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Top 10 things you didn't know about what it's like working on a cruise ship

In:
20Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The crew members on a cruise ship are extremely hard working people that bring smiling faces to the services they provide, but working on a cruise ship is anything like a job on land.

Some crew members elect to work on cruise ships for many years, and repeat cruises often keep an eye out for their favorite bartender, Adventure Ocean staff member, or Guest Services officer so that they can say hello.  

In order to get a better idea of what it is like to be a crew member on a cruise ship, I reached out to some former crew members to get their thoughts on what many guests may not not know about working on a ship.

They really do work hard

While everyone knows that crew members are not on vacation, they put in a lot of time and effort to make the guest vacation amazing.

Ceri Jackson noted some guests overlook that fact and think crew are almost on a kind of "working vacation".

Hickdale James said simply, "Working on ship was damn hard but I must admit, I miss it sometimes."

With that, they make good money while not having to pay for food, rent or utilities.

Crew love to have a good time when not working

It is cliched to say "work hard, play hard", but it is very true of the crew too.

Alana Campbell added, "How hard they work is pretty well known.... but crew members generally party much harder than the guests."

Depending on the ship, different facilities were available to crew to unwind, but so-called "hall parties" would always work in a pinch.  These are parties when a few crew members in nearby rooms would open up their doors and hang out in the hall, similar to a neighborhood party on a street somewhere.

Long contracts means time away from home

Unlike a job on land, you don't get to go home to your family after your work is complete.

Working on a cruise ship means many months away from loved ones, and that can take a toll on some crew who are not prepared for it.

Radu Cosmin said, "This job is not for anyone. You must to have this in you... I'm away from home for 6 months."

Some guests plan cruises around crew members

The old saying, "good service is hard to find" may be why some people who book a Royal Caribbean cruise actually try to figure out which ship a certain crew member is on before booking it.

NJ Cole said there were times where guests would try to figure out where he was working, "I had a number of families that would make sure I was going to be on board when they were planning their cruises.

"And, there were even a few families/individuals that I went to visit when I was off the ship and some who came to visit me."

Natalie King also enjoyed meeting guests who later became friends, "I have also meet some really nice guests whom I am friends with on Facebook. I even meet a few persons born in my country but living somewhere else."

Read more8 cruise ship tips from a former employee

They really do live onboard

There are some guests who are surprised to hear the crew members live onboard the ship.

Evidently there are some guests who think perhaps crew members come and go somehow on and off the ship, perhaps through the different ports the ship visits.

Natalie King said she had to routinely confirm to guests, "we actually live onboard".

As mentioned earlier, crew contracts range in duration, but they are all many months and that time is spent living on a ship.

Crew do not eat the same food as guests

Many people who go on a cruise think the crew are eating the same food as passengers, but it is not the case.

Crew members have separate dining rooms with less glamorous cuisine.

Certain crew members are allowed to dine in guest specialty restaurants during their time off, such as officers or performers.

They love the travel opportunities

I asked these former crew members what loved the most about working on a ship, and many responded the opportunity to see the world is something they really enjoyed, and still miss today.

Pippa Madden said the travel working on a cruise ship affords you is something she misses a lot.

NJ Cole added, "Life on land does not remotely compare to life on ships."

Licinia Ferreira commented, "We earn very good money and have no expenses. Travel for free, meet different countries and people! I didn't regret leaving after 10 years, but sometimes I miss it."

Read moreWhat happens to the crew members onboard during the cruise suspension?

Crew members don't usually get full days off

Unlike working on land, where you get a day or two off here and there, crew members have longer work days that are broken up with breaks.

Ian Forbes noted crew members do not get full days off, but instead get a few hours break here and there. This is to work around the daily schedule of the ship.

While it sounds bad to say there are not full days off, the crew do get regular breaks throughout the day. Many crew members will even go as far as to get off the ship and explore a port for a bit during one of these long breaks.

