Planning

Seven things that are totally free on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
26Jan2017

Often we highlight experiences on a Royal Caribbean cruise that have an additional cost to them, but this post has seven things that are included in your cruise fare that you might not have known about.  If you are new to Royal Caribbean, you may not have been aware of some of these services, entertainment or food were included with your cruise fare.

To be fair, nothing is really "free" on a cruise.  You paid good money to get on a cruise, so in reality, the items on this list are "included" or "complimentary".  We apologize for the click-bait title of this post, but we promise the end result is the same: everything on this list will cost you nothing extra to enjoy!

7. Room service

My parents ingrained the notion that I should never, ever order room service because it was always so expensive.  On a Royal Caribbean cruise, however, room service is included in your cruise fare and you can make up for all those hotel stays where room service was denied as a child.

Room service is available 24 hours per day, although there is a service fee if you order room service very late at night.  Other than that, there is a good variety of choices to pick from in the room service menu, including breakfast.  Many guests opt to order room service breakfast so that they can enjoy their first meal of the day in the comfort of their room, or even on their balcony.

It is important to keep in mind that while the food is free, it is customary to tip the crew member that delivers your food a few dollars.

6. Ice cream

What better way to cool down on a hot day in the sun than with ice cream? Every day of your cruise, there will be soft-serve ice cream available near the pools.  The exact location varies depending on the class of ship, but the ice cream will be flowing and you can have as much as you like.

A pro tip that I learned from a RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader is to grab a drink cup from the Windjammer, and then fill that up with ice cream! 

5. Alcohol

Believe it or not, there is opportunity for complimentary alcohol onboard your ship. Seriously.

That being said, free alcoholic beverages are not available all the time, but there are a few times during every cruise where free drinks will be served.  On the first formal night, there will be complimentary champagne offered as part of the Captain's toast.  Likewise, complimentary champagne is offered as part of art auctions.

If you are a member of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society, there are welcome back events in which complimentary rum punches and other alcoholic drinks are served.  When you make it to Diamond level or above in Crown and Anchor Society, drink coupons are provided each evening to be used for free drinks. Also, suite guests can get free drinks from the concierge lounge.

4. Broadway shows

Royal Caribbean offers full-length Broadway shows on its newest cruise ships for guests to enjoy during the cruise.  Broadway shows are not known for being inexpensive, so considering these performances are included in your cruise fare when they usually run hundreds of dollars to see the same show for a family on land, that is a great benefit!

Six ships offer five different Broadway shows and will offer multiple performances during the cruise. 

3. Surf, sky dive and ice skate

When you watch a Royal Caribbean television commercial, very likely you will see guests riding a FlowRider surf simulator, or going 300 feet in the air aboard North Star, or even sky diving in Ripcord by iFly.  All those activities (and more) are included in your cruise fare!

Ice skating at sea, going on a zip line, taking a ride on a carousel and rock climbing are just some of the really fun activities you can do on Royal Caribbean ships and there is no additional cost to enjoy them.

2. Souvenirs 

If you want to bring home a Royal Caribbean trinket or two, then try your luck at the trivia games offered onboard.  Each day, there will be a few different trivia games held, where guests compete in small teams to answer questions on a variety of questions.

The team with the most correct answers will receive a small prize, usually something like a Royal Caribbean pen, bag, zip-ties or something else of that nature.  These prizes may not fetch a lot on eBay, but they are the kind of souvenirs that cost you nothing extra and are fun to win, too.

1. Pizza

If you, or your children, are anything like my children, then free pizza is going to sound like you just won the lottery.

Royal Caribbean ships offer a lot of food that is included in your cruise fare, but Sorrento's Pizza is one of the more popular food choices and it is available throughout the day for absolutely nothing extra.

You will find a few varieties of pizza available by the slice, as well as the option to custom order a small pizza pie to your liking.  Either way, it is free and the kind of food my kids never can never resist ordering.

How to get closer to an all-inclusive Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
25Jan2017

A common question first time cruisers ask is if a Royal Caribbean cruise is all-inclusive, and that usually leads to a conversation about the modularity of a cruise vacation and how you can pick and choose which experiences appeal to you, and not pay for others that do not.  Thinking about the question some more, it lead to our own question, "how close could a guest get to an all-inclusive Royal Caribbean cruise?"

What is all-inclusive?

