Harmony of the Seas Transatlantic Crossing Infographic

In:
26 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is making her away across the Atlantic to her new home in Port Everglades, Florida, and Royal Caribbean has released a new infographic that shows off how long this journey really is.

Harmony of the Seas will arrive in Port Everglades, Florida on November 5, 2016, in the early morning hours. 

You can track Harmony of the Seas' progress during her journey, via our Harmony of the Seas ship tracker.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean offering up to 30% off onboard prices for spa services

In:
26 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% on select spa services reserved through the Cruise Planner on most cruises that guests have booked.

Not all services offered by the spa include a discount, but there are quite a number of discounted options to choose from, including deep-tissue massages.

The 30% off deal mentions this is a "limited time offer," although there is no indication of when the discount will expire.  Keep in mind that anything pre-purchased via the Cruise Planner is 100% refundable before your cruise begins, so there is little risk in purchasing it under this deal and deciding later to keep it or not.

This is the first time we have seen discounts on spa services, although up to 30% off deals have been spotted on drink packages and internet packages.

Would you book a spa service if you received this kind of discount offer? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Royal Caribbean names Brittany Affolter as Godmother to Harmony of the Seas

In:
25 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has found its Godmother for its newest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, and that person is South Florida educator Brittany Affolter.

Brittany’s work with Teach for America in Miami-Dade County has supported and inspired a number of high-needs schools in Royal Caribbean’s hometown.

Following a search that lasted months, Affolter was among three finalists, who then competed in a vote by the general public.  Brittany was won that popular vote, and was selected to become the ship's Godmother. For winning, Affolter will be recognized for her incredible contributions to the education of South Florida youth with a grant of $25,000 donated by Royal Caribbean. The grant money will be donated to Teach for America Miami-Dade.

In addition, Affolter will have the privilege to officially name the ship and bless the vessel and all those who sail onboard, during the prestigious naming ceremony at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL on November 10, 2016.

Brittany will take part in the inaugural cruise and then be invited back to enjoy a seven-night Caribbean voyage on he Harmony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean offering bonus instant savings on cruises booked over next 100 hours

In:
21 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will offer bonus instant savings of up to $100 for cruises booked over the next 100 hours, in addition to the current 60% off second guest promotion.

Royal Caribbean cruises booked between October 21 - 30, 2016 applies to sailings on or after November 19, 2016 (excluding China departures). This deal was extended through October 30 by Royal Caribbean on October 26.

The offer includes

  • 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full fare guest.
  • 30% cruise fare savings for 3rd and 4th guests booked in the same stateroom as first two qualifying guests.
  • Instant savings
    • Sailings 5 nights or less
      • Interior and oceanview staterooms: $25
      • Balcony and suite staterooms: $50
    • Sailings 6-nights or longer
      • Interior and oceanview staterooms: $50
      • Balcony staterooms: $75
      • Suites: $100
  • Eligible Caribbean and Bahamas holiday sailings, offer includes a per stateroom savings based on stateroom category.
    • For eligible holiday sailings 5 nights or less departing December 22-31, 2016 and 2017
      • $50 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview and $100 off per stateroom for balcony and suite categories.
    • For eligible holiday sailings 6-nights or longer, departing December 15-31, 2016 or 2017
      • $100 off per stateroom for interior and oceanview, $200 off per stateroom for balcony, and $300 off per stateroom for suite categories.

BOGO60 is combinable with 3rd and 4th Guest Savings, Instant Savings, Holiday Savings, Anthem Free Upgrade, Crown & Anchor discounts and NextCruise offers. BOGO60 and 3rd and 4th Guest Savings are not combinable with restricted rates. Instant Savings and Holiday Savings are combinable with restricted rates and NextCruise offers.

Instant Savings and Holiday Savings are not combinable Crown & Anchor discounts. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion.

Offer open to residents of U.S. or Canada. 

Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage package guide & review

In:
20 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Deluxe Beverage Package is the cruise line's unlimited alcohol offering for guests to enjoy a wide variety of drinks for one fixed price.

Drink package

There is one unlimited alcohol package for guests who wish to "have it all" and lock in their price.  Beer, wine, cocktails, coffee, water and more are all included in this package and purchasing the Deluxe Beverage package means you will know your cost for drinks in advance and be able to lock it in now.

Similar to the Refreshment package, the Deluxe Beverage package includes sodas, water, mocktails, premium coffee and tea, fresh-squeezed juice, as well as cocktails, spirits and liquors, as well as beer by the bottle or can and wine by the glass.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean Drink Package Info & Tips

It promises a flat cost to enjoy as many beverages during a cruise with very few limitations.

