Friday Photos - June 21, 2019

In:
21Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

When the calendar says it is Friday, that is when we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos.

We begin this week's edition wioth a photo of Majesty of the Seas, taken by Anne W, after a great day of snorkeling in Cozumel.

Mimi Webster was serenaded by main dining room waiter, Peter, while on Explorer of the Seas.

Brett Oresky took this photo from the bow of Mariner of the Seas.

Jason Rider took this photo of Oasis of the Seas.

Gina Edwards took this photo of the Up, Up and Away helium balloon while visiting Perfect Day at CoocCay.

Shawn Boos snapped this photo of Harmony of the Seas while walking around San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Our last photo this week is by Vanessa, and it is of her breakfast on her balcony while sailing on Oasis of the Seas.

That's it for this week's edition of Friday Photos. You can always share your favorite cruise photos with us by sending them in via this form.

Have a great weekend!

 

Video: Should you book refundable or non-refundable cruise fare?

In:
20Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Check out our new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video that shares what you need to know about booking a refundable or non-refundable cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean offers two types of deposits when you book a cruise, and each has their benefits and drawbacks. In this video, Matt shares the pros and cons of each fare type and advice on which to choose.

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

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

So check out the video and then let us know: Which fare deposit option do you prefer and why?

Is a suite on Royal Caribbean worth it?

In:
19Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Staying in a suite will get you the most expansive and luxurious accommodations Royal Caribbean, but it also comes with the highest price tag.  With that in mind, we present the important information you should know about what a suite gets you, and if it is a good investment.

Benefits

Without a doubt, the most compelling reason to get a suite is all the extras that come with the room. 

Unlike other stateroom categories, suites come with their own batch of services, amenities and options that are part of the price you pay. This includes a full size bath tub, upgraded bedding, reserved areas of the ship, personalized service and more.

The exact benefits will depend on the stateroom category you pick, along with the ship you sail on.  The most notable set of benefits are found on Oasis or Quantum Class ships, which feature the Royal Suite Class. The Royal Suite Class represents the very best suite benefits across the fleet, and if you want to get the most out of your suite experience, you would be best served to try one on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship.

All suites have access to a dedicated check-in line for boarding, in-suite Mr. Coffee/Tea service, personalized service from a suite attendant, and a pillow top mattress. Junior Suites, Grand Suites, Ocean View/ Panoramic (No Balcony) Suites, and Owner’s Suites all receive priority boarding, and Royal Suite and Villa Suite guests are escorted onboard by an officer.

Traditional Suites

 Junior SuiteGrand Suite, Ocean View/Panoramic Suite & Owner's SuiteRoyal Suite & Villa Suite
Royal Caribbean Classic Bathrobe  
BioEnergy 50 ml Bathroom Amenities  
Royal Caribbean Luxury Bathrobe 
Pillow Menu 
Complimentary Pressing on First Formal Night 
Access to Barefoot Beach (Cabana Reservations are Available at an Extra Charge, First Come, First Served) 
Gilchrist & Soames Bathroom Amenities 
Priority Departure 
Concierge Service 
Priority Dining Reservations 
Priority Spa Bookings 
Priority Shore Excursion Ticketing 
Suite Party Invitation (On Itineraries of 5+ Nights) 
Bridge, Galley & Backstage Tours 
Suite Lounge/Concierge Club Access (Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails Each Evening) 
VIP Pool Deck Seating (Voyager Class and Above, First Come, First Seated) 
Priority Tendering (Where Applicable) 
Welcome Fruit Amenity 
Welcome Evian Water 
Main Dining Menu Available for In Suite Dining (During Operating Hours) 
Complimentary 24-Hour Room Service 
Private Lunch Seating Available on Ships without Coastal Kitchen (Location Varies by Ship and Sailing) 
Private Breakfast Seating Available on Ships without Coastal Kitchen (Location Varies by Ship and Sailing) 
Departure Breakfast 
In Room Mr. Coffee/Tea Service (kettle) 
Reserved Section in Theater - Main, Studio B, AquaTheater, 270 (Where Applicable) 
Complimentary Pressing on First Formal Night 
Sign-up Fee Waived for Luggage Valet Service (Where Applicable) 
Welcome Moet & Chandon  

Royal Suite Class

 SEA
CLASS
SKY
CLASS
STAR
CLASS
Dedicated Check In Line
Priority Boarding
Coastal Kitchen Dinner
Royal Caribbean Classic Bathrobe
L'Occitane 50 ml Bathroom Amenities
In Room Mr. Coffee/Tea Service (kettle)
VOOM 
Concierge Service 
Exclusive Signature Activities 
Suite Lounge/Concierge Club Access 
Priority Departure 
Royal Genie  
Complimentary Gratuities  
Complimentary Specialty Dining  
Complimentary Deluxe Beverage Package  

Budget

With all those benefits comes a price, and suites are the most expensive stateroom category you will find on a Royal Caribbean cruise. 

