Royal Caribbean offering 60% off second guest with Wave October sale

By: Matt Hochberg

The month of October has Royal Caribbean offering Buy One Guest, Get Second Guest 60% Off and 30% savings for third and fourth guests.

The Wave October sale runs between October 1 – 31, 2018 and is valid on sailings departing on or after November 1, 2018.

It inculdes:

  • 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
  • 30% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.

As a bonus, cruises booked between October 1 – 6, 2018 may qualify for the Wander Now sale, where guests can get instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites.
  • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites.

Fall Bonus: provides instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom for those guests’ sailing between November 1, 2018 – December 17, 2018. Instant savings determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites.
  • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suite.

BOGO and Deck the Holidays Deals are combinable with Wander Now Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Wander Now Sale is combinable with NRDB OBC, OBC, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. All 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, Net Rates.

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

Royal Caribbean trademarks Oasis Class stern design

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the stern design of its Oasis Class ships.

The trademark was filed by the cruise line on September 24, 2018 and describes the unique design of an Oasis Class ship that includes the balcony staterooms, Ultimate Abyss and Royal Caribbean logo symbol.

Trademark design

Aft view of Harmony of the Seas

"The mark consists of the stern section of a cruise ship having a set of stylish oblong-shaped balconies on the left and right sides of the stern section, a pair of ornamental slides extending from the rear section of an decorative fish head to cascade downward to a lower deck of the cruise ship, and a pair of tusk-like structures extending upward from the top of a lower deck of the cruise ship, to a mid-deck level of the stern section, each tusk-like structure includes a set of stylish curved vertical beams intersecting near the top portion of the tusk-like structures, and an ornamental crown and anchor symbol suspended between the pair of tusk-like structures."

This is the second ship design element to be trademarked by Royal Caribbean in September.  Earlier in September, Royal Caribbean trademarked its smoke stack design.

Royal Caribbean CEO talks Quantum 5, better pizza, Oasis Class in Galveston and more

By: Matt Hochberg

As part of Royal Caribbean's President's Cruise on Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley held a question and answer session with cruisers to address questions and concerns.  In the nearly two hour event, a number of intriguing changes were announced, along with updates to topics of interest to many cruisers.

Here are the big tidbits of information from the session.

Quantum 5 coming to USA & Europe?

Michael Bayley started off the session with guests by giving an overview of where Royal Caribbean is today, and went over some of the new ships joining the fleet.  He mentioned the fifth Quantum Class ship and indicated there is a possibility that ship will sail from the United States and Europe.

"The following year we have Spectrum two, or Quantum Ultra two, and that could possibly be coming to Europe and America."

The Perfect Day at CocoCay pier will be completed by the end of 2018

The new pier that is being added to CocoCay has suffered a few construction delays, but Michael Bayley confirmed the pier will be complete, "by the end of December".

Bayley estimates out of all the sailings to CocoCay, about 10 or 11% would be missed due to unfavorable tendering condtions. With the new pier, he believes the missed calls will drop to about 2%.

The pizza is getting better

Michael Bayley confirmed Royal Caribbean is actively working towards improving the pizza on its ships.  

A new approach to their pizza has seen a six point increase in guest satisfaction, thanks to the cruise line's better crust, cheese, sauce and toppings.

Bayley said the pizza rating is hovering around 92% guest satisfaction, but he wants to see it climb to at least 95%.

Moreover, the next target for improving the food onboard is to work on better desserts. He hopes to roll out the desserts to the rest of the fleet in the coming months.

An update on cruising from California

One cruiser asked Michael Bayley about the prospects of Royal Caribbean returning to California and offering cruises regularly from Los Angeles.

"We always are evaluating the deployment into California, whether it is San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. We know that two of our competing brands are putting ships into California in the next year or so, it will be interesting to see how they do.

From a business perspective, we still can't quite figure out how to make the best sense from a business perspective, so we keep looking at it. I can't say it's not gonna happen, I'm pretty sure it's going to happen. The question is, when. For sure in the next five to ten years there will be a ship in California."

No new Crown and Anchor Society tier

When asked about changes to the Crown and Anchor Society tiers, Michael Bayley reittered his belief that Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program is the best in the industry.  Moreover, he indicated they are not looking to add a new tier into the program.

Bayley also mentioned they are looking at what they can do to improve the loyalty programs among Royal Caribbean International's sister brands, which would allow you to sail on any sister brand with the same status as you have earned on Royal Caribbean International.

No comment on possibility of an Oasis Class ship sailing from Galveston

Royal Caribbean's Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra touched on the news of an Oasis Class ship coming to Galveston.  