Crew are forbidden from having relationships with guests

Certainly crew members and some guests form friendships, but crew are absolutely not allowed to take their relationships with guests to anything beyond friendly.

Cruise lines prohibit crew from engaging in any kind of personal relationship with guests, and if discovered, is grounds for immediate termination.

The rationale of this rule is mostly centered around ship security and avoiding workplace problems of any kind.

While the crew are usually very friendly, do not assume their intentions are anything more than platonic.

Read moreThe top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise

Even crew get seasick

You may think getting seasick is something that only happens to first time cruisers, but it can happen to just about anyone, including crew.

Crew members told stories of instances where on their first few weeks at sea it would unfortunately happen to them.

Alissa recalled her first run on a cruise ship, "When I first started working on ships, I would get seasick all the time and trust me, I've tried every remedy — ginger, green apples, wrist bands, ice. It is something you definitely get used to though, and now, I rarely deal with seasickness unless the water is particularly rough."

Kate added, "I remember laying in the fitness studio on a mat for an afternoon. I kept some ginger snacks around to help out."

CDC will require Covid-19 test for all international flights to the US

In:
19Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The airline industry will begin to feel the first major impact of a new rule by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with new testing requirements.

The CDC announced beginning on January 26, all passengers that are two years old and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the United States.

Specifically, flyers must take a nasal or PCR test within three days before the flight departs for the U.S.

The written results (written or electronic) of the test must be provided to the airline in order to be able to board the plane. The CDC added documentation of having recovered from Covid-19 is allowed.

If you have a connecting flight, a test taken no more than three days before your flight departs is acceptable as long as it is booked under a single passenger record. Layovers between flights cannot exceed 24 hours.

If your connecting flight to the US was booked separately or you have a longer connection, you need to get tested within the three days before your final flight departs for the US.

If you are flying out of the country for less than three days, you can take a test in the U.S. before you depart and use it for your return or take a rapid test before your return flight.

If a passenger does not provide documentation or chooses not to take a test, the CDC has advised that airlines must deny boarding.

The rule applies to U.S. residents and tourists alike.

This is the first time the airline industry has had to deal with any kind of testing requirements. Cruise lines committed on their own to 100% testing of all passengers back in October 2020 without the CDC needing to mandate it.

Read more5 ways cruise ships have tougher COVID-19 protocols than airplanes

CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield commented on the importance of testing as a major tool, "Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations."

Royal Caribbean Group to sell Azamara cruise line for $201 million

In:
19Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group announced it has sold its small boutique cruise line, Azamara, for $201 million.

The all-cash deal will send the cruise line to the new owners, a private-equity firm Sycamore Partners.

Sycamore Partners is a private equity firm specializing in consumer, retail and distribution investments.

Sycamore Partners will acquire the entire Azamara brand, including its three-ship fleet and associated intellectual property. The transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021. 

Royal Caribbean Group says the decision allows them to focus on its core brands and expanding those operations: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea brands.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain issued a statement about why they sold Azamara, "Our strategy has evolved into placing more of our resources behind three global brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, and working to grow them as we emerge from this unprecedented period."

"Even so, Azamara remains a strong brand with its own tremendous potential for growth, and Sycamore’s track record demonstrates that they will be good stewards of what the Azamara team has built over the past 13 years."

In conjunction with the transaction, Azamara Chief Operating Officer Carol Cabezas has been appointed President of the brand. 

The transaction will result in a one-time, non-cash impairment charge of approximately $170 million. The sale of Azamara is not expected to have a material impact on Royal Caribbean Group’s future financial results.

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty said the decision to sell Azamara was not driven by the global health crisis, but was something they were exploring for a while.

"It allows us to really prioritize our resources, which are not just financial resources -- it's also the minds and time of management," Mr. Liberty told The Wall Street Journal.

The move follows up the recent sale of Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas in December.

Azamara was created by Royal Caribbean in 2007, and according to financial filings, was the smallest of the group's brands. Azamara operated small cruise ships to regions around the world, but the acquisition of Silversea seemed to create a bit of overlap between the two lines.

