Friday Photos - June 7, 2019

In:
07Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Friday and welcome to the weekend! Each week, we share our reader's favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos for everyone to enjoy.

Our first photo is by Beth Bean and it is of chocolate cake from room service, along with Starbucks on Beth's balcony on Adventure of the Seas.

Our next photo is by Khadijah Ahmad and it is of Symphony of the Seas in Malaga.

Next up is a beautiful photo by Mike Sperduto of the Boardwalk on Harmony of the Seas.

Adventure of the Seas makes another appearance in this week's edition, with a shot of her in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada by Philip Catarella.

Next up is a photo by Jeff L. of Brilliance of the Seas docking in Cozumel next to Independence of the Seas.

Luca Mifsud shared this photo of Symphony of the Seas docked in Palma de Mallorca.

Our final photo comes to us from Spectrum of the Seas. Brendan Glynn took this photo of The Silk Road show.

Thanks to everyone who shared photos with us this week. You can always send in your favorite photos to be shared on a future edition of Friday Photos!

Royal Caribbean provides financial impact due to Cuba travel policy change

In:
06Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

In a press release, Royal Caribbean commented on the impact the U.S. government's policy change on travel to Cuba and provided a range for its financial impact.

The company estimates that the financial impact of this regulatory change is a reduction to the Adjusted EPS for 2019 in the range of $0.25 to $0.35 per share.

"While the affected sailings impact only 3 percent of our 2019 capacity, the extremely short notice period for this high yielding destination amplifies the earnings impact," said Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and CFO. "The result of this policy change has created a short-term impact to our guests, operations and earnings; fortunately, we have many alternative and attractive destinations for our guests to choose from."

On June 4, 2019, the U.S. government announced that effective June 5th, 2019 authorized travel to Cuba under the People-to-People program is rescinded and travel to Cuba via cruise ships is prohibited. Therefore, effective June 5th, cruise ships will no longer be allowed to travel between the U.S. and Cuba.

Top Ten Royal Caribbean Dining Tips

In:
06Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise means you will visit great ports of call, experience wonderful entertainment and of course, enjoy some really good food. Royal Caribbean delivers fresh and delicious cuisine that caters to a range of tastes and preferences.

To help you navigate all your dining options, we have an assortment of tips and tricks for ensuring you have all the best information before you step onboard your ship and begin chowing down.

1. Don't order just one anything

Whether you are dining in the main dining room or Johnny Rockets or a specialty restaurant, don't settle for just one entree or one appetizer.  

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to order as much as you want in most cases, which means you are free to try dishes and sample what you want.  Most often passengers act like they do in a land restaurant and only order what they wish to pay for but on a cruise, order as much as you want!

2. Bring dinner back if you can't make it

If you or someone can't make it to dinner for whatever reason, be sure to tell your main dining room waiter that someone cannot make it to dinner and they will be sure to wrap up an entire meal (including dessert) to bring back to your stateroom.

This can be a good option if someone is not feeling up for going to dinner but needs to eat.

In fact, you can take food to go from pretty much any venue. Whether you are bringing food to someone else, or cannot finish what you have, taking leftovers is perfectly fine.  

3. Bring your own wine

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom onboard their cruise on embarkation day. Be sure to pack the wine in your carry-on luggage only.

You can enjoy the wine in your stateroom, or bring the bottles of wine to any bar or restaurant onboard. If you choose to open the wine at a bar or restaurant, you could be charged a $25 corkage fee.  

Bringing your own wine can be a great way to save money and expand your choice of wine to enjoy on your cruise.

No, you cannot bring any other alcoholic beverages onboard with you. Those will be confiscated.

4. Have your wine follow you

Whether you buy a bottle of wine onboard your cruise or bring your own, if you do not finish that bottle in one night, have your waiter store it for you.  And if the next night you choose to have dinner elsewhere, like the Windjammer or a specialty restaurant, just tell your new waiter you have a bottle of wine stored for you.

They will ask your stateroom number and within a few short minutes your wine will appear.  This is a great way to keep using the same bottles of wine without pressure to "use it or lose it".

5. Get food allergies and special requests taken care of on day one

If you or someone you are travelling with has a food allergy or a special dietary request, go to the main dining room on embarkation day and ask to speak with the head waiter on duty.

Once you speak with him or her, you can convey any special requests you may have and get it in place for the rest of your cruise.

6. Pre-book hibachi

We are advocates of pre-booking as much as you can via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site to save time and money, but when it comes to the wildly popular Izumi hibachi option available on select Royal Caribbean ships, pre-booking is critical.

The teppanyaki dining at Izumi is quite popular and seating is limited. Therefore, if you absolutely want to experience it on your cruise, pre-book it via the Cruise Planner to ensure a spot.  It is quite common for Izumi to sell out spots for hibachi, especially once onboard the ship.

