Spotted: Carry-on luggage storage available on Mariner of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas may be able to take advantage of a complimentary carry-on luggage storage service for use until staterooms are ready for guests later in the day.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Twangster spotted this service being offered on a recent Mariner of the Seas sailing.

Photo by Twangster

When the guests hear the staterooms are ready announcement over the public address system, guests are reminded to pickup your carry on stored in the theater.

We have heard of carry-on luggage storage options being offered on other ships, such as Empress of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean to eliminate in-room babysitting

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean informed guests via email that it will be discontinuing its in-room babysitting service as of September 30, 2018.

Known as Sitters at Sea, Royal Caribbean intends to no longer offer in-stateroom sitter services.  Royal Caribbean offers on most, but not all, of its ships a nursery for children that are up to 3 years old.

Any sailings departing on or before September 30 will still offer Sitters at Sea upon request and subject to availability. Guests can inquire at Guest Services onboard for further information.

The cruise line also re-affirmed its dedication to offering kids programming on its ships.  Its Adventure Ocean and Royal Babies & Tots program will remain unchanged, and Royal Caribbean will still offer "Late Night Party Zone" group sitting by our Adventure Ocean Youth Staff for children between the ages of 3 through 11.

The Sitters at Sea program was a service by Royal Caribbean where guests could inquire if any crew members were willing to baby sit children in a guest stateroom.  The advent of nurseries on many Royal Caribbean ships has likely seen demand for in-room babysitting dwindle in recent years.

The remaining Royal Caribbean ships without a nursery are Empress of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.

We have reached out to Royal Caribbean for further information.

Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in PortMiami photo report - September 14, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

We are just weeks away from the opening of Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in PortMiami, and here is another look at the exterior progress being made.

Cruise Life Rick snapped some photos of the work being done on what will be Terminal A at PortMiami, while sailing past it on Mariner of the Seas.

The new state-of-the-art terminal at PortMiami will be home to Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas. Once completed in October 2018, Royal Caribbean will implement the best technologies to deliver a state-of-the-art guest experience.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: September 16, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Thank you for joining us for this a look at all the Royal Caribbean news from this week. We had plenty to share, so let us jump right in!

Royal Caribbean trademarked three new ship names this week, which gave rise to much discussion on opinions of these names.

The ship names were registered with the United States Patent and Trademark office and could possibly be used as the names of new ships.

While trademarking a ship name is a significant step forward in the eventual naming of a new ship, not all trademarked names end up being used by Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 267th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we share a listener's review of Adventure of the Seas to Canada and New England.

In this episode, James talks about his first Royal Caribbean cruise and what he experienced on Adventure of the Seas.  James also discusses the ports he visited in Canada and New England.

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

Royal Caribbean profiled its Chief Information Officer, Martha Poulter.

Travel Weekly reported on Royal Caribbean joining Tipto.

Travel Pulse named Royal Caribbean its Contemporary Cruise Line Partner of the Year.

Project: Wanderlust shared five ways for kids to spend the day on Independence of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean offering bonus instant savings with Rush into Adventure sale

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up $100 instant savings, plus up to $100 extra on select winter sailings booked this weekend.  This is in addition to Royal Caribbean's current BOGO 50% off and kids sail free offers.

The Rush into Adventure sale is valid on bookings made between September 13 – September 17, 2018 on sailings departing on or after October 13, 2018.

The offer includes:

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
  • 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.
  • Instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
    • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites for all ships excluding Anthem of the Seas.
    • On Anthem of the Seas, it offers:
      • on sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior, $50 for Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites.
      • on sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior, $75 for Ocean View and Balconies and $100 for Suites for only Anthem of the Seas sailings. 
  • Kids Sail Free Offer: 
    • Free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Cuba, Europe and Hawaii sailings departing between September 30, 2018 – May 14, 2019 and September 1, 2019 – December 14, 2019.
    • The Kids Sail Free Bonus excludes sailings between November 17 – November 23, 2018, sailings between December 18, 2018 – January 1, 2019, sailings between February 15 – 18, 2019, sailings between March 16 – 30, 2019, sailings between April 13 – 22, 2019 and sailings between November 23 – 30, 2019.
  • Deck the Holiday Deals:
    • provides instant savings of up to $150 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
      • On sailings 5 nights or less, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $75 for Suites; on sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $150 for Suites for those guests’ sailing between December 18, 2018 – January 1, 2019 and sailing between December 19, 2019 – December 31, 2019. 
  • Fall Sailings Promo Code Driven Promotion:
    • offers up to $50 instant savings determined by category booked: $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View and $50 for Balcony and Suites for those guests’ sailing on Empress, Enchantment, Majesty, Mariner, Liberty and Freedom of the Seas between September 30, 2018 and December 17, 2018.
    • Must be added through promo code: SAVE.
  • MEI-Travel Exclusive! Get A Free Spa Treatment
    • Book a balcony or suite, on any Alaska or Europe sailing departing 5/1/19 – 9/30/18 and receive a complimentary spa treatment!
    • Must book by 10/31/18.