What does the deluxe drink package include?

Guests can choose between unlimited cocktails, beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, premium coffee, tea, and bottled water. This package includes drinks with a value of up to $14. For guests that would like to enjoy a beverage over that threshold, a $14 credit will be applied towards the beverage of choice and guests will be required to pay the balance.

Guests with Deluxe drink package can also get 40% discount on wines under $100. Wines above $100 will receive a 20% discount.

All Beverage Packages exclude any beverages served inside licensed Starbucks stores.

How much is the deluxe drink package?

Drink package offerings at booking time

Based on observed prices we researched, the base price is between $56 to $105 per person, per night excluding the service charge.

An automatic 18% gratuity will be added to the cost of any drink package at the time of purchase.

This means the daily price you pay covers all the drinks in the package as well as gratuity.

Drink package listed in Cruise Planner

There are pre-cruise discounts available for guests that purchase the drink package online, via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner.

Royal Caribbean uses variable pricing for its Deluxe Beverage package, and the price can change a lot depending on the ship, time of year, and itinerary.

When should I buy a Royal Caribbean drink package?

Without a doubt, you're better off buying any drink package before your cruise begins from the Royal Caribbean website.

Prices onboard are always higher than the pre-cruise offering.

Royal Caribbean employs a great deal of sales throughout the year, and the price of the Deluxe Beverage package will likely fluctuate. There's no telling when there will be a discount or better price, so our advice is to book the drink package early and then cancel and rebook if there's a lower price later.

By booking now, you lock in the current rate, but if there's a better sale later (like on Black Friday) you cancel and rebook at the lower price with no penalty.

Read moreHow to get a get a discount on a Royal Caribbean drink package

Who is the deluxe drink package best for?

Drink

Someone who wants to be able to pick from the widest variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks without having to pay for each drink individually will want the deluxe package.

Royal Caribbean advertises the deluxe package as having "virtually unlimited options" and that is pretty close to the truth.  Guests who can consume a lot of cocktails, beers, coffees, juices and more are well-suited for this package.  

A common scenario we hear about is a guest who likes to drink a lot of coffee and/or juice in the morning, and then enjoy alcoholic beverages during the day and evening.

Is the Deluxe Beverage package worth it?

Rum and coke

Does it make sense for you to invest in a drink package now with the large up-front cost?

The Deluxe Beverage package has the highest cost among all the Royal Caribbean drink packages, but your bar bill could stack up quickly without one.

A bottle of beer will cost around $8 or $9, cocktails will cost $12-$14, and wine by the glass can easily get up to $25 each. And that's before the automatic 18% gratuity.

If you're trying to decide if Royal Caribbean's Deluxe Beverage Package is worth it, you should also consider it includes non-alcoholic drinks.  Premium coffees, bottled water, and even sodas are included, and these can make it much easier to get your money's worth from the package.

Your best bet is to buy a drink package before the cruise to get the lowest price, otherwise you'll probably need to drink another drink every day to make up the difference.

If your drink package cost is around $65 per day, then you'll need to order enough drinks every day to make it worthwhile.  If having that much to drink every day sounds impossible, you could just skip a drink package and order drinks a la carte instead.

Man and woman at bar in CocoCay

You should also think about the itinerary you're sailing to make sure a drink package makes sense.  If your cruise goes to Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee, your drink package benefits work there too, and that's added value.

But if your sailing is a port intensive Alaska cruise or Mediterranean cruise, you'll have significantly less time on the ship to consume enough drinks.

Can I get souvenir glasses/mugs while using the deluxe drink package?

Pineapple drinks

You can get drinks like Labadoozies, Coco locos, after dinner shots or the drink of the day with the deluxe drink package but does not include the souvenir mugs/glasses they are often served in.

If you were to order a drink in a souvenir cup, you'd be charged the difference for the souvenir cup.

You should tell your waiter or bartender to get the drink without the souvenir cup to avoid being charged extra for the souvenir cup.

Can I purchase the deluxe drink package and share drinks with someone I know onboard?

Roving bartender

No, sharing beverages on any of Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages is strictly prohibited.

What you need to know about neighborhood balcony staterooms on Royal Caribbean's Oasis class ships

In:
19 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Among the many impressive features on Royal Caribbean's Oasis class ships, are two neighborhoods that offer a lot to see and do, as well as incredible staterooms that look into these areas.

