Australia's cruise season begins this month with Radiance and Rhapsody of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Australia's cruise season kicks off in the month of September as ships like Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas call the land down under home for the summer season.

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas will debut in Australia this season on October 15 and it will be the first time she's come to Australia since her major revitalization that took place earlier this year.  Radiance will sail in Australia until April 5, 2012.

Joining Radiance will be Rhapsody of the Seas on November 13, marking her fifth season in Australia. Radiance will remain in Australia until April 13, 2012 and offer 17 different itineraries, such as seven to 18-night South Pacific trips, Queensland voyages and weekend "sampler" trips.

For those cruising on Radiance of the Seas, her maiden Australia itineraries offer cruises as short as two nights or as long as 18, and depart from Sydney and Fremantle.  There's also five 14 and 16-night cruises to New Zealand or a 12-night sailing to the South Pacific.

A new two-night "weekend getaway" itinerary, sailing on November 18, will offer Australians a chance to sample a Radiance-class cruise, while a seven-night Tasmania itinerary, sailing on February 12 next year, will overnight at Melbourne and Hobart.

Radiance will also make a 34-night circumnavigation of Australia.

Royal Caribbean launches marketing campaigns in France and Italy

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has launched two new marketing campaigns in Europe.  

In France, Royal Caribbean has published brochures advertising cruise departures from France.  Royal Caribbean released two new brochures "Cruise in Europe 2012" and "International Cruises 2012".  Available at all the tourism partners or on request, they include for the first time cruises from three French ports (Marseille, Toulon and Le Havre). 

In Italy, starting September 18, Royal Caribbean's new TV campaign will start,  "A vacation or a cruise any Royal?" planned for the TV networks of Mec La7 and the main Sky channels and Discovery.

It 'the first time that Royal Caribbean plans to run a TV campaign during the fall.

"After a successful summer campaign, back on TV in order to consolidate our brand awarenss has been increasing steadily, and push not only the next departures of winter, but summer 2012, the company will open the banner of novelties, with the opening of the home port of Bari and Messina, in addition to strengthening those of Genoa, Venice and Civitavecchia - Pirrera" says Roberto, marketing manager for Royal Caribbean Italy, "The campaign gives a nod to the typical customer of Royal Caribbean, the so-called active Socializer, or a person aged between 25 and 55 years of age, attentive to new, living life in an active and loves to socialize with people from other nationalities. "

Excursion Focus: Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Day Pass

By: Matt Hochberg

With Royal Caribbean now making regular stops on its Western Caribbean itineraries in Falmouth, Jamaica, many cruisers are looking for good excursion ideas for this port.  On our recent cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas, we tried out the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Day Pass. (Link contains affiliate link, which means I get paid a finders fee, but no additional cost to you)


The Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Day Pass is an excursion that is available from Resortforaday.  The day pass offers passengers access to the  Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, about 30 minutes from the Falmouth port.  There, guests have full access to the facilities including the pool, beach, food, beverages, chairs and more.

The resort is located directly on the beach and offers fantastic views and access to the ocean.  The sandy beach has lots of room with beach chairs right on the water.  There is also two pool facilities available for use.  The first pool is your generic swimming pool located near the beach and offers a fantastic view.  The Hilton recently opened a new pool facility, called the Sugar Mill Falls Water Park, which offers a pool, swim up bar, lazy river and a few water slides.

In addition, your day pass includes towels, non-motorized water sports including snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, volleyball, aerobics, and tennis.  There is also an optional transportation package that includes transfer to and from the port.


The Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa is a beautiful resort that is great for those looking for a beach/pool getaway while in Falmouth.  After a quick ride (25 minutes or so), you arrive at the resort where you pay the remainder of your balance (the company we booked with required only a deposit to book the package) and then you're given quick access.  We were happy to see the staff working quickly to get us onto the resort to enjoy the day.

The beach is quite nice and among all of our beach days on our Western Caribbean cruise, this beach was by far the nicest.  It was the least rocky with clear blue water and serene atmosphere.  If your idea of a beach day is enjoying a calm, picturesque view, then this is the beach for you.  There aren't any docks or water toys in the ocean, but that's okay because the nearby water park makes up for it.

The Sugar Mill Falls Water Park is really a glorified pool facility.  To call it a water park is a bit of a stretch, but it's more than just another pool.  It's one of the nicest pools we've been to and frankly, we spent most of our time here.  The pool opens up to a swim up bar, which you can get drinks for free.  There's a lazy river as well, although we found it quite difficult to navigate the lazy river while staying in your group.  There's also one large water slide and two smaller slides.  The Sugar Mill Falls Water Park really compliments the resort well and combined with the ocean access, make the perfect aquatic excursion for families.  If you want serene and calm, you have the ocean.  If you want to burn off energy and have fun, Sugar Mill Falls Water Park is for you.

Included in the price of admission is unlimited alcoholic drinks and food.  The drinks aren't top shelf liquor, but they were quite good and we found the bartenders to be rather liberal with their pouring. The staff was also quite nice and really made our stay here feel welcome.  The food wasn't anything special, however.  We found the food to be rather generic resort food and nothing great.  If you were staying here for a week, I'd be concerned but since you really only eat lunch, it's not a deal breaker but it is something to be aware of.

With the cost of the package (we paid $75 per adult), it's a little on the pricey side but acceptable.  All-inclusive beaches in Mexico are somewhat cheaper, but for Jamaica it's in line with other all-inclusive beaches we've been to at other ports.  Like any all-inclusive, the cost makes more sense if you're looking to have a lot to drink.  But even with people in our group that didn't drink, we really enjoyed our time at the resort and if you consider you'll spend about five hours or so at the resort, the price per hour is cheaper than most excursions you can find.