Depending on your definition of "all-inclusive", the answer to that question can vary.  For our purposes, we referenced the Sandals Resorts definition and looked up what is not included in their vacations. After all, Sandals has made a name for themselves as a leader in all-inclusive land vacations. Here is what is not included

  • Spa treatments
  • Optional tours
  • Golf caddies
  • Medical assistance
  • Gift shop items
  • Transportation
  • Phone calls
  • Scuba certification or refresher courses

Using this list as our frame of reference for what we can leave out of the all-inclusive categories, it stands to reason these Royal Caribbean options could also be omitted.

  • Vitality Spa treatments
  • Medical attention
  • Souvenirs from any onboard shops
  • Transportation to/from airport
  • Phone calls onboard

Otherwise, we would need to include everything else in our all-inclusive Royal Caribbean experience.  Moreover, the idea would be a guest could go on a Royal Caribbean cruise and never pay a dime on their SeaPass account, unless they selected to do one of the experiences listed above.

What is included in your Royal Caribbean cruise

All too often, guests get hung up on what is not included, but the reality is your cruise fare includes quite a bit. The value offered by a cruise is unparalleled, and here is a good breakdown of what activities, dining venues, entertainment options and experiences are included with your Royal Caribbean cruise fare.

  • Entertainment & Nightlife
    • Broadway shows
    • Live music and comedy shows
    • Aqua shows and ice-skating shows
    • Parades and parties on the Royal Promenade
    • Comedy and live jazz club
    • Nightclubs, karaoke and sing-along piano bars
    • Lounge games and contests, such as trivia, Puzzle Break, Battle of the Sexes and more
  • Signature Activities
    • FlowRider® surf simulator
    • Rock Climbing Wall
    • Quantum Class
      • RipCord® by iFLY® skydiving simulator
      • North Star observation capsule
      • SeaPlex play space with bumper cars, roller skating, trapeze school, video games and more
    • Oasis Class
      • Zip Line
    • Multi-level waterslides and slides on select ships
  • Meals, beverages & room service
    • Main dining room
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in various venues throughout each ship
    • Windjammer casual buffet on every ship, open for every meal
    • Variety of juices, teas, coffees, soft drinks and water throughout the ship and with meals
  • Kids & Teens
    • Adventure Ocean Youth Program
    • DreamWorks Experience
    • Fuel teen club
    • Teen lounge area with movies, games and live DJ
  • Fitness Center & Sports Activities
    • State-of-the-art fitness center
    • Table tennis
    • Full-size basketball and sports court
    • Group fitness classes, such as sunrise stretch, fab abs, dancing, meditation and more
    • Seminars on topics like weight loss, reflexology, stargazing and more
    • Deck Games — Volleyball, pool games, tug of war and other active challenges
    • Running / jogging track
  • Pools & Outdoor amenities
    • Outdoor poolside movies
    • Adults-only Solarium
    • Multiple whirlpools
    • Traditional swimming pools plus beach ambience areas and sports zones
    • H2O Zone and Splashaway Bay for kids

How to get to an all-inclusive Royal Caribbean cruise

Over the last few years, Royal Caribbean has added more choices for guests to make optional experiences onboard simpler to consume and understand. The advent of pre-purchased packages have largely been a win-win for cruise line and guest a like.  Guests enjoy the convenience of having a variety of package options that offer seemingly limitless choices, while the cruise line has seen a resounding increase in onboard spending.

Here are the various means to have an all-inclusive Royal Caribbean cruise. All of these options can be (and should be) purchased prior to your cruise via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner, or via your travel agent.

Pre-pay gratuities

Every guest on a Royal Caribbean cruise will be charged a daily gratuity, which goes towards rewarding the services of the wait staff and stateroom attendants.  Normally, this daily gratuity is charged to a guest's SeaPass account automatically with the final charges being paid at the conclusion of the cruise.

Instead, guests can have their travel agent pre-pay the gratuities. This provides two advantages. First, it breaks up the total cost of the cruise, because the gratuities will be paid earlier than the cruise fare. Second, if the recommended gratuity amount changes after pre-paying gratuities, Royal Caribbean has traditionally grandfathered in guests who had already paid their gratuities upfront.

Cost: Junior Suite, Balcony, Ocean View, and Interior staterooms: $13.50 per guest, per day. Suite guests (Grand Suite & Above): $16.50 per guest, per day.

