Friday Photos - August 16, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

The weekend is here and every Friday, we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos so that we can all enjoy a quick "virtual trip" back on a cruise.  If you want to share your Royal Caribbean photos, use this form to send them in!

We start things off with this photo by Joan Griffy of Liberty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas docked in Cozumel, as seen from Brilliance of the Seas.

Michael Kho shared this photo of Anthem of the Seas in Barbados.

Here is a lovely photo of the Solarium bar on Symphony of the Seas at night. Photo by Vandermaesen iven.

Kathy Pfister took this photo of the Gatun Locks at the Panama Canal while sailing on Brilliance of the Seas.

We have another great photo of a ship docked, this time it is Liberty of the Seas in Roatan, as taken by Peter M. Chen.

Chip Arnold shared this photo taken from Two70 on Anthem of the Seas.

Our final photo is by Adam Gillmor and it is of St. Thomas, as seen from the bridge wing on Allure of the Seas.

Thank you to everyone that sent in their Royal Caribbean photos and if you want your photos featured here, be sure to send us your favorite photos with this form!

Royal Caribbean's Back to Cruise Sale offers Kids Sail Free, 50% off second guest and bonus onboard credit

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean kicks off its Back to Cruise Sale for cruises booked this weekend.

Back to Cruise Sale applies to new bookings made between August 16 – 18, 2019. Offer applies to select sailings departing on or after September 16, 2019. 

It includes:

  • BOGO50 provides 50% savings off the price of cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first, full-fare paying guest. 
    • Applies to select sailings departing on or after September 16, 2019.
    • BOGO50 also provides 25% cruise fare savings for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests.
    • BOGO50 savings applied to cruise fare at checkout.
  • Kids Sail Free
    • Applies to new bookings made August 16 – 18, 2019.
    • Kids Sail Free provides free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on select 4-night or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe, Hawaii, and Repositioning sailings departing between September 1, 2019 – May 15, 2020 and August 31, 2020 – December 17, 2020.
    • Offer excludes 2019 Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between November 23 – 30, 2019), Holiday sailings (Sailings between December 15, 2019 – January 3, 2020), President’s Day sailings (Sailings between February 14 – 17, 2020), Spring Break sailings (Sailings between March 14 – 23, 2020), Holy Week/Easter sailings (Sailings between April 3 – 17, 2020) and 2020 Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between November 21 – 27, 2020).  
    • In addition, Kids Sail Free applies to all Serenade of the Seas Alaska 2020 sailings.
  • Back to Cruise Sale offers up to $150 to spend at sea per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
    • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • Deck the Holiday Deals applies to new bookings made between August 16 – 18, 2019.
    • Deck the Holiday Deals offers instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom on select sailings departing between December 2 – 31, 2019 and November 30 – December 31, 2020. Savings amount determined by category booked and sailing length: On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $50 for Suites; on sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites.
    • Instant savings applied as instant rebate to the price of cruise fare at checkout.
  • Alaska Cruisetour offer applies to new bookings made August 16 – 18, 2019.
    • Alaska Cruisetour offers $100 to spend at sea (Onboard credit, “OBC”) for Alaska Cruisetour sailings on Radiance of the Seas departing between May 15, 2020 – August 28, 2020. OBC amounts are per stateroom. 

BOGO50 and Deck the Holiday Deals are combinable with each other as well as with Alaska Cruisetour offer, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. BOGO50 and Kids Sail Free are combinable with each other as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits.  Kids Sail Free and Deck the Holiday Deals are combinable with each other for sailings departing December 2 – 14, 2019 and November 28 – December 17, 2020 only. Back to Cruise Sale is combinable with BOGO50, Deck the Holiday Deals, Kids Sail Free as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers Free Upgrades and Shareholder Benefits but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts.  Offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates.  Promo Code driven offers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking, limit one promo code per booking. 

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

Royal Caribbean jumps in on #ClearTheList movement to help local schools

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has joined the growing grassroots movement to help supply teachers with needed classroom supplies that may not be covered in the school’s budget.

