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Man who has cruised the most with Royal Caribbean reaches 10,000 points

In:
09 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One person has reached the top echelon of Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program that no one has ever gotten to before him.

Super Mario hits 10,000 points

Mario ‘Super Mario’ Salcedo just reached 10,000 points in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society this past weekend.

By hitting 10,000 points, he is the the highest-level Pinnacle member who has sailed on over 900 Royal Caribbean cruises!

Super Mario was onboard Explorer of the Seas when it happened, and Royal Caribbean celebrated his incredible milestone.

Super Mario hits 10,000 points

To mark this special occasion, Mario celebrated onboard alongside crew, ship/shoreside leadership, including

  • Sean Treacy – SVP Hotel Operations
  • Linken D’Souza – Vice President Food & Beverage
  • Raimund Gschaider – Vice President Hotel Operations
  • Ken Rush - Director Entertainment Activity Programming  
  • Ed Eiswirth – Director of Beverage Operations
  • Toni Tomlijaovic – Captain
  • Julie Young – Hotel Director
  • Elvis Pinto – Cruise Director
  • Nancy Ramos – AVP Loyalty & Onboard Marketing
  • Courtney Brant – Director Loyalty Marketing
  • Abundance Boekenstein – Senior Manager Product Development
  • Sylvia Chougle – Lead Loyalty Systems
  • Michelle Illance – Senior AE Loyalty Marketing
  • Loyalty Ambassador: Justin Alducente
  • Guest Services Manager: Federico Rodriguez
  • Activities Manager: Moe Vatuloka

To reach this milestone, he cruises about 50 weeks a year and has been doing so for decades now.

Labadee aerial

His favorite itineraries are to the Caribbean, and his favorite stop is our private destination in Labadee, Haiti

 

How Mario became Super Mario

Explorer of the Seas docked

Mr. Salcedo became Royal Caribbean's top cruiser years ago, but he only got started in 2000.

His family moved from Cuba to Miami in the early 1960s to start a new life in pursuit of freedom and opportunity.

"We are eternally grateful to this country for having welcomed us with open arms," he said about moving to the United States.

For the past two decades, Mario has been a full-time resident on Royal Caribbean, having sailed at this point on over 900 sailings.

Read moreLife at sea - An interview with Royal Caribbean's top cruiser, Super Mario

In 1997, Mr. Salcedo opened a small business managing investments for clients in 1997. That same year he took his first cruise and fell in love with the experience and began sampling different lines, regions, and itineraries.

Since then, cruising has become a way of life.

Since his first Royal Caribbean cruise in 2000, Mario has sailed exclusively on Royal Caribbean International ships around the world -- that’s 22 years and counting!

His first ship was Voyager of the Seas, which caught his attention because of how massive the ship was and that got him hooked.

"The ship took my breath away. I had never seen such a grandiose ship. It was then that I became Loyal to Royal and accelerated my cruising pace rather dramatically."

"The internet cafes onboard enabled me to run my business online and cruise at the same time. So, I decided to make a transformative lifestyle change and live onboard full-time."

How long will we cruise? As long as he can.

"With so many friends and memories made out at sea over the years, I plan to continue cruising indefinitely so long as I’m in good health and having fun."

Mario's favorite cruise memory

Mr. Salcedo shared recently the answer to what is his most memorable cruise memory.

“Without a doubt, the ‘hurricane evacuation’ cruise onboard Enchantment of the Seas in September 2017.

Hurricane Irma was headed towards South Florida packing maximum winds of 150 mph. Evacuation orders were issued, but there were no flights, car rentals, or hotel rooms. Bottled water and essential items ran out quickly and even gasoline was scarce. Miami’s residents were essentially trapped.

A famous CEO came up with the brilliant idea to offer Enchantment of the Seas to the Miami-based shoreside employees and their immediate families as a means of quick, safe, and free evacuation.

I believe the ship carried nearly 3,000 employees and families as she sailed out of Miami and out of harm's way for a 4-day cruise to nowhere. I may have been the only real guest onboard.  

That sailing gave me the unique opportunity to meet, chat, and socialize with many shoreside employees. It was a new and truly unforgettable experience.

I love the onboard crew, but this unplanned encounter with the shoreside employee population was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.”

Is there a best day to book a cruise for a cheap deal?

In:
09 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Is there such thing as a best day of the week to book a cruise?

Ovation of the Seas on a sunny day

In the world of booking airfare, there's been evidence that says certain days of the week will get you a lower price for a flight than others .

So does the same sort of logic apply that you might get a better cruise price if you book on a Tuesday instead of Saturday, or in the morning instead of after dinner?

I haven't noticed any kind trend, but I don't deal with cruise prices nearly as much as travel agents do. So to get an answer, I reached out to a few travel agents that specialize in booking cruises to get their take on if there's a better day to book a cruisr to save you money.

There is no best day to book a cruise

Cruise ship in Grand Cayman

In speaking with all the travel agents I asked for this article, none said there was any kind of trend related to day of the week being better or worse for cruise prices.

"There isn't a best day of the week to book a cruise, as prices change often," said Sharla Manglass, Travel Planner with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel.

"Some people seem to believe that waiting for Black Friday, WOW, or Kids Sail Free sales will be the best option for them."

Mindy Breitman, a Travel Advisor for Cruise Planners, points to the fact the algorithm controls the price, not the day of the week, "Weekends seem to be more people looking  and algorithms could make pricing increase on a particular sailing so I would say any weekday - and they can always be repriced."

Justin Wolfson, Independent Travel Advisor-Chubit Travel, agreed that day of the week doesn't matter, "I don’t believe there is a best day during the week to book a cruise, as many think booking airfare on Tuesday is best. "

Could there be a day of the week trend in another cruise market outside of the United States? 

Michelle Feilberg, Travel Curator for MTA Travel, didn't notice any price trends related to day of the week, "Not one specific day but what I find, here In Australia, is our busiest days for bookings are Friday through Monday."

Ms. Breitman said the only trend she saw with regard to timing was for suites.

If you're looking to scoop up a suite after someone fails to book it following a 24 hour hold, you'll want to stay up late, "I will say if someone is looking for a particular cabin to look at midnight especially for suites because any holds release at midnight."

Repricing is the real secret to a cruise deal

Each of the travel agents I spoke to for this article reiterated the importance of repricing, rather than looking for the day of the week to book.

Ms. Manglass tells all her clients to book early and reprice often, "The best advice I can give is to book when you're ready to book at the price you're willing to pay, and then if the price goes down, it's a win."

"Many cruise lines allow you to adjust your booking until final payment and beyond," Mr. Wolfson said.

Read moreDo cruise prices drop?

Odyssey of the Seas at sea

"Securing your booking on a Tuesday and the fare goes down on Wednesday it can be adjusted by your travel Advisor or cruise line if booked direct."

"I recommend securing your cruise as soon as possible to get the best overall rate."

