Video: 8 must-do Royal Caribbean can't-miss activities!

In:
14Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Of all the things you can do on a Royal Caribbean, I have a list of the top activities that everyone should try out!

Royal Caribbean offers a lot for its guests to enjoy, and with all those choices, I handpicked the very best can't-miss things to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise!

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

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

So check out the video and then let us know: What is something you think everyone needs to do at least once on a cruise?

Brilliance of the Seas 2020 Live Blog - Cruise Preview

In:
13Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Our next RoyalCaribbeanBlog live blog is ready to roll, as I return for a long weekend aboard Brilliance of the Seas.

Photo by Michael Poole

Sailing out of Tampa, Florida, I am headed onto one of my favorite ships in the fleet for a 4-night Western Caribbean sailing to the warm waters of Mexico.  Each day, I will be LIVE blogging to share with you what Brilliance of the Seas has to offer.

I have sailing this ship and itinerary a few times already, and it has become a sort of annual winter tradition to sail on Brilliance out of Tampa in January or February. And like other Brilliance sailings I have taken, grandma has graciously volunteered to watch my kids so my wife and I can enjoy a cruise alone.

The Cruise

Photo by Earl McGrath

For the last few years, I have elected to take these 4-night sailings on Brilliance of the Seas because they span a long weekend, sails from a port that is just about an hour from my house, and visits Cozumel.

With Royal Caribbean offering new ships that are larger and large, as well as refurbishing existing vessels with new whizbang offerings, it is sometimes nice to work in a "classic cruise experience," and I feel Brilliance of the Seas is one of the best in this department.

I think Brilliance of the Seas has the best Solarium in the fleet, as well as some great bars and lounges.  Moreover, it still offers some great specialty dining options as well (three specialty restaurants).

Our four night Western Caribbean sailing will depart on Thursday, January 16 and take us to one port, Cozumel, Mexico.

Stateroom

Photo by Royal Caribbean

We reserved a Junior Suite on Deck 10 for this sailing. We booked this cruise about a year ago, and I recall the price difference between a balcony and a junior suite being a reasonable difference, so I went for it.

Since it is just my wife and myself, a junior suite is ample space for what we need. Moreover, I am a fan of moving up to a junior suite if the price difference is not too great.

Itinerary

This cruise has just one port stop, Cozumel, so we are headed back to a day-pass resort that I really enjoyed: El Cozumeleno

When I visited El Cozumeleno last time, I really thought they offered a great value and a very competitive offering. My wife has not been to this resort, and I would love to go back again to see if it is still as good as I recall.

The weather forecast looks great for our day in Cozumel (mid 80's and partly cloudy), so I think it would be the perfect way to spend the day.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention on the taxi ride back to port, I will make a pit stop at a local supermarket to pick up tortilla chips because the chips in Mexico are so much better than what we have at home.

Dining Plans

On this cruise, we decided pick up the unlimited dining package because the price was reasonable. For just $90 per person, we can enjoy dinner at a specialty restaurant each evening, plus 2 sea day lunches and lunch on embarkation day.

There are three specialty restaurants on Brilliance: Chops, Giovanni's Table and Izumi.  To quote Billy from CruiseHabit.com, I can eat $90 worth of sushi alone.

I also elected to purchase the Deluxe Beverage Package for this cruise. I think the drink package works well for the way I like to cruise and with two sea days, it seems like an easy way to break-even on the investment.

What's Next

Our Brilliance of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, January 16th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

How to make the drink packages on Royal Caribbean work for you

In:
13Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's drink packages are big hit with guests, because it provides unlimited beverages to enjoy during the cruise for a fixed price.

There are three drink packages available to purchase: Deluxe Beverage Package, Refreshment Package, and the Classic Soda Package.

If you elect to buy a drink package, here are a few ways to take full advantage of your investment.

Specify the liquor brand when ordering

When you order any alcoholic drink, be sure to specify the liquor.

