Royal Caribbean delays Anthem of the Seas sailing after false reports of Coronavirus infections

In:
07Feb2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has delayed the next sailing of Anthem of the Seas by one day due to widespread reporting of Chinese passengers on the previous sailing who were feared to be infected with the coronavirus.

Local media reported on the ship's return to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey as cause for concern that a coronavirus outbreak could have been onboard.  In the hours since the ship returned to port, personnel from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) boarded the ship and conducted screenings, concluding no presence of coronavirus.

While the ship has been cleared by local authorities, Royal Caribbean has decided to delay Anthem of the Seas' departure until February 8, 2020 in order to "reassure concerned guests" that the ship is indeed cleared by the CDC.

Letters courtesy of Emily Hufnal

Royal Caribbean is offering guests a 1-day refund in the form of onboard credit for the missed day onboard, as well as credits for any pre-purchased internet, drink or dining packages.

Royal Caribbean reiterated it is working with medical experts, public health authorities, and local governments to ensure its screening and boarding protocols are working to protect guests and crew.

Royal Caribbean also has taken numerous proactive steps to maintain high health standards. This includes:

  • Thoroughly sanitizing the cruise ship terminal before and after every sailing,
  • Special sanitizing of high traffic areas onboard multiple times a day,
  • Adding extra medical staff on each sailing,
  • Providing complimentary consultations with medical experts for all guests & crew,
  • Plus, the Captain will make two daily announcements during your cruise reminding everyone of how to stay healthy onboard.

Friday Photos - February 7, 2020

In:
07Feb2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Love Royal Caribbean cruises and the start of the weekend? Then you will love Friday Photos, where we celebrate the start of the weekend with some great Royal Caribbean photos that our readers have shared with us. Sit back, relax, and let's enjoy this week's batch of Royal Caribbean photos!

Our first photo this week is by Jenn U., and it is from the North Star on Anthem of the Seas while docked in Nassau, Bahamas.

Brandy snapped this photo of the sunrise near Labadee, from Oasis of the Seas.

Here is a relaxing photo taken from a beach bed at Perfect Day at CocoCay by Tracie R.

Check out this photo by Mark Hackett of Hubbard Glacier, as seen from the hot tub on Ovation of the Seas.

I love a good sunset photo, and Francine Brown shared this one from Serenade of the Seas.

We go back to Perfect Day at CocoCay with this photo by Spiralqueen of their Chill Island cabana.

Our final photo is from the North Star of Quantum of the Seas while in Fujiyama, Japan. Photo by Gerald Chernicoff.

Thank you to everyone for these wonderful cruise photos.  If you would like to share your Royal Caribbean photos with us, use this form to send them in.  Have a great weekend!

Royal Caribbean updates Wuhan Coronavirus screening procedures

In:
06Feb2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has posted newly updated screening procedures to ensure guests on its ships avoid the coronavirus outbreak.

The new set of screening procedures add onto what was first posted last week.

The cruise line consulted with medical experts and public health authorities to come up with these rules.  As a result, regardless of nationality, any guest or crew member traveling from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau less than 15 days prior to their sailing will be unable to board any of Royal Caribbean ship.

Additionally, Royal Caribbean has tightened its health screening requirements and the following guests will need to undergo extra screenings to ensure safety at the cruise terminal:

  • Anyone that has been in contact with individuals that have traveled from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the last 15 days.
  • Anyone that holds a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport – regardless of when they were there last.
  • Anyone that feels unwell or demonstrates flu-like symptoms.

In the past few days, guests with upcoming cruises reported receiving emails and text messages with similar screening procedures outlined.

Royal Caribbean believes these measures will help reduce the potential for the virus to further spread, and will ensure the health of guests and crew. 

Royal Caribbean Chef's Table dinner review

In:
06Feb2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean offers guests a variety of experiences, tours and activities and one of their most well-respected offerings is Chef's Table.