The sale of Azamara will help remove some overlap Azamara has with Celebrity and Silversea, both of which cater to affluent customers, Mr. Liberty said.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO: "we are approaching the point where we can run out the clock on this terrible disease."

In:
19Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain shared a new video with travel partners that answers the question of how can he be hopeful for the near-term future when we are inundated with terrible news every day.

"We are approaching the point where we can run out the clock on this terrible disease."

Mr. Fain has been releasing video updates every few weeks that share his thoughts on what is happening currently with the global health crisis, as well as providing hints at cruises being able to restart.

This week's video focuses on projections of estimated infections, and how over the course of the spring and early summer, a combination of vaccine rollout and other rule changes could bring the daily count down.

Mr. Fain started out the video by saying he believes, "2021 will end up in a very good year for us all."

The projections come from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.

Their stats indicate infections and fatalities will peak at the end of January, and then rapidly fall from there.

IMHE's projections are based on the fact 22% of the U.S. population has already had the virus, along with the growing number of vaccinated people, as well as people wearing face masks.

"They project that by the end of April, we can expect levels 20 times lower than today's peak and the lowest they've been since early last year."

Mr. Fain conceded virus mutations could affect the projections, along with possibility increased vaccine rollout could make it better.

The current events reminded Mr. Fain of hurricanes in Florida, with the anticipation, preparation and constantly changing updates associated with a storm.

"The TV rightly shows the winds howling in the trees, bending during the storm, and it is horrific. But we also look at the projections to see where the storm will be a little later on. It takes some pretty sophisticated modeling and a lot of experience, but we can get a good indication of the path of the storm." 

 "Not perfect, but pretty good. And I think the covid tempest is similar. We're in the midst of the worst part of the storm and it is horrific. "

 "But we need to consider the likely direction over the next few months, and that's why I'm so positive."

4 futuristic ideas Royal Caribbean has for cruise ships

In:
18Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Technology innovates constantly, and Royal Caribbean has never been one to shy away from leveraging new advances to improve the guest experience.

Most recently, the cruise line rolled out a virtual muster drill that not only solves a social distancing problem, but also addresses a negative guest experience that has been an issue for decades.

Royal Caribbean has plans for other next generation transformations to the cruise ship experience, and some have already been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Whether or not these products ever see the light of day is another question, but here are some of the more intriguing and futuristic ideas that might be coming to a cruise ship near you sometime soon.

Virtual reality dining

Despite the cruise industry being stuck in a year-long shutdown, Royal Caribbean is still hard at work innovating the cruise ship experience.

The cruise line files plenty of trademarks and patents, including a patent for virtual reality dining that caught my attention.

The patent was filed in 2018, but has been updated as recently as November 2020 and was summarized as follows:

A method, system and computer program product for virtual reality dining includes establishing an index of different human consumables positioned on a sensory surface of a serving tray and, generating in a display of a virtual reality headset, a rendering both of a thematic visual background and also a display of different graphical representations of corresponding ones of the different human consumables at different positions consistent with the index. Thereafter, the removal from the serving tray of one of the different human consumables is detected. In response, a theme of the thematic visual background changes and the thematic visual background re-renders in the headset with the changed theme. Finally, the method includes animating the movement of a display of a corresponding one of the different graphical representations of the removed one of the different human consumables in the headset.

I was able to actually try out this idea in a very early test back in 2017 at a press event that introduced a number of new technologies and concepts.

Essentially, the user puts on a virtual reality headset and is seated at a virtual restaurant.  You see virtual food, which is replaced with real food by servers around you.

The idea is that your surroundings and overall experience are more than just being in another restaurant.  There is the opportunity for eating to be a visual experience too.

Not only did Royal Caribbean patent the idea, they even filed a second patent for the interactive serving tray that has an integrated digital display.

The tray has a computer program that can identify the food or beverage item ordered by the customer, and identity information of a customer associated with the order, such as a digital image of the customer, and displaying the identity information in the display.