Instead of ordering "a bloody mary", say "a bloody mary with Grey Goose". Your unlimited alcohol package includes quite a variety of liquor, so do not settle for the first bottle available to the bartender.

By specifying the higher quality brand of liquor, you can get more value out of your package, as well as enjoy the finer spirits included with your drink package.

Pre-purchase to save money

Royal Caribbean rewards guests who buy their drink package before the cruise with a discounted price, compared to purchasing it on the ship.The exact discount will vary from sailing to sailing, but in general, the savings of booking a drink package online before a cruise can be as much as over $10 per person, per day compared to booking it onboard. Over the course of a 7-night cruise, those savings add up quickly!

What you want to do is log onto the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's website and purchase the drink package of your choice online.  If you are concerned about the drink package price dropping, take solace in the fact you can always cancel and rebook with no penalty!

Not only will buying your drink packages online save you money, it will also save you time because typically there can be lines to purchase the drink packages onboard the ship. Your vacation time is limited, so do not waste it waiting to buy a drink package.

How to save money if your spouse does not drink (a lot of) alcohol

You may or may not be aware that all Royal Caribbean passengers 21 years of age and older (18 years in Australia and the U.K) are now required to purchase the Deluxe Beverage Package if at least one other person in their cabin has one.

That is fine if each adult in the room wants the alcohol package, but what if someone does not want it or cannot consume alcohol? 

Before the cruise, call Royal Caribbean and explain that you would like to purchase the deluxe beverage package, but someone else in your room does not want it. While not an official policy, in every instance we have tried, the cruise line will allow you to purchase the Royal Refreshment (non-alcoholic) drink package instead for that person. This helps save money on what would have otherwise been a drink package that the other person would not have been able to fully utilize.

Don't overlook coffee, bottled water and juice

When talking about the Deluxe Beverage Package, inevitably we all focus on the cocktails, beer or wine included, however, it includes so much more than just alcohol.

Lattes, premium bottled water, sparkling water, fresh squeezed juices and more come with your drink package purchase.  These sort of beverages are a major component to the drink package, and are a way to enhance the value of your package investment because the savings can rack up quickly.

Use your drink packages outside the bar

While it may be obvious you can use your drink packages at any bar or lounge, your benefits extend to any restaurant on the ship.

Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants have their share of signature cocktails, as well as a full array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Just like at a bar, your drink package works at these locations too.

In addition, Royal Caribbean's drink package benefits work at Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee.  Your drink package value will dramatically increase if your cruise visits one of these spots.

You don't need the soda cup to get a drink

One of the benefits of any drink package is you will get a souvenir Coca-Cola cup to use during the sailing. While it is a handy means of getting soda (and the only way to get soda out of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines), you do not need to always use the cup to get a soft drink.

In addition to the cup, any bar, restaurant or lounge can provide you a cup or can of soda whenever you like. This is helpful when you are Labadee or Perfect Day at CocoCay and do not feel like bringing the cup with you, or anytime when the cup is not with you.

Spotted: Augmented reality game on Anthem of the Seas

In:
13Jan2020
By: Twangster

As part of the new digital entertainment coming to the Royal app on select ships, Royal Caribbean has introduced an interactive game called Expedition Two70 for Anthem of the Seas.

The game is free to play, and simply requires guests have the Royal Caribbean app installed on their mobile device.

Once on board the ship guests can visit the Two70° venue to begin the augmented reality adventure.

 

The game proceeds in a scavenger hunt fashion looking for masks with the beautiful Two70° venue on deck 5 aft.

Once a mask is found players scan the mask in the app to launch one of four augmented reality games. 

Each game session explain the objectives before launching into the augmented reality game using the camera and motion sensors of your device.

At this mask station a virtual mountain appears with light directed through a series of gems by moving your device and yourself around to focus the light on an object, destroying it and moving to the next level.   

Once you complete all levels in the challenge that mask is unlocked.

Masks are found in different areas around the Two70° venue.   Each offers a unique and challenging augmented reality experience.