Chef's Table offers a guided private epicurean five-course experience with an upgraded menu and wine tasting to a limited number of guests. 

I had never tried it, so on a recent Mariner of the Seas sailing I decided to see what the Chef's Table experience was all about. 

I reserved Chef's Table in advance of my cruise via the Cruise Planner, with the choice of enjoying it on any of the evenings of my cruise.

The evening began meeting at Boleros for a pre-dinner drink, where your waiter for the night welcomes you and introduces you to the other guests who will be dining with you. 

Chef's Table is an experience for around 12 guests. The location and capacity of Chef's Table will vary depending on which ship you are trying it on, but on Mariner of the Seas we dined in the rear of the main dining room between deck 4 and 5.

After everyone arrives, our waiter escorted us to the main dining room and seated us in specific chairs.  On this evening, I was dining with 10 other guests.

The Chef's Table is named appropriately, as the chef comes out from the galley to introduce himself and explain the meal that he and the waiter will be serving you.  

The chef and waiter are dedicated to just your table, and that means a personal and intimate evening of food and drink.

There are six courses in total, each paired with a glass of wine. If that sounds like a lot, it is because it is a lot. You begin with appetizers, move onto the main courses and then end with desert.

Each serving comes with a glass of wine that is matched with the food you are being served. The idea is that the food and drink compliment each other to enhance the flavor of each.

When the evening began, I was not sure what to expect beyond simply a lot of food and drink. As the evening progressed and everyone we were seated with started to open up (the wine greatly assists with this), and the waiter got to know us, the meal began to grow on me.

Discovering different wines and how well one cup can pair with a particular food is a welcome surprise, while the detail and attention given to each dish is equally impressive.

Of the six courses served, the tomato soup was outstanding and arguably the best tomato soup I have ever had in my life.  The branzino, a fish I have mostly tolerated, was excellent as well. In all honesty, each dish was great and I could tell the difference between the food carefully prepared for Chef's Table versus food served elsewhere on the ship.

The wine pairings were a wonderful touch, and as someone who primarily drinks red wine, it was pleasant to try a few different white wines and get a sense of the flavor for each.

Overall, I thought the Chef's Table meal was a terrific marathon of culinary excellence. I am far from a “foodie” or someone that seeks out Michelin rated restaurants, but I could appreciate and enjoy this 4-hour dining experience for the attention to detail and intrigue it presented.

For anyone that is looking for something different to do on a cruise, or perhaps looking for a way to celebrate something special, the Chef's Table is a great choice. 

VIP Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day shore excursion in Nassau, Bahamas review

In:
05Feb2020
By: Matt Hochberg

One of the most popular shore excursions in Nassau, Bahamas is the Blue Lagoon Beach Day tour. I decided to check it out for myself and see what it offers.

Blue Lagoon is a private island that is about a 30 minute boat ride away from where the cruise ships tender in Nassau.  It is located just off the coast of Paradise Island, which is home to Atlantis Resort and many extremely extravagant mansions.

Blue Lagoon offers a variety of options for booking a visit to their island. There is a basic beach day pass, dolphin swim combo, stingray encounter, Segway and more. I counted nine different tours that take you to Blue Lagoon.

Ultimately, I settled on the VIP Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day since I did not want to do any of the animal encounters or other tours.

The VIP tour came out to $120.99 per person. I believe the non-VIP tour would have cost around $88.

Check-in for the tour was on the pier in Nassau where the ship docks.  Since I had the VIP tour, I was taken out of the regular line and escorted ahead of everyone else to a ferry that was waiting to take us to the island.

On the ferry, VIP members were given a bottle of water and a granola bar snack.

As we arrived to the island, the crew instructed VIP guests to debark first, ahead of everyone else.

Blue Lagoon is made up of a variety of beaches that you can visit at your leisure.  The dolphin, stingray, shark and sea lion encounters are all on the east side of the island.  Even if you do not have an encounter scheduled, you can walk around the area and see the animals.

