Video: Set sail with Royal Caribbean's original musical, Columbus, The Musical!

In:
21Mar2017

Embark on a journey that recounts the imagined history of Marvin Columbus, Christopher’s fictional, down-on-his-luck, distant cousin. An original Royal Caribbean production, the story recounts Marvin’s banishment from his family’s kingdom, and his madcap voyage of discovery in the hopes of claiming his own place in history. Unforeseen romance and a “happily ever after” are on the map as Marvin crashes into his Caribbean destiny.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
20Mar2017

The second day of a cruise is my favorite day of the cruise, because it is the first full day onboard and you still have a majority of the cruise ahead of you.

We let the children be our alarm clock, and that got us a wakeup around 7am or so. Being that this was a sea day, we had no firm plans so we took things easy getting ready.

My oldest daughter wanted to go to Adventure Ocean morning session because there was an art component to the session, so I took her up to Windjammer for breakfast quickly before dropping her off at Adventure Ocean.

I then met my wife, other daughter and my parents for breakfast in The Grande. Unfortunately, breakfast took much longer than it probably should have. I was not sure where the issue was, but we were sure to mention the problem to the head waiter on duty. An important tip is if something is not to your liking onboard, be sure to mention it to a crew member so that it can be rectified. Too often I hear back from readers who had an unsatisfactory situation but said nothing. It is important to let the crew know so they can make things better.

After breakfast we attended the suite cocktail reception in Vintages. This was a thank you event for the suite guests, and being that I do not have a drink package for this cruise, any opportunity for complimentary alcohol is a welcome event!

We got to meet the Captain, along with a number of other high ranking crew members, while enjoying bloody marys and cheese. Great start to my morning!

We also stopped by the Shore Excursion desk to book a tour in Port Canaveral. Unfortunately all the tours were booked up for Kennedy Space Center because another Royal Caribbean ship will be in port with us (I am guessing Grandeur of the Seas) and the cruise line has a certain allotment of tickets. They put us on a wait list for something, and within about 2 hours, we had a phone call that we could book an unguided tour of Kennedy Space Center. That worked out quite well!

At noon we headed up to the pool deck for our North Star reserved time. North Star is the observational pod that brings you 300 feet above sea level. It is complimentary for all guests, and you can make reservations online via the Cruise Planner. Be certain to make reservations early because they sell out and I saw the crew at North Star turn away a lot of guests.

I have done North Star before, but the experience is still incredible. The views are unparalleled and it is so darn fun being that high up.

I had lunch at the Windjammer and then spent some time exploring the ship and enjoying the company of friends who also happen to be onboard. A relaxing afternoon onboard.

It was a quiet afternoon, with mostly taking this easy. Anthem of the Seas may be a large ship in size and numbers, but she has the “soul” of a smaller ship. What I mean by that is unlike the Oasis Class ships that are a bit larger, there is not the overwhelming amount of activities onboard. There is a lot to do onboard, but it just feels different than when I was on Harmony of the Seas last November.

I also have to point out how smooth the ship has felt, despite some decent waves out there. The ocean is nothing crazy, but even with 2-3 meter waves with white caps earlier in the day, the ship has been remarkably smooth.

As afternoon turned to evening, we were treated to another beautiful sunset at sea. I could also tell the temperature was starting to warm up to where it is no longer cold, just a bit brisk. Jackets optional, although my wife says it is still chilly.

We fed the kids at the Windjammer and then dropped them off at Adventure Ocean. After that, we enjoyed some drinks in the Schooner Bar and Boleros. Since tonight was formal night, Boleros actually had brass jazz music playing and it was lovely.

We were back in the main dining room for dinner this evening, and they really took my Indian curry request to heart. Every cruise, I ask for some curry in addition to whatever is on the menu. The short story is curry used to be a staple of the main dining room menu as the go-to vegetarian option, but in recent years it was left off the menu. Nonetheless, it can still be requested and there has never been an issue.

As usual, I made the request with the head waiter last night to have some curry for us to enjoy at the table. Our serving of curry tonight just blew me away with the variety, size and quality. As soon as it was served, I regretted eating anything earlier that day.

