Cruising 101

Cruising 101: Crown and Anchor parties

In:
03Jan2015

Once you become a member of Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program, Crown and Anchor Society, and embark upon another cruise, you will start getting invitations to special events and parties just for you.

These parties are special ways Royal Caribbean likes to recognize its repeat customers and offer them complimentary beverages, share upcoming news about the ship and answer questions.

What happens at these parties?

Usually you are greeted by the ship's officers as you walk in and served complimentary cocktails and snacks while you mingle with other guests.

After a little while, there's a speech or two given by officers such as the loyalty ambassador, hotel manager and even the Captain.  Which crew members speak varies from ship to ship and sailing to sailing.

How do you get invited?

Royal Caribbean will offer a few parties each cruise for Crown and Anchor Society members of each level.  

Royal Caribbean will deliver an invitation for each party to your stateroom to let you know of the event.  On newer ships, such as the Oasis-class, the invitations are electronic and will arrive in your television's message inbox.

How many events are there per cruise?

Royal Caribbean will hold a number of events, usually a general event for all Crown and Anchor members and then smaller events for members of higher status in the program.

The main event is the Crown and Anchor Society Welcome Back Celebration, which is a general celebration of repeat cruisers.

After that, there can be other events for Platinum and above members.

The exact number of events and which events that are held will depend on the sailing.

Do I have to go?

No, these events are optional and your attendance has no consequences.

Why should I go?

There are two really good reasons to go to these events.  First, it's one of the rare opportunities on a Royal Caribbean ship to get complimentary alcoholic beverages.  The wait staff will come around with plenty for everyone and it's quite easy to get multiple drinks per event.

Second, the speeches by the staff can give you insight into upcoming changes onboard that ship as well as fleet wide.  It's also a good opportunity to ask questions about changes you may have read about online or just wanted to get clarification of.

Some speeches are more interesting than others but the free drinks and opportunity to meet other Royal Caribbean fans can be fun and the entire thing rarely lasts more than 60 minutes.

Cruising 101: Crown and Anchor Society Complimentary Drink Coupons

In:
17Jul2014

Recently Royal Caribbean began a new policy of offering complimentary drink vouchers per night to select levels of Crown and Anchor Society members to help offset congestion in its Diamond and Concierge lounges.

How does these new complimentary drink coupons work?

Three drink vouchers per day will be applied to each eligible Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members corresponding SeasPass card to be used to get a free drink at bars on the ship.

One drink may be redeemed at any one time.

Who is eligible for the drink coupons?

Guests who are Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members.

When can I use the drink coupons?

Between 4:30pm and 8:00pm

Which drinks are available with the coupons

Spirits

  • Bacardi Rum
  • Bailey's Irish Cream
  • Tanqueray Gin
  • Finlandia Vodka
  • Dewar's White Label Scotch Whiskey
  • Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
  • Jose Cuervo Gold Tequilla
  • Courvoisier VS Cognac
  • Sandeman Port Wine

Wines by the glass

  • St. Martin Chardonnay
  • Zonin Pinot Grigio
  • Beringer White Zinfandel
  • St. Martin Cabernet Sauvignon
  • St. Martin Merlot

Beers

  • Budweiser
  • Miller Light
  • Amstel Light
  • Corona
  • Heineken

Can I still go to the Diamond Lounge if I use these coupons?

Yes, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members can continue to enjoy all the amenities in the Diamond Lounge.

Where can I not use the complimentary drink coupons?

Drink vouchers may not be redeemed in the dining room, specialty restaurants, room service or Windjammer.

Are the drink coupons available on all cruises?

Not yet. Royal Caribbean promises they will be rolled out by Fall 2014 but already a number of ships are offering it, including Navigator of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas.

Cruising 101: Everything Enchantment of the Seas

In:
10Jul2014

Royal Caribbean offers quick 3 and 4 night cruises on Enchantment of the Seas out of Port Canaveral, Florida and it's one of the more popular cruises out there, especially for those new to cruising. This post will be an opportunity to explore what is fun and exciting about Enchantment of the Seas.