As you progress through the adventure each mask is unlocked until you have unlocked all of the masks.  

It’s a lot of fun for kids of all ages and part of the digital entertainment experience that Royal is bringing to guests through the Royal app. 

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: January 12, 2020

In:
12Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Royal Caribbean cancelled five Liberty of the Seas sailings in 2021 in order to provide more time for the ship to be upgraded.

The cruise line confirmed that five sailings are being cancelled, beginning with the February 14, 2021 sail date.

Royal Caribbean has not announced what changes and upgrades are coming to Liberty of the Seas yet.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 336th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt and Ken review the recently completed RoyalCaribbeanBlog group cruise on Freedom of the Seas.

Having just wrapped up a 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas, Matt and Ken share their experiences with the group, as well as in each port the ship visited.

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: What's coming to Royal Caribbean in 2020

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 — What's coming to Royal Caribbean in 2020 — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Travel Weekly wrote about the "whole truth" when it comes to cruise pricing.

JJ Cruise posted a behind the scenes tour of Portside BBQ on Oasis of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean releases Spring 2021-2022 opening schedule

In:
11Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released a deployment schedule for the remaining 2021-2022 sailings, which will become available to book in February & March 2020.

  • Week of February 24, 2020: China – Phase 2
  • Week of March 2, 2020: Short Caribbean
  • Week of March 16. 2020: Australia
  • Week of March 23, 2020: China – Phase 3
  • Week of March 30, 2020: Singapore & Transpacifics

These 2021-2022 sailings are in addition to the ones that were released in November & December 2019.

All itineraries and openings are subject to change without notice. 

Deployment schedules gives consumers an idea of when to expect particular cruise schedules to become available to start looking at future cruises.

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

In:
11Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

If you want the best price for a cruise, is it best to book a cruise many months in advance, or wait for a last minute deal?

Booking too early and you might be paying too much, while waiting for the last minute may leave you without the ship or cabin you want. Here is the lowdown on what you need to know about when to book a cruise.

How early can you book a cruise?

Royal Caribbean will open up its bookings as early as two years or more prior to the sail date.

Typically, they release new sailings for guests to book at regular periods during the year. There are new sailings released in November/December, and others in the Spring around March or April.

Once a sailing is open for booking, you may reserve a cabin at any point all the way until the week of the sailing.  Of course, capacity is limited and options will dwindle while prices rise over time.

A word on last minute deals

Waiting until the final weeks before a sailing to book a cruise has its benefits and drawbacks that you should be aware of before booking anything.

Booking a cruise at the last minute is like rolling the dice, with the hope a ship, itinerary and stateroom will be available at a cost you are comfortable with.  Moreover, because Royal Caribbean cruises have become more and more popular, last minute deals are fewer and fewer between.

Yes, there can be some decent prices for a cruise in the final six to eight weeks before a cruise sails, but they tend to be during slower times of the year, such as when school is in session or it is hurricane season.

If you are flying to a cruise, quite often any last minute cruise savings may be negated by high airfare prices.

I would be remiss if I did not mention there can, on occasion, be some great last minute prices.  Cruise prices can be volatile at times, and snagging a last minute deal is possible.  However, the risks associated with waiting to book at the last minute outweigh the chances of a great last minute deal for most families.

How far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best deal?

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.

Is it cheaper to book a cruise through a travel agent?

The short answer is, not always, but you should always book with a travel agent.

In the 21st century, it is not difficult to reserve a cruise for your family, but travel agents provide a great deal of service and expertise that goes beyond simply placing a reservation.

A good travel agent has knowledge of all the ways they can save you money on a cruise. There are a variety of discounts offered by the cruise line that are not often apparent to someone browsing Royal Caribbean's homepage. Moreover, travel agents can have access to group pricing and special promotions only available to their agency and partners.

Beyond saving money, a good travel agent is your advocate during the entire vacation, from booking to cruise and beyond.  If an issue arises, or a billing discrepancy occurs, having a travel agent is worth it every time because they are the ones dealing with the cruise line instead of you. 

