Alt Text!

Royal Caribbean is looking for a mom from TikTok to be godmother to its newest cruise ship

In:
06 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The search for a ceremonial role on Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship is headed to social media.

Wonder of the Seas aerial aft

Royal Caribbean announced it is looking to find a godmother for Wonder of the Seas by searching through TikTok.

Wonder of the Seas is the newest Royal Caribbean cruise ship and the fifth Oasis Class cruise ship. She's currently sailing in Europe, but will return to Florida in November.

Every cruise ship has a godmother, which serves as a ceremonial position.  Other ships have had women hold the role, including renowned athletes, celebrities and royalty.

Woman using TikTok

The godmother's job is to give the ship a blessing for the safety of the crew members and passengers who will sail onboard it.  She will also be present for the ship's  naming ceremony in Port Canaveral, Florida, in December. 

U.S. users of the popular video-sharing platform can now take part in the #SearchForWonderMom contest by nominating a mom who inspires those around them to discover, wonder and make memories. 

The call for submissions is open through Monday, May 16, at 11:59 p.m. ET, and the winner will be announced on Royal Caribbean’s TikTok this summer.

Ultimate family suite

The winner and their family will set sail on an exclusive cruise to the cruise line’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas.

They will also stay in the Ultimate Family Suite and receive first-class flights, three nights in a five-star hotel before the cruise and up to $1,000 in spending money. 

In addition, four finalists can enjoy all Wonder has to offer on a 7-night cruise in a balcony stateroom for up to four guests.

How to enter the contest

Wonder of the Seas at sea aerial

Think you might want to be the godmother? Here's what you need to know:

  • Users must follow @RoyalCaribbean on TikTok.
  • Submissions must be posted on TikTok and share why their nominee would be the ideal Godmother for the world’s largest cruise ship.
  • Uploaded videos must use Royal Caribbean’s original #SearchforWonderMom contest audio track pinned on the cruise line’s profile.
  • Entries must tag @RoyalCaribbean and include #SearchForWonderMom and #Contest
  • Contest is open only to legal residents of the fifty United States, including the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico who are at least sixteen  years old at the time of entry. 
    • Nominees must be at least 21 years old.

You can read the full rules and requirements here.

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Tracy’s Arm Fjord

In:
05 May 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Hi from the choppy Alaskan seas! It’s Day 6 of our 7-night cruise, so our time onboard Radiance of the Seas is coming to an end. I can't believe tomorrow is our last day. A week onboard a cruise always goes way faster than any other week at home, right?

Although we didn’t have a port today, we sailed through Tracy’s Arm Fjord early this morning. We set our alarms for 6:30 AM to make sure we didn’t miss any of the scenery.

The sight of the fjord in the distance was stunning as we woke up and waited in line for coffee.

There’s been a line each morning at Latitudes, but it seems to move fairly quick. I heard a few grumbles from the people behind me about the line each morning; however, I don't think it's been that bad. 

I love my morning latte, so it's a great way to start the day for me. 

With coffee in hand, Sydney and I made our way to the helicopter pad so we could go to the very front of the ship.

Tracy’s Arm Fjord

The helicopter pad was fairly busy with other cruisers - I was surprised to see so many people already out there since it was barely 7:00 AM. It was frigid cold at the front of the ship and I was wishing I had warn my warmer pants.

In the distance, we could see the ship making its way towards the glacier. This was further than my ship was able to make it last summer (due to icing), so I was already excited to see new scenery. 

It was too cold being at the very front of the ship, so we went up a few decks to 13 to watch the ship continue sailing through the fjord. The railing here was solid and covered, so it was less windy as well. 

The scenery is unreal; if you’re sailing through the fjord on an upcoming cruise, you’ll definitely want to set your alarm. I overheard a couple saying they had missed the fjord on their last cruise because they were staying in an inside cabin and didn’t know the scenery was so beautiful.

We took lots of pictures of the mountains and sipped our coffee. What a Wednesday morning! 

The ship inched closer and closer to a line of ice in front of the glacier. Obviously cruise ships aren’t meant to be ice-breaking ships, so we just sailed right up to the ice barrier. We could see the glacier in the distance and I was shocked to see how blue the glacier was.

The ship started to do a donut spin and then slowly made its way back to the sea and out of the fjord. Coming from Florida, it was fun to be bundled up on the deck and take in such a drastic change of scenery. 

Main Dining Room Breakfast

We decided to have breakfast in the dining room since we were already up. Tomorrow is a sea day, so we have no alarms set - we figured it was a good time to do another breakfast in the dining room.

The host sat us at a table with a window, which was incredible. We commenced the beautiful morning with mimosas - as one should! This was a perfect way to use a daily drink voucher too.

Sydney and I split a plate of French toast to start and each had a breakfast burrito. I think it was even better than the one I had the first morning! Sydney loved the burrito too.

With tummies full, our early morning wake up call made us sleepy. We opted to head back to the cabin for a mid-morning nap.

Unfortunately, the Internet was still down so I wasn’t able to get connected to anything. I had scheduled a meeting at work for 10:00 AM, but that had to be cancelled with no Internet or cell service to save the day.

Of course, most people aren’t as worried about the Internet as I am. With the live blog and other remote work that needs to be done, I’m more reliant on it working. 

During the nap, I received a call from guest services asking about our excursion experience in Ketchikan. I explained how the trolley left early without us, but we were given options from the excursion staff. He was very kind and helpful, expressing his apologies for that happening.

The Captain also made an announcement that woke us up again from our nap. He explained that no announcements can be made in the fjord to protect the wildlife there, so that’s why the cruise ship is very quiet while sailing towards the glacier. He also said we would have choppy seas tonight before making our way to the Inside Passage again. 

