Video: Filling of Oasis Lagoon at Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
25Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Watch as Oasis Lagoon at Perfect Day at CocoCay, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, gets filled for the first time.

Perfect Day at CocoCay photo update

In:
23Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

With Royal Caribbean opening the first venues of its highly anticipated Perfect Day at CocoCay island makeover now open, we have a new batch of photos to share highlighting how guests are enjoying these new areas.

While sailing on Mariner of the Seas, we took these photos on CocoCay on March 23, 2019.

Pier

Walking off Mariner of the Seas, guests enjoy the short walk down the pier to the island.  Currently, one of three walkways (left) is accessible for guests to use once they are on the island.

Maps like this are posted around the island to inform guests of what changes are open, and which are coming soon.

Oasis Lagoon

The largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, Oasis Lagoon, has been open for a week now and is a huge hit with guests.  

The pool is massive, offering plenty of room for all guests to enjoy, regardless of time of day.  To that point, there is ample seating as well around the pool.

A great compliment any pool or beach day is a pineapple drink!

The hub of activity at Oasis Lagoon is the swim up bar.

The bar has a "dry side" as well, which allows those in and out of the water to enjoy a refreshing beverage.

Snack Shack

Conveniently located near Oasis Lagoon is the Snack Shack, which has a meny of quick to-go options, such as burgers, sandwhiches and salads.

Chill Grill

Dining options are plentiful at Chill Grill. The buffet stations efficiently distribute food quickly and easily.

Chill Grill offers ample seating on all sides, which makes the walk to or from the beach or pool quite quick.

Artisan Market

Guests travelling to or from the ship may want to peek into the many shops open on the island in the straw market. Be sure to bring cash.

Which new venue are you excited to try? Let us know in the comments!

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

In:
22Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The last day of our back to back group cruise is here and it is our first sea day! After six days of cruise fun, we took things a little easier to start today.

We woke up to fabulous weather, with the sun shining and warm temperatures.

We had a leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer, followed by a nice morning walk around the ship. The kids enjoyed the morning session at Adventure Ocean while my wife went up to the sports deck for a bit to do some people watching.

For lunch, it was back in the Windjammer and the highlight was the make your own gyro station.

Next up we tried our hand at afternoon trivia, where we lost. I did learn that goats have rectangular pupils!

Our first meet of the day was for a bar crawl around the ship, where we hit up the Sky Lounge (pool bar), Bamboo Room, Schooner Bar (along with a stop for trivia again) and then Boleros. 

We booked an early dinner and took the kids to Izumi Hibachi. 

Hibachi is always a hit with our family, and it is a terrific meal as well.

To round out our group cruise activities, it was time to record a podcast episode with everyone who cruised with us. We got to share stories and talk about what we liked about Mariner. Look for that podcast episode next week.

Overall, we had a really great time on Mariner of the Seas and we were extremely fortunate to have had the distinction of being the first ship to dock and disembark in CocoCay, as well as to check out the new venues that opened.

The weather was mostly great, and the crew had so much enthusiasm and hospitality towards us all. 

Moreover, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the group booked on each leg of this sailing. I am honored to have had the folks in this group spend their vacation with me and my family, and I know we all had a great time together.  I already cannot wait for our next group cruise on Anthem of the Seas over July 4th!

I loved the updates Royal Caribbean made to Mariner of the Seas, and together with the amplified Navigator of the Seas make for a dynamic duo of great weekend cruises.

When considering these three and four night sailings, do not hesitate to try them out yourself. Heck, do what we did and book a back to back to have ample to time to see it all, especially with Perfect Day at CocoCay coming up!

As always, thank you to everyone who followed this live blog and helped make this fun for me to recall each day.  Our next live blog kicks off in May on Harmony of the Seas!

Photos: Spectrum of the Seas conveyance

In:
21Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Spectrum of the Seas began her conveyance up the River Ems, and Royal Caribbean shared photos of the event.

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - CocoCay

In:
21Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

As I mentioned in yesterday's live blog entry, when we went to bed the night before we assumed our visit to CocoCay had been cancelled and we would spend the day in Nassau.

At around 7:45am or so, the Captain made an announcement that woke many of us up to inform us that the weather forecast had dramatically improved and that we would indeed visit CocoCay. He indicated we would depart immediately and arrive at CocoCay around noon.

I cannot recall an instance of a stop being cancelled and then uncancelled.  Nonetheless, everyone onboard was quite happy to have the opportunity to visit CocoCay.

Mariner of the Seas quickly departed Nassau and we were on our way to CocoCay. 

There was not a ton of time or activities scheduled for the couple hours before we arrived, so we spent some time lounging on the pool deck. After, we started getting ready for the beach.

We arrived at CocoCay right around 11:45am and the ship was cleared by local authorities around 12:30 or so. Of course, with such a late arrival time, everyone wanted to depart immediately so it made for slow going to disembark. We eventually got off the ship and onto CocoCay.

Walking down the pier, I quickly took notice of a few changes made since our last visit, primarily related to the progress being made behind the construction walls.

Our plan was to head right to the Oasis Lagoon pool, and I was quite happy to spot umbrellas added to the area.  

We spent our day in and out of the pool, enjoying a relaxing day at Oasis Lagoon.  Once again, it seemed everyone I spoke with was quite impressed with the state of CocoCay and excited to see the next stages open.

The all aboard time was 7pm, but we had reservations for the escape room on Mariner, so we departed CocoCay a bit earlier than I would have liked.

Back onboard, we showered and dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean before heading up to deck 14 for the Observatorium escape room.

The escape room game on Mariner of the Seas is unlike the one on Harmony or Anthem or Symphony of the Seas.  We tried our best, but failed to escape in time.  Regardless, it was a fun challenge and I recommend it to others to try, especially if you are in a group.

