Guide to Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe buffet

In:
04Jun2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe is the cruise line's preeminent buffet option and a popular choice for many guests throughout the day.  The Windjammer serves up food for all meals, and offers a laid back experience with enough variety to satisfy nearly any palate.

Here is what you need to know about The Windjammer Cafe on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Atmosphere

The look and decor of the Windjammer depends on the ship you are sailing on, but in general it features a classic nautical look with lots of deep blues and wood around the entire venue.  After all, the word "windjammer" refers to a merchant sailing ship.

Most Royal Caribbean ships have two entrances to the Windjammer, one on each side of the elevator banks closest to the Windjammer.

As you walk in, in most cases the Windjammer is a mirror split, where buffet stations on either side of the restaurant offer the same food as a means of splitting up crowds.

You will find ample seating in the Windjammer, with tables, booths and even high tops on some ships.  Seating is first-come, first served and there is wait staff that roam the restaurant to help clear tables, serve drinks and and assist in any special requests.

All Windjammer locations have lots of seating with views of the ocean.  On certain classes of ships (Quantum and Radiance class), there is outdoor seating towards the rear of the Windjammer.  Regardless of where you sit, it is usually quite easy to get a good view of the ocean.

How it works

If you have ever been to a buffet style restaurant, the Windjammer Cafe should be no different in approach.  As you enter the Windjammer Cafe, you pick up a plate and utensils that are rolled in the napkin.  You then proceed to any buffet station you like and wait your turn to serve yourself.

There is no limit on how many servings or visits you can make to the Windjammer, and the Windjammer Cafe is a complimentary dining choice on all ships.

The proper protocol for serving yourself in the Windjammer is to always take a new plate when you go up to get more food.  Reusing plates is a health hazard on a cruise ship, so you simply leave any used plates and utensils on your table and one of the Windjammer waiters will collect it.

Royal Caribbean typically breaks up cuisines offered via each Windjammer buffet station.  For lunch or dinner, there is a salad station, an international foods station, a soup area, etc.  You can easily walk around the Windjammer to "scope out" the choices and then enter the line for whichever station appeals to you.

For breakfast, you will find a myriad of traditional breakfast options, including eggs, bacon, cereal, sausage, yogurt, fruit and more.  With the exception of the Oasis class ships, there is a custom egg ordering station that is a really popular and fabulous choice. The breakfast food choices rarely change (if ever) during your sailing.

There is also coffee and tea stations set up near the entrance of the Windjammer for easy access to getting a cup of coffee to start your day. 

At lunch and dinner, you will find a wide selection of food, with dinner offering the greatest variety of choices.  Meals at these times combine typical American cruise fare (burgers, hot dogs, salads and sandwiches) with a lot of international foods. 

The exact menu will change on a daily basis, but there is usually a few consistently offered choices that will form the core options.

In the evening, the Windjammer Cafe usually has a theme to the menu, where a special menu is offered in addition to the usual fare. Some examples are Mongolian grill, Mexican, pasta station, etc. The great thing about these stations is the food is prepared just for you and that means you get exactly what you want in your dish.

The Windjammer is also home to a lot of vegetarian and gluten-free choices.  The signs for each food will indicate if they satisfy a particular need, but you can always speak with the head waiter of the Windjammer about special requests.

In terms of drinks, the Windjammer regularly offers milk (chocolate and regular), lemonade, water, flavored waters, iced tea, coffee, tea and juices (in the morning).

In addition to the regular food, the Windjammer always has a large array of desserts to choose from.  You will find ice cream, cakes, gelatin, fruit, cookies and pretty much everything needed to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Windjammer hours

The exact hours will vary from ship to ship, but the Windjammer is open for most, but not all hours of the day.  Your Cruise Compass will list exact times, but plan on breakfast, lunch, mid-day snacks and dinner.

The Windjammer will offer the widest array of dining times, which is great for those that sleep in or are looking for off-hour meals.  The Windjammer is also open for all meals, regardless of if your Royal Caribbean ship is in a port or at sea.

