Europe

Royal Caribbean announces 2018 European itineraries

In:
Category: 
23Mar2017

Royal Caribbean released today its 2018 sailings in Europe, which is headlined by the fleet's brand new Symphony of the Seas.

Across the continent, adventure awaits guests onboard eight of the world’s most innovative ships, with Spanish landmarks, Italian landscapes, French icons, Greek legends and Nordic Castles, comprising an unbelievable collection of more than 110 European odysseys. All itineraries are available to book as of March 23, 2017.

Making her debut in Barcelona, Spain in April 2018, Symphony of the Seas, the fourth sister ship in the Oasis-class, will spend her inaugural summer season sailing the striking blue waters of the Western Mediterranean. Starting April 21, she will offer seven-night itineraries from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples/Capri, Italy, where travelers can discover the breathtaking views from atop Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, and revel in the artwork of the old masters housed within the museums of Florence. For those wishing to start and end their trip in Italy, round-trip sailings from Rome are also available.

New in 2018, Vision of the Seas will join Symphony for the season offering 12-night sailings from Barcelona with ports-of-call in Rome, Italy; Nice, France; Santorini and Athens, Greece. In Northern Europe, Brilliance of the Seas will sail new 12-night itineraries from Amsterdam visiting countries throughout the Baltics, Norway and the British Isles, including Holyhead, Wales.

Barcelona

  • Oasis-class returns to Barcelona with Symphony of the Seas, which will headline Europe’s summer season exploring the Western Mediterranean on seven-night sailings, round-trip from Barcelona, Spain or Rome, Italy.
  • Vision of the Seas will embark on new 12-night Greek Isles itineraries from Barcelona, plus 12-night Mediterranean adventures to France and Italy, including stops in Rome and Florence/Pisa, the Amalfi Coast and an overnight in Venice.

British and Scandinavian Cruises

  • Brilliance of the Seas will call Northern Europe home for the first time, sailing 12-night itineraries from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, exploring the Baltics and British Isles, featuring new port-of-call Holyhead, Wales.
  • Independence of the Seas returns to Southampton, offering three- to 14-night voyages to the Mediterranean and a 14-night adventure to the Canary Islands all from Southampton. Navigator of the Seas will join Independence, sailing five- to 14- night itineraries.
  • Serenade of the Seas will offer seven-night sailings to the Norwegian Fjords, plus the ultimate Scandinavia and Russian adventure with departures from Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden.

Italian Adventures from Venice and Rome

  • Jewel of the Seas will sail seven- and nine-night sailings though the Greek Isles and Western Mediterranean.
  • Rhapsody of the Seas will return to Venice, Italy with seven-night excursions to the Greek Isles, and Greece & Croatia.

Royal Caribbean cancels all cruise stops in Turkey in 2017

In:
Category: 
18Feb2017

Royal Caribbean has decided to cancel all scheduled stops in Turkey for the 2017 cruise season, citing "unpredictability" in the country.

In a statement to travel agents, Royal Caribbean said that due to the current unpredictability of Turkey, and taking guests’ and crew members’ safety and wellbeing into account, Royal Caribbean has decided to replace our calls in Ephesus (Kusadasi) with alternate ports-of-call for the 2017 Europe season.

"We truly regret having to take this action and thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Any decision we make is made in an abundance of caution and safety, as your clients experience in our ports of call is always our utmost priority."

This will affect the following ships:

  • Brilliance of the Seas will now call on Mykonos, Greece.
  • Jewel of the Seas will now call on Rhodes, Greece.
  • Rhapsody of the Seas will now call on:
    • Kotor, Montenegro
    • July 14th: Chania, Greece
    • October 7th: Mykonos, Greece

Guests that purchased a Royal Caribbean Shore Excursion for their day in Kusadasi, a full refund will be processed to the original form of payment within one week.

7 tips for a great Royal Caribbean Baltic cruise

In:
17Aug2016

Please welcome Dr. Kris Leppien-Christensen as our guest blogger today! He is sharing insight and tips from his recent Royal Caribbean cruise on Serenade of the Seas to the Baltic countries in Europe.

Royal Caribbean offers some terrific cruises to Northern Europe and the Baltics, and for those taking a cruise to this part of the world that is rich in history and culture, here are seven ways to make your cruise even better.

