Royal Caribbean's second Quantum Ultra Class ship will sail in Europe

In:
16Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's second Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship will sail in Europe, according to travelweekly.co.uk.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley spoke at a Travel Weekly Executive Lunch and confirmed that the yet officially unnamed cruise ship that is set to launch in fall 2020 will offer sailings in Europe.

The first Quantum Ultra Class ship, Spectrum of the Seas, will launch in April but she is headed immediately to Asia. 

This is not the first time Michael Bayley hinted that the successor to Spectrum of the Seas might not head to Asia. During a Q&A session onboard the President's Cruise in October 2018, he mentioned the fifth Quantum Class ship and indicated there is a possibility that ship will sail from the United States and Europe.

"The following year we have Spectrum two, or Quantum Ultra two, and that could possibly be coming to Europe and America."

TTG quoted Mr. Bailey in saying the new ship will visit the UK when she launches, "The UK is going to see Spectrum 2 – we are going to bring it here. October might be a little cold, but we’re going to bring it."

"It’s definitely not going to China," he added.

Spotlight: Dining at Bars on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
15Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

When it comes to bars on Royal Caribbean cruise ships, they are not just adults-only destinations - and they do not just serve drinks.

One of our favorite dining tips is taking advantage of certain bars that also serve food in addition to a great array of drinks.  These hidden gems are often less crowded than a specialty restaurant or simply easier to get into.

Here are a few great places to enjoy a bite to eat along with your drinks.

Playmakers Sports Bar

Playmakers offers a traditional sports bar concept with drinks, plenty of games to watch and of course, some great food choices.

Guests seated at the Playmakers bar can order from the full menu at any time. Sliders, wings and burgers are available to enjoy while you cheer on your favorite team.

Hooked

Hooked Seafood restaurant offers guests a nightly happy hour appetizer combo, where guests can enjoy a beer or glass of wine and a pre-selected appetizer.  The happy hour appetizer changes from night to night.

Sabor

On Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships, Sabor on the Boardwalk has a bar where you can order from the regular Sabor menu while at the bar.

In addition to the amazing margaritas served at Sabor, you can order guacamole, tacos or anything else. We have even seen a happy hour special offered at Sabor in the past.

Izumi

So we may be blurring the line here a bit, but Izumi does have a sushi bar in its locations that guests can sit at that is almost never full.  While not a drink bar, the sushi bar still offers the full bar selection along with the restaurant menu.

Asking to sit at the sushi bar is a great way to also get into Izumi if the restaurant is busy.

Top 8 tips and tricks for Royal Caribbean's Boardwalk neighborhood

In:
14Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Boardwalk neighborhood on its Oasis Class ships is a favorite spot for so many cruisers.  The area is inspired by both the seaside piers that dot the coast of England and the nostalgic boardwalks of yesteryear such as Coney Island. 

There is a lot to see and do around the Boardwalk, and we have eight secrets that you may not know about the Boardwalk neighborhood.

Complimentary breakfast at Johnny Rockets

Did you know that Johnny Rockets on Harmony of the Seas is complimentary for breakfast?  All Oasis-class ships offer this option, but many guests are unaware that breakfast is served here, nor that it is included with your cruise fare (Johnny Rockets has a cover charge for lunch and dinner).

The Johnny Rockets breakfast menu on Oasis Class ships is a traditional American breakfast, with pancakes, omelettes, French toast and the like.  In fact, Johnny Rockets is one spot onboard Harmony of the Seas to get omelet made-to-order.

Johnny Rockets tends to be not very crowded for breakfast, because many guests are unaware of this option, and it also has a large seating capacity (indoor and outdoor seating options).

Slide down and celebrate at the bar

If you are on Harmony of the Seas or Symphony of the Seas, a fun sea day activity is to take a ride down the Ultimate Abyss down to the Boardwalk and then celebrate with a drink (or two) at the bar.

The Ultimate Abyss slide concludes at the rear of the Boardwalk, convenient to the bar at Sabor (on Harmony of the Seas) or Playmakers (on Symphony of the Seas). 

An after-slide drink is the perfect way to celebrate conquering the Ultimate Abyss!

Aft chairs with a view

If you are looking for a quiet spot to watch the ocean, many guests are unaware of an area right below the first Aqua Theater suite balcony on deck seven.

Just behind the rock wall, you can find comfortable Adirondack chairs to sit in with the perfect view of the ocean.  Rarely will you find other guests here.

