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Royal Caribbean delays Summer 2023 Europe deployments

In:
08 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

You are going to have wait an extra week for the 2023 European itineraries to be released by Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean updated its 2023-2024 opening deployment schedule by one week for Europe Summer 2023 cruises.

Originally, Europe Summer 2023 was set to open the week of December 6, 2021, but will now open on the week of December 13, 2021.

It is not unusual for the deployment schedule to be altered, and the challenges of planning cruises for almost two years from now with all the upheaval in the cruise industry is no simple feat.

The rest of the deployment schedule will remain as previously scheduled, with 7-night Caribbean also scheduled to be released during the week of December 13.

More changes are possible, and the deployment schedule notes the remainder of the deployment is "coming soon."

What is a deployment schedule?

The deployment schedule is the plan for when Royal Caribbean will open select sailings for sale.

There is no indication of which day, just the week the new itineraries will become available to book, but it could be on any day of the noted week.

Guests will commonly misconstrue the new cruises to come out on the exact day, rather than at some point during the week.

When the new sailings are available, it is common for the new itineraries to be entered into the booking system first, and the website second. This means in some cases cruises are bookable earlier if booked over the phone or with a travel agent, even if they do not appear on the website.

What can you do now while you wait?

If you think you might book one of these cruise when they are released, you will want to monitor Royal Caribbean's website for when they are available to book.

Royal Caribbean typically allows Crown and Anchor Society members a 24 hour head start on the general public, but since anyone can sign up for Crown and Anchor Society, there is no excuse for waiting.

It is a good idea to speak with your travel agent soon to discuss which types of cruises you might be interested in to expedite the process of booking the right booking for you.

Booking your cruise as early as you can is a great way to save money in the long term, as prices tend to be lowest when they first become available to book.  In addition, if you are looking for a hard-to-find cabin, such as certain suites, this is a great time to book.

Planning on booking a cruise in 2023-2024? These stories will help:

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruises with additional flexibility through January 2022

In:
08 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has extended the ability for cruise passengers to cancel a cruise at the last minute with its Cruise with Confidence program.

The Cruise with Confidence program allows anyone booked on a Royal Caribbean cruise to cancel their sailing up to 48 hours before their sail date, and that credit can now be used for any sailing booked by January 31, 2022 up to 48 hours before your sail date and get the full value in a Future Cruise Credit that’s good to redeem until May 31, 2022. 

The credit can be used toward any cruise that sets sail through December 31, 2022, or one year from the original sailing date, whichever is later.

Essentially, anyone has more time to book a cruise to get this last-minute benefit policy, along with more sailings that it applies to than before.

When a guest cancels their cruise past the final payment date, they can get a future cruise credit worth 100% of the cruise fare paid as long as they cancel at least 48 hours before the sail date.

Previously, the Cruise with Confidence Program was set to expire on December 17, 2021 and only applied to cruises departing before the end of April 2022.

In an email to travel agents, Royal Caribbean said it extended the program again to give passengers more time to change their mind and feel confident about their decision to sail, "As we make strides towards our fleetwide return, we want to ensure that planning your clients' vacations is as worry-free as possible."

"Therefore, we've made the decision to extend our popular Cruise with Confidence program to reservations confirmed on or before January 31, 2022 and sailing through May 31, 2022. "

While there was word that it might not have been extended, Royal Caribbean told travel agents on Wednesday it would get extended again.

It was originally introduced right before cruises began shutting down due to Covid-19 as a mechanism to give guests piece of mind they could change their plans after the final payment date.

Without the Cruise with Confidence program, there would be a penalty if you cancelled a cruise after the final payment date.

Included with the ability to cancel a cruise under Cruise with Confidence is the Best Price Guarantee, which allows guests to reprice their sailing up to 48-hours prior to the sail date if the price drops.

If you have a cruise booked already, then you qualify automatically for Cruise with Confidence. Going forward, you have until at least January 31, 2022 to qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

Guide to cruises from New York

In:
08 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean offers cruises from the northeast corridor via Cape Liberty, New Jersey that is a convenient option for anyone that wants to cruise from New York and the surrounding area.

Royal Caribbean celebrates largest cruise ship to sail from New York area for the first time | Royal Caribbean Blog

While other cruise lines sail from Manhattan or Brooklyn, New York, Royal Caribbean opted to sail from across New York harbor at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Royal Caribbean sails year round from Cape Liberty, offering residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania a convenient port that most people can easily drive to and board a ship.

Whether you live in the area, or are looking to fly in for a cruise from the Big Apple, here is what you need to know about cruises from New York.