It's bigger than it used to be

One thing that separates Enchantment of the Seas from her sister ships in the Vision class is she was cut apart in the middle back in 2005 and had a 73-foot extension added and then welded back together.

It's a pretty cool distinction because a mid-body extension like that is pretty darn rare among cruise ships. They added 151 new staterooms and some other neat features we will talk about soon.

Best place for sail away: pool deck

It's no secret that the pool deck is always a great spot for sail away but on Enchantment of the Seas, the pool deck is extra popular because of the short nature of the cruises offered.

These quick itineraries usually give the ship more of a party vibe to them and the pool deck is the place to be when the fun begins after muster drill.

Best place to get a drink: Oasis Bar

You've probably been to your fair share of pool bars, but what makes the Oasis Bar on Enchantment of the Seas really cool is it faces the ocean, allow you to enjoy the view of the ocean as you partake in your preferred adult beverage.

There isn't a whole lot of seating available, but if you get the chance, be sure to enjoy this unique bar experience that cannot be found on any other Vision-class ship.

Watch your step on the floor windows

Part of the ship's extension involved adding floor windows, which give guests an unobstructed view of the ocean below.

Located on the pool deck, the floor windows give you a fun away to see the water below.

Fun things unique to Enchantment of the Seas

Dancing Under the Stars Poolside Party & Late Night Buffet

Late night dancing on the pool deck along with the Pirate Cove Buffet means you can enjoy a special nighttime party that's fun for all ages.

It begins at 11pm and offers a special party that isn't offered on all Royal Caribbean ships.

Suspension bridges

On the pool deck you will find enormous suspension bridges that span the entire pool deck.  These arches are on the top deck of the ship and span more than 65 feet on either side.

Splash Deck

If you have kids, you will love the interactive Splash Deck, which has 64 water jets, 40 of which are connectd to an interactive touch-pad system so kids can direct the water to splash each other.

During the lengthening of the ship, the pool area was increased by 50 percent.

At night, the Splash Deck transforms into a remarkable fountain with a fiber-optic light show.

Jump Zone

Royal Caribbean has added four bungee trampolines that they call the Jump Zone. 

You must be at least six years old and weigh between 40 and 240 pounds to participate.

You will be strapped into a harness that is connected to bungee cords. Once you're ready, you can start jumping around an ding flips during your two-minute jump session.

Enchantment of the Seas Quick Info

Formal Nights: Day 2

Specialty Restaurants: Chops
Other food that costs extra: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

Cruising 101: SeaPass Account

In:
Category: 
03Jun2014

I was browsing one of my favorite Royal Caribbean Facebook groups when I stumbled across a post by Ed Tinkertoy about Royal Caribbean's SeaPass account and how it works.  

Your SeaPass account is your means of paying for anything on your Royal Caribbean cruise while onboard your account.  It's the cash-less way Royal Caribbean allows its guests to manage onboard purchases.

What is the SeaPass account?

Royal Caribbean's SeaPass is the card you get for each person in your group and it functions just like a credit card. 

At embarkation, you will put down a credit card (American Express, Optima, MasterCard, Visa, Discover and Diner's Club) to place against your purchases.  At the end of your cruise, all of your purchases are added up and charged to that credit card.

Royal Caribbean also allows you to use traveler's checks, debit cards with a Visa or MasterCard logo, or cash to activate your SeaPass charging.

Can I pay off my SeaPass account besides the credit card?

Yes, at any point during your cruise you can pay down your running tab with cash or other credit cards. 

Will everyone have charging privileges?

Only those people the primary guest designates will be able to charge to their SeaPass account.  

Kids can have their privilieges revoked all together or given a daily limit.

Is there a limit to SeaPass charges?

Royal Caribbean stipulates there is a $500 daily limit on cash accounts for 7 night or longer sailings and $300 for 2/3/4/5 night sailings.

Once you reach that daily limit, guest services should contact you to inform you that you have reached your limit.

How can I get cash during my cruise?