Hologram tours

Until the holodeck from Star Trek becomes a reality, the next best thing might be augmented reality.

Royal Caribbean filed a patent for what sounds like a cruise ship tour that you can see around you using holographic animation.

The "Augmented reality tour guide" is described as:

In augmented reality self-guided tour, different augmented reality views are received in a mobile computing device. One of the views presents a holographic animation of a tourable three-dimensional structure with multiple activatable points of interest disposed thereon. A geographic location of the device relative to the structure is determined and a camera of the device retrieves an image of a surrounding portion of the environment so as to compute a position in the image at which to render the animation. The animation is then projected in the display at the computed position. Upon selecting an activatable point of interest, it is determined if the geographic location matches that of the selected point of interest. If so, a different animation associated with the selected point of interest is projected in the display at the computed position.

This is a self-guided tour of a three-dimensional cruise ship, with a holographic person speaking behind the ship. 

The patent sounds like you would be able to navigate parts of the ship to get an idea of where things are located and become acclimated with the cruise ship more easily.

Crowd detection cameras

As cruise ships have gotten bigger and bigger, managing crowds to avoid a negative guest experience has been a major focus for Royal Caribbean.

To help detect where crowds are congregating (and perhaps offer swifter crew responses to help move things along), Royal Caribbean patented a multi-camera that can detect population density.

Cruise ships have always relied on security cameras to record what is happening, but what if cameras could be a front line tool for knowing where crowds will form before they get there? 

The invention relies on using automated surveillance, while leveraging deep learning to better determine how crowds form in compact areas.

The patent was filed in May 2019, and then updated again in November 2020, and summarized as follows:

A method for determining population density of a defined space from multi-camera sourced imagery includes loading a set of images acquired from multiple different cameras positioned about the defined space, locating different individuals within each of the images and computing a population distribution of the located different individuals in respect to different locations of the defined space. The method additionally includes submitting each of the images to a convolutional neural network as training data, each in association with a correspondingly computed population distribution. Subsequent to the submission, contemporaneous imagery from the different cameras is acquired in real time and submitted to the neural network, in response to which, a predicted population distribution for the defined space is received from the neural network. Finally, a message is displayed that includes information correlating at least a portion of the population distribution with a specific location of the defined space.

Different cameras positioned  around a space are programmed to figure out all the different individuals in a given space, count how many people are there, and then using a neural network, predict population distribution in that area.

The images gathered by the computer system would be processed so that the neural network could be "trained" to predict a number of individuals at different locations in imagery so as to produce a population distribution by location of a supplied real-time image 

In the short term, the system could determine how empty or full an area is, and report back to the ship crew so they could be alerted of crowding issues.

Long term, the neural network could help Royal Caribbean better manage spaces to mitigate congestion in the first place.

The system can then give crew members a message of what to expect before it happens.

Augmented reality cruise ship cabin

Royal Caribbean played around with the notion of the cruise ship stateroom of the future when it patented the augmented reality stateroom.

Another concept that was showcased at a media event in 2017, the basic concept was to take a traditional cruise ship cabin and use technology to enhance the look and feel of the space.

A method, system and computer program product for generating augmented reality in a state room includes establishing a communicative link with different computing devices disposed within separate state rooms, with each of the state rooms including a display positioned at a ceiling, a display positioned on a wall and a display embedded in a floor. The method further includes, for each of the state rooms, assigning a theme of an exterior environment, directing the retrieval from fixed storage of exterior environmental imagery, and directing display of an atmospheric portion of the exterior environmental imagery on the display positioned at the ceiling, directing display of a horizon portion of the exterior environmental imagery on the display positioned on the wall, and directing display of a surface portion of the exterior environmental imagery on the display embedded in the floor.

Digital displays embedded in the walls and floors would allow the room's look to be changed at any time, and could match a theme of what is happening outside. They even thought of taking live outside imagery and making that what you see on your walls or ceiling.