Royal Caribbean is helping Florida teachers start off on the right foot this back-to-school season by participating in the #ClearTheList movement.Once the trending initiative was discovered by the Royal Caribbean social media team, they quickly jumped in because it was the right thing to do.  

Over the course of ten days, Royal Caribbean helped clear the lists of over 100 teachers across Florida. Teachers throughout the state immediately reacted to Royal Caribbean’s generosity by publicly thanking the company on social channels. In addition to this, the company is making a donation of $10,000 to to support even more teachers.

"It’s in our DNA to support our communities, joining the #ClearTheList movement was a natural fit. We initially thought to support our hometown teachers in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and quickly realized that we could go farther and touch classrooms across the state. I’m glad we did because the reaction has been incredible," said Helen O’Connell, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited."

If you're an Florida resident and you're on Twitter, you can help #ClearTheList here.

Video: 8 things you need to know about a Royal Caribbean cabin

By: Matt Hochberg

If you want to feel like a pro before you ever step foot in your room, we have a brand new video to share with eight really helpful things to know about your Royal Caribbean stateroom.

Your cabin on a cruise ship is your homebase for the duration of your cruise, and there are some important things to know about your room that can greatly enhance and improve your time spent inside. Without further adieu, here are eight important need-to-know tips for a Royal Caribbean cabin!

Did you love this video? We have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

Have you subscribed to our YouTube Channel yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What do you think is important to know about a Royal Caribbean cabin?

Royal Caribbean adds Anthem of the Seas to new app

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has expanded its new app to include support for Anthem of the Seas.

Anthem now appears in the list of supported ships that can be found from within the app.

The new app is being actively developed, which means not all features area available on the app yet.  Moreover, the cruise line is slowly rolling out support for more ships.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean adding late night and two call visits to Perfect Day at CocoCay

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced it will begin offering select sailings that visit Perfect Day at CocoCay twice, along with late night stays.

Beginning September 30, 2019, Royal Caribbean will offer 4-night itineraries to the private island destination across nearly 40 sailings. Three exclusive cruises also make their debut today.

In addition, three one-of-a-kind cruises with late-night visits to the island will be offered on Navigator of the Seas. Travelers of all ages will have the chance to extend the excitement long after the sun sets with traditional Bahamian-inspired activities, including a Junkanoo Jam Up Party, an island barbeque and performances by a calypso band and fire dancers, topped off with unforgettable farewell fireworks before setting sail.

The new itineraries are available to guests on select Navigator and Mariner of the Seas sailings.

"Perfect Day at CocoCay has revolutionized private destinations in the vacation industry, and the resounding feedback from our guests is that they want more – more time and even more ways to experience the island," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "We’re building on an incredible adventure that’s already winning the hearts of many."

Travel Insurance 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 315 is available for downloading, where Matt provides an overview of what travel insurance is all about and why you might (or might not) want or need it.

The decision to get travel insurance or not is a very personal decision based on a variety of risk factors and preferences. This week, Matt shares what important information you should be aware of when it comes to travel insurance.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 315. 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!

8 ways Royal Caribbean changed the cruise industry

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is celebrating its 50th birthday this year and with a milestone of that magnitude, it seems fitting to review the cruise industry firsts that figuratively put Royal Caribbean on the map.

Innovation is a byproduct of competition among the cruise lines, and Royal Caribbean has brought about a number of changes to its ships with the goal differentiating it from other cruising choices that have since set the new standard for what guests expect onboard.  As guests, we love seeing what Royal Caribbean comes up with next.  It is what makes the cruise line different, special and most importantly, a heck of a lot of fun.

Here are our list of the top eight innovations Royal Caribbean brought about that have since changed the cruise industry.

1. First ship built for warm-weather cruising

In 1970, when the fledgling cruise line launched Song of Norway, it was the first ship designed specifically for warm-weather cruising.  By launching cruises from ports in south Florida and the Caribbean and flying passengers in from cities in the North, Royal Caribbean allowed its passengers to spend more time cruising in warm weather than would have been the case had the cruise originated in New York or Boston.

