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Royal Caribbean will move Spectrum of the Seas to offer complimentary cruises to Australia's first responders

14 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

In light of the ongoing Coronavirus issues in China, Royal Caribbean has announced it will move Spectrum of the Seas to Australia as a gesture to thank the humanitarian efforts put forth to combat the wildfires.

Spectrum of the Seas will travel to Australia and be deployed on complimentary cruises sailing from Sydney in support of Australia's first responder community, who worked tirelessly over many weeks of the bush fire crisis.

"We are in a fortunate position to offer these brave and selfless members of the Australian community the opportunity to join us for a few days and let them relax and unwind in the company of other volunteers and first responders," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. "By welcoming and accommodating them aboard Spectrum of the Seas, we hope to recognize their contribution and offer them our hospitality."

Bayley made it clear Spectrum of the Seas has not been in China for more than two weeks, which makes the ship safe from possibly transporting Coronavirus.

Royal Caribbean intends to also thank those that are currently combating the spread of Coronavirus. When the situation in China improves, as it relates to Coronavirus, Royal Caribbean International will dedicate a ship in China to a series of complimentary sailings to thank first responders and medical personnel for their heroic efforts to defeat the virus.

Further details of the cruises will be shared as final itineraries are developed.

Friday Photos - February 14, 2020

14 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

Happy Valentine's Day! We are showing the love by sharing our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos with all of you.

Our first photo this week is by Jarrod Quantrelle, and it is of Voyager of the Seas docked in Sydney, Australia.

Michael Kho shared this photo of just another lovely sunset at sea.

Here is another photo from Australia, this one of Ovation of the Seas in Sydney. Photo by Don L.

Shanna took this photo from her day at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Jim Bonaventura sent in this photo of Symphony of the Seas sailing into the sunset near Cozumel.

Check out this photo from Perfect Day at CocoCay by Nicole Waite.

Our final photo this week is by Matthew Carr, and it is of Mariner of the Seas pool deck during sunset.

Thank you to everyone for sharing photos.  You can submit your own questions by using this handy dandy form.

Royal Caribbean issues update on Coronavirus outbreak

14 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. officially commented on the Coronavirus situation, and how it is impacting the company's bottom line.

Thus far, a total of 18 sailings have been canceled, along with several other modified itineraries.

Taken together, these measures have an estimated impact on the company's financial performance for 2020 of approximately $0.65 per share.  

Royal Caribbean also provided a financial performance forecast if they were to cancel all of its remaining sailings in Asia through the end of April, which would impact 2020 financial performance by an additional $0.55 per share.  Canceling the remaining sailings in Asia through the end of April is not currently planned.

"It is important that every organization acts responsibly, and we have already taken aggressive steps to minimize risk through boarding restrictions and itinerary changes," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO.  "Our shipboard and shoreside teams have been working tirelessly through these circumstances and I want to thank them for all of their extraordinary efforts. We appreciate our responsibility to our guests and to each other, and our focus on public health is unwavering."

Mr. Fain also mentioned that while the early impact due to concerns about the Coronavirus is mainly related to Asia, recent bookings for our broader business have also been softer.

If the travel restrictions and concerns over the outbreak continue for an extended period of time, they could materially impact the company's overall financial performance. 

Video: 12 Things You Can Only Find on Royal Caribbean

13 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

I have a brand new video today that shows off 12 things you can only find on a Royal Caribbean cruise!

From the FlowRider to full Broadway shows to robot bartenders, I've got a look at the things you can only find on Royal Caribbean. Check out all twelve things in our latest RCBlog YouTube Video!

And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over 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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is your favorite activity on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Royal Caribbean signs agreement to build first Royal Beach Club in Antigua

13 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has signed a deal with the government of Antigua and Barbuda to construct the cruise line's first Royal Beach Club.

After signing a memorandum of understanding in October 2019, this deal marks the start of the planning and development for the Royal Beach Club. The club should break ground later this year.

