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Royal Caribbean offering up to 30% off Cruise Planner purchases with Memorial Day Pre-Sail Savings

26 May 2017
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off certain Cruise Planner purchases during its Memorial Day Pre-Sail Savings sale.

Guest that log into the Cruise Planner will find certain items discounted.  The exact discount available will vary from sailing to sailing, but we spotted the Royal Refreshment package discounted 30% off, along with similar discounts for many spa treatments.

Based on the countdown timer, the sale expires at midnight on Sunday, May 28, 2017.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog Day 5 - San Juan, Puerto Rico

26 May 2017
Michael Poole

Today was our second port stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico from 7am-3pm.

I was here last year on Allure of the Seas, but I stayed on board.

Today I wanted to explore San Juan to the fullest.

I woke up early and decided I should go get a run in down on their jogging track. Since it was a port day the track was almost empty. I did get my favorite post run drink, yellow Powerade with my drink package at the coffee shop.

After I cleaned up from my never-ending 2.5 mile run, we had breakfast in Park Café. It was 9:00am by this point so most of the guests were already off the ship. I noticed when we walked in they had a bagel station where you could put all kinds of toppings on them. I decided to skip that section and try the breakfast burrito and bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. While Hillary and I were eating we talked about how this was the best breakfast we have had all week.

At 9:30am we walked off the ship into San Juan to explore the island.

My first impressions of walking around downtown were how beautiful the old building looked. I could have spent the morning just exploring the streets and getting lost around town. However, I wanted to finally see the forts on the island, everyone always talks about.

We walked just a few forward from the exit of the pier, back to the Castillo San Cristobal fort. To enter the fort it’s $5 per person, but it also includes entry into their other fort Del Morro. Once we arrived to the fort my first thought was wow, this thing is huge.

After exploring for an hour I really had no idea how massive this fort really is. I think it would take 3-4 hours to really take a deep dive into this fort, but we manage to cover most of it in 2 hours. Just remember when visiting here wear tennis shoes and bring extra water.

We ran out of our water and they have bottles in the gift shop for $1.55.

Our original plan was to walk the 1-mile over to the next fort, but we decided we needed a break from this heat. I remembered the Bacardi rum factory was in San Juan, so that was our new plan for the afternoon. We started walking looking for a taxi, and I thought how about an Uber instead? Our Uber driver was there very fast, and the cost for four people was $11. The factory was about 10-12 miles away, so I was pretty happy with the rate. I will note the Uber drivers don’t speak English, so that’s some added entertainment for the ride.

Once we arrived to the factory, we were a little confused where to go.

The property looks like a headquarters to a company, guard at the entrance and buildings everywhere. We ended up grabbing some lunch, which was decent.

They also had a very large gift shop we picked up things to take home. However, we didn’t have time to complete a tour due to our ship leaving at 3:00pm.

Evening on board

Tonight was our second formal night and we had a pretty busy evening ahead of us. We had reservations for Giovanni’s table at 6:00pm; I know you must be thinking… Didn’t you already eat their Michael? We love the new menu in here so much we just wanted to come back. Again, I ordered the filet and it was just as flavorful as night one. The service in this restaurant is by far the best we have experienced, and he’s a spoiler alert: we are going back tomorrow!

After dinner we had the ice show schedule for 8:15pm. We arrived early to get a front row seat, (it’s a must for the blog right?). I haven’t seen an ice show on their ships in likely five years; just seem to never make them. Tonight I’m so glad I did, this show was so entertaining they even had kids from the crowd in the show at one point. They have a sand artist draw things with his fingers during one of the costume changes, which really got the crowd going. That evening my girlfriend asked me if we could go back to the ice show again, it was that good!

Our show started a little late, so we were rushing to leave to get to the 70’s street party on the Royal Promenade. This is the one party I’m looking forward to all week. If you have been to one of these parties before you know they play the same songs, but I still find them pretty fun.

We danced tried to enjoy ourselves, but I noticed many passengers didn’t really dance or anything. The party lasted around 35 minutes and this is when we decided to call it an evening.

Tomorrow is our third and final port stop in Royal Caribbean’s private island Labadee. This is Matt’s second home, and he’s covered this port many times. So I’ll try to throw a different spin on it. Stay tuned!

Spotted: Royal Caribbean adds soda package and internet combo

25 May 2017
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has added a new combo offer for guests to purchase, that combines the ulimited soft drink package with the unlimited internet package.

