Live blogging from Adventure of the Seas – Day 4 – Sea Day

In:
09May2018
By: Michael Poole

Today was our second of three sea days, as we make way to New Jersey.  So far the sailing has been calm and cloudy.  I slept in today. I think the early mornings and late nights finally caught up to me. 

The only organized event today in our group was the slot pull.  I didn’t play but I went down to see everyone one.  Our host had every name printed out and slots to write down how much they won/loss on every spin.  The buy-in was $25 per person and the payout was $19. 

After the slot pull our group just stayed at the Schooner Bar for trivia.  They had songs from movies, food from around the world, and general knowledge.  I think we played three games over the course of a few hours. 

A few of us were getting hungry, so we grabbed pizza from Café Promenade and brought it back down to the Schooner Bar to enjoy.  I thought the pizza was really good, much thicker than I’ve had before on Royal Caribbean.

To be honest, I didn’t really explore much today and never made it outside.  The weather was okay but a little cloudy.  I spent most of my day with friends and had a few beers at The Schooner Bar.  They are not offering a drink card on this cruise, which is unfortunate because they have been so popular on previous sailings but not on this sailing. 

For dinner tonight we didn’t have any plans so I thought I’d make my first trip to the Windjammer this cruise.  It was Caribbean theme tonight and the food was based on that.  I tried a little bit of everything; the jerk chicken was really good.  If you don’t like spicy foods I don’t think you would enjoy the food tonight, but I don’t mind it. 

The main event tonight that I’ve been looking for was The Quest.  They were holding it in Studio B at 10:45PM.  Prior to the quest they had a 80’s party to get people in the show, and right after the quest started. 

I am happy to report my team won first place, unlike the Harmony group cruise in September.  I thought the game was a lot of fun and we seemed to have more experienced Quest players than before.  At the end, when they announced the winners I was a little worried we didn’t pull it of, but we did!

After The Quest we headed up to the Blue Moon Lounge for some celebration dancing.  The lounge wasn’t that busy tonight, so I really enjoyed it.  I am happy to report I was able to stay until they turned the lights on.  I knew it was my only night to stay up a little later since tomorrow is our last day.  Stay tuned, more to come on board Adventure of the Seas. 

Getting married on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
09May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 249 is available for downloading, where we share a listener's experience getting married on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Did you know that you can get married on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship? This week, Beth shares her recent wedding experience while on Harmony of the Seas and talks about what it's like to get married on Royal Caribbean.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 249. 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!

Royal Caribbean Icon Class ships will be classed by DNV GL

In:
08May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

The shipyard charged to build Royal Caribbean's two Icon Class cruise ships has signed a contract for the classification of the ships with DNV GL Maritime.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is envisioned as the primary fuel for the new vessels, which would dramatically reduce or even eliminate emission of nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulphur oxide (SOX) and particulates, as well as cutting carbon dioxide (CO2). The ICON Class will also introduce fuel cell technology, which in combination with hull air lubrication means that the ships could potentially be some of the most fuel efficient cruise vessels ever constructed.  The ship will also take advantage of hull air lubrication, which has been used on other ships in the fleet

The final concept for the first vessel is currently being discussed, and the concept design phase is expected to start this spring. The initial building phase of the first ship will begin next year, with keel laying planned for October 2019.

Live blogging from Adventure of the Seas – Day 3 – Sea Day

In:
08May2018
By: Michael Poole

Today was our first sea day, meaning I had a full day to enjoy all of Adventure of the Seas.  I woke up bright and early, around 6AM, and started to walk around and take pictures of the ship.  If you ever wake up early on a cruise ship, this is a really fun way to spend the morning. 

 

I spent a few hours on the pool deck with some friends and got my first drink on the pool bar.  The pool deck is really nice. It looks like they did some upgrades on the chairs and the floor finishing.  

Right at 10AM when the waterslides opened and I was in line to go down.  I’m a big fan of the new waterslides on the ship, because I think it’s just another way to have fun on sea days.  The yellow slide was very fast, with a lot of turns and the blue one was a little slower, but I did them both a few times each. 