BOGO and Deck the Holidays Deals are combinable with Rush into Adventure Deals, Free Upgrades, Fall Sailings Promo Code Driven Promotion, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. BOGO and Kids Sail Free are combinable with Rush into Adventure Deals, Free Upgrades, Fall Sailings Promo Code Driven Promotion, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Deck the Holiday Deals and Kids Sail Free are not combinable with each other. Rush into Adventure Deals is combinable with Free Upgrades, Fall Sailings Promo Code Driven Promotion, NRDB OBC, OBC, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

MEI-Travel Free Spa Treatment offer: Offer applies to new bookings made September 1, 2018 – October 31, 2018 in a Balcony or Suite on any Alaska or Europe sailing departing May 1, 2019 – September 30, 2019. Offer includes one treatment per sailing, eligible for one guest per stateroom. Offer includes choice of one spa treatment from the following: Elemis Super Food Facial; Swedish Massage; Reflexology including Massage. Offer may be used towards the purchase of another service at the value of a Swedish Massage. Spa appointments must be made onboard. Offer is combinable with all offers and promotions, except other spa offers. Offer applies to new, individual and named group bookings confirmed at prevailing rates. Individual reservations can transfer into an existing group, assuming required criteria are met. Offer available in the USA and Canada. Offer subject to availability, change without notice, capacity controlled, cannot be transferred, and may be withdrawn at any time. Contact your travel agent for full offer details. Royal Caribbean International reserves the right to correct errors, inaccuracies or omissions and to change fares, fees and surcharges at any time without notice

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

Friday Photos - September 14, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Friday and welcome to another round of Friday Photos, where we share our readers favorite Royal Caribbean photos on the blog!  If you want to share your photos, just use this form to send them in!

We begin with this photo of Oasis of the Seas leaving Cozumel, as seen by Joel Torres from his balcony on Navigator of the Seas.

Helena Saint shared this photo of the Ultimate Abyss entrance on Symphony of the Seas.

Here is Serenade of the Seas docked in Alesund, Norway.  Photo by Mark.

Shane Paulo took this photo of Symphony of the Seas' inaugural visit to Naples, Italy.

Beth and Gordon were married on Harmony of the Seas 4/21/18 and had to have carousel photos!

Allen Shaffer spotted what used to be Splendour of the Seas .  She is now the Marella Discovery.

Our final photo this week is by Jeff LeBriton, and it is of Freedom of the Seas in the early morning preparing to dock in Cozumel.

Thank you to everyone that submitted their Royal Caribbean photos! If you want to include your photos in a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us!

Hurricane season for cruises

By: Matt Hochberg

Wondering if you should take a cruise during hurricane season?

Many cruisers contemplate going on a Royal Caribbean cruise during hurricane season, debating taking advantage of lower fare prices while weighing the possible impact of foul weather.  There are pros and cons to taking a cruise during this sometimes tumultuous time of year, and ultimately it depends on which factors are most important to you.  

The simple answer is going on a cruise during hurricane season is a great idea.  Prices are lower on average and the likelihood of a hurricane directly impacting your sailing is low.  Even when it does, the consequences are usually minor (i.e. substituting one port of call for another or changing itineraries).  

When is hurricane season?

The official dates for the Atlantic hurricane season are June 1 through November 30.  This is the time frame when the vast majority of storms form in the Atlantic Ocean The peak months for hurricanes in the Eastern Caribbean are mid-August to mid-September and in the Western Caribbean from mid-August to early November.

The United States Search and Rescue Task Force estimates there are 10 tropical storms on average per year, with six becoming hurricanes.  Most of the storms remain over the year, with about five hurricanes striking the coastline of the United States every three years.

Why cruise during hurricane season

The most compelling reason to take a Royal Caribbean cruise during hurricane season are the lower prices.  Discounts and low cruise fares are often found during the course of hurricane season, with great pricing usually in August through the end of October. 