Photo packages

Royal Caribbean photographers will be looking to capture memories throughout your cruise vacation, from the dining rooms to the pool area and even on the dock at each port.  These photo opportunities are complimentary to engage in, and then you can decide later if you want to purchase those photos. A standard 8x10 photo onboard the ship commonly costs about $20 per print.

Guests who want to be able to take as many photos as possible and take them home later, can take advantage of a photo package at www.ourcruisephotos.com.

The cost will vary, but it is generally cheaper to pre-purchase the photos on the site before your cruise, instead of buying a package on the ship.  A common choice is to have all photos digitally saved to a USB drive, which can then be printed when you get home or just shared to social media. 

Cost: $249.99 for all photos on a USB Drive.

Internet

Royal Caribbean offers high speed internet in the form of its branded service, Voom.  Voom internet offers substantially higher speed connections than other cruise lines, and is available fleet-wide anywhere onboard.

Regardless of if you look to make your cruise all-inclusive or not, it is a good idea to pre-pay for your Voom internet service because Royal Caribbean offers a significant discount compared to purchasing it onboard. There are a variety of plans available that provide unlimited Voom internet throughout the cruise.  There are plans that support one through five devices, with the average cost per device dropping with the more devices that are added to the plan. And yes, you can sign out of one device and log in with another device without requiring a 2-device plan.

Cost: $11.99 per day for one device at a time, up to $41.97 for 5 devices at a time.

Unlimited beverage packages

Perhaps the most popular packages of all are any of the unlimited drink packages. There are a variety of drink packages that offer unlimited alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages that can fit the needs of any guest.  Of course, any unlimited drink package is best served for guests that will drink enough each day of their cruise to make the purchase worthwhile.  If your goal is to have an all-inclusive cruise experience, then these packages are a must.

It should be noted that the drink packages offer a very wide range of drinks, but there are certain beverages exempted from being included in any drink package.

For adults, the Deluxe Beverage Package will include most alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments, while the Refreshment Package includes most non-alcoholic beverages for children and adults. Any of the drink packages should be pre-purchased online via the Cruise Planner, especially since Royal Caribbean regularly offers a discount on the Deluxe Beverage Package when purchased prior to the cruise.

Cost: Depends on sailing. Deluxe Beverage Package will range between $41-48 per guest, per day. Refreshment package costs $26 per guest, per day. 

Specialty Dining Package

Perhaps no experience onboard has become as popular and prevalent as specialty dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  More and more specialty restaurants have been added to Royal Caribbean ships, which offer guests cuisines and experiences previously unavailable onboard for an additional cost. To encourage guests to try more specialty dining while offering a discount, Royal Caribbean has begun offering dining packages.

The dining packages are simple: guests experience 2, 3, 4 or 5 specialty restaurants on their Royal Caribbean cruise with up to 40% off the price if they were purchased individually. By purchasing a dining package, guests can be assured of enjoying plenty of specialty dining during their cruise.

Like the other packages, dining packages can be purchased via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner prior to a cruise.

Cost: 2 Night Dining Package costs $30 per adult, 3 Night Dining Package costs $75 per adult, 4 Night Dining Package costs $90 per adult, and 5 Night Dining Package costs $105 per adult.

Shore excursions

Royal Caribbean does not usually offer shore excursion packages (although they have experimented in the past), however, guests can pre-purchase all of their shore excursions prior to the cruise on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner. 

Just like the packages listed earlier in this post, pre-purchasing ensures no additional costs once on the cruise. 

Cost: Varies depending on excursion.

Or just stay in a suite

It is worth noting that Royal Caribbean's suite offerings do include quite a bit of these services and packages already, provided you opt for their elite Star Class accommodations.

Royal Caribbean's Royal Suite Class combines amazing service with first-class amenities. The Royal Suite Class is only available on Oasis and Quantum class ships, but offers the very best in what Royal Caribbean can offer.  Moreover, nearly all of the options listed above are included with the Star Class, including some options above and beyond what a guest in a non-suite room could even purchase.

As you might imagine, Star Class suites are not inexpensive.  Then again, suites are not about providing a value proposition to guests, but rather, an indulgent vacation that rewards oneself.

If you want the closest thing to an all-inclusive Royal Caribbean cruise experience with the greatest simplicity (and money is no object), then go straight to booking a Star Class stateroom and consider this an easy win.

