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Mariner of the Seas Guide & Review

In:
07 Jul 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

One of the most popular Royal Caribbean cruise ships for a quick getaway is Mariner of the Seas, which currently offers 5 and 8-night sailings from Port Canaveral, Florida. 

Mariner of the Seas anchored

Royal Caribbean’s ships are known for featuring onboard thrills that are sure to leave you wowed - and Mariner of the Seas is no exception. If you are considering a cruise on Mariner of the Seas, look no further than our planning and overview guide. 

You will find everything you need to know about Mariner of the Seas to ensure you are prepared to have your best cruise vacation yet.

Mariner of the Seas Overview

As the final ship built in Royal Caribbean’s Voyager class, Mariner of the Seas first hit the seas in 2003. During her debut, Mariner of the Seas was one of the first cruise ships to feature a rock climbing wall on the ship’s funnel and an ice skating rink onboard. 

At launch, Mariner of the Seas was one of the largest cruise ships in the world. While no longer the case, Mariner of the Seas is a perfect ship for weekend getaways. At 139,000 tons, Mariner of the Seas is considered a midsized cruise ship. The ship features 15 decks and holds nearly 4,000 passengers at full capacity.

One of the prominent features of Mariner of the Seas is its dazzling promenade deck, which spans the length of the ship and features shops, restaurants and bars. 

In 2018, Mariner of the Seas underwent an astonishing $120 million refurbishment. The ship was retrofitted with some of Royal Caribbean’s most popular thrills, like the SkyPad, Perfect Storm slide and Flowrider. The refurbishment also included the addition of new specialty restaurants and exciting dining options for cruisers.  

In fact, this huge upgrade was fueled by Royal Caribbean identifying a new trend in the cruising market: millennials looking for quick getaways. As such, Mariner's refurbishment was carefully planned to add countless onboard thrills for a cruise ship sailing to tropical locations, which is a game-changing experience for those wanting a short getaway vacation.

Mariner of the Seas Pool Deck

Mariner of the Seas pool deck

You won’t need to be docked in port to feel like you’re relaxing in a tropical oasis. Cruisers will find plenty of opportunities to relax, take in the sun and unwind with a cocktail on Mariner of the Seas' pool deck.

The top deck of Mariner of the Seas has two main pools with multiple hot tubs surrounded by sun loungers. Most of the time, you can find reggae-style music playing on the pool deck. There are 2 decks of chairs that surround the pool, so you can choose to be right next to the pool or on the top deck overlooking the open sea.

A large movie screen shines above the pool deck and plays everything from music videos to cinema hits under the stars. 

A double decker pool bar is nestled near the pool for easy access - perfect for those relaxing on a lounger. On the upper deck near the pool bar, guests can find trendy couches and even comfy, padded chairs. 

If you are looking for some diner-style grub, you can dine at Johnny Rockets on the upper pool deck (for a fixed-price fee). Those looking for a quick and complimentary snack can grab a hot dog from Boardwalk Dog House. You can build your own hot dog with multiple topping options and plenty of meats to choose from. 

Sweets lovers will love the all-you-can-eat ice cream machine on the pool deck. Nothing could be better than a cool, creamy cone on a hot vacation day!

Mariner of the Seas Solarium

At the front of the pool deck is the adults-only Solarium. Only guests who are 16 years and older can enjoy the Solarium, which makes this a wonderful place to indulge in some quiet time. 

Daybeds with canopies can also be found in the Solarium, which are complimentary. These are posh and comfortable spots to relax.

The Solarium features a pool surrounded by padded loungers and two hot tubs. Those looking to grab a drink will appreciate the convenience of the Solarium Bar, situated perfectly between the two hot tubs. 

While some cruise ships feature Solariums that are covered by glass domes, guests can enjoy direct sunlight onboard Mariner of the Seas in this space. 

Mariner of the Seas Dining Options

Main dining room table

If one thing’s certain on your cruise, it's that you won’t go hungry onboard Mariner of the Seas. With a combination of both complimentary and specialty dining options, you won’t have time to likely try all of the food available onboard!

Whether you choose to dine only at complimentary venues or treat yourself to an upgraded dining experience in one of the specialty restaurants, there’re endless options for grabbing a bite to eat. 

Mariner of the Seas Windjammer

Complimentary dining onboard Mariner of the Seas include the following:

Main Dining Room: Like all of Royal Caribbean’s ships, the main dining room offers complimentary meals in a classic sit-down style. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served daily in the main dining rooms. 

Windjammer Marketplace: Another staple on Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships. The Windjammer servers up breakfast, lunch and dinner in buffet style. There’s infinite options here from burgers and pizza to international cuisine like curry. 

