Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

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.

I tried Royal Caribbean's least well-known specialty restaurant: here's what I thought

In:
26 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

If you’re a frequent cruiser with Royal Caribbean, you’re likely familiar with the cruise line's most popular specialty restaurants like Chops Grille, Izumi Sushi, and Jamie’s Italian, but did you know that Royal Caribbean also offers a Brazilian Steakhouse onboard its ships?

Samba Grill Entrance

Samba Grill is the name of Royal Caribbean’s traditional Brazilian Steakhouse, and it’s found on only two ships in the fleet: Allure of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas.

As someone who writes about Royal Caribbean cruises every day, I’ve always been curious about Samba Grill. Why is it only offered on two ships? Why does no one ever mention the restaurant when talking about specialty dining? Is it unpopular because the food is disappointing?

Curiosity finally got the best of me, and because I’m onboard Allure of the Seas this week, I booked a dinner reservation at Samba Grill to experience this specialty dining venue for myself.

After all, with endless meats, cheese bread, and empanadas… What is there not to love?!

Samba Grill overview

Dining at Samba Grill combines both a sit-down and buffet experience, with a traditional Brazilian rodizio serving endless selections of freshly-carved meats combined with a buffet for lighter fare like salads and cheeses.

Samba Grill is located in the Solarium Bistro on Allure of the Seas, which transforms from a casual breakfast and lunch spot to an upscale eatery in the evenings.

The lights were dimmed, tables were set, and Brazilian flag decor was placed in the restaurant. The ambiance felt quite upscale and it did not feel like we were in an indoor pool area whatsoever.

Samba Grill is only open for dinner and costs around $41.99 per guest, but the restaurant is also available to book with a specialty dining package.

Related: How to know if you should buy a Royal Caribbean dining package

Appetizers and salads

At the beginning of the meal, I was impressed when our waiter brought a selection of small bites, both savory and sweet, to our table. They were all vegetarian and Brazilian-inspired, and there were four to choose from:

  • Fried, breaded bananas (my personal favorite)
  • Mini empanadas filled with cheese and sundried tomatoes
  • Corn fritter balls
  • Yuca fries

Next came my personal favorite: a bowl of pão de queijo, more commonly known as Brazilian cheese bread. These small bites of chewy, savory, cheesy bread are addicting and extremely satisfying. I may have lost count of how many of these I ate, but I had no regrets!

The buffet section included salads, cheeses, cold-cuts, and breads. Some options were standard salads whereas others were more traditionally Brazilian.

The pickled vegetable salad and pesto, mozzarella, and tomato salad were my favorites, and having access to a salad bar during an otherwise heavy meal was well-appreciated.

The endless meat experience

Samba Grill offers nine different types of meats and you can taste as many as you’d like:

  • Picanha: signature cut of beef, the prime cut of top sirloin
  • Fraldinha: tender and juicy cut from the bottom sirloin
  • Frango: chicken breast wrapped in bacon
  • Beef tenderloin: most tender cut of beef, slowly roasted
  • Cordeiro: succulent grilled lamb chops
  • Costela: juicy beef ribs
  • Alcatra: top sirloin
  • Lombo: parmesan cheese and herb-crusted pork loin
  • Linguica: Brazilian-style cured pork sausage

Each table at Samba Grill is given its own color-coded card, which is green on one side and red on the other.

If the green side of the card is facing up, the waiter will bring a new cut of meat to your table. Waiters carve the meat right in front of you, and you use a personal set of tongs to put the meat on your plate.

They will keep bringing new meats to your table every few minutes until you flip the card to red, signifying you need a break or are done eating.

Matt Hochberg from Royal Caribbean Blog mentioned that "The chicken is excellent. It’s legit.” and that “It’s hard to go wrong with filet”. Matt’s wife Marissa mentioned she wished the portions were smaller, and they both agreed that the bottom sirloin was a little too tough.

Our table tried around 5 cuts of meat in total, with the frango, beef tenderloin, and lamb the clear favorites.

We also received two plates of accompaniments, which included roasted vegetables, mashed sweet potatoes, and broccolini. These were better than expected (especially the roasted vegetables) and paired perfectly with the rest of the meal.

Dessert and beverages

Unlike many other specialty restaurants, there didn’t appear to be a cocktail menu exclusive to Samba Grill. I ordered a caipirinha, Brazil’s signature cocktail. While the drink I received didn’t look exactly like a traditional caipirinha, it tasted excellent and was neither too bitter nor too sweet.

Dessert was served buffet style and there were three options: chocolate mousse cake, passion-fruit mousse, and flan.

I tasted both the chocolate and passion fruit desserts, and while I have a sweet tooth, I wasn’t blown away by either dessert. Mousse-based desserts aren’t my favorite, and while they were certainly tasty, I don’t think I would seek them out again.

Dessert is almost definitely an afterthought at Samba Grill, though, as most guests are likely much too full from meat to even consider eating dessert!

A vegetarian at a steakhouse? You won’t go hungry.

I am a pescatarian and I initially expected to leave Samba Grill a bit hungry. After all, I was going to an endless meat buffet that didn’t appear to have any vegetarian or fish options on the menu.

To my surprise, however, I left Samba Grill completely stuffed!

There were more than enough options for vegetarians, from the small, warm appetizers like mini empanadas, yuca fries, and pão de queijo to the salad bar and accompaniments like roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes.