Ms. Breitman said booking early to reprice later is her preferred strategy, "Better to lower your pricing than wish you booked it."

Trends when people want to book a cruise

Radiance pulling into Seward

One trend agents do see is when they see an uptick in new booking requests.

"Most people book in the wave season, meaning the first quarter of the year," Ms. Manglass explained.

Wave season is an industry term for the time of year when cruise lines tend to offer their best promotion. It traditionally takes place between January and March and is not just an arbitrary time of year to offer cruise deals.

"Wave season is no longer the only time we are busiest. I am typically busiest at the end of a month, or when new itineraries are released," said Ms. Manglass.

In Australia, Ms. Feilberg sees a spike in bookings tied to flash sales.

"Our flash sales are often mid-week (Tuesday- Wednesday) and our longer sales are often but not always starting Thursday-Friday."

"Our busiest days for bookings are Friday through Monday," said Ms. Feilberg.

Your cruise sail date, not date you book it

If there is one trend that holds up it's that you will find lower prices for a cruise that sails during certain times of the year.

Read moreWhen is the best time to book a cruise?

In the Caribbean, you'll find some of the lowest prices if your cruise sails these months:

  • January (minus Martin Luther King weekend or New Years)
  • First week or two of February
  • September
  • October
  • Early November (minus the weeks of Veterans Day and/or Thanksgiving)
  • First two weeks of December
Cantilevered hot tub on Freedom of the Seas

What do all these times of year have in common? School is in session and major holidays either just passed or are coming up. This means less people are able to take a cruise, and that lower demand sees lower than normal prices.

Read more8 ways to get the best cruise deals

Top 10 things to do in Ensenada, Mexico on a cruise

In:
09 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Ensenada is a cruise port on Mexico’s Baja California coast most commonly visited on 3 and 4-night cruises departing from Los Angeles on Navigator of the Seas.

Ensenada, Mexico

If you’ve cruised to ports on the Caribbean side of Mexico, you’ll undoubtedly notice a change in scenery when docking in Ensenada. Baja California has a dry, almost Mediterranean climate with a rocky and mountainous landscape.

Due to its rugged landscape and sunny, dry weather, you’ll find an abundance of outdoor adventures to enjoy in Ensenada, from wine tasting to hiking and off-roading. If culture is more your style, don’t hesitate to spend the day sampling Mexican cuisine and shopping at local markets.

Street Cafes in Ensenada, Mexico

With just one day to spend in Ensenada, you’ll want to make the most of it. Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do in this Mexican coastal city.

Wander along the Malecón and downtown streets

Ensenada

The Malecón (boardwalk) is an integral part of downtown Ensenada. This waterfront boardwalk overlooking the port is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Street vendors and food stalls dot the boardwalk, which congregates at Ventana al Mar, a public park home to one of the largest Mexican flags in the country.

Once in downtown Ensenada, browse storefronts, restaurants, and bars on the main tourist street of Avenida López Mateos. Souvenir shops, artisan markets, and jewelry stores can be found here, and you’ll be able to taste delicious local food as well.

Before getting back onboard, be sure to head to one of Ensenada’s food stalls for fresh churros with your choice of dulce de leche or chocolate filling.

Related: Mexican Riviera cruise guide

Wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe

Wine Country, Baja, Ensenada, Mexico

The Valle de Guadalupe is the premiere wine region in Mexico, producing around 80% of Mexican wine. This region is around 30 miles from Ensenada’s port, making visiting the valley a popular activity to do while docked in Ensenada.

Excursions to the valley typically include tours of local wineries and a wine tasting. Some excursions may also include a three course meal at a winery overlooking scenic views of vineyards and the Mexican countryside.

Visit La Bufadora

Bufadora

La Bufadora is the second largest blowhole in the world and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Ensenada area. Visitors to La Bufadora will be impressed as the sea cave explodes water up to 100 feet in the air. Water “eruptions” occur every few seconds to every few minutes.

Because of its popularity, there are plenty of shore excursions to choose from that visit La Bufadora, both from Royal Caribbean and third party tour operators. Some excursions will combine a visit to the blowhole with other activities such as kayaking or cultural performances.

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

Visit a local market

If you’re interested in exploring local culture further from the port, consider a visit to Mercado Los Globos, the largest outdoor market in Ensenada. At the market you’ll find food and drink stalls, fresh produce and fruit juices, antiques, and thrift stores.

Tasting local cuisine is a must while at the market, and there are a variety of casual food stalls offering dishes like chilaquiles, stuffed chilis, seafood dishes, and gorditas. 

Related: Visiting Mercado Los Globos in Ensenada

You’re unlikely to find many other tourists at the market, offering you a glimpse of local life and culture that will be harder to encounter on Ensenada’s main tourist streets.

Walking to the market takes around 45 minutes from the port, so you may want to call an Uber or taxi there instead.

Off-roading in Ensenada’s countryside

ATV or road buggy tours are popular excursions in many cruise ports due to the adventurous nature of driving these vehicles, which can take you far away from busy tourist streets and into nature. Ensenada is no different, with plenty of ATV and road buggy tours offered throughout the surrounding area.

These tours tend to visit the Guadalupe Valley, where visitors can ride off-road through the valley’s vineyards and mountainous countryside. Due to the valley’s abundance of wineries, some tours may include a wine tasting paired with local food products.

Try ceviche at La Guerrerense

Photo creditT.Tseng (no changes made)

While walking the main street in downtown Ensenada, you’ll come across an unassuming street food stall that will very likely have a line of hungry customers.

This street food stand is La Guerrerense, a restaurant specializing in seafood tostadas that opened in 1960. The most famous item at La Guerrerense is the ceviche de erizo con almeja, a sea urchin and clam ceviche tostada.

If sea urchin ceviche sounds a little too adventurous for you, there are plenty of other menu items available, from cod fish ceviche tostadas to seafood cocktails.

If you’re a seafood lover, you’re sure to be impressed at La Guerrerense. In fact, Anthony Bourdain even proclaimed their seafood tostadas to be among the best street food in the world!

Zip Line

Adrenaline seekers are in luck in Ensenada, especially those open to flying through the air! Desert Nest Zip Line Baja is an adventure park with over two miles of high-speed zip lines.

The park’s five zip lines take thrill seekers over Baja California’s vineyards and rolling hills, offering unbeatable views of Ensenada’s surrounding scenery.

Visit the beach

While Ensenada may not be known for an abundance of local beaches, there are still several ways to enjoy a beach day while visiting this Baja California port.

The beach nearest to the port is Playa Hermosa, although it is a 45 minute walk from the cruise ship dock to the beach. Uber service is available and convenient in Ensenada, though, so traveling to the beach via car should not be a problem.

Royal Caribbean offers excursions to Rosarito Beach, which offers more of a beach town atmosphere compared to Ensenada. Rosarito is known for its party atmosphere and large beach, making it a nice option for those who don’t mind the one hour drive to town.

Horseback riding tours are available to book on La Misión Beach for those interested in exploring Baja California’s beaches in a more unique way.