By far, the most crowded time for the Windjammer is breakfast, with a peak in the 9:00am hour.  There are times when seating may be full, but the Windjammer crew members do a great job of helping clear tables quickly and encouraging guests to vacate their tables once they are done.  If you are having trouble locating an open table, ask a crew member for assistance.

For those wondering, no, Royal Caribbean does not offer a midnight buffet option either at the Windjammer or anywhere else onboard. 

Windjammer Dress Code

The dress code for dining in the Windjammer Cafe is always listed as casual, regardless of the main dining room dress code.

This means you can wear shorts, t-shirts are all okay.  The only real dress restrictions in the Windjammer are no bare feet and bathing attire will not be permitted at any time.  

Windjammer Cafe tips and strategies

  • When you enter the Windjammer, you will be required to wash your hands and/or sanitize your hands.  Yes, you have to do it and yes, it is worthwhile to avoid getting sick.
  • You can take food from the Windjammer to go at any time.  Feel free to bring the food back to your stateroom, pool deck or wherever your family is located.
  • If you have trouble finding a table, ask the waiters roaming the restaurant for assistance.
  • The Windjammer waiters are happy to bring you beverages, straws, booster seats and anything else you may need.
  • If you have a dietary need, ask to speak to the head waiter.  They are quite good at accommodating most needs, but keep in mind they may need advanced notice to prepare something in particular.
  • If you want eggs of any kind at breakfast, skip the eggs in the buffet area because they tend to be powdered eggs.  Instead, go to the custom-made egg station and have them made there.
  • On Oasis Class ships, the Windjammer does not have a custom-made egg station, but you can find that at other locations onboard.
  • Try to go to the Windjammer at least once for dinner when they open up for the evening.  We usually find the crew members welcoming guests with clapping, singing and/or dancing.  It is a fun display!
  • If there is outdoor Windjammer seating, take advantage of it for the great ambiance. The Windjammer often boasts some of the best views onboard.
  • If your Windjammer has a Jade section, this means that area of the Windjammer serves up Asian food regularly.  On some evenings, this may include sushi.

Have you dined at the Windjammer Cafe? Tell us about your experience and share your favorite tips in the comments!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: June 3, 2018

In:
03Jun2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! It is getting hot outside these days, and the Royal Caribbean news this week is equally heated.  

The big news from this week is our first look at prices for some of the new Perfect Day at CocoCay activities.

Royal Caribbean put on sale via its Cruise Planner some of the new options guests can pre-book, including admission to its water parks and cabana prices.

Based on an email sent to some guests, it looks like the cruise line is targeting May 2019 for the opening of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 252nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt answers as many emails sent in by podcast listeners as possible.

In this episode, Matt answers questions about visiting Disney World on a shore excursion, cruising to Alaska, drink package information and more.

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.

New RCB Video: 19 things you didn't know you could do on Royal Caribbean

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video – 19 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on Royal Caribbean  — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Barron's interviewed Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chairman and CEO Richard Fain about the cruise industry outlook.

OK! listed seven reasons why Symphony of the Seas is a cool cruise for Millennials.

Cruise Fever wrote about the five Royal Caribbean cruise ships currently on order.

The Traveling Gals reviewed their cruise on Freedom of the Seas.

Sean and Stef IRL shared what it was like to cruise on Allure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean opens Perfect Day at CocoCay excursion bookings

In:
01Jun2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has emailed guests with sailings to CocoCay on or after May 2019 to let them know that the Perfect Day at CocoCay changeover is coming soon.

The cruise line has also began opening up bookings for some of the new activities and features coming to Perfect Day at CocoCay, which provides our first look at pricing. Thanks to Royal Caribbean Blog reader Kayla Hildebrandt for providing screenshots.

The email to guests indicated that May 2019 appears to be the date the cruise line is eyeing for the official opening and changeover.

It appears the booking options are available for select sailings with stops in Perfect Day at CocoCay that are at least in May 2019.

Perfect Day at CocoCay will open in phases and is a $200 million upgrade to the private island. 

The first aspect of Perfect Day at CocoCay is scheduled to open in September 2018 when the new pier is completed. Chill Island and Oasis Lagoon are planned for November 2018, while Thrill Waterpark and South Beach debut in April 2019.