I really like about the Captain of this cruise- he is the most personable cruise ship captain that I’ve ever had. Each day, he acknowledges the crew members who are celebrating birthdays on the ship. He’s very down to Earth and I really enjoy his communication with us.

Hot Stone Massage Experience

I had my massage booked for 12:45 PM, so Sydney and I went upstairs to grab a snack at the Windjammer. She had plans to play cards with our dinner friends during my massage.

I have never had a massage on a cruise ship before; in fact, I can count on one hand the number of massages I’ve had in my life.

Since I have neck and shoulder pain from computer work, the spa manager recommended the hot stone massage. I went with her recommendation and hoped for the best.

I was taken into a little relaxation room to fill out some forms. The room was safari themed with large chase loungers. It was a little cheesy, but comfortable. 

My therapist met with me and talked to me about where I was having some discomfort. She also recommended that I do a seaweed wrap for another $200, but I politely declined and said the hot stone massage was a splurge.

The room had floor to ceiling windows. The massage felt wonderful everywhere with the hot stones. I had only been booked for 50 minutes - and the time felt like it flew by.

I did speak to the spa manager after my massage about a small concern I had regarding the session - she was very helpful and resolved the issue quickly. I greatly appreciated how she handled my concern with both empathy and professionalism.

In fact, for the inconvenience, she offered that Sydney and I could access the Thermal Spa for today and tomorrow. We are excited to try that tomorrow on our last day of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean Service

This cruise has had more kinks than others I’ve taken recently. I am sure with an older ship just returning to service after 2 years, this is bound to happen.

I think it’s important to be flexible and remember that traveling isn’t always perfect, especially as the travel industry works on its full comeback from the pandemic.

Royal Caribbean has been providing outstanding service and support when issues arise, such as the Internet not working, our shore excursion leaving without us, and my concern at the spa.

These are all minor issues for me, but it does remind me why I am loyal to a company that I believe values customer service and strives for excellence.

In fact, I received a second call today regarding our shore excursion experience and they confirmed we received a full refund for our tour. This was really generous of Royal Caribbean because we still enjoyed the lumberjack show even though we missed the trolley. 

Solarium Wave Pool

Sydney and I decided that we wanted to go to the hot tub after my massage, so we made our way to the Solarium.

Well, apparently everyone else had the same idea because there were 10 people crammed into the tiny hot tub. The pool was actually pretty comfortable, but just as we got in, the seas became a little choppy.

The Solarium pool was slowly becoming a makeshift wave pool. We tried to use the hot tubs outside, but it was cold and rainy so we only lasted maybe 2 minutes.

I grabbed a drink at the bar and we lounged for a bit in the chairs, but the choppy seas seemed to continue. The pool waves became more intense, so the lifeguards closed off the Solarium pool.

It was almost time to get ready for dinner, so Sydney and I made our way back to the cabin to freshen up for formal night.

Evening Activities

With just a carry-on for this cruise, I didn’t have too much room for formal attire. I’ve seen over the years that most people don’t dress very formal anyway - and it can take up so much room in your luggage. I chose to pack a simple black dress for both formal nights.

Sydney was started to feel a little seasick since she has a sensitive tummy, so she wasn’t very hungry. She heard that green apples were supposed to ease motion sickness, so our waiter brought her a plate of green apples to have before dinner. 

For dinner tonight, Sydney and I both ordered both the caprese salad and I asked for the onion tart as well. I ordered the beef tenderloin while Sydney tried the eggplant parmesan.

To her surprise, the motion sickness patch (and maybe the magical green apple) did start to work by the end of dinner and she was feeling better.

For dessert, I ordered the molten chocolate cake. I’ve loved this dessert for years and years - I’m glad it’s continued to be served! It was decadent tonight and I forgot to snap a picture.

Baked Alaska was on the menu tonight, which is very fitting of course for this cruise. Here's a picture of our dinner neighbor's dessert for good measure. 

One of the best parts of dinner was seeing all the whales out in the ocean. We saw so many that were spouting water and breaching. Apparently, whales like to breach during choppy waters so that might explain all of the activity. 

Some of the whales were so close to our ship and we could see their fins popping over the white caps. I love seeing everyone run to the windows and react to the whales breaching.

By the end of dinner, the seas had calmed down and we even saw a rainbow out in the distance. It was a perfect way to end dinner.

Since we had napped today, we had a bit more energy to make it to the show tonight. We sat with our dinner friends and enjoyed a variety show that featured a comedian and musician. 

Back in our cabin, we found disembarkation information and luggage tags - a sign of the times that the cruise is coming to an end.

Tomorrow’s Plans

To my surprise, the Internet came back up this evening. It’s been consistently working tonight, so that hopefully means that I can get a few work things done tomorrow during our sea day.

I am sure you're all sick of the Internet updates, but it does seem to be playing a role in our daily activities. At one point today, I saw 10 people waiting to speak to the VOOM Internet desk! I guess they are planning to provide a mass refund for the days that the Internet was down, so that is great.

I haven’t seen this reflected on my shipboard account, so I will need to get that settled tomorrow if it isn’t updated.

We have no alarms set tomorrow! I think we might try to have lunch in the main dining room, as that’s a first for me. I will be interested to see what's offered for lunch compared to breakfast and dinner options. 

There is also an egg-dropping contraption contest tomorrow. Sydney and I are pretty curious about what that could possibly entail, so we are hoping to check that out. I am sure it will be a hoot!

We are also planning to try the Thermal Spa sometime in the morning before meeting our dinner friends for a game of cards!