Dubbed, "Classic Soda And Voom One Device," this new offering costs $19.00 per guest, per day and can be purchased via online prior to a cruise, via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner.

If a guest were to purchase the Classic Soda Package and Voom one device internet package separately, it would cost them $8.50 + 14.39 ($22.89) per person, per day.

The Classic Soda And Voom One Device plan is similar to the Deluxe Beverage Package and Voom One Device plan, which has been a popular choice for guests that want to get the unlimited alcohol package and Voom internet plan together.

Thanks to Royal Caribbean Blog message board reader FManke for spotting this new option.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog Day 4 - St. Maarten

25 May 2017
Michael Poole

Today we arrived to our first port stop of beautiful St. Maarten.

Over the years of all the islands I’ve visited, this one has become my favorite. My plans today were to find a new beach on the French side of the island. My girlfriend’s mom also wanted to spend the day on the beach with me. My girlfriend and her father wanted to rent scooters to explore the island. I decided to walk them to the scooter shop to make sure things were good before we went to the beach. They had scooters for $79 and ATV 4 wheelers for $99. The ATV 4 wheelers are pretty easy to drive because there are no gears, just gas and breaks. After they paid the man, he requested to hold their sea pass cards for “insurance” that they would return.

Once they were off on their way, we jumped into a taxi to Orient Beach on the French Side.

The name of the beach area was called Kakao Beach Bar & Restaurant. They have free entry, however two chairs and an umbrella is $25. The facility was very clean, with showers, changing rooms, lockers, and many restrooms. It was a very different than my previews trips to St. Maarten because it was on the French side of the island. I ordered a bucket of beers (6) for $20 and relaxed in my relaxing beach chair most of the afternoon.

We had our taxi driver scheduled to come pick us up at 2:30 for our return trip, which was about 20-25 minutes with traffic. The cost was $20 each way to the beach, so in all around $100, but worth every penny. Our driver shared information about the island on the drive and was very friendly. He suggested next time, we get into a taxi and ask them to stick with us all day to explore.

Afternoon on board

Around 3:30pm I was back on board and thankfully Hillary had returned safely from driving around on a scooter all day. I was actually worried about them for most of the day, since we couldn’t communicate on the island. We had reservations for Izumi at 5:30pm, but we decided we needed pre-dinner so off to Sabor we went.

We sat at the bar and they will serve you just chips, guacamole, and salsa for $7.

So that’s what we ordered and it was the perfect little snack to hold us over.

While we were at the bar, I asked them about the 10-drink card I’ve seen signs about all over the ship. The price seems to vary from what others have reported but it was $79 + 18%, so I believe $92 total. This card can be shared with anyone and works at any bar or restaurant plus Labadee day 6. We purchased the card for Hillary since she only had her Diamond drinks. The cards work just like a drink package, meaning the drink limit is anything up to $13.

Dinner Izumi

We had scheduled Izumi sushi tonight for dinner, but I guess I failed to mention this. With the Ultimate Dining package you have someone assigned to you that is designated person for any and all reservations. Now, I didn’t know this going on board so I just scheduled the week day one. Our person called our cabin day 1 to introduce herself and asked if we wanted to switch to Izumi Hibachi for tonight.

With the dining package you can order their classic 1-meat meals for $44 or their combo 2-meat for $49. I went for the lobster and scallops for the main course. I’ll be honest, going into this meal I didn’t know what to expect, since I’ve done Hibachi many times on land. The experience was so entertaining, our chef was singing, had all of us clapping. This was the most fun I’ve ever had at dinner and they had many unique beers from Japan here too!

After dinner we went to the casino to redeem our Crown & Anchor spin to win. Of course I didn’t win anything, but my girlfriend won a t-shirt. I was surprised to see the t-shirt was a really nice cotton V-neck gray t-shirt. I didn’t play any, so no donations to Royal Caribbean to report thus far.

We spent most of our evening in Central Park listening to the live music. I just can’t get over how nice and cool the park has been in the evening. If you are coming on Oasis soon, there is a couple that does the best job in the park.

We were in bed by 10pm tonight, we were pretty worn out from the island.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post we are in San Juan!

Empress of the Seas 2017 Live Blog Day 5 - Sea Day

25 May 2017
Billy Hirsch

Today is a sea day, and the last day of our Empress of the Seas cruise to Cuba, and we've got the "ast day blues" in a big way. Being at sea was a welcome change, as somehow the days felt short this week and I didn't get to enjoy the ship as much as I'd have liked. This summary will be a short one though, as we worked hard to do very little but relax, a vacation within a vacation, but we did get to explore the ship some.

