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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

Dana Point City California looks for a Royal Caribbean stop

In:
23Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Here's an interesting story where a council member from Dana Point City, California tried to contact Royal Caribbean about seeing what it would take for their cruise ships to stop in their city as a port of call.  Lara Anderson contacted Royal Caribbean to get an answer after questions were raised by the Pacific town on the viability.

Christopher Allen, Director, Deployment and Itinerary Planning for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara Club Cruises responded to the request and cited these issues that Royal Caribbean uses to determine what ports to stop at: Location, marketability, tour/shore excursion offerings, port fees, politics and regulations.

Of more interest are the tough requirements a city needs to be able to handle Royal Caribbean's large vessels.

The port must have the infrastructure to handle our ships. We do not have any small ships. Most of our ships are actually too big to fit through the Panama Canal. As a result, only our ‘small’ ships are over on the West Coast of North America. But even our small ships average about 2000 guests and are about 290 meters in length. Our strong preference for all ports is to be able to dock. Most, but not all, of our ships carry tenders and can tender guests into a port if the distance is below 1.5 miles. However, we try to avoid tender ports as it can create lines, weather disruptions and lesser guest experience. That said, if the appeal is strong enough we will still tender.

It looks like Dana Point City wont be a port city anytime soon short of a major port overhaul, but nonetheless, it's an interesting look at what it takes to be a port destination.

Updates for Monarch of the Seas

In:
23Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean detailed some of the new updates that have come to Monarch of the Seas in a report from the ship.  Royal Caribbean gave some TLC to its crew areas by adding an updated gym, new food stations and the crew outdoor deck areas.

Also of interest was the fact that Monarch of the Seas is the "number two ship in the fleet and her ratings are consistently improving and above target".  Legend of the Seas currently holds the number one position.

In addition there was a bit of trivia. Monarch of the Seas was a "test bed" for the Izumi restaurant that is currently on Oasis of the Seas and can still be found on here as a treat for those who love sushi.

Second quarter report spikes Royal Caribbean stock

In:
23Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

We reported yesterday Royal Caribbean's second quarter 2010 earnings report and the news was so good that it gave the Royal Caribbean stock a nice push upwards.  Investors were happy to see shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises closed up 12 percent Thursday on positive earnings news for the second quarter and a positive outlook for the rest of the year.  

The price of Royal Caribbean stock closed up $2.98 to $27.50 at the end of trading on Thursday.  Cruise companies were battered a year ago amid the recession, and shares of Royal Caribbean and Carnival were hampered recently by fears of a double dip recession. Royal Caribbean's outlook Thursday helped put those fears to rest.

Grandeur of the Seas possibly to skip Key West

In:
22Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

UPDATE: Guests aboard Grandeur of the Seas reporting they will skip Key West.

Due to a tropical storm Tropical Storm Bonnie brewing near the Bahams right now, there is a possibility that Grandeur of the Seas, which departed today, may not be able to dock in Key West. It has left port in Fort Lauderdale but a statement by Royal Caribbean had this to say about what lays ahead:

"According to the most recent weather forecasts, the ship will be able to depart on time and head south to Key West, Florida. However, U.S Coast Guard has closed the Port of Key West until tropical storm force winds have subsided. If the Port of Key West has not reopened by early tomorrow morning, Grandeur of the Seas will be unable to make its scheduled port of call there tomorrow. Should the ship be unable to visit Key West, Grandeur of the Seas will spend the day at sea tomorrow, sailing directly to Cozumel, Mexico, where it will arrive earlier than scheduled on Saturday."

Windjammer Café: A favorite staple of any Royal Caribbean Cruise

In:
22Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

If you've been on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the fairly recent past, more than likely you've eaten at the Windjammer Café, the ever popular and somewhat ubiquitous buffet that fans of Royal Caribbean look forward to on each of their cruises.  The Windjammer is a buffet restaurant that is included in the price of your cruise.  It offers a wide variety of food from fresh fruit and salad to sandwiches, burgers, dessert and much more.  

The exact menu of the Windjammer varies from ship to ship as well as what's in season and fresh.  Don't be confused, the Windjammer isn't your typical stale buffet with old food. Rather, it's a great place for meals or snacks at many times of the day. 

Many guests get their first taste of the Windjammer on embarkation day when they first board the ship.  The Windjammer is typically open for lunch for those boarding the ship and a great opportunity to get your vacation started off right.  Throughout the cruise, you will find opportunities to sample different food depending on the meal.  

Some Windjammers, like those on Navigator of the Seas or Mariner of the Seas, feature a Jade section to the Windjammer, which serve Asian foods such as soup, rice and even sushi.

Windjammer Cafe Hours

  • Continental Breakfast: 6:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m.
  • Full-Buffet Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
  • Lunch: Noon-2:00 p.m.
  • Afternoon Tea and Snacks: 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Dinner: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. 

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