The last day of the cruise means I need to pack and hopefully take my covid test onboard if the Internet cooperates… but we all know how that’s been going.

Good night from Alaska and our little towel friend!

CDC lowers number of vaccinated passengers on 'highly vaccinated voyages' from 95% to 90%

In:
05 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The minimum percentage of vaccinated passengers on a cruise ship has gone down.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced updates to its highly vaccinated program, which lists the requirements for cruise lines to follow.

Royal Caribbean is one of many cruise lines in the CDC's highly vaccinated program.

CDC will reduce the percentage threshold requirement for determining ‘highly vaccinated voyages’  from 95% to 90% of eligible passengers (90% of passengers who are 5 years of age and older).

The crew vaccination percentage will remain at 95% or greater for highly vaccinated voyages.    

Up until now, cruise ships in this program were required to sail with at least 95% vaccinated passengers.

By lowering the number of required vaccinated passengers, this opens up more capacity to unvaccinated children.

Deck chairs

The CDC also made another change related to cabins used for isolating Covid-19 passengers.

Isolation rooms no longer need to have negative pressure but must still be in predesignated areas. The exception to transferring individuals to predesignated cabins if within 36 hours of disembarkation remains in effect.

Following these changes, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) issued a statement in support of the CDC changes.

"The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its member cruise lines welcome the recent update to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters."

"The CDC’s adjustment of vaccination and quarantine and isolation room requirements recognizes the highly protective measures in place on board cruise ships and is in keeping with the CDC’s lifting of any travel-related advisory against cruising. CLIA-member cruise lines continue to provide one of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation for the traveling public with higher-vaccination rates and higher frequency of testing than most any other setting."

"We look forward to the further development of the program to bring greater alignment across the travel and tourism sector."

Inside the highly vaccinated program

Pool deck wide angle

Royal Caribbean opted into the CDC's highly vaccinated program at the end of February 2022 once the CDC's Conditional Sail Order became voluntary.

The program regulates foreign-flagged cruise vessels operating in U.S. waters with a common set of Covid-19 protocols for guests and crew members to abide by.

Allure of the Seas at the gangway

Even before Royal Caribbean opted into the program, its ships were usually sailing right around the 95% vaccinated mark.

In late December 2021, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said a typical sailing has anywhere between 95 to 98 percent fully vaccinated onboard population.

Royal Caribbean talks higher demand than before Covid, higher capacity, and more

In:
05 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group held its earnings call with Wall Street investors and touched on a number of interesting things happening in the company that are beyond what you would find in the balance sheet.

Each quarter, the company holds a conference call to go over the quarter results and answer questions from analysts.

Most of the discussions are purely financial back-and-forth, but there are some interesting anecdotes worth noting for cruise fans.

After listening to the entire 2022 first quarter earnings call, here is the most interesting things to come out of the discussion.

Demand is higher than pre-pandemic

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

While Royal Caribbean Group lost another billion dollars this quarter, things are rapidly improving for the company's bottom line.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said the last two months have seen very high demand for a cruise ship vacation, "Over the past sixty days, demand has materially surpassed, both pre-Omicron and 2019, levels. 

"The robust secular trend of experiences over things, that propelled our business in the past years, is now recovering towards pre-Covid levels. Consumers are now re-engaging with the world, and as a result, spending on travel in 2022 is set to out pace pre-pandemic levels with consumers planning to travel more frequently."

"Cruise consideration is the highest it has been in two years, and nearing pre-pandemic levels, with the most significant recovery among those new to cruising."

Guests are spending more thanks to better cruise planner enhancements

If you've noticed more Royal Caribbean emails about buying a drink package or shore excursion, it's no accident.

Royal Caribbean invested heavily in its e-commerce system to provide better sales pitches to guests, and the result is now materializing in passengers spending more money than ever before their cruise begins.

The company reported in the first quarter, total revenue per Passenger Cruise Day in the first quarter was up 4% versus record 2019 levels. This was such a strong driver that cash flow from ships in operation was positive in the first quarter. 

Cruise Planner on an iPad

Mr. Liberty believes more spending on pre-cruise purchases is the result of better software behind the scenes, "Our investment in a new pre-cruise planning system allows guests to better plan and book their onboard experiences. As a result, we continue to see increased penetration of pre-cruise purchases, which is leading to significantly higher total spend per guest."

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Naftali Holtz indicated strong consumer spending and "higher pre-cruise purchase penetration" is what's driving people to spend more on their cruise vacation.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said the increased spending has been, "wonderful", and attributed it in large part to the investment in better software, "The investment that we made in the software for pre-cruise revenue, which continued through the pandemic. We've really leveraged that now, and we've seen a significant increase in penetration and uptick with up-tick sales."

Mr. Bayley illustrated how important the purchases of these items before the cruise is to Royal Caribbean's bottom line, "one pre-cruise dollar gives us another $0.50 onboard spend."

Mr. Holtz added spending isn't limited to one or two categories, "It's everything...from spa to retail, shore excursions, casino, food and beverage."

"It seems like the consumer is really willing to spend on great experiences...make sure that we capture that spend as much as we can as they enjoying our cruises."

Digging into what the guest wants

Mr. Bayley talked about the level of sophistication Royal Caribbean has to be able to cater the pre-cruise sales to the individual person, "We've over time developed the sophistication and the ability to, not only use the analytics and the information that we know about the customer, to offer them products and experiences and services that we think they're going to like."

"In some cases, we've got customers who prefer gaming and dining. In other cases, we've got families who prefer shore excursions. And we now have the ability to tailor our communications and our promotions to those customers based upon what we think their key preferences are."

Cruise ship capacity

Wonder of the Seas pool deck busy

A big focus of the call was about increasing capacity as Royal Caribbean moves into the summer.