"It's being worked on by government and local officials in Galveston, but to Michael's point, it is our intention, but we need a few more things to go our way in terms of funding and approvals. We'd love to have an Oasis Class ship in Galveston."

Royal Caribbean announces 50th birthday cruise celebration in 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today its next major cruise event, will celebrate Royal Caribbean's 50th birthday.

The "50 Years Bold Birthday Cruise" will be held on the November 2, 2019 sailing of Symphony of the Seas out of Miami, Florida.

The cruise will be 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing, and Royal Caribbean says it will be "packed with special programming and events, surprise guest performers, a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay, and much more."

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

By: Matt Hochberg

The last day of our cruise is here, and it means a day at sea.  Sea days are sometimes chock full of activities, events and parties.  Our sea day was more of a “let’s recuperate” kind of day.

We woke up right on time and at first I thought I was ready to get my day started with the same vigor and enthusiasm from day one. It became quickly apparent that would not be the case.

We had breakfast at Chops Grille, and it was just as good as when we ate there on day two.  

Right after breakfast it was time for our bridge tour, which is a perk of being a Diamond Plus/Pinnacle guest.  

My wife had actually never done a bridge tour before, so we opted to go for it.  

It is fascinating to be up on the bridge and see not only how the ship operates, but get one of the best views available onboard.  

A bridge officer talked about the basic bridge operations, how the crew conducts their work and showed us some of the controls.

After the tour, we found a couple of lounge chairs by the pool and I indulged in a much needed, and satisfactory nap.  That decision to catch up on sleep really helped my energy levels for the rest of the day.

For lunch, we headed to Izumi.

Another great meal, and luckily the warm house sake was back in stock, which meant I could get it as part of the drink package.

After lunch we managed to find two lounge chairs in the Solarium and spent our afternoon relaxing by the pool on a great weather day.

After a relaxing day by the pool (and hot tub), we grabbed a few drinks before dinner.  

Dinner this evening took us back to Chops Grille.  The service was great tonight and I only ordered the tuna tartare for my appetizer and entree. Yes, it was that good.

After dinner, we decided to savor our last few hours left on the ship with some bar hopping.  Having the drink package makes trying out different bars a little more interesting.

Overall, I really liked our time on Brilliance. In fact, it may have been the best of the three times on her and it has earned a special spot in my opinion on favorite ships.  While it may not have the overwhelming amount of activities and things to do that the new ships offer, it is a really fun cruise and for these long weekend sailings, a perfect length.

We actually booked another sailing on Brilliance for in 2019 as an excuse to get back onboard.  It remains to be seen if we will keep that booking, but I would love to sail on her again.

Thank you to everyone for following along and being a part of the live blog.  It has been a great pleasure sharing this sailing with all of you.  My next live blog sailing will only be a short six week wait when we board the brand new Symphony of the Seas!

Stray Observations

  • Rita’s Cantina does appear to be no more.  We stopped by the location and while the area still has the decorations and look of the restaurant, I could not find any menus or anything of that nature.

  • There was some definite “motion in the ocean” this morning.  Nothing intolerable, and by lunch the waves had calmed down some.
  • Brilliance of the Seas has its own escape room game, which is held in the Colony Club.  There is no cost to it, and it is the same game we played on Harmony of the Seas (in the On Air Club, not Escape the Rubicon).

  • A very depressing cake.
  • The self-leveling billiards table are not functional (as in they do not self-level).
  • There was leftover merchandise in the Centrum Shops from Brilliance’s Baltic season with deep discounts.
  • Someone asked for drink prices, and here is a look at the Schooner Bar menu.  I feel this is pretty exemplary of the drink prices onboard

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cozumel

By: Matt Hochberg

Our one and only port stop brings us to Cozumel, Mexico and a day filled with sun, fun and plenty of guacamole.

Brilliance of the Seas was scheduled to dock in Cozumel at 8am, although local time is an hour behind, so we decided to sleep in a bit and get off the ship at 10am our time.  Most of the shops and restaurants do not really open until 9am local time.

We skipped breakfast onboard and grabbed coffee from Cafe Latte-Tudes.   

Getting of Brilliance of the Seas was a breeze, with no wait at all.  

We caught a cab and headed to downtown San Miguel for some drinking and eating.

We arrived downtown right around 9am, and a lot of the spots had not opened up yet so we started off our downtown adventure at a bar near the plaza area of San Miguel.

After one drink, we headed over to Casa Cuzamil, which is a bar and restaurant that serves breakfast, cocktails and even some food.   I had visited Casa Cuzamil on a previous cruise to Cozumel, but wanted a place with breakfast and lunch, as well as alcoholic drinks.

The best part of Casa Cuzamil is the fact theiy have a rooftop bar with lots of shade, a great breeze and even a hammock.