7. Book a specialty dining package to save money

If you are interested in dining at more than one specialty restaurant, your best bet to save money is to purchase a specialty dining package.

Specialty dining packages can be purchased online via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.  These packages will absolutely save you money compared to booking individual restaurants a la carte. 

The "catch" with dining packages is you cannot book a specific restaurant or time until you board the ship, and must dine at one restaurant on either night one or two. Not to worry, booking reservations is simple enough once you get onboard, so be sure to make reservations once onboard.

8. Avoid lines for meals

If you are looking for less-crowded options for any meal, always consult the Cruise Compass for all venues open.  Too often, cruisers gravitate towards the main dining room or Windjammer for meals.  While these are great spots, always consider other venues for quicker service.

Venues such as Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe, Sorrento's Pizzeria, Solarium Bistro and Cafe Latte-tudes offer complimentary dining choices that can be quick and simple.

9. Have My Time Dining? Make reservations

If you have selected My Time Dining for your dinner choice in the main dining room, the best strategy is to make reservations to minimize waiting for a table.

While reservations for My Time Dining are not required, having a reservation greatly reduces your wait time, especially if you want to dine at at peak times (6pm - 8pm). Moreover, the larger your group, the more important reservations are to ensuring there is a table waiting for you.

You can pre-book reservations for My Time Dining via the Cruise Planner site or make reservations while onboard.

10. Make dietary requests before you board

If you have a dietary restriction, then you may want to let Royal Caribbean know about them up front. 

Royal Caribbean can accomodate dietary needs such as food allergies, gluten-free, Kosher, low-fat, and low-sodium.

In additional, vegetarian meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available on all menus in the main dining room.  Guests do not need to make a special request for these meals.

Lactose-free/soy milk, Ensure, and Kosher meals are available no extra charge. All you have to do is notify Royal Caribbean at least 45 days prior to sailing (90 days for European/South American Itineraries).

You may also send an e-mail request to special_needs@rccl.com; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date.  It's best to make requests like this at least 90 days in advance of your sailing.

More Royal Caribbean dining tips

Here are a few more helpful Royal Caribbean dining resources:

Royal Caribbean cancels all scheduled visits to Cuba

In:
05Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today, it will replace all Cuban ports that were scheduled for its ships to visit with alternative ports due to new U.S. government regulations that prohibit travel from the U.S. to Cuba by cruise ship.

The two ships that were offering cruises to Cuba, Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas, have had alternative ports secured.

In addition, Royal Caribbean is offering the option of guests on affected sailings remaining on the cruise and receiving a 50% refund, or they can cancel their cruise and receive a full refund.

Royal Caribbean issued a statement elaborating on the nature of the changes made, "In response to the U.S. government’s policy change imposing immediate restrictions on cruise ship travel between the U.S. and Cuba, we are informing our guests of revised itineraries for a limited number of sailings with Cuban port calls.

All 2019 sailings on the Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas will have alternative ports in the Caribbean.  Guests will have the option to cancel their current booking for a full refund, or to keep their sailing date with a new itinerary and receive a 50 percent refund.

We are working on alternate itineraries for 2020 sailings and will share those details with guests and travel partners as they become available. We appreciate our guests’ patience and flexibility as we adjust to accommodate the new regulation."

Scheduled 2020 sailings on both Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the seas are still in the process of being worked on to find alternative ports, and Royal Caribbean estimates it will communicate those changes within the next week.

The United States Treasury Department announced yesterday new regulations that will end group travel to Cuba for “people to people” educational purposes and prohibiting visits to the island via cruise ships.

An inside look at creating Perfect Day at CocoCay on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
05Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 305 is available for downloading and this week we have an exclusive interview with Royal Caribbean's director of private destination development, Claudia Diaz-Gonzalez.

Royal Caribbean spent $250 million to enhance its private island in the Bahamas, and this week we get to hear all about the hard work and research that went into making Perfect Day at CocoCay a reality.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 305. 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!

Independence of the Seas summer 2020 sailings now available to book

In:
05Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Guests can now book summer 2020 sailings on Independence of the Seas following a deployment change that will keep the ship in Port Everglades.

Instead of sailing from Southampton in summer 2020, Independence of the Seas will offer 3, 4 and 5-night sailings from Port Everglades to the Western Caribbean and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The new bookings range from May through October 2020 and are available to book via Royal Caribbean's website.

In May 2019, Royal Caribbean announced it would cancel scheduled Independence of the Seas 2020 sailings from Southampton, and instead keep her in Port Everglades, Florida in an effort to offer additional sailings to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Jaymac Radio for alerting us to this addition.

U.S. imposes travel ban to Cuba

In:
04Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The United States Treasury Department today announced new regulations that will end group travel to Cuba for “people to people” educational purposes and prohibiting visits to the island via cruise ships.