The main event today was the pub-crawl at noon.  To be honest, I thought 20 people or so would show up and we had over 60. 

We had told the bartenders in advance we were coming and they had floating bar tenders to come with us for each stop.  In all, we stopped 6 bars and ended up at the sky bar.  This crawl was so much fun, they even made a few special drinks for us. 

The ice show was today at 1pm and 3pm, which are weird times in the middle of the sea day, but I went to the 3pm show.  I’ve become a big fan of the ice shows of the years and wanted to make sure I made it to the show.

 The skating was perhaps the best I’ve seen, but the story line was all over the place.  I’m happy I went to see the show, but it wasn’t my favorite ice show.  

The top tier Crown and Anchor Society event was a half hour after the ice show, so a quick turnaround into the next event.  They played live music for a half hour as people enjoyed some drinks and talked. 

I had some friends on board that I cruised with a few years ago on the Empress of the Seas social media takeover cruise.  They were the top cruisers on this sailing with over 1,300 C&A points. 

When they were presented with a special bottle of champagne.  They talked about how they love Royal Caribbean and said you get to meet great friends over the years.  Then they asked me to come up on stage and handed me their bottle!  I was so excited, and it was so kind of them to bring me up on stage. 

For dinner tonight we didn’t have any real plans, so a small group of us (13) decided to order room service in Ken Jarvis’ suite.  Since he’s in a grand suite the room service is included, and he ordered everything on the menu. 

I didn’t know how this would turnout, but we all had a blast.  Someone was playing music on a speaker, and I got to share my bottle of champagne with everyone.  The food was also good; I liked being able to try just about everything. 

We ended the night down at the Schooner Bar listening to the live music.  The piano singer, Billy, is very entertaining; he really gets everyone involved with the songs.  If you are going on Harmony of the Seas soon, he’s headed to that ship in a few weeks. 

We went up to the Blue Moon Lounge for some late night dancing. This day felt like it just kept going.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had a sea day so action packed.  Stay tuned for tomorrow we have another sea day!

What to think about before buying a Royal Caribbean drink package

In:
08May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages have become become incredibly popular with guests who love the idea of having a fixed price for unlimited cocktails, beers and sodas on the cruise, but are they right for you?

Beverage packages are based around one core idea: pay a flat daily fee, and get all the drinks you want for the price.

If you are trying to figure out if these drink packages are right for you, here are four important questions to ask yourself.

What kind of drinks do you enjoy?

Your Royal Caribbean cruise includes certain beverages with the cruise fare, while others have an additional cost. One of the first considerations in purchasing a drink package is figuring what what sort of drinks do you like and which would you order.

Your Royal Caribbean cruise will include complimentary coffee, tea, water (flavored and plain), milk, iced tea and even juices in the morning. 

Drinks such as soda, cocktails, beers, premium coffees (i.e. lattes, espresso, etc), bottled water, sparkling water and liquors cost extra.  You can certainly order any of these individually without a package, but a drink package can help make a lot of individual orders cost effective.

What you want to figure out for yourself is if you are interested in alcoholic beverages or non-alcoholic beverages.  Can you see yourself ordering sodas, coffee, juice and alcoholic beverages often?  

The Deluxe Beverage Package includes drinks up to $12 in value ($13 on the newer ships in the fleet), so if you prefer very high end booze, a drink package may not make sense. 

Can I drink enough every day?

Perhaps the most important consideration is if can you drink enough every day of your cruise to make the package a worthwhile investment.

A Royal Caribbean drink package has the potential to save anyone money, but it depends on that person to drink enough every day of the cruise to equal the cost of the same amount of drinks purchased a la carte.

At the heart of these unlimited alcohol packages is the proposition that you will drink enough to "break even" each day to make the packages worth it.  If you knew that you would not drink enough to make the package worth it financially, then you probably would not consider the drink.

