Technology

How to stay in touch with someone on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
27Jul2016

We get a lot of questions about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise, and there is one question that gets asked a lot about how to stay in touch with those on the same ship as them.  Often, the question goes something like this, "I am cruising with several groups of people. How do you recommend we stay connected on the ship besides the room phone?"

Royal Caribbean cruise ships range in a guest capacity of about 2,000 to 6,500, so finding one person onboard is not always a simple task.  If you are also wondering the best way to get a hold of someone you are cruising with, here are some helpful means of doing so.  Each has its advantages or disadvantages, and price will vary as well.

Thanks to Billy Hirsch for contributing a lot to the writing of this blog post!

Royal Caribbean's phones

Utilizing Royal Caribbean's in-room phones and phones in common areas is a simple way to communicate with guests onboard your ship and onshore.

If you are trying to reach a guest onboard the ship, you can make a call to their stateroom and optionally leave a message.  Use of the phones for calls to a guest's stateroom is complimentary.  Of course, it requires the guest to be in the room to answer the call and/or check the voicemail.  This can result in "phone tag," where it seems like you are always missing each other.

If you want to get in contact with someone on land, there are two options.

Calls made from land to your Royal Caribbean cruise (shore to ship) can be achieved by calling (888) 724-7447/(321) 953-9003 to reach passengers.  The cost of this service is $7.95 per minute, and is chargeable to a Visa or MasterCard credit card.

Calls made from your Royal Caribbean ship to somewhere on land (ship to shore) can be made from your stateroom phone and also costs $7.95 per minute, billed to your SeaPass account.

Using your cell phone service

These days, almost everyone has a cell phone with them and your cell phone will function while on a cruise, although the cost of doing so will vary greatly.

Phone calls made while at sea and using Royal Caribbean's cell phone service will come with a hefty cost, depending on your cell phone plan.  Usually, calls cost $6-8 per minute depending on your carrier.

Text messaging, however, is far less expensive. Once again, rates will vary, but most SMS messages that are sent will cost anywhere from 25 cents to $1 per message, with incoming messages free or up to 50 cents per message.  

Using your cell phone's data plan can be prohibitively expensive, with costs of $1 per MB or more.  You are better off skipping this option and looking at Voom options (scroll down to see more about this).

Some cell phone providers offer a special international plan for use on a cruise ship.  For example, AT&T has a partnership with Royal Caribbean, where you can pre-purchase a plan that provides an allotment of phone usage at sea.

For $120 per month, this plan provides

  • 50 minutes of voice calls, with $1 per minute over.
  • 100 SMS messages, with $0.50 per message sent over.
  • 100 MB of data, with $10 per 10 MB over.

Voom for data services

Royal Caribbean's high-speed internet option it offers to its guests on all ships is known as Voom, and it provides an affordable means of using internet data to stay in touch with friends and family.

There are two Voom plans offered:

  • Voom Surf
    • This offers basic web browsing, with no streaming services allowed
    • Starts at $15.99 per day for 1 device
      • The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
      • Most guests can get a 20% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
      • There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard
  • Voom Surf + Stream
    • Full internet access, including streaming services
    • Starts at $19.99 per day for 1 device
      • The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
      • Most guests can get a 20% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
      • There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard

Use Voom Surf + Stream to make calls

Royal Caribbean's top-tier internet option not only can allow for web browsing, but also provides the ability for savvy users to make phone calls while onboard your cruise for significantly less than the other means listed earlier in this blog post.

WiFi calling

The easiest option is to use WiFi calling through your carrier.  Most major cell phone carriers these days provide a means of making phone calls via an internet connection instead of relying on a cell phone connection. 

WiFi calling has no additional cost and works just like you are at home and supports voice calls, text messaging (SMS and MMS).  It works with most newer devices, including iPhone 5C and later, Android and Blackberry devices.  Check with your carrier for exact devices that are supported.

At last check, these carriers supported WiFi calling

  • Verizon
  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • Sprint
  • GoogleFi

To make a phone call over WiFi, put your device into airplane mode and connect to Voom via WiFi.  If set up correctly on your phone, your calls, texts will be routed through Voom.