There are two primary ways to withdraw cash.  The first is by using an ATM machine onboard the ship.  There is a transaction fee levied by the ATM owner in addition to any fees your bank charges you.

Alternatively, you can charge against your SeaPass account in the ship's casino.  There is a percentage fee taken to do so, but depending on the amount you borrow, may be a better deal than the ATM fees.

Currently the limit for cash withdrawl at the casino is $2,000 per person, per day and the fee (for non-Club Royale members) is 5%.

How does my onboard credit work?

If you have any onboard credit, it will automatically post to your SeaPass account on the first night of your cruise.  All charges you make your SeaPass card are first deducted from your onboard credit before you start accruing a tab.

You cannot designate certain charges to go against your onboard credit in lieu of others. Rather, it's a first charged, first debted system.

Cruising 101: Onboard Credit

In:
Category: 
16Jan2014

If you've ever sailed with Royal Caribbean or been researching a cruise with Royal Caribbean, you have heard about other people getting onboard credit for their cruises.  In some cases, it can be hundreds of dollars.  So how does someone get onboard credit and for how much?

What is onboard credit?

Let's start with defining what onboard credit is.  Royal Caribbean can offer guests onboard credit, which is money pre-paid into your onboard account to be used on the cruise.  

It's "free" money that you can spend anywhere onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, including at Labadee or CocoCay (Royal Caribbean's private islands).  Basically, if it goes on your SeaPass card, you can use your onboard credit.

You don't have to specify to use your onboard credit, Royal Caribbean automatically starts deducting from it as you charge to your onboard account.

How do you get onboard credit?

There's a number of ways to get onboard credit for your Royal Caribbean cruise.  Some or all of these methods can be combined but it all depends on everyone's specific case.

Booking a cruise onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise

This won't help you for your current or upcoming cruise, but if you on a Royal Caribbean cruise and book a new cruise reservation or a NextCruise Certificate, you are entitled to up to $200 per booking.

Crown and Anchor Society Advertised Promotional Sailings 

Royal Caribbean's loyalty program, Crown and Anchor Soceity, will offer promotions to encourage bookings such as onboard credit.  The exact amount of onboard credit will depend on the promotion.

WOW Sales and other cruise deals

Royal Caribbean offers cruise deals throughout the year and often will throw in onboard credit as a way of getting more people to book. 

The price of the cruise may be unaffected but Royal Caribbean has offered in the past hundreds of dollars to get guests to book more cruises.  

Royal Caribbean Visa card points

Royal Caribbean's Visa card offers reward points for the money you charge to the card.  As you reach certain point milestones, you can redeem the points for onboard credit.

Apology from Royal Caribbean

When bad things happen that is out of the ordinary, Royal Caribbean will try to make things right by offering guests onboard credit to offset the problem.  

Incidents like poor service, billing inaccuracies and other frustrations are often handled with onboard credit (in addition to remedying the situation as best they can).  

Travel Agent promotional offer

Travel agents often can offer customers onboard credit through many different ways.  It can sometimes be a result of a group booking space or the amount of money you spend or the category of stateroom you book.

The exact amount offered varies from sailing to sailing, but onboard credit is one way travel agents differentiate themselves from one another and take steps to earn business.

Bring a friend

For each stateroom first time Royal Caribbean passengers book that you refer, Royal Caribbean will offer you onboard credit as a reward.  

You will receive $25 in onboard credit for each stateroom your friends reserve on your cruise booked. You may refer up to a maximum of 5 staterooms for any length of cruise.

The first-time guest must be sailing on the same ship and sail date as you, the member.

You can register for this credit by going to RoyalCaribbean.com/BringAFriend.

Can I combine onboard credit offers?

Yes, in many cases you can combine onboard credit offers.  There are some offers that do not allow you to "stack" onboard credit offers, so you will need to read the fine print of each offer to see which is more lucrative for you.

What can I spend my onboard credit on?

You can spend your onboard credit on virtually anything you can charge to your SeaPass card.  This includes, but not limited to....

