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Spotted: Royal Caribbean trademarks new customer loyalty program names

10 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

The Royal Caribbean rumor mill has churned out a few intriguing possibilities this week.

In reviewing new trademark applications that Royal Caribbean has made with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there's a few related the line's customer loyalty program that might indicate new options coming soon.

Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean filed a series of trademark applications for words and phrases that reference it's intended for the customer loyalty program.

Trademark applications are notoriously vague, but they give a general indication of which aspect of the business the word or phrase is intended for.


To be clear, Royal Caribbean hasn't announced anything related to this, and this post is merely speculating at a possible offering coming in the near future.

Trademarks for customer loyalty


A few of the trademarks are centered around being intended for customer loyalty program.

"Royal Rewards" and "Royal One" were registered on April 8, and they are described as, "trademark registration is intended to cover the categories of customer loyalty services and customer club services, for commercial, promotional and/or advertising purposes."

Another two terms were trademarked related to customer loyalty.

"Anchored", "Aspire" and "Boundless" were also registered on April 8, and, "intended to cover the categories of customer loyalty services and customer club services, for commercial, promotional and/or advertising purposes."

Flagship trademark

The last two terms are "Flagship Rewards" and "Flagship" and are described as, "intended to cover the categories of customer loyalty services and customer club services, for commercial, promotional and/or advertising purposes."

Crown and Anchor logo

Royal Caribbean already has a customer loyalty program with its Crown & Anchor Society, which offers benefits for repeat cruisers.

There are six tiers to the program, with some of the best benefits coming at the upper echelon of the program, with complimentary drinks, free WiFi access, and even a free cruise.

Casino on Icon

There is also a casino rewards program for passengers who gamble in the ship's casino. The Casino Royale program also has multiple tiers that offer complimentary drinks in the casino, discounted and complimentary cruises, and other additional benefits.

Read more: I gambled enough in Royal Caribbean's casino to get free drinks and a cruise

These new terms may or may not have any relationship to the existing Crown and Anchor society or Casino Royale programs. 

Moreover, it could refer to a brand new program for something else completely.

Celebrity Logo

Royal Caribbean has openly talked about the idea of merging its loyalty program with sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises.

Nothing has been announced, but Celebrity Cruises indicated there's an opportunity for combining the program.

Andrea Shay, AVP of Loyalty for Celebrity Cruises, took the reign on this question, responding by saying, "I'm so glad that this question came up, and it's something that members are asking for."

"We have some status match between the brands today, but there's such a huge opportunity for us to do more and really take advantage of the connection and us being part of the same family."

According to Shay, the status match doesn't thread the three Royal Caribbean Group brands together, so they're working with their sister brands. Hopefully, more will be revealed in the coming months. 

Online marketplace

There was one other trademark filed on April 8 that doesn't appear to be related to customer loyalty, but is equally intriguing.

"Royal Xclusive" has the following description:

"Trademark is intended to cover the categories of provision of an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of goods and services; retail store services; online retail store services; retail and online retail store services featuring a wide variety of consumer and commercial goods; Advertising; Advertising services; Online advertising services; providing product sales information; providing product sales rankings information; providing consumer product information; providing a website featuring ratings, reviews, and recommendations on products and services for commercial purposes posted by users."

Too early to know what it all means

Ship docked in Caribbean

These new trademarks are something to keep in mind, but far from any kind of announcement or confirmation of a change.

Royal Caribbean often files trademarks in batches, just in case they want to use the names later.  In many cases, they register a few trademarks with the idea they will end up using just one of them. Cruise ship names are often trademarked in this fashion as well.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO talks new private islands, new cruiser demand, innovations & more

09 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

As the cruise industry stands on the merits of multiple quarters of financial success, cruise line executives see a lot of reason for even better days ahead.

Cruise industry keynote

Speaking at Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Miami, Florida, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty joined a panel of other CEOs during the keynote "State of the Global Cruise Industry" session to share insight into where cruising is going next.

The overarching theme for the keynote is cruise lines see many opportunities ahead.

Trends favoring taking a cruise

Royal Caribbean ship at sea

Mr. Liberty sees good times ahead for the cruise industry, thanks to secular and demographic trends that are favoring going on a cruise.

Thanks to a very healthy U.S. consumer, Mr. Liberty thinks so many data points are leaning in the direction of cruises.

"The appreciation for building memories with your friends and family coming out of Covid is at extraordinarily high levels of cruise."

Main dining room

In addition, he talked about the wealth transfer going on between generations, "Grandparents wanting to see that wealth transfer live, watching their kids and their grandkids experience that is also at all time highs."

He seemed to agree a lot with Carnival Corporation CEO Josh Weinstein's outlook on state of the cruise product, "we have evolved our product and our experiences to be at the very forefront of what our different customers and their different segments are looking to achieve."

One interesting statistic mentioned was there was 30.7 million people cruise passengers last year, and Mr. Liberty said about a third of them were brand new to a cruise ship.

"And you think about 10 million new people, coming in and will that number will grow each and every year. They are 4 or 5 times more likely to cruise again once they've had the experience."

Ambitions to do more private destinations

Concept art for Royal Beach Club

One question asked of Mr. Liberty was for an update on destination developments.

While he did not announce anything, he did allude to the idea that Royal Caribbean wants to offer more of those experiences, "I think for us, between the Royal Beach Club and Perfect Days, we have ambitions to do more of that."

"It's by far our highest rated experience that happens on land and that connected to other destination visits to other places is what's winning for us."

People that go on a cruise want a story

Kids on an Alaska cruise

Mr. Liberty thinks people are going on a cruise not just for the typical vacation reasons, but to be able to share a humble brag when they get home.

"Our guests want to walk away with a story and they want to build a story," Mr. Liberty explained during the keynote.

"They're less focused on city tours. They're more focused on those kind of immersive culinary experiences that might happen on land, and then they want to build memories on the ships."