An Early Start, Relatively Speaking

Today we woke up around 9:00am after setting the clocks forward overnight, which means it was 8:00am in our brains and a very early hour compared to what we're used to. We usually find it easy to oversleep in an inside stateroom, but the excitement of a cruise full of friends heading to a new destination got us moving a bit earlier each day. Today however what got us up was the desire to live every minute of the last day.

For breakfast, we opted for the Windjammer, which was not anything special but it seemed a good way to get in and out quickly compared to the main dining room, which we'd already enjoyed for brunch a few times. I did notice that a couple of staple items in this Windjammer are different than they are on other Royal Caribbean ships. For example, the breakfast potatoes and the donuts are both completely different recipes – not bad, just different.

After breakfast, we took a walk across the pool deck and found that there were some people out early, but plenty of space left. From there we went to Boleros for espresso. I've been surprised that there haven't been longer lines at Cafe Royal, which is nice. That in mind the quality of the espresso seems hit or miss. It may be they're better equipped to make Cuban coffee, which has a ton of sugar. Either way I got my fix and we took a stroll.

All Walks Lead to Bars

Schooner bar has been the main meeting place and watering hole this entire cruise. I really like the venue, and the location is fantastic (midship, next to guest services and such), though I'd have thought we'd spend more time in Boleros. It was a bit early for a drink, but I'm on vacation, so we again found ourselves at the Schooner bar where Ashford, the barkeep, insisted we start and finish the second bottle of Ardbeg they brought on for us. This was the beginning of some serious peer-pressure from Ashford (who is awesome by the way).

As I sipped scotch I had a brief Twitter exchange with James Van Fleet, Royal Caribbean's meteorologist who pointed out some storms Empress was going to be cruising near. This is a nice reminder how many people work hard to make these trips safe and enjoyable.

Several drinks in and while waiting to meet up with friends I decided we are on a cruise and should probably see the outdoors and get some fresh air. Heading to deck 10 the "Sexist Man" contest was going on. Personally, I don't care about the belly flop contests and these other pool events, but they are crowd pleasers and I'm glad others enjoy them. This is when the weather started looking a little less than desirable as some the storms became visible, but folks were still enjoying time by the pool.

Heading back to the Schooner for some more time chatting with friends new and old we quickly realized it was time to eat, and the Windjammer called our names. By the time we sat down to eat there was a decent amount of rain that had moved in, and it was neat looking as the water ran off the windows of the Windjammer.

Notice by the way that the Windjammer on Empress is situated forward, where as the other ships in Royal's fleet feature the Windjammer to the aft. That rain on the glass, a nice lunch, and perhaps the four glasses of whisky I'd had left me fading fast, so we headed to the stateroom for a bit to begin packing and take a short nap.

Yes, we did more than just drink today.

Funny as it seems on such as small ship, we realized there were some spots we hadn't really explored and other spots we wanted to enjoy more time in. We walked around, listened to some live music in Boleros, and saw our new Aussie friend Luke (actually I think he lives in BC) who we threw an olive cover on and had him do his best Fidel impression. We then started walking all the way forward on the promenade and found that on several decks there are neat view of the bow. Nothing special, as it's just hardware, but it's a perspective I'd not noticed on other ships. These areas sit in front of stateroom windows, and there is a shortcut to get there if you're in one of these rooms, so while the area isn't private, you essentially have a secret/rarely trafficked area overlooking the bow. One of these decks through had some A/C parts stored there, but I realize they're actively doing A/C work in the Casino, so hopefully this is short-lived - I'd be annoyed if that was my room window in the picture, but perhaps it belongs to a contractor or officer.

It occurred to Larissa and I that we'd not seen any of the shows onboard, and we'd heard good things about tonight's show, "Three". I'm a sucker for mashups and such, which were the default shows on ships for years. I expected something similar to this, and the show was billed as having music from multiple decades, but it was bit different in that it was largely covers or mashups of pop-music, and I was having trouble figuring out if there was any attempt at weaving a theme in. The performers themselves were all talented, and from a choreography standpoint they were all in sync, which doesn't always happen. I did feel a few songs had performers singing outside their range, which seemed odd with so many singers to choose from. The back of the stage was also used for a number of scenes and effects, seemingly using rear-projection. It looked good, but in a few cases, may have been a bit distracting.