New Jersey, not New York

Friday Photos - September 27, 2019 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Traditionally, cruise lines would sail from Manhattan, but costs and port restrictions made that option unappealing to Royal Caribbean.

Instead, Royal Caribbean has its own cruise terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey at Cape Liberty.

Located just minutes from Newark International Airport, Cape Liberty is an easy to get to cruise port without the need to deal with New York City traffic or bridges.

At 125,000 square feet, the cruise terminal can handle even the largest Royal Caribbean cruise ships, including the Oasis Class ships.

The terminal is adjacent to a September 11th memorial, known as the Tear Drop Memorial.  Passengers can walk to the memorial from outside the cruise terminal. It is also a great spot to get a photo of your ship.

Despite not departing from New York City, passengers still enjoy a great view of New York harbor, including views of the New York City skyline, the Statute of Liberty, Ellis Island, and an opportunity to sail under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

How to get to Cape Liberty

Depending on if you fly into the area or drive, there are a few ways to get to the cruise terminal.

The address of the Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal is 4 Port Terminal Boulevard Bayonne, N.J. 07002-5038

Flying to New York/New Jersey

Royal Caribbean subsidizing flights from New York to Bermuda for summer 2021 cruises as low as $99 | Royal Caribbean Blog

There are three major airports serving the New York/New Jersey area: Newark (EWR), La Guardia (LGA), and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airports.

The easiest option is Newark, because it is located just 10 miles to the west of the port. Without traffic, it is a short 20 minute car ride to the cruise port. 

Oasis in Bayonne this morning! - Royal Caribbean News and Rumors - Royal Caribbean Blog

The other New York airports will require a longer commute to the port, as well as additional tolls to cross bridges over to New Jersey. Depending on traffic conditions, the trip can take an hour or longer.

The simplest way to get to the port is by car service. Lyft, Uber, or taxis are all available to take you from any of the airports to the cruise terminal.

Public transportation will only get you part of the way there, and the final segment of the trip will rely on private car. For that reason, I recommend simply booking a ride sharing service or taxi, and going directly to the port.

Driving directions

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

By car, there are a few different ways to get to Cape Liberty, depending on the direction you are coming from.

From Newark International Airport (9 miles):

  • Exit the airport, following signs to the NJ Turnpike.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike to exit 14A.
  • Pay toll at exit and continue straight (after traffic light onto bridge) onto Route 440.
  • Follow signs for Route 440 South.
  • Continue on Route 440 South to Port Terminal Blvd.
  • Turn left at Port Terminal Blvd. (there is a traffic light at the intersection).
  • This is the entrance for the "Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor" or the old "Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne."
  • Continue straight and approach the guard gate.
  • Continue past the guard gate and follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

From NJ Turnpike north or south:

  • Take the NJ Turnpike to exit 14A.
  • Pay toll at exit and continue straight (after traffic light onto bridge) onto Route 440.
  • Follow signs for Route 440 South.
  • Continue on Route 440 South to Port Terminal Blvd.
  • Turn left at Port Terminal Blvd. (there is a traffic light at the intersection).
  • This is the entrance for the "Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor" or the old "Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne."
  • Continue straight and approach the guard gate.
  • Continue past the guard gate and follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

From NYC, via the Lincoln Tunnel:

  • Take the Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey.
  • Follow I-495 West to the NJ Turnpike/I-95.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From NYC, via the Holland Tunnel:

  • Take the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike west to exit 14A. Follow directions above from Exit 14 A.

From the West, via I-80:

  • Take I-80 East to I-95 South
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A- Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From the west, via I-78:

  • Take I-78 East directly to the NJ Turnpike.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike east to Exit 14A- Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From the east/Staten Island/Long Island:

  • Take the Verrazano Narrows Bridge into Staten Island.
  • Take I-278 West.
  • Take Route 440 North to and over the Bayonne Bridge.
  • Continue on Route 440 North approximately 3 miles.
  • Make a right into the Bayonne Ocean Terminal.
  • Continue straight and approach the guard gate.
  • Continue past the guard gate and follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

From the Bronx/Connecticut/New England:

  • Proceed to and across the George Washington Bridge.
  • Follow signs for the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95 South.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From Westchester County:

  • Take I-684 South to I-287 West
  • Take I-287 West to I-87 South.
  • Follow signs to and over the George Washington Bridge.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From Rockland County:

  • Take the Palisades Parkway South to I-80 West.
  • Follow signs for the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95 South.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

Parking

Cape Liberty | Royal Caribbean Blog

There is a parking garage adjacent to the cruise terminal at Cape Liberty to park your vehicle for the duration of the cruise.

Parking fees are $25 per day including all taxes.

Cash and major credit cards are accepted. No reservations are necessary and parking is guaranteed.