  • Spa services
  • Beverages (alcohol or not)
  • Souvenirs
  • Specialty restaurants
  • Gratuities

The truth is you don't select an individual purchase to spend your onboard credit on.  Rather, if you have $100 in onboard credit and you spend $500 total on your SeaPass account, you will be charged $400. Any purchases you make with your SeaPass card first deduct from the onboard credit and then when your onboard credit runs out, charges to your account normally.

Regardless of if the purchase is paid for by your onboard credit or not, each purchase will still appear on your bill.

When do I get my onboard credit?

When you begin your Royal Caribbean cruise, onboard credits are applied as the ship's computer system downloads each guest's account information from Royal Caribbean's central servers.

It's not uncommon for Guest Service to not be able to verify your onboard credit amount until the evening of your first day onboard.  Don't worry, they are usually pretty good with making sure it's there.

It may be smart to have printed copies of the onboard credit you are entitled to, just in case there is an issue but you should be able to verify the correct amount is in your account by the end of the first day.

Cruising 101: Bringing an infant on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
10Dec2013

Having an infant is a pretty big adjustment to anyone's life but it doesn't mean you can't take a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation.  In fact, going on a Royal Caribbean cruise with an infant is a great way to take a meaningful vacation with your new bundle of joy.

In recent years, Royal Caribbean has really changed how they accomodate very young kids with new facilities and activities just for them.  Having brought my own toddler onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise a few times, I can tell you it's very doable but it always helps to be prepared.

Is your infant old enough to cruise?

It is important to note that Royal Caribbean requires infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. For transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises, your infant must be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise.

Bring lots of supplies

Any parent can tell you there is no such thing as too many diapers or enough formula.  On a cruise, the same rule holds true so bringing enough diapers, wipes, formula, and other baby-centric items is critical because buying these items onboard is limited and in port you may have difficulties in finding the brand you prefer.

A few weeks before your cruise, start getting a sense of how many diapers, wipes, formula your child goes through in an average week.  That will give you a ballpark idea of what you need to pack and then probably add another 25% to give yourself some room.

Babies 2 Go!

Royal Caribbean offers a program called "Babies 2 Go!", where parents can pre-order Huggies diapers, wipes, and cream, as well as organic Gerber baby food to their room both before and throughout their cruise. 

I haven't used this program personally as bring ample supplies yourself is likely the most cost-effective solution, but it is good to know this program is available.

You can purchase the packages by calling (800) 722-5443 in the U.S. or Canada.

Flying? Be prepared for air pressure

Just like adults, if you are taking an airplane to your cruise, the air pressure change during takeoff and landing can cause pain in your toddlers ears.  Unlike adults, they don't know the basic strategies to alleviate the pain.

We've often found bringing a bottle is the perfect solution.  Ideally, try to withold food prior to your flight from when you arrive at the airport until you get on the plane.  Once seated on your plane and the plane begins taxing to the runway, give your child a bottle and let him/her eat through takeoff until you reach at least 10,000 feet.

Bring a stroller

Onboard the cruise ship you may not necessarily find a need for a stroller and it definitely takes up room in your small stateroom, but having a stroller is worth it.  In and around ports of call, having a stroller makes everyone's life easier.

It's also smart to bring a stroller that reclines so your child can sleep in the stroller.  Making it easier for your child to nap is always a plus for parents and it allows you to keep doing what you had planned without being confined to the stareroom.

Pack 'n Plays are available in your room

Don't worry about bringing a Pack 'n Play, Royal Caribbean provides one for your child to sleep in, free of charge .

While the pack 'n play does come with a mattress, we've found it more comfortable for our child to take a comforter and fold it up to place on top of the mattress to act as a small mattress topper.  The difference was quickly evident in how much longer our daughter would stay asleep versus the mattress alone.

Make sure you or your travel agent reserve a Pack 'n Play in advance so it is waiting in your stateroom when you embark on the first day.

Royal Babies and Tots Nursery

The best place for your child for when you need or want a break is the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery.  It's not available on all Royal Caribbean ships yet, but if you are cruising with an infant, be sure to look for a cruise that features one.