The official Perfect Day at CocoCay Grand Opening, which will include CocoBeach Club and the Overwater Cabanas, is set for November 2019.

Friday Photos

In:
01Jun2018
By: Matt Hochberg

This week's batch of beautiful Royal Caribbean photos is here and it's always fun to share with all of you the great photos our readers take while on their cruise vacation.

The photos we have to show this week are fun and of course anyone can send us their Royal Caribbean photos to use as well!

Our first photo is by Angeline and it is the view from her Boardwalk Balcony stateroom on Allure of the Seas, while docked in St. Maarten.

Next up is a photo by Lisa from Pennsylvania, of Independence of the Seas as seen from the deck of Freedom of the Seas.

Leah Eden shared this photo from her Boardwalk Balcony on Harmony of the Seas, assuring anyone who wondered if this type of stateroom is a good choice or not that it is indeed, wonderful.

Here is a photo from Labadee, taken by Jared Murphy.

Here is Navigator of the Seas docked at the Manhatttan Cruise Terminal, as seen from The High line by Ken Jansen.

Kimberly Brown took this photo of Chops Grille on Oasis of the Seas.

Our final photo is by Jodi S. and it is of a terrific sunset in Cozumel, with some "other ships" docked in the foreground.  

Thank you to everyone that sent in their photos this week and if you have Royal Caribbean photos, well, we want to see them!  You can use this form to send us your photos and we will feature them on an upcoming Friday Photos blog post!

Infographic: The impressiveness of Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas

In:
01Jun2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is certainly an impressive and spectacular cruise ship with a ton to offer.  Just how impressive, you ask?  Check out these two brand new infographics to get a sense of just how much Royal Caribbean has packed into this amazing new ship.

Royal Caribbean kicks off June offer with 50% off second guest and kids sail for less

In:
01Jun2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's June sales offer begins today, with 50% off the second guest, kids sail for less and a bonus for cruises booked during the first week of the month.

The Splash & Save offer is valid on cruises booked between June 1- 4, 2018 on sailings departing on or after July 1, 2018.

The offer includes:

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
  • 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests
  • Splash & Save Sale offers instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
    • Sailings 5 nights or less
      • $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View
      • $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer
      • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View
      • $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites
  • Deck the Holiday Deals
    • Valid on sailings between December 17, 2018 - January 1, 2019 and sailing between December 19, 2019 - December 31, 2019
    • Instant savings of up to $150 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
      • Sailings 5 nights or less
        • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View
        • $75 for Balconies
        • $75 for Suites
      • Sailing 6 nights or longer
        • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View
        • $100 for Balconies
        • $150 for Suites

BOGO and Deck the Holiday Deals are combinable with each other as well as with Splash & Save Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Splash & Save 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. 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. 

What's included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare

In:
31May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

If you are going on a Royal Caribbean cruise, you might be wondering what aspects of the cruise experience are included in the cruise fare that you paid.  After all, there is a lot of components to any cruise vacation and not all of it is included.

We think Royal Caribbean does include a lot of activities, food, entertainment and things to do in your cruise fare.  A cruise remains a really good vacation value, especially when you factor in meals and entertainment.  Over the years, Royal Caribbean has realized some of its guests prefer to add onto the core experience, and began offering more options to tack onto their vacation.  As a result, it may be a bit overwhelming for someone new to Royal Caribbean to know exactly what is included and what carries a fee.

If you have been wondering what is included with your Royal Caribbean fare and what is extra, this breakdown should help clear it all up.

Accommodations

We will begin with something simple, where are you staying on your cruise.  Your cruise fare gets you a stateroom exclusively for your use.  This means you have a room and private bathroom to use throughout the cruise.

Depending on which type of stateroom you book, the exact size, amenities and layout of the room will vary.  But at the very least, you should know that your cruise fare assures you of a room just for you (and any friends or family you invited to stay with you).

Gratuities

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean have two choices when it comes to gratuities to the dining room wait staff and stateroom attendants that provide services to them.  They may elect to pre-pay gratuities prior to the cruise, or have gratuities automatically charged on a daily basis to the SeaPass account.  Cruise fares in some countries, such as Australia, include the gratuities with your cruise fare.