Free/low cost VoIP Services

There are many applications for your smart phone, computer or tablets that allow for free or low cost phone calls as well. There are a number popular applications we recommend using.

With all of these solutions, we highly recommend testing them out before your Royal Caribbean cruise to ensure you understand how it works and is set up correctly.

Skype

Skype is quite easy to use and offers voice, video and texting between Skype accounts for free.  All you need to do is install Skype on your device and have the person you are communicating with do the same.

Skype users can also make voice calls and text message between Skype and a phone for a low cost.  There is no contract or commitment to use this service, just load up your Skype account with Skype credit.

Google Hangouts

Google's messaging application, Google Hangouts, is completely free and supports free outbound domestic phone calls. Unfortunately, there are no inbound calls possible in most cases.

Google Hangout also allows for free messaging to anyone else with a Google account (which is everyone these days), as well as video chat.

WhatsApp

Another popular messaging application for smart phones is WhatsApp, which supports easy communicating.

Before your cruise, set up an account (you will need to verify your account via SMS messaging).  Once set up, WhatsApp users can message between WhatsApp users, conduct video chat and make calls to and from WhatsApp users.

Facebook Messenger

Another free option is to use Facebook Messenger.  This is totally free, and allows for messaging between Facebook users, as well as video chat.

Facebook Messenger also supports calls to and from Facebook users.

Your Thoughts

Which means of communicating with friends and family on your ship and at sea do you find to be the best option? Did we miss one you know about? Share your comments and suggestions in the comments!

Spotted: Expanded functionality Wayfinders on Anthem of the Seas

In:
28Oct2015

Royal Caribbean has been adding digital wayfinders to their cruise ships since they were first introduced on Oasis of the Seas, but recently, they have gotten a software upgrade that gives them much more functionality.

Royal Caribbean's digital wayfinders are interactive kiosks found in the elevator lobbies of most ships. It offers guests access to what is happening on the ship, directions to anywhere on the ship and even restaurant information.

Recently, Royal Caribbean upgraded the software for these wayfinders to allow guests to locate any ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet, read more information about the officers and more.

When using the wayfinders, guests can choose from a variety of options.

The "Ship Locator" is one of the new links, that will give guests a look at the location of every ship in the fleet.

In fact, the Ship Locator will also show the location of sister company ships, such as Celebrity Cruise and Azamara Club Cruise ships.

Guests can also look up information on the officers onboard their Royal Caribbean ship and learn more about each one of them.

Big thanks to Royal Caribbean Blog reader Rich Freudenberg for providing these photos!

In addition, the wayfinders feature a Port Explorer feature, which highlights the itinerary you are on and allows guests to explore the port from a Google Maps experience

These new features were first introduced on Quantum of the Seas, and will also be available on Harmony of the Seas and Ovations of the Seas.

How to bring Royal Caribbean to your new iPhone 6s

In:
25Sep2015

For those unaware, Apple released today its brand new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus phones and all over the world, and already there are lots of people are waiting in line (or at home for the delivery man) to get their hands on the hottest phone.

So once you have your brand new iPhone unwrapped and ready to use, here are some ways to bring a little Royal Caribbean to your phone so you have one more way to get a quick virtual escape!

Buy a Royal Caribbean inspired case

Show off your new iPhone in style with a snazzy new case that not only protects your iPhone, but tells everyone you love to cruise.

Even though the iPhone 6s just launched, there are plenty of cases already available to suit your needs.

We went through what was available and picked some of our favorites!

Anchors Case (available in black or pink)

ULAK Heavy-Duty Anchor Blue case

ULAK Heavy-Duty Case Red Anchor-Neon Pink

 

Play Penguin Ahoy

Did you know Royal Caribbean released a side-scrolling race game based on the Oasis class cruise ships?

In Penguin Ahoy, users try to avoid the sprinklers, dodge the basketballs, slide under the inflatables to keep the penguin running for as long as possible without being caught by the crew! 

The game is a fun way to spend some time seeing the FlowRider in action, the Rock Wall, H2O zone, Ice Skating, Golf and Basketball court.