According to a new Department of Commerce rule, “private and corporate aircraft, cruise ships, sailboats, fishing boats, and other similar aircraft and vessels generally will be prohibited from going to Cuba.”

Owen Torres, Manager at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Corporate Communications, issued a statement to RoyalCaribbeanBlog of the short-term impact, "We are aware of the announcement and are analyzing the details to understand the impact on our itineraries.  In the meantime, we are adjusting the itineraries of our June 5 and June 6 sailings, which will no longer stop in Cuba. We are communicating with our guests about those changes.  We will provide other updates as needed."

Royal Caribbean's website was updated at 6pm EST to add, "We are aware of the new U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba and we are analyzing the details to understand the impact to future sailings.  We expect to know more within the next 24 hours and will communicate any changes as soon as we are able.  In the meantime, we are adjusting the itineraries of our June 5 and June 6 sailings, which will no longer stop in Cuba. We are communicating with our guests about those changes."

The new regulation closes off all “people to people” travel. The change includes a grandfather provision saying that previously authorized travel can be undertaken, provided “the traveler had already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation)” before Tuesday.

6:50PM update: The Majesty of the Seas June 5th sailing has swapped out its scheduled stop in Havana to Costa Maya, Mexico.

In an email sent to guests, the cruise line added guests on this sailing will receive a refund in the value of 50% per stateroom the your cruise fare paid as a credit to their onboard account during the cruise.

8:00PM update: Royal Caribbean has indicated a new update will be available by June 6, at 6:00PM EST.

Video: Royal Caribbean cruise mistakes that are not really a mistake

In:
04Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

We have a brand new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video to share today, which highlights aspects of a Royal Caribbean cruise that may seem like a mistake but are actually a great idea.

In the process of planning your cruise vacation, it is easy to make certain assumptions along the way, and we have a list of commonly held ideas about a Royal Caribbean cruise that are a better idea if you do the opposite.

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: What did you find most surprising the first time you cruised on Royal Caribbean?

How to complete Royal Caribbean online check-in

In:
04Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

As the days get closer to your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will want to complete online check-in to expedite the process of getting onboard your ship once you arrive at the cruise terminal.

While online check-in is optional, it is a good idea to take care of it before you leave home to minimize the time needed to do the same paperwork at the terminal. When you check-in online, it saves time. You will not have to fill out any forms at the pier.

Keep in mind that you must complete and print your SetSail Pass up to 3 days prior to your sail date

When can I check-in online for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

Online Check-In opens 90 days before your cruise and must be completed no later than 3 days prior to sailing. 

Documents needed for online check-in

  • Personal Information for each guest are checking in online
  • Identification Document information for each guest you are checking in online
  • Crown & Anchor Society Membership Number (if you are a member)
  • Onward Travel Plans
  • Onboard Expense Account Information (i.e credit card and the reservation information that is authorized to charge against the account)

You will also need to establish an Onboard Expense Account via either credit card or cash.

How to check-in online via the website

  1. If you have a Royal Caribbean account already set up, simply login, find your sailing and click Start check-in.
  2. If you do not have an account set up yet, you can check-in via this page. We recommend creating an account with Royal Caribbean, linking your reservation and then completing online check-in. 
  3. Select the guests you wish to check-in
  4. Enter personal information for each guest. You will need their name, address, emergency contact information and travel documentation.  
  5. Next, you will need to decide on if you will assign a credit card or go with a cash account.  Our recommendation is to put a credit card against your account to expedite embarkation and disembarkation.
  6. You will have to read and accept the cruise contract.  This is where all those little details about what Royal Caribbean can and cannot do is listed, and while it is quite a lengthy read, it is important to be aware of the policies you are agreeing to.
  7. The next step is to pick an arrival time.  The good news is these times are not enforced, so regardless of which time you pick, you can show up to the cruise terminal at whichever times you like (especially earlier).
  8. Online check-in is now complete, and you can proceed to view your SetSail pass and/or luggage tags. It is a good idea to print a copy of each before you forget.

    These documents are available up to 3 days prior to sailing. Any closer to sailing, and they are unavailable.

    A good idea is to save each as a PDF document that you can print anytime you want later on.

How to check-in online via the Royal Caribbean app

On select Royal Caribbean ships, you can download and use the Royal Caribbean app to check-in via your phone.  The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Here are the easy to follow steps for completing online check-in via the app. 

  1. After you download, install and log into the app, find your upcoming sailing and tap Start check-in.
  2. Select the guests you wish to check-in.
  3. You will enter the personal information, travel documentation and payment details. 
  4. One nice feature of the app is it can scan your passport with the phone camera and quickly input the data for you.
  5. You will enter your onboard expense account and agree to the cruise contract. This is where all those little details about what Royal Caribbean can and cannot do is listed, and while it is quite a lengthy read, it is important to be aware of the policies you are agreeing to.
  6. The next step is to pick an arrival time.  The good news is these times are not enforced, so regardless of which time you pick, you can show up to the cruise terminal at whichever times you like (especially earlier).
  7. With online check-in complete, you will be able to view your SetSail Pass.