The height restriction of the garage is 7’ 4”. There is an open lot adjacent to the parking garage to accommodate vehicles with height restrictions.

Be sure to bring your parking stub with you when boarding the ship, because you’re going to need it when walking to your car after your cruise. You must pay your parking fee at the machine that is outside the garage. There is a walk up kiosk.

Where to stay the night before

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

One of the most common questions about taking a cruise from Cape Liberty is where to stay the night before the cruise begins.

It is always a good idea to fly in at least one day before your cruise to avoid travel delays impacting your ability to get on the cruise ship.

If you are going to fly in the night before the cruise and have no interest in doing any tourist attractions before the cruise, consider staying at a hotel near Newark Airport. Be sure the hotel is near Newark Airport, and not the city of Newark, because the quality of hotel and surroundings is substantially different.

Rapid COVID-19 tests now available at New York airports | Royal Caribbean Blog

Jersey City is another option to stay the night before the cruise because it is closer to the cruise port than Manhattan (New York City), but I'm not especially fond of this area for two reasons: A hotel in Jersey City is not going to be much cheaper (if at all) than Manhattan hotels, and if you want to be closer to the port, Newark Airport hotels are much closer.  Moreover, if you plan to do any sightseeing in New York, staying in New Jersey is a real hassle in terms of transportation.

Many cruisers who want to do sightseeing will spend the night in a Manhattan hotel. There are many hotels in New York City. Be sure to book one in Manhattan, and not one of the other boroughs.  Moreover, pick a hotel below 125th street to ensure you are close enough to the landmarks and hot spots tourists like to visit.

Regardless of where you stay, my advice is book refundable hotel fare because New York and New Jersey hotel prices are quite volatile.  Watch the prices and cancel and rebook when a new sale appears.

Hotel recommendations

Over the years, RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have stayed at various hotels in the area and offered their recommendations.

Keep in mind one person's experience can be vastly different from your own, so take these recommendations as a suggestion, and not a guarantee of anything.

  • Newark
    • Embassy Suites by Hilton Newark Airport
    • Country Inn & Suites Newark Airport
  • Jersey City
    • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Jersey City
    • Sonesta Simply Suites Jersey City
  • Manhattan

You can get other recommendations from our readers on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards.

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail from New York/New Jersey?

Royal Caribbean changes cruise ship itineraries due to Snowstorm Jonas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean offers cruises from Cape Liberty throughout the year, although there tend to be more ships sailing in the summer months.

Depending on the year, there can be different ships offering cruises to destinations in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, or Canada/New England.

Most recently, Anthem of the Seas has been the cruise ship spending most of her time in Cape Liberty.

In 2022-2023, Royal Caribbean will offer cruises across two ships: Adventure, Anthem and Oasis of the Seas.

20 Adventure of the Seas tips, tricks and secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

Adventure of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey to sail a combination of itineraries to Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada. 

Adventure will sail 9-night Eastern Caribbean sailings that visit ports such as St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Royal Caribbean’s private destination, Labadee. In addition, there is the option of 4- and 9-night cruises heading up the east coast to visit Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Boston; Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine.

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas will sail from UK in Summer 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Anthem of the Seas will sail from Cape Liberty in Winter 2022 before she departs to Europe in the summer. She then returns in October 2022 to offer 7-night cruises to The Bahamas that include full days in Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay

Guests looking for extended time in the tropics can opt for one of Anthem’s 11-night southern Caribbean sailings to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. John’s, Antigua; Castries, St. Lucia; and Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis.

Photos: Oasis of the Seas departs New York Harbor for first time | Royal Caribbean Blog

Oasis of the Seas will take over for Anthem of the Seas in summer 2022 when she sails from Cape Liberty and offers cruises to Canada, The Bahamas, and Eastern Caribbean.

Oasis of the Seas will kick off her Northeast cruises beginning on May 1, 2022 and then offer a variety of itineraries:

  • 7-Night Perfect Day, Bahamas
  • 5-Night Canada 
  • 9-Night Eastern Caribbean

What time should I schedule my flight home after my cruise from Cape Liberty?

Picking the right time for your flight home is a balancing act of how much time you want to waste waiting in the airport versus rushing off the ship in a frenzy to make your flight in the first place.

There are a couple factors when choosing your flight time home:

  • Which airport you are departing from and its proximity to Cape Liberty
  • What time you think you will disembark the ship
  • What time the ship will be cleared by local authorities to allow disembarkation to begin
  • Traffic

How long it will take you to get off the ship and through customs is an inexact science, and depends on how fast/slow authorities clear the ship, if you have luggage to pick up, and how many other passengers want to get off the ship at the same time you do.