What I really enjoyed about this show however (not taking away from the talent at all), was the theater itself. There was a time that ship theaters had clusters of tables and chairs, neat layouts that made them feel like a lounge, and were conducive to drink service. Newer ships have turned to stadium/theater seating, which I understand from a logistics standpoints, but Empress has the layout of ships of the past, and I really liked that. Overall it was a pretty room, too, with nice accents and furnishings. I'd like to see this style come back, but I won't hold my breath, despite some recent changes I've noticed in ship design.

The Last Supper

In the last year or two Larissa and I started going to the buffet area of ships for dinner more and more often. Not that we don't like the main dining room experience, and we still go frequently, but the flexibility and variety of a good buffet is nice. Any trouble we may have had deciding which venue to enjoy tonight dissolved the moment we realized that it was Indian night in the Windjammer. Decision made, we love Indian food, and this helped me work through how upset I am about the cruise being nearly over.

The food was good, and they had more than just curries, which was nice. I was surprised though they didn't have rice, which seemed strange. I asked about getting some and they said they'd be glad to get me rice but it would be ten minutes. That's reasonable, but I told them not to worry about it as there was so much food to choose from already. After some Indian I sampled what, based on how I feel right now, must have been about 43 desserts. The Windjammer doesn't tend to have very rich desserts aside from their daily "feature", like the crepe station yesterday, but I found a few of the cakes to be good. Frankly, if the cakes were richer I'd not have been able to sample so many, so we'll call it a win.

Bags Out, Alarms Set

Once finishing dinner, we headed back to the stateroom to finish packing, frantically shoving everything we could inside the bags we're checking to make things as easy as possible tomorrow. We both have to work in the morning, so while we're not looking to be the first off the ship, we can't do what we sometimes enjoy, which is taking it easy on the last day and being the last ones off, walking off along with the consecutive cruisers. I'm hoping for a simple process tomorrow considering the low passenger load, though I've quickly become spoiled having Global Entry lines in PortMiami and Port Canaveral, a luxury we won't have tomorrow in Tampa. I'm also hoping I get to bed before we enter Tampa bay, as I do like these storms rocking me to sleep.

Stray Observations

  • Earlier in the live blog I mentioned that while you can tell the ship is older by its design, it seems in great shape. This is true, though over the days I've noticed some minor things that show age. Doorjams, a keyholder in the stateroom meant to hold an actual key, missing screw covers, etc. All minor things that don't in any way negatively impact the experience.

  • The muster info cards in the room are red, and while they look brand new, I wonder if they're from the ship's Pullmantur days.

  • Because this was our only sea-day they packed all the activities into one day. Multiple types of trivia, bingo, pool games, etc. It seemed a jam-packed day, but maybe it's just been a while since we took a cruise shorter than 7 nights.
  • There are sea-sickness bags taped to railings, though we really did seem to dodge the rough weather. It's quite pleasant right now.

I'm still working on fulfilling some requests for specifics on Empress, but if you have questions or comments don't hesitate to comment below or reach out on Facebook or Twitter!

Interview with Harmony of the Seas' Godmother on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

24 May 2017
Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 199 is available for downloading, and this week we have an exclusive interview with the Godmother of Harmony of the Seas, Brittany Affolter.

Brittany shares with us the story of how she came to be the Godmother to Harmony of the Seas, and shared a review of her recent sailing aboard Harmony.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 199. 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's Memorial Day sale offers 30% off all guests and up to $300 instant savings

24 May 2017
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean started its Memorial Day Sale, with 30% off all guests, plus instant savings that can be stacked with other offers Royal Caribbean is currently offering.

The Memorial Day Sale requires cruise must be booked May 24, 2017 7:00AM EST to May 31, 2017 11:59PM EST and applies to cruises that depart on or after June 24, 2017. Offer excludes China departures.

The Memorial Day Sale includes

  • 30% off the standard cruise fare for all guests in a stateroom; all stateroom categories.
  • Instant savings
    • $25 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 5 nights or less
    • $50 off per stateroom for balcony and suite on 5 night sailings or less
    • $50 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • $100 off per stateroom for balcony and suite on 6 night sailings or longer

Oasis Class Savings

Also, bookings made between May 24, 2017 through May 31, 2017 at 11:59PM on Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas sailings departing on or after June 24, 2017 are eligible for an additional dollars off determined by stateroom category booked:

  • $50 off per stateroom total for interior and oceanview
  • $150 off per stateroom total for balcony
  • $300 off per stateroom total for suite

Kids Sail Free

Additionally, Kids Sail Free offer provides free cruise fare of third and higher guests who are 12 years or younger as of cruise departure date, booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom on 5 nights or longer sailings that depart between Sep. 1, 2017 - Dec. 14, 2017 across Bahamas, Caribbean, North East Caribbean, Bermuda, Coastal and Canada itineraries.

