Video: 8 things I MUST do on every Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
07Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

When I go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, I look forward to trying out new activities and exploring the ports of call we visit.  I also relish revisiting favorite cruise traditions that my family has established over the years.

In today's video, I am sharing eight of my must-do activities on every cruise.  These are my favorite cruise traditions, and I hope a few of these can be a source of fun for your family as well!

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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What are your favorite cruise traditions and must-do activities on every sailing? 

17 Royal Caribbean tips repeat cruisers always use

In:
06Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Like many other cruisers, I love to share, read, and learn tricks of cruising. Large or small, every tip and cruise hack you can learn helps make your next Royal Caribbean cruise a bit easier.

With that in mind, I am sharing the one tip or trick that the repeat cruises that frequent our message boards use/love the most.

1. Arrive to the embarkation port early

The day your cruise is scheduled to begin, arrive to the cruise terminal in the morning to maximize your time onboard on the first day.

It seems most people arrive to the cruise terminal after lunch, but you can begin checking into your cruise usually around 10am, with boarding process usually beginning around 11am. Arriving early to the cruise terminal means you get onboard sooner and more time on the ship.

2. Bring a USB port outlet for more charging space.

Between phones, tablets and every device you may have, there is always a need to charge something and power outlets are limited on a cruise ship.

Surge protectors and power strips tend to be confiscated for being a fire hazard, but a good USB outlet is perfectly safe to bring along.

I recommend a USB outlet similar to this one. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

3. Bring bathing suits on embarkation day

One of the best times to enjoy the pools and water slides on a Royal Caribbean cruise is embarkation day. Most guests do not have their bathing suits with them, and that means very little competition for the aquatic fun onboard.

You can opt to either wear your bathing suits onboard, or keep it in your carry-on luggage and change in a restroom.

4. Once onboard put your phone in airplane mode

To avoid crazy roaming fees, once you get onboard the ship, the best thing you can do is place your phone into airplane mode.

By doing so, you will still be able to use the ship's WiFi, but avoid your carrier charging you exorbitant fees for roaming on another network, either at sea or in one of the countries you visit.

5. Bring a pen and a highlighter with you

You never know when you want to write a thank you note to a crew member, or highlight an activity that you do not want to miss in the Cruise Compass.

6. Study the Compass before the day starts.  

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver the next day's Cruise Compass to your room.

Your best bet to avoid missing out on an activity you really want to do is read it before you get going during the day.

7. Buy magnetic hooks

Something you may not realize about your cabin is how little opportunity there is to hang stuff.  By investing in a pack of strong magnetic hooks, you can place them around the room to hang your hats, swimsuits or whatever else needs to be hung.

Your stateroom walls are made out of metal, which means you can simply stick a magnet onto a wall or ceiling.

Here are some magnetic hooks you can order. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

8. Speak up if there is a problem

If something is not as expected or disappointing, do not just accept it and let it ruin your cruise vacation. Instead, speak up while onboard and nicely inform crew members of the issue, and ask how it can be resolved.

The crew members want to make your cruise exceptional, and will do what they can to make it right. The bottom line is do not hesitate to speak up if there is an issue.

9. Book anything you can in advance via the Cruise Planner

This sounds so simple, but booking activities, dining and more in advance via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site will make your cruise vacation easier.  On Oasis or Quantum Class ships, you can even pre-book entertainment to reserve admission into the event.

Keep in mind that you can always change your mind later, but having something locked in is better than nothing.  

10. Look for deals even if there is no sale

Royal Caribbean will run sales periodically, but do not limit yourself to just those sales to find deals.  Check the Cruise Planner site regularly, even if there is no sale.  You never know what you may find!

11. Use a trusted travel agent

One of my favorite bits of advice is to use a good travel agent to book and manage your cruise.  A good travel agent is more than somebody to take your credit card details and reserve a cabin.  Travel agents are your advocate throughout the cruise process, and are invaluable if an issue should arise at any point.  More to the point, travel agents will absolutely save you time, and have the potential to save you money along the way.

Since a good travel agent should cost you nothing extra to use (the cruise line pays them a commission), you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by using one.

12. Figure out what kind of a traveler you are

A really good bit of advice is to figure out what you like to do, and craft the cruise around that.  

Are you an active, out and about person, or a room dweller? Are you in it for the ports, or are you in it for the ship? Are you a foodie, or are you fine with just the main dining room and Windjammer?

Knowing what you like (and do not like) impacts everything from your room selection, to your excursions, to your daily planning.  By figuring out your preferences, you can pick out a better cruise that matches what you want.