Then you have to figure out how much time it will take to get to the airport, and how busy those airports are with their own check-in lines. 

Newark is absolutely the best option, as you should be able to get there with a short commute (20 minutes by car).  Getting to La Guardia or Kennedy can take as long as 90 minutes (or more).

A good rule of thumb is to not schedule any flights before noon if flying home from La Guardia or Kennedy, and no earlier than 11am from Newark.

It's better to be at the airport and bored than stressing out about potentially missing your flight because of delays along the way.

Why aren't cruise ships built in the United States?

In:
07 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Did you know that modern cruise ships are not built at all in the United States?

Regardless if it is Royal Caribbean's newest mega ship, a super yacht for SilverSea, or anything inbetween, no cruise line builds their ships in the United States. Why is that?

When U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) proposed legislation to permanently allow foreign flagged cruise ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada, she included a condition that would eliminate the bill once there is a U.S.-built ship that carries more than 1,000 passengers, if U.S. shipbuilders ever aspired to build cruise ships.

That little caveat in the bill by Senator Murkowski highlights the fact that modern cruise ships simply aren't built in America.

Symphony of the Seas construction photo update | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruise ships are primarily built in shipyards in Europe, such as Meyer Werft in Germany or Chantiers de l'Atlantique in France. All of Royal Caribbean's ships have been built in one shipyard or another in Europe over the years.

I asked Commander Don Goldstein, Retired United States Coast Guard, who has over 32 years of experience working with the cruise industry why ships are not built in the United States.

As you may have guessed, the primary reason why cruise ships are not built in the United States comes down to cost. In short, it costs too much to build a cruise ship in the United States for a few reasons.

Oasis 3 Construction Photos | Royal Caribbean Blog

Commander Goldstein pointed to three primary reasons why it's just too expensive to build a ship domestically:

Labor costs

Shipyard where Odyssey of the Seas is being built to shutdown for six weeks | Royal Caribbean Blog

Just like so many other aspects of manufacturing, labor is cheaper overseas than it is in the United States. The automotive industry is a prime example of why companies choose to build their products outside of the United States.

Union labor in particular is not cheap, and labor costs on a vessel as massive as a cruise ship can add up costs quickly.

Cruise ship construction is a labor intensive industry, and when you factor in the cost of American labor and the tax structure, it becomes unreasonably expensive.

Unlike cars, cruise ships aren't built in places like Mexico. They are built in Europe, so how are those countries that have similar standards of living to the United States able to build ships more reasonably? Essentially, they are heavily mechanized and are considered strategic assets.

Material costs

Symphony of the Seas construction photo update | Royal Caribbean Blog

The cost of materials used in construction of the ship is going to cost more when it comes from the United States, especially U.S. built/manufactured materials.

As you may know, cruise ships are foreign-flagged. In order to be U.S. flagged, most of the material on a vessel must be from the United States.

Regulations

Coast Guard wont fine you for not wearing a mask on a cruise ship, but you will get kicked off | Royal Caribbean Blog

Building anything in the United States means more regulations by a variety of government entities during the process.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are just two of the agencies Commander Goldstein pointed to that would have oversight in the process, with others likely part of the process.

Following World War 2, the United States added strong protectionist legislation meant to preserve the maritime industry, but it actually had the opposite effect. Many shipyards domestically closed, and the few left are only focused on military work that rely on government paid contracts to ensure there is a profit.

Odyssey of the Seas December construction photo update | Royal Caribbean Blog

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times argued that instead of protecting U.S. jobs, these protectionist laws actually ruined American cruises and cost American jobs.

Commander Goldstein said the only reason a company would build a cruise ship in the U.S. would be to flag it here for coastwise voyages, like NCL's Pride of America.

By going that route, it brings into play a lot of regulatory protocols, such as using U.S. materials and equipment, U.S. shipyards which are subject to U.S. labor laws, OSHA requirements, and USCG inspection. 

New photos of Royal Caribbean's fourth Oasis class ship construction | Royal Caribbean Blog

"Most other countries do not have a regulatory agency like the USCG," Commander Goldstein explained. "Instead, they let classification societies do the majority of the inspection/certification work.

"Some are very good and some are not so carful about adherence to the international requirements.  OSHA rules, designed to keep shipyard workers safe, are expensive."

"When I worked on U.S. vessels in foreign shipyards, the difference is safety protocols was very obvious."

Video: Royal Caribbean Lays Keel for Oasis III & Announces Oasis IV | Royal Caribbean Blog

To illustrate the point further, Commander Goldstein recalled inspecting a U.S. flagged tanker that was at the Hyundai Shipyard in South Korea in 1987. He was dispatched to oversee the significant work being done there that was required to be reviewed by the USCG.