Just because the room has a higher price tag than other staterooms, does not mean it has to break the bank. Depending on a variety of factors, the price for a suite will vary.  These factors include, but not limited to:

  • Ship class
  • Time of year
  • How many other suites are booked/available
  • Type of suite

When it comes to price, it will be a personal decision because one person's expensive price tag, is another person's reasonable price tag.  In almost every instance, while a suite offers some lovely benefits, it will likely come with a premium price overhead. Just like flying first class, it is a splurge to treat yourself.

Living space

One of the top reasons someone will book a suite stateroom is for the extra living space. Sometimes families opt for a suite to provide enough room for everyone to stay in the same room, while other times it is just about having extra space to sprawl out.

Suites will offer the most square footage of stateroom and private balcony space of any stateroom.  You will also find multiple bathrooms and/or bedrooms in a suite. In short, suites are the largest staterooms available on a Royal Caribbean ship.

The higher suite categories will even offer more opulent amenities, such as pianos, Jacuzzis, multiple stories and more. 

Bottom line: Is a suite worth it?

When staying in a suite, so many little things are just a little better, nicer, or easier. The bedding is plusher. The bathrobes and slippers are more plentiful. There is not a singular thing or list of things I could put together to say if you should book a suite.

Staying in a suite is about rewarding yourself and treating your family to a delightful experience.

Is the price for a suite likely more than other rooms? Yes. Is the added service and amenities nice to have? Yes. It boils down to being comfortable with the inflated price tag, and taking advantage of the bonus options that come with a suite.

Royal Caribbean offering pre-cruise sale on select purchases

In:
19Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Sun's Out, Sale's On Cruise Planner sale offers up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases.

The sale runs between June 18 - 25, 2019 and is valid on sailings departing June 27, 2019 – January 15, 2020. It is valid on all ships, except for Spectrum of the Seas.

The sale details are as follows:

BEVERAGE: Up to 30% off on select sailings.

  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings). •Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
  • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings)

SHORE EXCURSIONS: Up to 25% off on select sailings.

  • Save up to 25% on select tours on select sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings)

INTERNET: Up to 60% off on select sailings.

  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).

DINING: Up to 50% off on select sailings.
• Unlimited Dining Package on 3 Night – 9 Night sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes MJ,  SC + Charter Sailings)
• 3 Night Dining Package: Save up to 50% off on select sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Only on  SY 9/3/19)

ACTIVITIES: Up to 10% off on select sailings.

  • All Access Ship Tour: 10% off. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).

GIFTS & GEAR: 20% off on select sailings.

  • Happy Birthday Decorations: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes QN, SC, VY + Charter Sailings).
  • Happy Anniversary Decorations: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes QN, SC, VY + Charter Sailings).
  • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel: 20% off onboard prices. (Excludes QN, SC, VY + Charter Sailings).

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

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

Mariner of the Seas cruise review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
19Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 307 is available for downloading which has Matt's experience on Mariner of the Seas last week.

Matt took a quick 3-night cruise on Mariner of the Seas to Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, and shares what he did onboard, on shore and how the weather impacted his sailing.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 307. 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!

Video: Royal Caribbean's Thrill Waterpark Dials Up Adventure on Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
18Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The jaw-dropping Thrill Waterpark on Perfect Day at CocoCay is where the action begins for adrenaline seekers. Years of concepting and designing introduce an adventure like no other with one-of-a-kind experiences, including the tallest waterslide in North America, Daredevil’s Peak – one in an impressive lineup of 13 slides. With two daring towers offering the most slides in any waterpark in the Caribbean, poolside cabanas, the Caribbean’s largest wave pool and a kid-friendly obstacle course pool, guests of all ages can put their courage to the test on Royal Caribbean International’s newly transformed private island in The Bahamas.

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
17Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Our final day on Mariner of the Seas brings us to the premier cruise destination these days, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

We booked this cruise specifically for the opportunity to visit Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas, and we had a game plan for our day. We got up early and planned to walk off the ship at 8am, sharp.

We were downstairs on deck 1 right at 8am, but the ship was not quite cleared yet, but within a few minutes we were on our way.

