Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

13 changes I'd love to see on future Royal Caribbean cruise ships

In:
01 Oct 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean has always been a cruise line known for innovation, from creating the Royal Promenade to building the first “Central Park” at sea and, of course, designing the largest cruise ships in the world.

I love everything about cruising with Royal Caribbean, but I can’t help but brainstorm new ideas and features I’d love to see on the fleet’s future cruise ships.

Whether new specialty restaurants, onboard activities, or new cabins, here are 13 changes and upgrades I’d love to see incorporated on Royal Caribbean ships.

Promenade deck pool area

Photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

The outdoor Promenade deck is one of my favorite places on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship, especially on ships where the Promenade deck wraps entirely around the ship’s circumference.

The Promenade deck is such valuable real estate, yet it seems Royal Caribbean does not take advantage of this space as much as other cruise lines.

Many cruise lines use this space for comfy seating, hot tubs, pools, outdoor dining, bars, and other hangout spaces. I’d love to see this concept on a Royal Caribbean ship as opposed to just a walking area!

Thai restaurant

Thai cuisine is one of my absolute favorites, but it’s something that’s hard to come by on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Other than the occasional “pad thai” served in the Windjammer, I’ve never seen any other Thai dish offered onboard.

My top wish list for a new specialty restaurant would be a Thai restaurant, although I’m not sure this is ever something that will come to fruition as Royal Caribbean ships already have Izumi onboard for Asian cuisine.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

While Royal Caribbean caters to a wide population of guests and therefore tends to select cuisines well-known by all age groups (Italian, Mexican, American fare, etc.), more and more people are enjoying cuisines like Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, etc.

Expanding culinary options might attract more young people and foodies to Royal Caribbean cruises.

Street food stand

Another random item on my wishlist for future Royal Caribbean ships is a “street food” cart that changes locations around the ship.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is tasting local street food, whether elotes in Mexico, falafel in Egypt, or bánh mì in Vietnam, and I think street food has become increasingly popular in recent years.

It would be interesting to see Royal Caribbean take advantage of this trend by introducing some sort of “street food” on their cruise ships. I’m imagining a food cart with easy, made-to-order dishes that moves around the ship each day offering cuisine not found elsewhere onboard.

Food hall/marketplace

Photo credit: Virgin Voyages

If the street food cart is a little too far-fetched, I think there is great potential for a food hall/marketplace option on future Royal Caribbean ships.

Different from a buffet, a food hall consists of made-to-order food stands with diverse cuisines, from noodle bars to Texas-style barbecue and build-your-own salad stations.

Photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

This was a concept that first rolled out on Virgin Voyages cruise ships and recently debuted on the Norwegian Prima. Most items at the food halls on these ships are complimentary and it serves as a trendy dining location reminiscent of food truck parks and marketplaces in cities around the world.

I would love to see a food hall on a Royal Caribbean ship!

Solo travelers area

Many cruise passengers cruise solo, and it would be nice to see some sort of exclusive solo cruiser area onboard.

Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, has a solo cruiser-only area with studio cabins and a private Studio Lounge. Solo passengers can enjoy complimentary coffee, espresso, and snacks in the lounge as they get to know fellow solo cruisers.

This would be a nice concept to see on future Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and I would definitely take advantage of it when planning a solo cruise.

Related: What I learned from my first solo cruise

More hammocks

Both Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas have a set of hammocks on the ships’ Sports Courts and I love this feature!

Swinging in a hammock is extremely relaxing, especially when on a cruise ship, and it’s the perfect place to hang out and enjoy an ocean view. More hammocks, please!

World-themed ship

I visited Walt Disney World’s Epcot for the first time last year and enjoyed the global atmosphere of the park. Epcot’s World Showcase consists of 11 distinct areas representing countries around the world, including Canada, France, Morocco, Germany, Norway, and Mexico.

Each of these showcases features dining, shopping, architecture, and attractions themed by the country it represents, and it’s a unique way to “see the world” from one place.

A few months ago while onboard a cruise ship, I was reminiscing about my time in Epcot and thought the global theme could be a really cool idea for a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Because Royal Caribbean has so many restaurants from diverse cuisines already, the ship’s theme could incorporate these restaurants into their own “enclaves” themed by different countries in the world.

More outlets in public areas

It’s very difficult to find an electrical outlet in public areas on Royal Caribbean ships, and when you do, it’s often in an inconvenient location and a European-style outlet.

Many people work remotely nowadays and Royal Caribbean is adding Starlink internet to all of its ships. The combination of these two factors may mean demand for working remotely on a cruise ship will soar.

It would be nice to see more outlets in public spaces onboard, although I’m not totally sure this will happen. After all, Royal Caribbean wants its guests to be enjoying the cruise ship’s amenities (and spending money on drinks, shopping, etc.) instead of being on their laptop all day!

Labels on Windjammer food items

I love eating at the Windjammer on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but I wish they had labels on the items. Some cruise lines have more in-depth labels above each food item listing ingredients and allergy information, and this is really helpful for passengers with dietary restrictions or allergies.

Related: Guide to Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe buffet

While I don’t have any food allergies, I am a pescatarian and frequently find myself asking crew members in the Windjammer if they know which ingredients are in a particular food item. I imagine this is a lot worse for those with gluten sensitivities, dairy allergies, etc., so it would be nice to see more labels in the Windjammer and other food locations onboard.

More of The Bamboo Room bar locations

My favorite bar on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship is The Bamboo Room, a Polynesian-inspired tiki bar found only on Navigator and Mariner of the Seas.

The tropical vibes, bossa nova music, and island-themed drinks of The Bamboo Room make it a place I visit time and time again, but unfortunately it's only found on two ships in the fleet.

Related: Check out the signature cocktails at The Bamboo Room on Mariner of the Seas

The vibe of The Bamboo Room perfectly fits the atmosphere I’m looking for on a cruise vacation, and I would be super excited to see more locations on new Royal Caribbean ships or amplifications!

Roller coaster

Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line

While spending the day at Perfect Day at CocoCay’s Thrill Waterpark last year, I learned the hard way that water slides make me feel extremely claustrophobic.

Sliding in circles in a pitch-black slide with water gushing everywhere? I loved it when I was younger, but now not so much.

That being said, I still love adrenaline-filled activities and would be interested to see some sort of roller coaster ride onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival just debuted the BOLT Sea Coaster on the new Carnival Mardi Gras, and this ride looks like a ton of fun. I hope to see a similar feature incorporated on future Royal Caribbean ships!

Language classes

Earlier this year while sailing on Harmony of the Seas, I noticed a few short language classes appeared in the Cruise Compass. I’d never seen this before on a Royal Caribbean ship, so I made sure to attend the 45 minute Spanish class at the Schooner Bar.