"Before the work was done overseas, the company that owned the vessel put the work up for bids, both in the U.S. and overseas."  

"The Korean shipyard won the bid, even though when work on a U.S. flagged tanker is done overseas, when the vessel is brought back to the U.S. to work in the Jones Act trade, there is a 30% tariff applied to the cost of the overseas work."

"Even with that tariff, I was told that the cost of the work at Hyundai was half what the cheapest bid from a U.S. shipyard."

As you can see, the extra costs to build a cruise ship in the United States are substantially more than overseas, and it is why cruise lines choose to build their ships elsewhere.

Foreign-flagged cruise ships

The unconfirmed cruise ship rumors that get repeated a lot by cruise fans | Royal Caribbean Blog

Since the cruise ships are built outside the United States, they cannot be flagged as an American vessel.

American shipyards are not equipped with the experience building modern cruise ships, nor do they have the capacity or supply chain to assemble cruise ships. 

Cruise ships these days are almost all foreign-flagged, with registrations in places like Panama, The Bahamas, Liberia or elsewhere.

To register a ship with any country - and fly their flag - a company has to pay them a fee to join their ship registry. Besides the issues outlined earlier in this article, the costs for a ship registry in the U.S. is much higher than other countries.

St Maarten Ultimate Explorer Cruise & Island Tour shore excursion review

In:
07 Dec 2021
By: 
Haley Mills

On our port day in Sint Maarten, we decided to take a full tour of the island. This was our second visit to Sint Maarten, but the first time we had just walked around the port. We were excited to really see everything.

We were surprised that the tour didn’t start until 12:30! Normally long tours start in the morning, so we had lots of time to kill. We had ordered room service, so enjoyed that on our balcony, and people watched for a little bit, but it was hot. We got off and walked around the little port area, then we just moseyed around the ship until tour time. 

Our meet up point was right outside the ship, and then we had to walk from the pier through the little marketplace, to the bus depot. It’s about a quarter mile walk, but it is hot, so prepare yourself for that. The good news is, that’s the longest walk you will take on this tour.

All other movement is by bus or boat. Our group was big enough to need two full size tour buses, so we split up.

We really lucked out with an amazingly knowledgeable and hilarious guide:  Dominic. She kept us thoroughly entertained through the two hour bus ride around both Dutch and French sides of the island!

When we booked the tour, we did not realize the whole tour would be on the bus with no stops, but it was quite enjoyable, and we saw more of Sint Maarten than we expected. Dominic pointed out different neighborhoods, talked about the school systems, popular hangouts, etc. I loved learning about the everyday people and history of the island, and not just famous tourist spots. We also learned the differences between the two countries:  laws, currencies, languages, etc. It was so interesting!

Once we circled back around to the Dutch Side, we backed into a tiny lot in an area full of restaurants.

Now that we were stuffed full of Sint Maarten knowledge, it was time to kick back and relax on Simpson’s Bay! Both buses unloaded onto a double decker catamaran, which puttered slowly into the bay.

It was a bit windy, but we enjoyed complementary rum punch, beer, and chips while dancing to Caribbean-Remixed Adele and admiring the big shiny yachts at anchor. The guide pointed out the biggest on the bay, decked out in chrome--once owned by Steve Jobs.

While we were having a great time, it was, unfortunately, impossible to miss all of the wrecked and abandoned boats floating (some barely so) in the bay. There were a few wreckage crew out retrieving scrap metal and breaking down the boats that needed to be taken out.

It was strangely beautiful, but very sad to know that they are still collecting boats 4 years later, and that there are this many left. 

Eventually, the catamaran pulled back into the marina, and we loaded back up the buses to head back to the ship. Dominic pointed out a few more things on our way home, and then we all trudged slowly back to the pier.

We were worn out! Funny how riding in a bus makes you sleepy. I’ll include the details at the bottom of this post for your review. It’s not wheelchair accessible, but if you can get by with a walker or other mobility assist, and get up the steps of a bus and onto a boat platform, you’ll be ok. The only major walking is to and from the ship. Make sure you bring sunscreen! And eat some lunch before you go--a snack bag of Doritos does not make much of a meal.

This tour is definitely one I would recommend to newcomers to Sint Maarten, and we were very glad we chose this excursion.

Not only did we learn so much about the island, we got to see more of it than we expected, and we didn’t have to do it in separate trips. And the boat ride at the end of the day was just an absolute treat.

Royal Caribbean trademarks names that could be new water slides

In:
06 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

It looks like some new water slides could be coming to Royal Caribbean.

Based on recent trademark applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a series of names for potential water slides have been submitted.