In fact, I initially asked the waiter if they had a vegetarian main course option available and he mentioned they could bring me a special, separate meal from the Main Dining Room. By the time they brought me a risotto dish later on in the meal, I actually felt quite bad because I was no longer very hungry!

So while you can order a special meal at Samba Grill if you don’t eat meat, I would save yourself the trouble and just fill up on the included appetizers, side dishes, salads, and desserts.

Note: There is no clear “main dish” option for vegetarians at Samba Grill. Crew members on Radiance of the Seas mentioned they often provide vegetarians with a dish from Izumi whereas I was given a dish from the Main Dining Room on Allure of the Seas.

Final thoughts

Dining at Samba Grill was more enjoyable than I expected. I liked the combination of a sit-down and buffet restaurant, and the menu was unique compared to other specialty restaurants onboard, offering a cuisine not as commonly found on cruise ships.

Matt from Royal Caribbean Blog mentioned how the good thing about Samba Grill is that you’re able to taste smaller portions of select meats instead of one huge cut of meat. You can have a variety of tastes and textures without overdoing it.

Our whole table agreed that Samba Grill offers a crowd-pleasing menu. There’s not much you can’t find, even if you’re dining with picky eaters. Cheese-filled empanadas, pão de queijo, chicken breast, and chocolate mousse cake are sure to satisfy less adventurous eaters.

While I wouldn’t place Samba Grill at the top of my list of favorite specialty restaurants, and if I were only purchasing one or two specialty restaurants I would probably opt to dine at Izumi Hibachi or 150 Central Park, I wouldn’t hesitate to make a reservation during the cruise if I had a dining package.

If I had to make one complaint, it would be that there were a few classic Brazilian items lacking that you would otherwise find at a traditional churrascaria.

In Brazil it’s common to serve arroz e feijão (rice and beans) in the buffet options at a churrascaria, and eating meat with a side of farofa (a toasted flour side dish) would add both flavor and authenticity to the meal.

However, these are just two small details and they did not make a difference with the meal in the long run. I felt that Samba Grill had a nice balance of combining traditional Brazilian cuisine with standard American tastes.

For those who cruise frequently, dining at Samba Grill can make for a unique dining experience not found elsewhere in the fleet. Whether you’re a meat-lover or just looking for something different and adventurous, you’ll find it at Samba Grill.

Other specialty restaurant reviews:

Best shore excursion in every Caribbean cruise port

In:
26 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

One of the best aspects of any cruise vacation is planning what to do in port, but it can quickly become overwhelming with hundreds of tours and ideas to choose from.

St. John Beach

If you’re cruising to the Caribbean, you’ll find a wide range of tours from beach days to catamaran cruises, zip line adventures, ATV excursions, and much more.

Although you’ll likely have an amazing port day no matter which excursion you book, there are some excursions that stand out from the rest, and every Caribbean island offers unique activities and attractions.

Let’s discuss the best shore excursion to book in every Caribbean cruise port to help you make the most of your next Caribbean cruise.

Antigua

Antigua is home to 365 beaches, so it’s no surprise that a beach day is a must while on the island.

If your cruise visits Antigua, make the trip to Valley Church Beach, located only 20 minutes by car from the cruise port. The beach remains relatively undeveloped, making it a serene day for those looking to relax in the sun and sand.

Excursion Focus: Valley Church Beach in Antigua

Aruba

Cruising to the ABC islands calls for beaches, culture, and unique excursion opportunities. If your cruise itinerary visits all three islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), we recommend making Aruba a beach day.

The most famous beach on the island is Eagle Beach, a wide stretch of sand with pristine turquoise waters. The beach offers excellent swimming as well as the opportunity to snorkel or rent water sport equipment.

Related: Visiting Eagle Beach in Aruba on Freedom of the Seas

Barbados

Visiting Turtle Bay in Barbados is among the most popular shore excursions on the island.

Royal Caribbean offers the Swim with Turtles, Shipwrecks, Snorkel, and Beach excursion, during which visitors take a boat ride to Turtle Bay where they can observe sea turtles in their natural habitat.

The excursion also includes snorkeling above a shipwreck and time to chill out at a nearby beach.

Belize City

Adrenaline seekers will love the opportunity to tube down the Cave Branch River, an underground cave system in Belize. Following a 45 minute hike through the rainforest, visitors can explore the cave's unique geology and ecosystem while cruising down the river.

Tubing the cave system is a popular excursion choice in Belize and can be booked through Royal Caribbean or independent tour companies. This excursion is not recommended for those with mobility issues.

Bermuda

Bermuda is a gem of a cruise port, and while it’s technically not located in the Caribbean sea, we’ve included it on this list because visits to the island can be found on many Caribbean cruise itineraries.

One major plus of visiting Bermuda on a cruise is that ships often dock overnight, giving you 2-3 days to explore the island’s highlights. Bermuda has excellent public transportation and it’s easy to get around without booking an official shore excursion.

Related: What to do in Bermuda on a cruise

Visiting Horseshoe Bay is a must while in Bermuda. There are on-site amenities including chair and umbrella rentals, bathrooms, and food.

Those looking for more active or cultural opportunities may also want to consider renting a bicycle to explore the Bermuda Railway Trail or walking the streets of downtown Hamilton to take in local culture and lifestyle.

Bonaire

Bonaire is a port perfect for an adventure-filled, active day. As one of the world’s best diving locations, many cruisers explore underwater to spot the coral reefs and marine life that make this island a diver’s paradise.