The game is free from the App Store.

Get the official app

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention downloading the official Royal Caribbean iOS app.

The Royal Caribbean app allows users to see where Royal Caribbean sails, explore unique onboard features that are only on Royal Caribbean’s ships, learn about our many destinations, and see what is happening onboard the Oasis & Allure of the Seas.

Like the game, it too is free!

Download Royal Caribbean wallpaper

If you like seeing Royal Caribbean more often, try setting your lock screen or wallpaper to something Royal Caribbean!

iPhones allow you to change the image you see when your phone is locked or have something behind all of your icons.

To find a perfectly cropped photo for your iPhone, do a Google Image search for "royal caribbean iphone wallpaper".

You should find plenty of choices to pick from and then you can always see something Royal Caribbean when you turn on your phone!

Share with us how you bring a little Royal Caribbean to your phone or tablet in the comments below!

Previewing Harmony of the Seas: Technology

In:
24Sep2015

Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for itself in being a technological leader when it comes to the technological advancements it brings to its cruise ships and on Harmony of the Seas, guests can expect the very latest innovations.

Technology will be at the heart of what Harmony of the Seas offers, so here is a look at what guests can expect to find at their fingertips when they get onboard the largest cruise ship in the world.

True high speed internet

When folks think of using the internet on a cruise ship, there is usually a groan and sigh involved because traditionally internet at sea has been mid-1990s slow.  

On Harmony of the Seas, guests can enjoy the high-speed internet experience known as Voom.  

Voom is Royal Caribbean's new satellite internet service that allows guests to post to Facebook and Instagram, post videos on YouTube, tweet about your shore excursion, and have face-to-face conversations via Skype and Google Hangouts. Plus, you can even stream movies, games and apps via your personal accounts with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and more.

The Voom speeds are the real deal and Royal Caribbean even says if you need to do business work onboard, with Voom you can check email, transfer files, host video conferences, Skype and more, just as if you were on land.

Everything on your wrist

An undeniably cool innovation coming to Harmony of the Seas are the RFID bracelets known as WOW Bands.

WOW Bands give guests everything they have been accustomed to having in a SeaPass card, on their wrist.  This means getting access to staterooms, making purchases and checking in for entertainment has never been easier.

Guests can use their WOWband to enter their staterooms, purchase beverages, merchandise and anything else Royal Caribbean sells. Plus, WOWbands serve as an easy way to distinguish which muster station each guest is assigned to.

WOW Bands are an optional feature but once you try the WOW Bands, you will likely be leaving your SeaPass card behind in your stateroom.  

Get drinks made by robots

What happens when you mix your favorite beverages with cutting-edge robotics? You get the Bionic Bar on Harmony of the Seas.

Makr Shakr created Bionic Bar for the Quantum class ships and they have brought this impressive creation to Harmony of the Seas, where guests can order drinks from iPads and then marvel in the spectacle of robotic arms creating the drink on the spot.

Combining robots and mixology, Bionic Bar is something you have to see to appreciate because every time you walk by, it is so tantalizing to watch the robots in action.

The single armed robot will get the ice, mints and lemon and then squeeze and shake them to make your drink. Eventually, there wont be a limit on what the drinks the robots can make. The customization is what Royal Caribbean is aiming for.

A room with a (virtual) view

Staying in an inside stateroom does not mean you do not have a view anymore. On Harmony of the Seas, guests will be able to enjoy virtual balconies in their inside staterooms.

What is a virtual balcony?  Inside staterooms on Harmony of the Seas offer a floor-to-ceiling high-definition LED screen that shows real-time views from specific points on the ship.  

Royal Caribbean designed the virtual balcony to look (and sound) like the real thing, so guests can see everything going on in a port or just the vast serenity of the ocean passing by.

Guests can turn the virtual balcony off at any time, especially at night when sleeping but it's available anytime they want.

There's even natural sounds that are piped into your stateroom to provide as authentic an experience as possible.

The only thing missing is the balcony stateroom price tag!

