Royal Caribbean denies widespread cancellations of Puerto Rico cruises

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean characterized local news reports from Puerto Rico that the cruise line will make halt many scheduled visits to the island as, "incorrect."

In a statement to travel agents, Royal Caribbean issued the following statement:

Royal Caribbean reviews and adjusts itineraries and deployments every year.

The rumors regarding cancellations of sailings departing between April 2020 – March 2021 from San Juan are incorrect. We have not cancelled any of our ships visiting or homeporting in San Juan.

Though we have not yet announced our full 2021-2022 deployments, we do expect fewer calls from San Juan for the 2021-2022 season and we will be able to provide more details once we have announced our itineraries. 

No decisions regarding deployment beyond those dates have yet been made.

On Tuesday, some news outlets in Puerto Rico began reporting Royal Caribbean was planning to cancel 90 calls to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the 2020 and 2021 season.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Labadee

By: Matt Hochberg

Our first port of call brings us to Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee.

I tried mightily to snag a cabana or bungalow, but all my efforts failed, so we opted to let the kids play at Splashaway Bay on the ship. It felt a bit sacrilegious to stay onboard, so I got off the ship alone and walked around a bit to get some time in Labadee.

I have always wanted to try the walking trails in Labadee, which offer some nice views of the area around.  Basically, when you get off the pier, there are a few walking trails to your left, and it provides some nice views around Labadee.

I explored the trails, and then walked up Adrenaline Beach to see what was going on. It was quite warm today, with a high in the mid to upper 80's, so I sought refuge at one of the bars.  When the breeze went by, it felt glorious.

I got back on the ship a smidge before lunch, and took my oldest daughter on the Perfect Storm water slides.  I did the racer slides and the champagne bowl slide.  The champagne bowl slide was quite fast, and I really liked that one.

For lunch, we headed to the Windjammer for a wide array of options.

After lunch, it was time for my favorite activity of this cruise: taking a nap!

Oasis left Labadee right at 3:30pm to head to our next port of call.

Dinner this evening took us back to the main dining room, and then it was back to the Globe & Atlas pub for some evening drinks with friends.

We spent a little bit of time in the casino, where my wife won a fair amount of money that was equally offset by everything I lost.

Tomorrow, we will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Stray Observations

I noticed these speakers on the pier at Labadee playing music. I cannot recall seeing these before.

These beach beds are complimentary, and there are about four of them. If you get one early enough, you can get a pretty nice spot for the day.

The workshop in Adventure Ocean offers families on-demand arts and crafts to enjoy.

Royal Caribbean Black Friday 2019 deals

By: Matt Hochberg

Experienced cruisers know that Black Friday can often net some of the most lucrative deals of the year, and we have a look at what Royal Caribbean's Black Friday offer will be for 2019.

Black Friday Cruise Fare Sale

Royal Caribbean is running a multi-day sale that changes names throughout the course of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it is effectively the same offer. 

The Cyber Weekend sale runs between November 27 - December 2, 2019 and is valid on select sailings departing on or after December 27, 2019

60% off second guest in stateroom.

Instant savings offer applies to new bookings made between November 27 – December 2, 2019. Instant Savings offer provides up to $300 instant savings on select sailings departing on or after December 27, 2019.

Savings amount is per stateroom and determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $75 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $300 for Suites

Instant savings applied as instant rebate to the price of cruise fare at checkout. Instant savings do not apply to China departures.

Kids Sail Free

Kids Sail Free applies to new bookings made between November 27 – December 2, 2019.

Kids Sail Free provides free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on select 4-night or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe, Hawaii, and Repositioning sailings departing between January 4, 2020 – May 15, 2020 and August 31, 2020 – December 17, 2020.

Kids Sail Free offer excludes President’s Day sailings (Sailings between February 14 – 17, 2020), Spring Break sailings (Sailings between March 14 – 23, 2020), Holy Week/Easter sailings (Sailings between April 3 – 17, 2020) and 2020 Thanksgiving sailings (Sailings between November 21 – 27, 2020).

In addition, Kids Sail Free applies to all Serenade of the Seas Alaska 2020 sailings.

Combinability: BOGO60 and Kids Sail Free are combinable with each other as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Instant Savings offer is combinable with BOGO60, Kids Sail Free as well as well as with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers Free Upgrades and Shareholder Benefits but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts. Offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates. Promo Code driven offers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking, limit one promo code per booking.

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

UK residents: A different offer will be available for you, to be announced later this week.

Pre-cruise purchase Black Friday sale

Guests who make pre-cruise purchases via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site can expect to find beverage package deals of up to 50% off Beverage Packages. Plus, up to 65% off Internet, up to 30% off Shore Excursions, up to 55% off Dining Packages, and up to 40% off Gifts and Gear! 