I had a ton of fun at the class and would love to see this type of activity offered more often! On my cruise to Greece, for example, it would have been both fun and helpful to attend a short language class so I could have learned basic phrases to use in port.

Movie theater

I recently returned from an Alaska cruise on Radiance of the Seas, and one of my favorite features on the ship was the Cinema.

Every Radiance Class ship has a movie theater onboard which plays free movies several times per day, every day of the cruise. The cinema offered a much better viewing atmosphere than watching a movie on the pool deck, and it was fun to catch a movie on a sea day to pass the time.

While I’m not sure Royal Caribbean will incorporate more movie theaters into their new cruise ships, I certainly enjoyed my experience at the Cinema!

Which features would you love to see on new Royal Caribbean cruise ships? Do you agree with my ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Planning a cruise? Start here:

Safe at sea: what it’s like on a cruise ship when there’s a hurricane

In:
30 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Going on a cruise ship during hurricane season means there's a chance a storm could impact your vacation, and when it does, there's all sorts of possibilities.

Sea day ocean view on Allure of the Seas

Sailing on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas this week, I found myself unexpectedly dodging Hurricane Ian as our ship got out of Florida right before the storm was projected to hit, and safely away during the worst of the impact.

Being on a cruise ship while there's a hurricane active near home brings an assortment of emotions, and it can lead to all kinds of scenarios you never imagined when you booked the cruise, or even in the weeks leading up to the sailing.

What's it like to be on a cruise during a hurricane, and what sort of issues could you face if a storm ends up in the way of your ship?

A lot of unknowns

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

First and foremost, you can expect more questions than answers in the days before a cruise when there's a hurricane.

Once forecasters saw a hurricane was going to form, they produced an early track that seemed to put the storm in the way of our cruise.

We were booked on a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, and the storm would be blocking our way in one way or another.

As anyone that deals with hurricanes a lot will tell you, the forecasts for tropical storms are quite variable and prone to changes that greatly benefit or penalize your situation. One day it might look like your ship will be clear of any issues, and the next, it looks like you're stuck.

Unfortunately, no one knows the answers of what exactly will happen when you're many days before the storm is set to hit.  Beyond a 48 or 72 hour window, tropical storm predictions can vary considerably with many possibilities.  With Hurricane Ian, the models were rarely in agreement, and most of the time there were wide arcs of possibilities.  This leaves vacationers unsure what to do.

Hurricane aerial view

In the final few days before the cruise, my wife and I had a few moments of trying to decide if our vacation was still on:

  • Could we safely make it to our embarkation port? 
  • Where would our ship go?
  • Would we be better off staying home to manage our house and mitigate damage?
  • Would getting home be impacted?

In our case, when we drove down to Fort Lauderdale from Orlando, the storm was only predicted to be a category 2 and headed for the Florida Panhandle. As it turned out, it would be a category 4 and hit around Fort Myers.

Ian spaghetti models

Essentially, you can't expect every question you might have to be answered and you may have a sense of "que sera sera" as it pertains to going on the cruise. We made our decision to cruise based on the best information we had at the time we were to depart, and would trust in the cruise line to provide information and changes as needed.

You could have a different itinerary

Cozumel coast with restaurants and bars

The most common scenario when there is a hurricane is for the cruise line to change your itinerary to avoid the storm.

In our case, Allure of the Seas dropped a visit to Roatan so we could instead sail the long way around Cuba and circumnavigate the island as a way of avoiding Hurricane Ian, while still making out way south.

Allure ended up safely behind Hurricane Ian, slowly moving west as the storm cleared out of the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Two ships docked in Cozumel

While skipping Roatan is not ideal, it's something you have to assume could happen with any cruise on any sailing. Itinerary changes are not uncommon, regardless of if it's hurricane season or not.

There were definitely some guests upset we would not be able to visit Roatan, and that's to be expected because no one wants to be disappointed.  In speaking with crew members, a few shared anecdotally some guests actually question why the ship doesn't simply sail into the storm to make the scheduled port on time.

Liberty of the Seas had a few itinerary changes.  At first, they were flip-flopping her schedule to bypass Mexico and go to Grand Cayman.  When Grand Cayman closed, they switched it up again and moved her to Mexico.

Don't expect your cruise to be cancelled

First time cruisers will often post on Facebook to ask if their cruise will be cancelled, and it's clear that it's very unlikely a cruise will be totally cancelled.

Sailings can be extended or shortened, but Royal Caribbean very rarely cancels an entire sailing.

That isn't to say they've never done it, but time and time again, we see ships getting re-routed and extended instead.

Ship sailing

Mariner of the Seas went from a 5-night cruise to a 7-night cruise.  Independence of the Seas also got an additional day.  In both cases, the issue was Port Canaveral closed and that prevented the ship from getting back into port.

If your cruise is extended or shortened, expect extra onboard credit and any unlimited packages purchased to be honored for the extra days. This includes drink packages, dining packages, internet plans and more.

What it's like if your cruise is extended because of a hurricane?

Disney Wish

While my cruise only had a change in itinerary, other cruise ships had to remain out at sea longer because of the closure in Port Canaveral.

Jodi Grundig is a writer for our sister site Cruise.Blog (and she has her own blog at Family Travel Magazine) was on the Disney Wish when the sailing had to be extended by a couple days.  It was supposed to be a 4-night cruise, but at the time of writing will end up being 6-nights.

"There were cheers onboard, so most people seemed to be pretty excited for two extra day," she said of the reaction after the cruise was to be extended. "A few people were upset because of commitments at home."

Disney cruise terminal in Port Canaveral

For Ms. Grundig, safety was the most important thing, "It wasn't unexpected so I was just glad to be safe after the initial panic of moving my flight, which was fairly easy."

As you might imagine, having a cruise extended means logistical changes to get home.  While some people can simply drive home, a lot of passengers fly back.

"They offered phones for people who needed to make calls and they provided free internet for people to make changes to flights/arrangements."

"I was luckily able to switch my Friday flight to Sunday. Because it's over a weekend, I won't really miss anything at home thankfully."

How bad are the sea conditions when there's a hurricane?

Odyssey of the Seas

While I think most people understand cruise ships don't sail into hurricanes, the most common question I've received during my cruise is something along the lines of, "how bad are the waves?".

Not only do cruise ships avoid the path of a hurricane, they will chart a course with the optimal sea conditions to avoid the worst of any rough seas.

Hurricane or not, there can be "motion in the ocean", so no cruise is immune from waves. However, the reality is the cruise has been quite smooth sailing in terms of wave height.

