Friday Photos


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 this week is from Tracy and it is of Independence of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas in Port Everglades.  Great shot of two lovely ships.

Ken shared this photo of a busy in St. Maarten, complete with two Royal Caribbean ships in port  Great assortment of cruise ships in one place!

We have yet another photo of Harmony of the Seas, this one from Michael Poole while Harmony was docked in Nassau.  Considering I was on the ship when this photo was taken, it holds a special place in my heart.

Check out this photo from Beci Mahnken of a beautiful sunset, as seen from Oasis of the Seas as she sailed away from Port Canaveral.  Beautiful!

Speaking of Oasis of the Seas, here is a photo of Oasis and Navigator of the Seas in Cozumel.  Scott Shaffer took this photo, and I can almost smell the amazing Mexican food eminating from nearby!

Jose Pena shared this photo of Navigator of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas docked side by side in San Juan.  I love how easy it is to spot the cruise ships from many areas of Old San Juan.

Lastly, we have this photo of Adventure of the Seas in St. Kitts, taken by Bharat. 

Do you have Royal Caribbean photos that you want to share?  We'd love to feature them so send them in by using our nifty submission form and maybe your photos will show up in next week's edition!

Royal Caribbean puts first Cuba sailings on sale


Just days after receiving approval by the Cuban government to offer cruises, Royal Caribbean has put its first ever cruises to Cuba on sale to the public.

As expected, Empress of the Seas is offering a few different itineraries, from Miami and Tampa, Florida.

The first sailing is scheduled for April 19, 2017 and is a 5-night cruise from Miami to Costa Maya, Mexico and Havana Cuba.

There are two more sailings currently available for booking:

  • April 30 from Tampa: 7-night cruise to Cozumel, Belize City and Havana
  • May 20 from Tampa: 7-night cruise to Key West, Havana and Cozumel

Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. The largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States, Empress will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date. All cruises will be designed in accordance with current U.S. to Cuba travel regulations.

"Royal Caribbean is the world’s most exciting adventure company, and we’re thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba. As the unrivaled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

Will you be booking any of these cruises? Tell us in the comments!

Six big changes coming to Royal Caribbean in 2017


The start of 2017 is just a few weeks away, and the new year brings with it some changes to Royal Caribbean.

There are many changes coming that we know about already for 2017, and here are the top changes that you will want to keep your eye on.

1. Cruises to Cuba

After months of waiting, Royal Caribbean will finally offer cruises to Cuba.

Royal Caribbean made the big announcement yesterday, although we do not have any itineraries or sailing details yet.  Nonetheless, Royal Caribbean will be revealing its plans for Cuba, which will undoubtedly include sailings to Cuba at some point in 2017.

Royal Caribbean brought Empress of the Seas back into the fleet in 2016, and subsequently underwent an extensive refurbishment back in the spring of 2016. Royal Caribbean has confirmed Empress of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer cruises to Cuba.

2. 5 ship refurbishments

Royal Caribbean is always looking at ways to improve the ships in its fleet, and five vessels are scheduled to have refurbishments in 2017.

The five ships on the schedule include

  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Legend of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas

If you are wondering what work will be done exactly, those details have not been revealed yet for any ship.

3. Legend of the Seas will leave the fleet

In the spring of 2017, we will say goodbye to Legend of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean announced in June 2016 that it was selling Legend of the Seas to Thomson Cruises. Legend of the Seas' final sailing will be on March 13, 2017, with the officers and crew remaining with Royal Caribbean.

4. No new ships in 2017

Believe it or not, there are no new Royal Caribbean ships joining the fleet in 2017.  Given the rapid pace of ship building we have enjoyed over the last few years, that makes 2017 a bit of an oddity.

However, there will be a new Royal Caribbean ship every year following 2017, so fans of the "latest and greatest" will have plenty to look forward to well into the next decade.

For those keeping score at home, the next new Royal Caribbean ship to debut will be Oasis 4, with a delivery sometime in 2018. In fact, we can expect plenty of Oasis 4 news to be coming our way in 2017, with the reveal of the ship's name, home port, itineraries and more coming at some point in 2017.