We spent probably more time there than we originally intended but it was so darn relaxing and cool on that roof that we hung out there for quite a bit.  Heck, I would not have minded spending a few more hours there.

After plenty of drinks and some light eats, we took a quick walk to my favorite spot to eat in Cozumel, Comida Caseras Tonita.

I have been here a number of times and in my estimation it is the best example of authentic Mecxican food at a reasonable price. Today's lunch did not disappoint.

We made a pit stop on our way back to the ship at La Mega supermarket for some souvenirs and food for home.

Back on the ship, it was time to cool down in the Solarium Pool.

After a refreshing afternoon in the pool, it was time for a great sailaway from Cozumel and getting ready for dinner.

We booked Izumi for dinner and it was surprisingly very crowded. By the time we left, there were no tables left open.

After dinner we headed down to the Pub for another great set of music.

Stray Observations

  • Bubba Gump Shrimp has been added to the Cozumel port stop area.
  • Overall, Brilliance is immaculately well-kept.  Ship is clean, well-maintained and not showing any signs of aging.
  • Here are the water slide hours
  • I have been fairly impressed with the ship's internet.  It is not as fast as some of the other ships in the fleet, but it has been quite responsive and I have generally not run into extremely long load times or disappearing internet signal.  

Tomorrow is our last day, and it is a sea day. 

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

By: Matt Hochberg

The second day of any cruise is my favorite day of the sailing because it is the first full day onboard and it is usually the sort of day you think about all the time in the days, months and years leading up to your cruise vacation,  Embarkation day is wonderful because it is the start of your cruise, but there is so much going on.  When day two is a sea day, it is usually a day full of fun and activities that really sinks in that “I’m on a cruise!” mentality.

We woke up earlier than I expected (PSA: be sure to turn off your daily alarms on your phone before going on a cruise), but took things easy as we rolled out of bed.

For breakfast, we decided to take advantage of our suite benefits and head to Chops Grille.  Each morning, Chops offers a breakfast for gold SeaPass card guests that is a fantastic alternative to the main dining room.

I wanted to stay on the lighter side of things and went with smoked salmon on a bagel, while my wife went with french toast. My salmon was excellent!

After breakfast, we headed to the Schooner Bar for a round of morning trivia. 

Considering our team consisted of just me and my wife, we did pretty darn well, scoring 12 our 20.  I could not remember that Fleming discovered penicillin and struck out on the trick question if giraffes have more bones in their neck than humans (same amount of bones, giraffe neck bones are just bigger).

After being denied a trivia championship, we took a walk around the promenade deck on deck 5.  Today was a wonderful sea day, with no waves in the ocean, no motion to be felt and nothing but sun and a few passing clouds.

We made our way to the helipad on the front of the ship, which is a great little hidden secret about Brilliance of the Seas.  It is usually open throughout the day, and a great spot to enjoy the view.

At 11am was the suite guests reception in the King & Country Pub.  This was a thank you event for suite guests that included a visit by the ship’s Captain, as well as plenty of complimentary alcohol and quick bites to eat.

Since we have the Ultimate Dining Package, lunch at a specialty restaurant is included in our package benefits so we headed up to Izumi.

Izumi is priced a la carte, so you get a per-person stipend.  Our waiter told us we would have a $35 limit with the package, and was quite creative in the math to make our purchases work.

We ate with a few friends from, so we got to see quite a few dishes.

I started off with a miso soup and poke tuna taco.

One of our friends had the tuna wasabi, and I had instant sushi envy.

For our main course, I went with a sashimi combination plate and my wife chose the hot rocks with steak.

One of our dining colleagues chose the spicy ramen soup with pork.  He said it was a lot of food (nearly overwhelming).

Feeling very full from our lunch, I really wanted to relax by the pool.  We got changed in our room and then headed down to the Solarium.

As you might expect, the Solarium was crowded, but after two to three laps, we managed to grab two lounger chairs.

It was a great afternoon of pool time, drinks and even a coveted nap.

Around 4pm, it was time to head back to the room and get ready for our evening activities. 

After getting ready for the evening, we grabbed some pre-dinner drinks and then headed to the the theater to catch the Broadwway tribute show.

We have seen this show before, but it was a great performance of favorite showtunes across a variety of Broadway shows.

Dinner tonight took us to Chops Grille, which was packed for formal night.

The food was great, although our service was a bit slow. Nonetheless, it was a great meal.

After dinner we went to the most crowded Pub I can recall being at in recent memory.   It was great to have a ton of energy with every song.

Stray Observations.

