Video: Spectrum of the Seas artist rendering

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's China website has posted a video that gives an artist rendering of a few of the venues on the cruise line's next cruise ship, Spectrum of the Seas.

Spectrum of the Seas will be the first Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship and is scheduled for delivery in 2019.

The ship will feature a number of firsts for a Royal Caribbean ship, including the cruise line’s first private enclave for suite guests, new stateroom categories, "innovative dining concepts", and "stunning features and experiences".

Thanks to Lloyd Marchand for alerting us to this video.

Royal Caribbean extends service agreement with Wärtsilä

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Wärtsilä have agreed to extended their existing service agreement to the year 2028. The original agreement, signed in 2013, spanned 10 years. Under the agreement, Wärtsilä is optimising maintenance efficiency through improved Turbocharger maintenance, providing OEM spare parts, workshop services and preferred technical assistance for 46 Royal Caribbean Cruises’ ships.

The partnership is to complement the RCL Global Marine in-house expertise with continuous improvement via various technical innovations and direct access to Wärtsilä’s technical expertise with continuous focus on safety and life cycle cost.

This new agreement between RCL and Wärtsilä, signed in June 2018, covers a total of 196 engines installed in 46 cruise ships, the majority of which sail in the Caribbean and Europe. The largest portion of RCL fleet of vessels is equipped with Wärtsilä’s condition monitoring technology, which transmits real-time information about engine condition to a Wärtsilä Expertise Centre for analysis. This allows for predictive maintenance planning and optimisation of operations.

“When it comes to maintenance planning and operations, the marine and cruise industry is moving more and more toward long-term partnerships. This is a natural direction, as it enables a holistic approach to vessel maintenance. A partner that understands the installation and optimises their condition throughout their lifecycle can help Royal Caribbean to enhance their business. Close cooperation is essential in such partnerships,” says Sean Carey, Service Unit Director North America, Wärtsilä Services.

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review 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 270 is available for downloading, where we share a review of our recent cruise on Royal caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.

Matt just got back from a 4-night Western Caribbean cruise aboard Brilliance of the Seas and talks about what he did onboard and shared some of his favorite things about this ship.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 270. 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 trademarks possible new cruise ship name

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has trademarked the name Metropolis of the Seas, which could possibly be used as a name of a future cruise ship.

The cruise line registered the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on October 1, 2018.

Royal Caribbean trademarked three other possible cruise ship names in September. In addition, Apex of the Seas was registered in 2017 and is still a live trademark.

Royal Caribbean currently has four unnamed ships on order, in addition to Spectrum of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean offering 60% off second guest with Wave October sale

By: Matt Hochberg

The month of October has Royal Caribbean offering Buy One Guest, Get Second Guest 60% Off and 30% savings for third and fourth guests.

The Wave October sale runs between October 1 – 31, 2018 and is valid on sailings departing on or after November 1, 2018.

It inculdes:

  • 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
  • 30% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.

As a bonus, cruises booked between October 1 – 6, 2018 may qualify for the Wander Now sale, where guests can get instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites.
  • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites.

Fall Bonus: provides instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom for those guests’ sailing between November 1, 2018 – December 17, 2018. Instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites.
  • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suite.

BOGO and Deck the Holidays Deals are combinable with Wander Now Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Wander Now 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.

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

Royal Caribbean trademarks Oasis Class stern design

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the stern design of its Oasis Class ships.

The trademark was filed by the cruise line on September 24, 2018 and describes the unique design of an Oasis Class ship that includes the balcony staterooms, Ultimate Abyss and Royal Caribbean logo symbol.

Trademark design

Aft view of Harmony of the Seas

"The mark consists of the stern section of a cruise ship having a set of stylish oblong-shaped balconies on the left and right sides of the stern section, a pair of ornamental slides extending from the rear section of an decorative fish head to cascade downward to a lower deck of the cruise ship, and a pair of tusk-like structures extending upward from the top of a lower deck of the cruise ship, to a mid-deck level of the stern section, each tusk-like structure includes a set of stylish curved vertical beams intersecting near the top portion of the tusk-like structures, and an ornamental crown and anchor symbol suspended between the pair of tusk-like structures."

This is the second ship design element to be trademarked by Royal Caribbean in September.  Earlier in September, Royal Caribbean trademarked its smoke stack design.