Mariner of the Seas was not the only ship at Perfect Day at CocoCay today, as Empress of the Seas was also docked next to us. I suspect she was re-routed due to the cancelled Cuba itineraries.  We spoke to a few guests on Empress who all seemed to be quite happy to be on a cruise, and enjoying the 50% refund for the change in plans.

Prior to the cruise, I reserved a Thrill waterpark cabana simply because it offered us waterpark admission with the price of the cabana, as well as providing a central location to keep all of our stuff.  A cabana attendant and not having to bring towels was an added benefit.

The reason we wanted to get off the ship so early was to take advantage of lower crowd levels in the waterpark. We managed to do the most popular slides before 10am with reasonable wait times, including Slingshot, Daredevil's Peak and Twister tandem tube slide. If you want to hit up all the slides, you really need to get onto the island as early as you can to maximize the first few hours of the day before others arrive.

 

My kids loved going over and over on the slides, but I think they loved even more the adventure pool and the wave pool.

 

The wave pool was especially fun, and the biggest waves are on the sides of the pool.  If you go into the deep end, you can encounter waves that can easily go over your head.

The cabana ended up being a great decision for all the reasons I mentioned, as well as just having some personal space to enjoy.

We spent most of the day in the waterpark, although I managed to take a walk around the island to see more of what had changed since my last visit.  

I compiled this list of helpful tips, observations and tidbits for anyone visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay:

What to Bring:

  • SeaPass card for ship access and to make purchases
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay Map, also available on the Royal Caribbean app
  • Beach towels, you can exchange them onshore if they get wet
  • Sun protection like sunscreen, hats and rash guards
  • Closed toe shoes if you plan to ride the zipline
  • Cash to shop the island market for local crafts

Amenities:

  • Tram routes can be found on the map.
  • Umbrellas and chairs on beaches and by pools are complimentary.
  • Complimentary lockers are available.
  • Onboard internet packages work on the island.
  • Little swimmers are welcome to enjoy all the pools on the island, so long as they wear swim diapers.
  • When it’s windy, umbrellas need to be closed for safety.

Unfortunately, the rain followed us from Nassau and right after lunch we encountered a few showers and even some lightning, which shut down the slides and pools.  

The really nice thing about having a cabana was weathering the passing showers, because we had ample space to stay dry.

We maximized our time on the island, and returned onboard at 4:30pm.

After showering and changing back onboard, we decided to have dinner in the Windjammer.  After a day of fun on Perfect Day at CocoCay, putting on a pair of shorts and hitting up the Windjammer seemed like a great idea.

We dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean and then tried our hand at "Name that 80's song" trivia.  We are not experts at 80's song titles.

After trivia, it was back to the Pub for songs we could sing along to and a few rounds of Jenga.

All in all, it was a great cruise.  While this may have been the worst weather we encountered on any sailing I have taken, it reaffirmed the notion that a vacation is what you make of it. Rain or not, we still managed to have a good time.

While I certainly would have preferred sunnier skies, the nice thing about the clouds and rain is it kept the temperatures down and meant no one got sunburned or overheated.

The sailing was fun, and I think we all enjoyed a weekend getaway to the Bahamas.

Thanks for following along on this live blog. Do not stray too far, because our next live blog kicks off in less than three weeks when we board Anthem of the Seas for a 9-night Caribbean sailing!

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

In:
15Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Today was proof that you can spend a lot of time trying to come up with the perfect plans for a port stop and it not work out if the weather does not cooperate.

From the moment I woke up through the rest of the day, it rained and was generally an awful looking day. 

We had planned to go on a yacht and take a ride around the Bahamas and it sounded like an amazing day on the water.  Heck, I even brought my drone to take super-awesome photos.  

Alas, the company we rented the yacht through contacted me and told us the captain decided the winds, rain and waves would be too poor to make it worthwhile and gave us a refund.

We had thought about perhaps going to one of the resorts to enjoy the day but the weather was so poor that we had to abandon all hope for anything on shore of substance.

Alas, a day on a cruise on a rainy day is better than any day at home!

We enjoyed breakfast in the Windjammer and then headed down to the Schooner Bar for mind-bending puzzle trivia.  I have included a copy to test yourselves at home!

We took some time to relax in the room, and it was bothering me so much to not be doing something that I opted to take a walk off the ship to Nassau.

I headed to my favorite watering hole, Pirate Republic.  With murky weather, it is always great in a bar.

Eventually we headed back to the ship and grabbed a few drinks in the Solarium.  A lot of other people were in the pool since it was just lightly raining and no lightning.

