How to get a military veteran discount on a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean offers special rates for police, firefighter and military members on select sailings. 

These special rates are meant to recognize and reward those that serve their county and community.

Police and Firefighters

Special rates for fire and police require there must be at least one guest in the stateroom that is an active or retired, volunteer or employee of a local, state or federal law enforcement agency or fire department in the United States.

When boarding the ship on the first day of your cruise, you will be required to present valid proof of employment (badge or ID) plus a second form of identification when boarding the ship.

Spouses, parents, in-laws, children or other family members or friends are not eligible for the rate without the eligible person occupying the stateroom. 

Military Rates

To qualify for a Military rate, at least one guest in the stateroom must be classified as one of the following,

  1. Active personnel currently serving in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserves or Canadian National Defense.
  2. Retired from any of the divisions listed directly above.
  3. Veterans with an Honorable Discharge serving a minimum of 2 years, or 6-months in an active war zone, in any of the United States service divisions listed above.

At least one guest per stateroom must be eligible to be considered in compliance with these rates.

Spouses of actively deployed military personnel are eligible to book one stateroom as long as the eligible spouse is occupying the stateroom. This rate also applies to all other guests traveling in the same stateroom.

Spouses of deceased military personnel are also eligible for the military rate. As proof of eligibility, spouses must present the Pink or Tan Dependent Military ID upon check-in.

if you are unable to provide proof upon check-in at the pier, it will result in the reservation being re-priced to the lowest available fare for that particular day and the guest will be responsible to pay for any differences immediately or risking denial of boarding.

How to get the special rate

To check for special rates, inform your travel agent or Royal Caribbean representative at the time of booking that you qualify for a veteran rate. 

These special rates will vary from sailing to sailing, and there are potentially more lucrative discounts available depending on the ship and sail date you choose.  

How to pre-pay gratuities on a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's crew work exceptionally hard to ensure guests have a great cruise vacation. It is customary to reward the service provided by the crew onboad with a daily gratuity, and to simplify things, Royal Caribbean allows guest to pre-pay gratuities before the sailing.

By pre-paying gratuities, you can lock in the current gratuity rate, as well as assist in budgeting the total vacation cost by having part of the cost be paid at different times.

Pre-paying gratuities is a simple process. If you booked directly with Royal Caribbean, you can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into before the sailing.

If you booked with a travel agent, simply let the travel agent know your preference and they can take care of the arrangements.

If gratuities are not pre-paid prior to sailing, they will be automatically added to the guests’ folios once onboard.

Pre-paid gratuities can be added to an individual reservation at any time outside of 48 hours of the sail date.

The gratuity applies to all guests sailing, regardless of age. These gratuities are shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes to enhance the cruise experience.

The 18% service charge will be added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.

Founder of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line dies

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced one if its founders passed away over the weekend. Edwin Stephan died November 8. He was 87.

In 1969 Stephan founded the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and his contributions helped create the modern cruise industry we know today. Under his leadership in 1970, the company launched Song of Norway, the first ship purpose-built for warm-water cruising. Since that initial voyage, Stephan’s fledgling company has grown into the world’s second largest cruise line, a multi-billion-dollar global company of six brands, operating 63 ships across seven continents.  

Stephan retired in 2003, when he was vice chairman of the board of directors.

Royal Caribbean announced to celebrate his memory, flags will be flown at half-mast on the cruise line's ships this week.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 10, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! Temperatures may be dropping, but there is plenty of Royal Caribbean news to share.  This is your weekly summary of all the Royal Caribbean news from this past week, perfectly fitted for your consumption.

Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean announced its 2021 Alaska, Hawaii and Transpacific sailings.

Ovation, Radiance and Serenade of the Seas will return to the Pacific Northwest in 2021 to offer varying 7-night itineraries sailing from Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia; and Seward, Alaska.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 327th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available to enjoy, where Matt is joined by Royal Caribbean's Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage to take a look back at how dining on Royal Caribbean has changed.

Linken D'Souza shared an inside look at how Royal Caribbean's world-reknown innovations extend to the culinary experience as well.

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.

New RCB Video: Things that cost extra on Royal Caribbean that are totally worth it!

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 — Things that cost extra on Royal Caribbean that are totally worth it! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Family Traveller shared what it is like to cruise with a toddler. compared Perfect Day at CocoCay to Castaway Cay.

CNBC interviewed Richard Fain about the growing global presence of the cruise line.

Spotted: Digital stateroom key on Oasis of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Guests with upcoming sailings on the amplified Oasis of the Seas are seeing a new option to use Royal Caribbean's app to open their stateroom door.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers Ashley Chandonia and Victoria Wittle shared screenshots of their app offering the new option.

The app works in conjunction with a SeaPass card.

Spectrum of the Seas was the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer a digital key and control the stateroom television from the app.