As of January 2, 2018, guests will pay a $14.50 per guest per day service charge on a daily basis. For guests in a Grand Suite or above, the amount is $17.50.

Purchases and services rendered onboard a Royal Caribbean ship will have gratuities added at the time of purchase.  If you buy a drink, get a massage at the spa, eat at a specialty restaurant, etc, you will be charged an 18% gratuity automatically.  Your receipt will display the cost breakdown.

Drink packages and specialty dining packages will be charged an automatic gratuity upon purchase of the package, which means no additional gratuity is required when taking advantage of the package benefits (i.e. ordering a drink at the bar with a drink package).

In addition to the gratuities listed earlier, there are opportunities to give crew members an additional tip for excellent service.  Even crew members who receive an automatic gratuity can receive additional gratuities if you feel it is warranted.

Meals & Snacks

All Royal Caribbean cruise fares include most meals and snacks onboard your ship, and any private destination you visit (such as Labadee or CocoCay).  This means there will be ample opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks inbetween without additional cost.

The exact venues included with your cruise fare will depend on the ship you sail on, but here are some common ones that pretty much every ship has:

  • Main dining room
  • Windjammer buffet
  • Grab and go spots for food, such as Cafe Promenade, Cafe Latte-tudes, Sorrento's, Boardwalk Dog House, Park Cafe, etc.
  • Johnny Rockets (for breakfast on Oasis Class ships only)

While this list may seem short, you will find on your exact ship more options.  Moreover, it is quite easy to have plenty to eat at any of the complimentary dining locations onboard.

You may find a few for-fee items on the main dining room menu, such as a filet or lobster.  Steak and lobster are offered on other evenings of the cruise for no fee, but this is an option for those that want those dishes at other times.

Royal Caribbean does offer in addition alternative specialty restaurants, where you can opt to pay extra for food/meal.  Most specialty restaurants have a simple cover charge that includes most of the food on the menu, although there are a couple of specialty restaurants that forgo the cover charge and simply charge you for what you order.

Here is a list of the specialty restaurants across the fleet.  Depending on the ship you sail on, these restaurants may or may not be available.

  • Johnny Rockets (lunch and dinner. A la carte pricing on Quantum class ships)
  • Chops Grille
  • Giovanni's Table
  • Sabor Modern Mexican
  • Izumi (a la carte)
  • Jamie's Italian
  • Wonderland
  • Rita's Cantina (a la carte)
  • Chef's Table
  • 150 Central Park

Specialty restaurants offer cuisine options not otherwise available onboard your ship, as well as an opportunity to indulge in meals that you may prefer to enjoy at your own pace.  In addition, the ambiance is usually enhanced at these locations and the prices charged are usually not exorbitant.  As stated earlier, you should look at specialty restaurants as a way to enhance or splurge on your cruise, as dining at the complimentary venues is quite satisfying.

Royal Caribbean offers its guests pizza at some of its restaurants and buffets, as well as at Sorrentos on the larger ships.  Pizza here at these locations are included in your cruise fare.

Ice cream can be found at a self-service machine near the pool deck and is in operation for most of the day.  To be specific, it is actually frozen yogurt, but kids do not mind.  The Windjammer and main dining room will also offer their own selection of hand scooped ice cream.  Some Royal Caribbean ships offer Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which does have an additional cost to it.

Drinks

Royal Caribbean provides all its guests on all its cruise ships a few different drinks throughout the day that are included in your cruise fare.  These drinks are available at any time, and include:

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free. And if you are wondering, it is very safe to drink the tap water onboard, as it is of high quality.

Alternatively, if you want alcohol, soda, juices, virgin cocktails and pretty much anything else not listed above, you can purchase them individually for an additional cost during the cruise.

  • soda
  • beer
  • wine
  • liquor
  • cocktails
  • premium coffee and tea, such as Starbucks
  • bottled water (still or sparkling)
  • fresh squeezed juice

For all of these drinks, you may purchase each drink individually or purchase a Royal Caribbean beverage package that will give you either a set allotment of beverages or unlimited access onboard to them.

Royal Caribbean does allow its guests to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom with them onboard a ship.  It must be brought onboard on embarkation day, and it is subject to a corkage fee if opened in a public venue.

