Royal Caribbean's Cyber Week sale offers up to $150 to spend at sea

In:
28Nov2017

Royal Caribbean is continuing the Cyber Monday fun with a Cyber Week Sale, with some bonus savings included.

Royal Caribbean cruises booked between 11/28/17 through 12/4/17 11:59 p.m. EST on sailings departing on or after 12/28/17 are valid for this sale.

Offer includes

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest who must be booked in the same stateroom as a first guest who books at full fare.
  • Kids Sail for Less includes 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests.
  • Cyber Week Sale provides onboard credit determined by category booked and sailing length:
    • $50 to spend onboard for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $75 to spend onboard for Balconies and Suites on sailings 5 nights and less
    • $50 to spend onboard for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6 nights and longer
    • $100 to spend onboard for Balconies on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • $150 to spend onboard for Suites on sailings 6 nights or longer

Cyber Week Sale offer excludes China departures. Offer is combinable with select promotions.

Offer open to residents of U.S. or Canada. 

Royal Caribbean offering Cyber Monday deals on pre-cruise purchases

In:
27Nov2017

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases in the Cruise Planner in honor of Cyber Monday.

The Cyber Monday Sale ends at midnight on Monday, and applies to options like beverage packages, shore excursions and more.  Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site and navigate to the Dining & Beverage section to see any available offers.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

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

In:
26Nov2017

The final day of our Independence of the Seas cruise is a sea day, and it also an opportunity to take things easy. The past few days have had us all rushing around to get things done, but we wanted to enjoy this last day by slowing things down.

My wife and kids slept in while I enjoyed a quiet morning and beautiful sunrise. While I am all for taking things slowly, I could not lay in bed this morning knowing there as more time available to enjoy the ship.

Eventually everyone got up, and we had our usual breakfast in the Windjammer. I think a lot of other families were sleeping in, because it was not overly busy in the Windjammer.

After breakfast, we mostly wandered the ship to see what was going on. My kids said they wanted to swim, but also did not want to shower (evidently showering everyday is a kid faux pas), so they opted not to go to the pool.

We had planned to eat lunch at Giovanni’s Table, but I think the kids were still tired and we decided to grab something quick in the Windjammer and let them take a nap. Sometimes you just have to adjust your plans in the name of family sanity.

With the kids napping, we started packing up our belongings to avoid having to do it later tonight.

Once we woke from naps, I could tell everyone was feeling better. The kids spent some time playing in their room.

My oldest daughter wanted to try ice skating again on this sailing, so we headed down to Studio B. We arrived 15 minutes early and found a rather long line, which was surprising to see so many people there early. Luckily, we were the last two guests that made it into the first session.

We headed back to the room to get ready for dinner. As per usual, we took the kids up to Adventure Ocean and then my wife and I enjoyed some time in the Diamond Lounge.

Dinner tonight was in the main dining room, and the service was great. Unfortunately, my eggplant parm was not cooked well (as was the case with the table next to us), but otherwise the food was on par with what we were used to on past cruises.

To round out our evening, we enjoyed some drinks in the Pub while listening to some live music.

Overall, we had a great cruise and I am so glad that we took this opportunity to getaway for Thanksgiving and finally cruise on Independence of the Seas. She is a great ship, and I think anyone going on her will have a great time. In fact, I think the April 2018 refurbishment that will take place should revolutionize this ship and breathe new life into what is an already a great ship.

While we generally cruise on at least 7 night cruises, a 4 night cruise worked really well. To be honest, I think it worked out even better than I thought it would prior to getting onboard. Given that this was a weekend getaway cruise, I felt it was a great choice.

Stray observations

  • Overall, I am impressed with the Voom internet speeds on Independence of the Seas. While it may not be Oasis class fast, it is significantly better than I expected.
  • In retrospect, I could have skipped the drink package purchase and been alright with relying on wine I brought onboard, Diamond drinks, drinking in Cozumel, and the drink card.
  • I tried a bloody mary at two different bars this morning. Champagne Bar makes a better one, although both bars relied on mixes.


