Royal Caribbean's presence in Italy is growing

In:
03Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Vice President Michael Bayley visited the new Royal Caribbean headquarters in Italy, the second largest in the world, that had opened in 2010 to announce that Royal Caribbean will handle 60% more passengers in 2011.  Next year will see 2.5 million passengers, airports will grow by 35% to a total of 671 calls at 17 ports.

With Royal Caribbean's addition of 3 Voyager class ships to Italy, about 3,300 passengers will now sail in and out of Italy. Navigator of the Seas docks at Civitavecchia, Voyager of the Seas for the first time in Venice and Mariner of the Seas for the first time will dock in Genoa.

Royal Caribbean is planning on its ships visiting a number of Italian ports, including Civitavecchia, Venice, Livorno, Naples, Messina, Ravenna, Bari, Cagliari, Palermo, La Spezia, Sorrento Salerno, Portofino, Genoa, Portoferraio, Santa Margherita and Trieste.

Adventure of the Seas move to Europe required onboard changes

In:
03Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has moved a lot of its ships to Europe, primarily from the Caribbean, and in a recent Royal Caribbean blog post, there was an interesting tidbit about what changes Royal Caribbean made to it's Voyager class Adventure of the Seas ship to be more accommodating for the European clientèle.

Adventure of the Seas had spent nine years in Puerto Rico, serving the south Caribbean since 2001 but was moved to Europe and the Mediterranean to help with greater demand in the area.  Because the ship was going from the Caribbean, where its customers spoke primarily English, to the Mediterranean, where a greater variety of languages were spoken, changes were necessary.  The biggest changes included ensuring Adventure of the Seas had "the appropriate language skills".

Other changes were made as well, such as changing the entertainment so it was less about language and more about the visual story being presented.  This ensured a greater percentage of guests onboard the ship could enjoy the entertainment.  To accomodate guests even further, dining times were adjust to allow for the greater demand for later dinner seatings.

Vegan cruising experience on Royal Caribbean

In:
03Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Anyone with a special dietary restriction knows that traveling and sticking to your diet is never easy but Charu Suri posted about her experience on a three night Royal Caribbean cruise that she took to the Bahamas and shared her experience of eating vegan while on Royal Caribbean.

Going into the cruise, Suri was worried that the options for her on board would be very limited, to the point that she'd have to eat the same boring meals every day.  Moreover, she wondered if they'd even have vegan friendly alternatives, such as soy milk instead of regular milk.

As soon as Suri was onboard, her fears were dismissed after seeing how closely the Royal Caribbean chefs were not only monitoring her dietary needs but responding to them, "The chefs on board were more aware of my dietary needs than I had given them credit for. Before long, I was feasting on Indian dishes, delicately-flavored al dente pasta and crisp, almost "farm to table" quality salads."

Suri did run into a "problem" with dessert.  Before long she was getting sick of the usual offerings and decided to ask to see if there was anything else available. She asked the Head Waiter and the very next day, she had a special dessert prepared for her based on her vegan needs.

According to a 2008 Vegetarian Times survey, around 3.8% of the American population was vegetarian, and around 0.5% was vegan.  Based on her experience, it seems eating vegan on a Royal Caribbean cruise is a very practical possibility.

Excursion Focus: Playa Palancar

In:
03Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Beautiful beaches in Cozumel Mexico are seemingly a dime a dozen, but every beach offers something a little different and Playa Palancar on the leeward side of the Cozumel island offers beach goers a secluded white sand beach for those who are looking for a simple beach retreat.

Description

Playa Palancar is located on the leeward (bay side) side of the island of Cozumel.  It features a white sand beach, adorned by beach chairs and palapas.  The beach features a full service bar and restaurant that will deliver food and beverages to beachgoers. There is also services offered on the beach such as massages.

The ocean offerings are clear blue water with a simple and small floating dock to sunbathe on and/or dive into the water from.  Unlike other beaches, Playa Palancar doesn't offer a lot of water toys.  Rather, they focus on customers looking for a relaxing day at the beach.

There are other options available for an additional fee, such as snorkeling and parasailing.

Comments

Playa Palancar is perfect for those looking for a quiet beach and don't care or want the water toys that other area beaches offer.  That isn't to say that Playa Palancar is perfect for those looking for an adults only beach, but it given its lack of water toys, there's sure to be less kids than other beaches with those sort of offerings.