Room service

Room service on Royal Caribbean is available 24 hours per day, but there is a $7.95 per order fee.  

A continental breakfast option is complimentary and does not have an order fee.

Child programming and care

Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean program offers children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old, complimentary supervised programming during the day and part of the evening. From when Adventure Ocean opens until 10pm, there is no additional cost to use Adventure Ocean. From 10pm to 2am, Royal Caribbean offers an after hour ($7 per hour) option that has an hourly cost for parents that want to let kids stay a bit later.

While in Adventure Ocean, kids take part  in activities lead by the Adventure Ocean staff. There's a lot for kids to do here and the programs specialize for each age group. It's a mix of learning, play time and socializing.

Children between the ages of six months and 36 months old can participate in the Royal Babies and Royal Tots program. Most Royal Caribbean ships offer a nursery, where parents can drop children off throughout the day and evening. Use of the nursery comes at an hourly charge.

In addition to the Nursery, there is often a open play area set up during the day for parents to bring their young children to and play that has no additional cost. This is unsupervised play time, but does provide an opportunity every day for parents with toddlers to have space to crawl, play, and have some fun.

Activities and Shows

A vast majority of cruise activities are included with your cruise fare.  Your daily Cruise Compass will list a schedule of activities offered onboard, and most have no charge for them. These are the sort of activities you might expect to find on a cruise ship (as well as some that may surprise you).  Cooking demonstrations, pool games, movies, trivia, dance classes, and scavenger hunts are regularly offered on Royal Caribbean and have no additional charge.

There are some activities offered that have an additional fee, such as some fitness classes, bingo, casino tournaments (and pretty much anything in the casino), drink seminars, spa services and more.

The performances in the Royal Theater, as well as the Aquatheater and Two70) are included in your cruise fare.  Likewise, comedy shows, magic shows, live music, audience participation shows and more are included as well.  Even the Broadway shows on Royal Caribbean ships are included in your cruise fare.

There will be shows each evening, along with additional performances during the day on sea days.  Live music is a staple of Royal Caribbean's entertainment and is offered throughout the day at multiple locations.

Signature activities and Games

Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for itself with some of the signature activities offered onboard.  Watch any Royal Caribbean cruise commercial, and inevitably you will see people tackling the FlowRider, rock climbing wall, North Star and more.

Here is a breakdown of Royal Caribbean's top activities and any additional costs.

  • FlowRider surf simulator
    • No cost to use (first come, first served), although private and group lessons are available to book for an additional fee. 
  • Rock climbing wall
    • No cost to use (first come, first served), although private and group lessons are available to book for an additional fee. 
  • Mini golf
    • No cost to use
  • Zip line
    • No cost to use
  • Water slides & Ultimate Abyss
    • No cost to use
  • Aqua parks (H2O Zone & Splashaway Bay)
    • No cost to use
  • Sports Court/SeaPlex
    • Multi-purpose venues that offer basketball, tennis, volleyball, dodge ball, soccer and more.
    • No cost to use.
  • Ice skating
    • No cost to use
  • RipCord by iFly
    • Guests on Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas are able to reserve a complimentary session via the Cruise Planner during their cruise.
  • North Star
    • Guests on Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas are able to reserve a complimentary ride via the Cruise Planner during their cruise.

Fitness and Spa

Every Royal Caribbean ship has a fitness center that offers cardio machines, weight lifting machines, weights and more for no additional cost.  There are also some (but not all) fitness classes included in your cruise fare, such as stretch and abs workouts.

Each Royal Caribbean ship has a jogging track, which is available to use throughout the day and at no additional cost.

The sports courts (referred to as the SeaPlex on Quantum Class ships) also offer complimentary use of the facilities, with organized games often held throughout the sailing.

The fitness center will offer fitness classes for an additional fee, such as spinning, yoga, Pilates and more. The fitness center also offers personalized training and other services for an additional fee.

The spa is nearly available exclusively at an additional cost.  Spa treatments, salon services and day passes all come with an additional cost.

Some Royal Caribbean ships will have a sauna, hot tub and/or steam room available for no additional cost.