 

Our VIP guide escorted us to a private beach area that was a short walk away on the northwest side of the island.  

There, we found a pristine beach with plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas to enjoy. 

 

The VIP tour provides unlimited bottled water, mimosas and fruit punch to enjoy.

The beach was beautiful and very private, although the rockiness of it made swimming and wading beyond your waist impossible.

VIP guests are free to wander the island and enjoy any of the other beaches.  Snorkeling equipment rental is included with the VIP pass.

A BBQ island buffet is included with the VIP pass, and served just outside the beach in a shaded area with picnic table seating.

The buffet lunch consisted of salad, fried fish, steak, BBQ chicken, plantains and corn on the cob.

The other beaches offer different ocean depths and views. Some are better for swimming, others better for wading and others suitable for snorkeling.

You have the option to add onto your beach pass to add an animal encounter, aqua park or other tour. 

Comments

As advertised, Blue Lagoon is indeed a beautiful and serene island to spend the day and delivers a relaxing beach day option.

There was plenty of seating, and the service provided to VIP guests was excellent. 

I was disappointed to find the VIP beach to be too rocky to swim. In fact, it was too rocky to even walk very deep in and I noticed only a few brave guests venturing across the rocks to get waist deep.

Of course, I could leave the VIP beach and enjoy a rock-free beach elsewhere, but it seems to be a waste of paying for the VIP perks.  

I think Blue Lagoon is a good choice for someone who wants to do an animal encounter, or some other type of tour, and combine it with a great beach day.

Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale offers up to $300 onboard credit

In:
05Feb2020
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale is back, with up to $300 onboard credit possible.

The WOW Sale is valid between February 5 - 9, 2020 and is valid on sailings departing on or after March 5, 2020.

It includes:

  • 60% savings off the price of cruise fare of the second guest booked in the same stateroom as first, full-fare paying guest.
    30% cruise fare savings for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests.
  • Kids Sail Free provides free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple of quad-occupancy stateroom.
    • Kids Sail Free applies to select 4-night or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe, Hawaii, Repositioning and all 2020 Serenade of the Seas sailings departing between March 1, 2020 – December 17, 2020 and January 8, 2021 – May 17, 2021.
    • Excludes 2020 President’s Day sailings (Sailings between February 14 – 17, 2020), 2020 Spring Break sailings (Sailings between March 14 – 23, 2020), 2020 Holy Week/Easter sailings (Sailings between April 3 – 17, 2020), Peak Summer (Sailings between May 15 – August 31, 2020), 2020 Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between November 21 – 28, 2020), 2021 President’s Day Sailings (Sailings between February 12 – 15, 2021), and 2021 Spring Break and Easter sailings (Sailings between March 13 – April 4, 2021). 
  • Up to $300 onboard credit per stateroom
    • Sailings 5 nights or less, $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $75 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $300 for Suites

BOGO60, Kids Sail Free and Alaska Kicker are combinable with each other as well as promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. WOW Sale is combinable with BOGO60, Kids Sail Free and Alaska Kicker as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers Free Upgrades and Shareholder Benefits but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts. Offer 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, and Net Rates.

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

    Royal Caribbean pre-cruise sale offers discounts on internet, drink packages, gifts and more

    In:
    05Feb2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean has begun a new Cruise Planner sale, which offers up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases such as internet, drink packages, photo packages and more.

    The pre-cruise Wow Sale runs between February 5, 2020 - February 13, 2020 and is valid on sailings from February 15, 2020 - August 31, 2020.

    Royal Caribbean states guests can expect to see:

    BEVERAGE: Up to 40% off on select sailings.

