Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 17, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

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

Royal Caribbean revealed their Europe 2021 sailings earlier this week.

Seven ships will sail around Europe in 2021 with 70% new itineraries that feature a new mix of destinations.

The highlight of the seas is the inclusion of Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas in the mix.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 328th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available to enjoy, where Matt speaks with Michael Poole about what it is like to get married on Royal Caribbean.

Michael elected to get married on Mariner of the Seas recentlty, and this week, he shares the ins and outs of getting marred at sea.

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

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

In The Loop Travel shared a look at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Cruise Habit looked at free and paid wifi options on cruise lines.

Friday Photos - November 15, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

If you're ready for a mental escape to a Royal Caribbean cruise, then you're at the right place because we have some great Royal Caribbean photos our readers have sent in.  

Each week we ask our readers to send us their best Royal Caribbean photos to showcase right here on the blog so be sure to send yours in too!

Our first photo is from Kristy Gordon, and it is of Symphony of the Seas in Cozumel while at night.

Next up, is a photo of Vision of the Seas in Cabo San Lucas. Photo by Michael Kho.

Susan Widdowson shared her "happy place", which is enjoying breakfast from her balcony on Radiance of the Seas in Icy Straight Point, Alaska.

Matthew Hull sent in this photo of the AquaTheater from Oasis of the Seas.

Check out this shot of Symphony of the Seas and Independence of the Seas while docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Jay Spiegel.

Robin Buckley snapped this photo of Navigator of the Seas, while on their way back to the ship in Nassau.

Our final photo this week is by Sam Szpara, and it is a view of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their photos this week.  Be sure to send your photos in as well by using this form.

Empress of the Seas added to Royal Caribbean app

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has expanded its new app to include support for Empress of the Seas.

Empress now appears in the list of supported ships that can be found from within the app.

The new app is being actively developed, which means not all features area available on the app yet.  Moreover, the cruise line is slowly rolling out support for more ships.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Save up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases with Cruise Planner sale

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off certain Cruise Planner purchases during its Seas the Deals sale.

The new promotion applies to purchases made between November 14 - November 18, 2019, and applies to select sailings departing November 20, 2019 – May 31, 2020. It is valid on all ships, except for Spectrum of the Seas.

BEVERAGE: Up to 30% off on select sailings.

SHORE EXCURSIONS: Up to 25% off on select sailings.

INTERNET: Up to 60% off on select sailings

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

DINING: Up to 55% off on select sailings.

  •  Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes MJ, SC)

ACTIVITIES: 10% off on select sailings

  • All Access Ship Tour: 10% off onboard prices. (Excludes SC)

GIFTS & GEAR: 20% off on select sailings

  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • Happy Anniversary Decorations: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • Inky Travel Set: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • Strawberries with Champagne: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • White Wine & Cheese: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)

PHOTO PACKAGES: Up to 20% off on select sailings.

  • Prints – 10: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AD, AL, AN, BR, EN, EX, FR, HM, JW, LB, OA, OY, RD, RH, SC, SR, SY)
  • Prints – 15: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AL, BR, EN, FR, HM, LB, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OA, OY, QN, RH, SC, SR, SY)
  • Prints – 20: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes All Ships + Charter Sailings except AL, BR, EN, EX, FR, GR, ID, JW, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OY, QN, RD, RH, SC, SR,VI, VY)
  • Prints – All: Discount varies by ship. (AD, AN, EX, HM, ID, LB, MA, NV, OV, QN, SC, SY)
  • Digital – 15: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AL, BR, EN, FR, GR, HM, JW, LB,MA, MJ, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, RD, RH, SC, SR, SY, VI)
  • Digital – 20: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AL, BR, EN, EX,FR, GR, ID, JW, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OY, QN, RD, RH SC, SR,VI, VY)
  • Digital – All: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AD, AL, AN, BR, EN, EX, FR, HM, ID, LB, MA, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, RH, SR, SY, VY)
  • All Digital + Prints: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AD, AN, EX, GR, HM, ID, JW, LB, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, RD, SC, SY, VI, VY)

The Cruise Planner sale promises savings on certain shore excursions and drink package purchases.  Guests can check which discounts, if any, are available for their upcoming sailing by visiting the Cruise Planner site. 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.

Video: Retrofitting The Ultimate Abyss

By: Matt Hochberg

Among the many upgrades and changes coming to Oasis of the Seas is the addition of the 10-story Ultimate Abyss slide.

Royal Caribbean has spent $165 million in upgrades to make Oasis of the Seas even more impressive, and we have a sneak peek at what it took to add a fan favorite like this to the ship.

Oasis of the Seas returns to service on November 24, when she sails from PortMiami and delivers a lineup of new experiences for guests to enjoy.

We have a list of all the changes coming to Oasis of the Seas, along with a deck-by-deck look at what has been replaced or removed during the work.