Royal Caribbean CEO talks Quantum 5, better pizza, Oasis Class in Galveston and more

By: Matt Hochberg

As part of Royal Caribbean's President's Cruise on Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley held a question and answer session with cruisers to address questions and concerns.  In the nearly two hour event, a number of intriguing changes were announced, along with updates to topics of interest to many cruisers.

Here are the big tidbits of information from the session.

Quantum 5 coming to USA & Europe?

Michael Bayley started off the session with guests by giving an overview of where Royal Caribbean is today, and went over some of the new ships joining the fleet.  He mentioned the fifth Quantum Class ship and indicated there is a possibility that ship will sail from the United States and Europe.

"The following year we have Spectrum two, or Quantum Ultra two, and that could possibly be coming to Europe and America."

The Perfect Day at CocoCay pier will be completed by the end of 2018

The new pier that is being added to CocoCay has suffered a few construction delays, but Michael Bayley confirmed the pier will be complete, "by the end of December".

Bayley estimates out of all the sailings to CocoCay, about 10 or 11% would be missed due to unfavorable tendering condtions. With the new pier, he believes the missed calls will drop to about 2%.

The pizza is getting better

Michael Bayley confirmed Royal Caribbean is actively working towards improving the pizza on its ships.  

A new approach to their pizza has seen a six point increase in guest satisfaction, thanks to the cruise line's better crust, cheese, sauce and toppings.

Bayley said the pizza rating is hovering around 92% guest satisfaction, but he wants to see it climb to at least 95%.

Moreover, the next target for improving the food onboard is to work on better desserts. He hopes to roll out the desserts to the rest of the fleet in the coming months.

An update on cruising from California

One cruiser asked Michael Bayley about the prospects of Royal Caribbean returning to California and offering cruises regularly from Los Angeles.

"We always are evaluating the deployment into California, whether it is San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. We know that two of our competing brands are putting ships into California in the next year or so, it will be interesting to see how they do.

From a business perspective, we still can't quite figure out how to make the best sense from a business perspective, so we keep looking at it. I can't say it's not gonna happen, I'm pretty sure it's going to happen. The question is, when. For sure in the next five to ten years there will be a ship in California."

No new Crown and Anchor Society tier

When asked about changes to the Crown and Anchor Society tiers, Michael Bayley reittered his belief that Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program is the best in the industry.  Moreover, he indicated they are not looking to add a new tier into the program.

Bayley also mentioned they are looking at what they can do to improve the loyalty programs among Royal Caribbean International's sister brands, which would allow you to sail on any sister brand with the same status as you have earned on Royal Caribbean International.

No comment on possibility of an Oasis Class ship sailing from Galveston

Royal Caribbean's Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra touched on the news of an Oasis Class ship coming to Galveston.  

"It's being worked on by government and local officials in Galveston, but to Michael's point, it is our intention, but we need a few more things to go our way in terms of funding and approvals. We'd love to have an Oasis Class ship in Galveston."

Royal Caribbean announces 50th birthday cruise celebration in 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today its next major cruise event, will celebrate Royal Caribbean's 50th birthday.

The "50 Years Bold Birthday Cruise" will be held on the November 2, 2019 sailing of Symphony of the Seas out of Miami, Florida.

The cruise will be 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing, and Royal Caribbean says it will be "packed with special programming and events, surprise guest performers, a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay, and much more."

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

By: Matt Hochberg

The last day of our cruise is here, and it means a day at sea.  Sea days are sometimes chock full of activities, events and parties.  Our sea day was more of a “let’s recuperate” kind of day.

We woke up right on time and at first I thought I was ready to get my day started with the same vigor and enthusiasm from day one. It became quickly apparent that would not be the case.

We had breakfast at Chops Grille, and it was just as good as when we ate there on day two.  

Right after breakfast it was time for our bridge tour, which is a perk of being a Diamond Plus/Pinnacle guest.  

My wife had actually never done a bridge tour before, so we opted to go for it.  

It is fascinating to be up on the bridge and see not only how the ship operates, but get one of the best views available onboard.  

A bridge officer talked about the basic bridge operations, how the crew conducts their work and showed us some of the controls.

After the tour, we found a couple of lounge chairs by the pool and I indulged in a much needed, and satisfactory nap.  That decision to catch up on sleep really helped my energy levels for the rest of the day.

For lunch, we headed to Izumi.

Another great meal, and luckily the warm house sake was back in stock, which meant I could get it as part of the drink package.