It's no secret that the cruise line is not only bringing more ships back online, but also allowing more and more passengers onboard in an effort to return to pre-pandemic passenger loads.

Mr. Holtz said all remaining cruise ships across the brands will be back in operation by June, we expect load factors of approximately 75 to 80%. Our low factor expectations reflect the higher occupancy we are seeing the Caribbean and lower expectations for repositioning voyages and early season Europe sailings."

He also added that capacity should reach "triple digits" by the end of the year. In short, expect pre-pandemic capacity by the time 2022 ends.

Mr. Bayley added full capacity should come faster on Royal Caribbean International, "we have ships now sailing at 100% and we've had ships sailing at 100% now for several weeks out of the Caribbean, into the Caribbean market and a short product.

"And as we head towards Memorial Day weekend, we're going to see significant percentage of our ship sailing at 100% and greater."

Interestingly, more people are booking suites rather than inside rooms, "From a cumulative standpoint, our load factors on sailings in the second half of the year are booked slightly below historical levels, with a greater mix of high yielding, suite inventory booked versus inside and outside state rooms."

Read moreIs a suite on Royal Caribbean worth it?

Capacity lower in Europe partially due to testing requirements

Mediterranean cruise in Rome

While demand for cruises in North America was exceptionally strong in the first quarter, demand for European cruises was lower, and perhaps the protocols could be at play.

When asked about what is impacting the lower numbers for European cruises, Mr. Liberty talked about the need to get a covid test to return to the United States as an issue.

He said they expect to have lower capacity in Europe due to maintaining price integrity, but also the covid test requirements to re-enter, "It is very much related to price integrity, but some of it's also, that relates to the testing requirement to come back into the U.S. for for Americans."

Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona

"The combination of those things weighs on the consumer in terms of their their travel expectations."

Mr. Bayley added, "many European countries now are stopping that requirement. So they're kind of freeing up the ability for the Europeans to travel around. And I think we're all hopeful that that's going to change fairly soon in returning to the United States."

Mr. Liberty said the Ukraine war has certainly weighed on reducing demand for European cruises, especially for Central and Northern European cruises.

Royal Caribbean Group reports first quarter loss, but cash flow approached breakeven in March

In:
05 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group posted its first quarter earnings on Thursday, which reported another billion dollar loss. 

Freedom of the Seas aerial at Nassau

The good news for the company is it expects a return to net profit for the second half of 2022. In fact, operating cash flow significantly improved throughout the first quarter and approached breakeven in March. Operating cash flow turned positive in April 2022.

Royal Caribbean Group had a first quarter 2022 operating loss of $1.2 billion. 

Cruise ships sailed with more passengers in the quarter, and total revenue per Passenger Cruise Day up versus record 2019 levels.

Royal Caribbean's quarter by the numbers

Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami

Royal Caribbean Group shared some interesting facts in its update to Wall Street.

First and foremost, Royal Caribbean Group expects a return to net profit for the second half of 2022.

Read moreWho owns Royal Caribbean?

Voyager of the Seas in Estonia

By the end of the quarter, 90% of the company's worldwide fleet was back in service, with 54 out of 62 ships back in service. The plan is to return the full fleet to operations before the summer season of 2022.

Approximately 800,000 guests sailed on a Royal Caribbean Group ship in the first quarter.

Bookings in the first quarter were higher than in the fourth quarter of 2021, and throughout the first quarter, bookings improved each week. In March and April, booking volumes have been significantly higher than the same period in 2019.

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

Looking to the future, 2023 is booked, "within historical ranges at record pricing."

The supply chain issues the entire world is dealing with is no stranger to Royal Caribbean Group.  The primary issues facing the cruise giant is mainly related to fuel and food costs, as well as transitory costs related to health and safety protocols, which are expected to weigh on 2022 earnings.   

First quarter results

Royal Caribbean Group posted a $1.2 billion dollar loss in the first quarter. The Company also reported Adjusted Net Loss of $1.2 billion.

The Net Loss and Adjusted Net Loss for the quarter are primarily the result of the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business.

Cruise ships sailing in the first quarter averaged a capacity of 59%. Month-by-month, capacity generally went up with March capacity averaging 68%.

Total revenue per Passenger Cruise Day in the first quarter was up 4% versus record 2019 levels driven by continued strong onboard revenue performance. The term "onboard revenue performance" refers to passengers buying extras for their cruise, such as drink packages, wifi, or excursions.

In fact, spending onboard was so strong that cash flow from ships in operation was positive in the first quarter. 

Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Naftali Holtz said getting back to profitability is the focus now, "Our near-term focus is to return to full operations and profitability as we execute on our recovery and build for long term success."

Bookings

Odyssey of the Seas

Booking volumes in the first quarter improved consistently week-over-week and reached typical Wave levels at the end of the quarter.  The term "wave season" refers to the sales period in the beginning of the year when cruise ship bookings are generally the best of the year.

Bookings have now been surpassing comparable 2019 levels for the last two months with particularly strong trends for North America based itineraries. 

The amount of cancelled cruises the company was seeing subsided to pre-Omicron levels in February.

Effect of the Ukraine War

Ukraine flag

Bookings for Europe sailings improved throughout the first quarter but softened due to the war in Ukraine with a bigger impact on Baltic itineraries.  

While bookings for Europe are now exceeding 2019 levels for the same period, the situation in Ukraine is expected to weigh on load factors in Europe this summer. 

Future cruise credits

Vision of the Seas sailing away

As of March 31, 2022, the company's customer deposit balance was $3.6 billion. This is a $400 million increase from the previous quarter.

