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Royal Caribbean offering kids sail free deal this week

25 Apr 2022
Matt Hochberg

The Kids Sail Free offer is back.

Boy after riding water slide on Mariner

Royal Caribbean has brought back the Kids Sail Free offer for the last week of April, where children under the age of 12 booked in the same cabin as two adults will qualify for free cruise fare.

Families may find extra savings on a new cruise booked in which kids stay in the same cabin.

This is the second time Royal Caribbean has brought back Kids Sail Free since the pandemic, with the previous sale about a month ago.


In addition to Kids sail Free, there's also up to $550 off sailings departing May 27, 2022 or after, 30% off every guest, and even bonus bonus onboard credit when redeeming a future cruise credit.

Deal details

Kids Sail Free applies to new bookings made between April 25 – May 2, 2022 on sailings departing on or after June 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023, providing free cruise fare for third guests and higher who are 12 years old and younger as of Offer Cruise departure date on sailings 3 nights or longer booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad- occupancy stateroom.

Kids Sail Free excludes Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022, Holiday sailings departing December 21, 2022 – January 6, 2023, Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023, and Holy Week/Easter sailings departing April 1, 2023 – April 11, 2023.

Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests. 

Up to $550 off applies to new bookings made between April 25 – 30, 2022 on sailings departing on or after May 25, 2022, and provides instant savings of up to $550 USD per stateroom.

Savings amount varies by stateroom category booked and sailing length as follows:

  • 5 nights or less, $25 USD savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 USD for Balconies, and $150 USD for Suites
  • 6 nights or longer, $50 USD savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 USD for Balconies, and $550 USD for Suites

Up to $550 off is combinable with 30% Off Every Guest, FCC Kicker, and Kids Sail Free as well as with promotional OBCs, Next Cruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Shareholder Benefits, but not combinable with Ultimate World Cruise and Crown and Anchor discounts. Resident rates apply to select states on select sailings; valid state of residence must be provided at time of booking. 

Will I save money with this offer?

They say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and similarly, how lucrative a deal is depends on the person trying to book it.

The biggest drawback of any Kids Sail Free offer are the blackout dates, which greatly hinder many families ability to book a cruise that qualifies for the offer.

If you can find a sailing date that isn't blacked out, kids sail free offers can absolutely save money, especially for higher category rooms. Suites, in particular, offer big savings with kids sail free.

Of course, Kids Sail Free deal requires the kids to be in the same stateroom as the parents, so you cannot split across multiple rooms and use the offer.

Using a good travel agent, you can easily compare and contrast prices between sailings.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

25 Apr 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today is the first day of my Western Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas, and I’m live blogging this week to showcase all that this Oasis Class cruise ship has to offer. This is a 4-night cruise with two sea days and one port day in Costa Maya, Mexico.

Oasis of the Seas marks my first time sailing out of Miami and my first cruise as a Diamond member in the Crown & Anchor Society!

While I don’t have any set plans for the week, I’m hoping to experience the activities and venues that make Oasis of the Seas unique, such as Portside BBQ and CATS the Musical.


I arrived in Miami late last night and spent the night at the Holiday Inn & Suites Miami Airport East. Located just across the street from the airport, the Holiday Inn was convenient, clean, and affordable. While not the most exciting location in Miami, it worked well for a 10PM arrival.

The hotel offered a shuttle to the cruise terminal, but I opted to take a Lyft, which came out to be around $22. Upon arrival at the terminal, I was pleased to see relatively few lines. The check-in procedure took around 20 minutes in total.

I did not feel like going to the Windjammer, which was likely packed with people, so I enjoyed a quick lunch at El Loco Fresh while waiting for my cabin to be ready.

Staterooms were ready at 1PM, and I am staying in an inside cabin for this sailing. While the decor looks a bit dated when compared to my cruise last month on Wonder of the Seas, I was pleased to find the room comfortable and quite spacious.

Thermal spa

First up on my agenda today was to use my first Diamond drink voucher. Up until this point, most of the extra money I spent on cruises had been on drinks, and I never enjoyed paying $15 for one cocktail. Therefore, to celebrate achieving Diamond status, I enjoyed my first complimentary drink: a mango banana smoothie from Vitality Cafe.

I had quite a bit of onboard credit, so I decided to try out something new for this cruise: a thermal suite pass at the Vitality Spa. I booked the 4-day pass at the spa’s front desk for $59 (plus 18% gratuity).

The thermal spa, located on Oasis and Quantum Class ships, is a thermal suite featuring hot stone loungers, steam chambers, a dry heat chamber, and rainforest showers. Vitality Spa sells passes that last the entire cruise and there is no limit on how many times you can enjoy the thermal spa, which is open from 8AM to 8:30PM.

After purchasing my pass, I changed into a bathing suite and tested out the thermal spa. I tried all three sauna rooms: the steam room, aromatic steam room, and dry heat chamber. All were fantastic, but my favorite was the aromatic steam room.

I also tested out the rainforest shower, which has four options: rainforest, thunderstorm, waterfall, and ice fog. Each shower type disperses water differently, from the mist of the ice fog shower to the rapid stream of a waterfall.

I spent most of my time in the thermal spa on the hot stone lounger wondering why it took me so long to purchase a thermal spa pass!

Needless to say, I will likely be spending a lot of my time in the thermal spa on this cruise. In fact, laying in the hot stone lounger with my laptop might become my new blogging office…

Dinner and sailaway

I spent the rest of the afternoon onboard relaxing, first on the pool deck and later in my stateroom.

Dinner tonight was at the Windjammer. I am not a huge fan of the Windjammer location on Oasis Class ships, as the area usually feels cramped. I think this is one of the biggest improvements made on Wonder of the Seas, which has the biggest Windjammer in the fleet.

Despite the crowds, though, the Indian curry I had at the Windjammer tonight may have been the best I’ve ever tried on a Royal Caribbean cruise! My dessert did not disappoint either.

As I started cruising last August, this is my first cruise with a self-service buffet. While it is nice being able to pick exactly what you want from the buffet, I definitely prefer the crew serving guests. The stations quickly got messy and it seemed a lot slower than what I was used to.