1. Book your airfare early and be flexible

Unlike North American cruises, round trip airfare to your port of embarkation can run nearly as much as the cruise itself. As a result, one of the best pieces of advice to reduce the associated costs of airfare is to book early.

Most airlines allow you to book up to 330 days in advance. In doing so, you may be able to find an excellent deal. While deals can be had closer to cruising, you do risk paying substantially more as a result. For the last two years, the best deals we found for round trip air to Europe from California was Thanksgiving week and at the 300+ day mark.

Another way to save money on airfare is to spend a couple of extra days pre- and/or post-cruise. Doing so not only allows you some additional time to enjoy your embarkation and/or disembarkation port, but it also allows for you to travel home on a day that might be less expensive.

Similarly, look at airports within a drivable distance from your home. Sometimes airfare can be as much as half that of your local airport. Even with the additional expense of getting to or from the distant airport, the savings can be substantial especially because one-way car rentals are often an affordable option.

2. Book shore excursions early and consider looking at private companies

While there is safety in booking with the cruise line, cruise line excursions also tend to be large group endeavors. As a result, the group moves at a very slow pace and a lot of time is spent waiting for those who are lingering. Thus, for the same price, and sometimes less, you can often get a much more personalized tour with a smaller group. In addition, if you book early, you can often save an additional sum of money as many private excursion providers offer early booking discounts.

Private excursions can truly be beneficial in St. Petersburg, Russia as the private companies offer personalized service, an opportunity to see more sights, and often have access to places before they open to the general public. And like the ship tours, these private vendors provide the blanket travel visas that are need to enter Russia. In addition, many of these tour companies offer excursions in the other Baltic ports and offer additional savings if you book multiple tours with them.

3. Don’t be afraid to go it on your own

Besides Russia, where a visa is required to enter the country, most of the ports are very easy to tour on your own. In fact, Stockholm and Tallinn are a short walk from many of the sights and Royal Caribbean regularly offers shuttle service in Tallinn, Riga, and Copenhagen when their ships stop there, so it is easy to simply hop on the shuttle into town and then explore on your own. If you plan on coming and going back to the ship more than once, this can be a very economical option as taxis can be quite expensive, especially in Stockholm where taxis are not regulated and in Copenhagen.

Other options to consider are Hop On/Hop Off bus tours that give you a narrated tour of the city (although these often stop running well before your ship leaves port) or free walking tours offered in most ports (although a gratuity is expected for the service provided).

Uber is also another affordable option to get to and from the port if needed.

4. Invest in international travel adapter plugs

Odds are that you will be spending at least one night prior to your cruise in a hotel and odds are that the plugs for your electronic gadgets won’t fit in the European outlets. However, most modern electronics are dual voltage, so all you need is an adapter to convert your North American plug to the European standard.

Another benefit of this small investment is that you will now be able to use the 220-volt outlet in your cabin, providing you with yet another outlet to charge your electronics. Do verify, though, that your electronic devices are dual voltage before using an adapter plug as they do not convert the voltage.

5. Find time to stop into a local grocery store

One of our favorite things to do when traveling to different countries is to go into the local grocery stores to see how they compare to our own. We also like to check out the candy aisle and try to pick up unusual candies to share with our family when we return. These grocery stores also provide us with the opportunity to try things that we might not otherwise have an opportunity to try.

In the Baltics, we had the most fun in a grocery store in Klaipeda, Lithuania. Not only were we able to pick up some unusual candies, they had a small bakery department where we were able to pick up some local pastries. In addition, we noticed that a number of customers were buying these small bars out of the dairy case. Upon inquiring what the items were, we discovered that they were a goat cheese bars that came in a variety of flavors, many of which were covered in chocolate. Not only were they inexpensive, about 50 cents, they were delicious and unlike anything we had ever had before.

6. Don’t sweat the currency

When traveling to so many countries when on a Baltic cruise, one of the common worries is money. While it is true that U.S. dollars are not widely accepted, Euros are, although you might receive change in the local currency. And while having some currency makes small purchases practical especially from street vendors, most merchants take credit cards, but be aware that some credit card providers charge a foreign transaction fee.