Location: P.O. Box 999 Montego Bay, Jamaica

Website: Resortforaday

Cost: $75 per adult or $55 per child (Age 4-17).  Optional transfer included increases price to $90 & $70 respectively.

Falmouth, Jamaica Photo Update

By: Matt Hochberg

On our cruise to Falmouth, Jamaica last week, we took some time to take some photos of the port area to give you an idea of what the construction progress is like.  To be honest, we found the port a lot further along than we had read about.  

British writer tries out Oasis of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

British new site BurtonMail sent one of their writers to Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas to see what all the hype is about.

The writer had concerns about cruising during hurricane season, but the temptation of being on the second largest cruise ship in the world was too much, "Well we put our fears to the wind and took the leap — to discover scorching temperatures and some of the most beautiful ports of call we have experienced."

The size of the ship seemed to really capture their imagination as well, "Without a doubt, if you are a first time cruiser you will be blown away by the enormity of this 5,400 passenger vessel which is 213ft high from the waterline and 1,187ft long."

They did manage to compare Oasis of the Seas to Independence of the Seas, a Freedom-class ship based in the United Kingdom that they are familiar with.

Firstly the non-specialised restaurants on the Oasis have a limited selection. The buffet style cafe — the Windjammer —offers far less menu choices than the same-named venue on the Independence.

Plus you can’t help but notice where the Independence of the Seas blueprint has pretty much been recreated bolt by bolt in some areas — it’s a case of spot the difference at some venues between the Independence and the Oasis.

A few cost-cutting measures are also sneaking in much to the annoyance of Royal Caribbean’s faithful following. For example the DVD of your cruise is widely advertised as the way of keeping your cruise memories alive, but it’s only when you get it home you realize that what used to be a personalized offering of footage shot during your cruise is now just a one cut suits all DVD filled with ship documentaries.

These niggles in no way detract from an amazing ship but past customers do notice these changes.

"High Seas Rally" offers biker cruise on Royal Caribbean

By: Matt Hochberg

If you're a motorcycle aficionado and enjoy a good biker rally, then there's a Royal Caribbean cruise for you.  The "High Seas Rally" cruise is set to board Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas on October 30, 2011.

For those interested, there's some unique events as part of the group such as

  • Pirate Bingo
  • Belly Smacker Contest
  • Private rally party on ship. FREE drinks and food the 1st hour.
  • Private evening dining, with biker attire

In addition, as many as 35 passengers can bring their own bikes on the ship and roll them into port.

Royal Caribbean sponsors Blackburn Rovers soccer team

By: Matt Hochberg

While aboard Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas in Messina, Italy, Royal Caribbean announced it will sponsor the Blackburn Rovers soccer team during the 2011-2012 soccer season.

On board, along with General Manager Gianni Rotondo, management and senior officers Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, the Directors of Football Catania Antonino Pulvirenti, Chairman, Pietro Lo Monaco, CEO, Joseph Bonanno, and Sports Director striker Maxi Lopez. 

The partnership,  provides Royal Caribbean a rotating banner on the sidelines and messages during the pre-game and between the first and second periods.

In addition, Royal Caribbean's logo will appear on backdrops for interviews in the press room stage,  Massimino and the Sports Center Torre del Grifo, as well as on the website The brand will also be present on the inside of the Club Newsletter and monthly Calcio Catania.

The partnership between Royal Caribbean and the seal of Liverpool FC arrive at the company's strong ties with the region, since their departure from Sicily, in particular by the new home port of Messina, is one of the big news in the cruise, Royal Caribbean 2012.

From Messina, in 2012, it set sail for the first time in the history of the company's Navigator of the Seas, 7-night cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean touch that Greece and Turkey from late April to late October.

"We are very proud to take the field next to a young and promising team like West Ham - said Gianni Rotondo, Director General Royal Caribbean Italy - This partnership highlights the strong link our brand to Italy, where soccer is the national sport, and the region of Sicily, where early as next year will grow in the presence of our ships, but also wants to emphasize the role of leader in the sports industry that Royal Caribbean International cruise is of worldwide and willingness to contribute to the promotion of sports. "

"I hope that this is the start of a relationship of full and fruitful cooperation - said Antonio Santos, chairman of Blackburn Rovers - I expect a major development of this partnership that will allow as many as up to me today for the first time on a cruise ship. "

"The attention to the south and the willingness to contribute to the development of an investment project on the southern territory show the foresight of the company - said Pietro Lo Monaco, Managing Director of Liverpool FC - We're not trying to marry partners sponsor, but simple ideas and Projects: Royal Caribbean for us it is. "

"I want to win the bet with the director and make nine goals by December so that we can go on a cruise - concluded the striker Maxi Lopez - Royal Caribbean is a great company, ideal for us who want to grow up on the field."  

Royal Caribbean now allows children in Concierge Lounges

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has changed its rules and will now allow children in its exclusive concierge lounges aboard its ships in the evening.

Previously passengers under the age of 21 were not allowed in the lounges between 5:00pm and 8:30pm because of the open bar that was available.  In addition, Royal Caribbean is relaxing the dress code from "formal or evening attire" to "smart casual" after 5:00pm.

Concierge lounges aboard Royal Caribbean are reserved for those staying in a suite as well as the top tier of loyal passengers (based on their status in the Crown and Anchor Society).