Pushing the experience with innovation


When the topic of innovation within the cruise industry came up, all eyes turned to Mr. Liberty because of the early wins on Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's first Icon Class ship has been a major innovation, setting a new standard for a family vacation and it was clear all the executives knew it too.

First and foremost, Royal Caribbean wants to ensure they are matching their customers' needs, "we all, I think, do is meeting our guests on the experiences that they're looking to deliver. Also meeting our guests when we think about in the dreaming and booking process, how do we take friction out of that customer experience, which I think is very important."

Hideaway beach

He also says while not necessarily super innovative, the progress with their land projects stands out, "you're seeing more immersiveness because the guests expectations of what their vacation experience should be like has broadened."

"If you want to compete with land, you want to take that share, and you need to have a product from end to end. You need to have an experience from dreaming to delivering that matches those expectations."

Nuclear power and the future of cruise ship fuels

Nuclear power plant

How to make cruise ships more sustainable was a big topic of the keynote, with each executive talking about the challenges facing them. Supply of a next-gen fuel source seemed to be the overarching issue.

There are a number of options to help their cause, but cruise ships needs more options from suppliers. Shore power, marine bio fuels, and hydrogen are all options but severely lacking in availability.

Mr. Liberty pointed to the U.S. power grid as improving, but he wants more from it, "getting access to green sourcing, like nuclear as an example for shore power, we think is an important thing."

Terminal A gangways

More importantly, he wants better access to cleaner fuel sources, "I think the key thing is bringing forward in the US to have those fuel sources, whether it's a green methanol or LNG, etc., available to us at the ports of call that we that we access and most of our bunkering takes place."

With reliable supply, then cruise ships can truly prepare for the future, "how do we make sure that when we come in and we fuel, we bunker our fuels, that those fuels are going to be available to us? And once we know that, then we can think about how do we retrofit our ships or what other actions can we be taking on the newer ships to get them ready to take on those alternative fuels into the future?"

Demand for China

Spectrum of the Seas in Japan

When asked about future plans for China, Royal Caribbean Group has Spectrum of the Seas ready to go there now, with Anthem of the Seas going there in 2025.

Mr. Liberty said his company is "thoughtfully growing" in the Chinese market in order to return to their position there pre-2020.

"They are continuing to look for a Western experience that has the fine details of their Chinese culture and culinary etc. and we're all collectively very good at putting that together."

"We see very kind of prosperous future there, but we're going into it with a measured approach."

The worst months to cruise to Europe

09 Apr 2024
Jenna DeLaurentis

Planning a European cruise? There are a few months you might want to avoid booking your dream vacation.

Side by side image of cruise ship with Rome Italy

Cruises within Europe offer a contrasting experience compared to those in the Caribbean. Whereas cruising to The Bahamas might involve spending your days lounging in a pool chair, European cruises are all about sightseeing.

From exploring ancient castles in Portugal to touring Viking museums in Norway, there are countless ways to immerse yourself in Europe’s history and nature on a cruise. Not only that, but European cruise itineraries are diverse, too. You can travel anywhere from the British Isles to Canary Islands, and even venture to the crossroads of Europe and Asia in Istanbul.

Odyssey of the Seas anchored in Santorini

When planning such a monumental vacation, it’s important to know what to expect, and to plan your trip during the most ideal time to visit. Royal Caribbean’s European cruise season runs from April to October, and each month brings pros and cons.

While there’s not necessarily a “right” or “wrong” time to cruise to Europe, there are a few factors to consider when picking the best time to cruise.

Here are the worst months to cruise to Europe, based on the weather, crowding, and cruise destination.

If you’re cruising to southern Europe, the worst months to visit are July and August

Beach in Zakynthos, Greece

During the initial planning stages of a European cruise, you might assume the peak of summer is the best time to book a sailing. After all, you’re dreaming of sipping wine in a sunny Italian piazza, not bundling up in a parka in Greenland.

And while summer can be a great time to visit Europe, it can also be extremely hot and crowded. For those booking cruises in southern Europe—Mediterranean and Adriatic itineraries—summer heat waves are a major concern.

It’s not uncommon to see temperatures in the high 80s and even low 90s in cities like Palermo and Valencia during the months of July and August. Although these temperatures may be tolerable on a beach vacation, they are anything but ideal when sightseeing in European cities.

Colosseum Rome

Roaming the ancient streets of Pompeii or touring the Acropolis in August’s blazing heat is enough to exhaust any cruiser. If you must cruise to Europe in the peak of summer, take caution when booking shore excursions.

If drastic temperatures are forecasted, consider booking excursions on the water rather than in the city, such as a catamaran tour around Santorini or beach day in Positano.

Related: 30 Best European cruise tips

Additionally, consider bringing extra clothes to change into when visiting cathedrals. Although it’s required to cover your shoulders and knees in the Sistine Chapel, you don’t need to cover up all day—if you do, you could potentially overheat.

Instead, pack a scarf and a lightweight skirt or pair of pants in your day bag that you can quickly put over your clothes before entering religious sites.

Not only are temperatures high in the summer, but crowds are at their peak, too

Mykonos Greece beach

A European summer is a dream for many cruisers. After all, nothing screams relaxation quite like sipping a rosé along the French Riviera. And while summertime in Europe is undoubtedly dreamy, it comes with one major downside: massive crowds.

Whether in Santorini or Tenerife, you’re almost guaranteed to face large crowds in the summer. Not only will your cruise likely be fully booked, but shore excursions will book up quickly and you’ll be navigating your way around thousands of other visitors in each port of call.

August in particular can be an exceptionally busy time in Europe, as Europeans traditionally plan several weeks of vacation during the month. In August, you should plan to encounter even higher crowds than earlier in the summer, particularly in southern Europe.

Related: How to beat the crowds on your cruise ship

Valetta Malta street

Truthfully, though, there’s a good chance you will not notice a difference between July and August crowds. Crowds are high in Europe throughout the peak season, and while there may be more crowds in August, it’s going to feel crowded during any summer month.