For our evening entertainment, we took in live music around the ship. Schooner Bar, Music Hall and Michael’s Genuine Pub.

Tomorrow is our first port stop in beautiful and exotic, Port Canaveral, Florida.

Stray Observations

  • The Gift and Spectre’s Cabaret were shown today (we have reservations for later this cruise), but no sign of Vistarama or Roboshows yet.
  • We booked a beach bungalow in CocoCay and had a call to come down to Wonderland today to pick out food to be delivered for lunch at our bungalow. You can pick as much as you want, and it is in addition to the regular buffet. I love this idea, because it means no dragging the kids to the buffet and something new to try.
  • I spoke with the ship’s Captain about our speed yesterday after leaving New York Harbor. Evidently we were in a whale activity area, and there was a very tight speed limit.
  • According to a sign in Michael’s Genuine Pub, the word, “genuine” is pronounced “jen-yoo-in”. I read this many times, and questioned whether I normally pronounce it that way or “jen-yoo-eye-n”. I might be over thinking this.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
19Mar2017

Our next Royal Caribbean cruise is here and we are set for a 7-night Bahamas cruise aboard Anthem of the Seas. It is our oldest daughter’s Spring Break from school, and that is the perfect excuse for a family cruise vacation!

Ordinarily we get to the port quite early, but on this cruise we are sailing with my parents who prefer to take things a bit slower. Plus, they brought my kids from their house, because my wife and I got to spend some time in New York City prior to the cruise.

We grabbed some amazing New York bagels for breakfast, and then took the subway downtown to the World Trade Center to pick up the PATH train to New Jersey. From there we took a Lyft car to Cape Liberty. It was quite a celebration of public transportation options, and worked well.

We arrived at Cape Liberty around noon and check-in was quite quick and easy. We are suite guests, so we had a dedicated security line and check-in line. I think we went from curb to ship in about 10 minutes.

Onboard the ship, we grabbed lunch at the Windjammer and then signed the children up for Adventure Ocean. I have to say, the Adventure Ocean space on Anthem of the Seas is rather large and impressive. As per normal, we were limited to 15 hours of reserved time in the nursery until day 4. This is done to ensure all families have an equal chance at making reservations.

For this cruise, we are staying in a Grand Suite on deck 11. It provides a lot of space for us and the kids. Plus, it is on the same deck as Adventure Ocean and close to the pool deck.

In addition, we wanted to try out how the Royal Suite Class offerings stack up. The Royal Suite Class is Royal Caribbean’s suite program available on Quantum and Oasis class ships. Yes, the struggle of "research" is real.

Our sailaway was scheduled for 3pm, which is earlier than most Caribbean cruises. The advantage of an earlier sailaway is we get to enjoy the afternoon sun when leaving the port. With it being March, the air temperature was still brisk, but nice when standing in the sun.

The great thing about sailing out of New York is the view around New York Harbor, including sailing under the Verazzano Bridge.

With the earlier sailaway time than I am used to, we had more time post-sailaway so I took my oldest daughter for a quick swim in the indoor pool. I can confirm the lifeguards are doing their jobs, because I was instructed not to let me daughter do any canon balls into the pool.


 

We took it easy the rest of the afternoon and got the kids ready for their evening in Adventure Ocean, by feeding them in the Windjammer.

On the first day, Adventure Ocean hours are always odd, and tonight they opened at 8pm. With our 8:15pm dinner time, this worked out quite well.

After dropping the kids off at Adventure Ocean, my wife and I did some exploring. We checked out Two70 briefly, and also the Diamond Lounge.

Dinner was in The Grande, where we got to try the new main dining room menu. Here is a copy of it, and I can tell you the wild mushroom soup was great and the spaghetti Bolognese was very, very good. I also really liked the turkey. Equally important, the service in The Grande was excellent.

To cap off our evening, we enjoyed some piano music in the Schooner Bar. Evidently the normal person was off today, and the We Will Rock You musical coordinator was filling in instead. I am definitely a fan of the live music onboard.