The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery is for children between the age of 6 and 36 months old.  These faciltiies are made just for young ones and my daughter loved going here. In fact, we always had a hard time convincing her to leave.  For a small charge per hour, you can do what you want while your child is supervised by trained professionals.  

Dinner time alone is well worth paying for it because you can enjoy a meal in the main dining room or specialty restaurant without constantly dealing with your child becoming bored or making a mess.  

In-room babysitting

If the nursery isn't an option, you can always fall back on in-room babysitting.  It's far more expensive than the nursery but allowing your toddler to stay in your room may be a simpler and more ideal solution.

In-room babysitting is provided by the ship's crew on an availability basis.  You will need to go to Guest Services during your cruise and inquire about availability.  I've had good luck with getting a baby sitter but keep in mind it's on a first-come, first served basis and there are limited baby sitters.

At the time of this posting, in-room babysitting costs $19 per hour.

Group Play Time

On all Royal Caribbean ships, you will find Fisher-Price sponsored play time.  These events require parental supervision where lots of fun toys are available for kids to play with.

On some Royal Caribbean cruises, there was a room with set hours that allowed kids and their parents to play with the toys most of the day while other cruises had set times.  In both cases, a few luggage bags full of toys are brought for kids to play with.

This is a communal event, so other toddlers may be present and it's yet something else for toddlers to do onboard. 

Naps, naps, naps

While having your child nap in a stroller is always the best-case scenario, often times it doesn't work.  However it's very important for your sanity and your child's enjoyment to keep their nap schedule going.

On days when your ship is docked, getting back onboard for a nap while in port can be rather simple.  If your ship is tendered, you may need to hold off morning plans in port just because of the slow nature of tenders.

I've often fallen prey to the thought of "we can just power through their nap time" and what ends up happening is an afternoon filled with temper tantrums by child and parent alike.

Bring backup

If it's in the cards, bring grand-parents, friends, aunts, uncles and anyone else with you on your cruise that can lend a hand now and then.  

We all love our kids but getting a break is always welcome and it provides your loved ones with an opportunity to spend time with your child while you can do other things.

No diapers in the pool

Royal Caribbean prohibits any children that wear diapers (even swim diapers) in their pools.  The exception is the baby pool, which is available on a few ships such as Freedom of the Seas.  

This baby pool is about ankle deep on a baby and a few feet across.  Infants and toddlers I've seen in it love it, but that's the only allowed space for swimming.

Another alternative is to bring your own inflatable pool with you.  I've found a few inflatable travel pools that can accomodate an infant (diaper or not) that you can bring onboard.  This may be an alternative for toddlers sailing on Royal Caribbean ships that do not have a baby pool.

Washing infant clothing

It isn't a question of if your infant will soil their clothes, but how often they will.  Royal Caribbean provides laundry services to guests for a fee but you can wash infant clothing in your stateroom for a better price.

You can purchase single use detergent powder packets and wash a few baby clothes at a time in your sink.  Then air dry the clothes in your shower using the laundry line.  

So parents of teeny tots, what have been your best strategies for cruising on Royal Caribbean with a baby? What do you wish someone had told you when you first visited as a parent? Let us know in the comments below.

Cruising 101: Cruise Documents

In:
05Dec2013

When you pay off your Royal Caribbean cruise and get close to your sailing, there's one important thing you need to do and that's fill out your cruise documents so you can get checked into your Royal Caribbean cruise without delay.

What are cruise documents?

Cruise documents are a set of paperwork that guests in the same stateroom (regardless of last name) will need to have filled out prior to your cruise.  They come in paper and electronic forms (eDoc), with the paper forms costing $35 per document and the electronic form free.  

The documents are a checklist of things you need to do, a list of other services and activities you can pre-purchase, important safety and rules that you can review and a few other notable things.  

What cruise documents are not

Cruise documents are not a boarding pass.  Rather, they are a pre-cruise planner that gives you information about services available to you, waivers to sign and more.