Approximately 27% of the customer deposit balance is related to FCCs compared to 32% in the prior quarter, a positive trend indicating new demand. To date, approximately 56% of FCCs have been redeemed.

Royal Caribbean updates: Wonder arrives in Europe, executive changes & more

In:
04 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Ready to catch up on this week's Royal Caribbean news?

There's always a lot of changes happening, big and small. In order to keep everyone up-to-date, this post has a wrap up of what's new this week.

Check out all of the updates so far this week.

Wonder of the Seas begins European cruise season

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship arrived in Barcelona and is ready to begin her summer cruise season in the Mediterranean.

Wonder of the Seas will begin offering 7-night cruises from Barcelona and Rome beginning May 8th.

During her time in Europe, the ship will visit destinations such as Florence, Naples and Capri, Italy; Provence, France; and Malaga, Spain.

Wonder’s western Mediterranean sailings will continue through October.  In November, Wonder will return to the U.S. to sail from its new year-round home in Port Canaveral, Florida, 

New Galveston cruise terminal ahead of schedule

Progress is so good at Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in Galveston that construction is actually ahead of schedule.

During a webinar with travel agents on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean Director of Sales for the Central Region, Galen Matthews, provided an update.

"We are super excited that the Galveston terminal construction is actually ahead of schedule," Ms. Matthews shared. "The terminal is now 50% complete and the berth expansion is about 80% complete."

"We will be open for business and ready to receive your clients for the first Allure of the Seas sailing, which is on November 13, 2022."

Terminal 3 cruise terminal will cost $125 million, and is located at Pier 10 for exclusive use by Royal Caribbean.

Executive moves

Two notable Royal Caribbean executives have announced they are departing the company.

Royal Caribbean International Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Mark Tamis, is leaving Royal Caribbean International. His replacement will be Sean Treacy, who was working as the Senior Vice President of International Sales.

Mr. Tamis has worked as the head of Hotel Operations since February 2015. He came to Royal Caribbean after serving as senior vice president, Guest Operations with Carnival Cruise Lines.

Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami

In addition, Vice President of worldwide port operations, Captain Hernan Zini is also leaving the cruise line to go work for Amazon.

Captain Zini also served as Vice President of talent management for Royal Caribbean Group. Many cruise fans may remember him best as the fleet captain and being the start-up Captain for Allure of the Seas when she first debuted.

Royal Caribbean will look for a new person to be appointed to Captain Zini's former role.

New crew member recruitment drive in Antigua

Just days after Royal Caribbean announced it would hire more crew members from Barbados, the cruise line said it will also do a hiring push in Antigua & Barbuda.

Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Government Relations in the Americas, Russel Benford, announced the news at the Seatrade conference last week.

Royal Caribbean hopes to hire thousands of people from the Caribbean islands during an employment fair in June.

Openings in operations include

  • storekeepers
  • cruise staff
  • youth staff
  • sports staff
  • laundry and restaurant attendants
  • bar waiters
  • wait staff, bakers
  • butchers
  • casino
  • entertainment
  • photographers

Glacier visits

Royal Caribbean's first ships of the Alaska cruise season are visiting glaciers this week.

Photos of Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas are checking out the Southeast Alaska glaciers, and there's new photos of both ships.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader twangster shared this photo of Radiance of the Seas, as seen from Serenade of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet posted photos of Radiance as well.

 

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Skagway, Alaska

In:
04 May 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

It’s Day 5 of my 7-night Alaska sailing onboard Radiance of the Seas on our voyage through Alaska's Inside Passage. 

I am happy to report the Internet appears to be back up and working! I’d like to officially lower my Internet reliability rating from a 6/10 to 3/10 based on the last few days.

Word on the street is that everyone will be getting a refund for 3 days because of the issues we’ve had. For the amount of time I have wasted trying to get connected, that feels justified.

Our morning today started at 6:30 AM again. Jet lag continues to be our friend as we get up early and start the day! The rough seas had thankfully calmed down by the time we were asleep, which is what the captain had told us would happen.

They weren't horrible last night and certainly not the worst I've experienced. In fact, the location of our inside cabin was fantastic for the waves last night. We had booked an inside guarantee cabin for this cruise, so we really lucked out with our stateroom since we didn’t choose this location.

I grabbed a coffee and we made our way to the Solarium. Since the Internet was still down, I started to panic about my sea day plans of working remotely. I connected to my phone’s LTE and created a hotspot to get a few things done.

Everyone else was clearly waiting for the ship Internet to work again because I had 2 people ask me if the WiFi was back on.

As I sipped my coffee and caught up on emails, Park Cafe had some tasty looking breakfast sandwiches, so I grabbed one of those while Sydney went to the Windjammer for breakfast.

The scenery was cloudy and overcast with Skagway being tucked away in the mountains.

Walking to Skagway

After breakfast and finishing up some work tasks, we bundled up and went ashore in Skagway.

There were 2 other ships docked in town today; for a city with a population of 1,200, this would be a huge influx of people!

It was cold and drizzly again as we walked off the ship and made our way to the city.

There were some golf-cart type vehicles that were offering rides, but this seemed to be mostly for older passengers and those with mobility issues. We opted to walk since the signage implied it was only 5 minutes to town.

Let me tell you - it was not 5 minutes to town.

We walked at least 20 minutes before we were in the city. Radiance of the Seas was docked behind another cruise ship, but even that walk would be longer than 5 minutes.

Stray Skagway Thoughts

As we walked along the port, we could see where the Skagway train starts, which is right at the start of the town.

Tickets were $133 if purchased in the port area. That was a little pricey for us. Also, the scenery from the ship was already so stunning, we decided to skip. We’ve heard great things about the train from cruisers who’ve done it in the past.