Sailaway was delayed an hour to 6:30 PM. As this was right in the middle of dinnertime, there were virtually no crowds outside for sailaway and I was able to grab a great spot on the back of the sports deck!

Sailing out of Miami was gorgeous, with the sunset creating a silhouette of downtown and giving the perfect glow to Miami Beach. I had heard great things about sailing out of Miami, and this was certainly one of the most beautiful sailaways I’ve seen yet.

Read moreThe best spot for sailaway on every Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Evening activities

I reserved a spot to see Aqua80s in the AquaTheater tonight. I had heard great things about this AquaTheater show, so excitement was high. Originally I was going to book the show on day 3, but as the AquaTheater performances can often be canceled due to weather conditions, I figured I should try it on the first day just in case.

Plus, even though this is my third cruise on an Oasis Class ship, I had yet to see a full AquaTheater show. I sailed on Harmony of the Seas during the peak of omicron and Wonder of the Seas when the AquaTheater show was not fully ready, so I was definitely eager to see a full AquaTheater performance.

I ended up really enjoying the show, which had a high-energy and upbeat atmosphere. The performers put full effort into the show with diving, slacklining, acrobatics, dancing, and aerialists, and it was a lot of fun to watch.

I called it a night after the AquaTheater show to get well rested for a fun-filled sea day tomorrow while on our way to Mexico.

Stray observations

Because I started cruising right when the industry restarted after the coronavirus shutdown, my experience of cruises has been quite different from what was once considered “normal”. Thus, one thing that confuses me are the amount of chairs and lounging areas in the cruise terminals. Did people sit in these at one point waiting to board the ship? I cannot think of a time when you would ever need to sit in these waiting areas now with the staggered boarding times!

The plants in Central Park seem bigger on Oasis compared to what I saw on Harmony and Wonder. I feel like I am in a park more on this ship than the others.

I’m surprised there are no chairs of any kind on the back of the sports deck by the Ultimate Abyss (outside of the seating at Wipe Out Bar).

I had a 12PM arrival time at the terminal, but no one was checking times when I arrived.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 24, 2022

24 Apr 2022
Matt Hochberg

Did you miss any of this week's Royal Caribbean news? No worries, because we have you covered with our wrap-up of cruise news!

Royal Caribbean has dropped mask requirements in cruise ship terminals.

Terminal A in PortMiami

Following the overturning of a federal mandate for masks in transportation hubs earlier this week, Royal Caribbean announced masks would be optional in cruise terminals, unless required by local regulation.

Rival cruise line Carnival also announced a similar policy change.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 451st episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, in which Matt lists his favorite places to eat on Royal Caribbean.

Matt revisits this list to see which restaurants are his must-eats every time he sails.

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.

New RCB Video: The Royal Caribbean drink package mistake too many people are still making

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — The Royal Caribbean drink package mistake too many people are still making — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Mariner of the Seas live blog

Allie and Angie took a 4-night Mariner of the Seas cruise to see if they could get on the cheapest cruise they could find.

They also shared a daily look at what it's like on Mariner of the Seas right now, with updates from around the ship.

Not only did they share the onboard experience, but their cruise visited Freeport, Nassau, and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Odyssey of the Seas vs. Wonder of the Seas

Top 10 Odyssey of the Seas hidden secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

Which of Royal Caribbean's two newest cruise ships should you go on first?

Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas offer the latest and greatest that Royal Caribbean has to offer, but they're different classes of ships with a different set of things to do.

Check out our look at how Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas compare.

Alaska cruise guide

Alaska is one of the most beautiful places you can visit on a cruise ship, and you're going to want to know what to expect before your visit to avoid common mistakes.

Planning an Alaska cruise means considering the time of year, ports of call, shore excursions and what to pack.

Our Alaska cruise guide includes everything you'll need to know before you sail north.

Royal Caribbean confirms masks are optional in cruise terminals

23 Apr 2022
Matt Hochberg

The question of if you’ll have to wear a face mask before and after your cruise in the terminal is officially answered.  

In an update to guests, Royal Caribbean updated it’s health protocols by indicating masks are now optional while in cruise terminals. 

Following the overturning of a federal mandate for masks in transportation hubs earlier this week, the question remained if masks would be required since there wasn’t any announcements by the cruise lines initially. 

An email was sent to guests with the new policy, "Due to recent changes in mask guidance, we’ve updated our mask policy, effective immediately, for all of our sailings where we've announced protocols, excluding Singapore departures."

"In our terminals, masks are optional unless required by local regulation. Some destinations we visit may require masks."

Royal Caribbean also added that these protocols are subject to change.

Prior to Royal Caribbean making this change in policy, Port Everglades said it would defer to the cruise lines to craft a mask policy, "Our intention at Port Everglades is to allow the cruise lines to take the lead on instituting and maintaining their own safety policies in the cruise terminals and on their ships."

The announcement comes on the heels of the United States Coast Guard announcing it would not enforce mask mandates.

Similar to how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) enforced the mask mandate for air travel, the Coast Guard was responsible for doing the same for the cruise industry.

In an update to the Coast Guard's Maritime Transportation System, the armed force said that unless something changes, mask enforcement is out, "the Coast Guard will not enforce the directives requiring mask use on public transportation and in transportation hubs."

Carnival funnel

Royal Caribbean's announcement came the same day Carnival Cruise Line announced a similar change to its policy.

Carnival says masks are highly recommended during the embarkation and debarkation process. 

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Nassau, Bahamas

23 Apr 2022
Allie Hubers

It’s the final day of our 4-night Bahamas getaway cruise, which means we are sadly packing up our bags and getting ready to drive back home tomorrow.

Why can’t every week go as quickly as it does when you’re on vacation?

Today, we arrived early in the morning to Nassau, Bahamas. Angie and I were responsible today and set our alarms for a gnarly 8:30 AM to ensure we wouldn’t sleep another morning away.

I was again surprised to see the ship was already noticeably quiet, meaning most people were up earlier than we were to start their Nassau day. We didn’t have any issues with getting a seat in the Windjammer and the coffee bar was wide open - all good ways to start our morning.