Tours of the spa are available at any time during your cruise and have no additional cost or obligation.  In fact, these tours are a great way to learn about what the spa offers.

Pool and sun decks

Access to Royal Caribbean's pools are included in your cruise fare, including the lounge chairs, hot tubs, water slides, aqua parks and more. The Solarium area has no additional cost, but is limited to adults only.

Some areas of the pool deck are reserved for suite guests only.  If you are a suite guest (Grand Suite and above), you will have complimentary access to these areas.  Depending on the ship you are sailing on, the suites-only areas can be reserved loungers or an entire deck area.

Miscellaneous services

If not mentioned in the post, here are a few more services that are not included in the cruise fare

  • Gambling (Including Bingo)
  • Art Auction
  • Any purchases made in the gift shops onboard
  • Shore excursions
  • Photographs
  • Video Arcade
  • Medical Services
  • Internet Access
  • Transfers (Unless guest has purchased our air/sea package)
  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services
  • Ship to Shore Telephone calls

Video: 19 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on Royal Caribbean

In:
30May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Summer vacation is right around the corner and we are kicking off the summer season with another Royal Caribbean Blog Video, where we are sharing 19 things you (probably) didn't know you could do on a Royal Caribbean cruise!

There are certain things you can count on doing on pretty much any Royal Caribbean cruise, such as lounging by the pool, enjoying some fabulous evening entertainment and eating some tasty food.  What you may not have been aware of is Royal Caribbean offers a lot more experiences that are not only incredibly fun, but also surprising that it is available on a cruise ship.

Did you know you could meet your favorite DreamWorks characters, take a tour of the bridge and galley, go zip lining on your ship or try an escape room?  We will tell you about all of those things, plus another 15 more really cool and fun activities you can do in our latest YouTube video!

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!

Listener Email on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
30May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 252 is available for downloading where I will be reading more of your questions this week all about Royal Caribbean.

Matt is diving into the email bag this week to answer your emails all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise, including Vision of the Seas, what to do in Port Canaveral, travel agents, and a whole lot more.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 252. 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!

What we spent on our last Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
29May2018
By: Kathy Constantine

Please welcome Kathy Constantine as our guest blogger today! She took a previous blog post we did and is providing her own look at the total cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Inspired by Matt’s post sharing the cost of his sailing on the Brilliance earlier this year, I thought we would share with everyone the cost of sailing with four adults on a seven night cruise onboard Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas.

Cruise Cost Summary

Adventure of the Seas May 18, 2018
Cruise length: 7 nights
Stateroom category: J3 Junior Suite 
Passengers: 4 adults
The travelers:  Myself, my husband, and our two college-aged sons.  My in-laws also joined us on the cruise. 

Cruise fare total (including pre-paid gratuities): $4282.88
Pre-cruise purchases:  $450 (bungalow, BCH dep, arcade, Voom, coffee card) 
Onboard spending: $390 (Izumi, drinks, clothes, pictures)
Cash spending onshore: $300 (BCH final, Grills)
Cash spending onboard: $110 (slot pull & additional gratuities)
Miscellaneous at port: $150 (parking & porter gratuities)
GRAND TOTAL: $5682.88

How did we spend that much? Outside of accommodations, we feel like really did not spend much at all.

Stateroom

Junior suite: worth it or not?  We originally had booked two connecting panoramic ocean view rooms for the four of us but on a whim decided to have our travel agent price a Junior Suite instead.  For approximately $100 less, we got to try out the bigger room and gained a coffee maker & kettle, big closet, and a bathtub. Oh, and double Crown & Anchor points.  All good, except did not love the bathroom. 

Prior to the cruise, our travel agent tried to request a cot but apparently our room category does not have room for one.  We asked onboard, and our stateroom attendant was happy to oblige.  There was more than enough room.  Only disadvantage was that the chairs from the seating area blocked the balcony door, and we have to wiggle them around to get out at night.

Onboard Expenses

Adult beverages: We wanted to see exactly how much we would spend on drinks without a drink package to gauge its worth to us.  We drank freely, ordering what we wanted when we wanted it, and quickly realized that a drink package was not a good fit for us as we could not justify the cost over seven days.