Sea day view

When a ship changes itinerary, they have the opportunity to sail waters far away from the storm.  In addition, ships can sail closer to land to find protected waterways that can lessen the effect of the seas.

During my cruise, our ship went around Cuba, and by the time we made our way westward again, the ship stayed far enough away from Hurricane Ian to keep everything quite calm. We rarely felt much motion, and the sea conditions ended up being extremely calm.

In the case of the Disney Wish, that ship went out to sea further east in The Bahamas to avoid even the furthest aspects of the storm.

Water slides on Adventure of the Seas

Typically, a hurricane's forward speed averages around 15-20 mph. Hurricane Ian was moving at less than 10 miles per hour.

Cruise ships can sail faster than hurricanes can move, which gives them the ability to out run the changing path of any storm.

Royal Caribbean's X Factor: James Van Fleet

James Van Fleet with beard

Unlike every other cruise line, Royal Caribbean has its own Chief Meteorologist who not only provides each ship and the cruise line important guidance on the weather, but he also shares insight with guests.

Mr. Van Fleet has over 20 years of experience as a meteorologist in television, covering an array of locations from Texas to Florida. 

Mr. Van Fleet posts daily video updates, explaining what the latest forecasts indicate, and he shares what he thinks is possible.  He also talks about various ships, and demonstrates where the ship is located, what to expect, and most importantly, how they are keeping safely away from the hurricane.

Weather forecast

In the days before the cruise, my mind was put at ease that we'd be able to sail thanks to his updates. During the cruise, we got information about what the storm was doing and how our ship was dealing with track changes.

At the height of the hurricane imminent threat to Florida, he took to answering questions from passengers both on video and on social media.

James Van Fleet

Without sounding pretentious, I feel bad for people on other cruise lines who don't have access to this kind of information because it must be mentally anguishing to not have the sort of information Mr. Van Fleet provides.

While he may not know more than anyone else as to what the storm will do, his many years of experience as a meteorologist in Florida gives him insight into the nuances of tropical storms that can put many minds at ease.

Excursion Focus: Tulum Ruins & Mayan Cenote tour in Cozumel

In:
30 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is known for its ancient Mayan ruins and freshwater cenotes, and I wanted to experience the best of both worlds on my recent port day in Cozumel.

I booked the Tulum Ruins & Mayan Cenote tour through Royal Caribbean. This excursion combines a visit to the oceanfront Tulum Archeological site with time to swim at nearby cenotes.

This tour was located on mainland Mexico as opposed to the island of Cozumel, so I knew I was in for an adventure.

Booking options

Because of the ferry involved from the island of Cozumel to mainland Mexico, I booked this excursion directly through Royal Caribbean.

I usually prefer to book smaller tours through independent companies, but I had heard stories of ferries being delayed and causing people to miss the cruise ship.

I figured it was best to book directly through Royal Caribbean for the added protection.

Related: Is it better to book excursions through the cruise ship?

I purchased the Tulum Ruins & Mayan Cenote tour for $101.99 on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website.

Transportation to the mainland

All tours traveling to mainland Mexico from Cozumel met in the ship’s theater at 7:45 AM. Up bright and early, I was expecting to leave shortly after the meeting time, but we didn’t leave the theater until around 8:20 AM.

We boarded the Winjet Fast Ferry to the mainland, and there are two levels: an outdoor deck and an indoor deck with no window views.

I chose to sit indoors and this turned out to be a huge mistake. I had heard stories of the ferry being miserable through choppy waters between Cozumel and the mainland, and these stories are completely true.

The ferry ride was beyond miserable. Multiple people were vomiting around me and I was doing everything in my power to not throw up myself!

I’ve never wanted to kiss the ground more than when I disembarked the ferry on the mainland. Thankfully the non-drowsy Dramamine I took before the ferry saved me and I arrived in Playa del Carmen unscathed.

On the way back, I sat on the top deck so I could keep my eyes on the horizon throughout the whole journey. Being outside was much better than indoors.

Tulum Ruins

Following the 45 minute ferry, our group of 44 passengers boarded a 1 hour bus to the Tulum archaeological site.

The Tulum Archeological Site is the only site in Mexico's Quintana Roo state facing the Caribbean Sea, and the city was once the center of land and sea trade in the region. It is thought to have been constructed between 1200 AD and 1450 AD.

Many temples and buildings are located right on the ocean, leading to spectacular views of ancient history mixed with turquoise Caribbean waters.

Our tour included a wonderful guide, Tony, and it was fascinating to learn about the traditions and culture of those who once called this site home. We were given earpieces to wear so everyone could hear the guide.

The archeological site was not outrageously busy when we visited, and we were given an hour of free time to explore after our ~1 hour tour of the ruins.

I always enjoy visiting archeological sites, and the Tulum Ruins are particularly beautiful as they are right on the water. They were all well-preserved and I appreciated that visitors are neither permitted to climb on the ruins nor walk on the beaches to keep the site in excellent condition.

After exploring on my own, I headed back to the entrance of the archaeological site, where there are souvenir shops and places to eat. Our tour included a small sandwich in the morning, but most guests ordered tacos at the site.

Cenote tour

After around two hours at the Tulum Ruins, we boarded the bus for a quick, 15-minute drive to the second part of our excursion: a cenote tour.

Cenotes are natural sinkholes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, exposing the groundwater below. The Yucatán Peninsula is said to have over 6,000 cenotes.

These have become popular tourist destinations in recent years, allowing visitors to cool off in the region’s hot temperatures in a natural, tropical oasis.

Our tour brought us to two cenotes. I had never seen a cenote before and they were just as beautiful as I had imagined.

The first cenote was fully exposed to open air and had clear, cold water perfect for swimming. We were provided life jackets as the cenotes are quite deep, and many visitors were cliff jumping into the cenote from above.

The 5-minute walk to the second cenote was beautiful along a path through mangroves.

The second cenote was in a cave, and our group was guided into the cave’s small opening and through an underground pathway to the other side.

Food and drink stands were available throughout the cenote complex, and I ordered a fresh mango and passion fruit juice before starting the long journey back to Cozumel.

What I liked about this tour

I felt this tour had a nice mix of history, natural beauty, and adrenaline. It was interesting to visit mainland Mexico from Cozumel even if it required the choppy ferry ride, and the two destinations we visited were undeniably beautiful.

I loved being able to cool down in the cenotes after walking around the Tulum Ruins in the September humidity, and I’d love to explore more cenotes on future visits to Mexico.

Our driver and two guides were friendly, knowledgeable, and professional throughout the tour.

What I didn’t like

One of the reasons I don’t book Royal Caribbean excursions or large group tours very often is due to how slowly the tours move.