ATMs are readily available and one of the best options for getting money at a low fee. Other options include large banks if you are an account holder there or online through AAA, who has a partnership with Wells Fargo for currency exchange services. Do realize, however, that your best exchange rate will be at ATMs or by using your credit card.

7. Use one of the online roll call sites

Making contact with fellow cruisers on a Baltics cruise can be very beneficial in a number of ways.

For example, some of the people we met made arrangements to share a taxi from the airport to the port significantly reducing cost of getting to the ship. We were also able to obtain a discount with our tour provider in St. Petersburg, Russia and in Federicia, Denmark by forming a group beforehand. Even though we all paid individually, we were able to benefit from a group discount and saved money over what the cruise line offered.

An additional benefit of joining a roll call is that you will have an opportunity to “meet” people before your cruise, which can be extremely beneficial if you have children. In our case, we were able to meet up with a family that had children and were able to tour with them over four days. The kids enjoyed each other’s company and kept themselves entertained as the adults explored the various sights.

If you have any tips to share or questions to ask, please do so by leaving a comment below.

Royal Caribbean releases summer 2017 European itineraries

In:
03Mar2016

Royal Caribbean released its summer 2017 itineraries today and bookings for the European season will open on Friday, March 4, 2016.

Here is a breakdown of the deployments by ship.

Jewel of the Seas

Jewel of the Seas will sail from Italy on seven- and nine-night voyages that visit Greece and Turkey, as well as seven-night sailings through the Western Mediterranean – offered more frequently with additional departures dates in 2017 – visiting France, Spain and Italy.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas will host guests on seven-night sailings through the Western Mediterranean, departing from Barcelona, Spain.

Brilliance of the Seas

Brilliance of the Seas will offer eight European destinations with a 12-night itinerary, departing from Barcelona, Spain.

Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas will sail the Mediterranean and the Spanish Canary Islands from Southampton, England with itineraries that extend from 7 to 14 nights.

Navigator of the Seas

Navigator of the Seas will sail the Mediterranean and the Spanish Canary Islands from Southampton, England with itineraries that extend from 7 to 14 nights.

Serenade of the Seas & Vision of the Seas

Both ships will head to northern Europe with a checklist of ports that includes Copenhagen, Denmark, Tromso, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden.

2017 Europe Adventure Collection Deployment Summary Guide

Royal Caribbean International Europe Adventure Collection

Ship

Spring 2017 (April - June)

Brilliance of the Seas®

12-Night Mediterranean - Barcelona
12-Night Mediterranean Greek Isles - Barcelona
12-Night Mediterranean Venice - Barcelona

Freedom of the Seas®

7-Night Western Mediterranean - Barcelona

Independence of the Seas®

3-Night Taste of Paris and Bruges - Southampton
7-Night France and Spain - Southampton
8-Night Norwegian Escapes - Southampton
12-Night Canaries Adventures - Southampton
14-Night Mediterranean Explorer - Southampton

Jewel of the Seas®

7-Night Western Mediterranean - Rome
9-Night Greek Isles - Rome

Legend of the Seas®

7-Night Greece, Turkey & Croatia - Venice
7-Night Greek Isles - Venice
14-Night Best of India & Sri Lanka - Singapore
16-Night Suez Canal - Dubai

Navigator of the SeasSM

7-Night Spain, France & Portugal - Southampton
14-Night Mediterranean Tour - Southampton
12-Night Northern Delights - Southampton

Serenade of the Seas®

7-Night Norwegian Fjords - Copenhagen
7-Night Scandinavia & Fjords - Copenhagen
7/10-Night Scandinavia & Russia - Stockholm
11-Night Arctic Circle - Copenhagen
11-Night Ultimate Scandivia-Russia - Copenhagen

Vision of the Seas®

11-Night Italy, Malta & Spain - Venice
10-Night Western Europe - Barcelona
12-Night Baltic - Amsterdam
12-Night British Isles - Amsterdam

Ship

Summer 2017 (July - September)

Brilliance of the Seas®

14-Night Mediterranean - Barcelona
12-Night Mediterranean Greek Isles - Barcelona
12-Night Mediterranean Venice - Barcelona

Freedom of the Seas®

7-Night Western Mediterranean - Barcelona

Independence of the Seas®

8-Night Northern Europe - Southampton
8-Night France & Spain - Southampton
12/14-Night Mediterranean - Southampton
12-Night Sunshine in the Canaries - Southampton