  • The Sorrentos Pizza on this ship might be the worst I have ever had.  Sorrentos Pizza is never amazing, but it is edible.  The pizza on this ship is more “mushy cheese” is the best way I can describe it.  We have tried a number of times and always lament the decision.
  • The weather today started out nice enough, but after lunch clouds rolled in and the sun never reappeared.

Thank you to everyone that followed along on this live blog. I always have such a great time reading your comments and answering questions, so thank you for being part of the fun.

My next live blog will take place on Rhapsody of the Seas in March 2018. Until then, don’t forget we talk Royal Caribbean daily on Periscope and Facebook Live!

 

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cozumel

In:
25Nov2017

Our first and only port stop brings us to Cozumel, Mexico. I think I have been to Cozumel the most of any cruise port and I have always enjoyed my time here. There is so many different things to do, and this time around we get to try something newto us.

Our ship was set to dock around 7:30 and be cleared at 8, but we got in a little early and ship was cleared by 7:45. We had set our alarm early so that we could get on our way sooner than later. As we got out of bed, I got to see a lovely sunrise over Cozumel as our ship arrived.

We got our things together and had a quick breakfast in the Windjammer.

Getting off the ship was easy, and we were just one of three ships in port today. In fact, there was not even a ship next to us, which is kind of unusual.

We hopped in a taxi cab and went to our spot for the day, Nachi Cocom.

Nachi Cocom is an all-inclusive beach resort that offers unlimited food and drinks, along with access to its beach and pool. Nachi is best known for the fact it limits the amount of guests that may enter each day (around 100), which means it is not oversold.

We had heard about Nachi Cocom from friends and random people on the Internet for years, and decided to give it a try ourselves.

It takes about 10-15 minutes by taxi to arrive (which will cost about $17 each way). Once you arrive, you are greeted with a photo opportunity (that you can buy later) and then check-in. At check-in, you are assigned a waiter and get to pick any spot you wish from the beach.

We picked a table and chairs by the pool because the kids prefer to swim in the pool.

Overall, Nachi Cocom was exactly as described: an indulgent escape with lots of flowing drinks and plenty to eat. Your day at Nachi is about splashing in the pool or ocean and enjoying drinks and food. There are not any water toys or similar things to do, because it is about relaxation.

The kids had a blast swimming to their heart’s content. Despite the fact the pool water was really cold, they could not get enough of it. I later told my wife that this may have been the most successful beach day for our kids in quite a while.

Somewhere between 1-2pm, we decided to head back because the kids were starting to run out of energy and naturally refused to nap. Thus, my wife and I decided to leave before an epic meltdown.

Back on the ship, it was time for that much needed nap to ensure everyone had enough energy for the rest of the day.

We were treated to a spectacular sunset this evening, as our ship was in town until past 6:30pm. One nice thing about cruising in winter is you get earlier sunsets.

Next, we took the kids up to Windjammer for dinner and then dropped them off at Adventure Ocean and the nursery.

My wife and I enjoyed some cocktails in the Diamond Lounge before heading to the main dining room for dinner.

After dinner, we tried our hand at the casino (it did not go well for us) and then enjoyed some time on the pool deck to enjoy the perfect weather outside.

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

Stray Observations

  • I swear every time I get pool towels from the pool deck, there are pool towels available to pick up near the gangway and every time I don’t, there are no pool towels by the gangway.
  • We had perfect weather today: no clouds, warm temperatures and low humidity. It was a pleasure to be outdoors.
  • A friendly reminder that even in a beautiful setting as Cozumel, danger lurks around the corner (or beach)
  • The drink card showed up today.  $85 for 10 drinks.
  • Drink of the day is the Royal Lemonade.
  • A mariachi band from Cozumel boarded the ship to perform this afternoon. I do not think I have seen that happen before.
  • Here is what happens when you ask for "nothing" for dessert

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

In:
24Nov2017

If you are familiar with the contemporary acronym “FOMO”, then you know exactly what a typical first sea day on a Royal Caribbean ship feels like for me. Despite any logical argument, I always find myself wanting to do as much as I can, and today was no different.