No one likes dealing with crowds, but they are inevitable when cruising to Europe in the summer. While they certainly aren’t bad enough to cancel your plans, you shouldn’t expect quiet, calm sightseeing days in port either.

Another con of cruising in July and August are the higher costs

Odyssey of the Seas pool deck

The last major downside of cruising to Europe in July and August are the higher costs. Due to the school calendar, most families plan European cruises in late June, July, and early August. Therefore, it’s no surprise that these months see the most demand, which results in higher prices.

Let’s look at a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Allure of the Seas. You can expect to pay $400-500 more for a balcony cabin when cruising in July versus September. If your schedule is flexible, why not wait until September to cruise?

Related: How much does a European cruise cost?

Not only will there be fewer crowds, but you can put those savings toward a shore excursion or cruise add-ons like drink and dining packages.

Aside from the cost of your cruise fare, airfare prices peak in the summer. A roundtrip flight to Rome, for instance, might cost $900 in May, but could skyrocket to $1,500 in July. When traveling with a large group, these extra costs will easily add up.

The best months to cruise the Mediterranean and Adriatic are May, early June, and September

Rhapsody of the Seas ship

Knowing the drawbacks of cruising southern Europe in the peak summer season, what are the best months to cruise?

Generally speaking, the most favorable months for a cruise to the Mediterranean and Adriatic are May, early June, and September. During these months, you will find lower prices, more comfortable temperatures, and fewer crowds.

Related: Ultimate Greek Isles cruise guide

Because the school year is still in session in most of Europe and North America, you will see fewer families onboard, and the lack of demand leads to lower cruise fares. Plus, you’re less likely to spend your port days sweaty and miserable, as temperatures will generally be more mild (although that’s never guaranteed!).

While crowds will start to increase in June, sticking to the first half of the month is recommended, as crowds will not yet have hit their peak.

If you’re cruising in northern Europe, however, avoid sailings in early spring and late fall

Norway cruise ship in fjord

Europe is a diverse continent, and the best time to cruise one region may be the worst for another. While some cruisers may book a sunny getaway to the Greek Isles, others are more interested in visiting ports like Amsterdam and Dublin.

Although sticking to the spring and fall is preferable for cruises to southern Europe, it should be avoided when visiting northern European countries. Simply put, the weather in these regions is more unpredictable, and the shoulder season can come with less-than-ideal conditions.

While that Norway itinerary in May might be the cheapest option, waiting until June, July, or August might bring sunnier skies and warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, this means spending more on your cruise fare and airfare, but it’s almost always worth the trade-off.

Should you cruise to Europe in October?

Jewel of the Seas in Iceland

Royal Caribbean’s European cruise season usually ends in October, and like any month, October comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

One plus of sailing in October is the weather. Unlike the scorching 90 degree days of August, you’ll find the weather more pleasant in the fall. Temperatures in Mykonos, as an example, are around 70 degrees in October compared to the mid-80s in August.

In addition, there will be fewer crowds in October compared to during the summer. Once the school year is back in session, European tourist attractions become quieter, making sightseeing days a little bit less hectic for visitors.

Related: What is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

La Coruña Spain port

As far as drawbacks, though, you will find fewer itineraries offered in October. During this month, Royal Caribbean begins to send its ships back to North America for the winter Caribbean season. By the end of the month, only a few ships remain in Europe, and almost all itineraries visit southern European destinations, where the weather is still comfortable in October.

Even with these drawbacks, October can be a fantastic time to cruise to southern Europe for those who want lower fares and fewer crowds.

Cruising is all about having the right mindset. With the right expectations, there’s no “best” or “worst” month to cruise to Europe

Streets of Europe

While there’s no denying that some months offer nicer weather conditions and crowd control than others, no time of year is completely perfect. Sure, May might offer excellent conditions for traveling to Sicily, but the same cannot be said about cruising to Iceland.

Even if you sail during the “worst” month to cruise to Europe, you will still, more than likely, have a wonderful cruise experience. For most cruisers, the highs of cruising to Europe far outweigh the lows.

Visiting 2000-year old archeological sites, tasting local delicacies, and being awestruck by breathtaking fjords can be worth the high temperatures and crowds.

If you board a European cruise expecting tranquil days in port and no lines at tourist sites, you’re going to be disappointed.

If you go in with an optimistic mindset, on the other hand, any month will provide a remarkable cruise vacation.

Why some people hate hiding ducks on a cruise ship fad

08 Apr 2024
Elizabeth Wright

In recent years, a particular trend has emerged within the cruising community: the practice of hiding ducks. Though a seemingly harmless game of hide-and-seek sea, the phenomenon has received its fair share of hate. 

Photo by Ken Jarvis

According to Cruising Ducks, the tradition was supposedly started by an 11-year-old on a cruise sailing out of Galveston. Abby Davis asked her mother if they could purchase rubber ducks for their sailing. 

Throughout their 7-night cruise, they hid seven ducks per day for other passengers to find. Supposedly, they hid a duck on the BlueIguana sign onboard their Carnival ship, and it wasn't found for three days! 

Critics of the activity argue that they contribute to the spreading of germs, as well as detract from the refined experience many passengers expect onboard a cruise ship. Nobody wants to see a duck that was accidentally knocked over into food in the buffet. 

Photo posted by WAYNO on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

One comment on a Cruise Radio Facebook post went as far as stating that hiding ducks contributes to the "dumbing down of America," with others advocating for a "cruise duck assassin club." There's even a Facebook group dedicated to the ducks' demise, "Cruising Ducks-Death Squad," though it's not as popular as those in favor of hiding ducks. 

A separate post in a Virgin Voyages group asks for those sailing on the adult-only line to leave the ducks at home, as it's a "childish hobby." 

There are plenty of environmental concerns, too. Those against the hiding of ducks have circulated rumors that any found by crew members and guests are often thrown overboard into the sea. John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line's Brand Ambassador, took to Facebook to clear up the issue.

