Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

By: Matt Hochberg

Today was proof that you can spend a lot of time trying to come up with the perfect plans for a port stop and it not work out if the weather does not cooperate.

From the moment I woke up through the rest of the day, it rained and was generally an awful looking day. 

We had planned to go on a yacht and take a ride around the Bahamas and it sounded like an amazing day on the water.  Heck, I even brought my drone to take super-awesome photos.  

Alas, the company we rented the yacht through contacted me and told us the captain decided the winds, rain and waves would be too poor to make it worthwhile and gave us a refund.

We had thought about perhaps going to one of the resorts to enjoy the day but the weather was so poor that we had to abandon all hope for anything on shore of substance.

Alas, a day on a cruise on a rainy day is better than any day at home!

We enjoyed breakfast in the Windjammer and then headed down to the Schooner Bar for mind-bending puzzle trivia.  I have included a copy to test yourselves at home!

We took some time to relax in the room, and it was bothering me so much to not be doing something that I opted to take a walk off the ship to Nassau.

I headed to my favorite watering hole, Pirate Republic.  With murky weather, it is always great in a bar.

Eventually we headed back to the ship and grabbed a few drinks in the Solarium.  A lot of other people were in the pool since it was just lightly raining and no lightning.

We fed the kids in the Windjammer and then went up to Adventure Ocean.  

Meanwhile, my wife and I enjoyed a meal at Jamie's Italian.

Italian food sounded great to us and we had an excellent waiter. I went with my go-to favorite of eggplant parmigiana.

We rounded out our evening with drinks around the ship, but decided to keep it low-key to be ready to get off the ship bright and early tomorrow at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Stray Observations

  • There was a US Navy ship docked in Nassau.
  • Here is a look at the cabana layouts for Perfect Day at CocoCay


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

By: Matt Hochberg

Our next RoyalCaribbeanBlog live blog is here, because we are headed back on Mariner of the Seas!

As you may recall, I sailed on Navigator of the Seas last month to experience Perfect Day at CocoCay and I loved it so much, that I had to come back as soon as possible. 

I convinced my wife in a hurried phone call that we needed to book another cruise and fast forward a few weeks later, here we are.

My family and I are sailing a 3-night cruise aboard the fabulous Mariner of the Seas on a quick weekend sailing that will take us to Nassau, Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay.  Just the kind of the weekend escape to perfectly celebrate Fathers Day (although I did not even notice at the time of booking it coincided with Fathers Day).

In order to make this sailing happen, I had to spend the morning doing my day job so that I could fit it in.

Not a big deal, but since I am used to arriving at the cruise terminal right as it opens, it took a bit of an adjustment to roll in around noon.  We live about an hour from Port Canaveral, so the drive over is quite easy.

The drive to the port was uneventful and we made it to Terminal 1 in Port Canaveral shortly after noon.

Check-in was quite easy, and it was even easier because we had expedited check-in option enabled for this sailing.  If you are wondering, there is not anything special to do to get expedited check-in besides completing online check-in via the app and hoping for the best.

There was no waiting to board and we walked right onboard the ship with a short stop to get our kids their muster station bracelets. We made it onboard by 12:45.

Onboard the ship, it was not as busy as I thought and we enjoyed a nice lunch in the Windjammer.  As an added benefit, the staterooms were ready within a few minutes of boarding. This was very nice to minimize carrying around carry-on luggage.

We have two connecting balcony staterooms on this sailing. Frankly, I was surprised to have gotten connecting rooms when I had booked just a few weeks ago.

I did some work during the afternoon while my wife took the kids to register for Adventure Ocean.  In keeping with our low-key embarkation day, the kids enjoyed some time watching TV in the stateroom and playing together.

Muster drill was at 3:30pm and luckly, our muster station was in the Star Lounge. Usually on Voyager Class ships we have to go outside for muster drill, so to be able to remain in air conditioning and sit down was a real treat.

For sail away, I headed up to the pool deck to enjoy a lot of music as we departed Port Canaveral. It was cloudy, which was a benefit since it kept the impact of the sun to a minimum.

After sailaway it was time to get ready for dinner at Izumi Hibachi.  Hibachi has become a cruising tradition for our family, and because of its popularity with other guests, making reservations in advance is now a must-do if you want to dine there.

To my surprise, there were a lot fewer people at the 5:30 dinner than I expected. In fact, we had two open seats at our table.

The meal was great, and you get a ton of food between your main course, salad, fried rice and vegetables. You get even more if your kids do not eat their rice or veggies and it all ends up on your plate.

After dinner we brought the kids up to Adventure Ocean and enjoyed cocktails in the Bamboo Room, followed by the Schooner Bar and then the Pub.

Our evening culminated with the midnight balloon drop on the Royal Promenade.