We allocated 30 minutes to have breakfast and another 30 minutes to get ready for the day. Our goal was to be off the ship by 9:30 and we were successfully off the ship right around that time. 

Good Morning, Nassau

As I mentioned yesterday, we had Resort for a Day passes to the RIU Palace in Nassau. This all-inclusive resort is located on Paradise Island right next to Atlantis. It looked to be about a 10 minute drive from the port to the resort.

Our passes for the day were around $100 each and included access to the pools (including chairs and towels), unlimited alcoholic drinks and unlimited food. The pass was valid from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but Mariner’s gangway up time was 3:00 PM for all aboard.

I don’t like to play with fire when it comes to all aboard time. You won’t see me cutting it close.

During my Semester at Sea abroad program, we would be punished with ‘dock time’ if we were late to the ship. Dock time was the ultimate punishment because for every 15 minutes you were late for all aboard time, you’d lose an hour of port time at the next stop. Needless to say, it’s engrained in me to give at least 30-60 minutes of buffer time for returning to the ship.

As we walked off the ship in Nassau, we were docked next to Carnival Freedom and Disney Magic. I might be biased, but Mariner looked to be in the best shape of the 3 ships.

There was a ton of construction, apparently for a new cruise port terminal in Nassau that’s being built. We probably had a solid 10 minute walk as we zigzagged through the construction. Finally, we reached the main road outside of the current terminal, which is basically a few tents.

A lady wearing an official looking vest asked if we were going to Paradise Island and we told her we were headed to the RIU Palace. She had us join a large group of others heading to Paradise Island. I was actually fine with this - as two women traveling together, I prefer to be in a larger group just to be safe.

RIU Palace - Resort for a Day

The drive was a quick 10 minutes and I initially was very impressed with Paradise Island’s curb appeal. We walked into the RIU Palace right at 10:00 AM, as we had hoped, and waited in line to check in. The lobby was beautiful with plenty of views of the pool and ocean.

In alignment with our theme this entire cruise, it was quite windy as we walked outside to the pool area. There were 2 pools, one of which was an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. There was a swim-up bar and plenty of chairs to choose from.

The wind was a bit overwhelming when we first arrived, so we walked around the resort for a bit to see what it looked like. As you can guess, we are loyal cruisers so we haven’t really been to an all-inclusive resort before.

Angie ordered a vanilla milkshake from the snack bar inside - a wild start to our unlimited drinking! We noticed that people seemed to be enjoying the infinity pool without getting blown over, so I grabbed a drink and we snagged a spot on the corner near the infinity's edge.

The infinity pool had a gorgeous view of the ocean with some lounging chairs partially submerged in the water. The pool was super nice and the bar was blocking us from the majority of the wind. The temperature was perfect. We settled nicely into the infinity pool and had a mini photoshoot with the picturesque views.

The other pool appeared to be less protected from the wind, so we stayed comfortable in the infinity pool near the swim-up bar. The RIU Palace also has a private, direct access to the beach. The water was gorgeously blue, but the red flag and giant waves made us appreciate the infinity pool.

We also met some nice gals traveling from Las Vegas. This is one of my favorite parts of traveling - getting to meet and connect people from all over the world!

Between the views, pina coladas and new found friends, it seemed like the time really flew by.

Lunch was being served both poolside and in the buffet. Since cruising is essentially one big buffet, we opted to try the Caribbean-style buffet poolside. We tried the rice, jerk pork and jerk chicken. All of it was delicious and hit the spot.

Since we needed to return to the ship by 3:00 PM, we started to pack up around 1:30 PM. We had to check-out of the resort, in which the front desk would return my ID that they held and would cut off our wristbands.

The line, unfortunately, wasn’t moving quickly as many people had now arrived to check-in to their rooms at the resort. We waited probably 15 minutes before I approached the bellhop to ask if he could arrange a taxi for us to go back to the ship.

The bellhop went behind the front desk and returned my ID while also cutting off our wristbands. I wasn’t getting too worried about the time at this point, as we had an hour to get back on the ship.

Our taxi driver promptly returned us to the port where we walked and zigzagged through the construction again.

We made it back to the ship by 2:15 PM, which was still plenty of time.

Overall, we really enjoyed our time at RIU Resort. It had a party-vibe with lots of groups and friends traveling together, perhaps for bachelor and bachelorette parties. There was a wide array of people there though, so I think people of all ages would enjoy this. The unlimited food and drink is a great perk. The infinity pool and beach access are also great amenities.

I would check to see how long you have in port and how early you can check in for your resort pass. We could check in at 10:00 AM and needed to be back on the ship by 3:00PM, which only gave us about 4 solid hours of the 8 hour pass. If our ship was in port longer, or if the resort had let us in earlier, we would have gotten more of our money’s worth.

Three Strikes on the SkyPad

Back on the ship, I made one final attempt for the SkyPad. I dressed in workout gear and put on my closed toe shoes. I even tried to yank off my wedding ring to make sure I didn’t have any jewelry. To no one’s surprise, my fingers were swollen from the heat, eating and alcohol so I was not successful at removing all my jewelry.

As I trekked up to the SkyPad, I saw the long line coming around the stairs. Filled with determination, I made my way to the line where the employee would approve my outfit. I guess my ring was no problem but Angie’s shorts were too short and my top didn’t cover enough of my arms. We discretely traded shirts so Angie could capture me doing the SkyPad.

I think the universe was laughing when I wrote the SkyPad was on my top 3 things I wanted to do for this cruise. They only had 1 trampoline in use and there were probably 12 adolescents in front of me. A storm was brewing in the distance and the employees told everyone they could stay in line but the SkyPad would close if it started to rain.

At this point, I accepted that I wasn’t meant to do the SkyPad. Most of the people in line were significantly younger than I, so I also didn’t want to take a spot from one of the kids if the line happened to magically move fast and the rain stayed away.

We made our way to the Solarium to grab a cocktail and drown my sorrows of 3 failed attempts at the SkyPad. Angie said how she hoped maybe we could grab one of the daybeds in the Solarium to watch the sail away from port.