5. New fleet-wide main dining room menu

While onboard Harmony of the Seas, we spoke to Royal Caribbean's Director of Culinary Operations, Michael Gilligan, and he confirmed that a new main dining room menu is coming to the fleet.

Royal Caribbean has been experimenting with this new menu on Oasis of the Seas for a few months, and recently expanded the menu to Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. Gilligan expects the new menu to be fleet wide sometime in the second quarter of 2017.

6. Vision of the Seas arrives in Galveston

Royal Caribbean fans who enjoy cruises out of Galveston will have a new ship to try, in addition to Liberty of the Seas.

Beginning in November 2017, Vision of the Seas will begin offering cruises from Galveston, Texas and include 4- and 5-night cruises to destinations in the Western Caribbean, such as Costa Maya and Cozumel.

Which Royal Caribbean change are you most excited about for 2017? Tell us in the comments!

Royal Caribbean receives approval to offer cruises to Cuba


Multiple media outlets are reporting that Royal Caribbean has received permission by Cuban authorities to offer cruises to Cuba.

USA Today and The Miami Herald report that Royal Caribbean will begin offering itineraries to Cuba, "soon."

"Our guests have expressed real interest in having the opportunity to experience Cuba, and we look forward to bringing them there," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Our discussions with our travel partners indicate that Cuba is a destination that appeals to a new generation of travelers.

Royal Caribbean has been preparing for this opportunity for many months, having brought back Empress of the Seas into the fleet to offer cruises to Cuba. Royal Caribbean engaged in a lengthy refurbishment to the ship and has had it prepared to offer cruises to Cuba as soon as the company had permission.

UPDATE 2:36PM: Royal Caribbean will announce its first Florida-Cuba itineraries, "in the near future."

The cruise itineraries will comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that permit travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in people-to-people activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Disembarkation Day on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast


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

Episode 175 is available for downloading, which offers tips and advice about the final day onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise.

In this episode, Matt and Billy discuss the disembarkation day and what to expect in those final hours.  While the last day of a cruise is never a day anyone looks forward to, it is important to be aware of what to expect to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 175. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Video: 150 Central Park on Royal Caribbean Ships Introduces New Multi-Course Menu


Royal Caribbean International, in partnership with James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, has introduced a new menu highlighting artisanal ingredients at 150 Central Park onboard Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. Guests can enjoy Schwartz’s simple, elegant approach to American dining with a variety of appetizers, entrées and dessert including tableside service for guests.

Royal Caribbean announces new head of Europe, Middle East and Africa


Royal Caribbean announced today that it is promoting Stuart Leven, Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland), to become the new Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Managing Director of RCL Cruises Ltd.

This new role will include responsibility for Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland) and Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises across the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Leven will work with Royal Caribbean’s key European markets to ensure the cruise operator has the best investment in place to capitalize on the swell of interest in cruise vacations across the region.

"Stuart is a proven leader with many years’ board experience across the airline, hotel and dotcom sectors" said Gavin Smith, Senior Vice President International, RCL Cruises Ltd. "He joined us with a clear vision to build a distinct brand and attract a new audience to cruise. Royal Caribbean International in the UK and Ireland has seen unprecedented growth under Stuart’s watch and his experience and expertise will be vital as we look to expand our European deployment."

Replacing Leven is Ben Bouldin, who will become Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International (UK and Ireland), reporting into Leven, also effective immediately.

Bouldin commented: "I’m absolutely delighted to be leading the Royal Caribbean International UK and Ireland business. It’s an incredible opportunity at an exciting time for the cruise market. We have an extraordinary team here in the UK and Ireland and I look forward to building on the work Stuart has started during his tenure."

5 best Harmony of the Seas tips


In short, there is a lot happening onboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, and that means plenty to see and do during your cruise vacation.

For someone going on Harmony of the Seas for the first time, here are five top tips for enjoying what is sure to be a fantastic time aboard.

