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Behind-the-scenes look at Harmony of the Seas' entertainment on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
23 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 173 is available for downloading, where we offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how Royal Caribbean created the amazing entertainment on Harmony of the Seas.

In this week's episode, Matt sits down with Royal Caribbean Managing Producer Alex Marchant to discuss how Royal Caribbean brought the various shows on Harmony of the Seas to fruition, from concept to constuming to curtains up.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 173. 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!

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Preamble

In:
22 Nov 2016
By: 
Billy Hirsch

We’re kicking off a new live blog this week on board Independence of the Seas and I promise that at least one of us is going to have a ton of fun (hint - it’s me, I’m the one going on a cruise).  My name is Bill and you may recognize me from my site www.CruiseHabit.com, past RoyaCaribbeanBlog.com group cruises, episode 146 of the RoyalCaribbeanBlog Podcast, or as an extra in Any Given Sunday.  This Thursday, Thanksgiving in the US, I’ll be embarking on a four night sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.

Why This Sailing

Last year Matt enjoyed Brilliance of the Seas over Thanksgiving, and when the choice is between coordinating multiple family gatherings while suppressing remarks like, “Pilgrims didn’t have buckles on their hats!” and taking a cruise, it seemed clear.  Further, cruising over Thanksgiving means that my spouse Larissa, nor I have to take use vacation time.  A huge plus when you’re trying to pack in as many cruises as possible.  

We looked at several sailings over the holiday, but ultimately the Independence was the only ship leaving out of Port Everglades (only 30 minutes from our home) on Thursday, and returning Monday morning, just in time for us to head back to work. Further, and a bit to my surprise, the price was right.  Usually I expect to pay a premium for holiday sailings, but it seems Thanksgiving may be the exception.  Lastly, we already enjoyed Freedom of the Seas on the September group cruise, and sailing her sister ship gives us the opportunity to check out her new broadway feature, Grease.

Our Plans

I often emphasize that some cruises are about exploring new places while others are about the shipboard experience.  For us, this sailing is about doing a lot of nothing.  With two full sea days to relax, and a day in Cozumel, one of our favorite ports, this will be a nice opportunity to just enjoy being away.

While in Cozumel we’ll enjoy our normal routine of a long walk through the city, just a block or two back from the touristy areas.  Here we can enjoy the pleasant locals, find a nice place for a cheap meal, and maybe head to the grocery store to see what we can find (those who follow my adventures on social media know I fell in love with Chedraui Selecto in Cancun a few weeks ago).  If we feel ambitious, we might even spend a few minutes exchanging for a different size a dress Larissa bought back in September.  You may have even seen her purchase it on Periscope (check out the 10 minute mark at https://www.periscope.tv/CruiseHabit/1DXxyLrQOoYJM?).

On board we have a few items we’ll be researching (have a request, reach out to me on Twitter and I’ll see what we can do), there will be lots of over-indulgence, Grease, and by total accident, we’ll spend some time with friends that we found out are staying in the stateroom next door.  I’ll also be keeping an eye out to identify differences between our recent sailing on Indy’s sister ship, Freedom of the Seas, and looking for anything special Royal Caribbean might be doing for the Thanksgiving holiday.  If I had to guess where I’ll be spending most of my time, I’d say the Solarium and the Schooner bar.

What’s Next

First, be sure you follow me on social media.  On Twitter and Periscope I’m @CruiseHabit, and you can bet I’ll be Periscoping quite a bit.  On Thursday morning we’ll be arriving to the port at around 1000 EST.  Be sure to follow along here for all of my live blogs.  

Remember, you have to read them all to find out just how much cake and scotch I can handle before my daily reviews become nothing but crooked pictures of food and incoherent ramblings.

Royal Caribbean Cyber Monday Super Sale will offer up to $300 spending money onboard

In:
22 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is getting into the holiday buying spirit, with a three day "Cyber Monday Super Sale" that will offer quite a bit of onboard credit on top of the cruise line's current promotion.