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, Bahamas.

Stray Observations

  • The car on the Royal Promenade now features enough giant stuffed toys to make it impossible for guests to get in the car.

Friday Photos - June 14, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

When the calendar says it is Friday, that is when we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos.  

Our first photo is of the Seattle skyline, taken by G. Spindler.

Paola Ortiz took this photo of Allure of the Seas in St. Maarten.

Next is a photo of Harmony of ther Seas docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, taken by Shawn Boos.

Tim Dietrich took this photo of Harmony of the Seas and Empress of the Seas docked together in Cozumel.

We are headed to Alaska for our next photo.  Irem Garces took this shot of Explorer of the Seas docked in Skagway.

Here is Grandeur of the Seas in Bermuda. Photo by Travis N.

Our final photo this week is by Passport, and it is of a windy, but fun day at Adventure Dunes.

Thank you to everyone who shared their photos with us this week.  As always, you can share your favorite Royal Caribbean photos with us too.

Is a balcony stateroom worth it on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean cruises offer a ton to see, do and experience onboard the ship and in the ports you visit.  So with so much to do, do you really need a stateroom with a balcony?

If you are on the fence about whether to get a balcony stateroom or not, here are some considerations to factor into your decision.

Length of cruise

The longer your cruise, the more time you will have to actually spend on your private balcony.  

Sailings that are at least seven nights will afford you more time to enjoy days at sea, sailaways and quiet time on your balcony.  

On shorter sailings, you will have less time to enjoy that balcony space, which makes getting the value out of it less compelling. 


Inevitably, the cost to move up to a balcony from a lower category stateroom may dictate how practical a balcony room is from a budgeting standpoint.

Depending on the season, booking demand and availability, the price of a balcony stateroom may be a significant price jump, or just a nominal fee extra.

In addition, the longer the sailing, usually the higher the price tag for that private balcony experience.


One of the most compelling reasons to get a balcony stateroom is to have your own private space to enjoy the view of the ocean, ports and anything inbetween without competing with other guests.

Public space around the ship to view what is around you is surprisingly ample, but some folks prefer the seclusion that their own balcony can provide. Whether it is somewhere to enjoy a morning coffee, read a book, or take photos, a balcony stateroom offers all of that and more.

Of course, your neighbors can easily peek around or through the balcony divider into your balcony and there is no guarantee they will not be talkative on their balcony, so total serenity is not certain. Your balcony, however, is certain to be quieter than the pool deck.

Extra living space

A balcony room not only provides more square footage in the balcony, but the rooms are larger inside than lower category rooms.

By having extra living space, it limits the claustrophobia that sometimes comes with small cabins on a cruise ship. 

Moreover, balcony rooms are great for giving you that much needed bit of personal space when sharing a room with someone else. If your cabin mate wants to nap or sleep in, but you are wide awake, a balcony offers you a place to hang out without disturbing them. And having your own outdoor space for reading or relaxing while the kids nap inside, or for having an additional spot for snacking or playing games, feels especially decadent during your days at sea or even in port.

Motion sickness concerns

If you are new to cruising, or simply worried about the effect of the ocean's movement while cruising, a midship balcony stateroom can greatly assist.

 Having a balcony also enables you to consistently focus on the horizon line, which tends to keep what you see in sync with the ship’s movement, thereby minimizing any feelings of motion.

X-Factor: How much time will you spend in the room

In my opinion, the real question when it comes to booking a balcony or not is how much time will you really spend in the room to take advantage of the balcony.

Interior staterooms tend to be the starting point in terms of pricing and square footage, and they are ideal for anyone who does not plan to spend much time in their rooms beyond sleeping and showering. A balcony room offers more space and great views, but with so much going onboard your ship it is easy to end up elsewhere beyond your room.

Unfortunately first time cruisers will not know until they actually get onboard which parts of the ship they will gravitate towards, so it is more of a guess.  

Ultimately, you need to consider what your plans are for onboard the ship and on shore and think about how much a balcony stateroom would enhance your cruise vacation.

Your thoughts

Do you think a balcony room is worth it? Have you stayed in a balcony room before? Share your experiences in the comments below!

5 things I've changed my mind about on Royal Caribbean

By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video is now available, where Matt shares a few aspects of a Royal Caribbean cruise Matt has changed his mind about.

Things change over the years, along with my opinion on certain offerings, and we have five specific examples of options, destinations, add-ons and more that Matt thinks about totally differently now.

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: Have you changed your mind about anything on Royal Caribbean?

Interview with Paul Thornton on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 306 is available for downloading where Matt interviews author Paul Thornton about his newest book.