A lot of this excursion was spent waiting around for all guests to finish at the bathrooms, board the bus, arrive at the theater in the morning, etc.

Additionally, while the cenotes were gorgeous and refreshing, our time at the cenotes was very brief. We were only given around 15 minutes to swim at each cenote, and there were a lot of crowds. I felt our time at the ruins was a good length, however.

The ferry was by far the worst part of the day, so if you’re planning this tour it’s imperative to pack motion-sickness medication and sit on the outdoor deck.

Should you book this shore excursion?

While this tour had its downsides, it still offered the quintessential Yucatán vacation experience of visiting ruins and cenotes. The Tulum Ruins are larger and more impressive than anything found on Cozumel, so if you’re interested in visiting Mayan Ruins it’s worth the trip.

Plus, when you look back at the tour in 10 years, you won’t remember the nausea-inducing ferry ride or summer humidity. What you will remember are the fantastic sites, history, and nature you experienced!

If you do select this tour, I’d highly recommend planning more relaxing port days for the rest of your itinerary. This tour is tiring and busy; it lasted 9 hours!

Booking an all-inclusive beach club or catamaran tour for the other port days on your cruise is a good idea to ensure you don’t get too worn out.

I would not recommend trying to do this excursion on your own. Due to lengthy travel time required with the ferry, it’s best to book directly through Royal Caribbean.

More excursion recommendations and reviews:

Royal Caribbean drops vaccine requirement for cruises to Canada and Barbados

In:
29 Sep 2022
By: 
Chantal McPhee

In a new update yesterday, Royal Caribbean has announced some changes in protocols for guests traveling with cruises visiting or embarking in Canada and Barbados.

Oasis Halifax

In an email to its travel partners, the cruise line highlighted new protocols for its customers, good news for many cruisers who had to endure the extra costs associated with testing and other entry paperwork.

Both the Canadian and Barbadian governments recently announced a number of updates to their Covid protocols as it relates to tourists. A welcome change for many, which has allowed cruise lines to modify their policies.

There are, however, no new updated protocols for Bermuda, which still requires pre-cruise testing and entry approval with a fee. 

Here is what cruisers need to know about the changes for cruises to Canada and Barbados.

Changes to cruises to Canada

Starting October 1, 2022, for sailings of 9 nights or less, Royal Caribbean is welcoming all guests, regardless of vaccination status, for cruises that embark, debark, or visit Canada. This is welcome news for cruisers leaving on New England sailings in the remainder of the year.  

Vaccination and testing

Royal Caribbean notes the following protocols based on vaccination status:

  • Vaccinated guests, regardless of age, will no longer need to test for sailing lengths of 9 nights or less. And, boarding day tests are no longer required.
  • Unvaccinated guests aged 5 and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 3 days of the sail date. 
  • Additionally, for sailings of 10 nights or more, all guests ages 5 years and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 3 days of the sail date.

Despite the changes in protocols, the cruise line continues to recommend that guests be vaccinated against Covid-19. Noting that for those eligible, “ we recommend that guests joining us be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While vaccination is not required, we kindly ask you disclose your status during check-in to ensure we maintain a highly vaccinated onboard population”.

At-home test

Testing information

Royal Caribbean, in a major improvement for cruisers, is allowing guests to take advantage of at-home antigen tests; even unsupervised tests will satisfy this requirement for cruises to and from Canada.

Passengers must present proof of a negative test at boarding. This can be provided in the form of a printout, an email, or an app screen from the test provider. Additionally, guests can show a picture of their negative home test on their phone, or present the actual negative test itself.

ArriveCAN App

ArriveCAN app

The ArriveCAN app was introduced by the Canadian government for cross-border travel during the pandemic. Travelers entering Canada had to complete the electronic form with health information and other details prior to arrival in Canada.

The Canadian government has announced that as of Effective October 1, 2022, completion of the ArriveCAN form is no longer required. As such, it is not a requirement for guests traveling to and from Canada as part of their cruise.

Although the government has said that it will be optional, and plans are to make it part of an advanced declaration form to speed up the process for those flying into Canada in the future, 

Current cruises that will be impacted by changes in 2022

This is good news for cruisers traveling on the remaining itineraries to Canada in 2022. Royal Caribbean has sailings running throughout October, including:

  • 7-night cruise to Canada, leaving from Boston, Massachusetts, on Voyager of the Seas  
  • 8-night Canada and New England Cruise leaving from Baltimore, Maryland on Enchantment of the Seas
  • 9 night Canada and New England Cruise sailing from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Adventure of the Seas

Changes to cruises from Barbados

For cruisers on or after October 1, Royal Caribbean is accepting all guests, regardless of vaccination status, back onboard for itineraries from Barbados. Royal Caribbean offers a number of cruises that originate in Bridgetown, Barbados in 2022 and the future

Vaccination and testing

For cruises out of Barbados, the requirements are as follows:

  • Vaccinated guests, regardless of age, will no longer need to test for sailing lengths of 9 nights or less. And, boarding day tests are no longer required.
  • Unvaccinated guests aged 5 and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 3 days of our sail date. 
  • Additionally, for sailings of 10 nights or more, all guests age 5 years and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 3 days of the sail date.

Despite the changes in protocols, the cruise line does continue to recommend that guests be vaccinated against Covid-19; for those who are eligible,  Guests are asked to disclose their status during check-in to ensure we maintain a highly vaccinated onboard population.

Testing details

Passengers must present proof of a negative test at boarding. This can be provided in the form of a printout, an email, or an app screen from the test provider. Alternatively, passengers can show a picture of their negative home test on their phone, or present the actual negative test itself.

Barbados Customs and Immigration Form

All guests need to adhere to any entry requirements and complete the Barbados Customs and Immigration form within 72 hours of arrival in Barbados. The form can be completed in advance and once finished, a receipt will be emailed to passengers with a travel code.

Upcoming Barbados cruises impacted by changes

This will impact cruises with sailings out of Bridgetown, Barbados, including both the Rhapsody of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas, which start running in November of this year.

Excursion Review: Jaime's at the Blue Reef all-inclusive day pass in Costa Maya

In:
29 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Costa Maya is one of the busiest cruise ports in Mexico, and we’re always looking for new excursions to try in this small beach town. We recently tried an all-inclusive day pass at Jaime’s at the Blue Reef, a local hotel near the port, to see if the amenities, food, and drinks were worth the admission fee.

The result? A gorgeous beach day complete with spicy tacos, refreshing margaritas, and luxurious pool views.

Let's take a look at our experience at Jaime's at the Blue Reef to help you determine if you should give it a try on your next visit to Costa Maya.