If scuba diving is of interest to you but you’re not certified, consider booking a Discover Scuba tour. This tour will give you the necessary skills to partake in an assisted dive with an instructor.

Excursion Focus: Discover Scuba tour

Snorkeling opportunities are fantastic on the island as well, and many passengers find that renting an ATV or golf cart provides the perfect way to explore as much of Bonaire as possible in one day.

Related: Renting an ATV in Bonaire

Costa Maya

As one of the most common cruise ports in the Caribbean, there is no shortage of things to do in Costa Maya. Instead of offering just one “best” shore excursion in this Mexican port, we have three, one of which is sure to fit your cruising style.

If you’re looking for a beach day, book a day pass to Maya Chan Beach Resort. This all-inclusive day pass includes transportation, beach beds, all-you-can-eat food, an open bar, use of snorkeling gear and glass bottom kayaks, bathroom facilities, lockers, wifi, and more.

Excursion Focus: Maya Chan Beach in Costa Maya

History lovers will want to book a visit to the Chacchoben Ruins, which were estimated to have been settled around 200 B.C. As the ruins are located a 45 minute bus ride away from the cruise port, booking an excursion through Royal Caribbean directly is recommended.

Excursion Focus: Chacchoben Ruins in Costa Maya

Finally, those interested in exploring more of Costa Maya’s culture may want to make the short trip to the nearby town of Mahahual. This small town has plenty of local businesses, restaurants, and day passes to beach clubs to enjoy.

Related: Visiting Mahahual while in Costa Maya

Cozumel

Cozumel is another of the most popular cruise ports in the Caribbean, and we recommend booking a day pass to a beach club while in port.

There are several day passes to choose from, but our favorites are Nachi Cocom and Paradise Beach. Read our full reviews of each day pass here to pick the one best suited for you:

Curaçao

While there are plenty of excursions offered in Curaçao, many cruisers enjoy strolling through the capital of Willemstad without an organized tour.

Walking across the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge is a highlight for many visitors in addition to visiting local shops, cafes, and restaurants and taking a trip to a nearby beach.

Related: Spending the day in Curacao without a tour

Dominica

Dominica has lush, dramatic landscapes, and one of the best ways to explore the island is by booking a shore excursion to the rainforest.

The River Tubing, Rainforest Drive, and Hibiscus Falls excursion offered by Royal Caribbean provides the best of Dominica’s natural beauty with an active adventure.

The tour begins with a tubing adventure and visit to Hibiscus Falls, a 40-foot waterfall leading to an emerald green pool perfect for taking a swim. Following a visit to the falls is a longer, 90-minute tubing adventure through mini-rapids and slower-flowing waters through the rainforest.

Falmouth

While some ports are best for exploring without an organized tour, we recommend booking a shore excursion in Falmouth to make the most of your day in port.

Falmouth offers beaches and jungles, so there’s something for everyone and every fitness level.

Active adventurers may want to book the Blue Hole, Dunn’s River Falls & Chill at Reggae Hill shore excursion. This tour includes diving and swimming at Jamaica’s famous Blue Hole followed by the chance to climb small waterfalls and explore caves. The excursion ends with a relaxing afternoon at a park with reggae music, lunch, and beverages.

If climbing waterfalls and diving sounds like the exact opposite of a relaxing day in the Caribbean, consider booking a day pass through ResortForADay.com. There are six day passes listed on the website, most of which are all-inclusive and include transportation from the ship.

Freeport

While Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay are the most popular cruise ports in the Bahamas, you’ll find plenty of itineraries visiting Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.

Freeport may not offer as many shore excursions to choose from compared to other Bahamian ports, but many visitors plan for a beach day or visit the Lucayan National Park.

Booking the Lucayan National Park Kayak & Nature Tour is a fun excursion to book through Royal Caribbean, as it includes a guided kayak tour through mangroves and creeks in Lucayan National Park followed by a beach break.

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean: Seven Mile Beach, and visiting the beach is a popular excursion choice for those looking to explore Grand Cayman without an organized tour.

Related: 11 of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean

If you’d prefer to explore underwater as opposed to laying on a beach, book a tour through Stingray City, an area of shallow sandbars with an abundance of stingrays. Booking a tour to Stingray City means you’ll have the chance to snorkel and interact with not only stingrays, but turtles, starfish, and other marine life.

Grenada

Grenada is known as the Island of Spice, and we recommend splitting your port day into two sections: a cultural tour and time at the beach.

The best way to do this is through a shore excursion that combines both attractions of the island. Royal Caribbean’s Spices and Sunshine tour first brings visitors to the Laura Spica Gardens, where they’ll learn more about the various spices and herbs produced on the island.

Following this cultural insight, visitors travel to Grand Anse Beach, often considered the best beach on the island.

Labadee

Royal Caribbean’s private destination of Labadee offers more than enough to enjoy without spending anything extra on excursions. However, there are several additional activities to book that can offer a more enhanced experience in port.

Those looking for a more luxurious experience in Labadee may want to rent a private cabana. Cabanas include a cabana attendant, bottled water, snorkel gear, floating mats, and more.

More information on Labadee cabanas:

Outside of cabana rentals, you may wish to book a ride on Labadee’s famous zipline or a ride on the Dragon’s Tail Coaster. Both activities are sure to get your adrenaline pumping and can be fun options when traveling with kids.