Most importantly, a good travel agent should cost you absolutely nothing extra to use their services. The cruise line pays the travel agent a commission for their services, and the price is the same for you whether you use an agent or not. So you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by using a good travel agent.

There are many wonderful travel agents that specialize in Royal Caribbean.  If you have read other posts on the blog, you might be aware that I use MEI-Travel for booking all of my Royal Caribbean cruises, and I can personally attest that they are fantastic!

Photo tour of 2 Bedroom Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas

In:
11Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

A family looking for a combination of space and amenities are to enjoy the Two Bedroom Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.

I recently had the opportunity to stay in this rather large room. Photos of this cabin are from stateroom 8714.

This Grand Suite features two bedrooms, each with two twin beds that convert to a Royal King (one room with third and fourth Pullman beds). There is a private balcony, two bathrooms, and a living area.

It is essentially an inside room, along with a balcony room that as a common living room to share.

The master bedroom features a large porhole window that looks into the balcony.

The master bathroom features a full bathtub. The second bedroom's bathroom is a standard standup shower.

The two bedroom grand suite offers 587 square feet of living space. A coffee maker and mini-fridge is found in the living room.  There are mini-fridges in both bedrooms as well.

The balcony features 270 square feet of space.

Looking down, you have a view of the lower part of the aft of Freedom of the Seas.

Balcony cabins offer some great views of the sunrise or sunset.

Friday Photos - January 10, 2020

In:
10Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Our first photo this week is by KristiZ, and it is from the North Star on Spectrum of the Seas while in Chan May, Vietnam.

Next up is a photo by Colleen Hanson of the pool deck on Enchantment of the Seas.

Here is a great shot of the sunet from the aft of Symphony of the Seas, taken by Selson.

Jim & Elaine snapped this photo of the former Monarch of the Seas in Curacao.

Jenni took this photo of Oasis of the Seas in Labadee.

Michael Kho snapped this beautiful photo during a sea day.

Our final photo this week is by Tyler Ryan, and it is of the Flowrider on Navigator of the Seas (note Mariner of the Seas docked next to the ship while in Nassau).

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

Bonus instant savings up to $350 on Royal Caribbean cruises booked this weekend

In:
10Jan2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering bonus instant savings of up to $350 on cruises booked this weekend.

The New Year New Thrills sale applies to new bookings made between January 9 – 12, 2020 on select sailings departing on or after February 9, 2020.

It includes:

  • 60% off second guest
  • Instant savings
    • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $200 for Suites
  • Kids Sail Free
    • Guests 12 & Under sail free on a select 4-night or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe, Hawaii, Repositioning and all 2020 Serenade of the Seas sailings
    • Offer excludes 2020 President’s Day sailings (Sailings between February 14 – 17, 2020), 2020 Spring Break sailings (Sailings between March 14 – 23, 2020), 2020 Holy Week/Easter sailings (Sailings between April 3 – 17, 2020), Peak Summer (Sailings between May 15 – August 31, 2020), 2020 Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between November 21 – 28, 2020), 2021 President’s Day Sailings (Sailings between February 12 – 15, 2021), and 2021 Spring Break and Easter sailings (Sailings between March 13 – April 4, 2021).
  • Do Something Cool Alaska Bonus
    • Applies to new bookings made between December 27, 2019 – January 31, 2020.
    • Applies to select sailings departing between May 15, 2020 – September 11, 2020 on Ovation of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas.
    • Instant savings amount is per stateroom and determined by category booked: $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $100 for Suites.

BOGO60 is combinable with Kids Sail Free and Alaska Kicker, as well as promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Alaska Kicker is combinable with Kids Sail Free as well as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. New Year – New Thrills is combinable with BOGO60, Kids Sail Free and Alaska Kicker as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades and Shareholder Benefits, but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts.  Offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates. Promo Code driven offers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking; limit one promo code per booking.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

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