The app is available for download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean branded beer debuts at Perfect Day at CocoCay

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's exclusive brand of beer made its debut today at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Guests sailing on Symphony of the Seas had the opportunity to be the first to sample the, "Chilla Thrilla" beer at the cruise line's private island destination.

Photo by Elise Jackson

Photo by Vicki Sheppard

The beer is a collaboration between Royal Caribbean and Funky Buddha Brewery, which we first reported on last month.

Chilla Thrilla will be available at Perfect Day at CocoCay for guests to enjoy.

What is Star Class?

By: Matt Hochberg

At the top of the Royal Suite program is Star Class, which offers guests sailing in Royal Caribbean's most spacious and well-appointed rooms the top tier of benefits.

The Royal Suite Class are suites offered on the Oasis and Quantum Class ships. These ships include:

  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Quantum of the Seas (Singapore sailings)
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas

What is a Star Class suite on Royal Caribbean?

The top tier of the Royal Suite Class is Star Class, and guests staying in this room receive a wide array of amenities, perks and services while onboard.

The benefits of Star Class include:

  • Dedicated check-in line
  • Priority boarding
  • Access to Coastal Kitchen restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Bathrobes
  • L'Occitane 50 ml Bathroom Amenities
  • Duxiana Mattress
  • Frette Linens
  • In Room Mr. Coffee/Tea Service
  • Complimentary Voom high-speed WiFi
    • Each guest booked in Star Tier suites will receive complimentary VOOM on one individual device of their choice.
  • Concierge service
  • Access to Sun Suite Deck
  • Exclusive signature activities
  • Complimentary Minibar stocked with Coca-Cola Beverages and Water
  • Laundry and Ironing Services
  • Priority Departure
  • Royal Genie
  • Complimentary Gratuities
  • Complimentary Specialty Dining
  • Complimentary Deluxe Beverage Package

What rooms are Star Class?

The Star Class cabins are hotel-style stays, with the most spacious to enjoy at sea. 

  • Royal Loft Suite
  • 4 Bedroom Villa Suite
  • Owner’s Loft Suite
  • Grand Loft Suite
  • 1 Bedroom Owner’s Panoramic Suite
  • 2 Bedroom Grand Panoramic Suite
  • Star Loft Suite
  • 2 Bedroom Spacious AquaTheater Suite with Large Balcony
  • 2 Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Large Balcony
  • Ultimate Family Suite

What is Royal Genie service?

Arguably the best perk of staying in a Star Class room is your own Royal Genie.  All suites within the Star tier will receive the Royal Genie experience.

The Royal Genie's job is to craft experiences, and curate your entire vacation around what you wand your family want.  They offer their guests VIP experiences all around the ship.

There are many services offered by the Royal Genie, here are the top services offered:

  • Exclusive access to private Shore Excursions, VIP Seating, signature activities and more, before they open to anyone else.
  • Helps coordinate in-suite parties, such as surprise parties, cocktail hours and more.
  • Keeps suite stocked with favorite snacks and drinks.
  • Expedited Boarding and Departure
  • Personal shopper to help guests shop for gifts, keepsakes and all the best brands onboard.
  • Provide a personal photographer to remember the cruise.

Due to the exclusive nature of these services, they cannot be extended to friends and family members sailing on the same voyage who are not booked as Star guests.

In the weeks before the sailing, Royal Genies will learn guests' specific preferences.

  • 2 weeks before: The Royal Genie will contact a guest to confirm arrival information via e-mail.
  • 10 days before: The Royal Genie will invite guests to download the Loop app – an exclusive Star Tier messaging tool that allows fast, easy and convenient communication between them and their Royal Genie. Loop will be available from point of download until four days after their cruise.

How much do I tip a Royal Genie?

The short answer is, there is no pre-determined or advised amount.  It is completely up to you.

Many cruisers have thoughts on how much to tip their Royal Genie, so you may find their input helpful.

Friday Photos - November 8, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

The weekend is here, and so are our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos! Each week, we share the best photos that our readers have sent in. 

If you want to submit your photos for a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us via this form.

First up is a photo by Mac and Lori of a whale, with Radiance of the Seas in the background. 

Next up is a photo of Allure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas docked next to each other in Cozumel. Photo by Patrick Russo.

Dave Horn shared this photo of Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda.

Here is a shot of the Boardwalk on Harmony of the Seas, taken by Jason Peterson.

Diesel Strommer sent in this photo of Symphony of the Seas docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

We have a sunset photo taken onboard Majesty of the Seas by Julie Tessel.

Our final photo is by David Summer, and it is of Spectrum of the Seas docked in Osaka, Japan.

That wraps up this week's edition of Friday Photos. If you want your Royal Caribbean photo featured here, use this form to send them in!

How to get excited for your Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

You have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked, and if you are like me, then you probably have that warm, fuzzy feeling in anticipating of a brand new vacation adventure.