We did not set an alarm, but ended up waking up around 8:30am or so. Even though we all got to bed late last night, the drive to get a full day of fun in on Independence of the Seas was too great to ignore.

We headed up the Windjammer for breakfast at 9:30am and it was very busy. In fact, I think the Windjammer on Harmony of the Seas was less busy during this time than on Independence. I think going forward if we want to eat breakfast after 9am, we need to go to the main dining room to ensure getting a table.

After breakfast we did what any sensible Black Friday shopper would do: we went to the NextCruise office! We did not book anything new, just re-booked a sailing or two to take advantage of the Black Friday offer combined with the NextCruise booking bonus.

We then took the kids up to the Teen club, Fuel, where they have an open play area for toddlers from 9am – 5pm. Both kids played together for a bit.

Lunch today brought us to the main dining room. On sea days, they serve lunch in the main dining room and today’s menu was wonderful. The tandoori chicken kabobs were excellent, and they even had coffee ice cream available!

Following lunch, we headed to the pool for the only activity my kids can never get enough of. Even though we rolled in around 1pm, there were still a few lounge chairs here and there near the H2O Zone. In fact, we managed to get three chairs near the pool and in the shade. Perfect!

After lunch, we instituted a mandatory nap for everyone to ensure we all had enough energy later this evening. The kids especially need a nap to recover from all the energy they expelled at the pool.

Walking the ship this afternoon, it turned out to be a really great day weather-wise.

After naps, we all got ready for formal night and dinner. We wanted to take nice photos of the kids this evening, so the kids had to get ready early.

I fed the kids and took them up to the Windjammer for dinner before dropping them off at Adventure Ocean.

My wife took in Grease while I took care of the kids. Today was the only day to see Grease, so we had to split up. One of the nuances of a shorter cruise is you have less time to see everything, and that includes less showtimes than on a seven night cruise.

We had planned to go to the main dining room for dinner, but my wife was feeling a bit run down from a steady stream of fun over the last 48 hours, so we decided to call it an early night and rest up for our time in Cozumel tomorrow.

Stray Observations

  • The onboard internet continues to perform well. One annoyance is after connecting with my phone, if I let the screen turn off for more than about 15 seconds, it will lost the WiFi connection and I usually have to manually re-connect. I don’t have to re-login, but it is not a perfect situation. Still, I will gladly take internet that functions reasonably well.

  • Oddly, Chops was open for lunch today but not Giovanni’s Table.

  • We did not meet our stateroom attendant yesterday, but ran into him this morning. He gladly opened up the balcony divider between our connecting staterooms.

  • One nuance of a sailing less than 7-nights is trying to work in all the entertainment is much more difficult since you have less opportunities to see the shows.

  • The Solarium on Independence of the Seas has these great bench swings, which are not on Freedom of the Seas.

  • There is Izumi Sushi To Go available at Sorrentos.

  • The drink of the day is the Woo Woo.

Royal Caribbean offering one day only Black Friday deals on pre-cruise purchases

In:
24Nov2017

In addition to Royal Caribbean's Black Friday deal on cruises booked, the cruise line is also offering up to 30% off everything on pre-cruise purchases made via the Cruise Planner.

The Black Friday Sale runs through the end of Friday, November 24, 2017  and applies to options like beverage packages, shore excursions and more.

The exact discounts available will vary from sailing to sailing, but it may be worth checking which discounts are available for your sailing.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site and navigate to the Dining & Beverage section to see any available offers.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

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

In:
23Nov2017

Happy Thanksgiving! Our weekend cruise is finally here, and we are ready for a fun Caribbean escape.

We drove down to South Florida the night before the cruise to ensure we would be close to the cruise port and not have to wake up super early to get to the port.  Other than my youngest daughter sleeping poorly, this plan worked out quite well.

We left for the cruise terminal right around 9am and got to the cruise terminal around 10am.

We arrived to Port Everglades a bit before 10am, and proceeded to drop the wife, kids, and luggage off at the terminal while I parked the car at the nearby parking garage. It is always a good idea to drop everyone and all the stuff at the pier and then park the car so that you do not have to lug everything from the parking garage, onto the shuttle, and to the terminal.

