Royal Caribbean offering book up to two months later option at NextCruise

In:
13May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Guests sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise have a new option to consider when visiting the NextCruise office to book a future cruise.

In addition to the book now option, where guests book a specific sailing while in the NextCruise office, Royal Caribbean has added a Book Later option, where guests have up to two months to book their sailing.

The idea behind this new option is to allow guests more time to consider different sailings while still retaining the same onboard booking bonus they would get by booking onboard.

Book Later requires a $200 non-refundable deposit per stateroom ($100 deposit per stateroom if picking a specific sailing onboard), and promises up to $600 onboard credit or instant savings by selecting a sailing within 2 months.

The Pay Later option deposit stipulates:

  • The $200 per stateroom deposit is non-refundable
  • If a guest does not pick a ship and sail date within one year of creating the reservation, the "Book Later" reservation will expire and the deposit will be list.
  • In order to get the up to $600 in savings offer, a sailing must be selected within two months of creating the reservation.

The Pay Later option is in addition to the Book Now option, which remains available for guests to book while in the NextCruise office.

Special thanks to Karen Fraser for alerting us to this new option.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 12, 2019

In:
12May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Mothers Day! All the moms out there deserve a big hug, thank you and hopefully a cruise too.

Royal Caribbean officially opened Perfect Day at CocoCay this week.

The newly opened destination welcomes guests following a $250 million transformation of the cruise line's existing private destination in The Bahamas.

Guests sailing on Navigator of the Seas were welcomed to Perfect Day at CocoCay, where a number of new venues, activities and offerings were officially open for guest use.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 301st episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available,where Matt answers some questions about him.

To celebrate reaching 300 podcast episodes, Matt has the tables flipped on this week's podcast episode and answers questions about himself and the blog.

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

Skift reported on Royal Caribbean seeing a payoff by expanding its fleet.

Alanna Zingano posted a video of her ride on the Up, Up and Away helium baloon.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day

In:
12May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Our final day on Harmony of the Seas is a sea day, although it is not a typical sea day in the sense we are not going to purely at sea.

Captain Johnny made an announcement that we would head over to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's newly revamped private island, for a test docking.  Essentially, since no Oasis Class ships have docked at the island's new pier before, they needed to test it out prior to regularly scheduled sailings going there. Earlier this week, Harmony tested one side of the pier and today we would be testing out the other side.

While we would not be disembarking, it would give everyone on Harmony of the Seas a fantastic up close view of the great lengths Royal Caribbean has gone to revitalize the island.

Right around 9am we started approaching the island and beginning the docking procedure.

Once the ship got close enough to the island, Harmony spun around 180 degrees to back into her docking position.

The parking job was quick and we were docked alongside Navigator of the Seas for around 30 minutes or so, before Captain Johnny turned the thrusters back on to head out.

The island looks amazing, and I cannot wait to see everything that has been added. Luckily for me, I will not have to wait very long for that pleasure.

My kids opted to sleep through the island visit, so we got them up and moving and enjoyed one last breakfast at Park Cafe.

Next up my oldest daughter tried out the Ultimate Abyss.  She survived and said there was lots of noises, lights and it was faster than she thought it would be.

After that, the kids took a quick ride on the carousel.

Before lunch, there was a parade on the Royal Promeande and the Adventure Ocean staff selected my oldest daughter to be part of the parade as cupcakes in the Happy Birthday section of the parade.

Lunch was enjoyed in the Windjammer. The pasta station at the back became our go-to spot.

Our afternoon consisted of mostly bar hopping and a quick nap.  Typical sea day activities that do not make for exciting live blogs, but are quite enjoyable nonetheless.

We reserved dinner at Izumi for hibachi, which is a family favorite on any Royal Caribbean ship that offers it.

The meal was wonderful and our chef did a great job. Unfortunately we ran into a billing issue, which was partially our fault and partially the system's fault. If you want to dine with kids at hibachi, I recommend paying adult price in advance to lock in spots because hibachi sells out so quickly.

What is supposed to happen is once at the meal, the staff should only charge the kids $10 and the rest of the pre-paid amount refunded as onboard credit.  The lesson to be learned is when you check-in, inform the staff of the kids and the fact you pre-paid so that the billing can be fixed while you dine.  Not a major problem, just took some time to rectify it.

We spent the rest of our evening having one last round of drinks with friends around the ship. 

Harmony proved to be a very fun weekend cruise and just the kind of escape that we wanted. In fact, being able to get back on Harmony of the Seas and enjoy the kind of experiences that made her my favorite ship in the first place was a real treat.

I will be sure to share more thoughts on my cruise in this week's podcast episode.

Thanks for following the live blog and the great comments.  Our next live blog kicks off this Friday, as we head over to Navigator of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

In:
11May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

My favorite day of any cruise is always the second day, because it is the first full day onboard and that means a full day of cruise fun!