Excursion Focus: Zipline at Labadee

Martinique

Martinique is a French territory that is undeniably French, and while it may not be a very common port stop, the island offers activities for all interests.

Because you won’t find many cruises visiting Martinique, we recommend making the most of your time on the island through an island tour. Booking an island tour means you can see multiple of the island’s highlights, from beaches to markets and historic ruins, in one day.

You can choose to book a tour through Royal Caribbean or through an outsider provider.

Related: 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

Nassau

Nassau is an extremely common port on cruise itineraries, and most visitors to New Providence Island will opt for a beach day.

Our favorite shore excursion in Nassau is a day trip to Pearl Island. Located 30 minutes away from the cruise port by boat, Pearl Island offers a small, turquoise beach, bar and lunch buffet, lounge chairs, watersports equipment, and more.

Excursion Focus: Pearl Island Beach Escape in Nassau

If you’re looking for other ideas of how to spend a day in Nassau, check out our article on the best things to do in Nassau on a cruise.

Ocho Rios

While most cruises stop in Falmouth, Jamaica as opposed to Ocho Rios, you’ll find that they offer several of the same excursions.

While we mentioned booking an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls from Falmouth, the waterfalls are much closer to the Ocho Rios cruise port.

If you are interested in exploring the natural beauty of Jamaica’s lush rainforest, your best bet for an excursion in Ocho Rios is one that visits Dunn’s River falls and the surrounding area. Due to the falls’ proximity to the cruise port, you won’t have trouble finding an excursion through Royal Caribbean or independent tour companies.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, is one of the most beloved ports among Royal Caribbean fans.

Included at Perfect Day at CocoCay is beach access, food, drinks (juices, water, tea, etc.), beach chairs, umbrellas, Splashaway Bay, Captain’s Jill’s Galleon, Oasis Lagoon pool, and more. Most is included in the cruise fare, so it’s not necessary to book an excursion on the island.

There are, however, several other activities on the island for an extra cost including Thrill Waterpark, a zipline course, jet skis, kayaking, the Coco Beach Club, and cabanas, just to name a few.

If you’re considering booking an excursion or rental at Perfect Day at CocoCay, you may find the following guides and reviews helpful:

Progreso

Located on the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is the port of Progreso, and our most recommended shore excursion in this port is a visit to Chichén Itzá, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

While you can visit Chichén Itzá from Cozumel, it’s much easier to visit the site from Progreso as it does not require a ferry ride from the island of Cozumel to mainland Mexico.

Due to travel time required, we recommend booking an excursion to Chichén Itzá through Royal Caribbean directly. Excursions run around $104 to Chichén Itzá per adult and $164 for a combined trip to Chichén Itzá and a nearby cenote.

Puerto Plata

Natural beauty is in abundance in the Caribbean, and that remains true in the Dominican Republic, where visitors can enjoy beaches, jungles, and waterfalls.

One of the most popular excursions in Puerto Plata is a visit to the Damajagua Waterfalls, a lush area of the forest with 27 waterfalls to explore. You can swim, slide down, and jump off waterfalls, and it’s a fantastic way to cool down in the Caribbean heat.

You may also find an excursion option combining a visit to the waterfalls with a zip line for extra fun!

Roatan

Many Western Caribbean cruise itineraries include a stop in Roatan, an island off the coast of northern Honduras.

There are a lot of excursions to choose from in Roatan, from petting sloths and monkeys to spending the day at a beach resort.

Instead of choosing one excursion over another, we recommend booking a private tour of the island with Victor Bodden Tours. These tours can be customized to your liking and come at a reasonable price, even for solo travelers.

San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean cruise port where booking an organized shore excursion isn’t totally necessary.

Cruise ships dock directly in Old San Juan, the historic, colorful neighborhood of San Juan. Visitors to Old San Juan can spend time exploring the city’s historic forts, walking the old city walls, dining at a local restaurant, and relaxing in one of the city’s parks and squares.

Related: Things to do in Old San Juan

St Croix

Biking is one of the best ways to explore a new destination, and if you’re interested in an active excursion, consider the Bike St. Croix tour offered by Royal Caribbean.

This tour takes guests on a 10-mile bike ride along St. Croix’s coastline, through sugar plantations, and in the port city of Frederiksted. It includes commentary from a local guide, as well, meaning you’ll not only take in the sights, but also the culture and history of this Caribbean island.

St Kitts

A unique shore excursion opportunity in the Caribbean is taking a ride on the Caribbean Scenic Railway in St. Kitts.

The main industry in St. Kitts used to be sugar cane, and the train was originally built to transport sugar cane around the island. The train rides through the countryside of St. Kitts, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy beautiful views of the island’s natural landscapes.

Excursion Focus: Caribbean Scenic Railway Tour in St. Kitts

St Lucia

St. Lucia is famous for the Pitons, two mountainous volcanic plugs that rise over 2500 feet above sea level.

Many visitors to St. Lucia put the Pitons on their must-do list, and there are many shore excursions to take guests to these iconic peaks. Traveling to the Pitons via boat is recommended over a car or bus, as the roads can be quite windy and aren’t ideal for those prone to motion sickness.

Royal Caribbean offers the Coastal Cruise to the Pitons excursion, a four hour tour including roundtrip transportation to the Pitons and a swimming stop at one of the island’s bays.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten is a favorite port among cruisers for the wide variety of options offered on the island. From watching planes land at Maho Beach to walking the streets of Philipsburg and discovering the Dutch and French sides of the island, it can be difficult to decide what to do in port.