Cafe Promenade: Located in the central Royal Promenade, guests can find complimentary coffee, tea, pastries, snacks, pizza and sandwiches 24 hours a day. Perfect for your late night cravings!

Boardwalk Dog House: The first-ever food truck at sea serves up gourmet hot dogs for everyone to enjoy. Everything from sausages to hot dogs are available including a variety of condiments, salads and sides. 

Izumi hibachi on Mariner of the Seas

Specialty dining is also plentiful onboard Mariner of the Seas. Some guests prefer to dine only at complimentary venues while others appreciate the quality and service afforded through the specialty dining options. These restaurants serve the highest quality food available onboard, although guests will have to spend extra to visit these venues.

As the name suggests, specialty restaurants focus on serving one type of cuisine and doing it exceptionally well. If you’re looking to have a special celebration or indulge in a romantic dinner, consider booking a reservation at one of these restaurants.

Burger at Playmakers

 

Specialty dining options onboard Mariner of the Seas include the following options:

Chops Grille: Styled as an American Steakhouse, Chops Grille specializes in serving hand-cut meat with appetizers like Maine lobster, sides like gruyere cheese tater tots and desserts like tangy key lime pie. 

Jamie’s Italian: Thanks to a partnership with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, Jamie’s Italian transforms classic Italian dishes into a trendy Tuscan-inspired experience. Homemade pasta and an epic meat plank can be polished off with indulgent tiramisu. 

Izumi Hibachi & Sushi: Everything from fresh sushi to delicious teppanyaki is served at Izumi. This Asian-inspired dining option offers a variety of hot and cold appetizers, entrees and desserts. With a full hibachi experience, you will leave feeling both full and wowed. 

Garlic bread

Chef’s Table: One of the most premium dining options onboard, Chef’s Table provides an intimate opportunity for guests to enjoy a 6-course meal crafted personally by the ship’s chef. A white cloth dinner table spotlights a multitude of delicate cuisine offerings. 

Playmakers Sports Bar and Grill: Located in the Royal Promenade, this sports bar offers your game-day favorite bar snacks and drinks. You can enjoy a signature Playmakers burger and finish off with a five-scoop Touchdown Sundae or warm, gooey Campfire Cookie. 

Johnny Rockets: This 1950s diner-style restaurant offers American style favorites like burgers, fries, onion rings and milkshakes. 

Ben & Jerry’s: Offering plenty of iconic ice cream flavors, Ben & Jerry’s is available for purchase in the Royal Promenade and serves up cones, sundaes and milkshakes. 

Mariner of the Seas Bars and Lounges

Bamboo room on Mariner of the Seas

Cruising with Royal Caribbean means you will find a seemingly endless number of places to grab a cocktail. You can't say you went on a cruise unless you indulged in a fruity vacation drink! Mariner of the Seas has a huge variety of bars and lounges, each offering a slightly different vibe. 

Each night, you can find live music happening inside Mariner's bars and lounges onboard. The bars and lounges also host plenty of activities including trivia, crafting, karaoke and more. 

Schooner Bar on Mariner of the Seas

Bars onboard Mariner of the Seas include:

  • Schooner Bar (Piano Bar)
  • The Bamboo Room
  • Wig & Gravel Pub
  • Britto Pool Bar
  • Solarium Bar
  • Sky Bar 
  • Ellington’s Jazz Club
  • Viking Crown
  • Boleros (Latin-themed nightclub and bar)
  • Connoisseur Club 
  • The Plaza Bar
  • Cloud Nine
  • Casino Royale Bar
  • Star Lounge

For the best panoramic view, The Crown Lounge is the perfect spot to grab a cocktail. You can enjoy 180-degree views of the pool deck and open sea. On the other hand, Boleros is a great spot for live music and dancing. The Star Lounge is a transformative space that hosts everything from game shows to karaoke and nightly dancing. 

One of the most unique features on Mariner of the Seas is The Bamboo Room. This Polynesian-themed tiki bar is located in the Royal Promenade and serves up spirited sips with exotic fruits and spices. The throwback vibes and crazy good cocktails are not to be missed. 

Things to do on Mariner of the Seas

activities on Mariner of the Seas

I’ve sailed on Mariner of the Seas three times and each time was a wonderful and unique experience. This cruise ship is perfectly sized - not too big and not too small - and definitely offers a little something that everyone can enjoy. 

Even before her recent refurbishment, Mariner of the Seas had plenty of activities to keep cruisers busy; during her initial debut, she was the best that the cruise industry had to offer. After Royal Caribbean added some of its signature features during refurbishment, Mariner of the Seas now has enough amenities and onboard thrills to rival some of the newest mega ships at sea.