Kids Sail Free excludes sailings departing on or between 11/16/17 – 11/26/17.

Maycation 30% is combinable with adjoining Dollars Off, Kids Sail Free, Crown & Anchor discounts, NextCruise offers and Shareholder Benefits. Dollars Off and Kids Sail Free is not combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts or Shareholder Benefits. Maycation 30%, Kids Sail Free and Dollars Off are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including but not limited to, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, and Military), Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates.

Offer open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. 

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog Day 3 - Sea Day

24 May 2017
Michael Poole

It’s hard to believe it’s already day 3, but here we are on our second sea day as we head to St. Maarten. My plans for today were, well no plans. This morning I woke up and decided to relax in the room, in all my cruises I don’t ever recall a calm morning in the cabin. I think my cruising style is slowly changing, but that’s okay with me.

We had our room service sent to the room again and it was right on time. For those who enjoy coffee, I’ve been very happy with the room service coffee.

Since we were taking the morning easy, it hit me we hadn’t even gone to the aft of the ship yet. So we walked all the way aft (I think it took us 10 minutes) this ship is so large. We watched some people on the flowriders for a while, it’s just so entertaining. They have some covered seats where you can watch, while getting some shade.

I saw many playing putting on the mini golf course; I’ve actually never played before. While I was in the aft area, I noticed the wipeout bar was almost empty, so great spot for good bar service.

After we explored for awhile we headed to the hot tub that hangs over the side of the ship. Surprisingly it was empty and we jumped it.

Really unique views from these side hot tubs and I couldn’t have been more relaxed.

Lunch – Sabor

No surprise we headed back to Sabor for lunch. I decided I’d change it up today and order the shrimp tacos for lunch. These tacos were hands down the best tacos I’ve ever eaten at Sabor. They come put together with their toppings already on them and in a hard shell. For some reason they also brought out the chicken tacos, but I certainly didn’t turn them away.

While we were dining they had an employee making taco shells, talk about fresh tacos!

During our lunch I asked the head Sabor waiter about coming for just guacamole. He informed me that you can come to the bar, inside the restaurant and order some for $7 without paying their cover charge of $19 per person. If you want it to-go they can also arrange that, perfect for the balcony afternoon snack. Also on my sailing they introduced a new Sabor “Happy Hour” special, it was actually starting today. During 3pm-6pm on sea days you can get a side item and margarita for $12, the drink alone goes for $13 regularly.

Evening on board

We had the headliner scheduled for tonight but we decided not to go, since it was Elvis music. So we decided to hang out in Central Park before dinner. The weather on this cruise has been much cooler than I was expecting, making the afternoons and evenings nice and cool in the park.

Our dinner plans tonight were Chops Grill at 6:30pm. It was the classic chops grill experience. I ordered the shrimp cocktail for a starter, then the mushroom soup, and the filet. The mushroom soup there is by far the best soup on the ship, oh I love it.

My girlfriend ordered the fish and thought it was really good also; she was getting tired of all the red meat. The experience tonight was wonderful and we really enjoyed our window seat looking into the park.

After dinner I wanted to go ride the Rising Tide bar. I was surprised to see how many people were on the bar tonight. The Rising Tide lasted around 10 minutes from Central Park to the Royal Promenade. You can get a drink and relax but I almost recommend riding it for two cycles since it happens so fast.

Dazzles tonight had the Cat’s performers singing for one hour. They were so entertaining and really made my evening. They have so much talent singing; I think it’s really nice they come to dazzles for one evening to sing. I remember the Broadway cast doing this on Allure last year also, so be sure to check it out.

Well, that wraps up my second full sea day, tomorrow we are arriving to our first port of beautiful St. Maarten.

Empress of the Seas 2017 Live Blog Day 4 - Cozumel, Mexico

24 May 2017
Billy Hirsch

Day 4 on our Empress of the Seas Cuba cruise had us in Cozumel Mexico. We've been to Cozumel many times before and it feels a little bit like home whenever we visit. Visiting a fun and familiar destination today softened the blow of leaving Cuba yesterday, which was of course a major highlight of our journey. We'll take a look at our arrival, where we went, and look ahead to our next day on board.

