New photo of Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas construction

In:
11Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has posted a new photo of the construction of its first Quantum Ultra class cruise ship, Spectrum of the Seas.

Designed specifically for the Chinese market, Spectrum is scheduled for delivery in 2019.

This photo was taken at the Meyer Werft ship yard in Papenburg, Germany. Photo is copyright Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean to homeport Quantum of the Seas in Singapore in 2019-2020

In:
10Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced Quantum of the Seas will call Singapore home for six months in 2019-2020.

Prior to her arrival in Singapore, Quantum of the Seas will be revitalised in a multi-million dollar project that will see the ship refreshed and upgraded.

Her itineraries include 4-night cruises to Penang or Phuket, 5-night cruises to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket, a 7-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket (with an overnight) and a 7-night cruise to Bangkok (Laem Chabang) (with an overnight) and Ho Chi Minh City..

Over her 34 sailings during the six months from November 2019 to April 2020, Quantum of the Seas is expected to add some 150,000 guests to the Singapore cruising scene.

President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Mr. Michael Bayley, said that the commitment to bring in bigger and better ships like Quantum of the Seas demonstrates Royal Caribbean’s confidence in the region to continue experiencing record-breaking growth.

“The Asian cruise market has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, and Singapore has been leading growth as one of the most significant cruise destinations and cruise source markets in the region,” said Mr. Bayley.

He added, “In response to the strong demand from Singapore and the region, we have decided to bring in longer cruises for Quantum of the Seas’return. The season will feature cruises starting from four nights and the first ever 7-night round trip cruises on a Quantum Class ship here. With this ground-breaking itinerary design for the Asian cruise market, our guests will get the opportunity to enjoy a more comprehensive Quantum Class experience and take in more of what this amazing ship has to offer.”

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 8, 2018

In:
08Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

They say April showers brings May flowers, but Sundays bring you a round-up of all of this week's Royal Caribbean news!

The Royal Caribbean news everyone was focused on this week was Symphony of the Seas, with a new accolade to add to her list: she is the most Instagrammable cruise ship in the world.

Royal Caribbean has appointed Russ Francis as the company’s first ‘Instagrammer-in-Chief’ as Symphony takes her first guests on their holidays in the Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain. His new role will be to help inspire guests to do the ship justice through their Instagram content and establish Symphony of the Seas as the world’s most Instagrammable ship.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 244th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, featuring a comparison of Royal Caribbean to Disney Cruise Line.

A long time Disney Cruise Line veteran tried Royal Caribbean for the first time, and on this week's episode, we take an in-depth discussion of the differences between the two lines, and how the two lines are similar and vary at the same time.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

USA Today shared five things to love about Symphony of the Seas.

Business Insider has a look at how Royal Caribbean has gotten travelers to spend more money on its cruises.

Wired has a look at the inside story of how Symphony of the Seas was built.

Photo Tour of Owners Suite stateroom on Rhapsody of the Seas

In:
07Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

We have a photo tour to share of an Owner's Suite on Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.

On Rhapsody of the Seas, we reviewed stateroom 8002, which is located on Deck 8 in the forward part of the deck.  

Some of the staterooms on Rhapsody of the Seas have special names, and our stateroom was called, "The Beethoven Suite".  Other than the fancy name, there is not really much distinction between this and another Owners Suite.

Upon walking in, the first thing you will notice is there is a ton of space.

The vanity area features lots of storage space, a television, electrical outlets (including a not-so-obvious plug above the TV) and...

...in room coffee and tea maker!

The primary bed can be completely enclosed by the curtains, providing privacy and does exceedingly well at keeping it dark.

The sitting area features another television, tables nad chairs.

There is also a large sofa and comfortable chairs that flank another table.

The sofa can open up to a bed, which can accomodate two guests easily.

Above the television is a Playstation 3, which is primarily used for playing movies. The Suite Concierege has a collection of DVDs that you can borrow (or you can bring your own).

The private balcony measures 104 square feet.

This particular room was very close to the bridge, and provided a look at one of the bridge wings.

The bathroom is massive, and features a stand-up shower, bathtub, dual sinks, toilet and bidet.

Being in a suite, guests receive upgraded toiletries.

Friday Photos

In:
06Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Friday is here and that means two things: the weekend is beginning and we have some terrific Royal Caribbean photos to share from our readers.

Each week, we invite our readers to share with us their favorite Royal Caribbean photos in a kind of virtual escape for everyone.