There's an app for that

With the Royal iQ smartphone app, everything is easier to do onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Royal iQ allows guests to track their luggage as it comes onboard the ship, book shore excursions and dinner reservations as well as chat or call friends and family onboard.

Available for iPads, iPhones, and Android phones, Royal iQ gives you the flexibility to decide what to do and when to do it.

Royal iQ allows guests to manage details during the cruise, includes a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of the cruise or conference program.

If you prefer not to carry a phone or tablet with you, Harmony of the Seas will offer eight freestanding iQ stations at Guest Services that give you the same functionality as the mobile apps. You will also find roaming Guest Services staff to assist as well.

Get to the fun faster

Royal Caribbean wants the boarding process for Harmony of the Seas to be the simplest yet.  Why waste time in the pier doing paper work?

Guests sailing on Harmony of the Seas can take care of all necessary documentation online including uploading your own photo and receiving digital boarding confirmation.

Without a check‑in counter, there aren't any forms to fill out or lines to wait in.

All of this means less time spent waiting in lines and filling out forms and a quicker way to get onboard and having vacation start a whole lot sooner.

Which tech innovation excites you the most? Tell us in the comments below!

Video: An inside look at the making of Royal Caribbean's azipods

In:
Category: 
25Aug2015

Always on the cutting edge of technology, Royal Caribbean uses azipods to propel and safely maneuver its ships on the high seas. Watch as these powerful propellers make ship navigation more precise than ever before.

Using your cell phone on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
25Aug2015

Cell phones are a way of life these days, with every guest bringing their phone with them onto a Royal Caribbean cruise, just like they would bring their wallet or identification.  The obvious question is can you use your cell phone onboard a Royal Caribbean ship and what are the costs.

Here is an in-depth look at what you need to know about using your cell phone while on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Calls, texts and data

Once you are onboard a Royal Caribbean ship and the ship begins to sail, Royal Caribbean operates a WMS mobile network, known as Cellular at Sea, that will work with any phone that allows roaming.

When the ship is sailing out of range of land-based mobile phone networks, mobile phone service will still be available. When the ship is in port, you can connect to local roaming networks as permitted by your home carrier.

Cellular at Sea is compatible with both GSM and CDMA technologies.

The exact rates will depend on your carrier and the cell phone plan you have. The bottom line is, using your cell phone on a Royal Caribbean ship while roaming can get very expensive, very quickly.

Cell phone plans for cruises

AT&T offers cell phone packages specifically for use on a Royal Caribbean ship.

There are three packages to choose from and they must be purchased prior to your cruise.

  • $50 package (one time charge for 30 days)
    • 50 voice call minutes ($2 per minute overage)
    • Unlimited text, pictures & video messages
  • $100 package
    • 200MB data ($2.00/MB overage)
    • Unlimited talk
    • Unlimited text, pictures & video messages

These cruise packages can be added by calling 800.335.4685 and a one-month minimum required.

Verizon Wireless offers Cruise Ship Pay as You Go pricing

  • $2.99/minute voice pricing
  • Text messaging
    • $0.50/message sent
    • $0.05/message recieved

Sprint offers Sprint Global Roaming rates for Royal Caribbean ships

  • $2.50 per minute voice calls
  • $0.50 per message sent
  • Data
    • $60: 100MBs
    • $100: 250MBs

T-Mobile offers international rates for Royal Caribbean ships

  • $5.99 per minute voice calls
  • $0.50 per message sent
  • Messages received deducted from domestic texting plan allotment
  • No data provided

Avoiding cell phone roaming costs

There are two simple ways to avoid the roaming costs that your cell phone provider may levy on you for using your phone while onboard.

Easiest and simplest is to turn your phone off before the ship leaves port.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to keep use of your phone in an offline mode, put the phone into "airplane mode".  

Airplane mode disables the phone's ability to communicate with cell phone towers and will ensure you can use your phone without incurring charges.

For instructions on how to put your phone into airplane mode, refer to your phone manufacturer.

Using WiFi on your phone

Many guests choose to put their phone in airplane mode but use WiFi signals onboard or onshore to retain data communication.