Overview

Jaime’s at the Blue Reef is a 10 minute taxi ride away from the Costa Maya cruise port, and a taxi costs $4 per person each way. It is located in the small beachfront town of Mahahual, Mexico.

Jaime’s at the Blue Reef is a hotel and restaurant offering day passes to cruise ship guests. Capacity is kept low in an effort to provide the best service possible. No more than 28 day passes are sold each day.

All-inclusive day passes at Jaime’s at the Blue Reef include the following amenities:

  • Unlimited food and beverages
  • Private spot on the beach with padded lounge chairs
  • Shaded palapas
  • Kayaks, floats, and paddle boards
  • Pool access (dependent on availability and adults-only)
  • Wi-fi

Day passes at Jaime’s at the Blue Reef often sell out, so it’s important to reserve your booking ahead of time. To reserve a day pass, visit the official website for Jaime’s at the Blue Reef.

At the time of review, the cost of admission was:

  • Adults: $57 USD
  • 13 to 17: $33 USD
  • 6 to 12: $19.95 USD
  • 5 & under: Free

After being checked in, a staff member will escort your group to your private, padded lounge chairs and palapa along the beach.

Amenities

Jaime's at the Blue Reef has a calm, clean, and warm beach which is protected from strong currents and seaweed by a barrier in the water.

The water is so calm, clear, and warm that it is almost like swimming in a bathtub, and the sand is soft with no rocks and very little seaweed.

Water sport equipment is available at no extra charge, and many guests (mostly kids) chose to try a kayak or stand up paddle in the protected beach area.

The padded beach loungers are sufficiently shaded from the palapa and coconut trees above.

Jaime’s at the Blue Reef has a small pool located on the roof, although day pass guests should check with the hotel before booking to see if the pool will be available.

When we visited, the pool was only open to adults. There is no shade at the pool, but it offers panoramic views of the ocean, town, and coral reefs in the distance.

Jaime’s at the Blue Reef does not offer services like massages, boat tours, etc., but these activities are offered by other local companies located just a few feet from the hotel. A snorkeling tour may be offered by Jaime’s each day, but it’s best to contact the hotel for availability and pricing.

Guests can enjoy unlimited food and drinks throughout the day at Jaime’s at the Blue Reef, and this offers a great value for those hoping to taste a variety of foods and snacks.

The food menu had both standard Mexican fare (tacos, quesadillas, nachos, ceviche, etc.) and also American fare (hamburgers, onion rings, chicken fingers, etc.).

Jaime's at the Blue Reef has a cocktail and beer menu available along with a selection of non-alcoholic beverages.

Waiters can bring food and drinks to your beach chair or you can sit at the shaded bar and restaurant area.

Comments

I’m not a fan of the immediate port area where cruise ships dock in Costa Maya as it feels very inauthentic, so I always search for things to do in the nearby town of Mahahual instead.

I like how the hotel's location is right in the middle of the town of Mahahual, as it was easy to access, yet I didn't feel "stuck" at a resort with nowhere else to go.

After lunch, I took a walk around Mahahual's Boardwalk. I love this small town and it's always fun to walk around, shop, and chat with locals. This is something I wouldn't be able to do as easily at a more secluded resort, and it was a nice way to break up the day.

Because it was located along the busy beachfront boardwalk, however, there were frequent visits from locals trying to sell souvenirs like sunglasses, jewelry, trinkets, etc. This could be a downside for some guests, although none of the vendors were pushy, so I didn't mind.

Beach & Pool

I appreciated the calm waters at the beach, as I don’t enjoy fighting strong waves or currents. There was virtually no seaweed in the water, too, which was a huge plus.

The beach area had enough space for all guests, although chairs were relatively close together.

The pool was one of my favorite amenities at Jaime’s at the Blue Reef, and although it’s not listed on the hotel’s website as a day pass amenity, it was available when we were in town.

When I went to the pool, there were no other guests there, so I had the entire area to myself. While the pool isn’t very convenient to access (it’s on the roof of the 4-story hotel with no elevator), it’s well worth the trek for gorgeous views of Costa Maya.

Jaime explained that this area permits topless sunbathing, so it’s an adults-only area.

Food & Drink

I wasn’t sure how authentic the food would be at Jaime’s and was a bit skeptical once I saw how many American foods were on the menu. These worries quickly went away, however, with my first bite of guacamole.

I did not expect such a delicious appetizer. There’s no question that the guacamole is made-to-order with fresh avocados, and I could have eaten only chips and guacamole all day and been satisfied!

I also tried two varieties of tacos: fish and vegetable tempura. You can’t go wrong with tacos, and the two hot sauce selections were impressively spicy.

The highlight of the meal came when Jaime, the owner of Jaime’s at the Blue Reef, made a fresh, tropical fish ceviche. Made with white fish, pineapple, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and black sesame seeds, it was tangy, savory, and sweet at the same time.

With the combination of Mexican and American fare offered, Jaime’s has a crowd-pleasing menu suitable for even the pickiest eaters.

As far as drinks go, I had no complaints and enjoyed a fresh pineapple juice and margarita. Others in our group ordered Modelos, a Tequila Sunrise, and (a few too many) shots of tequila.

Waiter service was relatively quick for both food and drinks, and all staff members were remarkably friendly. They constantly walked around the beach to check if we wanted to order anything else.

Final thoughts

I would definitely visit Jaime’s at the Blue Reef on future trips to Costa Maya. Considering the day pass includes a private, shaded beach chair, beach and pool access, drinks, food, water sports equipment, and wi-fi, I thought it offered a great value.

It wasn’t hard to “break even” on the $57 day pass, especially when considering the price of food and drinks in the immediate Costa Maya cruise port.

It was hard to find any complaints with the day pass, but if I had to pick a downside it would be the location of the pool, as it isn’t convenient to access on the roof. That being said, the pool location was a huge benefit to me as I could relax with stunning beach views.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive beach day in a convenient, centrally-located area of Mahahual, Jaime’s at the Blue Reef may be the best choice for your day in port.

More all-inclusive day pass reviews:

Royal Caribbean updates: pre-booking entertainment, hurricane itinerary changes & more

In:
28 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

We have a look at some changes and updates Royal Caribbean has made or announced over the past few days.

From removing the option to pre-book entertainment to supporting a local school in the South Pacific and announcing itinerary updates, here’s everything you should know about this week.

Royal Caribbean will not bring back option to pre-book entertainment

Prior to the cruise industry shutdown in 2020, passengers were able to pre-book entertainment at select shows on Royal Caribbean ships.

Pre-booking entertainment has not returned since Royal Caribbean cruises restarted in June 2021, leaving many wondering when this option would return.