Let's get started with this photo of Allure of the Seas in Labadee, as taken by Kinny Lee while parasailing. 

Jonny Smith sent in this photo of Navigator of the Seas in Labadee, as seen from the top of the zip line.  

Henry Greenfield took this photo from his Panoramic View stateroom.

Check out this Anthem of the Seas shaped cake that Michael Kho found.  Yum!

Here is a view of the new Royal Caribbean Crown of Miami cruise terminal under construction as seen during sail away from PortMiami last weekend. Photo by David Berenbaum.

John Bamber took this photo of Anthem of the Seas docked in the Royal Naval Dockyard in Kings Wharf, Bermuda.

We wrap up Friday Photos with this sunset photo of Voyager of the Seas in the South China sea, taken by Traveler.

Thank you to everyone who sent in photos this week. We welcome your best Royal Caribbean cruise photos too, and you can send them in by using this form. Have a great weekend!

 

Video: Coolest Things to do on Symphony of the Seas

In:
06Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

The largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas is the bucket-list-worthy vacation for all ages. Packed with thrilling adventures, delicious dining and jaw-dropping entertainment, it’s the ultimate experience you won’t want to miss.

Royal Caribbean offering up to 30% off Cruise Planner purchases with weekend sale

In:
06Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off select Cruise Planner purchases this weekend, with its Springtime Savings sale.

The weekend Cruise Planner sale promises savings on certain shore excursions and drink package purchases.  Guests can check which discounts, if any, are available for their upcoming sailing by visiting the Cruise Planner site.

Based on the countdown timer, the sale will expire at midnight on Sunday night.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site and navigate to the Dining & Beverage section to see any available offers.

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

Royal Caribbean names Symphony of the Seas 'The World's Most Instagrammable Ship'

In:
05Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean declared its newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is the world's most Instagrammable cruise ship.

To help guests make the most of these Insta-moments, Royal Caribbean has appointed Russ Francis as the company’s first ‘Instagrammer-in-Chief’ as Symphony takes her first guests on their holidays in the Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain.

Russ Francis’ Instagram skills were spotted by the company when he entered Royal Caribbean’s search for the first Instagram Intern-Ship at sea in 2017. His new role will be to help inspire guests to do the ship justice through their Instagram content and establish Symphony of the Seas as the world’s most Instagrammable ship.

“For something to be truly Instagrammable it has to be unique enough that people want to show off about it” comments Russ Francis, Royal Caribbean Instagrammer-in-Chief. “It’s so much more than being a pretty setting. Extraordinary Instagram content causes a reaction whether that’s jaws dropping in amazement or mouths watering at the very best dishes, it’s about capturing experiences that ‘wow’ the viewer. Symphony of the Seas ticks every single box making it the world’s most Instagrammable cruise ship.”

Russ has developed his guide to the ten most Insta-worthy moments that will help achieve the Insta-famous goal.

  1. Ultimate Abyss – The faces of those who have just survived the white-knuckle descents of the tallest slide at sea is not something you want to miss on camera… but can you capture the exhilaration just at the right moment for the perfect Insta shot?
  2. Central Park – Snap the lush greenery of over 12,000 tropical plants in this serene open-air neighbourhood. Packing this picture with as many beautiful and natural colours as possible will make it stand out on Instagram feeds.
  3. Ultimate Family Suite – For a shot at the most exclusive onboard content, make friends with the adventure seeking family staying in the Ultimate Family Suite! With 1,346 square foot filled with a plethora of features including an indoor slide, air hockey table and an eye-popping LEGO wall, you can take advantage of the mix of the bold colours and interesting shapes, making it the most brag-worthy content for Instagram.
  4. Vitality at Sea Spa – The tranquil spa is perfect for an ultra-smug Insta moment in between chilling out and being pampered. ‘Towel selfies’ are very in right now after all.
  5. Pool and Sports Zone – This part of the ship is teeming with action packed Instagram potential. Simply turn your camera towards one of the three colourful waterslides, two FlowRider ® surf simulators or nine-deck high zip line for adrenaline-fueled shots.
  6. Paradox Void– Discover an unusual and strangely captivating reflective art installation stretching high above you in the Royal Promenade. Made from 1,200 steel triangles, getting the lighting right here can work magic to the reflective surfaces, adding instant intrigue for your followers.
  7. AquaTheatre – Head to the aft of the ship to snap the dazzling amphitheatre-style theatre and experience stunning aquatic acrobatics and high-diving aerial performances. This will test your reflexes as you try to capture the live action against an unbeatable ocean backdrop.
  8. Royal Theatre – With unparalleled entertainment onboard there are umpteen content moments every evening, but for something really special just shimmy your way down to the Royal Theatre for a rendition of “Hairspray” to see if you can capture the excitement of live theatre in just one snap.
  9. Solarium Big Wonder (art installation) – A one-of-a-kind work of art comprised of thousands of dichroic acrylic elements is the first to be featured in the Solarium, spanning an area of 2,594 square feet and flooding the pool beneath with natural light. The poolside palm trees bathed in this contrast of light and shadow make it a must-capture shot for any serious Instagrammer.
  10. Hooked - Royal Caribbean’s first New England-style seafood restaurant will feature fresh seafood and a robust raw bar complete with oysters harvested to order. Located at the front of the ship in the adults-only Solarium, the casually sophisticated restaurant will offer expansive views of the open water – the perfect backdrop for a mouth-watering insta-shot.