When you first look at Mariner of the Seas, you can’t miss the colorful Perfect Storm waterslides on the top deck. Made of two twisting slides, Typhoon and Cyclone sit three stories above the top deck and allow cruisers to go for a daring, dueling race from the top. You’ll even jet off the side of the ship while twisting and turning down the slides.

Sky Pad on Mariner of the Seas

Centrally located is the SkyPad, which offers cruisers a virtual reality experience while jumping on a gravity-defying bungee trampoline. The SkyClimber is nestled nearby and features an enclosed climbing structure. 

The sports deck is located on the back of the ship and packed with plenty of opportunities to be active, including a rock climbing wall, mini golf course, laser tag, basketball court and Flowrider surf simulator. There are also hammocks and swings that fill in the surrounding areas - the perfect spot to catch your breath.

Observatorium on Mariner of the Seas

Deck 15 is home to Royal Caribbean’s newest escape challenge called The Observatorium while Studio B Ice Skating is located on Deck 3. Additionally, guests can enjoy outdoor movies, the casino, trivia, board games, fitness classes, dance lessons, ping pong and crafting. 

Adventure Ocean

Adventure Ocean

Those cruising with kids on Mariner of the Seas will definitely want to check out Adventure Ocean. This is Royal Caribbean’s childcare program that accommodates even the littlest cruisers starting from 6 months old and all the way up to 17 year olds. 

Adventure Ocean on Mariner of the Seas focuses on giving kids the freedom and flexibility to follow their interests. Everything from craft stations to video games and science experiences are available for kids participating in Adventure Ocean. This is a great opportunity for your kids to have supervised fun and socialize with other cruising kids. 

Mariner of the Seas adventure ocean

The Adventure Ocean program is broken into 4 different age groups. This allows kids to have the most suitable programming based on age and developmental skills. Additionally, Teens have access to The Living Room, which is a trendy lounge meant to be a space for organized events or simply a fun spot for teens to meet and hang out. 

The breakdown is as follows:

  • Babies (6-36 mo)
  • Aquanauts (3-5 yrs)
  • Explorers (6-8 yrs)
  • Voyagers (9-12 yrs)
  • Teens (13-17 yrs)

Adventure Ocean is complimentary for ages 3 and up, however there is also a $7 hourly charge that applies after 10PM. Nursery drop-off is also an extra charge for babies up to 36 months. 

Entertainment

Theater on Mariner of the Seas

When it comes to entertainment, Mariner of the Seas has two main venues: the Royal Theater and Studio B Ice Rink. 

The Royal Theater will host a variety of shows that are sure to leave guests wowed. From comedians to musicians and magicians, the evening shows are dazzling. Mariner of the Seas has one big production show called Gallery of Dreams, which tells the story of a young artist who travels the world and brings his sketches to life. 

Studio B also has one main production show called Ice Under the Big Top, a fierce and spectacular ice skating show featuring acrobatics, clowns and romantic antics. 

Themed parties, live music and club DJs also keep the entertainment flowing throughout the day on Mariner of the Seas at a variety of venues.

Wellness and Relaxation

Fitness Center

Mariner of the Seas features Royal Caribbean’s signature Vitality Spa and Fitness Center. Cruisers can indulge in a variety of spa treatments and attend various seminars in the Vitality Spa. Everything from massages to anti-aging treatments, wraps and acupuncture are available for purchase. 

Spa treatments are available for purchase both onboard and before boarding in the cruise planner. Guests can choose from a variety of treatments that vary based on length and technique. Of note, spa pricing is dynamic based on the sailing day and port. Sea days are inherently more expensive because of increased demand while port days usually offer discounted services. 

The Fitness Center is attached to the Vitality Spa and houses plenty of exercise equipment for complimentary use. Classes are also offered for an extra cost and include pilates, spin, sculpting and yoga. Cardio and strength training courses are available at no cost while spin and yoga are not complementary. 

Deck 12 also offers an outdoor running track for those looking to either run or walk along the top deck. 

Mariner of the Seas Staterooms

When you are booking your cruise on Mariner of the Seas, you’ll want to understand the different types of cabins available - and there’s a lot to choose from! Layouts and size can differ greatly onboard, so a little research can help you be prepared for what to expect when you board Mariner of the Seas. It’s also important to choose a cabin that fits your budget and your travel needs. 

Some people book staterooms with the intent of only using their cabin as a place to sleep and shower. Others like to use their stateroom more than that for relaxing and rejuvenating - the choice is yours. 