This question has finally been answered, and it looks like all entertainment must be reserved onboard going forward. Royal Caribbean shared the following announcement with travel agents on Tuesday, September 27:

As we continue to shape the future of cruising, a few experiences may look a bit different to some of your clients. With this, we will no longer be accepting pre-bookings for onboard entertainment. All guests who would like to attend our entertainment onboard must book these at the Box Office or on the App once onboard.

Many passengers preferred being able to pre-book entertainment to better plan around dining times and scheduled activities. It also took one more thing off the “to-do” list on the first day of the cruise.

Related: 30 Do’s and Don’ts for the first day of your cruise

Going forward, all passengers must reserve entertainment on Royal Caribbean’s app or at the Box Office once onboard. It’s recommended to do this as soon as possible after embarking the cruise ship to ensure you can select the dates and times that work best for you.

Royal Caribbean donates educational resources and support to school in Vanuatu

Royal Caribbean is committed to supporting sustainable ocean communities through its Blue Green Promise initiative, and they’ve recently made a donation to a primary school in the South Pacific.

Royal Caribbean has partnered with Amaro Primary School on Lelepa Island, Vanuatu to provide educational resources to students and teachers.

Perfect Day at Lelepa artist rendering

This is the only school on Lelepa Island, home to Royal Caribbean’s future Perfect Day at Lelepa private destination. The school has over 70 students aged 5 to 14.

Related: First look at Perfect Day at Lelepa

Amaro Primary School has received renovation and repair support, computers and printers, teaching resources, and new desks and chairs.

Kathryn Lock, Royal Caribbean International Australia and New Zealand Director of Marketing, explained the importance of supporting local communities in the cruise line’s destinations.

“Around the world, we know we can only be as vibrant as the places we visit. We do all we can to help support the next generation of leaders and empower the communities we visit, from investing in educational resources to supporting conversation, education training, and providing skills training.”

Beyond supporting the school, Royal Caribbean has also provided the island with on-the-ground community support, including employing locals to conduct clean-ups on Lelepa Island’s beaches and installing solar lights in community spaces.

While Perfect Day at Lelepa does not yet have an opening date, it’s clear Royal Caribbean is working diligently with the community to make a positive impact on the lives of those calling Lelepa Island home.

Itinerary changes and updates in anticipation of Hurricane Ian

Hurricane season is at the forefront of several itinerary changes and updates for Royal Caribbean ships, with Hurricane Ian due to make landfall on Florida’s gulf coast on Wednesday.

Port Canaveral's U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) has set the current port conditions to ZULU, indicating that sustained Gale Force winds are predicted to make landfall within 12 hours. Due to this, the port has been temporarily closed.

In addition, Orlando International Airport will be closed at 10:30 AM EDT Wednesday, September 28 and is not expected to reopen until 10:30AM EDT on Friday, September 30.

UPDATED: September 29

The Mariner of the Seas September 29 sailing will now depart Saturday, October 1st and return on October 3rd.

Guests on this sailing have the choice of sailing and getting 3 days of your cruise fare as a refundable onboard credit. Or they can cancel for a 100% refund.

Mariner of the Seas sailing away from Port Canaveral

 

The September 30 sailing of Independence of the Seas out of Port Canaveral will now depart Saturday, October 1st and return as planned on Monday, October 3rd. 

Guests on this sailing have the choice of sailing and getting 2 days of your cruise fare as a refundable onboard credit. Or they can cancel for a 100% refund.

The Harmony of the Seas October 2 sailing from Port Canaveral will go on as planned.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas insider tips & secrets

In:
27 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas offers passengers nearly endless activities to choose from onboard. As one of the largest cruise ships in the world, it’s easy to overlook some of the ship’s features and amenities.

Knowing the “hidden” spots to discover on Allure of the Seas can make your cruise more enjoyable, whether it means skipping crowds at the Windjammer or relaxing in a quiet spot with an ocean view.

Here’s our list of the top 10 hidden secrets (and one bonus) on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.

Secret sun deck

While the Solarium is located on deck 15 of Allure of the Seas, a secret outdoor sundeck can be accessed from deck 14.

If you take the forward elevators to deck 14 and walk all the way forward through the hallways, you’ll reach a large, outdoor sun deck that not many passengers know about.

In addition to the large deck space are two bridge wings that jet off the sides of Allure of the Seas. This might just be the best place to watch sailaway and sunsets onboard. Beware of the wind, however, as this part of the ship can get extremely windy!

Small wonders

Hidden all over Allure of the Seas are small wonders, small art pieces that are easily overlooked by those who don’t know they exist.

Small wonders look like a periscope/telescope and rise from the ground to eye-level. If you look through the “eyes” of the sculpture, you’ll find tiny, cool art inside to enjoy.

Finding small wonders is a lot of fun for kids and adults, and there are over twenty of them all over Allure of the Seas.

Hint: If you give up and cannot find them all, Guest Services can provide you with a list of them to help!

Central Park secret deck

Just outside the elevator lobbies on deck 9, aft of Allure of the Seas are two small balconies overlooking Central Park.

Each of these balconies has a table and two chairs, and it’s a relaxing spot to enjoy a drink, play cards, or simply relax with a view. It’s also one of the best spots to get your photo taken with Central Park in the background.

Carnival games

Cruising with kids? Open your Royal Caribbean app, click on the “Games” tab at the bottom of the screen next to the Excursions button, and head to the Boardwalk.

Located across from Sabor Bar on the Boardwalk are three posters that, at first glance, appear to be solely for decoration.

These posters actually lead you to a game within Royal Caribbean’s app, and can be a fun activity for kids to try while onboard.

There are three games to play: Splish Splash Soak, Duck Duck Bear, and Go-Go Gopher. You can activate the game by first selecting the game on Royal Caribbean's app and then pointing your phone at the poster on the Boardwalk.

Shuffleboard and viewing area

Walking all the way through the Boardwalk will lead you to the AquaTheater. If you circle around the AquaTheater, you’ll find a path along the aft of Allure of the Seas.

This viewing area offers not only phenomenal views of the ship’s wake, but you can also play shuffleboard here and look in the ship’s direction for a unique viewpoint of the Boardwalk neighborhood.

If you’re looking for one of the best selfie spots on Allure of the Seas, this is it.

Adirondack chairs

Allure of the Seas has a jogging/running track outdoors that wraps around deck 5 of the ship, but did you know there are seating areas on this deck offering unbeatable views of the ship’s wake?

If you walk all the way to the back of the ship on the running track, you’ll run into several comfortable Adirondack chairs near the railing. This makes for a quiet, peaceful spot to enjoy an ocean view without the crowds you’ll find on the pool deck or in the Solarium.