Before Arriving in Cozumel

We were not scheduled to arrive in Cozumel until 1:00pm today, which is the latest we'd ever visited. There have been a number of times in this and other ports where we come back to the ship at the end of the day and find a ship that wasn't there in the morning. This time, we were that ship to the folks on Liberty of the Seas, which was the other vessel in port today.

Because of our late arrival we were lucky enough to once again get to enjoy brunch in the main dining room. Arriving a few minutes before the dining room opened at 9:30am there were many people waiting, mostly because we turned back the clocks one hour last night, and many people failed to realize this, so the thought it was an hour later than it was. The doors opened a couple minutes early and everyone piled in. We sat at a large table with other guests, which is usually something we avoid, but we were in a hurry. We did the same on the day we visited Key West, and both days were fortunate enough to sit with some friendly folks. The selection was different from a couple days ago, but the overall layout and concept was the same. There was some bread art, which wasn't't going to win any awards, but was neat to see.


Arrival & Disembarkation

After eating we headed to the pool deck to grab a drink and enjoy the bright sun and views of the turquoise water of Cozumel. Empress' age, while of no detriment, seems to manifest in ways other than the physical structure. For example, as we moored in Mexico the pool band was playing classic Caribbean cruise songs like the "Dollar Shuffle" and "Hot! Hot! Hot!". I'm not a big "party person" but hearing these songs while sitting in the sun reminded me of cruises when I was a kid, and it really felt nice. I took a short video and then jumped on Periscope.

We chatted up an Aussie group we' encountered before and offered up some tips for Cozumel. As we did this, the Cruise Director informed everyone via the PA system that the island was experiencing a power outage. I was quickly glad I'd brought both USD and Mexican Pesos along, as it seemed credit cards and ATMs may not be an option. At this point we decided power or not, we should go enjoy the city, so we headed off the ship. Disembarkation was once again painless; in a no time we were in a cab heading to Parque Benito Juarez to get some espresso at Coz Coffee.

Our Time in Cozumel

Just before we arrived at the square we noticed some street lights on, and sure enough when we'd arrived at the square power had been restored. We got some great coffee and chatted for a bit. I've mentioned it before, but do try and stop by Coz, they roast coffee on site and have a nice establishment. Their location is nearby shops ad restaurants, but also an area that has some local flare, and we even saw some schoolchildren playing, then getting a soda at a shop next door.

Continuing with our day it was after 2:00pm and time to get food. Initially we walked the The Pub, another favorite spot of ours which is just a block or two from Coz, but we arrived to find they're closed on Tuesdays. Needing to find another spot to eat and relax I remembered that some time ago Matt and I researched a restaurant a ten-minute walk from The Pub, but hadn't enjoyed as it was closed that particular day. My mental map of Cozumel served us well and we arrived at El Palomar. The food was reasonably priced and was a bit more high-end (though not overly fancy) than some other places in the area. Among other items, we had a cold avocado soup that I'll be thinking of for time. I don't usually like cold soups but the flavor and texture was fantastic, and small cubes of queso fresco and tortilla strips made the dish something that really stuck out. Oh, and this may have the beginning of a lot of Mexican beer.

After a few drinks, we wanted to go for a walk and seek more adventure, and a grocery store. On this walk we went into a souvenir shop for $1 beers, and the promise of "different crap, better prices" by amusing shop owners, which was a common and funny line in the touristy areas today. I should have mentioned earlier than this entire trip we dragged our friend Ron along with us. When we travel, we love going to grocery stores to see how locals live, and you can often find some bargains. We'd visited the Chedraui grocery store before, but we wanted to show Ron what prices look like outside of touristy spots, though the store is only a couple minutes walk from the port. After seeing liquor for half of what it goes for at the port, tons of fresh vegetables, prepared and bulk items, etc we bought some ibuprofen (not for any special reason, we just needed ibuprofen) and I then realized that I had a mission to complete.

A good friend has terrible migraines, and the medication which helps he is almost $900 in the US, even with insurance it's hundreds per dose, so we offered to try and get some at a lower price. They didn't have it at the grocery store but they recommended a larger pharmacy down the street. The helpful folks showed us to the medication but they didn't have it in the right form unfortunately. For the record, it was however about a tenth of the price. We're going to see if we can order it ahead of time in the right for and get it the next time we visit Cozumel (which is rarely far off).