Photo posted by Neesa on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

"This is completely untrue," he wrote, "Let me say this, if any crew member throws anything overboard, they would be in serious trouble and would for sure face disciplinary action....many of the crew love finding the ducks and have them in their cabins, as they bring them cheer." 

Other cruisers have reported seeing ducks in the trash, citing that participating is wasteful. 

Despite the controversy, duck-hiding lovers claim that it adds an element of fun and fosters a sense of community by connecting passengers from around the world

Photo posted by asquared17 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Even with all of the negativity surrounding hiding ducks on cruise ships, it remains a popular tradition. Today, the original Facebook group has over 258,000 members, and you'll find countless Reddit forums dedicated to discussing and sharing duck-related experiences. 

Guests can search for line-specific groups as well. "Carnival Cruising Ducks" has over 66,000 members, whereas "Royal Caribbean Cruising Ducks," has around 51,000. 

Oftentimes, those who want to participate will customize the ducks in some way. You may, for instance, find a duck with an informational sheet indicating the duck's origin, like New York City or Orlando. 

Photo posted by tiny260 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Imagine discovering a duck from England when you live in the United States! You can choose to re-hide it or keep it as a souvenir; however, make sure that you don't throw it in the trash. If you don't want it, leave it for someone else to find!

Should you decide to keep the duck, look to see if there are any instructions on the tag, if applicable, as to where the hider wants it to be shared. Guests often like to figure out where their duck is traveling to! It makes the experience more memorable for everyone. 

Those cruising around a holiday, such as Valentine's Day, Halloween, or Christmas, may find themed ducks during their voyage, too. 

If you plan on hiding decks on your next cruise, make sure that you're respectful of the ship's rules and regulations

Photo posted by RWDW1204 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Though you want to hide ducks in public areas, as nobody will find a duck stashed away in your stateroom, there are some guidelines to be mindful of. 

A general consensus amongst duck hiders is that the ducks shouldn't be hidden near food. Rather than leave one near food in the Windjammer, consider placing it in a commonplace location, such as a stairwell, where it won't be seen as an inconvenience to other passengers.

You'll also want to avoid placing ducks in the pools and hot tubs, as young children may endanger themselves by reaching for them and falling in. Shops with merchandise available for purchase are off-limits, too. You don't want anyone to get in trouble because it looked like they were shoplifting!

Photo posted by foulmouthedleon on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

While indoor railings, such as those in the stairwell, are okay, don't place ducks somewhere they could fall overboard. Royal Caribbean forbids guests from throwing things over the side of the ship; you don't want to get caught breaking this rule

When hunting, you'll want to ensure you're acting respectfully, too. Avoid running and destroying cruise ship property. Those who are too rowdy may accidentally injure themselves or another passenger. 

If you're sailing on an Oasis or Icon Class ship, be cautious of placing ducks in Central Park, as children may see it as an opportunity to crawl through the greenery. The horticulturists work hard to maintain all the plants onboard, and hiding ducks in them can inadvertently damage them. 

Ducks can be purchased on Amazon for less than $15

Photo posted by asquared17 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Looking forward to your summer cruise? Instead of bringing standard yellow ducks, spice up your experience by purchasing pirate-themed ducks. You can even find some that are patriotic if you happen to be sailing over the Fourth of July

Families sailing together over the holidays can get Christmas or Hanukkah ducks to spread festive cheer, while those cruising in October can embrace the spirit of Halloween with some spooky-themed ducks

Please note that we have linked Amazon items above, which contain affiliate links. The affiliate link costs you nothing extra, but Royal Caribbean Blog will make a small commission if you purchase the item through the link.

I stopped booking the upgraded train tickets on Florida's high-speed train from Orlando to Miami. It wasn't much different than coach

08 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

Ever since Brightline started offering train service between Orlando and South Florida, I've been hooked.

Matt on the Brightline

Not having to take the mind-numbing boring drive rife with traffic and slow downs is worth it every time, and I've become a convert to the train. I've taken at least a half dozen roundtrip rides, and it's an incredible innovation for anyone looking to get between the two areas.

Read more: I Rode on Brightline, Florida's New High-Speed Train

While I won't ever go back to driving myself, I did make one big change in how I approach my plans.

I started off always booking the Premium seats, but tried the economy Smart seats and don't see a good reason to go back.

Premium vs Smart tickets

Seats on the Brightline train

Brightline has two classes of seats: Premium and Smart.  Think of them as business class and economy.

A Smart ticket gets you leather seats, complimentary WiFi and multiple power and USB connections at each seat.

Premium service adds complimentary snacks and beverages (including alcoholic beverages) and access to a Premium Lounge. Snacks and drinks are included both on the train and in the Premium Lounge.


In addition, the Premium car has a row of single seats, whereas the Smart cars are all double seating on each side of the aisle.

One other important difference is checked bags cost extra for Smart fares, but one bag is free per passenger with premium.

Depending on how far in advance you book your tickets and how much demand there is for that time, the prices can vary.

Brightline train prices

For a ride between Orlando and Miami, a one-way Smart ticket starts at $54 per person, while a one-way Premium ticket starts at $144 per person. I did find a 4:50am ticket going for $49 per person for a Smart fare, but the Premium was still $144.

If you book your ticket closer to the day of travel, or if there is high demand for a seat and tickets are selling quick, prices can go up quickly. I found peak pricing for a Smart fare to be $154 per person and $224 per person fo Premium.

Why Premium isn't worth it for me

Brightline sign

My first few rides were all in Premium because I thought the added benefits were important to me.

Specifically, I booked it to get access to a single seat so I didn't have to sit next to anyone, along with the free food and drink that came with it.

I always enjoyed my rides in Premium, and the Premium Lounge was a nice touch when I got to the station early and had a lot of time to waste until the train left. 

Ticket kiosk

After a few rides on Brightline, I started to consider if the benefits were really worth the extra cost.