While the beach is white sand, we did find the area of the water closest to the shore to be rather rocky.  It isn't rocky enough to need water shoes, but it is rocky nonetheless and isn't ideal.  Interestingly enough, you will not find many lounge chairs, but the ones you do find, are all in direct sunlight.  There aren't any beach chairs that have umbrellas or palapas to shade yourself from the sun.  The palapas and umbrellas are located to the rear of the beach and cover the tables and plastic chairs that are good for eating under, but those looking to sit out by the water with some shade will be out of luck.

Access to the beach is free, but the restaurant and bar servers will hound you for orders.  They aren't pushy, in fact, they speak good English and are courteous, but they will stop by often to see if you need anything. Speaking of the food, the prices here are a little expensive for Mexico but good for America.  So you'll find most entrees in the $10 range and drinks costing around $5.  We hear the fish tacos are very good, but haven't tried them ourselves.

 

Location: 15 miles south of San Miguel Parque National Palancar Cozumel 77600 Mexico

Websitehttp://playapalancar.com/

Cost: $0 + additional cost for activities and food

Royal Caribbean warns cruisers Turkey of potential terrorist violence

In:
03Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Guests aboard the Splendour of the Seas received a letter in their cabins last week warning them to be extra careful if they were getting off the ship in Turkey to be extra careful because Turkey is experiencing "an increase in threats of terrorist actions" and "It is not recommended that guests travel alone, or visit any remote locations".  The warning was signed by the ship's Captain, Tommy Nyseter.

Splendour of the Seas distributed these letters at the port of Piraeus in Greece to a ship which had a majority of its cruising guests as Americans.  The letter hopes to warn its guests about potential risks found in the country that can be overlooked due Turkey's "warm and welcoming" residents.

The U.S. Department of State issued a warning to American tourists "to be alert to the potential for these types of incidents in urban and tourist areas" and Royal Caribbean's letter echoes the sentiment of this warning bu making in no uncertain terms a firm warning to be vigilant.

Investment for second phase of Honduras port of Roatan received

In:
02Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

The port of Roatan in Honduras, whose major shareholder is Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, announced a new investment of $45 million for work on the second phase of its Town Center, as an extension of existing facilities at the destination of Islands Bay, on the Caribbean coast of this country.

According to El Heraldo de Honduras, the additional investment provides a new and wonderful atmosphere of entertainment and offers first-class commercial facilities to accommodate more and more cruise passengers who will be visiting Roatan.  Currently, Roatan covers 6% of the market share of Caribbean and this year is about 800,000 cruise passengers. The Roatan cruise industry generated about $ 50 million in foreign exchange in 2009 and should amount to roughly $ 80 million in 2010, according to estimates by the authorities.

According to a study by the Cruise Association of Florida and the Caribbean, Honduras is in fifth place in the ranking of 29 cruise destinations in the world.

Photo of the Day: Jewel of the Seas

In:
02Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Photo by UKwantsBiebs

Interview with DJ Big Phyll

In:
02Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Today we have the honor of talking to DJ Big Phyll, a Celebrity DJ for Royal Caribbean, who has recently been DJ'ing on Oasis of the Seas.  Big Phyll talks to us about his thoughts on where to have a great time on Oasis of the Seas, as well as sharing his favorite aspects of Royal Caribbean's newest ship.

Tell us about what your role is and has been on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship?
I am a Celebrity DJ for Royal Caribbean & Scratch Events.  I'm the headlining DJ for the featured parties aboard the cruises, as well as guest DJ appearances in the nightclubs.  I'll also play some sets on the Boardwalk, Promenade, & other areas.  I also teach DJ courses to teenagers on the cruises.
 
Of the places you DJ onboard the ship, what is the busiest/most popular time for dancers?
The most popular time is between midnight-3am.  There are so many activities, shows, great restaurants, & casinos on the ships, guests are well occupied until late night.  But they seem to enjoy finishing their nights at one of the featured parties, or the nightclub, having cocktails with other guests & dancing.  The nightclub stays open past 4am, and most nights it's crowded until the music ends. 
 