Sail Ensenada’s coastline

If you’re looking for a day spent on the water, consider a yacht cruise along Ensenada Bay. The bay is home to wildlife including dolphins, sea lions, and whales, as well as picturesque rugged mountain scenery.

A yacht tour is offered by Royal Caribbean on the “Bay Cruise on a Yacht and Wine Tasting” excursion. This 2 hour 30 minute tour also includes a wine tasting with wines from the Valle de Guadalupe as well as a guide giving information on the nature and history of Ensenada’s coastline.

You may also want to consider a boat ride to Todos Santos Island, located 12 miles off the coast of Ensenada. Snorkeling tours are available on the island, where you’ll find unique rock formations and an underwater kelp forest.

Hike El Salto Canyon

El Salto Canyon, Ensenada

Located northwest of Ensenada is El Salto Natural Park, home to the El Salto Canyon, hiking trails, and a waterfall. A drastic difference from the lush jungle you’ll find in Mexico’s Caribbean cruise ports, a visit to El Salto Canyon will bring you through rocky, steep, and dry landscapes.

Royal Caribbean offers the “El Salto Canyon Hiking Tour & Craft Beer” excursion, which first takes guests on a guided hike of the canyon, where they’ll traverse Baja California’s hills. The hike ends at an ocean-front brewery, where cold beers and snacks will be well-appreciated after a day in the mountains.

When is the best time to book a cruise?

In:
08 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Planning a cruise vacation starts with choosing a cruise ship, itinerary, stateroom category, and time of year to sail, but when is the best time to book a cruise?

Mariner of the Seas back of the ship

With so many promotions and deals available throughout the year, you may be wondering if it’s better to book a cruise now or wait until a new discount is announced. 

Spoiler alert: the best time to book a cruise is today

top deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

99% of the time, the best time to book a cruise is today. Waiting for a promotion or specific time of year to book your upcoming cruise has few advantages over booking the cruise as soon as possible.

Cruise fares tend to be cheapest the further in advance you book, and despite a few last-minute deals here and there, it’s best to book in advance and lock-in the best price.

The main reason for booking a cruise today instead of weeks or months from now is that you can reprice your cruise until the sailing’s final payment date (75 days prior to sail date for 1-4 night cruises and 90 days prior to sail date for cruises 5 nights or longer).

How does repricing a cruise work?

Voyager of the Seas at dusk

Royal Caribbean’s Best Price Guarantee Program guarantees you’ll receive the best price on your cruise if there's a price drop.

If you book a cruise 12 months in advance for $1000, for example, and later see the price has dropped to $750, you’ll receive the new, cheaper price provided your cruise is not past the final payment date.

Ship docked in Caribbean

Price adjustments do not happen automatically, so you’ll have to periodically check Royal Caribbean’s website or contact your travel agent to see if the cruise fare has changed.

Note: The Best Price Guarantee Program is only available in select countries, including the US and Canada. If you’re not from the US or Canada, contact Royal Caribbean or your travel agent to check if you are eligible for price adjustments on your cruise.

While it’s recommended to book a cruise as early as possible, there are certain times of year where you can sometimes find better deals than others. An all-around cheaper cruise is never guaranteed when booking during these promotions, but it’s possible to find savings on certain stateroom categories or cruise add-ons.

Booking a cruise during wave season

“Wave Season” is a cruise industry term for the time of year in which cruise lines tend to offer their best promotions. Wave season traditionally occurs between January and March, which is a popular time for people to book vacations for the upcoming year and look for a tropical “escape” from winter temperatures up north.

Wave season promotions vary based on year, but you might see savings like 60% off a second guest and up to $150 onboard credit to use onboard. If you’re browsing Royal Caribbean’s website during wave season, you should take advantage of the offer to hopefully save some money and get onboard perks.

However, don’t wait until wave season to book a cruise, as you can always reprice an existing cruise to see if the wave season promotion is lower than the price you originally paid for the cruise or cruise add-ons like shore excursions and drink packages.

Black Friday cruise deals

Black Friday can be an excellent time to shop for a cruise vacation, and you’ll always find a Royal Caribbean cruise promotion during the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

However, do not wait to book a cruise until Black Friday. Instead, book the cruise now. Royal Caribbean allows price adjustments with no penalty until final payment date, so if you do notice a price drop when Black Friday rolls around, call Royal Caribbean or your travel agent to get the cruise fare adjustment.

Plus, you might find that Black Friday cruise deals are not very different from promotions you’ll see throughout the rest of the year. Unlike retail and technology stores, for example, cruise pricing does not drastically change on Black Friday. You might find that the Black Friday promotion is nearly the same as other promotions during the year.

Can I book a last-minute cruise?

While most of our advice points to booking a cruise earlier rather than later, you can occasionally find a cheap last-minute cruise deal on Royal Caribbean.

If a cruise is past final payment date and not all rooms have been booked, Royal Caribbean may drop prices in order to encourage more passengers to book the cruise.

While this may lead to great savings, a certain level of flexibility is needed before booking a cruise at the last minute. Stateroom, ship, and itinerary choices may be extremely limited, so keep an open mind before booking so you don’t end up disappointed!

More information on last-minute cruise deals:

Booking a cruise when new itineraries are released

You can often find the cheapest cruise fares right when new cruise itineraries are released. We tend to find that cruise fares increase over time as more staterooms get booked, so booking early can usually ensure the best price.

Cruise itineraries are usually released around two years in advance. One way to stay informed about new cruise itineraries is by subscribing to Royal Caribbean’s marketing emails or following Royal Caribbean Blog.

As an example, Royal Caribbean typically releases Alaska cruise itineraries in November for the season to come in two years, so summer 2024 itineraries would be released around November 2022.

Related: When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Booking when itineraries are released is especially recommended for cruises at peak times of year, most notably during the holiday season. Cruises over Thanksgiving and Christmas can sell out and see much higher prices than cruises at other times of the year. Booking early allows you to lock-in the best price and have the most flexibility over ships, staterooms, and itineraries.

Related: How Royal Caribbean celebrates holidays on a cruise

Best time for families to book a cruise

If you’re traveling with kids and have specific stateroom requirements, it’s better to book further in advance than at the last minute. Certain stateroom options, like connecting rooms, can sell out quickly during peak times of the year when kids are out of school.

Another great time to book a family cruise is during a Kids Sail Free promotion. Royal Caribbean will occasionally offer Kids Sail Free promos, during which the 3rd and 4th guests (or higher) who are 12 years or younger are eligible for free cruise fare.

Related: Here are the absolute best cruises for families

While “free cruise fare” sounds enticing, there are a few caveats with Kids Sail Free. Sailings must be 4 nights or longer and not occur during the promotion’s blackout dates. Unsurprisingly, blackout dates tend to be during peak times of the year during school holidays. Additionally, you’ll still have to pay taxes, port fees, and gratuities for kids.