Getting married on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 328 is available for downloading, where we share a listener's experience getting married on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Did you know that you can get married on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship? This week, Michael shares his recent wedding experience on Mariner of the Seas and talks about what it's like to get married on Royal Caribbean.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 328. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Royal Caribbean releases 2021 Europe sailings

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released new information about summer 2021 European cruises.

Anthem of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will return to Southampton and Barcelona respectively, while the brand-new Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s second Quantum Ultra class ship, will sail through Turkey and Greece.

All itineraries are available to book as of today with the exception of Odyssey of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas which will be open to book the week of December 9.

Anthem of the Seas will be the first Quantum-class ship to take guests to ports in Norway including Stavarnger, Kristiansand and Geiranger. Other new stops for Anthem include Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark and Bordeaux, France. Select sailings include late nights in Paris, France and overnights in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Lisbon, Portugal. 

Anthem of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Harmony of the Seas will be sailing 7-night itineraries through the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona. For those wishing to start and end their trip in Italy, round-trip sailings from Rome are also available.

Harmony of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Odyssey of the Seas, set to debut in November 2020, will be Royal Caribbean’s first Quantum Ultra Class ship to visit the spectacular shores of both Turkey and Greece on numerous itineraries. Odyssey will open for bookings the week of Dec. 9, 2019.

Vision of the Seas will continue to offer 12-night Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona sailing the Greek Isles and making stops in Kotor, Motenegro; Nice, France; Rome, Florence/Pisa, Italy and include an overnight in Venice, Italy and late nights in Split, Croatia.

Vision of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Select Jewel of the Seas sailings from her homeport of Amsterdam to the British Isles and Baltics will include overnights in Edinburgh (S. Queensferry), Scotland and in St. Petersburg, Russia; as well as late-nights in Liverpool, England – marking the first time a Radiance class ship calls to the city – and Bordeaux, France.

Jewel of the Seas will end the summer homeported in Barcelona, where she will offer sailings to the Iberian Peninsula and Greek Isles including stops in Cannes, France; Athens and Santorini, Greece.

Jewel of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Rhapsody of the Seas will spend another summer season in Venice offering 7-night sailings alternating between Greece/Croatia and the Greek Isles. Select sailings will offer late nights in Kotor, Montenegro.

Rhapsody of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Adventure of the Seas will offer 7- to 11-night sailings including overnights in St. Petersburg, Russia from Stockholm, Sweden and will also sail to Helsinki, Finland; Tallin, Estonia and Visby, Sweden. Adventure will be open for booking the week of December 9.

Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members can begin booking sailings on November 13, 2019, with the general public available to begin booking on November 14, 2019.

10 tips for saving money on booking a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

Anyone booking a Royal Caribbean cruise is going to want to know how to save some money. The price of a cruise will vary depending on a lot of factors, but there is always an opportunity to keep more cash in your pcket.

Cruise fares vary considerably, and insiders know there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep the cost of your next Royal Caribbean cruise low and save some of your money for other things (like spending it onboard your cruise).

1. Book Early

Booking early is one of the best strategies to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  As more and more people book a cruise, inventory drops and prices go up.  

Generally speaking, booking early is the safest and most reliable way to save on the price of your cruise. Booking more than a year in advance will garner you the lowest rates for quite some time and get you on the cruise you specifically want.  Heck, it's likely to even get you the best prices on even the most sought after staterooms.

Booking early also affords you the ability to track prices after you book because you can always apply any cheaper rates to your cruise up until final payment. 

2. Book at the last minute

This tip is clearly the opposite of our first tip but when all else fails, Royal Caribbean sometimes offers good prices on a cruise in the last couple of months leading up to the cruise. Some cruise fares drop to really absurd prices that make living at home more expensive. 

If you have the means to get to the port in short notice without incurring high travel costs, last minute cruises can be a great choice.  The problem with last minute sailings is you will have limited selection of itineraries and/or stateroom options.

Last minute cruises are usually past the final payment date, so booking the cruise will require full payment up front but the deals that are out there can be substatial if you can time it right.

3. Research your discounts

Royal Caribbean offers numerous discounts to different groups of people and demographis, so it is worth researching if any apply to you.

Regional and military discounts are offered from time to time to the general public while past Royal Caribbean cruises can get discounts based on their level of membership in the Crown and Anchor Society.

Crown and Anchor Society offers Savings Certificates that are available by logging into the Royal Caribbean site and seeing which certificates are currently available.  Select sailings will receive anywhere from $25 to hundreds of dollars off their cruise, which is usually stackable with other discounts.

4. Consider different room(s)

Sometimes booking two staterooms instead of one can actually save you money.  Larger families or those seeking more space may find two inside cabins cheaper than a larger room/suite.  This is especially true on older Royal Caribbean ships, where large balconies and suites are in less abundance.

Likewise, family staterooms and some suites may become available to the general public if unbooked and can offer lots of space for less cost.  It's important to consider all cabin categories before deciding which is the best choice.