The excitement got to me, because I woke up at about 7:30am and could not sleep.  With this being just a 3-night cruise, I also felt I should make the most of my time onboard.

The kids slept in a bit, but we got them up and moving and then headed to Park Cafe for breakfast.  There are quite a few breakfast venues to choose from on Harmony, between the Windjammer, Main dining room, Park Cafe, Solarium Bistro and Mini Bites.

Today we are in Nassau, although we did not dock until 10am.  After breakfast, we enjoyed some time walking around the ship and enjoying a lovely (and warm) day in The Bahamas.

By late morning, we decided to disembark and grab a drink or two in Nassau.  

We walked over to Pirate Republic Brewery for a few beers.  Pirate Republic is a great spot for beers and a very short walk from the ship.

We headed back to Harmony for lunch and grabbed a bite to eat from the Windjammer. 

For the rest of the afternoon, we spent time at the pool.  I even tackled the water slides a couple of times. The yellow slide is definitely faster than the blue slide!

In the evening, I met some friends down in Izumi for a celebratory round of hot sake.  

Dinner this evening took us to one my favorite specialty restaurants, Sabor.  

Sabor serves up terrific Mexican fare, and their freshly made guacamole is worth the cost of admission alone!

Of course, no visit to Sabor is complete without one of their signature margaritas.

After dinner we checked out the adult comedy in the Royal Theater. Both comedians were very, very funny.

Following the show we rounded out our evening in the Pub with drinks and songs to sing along to. A good time was had by all.

Tomorrow is our last day and it is a sea day.

Stray Observations

  • The drink package was still being sold throughout the day.  I do not recall seeing a drink package still available on the second day of a three night cruise.
  • The Windjammer in the evening had freshly made falafel. It was remarkably good.

 

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
10May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

I think my entire family woke up bright and early thinking the exact same thing, "Cruise day!".

We live about an hour or so from Port Canaveral, so we got up and loaded up the car to make the drive over to the port.

The drive to the port was uneventful and we arrived a few minutes before 10am. I dropped my kids, wife and luggage off and then parked the car at the port parking garage.  The terminal was note quite open yet, but it opened up a little after 10am.

Check-in was super simple and Port Canaveral now uses tablet-based check-in. Instead of lining up to go to the desk and check-in, there are agents standing around with tablets. It is similar to the setup at PortMiami check-in.

Boarding began a little after 11am and once we set foot on the Royal Promenade, it felt like a homecoming for me.

The ship looks beautiful, and we took the opportunity to make a few specialty dining reservations before heading up to the Windjammer for lunch.

Embarkation day lunch in the Windjammer is a favorite cruise tradition of mine, and I found the selection of food varied enough to satisfy all my family's preferences. A great start to a full day ahead.

We headed down to the Boardwalk and my daughters took a ride on the carousel.

 After that, it was back up to the pool deck for some fun at Splashaway Bay.

Unfortunately my youngest daughter was an inch or two too short for the Splashaway Bay slides, but she still had a great time running around, splashing and playing with all the water features.

Staterooms opened promptly at 1pm and we have a pair of connecting inside staterooms on deck 8.

I love that our rooms are the first set from the elevator bank because that means no crazy long walks back to my room.

Another interesting difference is our room has the bed along the side, while the girls have a bed against the back wall. It also looks like their couch is larger. I was surprised to see a different layout for what are two of the same category rooms.

Our luggage was already waiting near our room, so we grabbed those and quickly unpacked.  We then headed up to Adventure Ocean to register the kids. Another surprise was Adventure Ocean did not open until 8pm on day one, which is what used to be the policy across the fleet, but in the last year or so on all ships we have sailed on Adventure Ocean opened at 7pm on the first night.

Muster drill came and went quickly. I was just happy to be sitting down in air conditioning for the event, which took place for us in the Royal Theater.

After muster drill we headed up to the pool. The kids mostly played around while we enjoyed the sailaway views.

We changed for dinner and then fed the kids in the Windjammer before dropping them off at Adventure Ocean.

Dinner tonight was at 150 Central Park, as my wife wanted to dine here after she missed it on Symphony of the Seas.

We had a great meal, and I tried the beet salad as an appetizer and the venison for my entree.  I also split with my wife the beef tenderloin for two.  

Beets are not my favorite vegetable by any means, but I wanted something different to try.  The venison was better than I expected, and switching off between that and the beef tenderloin was a terrific combination.

Once we finished the meal, we grabbed a drink at the Pub before heading to the Royal Theater to take in our favorite show on Harmony of the Seas, Columbus: The Musical.

This show is a really fun experience, and I love the songs and humor that are fused into this Royal Caribbean original production. 

After the show, I enjoyed a few more drinks at the Pub before calling it a night.

Tomorrow we will be docked in Nassau, Bahamas.