Central Park balcony and Boardwalk balcony staterooms are a compelling choice for anyone looking at stateroom choices on any Oasis class ship, and here is the important information to consider when booking these kinds of rooms.

What is a Central Park or Boardwalk balcony room?

These neighborhood facing balconies are a balcony category stateroom that offer a balcony that looks towards either Central Park or Boardwalk, instead of a balcony that overlooks the ocean.

The idea was a first in the cruise industry because prior to Oasis of the Seas, balconies had never been internally facing. 

The neighborhood balconies offer the same fresh air and light that ocean view balconies do, but with the opportunity to enjoy the ambiance of the Boardwalk or Central Park neighborhoods.  In addition, neighborhood view balcony staterooms tend to be slightly cheaper than ocean view balconies.

The exact size of a neighborhood view stateroom with balcony is 182 square feet with a 52 square foot balcony. Both types of rooms include twin beds that convert to a queen, a desk, sitting area (some with sofa bed), TV and minibar and a balcony with two chairs and small table.

Central Park balcony rooms are on Decks 10 through 14, and Boardwalk balcony rooms are on Decks 8 through 14.

Why might you not want to book a Central Park or Boardwalk balcony stateroom?

Other than what you can see from your balcony, the room experience between a neighborhood balcony and an ocean view balcony are pretty much the same. For some folks, a balcony without an ocean view is not desirable.

A common concern that we hear about is noise from the neighborhood impacting the guest experience. In our experiences, the ambient noise from Central Park or Boardwalk is negligible and does not bleed into the stateroom itself. Of course, if you desire the sound of the ocean with your balcony, that will be missing here. It is worth noting that Boardwalk balcony rooms can have more noise when there are shows occurring in the AquaTheater, but your stateroom location and noise tolerance will vary.

It is also worth noting in terms of privacy, there are neighborhood balcony rooms on the opposite side of the ship that will face your balcony.

What do neighborhood balcony rooms offer that ocean view rooms do not?

There are some inherent advantages to booking a neighborhood balcony room over an ocean view balcony room.  First and foremost, the price for neighborhood balcony rooms is often less expensive than ocean view balcony rooms.

Moreover, neighborhood balcony rooms allow guests staying in them to enjoy some great people watching opportunities and enjoy the general ambiance of the neighborhoods you can view.  

Boardwalk view balcony rooms also have an added benefit of some offering full or partial views of the AquaTheater performances.

Differences between Central Park and Boardwalk rooms

As the name implies, the primary and most noticeable difference between Central Park and Balcony rooms, are the view.

Central Park view balcony rooms offer a view of the Central Park neighborhood below.  Central Park is 

Central Park is one of seven distinct "neighborhoods" that help break up an Oasis class ship.  It is an immense area in the middle of the ship that offers a lush park for guests to enjoy with tropical plants, trees and walkways. Central Park features a lush garden in an area about as long as the Royal Promenade and twice as wide.  Central Park rooms tend to have a bit less noise from the neighborhood because there are no shows in this area (there is live music in the evenings), and there tends to be less guests hanging out in the area.

The Boardwalk neighborhood is reminiscent of the whimsical seaside resorts that dot the coast of England and the nostalgic boardwalks of yesteryear such as Coney Island. There is a carousel, restaurants and the AquaTheater stage. Unlike Central Park balcony rooms, there is a partial view of the ocean when facing aft, and some rooms even offer views of the AquaTheater (the more aft your room is, the better the chance). Because of the shows and the fact the Boardwalk tends to have higher foot traffic than Central Park, it can be a bit noisier than Central Park.  

Summary

In the end, Royal Caribbean's neighborhood balcony appeal will depend on how you cruise. Do you like quiet time watching the sea, or enjoy arriving into port? Do you find the Central Park or Boardwalk neighborhoods particularly intriguing? 

When you consider the usual less expensive cost for neighborhood balcony rooms and the new perks for neighborhood balcony rooms, it is a particularly compelling option. In addition, many Boardwalk balcony rooms still offer a view of the ocean when looking to the aft of the ship.

While neighborhood balcony staterooms do not offer a full view of the ocean, having a balcony, regardless of view, is still what makes a great cruise experience.

How to purchase Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages

In:
13 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Are you ready to purchase a Royal Caribbean unlimited drink package?

Beverage packages have become incredibly popular with passengers because they like the idea of locking in the price of their drinks onboard by getting an unlimited drink package so they have one less thing to worry about.  

