Video: Symphony of the Seas Transatlantic Departure Timelapse from Malaga

By: Matt Hochberg

Watch a timelapse video of the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, begin her transatlantic journey to her new homeport in Miami, Fl from Malaga, Spain.

Friday Photos - November 2, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Photos, where we showcase our readers favorite Royal Caribbean photos.  If we all cannot be on a Royal Caribbean cruise at the moment, then the next best thing is to look at photos of a cruise longingly as a means of getting a "cruise fix."

If you want to submit your photos for a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us via this form.

Our first photo this week is of Susan Widdowson's "big" winnings on Harmony of the Seas.

Michael Bonham took this photo of Explorer of the Seas in Sydney harbor.

Here is a photo from North Star, taken by Bob Carpenter overlooking the city of Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Here is a photo from Costa Maya, taken by Kinny Lee, of a Carnival ship departing.

Adam G. took this panoramic photo of Anthem of the Seas while docked in Bermuda.

Next is a fun photo of Adventure of the Seas shrouded in fog, taken from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine by Michael Kho.

Our final photo this week is from Ken, and it is of Oasis of the Seas in Labadee on what looks like a perfect day.

That wraps up this week's edition of Friday Photos. If you want your Royal Caribbean photo featured here, use this form to send them in!

Royal Caribbean officially opens new Terminal A cruise terminal in Miami

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean formally opened its new cruise terminal in PortMiami with a celebration event held inside Terminal A.

The event was headlined with speeches by Royal Caribbean's leadership, as well as Miami city and PortMiami officials.

Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. started off the day talking about what this new terminal means to the cruise line.

Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Rebecca Sosa, Chairwoman for the Economic & Tourism Committee, both congratulated Royal Caribbean on the opening of this terminal, and declared today to be Royal Caribbean day in Miami.

Michael Bayley, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International, also said a few words at the event.

The official opening saw Royal Caribbean's leadership, along with the Mayor of Miami and other city officials, activate the 56 foot tall gold propellors to welcome everyone into the terminal.

Terminal A is a brand new, state-of-the-art cruise terminal that was built to be the home of Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas and her sister, Allure of the Seas.  The building was designed by England-based global architecture firm Broadway Malyan. 

The names of Royal Caribbean ships appear on the staircase.

A fire department celebration of the special day.

Check-in and security screening area

Security screening area

The 170,000-square-foot terminal is nicknamed the ‘Crown of Miami’ because of its distinct shape.

Symphony of the Seas arrives to Terminal A on November 9, 2018.

Video: The Best Family Vacation at Sea

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Symphony of the Seas, will bring a new sound of adventure to Miami in November 2018. A playground for all ages, the world’s largest cruise ship offers a lineup of exciting new thrills along with ways to unwind. From laser tag and waterslides, to “me time” at the spa and the one-and-only Ultimate Family Suite, the quintessential family vacation is reaching new heights.

Navigator of the Seas will get new water slides, restaurants and experiences in major 2019 refurbishment

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced a $115 million modernization for Navigator of the Seas, with a lineup of firsts and Royal Caribbean favorites, including an awe-inspiring Caribbean poolscape, waterslides, the first blow dry bar at sea, nightlife and dining, and thrilling activities for the whole family.

Navigator of the Seas will undergo a refurbishment in early 2019, return to service on February 24, 2019 and offering 3- and 4-night Caribbean cruises from Miami. Beginning May 2019, Navigator will offer short Caribbean itineraries that will visit the cruise line’s highly anticipated private island in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Navigator will get two new waterslides that have never been offered on any other ship.  

The Blaster, the cruise line’s first-ever aqua coaster and the longest waterslide at sea, will offer a two-person raft that will propel them through more than 800 feet of hills, drops and straightaways, which includes extending over the side of the ship for a rush of ocean air.


On its counterpart, Riptide, guests will plunge headfirst down the industry’s only headfirst mat racer and reach an exhilarating finish through a translucent tube with endless ocean views.

Royal Caribbean also decided to completely reimagine its pool area, with a Caribbean feel.  The standout resort-style deck takes on a new look with more pool for everyone – even a Splash Pad for tots – and all the ingredients that make for a perfect weekend.

While hanging at the pool, guests can checkout the new two-level signature bar, Lime and Coconut, which will serve cocktails and live music well into the evening.

Another first for Navigator of the Seas will To Dry For, the first standalone blow dry bar at sea. Offering blowouts, hairstyling and polish changes, plus a selection of wines and champagnes, the new space is the perfect stop for a quick beauty fix before a night out.