On average, most of the unlimited alcohol packages take about 5-6 drinks per day to reach the daily cost of the drink package. The non-alcohol packages have a lower break-even point, that is closer to 3-4 drinks.  Of course, the deluxe beverage package includes drinks besides alcohol, which does help with that math.

Keep in mind that you must consume enough drinks every day of your cruise to recoup the cost of the package, and the longer the cruise, the more difficult it could be to maintain that amount of drinking.

How much time will I spend on shore?

Before purchasing a drink package, consider the itinerary you will be sailing on to figure out how much time you will be on the ship.  The more time on the ship (or at one of Royal Caribbean's private destinations) means more time to enjoy the benefits of a drink package.

If you are going on a port-intensive itinerary, that will leave fewer hours per day to use the package benefits compared to an itinerary with lots of sea days.

In some ports, the price of drinks can be cheaper on shore than if you purchased the drinks on a Royal Caribbean ship (such as in many Caribbean ports of call).

How important is the convenience of having drinks pre-paid?

There are two "x-factors" with the drink package that make it a very compelling option for guests.  First, it allows you to pre-purchase the package prior to the cruise and break up the total cost of the cruise.  Second, having a drink package means not having to worry about running up a large bar bill or deciding if you should spend the money on another drink.  

We often hear from Royal Caribbean guests who love how the package for not having to worry about keeping track of costs, the opportunity to try new drinks without fear of wasting money and being able to split up the cost of the cruise.

The convenience factor is sometimes enough for folks to decide to get the package.  After all, you are on vacation and no memorable cruise starts with worrying about drink prices.

What is your Crown and Anchor Society status?

If you have cruised with Royal Caribbean a few times, your status in the cruise line's customer loyalty program may change your mind about buying a drink package.

Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle guests are able to get complimentary drinks each evening of their cruise during a set "happy hour."  This means there is an opportunity to drink for free each evening, and when combined with the ability to bring wine on your cruise, may present an alternative choice to a drink package.

Conversely, while Diamond members do get complimentary drinks each evening, the menu of drinks available is limited.  If you do not enjoy or prefer those sort of drinks, a drink package may still make more sense.

Do you think the unlimited drink package is a good deal? Share your experiences with the packages in the comments!

Spotted: New Royal Caribbean stateroom attendant magnets

In:
07May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

File this change under the "You have to have cruised for a while to notice this change" category.  Royal Caribbean has rolled out a new type of magnet designs for your stateroom attendant.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Ken "Wolf" Jarvis spotted the new magnet design meant to inform your stateroom attendant if your room is ready to be made up or if you would prefer not to be disturbed.

The magnets are currently on Adventure of the Seas, although others have noted the design is also on Majesty of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas.

Live blogging from Adventure of the Seas – Day 2 – St. Maarten

In:
07May2018
By: Michael Poole

Our first and only port of call was today in St. Maarten.  I was really looking forward to spending the day here.  My last trip to St. Maarten was prior to Hurricane Irma greatly impacting the island last fall. 

 

We made plans to meet my group at Café Promenade so that we could all disembark the ship at 9AM.  The ship was docked at 8AM, so it’s always a good idea to give it an hour before rushing down to avoid the rush. 

Day in St. Maarten

My friend arranged a rental car for us to explore the island.  The cost of rental cars is not really all that bad, ranging from $40-$60.  We lucked out and got a very nice Jeep for the four of us. 

We made a pit stop at a local French bakery for a light breakfast to bring to the beach.  They were made so fresh, that I wish I could have ordered one of everything.  This shop was a great find on our way to the beach. 

Our plans for today were to visit Mullet Bay Beach. I have never been to this beach before.  It was around 15-20 minutes out and I know the taxi fare is $10 per person each way.  They have beach chairs and umbrellas for $15, so we rented some right up front. 

Most of the morning we just relaxed and went swimming in the ocean.  At 11AM (or island time, it was really 11:13) they start setting up to grill and serve drinks. 