You DJ'ed on Oasis of the Seas recently. Talk to us about the dance and music venues you either worked at or saw.  Which ones stood out to you as great places to have some fun dancing or enjoying music?
The Oasis is an amazing ship, and it's wonderful that music is a major entertainment piece onboard.  There are great venues aboard for dancing, including Blaze Nightclub, The Royal Promenade during the 70's Party, Dazzles Nightclub during the 80's Flashback Party.  My favorite venue for parties is the Solarium.  Dancing under the Caribbean sky at night is an amazing feeling!  Two of the featured parties is on the Solarium deck, and there is always a great turnout.  The hot tubs & pools are open, so cruisers can choose to take a dip, dance, and relax.  
 
What story sticks out in your mind as the most memorable from being a DJ on a cruise?
There isn't any single event that sticks out in my mind because being on the Oasis for a month is a story in itself!  The most memorable aspects for me were the interactions with such a diverse group of people.  The staff was amazing!  They are genuinely nice people who will do whatever it takes to make their guests happy.  Interacting with the guests was wonderful.  I dined at the specialty restaurants nightly, usually alone, but I always seemed to have a dining companion.  Whether it was a sushi chef at Izumi, or a couple at the next table at Giovanni's, conversations were easy to strike up & enjoy.  When I would DJ for the guests, they danced & had fun, and were very appreciative of Royal Caribbean bringing me aboard to DJ for them.  They would thank me verbally, & with drinks sent to my booth!
 
Any suggestions for cruisers looking to have a great time onboard their ship if they enjoy music and dancing?
Be ready to have fun!  The dance parties are high-energy, and you'll find yourself dancing hours on end without realizing it...so wear comfortable shoes!
 
Let's get to know a little about you....
  • Favorite restaurant on Oasis of the Seas: 3-way tie between Giovanni's Table, Chops Grille, & Izumi.  I also love Vintages, which I enjoyed tapas & wine flights daily.
  • Preferred drinks on a cruise ship: Tiger's Blood - equal parts Courvoisier & port wine (introduced to me by a bartender at Blaze Nightclub); Italian wines;  Louis XIII de Remy Martin.  
  • Favorite port of call to visit:  Nassau, Bahamas.
  • Favorite track of the moment that you love to play when you're working:  "Shots" by LMFAO.

Be sure to check out DJ Big Phyll's podcast "Mixes for Music Lovers" and be sure to add him as a friend on Facebook.

Excursion Focus: Maya Chan Beach

In:
02Aug2010
By: Matt Hochberg

If you're looking for an all-inclusive beach resort in Costa Maya where you can feel like a king (or queen), Maya Chan Beach Resort is the place to go check out.

Description

Maya Chan Beach Resort is a private all-inclusive beach resort located in minutes south of Puerto Costa Maya in Mexico.  This resort limits the amount of guests on any given day to about 40, to ensure a private and secluded feel to the beach.  Guests are picked up at the port and driven by bus to the resort.  Once there, guests are escorted individually to their spot on the beach, which can feature amenities such as palapas, couches and lounge chairs.

In addition to the beach, included in the price for the day are access to water toys such as bikes, snorkels, kayaks and water floaties.  Moreover, guests are provided with a freshly cooked buffet lunch and unlimited alcoholic drinks.  Internet is also available for free.

Comments

Beautiful beaches in Mexico are a dime a dozen, but what makes Maya Chan Beach so great is the personal attention to detail the resort's staff provides their guests.  The included drinks are top shelf liquor and flow freely.  All too often I've been to all inclusive resorts where the staff is stingy with the drinks, but not here.  Staff regularly walk around offering to bring you drinks as well as complimentary snacks such as local fruit.

Lunch is served buffet style and comprised of fajitas that are all cooked freshly that day.  We found the food offered here to be the best Mexican food we had in all of Mexico.

In the end, it's the amazing customer service that won us over.  It's hard to describe just how accommodating everyone here was.  The staff speak very good English (most are American ex-pats, while others are Mexicans with very good English) and there is nothing here that they seemingly wont do for you.  

Location: K.M. 6.5 Carretera Majahual-XcalacSouth just after K.M.6.5.Majahual, Quintana Roo, Mexico 77940

Websitehttp://www.costamayabeachresort.com/

Cost: $46 + $10 transportation

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