That being said, booking during a Kids Sail Free promotion can be one of the best times for families to book a cruise.

Should I wait to book my Royal Caribbean cruise at NextCruise?

NextCruise is where you can book future Royal Caribbean cruises while onboard a ship. The major perk of booking a cruise at NextCruise is that you will receive up to $600 in onboard credit on the cruise and you’ll often see deposits as low as $100 per person.

While the onboard credit offerings at NextCruise are enticing, we don’t advise waiting to book at NextCruise if you’re not currently onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. Even if you have a cruise coming up in a few weeks or months, it’s almost always better to book a future cruise you are interested in while at home and not wait to book the cruise onboard.

This is because the cruise fare may increase in the weeks or months leading up to your cruise, thus negating any extra savings via onboard credit that you would receive while booking onboard.

More cruise planning resources:

Top 10 things to do in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on a cruise

In:
08 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is commonly visited on Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries. Located on the southernmost point of Baja California, Cabo San Lucas offers plenty of activities for all ages, from relaxing beach days to adrenaline-filled excursions.

Lands End rocks Cabo San Lucas

With its unique geography of desert landscapes mixed with sandy beaches, you can find a mix of land and sea-based activities in Cabo San Lucas. Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do when visiting this vibrant cruise port.

Visit Land’s End and its beaches

The first thing you’ll see when your cruise ship arrives in Cabo San Lucas is Land’s End, a rock formation that rises dramatically from the ocean at the southernmost tip of Baja California.

While your ship will sail past the formation on the way to Cabo, you can also take an excursion to get up close and personal with this impressive geographic landmark.

There are two beaches located at Land’s End: Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach. Lover’s Beach is ideal for swimming, as it’s nestled in a cove, whereas Divorce Beach is prone to rough waters due to its position on the open Pacific.

It’s recommended to take a local water taxi to reach the beaches, as they are only accessible by boat. Some boat tours may include the beaches in the excursion’s itinerary.

Go whale watching

Some of the best whale watching in Mexico, and perhaps even the world, is found off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. Humpback whales and gray whales are common to spot between the months of December to early April as they enjoy the warmer Pacific waters before making their way back to Alaska for the summer months.

Related: Whale watching in Cabo San Lucas

Snorkel or scuba dive in Chileno Bay

While some beaches around Cabo San Lucas are not recommended for swimming due to strong currents, the beach of Chileno Bay makes for excellent swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Snorkeling tours to Chileno Bay start and end with a scenic catamaran ride, which allows you to cool off in the Pacific ocean breeze and take in Baja California’s coastal views.

Upon arrival at Chileno Bay, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel amongst angelfish, manta rays, parrotfish, and other marine life.

Additionally, if you have an open water scuba diving certification, you’ll find that Chileno Bay offers some of the best diving opportunities in Cabo San Lucas.

Day trip to San José del Cabo

If you’ve been to Cabo San Lucas before or are looking to try something new, consider a day trip to San José del Cabo, located just 30 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas.

San José del Cabo is a more laid-back, artsy town compared to Cabo San Lucas, which is famous for its party atmosphere and beach resorts.

In San José del Cabo, you can spend the day wandering the town’s colonial-influenced streets, browsing local art galleries, relaxing at the town square, dining at a local restaurant, and enjoying a slower pace of life.

Taste local cuisine

Tasting local cuisine is a must when visiting any cruise port in Mexico, and Cabo San Lucas is best known for an abundance of fresh seafood.

While the name may seem a bit odd, don’t hesitate to taste chocolate clams while in port. While the clams do not contain chocolate, they are roasted on a stone bed and covered with rosemary, adding a unique flavor to this local delicacy.

You can’t go wrong with fish tacos, either, and you’ll find many restaurants and bars offering fish tacos made with marlin, which is a very common fish caught around the coast.

If you’re not keen on seafood, try guemes tamales, which are pork and chicken tamales commonly found in Baja California.

4x4 through desert landscapes

Cabo San Lucas is surrounded by dry, rugged landscapes along the coast of Baja California. If you’d prefer to escape the crowds and party scene found in town, consider a 4x4 tour to the “outback” of Cabo San Lucas.

4x4 tours take you off-road through scenic coastal paths, where your adrenaline is sure to get pumping as you drive along rocky trails and take in the dramatic change from desert to sea along the way.

Take a boat tour

Excursions on the water always make for a fun way to spend time in port, especially on warm, sunny days. The unique geography around Cabo San Lucas can make boat tours even more intriguing, allowing you to get closer to places like Land’s End and small coves along the coast.

If your cruise includes an overnight stop in Cabo San Lucas, you may want to consider an evening cruise for spectacular views of Cabo at sunset. Some tours may even include dinner, making it a romantic and beautiful excursion option.

Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas

A fun shore excursion opportunity in Cabo San Lucas is “Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas”, which combines two types of salsas (the kind you eat and the style of dance) with authentic margaritas.

The excursion starts with a hands-on instruction during which you’ll have the chance to make seven different types of salsas, from spicy red and green salsas to guacamole and pico de gallo. Salsas will be enjoyed with quesadillas, taquitos, and tortilla chips along with agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) and all-you-can-drink margaritas.

Once filled up on fresh food and drinks, you’ll get the chance to put your dancing skills to the test with a salsa dancing lesson taught by a local expert.

Visit El Médano Beach

Another beach day option closer to downtown is El Médano Beach, one of the most popular beaches in all of Cabo San Lucas. Playa El Médano stretches several miles down the sand and is where you’ll find many of Cabo’s all-inclusive resorts and hotels.

The beach has relatively calm waters, as it is located in a small bay away from the open Pacific waters. Therefore it makes a nice swimmable beach option for visitors of all ages.

Playa El Médano can be accessed on foot from the Cabo San Lucas marina or via water taxi.

Spend the day at a resort

If you’re planning to have a beach day in Cabo San Lucas but want to be spoiled with amenities, consider purchasing a day pass at a local resort.

Resort For A Day offers all-inclusive day passes to two resorts in Cabo San Lucas: RIU Palace and Solmar Resort Cabo San Lucas.

Day passes cost around $100-130 and are all-inclusive, so you can enjoy unlimited food and drinks while at the resort. As a day guest, you have access to the resort’s amenities, including pools, whirlpools, beach access, towels, umbrellas, and chairs.

More Mexican Riviera cruise information:

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: August 7, 2022

In:
07 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We hope you are having a great weekend! Now it is time to sit back, relax, and catch up on all the Royal Caribbean news from the week!

Royal Caribbean announced an end to Covid testing for vaccinated passengers on short cruises.

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

Fully vaccinated guests will only have to show a test result at boarding if the sailing is 6 nights or longer.

For those that have to test, Royal Caribbean has made it easier by simplifying the testing time window. Guests will now have the same test standard, regardless of vaccination status: You can show a negative test result from a supervised PCR or antigen test taken within the 3 days before your boarding day. 