This beach was right beside the airport, so I liked being able to see all the planes arrive throughout the day.  For lunch, we all ordered their famous ribs.  My friend kept talking about how good the ribs were here, and he was not wrong! 

The ribs were full of favor with a nice dry rub, just perfect for a beach lunch.  As far as the drinks go, they had rum punch for $6 or a bucket of 6 beers for $15.  Around 4pm, we decided to head back to the ship but we took a different route back so we could more of the island.   

The island itself is in fair to poor shape.  We saw many homes still destroyed, half of the hotels you could see straight through them, and hundreds of boats washed ashore.  The summer months are the slow season here, so they are going to go through a lot without tourism.   

Back on board

Today was our formal night and we had reservations at Giovanni’s Table at 7:30pm.  For our group happy hour, we planned to go down to the Champagne bar. 

I was laughing because it looked like we took the whole venue taken over; I kept having to add chairs and tables.  It was fun talking to everyone about their day, and the bar service was outstanding. 

Dinner was a really great experience, from start to finish just perfect.  We had our own starters and main course, however they put a lot of items in the middle of the table for family style. 

I ordered the filet and it was great, I think even better than the one from last night in Chops.  We had someone in our group celebrating a birthday, so I had arranged for the restaurant to make a cake for him. 

 

After dinner, we went to the silent disco in the nightclub, which is called the Blue Moon on this ship (deck 14).  When I arrived, they had a small line to even get in the lounge.  Once inside it was so packed that we only stayed for a half hour and called it a night.  It’s a good problem to have, everyone on board is having a blast! 

Tomorrow is our first of three sea days, so I will focus more on ship venues and events.  Feel free to comment below if you would like to see anything on board Adventure of the Seas! 

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 06, 2018

In:
06May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy weekend! In case you missed any Royal Caribbean news, here is a look at everything that happened this week!

Independence of the Seas completed her shipwide refurbishment this week, emerging from dry dock with a lot of new features.

Independence of the Seas now features new additions, such as a FlowRider, Sky Pad, Fish & Ships, Escape Room, aqua park and more.

Independence of the Seas is headed to Europe, where she will spend the summer offering cruises out of Southampton before heading back to Fort Lauderdale in fall 2018.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 248th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, which features what you need to know before taking a Royal Caribbean cruise to Europe.

Perhaps you have cruised the Caribbean extensively, but cruising to Europe is a different kind of cruise experience.  This week, Colleen McDaniel from Cruise Critic joins Matt to talk about the important considerations to be aware of prior to cruising in Europe.

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

The New York Times shared a documentary about Royal Caribbean's most frequent cruiser.

Cruise Fever reviewed a recent Jewel of the Seas sailing.

7 News Miami shared how Royal Caribbean volunteers helped remodel a Little Haiti school.

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

In:
06May2018
By: Michael Poole

Pre Cruise

Since this cruise sailed out of San Juan, I decided to fly in the day before.  My flight from Tampa, Florida to San Juan was a little over three hours.  Once I landed I went out to the taxi line, which was very organized. 

They have flat rates for where you want to go, plus an extra $1 per bag.  I also liked that they handed you a slip with the total for the ride prior to getting in the taxi to my hotel. 

The hotel I stayed in was called the Hyatt House, which they also have another hotel across the street called the Hyatt Place.  I booked a studio king and it reminded me of the grand suites on board the cruise ships. 

The room had a kitchen where you could cook a full meal.  I also liked the large walk in shower in the bathroom.  All around this hotel is a nice option for a pre-cruise stay in San Juan. 

For my afternoon in San Juan I was using Uber to get around to old San Juan.  The average ride was between $4-$5 to and from my hotel.  I met a friend and was just explored the streets and dashed into a few local bars.  Of course we had to try a few local mojito’s to see who made the best. 

Boarding Day

No matter how many times I cruise, I can never sleep in past 6AM the day of the cruise.  I naturally woke up early and decided to get ready for the day and go explore old San Juan more.  Since Uber was so easy to get around (and so cheap) I went over around 7AM.  I just got lost in the streets like you would on a port day, but the streets were all empty. 