The Cyber Monday Cruise Planner sale runs between November 27 - December 3, 2019. It applies to sailings departing from December 5, 2019 - December 31, 2020 (except Spectrum of the Seas).

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

By: Matt Hochberg

We started off our second day on Oasis of the Seas by following a time-honored sea day on a cruise tradition by sleeping in! We thought the kids would wake up early enough, but we ended up waking them up.

After rolling out of bed, we enjoyed breakfast brunch at Park Cafe. Had we gotten up earlier, I would have gone to Solarium Bistro, but we had slept half the morning anyway, so we needed something quick.

We immediately headed over to Studio B for the Crown & Anchor Society Top Tier welcome back party. This is an event for guests who are at least Platinum in Crown and Anchor Society.

They served complimentary cocktails, and featured the ice cast doing a few stunts for us all. I try to make a point of going to these Crown and Anchor events because it means a lot to me as a customer that the company wants to show they appreciate our business.

For lunch, we headed to the main dining room for a sea day lunch. They had the choice of an a la carte lunch, or buffet. Truth is, you can do both.

There was a pasta station, as well as hot buffet items including lobster tails.  Yes, unlimited lobster tails for no additional cost. 

After lunch, the kids went up to Adventure Ocean for an afternoon session. I had grandiose plans for a great day without the kids, but ended up taking a nap. Sleeping in and taking a nap a few hours mode is fully engaged!

As evening arrived, we got dressed up for formal night and headed to the main dining room for early dinner seating.

Our assigned table is in one of the annexes, which is off the side. Essentially, you turn almost as soon as you enter the dining room and there is additional seating in this area. We have a great table right by the window.

Dinner began at 5:30pm and at 6:40pm a representative of Adventure Ocean came down to pick up our kids from the entrance to the dining room. Quick and convenient, and it left my wife and I to enjoy our desserts with just the two of us.

After dinner, we went to the casino to spend our "mystery free play", where they give you a few (non-refundable) dollars to play in the slots. I had $2 waiting for me, while my wife had $5. Regardless, we both lost it all quite quickly.

We waited in the standby line at Blaze to attend the first adult comedy show of the evening. I was concerned we would not get in, given the length of the line, but had no issues. The comic that hosts the comedy shows, Simeon, is extremely entertaining and we go to the comedy shows just to see his act. The other comics are an added bonus.

After the comedy show, it was time to see one of the new production shows onboard, One Sky.

One Sky is an original Royal Caribbean production that features a variety of songs performed alongside plenty of dancing, set changes, and colorful costumes.

I did not recognize all the songs in the show, but the cast did a great job managing to sing, dance, and fly around the stage.

Following the show, it was time to grab the kids and head to bed.

Tomorrow, we will visit our first port of Labadee.

Stray Observations

One of the stores in the Royal Promenade offers a variety of "cruise family" clothing, including matching outfits.

Tiffany & Co. on Oasis of the Seas had a complimentary brunch set up in the store.

In case you are wondering, the Spotlight Karoake venue is extremely popular each evening with guests.


Izumi Hibachi now included with Unlimited Dining Package

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has quietly begun including Izumi Hibachi with the Unlimited Dining Package.

Royal Caribbean's website now lists both Izumi sushi and Izumi hibachi as included with the specialty restaurant packages.

Up until recently, the hibachi was never officially included with the dining package, although some guests had luck using it on a case-by-case basis.

Izumi's hibachi is a fun and creative experience, where your chef cooks your food in front of you with a splash of entertainment thrown in.

Izumi Hibachi is available on a number of ships, including Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas.

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

By: Matt Hochberg

My temporary exile from Oasis of the Seas is over, and I am back onboard for an all-new adventure!

We stayed the night between cruises at the Cambria Suites in Dania Beach, which is near the Fort Lauderdale airport. Reasonably priced, and provided a room with enough room for our family. We stayed in this exact hotel about 10 years ago when we first sailed on Oasis of the Seas. It felt a little old, but room was clean and just fine for one night.

The drive to PortMiami on Sunday was quite easy, and we ended up getting to Miami so early that we opted to grab breakfast in Miami Beach at Big Pink diner.

After breakfast, we headed to the port and got in right around 10am.  When parking at the terminal, be sure to stop to drop luggage off with porters inside the parking garage, and then park the car. It saves time and makes your life easier.

Check-in was super easy, especially since I had expedited arrival.

Boarding began right around 10:35am, and we got onboard quickly with Diamond Plus being the first group called.

We went right to our rooms first, since the rooms were ready following 24 hours without any guests. It felt great going right to the room instead of dragging our carry-on stuff around.

We have connecting oceanview balcony rooms on this cruise, and it appears some elements of the room were updated in the amplification.  New capreting, new couch and art around the room.

We got changed and went up to Splashaway Bay for the kids to enjoy.  This Splashaway Bay is significantly larger than other Splashaway Bays on other ships, and features quite a large water slide.