Ride the carousel at night

Photo by Michael Poole

No cruise aboard an Oasis Class ship is complete without a ride (or three) on the Carousel.  Regardless of age, guests of all ages can enjoy the classic nature of this attraction.

The full-sized, traditional hand-crafted carousel was specially designed for Royal Caribbean, and many guests find this a fun family activity.  Be sure to include at least one ride at night, because like the fairs of the past, nighttime is when these rides really shine when they are all lit up.

Luckey climber

On Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean added a large climbing structure perfect for kids to try out called the Luckey Climber.

Luckey Climber is a brand of rather large climbing structures that are surrounded by a net, designed for kids to jump on and explore.

These innovative playgrounds are part art and part jungle gym that feature some very bold colors. It is a bit hidden in the back of the Boardwalk, so not all guests are aware it is there, but it is a really fun spot for kids to burn off some energy.

Eat and drink at the bar

While the kids are trying the Luckey Climber, you should to the opposite side of the Boardwalk to grab a drink and maybe an appetizer.  Sabor offers a bar on Oasis, Allure and Harmony of the Seas while Playmakers is on Symphony of the Seas.  

Regardless of which ship you are on, you can go to the bar without any reservations and sit down to enjoy a cold beverage whenever the restaurant is open.  It is a great spot for meeting friends, and there is usually a nice ocean breeze passing by.

Pre-pay for arcade credit

If you plan to let your kids enjoy the arcade on Royal Caribbean, you would be best served to invest in a pre-cruise arcade credit purchase for the bonus savings offered.

There are three options available to purchase prior to a cruise, which offers the convenience of pre-loading arcade credit, as well as a discount.

  • $25 Arcade credit for $20
  • $50 Arcade credit for $40
  • $100 Arcade credit for $80

By purchasing arcade credit ahead of time, you will ensure your kids get extra game time while saving you money in the process.

Boardwalk Balcony rooms come with special perks

Guests staying in a Boardwalk view balcony stateroom are entitled to special amenities for booking this type of stateroom.

Specifically, you will receive:

  • Complimentary meal for four at Johnny Rockets
  • Complimentary Royal Refreshment soda package for two guests
  • Exclusive rock climbing wall experience for the entire family

Boardwalk view balcony rooms typically cost less than ocean view balcony rooms, and the added amenities make it a great deal.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: January 13, 2019

In:
13Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Welcome to this week's round-up of all the Royal Caribbean news and happenings.  Hope you are staying warm and are ready to cozy up to some great Royal Caribbean fun.

Oasis of the Seas made headlines this week when she had to cut her voyage short by a day due to an outbreak of gastrointestinal virus.

After a couple hundred guests became ill, Royal Caribbean decided to cancel the rest of her sailing and Oasis returned to Port Canaveral on Saturday.

“We think the right thing to do is to get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health,” said Rob Zeiger, chief communications manager for Royal Caribbean. “Returning on Saturday also gives us more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship before her next sailing.”

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 284th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we debunk common reasons some people avoid a cruise vacation at all.

Over the years we have heard every excuse why some people refuse to cruise, and on this week's episode, Matt and Billy take some time to go over why these excuses are simply unfounded.

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.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

USA Today reported that gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on cruise ships are at a multi-year low.

Cruise Industry News listed 24 new cruise ships to debut in 2019 (including a Royal Caribbean ship).

Cruise Critic investigated if the US Government shutdown will affect cruises.

Top travel gadgets to bring on a cruise

In:
11Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Packing for a cruise vacation means not just remembering to bring a swimsuit and formal night wear, but also helpful travel gadgets. These tech tools can enhance any vacation experience and ensure your days by the pool, at the beach or exploring are the best ones yet.

Here are some of our favorite picks for innovative accessories to bring on your next sailing. Note that we included links in this post that may contain affiliate links. Basically that means Amazon gives us a "finder's fee" commission without charging you anything extra.

Wireless Earbuds

Whether you jam out to classic reggae or prefer a Top 20 pop hit, wireless earbuds allow you to enjoy your favorite tunes without worrying about disturbing others around you.

Our pick: Apple AirPods

Phone Case Wallet

I have lost count of the times I have accidently de-magnetized my SeaPass card due to my phone being too close to it.  Until the whole fleet moves to RFID cards, you can guard against this problem by getting a phone case wallet.  They are inexpensive and will save you a trip (or four) to Guest Services for a new card.

Our pickSilk iPhone X / XS Wallet Case

Waterproof Bluetooth speaker

A day at the beach is about relaxing in the sun and surf, but passing the time enjoying those rays and waves is much more enjoyable with some great music.  Royal Caribbean does have some live music on the island, and some recorded music playing near the bars, but back at your beach chair it can be difficult to hear any of it.