We fed the kids in the Windjammer and then went up to Adventure Ocean.  

Meanwhile, my wife and I enjoyed a meal at Jamie's Italian.

Italian food sounded great to us and we had an excellent waiter. I went with my go-to favorite of eggplant parmigiana.

We rounded out our evening with drinks around the ship, but decided to keep it low-key to be ready to get off the ship bright and early tomorrow at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Stray Observations

  • There was a US Navy ship docked in Nassau.
  • Here is a look at the cabana layouts for Perfect Day at CocoCay

 

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

In:
15Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Our next RoyalCaribbeanBlog live blog is here, because we are headed back on Mariner of the Seas!

As you may recall, I sailed on Navigator of the Seas last month to experience Perfect Day at CocoCay and I loved it so much, that I had to come back as soon as possible. 

I convinced my wife in a hurried phone call that we needed to book another cruise and fast forward a few weeks later, here we are.

My family and I are sailing a 3-night cruise aboard the fabulous Mariner of the Seas on a quick weekend sailing that will take us to Nassau, Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay.  Just the kind of the weekend escape to perfectly celebrate Fathers Day (although I did not even notice at the time of booking it coincided with Fathers Day).

In order to make this sailing happen, I had to spend the morning doing my day job so that I could fit it in.

Not a big deal, but since I am used to arriving at the cruise terminal right as it opens, it took a bit of an adjustment to roll in around noon.  We live about an hour from Port Canaveral, so the drive over is quite easy.

The drive to the port was uneventful and we made it to Terminal 1 in Port Canaveral shortly after noon.

Check-in was quite easy, and it was even easier because we had expedited check-in option enabled for this sailing.  If you are wondering, there is not anything special to do to get expedited check-in besides completing online check-in via the app and hoping for the best.

There was no waiting to board and we walked right onboard the ship with a short stop to get our kids their muster station bracelets. We made it onboard by 12:45.

Onboard the ship, it was not as busy as I thought and we enjoyed a nice lunch in the Windjammer.  As an added benefit, the staterooms were ready within a few minutes of boarding. This was very nice to minimize carrying around carry-on luggage.

We have two connecting balcony staterooms on this sailing. Frankly, I was surprised to have gotten connecting rooms when I had booked just a few weeks ago.

I did some work during the afternoon while my wife took the kids to register for Adventure Ocean.  In keeping with our low-key embarkation day, the kids enjoyed some time watching TV in the stateroom and playing together.

Muster drill was at 3:30pm and luckly, our muster station was in the Star Lounge. Usually on Voyager Class ships we have to go outside for muster drill, so to be able to remain in air conditioning and sit down was a real treat.

For sail away, I headed up to the pool deck to enjoy a lot of music as we departed Port Canaveral. It was cloudy, which was a benefit since it kept the impact of the sun to a minimum.

After sailaway it was time to get ready for dinner at Izumi Hibachi.  Hibachi has become a cruising tradition for our family, and because of its popularity with other guests, making reservations in advance is now a must-do if you want to dine there.

To my surprise, there were a lot fewer people at the 5:30 dinner than I expected. In fact, we had two open seats at our table.

The meal was great, and you get a ton of food between your main course, salad, fried rice and vegetables. You get even more if your kids do not eat their rice or veggies and it all ends up on your plate.

After dinner we brought the kids up to Adventure Ocean and enjoyed cocktails in the Bamboo Room, followed by the Schooner Bar and then the Pub.

Our evening culminated with the midnight balloon drop on the Royal Promenade.

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, Bahamas.

Stray Observations

  • The car on the Royal Promenade now features enough giant stuffed toys to make it impossible for guests to get in the car.

Friday Photos - June 14, 2019

In:
14Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

When the calendar says it is Friday, that is when we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos.  

Our first photo is of the Seattle skyline, taken by G. Spindler.

Paola Ortiz took this photo of Allure of the Seas in St. Maarten.

Next is a photo of Harmony of ther Seas docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, taken by Shawn Boos.

Tim Dietrich took this photo of Harmony of the Seas and Empress of the Seas docked together in Cozumel.

We are headed to Alaska for our next photo.  Irem Garces took this shot of Explorer of the Seas docked in Skagway.

Here is Grandeur of the Seas in Bermuda. Photo by Travis N.

Our final photo this week is by Passport, and it is of a windy, but fun day at Adventure Dunes.

Thank you to everyone who shared their photos with us this week.  As always, you can share your favorite Royal Caribbean photos with us too.

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