Therefore, we recommend booking a taxi for the day in St. Maarten to bring you on a private, customizable tour around the island. The island is fairly small, so it’s possible to see all of St. Maarten’s main highlights in one day on both the French and Dutch sides.

If you’re feeling more adventurous than traveling via taxi, consider renting a bicycle and exploring St. Maarten on two wheels!

Excursion Focus: Cycling in St. Maarten

St. Thomas

If you’re visiting St. Thomas and looking to experience one of the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean, book an excursion that visits St. John.

St. John is a true island paradise, and many excursions visit the famous Trunk Bay Beach, known for its soft, white sand and underwater snorkeling trail.

While you can visit St. John without an excursion, it can be challenging to find a taxi to bring you to the ferry terminal, travel to and from the island via ferry, and find a taxi back to the ship. Because of this, we recommend booking a tour to visit St. John.

Related: Guide to visiting St. John on a Royal Caribbean cruise

St. Vincent

Cruise itineraries visiting St. Vincent are few and far between, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to discover in this small island nation.

One of the most unique tours offered in St. Vincent is a hiking trip on Mount Soufrière, the largest peak on the island and an active volcano. Rising over 4,000 feet above sea level, the hike is no walk in the park, but offers unbeatable views of the country and the unique opportunity to experience an active volcano up close.

Tortola

If your cruise visits the British Virgin Islands, consider making a day trip to the small island of Jost Van Dyke from Tortola. While on this small island, you can swim and snorkel in a protected cove with extremely soft sand and clear waters.

Planning a shore excursion? Here are more of our top tips & tricks:

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: September 25, 2022

In:
25 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy weekend! We have a look back at all the Royal Caribbean news from this week to share with all of you.

Royal Caribbean shared another sneak preview of Icon of the Seas with everyone this week.

Royal Caribbean released a new teaser video that provided glimpses of features the new cruise ship could have onboard.

The 7 minute video did not reveal the ship's design or announce anything formally, but eagle-eyed viewers noticed Icon of the Seas will have a few areas onboard that seem to confirm previous rumors.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 469th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt shares his top recommendations for what to do in the Western Caribbean ports his ship will visit.

Matt is headed out on Allure of the Seas this week, and talks about the popular things to do in each of the ports on this itinerary.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Video: 5 most desirable cabin locations on a cruise ship!

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video: 5 most desirable cabin locations on a cruise ship!

New Icon of the Seas construction photos

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

Because Royal Caribbean hasn't shared full details yet about Icon of the Seas, I decided to share construction photos to preview what we can expect.

These new aerial drone photos show the progress being made on building Icon of the Seas, which will be Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship and first ship in the Icon Class.

What is the best way to spend an extra $1,000?

Grand Suite on Freedom

Whether money burns a hole in your pocket or you just want to splurge a little, what is the best way to spend $1,000 on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Certainly there are a lot of ways to budget for an affordable trip, but what if you want to step out a little bit and go bigger?

Even if you're not looking to "make it rain" with cash, these tips could still help those out on a budget because it can illustrate the best ways to spend your money and make it go further. After all, you might be surprised the difference one thousand dollars can make.

I reached Diamond status: here's why this loyalty tier matters

In less than a year, Jenna went from no cruises to Diamond in Crown and Anchor Society and she's realized this tier makes a difference.

Diamond offers impressive benefits, including access to the Diamond Lounge and free drink vouchers every day of the cruise.

Jenna shares how she was able to reach Diamond status so quickly along with her favorite benefits, and how her day-to-day life onboard has changed as a Diamond member.

I reached Diamond status with Royal Caribbean: here's why this loyalty tier matters

In:
23 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Reaching Diamond status in Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society is a significant milestone for any cruiser and leads to some impressive benefits, including access to the Diamond Lounge and free drink vouchers every day of the cruise.

Diamond Club sign

A few months ago I reached 80 points in the Crown & Anchor Society, marking the beginning of my experience as a Diamond member with Royal Caribbean. Since then, I’ve been able to take advantage of the best Diamond benefits available to share with you how my cruising experience has changed since reaching Diamond.

Let’s take a look at how I was able to reach Diamond status so quickly followed by my favorite benefits and how my day-to-day life onboard has changed as a Diamond member.

How I reached Diamond so quickly

I went on my first cruise in August 2021 and became a Diamond member just seven months later in March 2022. It took me only 6 cruises to reach Diamond, but accumulating 80 points so quickly is not common.

I was able to reach Diamond status quickly through a combination of cruising solo and booking several cruises during Royal Caribbean’s double points promotion they ran last year.

Here’s a rundown of how I reached Diamond status in record time:

Mariner of the Seas 4-night cruise: 4 points

Mariner of the Seas sailing away from Port Canaveral

My first cruise was booked during Royal Caribbean’s double points promotion, but as I did not yet have Gold Status in the Crown & Anchor Society, I did not receive double points.

Total C&A Society points: 4

Odyssey of the Seas 6-night cruise: 24 points

Odyssey of the Seas in the Mediterranean Sea

My Odyssey of the Seas cruise was booked during the double points promotion and I was booked solo in an interior room.

I would have received 2 points per night by cruising solo, but this was doubled, so I received a whopping 4 points per night.