Speaking of water slides, the minimum height for this new slide is 42 inches, whereas the other smaller slides in Splashaway Bay have no minimum height.  

Next up, we headed to Adventure Ocean to register the kids. Registration is now done via a tablet. The staff scans your SeaPass card, you answer a few questions and you are all set. It is so much faster than the old method of filling out a form.

After seeing the updated look to Adventure Ocean, the kids were super excited to go there later in the evening.

We walked around and explored the ship in the afternoon. I also managed to doze off at one point back in the room, while the kids watched television.

Following muster drill, we were treated to a special fireworks display in Miami harbor to commemorate the launch of Oasis of the Seas. I watched the display from my balcony and it was the perfect vantage point!

With the fireworks being in the early evening, it conflicted with our early seating in the main dining room. We opted to skip dinner in the main dining room and enjoy dinner in the Solarium Bistro.

After dropping the kids off at Adventure Ocean, we headed to the Diamond Lounge for evening beverages. I do not have a drink package on this sailing, so we are taking full advantage of our Diamond Crown and Anchor Society benefits.

For dinner, Solarium Bistro is served at a table, where you order your entrees from the waiter, but your appetizers and desserts are offered up buffet style.

I ordered the chicken kabob and mahi mahi, while my wife opted for the steak.  

My fish was overcooked for my taste, but the kebab was excellent. My wife enjoyed her steak quite a bit.

After dinner, we took in some drinks and evening entertainment in the pub.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

Upon walking onto the ship, they were giving away champagne and rum punch in celebration of the ship's launch.

The ship's wifi has been much better today compared to last sailing. 

I could not help myself and bought a WOWband for me and my daughters.


Photos: Oasis of the Seas arrives home to PortMiami

By: Matt Hochberg

Following a $165 million drydock, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas arrived to her homeport in PortMiami.

The talented photographer AdamsAway was able to snap these brand new photos of Oasis of the Seas at her new homeport at Terminal A.

Photos by AdamsAway

Beginning today, Oasis of the Seas will offer 7-night sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

Aerial photos of the amplified Oasis of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas returned to Port Everglades earlier this morning, and we have some new photos to share of the ship from the air.

Photographer AdamsAway shared fantastic photos with us of Oasis arriving into Port Everglades and provided a new vantage point of this newly amplified ship.

Photos by AdamsAway

Oasis of the Seas is the first of the cruise line’s renowned Oasis Class to be modernized as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

By: Matt Hochberg

My second day on Oasis of the Seas was filled with plenty going on, and as you might imagine, the excitement of being onboard had me up early.

I took a walk around the pool deck on a beautiful sunny day.  The ship was not quite yet at Nassau, so we were moving at a slow speed on arrival into Nassau.

I headed to Solarium Bistro to have breakfast.  It is a fabulous alternative to the Windjammer for breakfast, and they offer a traditional American breakfast, along with an omelette station.

After finishing breakfast, the ship began its docking procedure in Nassau.

I did not have any plans on shore, but I did take a few minutes to walk off the ship to take a few photos of the ship while docked.

Back onboard, one of the areas that has also changed on Oasis of the Seas is the Main Dining Room. The decor has reverted back to a "traditional" look, after being converted to separate motifs for each deck.

Another change on Oasis is the Central Park Library, located near Park Cafe.

By mid afternoon, I was starting to fade, so I decided to take a short nap.  

Another new space on Oasis of the Seas is Sugar Beach, which is the candy and ice cream shop.

Dinner this evening took us to Giovanni's Table.

I ordered my go-to Italian entree, eggplant parmigiana, and was not disappointed.

After dinner, I took in a set at the Pub.

I wandered around the ship for a bit to see the night life around the ship. Sometimes it is nice to meander and see what is happening.

I wrapped up my evening with the midnight balloon drop on the Royal Promenade.

That wraps up my two-night shakedown cruise.  Fear not, this live blog will continue in about 24 hours when we get back onboard Oasis of the Seas for a 7-night eastern cruise!

Stray Observations

I spotted the new Coca-Cola flavor available in the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.

The internet speeds on Oasis was quite spotty.  Sometimes it would work very well, and other times it was quite slow.  On this sailing, they gave everyone complimentary internet access so perhaps that is part of the issue. I will be interested to see how it performs when we get back on this weekend.

Oasis of the Seas Category 6N Ocean View Stateroom Photo Tour

By: Matt Hochberg

One of the new staterooms added to Oasis of the Seas during her 2019 amplification was the category 6N Ocean View room on deck 14. We had the chance to take a look into the room to see what these rooms look like.

Located on Deck 14 forward, these rooms can accommodate up to 5 guests and feature 179 square feet of space.

The defining quality of this room is the large windows that provide an unobstructed view of the front of the ship, with sweeping views through the day or night.

Being a new room, these rooms feature an updated bathroom design.

Also unique to these rooms are the built-in USB plugs.