The Cyber Monday deal will be valid on new Royal Caribbean cruises booked between November 26-28, 2016 for cruises on or after Dec. 25, 2016 (excluding China departures). The deal includes:

  • 50% Reduced Deposits
  • Up to $300 Onboard Credit per stateroom:
    • 5 Nights or Less:
      • $50 Onboard Credit for an Interior/Oceanview Stateroom 
      • $75 Onboard Credit for a Balcony Stateroom 
      • $100 Onboard Credit for a Deluxe Stateroom
    • 6 Nights or More:
      • $75 Onboard Credit for an Interior/Oceanview Stateroom 
      • $150 Onboard Credit for a Balcony Stateroom 
      • $300 Onboard Credit for a Deluxe Stateroom 

This great offer can be combined with Royal Caribbean’s November offer featuring BOGO 50% off with 25% savings for 3rd and 4th guests plus up to $100 Onboard Credit per stateroom.

  • 5 Nights or Less:
    • $25 Onboard Credit for an Interior/Oceanview Stateroom 
    • $50 Onboard Credit for a Balcony/Deluxe Stateroom 
  • 6 Nights or More:
    • $50 Onboard Credit for an Interior/Oceanview Stateroom 
    • $100 Onboard Credit for a Balcony/Deluxe Stateroom 

10 free activities on Harmony of the Seas

In:
21 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has packed Harmony of the Seas with a vast array of activities and things to do, including plenty of entertainment that is included with your cruise fare. Certainly there are lots of optional dining, gaming and indulgent add-ons that come with an additional cost, but if you want to keep your onboard spending account low(er), then we have a list of our favorite complimentary things to do onboard.

We picked the ten complimentary activities that we really enjoyed, but there is plenty more provided on Royal Caribbean's head-turning ship. Without further adieu, here is our top ten favorite free activities on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas.

1. Grease

Broadway shows have a reputation of being expensive, but Royal Caribbean has included this all-time favorite Broadway show in the cost of your Harmony of the Seas cruise fare.

Grease is the full Broadway production, and features a soundtrack of crowd favorites such as “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” “Born to Hand-Jive,” “Beauty School Dropout” and more.

2. Children's programming

Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean program has won many awards over the years for providing the very best supervised kids programming at sea. On Harmony of the Seas, there is one of the largest Adventure Ocean spaces to date on any Royal Caribbean ship.

Kids are a big part of the cruise experience on Harmony of the Seas, and parents can rest assured that their children are having a fun time in a supervised environment, with plenty going on.

Kids will love the array of fun activities onboard and parents will enjoy some time apart from the kiddos!

3. FlowRider

Onboard Harmony of the Seas, you will find two FlowRider surf simulators on the aft of the ship, where you can try your hand at stand-up surfing or boogie boarding.

The FlowRider has become an incredibly popular activity on Royal Caribbean ships, both to experience as a participant or as a spectator. The FlowRider is a complimentary activity, where you simply need to line up and wait your turn to ride. In addition, Royal Caribbean offers private and group lessons for a nominal fee, if you feel the need to learn quicker.

4. Zip lining

Royal Caribbean offers passengers the opportunity to zip line 9 decks above the ground, stretching 82 feet from end to end.

Passengers must be at least 52" tall to participate and weigh a maximum of 275 pound, also must at least weigh 75 pounds.

The zip line is free and guests must sign a waiver.

5. AquaTheater shows

The AquaTheater on Harmony of the Seas is the distinct high diving, acrobatic performance space introduced by Royal Caribbean with the Oasis class of ships.  It features two 10-meter high platforms and the hydraulic-floored pool, the largest and deepest freshwater pool at sea, below serves as podiums for high-diving, hair-raising aerobatics that AquaTheater audiences have come to love.