Word on the street is that one of the trains broke down today and passengers were issued a full refund. Guess we dodged a bullet.

The Skagway train crosses into Canada normally. Apparently, this year the train won’t be able to cross the border because of Covid movement restrictions. I am sure the ArriveCAN process for that would be horrendous anyway, so it’s in everyone’s best interest that it doesn’t cross.

When I came to Skagway 12 years ago, we did the Sled Dog Training Camp tour. This was amazing and I would highly recommend, especially for dog lovers and families. It was fascinating seeing how the huskies are raised and trained.

Broadway Street 

As we made our way into town towards Broadway Street, we immediately appreciated how quaint and charming it was. My dad suggested we go to the famous Red Onion Saloon, so we walked past that and saw it was pretty busy.

The town is very small and filled with shops along both sides of the street. You won’t need to look very far for jewelry if you’re in the market for some new bling! There are tons of jewelry shops around town that are eager to get you inside.

We started to notice a few people eating these huge bear claws. Sydney and I followed the aroma of cinnamon and sugar to Klondike Doughboy.

For $7, we indulged in a warm, doughy fry bread covered in cinnamon sugar. It was huge and easily shareable. This was the place to go in town, as it was pretty busy with cruisers.

Next, we wanted to check out the local supermarket to see how the locals live.

We were surprised to see reasonably comparative prices to what we have back home. But, we were shocked to see how sparse the fresh produce selection was.

Internet Hunt

Trying to find reliable Internet has become an unexpected storyline for this cruise.

Sydney and I saw there was one coffee shop in town, so we figured we would be able to get some WiFi there if we needed. At the very least, I was hoping to get a few things done for work.

I have 3 part-time jobs that I work remotely, including blogging for RoyalCaribbeanBlog. I’ve been lucky to have reliable Internet on my cruises earlier this year, so I didn’t anticipate any issues.

I prefer to be totally disconnected when cruising; but, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling during my husband’s deployment, which means I need to do work here and there to make sure I stay gainfully employed.

Anyway, the cafe did not have WiFi (is this becoming a recurring theme?). I had 3 people ask me whether the cafe had Internet, so everyone seemed to be in the same boat.

I guess this was a lesson learned that Internet should not be relied upon when cruising to Alaska.

I was able to get a few things done while Sydney made all the friends. We first met some crew members from the Norwegian ship who thought for the entire conversation that we were crew members too.

We also met a really sweet older couple who asked us more about our Semester at Sea voyage. They were interested in becoming Lifelong Learners  (cruisers who just join the voyage for fun but don’t take courses), so Sydney gave them her information to stay in touch.

It was pretty chilly and we had gone through pretty much the entire town by this point. We sampled some popcorn, tried the Klondike Doughboy and window-shopped in jewelry stores.

We also did some souvenir shopping right before we made our way back to the ship.

Afternoon Relaxation

The walk back to the ship took 20 minutes and it was raining more by this point. We were chilled and hungry, ready to head up to the Windjammer for lunch.

I felt better about the Internet debacle by this point because I was able to get in touch with my bosses and update them on the situation. Feeling a bit drained, I was ready for a relaxation afternoon.

Sydney and I have yet to find cozy hot cocktails on the ship. I’ve asked a few times and the best response was ‘We can make you a cocktail without ice?!”.

That one made us laugh.

Instead, we went back to the cabin to put on our swimsuits for the hot tub. We stopped at Latitudes and ordered some hot chocolate and asked for shots of Bailey’s in each. We created our own hot toddies!

The Solarium wasn’t very busy, which was great since the pool deck hot tubs were busier. We relaxed for a bit in the hot tub with our boozy hot chocolates.

Dinner in the Dining Room

The afternoon went by pretty quickly and before we knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner.

I challenged myself to do this cruise with only a carry-on and tonight I was feeling like my dinner outfit options were a little sparse.

Luckily, this is a cruise where people are busy all day on excursions and exploring, so there’s a wide range of attire in the dining room. I’ve been sporting some dark jeans the last few nights, as I saved my dresses for the formal nights mostly.

We started the meal with strawberry blondes, which were cocktails from the bar menu.

Dinner tonight had a really good menu in my opinion! I ordered the pork tacos for an appetizer, which is a favorite of mine, and the chicken cordon blu. I swapped the french fries for mashed potatoes and loved this as a comfort meal. 

Sydney opted for Caesar salad for a starter and requested a ‘DIY dinner option’ of tomato soup from the appetizer list and grilled cheese from the kid’s menu.

We’ve been really enjoying our new friends each night at dinner to the table next to us. While we aren’t sitting together, our tables are virtually right next to one another.

They loved Sydney’s idea of soup and grilled cheese, so they ordered the same.

For dessert, I ordered the Tres Leches while Sydney had the apple blossom. I wasn’t sure if I would like this cake, but it was delicious. The apple blossom seems to be a home-run dessert on every cruise I’ve taken, so I might opt for that the next 2 nights as well.

Tonight’s entertainment was a singer who gave tribute to Whitney Houston with shows at both 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM. We’ve both been tired by the end of the night, so we called it a night a little early.

It’s funny to see a lot of the older cruisers stay up late for the dancing and entertainment while we seem to be wiped by the end of the day.

Pre-Departure Covid Testing

We came back to our cabin to find a sheet that had information about covid testing upon arrival back in Canada. I'm slowly losing hope that this pre-departure testing to return to the US will be dropped before Friday.

If you're flying from Canada back to the US, you currently will need to show proof of a negative covid test. The test can be taken within 1 day of traveling. 