Nearly all modern phones allow you to put the phone in airplane mode while turning back on the WiFi signal.

Royal Caribbean provides internet service via WiFi on all of its cruise ships that can be purchased in increments or as unlimited packages.

Royal Caribbean ships with Voom high speed internet can purchase a package.  You can view Voom internet prices for details on up-to-date costs.

Staying connected with other guests

Often we hear from guests who want the best way to be able to communicate with other guests onboard their Royal Caribbean cruise.  Since voice calls are usually prohibitively expensive, here are some ideas for low cost ways to communicate with a phone.

  • Text messages are usually the least expensive option to use and may also be the simplest.  Depending on how much you text, the cost of this idea will vary.
  • If you purchase one of Royal Caribbean's internet data plans, you can use text messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber to communicate without any extra cost beyond the internet package.  iPhone users can use iMessage to also communicate for free with a internet package.
  • We have heard about the Ripple Cruise Communicator that purports to allow free communication on a cruise ship, but have also heard mixed results of how effective it is.

Royal Caribbean connects high speed internet on Anthem of the Seas in the Mediterranean

In:
18Jun2015

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas had its high-speed internet access enabled while the ship is in the Mediterranean, according to O3b Networks.

O3b uses a new type of sattelite internet that reduces latency, increases internet speed and improves voice and video quality for the user.

O3bMaritime has already provided four of Royal Caribbean’s ships (Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas,Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas), each with more bandwidth than the rest of the cruise industry combined.  In the near future, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas will move across the Pacific, bringing exceptional cruising experiences and at-sea high speed broadband to the Japanese ports of Okinawa and Kyoto, as well as other Asian destinations.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley commented on the partnership with O3b, "With O3b we have added a dimension to cruising that has never existed before.  Our new internet capabilities allow our guests to surf, stream and share their vacation experiences with their friends and family back home. It also allows us to provide our business clientele a new way to stay connected with their colleagues."

Royal Caribbean debuts a new website

In:
Category: 
04Mar2015

Royal Caribbean debuted a brand new site redesign on its flagship site, royalcaribbean.com.

The new site look is a full-width layout that is a responsive design that adjusts its look conform to the screen resolution of your device.  

This is not the only site design Royal Caribbean has trotted out recently.  Royal Caribbean relaunched its blog with a new design and focus in January 2015.  Royal Caribbean also revamped its Cruise Planner software for guests to book shore excursions, dining reservations and more last year in coordination with Quantum of the Seas' launch.

Based on the Internet Archive Wayback machine, the previous site design has been in use for a number of years going back to late 2011.

Video: Inside look at the IT room on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas

In:
12Feb2015

Recently TechCrunch got a tour of the IT never center behind Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas.

The tour looks at how Royal Caribbean manages to provide a 600 Mbps connection with a satellite and provide Wi-Fi access across the ship for everyone.

Royal Caribbean selects ElevenOS for onboard internet access on all ships in the fleet

In:
Category: 
10Feb2015

Royal Caribbean has selected ElevenOS as the guest Internet management platform for all the ships in the fleet.  ElevenOS' parent company Eleven has completed deployment of ElevenOS on all 22 ships at the end of 2014.

ElevenOS is used to manage all aspects of the onboard Internet service including custom branded portal pages, guest authentication, billing, and advanced reporting. With the help of ElevenOS, Royal Caribbean is able to deliver a faster, more reliable onboard connection and seamless online guest experience that works across multiple guest devices (phones, tablets, etc.)

ElevenOS also enables Royal Caribbean to offer tiered bandwidth options, so users can choose the level of service that meets their needs and budget.

"ElevenOS provides us the power and flexibility that we need in order to revolutionize Internet communications at sea for Royal Caribbean International guests,” commented Bill Martin, vice president and CIO for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Only in the last year can cruise vacationers enjoy the fiber-like Internet connectivity that can only be found aboard select Royal Caribbean International ships, as well as more than 10 times faster speed than the industry across the fleet. ElevenOS helps us effectively manage a range of products, pricing, accounting, and reporting, which has helped us deliver a seamless and stress-free Internet communications solution for our guests on vacation.”

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