Well, fate just wasn’t on our side again because all of the daybeds were taken. What made me super frustrated was that all 3 daybeds on one side of the Solarium were ‘taken’ but no one was using them.

Cruising is officially back because the chair hogs are back in full swing!

As we sailed away from port, Angie and I waited at least 20 minutes and no one returned to the daybeds. One of the beds simply had a beach bag on the corner so we sat on the opposite side while watching the ship sail off.

We agreed if the person came back to the bed, we would just move to another spot. After sitting on the edge for some time, we hear a voice that says “uhm, can you not sit by my stuff?”

I responded that I was sorry, but no one was using it. She grabbed a towel from the adjacent daybed (that no one was currently using either) and draped it across the entire bed to claim her territory.

Essentially, she was hogging 2 of the coveted daybeds and walked away!

Angie and I were pretty surprised that she was blatantly hogging the beds and didn’t even use the daybed after telling us not to sit ‘by’ her stuff.

I wish people could be more considerate on these packed sailings. In the full hour that we were in the Solarium, not one person laid on the daybeds that they were saving.

Jamie's Italian for Dinner

All the chair hogging got me worked up, so we went back to our cabin and got ready for dinner. We had a reservation for Jamie’s Italian tonight and we were both very excited. Our reservation wasn’t until 6:00 PM but we arrived a little early and were accommodated without problem.

The first time we ate at Jamie’s was on Spectrum of the Seas during our China sailing. We had been craving a sense of cruise normalcy during that time, so Jamie’s really hit the spot and knocked it out of the park on our first impressions. We also dined back in February at Jamie’s with our parents on Harmony of the Seas.

Angie and I die for good Italian food, so we came hungry. We started with the black truffle arancini and ultimate garlic cheese bread. Both of these were delicious. We’ve also enjoyed the meat plank before, but we skipped this time around since it was just the two of us.

For pastas, we ordered the carbonara, truffle tagliatelle and bolognese in the smaller portions. We both agreed that the truffle pasta was the winner, which was also our favorite last time.

Angie ordered the lasagne for an entree and I ordered the beef short rib. Angie’s lasagne was delightful, rich in sauce and plenty of cheesy layers. My short rib was tender and very flavorful. We opted to polish off our meals with the pavlova and epic brownie. The pavlova is always a hit and Angie hoarded it mostly to herself; I wasn’t mad though, because the brownie was also rich, fudgy and decadent.

The service was excellent again and we commented how we’ve had such fast services during all of our meals.

The two of us got talking to the table next to us - an older couple from Chicago area. We were chatting away until we realized it was nearly 7:00 PM and we had to go to the Royal Theatre for the show. The final headliner tonight was a variety show featuring the previous night’s juggler and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. It was a lovely show to end the cruise.

And yes, the family-friendly juggler comedian mentioned flatulence (as I predicted) multiple times.

We finished our night with one final drink at The Bamboo Room. Angie and I both enjoyed a mojito. I also wanted to say goodbye to our Ukranian bartender we met, as he really tugged at my heartstrings the first day.

Here we all are on this cruise, a carefree vacation, while some of the crew members have families in an active war zone. The crew work so hard while sailing on these cruise ships and they receive very little time off. Most of the time, these crew members are working to support their families back in their home countries.

With a deployed spouse myself, I empathize greatly with the sacrifices they make being away from family. I know personally how hard that is to be separated from your family and miss milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. 

I always keep this on my mind and in my heart when I finalize my gratuities on the last day. I want to recognize the crew members that really make cruising so special for us and reward those who go above and beyond to cater to our needs. 

After our last mojito and a farewell to The Bamboo Room, we came back to our stateroom and packed our bags. The saddest moment of the cruise - truly!

So that brings us to the end of our sister cruise! We had the best time sharing this experience together and capturing all the incredible (and unexpected!) moments. We still can’t believe our ship was hit by a cargo ship on the first day - nonetheless that our first day was meant to be a sea day.

Thanks for following along and hope to see you all back at sea soon!

Royal Caribbean updates: Rhapsody of the Seas drydock, Galveston terminal, & more

22 Apr 2022
Matt Hochberg

Warmer spring temperatures have also lead to Royal Caribbean news heating up, which means plenty more updates to share with you.

Rhapsody of the Seas in drydock in April 2022

Not all Royal Caribbean news is necessarily worthy of its own post, so here's a quick rundown of important changes from this week.

If you ever spot cruise news that isn't posted here, be sure to share it with me by emailing [email protected]

Rhapsody of the Seas refurbishment

Rhapsody of the Seas is currently undergoing a drydock in Brest, France at the Damen shipyard.

While the Royal Amplification process is still on hold, routine maintenance work is still happening.

Thanks to Henrik Hessleklint for providing these photos.

In the case of Rhapsody, the ship is undergoing primarily mechanical work, in addition to checks of propeller blades, thrusters, stabilizers and more. 

Rhapsody will also get a new coast of paint on its hull, along with "minor updates" to the ship's interior.

Royal Caribbean Group first quarter earnings call scheduled

Royal Caribbean Group has scheduled its earnings call with Wall Street analysts for the first week of May.

The Q1 call will be held May 5 at 10:00am, eastern to provide a business update and discuss first quarter financial results.

The call will be available on the company's investor relations website, To listen to the call by phone, please dial (833) 608-1479 in the US and Canada. International phone calls should be made to (270) 240-0549. The conference call access code is 4274546. 

Minimal damage to Mariner of the Seas

Earlier this week a cargo vessel made contact with Mariner of the Seas, but the good news is damage to the cruise ship is superficial at best.

On Wednesday, the Tropic Freedom vessel struck Mariner of the Seas while the two ships were in Freeport, Bahamas.

It appears the damage to Mariner is quite minimal, as seen by RoyalCaribbeanBlog writer Allie Hubers the next day when the ship was docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Galveston cruise terminal construction update

Another week, another update at how Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal is coming along in Galveston.

Construction is underway on the terminal 3 building that will be home to Royal Caribbean's ships, including Allure of the Seas.