When will I recieve my cruise documents?

If you choose to receive them electronically, you will receive an e-mail with downloading instructions when your documents are ready. If you choose to receive your documents by mail, they will be printed and sent to the address you provided and a $35 printed document fee will be added to your reservation. If you reserve your cruise with a travel agent or a Certified Vacation Planner, your cruise documents are sent to you (or your travel agent) 20-50 days prior to sailing, assuming your reservation is finalized and your payments have been made.

If your cruise documents are available, you can access them through your reservation dashboard in your My Cruises Account on RoyalCaribbean.com. If your documents are not yet available, check back soon. You should also receive an e-mail with downloading instructions when your documents are ready.

Generally speaking, cruise documents will be available to fill out about 30 days prior to your sail date.

What you need to do

First and foremost, you need to fill out the cruise documents and answer all of the required fields.  This will give Royal Caribbean information on who is sailing and provide necessary legal information.  After you are done filling the documents out, you have the option of printing them out.

You should bring a copy of the filled out cruise documents with you to your cruise as a matter of good practice.  Be sure to keep this copy with you in your carry on luggage; Do not pack it in your checked luggage!

In additio to forms to fill out, there are printable luggage tags in your cruise documents that you can print out right away and affix to your luggage once you start packing.  You can print as many luggage tags as you need, and we even like to use luggage tag holders to protect them.  

Cruising 101: Courtesy Hold

In:
Category: 
26Nov2013

Quite often when you are shopping for the right Royal Caribbean cruise, you will want to mull over if the cruise you find is the right one for you as well as other considerations to be able to take the time off.  But what happens when you find a great deal on a cruise or the perfect cabin but can't commit to booking yet?  Royal Caribbean offers courtesy holds.

A courtesy hold is a complimentary 24-hour period where you can lock in your desired stateroom and price without putting any money down.  It assures you that your cabin and price will be saved for exactly 24-hours to give you some more time to decide without missing out on what you found.

Anyone can place a courtesy hold, and if you are booking on your own, there's an option on the Royal Caribbean web site to do so, as well as if you call Royal Caribbean directly.  Additionally, travel agents can place courtest holds on your behalf.

Between when you place the hold and 24 hours later, you must pay at least the deposit price to keep your cabin as well as price.  You can optionally pay the full cruise price as well if the cruise you are considering is still outside of the finaly payment date.

After 24 hours, if you have not made any payment, your courtesy hold will expire.  You can create a new courtesy hold after your first hold expired, however you may be subject to new pricing and the cabin you selected may be taken by someone else in the time between placing a new hold.

An important concept to understand about courtesy holds is that in Royal Caribbean's computer system, a courtesy hold is a de facto reservation.  Meaning, if you place a courtesy hold and then tomorrow there is a new sale that is only for new reservations, technically speaking your courtesy hold is an existing reservation and you would not qualify.

Courtesy holds are a great way to give yourself a little more time to decide on which cruise is right for you without risking losing out on a great stateroom and/or price.

Cruising 101: Cruising locally or flying to a cruise

In:
Category: 
09Sep2013

Royal Caribbean offers many cruises from many ports of call, so naturally there is a lot to choose from.  In many cases, the decision can be between taking a cruise you can drive to or taking an airplane to reach a cruise farther away.  If you find yourself in this conundrum, here are the things to know about both choices in making your decision.

Benefits of taking a cruise near you

If there's a Royal Caribbean cruise near you that does not require an airplane flight, there are a number of benefits, with reduced cost being a big one.  In many cases, the cost of an airplane flight can be more than the cruise itself.  But if you can drive to your cruise, you will save a lot of money on transportation costs.

Not flying also has other advantages such as not worrying about paying for checked luggage, taxi costs and in some cases, paying for a hotel the night before your cruise.  

In just the United States, Royal Caribbean offers cruises out of Massachusetts, New York/New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, Hawaii, California, Alaska, Louisiana and Texas.  That's a lot of states and many more states nearby that are close enough to allow for a drive.  Cruises out of England, Australia, China and other markets offer local cruise options as well.