Your thoughts

Does the idea of having an all-inclusive Royal Caribbean cruise vacation sound appealing? Did we miss anything that should have been included in this post? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

A look at what's new in 2017 for Royal Caribbean

In:
09Jan2017

Each year, Royal Caribbean offers its guest new and interesting ways to see the world.  Like so many companies, they continuously look for new ways to innovate and capture the attention of the public in changes to their plans.  With 2017 here, Royal Caribbean is continuing with that tradition some new and notable itinerary and deployments this year.

Notable homeports in 2017

In 2017, the state of Florida will be home to the three largest cruise ships in the world year-round. Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will call Ft. Lauderdale home, and Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral, which is close to Orlando.

Royal Caribbean will also offer expanded Caribbean itineraries from the Northeast in 2017, with Rhapsody of the Seas joining Anthem of the Seas in Cape Liberty, New Jersey. This will be the first time that two Royal Caribbean ships will be sailing from Cape Liberty, offering guests in the New York more ways to explore the award-winning cruise line. 

The largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States, Empress of the Seas will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. The newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017. 

New and notable itineraries in 2017

In 2017 Royal Caribbean will be offering several new itinerary options. 

  • Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season – the cruise line’s first-ever summer program from the destination – offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls in Cuba. 
  • Explorer of the Seas will sail roundtrip from Seattle, and Radiance of the Seas will sail from Vancouver, BC to Seward, AK and then from Seward, AK to Vancouver, BC.
  • Freedom of the Seas will host guests on seven-night sailings through the Western Mediterranean, while Brilliance of the Seas will navigate eight European destinations with a 12-night itinerary, both departing from Barcelona, Spain.
  • Independence of the Seas and 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 and Vision of the Seas will head to northern Europe with a checklist of ports that includes Copenhagen, Denmark, home to the 100 year old Tivoli Gardens amusement park.
  • Adventure of the Seas will sail from Puerto Rico to the most sought-after Southern Caribbean islands on 7-night itineraries, and Liberty of the Seas will remain in Galveston, Texas in 2017, offering a variety of 7-night escapes to the Western Caribbean.

Will you be sailing on any of these new itineraries? Tell us what you have booked for 2017 in the comments below!

What to do when a new Royal Caribbean sale is announced

In:
05Jan2017

Royal Caribbean regularly comes out with a number of new promotions throughout the year, aimed at getting folks to book a cruise. Whether it is their first or fiftieth cruise, these promotions will vary in different ways to incentive guests to give a Royal Caribbean cruise a try.

When a new promotion is announced, here are a few things you should do to ensure you get the best possible deal.

Look at the booking incentives offered

Each promotion Royal Caribbean releases is going to be different, and each promotion has its own set of booking incentives included with the offer.  It is important to understand what the deal offers, and if it might be of benefit to you or not.

As mentioned earlier, Royal Caribbean trots out a number of booking promotions throughout the year, and no one deal will be of great benefit to everyone.  In our experience, different deals benefit different folks, so it is important to evaluate each offer for which benefits mean the most to you.

There are lots of possible booking incentives that Royal Caribbean can include, but the most common kinds are

  • Reduced deposit
  • Onboard credit (money credited to your SeaPass account to be used onboard the ship)
  • Instant savings (money taken off the cost of the cruise fare)
  • Percentage discount off cruise fare
  • Kids sail free (third and fourth passengers are free when sailing with two other passengers in same stateroom)

There are plenty more booking incentives out there, but depending on your cruising party, time of year you choose to cruise, and whether you prefer to get savings off the cruise fare or onboard the ship, the various promotions will be more or less valuable.

Book a cruise (that you've been considering)

The most common step is to put down a deposit to take advantage of a new promotion and it is what often compels many people to jump on a given deal. 

Whether you have been considering a cruise in the past and a new promotion is the "final straw" in convincing you to book, or you ran across a deal and think it is too good to pass up, booking a new cruise reservation with the promotion can make a lot of sense. 

Royal Caribbean's cruise deals are largely regional, with specific offers aimed at residents of certain countries.  The good news is in most of these cases, there are no special discount codes to remember.  Rather, the promotion is automatically applied at the time of booking.  The only booking promotions that may require a special code are discounts offered to residents of certain states or guests in certain occupations that qualify for a discount.  Keep in mind these sorts of discounts are often incompatible with national promotions Royal Caribbean runs, which means you will have to pick which works best for you.  Check any promotion offer's terms and conditions to see combinability rules.

Re-price an existing cruise

Residents of certain countries (such as the United States and Canada) are able to re-book an existing cruise reservation under a new sales promotion, without penalty up until final payment date.