    • Classic Soda Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes Charter Sailings & SC)
    • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC)
    • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes Charter Sailings + SC)
    • Refreshment Package: 40% off onboard prices: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC)
    • Water Packages - 12 & 24 bottles: 40% off onboard prices: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes VI & SC)

    SHORE EXCURSIONS: Up to 25% off

    • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes Charter Sailings & SC)

    INTERNET: Up to 55% off

    • The Key: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes Charter Sailings, MJ & SC)
    • VOOM Surf & Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Devices(s): Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC)
    • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Devices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC)

    DINING: Up to 55% off

    • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N - 9N sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes MJ & SC)

    ACTIVITIES: 10% off

    • All Access Ship Tour: 10% off onboard prices. (Excludes Charter Sailings & SC)

    GIFTS & GEAR: Up to 20% off

    • Anniversary Decorations with Champagne: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes Charter Sailings, QN, SC & VY)
    • Happy Birthday Chocolate Cake and Strawberries:: 20% off onboard prices (Excludes QN, SC & VY)
    • Happy Birthday Vanilla Cake and Strawberries: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes QN, SC & VY)
    • Inky Beach Towel (TicTacToe): 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes QN, SC & VY)
    • Inky Travel Set: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes Charter Sailings, QN, SC & VY)
    • Red Wine and Cheese: 20% off onboard prices.(Excludes QN, SC & VY)
    • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes Charter Sailings, QN, SC & VY)

    PHOTO PACKAGES: Up to 40% off

    • All Digital + Prints: Discount varies by ship. (AD, AN, EX, GR, HM, ID, JW, LB, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, RD, SC, SY, VI, VY)
    • All Digital: Discount varies by ship. (GR, JW, MJ, NE, OY, RD, SC, VI)
    • All Prints: Discount varies by ship. (AD, AN, EX, HM, ID, LB, MA, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, SC, SY, VY)
    • Strawberries with Champagne: 20% off onboard prices.(Excludes Charter Sailings, QN, SC & VY)
    • White Wine and Cheese: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes Charter Sailings, QN, SC & VY)

    To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

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

    I tried it: Coco Beach Club at Perfect Day at CocoCay

    In:
    04Feb2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean opened the Coco Beach Club a few days ago, and I had the chance to try out this new exclusive beach area on the cruise line's private island.

    The premise of the Coco Beach Club is simple: an area of Perfect Day at CocoCay for guests who are looking for an exclusive area that offers upgraded service and food choices.

    Located between Chill Island and South Beach, Coco Beach Club is a short 10 minute walk from where your ship docks.

     

    Admission is purchased before the visit, and loaded onto the SeaPass card, so when you arrive, the staff scans your SeaPass card for entry. 

    Coffee and tea is served in the morning, something unavailable elsewhere on CocoCay.

    The bar at the center of the club offers plenty to drink, and like anywhere else in Perfect Day at CocoCay, the drinks cost extra (unless you have a drink package, then it is included).

    Once inside, you have the choice of going to the beach, hanging by the infinity pool, or any point inbetween.

    The beach here has been dredged and refined, and the result is water clarity and color that reminds me more of one of the Virgin Islands than the Bahamas.

    There is complimentary lounge chairs and umbrellas along the beach, with towels provided as well. In fact, the towels are not the standard blue Royal Caribbean towels, but special Coco Beach Club logoed grey and white towels.

    The infinity pool is a spectacular area, where you can wade and enjoy the day.  Many guests commute between the beach and pool as they see fit.

     

     

     

    There is also complimentary beach chairs and pool loungers available, and these are first-come first-served.

    There is additional seating to the left of the infinity pool on a deck area, that features rocking chairs, umbrellas and couches.

     

    Of course, I cannot overlook the cabanas. Coco Beach Club offers two varieties of cabanas: beach cabanas and the floating cabanas.

    The floating cabanas represent the most luxurious cabana offerings by Royal Caribbean to date. In true Bora Bora style, two sets of floating cabanas are found on either side of the Coco Beach area. View many more floating cabana photos.

    Floating hammock, private shower, mini-bar and water slide are just some of what makes these floating oasis' stand apart.

    Beach cabanas are at the back of the beach area, and feature an upgraded cabana experience compared to cabanas outside the Coco Beach Club.