Prior to the launch of Song of Norway, cruise ships were built for point-to-point ocean transportation with significantly less open space.

The design of the Song of Norway was unique in a number of respects, not the least of which was its Viking Crown cocktail lounge cantilevered from its smokestack. Today most Royal Caribbean cruise ships feature a Viking Crown Lounge. The Song of Norway was also notable for its open pool and lounging area, which since has become an industry standard.

2. World’s first “Megaship”

We take for granted today the variety of amenities and activities available on cruise ships, but Royal Caribbean invented the category of a megaship with the launch of Sovereign of the Seas in 1988.

At 73,192 tons, the ship featured a five-deck Centrum, glass elevators, fountains in marble pools, and sweeping staircases. 

Sovereign of the Seas demonstrated that it is possible for a modern cruise ship to offer a balance of beauty and function and be something more than a container carrier or a ferry. 

3. Ice skating and rock climbing walls

Historically, cruise ships were built following the model set forth by ocean liners of the classic period of transportation.  These ships were designed to be a floating hotel that offered rest, relaxation and a great view.  But as times changed, guests wanted to do more onboard and have a greater variety of choices with it.

The launch of Voyager of the Seas in 1999 added the first ice-skating rink at sea, as well as the first rock climbing wall at sea.These were onboard activities that was previously not available on a cruise ship.  More importantly, it introduced the concept of guests being able to do physically activities onboard that were never considered previously.

The rock climbing wall became incredibly popular with guests and was expanded to all ships in the fleet, becoming a staple of a Royal Caribbean cruise experience.

4. Flowrider

With guests demonstrating an appetite for signature activities to enjoy onboard, Royal Caribbean added the first surf simulator at sea in 2006 when Freedom of the Seas debuted.

Similar to a lap pool, it creates waves and simulates current by passing 30,000 gallons of water over the ride surface.

The addition of a Flowrider was a cruise industry game-changer, because it offered more for families to do onboard.  

Freedom of the Seas also introduced the first full-size boxing ring at sea, which was inaugurated by Roberto Duran and Joe Fraser.

5. Oasis of the Seas

Perhaps no cruise ship in modern times has done more to change up the cruise industry than Oasis of the Seas did in 2009.

Oasis of the Seas introduced so many industry firsts and shifts in the cruise ship experience, including offering seven distinct neighborhoods, the first AquaTheater at sea, the first zip line at sea and an entire park filled with 12,000 plants.

Not only was Oasis of the Seas the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuted, her sister ships still sit atop the pantheon of largest cruise ships in the world to this day.

6. World's first smartship

When you introduce a ship like Oasis of the Seas, how do you outdo that accomplishment? The Quantum Class set to do just that.

Quantum of the Seas debuted in 2014 and brought forth a number of firsts, including the distinction of being the world's first smartship that integrated technology in a way cruise ships had never seen before.  Chief among those accomplishments was true high-speed internet, that allowed guests to use the internet onboard in the same way they would on land, and at a fraction of the cost that onboard internet had traditionally been charged.

Quantum of the Seas also introduced North Star, RipCord by iFly, the Bionic Bar and the SeaPlex. These venues continued the tradition of innovation Royal Caribbean had made a name for itself in years past.

7. Tallest slide at sea

When Royal Caribbean announced Harmony of the Seas would feature the tallest slide at sea, a lot of people too notice.

The Ultimate Abyss set the record for being the tallest slide at sea, with a ten story plunge that begins 150 feet above sea level. The Ultimate Abyss is a pair of side-by-side 100 ft- high slides that guests can ride down multiple decks of the ship. 

Royal Caribbean commissioned Spark Cooperative to push the envelope of what a cruise ship can contain and build on the cruise line's innovative reputation with a brand new, thrilling experience.

The end result was a slide experience that offers multi-sensory channels, including spontaneous audio effects, bespoke ride mats and custom uniforms and accessories.  The attraction is designed to thrill guests while maintaining a sense of heart-pumping anticipation.

8. A new kind of private island

Appropriately enough, in the same year Royal Caribbean is celebrating its 50th anniversary the cruise line revamped its private island in the Bahamas that has become the new gold standard in what a private island experience is all about.