There are two signature complimentary shows performed in the AquaTheater, The Fine Line and Hideaway Heist.  

The Fine Line is all about high-flying feats, mind blowing stunts and physically demanding acrobatics brought to life by the world’s best extreme-sport athletes.

Hideaway Heist is an action packed aqua show that combines amazing wows and some laughs.

6. Water slides

If you had to list the most exciting new features coming to Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, the new water slides have to be near the top of that list. Harmony of the Seas is the first Oasis class ship to have water slides and are included in your cruise fare.

There are three slides, two racer slides and a champagne bowl slide.

The slides descend three decks through a series of twists and turns over the ship’s tree-lined Central Park neighborhood 10 decks below.

7. Ultimate Abyss

Speaking of slides, the thrill experience on Harmony of the Seas is the Ultimate Abyss, which is the tallest slide at sea.

The Ultimate Abyss is more than 150 feet above sea level and offers side-by-side slides that send guests down 10 decks at a rate of 9 miles per hour. Launching onto the ride from a glass platform, guests can take one last look at the Boardwalk 10 decks below before climbing onto a customized mat and taking the plunge into the depths of the daunting slides.

There is no cost to ride the Ultimate Abyss, which means plenty of time to scream down the slide, over and over again.

8. 1887

Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for producing some truly wonderful ice skating shows on its ships, and Harmony of the Seas has the best ice skating show we have seen on any Royal Caribbean ship, 1887: A Journey in Time.

1887 is a brand new show by Royal Caribbean Productions that is about love and adventure and is best described as a, "steampunk styled ice show."

There is no cost to see 1887, although we do recommend reserving a spot for the show via the complimentary reservation system in Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner.

9. Aqua park

For kids, Royal Caribbean has completely reimagined its pool deck offerings that are intended for the younger crowd.  On Harmony of the Seas, there is a brand new "aquatic adventure park" known as Splashaway Bay.

Splashway Bay has plenty of splashing, with fountains, buckets, sprays and even slides for kids to enjoy to their heart's content.  Splashaway Bay was built to be a focal point of the pool area, and offer yet another improvement on what the cruise line has been known for in the past.

Like all the pool deck fun, Splashaway Bay has no cost to use, and is certain to be a very popular spot with your kids.

10. A ride on the carousel

In the Boardwalk neighborhood, guests young and old can enjoy a ride on a classic carousel that is sure to bring a smile to anyone's face. The carousel on Harmony of the Seas is hand-crafted and especially designed by Carousel Works for Royal Caribbean and is one-of-a-kind.

Inspired by turn-of-the-century carousels that were found in the northeastern United States, Harmony of the Seas' carousel is a classic attraction that is as beautiful in design as it is enjoyable to ride.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 20, 2016

In:
20 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! Temperartures may be dropping, but there is plenty of Royal Caribbean news to share.  This is your weekly summary of all the Royal Caribbean news from this past week, perfectly fitted for your consumption.

Harmony of the Seas is still dominating the news cycles this week, and Royal Caribbean announced one of its signature restaurants is getting a brand new menu.

150 Central Park on all Oasis class ships is getting a new multi-course menu, which highlights artisinal ingredients.

The new menu is aimed at encouraging guests to return again and again to experience something new each time. Selections include lobster gnocchi with carrot butter sauce, herb salad or Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart with salted caramel, spiced pecans, cranberry chutney and chantilly cream.

Set in the Central Park neighborhood, 150 Central Park has a $45 cover charge, and includes from a variety of appetizers, entrées and dessert including a tableside cheese cart. 150 Central Park is the creation of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Podcast

The 172nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, which features a review of Matt's recent cruises on Harmony of the Seas.

In this episode, Matt returns from two quick Harmony of the Seas sailings and shares his thoughts on how this brand new ship stacks up, and what resonated with him during his time onboard.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Onboard has 30 tips you must know before sailing on Harmony of the Seas.