Total C&A Society points: 28

Related: Solo cruises on Royal Caribbean

Ovation of the Seas 7-night cruise: 28 points

Ovation of the Seas on a sunny day

Just a month later, I cruised in my own interior cabin on Ovation of the Seas. Like on Odyssey of the Seas, I received 4 points per night of the cruise as it was booked during the double points promotion.

Receiving 28 points from one cruise was an awesome deal, especially when considering that my cruise fare with pre-paid gratuities was only $727!

Total C&A Society points: 56

Independence of the Seas 4-night cruise: 8 points

Independence of the Seas as seen from tender

My 4-night cruise on Independence of the Seas was booked after the double points promotion had ended, but since I was cruising solo I received 8 points total.

Total C&A Society points: 64

Harmony of the Seas 7-night cruise: 14 points

Harmony of the Seas front part

Just like Independence of the Seas, I booked this cruise without the double points promotion but was cruising solo, so I received 14 points total.

Total C&A Society points: 78

Wonder of the Seas 7-night cruise: 28 points

Wonder of the Seas aerial rear night

The cruise that brought me to Diamond status was the inaugural sailing of Wonder of the Seas. I booked this cruise during the double points promotion and was cruising solo, so received 4 points per night. I was just 2 points away from Diamond status at the beginning of the cruise.

My total Crown & Anchor Society point balance after this cruise was 106 and I officially became a Diamond member!

My favorite Diamond benefits

Diamond drink vouchers

By far my favorite benefit of being a Diamond member are the 4 free drink vouchers I receive each day of the cruise.

Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club members receive 4, 5, and 6 free drink vouchers per day respectively, and this leads to significant savings throughout any cruise.

I can use these beverages on both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, each of which would cost between $4 and $13+ without the voucher!

Related: How Royal Caribbean’s free drink vouchers for Diamond and higher members work

Diamond Lounge

The Diamond Lounge is another perk I enjoy about being a Diamond member. This exclusive space is a more private, relaxing environment to spend time in while on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Complimentary food is available in the mornings and evenings, and a coffee/latte maker is found in the lounge.

The only downside of the Diamond Lounge is that I’m rarely cruising with other Diamond members, and since non-Diamond members are not allowed into the lounge, I don’t frequent the space as often as I’d like.

Related: The Crown and Anchor perks you should use on every Royal Caribbean cruise

$10 off Wash & Fold Laundry Bag

While not a huge savings, I’ve enjoyed the $10 discount I receive on the Wash & Fold Laundry Bag as a Diamond member. These small bags of laundry usually cost $35.99 each. I find this quite expensive, so paying $25.99 is more reasonable.

Returning home from a cruise with clean laundry is convenient, and I’m looking forward to reaching Diamond Plus status so I can receive a free bag of laundry on cruises 5 nights or longer.

Onboard offers

Every tier of the Crown & Anchor Society has onboard offers available, from coupons for 50% off drinks to discounts on onboard shopping and a free day of Surf internet.

While I haven’t taken advantage of all the onboard offers you receive by reaching Diamond status, I’ve come to enjoy these the most:

  • $6 free play in the casino: I’m not a gambler and hate losing money, but it’s always fun to use my $6 in “free money” on each cruise to see if I win! On a recent cruise I turned this $6 into $100 within a few minutes (although I lost it all a bit later).
  • One free photo: I travel with a professional camera and certainly don’t need any pictures taken by Royal Caribbean’s photographers, but it’s fun to receive one photo for free each cruise! My friends, family, and I have had fun doing silly poses and picking out a photo each cruise.
  • 50% off coupon for any glass of wine, beer, or soda: If I know I am going to have more than 4 drinks and therefore go over my allotted Diamond vouchers, I use one of my two coupons per sailing for wine, beer, or soda. I’ve used this several times when I don’t want to waste a drink voucher worth $13 on a $3.50 can of soda!

How my onboard experience has changed since making Diamond status

Before I was a Diamond member, I would always dread the $13 bill for a single cocktail. I don’t drink enough to make a beverage package worth it, but paying $15 with a tip for one drink got old pretty quickly!

Since being a Diamond member, I’ve been able to try a variety of beverages I likely wouldn’t have ordered before. Spending $13+ for one drink made me more selective about what I was ordering since I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t like the drink. It’s been fun to taste different cocktails each day of my cruise and find new favorites.

Related: 8 mocktails to try on your next Royal Caribbean cruise

Cafe Promenade menu on Wonder of the Seas

I also used to purchase the specialty coffee card before making Diamond status. I usually get a latte each morning of the cruise, so the coffee card led to ~$20 in savings throughout the course of a cruise. Now that I have Diamond drink vouchers, I do not need to do this!

I’ve also started to frequent the Diamond Lounge most evenings when they offer complimentary appetizers and hors d'oeuvres. Having a small snack before dinner keeps me satiated, and I realized I tend to eat dinner later in the evening when I visit the Diamond Lounge before.

Outside of these benefits, I haven’t noticed a huge change in my day-to-day life on a Royal Caribbean cruise since reaching Diamond status. I haven’t taken advantage of benefits like the Diamond Concierge, backstage tours, 20% off spa service, etc., but I intend to do so in the future!

What I’m looking forward to most about reaching Diamond Plus

I currently have 141 Crown & Anchor Society points and should be on track to reach Diamond Plus sometime in the spring. Diamond Plus sees more significant benefits compared to the Diamond level, and here are the benefits I’m looking forward to the most:

BOGO specialty restaurant deal

Diamond Plus members receive a buy one, get one deal on specialty restaurant cover charges. These deals can be used on the first or second day of the cruise and can easily lead to savings of $40+ dollars for a specialty restaurant meal.