Five trademarks were filed on behalf of the Royal Caribbean Group, in addition to the Perfect Storm trademark.

Perfect Storm has been the collective name for water slides Royal Caribbean has had on its cruise ships, and each of the new trademarks have a common theme of a storm.

Read moreWhich Royal Caribbean ships have water slides?

Here are the new trademarks:

  • Category 6
  • Hurricane Hunter
  • Storm Surge
  • Pressure Drop
  • Storm Chasers

Each of the trademarks simply says the trademark registration is intended to cover the category of cruise ship services.

In addition to water slides on its ships, Royal Caribbean also has water slides at its CocoCay water park.

Of course, these trademarks could be for something completely different than a water slide.  In addition, Royal Caribbean does not always utilize things it trademarks, so these filings may not be indicative of anything other than an idea they have.

Up until now, the Perfect Storm slides have come in two or three slide configurations on the ships.

Photos: Voyager of the Seas completes $97 million renovation | Royal Caribbean Blog

Two racer slides, Cyclone and Typhoon, offer a fast ride side-by-side to a water splash down.

Supercell is the name of the large bowl shaped slide, where you enter large saucer section to see how many times you can go around before exiting down to the end.

Face masks on Royal Caribbean: What you need to know

In:
06 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Ever since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic, face masks have been at the core of the new protocol requirements.

Many people going on a cruise want to know if and when they will have to wear a face mask, as well as what sort of rules there are for mask wearing.

It’s no secret that masks are polarizing Americans, but this article is meant to simply convey Royal Caribbean's policies so you can more easily plan your cruise. If you want to argue about the mask policy, join a local debate club. If you want your voice to be heard about Royal Caribbean's rule in a meaningful way, contact the cruise line.

If you have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked, you can expect to wear a mask onboard in some scenarios. Here is what you need to know about wearing a face mask on a cruise ship, as well as answers to some commonly asked questions on the topic of masks.

Where and when do I need to wear a mask on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean's mask policy is reviewed periodically, but has been pretty consistent since the line restarted operations in 2021.

On December 17, 2021, the cruise line announced masks are required for all guests, regardless of vaccination status, at all times indoors except while eating or drinking. This includes at venues reserved for vaccinated guests only.

Note that this policy is in place for all sailings departing before February 14, 2022, at which point it will be reevaluated.

Masks are NOT required to be worn:

  • In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting.
  • In the pool or any activity where they may become wet.
  • In your stateroom when you are with your traveling party.
  • While visiting our private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless you are in a crowded setting.
  • By any guest under the age of 2.

Masks ARE required to be worn:

  • While indoors in public areas of the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking.
  • While visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them.

What type of mask is allowed?

Royal Caribbean lists the following requirements for face masks:

  • Masks should be at least two layers of tight weave fabric with loops that fit over your ears in accordance with health guidelines. 
  • The mask should fit your face closely and cover your nose and mouth but allow you to breathe easily. 
  • Neck gaiters, open chin bandanas and scarves, and face masks with valves do not meet health authority guidelines and will not be permitted.

Are crew members enforcing wearing a mask?

The top questions people want to know about crew members on a cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Overall, the mask policy is being enforced by crew members onboard, although that is not to say every crew member is standing around looking to correct any guest with a mask below their nose.

Crew members work incredibly hard, and it's understandable that their regular duties require enough focus to not be able to police every guest walking around the ship.

However, if you think you can ignore the rule, soon enough a crew member or two will instruct you to put on your mask.  Certainly sometimes you may forget to put it on, and a friendly reminder will be given to wear one.  Likewise, if you need a mask, they can provide one to you.

The bottom line is the mask policy is more than just a suggestion, it is a requirement that passengers are held to.

Do I need to wear a mask on shore excursions?

Depending on the country you are visiting, and/or the tour operator, masks may be required.

Each country has its own rules regarding masks, and some require masks to be worn everywhere, including outdoors.

Ultimately, you will have to consult with the tour operator on if masks need to be worn during the tour entirely, but you should be aware there are national laws that require masks outside.

When will Royal Caribbean's indoor mask policy end?

There is no specific date or plan to rescind the mask policy.

As of November 2021, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley spoke on the topic of when masks might go away, but merely speculated as to some possibilities.  Keep in mind, his comments were made just before the Omicron variant of Covid-19 became big news.

"I think it's pretty it's pretty certain that the mask policy is going to change for the whole industry, for everybody as we move into the first quarter... as long as we don't see any more variants appearing on the scene."

"Sixty five percent of all of our customers feel comfortable with some kind of mask guidance. A lot of people do feel comfortable with it as being something optional."