Cruise Critic has 6 Royal Caribbean cruise hacks you need in your life.

OpenJaw wrote about their experiences on Harmony of the Seas.

ShermansCruise has a list of 10 things they love about Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean has a 360 degree view of Harmony of the Seas inaugural departure from the United States.

Five odd facts about Royal Caribbean that you might not have known

In:
19 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is a cruise line rich with stories and fun facts that have accumulated over the years.  As students of its history, we decided to share five interesting facts you might not have known about Royal Caribbean. 

1. Royal Caribbean owns a trademark on "of the Seas"

Royal Caribbean owns trademarks on quite a number of phrases and logos, but you might not have known that it owns the trademark on "of the Seas".

All of its cruise ships currently follow a naming pattern where the ship's name is followed by the phrase, "of the seas."  Oasis of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, etc. Interestingly, Royal Caribbean registered in November 2014 the phrase, "of the Seas" to presumably guard against any other company trying to hone in on that pattern.

2. Royal Caribbean's headquarters looks like its logo

Royal Caribbean's corporate offices and headquarters are located in Miami, Florida, and if viewed from the sky, the building is actually designed to look like the Crown and Anchor logo.

The cruise line's headquarters is cleverly designed as a three dimensional version of its Crown and Anchor Logo.

3. Vision of the Seas was not the first Vision class ship

Usually, the first ship of its class is also the namesake of that class.  Oasis of the Seas is the first ship in the Oasis class, Freedom of the Seas is the first Freedom class ship and Quantum of the Seas is the first Quantum class ship.  The Vision class ships are actually, the opposite of that.

Vision of the Seas was the last Vision class ship built in its original grouping. Part of the reason is technically speaking, the Vision class consists of three pairs of sister ships and is not a "class" of ships like other Royal Caribbean groupings.

4. 3 ships have been cut in half

Did you know that three Royal Caribbean ships were actually cut in half at one point?  In an effort to add more options and activities onboard, Royal Caribbean cut three of its ships in half and then added a new section between, and welded them all together.

The three ships are

  • Song of Norway
  • Nordic Prince
  • Enchantment of the Seas

The practice fell out of favor, because it is quite an expensive process.

5. Enchantment of the Seas was supposed to get a "hinge" put onto the bow

Back in 2004, Royal Caribbean announced plans to have Enchantment of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas fitted with a hinged bow, like many European ferries have, to allow the ship to pass through the Panama Canal.

The plan was for Enchantment's bow to be hinged so it can fold up during Panama Canal transits.

Obviously this never happened, primarily because Royal Caribbean had no plans for Enchantment of the Seas to actually pass through the Panama Canal, and the hinge project was put on hold.

Friday Photos

In:
18 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Photos, where we showcase our readers favorite Royal Caribbean photos.  If we all cannot be on a Royal Caribbean cruise at the moment, then the next best thing is to look at photos of a cruise longingly as a means of getting a "cruise fix."

If you want to submit your photos for a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us via this form.

We begin this week with comparing the size of Allure of the Seas to Empress of the Seas in a photo by David.  Quite the contrast!

Heidi shared this photo her 4 year old son, Miki, waiting for his first (but not last) cruise to the Caribbean on Oasis of the Seas.  Great ship to start a lifetime of cruising fun on!

Check out this photo that Gary Brown sent us of the three Oasis class ships meeting, as seen from his airplane as it was flying into Fort Lauderdale.  What an amazing vantage point!

Renato Rossini shared this photo from the second cruise on Oasis of the Seas through the Eastern Caribbean.  Beautiful shot!

Next is a photo of Susan Crossley in front of a jet ski in Labadee, doing her best anthropomorphic lizard impersonation.

This photo by Ricardo Chevalier combines two of my favorite things: sunsets and Harmony of the Seas!

We round out this week's batch of photos with a shot of Harmony of the Seas by David Donnelly.  Another sunset photo is a great way to end this week's post!