Paul wrote a book about people who have had their lives change because of cruising.  Matt talks to Paul about the stories and insight he found while talking to a number of cruise enthusiasts about how cruising changed their life.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 306. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Royal Caribbean appoints Chris Perry as Vice President of Private Destinations

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today announced Chris Perry will serve as its new Vice President of Operations - Private Destinations. 

Perry will oversee hospitality and managerial operations, as well as provide input on the design and best practices for the cruise line’s private destinations, including Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas. He joins the Hotel Operations team, led by Mark Tamis, Senior Vice President, Royal Caribbean International.

“I’m thrilled to join Royal Caribbean and create great vacations at our game-changing private destinations where friends and families have both ‘thrill’ and ‘chill’ experiences to create memories they will relish long after they’re home,” said Chris Perry, Vice President, Royal Caribbean International. “I can’t wait to show my family, especially the kids, the immersive, innovative features Royal Caribbean brings to the vacation experience on land and at sea.”

 Perry joins Royal Caribbean from Icon Global Partners Limited, where he served as CEO for the amusement operational consulting and management firm, focused on developing and managing amusement facilities in emerging economies. Prior to joining Icon Global Partners Limited, he spent time with Club Med, WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. and 17 years at Dubai-based Jumeirah Group’s Wild Wadi Waterpark – with 11 years at the helm. Under Perry’s leadership, Wild Wadi was the first waterpark to achieve International Standards Organization (ISO) certification and Green Globe certification, among numerous quality, training and safety awards within the amusement industry.

As a theme park ambassador, Perry has maintained a multifaceted presence in the dynamic industry, often speaking at global trade shows and holding leadership positions across various organizations, such as: director of the Ellis & Associates International Aquatic Safety School; member of the board of directors of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) and global chairman of its Waterpark Committee; and founding member of the Middle East & North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council (MENALAC).

While living in Dubai, Perry hosted Travel Channel’s amusement series “Epic Attractions,” where he provided viewers with an all-access, backstage pass to the world’s most epic attractions.

Perry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Eastern Illinois University and an MBA from London Business School.

Perry is moving from Bangkok, Thailand and will be based in Miami with his wife and two children."

Video: Royal Caribbean Unveils Up, Up and Away on Private Island Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas

By: Matt Hochberg

On Royal Caribbean International’s newly opened private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, an unrivaled combination of first-of-their-kind thrills and ways to chill make their debut. At the center of the destination’s $250 million transformation is an iconic helium balloon that vacationers can’t miss, Up, Up and Away. Guests of all ages will score the best and highest vantage point in The Bahamas, literally taking adventure to new heights – up to 450 feet to be exact. Securely tethered to the ground and manned by two trained pilots and a team of experts, go under the hood to see how this intricate system works.

Spectrum of the Seas offers overnight sailings in Tokyo in 2020

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will offer overnight stays in Tokyo, Japan during the summer 2020.

In summer 2020, Spectrum of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas will each sail two special cruises into Tokyo’s brand-new cruise terminal, Shinkyaku Pier. Spectrum will depart on July 25 and August 2 from Shanghai, China to Tokyo, and Voyager will offer itineraries beginning July 26 out of Hong Kong and August 2 from Tokyo, each staying overnight. Adding to the excitement, Quantum of the Seas will begin sailing from Singapore in 2019, and with both Spectrum and Quantum sailing from Singapore this year, this marks the start of Royal Caribbean’s Double Quantum Year in the region.

“Our ships are designed and created to deliver unforgettable vacation experiences to our guests, and we are proud to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience in Tokyo next summer,” said Bert Hernandez, President, Royal Caribbean China. 

Royal Caribbean launches stateroom bidding program in Asia Pacific

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced guests who live in the Asia Pacific region can now bid for a stateroom upgrade via RoyalUp. 

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean's stateroom bidding program, where the cruise line may offer guests the opportunity to bid for a higher stateroom category by inviting them to submit an offer of their choice. If the offer is accepted, the guests will be automatically charged and upgraded.

Accepted offers will be automatically charged, and the guests will be upgraded to their desired staterooms, marking the perfect start of their Royal Caribbean holiday. In the case of unsuccessful bids, the guests will keep their original staterooms without incurring any charges.

The program is currently available for most Royal Caribbean International ships, including Voyager of the Seas in Singapore, Ovation of the Seas in Alaska and Oasis of the Seas in the Mediterranean.  Guests will have a chance to bid for upgrading to a variety of higher category staterooms including the luxurious two-storey Loft Suites on available sailings of the Oasis and Quantum Class ships. 

Angie Stephen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said, “We are seeing very strong response for ‘RoyalUp’ from our other markets because of the great value it brings to our guests, and we believe that many guests in our region will likewise take advantage of this programme to pamper themselves even more on our cruises, starting from their accommodation.”

Royal Caribbean launched the program in North America in November 2018, and Australia/New Zealand in February 2019.