Stray Observations

  • You may have seen photos from the previous 3-night sailing of Harmony of the Seas where quite a few love bugs descended upon the area (and ship). Luckily, few love bugs were an issue for us.
  • There were no dining packages offered before the cruise, but once onboard the 3-night dining package was offered at $99 per person.
  • The new souvenir Coca-Cola Freestyle cups are on the ship, but the old cup design is still around. In fact, waiting in our room as part of our drink package was the old cup. 
  • Speaking of the old cup, I have never seen the souvenir cups wrapped in a tamper evident wrap.  They have always been wrapped, but never with print on them.

 

Video: The WORST Ways to Spend Your Money on Royal Caribbean

In:
09May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

We have a brand new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video for you this week, and we are talking about the worst ways to spend your money on Royal Caribbean!

Royal Caribbean cruises are not free, so we ant to help you save as much money as possible when you go. That is why we are talking about some of the worst ways to spend money on a cruise vacation, and how to avoid some of these pitfalls.

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

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

So check out the video and then let us know: What do you think is the worst way to spend money on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean redeploys Independence of the Seas in 2020 away from UK

In:
09May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced it has decided to redeploy Independence of the Seas in 2020 from the UK market, and instead keep her in Port Everglades, Florida to offer more cruises to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

As a result of the change in homeport, Royal Caribbean has begun informing guests that had cruises booked on Independence of the Seas from Southampton in 2020 that their sailings are canceled.

On Royal Caribbean's UK website, the cruise line explained the change, "Responding to strong booking interest in our exciting new Caribbean private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International has announced a 2020 deployment change for Independence of the Seas. The ship will now sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida rather than Southampton. Guests affected by the itinerary change will be offered full refunds and a ‘Future Cruise Credit’ for use on alternative sailings. The popular Quantum Class ship Anthem of the Seas will return to the UK market for 2020, adding more options for guests sailing from Southampton."

As a result of the change, Independence of the Seas will remain in the Caribbean instead of sailing to Southampton in 2020.

Royal Caribbean UK also apologized for canceling sailings some guests have booked, "Our goal is provide our guests with the best itineraries that take you to exclusive parts of the world and have decided to make these changes for the 2020 season to maximize our capacity in the Caribbean. We are terribly sorry. We know this news is disappointing."

Spectrum of the Seas arrives in first Asian port

In:
09May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Spectrum of the Seas, has finally arrived in Asia, with her first call at Mumbai port today, May 9.  She is on a 14-night cruise from Dubai to Singapore which will next visit Cochin on May 11.

Spectrum of the Seas' visit to Mumbai has an additional significance, as it is now the largest ship to ever call in India.  

To celebrate the maiden call, plaque exchanges were conducted between Spectrum of the Seas’ Captain Charles Teige and tourism ministry and port officials namely Honorable Minister Mr Jaykumar Rawal, Tourism Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port and Mr Keki Master, Senior Vice President of JM Baxi.

Spectrum of The Seas will offer the following itineraries from Singapore:

  • A 3-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang) on May 18
  • A 4-night cruise to Penang on May 21
  • A 9-night one-way cruise from Singapore to Shanghai, calling at Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Hong Kong (with an overnight stay) on May 25.

The ship will debut her Shanghai season from June 2019, while Quantum of the Seas will return to Singapore for a six-month deployment from this November till next April with 34 sailings.  Her itineraries will include 4-night cruises to Phuket and Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang) or Penang; 5-night cruises to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket; a 7-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket; a 7-night cruise to Bangkok (Laem Chabang) (overnight) and Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My); and a 9-night cruise to Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Hue/Danang (Chan May).

Royal Caribbean receives approval for headquarters expansion plan

In:
08May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The Miami-Dade County Commission approved Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd proposal to renovate and expand its corporate headquarters in PortMiami.

The South Florida Business Journal reported that approval was given to amend the lease on county land.

Last month, Royal Caribbean International's parent company proposed an expanded and renovated corporate campus on the southwest corner of Dodge Island.  The new campus would expand the company’s workforce capacity from 2,200 to 4,200. The project is estimated to cost approximately $300 million.

The campus, landscaped with indigenous flora, will sport a soccer field, volleyball court, basketball court, and fitness center for employees.  It will include a new parking garage and built-in sustainability features, such as electric car chargers, photovoltaic cells, and rainwater collectors. At the heart of campus will be a 10-story, 350,000 square-foot building influenced by the graceful utility, fluidity, and innovative designs evident in the company’s ships.   

The new corporate headquarters would include a fitness center, a day care, a cafeteria, an auditorium and a maritime innovation center for the design development and renovation of cruise vessels.

The project groundbreaking is slated for June, and should debut in 2020.

Chat with Matt on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
08May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 301 is available for downloading, where Matt is providing a peek behind the curtains of RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com.

In celebration of 300 podcast episodes, John joins Matt to ask questions about the man behind the podcast.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 301. 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!

Pages