"We're very thoughtful about it and have been because of our family market. So we're very sensitive to making sure we're not alienating a large group of customers."

"I think for the industry and for our business, week by week, month by month, these things are going to start slipping away and we're going to get back to quite a quite a normal environment.

What are the best masks to wear on a cruise?

There are lots of masks to purchase, but without a doubt one of the best options right now based on recommendations from health experts is a KN95 face mask. [Note, this contains an affiliate link]

Early on, these medical grade masks were hard to come by, but you should be able to purchase as many as you want these days.

KN95 masks offer very high performance in terms of filtration, and are comfortable to wear while providing a snug fit around your nose and chin.

KN95 masks are also fairly cheap, as production as ramped up so there are lots to consider.  

Cloth mask

If you prefer a reusable mask, you should look for a woven mask that offers multi-layer protection.

Since going on a cruise means it will be hot, the masks by Suay LA tend to get very good reviews for offering a breathable mask that is good in hot weather.

These are constructed from medical grade non-woven polypropylene surgical wrap and have a nosepiece. 

Backup masks

You should plan on bringing many more masks than you think you will need, because once masks become soiled and/or wet, they are not effective anymore.

In addition to purchasing more KN95 or cloth masks, another economical idea is to pick up disposable 3-ply face masks. [Note, this contains an affiliate link]

These disposable masks are a good back-up choice, as well as a good choice if you elect to double mask. 

How many masks should I bring on my cruise?

Depending on how active or if you sweat a lot, your mask needs may vary.

A good idea is to plan on 2-3 masks per person, per day to be safe.

Many reusable masks, can be hand-washed and dried overnight in your stateroom cabin.

Even if you prefer the cloth reusable masks, having some disposable masks is a good backup just in case. 

British Colonial Hilton day pass review

In:
06 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Before the global health crisis, the British Colonial Hilton was a popular shore excursion choice for many cruisers, so is the resort still a good choice now?

Nassau, Bahamas is one of those ports of call where planning ahead is important to ensure you have a good day ashore, and many readers want to know recommendations for a good tour option.

Having been to the British Colonial Hilton in the past, I wanted to know how it held up as an option to visit since the cruise industry restarted operations in 2021.

I purchased a day pass to the British Colonial Hilton for a visit in November 2021 while sailing on Odyssey of the Seas.

Overview

I bought a pass to the British Colonial Hilton through the third-party website, ResortForADay.com, which sells the day passes. You put a deposit down at the time of purchase, and pay the remainder balance upon arrival at the resort.

The price I paid was $85 per adult ($40 per kid), which is not cheap for a non-all-inclusive resort. However, that price does get you a $40 food and beverage credit per person for the adults ($20 for the kids).

Getting to the resort from the ship is super easy, because you can walk there. It is a short 10 minute walk out of the port area and along the water to the resort. It is essentially adjacent to Senor Frogs. You could take a taxi if you wanted, but the walk is pretty short.

The British Colonial Hilton advertises itself as offering the only private, white sand beach in downtown Nassau. There is also a pool you can use as well.

Day pass admission gets you:

  • Beach access
  • Beachfront swimming pool
  • Lounge chairs, umbrellas & towels
  • Non-motorized water sports: kayaks, snorkeling gear

When you arrive at the hotel, you walk into the lobby to check in.  You will need a printout of your reservation, form of identification, and a way to pay the remainder balance.  

Once check-in is complete, you are given a wristband and voucher for your food and beverage credits.

As advertised, you have access to sit wherever you like at the beach or pool.

The pool is rather large, although it lacks nearly any shade.

The beach area is wide, and there are chairs and palapas available.  Since this is a resort, hotel guests will be around and depending on the time of year, there may be more demand for chairs and umbrellas than other times.

Your food and beverage credit entitles you choice of food and drink off the menu, which helps offset the admission cost considerably. There are two issues with the food and drinks: first, the bar wasn't open at all. Instead, the towel attendant took food and drink orders, but it required you to go to his shack to place orders. He would deliver the food once it arrived. 

I can't say that is always the case these days, as I went on what seemed to be a slow afternoon in November.

In addition, the menu is not cheap. Most entrees are around $20 and a cocktail is around $15, which means that $40 credit goes very quickly.

Comments

Finding a great shore excursion in Nassau is tough right now with the port construction projects going on and the downtown area struggling to fully re-open since Covid. So a day at the British Colonial Hilton means a safe bet as to what you can do, which means something right now.

The day pass is not cheap, but in the grand scheme of Nassau excursions it comes in right in the median of tour prices, especially when you factor in the food and drink stipend you receive.

Considering the Atlantis resort is not accepting day pass guests until further notice, there is not much else that compares for families. Other Nassau resorts offering day passes all have minimum ages that preclude anyone travelling with younger kids.