Related: What is the best Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant?

Free Wash & Fold Laundry Bag (5+ night sailings)

While I take advantage of the $10 off coupon for a Wash & Fold Laundry Bag now, it still means shelling out $25.99 for the service. I can’t wait to be Diamond Plus so this service is complimentary on sailings 5 nights or longer!

5 drink vouchers per day

While 4 drink vouchers per day is usually enough, having an extra voucher per day will mean I won’t feel like I'm “sacrificing” a drink voucher by using it on a $4 fresh-squeezed orange juice instead of a cocktail or glass of wine.

Final thoughts

Becoming a Diamond member has significantly enhanced my Royal Caribbean cruise experience and I appreciate the consideration Royal Caribbean makes to its loyal cruisers. While I'm not sure I'll ever reach 700 points and become a Pinnacle member, I'm thoroughly enjoying the perks I receive as a Diamond member on every Royal Caribbean cruise.

Planning a cruise? Start here:

The best travel tech gadgets for a cruise ship vacation

In:
23 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

What tech can you buy for your cruise vacation that will enhance your trip?

Couple using tablet in Europe

When I tried out Apple's AirTags on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, it opened my eyes to how certain gadgets can make the experience better. Whether it's peace of mind like tracking luggage or just supplementing the fun you're having, there are plenty of gadgets and add-ons to assist.

Despite my overall geekiness, I'm the first person to be leery of bringing more tech for the sake of tech on a cruise. I try to keep the amount of bulk down, so if something is going to require additional baggage or more effort to bring onboard, it had better make a real difference.

Side of Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Please note that I linked to each item on Amazon which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but I make a small commission if you purchase it.

With all of that in mind, here's my top picks for the best tech travel gadgets you should consider bringing on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Portable charger

Anker battery

For years I've brought a portable charger with me on a cruise to ensure my phone doesn't run out of power.

Because there's such a greater need for phones to be used on a cruise, battery drainage seems to occur more quickly than ever before. Even compared to at home, I find myself using my phone more often.

Part of the reason is Royal Caribbean's shift to making its app far more critical than pre-2020. The other aspect is simply enjoying being online while lounging at the pool, or staying in contact with friends and family.

Portable charger

With my oldest daughter reaching the age where she has the opportunity for limited "free roaming" during the day, staying in contact with her via text message also takes a hit on my phone's battery usage.

I've always been a fan of Anker's product line for its svelte design, reasonable prices, and durable quality. 

The Anker PowerCore 20 External Battery Pack provides enough power to charge an iPhone multiple times before it needs a charge.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Noise cancelling headphones

Before I ever got noise-cancelling headphones, I foolishly thought there wasn't that big of a difference compared to regular headphones. I especially did not think it mattered to have them on a cruise ship.

I was very wrong.

Not only are noise-cancelling headphones useful outside of an airplane, they make a tremendous difference in being able to enjoy "me time" onboard a ship.

Allure of the Seas

I really love putting them on when I'm on the pool deck so I can enjoy the breeze and sun while laying out in a lounger, without all the conversations, music, and noise you'd have to put up with around you.

Then of course there's the benefit these headphones have while travelling to and from your cruise. I just cannot imagine not having them these days.

For years, I've used and recommended the Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-cancelling headphones for over-the-ear comfort and unbeatable noise cancellation.

I know a lot of other people that prefer the Apple AirPods Pro because they offer noise cancelling without the heft and size.

E-reader

Woman reading her kindle

When my wife told me she needed an e-reader in addition to her iPad, I didn't understand why until I saw the difference when we were on the pool deck.

If you're a reader, Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite is the best option to bring on a cruise so that you can read outdoors when the sun is shining overhead.

Outlet extender

I cannot imagine going on a cruise today without an outlet extender.

Even if you cruise solo, the lack of outlets in a cabin is quite annoying. I recently tried the appropriately named "Cruise ship power strip" by Cruise On and was quite happy with how well it worked.

Read moreI tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

It takes up one outlet space and offers 3 new outlets along with 2 USB plugs.

European travel adaptor

A few readers recommended getting an European Travel Plug Adapter instead or as well, since your cabin has those outlets too.

AirTags or Bluetooth tracker

AirTag

Another item I've converted over to using are AirTags in my luggage.

The AirTag is a small, button-shaped tracking device that can be tracked using Bluetooth right alongside Apple devices in the Find My app.

single AirTag will cost $29 and a 4-pack costs $99. If you have an Android phone, the Tile Pro costs $92.99.

AirTag directions

While AirTags aren't GPS trackers that provide precise location information, they work well-enough to have an idea where your luggage happens to be, especially if you're playing the "is my luggage on the cruise ship yet" game.

Just like noise-cancelling headphones, AirTags will benefit you beyond just the cruise.  Peace of mind that comes with being able to have an idea where your luggage is located is worth it.

Royal Caribbean teases new features coming to Icon of the Seas

In:
22 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released a new teaser video that didn't reveal everything about its next new ship, but it did provide more of a glimpse of what to expect.

Icon of the Seas construction photo

Icon of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean's first in a new class of cruise ships and they still have not shown what the ship looks like, nor confirmed features onboard.  But they have steadily offered brief glimpses of what we might expect.