These new rules apply to cruises departing from U.S. homeports on or after August 8, 2022 that do not visit Bermuda or Canada. 

Royal Caribbean News

Video: Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Royal Caribbean Restaurant

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: Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Restaurant on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 463rd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt lists the things to do in the final days before your cruise.

This week's episode is about sharing a a list of the most important things you should be doing in those last couple days leading up to your cruise.

Please subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! 

Guide to RoyalUp

Need the inside scoop on how to bid for a stateroom upgrade?

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean’s stateroom bidding program that allows passengers to bid on higher cabin categories before their cruise, offering the chance to “win” an upgraded stateroom.

Before you bid, check out our RoyalUp tips and tricks for what to expect.

Why booking a last-minute cruise isn't always a great idea

While booking a last-minute cruise might seem like a great way to sneak in a cruise vacation, there are serious drawbacks to waiting to book.

There are a variety of considerations you should be aware of before booking a cruise in the final weeks or months prior to a cruise beginning that could make a last-minute cruise booking a problem.

From fewer choices to a higher overall vacation cost, here are the reasons why you shouldn't book a last minute cruise.

10 things I learned on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise

Angie just sailed on Mariner of the Seas for 8 nights and came back with her list of things she noticed, observed, and learned while onboard.

From dining to the Royal Caribbean app to secret areas of the ship, here's what Angie learned on her recent cruise.

8 ways to get the best cruise deals

In:
06 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Right now going on a cruise ship is one of the best vacation values out there, and if you're looking for the best deal, there are a few tried-and-true strategies.

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

Cruise ships are sailing at 100% capacity in the Caribbean, which means lots of people are vying to get onboard as well.

While there are lots of people enjoying a cruise, the good news is you can still get a great deal on a cruise if you're looking for a deal. The key is to know where and when to look.

To get the best cruise deal, you're going to want to employ these top tips for getting a great price. No matter the time of year, these tricks should get you a great price so you can maximize every dollar of your vacation budget.

Book a cruise during off-peak times

Every region of the world that a cruise ship sails has peak and off-peak times, so if you can take a cruise during the less popular times you will find some of the best cruise deals out the season.

Off-season cruises are when there are less people able or willing to go on a cruise. Usually this is at the very beginning or very end of when ships begin sailing in a region, such as Europe or Alaska.

In the Caribbean, where the cruise season is year-round, the off-peak cruise times are usually opposite the school calendar. When school is in session, there are less families that can cruise.

St Maarten

Just like a 6am flight, there is less demand for these departures and that means lower prices to be found.

Besides bad timing, less than perfect weather can be a factor for why there is less demand for certain sailings.

In Alaska, the very beginning and end of the season is when it is coldest. May and September typically are when Alaska cruise prices dip to their lowest.

In the Caribbean, hurricane season greatly impacts people's desire to book a cruise. This means lower prices for a Caribbean cruise in September or October. You'll also find great prices in January and early February, when school is back in session.

Work with a travel agent

Explorer of the Seas docked

In other forms of travel, the public has been conditioned to expect the best prices if you book things on your own to "skip the middle man". This strategy doesn't work as well with cruises.

The cruise industry still relies heavily on travel agents to spur sales, and there is no doubt that a good travel agent can help get you the lowest possible price for a cruise.

The potential money savings of working with a travel agent are not about simply who can do an internet search for a cruise price faster. Travel agents have access to special group rates and discounts you would never be able to find on your own.

Mariner of the Seas lime and coconut

Many travel agents are part of a consortium of agencies, who have rates you cannot otherwise book. 

Moreover, a lot of people booking on their own may simply be unaware of special discounts offered to select groups, such as residency discounts, military discounts, and more.

If there's one incredibly common mistake people make by booking on their own, it's not fully understanding the deposit rules and regretting it later when there are fees for changing or cancelling.  Travel agents can assist greatly with this before making a mistake.

A good travel agent can guide you through the different fares, help you pick out the perfect cruise ship cabin type for your family and avoid the bad cabins.

The best part about leveraging a good travel agent is they should cost you nothing extra to use, because Royal Caribbean pays them a commission for their services.

Book your cruise as early as you can

The best strategy for locking in a great price for your cruise is to book as early as you can.

Cruise ship pricing has many factors, but as more and more cabins on a particular sailing get booked up, prices tend to go up as inventory diminishes.

Cruise experts advocate booking your cruise as soon as you can. Ideally, when Royal Caribbean releases the new sailings around two years in advance of the sail date and inventory is untouched. 

Royal Suite on Liberty of the Seas

Not only will booking a cruise years in advance get you a rock bottom price, you're also going to have plenty of cabin types to choose from. The first type of cabins to sell out on a cruise are almost always suites.

Of course, booking a cruise that far in advance is difficult for many people because most people don't plan vacations years in the future. But if you have the flexibility, this is the best strategy for netting a great cruise price.

Read moreHow far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price?

Book a cruise on an older ship

Mariner of the Seas anchored

While Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Quantum Class ships are as amazing to cruise on as they look, they do not usually have the cheapest cruise fares out there. Newer ships command higher prices.

Instead, price shop around the Voyager or Radiance Class ships to find the real bargains.

Brilliance of the Seas side docked

Similar to how a used car that is a few years old will provide a better value than a brand new vehicle, cruise ships that have been around for a few years tend to offer better deals to entice cruisers to book them.

The great thing about the Voyager and Radiance Class ships is that you are not compromising a ton on the onboard experience, but will save a lot compared to the bigger ships.

Book a repositioning cruise

Ship sailing

If you don't mind flying, you can often find the lowest prices for a cruise on a sailing that begins in one port and ends in a different port.

Known as repositioning sailings, these are when Royal Caribbean moves the ship from one region to another.

Because of the logistics of getting to and from the cruise, as well as duration of the sailing, repositioning cruises can be a tremendous value. Simply put, less people are willing to book these because it requires more vacation time or they'd have to find a different way home.

The most common type of repositioning cruises are transalantic and transpacific cruises, where the ship moves between North America and Europe or Australia.

Last-minute cruise deals

More elusive than booking early, you can sometimes book a last-minute cruise deal if you are flexible.

This won't work for everyone, but there are sometimes really good prices in the final weeks leading up to a sailing when inventory hasn't fully sold out yet.

As mentioned earlier in this article, prices tend to go up over time as more and more people book a sailing. But sometimes a sailing doesn't sell as well as Royal Caribbean wants, and you can find a price drop meant to spur sales.

If you can travel on short notice and aren't picky, there are last-minute cruise deals to be had for those that look for them.

When you book at the last minute, you'll have less cabins to choose from and last minute airfare prices may negate any savings from the cruise fare.

Read moreWhy booking a last-minute cruise isn't always a great idea

It's important to act quickly if you do spot a good cruise to book that sails soon, because inventory within the last month or two of a cruise will disappear fast.

Book a guarantee cabin

One way to turn an average cruise price into a great deal is to let Royal Caribbean pick your exact cabin.