The reason for the lower prices is most families are back in school and unwilling to take kids out of school for a vacation (especially since they may have just taken summer vacations earlier in the summer).  Moreover, the threat of hurricanes impacting cruise itineraries turns some folks off from booking, which results in more inventory being available.

What happens if there is a hurricane

While tropical storms can affect cruise sailings, the reality is a very small percentage of Royal Caribbean cruises are ever directly impacted by these storms. Royal Caribbean spends a great deal of time to plan around storms, and if a hurricane is likely to impact the scheduled route of a cruise ship, the ship will be rerouted in some way to avoid the path of the storm. This may result in scheduled ports of call being skipped and/or replaced with another port.

Moreover, Royal Caribbean has its own Chief Meteorologist that spends the summer months tracking all tropical storms, and working directly with the cruise line to make itinerary changes as necessary.

It is quite rare for a hurricane to cancel a sailing.  Most of the time, the ship simply goes in a different direction to steer well-clear of the storm.  Sometimes Royal Caribbean will reverse an itinerary, or change an Eastern Caribbean cruise into a Western Caribbean sailing. 

Trip insurance

If you are taking a cruise during hurricane season, you may want to consider getting a policy that covers travel disruptions related to the weather.  Royal Caribbean offers its own travel insurance, and a variety of third-parties sell travel insurance.  Like any insurance policy, it is important to review what the plan does and does not cover and when it kicks in.

In most cases, trip insurance policies can compensate you for trip delays, interruption and cancelation in the event of a major storm.  Trip insurance covers things like missing your flight or being re-routed due to weather.  It also covers being stuck unexpectedly in a city overnight and missing part of your cruise.

When it comes to travel insurance and hurricanes, the most important consideration is when a policy will cover you.  Often, cruisers think they can cancel a cruise prior to the storm actually impacting your plans.  Most plans do not allow for preemptively canceling a cruise due to a storm.  For the most part, you must still go on your cruise, wherever the ship may go, and only be able to collect compensation if the cruise or your travel plans are directly impacted by the storm (i.e. canceled flights, delays, etc).  Many people incorrectly think trip insurance is a safety net for canceling their cruise to avoid a storm completely.

Tips for a cruise during hurricane season

First and foremost, you need to be flexible when taking a cruise during hurricane season.  An altered itinerary, delayed flights or less than perfect weather are the most common scenarios someone may encounter as a result of a tropical storm.  The key is for you to mentally prepare for changes and be okay with it.

Part of being flexible is understanding that an itinerary change could occur, so any plans you have in a port of call should be equally flexible.  Planning a wedding, excursion of a lifetime, or meeting friends or family could all be impacted by a change in itinerary.  

Browse travel insurance plans after you book your cruise and see if one makes sense for you.  Everyone's risk tolerance is different, but having that piece of mind that insurance provides is a tremendous benefit.

If you see a storm is formed and could possibly impact your sailing, be sure to follow Royal Caribbean and James Van Fleet on Twitter for updates on any impact. Your travel agent will also inform you if they are apprised of any changes.

New England & Canada listener cruise review 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 267 is available for downloading featuring a review of a podcast listener's recent Canada & New England cruise on Adventure of the Seas.

Podcast listener James joins Matt this week to talk about his recent cruise on Adventure of the Seas.  James shares his experiences onboard Adventure, as well as what he did on shore.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 267. 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 now allowing pre-cruise purchases up to one day prior to sailing

By: Matt Hochberg

Select Royal Caribbean ships will now allow guests to make pre-cruise purchases on shore excursions, specialty restaurants, beverage packages and more just one day prior to their sailing.

Pre-cruise purchases can be made via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site. Here is the list of ships and which sailing the new policy is effective:

  • Allure of the Seas: 9/16/18
  • Anthem of the Seas: 9/15/18
  • Harmony of the Seas: 9/15/18
  • Oasis of the Seas: 9/16/18
  • Grandeur of the Seas: 9/13/18
  • Adventure of the Seas: 9/17/18
  • Brilliance of the Seas: 9/17/18
  • Liberty of the Seas: Effective Immediately

Prior to this change, pre-cruise purchases were cut off a few days prior to the sailing.

Video: Spectrum of the Seas construction update

By: Matt Hochberg

Spectrum of the Seas is another step closer to completion. The ship’s two large megablocks were merged and fastened together at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg Germany – the latest milestone in her unique building process. Spectrum is scheduled for delivery in 2019.