To celebrate Symphony of the Seas being the world’s most Instagrammable ship, Royal Caribbean is launching a competition for all onboard guests to post in their best Instagram shots of the extraordinary ship. Using the hashtag #SymphonyoftheSeas, Russ Francis, the new Instagrammer-in-Chief will judge the best posts. The Instagrammers of the best ship shots will win an onboard treat from a massage in the spa to a bottle of Champagne in their suite.

Russ also shared some tips for anyone looking to use Instagram.

  • Take photos in a square frame - Instagram images appear as a square, so take your Instagram snaps in a square frame. This way, all of your picture will appear in the upload, and you won’t need to crop or zoom to ensure everything fits in.
  • Strong colours, shapes, lines and good lighting - To help your Instagram shot have the WOW factor; make sure it has strong colours and defined shapes and lines. If you’re struggling to make the lighting work and are flexible about timings then return to your shot at the ‘Golden Hour’, the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset, to capture something really shareable.
  • Use negative space - Negative space means the physical space that surrounds your image subject. Instagram photos that have the right mix of negative space and a tangible object can really stand out.
  • Reflections - Reflections are a quick and easy way to get an interesting and unusual effect on your Instagram picture. Water, mirrors and glass are three great surfaces to get you started
  • Use gridlines to balance your shot – Improve snaps by taking the photo outside of the Instagram app and using your phone’s gridlines function. Apply the ‘rule of thirds’ and ensure that compositional elements are placed along the nine lines and their intersections of the grid. Pros claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest than simply centering the subject.
  • Show some personality – Layering on words and stickers to an Instagram Story can add some fun and individuality to your extraordinary shots that usually encourages greater levels of engagement.
  • Use a great caption - These days, it isn’t just about the picture or videos. Captions play a big role in how many likes you get and how people engage with your Instagram content. Use emotive descriptions and humour to connect with your followers.

Video tour of Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas

In:
05Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Watch a hyperlapse of the world's largest ship, Symphony of the Seas.

Excursion Focus: Iberostar Cozumel all-inclusive day pass at Cozumel, Mexico

In:
04Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

If you are looking for a relaxing day in Cozumel, Mexico that offers fun in the water and much (if not all) included in your price, there are plenty of resorts to consider.

If you were to ask me, the gold standard for all-inclusive day pass spots in Cozumel has been Nachi Cocom, but on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise stop in Cozumel, our family tried to make a last-minute reservation and Nachi was sold out.  After spending some time researching our options, we decided to give Iberostar Cozumel a try.

Description

Iberostar Cozumel is a five star family friendly all-inclusive resort, located on the western side of Cozumel in the same area many resorts (like Nachi) are found. A taxi ride will take about 10-15 minutes to reach Iberostar Cozumel.

Iberostar is a family of all-inclusive resorts that you can find around the world.  In fact, most of the guests you are likely to encounter at Iberostar Cozumel are resort guests, rather than cruise ship guests. 

The resort itself is a large, sprawling retreat.  The lobby area is located in an enormous open air atrium, where you receive wristbands to identify yourself to staff around the resort.  Despite the fact you are a day guest at a hotel resort, admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you access to essentially everything and anything a resort guest would get, minus a hotel room.

The grounds at Iberostar are immaculate and sprawling.  Not only is there a beautiful collection of flora to see anywhere you walk, you will also find flamingos, peacocks, and other beautiful animals along the way.