Jewel of the Seas®

7-Night Western Mediterranean - Rome
9-Night Greek Isles - Rome

Legend of the Seas®

6-Night Croatia & Greece - Venice
7-Night Greek Isles - Venice
7/8-Night Greece, Turkey & Croatia - Venice

Navigator of the SeasSM

6-Night France & Spain - Southampton
12/14-Night Mediterranean - Southampton
14-Night Canaries & Azores - Southampton
14-Night Italian Mediterranean - Southampton

Serenade of the Seas®

7-Night Scandinavia & Fjords - Copenhagen
7-Night Scandinavia & Russia - Copenhagen
7-Night Norwegian Fjords - Copenhagen
13-Night Ultimate Scandivia-Russia - Stockholm

Vision of the Seas®

10/11/12-Night Baltic - Amsterdam
14-Night Western Europe - Copenhagen
11-Night France, Italy and Adriatic - Barcelona
10-Night Greece and the Adriatic - Venice

Ship

Fall 2017 (October - December)

Freedom of the Seas®

10-Night Tour of Western Mediterranean - Barcelona

Independence of the Seas®

3-Night Taste of Paris & Bruges - Southampton
5-Night French & Dutch Adventure - Southampton
7-Night France & Spain - Southampton

Jewel of the Seas®

9-Night Greek Isles - Rome

Legend of the Seas®

7-Night Greece, Turkey & Croatia - Venice

Navigator of the SeasSM

5-Night France & Spain - Southampton
5-Night French & Dutch Adventure - Southampton
9-Night European Coastal - Southampton
10-Night Sunshine in the Canaries - Southampton

Vision of the Seas®

11-Night Greece, Turkey & Croatia - Venice
10-Night Greece & the Adriatic - Venice
8-Night Greek Isles - Venice

Royal Caribbean offering new shore excursion to Pope's private summer residence

In:
12Jul2015

If you are taking a Mediterannean cruise, Royal Caribbean has a new shore excursion for those stopping in Rome.

Royal Caribbean rolled out a new shore excursion to the Pope's private summer residence estate, along with stops at other well-known landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.

Since 1626, the estate has served as a second home to the pope. View majestic gardens and a working farmhouse set amid Roman ruins of the ancient Amphitheatre and Villa built by Emperor Domitian and dating back to the 1st Century A.D.

This is the first time this residence has ever been opened.

Royal Caribbean guests will also visit the Pontifical Villas in Castel Gandolfo, the estate’s majestic gardens and the on-site working farmhouse, a panoramic drive across Rome, and an in-depth tour of the world-famous Vatican Museum.

Following the tour, enjoy a panoramic drive through Rome—passing by the Colosseum—before arrival in Vatican City.

The price for the Pope's Summer Residence and Vatican City - CVR2 shore excursion is $165 per adult and $129 for children.  The tour is approximately 10 hours.

Royal Caribbean announces 2016 Europe and Alaska cruises

In:
Category: 
12Mar2015

Royal Caribbean announced its 2016-2017 deployment schedule for Europe and Alaska and with it, where its cruise ships will be located.

Royal Caribbean’s 2016 Europe itineraries will open for booking starting March 19, 2015, and 2016 Alaska will open on March 26.

Here's a breakdown of the deployments by ship

Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas, will homeport at Barcelona and sail a round-trip, seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary. Harmony of the Seas will also offer cruises from Rome (Civitavecchia), but guests must sail round-trip for seven nights.

Brilliance of the Seas

Alternate 12-night Italian Mediterranean and Greek & Italian Mediterranean cruises.

Independence of the Seas

Will sail mostly 10- to 14-night Mediterranean or Canary Island cruises from Southampton.

Navigator of the Seas

From Southampton, Navigator of the Seas will offer new six- to 14-night Norwegian Fjords, Baltic, Mediterranean or Canary Island itineraries.

Serenade of the Seas

Seven-night Norwegian Fjords and seven- to 13-night Scandinavia and Russia itineraries, round-trip from Copenhagen, Denmark, in early summer and August, and from Stockholm, Sweden, in June and July.

Jewel of the Seas

Alternate brand new 10-night Greece & Adriatic and 11-night Greece, Turkey & Croatia itineraries from Venice

Vision of the Seas

Alternate seven-night Greek Isles and Greek Isles & Turkey cruises from Venice.