1. Do not miss Columbus, the Musical!

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

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

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

2. Ride Ultimate Abyss on embarkation day

Without a doubt, many guests going on Harmony of the Seas have their eyes set on trying the world's tallest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss.  With that kind of anticipation, one should also expect lines to form regularly for this epic slide.

The key to avoiding those lines, is to to get a ride in as soon as you can.  Ultimate Abyss is usually open on embarkation day, and since many guests getting onboard are trying to figure out where everything is, those first few hours onboard are the perfect time.

Looking at a recent Cruise Compass from Harmony of the Seas' first 7-night cruise out of Port Everglades, Ultimate Abyss is open from 11:30am to 3:30pm on embarkation day.

3. Try the escape room

If you want to try something different, challenging and extremely fun, the Escape the Rubicon puzzle break experience is perfect for you.

Escape the Rubicon is a timed game, where guests try to solve a series of clues and puzzles hidden in a room that unlock the secret to "escaping" that room.  

Not only is this experience unlike anything on other cruise ships, it is super fun.  In fact, Escape the Rubicon was the most fun we had while onboard Harmony of the Seas, and that is why it is a must-do.

4. Get the guacamole at Sabor

There is lots of great food on the Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar menu, but if you eat just one thing at Sabor, make sure it is the guacamole.

Ever since the first Sabor debuted on a Royal Caribbean ship, we have become disciples of the Guacamole faith, preaching to others the virtues of this fantastic dish.  Since Sabor restaurants on Oasis class ships are priced a la carte, one might not order the table-side crafted green treat, but that would be a mistake.

Whether you stop in for just the guac and chips or a full meal, you must try the guacamole while onboard Harmony of the Seas. Your taste buds will thank you.

5. Take a selfie on the bridge wings

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

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

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

Bonus: Book the cruise as early as you can

We just could not resist including this tip, because after reading all about these fun opportunities on Harmony of the Seas, you might want to book a cruise on her, and that is why you must do as soon as possible.

With cruise ship pricing in general, the best prices are found the earlier one books.  Sure, there are sales and promotions throughout the year that can change the price, but generally speaking, the lowest fares are attained when guests book their cruise months and years in advance.

As soon as you know which sailing you want to reserve, be sure to book it and lock in your price.  It is still the best tip for getting the lowest fare on Harmony of the Seas, or any Royal Caribbean cruise.

Royal Caribbean receives perfect score as workplace for LGBT Equality


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) named Royal Caribbean a "2017 Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality", with a perfect score of 100 on its Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

The HRC is one of the oldest gay and lesbian political action committees in the U.S. and launched the index in 2002 to rank American companies.  This year, for the first time since, the HRC required top-scoring companies to have a global non-discrimination policy or code of conduct that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:

  • Non-discrimination policies
  • Employment benefits
  • Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
  • Public commitment to LGBT equality
  • Responsible citizenship

This is the second year running that RCL earned a perfect score on the CEI survey, even with the addition of the new global requirements. In October, Royal Caribbean International became the first cruiseline to be designated “Gay Travel Approved” by

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: December 4, 2016


Another week has gone by and that means we are all one week closer to our next Royal Caribbean cruise!

This week, Royal Caribbean entered the record books when North Star was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Guinness Book of World Records named North Star the “Highest Viewing Deck on a Cruise Ship"

The North Star is a one-of-a-kind and intimate experience that takes guests on an exhilarating journey high above the sea. This glass observation capsule gently rises more than 300 feet in the air and rotates upwards and over the sides of the ship to provide the most breathtaking, 360-degree views imaginable.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 174th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available and this week, Matt shares itinerary recommendations for first-time cruisers.

In this episode, Matt offers advice for someone new to Royal Caribbean and wanting to try their first cruise.

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

Royal Caribbean wrote about its dedication to offering cruises to guests with special needs.

Cruise & Ferry interviewed the people that created the Ultimate Abyss slide on Harmony of the Seas.

Travelzoo takes a look at Harmony of the Seas.