In the weeks and months leading up until your cruise, here is how to keep that fun feeling going until it is time to board.

Plan your onboard activities

Once you book your cruise, the next logical thing is to start planning what you're going to do on the cruise.  It's the next best thing to booking the cruise!

Figuring out which shore excursions you will take or which specialty restaurants you will eat at is always fun and it usually takes up a lot of time with the necessary research.  Don't forget about add-ons for your cruise like the unlimited beverage packages, stateroom decor and maybe even a surprise for your loved one.

You can also read a past Cruise Compass to get a better idea of what activities, events, and timing of everything on your sailing. We keep an archive of past Cruise Compasses to help everyone easily find one.

Meet people on your sailing

A fun way to make friends on the ship before you step foot onboard is to join a Facebook group for your sailing.

If you go on Facebook and search for your ship name and sail date, there is very likely a group set up for it.  It is free to join these groups, and often groups will set up special events, or simply provide a means of sharing in the pre-cruise planning excitement.

Every group is different, and depending on how many people have joined the Facebook Group, as well as everyone's level of participation in the group, you can get to know folks before the cruise. Plus it's just fun to find others who are as excited as you about your cruise (instead of annoying your friends).

Go cruise shopping

Our family has a running joke that when we book a cruise, we always end up at the mall buying a bunch of new clothes and other cruise related purchases that we simply "must" get. Clothes, gadgets, luggage and more always seem to be things we buy quite often once a cruise starts getting near.

The truth is, purchasing a new outfit or toy for the cruise is always a fun exercise and buying new duds helps keep the cruise in focus.  In addition, you can take advantage of off-season sales to stock up on things you will need in the warm Caribbean (or wherever your cruise is going).

Watch Royal Caribbean TV shows

Over the years, various travel shows have featured Royal Caribbean cruises in their episodes and thanks to the Internet, there's plenty of them around.

You can start on YouTube and search for phrases like "royal caribbean episode" or "royal caribbean tv" or "royal caribbean travel channel".  Google searches with the same phrases will also turn up results elsewhere.

If you don't mind paying for it, there are also some other TV show episodes available on iTunes or Amazon you can purchase for just a few dollars.

The great thing about these tv shows is they focus on life onboard the cruise and it helps me take a mental escape to my upcoming cruise.

Of course, I feel obligated to shamelessly plug the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast, which is an audio show that is free and full of Royal Caribbean fun!

Watch YouTube videos

To get a good visual of what you can expect for your Royal Caribbean, there are no shortage of videos on YouTube to check out.

Search for your ship name and odds are you will find hundreds of videos to watch.  Some are tours, some are family vacation videos and others explain aspects of the cruise.  Regardless, it's a fun way to see what you can expect on your cruise and add ideas to your little list.

While you are on YouTube, be sure to check out our channel of helpful trip planning videos.

Read trip reports/photo reports from others on same cruise

Speaking of mental escapes, I really find reading other people's trip reports and looking at their photos to be a great way to get excited for my own cruise.  After all, it's helpful to see what others found useful or a waste.

Once again message boards are a great place for this, such as the live blog area.  This is where cruisers share details of their cruise, as it happens.

Besides being entertaining, reading these reports helps with the first idea I posted about planning the cruise.  If someone reports a fun excursion or restaurant to try, I will note it in my cruise planning spreadsheet (yes, I have a cruise planning spreadsheet) for reference later.

Watch web cams

Catching a glimpse of the ship you are booked on in real-time is always a highlight. 

There are port webcams that on select days you can see Royal Caribbean ships in port and admire them for their beauty.   By far seeing them leave port in the evening is the highlight because it gives you a great view of these ships. PTZtv has a network of cams across North America and there's usually a couple of cams with Royal Caribbean ships to see.

Play music that reminds you of a cruise

There's a lot of great music out there that reminds me of a cruise.  It's the sort of music I'd hear on a cruise ship and for me, that can help get me through a day of work.

We posted earlier a cruise music mix but there's plenty of other music out there.  You can always tune into Radio Margaritaville for Jimmy Buffet music, which is all about warm islands with boat drinks.

Regardless of what music reminds you of being a cruise, I find it a great way to help me cope with not being on a cruise and getting excited for my upcoming cruise too.

How do you get excited for your upcoming cruise? Share your favorite ways in the comments below!

Video: 8 things I MUST do on every Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

When I go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, I look forward to trying out new activities and exploring the ports of call we visit.  I also relish revisiting favorite cruise traditions that my family has established over the years.

In today's video, I am sharing eight of my must-do activities on every cruise.  These are my favorite cruise traditions, and I hope a few of these can be a source of fun for your family as well!

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

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

So check out the video and then let us know: What are your favorite cruise traditions and must-do activities on every sailing?