13. Do not wait for the elevator

The elevator is great, but using the stairs can be a lot faster, plus it can help burn off some of those vacation calories.

If you are going up or down just a few decks, opting for the stairs will likely get you there quicker.  This is especially true when shows or events let out and many other guests descend upon the elevators.

14. Bring Downy Wrinkle Release 

Did you know that there are no self-serve laundry options nor any clothing irons on Royal Caribbean cruise ships?  The only option if you want your clothes pressed or cleaned is to send them out for dry cleaning.

If you are concerned about your clothes being wrinkle-free after you unpack onboard, invest in a good wrinkle release spray  (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you).

You simply spray any clothing to remove any unwanted creases or wrinkles.  Plus, it has the added bonus of making your clothing smell good again, which can be an issue if your luggage that you store in your basement/attic has an odd odor to it.

15. Avoid getting seasick with an easy remedy

While you can take over-the-counter medication to combat nausea caused by motion in the ocean, mild seasickness can be remedied with a green apple. Seriously.

Green apples are a natural remedy that crew and guests use, along with crackers, to help ease an uneasy stomach. 

You will find green apples in the Windjammer, so it might be a good idea to take a couple to keep your stateroom.

16. Look for Kids Sail Free deals

Families looking to book a Royal Caribbean cruise should keep an eye out for Royal Caribbean's kids sail free deals.

Royal Caribbean offers promotions where kids under the age of 13 staying in the same room as two adults can qualify for free cruise fare.  There are a lot of blackout dates, but if you can make it work with your schedule, the kids sail free deal is among the most lucrative promotions offered.

There is usually a kids sail free promotion every few months.

17. Talk to the crew members

Beyond letting the crew take your drink orders, or asking where the nearest restroom is, be sure to strike up conversations with crew members you encounter.

Your cabin attendant is usually one for a quick chat. You might learn a thing or two, and it can really make someone's day.

Royal Caribbean releases 2021 Alaska, Hawaii & Transpacific sailings

In:
06Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

For the second consecutive year, Royal Caribbean will bring three ships to Alaska, as the cruise line opened up bookings for its 2021 Alaska itineraries.

New Alaska, Hawaii and Transpacific sailings are now available to book, with three ships offering varying 7-night itineraries sailing from Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia; and Seward, Alaska.

Beginning in April 2021, Radiance of the Seas will offer a 17-night Transpacific Tahiti & New Zealand cruise.  It will begin in Brisbane, Australia and visit destinations in New Zealand, Tahiti and French Polynesia before arriving in Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii.

Similarly, Serenade of the Seas will sail from Sydney, Australia in April 2021, and embark on a transpacific cruise that will go to Hawaii.

Ovation of the Seas will sail from Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan, and begin a 14-night Japan, Russia & Alaska cruise.  It will conclude in Seattle, Washington.

In May 2021, Serenade of the Seas will offer an 11-night Hawaii cruise that begins in Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii and will visit a few Hawaii islands before concluding in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Radiance of the Seas will offer a similar sailing, a 10-night Hawaii cruise that begins in Oahu and ends in Vancouver.

The 2021 sailings to Alaska show three ships will offer sailings: Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, and Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver.

 

At the conclusion of the Alaskan cruise season, Radiance of the Seas will offer a 10-night Hawaii cruise that begins in Vancouver, and then concludes in Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii.

All three ships will debut Royal Caribbean’s spa staterooms. The brand-new lineup of balcony accommodations will allow guests to relax in between adventures with an array of amenities and perks, including priority spa reservations, lush bedding and bath products, tranquil décor, daily delivery of tea, water and coffee; and priority boarding at embarkation.

Be sure to consult the Royal Caribbean website or your travel professional for further assistance with itinerary options and booking.

Watch: Drone footage of Oasis of the Seas in drydock

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released a new drone video of Oasis of the Seas as it goes through a $165 million amplification.

The ship is in Cadiz, Spain, where it will receive a number of new upgrades prior to her return to service on November 24.

You can read all about what Royal Caribbean is changing on Oasis of the Seas, as well as look at a deck-by-deck list of changes.

Video: Things that cost extra on Royal Caribbean that are totally worth it!

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

There is plenty to spend your money on during the course of a Royal Caribbean cruise, but today I am sharing my top choices for things are worth every penny!

Dining, excursions, activities and more are all available to try on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  Many of these things to do are included with your cruise fare, but there are some extras you can opt to try.  In this video, I have listed the four things I think are always worth the extra cost.

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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What things that cost extra on Royal Caribbean do you think is worth paying for?