The doors of the terminal were initially closed, but opened up a few minutes after 10am and we went through a quick security and check-in line. Boarding began fairly promptly, and we were on Independence of the Seas by about 11am.

The Windjammer opened at 11:30am, and we partook in a traditional embarkation day buffet lunch. The variety of food was not as extensive as I am used to, but it was still good food and we enjoyed it.

After lunch, we all changed and let the kids go for a swim in the pool. The kids were beyond thrilled for early pool time, and they basically had the pool to themselves.

The staterooms were ready promptly at 1pm and maybe 30 minutes later, we dried off and headed downstairs to our room.

We have two connecting balcony staterooms on deck 7, near the forward elevator banks. These rooms have lots of space for everyone, and it gives my wife and I some separation from the kids. Plus, we have two bathrooms, which is great when we are all trying to get ready.

We also took the opportunity to register the children for Adventure Ocean. Oddly, the nursery was not taking any reservations, and said to return at 8pm when they open to not only drop kids off, but make reservations.

Muster drill was I think the quickest I can recall, and before we knew it, it was time to start the cruise. There were passing showers in the afternoon, but it all cleared up in time for sail away. Having taken a number of cruises this summer, it felt so good to have a sailaway where I was not super sweaty.

After departing Port Everglades, we headed to the room to get ready for dinner.

Everyone took a shower, and then I took the kids up to the Windjammer for their dinner.

It was not very crowded, and the spread of food was quite extensive. I was particularly impressed with the Jade section this evening.

After dinner, we took the kids down to the Royal Promenade for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s.

Adventure Ocean and the Nursery opened at 8pm, and we had no issues dropping the kids off. In fact, the nursery allowed us to book each evening of the cruise (usually on 7 night cruises they make everyone book just a few hours at first, and then open up reservations later in the cruise).

After dropping the kids off, we had some time before dinner and headed to the Diamond Lounge for drinks. To our surprise, there was literally no one in there. I have never seen the Diamond Lounge empty during Diamond drink hour, let alone not bustling.

Dinner this evening was in the main dining room, and we had a special Thanksgiving menu.

Our assistant waiter warned us that since it was day one, the kitchen was likely going to run into issues with speed, but it felt like an average main dining room experience in terms of speed. It may have taken a bit longer than normal, but I am not sure I would have complained or even noticed an issue.

I started off with the pumpkin ravioli, which while good, had little pumpkin flavor that I could detect.

The butternut squash soup was also very good. My wife prefers this soup, compared to the butternut squash soup from 150 Central Park for the lighter consistency, but I would prefer the opposite.

The turkey was moist and perfect serving. It could have used more stuffing, but I am not certain there is ever enough stuffing at any meal.

If I can be critical, the pumpkin pie was neither orange nor edible. Otherwise, a great meal.

Following dinner, we took in the ice show in Studio B known as Strings. I can best describe the show as a tribute to many classical music in the public domain. Well-performed (I do not think anyone fell or missed a trick) and a fun performance all around.

We decided to check out the Labyrinth dance club on deck 4 for old times sake. It certainly still has the eclectic décor I recall from other ships.

Tomorrow is our first sea day, or as my kids see it, a day with non-stop pool action with Windjammer snacks sprinkled in.

Stray Observations

  • The Adventure Ocean staff member said there about 900 kids on this sailing.
  • During the nursery registration process, I had to fill out a form to use a dect phone. In all our cruising with our kids, I have never had to fill out such a form. Always interesting to see how policies differ from ship to ship.
  • It is kind of weird seeing a Royal Caribbean ship with its nightclub still intact. Granted, it will be removed during the April 2018 refurbishment, but it was still interesting to see one after all the other ships had theirs removed.
  • The Christmas decorations are up on the ship.


  • Check out this kids section of the general gift shop on the Royal Promenade. I have never seen anything so ornate on any other Royal Caribbean ship.
  • Here are the drink package prices if you bought them onboard. I certainly saved some money pre-ordering it online.
  • There is still a number of items on the ship leftover from the European season, like this candy.
  • They showed all the Thanksgiving Day football games at the pool, as well as at the Pub and some other places.
  • The drink of the day was the margarita azul.
  • The internet speeds with the Surf & Stream package thus far are better than I expected. Even fast enough for a few Periscope broadcasts.