Spectrum of the Seas debuts in China

In:
03Jun2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Spectrum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's first Quantum Ultra Class ship, officially debuted in China as she sailed into Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Shanghai after completing a 46-night Global Odyssey cruise.

To celebrate Spectrum's arrival, the cruise line held a grand naming ceremony with Chinese celebrities and Royal Caribbean brand ambassadors, Xiaoming Huang and Angelababy, in attendance. Honored with the lifetime role of Godparents, the popular couple were on hand to name the ship and bestow a blessing of safekeeping over all those who sail on her.

Spectrum of the Seas was custom built for the Chinese market, and offers new experiences, such as Royal Caribbean's first enclave for suite guests, new stateroom categories, innovative dining concepts, and stunning features and experiences – many of which have never before been seen at sea. 

"Royal Caribbean has always been known for innovating and pushing the boundaries, and Spectrum of the Seas is a great example of this," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Spectrum brings to life the best of Royal Caribbean along with curated experiences for our Chinese consumers."

Spectrum of the Seas innovative features include: 

  •  A two-level, 2,809-square-foot Ultimate Family Suite, accommodating up to 11 guests. The three-bedroom suite features a master bedroom and a bathroom that extends over the side of the ship for unparalleled ocean views, along with two additional suites for grandparents and other family members. Kids have their own kid-friendly space on the upper level, complete with an in-suite slide that will transport them to the living area below. Everyone in the family can enjoy time together in the recreation room, featuring surround-sound equipment for a night of karaoke, movies or video games.
  • Sky Pad, a virtual reality (VR), bungee trampoline experience, where guests can strap in, don a VR headset and be transported to another time and planet with three new games: Jump Rally, Sugar Leap and Bass Bouncer. 
  • The Suite Club on decks 13 through 16 offers Royal Caribbean’s first exclusive suites-only area, which features 36 Golden Suites and 106 Silver Suites. The Golden Suites and Silver Suites have exclusive access, elevator, as well as a private restaurant and lounge. In addition to a range of amenities, Gold Suite guests may access The Balcony, a private outdoor space with the best views of the sea; and The Boutique, which can be reserved for private shopping, intimate parties and wine tastings. Travelers in suites are also provided with a dedicated team of Royal Concierges who provide excellent value-added services, including concierge services, Royal embarkation, enhanced food and beverage experiences, and exclusive room service.

Dining Options

  • Sichuan Red, a brand-new restaurant debuting on Spectrum that features authentic cuisine from the Sichuan province of China.
  • A traditional tea room and café parlor known as Leaf and Bean, where guests can enjoy a range of authentic Chinese teas, classic coffee drinks as well .as freshly baked Chinese and Western desserts and pastries.
  • Teppanyaki, offering authentic oriental flavors cooked in Japan’s traditional teppanyaki style.
  • Splashaway Café, near the kids’ pool area; and the Noodle Bar, which serves up freshly made noodles and live chef demonstrations.
  • The main dining room has been combined into one awe-inspiring, three-level dining room with 1,844 seats. The complimentary venue also serves a variety of Chinese and Western a la carte options that rotate every day of an itinerary.
  • The Windjammer Marketplace on Spectrum has been designed to be 20% larger than those on Quantum Class ships. The laidback option offers a wide selection of Chinese and Western dishes.

Entertainment

  • Three new production shows developed in-house by Royal Caribbean – The Silk Road, The Effectors, and Showgirl! Past. Present. Future. are taking the stage.
    • Each full-scale production features unrivaled talent, immersive technology and unparalleled special effects to create spectacular entertainment experiences.  
  • Battle for Planet Z, an epic glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure for the whole family.
  • Star Moment, a lively and energetic karaoke venue where family and friends can sing like stars.
  • Expedition Two70, where guests can test their adventuring skills in four fully immersive augmented reality (AR) games.
  • SeaPlex, the multipurpose indoor sports and entertainment complex that offers activities from various parts of the world including various indoor ball games as well as fencing and archery – activities never before seen at sea in the Asia market.

Technology

Spectrum of the Seas features a bold lineup of new digital experiences, from digital room keys and automated stateroom controls, to immersive AR games. The Royal Caribbean mobile app is also available for the first time for guests in China and supports both Mandarin and English language. Designed to seamlessly deliver unprecedented vacation experiences at sea, technology is prevalent throughout the ship, substantially increasing guest convenience and efficiency while offering new experiences that entertain and amaze.

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