This video is a better look at the topping off ceremony that was held last week.

The new terminal is scheduled to open by November 2022.

Royal Caribbean hires new government relations liaison

Royal Caribbean Group has hired Wendy McDonald to be its new VP government relations for the Caribbean.

In her new role, Ms. McDonald will be an intermediary between the Royal Caribbean Group and various leaders of Caribbean nations.

Previously McDonald was senior director, consumer communications for Cable & Wireless Communications, responsible for developing and deploying CWC's communications strategy for the Caribbean including government and stakeholder engagement and media relations.

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

22 Apr 2022
Allie Hubers

Today we arrived at the beautiful island of CocoCay, Bahamas, which is Royal Caribbean’s private island.

Back in February, we had visited Perfect Day at CocoCay for the first time in nearly 13 years. We were super impressed with how the island had been transformed into a private island oasis.

Needless to say, Angie and I were super excited to return to CocoCay. It’s such a fun stop with great music, delicious food and tropical vibes around every corner. It’s an easy going day with everything all in one convenient spot.

Late Morning

I’m embarrassed to say we had a late start to our day - to the point that we missed breakfast in the Windjammer! I must have jinxed myself yesterday because I really didn’t sleep well last night, which is unusual for me on a cruise. I was awake throughout the night and finally fell back asleep in the early morning.

I could feel the ship swaying and waves were crashing against the ship’s hull, so I was in no rush to wake up. Angie had reported that we might arrive late into port today because of the wind, so I was convinced all morning that we simply hadn’t arrived to port yet because I could feel the ship moving.

Low and behold, when we finally awoke from our pitch-black slumber, we had no idea where we were or what time it was. We turned on the TV map to confirm that we had indeed arrived in CocoCay and it was 11:00 AM. I guess the wind must have been substantial enough to make the ship continue to sway even while docked.

That’s one of the downsides on an inside cabin I suppose, we really have no concept of time or location without a window.

Everyone must have been ashore by the time we left our cabin because the ship was virtually dead as we made our way to deck 1 and onto CocoCay.

It was certainly a bit windy as we walked along the shoreline, but it was very comfortable once we reached the island. The sun started to peak out and it really was a perfect day.

Allure of the Seas was supposed to dock with us today but was unable to make it due to reported medical emergencies. Therefore, the island felt pretty empty with only our ship docked.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Since we had missed breakfast, we were very ready to grab some lunch. Snack Shack is a great spot for food, so we made our way across the island for a quick bite to eat.

Angie and I had the crispy chicken sandwich with basil mayo - it’s deliciousness reminded us both of Chick Fil A. Per recommendations, we also ordered the cheese sticks, which were equally as cheesy as they were crispy.

We polished off our meal with a funnel cake, which I have deemed an absolute must-have when visiting CocoCay. Deep fried sweet dough covered in powdered sugar. How often can you get a funnel cake these days anyway… unless you’re dragging yourself to your local state fair in the summer?! Just go for it and thank us later!

The party tunes were blasting from Oasis Lagoon, so we made our way over to the swim-up bar. This was our favorite spot when we visited in February - it’s such a fun atmosphere and everyone’s always having a good time drinking to the DJ’s remixes.

We also had it on our agenda to try out the floating tiki bar on South Beach. We weren’t entirely sure where the bar was located, so we started wandering around towards the hot air balloon (which wasn’t running today because of wind).

Eventually, we found rows of beach chairs and umbrellas on South Beach with the famous floating tiki bar off in the distance.

The water was turquoise blue and felt refreshing after walking in the sand and heat. South Beach was much quieter and felt very low key, so this would be a great place to relax if you prefer a more serene beach experience.

We did, indeed, have to swim a bit to get to the floating bar. As we hoisted ourselves up on the bar, it was pretty packed with other cruisers. We waited for a bit while the bartender left the bar and started to make a few calls.

Someone told us the bar had ran out of ice, which was bad luck timing for us. We didn’t feel like waiting for the logistics to play out regarding how exactly more ice would be transported to the floating tiki bar, so we swam back to the beach.

Since we love Oasis Lagoon so much, we went back for a few more drinks and to enjoy the DJ again. Angie opted for a Bahama mama while I tried out the watermelon margarita. It’s dangerously easy to access your Diamond + vouchers at the swim-up bar!

Drinks were flowing and the tunes were bopping as we soaked in the sun in the freshwater pool.

Back Onboard

By now, it was around 3:00 PM so we decided to return back to our ship and get ready for the evening. We could see the waterslides were running, so we thought that would be fun since we were already in our swimsuits.

Angie and I both took our turns on the waterslides, twisting and turning through the tunnels. We agreed that the slide didn’t go as fast as we were expecting. Angie said the slides on Harmony of the Seas were faster and a bit more thrilling. Perhaps the slides are meant for younger (and smaller) cruisers.  Still fun to try though!

It was nice that we didn’t have to wait in any lines - we actually saw some people going multiple times in a row. Long lines have been a recurring theme on this cruise, so it was nice to see this. This pre-departure timeframe seemed like the opportune time to try out the onboard thrills with minimal waiting required.

To my surprise, the SkyPad trampoline experience was open! I figured with the winds that it wouldn’t be open today. Drenched in both beach and pool water, I wasn’t equipped to seize the opportunity and jump in line (that was punny, eh?!). I am determined to do the SkyPad tomorrow and I’ll be angsty if it’s too windy when I try again.

Famished Tummies

Angie and I returned to our cabin for a quick change and grabbed our laptops. We were hoping to get on the internet to catch up on work emails while grabbing a snack at the Cafe Promenade.

Well, apparently everyone had the same idea because the line was wrapped around to Ben and Jerry’s again and the Internet virtually crashed simultaneously. Big bummer.

Angie had a great idea to head to the Diamond Lounge - it would probably be quieter and we could grab some hors d'oeuvres. Since it was about 45 minutes before these would be served, we sat in the lounge and caught up on our work emails.

The hors d'oeuvres were served promptly at 5:00 PM, consisting of more cheesy sticks, corn fritters and chicken wings. By this time, I was basically famished by cruising standards so the snacks were devoured.