I booked Smart fares for the last few rides on Brightline and I really don't see a good reason for me to go back.

While I have had to sit next to a stranger more often than not on my train rides while in Smart class, the reality is the person sitting next to me was only a necessity for the South Florida leg.  The vast majority of the ride (Orlando to West Palm or even Boca Raton) is quite empty.  Brightline hasn't made headways into the commuter market in Central Florida as it has in South Florida.  So at worst, I'm sitting next to a stranger for an hour of my 3 and a half hour ride.

Drink service

The complimentary food and drink are nice, but I found the food choices to be nothing special. It's better than nothing, but it's just snacks and sandwiches I never thought much of.  

The included beers and cocktails are fun, but I'm certainly not drinking enough to "get my money's worth" out of it. Maybe one or two drinks, but I don't indulge on the train because I'm either driving when I get off the train, or I'm trying to do work.

One of the major reasons I love taking Brightline instead of driving is I get the commute time back to work on Royal Caribbean Blog and Cruise Blog. With the high-speed internet, it's like being in the office in terms of productivity. 


As for the luggage, the truth is I bring my luggage onboard with me to the train and there's no cost. I roll my full-size suitcase onboard, stick it in the luggage rack, and then take it off the train. Quite easy, and no need to check bags.

I quickly came to the conclusion that the Premium fare benefits are nice to have, but considering the cost difference you can expect, I don't see a need to book it.

Icon of the Seas in Miami

The exception might be later this summer when I take my family on Brightline to go to Miami for our Icon of the Seas cruise. All those snacks and drinks make the ride more fun for the kids, and my wife prefers to check luggage when possible.

You shouldn't look at the Premium and Smart fares as being as different as coach and first class airfare. While the Premium benefits are nice, I find the Smart fares to be "good enough" and the added benefits not worth the price difference.

Royal Caribbean News Round-up April 7, 2024

07 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

Happy April! It was a busy week with Royal Caribbean news, and we have a summary of all of the news from this week so that you don't miss any details.

The big news story this week was a sad report of a man who jumped off a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

According to reports, an allegedly drunk passenger got in a verbal fight with his family, and then proceeded to jump off the side of the ship. The ship was located near The Bahamas.

Rescue efforts by the ship and the U.S. Coast Guard were unsuccessful.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Photo by Stephen S.

The 529th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available! In it, Matt discusses the top six mistakes he saw other cruisers make on his spring break cruise.

Worried about being that person messing up? Give the podcast a listen to learn from their mistakes.

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 RCB Video: Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Restaurant on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (2024)

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 — Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Restaurant on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (2024) — and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.

"Very active" Hurricane season predicted for 2024: What that means for cruise ships

Hurricane as seen from space

June 1st will mark the start of the 2024 hurricane season.

Experts at Colorado State University (CSU) have predicted a very active hurricane season this year, with a total of 23 named storms.

CSU estimates that the probability of a major hurricane making landfall across the entire U.S. coastline is 62%.

This means that cruisers looking forward to this summer and fall should start taking a few precautions.

How does specialty dining work on Royal Caribbean?


On your Royal Caribbean cruise, you can either dine for free or choose to try an extra-cost restaurant.

Extra-cost venues are called specialty restaurants, popular for their specific themes and quality cuisine.

But how do you reserve a spot at one? And how much will it cost?

This is your guide to all the specialty dining on Royal Caribbean. 

Cruising with teenagers: Will they have fun on a Royal Caribbean cruise?


Alexa H. Bluth shares a guest post about cruising with teenagers.

You never want to hear "I'm bored" on your vacation, so can you be sure that teens will have fun on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

There are lots of activities a teenager can enjoy, from teen lounges to time with family.

You can feel confident that your teen won't get bored on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

'Drunk' cruise ship passenger jumps off balcony on a Royal Caribbean cruise in front of his family

05 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

A recent cruise on Liberty of the Seas turned into a tragedy this Thursday after a man reportedly jumped overboard.

Liberty of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom-Class ship was sailing on a 4-night Eastern Caribbean cruise and returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when the incident occurred.

The 1,111-foot-long vessel was approximately 57 miles from the Great Inagua Island, Bahamas at the time.

The passenger, a 20-year-old man traveling with his family, allegedly jumped overboard while drunk, and has not been recovered.


The New York Post reported that around 4:30 A.M. on Thursday, April 4th, the unnamed passenger was returning to his stateroom after relaxing in a crowded hot tub.

As his dad and brother began walking toward him, he suddenly jumped out of the window and overboard the side of the ship.

The decision appeared to be impulsive, although some have begun calling it a suicide attempt.

Crew was alerted immediately, and the ship stopped to begin conducting a search.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson made a statement.

"The ship's crew immediately launched a search and rescue effort alongside the U.S. Coast Guard, who has taken over the search.”

“Our Care Team is providing support and assistance to the guest's family during this difficult time. For the privacy of the guest and their family, we have no additional details to share."

No information has been released about the identity of the passenger or his family.

Reddit user Thick_Horse_2405, who was apparently onboard as a passenger on Liberty of the Seas, posted that the ship stopped until around 9:00 or 9:30 A.M. when the Coast Guard arrived.

“So sad!”

At 1:11 P.M. on Thursday, the United States Coast Guard announced on X that the USCG Cutter Seneca and Air Station Miami HC-144 crews were conducting the search.

Coast Guard

As of the writing of this article, the Coast Guard is still conducting a search, and the man has not yet been found.

After the Coast Guard arrived to take over the search, Liberty of the Seas continued sailing.

Cruise Mapper tracking shows that the ship is currently returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Liberty of the Seas Itinerary

Liberty of the Seas sailing away from Port Everglades

At the time of the incident, Liberty of the Seas was on a sailing that embarked on Monday, April 1st, 2024. 

The ship left Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and called on Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. 

The 3,634-passenger vessel is scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale and continue 3 and 4-night cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas.