The Royal Beach Club at Antigua will sit along more than a half-mile of pristine beachfront and combine the island’s striking beaches with the cruise line’s signature service and amenities. The ultimate beach club experience will offer guests exceptional views from private cabanas and a stunning pool with a swim-up bar, complemented by locally inspired experiences. Featuring regional fare, island-style BBQs, live music, along with thrills such as jet skis, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and a family splash pad, the beach club will make for an unforgettable day at the beach.

The Royal beach Club at Antigua is scheduled to open in 2021.

“The Royal Beach Club will deliver a memorable beach day to our guests,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Together with the government of Antigua and Barbuda, we will bring to life an experience that will bring more visitors to these idyllic islands and create significant economic benefits and opportunities. In addition, we are looking at ways for the local community to also enjoy the beach club on days our ships are in other destinations.”

The deal also commits Royal Caribbean to bringing Symphony of the Seas, beginning with a call to the island on November 3, 2020. Docking at a new port at the capital of St. John’s, Symphony will be the first Oasis Class ship to visit the island.

Royal Caribbean announces its 2019 travel partners of the year

13 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced its 2019 Travel Partners of the Year Awards of North America and Puerto Rico. 

The list includes 18 travel advisors, which represent the biggest sellers of the year for Royal Caribbean.

The winners recognized include 2018’s Chairman’s Award recipient, Cruise Planners – an American Express Travel Representative, securing the high honor once again; Dream Vacations, a Cruise One Company, with the President’s Award; Travel Leaders Network as Marketing Partner of the Year, and first-time honorees including: International Voyager for Northeast Partner of the Year and 3D Cruise Partners, Charter Partner of the Year.            

  • Chairman's Award for Overall Achievement: Cruise Planners – an American Express Travel Representative
  • President's Award for Overall Achievement: Dream Vacations – a Cruise One Company
  • Southeast Partner of the Year: WMPH
  • Northeast Partner of the Year: International Voyager*
  • Central Partner of the Year: KHM Travel Group
  • West Partner of the Year: Automobile Club of Southern California
  • Canada Partner of the Year: Flight Center Travel Group*
  • Home-based Partner of the Year: Travel Planners International
  • Online Partner of the Year: Vacations To Go
  • Consortia Partner of the Year: Ensemble Travel Group
  • Corporate Incentive Partner of the Year: Buy the Sea
  • Host Agency Partner of the Year: Nexion Travel Group
  • Marketing Partner of the Year: Travel Leaders Network
  • Top Overall Producer– Puerto Rico: A & A Tours Network
  • Top Independent Producer Puerto Rico: Travel Planners Inc/Expedia Centro de Cruceros
  • Automation Partner of the Year: The Cruise Web
  • New-to-Cruise Partner of the Year: Expedia Group
  • Charter Partner of the Year: 3D Cruise Partners*

“The Travel Partner of the Year Awards are by far my favorite way to start every year by recognizing the strength in our partnerships and the incredible work and accomplishments we have achieved together,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Royal Caribbean International. “Our 2019 winners have shown they have great skill, in-depth knowledge and passion for Royal Caribbean – characteristics that make for the most effective ‘value interpreters’ for any client. As we embark on 2020 with the November launch of our new ship Odyssey of the Seas in sight, we’re excited to reach new heights the entire travel advisor community. Thank you for your support, and congratulations to our winners.”

How early can I board my Royal Caribbean cruise?

12 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

The day your cruise begins is full of excitement, and naturally, you may be wondering what time you can board the ship.

Many guests are curious how early they can board a Royal Caribbean ship on embarkation day, so here is a guide for what to expect.

In the weeks leading up to your cruise, be sure to complete online check-in. Check-in opens up 45 days before your cruise begins.

Depending on when you go to select a time, there will be variety of 30 minute windows for you to choose from.

You'll want to do this as early as you can in order to get an early check-in time and avoid wasting time in the cruise terminal.

If you do not complete check-in online, you will be required to complete this process at the pier at least two hours prior to the published sailing time. 

When you complete online check-in, you will be assigned a check-in time.  Since 2021, Royal Caribbean has mostly been enforcing check-in times, so it's important to get a good time as early as you can,

Can I show up earlier than my check-in time?

Royal Caribbean asks its guests to arrive within their check-in window to avoid crowding in the terminal.