Guarantee staterooms are when you tell Royal Caribbean the minimum cabin type you want and let the cruise line assign a cabin to you, instead of you picking a specific room.

You will receive a room of at least that category (or higher), but it may be days or weeks before you learn of the room assignment.

Grandeur of the Seas hallway

In exchange for this ambiguity of room selection, you can often save hundreds of dollars off your cruise fare.

Keep in mind that you may end up with a cabin at the very front or very back of the ship. Or even a cabin with a partially blocked view. Those that value convenient cabin location or are sensitive to motion sickness may not want to roll the dice on a guarantee cabin.

If the exact location of your cabin doesn't matter much to you, then a guarantee room could be your ticket to deep savings.

Read moreHow to find the cheapest cabins on Royal Caribbean

Book Kids Sail Free if you have kids

Kids in splashaway Bay

Royal Caribbean will periodically offer a kids sail free promotion, where the third and fourth passengers under the age of 12 in your cabin will cost you nothing extra in terms of cruise fare.

In short, kids sail free will result in a cruise fare cost of zero dollars for third guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger. You are still responsible for paying for the taxes and port fees associated with the children, along with any other charges onboard.

For families, a kids sail free promotion is one of the most lucrative offers Royal Caribbean has, especially if you book a suite since the per-person savings are highest in these luxurious cabins.

Family in a Cabana

Kids sail free will still save you money on other cabin types, but the amount is significantly less.

One drawback of kids sail free is you have to share a cabin with your kids. This means in many cabins one bathroom for three or four of you.

Families on a budget can often get a great deal, especially when combining kids sail free with the tip earlier in this article about booking as early as you can.

Bonus: Going Going Gone Rates

10 things you didn't know about Perfect Day at CocoCay | Royal Caribbean Blog

A wonderful tool meant for travel agents to spot great deals has returned.

Before the pandemic the Going, Going, Gone weekly flyer was a staple at Royal Caribbean that would list especially good rates for last minute cruises to book.

The flyer usually gets updated weekly on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

You'll have to act fast if you want in on these days because by week’s end, most of the deals are gone.

You can find the flyer always at this address.

More cruise advice

Why booking a last-minute cruise isn't always a great idea

In:
05 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

The benefits of booking a cruise at the last-minute are plentiful. Not only can you often find a great deal, but you’ll be able to enjoy a spontaneous vacation experience with little to no wait time!

That being said, there’s no perfect time to book a cruise, and you may find that the cons of booking a last-minute cruise vacation outweigh the pros. It’s important to remain flexible when booking at the last minute, and if you are set on a particular ship, itinerary, or stateroom, it’s probably best to book further in advance.

If you’re planning to book a last-minute cruise, consider the following factors when booking to ensure you don’t end up disappointed with your options and cruise fare cost.

Fewer ship choices and itinerary options

When looking for the best last-minute cruise, you’re unlikely to find deals on Royal Caribbean’s newest and biggest ships like Wonder of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas. While you'll likely come across rooms available on newer ships, you probably won’t be seeing any major discounts.

Instead, you’ll typically find the best last-minute deals on Royal Caribbean’s older ships (Vision, Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships).

Additionally, you won’t have much control over itinerary options if you’re looking for the best last-minute deal.

If you’re set on visiting the colorful streets of San Juan, mountains of St. Lucia, or fjords of Alaska, you’re probably better off booking a cruise to those destinations further in advance rather than hoping for a cheap last-minute deal to those ports.

Certain destinations are seasonal, too, so you won’t be finding any last-minute cruise deals to Alaska in December or Australia in July!

Related: Pros and Cons of booking a cruise early vs last-minute

Limited stateroom categories

One of the main drawbacks of booking a cruise at the last minute is that there will be fewer stateroom categories available compared to booking a cruise far in advance. You might come across sold out stateroom categories, leaving you with no choice but to book a cabin category you otherwise would have skipped.

If you only cruise in balcony cabins, you might find that these are sold out, especially if the last-minute cruise is on a ship with fewer balconies, like Vision or Radiance Class ships.

Likewise, if you only cruise in interior staterooms to save the most money but they're all sold out, you might end up spending more on a higher category room than you would have originally spent on an interior.

Related: What's the best cruise ship cabin for my family?

Limited stateroom locations

Similar to having fewer stateroom categories to choose from, you’ll also have less control over where your cabin is located on the cruise.

If you prefer to sail midship or want an aft-facing balcony, there’s no guarantee these categories will be available when booking at the last minute. You may find that the only cabins available are located under the pool deck, far forward, etc. 

While some cruisers may not care where their cabin is located on the ship, others may prefer having complete control over cabin location.

Cruise add-ons can sell out or increase in price

A major perk of booking a cruise far in advance is also having the opportunity to book shore excursions, beverage packages, dining packages, and other cruise add-ons further in advance as well. Booking in advance not only means you can lock in the best price (or reprice if you notice a price drop), but it also means you can book cruise add-ons before they sell out.

This is most important for shore excursions, as some excursions are more prone to selling out than others. While Royal Caribbean will often add more tour options later on, this isn’t guaranteed, so booking a cruise earlier can give you dibs on top excursions.

Related: Guide to picking the perfect Royal Caribbean shore excursion

If you book a cruise at the last minute, you might also find that certain cruise add-ons, like the 3-night Dining Package or Unlimited Dining Package, are also sold out. Royal Caribbean offers a limited number of dining packages, and while they may add more over time if other passengers cancel, this is not guaranteed.

Expensive flights

If you have to fly to your cruise departure port, be sure to check airfare prices before booking the cruise. Last-minute airfare prices are often significantly higher than buying a flight several weeks or months in advance.

If a last-minute flight to Miami is $500 round trip but would usually cost only $200, you might be negating any cheap last-minute cruise deals with an expensive flight.

Last-minute prices aren't always cheaper

The term “last-minute cruise” can make some cruisers think they are getting the best deal out there, but this is not always the case. Just because a cruise is departing in a few weeks does not always mean the price will be cheaper than what you could have reserved several months in advance.

Related: Ultimate Guide to last-minute cruise deals

While Royal Caribbean will lower and raise prices to match supply and demand at any given time, there’s no set rule that cruises set to sail in the next week or month will be cheaper than a cruise a year in advance.

Before booking a cruise at the last minute, make sure you’re actually getting a deal and not paying just as much as you could for a future cruise where you’ll have more flexibility over ship, itinerary, and stateroom choice!

Payment is due upfront

If you plan a cruise vacation far in advance, you can make partial payments through Royal Caribbean in the months (or years) leading up to your cruise. Many people prefer booking vacations this way, as it can take some of the “sticker shock” away by paying little by little over time.

When booking a cruise at the last minute (i.e. after final payment date), you’ll have to pay the entire cruise fare upfront instead of paying over the course of a longer period of time. While this may not make a difference for some cruisers, others would prefer having the vacation paid for further in advance.