A look back at 50 years of Royal Caribbean dining with Linken D'Souza

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and a great deal of Royal Caribbean's legacy is based in the culinary offerings. Dining on Royal Caribbean has transformed over the years, with more and more new options, innovations and approaches to delivering outstanding cuisine. From the dining rooms, to the buffet, to the pizza and even robot bartenders, Royal Caribbean is never one to shy away from pushing the envelope with what can be delivered to ships.

At the heart of Royal Caribbean's food and beverage operations is Linken D'Souza, Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage. 

He and his team have the task of making the food, drinks and meals onboard an unforgettable experience for guests. Mr. D'Souza has worked for Royal Caribbean in this capacity for about two and a half years, and his team carries a tradition of striving to serve up the best dining experience.

"What hasn't changed is the ability of our staff to produce just an amazing product, amazing service to along with it, and I think that's what has kept us so strong as an organization."

"I think the key to research is to understand the guests, creating a product that they really want, and then taking their feedback. We're in the process of creating the new Giovanni's restaurant that will launch in the next little while, and in fact yesterday, we did a tasting onboard the ship with our guests to really get a sense of what they liked, what they didn't like. That's just one step. We'll go through three or four iterations before we launch Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar on Freedom of the Seas."

Of course, plenty has changed in Royal Caribbean's 50 years of operations, and the options guests have to dine at has grown every year.

"If we wind back time to 1969 with the Song of Norway, and you think about the two venues we had onboard, which was the dining room and the Windjammer, which was essentially a window that served burgers and hot dogs, to Symphony of the Seas, our flagship here in the United States. Sixty-five food and beverage venues onboard, that's a huge evolution."

 

To commemorate Royal Caribbean's 50 years, a limited edition hardcover book was created and given to guests sailing on Symphony of the Seas this week as part of the 50th Anniversary Birthday Cruise.  All guests can read the book for free by downloading the eBook.

Mr. D'Souza looked at the evolution of dining, explained the research that goes into a new restaurant and even talked about they pick a featured dish that eventually ends up on the menu. Listen to episode 327 of our interview with Linken D'Souza in its entirety below.

Be sure to subscribe to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog Podcast at Google Podcasts, Apple PodcastsTuneIn, and Stitcher.

Photos: Slides added to Oasis of the Seas

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas is undergoing a $165 million amplification in Cadiz, Spain, and today we have a look at the progress being made onboard with the addition of new slides for guests to enjoy.

The transformation of Oasis of the Seas will add a variety of new activities, venues and options.  This will include the addition of the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea.

Thrill seekers will also love the new trio of water slide sbeing added, known as The Perfect Storm.

Oasis of the Seas is also set to receive Splashaway Bay kids aqua park, a reimagined Caribbean pool deck, the cruise line's first barbecue restaurant, Portside BBQ, and more. You can view the deck-by-deck changes to Oasis of the Seas.

The amplified Oasis will set sail on November 24, 2019, beginning 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Terminal A in Miami. 

Royal Caribbean announces 2020 President's Cruise sailing

In:
04Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley announced to a theater full of cruise fans the next President's Cruise will be held on the October 25, 2020 sailing of Allure of the Seas.

Allure of the Seas will sail a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona, Spain and visit the ports of Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence (Marseille), France; Florence/Pisa (La Spezia), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and Naples (Capri), Italy.

The President's Cruise has become an annual Royal Caribbean tradition that invites fans of the cruise line to sail with the cruise line's CEO, and enjoy a series of special events, surprises and offerings.

The five most exciting Royal Caribbean cruises in 2020

In:
04Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

With November here, time is running out of 2019 and we cannot help but look forward to some of the exciting cruises coming in 2020.  By the looks of it, things are shaping up to be a big year for Royal Caribbean.

If you are considering booking a Royal Caribbean cruise for 2020 and want to be a part of Royal Caribbean taking a step forward, then consider these cruises (assuming there's still availability).

Odyssey of the Seas inaugural sailings

With the arrival of Royal Caribbean's new cruise ship, there is little doubt that 2020 will be the year of Odyssey of the Seas. 

Odyssey of the Seas will be the second Quantum Ultra Class ship, and will debut in November 2020 from Fort Lauderdale, FL.

For her inaugural season, Odyssey of the Seas will kick off in the Caribbean’s clear blue waters with 8- and 6-night itineraries to the Caribbean. Odyssey will then sail to her homeport of Rome in May 2021 and become the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to cruise Europe for the summer.

Allure of the Seas Amplification

In 2020, Allure of the Seas will undergo a $165 million transformation that will add signature feats and innovative experiences to the ship.