  • Since I have them, here are the boarding day tips

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas returning to Australia

In:
22Nov2017

Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas will return to Fremantle, Australia on Wednesday November 29, 2017, marking the ship's second season down under, as well as Royal Caribbean’s 10th season in the region.

Making her way from Singapore to her Sydney summer home, Fremantle is Ovation of the Seas’ first Australian port of call for her second and significantly longer season down under.

At 348 metres long, 18 decks high and weighing 168,666 tons, Ovation of the Seas is the world’s equal-fourth largest cruise ship and the largest cruise ship to ever sail Australian waters, with capacity for 5,000 guests and 1,500 crew.

“The return of our billion dollar baby, Ovation of the Seas, marks a particularly special milestone for us at Royal Caribbean and for Australian travellers, because it also marks our 10th season down under,” says RCL Cruises managing director, Adam Armstrong.

“Ten years ago, our philosophy was to bring the world’s most cutting-edge cruise product to Australia’s doorstep. In 2007, we embarked on a cruising revolution with the mighty Rhapsody of the Seas. Today, we continue this proud tradition of delivering Australians with the world’s best holidays at sea, with the ground-breaking all-new Ovation of the Seas, one of our four Australian-based megaliners,” Armstrong said.

Her visit to Fremantle is expected to inject over $800,000 in passenger spend alone.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia welcomed the return of Ovation of the Seas to WA: “Fremantle was Ovation of the Seas’ first Australian port of call on her maiden voyage down under last year. It’s a privilege to welcome her back again,” Mr Papalia said.

“Cruise shipping is crucial for the State’s tourism industry. In 2016-17, WA’s nine port destinations had 143 cruise ship visits, an 18 per cent increase from 121 calls the previous year. Those 143 visits generated $387.4 million for the WA economy and supported 1,300 jobs.

“The State Government recognises the importance of cruise shipping to WA, recently announcing improvements to some regional port destinations to ensure the sector’s sustainability in the future,” Papalia concluded.

Ovation of the Seas arrives in Fremantle at 8am, cruising from Singapore to Sydney with 4800 guests onboard hailing from more than 30 different countries. She will dock in Fremantle until 5pm, before making her way to Adelaide on 3 December and Hobart on 5 December, en route to her Sydney home on 7 December 2017.

Honeymoons on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
22Nov2017

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

Episode 225 is available for downloading, which offers tips and advice for anyone looking to take a Royal Caribbean cruise for their honeymoon.

Kayla and Matt share their honeymoon experiences on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and offer ideas and ways to make any honeymoon on a Royal Caribbean cruise even better.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 225. 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 Three-Day Cyber Monday Sale offers up to $400 onboard credit per stateroom

In:
21Nov2017

Royal Caribbean announced its upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal, which will offer 50% off second guests and up to $400 onboard credit per stateroom.

The Three-Day Cyber Monday Sale is valid on cruises booked November 24-27, 2017 11:59 p.m. EST for sailings departing on or after December 24, 2017. Offer excludes China departures.

The deal includes:

  • 50% off second guest
  • 25% Savings for 3/4 guests “Kids Sail for Less”
  • Up to $400 Onboard Credit per stateroom:
    • 5 Nights or Less:
      • $50 Onboard Credit for an Interior/Oceanview Stateroom
      • $100 Onboard Credit for a Balcony Stateroom
      •  $150 Onboard Credit for a Deluxe Stateroom
    • 6 Nights or More:
      • $75 Onboard Credit for an Interior/Oceanview Stateroom
      • $200 Onboard Credit for a Balcony Stateroom
      • $300 Onboard Credit for a Deluxe Stateroom
  • Guests can get an additional $100 onboard credit if they elect to book a sailing more than six months in advance with the Non-Refundable Deposit program.

Offer is combinable with select promotions. Offer open to residents of U.S. or Canada. 

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