5. Consider your time of year

Supply and demand dominates Royal Caribbean pricing strategy, which means cruises during Christmas, Spring Break and the Summer can much more expensive than other times of the year.

If you have the flexibility to go when kids are still in school, you can save lots of money.  Likewise, cruising during hurricane season can net you savings along with immediately after or before major holidays when most people do not have vacation time.

The difference in price between one week and the next can be tremendous, so if you can swing it, consider alternative weeks as a way to reduce the cruise fare.  Combining this tip with our first tip of booking early can save you even more.

6. Older ships are a great value

Royal Caribbean loves to advertise their newest cruise ships but the older class of ships are still great options for a cruise vacation and are prices much less on average.

Royal Caribbean has been working on refurbishing every one of its older cruise ships with amenities found first on the Oasis-class and Vision and Radiance class ships now offer modern upgrades and options that have breathed new life into these ships.

Even with the upgrades, older Royal Caribbean ships will have more competitive prices and are often located in smaller cruise markets that may mean a shorter trip to the port for you.  

And did we mention the older ships are still a lot of fun?  Radiance class ships are beautiful with their glass protected views of the ocean and Vision class ships pack a lot of fun into each vessel. 

7. Look for booking incentives

These days the fare you pay for your Royal Caribbean cruise may not change all that much but what you get for booking can make the difference between an average priced cruise and a cheap cruise.

Booking incentives like onboard credit, free gratuities and complimentary unlimited drink packages can save you hundreds of dollars and it's important to see what offers are out there.  

Travel agents are often the best people to assist in finding these booking incentive deals.  

These days, most cruises can offer you at least some sort of booking incentive and every dollar saved counts!

8. Use your credit card rewards

Credit card rewards programs have never been more competitive and if you use credit cards to pay for every day purchases, you can rack up savings for your next Royal Caribbean cruise quickly. 

Royal Caribbean has partnered with Bank of America to offer a credit card that allows everyone to earn points towards onboard credits and even a free cruise.

Other credit cards also offer cash rewards that can be used towards your Royal Caribbean cruise.  By saving your points, you can cash out your reward points close to your cruise date to help reduce the cost of your cruise fare or help pay for things on your cruise.

9. Book your next Royal Caribbean cruise onboard

Royal Caribbean will reward new bookings made onboard its ships with bonus incentives.

Depending on how far in advance you book, the length of the sailing, stateroom type and fare type, you can get hundreds of dollars in bonus onboard credit. While the cruise fare price is the same onboard as back at home, the difference is Royal Caribbean will give you extra money to spend onboard.

10. Use a travel agent

Travel agents have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in the world of Royal Caribbean offers.  They get word of new offers first and because it's their job to book cruises all day long, they know the system in an out.

I have used a travel agent to book every one of my Royal Caribbean cruises and I can't tell you how much time they have saved me, as well as money.  A good Royal Caribbean travel agent can be your partner in the planning process as well as saving you money.

I will admit not all travel agents are the same, and some are definitely better than others, so it is important to ask questions of them.  The good ones will be able to find the best deals for you and track any new deals that come out that can lower your cruise fare.

Our sponsor travel agency, and one I recommend, is MEI Travel.

Video: Sneak Peek - Oasis of the Seas is Amplified

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released a brand new video today that offers a behind-the-scenes look at Royal Caribbean's largest amplification to date.

Currently undergoing a major, $165 million transformation, Oasis of the Seas will soon emerge from her upgrades to offer guests a new level of fun at sea.

From the tallest slide at sea, The Ultimate Abyss, to the cruise line’s first barbecue restaurant – Portside BBQ – and the Ultimate Panoramic suites with 200-degree, floor-to-ceiling views, the original gamechanger that revolutionized the industry marks its 10-year anniversary in a big way.

The amplified Oasis will debut her new look in November 2019 to begin 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami, FL before heading to the Big Apple in May 2020 as the largest ship to ever sail from the Northeast.

Royal Caribbean named best cruise line for the money

By: Matt Hochberg

U.S. News & World Report named Royal Caribbean International as the best cruise line for your money in its 2020 list of the best cruise lines.

With more than 20 cruise ships, Royal Caribbean is one of the largest lines sailing the ocean today. Having the ability to accommodate thousands of guests per ship allows the company to keep rates low. In fact, travelers may find itineraries in popular Caribbean, European and Alaskan destinations for less than $200 per person.

The top five for the Best Cruise Line for the Money were:

  1. Royal Caribbean International
  2. Celebrity Cruises
  3. Norwegian Cruise Line
  4. Princess Cruises
  5. Carnival Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean has won this award in 2017, 2015 and 2013. It was edged out last year by Celebrity Cruises.

U.S. News & World Reports compiles its rankings based on "an analysis of expert and user opinions." U.S. News ranked the cruise lines based on a methodology that factors in itinerary affordability, health ratings and reputation among experts and travelers.