Your day pass includes:

  • Access to Iberostar from 8am to 6pm.
  • Unlimited meals & snacks at your choice of open establishments. This includes breakfast and lunch.
  • Unlimited drinks (alcohol & non alcohol)
  • Full access to beach
  • "Lake style" pool and separate kiddies pool
  • Lounge chairs and towels
  • Kids Club with supervised activities for ages 4-12
  • 3 Lit Tennis Courts plus 1 multi-purpose court for basketball or volleyball
  • Activities program by the pool and beach.
  • Use of snorkeling equipment ($2 USD fee for Marine Park not included)
  • Kayaking and catamarans
  • Fitness Center
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

If that sounds like a lot, that is a lot to be included with a day pass. While I think most cruise passengers are primarily interested in beach or pool time, coupled with drinks and meals, there are lots of activities you can take advantage of as well. 

Iberostar describes its pool as "lake style" and it is indeed massive.  It is essentially three main pools, along with a rather large kiddie (shallow) pool that all intertwine.  The result is one of the loveliest resort pools I may have ever been to at any resort in the Caribbean.  

There is a swim-up bar in the middle, lounge chairs in the shallow end of the pool, basketball hoops, and plenty of room to relax. In short, it is an impressive pool.

Naturally, Iberostar offers a large white sand beach area.  The pool is close enough to the beach that you can fairly easily walk between the two areas.

Admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you unlimited food and drink during your stay.  There are a few restaurants around the resort that you may visit and enjoy.  Something that distinguishes Iberostar is the fact breakfast is served along with lunch later in the day. The food is served at any of the buffet-style restaurants, with one large restaurant and a grill located within steps of the pool and beach.

Much of the food offered is American fare, with a few Mexican dishes thrown in.  The menu at Iberostar rotates on a daily basis, with the idea that resort guests will be there for a week or so, and thus, get different choices each day to mix things up. As a result, the exact menu you get may differ depending on the day.

Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available as part of admission.  There are roaming waiters around the pool and beach area, along with the aforementioned swim-up bar, and some bars around the resort you can visit.

Comments

For a family looking to enjoy a relaxing day at a beautiful resort, Iberostar Cozumel fits the bill nearly perfectly.  It is an impressive resort that rivals many all inclusive experiences we have had in the region.

In general, we enjoyed our time at Iberostar and had a fun day splashing, eating, and drinking. I was truly impressed by the resort grounds and what they offered.  In fact, I found the assortment of activities very impressive.  Yoga, aquatic aerobics, archery, tennis, skeet shooting, snorkeling, etc.  Where most day pass resorts are limited to a beach, pool and snorkeling equipment, Iberostar shines with its rich array of things to do.

I had two gripes about my visit to Iberostar that prevent it from being my top choice for a day pass option in Cozumel. 

We arrived right around 9am or so, and already 65-75% of the pool chairs had been reserved.  There were not people actually there, but the "chair hog" situation was worse than anything I have seen on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Second, the lunch offered was fine, but lacked Mexican cuisine that I think many (including myself) look to enjoy while in Cozumel.  The lunch offered consisted mostly of American food, with a taco making station that was sufficient.  There were no quesadillas, guacamole, chips, or salsa to enjoy during our visit.  The flip side to this issue is my children had no problem chomping down on burgers and hot dogs all day long.

The level of service in terms of getting drinks while lounging was more than acceptable.  Roaming waiters took drink orders and once the initial surge of drink orders subsided, it was quite easy to get refills.  Of course, the assortment of bars around the resort means getting one on your own is easy enough.

Inevitably, I have to compare Iberostar Cozumel to Nachi Cocom resort, because Nachi has been my go-to recommendation for a while.  Iberostar's grounds and range of activities exceed what Nachi offers.  The quality and variety of food is better at Nachi, and Nachi's personalized waiter approach is still a preferred method in my opinion.

In terms of cost, Iberostar Cozumel cost us just about the same as most other all-inclusive day pass resorts in Cozumel. We paid $72 per adult and $36 for kids 3-12.

Overall, Iberostar Cozumel is a beautiful resort that is a good choice for groups that are looking for a phenomenal pool day, and/or lots to do around the resort, in addition to all the food and drink they care to enjoy. The reserving of chairs and food selection may or may not be an issue during your visit.  Our family certainly had a fun day at Iberostar and would love to return again just for that pool.

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