After our pharmaceutical excursion (which sounds far more exciting and nefarious than it was) it was time for another beer. We'd passed "Machete" a number of times in the past but hadn't tried it out. The restaurant has bright colors and an amusing staff. This is probably a gross generalization but I'm encouraged when shop, bar, etc has their prices in Pesos rather than dollars, that often represents a better deal (not that they won't take US dollars).

We sat down after checking the menu and I asked in Spanish if they accepted credit cards to which the gentleman replied, "tarjetas (cards), effectivo (cash), iPhones, cars, whatever you want". This is when a pretty epic Periscope started. This was another one of these zen moments. Locals were walking by, there was a nice breeze, staff was having fun with us, and we got to share with our friends online, and of course, beer helped as well.

I think we sat and chatted for almost two hours, but eventually the sun began to set and it was time to head back to the ship before the 8:30pm all-aboard. I really wanted to stay, and at many points during the day we talked about our often discussed thoughts about moving to Cozumel for some time and enjoying the locals and taking in island life. No wishing or planning changed that it was time to head back though, and a $2 cab ride later we were back to the pier in time to take some pictures of the Empress at night. Part of what made the shots unique is that despite being there 30 minutes before all-aboard, there was literally no one else on the pier, it seems that the darkness made everyone head back to the ship.

Back on Empress

Exhausted from a fun day, we showered and then headed to the Windjammer for dinner as we watched the city lights get smaller and smaller. This is when I realized that the next time we see land it will be Tampa, and our cruise will be over. Luckily we have another day left, so I'm enjoying it with friends in the Schooner bar as I type this. Once again the activity level on the ship is very low. Friends who have sailed on this ship recently found a lot of energy at night, but that doesn’t seem to be the case on this sailing, perhaps because the Cuba itinerary attracts a more subdued crowd.

Tomorrow: Sea Day

Two of my favorite things on cruisers are visiting great destinations, and going nowhere, so I'm perfectly happy to have a sea day where we can just relax, and hopefully enjoy Boleros a bit, which I've not spent enough time in. We've also not caught any of the onboard entertainment (except for in the Schooner Bar), so hopefully we can reconcile that, and maybe even enjoy the pool.

Stray Observations

  • I often have Mexican Pesos on hand, and while taxi prices are fixed from the cruise terminal, elsewhere they're quite negotiable, and much lower. Rates become even lower with an attempt at Spanish and Pesos in hand.
  • I've said it before, but it's always impressive how great Cozumel is when you just step a few feet off the main drag.
  • Usually in Cozumel the line I hear from shop-owners is "almost free!" but we only heard it once today. In a funny was I kind of missed this.
  • Everyone on the ship keeps talking about how great Cuba was. I'd love to see the repeat rate for Cuba sailings, I bet it's very high.
  • We changed time last night, which I prefer. Staying on local time, to me, avoids confusion. Last week the ship did not change time, which seems strange.
  • The Windjammer was good (especially the crepe bar), but I didn't realize until after dinner that there is a sign noting that there is vegetarian curry and other options available upon request. Is curry *always* available? I may move onto this ship and work remotely!
  • The drink card was available today for a price I'd not yet seen: 10 drinks for $59! That's a great deal, and I'm guessing the demographics and number of those with Diamond perks means they haven't sold many drinks.

Spotted: Happy Hour specials at Sabor on Oasis of the Seas

23 May 2017
Matt Hochberg

Starting today, Oasis of the Seas is rolling out a new offer for guests to enjoy a featured margarita and an appetizer for one low price.

Royal Caribbean Blog blogger, Michael Poole spotted this new offer that is beginning today on Oasis of the Seas.  Every day, from 3pm - 6pm, guests can get one Bar Bite and one Featured Margarita for $12.

Bar Bites

  • Guacamole

  • Chicken-Stuffed Jalapenos Wrapped in Bacon

  • Shredded Beef Short Rib Taco

Featured Margaritas

  • Sweet & Spicy

  • Avocado

  • Jalapeno-Cucumber

The staff at Sabor say this new deal begins today, and will be available until further notice every day.

In addition, Sabor is also offering a la carte priced guacamole for $7 if purchased from the Sabor bar.

Sabor recently changed to a cover charge cost recently, where guests must pay $19 to enjoy all the food on the menu.