Imagine sailing through Alaska and seeing the amazing scenery without leaving your room. Or seeing the horizon and sea going past your ship on your wall.

Mailbag: Will there be any Alaska cruises in 2021?

In:
18Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

While all cruises in 2021 are still questionable if they will be able to sail, Alaska cruises seem to be the most at-risk itinerary cruise fans are facing right now.

Every week the RoyalCaribbeanBlog mailbag answers a question a reader has sent in about going on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

We're getting closer to the Alaska cruise season in 2021, and I saw the Canadian government is still holding firm with their travel ban. Will any Alaska cruises be allowed to sail in 2021? - Frank Carter

The cruise industry has been shutdown in North America since March 2020, but Alaska cruises face the most obstacles to returning to service due to the government challenges between two countries.

Royal Caribbean's Alaska cruise season typically runs between May and October, and while there have been no changes to their schedule, other cruise lines are already canceling their Alaska 2021 cruises for some of the year.

Princess Cruises cancelled Alaska cruises through mid-May and Holland America Line cancelled all Alaska cruises through mid-May, and Alaska departures on three ships through early June.

Cunard even went as far as to cancel their entire 2021 Alaska cruise season, because they wanted to reposition their ship from the U.K.

Why are Alaska cruises in trouble?

The global health crisis has nearly all cruise ships shutdown, including Alaska sailings.

In order to restart operations, Alaska cruises would require approval from two countries to sail: the United States and Canada.

Most readers are aware of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ban of cruise ship travel, which has shutdown operations from the United States. This remains an unanswered question, although theoretically the new Conditional Sail Order could open up the possibility of cruises resuming sometime soon.

Over in Canada, Transport Canada has banned all cruise ship activity through February 28, 2021, and more extensions of that ban are very possible.

On top of that, Canada has closed its border with the United States for travel until at least February 21, 2021. 

The land borders have been closed since March 18, 2020.

The reason why Canada matters for Alaska cruise is because any cruise ship needs to be able to stop in Canada to operate legally from the United States.  Cruises that would depart from Vancouver would need the Canadian government to open their ports.

Cruises sailing from the United States must adhere to the Passenger Vessel Service Act of 1886 (sometimes referred to as the Jones Act).

Commander Don Goldstein, Retired United States Coast Guard, explained why these laws are in place.

Both the PVSA (1886) and the Jones Act (the Merchant Marine Act of 1920) are cabotage laws designed to protect the U.S. maritime industry.  Most countries with coastal ports have some form of cabotage laws, some very similar to ours.  The U.S. also has cabotage laws regard aviation. The justification for both the PVSA and the Jones Act is the same:  the need to protect the U.S.Merchant Marine (the licensed (officers) and documented (trades) personnel on the ships) and to protect U.S. shipyards that both build and repair the ships .  Both laws require that ships carrying people (PVSA) and cargo (Jones Act) between U.S. ports, including territories, be done on U.S. registered and enrolled (flagged) vessels.  This is called the Coasting or Coastwise Trade.  In order to be flagged in the U.S. the vessel must be built in the U.S.,the owner must be a U.S. citizen, and the vessel must be crewed primarily by U.S. citizens (all officers) or at least be authorized to work in the U.S.  It means that most, if not all, U.S. laws apply to the vessels and their crew, including wage and labor laws, OSHA laws, etc.

In order for a cruise to Alaska to be allowed to sail, the Canadian and American governments would have to allow cruise ships to sail again.

Even if the United States allows cruise ships to sail again, they would not be able to sail to Alaska without Canadian waters and ports open to satisfy U.S. cabotage laws.

There is some talk of a temporary amendment to the PVSA to allow cruise ships to depart without a foreign port stop, although there has been no progress made beyond proposals. 

Will there be Alaska cruises this year?

Like any sailing, it is unclear what to expect in the coming months.

Vaccines are beginning to be rolled out in mass quantities, which will hopefully turn the tide of new cases in the global health crisis and put governments at ease about lifting restrictions.