Liberty of the Seas

On May 4th, 2024, Liberty of the Seas will make New York City her new homeport and offer longer Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean cruises.

No further delays to her itinerary have been announced or noted.

What happens when someone goes overboard?

Railing on cruise ship

Cruise ships make efforts to ensure no one ever falls overboard with measures like high railings on decks and balconies. 

Dr. Ross A. Klein, a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, estimates that only 314 overboard incidents have happened since 2000, out of the millions of people that cruise every year.

However, tragic incidents still occur. 

In July 2023, a passenger on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas fell overboard after allegedly sitting on a railing.

The 64-year-old woman unfortunately was not recovered and passed away.

The response is immediate when someone goes overboard on a cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean ships have safety measures such as surveillance cameras and trained crew members ensuring that they can respond as swiftly as possible.

Once the ship receives a notification that someone has gone overboard, emergency protocols are initiated.

Usually, they will sound alarms and notify the bridge and relevant local authorities.

Once alerted, the crew on the bridge will stop the ship to begin search and rescue operations.

At the same time, trained crew members and security staff will attempt to visually locate the person in the water.

Maritime authorities, such as the Coast Guard in the United States, will also join the ship and work to find the individual.

They may use search and rescue techniques such as aircraft, cameras, and radar systems.

Meanwhile onboard the ship, the cruise line is also responsible for investigating how the incident could have occurred.

They review surveillance footage, speak to relevant witnesses, and study onboard accounts.

In the case of Thursday’s incident, witnesses reported that the passenger was very drunk.

Cruise hack lets you preview Royal Caribbean add-on costs before you book a cruise

05 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

Before you book a cruise, you might want to compare the price of a shore excursion, drink package, or spa treatment.

Hideaway Beach cabanas

Royal Caribbean's pre-cruise purchases are big business for the line, as it's a major source of revenue every quarter. But the price for these add-ons aren't the same across the board.

Royal Caribbean employs dynamic pricing for its add-on purchases, which means the price charged for the same shore excursion, drink package, or WiFi internet package could be different depending on which ship or sail date you go on.

In some cases, the price differences can truly be significant. 

Overwater cabana price

As an example, for the May 20, 2024 sailing of Freedom of the Seas, the cost of an Overwater Cabana at Perfect Day at CocoCay is just $958. 

Overwater cabana price

But on the June 29, 2024 sailing of Icon of the Seas, that same cabana is $4,999 (and sold out!).

The dramatic price differences could be a compelling reason to pick one sailing over another, especially if you're debating which week to book a cruise.

There's a hack you can use to preview the price of these cruise add-ons before you actually book a cruise.  

How to access the Cruise Planner without booking a cruise


This hack is pretty simple, you just need a web browser and a list of ship codes.

All you need to do is manipulate the website address of the Cruise Planner to see what's available.

Many thanks to Royal Caribbean Blog message board member ZBrady for outlining the instructions.

Step 1: Copy this URL

Use this URL and paste it into a Notepad or other blank document for easier editing:

https://www. account/cruise-planner? bookingId=&shipCode=ZZ &sailDate=YYYYMMDD

Step 2: Find your ship code

Wonder and Adventure in Cozumel

You're going to need to replace the "ZZ" in the URL for "shipCode" to be the two letter ship abbreviation for the Royal Caribbean ship you want to sail on.

Adventure - AD
Allure - AL
Anthem - AN
Brilliance - BR
Enchantment - EN
Explorer - EX
Freedom - FR
Grandeur - GR
Harmony - HM
Icon - IC
Independence - ID
Jewel - JW
Liberty - LB
Mariner - MA
Navigator - NV
Oasis - OA
Odyssey - OY
Ovation - OV
Quantum - QN
Radiance - RD
Rhapsody - RH
Serenade - SR
Spectrum - SC
Star - ST
Symphony - SY
Vision - VI
Voyager - VY
Wonder - WN
Utopia - UT

Once you find your ship code, replace the "ZZ" in the URL with the exact ship code.  Yes, it needs to be capital letters.

Assuming you were looking for Wonder of the Seas, the URL would now be:

https://www. ?bookingId=&shipCode=WN &sailDate=YYYYMMDD

Step 3: Change the Sail Date

Then you need to change the sailDate value to be the first day of the cruise.

Let's assume you want to see what the December 1, 2024 sailing of Wonder of the Seas. 

You would need to enter 20241201 into the URL. The new URL would be: 

https://www. ?bookingId= &shipCode=WN &sailDate=20241201

Step 4: Enter the complete URL into private browser mode

Cruise Planner

As a matter of best practice, open an incognito or private browser window to and then copy and paste the URL and give it a try.

This hack appears to work only if you're not signed into your account, so it's easier and simpler to use an incognito window.

If you managed to enter the information correctly (i.,e. the right ship code and sail date), then it should work!

Why Royal Caribbean uses dynamic pricing

Freedom of the Seas bow

If you're wondering why the price of cruise add-ons costs more or less depending on the sail date and vessel, it's because this is more profitable for the line.

In general, newer cruise ships command higher prices. Not just for cruise fares, but also for the add-ons that come with it.

When demand for a sailing is higher, the price of the fare and the add-on generally goes up to match it. It's similar to how a baseball game ticket costs more for certain teams or airline tickets cost more over holidays.

On the flip side, if you happen to be on a sailing that has less demand and pay less than someone else does, it's not a bad deal. 

The price today could change later


Keep in mind that if you use this hack to preview the price of something, it could change at any time.

Royal Caribbean employs a pricing algorithm to its add-ons, and there are constantly new sales and promotions. This leads to price fluctuations all the time.

Your best bet is once you settle on a particular cruise to book, reserve any cruise add-on you absolutely want immediately to lock in the price.

Family eating at Chops Grille

All extras purchased on the Cruise Planner website are refundable up to the sailing, so if there's a better price at any point between when you make a reservation and your sail date, you can cancel and rebook at the lower price without any penalty.