This is rumored to be changing soon, but I seem to have great luck of cruising right before changes happen (like my February cruise that missed the optional mask guidance by one day).

Our dinner friends said they totally forgot this was a requirement, but the concierge in the suites lounge has arranged for them to get tested at the airport before their flight.  

I brought my Abbott home tests to hopefully take the last day on the ship, but the unreliable Internet will determine if that happens. 

My strategy is to take the proctored test onboard the ship before disembarking. If I happen to get an unexpected positive result, then I am covered under Royal Caribbean's Cruising with Confidence policy. However, the Internet connection could prove to change my plans. 
 

Tracy’s Arm Fjord

Tomorrow, we are sailing through Tracy’s Arm Fjord in the early morning from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM. We have our alarm set and are looking forward to the glacier.

Last summer, Luke and I weren’t able to see the glacier because it was too icy for the ship to get there safely. We were able to get close and sail by icebergs - that was actually our favorite day of our Alaska cruise last summer.

We are expected to have better weather tomorrow luckily! I am hoping we can make it to see Sawyer Glacier, but I know the scenery through the fjord is incredible too.

I will be looking out for the specialty drinks tomorrow morning on the pool deck as we sail through!

Also, I booked myself a massage for tomorrow afternoon. Sydney has made plans to play cards with our dinner friends during my massage. I decided to treat myself for (almost!!) making it through my first deployment as a military spouse.

That’s all for today from Skagway!

How to get to Port Canaveral for your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
04 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Port Canaveral is one of the more popular cruising and vacation destinations in Florida, and is the gateway to cruise that many guests embark and start their adventure.  

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

If you're looking to get to Port Canaveral, here is a quick guide to knowing how to get there quickly and easily.

Royal Caribbean operates three cruise ships from Port Canaveral currently: Harmony of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, and Independence of the Seas.

Directions to Terminal 1

Royal Caribbean operates mostly out of the brand new Cruise Terminal #1, which is is located at 9050 Discovery Road Cape Canaveral, Florida 32920.

Driving to Terminal One is simple enough from most spots in Florida.  Most routes will take you to the Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach area via State Road 528, which is a toll road.  You should be prepared and either pre-purchase a SunPass or have exact change in your vehicle.

Directions from Orlando International Airport (MCO)

  1. Take the North exit from the airport, staying to the right on SR 528 East.
  2. Take SR 528 East all the way to Port Canaveral.
  3. Upon approaching the port area, follow the signs indicating Port Canaveral Cruise Terminals B Side.

From Melbourne International Airport (MLB)

  1. Exit east (left) out of the airport onto NASA boulevard and follow to U.S. Highway 1.
  2. Turn left (north) onto U.S. Highway 1.
  3. Travel approximately 20 minutes on U.S. Highway 1 passed the intersection of S.R. 520 in Cocoa about one mile to the S.R. 528 exit.
  4. Exit and travel east on SR. 528 for approximately 10 miles, crossing the Indian River, Merritt Island and the Banana River to reach Port Canaveral.

From Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB)

  1. Exit the airport south to the Central Florida Greenway (Toll Road 417).
  2. Go south 23 miles to S.R. 528 (the Beach line Expressway) eastbound exit.
  3. Go east (37 miles) to the Port. 

From Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX)

  1. Exit and drive east three blocks
  2. Turn south onto U.S. Highway 1 to the Beach line Expressway (S.R. 528) and follow this east to the Port.

From Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB)

  1. Take I-95 south to S.R. 528 East and follow to the Port

Port Canaveral parking information

You can park directly at Port Canaveral at the parking garage that is adjacent to the cruise terminal.

Parking is $17.00 per day (Vehicles & RVs), including day of arrival and day of departure. 

When you drive to the terminal, you can either park first or drop off luggage first.  In either case, there is a multi-level parking garage where you can easily access to park your vehicle.

Anthem of the Seas in Port Canaveral

You will pay for parking upon entry into the garage, which means when your cruise is over and you drive home, there are no lines.

No cash is accepted for parking, so you will need a credit card to park  (American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover).

In addition to the parking garage, there are a few smaller surface lots near the parking garage. These are often used as overflow from the garage.

Taking a taxi

There are lots of taxis at Port Canaveral, as well as the airports in the area that can easily take you to/from Port Canaveral.

Ride-sharing programs, such as Uber or Lyft are also options that can save a lot of money compared to traditional taxis. These ride-sharing services allow people to use their own personal automobiles to provide car rides. Uber and Lyft are gaining in popularity among people headed to the cruise port as a less-expensive way of getting private car transportation to the port.

In either case, get a fare estimate before choosing which service is right for you.

Renting a car

Car rental

In so many cases, a one-way car rental is the best optional economically because of the flexibility it offers, as well as the per-person cost. Most major rental car facilities have locations in the Cocoa Beach area and provide complimentary shuttle service to the port.

The larger the group, the better sense renting a car makes.  Check what the rental car rates will be for the time you are looking to go, but having a rental car offers not just a means of getting to the port, but also a way to see local attractions, enjoy a greater variety of restaurants and stock up on last-minute supplies prior to getting to the cruise terminal.

When reserving your car, be sure to indicate that you will return the car in a different location and look for locations in Cape Canaveral or Cocoa Beach.  The major rental car companies have locations within 5 miles or so of the cruise terminals.

A good tip for those renting a car is to first drive the car to the cruise terminal, drop off the luggage and everyone else in your party there.  Then, the driver should drive the rental car back to the car rental location and take the free shuttle back to the pier. The reason for this is many people opt to bring the car to the car rental location first and lines can develop for the shuttles since the shuttles aren't very big.  If just one person needs a ride back with no luggage, it can be much easier to hop into the first shuttle back to the terminal since you don't have to worry about fitting luggage or family.