The newest video teaser was released today, where eagle-eyed viewers might spot a few features that seem to point towards what guests can expect onboard.

Here's what we found in the 7 minute video that stands out as interesting, intriguing, or just plain wow.

Infinite verandahs

Royal Caribbean is borrowing a feature first seen on sister brand Celebrity Cruises with the design of some or all of its balcony staterooms.

While not mentioned, the video did clearly show a new type of balcony stateroom that offers a convertible indoor/outdoor space.

Sister company Celebrity Cruises debuted the infinite verandah on the Edge Class ships.

Infinite Verandah on Celebrity Edge

Celebrity’s design team sought to solve that problem by creating a versatile area that could transform from a balcony into a sun room fully enclosed within your cabin. These cabins are excellent for cruisers on colder-weather itineraries, or who want the option of fresh air but don’t tend to spend much time on their balcony.

With an infinite veranda, there is no permanent wall between the cabin and the balcony. Instead, the balcony area is enclosed on its outer edges with glass windows; the one facing the sea can roll down just like a car window at the touch of a button. 

Accordion-fold doors can be closed to separate the open-to-the-air “veranda” from the cabin interior.

When not in use, roll up the windows, open the doors, and you have a roomier cabin with a sunny seating area at one end.

The inclusion of these types of cabins is not a surprise, as Royal Caribbean first surveyed customers about the idea back in 2018. Then in 2019, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley confirmed that the cruise line is looking at bringing the Infinite Veranda idea over to Royal Caribbean.

“Edge has a lot of innovation. We need time to assess what works well and what doesn’t but we will take on some elements and put them on the new class of ship – Icon class and potentially Oasis 5."

Later in the video, more traditional balcony cabins were shown as well.

Central Park

Something else we've all assumed was coming and now appears to be all but confirmed is a Central Park area of the ship.

First introduced on the Oasis Class ships, this open air part of the ship has trees, bushes, and lots of plants to help liven up things.

Looking at construction photos, it appears a space was left for a Central Park neighborhood based on the look of the area matching up with the Oasis Class.

While at Royal Caribbean's Innovation Lab in Miami, the video showed executives seeing a virtual reality view of what looks like Central Park on Icon of the Seas.

Of course, the video did not specifically mention it so it's not confirmed.  But the similarities are uncanny.

Big ship name

Icon of the Seas will follow in the new style of a larger sizing of the ship's name on the hull.

Both Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas made the change to the larger ship name look on its hull.

In the case of Odyssey of the Seas, the "O" alone measures 11.2 meters (36 feet) in height.

Pearl

Once again, we have a look at The Pearl on Icon of the Seas and still have no idea what it is.

This time, we not only saw exterior photos, but also got a look at some of the panels.

In January 2022, a large pearl-shaped object appeared in the shipyard that capture the attention of cruise fans who are curious to know what it might be.

Royal Caribbean has not announced what it will be, but it is going to be a feature on Icon of the Seas.

"More water and weight than ever before"

Icon of the Seas 2023

Let your imagination run wild with the teaser at the end of the video about water weight.

The narrator mentions, "...how and where will the teams add more water and weight than ever before."

In the last video update, Royal Caribbean said Icon of the Seas will feature, "unrivalled water experiences."

Watch the video

When does Icon of the Seas launch?

Icon of the Seas bow construction

Icon of the Seas is set to debut in late 2023.

By December, Icon of the Seas will be 80% complete from a construction perspective.

In the video it was disclosed there's about 3,000 people working on the ship every day.

More information on Icon of the Seas and a big reveal is slated for October 2022.

Royal Caribbean updates: CocoCay adults beach construction, Icon of the Seas sale date & more

In:
21 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Cruise news has been a bit slow lately, but we have a few important tidbits and updates to share.

Ship at CocoCay

In order to keep everyone informed, here's a look at various pieces of news that have crossed my desk during the past week.

If you ever have a news tip, feel free to email it to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future update!

Icon of the Seas will go on sale in October?

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

While we may not know anything yet about Icon of the Seas, a lot of people are ready to book a cruise on her anyway.

It looks like bookings might open up for Royal Caribbean's new cruise ship in October.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from August 2022

According to a travel agent that was on an update call, "mid-October" is the time when bookings will open up.

From what I understand, Royal Caribbean National Account Sales Manager Joseph Casal, told agents on the call Icon of the Seas is expected to open for bookings in mid-October.

Hideaway Beach construction photos

It's been a while since we shared construction photos of the new adults-only beach area coming to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Steve Cohen took photos of the area while sailing on Harmony of the Seas.

He said while no buildings are under construction, a lot more trailers and construction equipment has moved in since the last time he was there.

Dr. Pepper on Texas cruises

Galveston cruise terminal construction

If you love Dr. Pepper soda, you'll have to cruise from Texas in order to enjoy it on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Travel agents on a webinar call on Wednesday were told cruises sailing from Galveston will soon serve Dr. Pepper in addition to the Coke products the line always carries.

Dr. Pepper is a soda brand based in Texas and due to local demand, Royal Caribbean will begin serving it as well.

No timeline was given on when it will begin being offered, but the information was shared with the context of Allure of the Seas and the new cruise terminal opening in November.

Icon of Vacations

One more Icon of the Seas update comes in the form a trademark filing.

Royal Caribbean Group filed a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on September 15, 2022.

The trademark is for, "Icon of Vacations" which sounds like a marketing slogan tied to the new Icon of the Seas cruise ship.