Most cruise terminals enforce the boarding times, but occasionally you find situations where a particular pier agent doesn't pay attention to the check-in time or say anything about it.

While frustrating to not have the rules enforced across the board, we still recommend adhering to the check-in time window to avoid any possible denial of boarding until later.

What if I'm late and miss my check-in time?

While showing up early can be a problem, coming in later is not as much of a concern.

Try your best to adhere to the check-in time, but they will still admit you for check-in if you were to arrive later. Royal Caribbean warns there could be a delay in beginning the check-in procedure if you're late, but you will still be able to get to the cruise.

I only see check-in times later than I want. Will earlier times be added?

Possibly, but not likely.

If someone cancels their cruise, their check-in time goes back into the system for someone else to grab. There's no way to know that's happened without checking manually.

As for Royal Caribbean opening up additional earlier times, it's not usually the case.

Should I get The Key for an earlier check-in?

The Key is an optional add-on you can purchase to get VIP benefits, including an early check-in time.

Usually, guests who book The Key are allowed to check-in with the first group (an exact time will be emailed later).

There are two problems with buying The Key for an early check-in.

First, if you miss The Key check-in window, you have to fall back to whatever time you had before. 

Second, you're spending extra money for a benefit that is not cheap. You'll need to buy The Key for every guest in the cabin (age 6 and above) for every night of the cruise. That seems like a lot to save an hour or two on embarkation day.

Read moreHere’s what ‘The Key’ is (and why some cruisers like it)

What time can I check-in for my cruise if I'm staying in a suite?

Suite guests still need to get a check-in time for their sailing, but usually they will be give more flexibility in their times.

About a week before the cruise, the Suite Concierge will email suite guests with an introduction and outline basic suite policies, including a flexible arrival policy, where suite guests can arrive one hour before or after their check-in time.

When you get the terminal, be sure to tell the pier agent you are staying in a suite so you can be directed to the right place.

You can now book new cruises from the Royal Caribbean app while onboard a cruise

11 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

Guests sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise can now book a brand new cruise via Royal Caribbean's app and take advantage of the NextCruise offers without stepping foot inside the office.

The new NextCruise option for booking via the RCI App is available now, and can be used anywhere on the ship. 

Simply download the Royal Caribbean app, connect to the Royal Caribbean wi-fi network onboard and make a NextCruise Book Later reservation with
access to all available offers

From the profile page in the app, scroll down and select the NextCruise feature which will lead you directly through the booking steps.

NextCruise booking via the Royal App is available on any Royal Caribbean ship that offers the app, currently onboard Allure, Oasis, Symphony, Harmony, Anthem, Ovation, Liberty, Serenade, Voyager, Vision, Adventure, Brilliance, Independence, Rhapsody, Majesty, Enchantment, Mariner, Navigator, Freedom and Empress of the Seas. The rest of the fleet is expected to be complete by end of 2020.

Guests can only choose the Book Later open-booking option via the app. This allows you to place a non-refundable reduced deposit of $200 per stateroom, and gives you up to one year to choose a ship and sail date.  If you pick a cruise within the first two months, you will receive up to $600 in savings. 

The NextCruise office will remain an option for specific sailings bookings, whereas the app provides an option for guests who aren’t ready to pick a ship and sail date yet, but do wish to make a deposit and also want to make a booking from the convenience of their smart phone. 

Everything you should book before the cruise to avoid it being sold out

11 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

Thanks to the power of the internet, the word is out among cruisers about the awesome and cool things to do see, do and eat on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and this means you have to act faster than ever before to ensure your family gets to try them all.

Go ahead and blame this site, because it seems the truly desirable activities and offerings tend to sell out way faster than ever before.  Luckily, you can still experience these must-do options if you pre-plan accordingly.

Here are the top things that tend to sell out, so you can book it before someone else does.


A private cabana at Labadee or Perfect Day at CocoCay is one of the most desirable things to reserve on Royal Caribbean's private destinations.

These individual enclaves offer privacy, shade, comfortable seating and top notch service for a price.  Despite anecdotal evidence of prices going up for cabanas, they remain a highly contested amenity.