Bottom line

If you’re a flexible traveler, there’s no real harm in booking a last-minute cruise, especially if you need a vacation! While there are cons to last-minute deals, such as more expensive flights and fewer cabin options, you’ll still end up with an amazing cruise experience.

If you are not flexible, on the other hand, it’s probably best to skip a last-minute cruise and book the cruise you really want further in advance. Saving money and taking time off work for a vacation should, after all, be reserved for a cruise you’re really excited about!

Have you ever booked a last-minute cruise? Was it worth it? Let us know in the comments below!

Best Royal Caribbean itineraries with overnight ports

In:
05 Aug 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Have you ever docked in a port on your Royal Caribbean cruise and wished you had more time to explore the city?

Voyager of the Seas in Malaysia

One of the biggest drawbacks of cruising is not having enough time in each port; in fact, this is often cited as one of the top reasons that people choose not to cruise and opt for land-based vacations.

Of course, one of the perks of cruising is getting to see multiple cities and countries in one vacation. It’s so nice to step onboard your cruise ship and unpack your suitcase just one time. Before you know it, you’re waking up in a new place every morning.

On the other hand, your time in port is usually limited on a cruise - ranging anywhere from just 6-9 hours at each stop. Also, you have little to no flexibility about what time you arrive and depart the port because you are at the mercy of the cruise ship to get there on schedule.

Cruise ship docked in Miami

The best way you can spend more time ashore on a Royal Caribbean cruise is choosing an itinerary that features overnight ports. 

How does it work when a cruise ship stays overnight?

Anthem of the Seas at night docked

For some cities, when the sun goes down, the city comes to life! Cruisers have felt for a long time that they miss out on everything a city has to offer because the ship leaves too soon. 

Normally, cruise ships are chasing the sunset and heading out to sea in the evening. When the sun goes down, the ship is already sailing off to the next destination on the itinerary.

But when you have an overnight stop, you’ll get to spend multiple days exploring all the port has to offer while your ship stays docked throughout the night. 

With more flexibility offered in an overnight port stay, your excursion and exploring options become multiplied. Your cruise ship essentially acts as a floating hotel during an overnight port. The cruise ship will allow you to come and go throughout the day and night rather than having a strict all aboard time after just one day of being docked in the port.

With an overnight port, you can explore throughout the day, come back for a quick bite to eat, and then head back ashore to experience the city’s nightlife. Maybe you head to the rooftop bar to see the night skyline or you might prefer to have dinner at a local restaurant! 

Ultimately, overnight ports allow cruisers to be more fully immersed in the culture of a destination. These port stops can occur mid-voyage or even at the beginning/end of the itinerary. 

Best Royal Caribbean Overnight Ports

To offer more flexibility and time to explore ports over multiple days, Royal Caribbean has started to incorporate more overnight ports in its itineraries. The cruise line has also announced itineraries that feature late-night departures and multi-stay destinations.

By adding these itinerary options, this certainly appeals to cruisers who want to see everything a city has to offer over the course of multiple days.

Bermuda

One of the most common itineraries to offer an overnight port is in Bermuda. Because of Bermuda’s location, there aren’t many options for port stops other than sailing down the east coast of the U.S. or down south to the Caribbean.

Most itineraries feature at least one overnight in Bermuda but some even offer two overnights. With plenty of shopping and restaurants nearby, you can spend all day and night exploring this country.

Royal Caribbean offers 2022 and 2023 summer sailings (May to October) to Bermuda from Cape Liberty (New Jersey), Orlando (Florida) and Baltimore (Maryland). Some ships sailing to Bermuda include Enchantment of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.  

Lisbon, Portugal

Anthem of the Seas in Lisbon

Across the pond and nestled in the Portuguese hillside is the historic city of Lisbon. With little trams running through the cobblestoned streets, you can experience quintessential Europe with all of the architecture and culture of Lisbon. 

Because of Lisbon’s bustling nightlife, Royal Caribbean has incorporated overnight stays on some of its longer Mediterranean itineraries. An overnight stay in Lisbon means you can watch the sunset on a rooftop bar or enjoy a local Portuguese dinner in Lisbon. Even better, the cruise port is right in the city center so everything is close by!

Also, with Royal Caribbean’s itineraries offering two days in the city, you can even venture out to Sintra. This nearby city features UNESCO World Heritage Sites that include the Jeronimos Monastery and Quinta da Regaleira. It’s a real life fairytale!

Royal Caribbean has itineraries featuring overnight stays in Lisbon on Anthem of the Seas sailing from Southampton for summer 2022 and 2023. 

Iceland

Iceland

If the Arctic Circle is more of your vibe, you’ll find plenty of itineraries that feature overnight stops in Iceland. Most of the itineraries will feature an overnight in Reykjavik, which is the capital of Iceland. 

Having multiple days allows you to explore the city’s museums and churches while still having time to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon.

Royal Caribbean also has numerous itineraries that feature overnight port stops in Akureyri, Iceland. This tiny Icelandic town is situated at the end of the Eyjafjordur and features a quaint old town and plenty of hot springs.

Akureyri

Because Iceland is a smaller country with tons to explore, having overnight stays allows cruisers to get an in-depth experience of the Arctic Circle. 

Itineraries featuring overnights in Iceland can be found sailing on Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam throughout the summer of 2022 and 2023. Transatlantic and Arctic Crossing itineraries are also available on Royal Caribbean, including a 17 night crossing in August 2023.

Israel

Haifa

One of the more culturally immersive Royal Caribbean Mediterranean itineraries features overnight ports in Israel. With up to 3 days in Israel, cruisers are able to see all of the wildly historical places in cities like Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. 

With so many sites to see, most of which are located outside of the port city, it’s great to have multiple days to explore Israel while using your cruise ship as a home base each night. 

Haifa and Ashod are two of the most common cruise ports for Holy Land itineraries in Israel. These port cities give access to some of the most commonly visited biblical sites while also giving access to Tel Aviv and other cities in Israel. 

Royal Caribbean features Holy Land itineraries with overnights to Israel on Odyssey of the Seas through the summer of 2022 and 2023. 

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas Arch

You know all of your favorite celebrities are obsessed with Cabo - and for good reason! Cabo is an electrifying destination with plenty of nightlife located in Baja California.

With an overnight stay in Cabo, you can stay out all night partying in the night clubs, indulging in a margarita (or two), trying local Mexican cuisine or dancing the night away. During the day, you’ll have two full days to explore the town by foot and sea. 

Royal Caribbean offers 5-night cruises with overnight port stops in Cabo San Lucas in September 2022, March 2023 and April 2023 on Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California. 

Thailand

Phuket

If Southeast Asia is on your bucket list, Thailand is a destination that can't be missed. I can speak from personal experience that visiting the Thai islands by cruise ship is a great way to immerse yourself in their culture. 

With an overnight stay in Phuket, you have so much flexibility to really explore the island, like visiting elephant sanctuaries, beautiful temples, and stunning beaches. 