Tomorrow is a sea day, and we have lots to explore still.

Stray Observations

  • The elevators have these signs posted. Guessing Spring Break is in full swing.
  • One of the crew members in the Windjammer for dinner was serving tea in this outfit. Neat!
  • Prior to boarding, we explored the 9/11 memorial at Cape Liberty. It is a beautiful spot that honors the memory of those that died on that fateful day, and is open to anyone to see. Plus, it is a great spot near the ship for photos.
  • Voom performs quite well, but strangely takes a long time to get to the login screen to initially sign in.
  • As I mentioned earlier, there are lifeguards at the pools on Anthem of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: March 19, 2017

In:
19Mar2017

Last week was a pretty busy week with Royal Caribbean news, and this week continued that trend with lots of changes and announcements. Luckily, we have a summary of all of the news from this week to make certain you did not miss any of it.

The news that garnered a lot of attention (and even more comments) this week was the announcement Royal Caribbean will begin charging for room service.

The cruise line will charge guests a fee of $7.95 per order of room service from the All Day Menu and the American Section of the breakfast menu.

As part of the change, Royal Caribbean is also introducing a new fleet wide room service menu, The new menu features upgraded items such as the Royal Wagyu Burger, a classic Philly cheese steak with shaved rib eye, chicken wings with a choice of four sauces, and a healthy grilled salmon dish with cucumber mint yogurt, to name a few.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

The 189th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, and we are previewing Matt's upcoming cruise on Anthem of the Seas.

In this episode, Matt is about to cruise on Anthem of the Seas and he is sharing 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

CruiseHabit reported on the deal Royal Caribbean's parent company signed with Port Everglades.

Cruise1st.com.au has 9 cruise dining hacks that will save time, effort and money (#2 is particularly well-written).

TTG indicated Symphony of the Seas will host travel agents from the UK next year.

Royal Caribbean hires former Disney digital guru to create new mobile app

In:
18Mar2017

 Royal Caribbean has hired a former "mastermind" behind Walt Disney World's Magic Band mobile app to help create the cruise line's new smart phone app that is set to debut this summer.

TechRepublic is reporting four months ago, Royal Caribbean hired former Walt Disney Co. guru Jay Schneider as senior vice president of digital to lead its digital transformation. After joining the company in November 2016, the real work began in earnest on the new mobile app.

"We have no dates yet on how soon this [app] might roll out, but with six ships scheduled [to have it] in 2017, it means we're going quickly," Schneider said. Privacy and security is an important consideration. Guests' privacy is crucial, so Schneider said he has his team working from the ground up to create best practices for privacy in the devices.

There are few details known about the app, which is being referred to internally as Project Excalibur. Royal Caribbean CEO and Chairman Richard Fain told analysts earlier this year to expect the app to debut sometime this summer.

Fain said he's not worried about competition from Carnival Corp. "We started developing our WOWband two years ago, so because we had that head start, we will have this in 20% of our ships by the end of the year, compared to 1% [on Carnival]. We'll have it on more or less 50% of our ships by the end of next year."

One of the ways that Royal Caribbean will be able to move quickly, Fain said, is because "we're using more open source technology that makes it easier to build as the world of technology improves."

Friday Photos

In:
17Mar2017

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 kick things off this week with a throwback photo by Ken of Voyager of the Seas in Labadee before there was pier.  Does anyone else remember visiting Labadee by tender?

Jason Nolan sent us this photo and titled it, "wondering what is behind me". After a few seconds, I think you will understand too!

Next we have a photo of Ovation of the Seas being floated out at the Meyer Werft shipyard, taken by Thomas Lemmer.  Can you believe it has been just about a year since this happened?

Ron Hiller sent in this photo of a perfect sunset from aboard Navigator of the Seas. Love it!

I like Christopher Johns-Klein's style as he enjoys sailaway from an aft balcony on Rhapsody of the Seas.

Check out this photo by Jordan Pin of Harmony of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas docked in Cozumel.