The beach is great, and I thought the sand was quite soft and powdery, especially compared to the sand at CocoCay

If you are at all concerned a day at the British Colonial Hilton has changed or degraded at all since cruises restarted, the answer is no. I found my visit to be very much inline with past trips here, and it delivered on a conveniently located beach and pool day.

The two issues I have with the British Colonial Hilton is the lack of shade by the pool, and the high prices for food and drink. 

I got around these problems by grabbing a seat near the shuttered pool bar, which had shade, and only ordering enough food to use up my credits.

The food was pretty good, but overpriced.

If you want a beach and/or pool day while your cruise ship is in Nassau, Bahamas, the British Colonial Hilton remains a good choice, especially for families.

Cost: $85 per adult, $40 per child (ages 6-12. Children 5 and under are free).

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: December 5, 2021

In:
05 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy December! We cannot believe that we are already one full week into the month – there is so much going on with holiday preparation and shopping and baking!

The big news this week was the release of Alaska cruises for 2023.

Royal Caribbean releases health protocols for first Alaska cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean announced it will deploy four ships to Alaska in 2023, although the specific ships will change in 2023 from the year prior.

Ovation, Quantum, Radiance and Enchantment of the Seas will offer cruises to Alaska, with Enchantment of the Seas being the new option.

The new Alaska 2022 cruises are available to book between April and September 2022.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 432nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available to enjoy, which lists Matt and Beci's top 3 things they like doing on Harmony of the Seas.

After sailing on Harmony of the Seas this past week, this week's podcast episode was recorded onboard the ship to share their experiences and what really stood out about this Oasis Class ship.

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 video: Navigator of the Seas 2021 Cruise Ship Tour 

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 — Navigator of the Seas 2021 Cruise Ship Tour — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

7 cruise ship main dining room rules to follow — Plus 1 to break

What changes has Royal Caribbean made to eating on a cruise since restarting? | Royal Caribbean Blog

When you dine at the main dining room on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, there are certain expectations and rules to expect.

Etiquette at the main dining room on a cruise ship is not all that different from a land-based restaurant, but there are a few nuances that first time cruisers may be unaware of before they step aboard.

Here is my list of 7 main dining room guidelines you should know, as well as one well-known supposed rule that I think you can disregard.

Royal Caribbean celebrates one year anniversary since cruises restarted

In:
03 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One year ago, the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship restarted sailing since the pandemic, marking an important milestone on the cruise line's restart.

The global health crisis shutdown the entire cruise industry, and Royal Caribbean worked hard to create protocols for its eventual return to service.

Back in October 2020, Royal Caribbean announced it had reached an agreement with the government of Singapore to offer cruises to residents of Singapore.

These first sailings back were just 3- and 4-night cruises that had to follow all requirements and guidelines given by Singapore.

Here's what Royal Caribbean will require guests to do for first cruises back in Singapore | Royal Caribbean Blog

Exactly one year ago, Quantum of the Seas restarted sailing from Singapore marking the first ship to return.

For a while, Quantum of the Seas would be the only Royal Caribbean International ship to offer cruises, which remain to this day "cruises to nowhere" that offer no port stops.

The first sailings back on Quantum of the Seas included protocols that are now the cornerstone of Royal Caribbean's approach to cruising:

  • Testing and screening
  • Upgraded Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems that enhance filtration
  • Stringent cleaning practices
  • Reduced capacities for greater physical distancing
  • Expert medical care and onboard facilities

CDC asks Royal Caribbean to share covid safety technology from its cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Another big change onboard is the introduction of a contact tracing bracelet called a "tracelet". All guests wear one and it helps identify who may have had close contact with anyone that tests positive for Covid.

Since then, Royal Caribbean was able to restart cruises in other places, such as North America, the U.K. and Europe.

So far, 21 Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been able to restart sailing, and three more will rejoin the fleet later this month: Grandeur, Brilliance and Enchantment of the Seas.

A few months ago, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley pointed out that every single of the test cruises in the United States have "passed with flying colors", coinciding with the effective health and safety measures onboard.

Over half a million of guests have sailed with Royal Caribbean since the restart, and the company plans for more to do so in 2022.

Royal Caribbean cruises are completely sold out from Florida in July and August | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley gave credit to the hard working crew members who made this all possible, "This has been a herculean effort, and throughout it all, our crew have been the shining stars you’ve always known them to be. "

"Their commitment, positive attitude and smiling faces have made this all possible. And we can see the results of their impact in the feedback and record-setting guest ratings."

In fact, by spring 2022, all of the ships in the fleet should be back in service.