Both the Canadian and U.S. governments are keenly aware of the immense financial struggle these port towns are facing after an entire year without tourism revenue. Another year of no tourism would be catastrophic to many businesses in this region.

Realistically, a full cruise season in Alaska seems unlikely, but a limited cruise season in Alaska is far from out of the question.

Photos: Beautiful photos of Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship

In:
18Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship is getting closer to being delivered to the cruise line, and she already looks amazing.

 

Odyssey of the Seas is docked at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and is being prepared for to be completed in the coming months.

Work is underway on Odyssey to add mostly outdoor features to the ship before she begins the process of leaving the shipyard and heading out to sea.

The talented photographer, Björn Haß, took these wonderful photos of Odyssey of the Seas that I wanted to share with all of you.

Photos by Björn Haß

The 169,000 GT cruise liner has an overall length of 347.1 meters, is 41.4 meters wide and can accommodate more than 5000 passengers.

Odyssey of the Seas is now the fifth Quantum/Quantum Ultra Class ship to be constructed at Meyer Werft, following Quantum, Anthem, Ovation and Spectrum of the Seas.

It is not yet know when her conveyance down the Ems River or sea trials might take place.

Odyssey of the Seas will enter service with cruises from Europe in summer 2021 before heading to Port Everglades, Florida to sail the Caribbean in winter 2021.

What's different about Odyssey of the Seas?

Odyssey of the Seas will be the first Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship to sail from Europe and North America, giving a new audience the opportunity to experience this class.

Like all new cruise ships, Royal Caribbean always makes an effort to include other changes and new features that make a ship stand out from the rest of the fleet.

Here are a list of the major features on Odyssey of the Seas that we know about:

  • SkyPad bungee trampoline experience 
  • SeaPlex - the largest indoor space for recreational activities at sea
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade with club-level views of the SeaPlex
  • Reimagined Adventure Ocean kids program and a maxed-out teen lounge with gaming consoles, music and movies
  • Teppanyaki restaurant
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar
  • Two-level pool deck will feature two open-air, resort-style pools and four whirlpools with shady casitas and hammocks
  • FlowRider surf simulator
  • Skydiving with Ripcord by iFly
  • North Star glass capsule
  • Robot bartenders at Bionic Bar

In Europe, Odyssey will offer longer stays in every destination and overnights across select Mediterranean cities.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: January 17, 2021

In:
17Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy weekend! We hope you are enjoying a wonderful and relaxing weekend and managing to stay warm. Now it is time to sit back with a cuppa tea or java, and check out the latest in Royal Caribbean cruise news.

Unfortunately, there was a new round of cancelled cruises announced this week.

Royal Caribbean announced it has cancelled all of its March and April sailings, with two exception: Quantum of the Seas sailings from Singapore and China sailings on Spectrum of the Seas, February 16-28, are suspended.

It also means there will officially have been no Royal Caribbean cruises from the United States for exactly one year, as the global cruise shutdown began in mid-March 2020. 

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 389th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt catches up with Sheri from CruiseTipsTV.

We're starting off the new year on the right foot by catching up and talking cruises with Sheri.

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: 7 things I wish more cruisers knew about going on a cruise

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 — 7 things I wish more cruisers knew about going on a cruise — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

A cruiser's manifesto: Cruise ship rules to live by

In:
16Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

There isn't a right or wrong way to cruise, but it seems there are several unwritten rules many repeat cruisers seem to follow.

These are the things we hold to be true, that all cruise sailings are not equal. As a result, we rely on tried-and-true advice to ensure a great vacation.

Whether you are brand new to cruising or have sailed for at least four score and seven years ago, these are the rules all cruisers live by to avoid problems later.

I will book my cruise as far in advance as I can to save money.

The key to getting the best price is to book your cruise as soon as you know you want to go on the sailing and lock in the cabin you prefer.

The ideal strategy for booking a Royal Caribbean cruise is if you live in a country where you can reprice your cruise up until final payment date. Residents of the United States, Canada and select other countries are able to contact Royal Caribbean if there is a price drop and take advantage of the lower price.