Perfect Day at CocoCay officially opened in May 2019 and boasted the tallest waterslide in North America, the highest vantage point in the Caribbean, the largest wave pool in the Caribbean and the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

The Perfect Day at CocoCay makeover blends a combination of relaxation and adventure with plenty of space to enjoy time at the beach or pool, along with a waterpark, cabanas, helium balloon and more.

Your thoughts

Which innovations do you think Royal Caribbean deserves recognition for the most? Is there something that stands out in your mind? Tell us about in the comments.

Video: How to get free drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

Did you know Royal Caribbean regularly gives out free alcoholic beverages on their cruise? We have the top seven ways to score a free drink in our brand new video!

We are all trying to save a little bit of money and keep that bar bill down, so this week Matt shares seven tried-and-true methods of getting an alcoholic beverage on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Did you love this video? We have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

Have you subscribed to our YouTube Channel yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is your favorite way to get a free drink on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Royal Caribbean drink package prices

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's drink packages are a very popular option that many guests purchase for their cruise vacations. Beverage packages offer an unlimited assortment of cocktails, beers, sodas and more for a fixed cost.  That means a predictable cost to indulging onboard, as well as a convenient means of enjoying beverages without worrying about extra costs.  

If you are wondering what the Royal Caribbean drink package prices are, then check out this easy to understand guide for pricing basics.

Drink Package

It is worth noting that these price changes are reflective of the onboard pricing, and many guests are able to take advantage of discounts provided by the cruise line via the Cruise Planner site.

Deluxe Beverage Package

Onboard costs $63 - $70 per guest, per day (before gratuity). The exact price will vary from sailing to sailing.

Commonly referred to as the unlimited alcohol package, it includes beer, wine by the glass (up to $12 value or $13 on Oasis/Quantum Class ships), frozen cocktails, house and premium cocktails (up to $12 value or $13 on Oasis/Quantum Class ships), non-alcoholic cocktails, premium coffee and tea, bottled still and sparkling water, fresh-squeezed juice, fountain sodas with a souvenir Coca-Cola cup and a 40% percent discount on wine bottle purchases under $100 (wines above $100 will receive a 20% discount).

Royal Refreshment Package

Onboard cost is $29 per guest, per day (before gratuity). 

The non-alcoholic drink package includes premium coffees and teas, bottled water, fresh-squeezed juices, non-alcoholic cocktails and fountain soda. 

Classic Soda Package

Onboard cost is $12.99 per guest, per day (before gratuity). 

Drink package discounts

From time to time, Royal Caribbean will discount its drink packages if purchased prior to the cruise via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

The exact discount will vary, although it is common to see up to a 20% discount off the daily rate. Royal Caribbean has been known to run even more lucrative discounts from time to time. The intriguing aspect to that discount is the daily price for a drink package seems to vary from ship to ship, and sailing to sailing. If you have more than one cruise booked on different ships, you may find different sale prices.

There is no guarantee your sailing will have a discount on drink packages via the Cruise Planner, but the pre-cruise discounts seem to be widely available.

Not all sailings have discounts available, but if they are available, guests can log into their My Cruises section of the Royal Caribbean web site, navigate to the Cruise Planner section for their sailing and check if there are any discounts available on the Royal Caribbean drink package prices.

Is a drink package worth it?

Royal Caribbean's drink packages can absolutely save you money when compared to ordering a similar amount of drinks without a drink package, but it is up to you to consume enough throughout your sailing to "break even" on the package investment.

The basis of these unlimited alcohol packages is the premise that you will drink enough to "break even" each day to make the packages worth it.  

Generally speaking, the Deluxe Beverage Package takes about 5-6 drinks per day to reach the daily cost of the drink package. The non-alcohol packages have a lower break-even point, that is closer to 3-4 drinks.  Of course, the deluxe beverage package includes drinks besides alcohol, which does help with that math.

Keep in mind that you must consume enough drinks every day of your cruise to recoup the cost of the package, and the longer the cruise, the more difficult it could be to maintain that amount of drinking.