Navigator of the Seas will get even more additions:

  • First Johnny Rockets Express
  • Bamboo Room Polynesian-themed lounge
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, featuring a new Owner's Box VIP room
  • Jamie's Italian specialty restaurant
  • Hooked Seafood specialty restaurant (replacing Sabor Modern Mexican)
  • Starbucks
  • El Loco Fresh (coming to the reimagined pool deck)

Families will love to hear about some of the other new activities Royal Caribbean will add to Navigator of the Seas, including:

  • Glow-in-the-dark laser tag with Battle for Planet Z in Studio B
  • Mini-golf
  • Royal Escape Room: The Observatorium

Younger kids will enjoy Royal Caribbean’s new take on the Adventure Ocean youth program in a newly designed open, free play space. With trained staff and the cruise line’s award-winning programming, the modern concept will let imaginations roam free with activities organized by interests at every corner.

The teen areas will also sport updates with a redesigned Living Room, the teen-only laidback hangout, as well as a new “hidden” entrance and outdoor deck that serves up nothing but chill vibes.

Navigator of the Seas will be the third Royal Caribbean ship to undergo a Royal Amplified upgrade. Royal Amplified is a $900 million imitative to reimagine Royal Caribbean's fleet through a new modernization effort.

Royal Caribbean offering 60% off second guest and Kids Sail Free

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering 60% off second guest and Kids Sail Free on new bookings made in November.

The November offer is valid on new bookings made between November 1 – December 4, 2018 on all sailings departing on or after December 1, 2018.

Here are the offer details:

  • 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest
  • 30% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests
  • Kids Sail for Free Offer:
    • offers free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Cuba, Europe and Hawaii sailings departing between December 1, 2018 – December 14,2019.
    • Offer excludes Holiday sailings (Sailings between December 18, 2018 – January 1, 2019), President’s day sailings (Sailings between February 15 – 18, 2019), Spring Break sailings (Sailings between March 16 – 30, 2019), Holy Week/Easter sailings (Sailings between April 13 – 22, 2019) Summer sailings (Sailings between May 15 – August 31, 2019) and 2019 Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between November 23 – 30, 2019).
    • Offer is not combinable with Deck the Holidays
  • Great Escapes Sale
    • Great Escape Sale offers instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length
    • Valid on bookings made between November 1 – 5, 2018 on all sailings departing on or after December 1, 2018
    • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • On sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites

BOGO and Deck the Holidays Deals are combinable with Great Escape Sale, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. BOGO and Kids Sail Free are combinable with Great Escape Sale, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Great Escape Sale is combinable with promotional OBCs, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. Kids Sail Free and Deck the Holidays are not combinable with each other. All 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, Net Rates.

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

Video: Royal Caribbean cruise money saving tips

By: Matt Hochberg

Check out our Royal Caribbean Blog video, which is all about ways to save money on your Royal Caribbean cruise!

What's better than a Royal Caribbean cruise? A Royal Caribbean cruise with discounts! We are sharing some of our favorite ways to spend less and still enjoy a great cruise vacation.  From how to save on drinks and shore excursions, to who to book with to get the lowest price, we have quite a few strategies for keeping money in your pocket.

And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over 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 episode!

Izumi on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 274 is available for downloading, where we have an overview of the Izumi Japanese cuisine specialty restaurant on Royal Caribbean.

Izumi has quickly become one of the most popular specialty restaurants across Royal Caribbean, and this week, Matt shares what you need to know about dining at Izumi, reveals his favorite dishes to order and offers some great non-sushi choices if you do not like raw fish.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 274. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Spotted: Self-service merchandise machines on Symphony of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Guests sailing on Symphony of the Seas have the option to buy certain souvenirs, toiletries or sunscreens any time of day or night from a few self-service machines.

Located on deck 15, these machines are available 24 hours per day and come in three varieties. Royal Caribbean Blog reader Tony Law sent us photos of these machines. This is the first Royal Caribbean ship we can recall seeing this sort of offering.

The first machine is the Tech Shop, and offers various electronics to purchase that can be used during the cruise, Headphones, walkie talkies, Nintendo 3DS, batteries and more are available.

The Splash Store machine offers a variety of sunscreen, skin care and swim accessories that you might need for a day spent by the pool or on shore.

Health Essentials store offers medicine and other toiletries that guests may need at any point in the cruise.

All three machines are provided by pharmabox, which provides these sort of automated machines in highly frequented areas that are underserved.

In addition to the automated retail offerings, there is also a complimentary phone charging station.


Do you think you will take advantage of having these machines on your upcoming Symphony of the Seas cruise? Do you want more of these machines on other ships? Let us know in the comments below!

Answers to many common Symphony of the Seas frequently asked questions

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas has generated a lot of interest among Royal Caribbean fans and first time cruisers alike, and with a ship this intriguing, there are a lot of concerns and questions people may have.