Aquatheater show viewing area

Did you forget to make reservations for the AquaTheater show and your showtime of choice is fully booked? If so, there’s still a way you can enjoy the show without a reservation.

Deck 7, aft on both the port and starboard sides of the ship is used for rock climbing during the day. At night, however, these decks can be one of the best places to watch AquaTheater shows in the evening, and you won’t need a reservation to watch the show from there.

You can access these decks by walking to the AquaTheater on the Boardwalk and up a flight of stairs (follow the signs for “Rock Climbing Wall”). If you don’t have a reservation, walk all the way aft through the hallways on deck 7. A door is found at the end of the hallway that will take you to the outdoor deck.

Best breakfast spot: Johnny Rockets

If you want one of the best breakfast spots on Allure of the Seas that will not be nearly as crowded as the Windjammer, head to Johnny Rockets on the Boardwalk.

On Allure of the Seas, Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast and offers some great traditional breakfast items, such as pancakes, omelettes, French toast, and more.

The best part? It’s free! Johnny Rockets is complimentary for breakfast on Allure of the Seas (lunch and dinner still cost extra).

Embarkation day lunch spots

The Windjammer buffet can get pretty busy on embarkation day since so many guests head there for lunch immediately after boarding Allure of the Seas. Instead of the Windjammer, there are some good alternatives to consider that will be far less crowded.

Sabor, Park Cafe, Boardwalk Dog House, Wipe Out Cafe, and Johnny Rockets are all open on embarkation day on Allure of the Seas and you will find great food without the crowds.

Exit the Amber Theater on deck 5

Whether you’re watching Mamma Mia or the Love & Marriage Game Show, you’ll probably find yourself in the Amber Theater at one point or another on Allure of the Seas.

Imagine this: you just finished seeing another great show in the theater and it’s time to leave. The problem? There’s a huge crowd of people all trying to exit the theater at once and the line doesn’t seem to be moving.

Your best bet is to head up to deck 5 (the upper level of the Amber Theater) and exit on that deck.

Why? Deck 4 (the main entrance) empties into a narrow elevator lobby and the casino, whereas deck 5 opens up into the Royal Promenade. There is physically far more space for guests to exit on deck 5.

BONUS: the best drink you don’t know about: Cucumber Martini

There are so many drinks to try on any Royal Caribbean cruise, but if you are on Allure of the Seas, you should go out of your way to try a drink unique to this class of ships: the Cucumber Martini.

The cucumber martini has reached cult status with many Royal Caribbean fans and is available at two bars onboard: 150 Central Park and the Champagne Bar.

This drink is light, very refreshing, and is also quite tasty!

Planning a cruise on Allure of the Seas? Check out more of our best tips & tricks:

Are Boardwalk balcony cabins too loud?

In:
27 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

One of the biggest complaints about Royal Caribbean's Boardwalk balcony cabins is that they are too loud, but is it true?

I’m currently onboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, and I’m staying in a Boardwalk balcony cabin for the week to see if these unique cabins are worth it—or if it’s better to book a different type of cabin.

When I booked this cruise, I was surprised to see a Guarantee Balcony room offered for a lower price than an interior cabin. Booking the cheapest cabin is always a priority, and although I wasn't able to select the exact cabin location, it was too good a deal to pass up.

Related: Should I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?

I've called my cozy Boardwalk Balcony cabin home for the past 48 hours, so it's time to answer... are Boardwalk balcony cabins too loud for a relaxing cruise vacation?

What is a Boardwalk Balcony?

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class cruise ships are unique in that they have a split design with open-air space in the middle of the ship. Two distinct neighborhoods are found in the open-air areas of the ship: Central Park and the Boardwalk.

Related: Guide to balcony staterooms on Royal Caribbean

Located in these neighborhoods are restaurants, retail, entertainment, and attractions, but they’re also home to six decks of balcony cabins on each side of the ship.

Unlike traditional ocean view balconies, neighborhood cabins look out toward their respective neighborhoods. In my case, my cabin has a view of the colorful, carnival-themed Boardwalk with a limited ocean view to the right.

I was assigned to a cabin on deck 9 directly over the Boardwalk’s carousel. The cabin is spacious, well-kept, and a wonderful place to call home for the week, but the question remains…

Are Boardwalk Balcony cabins too loud?

Many of the noisiest areas on Allure of the Seas are located either above, below, or adjacent to my cabin.

Above is the Sports Deck, which hosts sports tournaments throughout the day, and the ship’s zip line, which flies a new passenger over the Boardwalk neighborhood every few minutes.

Below you’ll find the hustle and bustle of the Boardwalk. Thousands of passengers pass through the neighborhood on any given day, whether they’re riding the carousel, grabbing an ice cream cone, stopping by the arcade, or dining at one of three restaurants found in the neighborhood.

Related: All about Oasis Class ships

To the right of my balcony is the AquaTheater entertainment venue, which has several showtimes throughout the cruise and countless activities held there throughout the day.

There’s a lot going on on the Boardwalk, but how much can be heard from my room?

Zip lines, sports court, and carousel

The first noise I noticed while taking a rest in my Boardwalk balcony cabin was a carnival-themed song playing at the carousel. If I had to pick the “worst” part of staying in a Boardwalk balcony, this would definitely be it.

The carousel is available to ride for a few hours each day of the cruise, and in the spirit of creating that nostalgic feeling the Boardwalk neighborhood is so famous for, carnival-themed music plays over and over whenever the carousel is open. A bell also rings every time the carousel is about to start, which happens every few minutes.

Kids on carousel

Listening to the same childlike music and the bell over and over throughout the day got annoying pretty quickly. I’d advise selecting a Boardwalk balcony further away from the carousel as you should hear less noise from the ride throughout the day.

The saving grace is that the carousel doesn’t open until 10AM, meaning you can enjoy peace and quiet on your balcony in the mornings!

Outside of the carousel, I heard noise from a sports competition taking place on the Sports Deck, although these only happen one or two times a day so it wasn’t bothersome.

I thought the zip line would be more annoying considering it flies right over the Boardwalk balcony cabins, but it was much quieter than I thought.

AquaTheater shows and activities

Perhaps the loudest noise from my cabin comes from the AquaTheater. Performances are not quiet, with cheers of the crowd, high-energy music, and announcements blaring noise I could hear not only from my balcony, but from the inside of my cabin as well.

Luckily, performances are only offered a few nights during the cruise and only from around 8 to 11 each night, so the noise wasn’t anything too terrible. I was out of my cabin during most showtimes anyway.