By booking 12, 18 or even 24 months in advance, you have the luxury of watching the price and making a price adjustment if there is a lower price offered. You can do this unlimited amount of times until the final payment date at 90 days prior to sailing. 

Booking a cruise one to two years in advance is not practical for many families, so a great time to book a cruise is between six and 12 months before sailing.

In addition to the lower prices, booking well in-advance of a cruise assures you of the ship and stateroom you want to reserve. Suites and some of the higher in-demand cabins are the first to be reserved, and waiting to book usually results in far fewer choices. Moreover, my observation is the price for a suite on Royal Caribbean tends to only go up over time at a greater rate than standard cabins.

Since booking many months in advance comes at the risk of guessing your own personal schedule and hoping for no surprises, I always recommend booking refundable cruise fare to avoid penalties if an unexpected reason to cancel a cruise occurs.

I will read about the ports I’m going to before I get there.

Your cruise ship will visit different ports of call during your sailing, so picking a great shore excursion for the few hours you have in each stop is very important.

Your first step is to determine the most popular activities in each port. Then, start looking at what tours are available, either on your own or through the cruise line.

The key is to determine which tours you want to book, and reserve it in advance. In some cases booking in advance will save you money, and everyone can benefit from having the luxury of time to consider all options.

I will try new foods.

Going on a cruise is one of the best times to try new foods, because so many of them are included in the cost of your cruise.

There is no penalty for not finishing something you ordered, so you should always feel free to order something to give it a try and know you can always have a backup order if you do not like it.

This is a great opportunity not only to indulge, but to also try out some new foods, like escargot!

I will be flexible, especially about my plans.

Even if you spend more time than any other human being before planning a cruise, you will still run into problem here or there.

The key is to not let little mishaps greatly impact your cruise and to understand sometimes you just have to let the little things go by.

Whether the weather does not cooperate, a port has to be skipped, or your kids decide they cannot be bothered to wake up before 11am, it is super important to adopt a "go with the flow" mentality to cruises.

As a major advocate of planning ahead, a little bit of footwork does go a long way to helping avoid some major pitfalls. However, there is always going to be some risk to any well-thought out plan.

It is a great idea to make plans and look forward them, but know in advance that no matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.

The key is not letting this incident ruin the rest of your day or cruise. We all experience frustration, but try to remember the classic mantra of don't worry, be happy.

Read more7 things I wish more cruisers knew about going on a cruise

If a problem does arise, I will talk to someone about it while onboard.

A really common mistake I see is someone on a cruise runs into some sort of a problem that impacts their enjoyment of the cruise and does not say something to a crew member about it.

Whether it is a malfunction in the cabin, accident onboard, disagreement with a crew member, or anything else that stops you in your tracks, problems should be addressed onboard and not after the cruise.

I know that feeling of not wanting be a bother, but Royal Caribbean wants you to have a great experience, and problems should be identified so they can be fixed.

A classic example is slow service in a dining room, where a waiter may be handling too many tables or a kitchen delay slows everything down. Asking to speak to the head waiter to alert them that there is a problem is a helpful way to get the situation resolved quicker.

If you have a billing discrepancy on your bill, speak to Guest Relations on the ship. If something is not working properly in your cabin, alert your stateroom attendant.

Read moreThe top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise

I will take time while on my cruise to forget about the real world.

One aspect of going on a cruise that I love is the ability to disconnect from the world events for a little bit.

Whether it is politics, breaking news, or college football, it is nice to intentionally or unintentionally take a step back from the daily grind these updates can have on our psyche.

As someone who always buys an internet package, I am not advocating completely ignoring what is happening at home, but going on a cruise can be a nice break from the 24 hour news cycles and constant jibber-jabber that slowly eats away at us.

A good rule of thumb is to not bring up these topics to other guests onboard (just like at parties on land, politics and religion are never good topics), and spend more time enjoying the beautiful scenery and discuss the fun you had that day.