    While these cabanas do not have a water slide or private shower, they are still well-appointed private retreats.

    So why should you pay extra to go to the Coco Beach Club instead of enjoying the ample complimentary areas of Perfect Day at CocoCay, along with their more reasonably priced cabanas?

    The answer is how much you value being somewhere special and exclusive.

    Just like a first class seat on an airplane that gets to its final destination at the same time as economy seated passengers, the Coco Beach Club is all about offering an elevated day where you feel like you are somewhere special.

    The service reminds me of a day pass resort in Cozumel, where the wait staff is continuously checking if you need something.

    The cabanas are a step or two ahead of what a private cabana is all about.

    And the restaurant is food worthy of being a specialty restaurant on a cruise ship. It reminded me of a blend between Coastal Kitchen and Solarium Bistro.

    Appetizers are served at a buffet, while a waiter takes your entree and drink orders.

    The menu offers anything but your standard beach food: filet, lobster, grouper, ceviche and baba ganoush, for example. The food is included with your admission.

    Caesar Salad

    Grouper

    Coco Lobster sandwich

    Maine Lobster

    You certainly do not need to buy admission to the Coco Beach Club to have a great day at Perfect Day at CocoCay. Far from it, because Royal Caribbean crafted a private island experience that sets the new standard for what we can expect from them. The beach club is about offering something more, if you so desire.

    The costs will vary from sailing to sailing. Originally a day pass cost between $50 - $90 per person, but in the days since the club opened, prices have jumped up to $199 per person (I paid $79 for my visit). The beach cabana begins at about $1000, and the floating cabana ranges between $1500-$3000.  Not cheap at all, but the prices match the level of service and upgrades you would expect for that price.

    Overall, I had a great day at the Coco Beach Club and thought it mixed great service with upgraded, well, everything. Having been to Perfect Day at CocoCay quite a few times last year, I felt like the Coco Beach Club experience was a measurable step above what I had been used to elsewhere on the island.  Considering how impressive Perfect Day at CocoCay has been, holding the Coco Beach Club in such high esteem says something about what this venue is all about.

    Does the Coco Beach Club sound like paradise to you? Let us know in the comments if you plan to buy a pass!

    Video: Royal Caribbean dining questions I get asked all the time!

    In:
    04Feb2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    I get asked plenty of questions related to eating on a Royal Caribbean ship, but today I am answering the most common dining questions!

    Dinner, drink packages, and tipping are just a few of the top dining questions cruisers want to know, so this new video is all about sharing answers to these top queries.

    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 video!

    So check out the video and then let us know: What is one dining question you have always wondered about?

    Coco Beach Club Floating Cabanas Photo Tour & Walkthrough

    In:
    04Feb2020
    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean opened the Coco Beach Club last week, and the crown jewel of this exclusive beach area are the floating cabanas

    .

    Royal Caribbean offers a variety of Perfect Day at CocoCay cabanas, with the floating cabanas being their signature and top-end offering. There are a total of 20 floating cabanas guests can rent for the duration of their visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay, and I took a walk through of these brand newly added slices of paradise.

    There are two sets of floating cabanas available to book, flanking both sides of the Coco Beach Club area.

    Royal Caribbean says the floating cabanas are their attempt to bring a bit of Bora Bora to their private island.

      

    Each floating cabana features a private slide into the ocean, overwater hammock, dining area, freshwater shower & wet bar.

    Each floating cabana in Coco Beach Club can accommodate up to eight guests and feature loungers, a dining area, charging outlets, a minifridge, snorkel gear and a dedicated cabana attendant.

     

    If these photos give you the sens of being a great way to spend a day, you would be right. Royal Caribbean designed these cabanas to be the ultimate way to relax in luxury while visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay.

     

    The price of a floating cabana will vary from sailing to sailing, but you should expect to pay somewhere between $1500 - $3000 per cabana.

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