We wrap up this week's edition of Friday Photos with this shot of Ovation of the Seas in Sydney harbor, taken by Clayton Powell. Love how he got the bridge in the background.

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!

Royal Caribbean enters into joint venture to upgrade Malaysian cruise port

In:
17Mar2017

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd announced it has entered into a joint venture with Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) to upgrade and improve Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. The upgraded pier will accommodate berthing of larger cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean - Legend of the Seas

Plans for the facilities include extension of the existing berths to 688 metres from its current length of 400 metres. This will enable the terminal to berth two mega cruise liners carrying over 4,900 passengers each at any one time.

In addition, the redevelopment will include spaces for tour buses to ease the flow of traffic in the areas around SPCT. The USD35 million project will further focus on improving accessibility for the aged and physically challenged throughout the terminal from ship to shore. This planned development has received unyielding support from both State and Federal government and associated government agencies including Tourism bodies, and will be a focal part of Malaysian Tourism EPP6 plan to create a “Straits and Borneo Cruise Riviera”.

Royal Caribbean will own a 40% stake in the venture, and the project will be managed by both parties.

Royal Caribbean is scheduled to make 38 calls in Penang in 2017.

Azipods for Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas arrives at shipyard

In:
16Mar2017

The azipods for Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas have arrived at STX Franch shipyard earlier today, and were unloaded to make their way to the ship for installation.

Kudos to Saint Nazaire, une ville à la mer for sharing these photos with us. Merci!

© Hervé GLAIS

Azipods are a multi-directional propulsion unit, which claims to use less fuel than traditional systems, and to provide greater maneuverability in all operating conditions. Royal Caribbean uses azipods to propel and safely maneuver its ships on the high seas.

Royal Caribbean shares new fleet wide Room Service menu

In:
16Mar2017

In light of the announcement that Royal Caribbean will begin charging a convenience fee to guests who order room service, the cruise line has published a copy of what its new room service menu will look like, along with an explanation for the change.

Royal Caribbean announced it would begin charging $7.95 per room service order, which has generated a lot of guest feedback.  

In a statement by the cruise line's customer loyalty program, the Crown and Anchor Society, Royal Caribbean explained the new room service fee was added as part of a new room service menu.  Here is a copy of their statement to guests.

"Royal Caribbean International has introduced a new premium room service menu in order to enhance the dining experience and to provide more options for guests. The new menu features upgraded items such as the Royal Wagyu Burger, a classic Philly cheese steak with shaved rib eye, chicken wings with a choice of four sauces, and a healthy grilled salmon dish with cucumber mint yogurt, to name a few.

In addition, new breakfast selections also have been introduced to the menu to provide an upgraded in-room breakfast experience for guests. Continental breakfast items, which remain free of charge, will still be available to all guests.

A new convenience fee of $7.95 per order will be introduced for any orders including the new premium selections. This was introduced to better manage the high demand for this convenient and upgraded service. Breakfast items listed under the continental menu will still be free of charge.

The new room service menu will be rolled out across the entire fleet starting in March and will be onboard all ships by the end of May."

New Royal Caribbean room service menu

The new room service fee goes into effect on sailings after March 27, 2017.

Photo tour of Chops Grille on Adventure of the Seas

In:
16Mar2017

Last week we posted about Royal Caribbean opening Chops Grille on Adventure of the Seas, and today we have photos from the new restaurant.

On Adventure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean opted to add Chops Grille on on Deck 4, across from the Schooner Bar. It is the same location Sabor Modern Mexican has been added on other ships.

In addition to the new restaurant, Royal Caribbean also opted to offer a new menu update to this Chops Grille location.  This is the first Chops Grille menu update since January 2014, when the Chops GrilleNavigator of the Seas received a menu revamp.

Among the menu changes, Chops Grille on Adventure of the Seas offers an angus filet mignon and grilled scottish salmon. Moreover, the French onion soup and dry-aged steak option (which carried an additional charge) has been removed from the menu. There is, however, a Chops Dry Aged Steak Burger option. The broiled Maine lobster remains the only up-charge entrée on the menu.

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