On a more personal level, cruising locally can allow you to really get to know a particular Royal Caribbean cruise ship intimately because it is a ship you can sail on at any given time.  An example of this is Explorer of the Seas, which has been based out of Bayonne, New Jersey for a number of years.  Having a ship near you that you can "call your own" is a pretty cool feeling.

Benefits of flying to a cruise

If you fly to your cruise, as the saying goes, the world is your oyster.  You have all the choices of where and when you want to cruise.  Royal Caribbean offers a lot of cruises to ports of call around the world and there's no limit to which one you can go to.

Flying also gives you more variety in terms of the ports of call you will visit as well as the ship you will sail on.  In local markets the cruise ships and itineraries can often stay the same for years, which does not lend itself to variety.  

Some of the better sales on Royal Caribbean cruises can often be found from ports you will need to fly to, which can save a lot of money on the overall vacation cost.  Moreover, you may find cheaper deals overall in other ports consistently due to competition from other cruise lines (such as cruises in Florida).

With Royal Caribbean offering new cruises on new ships fairly regularly, there's always something exciting to be discovered and flying to a cruise means you won't miss out on anything.

Cruising 101: Staying on the ship on port days

In:
Category: 
29Aug2013

When you book a Royal Caribbean cruise, the intriguing destinations the ship will go to are among the most compelling aspects of taking a cruise.  So it may seem a little odd when you consider staying onboard the ship when it is docked somewhere but the truth is, it's perfectly okay.

Why you would want to stay onboard

You might be wondering why anyone wouldn't get off the ship when you're docked somewhere and that question has a lot of possible answers.  Sometimes a particular port isn't of interest for a variety of reasons, such as having been to the port before, trying to save money or looking to take advantage of what's onboard.  On port intensive cruises, a day off from touring may sound like the perfect day.

Royal Caribbean builds its ships to be floating entertainment hubs and that isn't limited to just sea days.  The ship offers a lot of things to do and the activities don't stop when the ship is docked somewhere.  With a majority of guests enjoying things on shore, staying onboard can give you easy access to the otherwise popular parts of the ship.

The really neat sensation of staying onboard when the ship is in port, is the feeling of having the ship to yourself.  With so few other guests onboard, it really does feel like you have the ship to yourself.

Differences onboard when in port

When your ship is docked, there's still plenty going on, but activity wise, you will notice less things to do.  There will still be classes, activities and group events offered, but not nearly as many as a sea day.  You will want to consult the Cruise Compass for what's available and decide if anything is of interest.

In terms of dining, the Windjammer will be open as usual, although lunch is typically not served in the Main Dining Room on port days.  Specialty restaurant lunch schedules may also be affected by being in port, so you will need to check with the restaurants.

Of course, when you're docked on a port day, the ship will feel empty, especially in the late morning to mid afternoon.  It's quite a difference to be able to walk down the Royal Promenade or pool deck without the usual array of people around.  

Best things to do onboard

If you're staying onboard, there's a few good choices to consider when what you want to do.  By far, the best choice is go to the pool.  The pool is usually the most crowded area of the ship at any given time, but on port days, it can feel like you have the pool to yourself.  This is particuarly good for kids, who may find the pool area too crowded.

Fans of spa services will find port days to have the best deals.  The spa usually offers the best deals on port days to attract guests to book services because everyone is off the ship.  Check the daily spa specials on your port day to see what's available.

Just like the pool, the Windjammer will feel far more open and less congested on a port day.  Forget waiting in line for the buffet, you ought to be able to have free reign here.

Exploring the ship is also a great idea on port days.  Royal Caribbean builds amazing ships that are difficult to see everything in the time you're vacation is alloted, so some extra time to explore is always a great choice.  You may discover something you never knew about and it could become your new favorite thing.

The exception

All of this may sound great, but the exception to this may occur when the weather isn't great.  If you're in port on a rainy day, more guests than usual may decide to also stay onboard, thus negating the low crowd advantage outlined earlier.  

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