  • The main pool was back in service all day today.
  • There is a crew of contractors working to upgrade the WiFi infrastructure on the ship.  I spoke briefly to them, and they indicated that the upgrade was more about better WiFi coverage rather than faster speeds.
  • The guests in this stateroom were quite creative with their stateroom door decorations.
  • In terms of maximizing my drink package benefits, so far I have been succesful in "breaking even" on my investment. Two drinks between breakfast and the afternoon, two drinks at dinner and two drinks after dinner, combined with a coffee or two and bottles of water and the drink package math makes a lot of sense.
  • It seems to be hit or miss when it comes to wait staff to take drink orders on Brilliance. Just one waiter came by in the afternoon to take our drink orders inthe Solarium and the Pub waiters tend to stay behind the bar. Meanwhile the Schooner Bar has waiters roaming all over the place.
  • Chops had the red velvet cake on the dessert menu
  • Our stateroom attendant really went to to town with our anniversary decorations tonight.

Tomorrow is our only port of call, and it will take us to Cozumel, Mexico.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Tampa

By: Matt Hochberg

Our Brilliance of the Seas cruise is here! No matter which Royal Caribbean sailing we happen to book, I always get super excited for the start of the vacation and this is no exception.

Living in the Orlando, Florida area, we opted to drive to the Port of Tampa in the morning.  My in-laws came over to take care of the children while we were away, and we hit the road right at 9:15am.

We reached Tampa at about 10:15, although had to make a pit stop to pick up a forgotten toiletry item.  We arrived at Port of Tampa in Terminal 6 at 10:45am.  We valet parked the car ($80 total cost) and went through the check-in procedure.  To my amazement, boarding had already begun!

Onboard Brilliance of the Seas, it felt so gratifying to be back on Brilliance again.  There was a bit of line at the Centrum elevator area, so we walked up one deck to deck 5 and then walked forward through the Centrum Shops.  The forward elevator banks were not busy at all, so we headed straight up to the pool deck.

We started off our cruise with some drinks at the Solarium Bar.  We have the Deluxe Beverage Package on this cruise, so expect a trend of drink photos coming you way.

The Windjammer was listed to open at 11:30am but it was open when we walked by at 11:15 or so.  My cruise tradition of lunch at the Windjammer continues!

After lunch, we decided to relax in the Solarium until our staterooms were ready at 1pm.

We are staying in a Grand Suite on Deck 10 and it is a great size for just the two of us. In fact, it is a lot of space and I was quite happy with our decision once we stepped foot inside.

A pleasant surprise in our room was our travel agent surprised us with an anniversary decoration package.  

There was also a surprise gift from Crown and Anchor Society as well.

In the afternoon we decided to hang out by the Solarium Bar, primarily since it was much cooler temperature-wise in there compared to the main pool.  

Speaking of the main pool, the entire day the main pool was closed for maintenance. Not sure what was going on, but they were working on it much of the time.

Muster drill seemed a bit earlier at 3:15pm, with sailaway immediately following at 4pm.  It was a glorious day weather wise, but also quite warm if you stood in the sun. 

As afternoon turned to evening, we headed down to the King & Country Pub to enjoy some live music from the pub singer.  Due to the football games later tonight, the pub singer was on early.

A little after 6pm, we headed back outside to enjoy one of the real highlights of sailing from Tampa which is going underneath the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

We walked around Brilliance to check out more of the venues.  The nice thing about Brilliance of the Seas is despite her size, there are lots of great venues to enjoy and it seems like there is something happening.

Dinner tonight took us to Giovanni's Table.

I noticed there was a serving of roasted garlic and olives that came with the bread, which was new to me.

For my entrees, I chose the eggplant parmigiana and the branzino fish.

Both were good choices, but I have to give the edge to the eggplant parm.  In fact, on the "old" Giovanni's Table menu the eggplant parm is an appetizer, whereas here it is an entree.

Stray Observations

  • The WiFi login screen seems to be an updated user interface.  A bit more modern in its look.
  • The new Royal Caribbean app is available on Brilliance, although its functionality is mostly limited to being able to browse the Cruise Compass.
  • Here is a look at the Concierge Lounge, which is quite a bit larger than I was expecting.

  • Darts are available to play in the Pub. I am not very good at darts.

Tomorrow is a sea day and a day full of plenty of fun....and cocktails.

Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society wants your vote for which artwork to put in the Diamond Lounge on Symphony of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society is inviting cruisers to vote on their favorite photograph to display in the Diamond Lounge on Symphony of the Seas.

Cruisers can log onto Facebook to vote among the nine entries on the Crown and Anchor Society Facebook page.

Shore excursions to St. Maarten on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 269 is available for downloading, where Matt shares excursion ideas for cruises that visit St. Maarten.

If you sail on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, very likely you will visit St. Maarten.  This week, we look at what to expect when you disembark and some of the popular shore excursion ideas to consider.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 269. 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!