Dinner brought us to the Windjammer, followed by some time at the pub prior to another round of The Quest in Studio B.

I am happy to report our group, represented by captains Claire and Michael, where triumphant in winning the Quest once again!

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

In:
20Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

We are back in Nassau for our first full day of the second leg of this sailing. Having been in Nassau two days earlier, it was kind of interesting to be back in a port of call quite so quickly.

I had booked a shore excursion for today to try out a flight simulator experience that I booked via Royal Caribbean.  Yes, flight simulator and yes, I am that geeky.

The excursion is run by Jetline Simulations, where they take you into a full Boeing 737 NG simulator to try to fly the airliner from gate to takeoff to landing and to gate again.

You get the full experience of flying the plane, from programming the flight computer, to adjusting the flaps, to taking off and landing.

They allow you to pick from a variety of airports to fly to or from, and it was a ton of fun.  I loved every second of it, and the staff were terrific too!

After the excursion, I headed back to the ship for lunch and to meet up with the family.

We had lunch in the Windjammer and then my wife went to the salon for a haircut, while I took the kids to play mini golf, and play around the ship.

My fun with the kids included a requisite stop at Ben & Jerry's for some ice cream.

We were scheduled to be in Nassau until midnight, so a few of us from the group opted to have dinner in Nassau at a place called Meze Grill.

It was about a 10 minute taxi ride away, very close to the Baha Mar resort on the western end of the island.  

The restaurant was quite lovely, and it had that industrial chic look that a lot of happening spots in the United States tend to have.  Their menu is what I would consider to be nouveau American. Steaks, pasta, shrimp, salads, are typical of the menu.

It was a great meal, albeit a bit pricey. Nonetheless, it was a good time and I was glad to try it out.

We walked back onto Mariner and enjoyed a great view of the ship.

Once onboard, the Captain announced that unfortunately due to the weather forecast we would have to cancel our scheduled stop tomorrow in CocoCay.

As you might imagine, many of us were disappointed to hear that news.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning, the Captain announced we would indeed head to CocoCay and be there by noon! Tomorrow's live blog will have more CocoCay fun!

Stray Observations

  • Since the ship was staying in Nassau so late, the ship received special clearance to open up the shops and casino by 7pm.  Usually when in port, shops and casino must remain closed.

Radiance of the Seas to sail from Brisbane, Australia in 2020

In:
19Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will offer over 20 sailings out of Brisbane, Australia from November 2020 to destinations in the South Pacific. 

Radiance will first under go a multi-million dollar dry-dock in 2020 and then homeport from Brisbane.

Radiance of the Seas will be the largest ship to sail from the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal in late-2020.

Video: Amped Up Navigator of the Seas Arrives in Homeport of Miami

In:
19Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean International’s newly amplified Navigator of the Seas is now sailing from her new year-round home in Miami with a $115 million new look. With a thrilling combination of bold, new adventures and Royal Caribbean favorites, including adrenaline-inducing experiences, an array of elevated dining and nightlife and memory-making moments, Navigator has been reimagined into the ultimate short Caribbean getaway from South Florida. The 3,386-guest ship offers sail 5- and 9-night Caribbean itineraries through May 2019, and then sets course for The Bahamas with 3-night weekend and 4-night weekday cruises, including visits to the cruise line’s new, highly anticipated private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay – the unparalleled thrill and chill destination.

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Turnaround day

In:
19Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The second leg of our cruise begins today and that means a turnaround day in Miami.

When you do a back to back cruise, you get to stay onboard and then be escorted by Royal Caribbean through the re-boarding process. In my case, I had to actually disembark on my own because I had a meeting to go to in Miami.  As a result, I went down to Guest Services to get my new SeaPass card for the next sailing, along with my consecutive cruiser card.  This would allow me to bypass some of the normal embarkation process later.

I walked off the ship at around 8am and it was a very smooth process, thanks in part to the efficiency of Terminal A. 

Following my meeting, I returned to Terminal A and was able to bypass the regular check-in process for a special line for those that are doing consecutive cruises.  Shortly thereafter I was back on Mariner of the Seas for my second sailing!

Back on the ship, we celebrated the start of leg two with some drinks at Playmakers.  To my surprise, I evidently forgot to purchase the drink package for this leg, so bought it at the bar.  

Despite being a consecutive cruiser, there is still a lot to do on embarkation day.  We started off at the pool to take advantage of the lower crowds, but then had to still check-in for Adventure Ocean and arrange our dining plans.

We had lunch at Playmakers, which took a bit longer than I thought it would. Nonetheless, the food was great and I really enjoyed the nachos and chicken sandwich.

Muster drill came and went and it was time to sail away…again!

A few of us headed down the Bamboo Lounge for some drinks and I decided to try out the small plates on the menu.

As a sushi fan, the ahi tuna was my favorite, but the pork sliders were highly rated.

For dinner we decided to keep it casual tonight and hit up the Windjammer. Great spread and they always have my favorite, which is Indian curry.

After dinner, we played love music movie trivia (obviously my wheelhouse) and then hit up the Pub for some drinks and Jenga! A fun time was had by all, especially Michael Poole.

Royal Caribbean teases upcoming announcement in Australia

In:
18Mar2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The Royal Caribbean marketing department down under has got a lot of Aussies excited for some sort of news. 

In an email to guests, Royal Caribbean simply included an image of the aft of a ship with the words, “Big news is coming”.

The Royal Caribbean Australia & New Zealand Instagram account shared an indication the answer is coming “this week”.

What do you think the announcement is about? Share your guesses in the comments!

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