Our second day in Phuket, we ventured out to Phang Nga Bay to see the floating village by boat. It was absolutely stunning to sail around the islands. 

Ao Phang Nga

One of the most dazzling cities in Asia is Bangkok, Thailand. The city has centuries-old temples coupled with brand new skyscrapers and rooftop bars. There’s no city like Bangkok; lucky for Royal Caribbean cruisers, most itineraries feature an overnight stay in this fascinating port city.

From street-food vendors to tuk tuk rickshaws that run the streets, you’ll have two full days on your itinerary to see everything the city has to offer. Don’t forget about all of the Thai temples, museums and Buddha statues. 

Look for overnight ports in Bangkok and Phuket on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, sailing from Singapore throughout 2022 and 2023. 

Penang, Malaysia 

Ovation of the Seas in Penang

Most Southeast Asian itineraries will feature a stop in Penang, Malaysia; if you’re lucky, your itinerary will feature an overnight stay in the northwestern Malaysian port city to give you even more time to immerse yourself in the culture. 

You’ll find the port of Penang is filled with a rich and diverse culture, mostly because of its location as a trading center among India, China, Britain and the Middle East. Plenty of local food stalls accompanies the many religious temples scattered throughout the town. 

Overnight stays in Penang can be found on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, sailing in January 2023 from Singapore. 

Port Vila, Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Those sailing in the South Pacific will appreciate Royal Caribbean adding overnight ports on some of its most popular itineraries. 

Port Vila is the energetic capital of Vanuatu, where you can spend 2 full days exploring the island. From the French-inspired city to waterfalls and heritage centers, you might wish you had even a second overnight!

Royal Caribbean offers overnight sailings to Port Vila on its South Pacific itineraries. Quantum of the Seas has multiple itineraries sailing from Brisbane, Australia throughout the winter of 2022 and 2023.

Hawaii

Visiting Hawaii on a Royal Caribbean cruise is one of the best ways to explore multiple islands. Even better, you can find itineraries with overnight ports to have ample time to squeeze in everything you want to do on the islands.

Royal Caribbean’s itineraries feature overnight port stays in Maui and Oahu, giving cruisers extra time to explore the island. With Maui having so much to offer - from hiking to luaus and surfing on the beach - you’ll be thankful to have all the time to explore ashore. 

Itineraries to Hawaii are typically during the transition seasons when cruise ships are transitioned to Australia from Alaska. Quantum of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas all have Hawaii itineraries featuring overnights in Hawaii. Sailings are October 2022/2023 and April 2022/2023. 

Honorable Mention: Late-Night Departures

Wonder of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - San Juan | Royal Caribbean Blog

Even if your cruise doesn’t feature an overnight port stop, you might get lucky and have some late-night port departures. While you won't have two full days in a city, you can still experience some of the nightlife with port stays that last up to 14 hours.

In this scenario, your cruise ship will depart the port around 9pm -10 pm instead of a more standard time like 6pm.  

One of the places you can find late departures is the Greek island of Santorini, known for its picturesque blue rooftops and white villas on the mountainside. But, Santorini is best known for its unparalleled sunsets from the town of Oia. 

Santorini sunset

Instead of having a typical departure time of 5 or 6pm, Royal Caribbean has some itineraries that feature late-night departures of 9pm or 10pm in Santorini so cruisers can see the incredible sunset. 

Rhapsody of the Seas features late-night departures from Haifa to Santorini in the fall of 2023. 

Another popular city that features late departures is Le Havre, France. This European port city is the closest place a cruise ship can dock to Paris, even though it’s still 2.5 hours each way to get to the city. 

Because of the distance to Paris, which is surely a top destination for cruisers, Royal Caribbean docks in Le Havre from 8am to 10pm. Having 14 hours in the port allows you to explore Paris during your cruise and catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.

Anthem of the Seas has late-night Le Havre departures on sailings throughout the summer and fall of both 2022 and 2023.  

Although one day is certainly not enough to see everything Paris and Santorini have to offer, Royal Caribbean’s late-night departures allow for more flexibility in port to experience the even more of what the cities and countries have to offer. 

Royal Caribbean drops testing for vaccinated passengers with new Covid protocols for U.S. sailings

In:
04 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has posted its initial Covid-19 health protocols for cruises that include the dropping of Covid-19 testing on short sailings for vaccinated passengers.

Last week, Royal Caribbean Group announced it would not test passengers on short sailings from the U.S.

Royal Caribbean's website has been updated with new rules for cruises departing from U.S. homeports on or after August 8, 2022 that do not visit Bermuda or Canada. 

Guests on cruises visiting Canada or Bermuda will still need to follow the current testing protocols until further notice.

Wonder of the Seas aerial overhead

Royal Caribbean said in a posting on its website, "We are currently developing updated protocols that provide for the continued safety of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit, better align with the travel and hospitality sector, and meet destination regulations. This means we’re transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us."

New Covid policy changes

The major change is in testing for passengers sailing from the U.S. August 8 -  August 14th, 2022.

Fully vaccinated guests will only have to show a test result at boarding if the sailing is 6 nights or longer.

Unvaccinated children will still need to show a test result to board all sailings, regardless of length. However, they will not need to test again at the terminal.

Guests will now have the same test standard, regardless of vaccination status: You can show a negative test result from a supervised PCR or antigen test taken within the 3 days before your boarding day. 

Previously, unvaccinated children were required to only take a PCR test. Moreover, vaccinated guests had to get their test done within 2 days of sailing. This new change gives vaccinated guests more time to get a test completed and unvaccinated kids the choice to take a rapid antigen test instead.

Required testing for all guests, regardless of vaccination status, must be completed using a PCR or antigen test that is supervised by a healthcare professional or a home test kit that is conducted under live video supervision.

Tests must be arranged on your own and are at your own expense. 

Guests confirmed on U.S. sailings departing on or before August 7, 2022, should adhere to protocols previously communicated.

For those guests booked after August 14, 2022, please await the specific protocol details from the cruise line related to those sailings. 

No change in vaccination policy yet

There's been no change as of yet to the vaccination requirements, despite Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirming a change was coming.

"Additional information will soon follow, however, until then, current vaccine guidance remains unchanged."

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

The website does include language that points to a change, but no policy shift has happened yet, "We are continuing to work with our destination partners to evolve and finalize other travel protocols, as we begin transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us."

"We look forward to providing more updates in coming days."

Last week, Mr. Bayley posted on Facebook that Royal Caribbean cruise ships will sail at 80% vaccinated, leaving the extra 20% for unvaccinated. 

Back-to-Back Sailings Testing

Allure of the Seas at the gangway

Celebrity Cruises also posted their new protocols, which include a mention of back-to-back sailings.

Testing for back-to-back sailings is not required for all sailings. Guests will be notified onboard if testing is required and will be provided testing at no cost if needed.

This back-to-back testing policy applies to sailings on any ships within the Royal Caribbean Group which includes Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and SilverSea.