Royal Caribbean Transfers

Royal Caribbean offers a bus service of its own (called transfers) to bring you to the port from Orlando International Airport (MCO). Royal Caribbean offers transfers in one way increments (you can book two one-ways to create a round trip). 

To purchase a Royal Caribbean Guest Transfer or for additional information consult your travel agent or the Royal Caribbean reservations department at 1-800-327-6700.

From an area hotel

If you are staying in a hotel prior to your cruise, the hotels in Port Canaveral and Coco Beach are very convenient to the port.

Take route A1A north and follow A1A all the way until you reach the port area.  Follow the signs for the terminal of your cruise.

Some hotels in Cape Canaveral will offer cruise and park deals, where you can pay for a one night stay at the hotel and receive complimentary parking for the duration of your cruise as well as shuttle service to the pier terminal.

What time to arrive to Port Canaveral

Since 2021, Royal Caribbean enforces check-in times for what time you can check-in for your cruise.

Up to 45 days before your cruise is set to begin, you can complete the online check-in process via Royal Caribbean's app.

It's important to adhere to the check-in time so you can avoid overcrowding, as well as be admitted right away into the terminal.

Grills in front of Oasis of the Seas

If you arrive early, there are a few restaurants and bars within walking distance to the left of the cruise terminal. Porters are available to take your luggage, and then you can hang out at either Fishlips or Grills while you wait.

Covid testing near Port Canaveral

Royal Caribbean requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to get a covid test before their cruise.

You'll need to show your negative covid test for everyone in your group when you arrive at the cruise terminal.

Ideally, you should get a covid test done before your get to the port and likely closer to your home. Most local pharmacy chains offer covid tests at various costs.

I recommend anyone that is vaccinated to take the Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card Test at-home covid test. It's convenient and easy to use, with no scheduling of appointments required.

Vaccinated guests that have exhausted every option in trying to secure a pre-cruise test, can secure an antigen test performed by mobile providers outside the cruise terminal in Port Canaveral. Keep in mind that Royal Caribbean warns there are extremely limited appointments at the cruise terminal, which need to be scheduled. Pricing for this option starts at $99 USD, per person.

Royal Caribbean offering up to 35% off pre-cruise purchases with Cruise Planner sale

In:
04 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Guests can save up to 35% off on select pre-cruise purchases with Royal Caribbean's new Cruise Planner sale.

The latest pre-cruise sale runs between May 4, 2022 – May 10, 2022 and is valid on sailings departing between May 9, 2022 – March 31, 2023. 

Royal Caribbean states guests can expect to see:

Beverage: Up to 40% off

  • Classic Soda Beverage Package: 30% off onboard prices.
  • Classic Soda + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 30% off onboard prices.
  • Spring Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • San Benedetto Water Cans: Discount varies by ship.
  • Evian Water Bottles: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship.
  • Refreshment Package: Discount varies by ship. 

Shore Excursions: Up to 25% off

  • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship. 

Internet: Up to 50% Off

  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • The Key: Discount varies by ship.

Dining: Up to 55% Off

  • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings: Discount varies by ship.
Inky beach set

Gifts & Gear: Up to 20% Off

  • Anniversary Decorations with Champagne
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Chocolate Cake & Strawberries
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Vanilla Cake & Strawberries
  • Inky Beach Set
  • Inky Beach Towel (TicTacToe)
  • Soft Octopus Travel Set
  • Red Wine and Cheese
  • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel
  • Strawberries with Champagne
  • White Wine and Cheese

Photo Packages: Up to 70% Off

  • Photo Packages: From 5 - 100 Print and/or Digital Options: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: Private Photo Session: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: All Digital: Discount varies by ship.

Casitas: Up to 20% Off

  • Casita Packages: 20% Off Onboard Prices.
Odyssey pool deck couple

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

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

More helpful information

Royal Caribbean opens My Time Dining back up to unvaccinated cruise ship passengers

In:
03 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Another Covid-19 protocols has been relaxed.

Main dining room table

Royal Caribbean announced a change to its flexible dinner choice that would allow families with unvaccinated children to dine there once again.

In an email to travel agents, Royal Caribbean said unvaccinated guests seated with their traveling party are able to dine in My Time Dining once again.

Prior to this change, Royal Caribbean had restricted My Time Dining to vaccinated passengers only.

Here is the exact verbiage in the policy change.

"As we work through our health and safety protocols your clients can expect onboard, we wanted to share an update with you all. If unvaccinated guests remain seated with only his/her traveling party, we are pleased to share that My Time Dining is available to them."

This allows families with unvaccinated children to have the choice to eat at My Time Dining for dinner.

Read moreMy Time Dining versus Traditional Dining

Currently, Covid-19 vaccination is recommended, but not required, for children age 11 and under.

Up until now, the Main Dining Room, which spans multiple decks, designated areas for parents and unvaccinated kids, and areas for vaccinated parties only. My Time Dining was not available to parties that include unvaccinated guests.

One of many relaxed protocols

Royal Caribbean has slowly rolled back a number of health protocols on its ships following the passing of the Omicron variant and the cruise line's decision to enter into the CDC U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly vaccinated program.

Having nearly everyone vaccinated against Covid onboard, Royal Caribbean has been able to remove or lessen certain Covid-19 protocols that were once universal across the cruise industry.

Face masks are no longer required at all indoors on Royal Caribbean ships for vaccinated guests, including in Adventure Ocean.

Masks were also made optional recently in the cruise ship terminals during embarkation or disembarkation, unless where local regulations require it.

Royal Caribbean has also done away with is separate areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.