Rhapsody of the Seas

Will homeport at Rome (Civitavecchia) and sail nine-night Greek Isles cruises in early summer and autumn months. From late June through August, the ship will alternate seven-night Greek Isles and Greek & Turkey cruises.

Explorer of the Seas

Based in Seattle, Explorer of the Seas will offer seven-night round-trip itineraries up Tracy Arm Fjords for an incomparable view of Sawyer Glacier.

In September, the ship will sail three Pacific Coastal cruises, seven nights in duration, which feature an overnight in San Francisco, California.

Radiance of the Seas

Alternate seven-night northbound and southbound Alaska cruises between Vancouver, B.C., and Seward.

Royal Caribbean pulls Rhapsody of the Seas from Black Sea itinerary in 2015

In:
10Sep2014

Earlier this year Royal Caribbean announced Rhapsody of the Seas was to sail to the Black Sea in summer 2015 but Royal Caribbean is now changing those plans.

Royal Caribbean will instead be offering Rhapsody of the Seas sailing an Aegean Sea itinerary, calling on a variety of ports throughout Greece and Turkey.

Rhapsody of the Seas will now offer a 9-night Eastern Mediterannean cruises out of Istanbul along with a 7-night Greece and Turkey itinerary out of Rome.  In addition, there will be 7, 8, 9 and 10-night Greek isles cruises from Rome.

Sister ship Splendour of the Seas is also sailing a similar itinerary during the Summer 2015 season.

Previously the ship was to visit ports in Russia and the Ukraine along the Black Sea.  It's assumed the change in plans is a result of the political unrest in that area.

Rhapsody of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas to sail Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea in Summer 2015

In:
27Feb2014

Rhapsody of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas offer cruises in summer 2015 to Greece, Turkey and – for the first time for Royal Caribbean – Black Sea itineraries. Rhapsody of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas’ summer 2015 Europe seasons also are now open for bookings. 

In June 2015, Rhapsody of the Seas will mark Royal Caribbean’s first time in the Black Sea, offering passengers three round-trip sailings, 10- and 11-night in duration, from Istanbul, Turkey. Guests will join the ship in making maiden port calls at Burgas, Bulgaria; Odessa, Yalta and Sevastapol, Ukraine; and Sochi, Russia, with overnight stays in Odessa, Sochi and Istanbul. Rhapsody of the Seas’ arrival at Istanbul will be preceded by a series of sailings that will reposition the ship from Sydney, Australia, to the Black Sea on Apr. 17, 2015. The ship will sail Australia’s north coast to Singapore; follow the Indian sub-continental coast to Dubai; and transit the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean to arrive for the summer season on June 1. 

From July to mid-November, Rhapsody of the Seas will homeport at Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, and sail seven- to 11-night Greece and Turkey itineraries. The seven- and nine-night itineraries focus on smaller ports such as Katakolon, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini in Greece; and Bodrum, Turkey.  Rhapsody of the Seas will then reposition to Sao Paolo, Brazil, for the winter season on a Royal Caribbean trans-Atlantic Ocean Voyage, departing from Barcelona, Spain, on Nov. 19. 

Rounding out Royal Caribbean’s summer 2015 Europe season, Splendour of the Seas will return to homeport at Venice, Italy, for the 10th consecutive summer season, and sail seven-night Adriatic and Greek Isles round-trip itineraries for an extended season through November. A special 12-night itinerary from Barcelona to Venice will kick off the season and sail on May 4 to the French and Italian rivieras as well as Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia. 

Allure of the Seas to go to Europe in 2015?

In:
18Oct2013

It's possible Royal Caribbean will be sending the largest cruise ship in the world. Allure of the Seas, to Europe in 2015 according to port information.

According to a ship docking schedule for cruise ports in Italy, Allure of the Seas is scheduled to dock in Naples in October 2015.

The news of Allure of the Seas going to Europe at all has not been confirmed nor announced by Royal Caribbean but cruise schedules are often produced well in advance to secure a spot.  

One possible scenario is Allure of the Seas is going to Europe for routine drydock maintenance and will offer a few cruises while "in the area", which is similar to what Oasis of the Seas has planned for next summer.

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