While noise from the AquaTheater shows may seem like a drawback, I find this to be one of the biggest benefits of staying in a Boardwalk balcony. While I chose to see one show in the AquaTheater itself, I could also watch other showtimes directly from the comfort of my balcony.

Some Boardwalk balcony rooms are located almost directly above the AquaTheater, meaning you’ll have a private viewing location for the show comparable to what you’ll see from one of the more expensive AquaTheater suites.

Activities like the World’s Sexiest Man Competition and the Top Tier Event were held at the AquaTheater during the day, and just like the AquaTheater shows, I could hear everything from both my balcony (loud and clear) and inside the cabin (muffled).

Should you book a Boardwalk balcony room?

If you’re looking for privacy, peace, and quiet, a Boardwalk balcony room is probably not the best cabin for you. These rooms bring excellent people watching opportunities and a vibrant atmosphere, but they are hardly as relaxing as an ocean view balcony.

Ocean view balconies are more expensive for a reason—they offer an expansive ocean view, privacy, and little outside noise. If you don’t mind paying a bit more for an ocean view balcony, I’d say it’s certainly worth the upgrade.

If an ocean view balcony cabin is out of your budget, though, and you’re choosing between an interior, ocean view (porthole), or Boardwalk balcony, definitely book the Boardwalk cabin.

Even if the room is noisy, you can't beat the extra space a balcony provides and being able to see the sun from your room. Plus, while the ocean view is limited from a Boardwalk balcony cabin, it is way better than having no ocean view at all!

Personally, despite this being the noisiest cabin I’ve had so far, I would most definitely book a Boardwalk balcony room again, especially if it was offered at a lower price than an interior room.

Do you need help choosing a cruise ship cabin? Check out our best tips & tricks:

Beach Reads: Banned Books Week September 26 - October 2

In:
27 Sep 2022
By: 
Haley Mills

There’s no better time to read than a cruise, when you can kick off your shoes, grab a drink of choice, and settle in with whatever book you’ve been saving for just this opportunity.

Woman reading ebook

Does this sound like a good idea to you? We have some recommendations perfect for all you autumn cruisers (and everyone else, too)! Pack one or two of these books in your suitcase or on your tablet for your next vacation.

Banned Books Week kicks off September 26 and runs through October 2.

The Bluest Eye

Books are challenged for many reasons, such as:  race, LGBTQIA+, politics, indecency, sex, religion, and other “controversial” topics.

Books marketed at children are especially prone to the targeted lists, as parents are concerned about the materials being taught in schools or held on library shelves. But often, those books are renowned as classics, as they hold the truths we don’t always want to hear.

I’ve compiled a list of books that at one time or another have been challenged for their content. I challenge you to pick a few to add to your To Read list!

East of Eden
Art of racing in the rain
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon:  An autistic boy sets out to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog. Challenge - Offensive Language
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck:  Two families in California’s Salinas valley reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the rivalry of Cain and Abel. Challenge - Offensive Language, Prostitution
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls:  Walls’ memoir shares the story of her dysfunctional family and how her parents’ nonconformity caused them to live like nomads. Challenge - Offensive Language, Sexual Content
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas:  Starr Carter may go to a fancy suburban prep school, but the neighborhood she lives in is far from wealthy. When she sees her best friend shot by a police officer while unarmed, she is torn between what is safe and what is right. Challenge - Offensive Language, Racism
  • The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende:  A family saga of three generations of the Trueba family, spinning personal and political stories with love, magic, and fate. Challenge - Sexual Content
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot:  Henrietta Lacks was a poor farmer who, when she developed cancer, had cells taken from her without her knowledge. Those cells went on to become the most important tools in modern medicine, as they were the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture and have been used in countless treatments and cures. Challenge - Pornography (Note:  The challenger confused pornographic content with Gynecology and Science, there is no pornographic content in the book.)
Kite Runner
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini:  Two boys enter a local kite-flying contest in 1970s Afghanistan. An unexpected event shatters their lives. Russians invade and the family must flee to America. Challenge - Sexual Content, Offensive Language
  • Native Son by Richard Wright:  This book tells the story of a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Challenge - Sexual Content, Violence, Offensive Language
  • Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman:  In this dystopian romance, our normal view of classism and racism is turned on its head. Crosses, the dark-skinned ruling class, cannot mix with the Noughts, colorless members of the underclass. Sephy and Callum’s romance builds against a backdrop of increasing tension and terrorism. Challenge - Racism, Political Terrorism
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson:  A high school student is shunned because she called the cops on a party, and tries to heal from that terrible experience through her art. Challenge - Sexual Violence, Bias against Male Students
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan:  Two boys attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for kissing and become a focal point for other LGBTQIA+ teens. Challenge - LGBTQIA+

Canada wont require Covid tests or vaccines in order to cruise to Canada after September

In:
26 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Canada is relaxing its Covid-19 protocols that will make it easier for cruise ship passengers to visit the country.

Radiance of the Seas docked in Vancouver

On Monday, Transport Canada announced it will remove all Covid-19-related entry restrictions as of October 1, 2022.

This would include testing, quarantine and isolation requirements. As it relates to cruise ships, cruise passengers will not have to do pre-board tests or prove they have been vaccinated.

  • No more random Covid-19 tests for travellers coming into Canada
  • Unvaccinated Canadians will not need to isolate when they return to the country
  • Travellers will not have to self-monitor or report symptoms of COVID-19 anymore
  • Some guidelines will remain in place, which Public Health Agency of Canada said would line up with the U.S.
Halifax Port

After the United States dropped many of its health requirements earlier this year, Canada was one of the few countries with Covid-19 testing and vaccination requirements in place.

October 1st will be when the change kicks in

Vancouver

Among other things, it means the ArriveCan app will not be mandatory when the order expires. Use of ArriveCan will be optional after September 30th

Canada did add a caveat that protocols could return, should they see a need for them.

Royal Caribbean has not made any changes to the pre-cruise testing protocols at this time, but there's usually a lag factor for any cruise line to internalize government policy changes and issue new protocols.

The change in policy is too late for the Alaska cruise season, but there's still a few autumn cruises on Canada's east coast that could benefit from the change.

If your cruise visits Canadian ports of call prior to October 1, then the old rules would still apply related to required testing, vaccination, and documentation protocols.

Why the change now?

Canada made its policy change for a variety of reasons.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said the changes were "facilitated by a number of factors, including modelling that indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 fuelled wave, Canada’s high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates, as well as the availability and use of vaccine boosters (including new bivalent formulation), rapid tests, and treatments for Covid-19."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the decision to drop border restrictions was influenced by public health officials. “There is the sense that these border measures were no longer effective, or no longer justified,” he said.