We decided to list answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related specifically to Symphony of the Seas for everyone's future reference.

When can I reserve shows onboard?

Royal Caribbean has added a lot of great entertainment on Symphony of the Seas. Guests are able to reserve shows on their Symphony of the Seas cruise, although when exactly they become available varies from sailing to sailing. The truth is, there is no rule about when these kinds of activities become available for booking, and every sailing can be different.

Typically, we see entertainment become available to reserve online around 75-60 days prior to the sail date, but your experience may vary.

What makes Symphony different from other Oasis-class ships?

Despite being the fourth Oasis Class cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas has a number of differences from her sister ships.  Here is a list of the most noticeable ones:

  • Solarium has a 2,594 square foot art installation
  • No Sabor on Boardwalk. Instead, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade occupies entire side of the Boardwalk neighborhood.
  • Sugar Beach Candy Shop (candy and ice cream) takes up much of other side of Boardwalk neighborhood.
  • Symphony of the Seas features the Ultimate Family Suite stateroom.
  • New restaurants
    • El Loco Fresh (Complimentary)
    • Hooked (Specialty)
  • Laser tag in Studio B offered on Symphony
  • New shows
    • Hairspray Broadway musical
    • Flight (Royal Theater)
    • 1977 (ice skating show)
    • Aquanation (AquaTheater)
    • HiRo (AquaTheater)
  • Art work all over the ship

What are the Windjammer hours?

Exact times can change, but here are the Windjammer dining hours we have seen thus far.

  • 6:30-7:00am Early bird
  • 7:00am - 11:00am Breakfast
  • 11:30-3:30 Lunch
  • 5:30pm - 9:15pm Dinner

What is the new Royal Caribbean app and how does it work?

Royal Caribbean is developing a new smartphone app, which allows guests to manage multiple aspects of their cruise vacation from the app.

On Symphony of the Seas, guests can perform a variety of functions.  

Here are the important functions the app can perform currently.  Keep in mind that the app is under active development, and new features are forthcoming.

  • Access Cruise Planner
  • View daily activities
  • Conduct mobile check-in
  • Real-time folio access
  • Expedited Arrival option
  • Make plans with guests in other staterooms by linking reservations
  • View main dining preferences
  • View reservations on personal calendars

There is no cost to use the Royal Caribbean app and you do not need a WiFi package to use the app onboard.  A chat feature between guests is coming soon.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Does Symphony of the Seas offer WOWbands?

Yes, Symphony of the Seas offer RFID bracelets known as WOWbands.

WOWbands are essentially optional replacements for your SeaPass card. Imagine a bracelet you can wear that allows you to open you stateroom door, charge onboard purchases or check into shows and restaurants.

They are made of silicone and come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, black and blue.

WOWbands use Radio Frequency (RF) technology that can be read by Royal Caribbean's readers that are found at kiosks, tablets and mobile scanners that Royal Caribbean crew operate.

Your WOWband is linked to your SeaPass account and holds all of your information related to your cruise vacation such as your stateroom information, dining reservations and more. 

Guests on Symphony of the Seas can choose to purchase WOWbands for $4.99 each and can be purchased at Guest Services. They are complimentary for suite guests and will be waiting in your suite.

Can I use my Starbucks app/card on Symphony of the Seas?

You can use your Starbucks card at the Starbucks kiosk onboard for paying for drinks and earning rewards, however, you cannot redeem free rewards via the Starbucks app/card.

In addition, none of Royal Caribbean's drink packages work at Starbucks on Symphony of the Seas. Instead, those drink packages can be used for specialty coffee beverages at other locations on Symphony, including Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe, or any specialty restaurant.

Where does Symphony of the Seas dock in PortMiami?

Symphony of the Seas begins and ends her sailingsa tthe brand new Terminal A at PortMiami.  This is a new state-of-the-art cruise terminal that features stunning architecture, and a new boarding experience.

The quickest way to get onboard will be using the Royal Caribbean International app to check-in. You can download the app from  iTunes App Store and Google Play Store now for free. Online check-in remains open until 48 hours prior to departure, so be to complete it before arrival at the terminal in order to skip the check-in counter at the terminal. Then, be sure to save your SetSail Pass on your mobile device or print for all guests in their party. The SetSail Pass is the key to adventure.

If you elect to park at Terminal A, go straight to the garage where agents will receive luggage and review documents. If you are taking a taxi or using a ride sharing service, agents will be waiting at the drop off area.

A reminder to all guests to keep all essential items with them, like travel documentation, SetSail Pass, required identification, the credit card to add to their onboard account, and
any medication they may need.

Did we miss your question? Post it in the comments below and we will try our best to answer it!