I will have no regrets about partying until dawn but I will be respectful of my fellow guests sleeping while stumbling back to my stateroom.

This is an important mantra, because there is no judging the "which bars are still open at this hour" crowd.  But respect goes both ways.

There are lots of activities on a cruise, plenty of indulgences, and no work the next day to stymie sudden impulses, but that is not carte blanche for dragging others along unwillingly with you.

Leave the party at the lounge or bar, and quietly find a comfortable spot in your room to close your eyes and wake up many, many, many hours later.

I will be friendly onboard and aspire to meet some new friends.

Speaking of respecting other guests, you should always greet other guests with a smile and practice good manners.

One mistake I made early in cruising was ignoring other people I was cruising with, in the same way I might look at a land hotel as just a bunch of rooms with beds and I was on my way.

Not everyone necessarily wants a new friend, but a simple "hello" and "goodbye" in an elevator, or "how do you do" during a shore excursion is not only a polite way to keep things friendly, but you never know whom you may meet.

So many cruisers make new friends onboard by virtue of the fact they happen to be under similar circumstances, which leads to a conversation that might end up forming a new bond.

Speaking of being friendly, do not limit yourself to just other guests. The crew members onboard work very hard to make your vacation a great one, and you should feel free to strike up a conversation with them as well.  

Even if you do not meet your new BFF on a cruise, being cordial to each other is the least we can all do and is always a good idea.

After 2020, I will not take cruises for granted.

After the events of the last 12 months, it is clear we all took the ability to go on a cruise for granted.

So much of our world has changed, and with it the casual ability to go on a cruise vacation.  While other aspects of travel have returned, cruises remain shutdown and it has served as a good reminder of what we once had and why we should treasure the opportunity.

Travel has always been a luxury, so the old saying of "stop to smell the roses" is appropriate for whenever we are able to get back on a cruise again.

Royal Caribbean trademarks 15 names for possible cruise ship venues

In:
15Jan2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has started off 2021 getting busy at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Royal Caribbean Group filed 15 different trademark registrations with the PTO for names that sound like they might be used for cruise ship venue names.

Trademark registrations are notoriously vague, and rarely give much insight into what they may be used for onboard a cruise ship, but it can sometimes tip Royal Caribbean's hand in what they have planned.

All of these trademarks were filed on January 11, 2021.

Go Green

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Absolute Zero

Filed under: Cruise ship services

AquaDome

Filed under: Cruise ship services; Restaurant and bar services

Challenger's

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Roosevelt's Table

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Royal Dueling Pianos

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Royal Suite Club

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Cloud 17

Filed under: Cruise ship services; Providing recreational facilities in the nature of an adults-only pool area onboard a cruise ship

Lou's Jazz Club

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Playaway Park

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Surfside

Filed under: Cruise ship services

The Overlook

Filed under: Cruise ship services

The Lemon Post

Filed under: Bar services

The Yard

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Salty Sip

Filed under: Cruise ship services

Why do these trademarks matter?

If you are curious what might be next for Royal Caribbean, trademark filings are a good hint of what the cruise line may be thinking.

While a lot of trademarks get filed but never used, some do end up being the names of new venues, services or even cruise ships.

It can be argued that a trademark is filed when an idea reaches a point that there is a tangible chance the project may become a reality.  

Reading the trademarks rarely provide much insight into what the cruise line has planned, but these are important first steps for something new to become a reality.

Anyone looking at these registrations should remember that they are filed on behalf of the Royal Caribbean Group, which means these registrations could be intended for a sister cruise line brand, and not necessarily Royal Caribbean International.

With new cruise ships under construction, and other projects around the world in various stages of development, there is always a chance the dreamers at Royal Caribbean are ready to move from concept to reality, and locking in a name is part of that process.

What's your prediction?

Now is your chance to show us how much you (think you) know! Share your predictions what these trademarks will be used for on a cruise ship or private island in the future!

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