We waited patiently for a drink card to appear, and on day 3, the draft beer for $57.82 (including gratuity) showed up on one of the ad boards.  We grabbed one.  We did learn afterwards to ask what was on draft before purchasing, as there was only three options at the pub and two options in the Schooner Bar. While each option was tasty, we got tired of those choices by the time we reached the final punches. 

The full drink card did not appear until day 7 so at that point was not worth it.  Since we did not have a drink package, we also brought on two bottles of wine.  Looking at our statement, we spent about $67 on drinks, plus an additional $6 for the boys BOGO milkshakes.  

Prior to the cruise, we purchased a coffee card.  My family enjoys our Starbucks, and since Adventure has premium coffees available at Cafe Promenade on board, we decided to pick up this shareable item before the cruise. 

For the low price of $31 (plus gratuities) = $36.58 you get 15 punches on the card.  On this sailing (as it seems to vary by ship) you got one punch for a tall or grande, and two for a venti. Frozen drinks were two punches.  

Between three of us, we had a hard time using all 15 punches. Not sure we’d purchase again on a seven night sailing.

Sushi making class: $35 pp plus gratuity times three people = $123.90

My husband, Tony, participated in this class on Harmony of the Seas and loved it, so he wanted to do it again with our boys. The amount of sushi you get for the money is amazing, and none of them could eat it all.  In fact, the staff at Izumi encourage you to have family members join you afterwards to help eat.  My mother-in-law happily obliged and even with a fourth person they each left rolls on their plates. 

Arcade: $40 
Those two college-aged boys I mentioned earlier?  They each asked for arcade credit as you cannot be separated from video games.  In advance, I paid $20 each and they received $25 arcade credit.  They were not at all thrilled with the options and many of the games were never working.  There is also no way to know how much of your pre-paid credit you have used, without keeping a mental tally. It does not show up anywhere.  

Voom: 2 device Surf & Stream package = $186.06
Since I would be Periscoping during our voyage, and my college boys needed to keep in contact with the girlfriend and friends at home, a minimum of a two device package was required.  We purchased the Twangster-recommended travel router for the cabin but I did not include it in my costs, as it is for all cruising and not specific to this one.  Voom was very cooperative most of the trip, only a few times the connection was too poor to periscope, but we could easily get online. 

Slot pull: $60 in, $32 back out.  
Our Meet & Mingle group organized a slot pull.  Since my boys are legal to gamble on the ship (and not here in NJ) they wanted to participate too.  $15 each was the buy in, and we all got $8 back.  

The only other onboard purchases were a shirt each, Tony bought a hat, and family photos. $65

Shore Excursions

 

We had three stops on this sailing. Port Canaveral, CocoCay & Nassau.

In Port Canaveral, we met up with fellow Periscopers for drinks & apps at Grills. $53 for the four of us, drinks & food.

CocoCay was our next stop.  Since there was six of us, we rented a bungalow.  We secured a great price during a Cruise Planner sale of $209.  Includes four bottles of Evian water, two floating mats, transportation all around the island (they are a bit far from the main area) and towels so you don’t have to lug them off the ship. Also included is food brought to your bungalow so you don’t have to go to the main BBQ area.  Well worth the price for six.  

We had reserved ahead of time jet skis for our boys, but it was too windy so that got canceled.  

In Nassau, we made reservations for day passes at the British Colonial Hilton.  Based on recommendations from Matt & other cruisers we booked ahead of time using resortforaday.com, which offers discounted passes.  You pay a small deposit per person when booking, then the remainder by credit card when you arrive.  Our deposit was $17 per person then $62 per person upon arrival for a total of $79 each = $316. You got a $40 food & beverage credit as part of that, and we left about $4 on our account.

That’s about it.  Parking for the week was $140, and we gave the porter $10 tip on arrival for a grand total of $150 miscellaneous.  

So overall, we spent about $1,400 per person all-inclusive for a 7 night vacation.  When thinking back about how much food alone my own two boys consumed during that time...we got our money’s worth!  After putting this together I went back to compare what we spent to what Matt & his wife spent on their, four night cruise, and it looks about comparable.  $400 more per person for three extra nights.

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