At 9AM the forts open and I went over with a small group of friends to explore.  The entry fee is $7 per person and that covers you in both forts for 24 hours.  We only spent 30-45 minutes here since cruise time was approaching. 

 

Around 10AM we took an Uber back to our hotels and packed up for our cruise.  I was really glad I woke up early and went out to see more of San Juan; it’s such a beautiful island. 

Embarkation

I took an Uber once again from my hotel to the cruise terminal Pan American ($3).  Once we arrived everything from the outside seem like a standard boarding process.  We entered and I saw them doing a lot of work, like painting and installing new check-in counters. 

I received my card and now we had nothing to do but wait.  However, in this terminal they only had around 100 chairs.  The boarding was delayed until noon, so we just stood around waiting.  As more passengers arrived we began to get a little crowed. 

 

Right at noon we boarded and we were officially on vacation.  We boarded on deck 1, crossed the crew I-95 and jumped on an elevator up to the pool deck. 

My first impressions of Adventure of the Seas, is she looks outstanding.  I actually think she looks a lot more updated than the Navigator (other than the old champagne bar still here). 

Cabin

For my cabin I’m trying a promenade room on deck 7, room #7295.  This is the first time I’ve stayed in a cabin of this type, so I was a little excited to try something new.  I like all the new décor in the cabin; the brand new carpet looks great. 

As far as the cabin itself, it is plenty big enough for one or two people.  The only downside to this cabin is seeing people right across the promenade.  I learned that the hard way coming out of the shower, oh well…

Evening on board

Tonight we had reservations at Chops Grill at 7PM for a party of 12.  We had planned to keep dinner moving fast for our 8:30PM sailaway.  But with a table our size, that just didn’t happen.  The service was a little slow, but we were a very large group. 

They kept the wine flowing so it turned into a great evening with friends.  For the sides they just brought everything out for us to share family style.  The price was $35 per person plus 18%, unless you bought it online in a cruise planner sale/bogo.

We decided to take our dessert to go and take it up to my friend’s cabin staying in a Grande suite.  I had also received some bottles of champagne and wine in the cabin, so we just turned it into a little mini-cabin party. 

This cruise we had a facebook group that was the most active online pre-cruise group I’ve ever seen.  We had scheduled a few events during the cruise and tonight was our pub meet-up.  I couldn’t believe how many people showed up, we almost over took the pub.  I met a lot of great people I’ve been talking with over the past few months. 

My final stop tonight was the schooner bar to see Billy Pardo play the piano.  He was the same person we had on the Harmony group cruise in September, so it was fun to reconnect with him. The night time entertainment on this ship is outstanding, both the pub and schooner bar singers are great!

I almost made it to midnight and decided to call it a night.  I knew tomorrow we have a full day in St. Maarten, so I wanted to get a few hours of sleep. 

Friday Photos

In:
04May2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Are you ready to start your weekend?  We are sharing some fabulous Royal Caribbean cruise photos that our readers have sent in because we think the best weekends start with a quick Royal Caribbean "fix"!

We begin this week with a shot of Anthem of the Seas just offshore from CocoCay, taken by Michael Kho.

Khadijah Ahmad sent in this photo from having dinner at Coastal Kitchen on Anthem of the Seas.

Stuart Etheridge took this beautiful photo from his first Oasis class cruise.

Blake Baldwin caught this sunrise photo on Radiance of the Seas as the ship pulled into Vancouver.

Our next photo is by Traveler of deck 12 on Voyager of the Seas in the South China Sea.

Kinny Lee shared with us this photo of Central Park at night on Allure of the Seas.

We will wrap up this week's photos with a shot of Oasis of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas docked together in Cozumel.  Phot by Ken.

Thank you to everyone for the great photos this week! If you would like to share your best Royal Caribbean photos, be sure to use this form to send them in! Have a great weekend!

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