We do not advocate blasting your music to disturb other guests, rather, provide a way for you and your family and friends to enjoy some background music while you take it all in.  Enjoying music among friends is a great way to spend the day, especially if you are in a cabana.

Our pick: UE Boom 3 portable Bluetooth wireless speaker

Portable device charger

Never let battery power on your phone, camera or any electronic device prevent you from capturing or enjoying the fun onboard or onshore.  A portable USB charger ensures you can stay charged up, and even allow multiple devices to be useful all day long.

Our pick: Anker PowerCore 20100

Clip-On phone camera lens

Your phone is capable of taking great photos, but with a clip-on lens, it can take even better photos.  By adding a clip-on lens, your phone can take wide-angle, close-up, or just plain spectacular shots that can rival any DSLR camera.

Our pickXenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone and Android

Travel Pillow

If you are flying to your cruise, you may want to invest in a neck pillow so that you can actually sleep comfortably on an airplane. 

Our pickEverlasting Comfort airplane travel kit   

USB wall charger

Since Royal Caribbean prohibits guests from bringing a surge protector (they are a fire hazard), your best bet is to bring a USB wall charger to keep everyone charged up during your cruise.  There are limited outlets in a standard stateroom, and a USB wall charger means you do not have to unceremoniously unplug your spouse's device and then later blame housekeeping.

Our pickAnker 60W 6 Port USB Wall Charger

Your thoughts

Any good cruise or travel-related gadgets we missed? Have any product recommendations (or dislike any of the things listed here)? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!

Friday Photos - January 11, 2019

In:
11Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Get your weekend started with our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos! Each week, we show off Royal Caribbean photos that our readers submitted.  It is a great way to enjoy lovely photos, as well as take a "virtual trip" back on a cruise.

 

We begin this week's batch of photos with a shot of the Sapphire Dining Room on Adventure of the Seas. Photo by Corey Seeman.

David Kelly took this beautiful shot of Central Park on Oasis of the Seas at dusk.

Wendy Frazier shared with us this photo of movie night on the pool deck of Enchantment of the Seas.

Our next photo is by Harry Nicholson and it is of Symphony of the Seas docked in Barcelona.

John Blahnik sent in this photo from the balcony on Enchantment of the Seas during the RCPeriscopers Superbowl cruise. Note Michael Poole's visor, which now resides on the bottom of the Port of Tampa Bay.

Next is a photo of Miami, as seen by Bill Barber on Empress of the Seas.

Our final photo this week is by Jason, and it is of the Seafood Tower at Chops Grille.

Thank you to everyone for this week's fabulous photos. If you would like to send in your own Royal Caribbean photos to be featured here, use this form to have them included in a future edition!

Top 8 most common Royal Caribbean dining questions

In:
10Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships offer an incredible amount of food and dining venues onboard.  Guests will discover fresh, delicious and authentic cuisine catered to a range of tastes and preferences. Whether you are a foodie or just enjoy classic comfort food, there is a lot of great dining choices to choose between.

We get a lot of questions about dining and eating on Royal Caribbean, so we have answers to some of the most commonly asked dining questions. Grab your fork and knife and let's dive into these common Royal Caribbean dining questions.

What food is included with my cruise? Is there food I have to pay for?

A Royal Caribbean cruise offers complimentary food as well as specialty dining. This means there are venues onboard your ship that serve unlimited food that is included with your cruise fare, along with some additional options that have an extra charge.

In short, there is ample opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks inbetween without additional cost. The exact complimentary venues will depend on the ship you sail on, but here are some common ones that pretty much every ship has:

  • Main dining room
  • Windjammer buffet
  • Grab and go spots for food, such as Cafe Promenade, Cafe Latte-tudes, Sorrento's, Boardwalk Dog House, Park Cafe, etc.
  • Johnny Rockets (for breakfast on Oasis Class ships only)

In addition, Royal Caribbean offers its guests the choice to dine at specialty restaurants. Most specialty restaurants have a simple cover charge that includes most of the food on the menu, although there are a couple of specialty restaurants that forgo the cover charge and simply charge you for what you order.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in trying more than one specialty restaurant, you can save a lot of money with a specialty dining package.

Is dinner the same every night?

No, the main dining room and Windjammer buffet both alternate their menus each evening to ensure there is something different. Complimentary dining venues change their menus daily.

Specialty restaurant menus do not usually change.

Do I need to make reservations for our meals?