This can sometimes be referred to as "re-pricing", or "price adjustment", or "applying the new promotion" but in reality your previous reservation is being canceled and a new booking is made.  The reason for this is most sales promotions Royal Caribbean releases are for new bookings only, so a quick cancelation and booking gets around that deal.

Keep in mind that if you do cancel and rebook, you may only do so up until the final payment date without incurring a penalty. After the final payment date, Royal Caribbean incurs a penalty for cancelations that often offsets any savings from a new booking promotion.  In addition, any booking incentive made under the prior reservation will be lost and replaced with the new booking incentives that come with the current promotion.  Be sure to evaluate the total cost savings, especially when onboard credits are involved.

The secret weapon: use a travel agent

Regardless of if you are brand new to Royal Caribbean or been on many cruises, this entire process is much simpler if you leverage a good travel agent to help you out.  

A good travel agent is the one that can crunch the numbers, provide options to you and advice on what might be the best course of action.  When it comes to re-pricing a cruise, there are so many factors involved and many guests worry about making a bad decision.  Having a travel agent to provides peace of mind to you, as well as quality service. Here is one such recommended travel agency that specializes in Royal Caribbean. If you are not convinced using a free travel agency that is recommended by Royal Caribbean is right for you, read our post discussing the benefits they offer.

If you are wondering, a travel agent should cost you nothing extra to use.  Royal Caribbean pays their commission, which means their services are complimentary to you.  When choosing a travel agent, be sure to look out for agents that charge any kind of reservation change fees.  It is not a widely used practice, but it can occur in some cases and frankly, you should steer clear of them and rely on knowledgeable travel agents that are here to help you every step of the way, regardless of how many questions or changes you have.

Packing for a Royal Caribbean cruise in the Winter

In:
Category: 
13Dec2016

The prospect of escaping the snow, wind and general grayness of winter and going on a warm, Royal Caribbean cruise often sounds like the perfect plan.  Of course, going on a Caribbean cruise in winter means what you will need to think about packing will be different than cruises throughout the rest of the year.

Going on a winter cruise can see quite a swing in temperatures and conditions.  This post will cover a few things you should take on any winter Royal Caribbean cruise, plus some additional items to consider when the weather is expected to be unseasonably cold.

The weather getting to your embarkation port

From the moment you leave your home to stepping foot inside inside the cruise terminal, there are a lot of weather variables to consider along the way. While a summer cruise simplifies packing since it is likely warm everywhere, you can see quite a different in temperatures before stepping foot onboard.

Depending on where you live, winter can mean packing quite differently for the very beginning and very end of your trip.  Keep in mind that even if it is not that cold on the day you leave, coming back a week or so later could result in vastly different temperatures. Bringing jackets and sweaters makes sense, although it comes at the expense of taking up extra room in your suitcase.  Nonetheless, this may be an unavoidable issue, unless you opt to leave all the cold weather clothing in your car at the airport and hope for the best once out of the elements.

Of course, the weather in departure ports in Florida or Texas can vary considerably.  Some days will be in the upper 70s or even low 80s, but other days can see temperatures drop into the 60s or even lower. Generally speaking, packing in layers is the key.  Cold fronts in these parts of the country are short-lived, and will not last long.  Still, you do not want to be that family purchasing coats and sweaters at the first store you see for full retail price.

If your cruise is out of New Jersey or Baltimore, then it is much more likely that it will be cold for the first day of your cruise and even another day or two. 

Packing a light jacket, like this Columbia Down Jacket, can be perfect because it compresses really well and takes up barely any suitcase room. It is smaller and warmer than fleece, and although a bit pricey, these last a long time and are perfect for cold weather.

Winter weather on your cruise

The issue with most winter cruises is what the weather is like on the first and last day of the cruise. Depending on where your cruise sails from, there is the possibility of it being chilly, or even plain cold.  Anthem of the Seas sailings from Cape Liberty have even been known to have snow in the forecast.  For cruises that leave from ports in the north, it is best to pack different layers.  Onboard the ship, it will be plenty warm inside. The pool deck and other outdoor areas will be cold, but activities will be limited to indoors until the weather improves.  

The good news is the weather in the tropics tends to be very steady throughout the year.  While cold fronts can move through, generally speaking, once your Royal Caribbean ship gets to the various ports on your itinerary, things will warm up quickly.  This means you can pack shorts, t-shirts and flip flops, and forget about the weather at home.