The days of booking one onboard your ship is nearly extinct, so you will want to pre-book via the Cruise Planner as soon as they become available.

Popular shore excursions

It seems each island your cruise visits may be well-known for one particular activity, and many guests are booking it up faster and faster.

Excursions such as the Kennedy Space Center tours, golf cart rentals in Bonaire, day passes to Nachi Cocom or Maya Chan, and more are selling out regularly.

Since many cruisers are researching their ports before they cruise, the tours and admissions that clearly stand out because of their rave reviews lead to the words, "sold out" coming up more frequently.

As always, research the ports you will visit in the months leading up to your cruise, and pull the trigger on a shore excursion if it sounds remotely interesting.  Nearly all excursions offer a full refund if you cancel in advance, so there is little risk.

Izumi hibachi

Perhaps no other specialty restaurant on Royal Caribbean has become as difficult to reserve as the teppanyaki dining on Royal Caribbean ships.

Hibachi has a limited capacity, with set dining times and only a few hibachi tables per ship. This means spots go quickly, and it is quite common to discover all the hibachi seats are sold out by the first day of the cruise.

With Royal Caribbean extending dining package benefits to include hibachi, this is one hot ticket for dinner.

Your best bet is to pre-book it via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site as early as you can. If you have more than 4 guests, larger groups will want to book almost immediately to get a spot.

Entertainment on Oasis or Quantum Class ships

For years, Royal Caribbean has offered guests the option to pre-book shows on its Oasis and Quantum Class ships.  While this may have started out as an optional exercise, these days it is a must-do.

From Broadway shows, to original productions, seating for shows on Oasis or Quantum Class ships goes quickly (primarily since it is complimentary to reserve).  This is especially true of the AquaTheater shows, since the theater is particularly small.

Even comedy shows are often sold out online before the cruise.

While standby lines are always an option once onboard (and they usually work), your best bet is to book up shows as soon as you can when they become available.

North Star

Ever since Royal Caribbean put the first North Star observational capsule on Quantum of the Seas, guests have been captivated by the idea of going up and checking out the view.

Like the shows you can pre-book, complimentary reservations for North Star go quickly as well. 

Pre-book a time online to avoid waiting in the standby line once onboard.


It should come as no surprise that a sky diving simulator that removes the "jumping out of an airplane" part of sky diving is a fun and popular choice.  Like North Star, it sells out quickly.

You will want to book a time for the iFly via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site well before your cruise begins

My Time Dining (for popular times or large groups)

If you plan on having dinner between around 6pm, and/or are dining with a group of six or more people, make reservations for My Time Dining as quickly as possible.

My Time Dining allows guests to choose a dinner time in the Main Dining Room between around 5pm and 9pm, but as you might imagine, a lot of people like to eat between 6pm and 7:30pm.  If you are one of those people, you can reserve a time for My Time Dining before your cruise on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site. 

Likewise, if you have a large group and want to dine together for dinner, regardless of which time you want to dine, making reservations in advance is a must as well.

Reserving a time costs nothing, and means a shorter wait for a table for dinner.

Escape Room

The escape room games used to be complimentary on Royal Caribbean, but their wild popularity forced Royal Caribbean to start charging for it in order to control demand, and it is still an activity that fills up quickly.

Escape rooms are available on more and more Royal Caribbean ships these days, and their intricate design, well-themed rooms and complex puzzles make them a fun challenge for guests.

You can reserve times before your cruise via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site, and should definitely pre-book to secure a time to see if you can figure out all of the puzzles.

Video: 10 Things People Don't Realize About Royal Caribbean's Alcohol Package

11 Feb 2020
Matt Hochberg

Are you a fan of Royal Caribbean's Deluxe Beverage Package? Are you considering getting a drink package on your next cruise?

With all the different cocktails, wine, beer and more that are offered on a Royal Caribbean cruise, getting a drink package is a very tempting choice. I have a brand new video to help you decide if the Deluxe Beverage Package is a good fit for your vacation!

And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over 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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: Will you buy the Deluxe Beverage Package on your next cruise?