Depending on which dinner option you choose, the answer to this question may differ. For dinner, guests can choose between traditional dinner or My Time Dining at the time of booking their cruise.

If you are booked for traditional seating at dinner, then there is nothing to reserve ahead of time for the main dining room dinner.  Simply arrive at the designated dining time and you will be seated at the same table each evening.

If you are booked into My Time Dining, then you have the choice of making reservations in advance. With My Time Dining, reservations are recommended for each evening, but you have the option to choose a different time each day of the cruise. We recommend making reservations in advance via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site to ensure quick(er) seating, particularly if you prefer to dine at peak dinner times (6:30pm - 8:00pm).

For specialty restaurants, you certainly want to make reservations.  Walk-up seating may be available, but it is common for specialty restaurants to get booked up. To make sure you get a table, you can make your arrangements online by going to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

Does Royal Caribbean offer unlimited drink packages?

Yes, Royal Caribbean offers unlimited drink packages that include alcohol, as well as some that are just non-alcholic beverages.

There are three basic drink packages to consider:

Drink packages can be purchased before the cruise via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site, as well as onboard. 

Pro Tip: Booking a drink package before your cruise is the best option financially, as the drink packages are usually discounted when bought online.

Can I use my drink package anywhere on the ship?

Yes, Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages work at any venue onboard the ship.  This includes any bar, restaurant or lounge, including the Windjammer, main dining room or specialty restaurants.

The only exception is drink packages are not accepted for room service or minibar orders.

Pro Tip: Drink package benefits extend to Royal Caribbean's private destinations of CocoCay and Labadee.

Can I bring drinks on my cruise?

Guests can bring up to 12 standard (17 oz) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Distilled water or specialized beverages such as, milk for medical purposes, dietary or infant use, are permitted.

Guests may also bring up to two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom.  

Guests cannot bring liquor or fortified wines at any time.  If you purchase wine or liquor in port during your trip, Royal Caribbean will store it on board for safekeeping and return it to you on the last day of the sailing.

Pro Tip: Be sure to keep any beverages you bring onboard with you in your carry on luggage.  If you put non-alcoholic beverages or wine in your checked luggage, it will be delayed in delivery to you room by security.

Do I need to tip?

Prepaid gratuities are automatically added to your reservations. Some guests choose to recognize particularly exceptional service with an added cash gratuity throughout their cruise.

Is there room service?

Yes, there is room service available but it has a $7.95 per order service fee.  The service fee is per order, so you can order as much food as you want in each order and only pay the service fee.

There is a complimentary continental breakfast room service option.

Room service is available 24 hours per day.

Gastrointestinal illness on Oasis of the Seas forces Royal Caribbean to end cruise early

In:
10Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

About 167 guests on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas are afflicted by a stomach virus, according to Royal Caribbean officials.

WESH is reporting the guests affected by the short-lived illness are being treated by the ship's medical team with over-the-counter medication.

“We are bringing additional medical staff on board and we're engaging in intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues,” a statement from Royal Caribbean said.

Oasis of the Seas is on a 7-night Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida.

UPDATE: The number of sick guests has increased to 277.

UPDATE: Royal Caribbean has decided to cancel the rest of the Oasis of the Seas sailing due to the outbreak. The Miami Herald is reporting that Oasis of the Seas will cut its current cruise short. Royal Caribbean said all passengers will receive full refunds for their cruise fare.

“We think the right thing to do is to get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health,” said Rob Zeiger, chief communications manager for Royal Caribbean. “Returning on Saturday also gives us more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship before her next sailing.”

Reasons people avoid going on a cruise on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
09Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 284 is available for downloading, where Matt and Billy debunk myths many people that have never cruiused before use to avoid going on a cruise.

Unfortunately there are a lot of myths about why not to cruise and this week, Matt and Billy dispell these misconceptions on the podcast.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 284. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Save up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases with Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner sale

In:
09Jan2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean kicks off a week-long Cruise Planner sale with up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases.

The Bring on the Savings Sale runs between January 9 -16, 2019 and is valid on sailings between January 20, 2019 - June 30, 2019.

Royal Caribbean states guests can expect to see:

  • Beverage Packages: Up to 30% off on select sailings
    • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship.
    • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship.
    • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship.
  • Save up to 25% on select shore excursions. Discount varies by ship.
  • Internet
    • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
    • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • Dining Packages
    • 3 Night Dining Package. Discount varies by ship.
    • 3 Night, 4 Night and 5 Night Ultimate Dining Package. Discount varies by ship.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

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