I was a little nervous about how our dinner situation would play out again. Again, we didn’t feel like sitting with strangers so we asked the hostess if we could sit elsewhere just the two of us. He was a bit frazzled, but ended up accommodating us at an empty table of 8.

Angie and I both ordered the chicken parmesan and Mississippi mudslide pie for dessert. I started with some needed greenery by ordering Cesar salad. Angie ordered the mushroom risotto (which is funny, since she claims she doesn’t like mushrooms). This was actually and entree tonight but she requested it as an appetizer. Angie also splurged on a second dessert and tried the apple blossom. Everything was delicious!

It was probably the fastest meal we’ve ever eaten in the dining room; we were in and out within 30 minutes! Our waiters were hilarious - I wish we could have had them every night.

Our originally assigned table was around the corner and it didn’t seem to be the liveliest bunch. Cruising is certainly back if they’re sitting strangers together again!

Right after dinner, we had some RoyalCaribbeanBlog fans introduce themselves to us! This was our first time meeting blog fans in real life; it was such a special moment!

Evening Fun

After blushing in my new found stardom (joking!), we made our way to the Royal Theatre for the nightly show. Tonight’s entertainment was a dual show starting with a family-friendly comedian and followed by a juggler. We both loved the variety show and laughed many times!

If there’s one topic that’s going to come up during a family-friendly comedy show, I guarantee it will be flatulence! Mark my words, the next time you go to one of these shows, it’s not a matter of if, but when, the topic comes up.

When the show concluded, we took a spin at the casino to use our free Diamond + free spins. Last night, Angie won $20 on her free spins so she was anxious for me to use mine. As my luck would have it, I won absolutely nothing.

I forgot that smoking was back in the casino, which I really didn’t miss as one of the pandemic protocols.

We also picked out our free Diamond + photo from the gallery tonight with hopes of avoiding congestion tomorrow. We each get a free photo, so we selected the pictures that should be ready for pickup tomorrow evening. This seems to be way more sustainable than printing every single photo like Royal Caribbean used to!

Tomorrow we will be docked in Nassau on our final day. We have a resort day pass booked for the RIU Palace in Nassau - this is our first time doing a resort day pass while cruising! I just discovered our vouchers needed to be printed for tomorrow - which prompted us to panic about where we can print something onboard.

Mariner has a library located on deck 5 with computers and a printer. We were able to access my email by using the internet package login, so that worked nicely.

Royal Caribbean adds optional field to upload proof of booster in app

21 Apr 2022
Matt Hochberg

In addition to uploading a photo of your Covid-19 vaccine, Royal Caribbean has added the optional ability to upload a photo of your booster card.

Booster vaccine card

A third vaccine dose, or booster as it is commonly referred to, is not required by Royal Caribbean except in certain European countries, so the cruise line has added a new field to submit proof of a booster in those scenarios.

The new booster proof field appears to be available for most, if not all, sailings. 

Providing a vaccination record is a required field in the pre-cruise check-in guests can complete in the Royal Caribbean app, with the booster field marked as optional.

Thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader smokeybandit for noticing the new functionality has been added.

Royal Caribbean's app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

The advantage of uploading vaccine proof before the cruise

Allure of the Seas Test Cruise Live Blog - Day 1 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Whether boosters are required or not, uploading proof of Covid vaccination can expedite the check-in process in the cruise terminal.

Just as taking a selfie photo means one less thing to do in the terminal, a photo of the vaccine card allows Royal Caribbean to verify a passenger's vaccination status.

Royal Caribbean officially opens new Terminal A cruise terminal in Miami | Royal Caribbean Blog

It's acceptable not to upload a photo of your vaccine card in advance, but you will have to wait for the port agent to take a photo while in the terminal.

Guests will still need to bring their vaccine card with them, but taking the photo at home will allow the embarkation process to move just a little bit faster since the terminal staff will not have to take time to take photos of everyone's card.

Will Royal Caribbean require booster shots?

As of right now, Royal Caribbean has no plans to require a booster shot for most sailings, including cruises from the United States.

Ever since boosters became available, Royal Caribbean has been steadfast in labeling them as optional and recommended, but not required, for cruise ship passengers.

In all the health protocols released this year, Royal Caribbean, "strongly recommends" guests get boosted before their cruise. In fact, they have been warning future protocols may require boosters as far back as February 2022.

Royal Caribbean has vaccinated over half of its crew members | Royal Caribbean Blog

Boosters are now part of the mandatory vaccination program for crew members. Royal Caribbean began a booster campaign for its crew several months ago.

Crew members have the option to get their booster in their home countries prior to rejoining the ship. Or they will be given the opportunity onboard.

Wonder of the Seas departs on transatlantic to begin inaugural European season

21 Apr 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship is on her way to Europe.

Wonder of the Seas departed Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Wednesday to begin her transatlantic crossing.

Wonder of the Seas' departure concludes a brief stay in North America for her inaugural sailings, and she now heads across the pond to sail the Mediterranean waters this summer.

Wonder of the Seas departing Fort Lauderdale

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Larry Richman is onboard the crossing and shared some interesting facts about the guests onboard:

  • 3648 passengers, which is about about 52% occupancy
  • 2102 Americans and 1546 from 50 other countries (53% vs 47%)
  • On night seven, Wonder of the Seas will have Royal Caribbean's first balloon drop since before the pandemic and a New Year's Eve party. 

The itinerary has already been changed due to rough weather predicted. Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet shared an update that explained Wonder skipped a scheduled stop in Nassau, Bahamas to get ahead of a storm system that is predicted to develop on April 25.


Mr. Van Fleet said Wonder of the Seas will sail a bit further south than originally planned to avoid the path of the storm and to avoid seas as high as 5 meters for multiple days in a row.

Wonder of the Seas side view

The move across the Atlantic also caught the attention of Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, who took to social media to celebrate the milestone.

"It's a BIG day," Mr. Bayley wrote on his Facebook page. "Wonder of the Seas has departed Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to begin her 14-night transatlantic crossing for her first season in Europe!"