After lunch we managed to find two lounge chairs in the Solarium and spent our afternoon relaxing by the pool on a great weather day.

After a relaxing day by the pool (and hot tub), we grabbed a few drinks before dinner.  

Dinner this evening took us back to Chops Grille.  The service was great tonight and I only ordered the tuna tartare for my appetizer and entree. Yes, it was that good.

After dinner, we decided to savor our last few hours left on the ship with some bar hopping.  Having the drink package makes trying out different bars a little more interesting.

Overall, I really liked our time on Brilliance. In fact, it may have been the best of the three times on her and it has earned a special spot in my opinion on favorite ships.  While it may not have the overwhelming amount of activities and things to do that the new ships offer, it is a really fun cruise and for these long weekend sailings, a perfect length.

We actually booked another sailing on Brilliance for in 2019 as an excuse to get back onboard.  It remains to be seen if we will keep that booking, but I would love to sail on her again.

Thank you to everyone for following along and being a part of the live blog.  It has been a great pleasure sharing this sailing with all of you.  My next live blog sailing will only be a short six week wait when we board the brand new Symphony of the Seas!

Stray Observations

  • Rita’s Cantina does appear to be no more.  We stopped by the location and while the area still has the decorations and look of the restaurant, I could not find any menus or anything of that nature.

  • There was some definite “motion in the ocean” this morning.  Nothing intolerable, and by lunch the waves had calmed down some.
  • Brilliance of the Seas has its own escape room game, which is held in the Colony Club.  There is no cost to it, and it is the same game we played on Harmony of the Seas (in the On Air Club, not Escape the Rubicon).

  • A very depressing cake.
  • The self-leveling billiards table are not functional (as in they do not self-level).
  • There was leftover merchandise in the Centrum Shops from Brilliance’s Baltic season with deep discounts.
  • Someone asked for drink prices, and here is a look at the Schooner Bar menu.  I feel this is pretty exemplary of the drink prices onboard

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cozumel

By: Matt Hochberg

Our one and only port stop brings us to Cozumel, Mexico and a day filled with sun, fun and plenty of guacamole.

Brilliance of the Seas was scheduled to dock in Cozumel at 8am, although local time is an hour behind, so we decided to sleep in a bit and get off the ship at 10am our time.  Most of the shops and restaurants do not really open until 9am local time.

We skipped breakfast onboard and grabbed coffee from Cafe Latte-Tudes.   

Getting of Brilliance of the Seas was a breeze, with no wait at all.  

We caught a cab and headed to downtown San Miguel for some drinking and eating.

We arrived downtown right around 9am, and a lot of the spots had not opened up yet so we started off our downtown adventure at a bar near the plaza area of San Miguel.

After one drink, we headed over to Casa Cuzamil, which is a bar and restaurant that serves breakfast, cocktails and even some food.   I had visited Casa Cuzamil on a previous cruise to Cozumel, but wanted a place with breakfast and lunch, as well as alcoholic drinks.

The best part of Casa Cuzamil is the fact theiy have a rooftop bar with lots of shade, a great breeze and even a hammock.

We spent probably more time there than we originally intended but it was so darn relaxing and cool on that roof that we hung out there for quite a bit.  Heck, I would not have minded spending a few more hours there.

After plenty of drinks and some light eats, we took a quick walk to my favorite spot to eat in Cozumel, Comida Caseras Tonita.

I have been here a number of times and in my estimation it is the best example of authentic Mecxican food at a reasonable price. Today's lunch did not disappoint.

We made a pit stop on our way back to the ship at La Mega supermarket for some souvenirs and food for home.

Back on the ship, it was time to cool down in the Solarium Pool.

After a refreshing afternoon in the pool, it was time for a great sailaway from Cozumel and getting ready for dinner.

We booked Izumi for dinner and it was surprisingly very crowded. By the time we left, there were no tables left open.

After dinner we headed down to the Pub for another great set of music.

Stray Observations

  • Bubba Gump Shrimp has been added to the Cozumel port stop area.
  • Overall, Brilliance is immaculately well-kept.  Ship is clean, well-maintained and not showing any signs of aging.
  • Here are the water slide hours
  • I have been fairly impressed with the ship's internet.  It is not as fast as some of the other ships in the fleet, but it has been quite responsive and I have generally not run into extremely long load times or disappearing internet signal.  

Tomorrow is our last day, and it is a sea day.