Guests will be able to enjoy a wide variety of new offerings with Allure’s upcoming lineup of new features, including the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; The Perfect Storm trio of water slides, completely redesigned Adventure Ocean kids and teens spaces, the first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, and Quantum Class original Music Hall. 

Allure will open its season of 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises from homeport Barcelona, Spain on May 10, 2020.

Freedom of the Seas Amplification

Continuing Royal Caribbean's Royal Amplified program, Freedom of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to be amplified in 2020.

Beginning March 8, 2020, the reimagined Freedom will sail 7-night, roundtrip Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan. The year-round itineraries are set to visit tropical locales in the region, including Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; Castries, Saint Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Saint Johns, Antigua; and Kralendijk, Bonaire.

The ship will receive a number of new features, including The Perfect Storm duo of water slides, a redesigned Caribbean poolscape, a new take on a signature venue with Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and completely transformed kids and teens spaces. 

Oasis of the Seas sails from the New York area

Summer 2020 is going to be a fun time with Oasis of the Seas sailing out of the Big Apple, starting in May 2020.

Oasis will become the largest ship to sail from the Northeast. An amped up Oasis of the Seas will sail from Cape Liberty, New Jersey with itineraries that visit The Bahamas all summer with 7-night itineraries, as well as a select number of short cruises north to New England and Canada.

Return to New Orleans in 2020

Photo by Michael Hicks

Royal Caribbean will sail year-round from New Orleans when Majesty of the Seas arrives to her new homeport in January 2020.

Majesty will take guests on 7-night sailings to destinations in the Caribbean and Bahamas, including Perfect Day at CocoCay.

How to upgrade your cabin on Royal Caribbean

In:
04Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Now that you booked a Royal Caribbean cruise, you might be wondering if there is an option to upgrade your stateroom to a larger, better or conveniently located room. 

Perhaps the price dropped, or your financial situation has changed, or perhaps you simply want to splurge. Whatever the reason, here are the ways to upgrade your cabin.

 

What to know about Royal Up

Royal Caribbean has introduced a new way to upgrade rooms with its Royal Up program.  This is a blind stateroom upgrade bidding program, where close to your sail date you can let Royal Caribbean know how much you would be willing to pay if an upgrade situation presented itself.

With Royal Up, there is a suggested bid price for an upgrade, but there is no way to know how much to bid beyond that. Moreover, Royal Up's options are not indications of an actual cabin upgrade availability.

How to upgrade the traditional way

My preferred way to upgrade a stateroom is to call a travel agent and have them price out the room upgrade choices and then make the switch. 

If you booked with a travel agent, you have to go through your travel agent to contact Royal Caribbean to upgrade you.  

Your travel agent will give you the new price and apply payments you have made towards the new stateroom.

If you booked your cruise on your own directly with Royal Caribbean, you can call Royal Caribbean directly and give them your reservation number and tell them you want to upgrade.

The Royal Caribbean operator will price the new stateroom out for you and tell you what the new price will be.  Any payments or deposits you've previously made can be applied to the new reservation.

How to upgrade with Royal Up

Prior to your cruise, you may have the option to place a bid with Royal Up to get a room upgrade.

Check on the Royal Up website to determine if you are eligible for an upgrade.

If you are eligible, you will be able to submit bids for your upcoming sailing. The bid amount is per person for the entire duration of the cruise. Offers are based on two occupants per stateroom - only the first and second guest will be charged. 

Once your bid is accepted, your card will be charged immediately, and the upgrade amount paid is final and non-refundable. Moreover, the cabin location is not something you can choose and subject to availability.

You may modify or cancel your offer up until 2 days prior to departure, provided that your offer has not already been accepted.

Your offer can be accepted anytime from the moment it is submitted up until 2 days prior to voyage departure. 

Upgrading your stateroom onboard

It is possible, though unlikely, that you can upgrade your stateroom on the day you sail onboard your ship.  

Since Royal Caribbean cruise ships sail full regularly these days, availability for upgrades is slim, however, there may be an opportunity to upgrade if there is an open stateroom.

You can go to Guest Services to speak with them immediately upon boarding but I would not bet on this being an option at all.  

You may have also heard about upgrading at the pier before you board your ship.  Years ago this practice was more prevalent and you could get some decent discounts for these literally last-minute staterooms.  However, ships are sailing full and the practice in general has been abandoned.

If upgrades are available, they will be at a reduced cost by speaking with the Pier Coordinator.  There is no harm in asking but upgrades are rarely available these days.

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