"I want to thank the crew onboard Wonder for their work in launching the world’s largest cruise ship! Your passion is what drives our success!"

"Cheers to what lies ahead, and to an amazing season of European explorations! Wonder of the Seas will be back in Florida in November 2022!"

Summer in Europe

Mediterranean cruise in Rome

Once Wonder of the Seas arrives in Europe, she will begin offering cruises from Barcelona & Rome (Civitavecchia) in May 2022.

From May 8, through October 23, Wonder of the Seas will visit La Spezia, Civitavecchia, Naples, Marseille, Barcelona, and Palma de Mallorca.

Royal Caribbean will have six cruise ships operating in the Mediterranean this year, including another brand new Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas.

AquaTheater suite on Wonder of the Seas

Guests sailing onboard Wonder of the Seas can expect from Spain or Italy can expect similar protocols to that of cruises from the United States, with vaccines required for all passengers 12 years or older.  Boosters are required if the second dose of the vaccine was administered more than 270 days ago.

For cruises sailing from Italy, all fully vaccinated guests must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than one day before boarding day. For Spain, this timeline is extended by an extra day, so testing two days before boarding day. 

Protocols for these Mediterranean cruises are valid through May 31, at which point they will be extended and/or updated.

Return to Florida

When the European cruise season wraps up in October, Wonder of the Seas will return across the Atlantic to offer year-round cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida.

Beginning in November 2022, Wonder of the Seas will offer Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, including stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Planning a cruise? Here's some helpful articles:


Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Freeport, Bahamas

21 Apr 2022
Allie Hubers

Today was a very eventful day onboard Mariner of the Seas!

To start, we were meant to have a sea day on the original itinerary. Yesterday, we found out we would instead be docking in Freeport, Bahamas for the ship to undergo routine maintenance.

As such, Angie and I were excited to visit a new port in the Bahamas. We’ve only visited Nassau and CocoCay, so we welcomed the unexpected opportunity to visit somewhere new. I think this scenario, receiving a bonus port, is probably the best case scenario when you see there’s been an itinerary change last minute.

Royal Caribbean offered excursions for Grand Bahama Island, including beach tours, dolphin encounters and city guides. We opted to just do our own thing in port rather than book anything last minute, although we did consider booking a resort day pass.

Easy Going Morning

I always sleep amazing when I am cruising. Between the ship slowly swaying and our inside cabin being pitch black, it’s so easy to get a good night’s rest.

Angie and I enjoyed a nice morning onboard the ship starting with breakfast at the Windjammer. It was fairly busy, but we didn’t have to wait in any lines. I was worried it would be packed with long lines given we are sailing almost at 100% capacity. Perhaps most people had an earlier start than we did at 10:30am, but we didn’t have any issues finding a table.

I discovered on our last cruise that I could order my morning latte (a necessity) at the Windjammer bar with one of my Diamond + drink vouchers. There is a Starbucks onboard, but I would rather take advantage of my vouchers than pay out of pocket for a latte at Starbucks.

Breakfast was great - we’re pretty much always pleased with the Windjammer breakfast. Angie indulged in a cinnamon roll and meat lovers omelet while I had a strawberry yogurt parfait. We both are obsessed with the cranberry strudel bread, which seems to be a Royal Caribbean staple over the years. Sometimes it’s topped with almonds and other times it’s sprinkled with coarse sugar. Either way, the bread is best enjoyed with a large slab of butter.

After finishing breakfast, we went back to our cabin on deck 8 and got ready for the day. I appreciate that our cabin is pretty centrally located - it’s never too far from any of the activities or dining options. Of course, it’s a bit of a long trek from Deck 1 when you return to the gangway.

Our cabin was already cleaned by the stateroom attendant and we found a tray of room service breakfast that we hadn’t ordered. I may (or may not) have enjoyed the mimosa that was accidentally delivered to our cabin after telling our stateroom attendant that the room service must have been delivered incorrectly. She encouraged me to enjoy the drink, so I didn’t hesitate!

We usually take the stairs when we cruise. One of the main reasons we choose to do so is because the elevators are always busy, especially this time around. The few times we’ve taken them, we stop at every deck and have to wait for a more empty one. A little bit of exercise isn’t the worst thing for us either!

Freeport Shopping

Angie and I walked right off the ship into the Freeport port, which appeared to have a really nice shopping area. We could see a bunch of little souvenir shops surrounding an outdoor Senior Frogs.

The weather was a comfortable 75 degrees with light gusts of wind and low humidity. I can imagine in the summer months that it gets much hotter, but today it was perfect.

We enjoyed souvenir shopping in the port area and even sampled some rum cakes that were made locally. Any day that includes rum cake and free samples is a great day in my book!

Because we were originally meant to be at sea today, Angie and I had a few things onboard that we were planning to try. After shopping and walking around the nice port, we decided to head back to the ship so we could make our way through the to-do list.

“We must have hit an iceberg!”

Upon returning to our stateroom, we found a fruit plate that was addressed to Allie Hubers from the Crown and Anchor Society. Angie jokingly questioned why she didn’t receive a fruit plate even though she’s the same status as I am.

Shortly after, we hear a knock on the door and we are gifted another fruit plate which is also addressed to me. Angie scowled, although we were both laughing at the abundant recognition that Royal Caribbean was giving me.

As we were eating said fruit, we felt the ship unexpectedly jerk back and forth. I immediately figured that must have been the scheduled maintenance that Mariner apparently was needing.

Angie joked “That was weird! We must have hit an iceberg!”

Of course, icebergs were nowhere to be found in the Caribbean and we were docked at the port…. so what could that jolt have been?

Well, not too long after, the captain announces that another ship has unfortunately bounced into us while we were docked. He assures everyone onboard Mariner that we are not to worry and everything is fine, although the ship would need to be inspected to ensure it's safe to continue sailing.

Our bonus port day suddenly got even more interesting!

Angie and I nearly ran to the top deck to check out the action - this was the moment that cruise blogging turned into investigative journalism! We saw a few people watching below from the top deck as a tug boat helped keep the cargo ship away from us.