That wraps up this week's edition of Friday Photos. If you want your Royal Caribbean photo featured here, use this form to send them in!

Royal Caribbean introduces new multi-course menu at 150 Central Park restaurant

In:
17 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has introduced a new menu highlighting artisanal ingredients at 150 Central Park onboard Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

Highlights include:

  • A straightforward multi-course which allows the guest to explore the restaurant on multiple visits and try something new each time.  Selections include lobster gnocchi with carrot butter sauce, herb salad or Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart with salted caramel, spiced pecans, cranberry chutney and chantilly cream.
  • A world-class cheese cart, tuna tartare or an 18-ounce tenderloin prepared tableside.
  • Chef Schwartz along with Michael’s Genuine sommelier Eric Larkee has crafted a dynamic wine program that makes for an upscale and intimate gastronomic experience

Set in the Central Park neighborhood, 150 Central Park has a $45 cover charge, and includes from a variety of appetizers, entrées and dessert including a tableside cheese cart. 150 Central Park is the creation of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz.

Top water slide insider tips on Harmony of the Seas

In:
17 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Families going on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas are certain to spend a lot of time at the pool deck and very likely taking multiple rides down the water slides.

Dubbed, "The Perfect Storm", these three water slides provide plenty of fun and thrills during any Harmony of the Seas cruise. If you want to ensure you get as many rides in and go as fast as possible, follow these tips for getting the most out of the Harmony of the Seas water slides.

1. Ride when the lines are the shortest

Waiting in line is never fun, but the popularity of the Harmony of the Seas water slides may leave much choice.  It is important to note that the shortest lines for the water slides will occur at two times of the day.

Check the Cruise Compass for exact times of operation, but try to ride the water slides in the morning when they first open and/or in the evening when many guests are having dinner.

Both of these times will result in much shorter lines.  The late-morning and afternoon are the peak times for the water slides, so expect a longer wait if you want to ride during those times.

2. The secret to going fast(er)

If you have a need for speed, the key is to wear as little clothing as possible.

The more clothing you wear, the more friction between you and the slide.  Rash guards, t-shirts and "ornate" bathing suits are all the kind of swim wear that will slow you down.

Fashion opinions aside, Speedo swimsuits for men are the ideal bathing suit for attaining top speed on Harmony's slides.

3. Cross your legs and arms

Speaking of going fast, regardless of what you wear on the slide, be sure to cross your arms and and legs to get maximum velocity.

The physics of the slide favor those that reduce their body's drag against the slide, and the crossing one's legs and arms will ensure the best overall experience from start to finish.

4. Try all 3 water slides

There are three water slides on Harmony of the Seas, and it is absolutely worth your time to try all three.

There are two racer slides and a champagne bowl slide.  Each slide differs from the others, so be sure to try them all.  

5. Blue racer slide seems faster

Speaking of trying them all, between the two racer slides, many guests we spoke to reported the blue slide is a bit faster ride down than the yellow slide.  

It is hard to quantify in written form, but see if you agree about the blue versus yellow slide's intensity.

Do you have a tip for anyone riding the Harmony of the Seas water slides? Share them in the comments below!

Spotted: Coca-Cola souvenir cups designed for Harmony of the Seas

In:
17 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Guests sailing on Harmony of the Seas can expect to find one of two new designs for the souvenir Coca-Cola cups that come with Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages.

To celebrate Harmony of the Seas' inaugural year, there are two new cup designs guests can possibly receive while on Harmony of the Seas.

The first design has a Boardwalk motif, with the carousel being the primary aspect of the design.

The other cup design is based around the Ultimate Abyss slide.

Both cups make mention of the 2016 inaugural season for Harmony of the Seas.

These souvenir cups are compatible with the self-serve Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which are located around the ship. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the pour function in the machine.

Do you like the design of these souvenir Coca-Cola cups? Tell us in the comments below!