This is one of our best tips for saving money, because with a little bit of vigilant checking, you'll end up with the lowest possible price for these items.

"Very active" Hurricane season predicted for 2024: What that means for cruise ships

04 Apr 2024
Elizabeth Wright

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, is expected to be very active, with Colorado State University (CSU) predicting a total of 23 named storms. 

Hurricane as seen from space

According to CSU's forecast, 11 out of the 23 storms are anticipated to become hurricanes, 5 of which are projected to be major. In total, they're predicting 115 named storm days. 

While this doesn't mean you should rush to cancel your planned cruise, it will be wise to monitor weather updates in the days leading up to your sailing, ensuring that you're prepared for any potential disruptions. 

Read more: Cruising in hurricane season: What you need to know

The probability of a major hurricane making landfall in the United States and Caribbean is estimated to be well above its average


CSU's report states that the probability of at least one major hurricane, defined as a Category 3, 4, or 5 storm, making landfall along the entire United States coastline is 62%. In comparison, the average from 1880 to 2020 was 43%. 

Moreover, the probability of at least one major hurricane tracking through the Caribbean is 66%, increasing from the 47% average between 1880 and 2020. 

While these are just predictions, CSU's confidence is higher than normal this year given how hurricane-favorite the conditions, including the transition from El Niño to La Niña and the record-warm sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic, appear to be. 

The entire forecast is available on Colorado State University's website

What you need to know about taking a cruise during the 2024 hurricane season


If you haven't already, now is a great time to begin researching different travel insurance policies. Not only do hurricanes have the potential to alter cruise itineraries, but they can lead to unexpected flight delays and cancellations, too. 

Purchasing an insurance policy will provide peace of mind in the event that your travel plans are disrupted. 

Before settling on one, though, it's important to be aware of what each covers. If you want the ability to cancel your sailing despite the cruise departing as scheduled, you'll want to ensure that your policy has a "Cancel For Any Reason" clause. Otherwise, you'll forfeit the entire cost of the vacation.

Read more: Travel insurance for a cruise: Why you need it for a Royal Caribbean cruise

Don't book a cruise for a single port of call

Storm near beach

If a storm does develop before or during your cruise that puts your current itinerary at risk, Royal Caribbean will alter the schedule to ensure that passengers and crew remain safe. 

This means that your 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise could become a Western one, visiting ports like Cozumel and Falmouth instead of San Juan and St. Maarten. Last year, a cruise to Bermuda onboard Vision of the Seas was changed to sail to the Bahamas, including Nassau and CocoCay, because of Hurricane Lee. 

Additionally, ships are designed to be able to outrun rough seas. While the average speed of hurricanes is around 10 knots, many ships can reach speeds of 22 knots or higher. 


As long as the cruise's embarkation port is open, it is pretty much guaranteed that the ship will set sail. 

Note that per the cruise contract agreed to upon booking, Royal isn't required to provide compensation for any itinerary changes. 

Bring plenty of seasickness medication


Whether you are sailing during the peak of hurricane season or not, it's smart to come prepared with some seasickness remedies in case your ship does encounter some rough swells. 

All ships are headed by a skilled captain, who will do everything possible to avoid unfavorable sailing conditions. Additionally, cruise ships are equipped with stabilizer fins that help reduce (but not completely eliminate) the amount of motion felt by guests. 

Rather than spend a fraction of your cruise feeling ill, come prepared with Dramamine, acupressure bands, or whichever remedy works best for you. 

Don't risk flying in on the same day as your departure

Though flying in at least one day before your ship's departure is always recommended due to the unpredictability of air travel, it becomes even more important during hurricane season. 

Even if you aren't sailing to the Caribbean or Bahamas, a storm that impacts Central Florida can wreak havoc on flights, disrupting those flying all over the United States. 

Cruise ships won't wait for those with delayed or canceled flights, meaning that if 1:00pm rolls around and you're still waiting on your plane to depart, it's likely you won't end up making the all-abord time. 

Read more: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

Though you can save money on a cruise during hurricane season, sailing during this time of year means having a certain level of flexibility with your plans

Hurricane as seen from space

During the latter half of the hurricane season, potential cruisers can typically find some low fares compared to sailings that depart in June and mid-July. 

While part of the reason is because the peak summer travel season has ended, it's also to account for the uncertainty that accompanies cruising during hurricane season. 

For example, a 7-night cruise onboard Wonder of the Seas in early September starts at $909 per person for an interior cabin. The same cruise, which visits the Eastern Caribbean and Perfect Day at CocoCay, in July costs $1,559. By choosing to cruise a few weeks later, you can potentially save over $600 per cruiser! 

Thankfully, cruising during hurricane season is just as safe as any other time of the year. Storms are a reality of life that can impact travel at any point, and cruise lines take heightened precautions during hurricane season. 

Cruising with teenagers: Will they have fun on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

04 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

Alexa H. Bluth is a writer who lives in Sacramento with her husband, two sort of well-behaved teenage daughters, and two not-at-all well-behaved dogs. She took some time to write this guest post entry about what she's learned about cruising with teenagers and why they love taking Royal Caribbean cruises together as a family. You can check out a previous post she wrote about first time cruising here

Taking teens on a cruise

If there’s one thing nobody wants to hear on a family vacation, it’s “I’m bored.”

So parents of teenagers might be hesitant to take them on a cruise. A common misperception is that cruising is only for senior citizens and parents wanting to drop their small kids at daycare to go drink rum punch by the pool (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

You might be wondering, "Will my teenagers have fun on a cruise?"

Side of Quantum of the Seas

The answer is a resounding YES. Cruise vacations are ideal for families with teenagers, with ships brimming with fun-filled activities and ports full of adrenaline-packed adventures.

What is there for teens to love about cruises?

Teen lounges


In addition to Adventure Ocean for younger kids, Royal Caribbean ships have teen areas on board for youth ages 12-17. 