The Bahamas tends to be a bit cooler than the rest of the Caribbean, with warmer temperatures the further south you go.  To give you an idea of what to expect, here are the average high temperatures for popular Caribbean ports in the winter.

Cozumel

  • December: 75 degrees
  • January: 75 degrees
  • February: 75 degrees
  • March: 77 degrees

Nassau, Bahamas

  • December: 72 degrees
  • January: 70 degrees
  • February: 70 degrees
  • March: 72 degrees

St. Thomas

  • December: 85 degrees
  • January: 85 degrees
  • February: 85 degrees
  • March: 85 degrees

Labadee

  • December: 85 degrees
  • January: 85 degrees
  • February: 85 degrees
  • March: 87 degrees

As you can see, the temperature warms up nicely as you get into the Caribbean.  Packing layers is probably the best strategy for avoiding costly last-minute purchases and/or suffering through cold spells.

Winter cruise tips

Here are some general tips for anyone taking a Royal Caribbean cruise in the winter to keep in mind, especially when considering what to pack.

  • Cruises coming from the north will likely see colder temperatures until the ship passes the Carolinas, at which point day time temperatures will start to rise.
  • It is generally warm enough to swim during most winter months.  Water temperatures take longer to change than air temperatures, so the warm summer months will keep it warm enough to enjoy for the most part during winter.
  • Windbreakers are the perfect type of jacket if it is not quite warm enough yet to break out the shorts.  Try one of these jackets for men and women.
  • Anthem of the Seas (and other Quantum class ships) were designed for cold weather, and feature an indoor pool in addition to the enclosed Solarium.
  • Winter is the dry season in the tropics, so while it may not be 90 degrees, the chance of rain during winter drops dramatically, as does the humidity. This means great weather for shore excursions.

Your Thoughts

What you recommend packing for a winter Royal Caribbean cruise? Share some of your favorites in the comments. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below and we will try to help!

Six big changes coming to Royal Caribbean in 2017

In:
Category: 
08Dec2016

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

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

1. Cruises to Cuba

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

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

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

2. 5 ship refurbishments

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

The five ships on the schedule include

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

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

3. Legend of the Seas will leave the fleet

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

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

4. No new ships in 2017

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

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

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

5. New fleet-wide main dining room menu

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

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

6. Vision of the Seas arrives in Galveston

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

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

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

How to cancel and rebook pre-cruise purchases on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner

In:
29Oct2016

You might have read the news earlier this weekend that Royal Caribbean is offering discounts on select drink packages, internet packages, shore excursions, specialty restaurants and more, which has you thinking if this new promotion can save you some (more) money. But what if you had already purchased an internet package and now the price is cheaper?  Here is your guide to canceling and rebooking with Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner!

The good news is, anything you purchase via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner is fully refundable up to two days before your cruise is set to begin.  If you cancel the item, the value will be refunded back to the form of payment that was originally used within 3-4 business days.  This means, if you are debating if you want to buy something from the Cruise Planner, but have not made up your mind, you can lock in these prices and still have time to cancel with no penalty.

You can still cancel one of these items onboard your Royal Caribbean ship, but be aware that the refund will come back in the form of onboard credit, instead of back to your credit card.

How to rebook something you bought in the Cruise Planner

If you find there is a better price for a package, service or experience and want to take advantage of that lower price, here is what you have to do.

1. Log into your Royal Caribbean account and proceed to the Cruise Planner for the sailing you have in mind.

2. At the top right corner of the pick, click Order History.  You will want to cancel the item you bought first, and then re-book it later.

3. Once at the Order History page, you will be able to see everything you have reserved or purchased for your cruise.  From here, find the item you want to cancel and click cancel.

4. Follow the next few steps to confirm the cancelation.  You should find yourself at a screen that displays a confirmation message with the exact refund to the form of payment used.  As stated earlier, it may take a few business days for the refund to be made.

5. Now that you have canceled the original purchase, you can proceed with re-purchasing the item at its lower price.

How to rebook something you bought via the phone

Alternatively, you can call Royal Caribbean directly and have them cancel and/or re-purchase the items to take advantage of the new price. Find the Royal Caribbean customer service number in your country and then work with the agent to make the change.

We recommend using the Cruise Planner because it is quite simple, and will end up being quicker than dealing with phone hold times and repeating to the agent all of your booking information and billing details.

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