairs available, and an ADA compliant tram service. Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool is also ADA compliant, as is the wave pool in Thrill Waterpark. However, the towers to the waterpark’s slides have stairs, as does the tower up to the Zip Line.

Other Policies and offerings

You’ll find gluten free and vegetarian options available at all of the island’s dining venues, as well as options to suit most dietary needs.

The island will have designated smoking areas.

Charging stations will be available in cabanas and in select public locations for complimentary use.

Most of the trash is recycled, while some is sent to the ship to be disposed of properly. Additionally, Royal Caribbean is hard at work to reduce the use of plastics on their ships, and this effort will also extend to its private island destinations.