Here is how you can purchase a drink package for your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Online before the cruise

Screenshot of the drink packages for sale

To pre-order any drink package online, go to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner and choose which drink packages you want to order.

Drink packages are available for ordering online many months in advance of a cruise sailing date.  In fact, it is one of the first items available for purchase via the Cruise Planner.

Buying a Royal Caribbean drink package before your cruise begins offers two significant advantages: you can split up the total cost of the cruise vacation because the drink package cost will be charged at the time of purchase and it will be ready to be used once you board the ship.

Drink package price

As an example, the price on Icon of the Seas for the Deluxe Beverage package that included unlimited alcohol will cost $643.93 per person (before gratuity) for a 7-night cruise. For two guests with gratuity, that comes out to $1,519.56.

Read more: Guide to Icon of the Seas

While that is a lot of money up-front, you could pay it off now on a different credit card billing cycle, and not have to pay it on top of other purchases made on your sailing. Guests can pay off the drink packages before the cruise even begins, which means less of a bill that will be incurred following the conclusion of a cruise.

dazzles-espresso-martini-drink-package

Moreover, most sailings offer some sort of pre-purchase discount on the drink package, which can bring that cost down.  Pre-purchasing a drink package online is the most reliable way of saving money on a drink package purchase (compared to booking it onboard).

Going back to our example, Royal Caribbean advertises the price is 20% off onboard prices.

As an added benefit, buying online means you won't have to waste time waiting to buy a drink package onboard the ship.

In short, your best choice is to pre-purchase a drink package before the cruise to get the lowest price and save time once you get on the ship.

Phone

Using a phone

There is one more method of pre-purchasing an unlimited drink package and that is by phone.

Guests may call (800) 398-9819 in the U.S. or Canada to reserve drink packages for their cruise.

If there's ever a choice, it's faster and easier to book a drink package online rather than the phone, however, there is one reason to call in and that's if you want to buy the drink package with alcohol but get someone else in the room a different drink package.

Royal Caribbean's rules stipulate if one adult gets the Deluxe Beverage Package, then all other adults in the cabin have to get one too. This is to prevent sharing of drink package benefits.

If there's an adult booked in the cabin that does not or cannot drink alcohol, you can call Royal Caribbean and ask for that adult to instead get the Refreshment package, which is the non-alcoholic option.

You have to call in to get this workaround, as it cannot be done online.

Onboard

Drink package table

Another option is to wait and purchase the drink package onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Drink packages can be purchased at various kiosks set up around the ship, as well as any bar or lounge.

There only real advantage of waiting to buy a drink package onboard is if you choose to purchase a drink package on a day other than embarkation day.

In that case, Royal Caribbean will prorate the cost of the package for the remainder of the cruise.

If you know you're going to get the drink package, buy it online pre-cruise to save money and time. The onboard price will absolutely cost more per day than if pre-purchased.

Royal Caribbean Secrets: Tony the Gnome on Harmony of the Seas

In:
13 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is filled with a lot of fun activities, exciting shows and incredible dining choices.  The level of detail on this brand new ship is truly amazing, including one very small (and cute) bit of detail that is easy to overlook.

Hidden in the Central Park neighborhood, among the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers, is Tony the Garden Gnome!


Photo by Tracey Van Leeuwen

Tony was donated by Matt and Samantha Alexander, and have been adopted by the ship's horticulturist, Tom Brownlee.

Guests can find Tony under a tree, opposite the Trellis Bar in the Central Park neighborhood.  While not as thrilling as the ship's water slides, Tony is a great example of a fun hidden gem onboard Harmony of the Seas that you can visit once onboard.

Royal Caribbean to resume calls to its private destination of CocoCay on October 15

In:
11 Oct 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Hurricane Matthew inflicted damage to many areas of the Bahamas, including Royal Caribbean's private destination of CocoCay.  The cruise line has skipped scheduled stops there since the storm passed, but will resume calls later this week.

CocoCay is scheduled to welcome guests back starting on Saturday, October 15.

If that schedule holds up, Enchantment of the Seas should be the first Royal Caribbean ship to return to the private destination on that date.

The extent of the damage to CocoCay has not been disclosed, although Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley issued a letter to guests last weekend that indicated the cruise line was working with Bahamian officials to help repair and restore services in the region.

"There are fewer details to share yet in the Bahamas, but he need will no doubt be great, and we will do all we can to assist. We are in contact with the Bahamian government to understand their most urgent needs and how we can help."