I asked the gentleman next to me if he had seen the incident happen - he asked me what I was talking about. I informed him that the captain said we were struck by another ship - he seemed surprised and had no clue! There was a ship officer on the top deck who I also spoke with; he wasn’t concerned and joked that he has lived at sea so long, he has seen it all.

Click here to read more about the incident.

Overall, it was pretty obvious no one onboard was very concerned. The belly flop competition on the top deck was absolutely packed with people cheering and drinking. The FlowRider was also quite busy; by the way, I heard yesterday that there was a long line to surf, but I noticed today they had the divider up so two people could surf at once.

I told Angie we should check out the jogging trail on deck 4 since that would probably offer a better view of the cargo ship. The crew had blocked off the back of the ship by this point and told us we couldn’t be there, so unfortunately we didn’t get to see much. Aftermath photos show that this is where the ship ‘bounced’ into ours, so it makes sense why we couldn’t continue walking to see more.

Afternoon Activities

The original plan was to get back onboard so we could try out the SkyPad. Since I’ve heard a few grumblings of long lines, I thought it would be good to get there early.

The breaking news of our ship being struck by a cargo ship had derailed our afternoon plans. After realizing we wouldn’t get to see much more of the collision action, we opted to try out the SkyPad. We had dressed appropriately with closed toed shoes and removed our jewelry.

Sadly, the winds were too strong to do the SkyPad so we weren’t able to bounce today. I suppose that makes sense, as the wind seemed to be causing other problems today too (i.e. a cargo ship bouncing into us).

All the commotion and investigating made me hungry, so we opted for a quick lunch at the Windjammer. Given how busy the pool was, it was nice that the Windjammer was pretty quiet again. There was a little crowd of people who were watching as two tug boats attempted to safely move the cargo ship.

As I savored my go-to hot dog and fries, we could see more clearly that the cargo ship’s bridge had sustained some damage.

A small group of us watched as the tug boats safely moved the cargo ship while a pilot boat hovered nearby. That seemed to be the end of the commotion, although we couldn’t really see Mariner’s damage from anywhere public on the ship.

By this time, it was almost 3:00 PM and Angie wanted to check out the free massages. We found a small line outside of the spa forming but it moved fast. Really, this was more of a ‘free sample of a massage’ rather than a ‘free massage’. Angie opted for a 2 minute hot stone massage while I had just a normal mini massage.

Of course, they asked if we wanted to book any spa treatments. A quick glance at the treatment sheet showed plenty of lovely options, but most of them costed more than our cruise fare alone so we politely declined.

A Happy Hour Campfire Cookie

Other writers from RoyalCaribbeanBlog have raved about the campfire cookie at Playmakers, so this was at the top of my list of things I needed to try.

The promenade was busy with Cafe Promenade having a line that wrapped around the corner all the way back to Ben and Jerry’s. That was longer than the day prior, and we overheard a few other cruisers grumbling about the wait.

As a first-timer to Playmakers, I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to order at the bar and find a seat or if we would be seated and order at the table. I still am not sure the answer to that, but we ordered the campfire cookie from the bartender. He told us the kitchen was pretty busy and it could take up to 45 minutes.

I was a bit surprised by the wait time, but we told the bartender we would grab a drink at The Bamboo Room and return after to indulge in our cookie. We had really liked The Bamboo Room yesterday and the tiki bar was nearly empty when we walked inside.

This time around, I tried the Royal Zombie, which came in an adorable tiki cup and had hints of black licorice flavor. Angie was feeling less adventurous and opted for the same piña colada again. We sipped on our delicious drinks and once again enjoyed the ambiance.

We walked across the promenade back to Playmakers to hopefully indulge in our campfire cookie. After another 10 minute wait, our cookie was finally delivered to our table.

I think heaven opened and angels sang from above as we took our first bite into the ooey, gooey, chocolatey cookie goodness. It was insanely delicious and certainly lived up to the hype. Our cookie was served (we think) with Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream, which was the perfect accompaniment to the warm cookie.

Main Dining Room

Since we ate at Chops Grille last night, we went to the main dining room for the first time tonight. We had scoped out earlier that our table had 6 seats… meaning we would be seated with random people.

I was a bit surprised by this, as I haven’t been seated with strangers in the main dining room for years!

We were fashionably late to dinner since we didn’t realize it was formal night and we needed to change. We eyed our assigned table from afar and found it was filled with 4 older folks - totally fine but we weren’t feeling like sitting with strangers at dinner or making small talk.

We asked the hostess if we could be seated elsewhere. He said the dining room was full and he could seat us with other passengers who are closer to our age if we wanted. Luckily, he was able to find us a private table where the passengers were dining at a specialty restaurant.

Angie and I enjoyed a nice dinner overlooking the main dining room. As we were getting seated, the captain announced that the ship would be leaving port as scheduled. He explained only minor cosmetic damage was done from the cargo ship and Mariner was seaworthy and safe to sail. Great news!

Dinner was great tonight. Angie and I both enjoyed the beef tenderloin as the main entree. Angie said the pumpkin soup was a very good starter. My French onion soup tasted different than normal, but I still enjoyed it. For dessert, we both chose the Grand Mariner soufflé. This is our dad’s all-time favorite dessert, so we had to indulge for him!

I will say, I miss the more personalized service you receive on longer voyages. It’s been a while since I’ve done a short cruise, but I do feel like this is less intimate than other voyages. Normally, we get to know the crew members and they also get to know us - which is something I miss on this shorter cruise.

After dinner, Angie went to the Royal Theatre for the headliner show, which featured Royal Caribbean singers and dancers with a live band. This isn’t my favorite kind of show, so I relaxed in the cabin instead.

The show was called Production Showtime: Gallery of Dreams. Angie reported that it was an upbeat show with worldly themes from Austria, Morocco and the ‘Wild West’. The show was enjoyed by people of all ages, kids and elderly alike.

Angie also reported back that the cruise director told the audience we might be late getting into CocoCay tomorrow because of the wind. For how much wind has been impacting our cruise, I really don’t feel like it’s *that* windy outside! We will see what adventures tomorrow brings.