They can come and go from these venues without signing in or out (unlike the younger kids). These offer a spot to meet new friends, chill out, play games, and more. The teen club staff typically hosts a bunch of activities, from scavenger hunts and game shows to karaoke and teen-only time on the FlowRider.

You’ll get a weekly schedule of teen activities in your room, or you can pick one up in the teen club.

Pro tip: Make sure your teen goes to the teen lounge on night one to sign up for activities and start making friends immediately.

Pools and hot tubs

Independence of the Seas pool deck

While this is an obvious one, teens can spend hours basking in the sunshine and sea air and swimming in brisk, clear pools on a cruise ship. The pool deck offers a vibrant spot, often pulsing with pop music, for teens to hang out.

They can sip a mocktail or enjoy a snack or soft serve cone while they’re at it. And don’t forget the water slides that many new and amped-up ships boast!


Arcade on Serenade of the Seas

Most ships have arcades, offering a variety of games (for an extra charge). Teens can head there to enjoy a game of air hockey or Donkey Kong. Set a budget for them and let them enjoy!


Sorrentos Pizza

I mean, they’re teenagers, so this one is a no-brainer. Ships offer a vast variety of food, including grab-and-go items that teens can snag until the wee hours of the night.

My teens particularly love venturing out for quesadillas from El Loco Fresh, pizza from Sorrento's, desserts (plural) from the buffet, and soft serve on the pool deck.

Another bonus is that picky eaters often are willing to try new things on cruises because of the wide selection of foods available. You might even get them to try escargot in the Main Dining Room! Never say never.


Royal Promenade on Allure of the Seas

My kids always make friends in the teen areas with whom they meet up for the rest of the cruise. This is why having an internet package that allows them to message each other comes in handy. 

Don’t be surprised if your teen meets new friends that they stay in touch with long after the cruise.

If you have a shy teen, don’t fret. The teen club staff are particularly skilled at coaxing quiet kids into participating. Or, of course, there is plenty for them to do if the teen club is not for them.



This is another of my kids’ favorite aspects of cruises. They don’t have to spend every moment with their parents and they have more freedom than on a land-based vacation.

They can hang out in the teen lounge or grab a slice of pizza at Sorrento's on their own. We typically let our kids have a fair amount of independence on cruises, but of course, it comes with a set of strict rules including never entering anyone else’s cabin, staying in populated public areas, behaving well, and not doing anything dangerous.

My eldest particularly enjoyed exploring the ship and going to game shows sans parents with their new-found friends and has even met up with one friend they met on a cruise who lives nearby. 

Port excursions


Port excursions are cruise highlights, for sure. What teen wouldn’t love horseback riding on a beach, zip lining through a jungle, rafting along the rapids of a glacial river, jet skiing through crystal clear water, or snorkeling in a sea teeming with colorful fish?

Port days will not disappoint, even if it’s a chill beach day of sunbathing and boogie boarding or a cultural tour through a historic city. These priceless days offer endless options of activities that will create lifelong memories for the entire family. 

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Family at Thrill Waterpark

Need I say more? Royal Caribbean’s private island literally has an area called Thrill Water Park. If your itinerary includes a trip there, teens will dig the daring water slides, the massive wave pool, and the variety of food that is included in your cruise fare.

Your drink package will work on CocoCay, too, so if you’ve sprung for the deluxe soda package (which I recommend you do), teens can sip a soda or mocktail while they soak in the fun. 

Game and stage shows

Theater on Brilliance of the Seas

The headliner shows on the main stage are often can’t miss, featuring everything from Broadway-style shows to juggling acts. The comedians on board often have a family-friendly show earlier in the evenings that teens can enjoy, too.

Meanwhile, teens tend to love trivia, “Name that Tune,” and other game shows. They might grumble about the idea at first, but trust me, once they’re playing, that competitive spirit will kick in and they’ll have a blast.

The cruise director staff’s enthusiasm is always reliably infectious. My teens tended to roll their eyes at the idea of “80s music trivia” but inevitably had fun with us trying to remember whether David Bowie or Billy Idol sang a song. If you really need a hook to get them to try it out, just tell them there are prizes. Teens love free stuff.


Flowrider on the back of Odyssey of the Seas

A scavenger hunt may sound cheesy to some teens, but you’d be surprised how much fun they’ll have racing through the ship searching for selfies with a couple with matching shirts, a crew member, or three generations of the same family. Plus, there are plenty more ship-sanctioned activities, such as silent discos and belly flop contests, that teens will love.

Many Royal Caribbean ships also have mini-golf courses, sports courts, and movies offered at the theater or by the pool. The newest ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet offer all sorts of incredible opportunities right on board. These include simulated skydiving, water slides, FlowRider surf simulators, bumper cars, ice skating, and water slides. Enough said. 

Family time


Family time, you say?! With teenagers?! Yep. There is something magical about cruising that truly does create memorable “together time.”

Don’t get me wrong, they will bury their faces in their phones, be embarrassed by everything you do, toss their soaking wet towels everywhere in the cabin, and glare at you when you wake them for an early port day. There will be many special moments, too, perhaps as you sail away from port with virgin daiquiris in hand and music blaring that makes it impossible not to be happy. 

You might also find that they enjoy dinners together in the Main Dining Room. They might also laugh at you screaming your head off while zip-lining on an excursion.

Their phones

Android phone

Yep. Let’s be real, they’re teenagers. Get the internet package.

They will love posting selfies on Instagram and making TikToks at sunset. They can use the ship’s app to find out about activities or find their way around the ship.

And, as mentioned above, they can communicate and make plans with their new-found friends, and with their parents of course. 

Sunsets and sea views


Give teenagers some credit. They, too, will enjoy the spectacular ocean views and mesmerizing sunsets.

Encourage them to find a perch for the perfect sunset selfie or give them binoculars and designate them as the official family wildlife spotter.

I promise they will never forget these special moments on the vacation of a lifetime, and I guarantee that two words you won’t be hearing are “I’m bored.”