Regardless of which stateroom you choose, all cabins onboard Mariner of the Seas come with basic living amenities like a bed, shower, vanity and television. You will also find a chair or couch, closet, nightstands and cooler. North American and European outlets are standard in the cabin, although you will probably find it useful to have some sort of electronics or USD extender. 

Inside cabin on Mariner of the Seas

Interior Cabins

Interior (or inside) cabins are the most basic staterooms available onboard Mariner of the Seas. These cabins do not have any sort of window, meaning you won’t get any natural light. These cabins have all the necessities you need for sleeping and showering. While smaller in space, you will find ample storage. \

Interior cabins provide an excellent value option for budget travelers or those looking to splurge on dining, drinking and exploring on excursions. You can also nap at any time of the day!

Interior Promenade

One of the most unique features of Mariner of the Seas is the central promenade. A twist on the standard interior cabin is upgrading to an interior promenade cabin.

These are technically inside cabins with the same amenities, but feature a window overlooking the ship’s bustling promenade. 

Oceanview Cabins

One step above interior cabins is oceanview cabins. While similar in size, oceanview cabins have a porthole window that gives cruisers views of the sea. There are plenty of oceanview cabins around Mariner of the Seas that can be found in a variety of locations on the ship.

Balcony cabin on Mariner of the Seas

Balcony Cabins

The most picturesque cabin on any cruise ship is one with a balcony and Mariner of the Seas is no exception. These cabins each come with a private balcony overlooking the sea. Each balcony comes with 2 chairs and a small table. These are more expensive than oceanview and interior cabins, but you can still snag a balcony cabin for a reasonable cost. 

Suites

The biggest and most luxurious cabins onboard Mariner of the Seas are the suites. These will give you the most space on board with some amazing amenities included, like access to the ship’s concierge lounge and priority boarding.

Onboard Mariner of the Seas, guests can book 1 and 2- bedroom Grand Suites, along with the Owners Suites and Royal Suites with Balcony. These incredible cabins will cost a premium, but offer the best accommodations onboard Mariner of the Seas. 

Royal Caribbean offering onboard booking bonus after your cruise ends for a limited time

In:
07 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If you forgot or didn't get around to booking another Royal Caribbean cruise onboard your summer cruise, you'll have a little extra time to book one.

Royal Caribbean has a new offer for a limited time where guest can still take advantage of the onboard booking bonus of extra onboard credit if they sailed on a ship in the last 30 days.

Typically you can only qualify for the bonus onboard credit when you book a cruise at the NextCruise office onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. Once you disembark the ship, there's no opportunity to get that offer again.

Now, there's a new opportunity to book a new cruise if you have sailed recently.

NextCruise office

Here's a look at how to qualify for this new offer.

Offer details

Sail Again promo

The Welcome Home promo is valid on new non-refundable bookings between July 1 and August 31, 2022 within 30 days of a previous sailing.

Welcome Home offers up to $600 USD to spend at sea onboard credit (OBC) per stateroom on sailings departing between July 1, 2022 – December 31, 2024.

Promo Code “SAILAGAIN” must be entered at the time of booking to receive the OBC.

Junior Suite on Symphony of the Seas

OBC amounts are per stateroom and determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • Sailings 4 to 5 nights:
    • $25 OBC for Interior and Oceanview
    • $50 for Balconies and Junior Suites
    • $150 for Suites (Grand Suites and above)
  • Sailings 6 to 9 nights
    • $50 OBC for Interior and Oceanview
    • $100 for Balconies and Junior Suites
    • $300 for Suites (Grand Suites and above)
  • Sailings 10 nights or longer
    • $100 OBC for Interior and Oceanview
    • $200 for Balconies and Junior Suites
    • $600 for Suites (Grand Suites and above)

Guest who qualifies for the offer, are eligible to create up to three bookings total with same named guests from previous sailing. 

OBC is combinable with brand wide promotions, promotional OBCs, Next Cruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), promo code driven offers, free upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts, and shareholder benefits but not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Ultimate World Cruise, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates. OBC is nontransferable and does not apply to China departures.

American Express offer is back

American Express gold cards

If you haven't sailed on a cruise ship recently, you may still be able to save some money if you have an American Express card.

Select cardholders are seeing another cash back offer from American Express when you spend money with Royal Caribbean.

Log into your American Express account and look for the Amex Offers area to see if Royal Caribbean shows up.

AmEx offers

Amex Offers are an area at the bottom of the page when you log into the American Express site, where you can earn all sorts of statement credits for buying things from certain vendors.

Select card members may see an offer to get up to $250 back in a statement for booking a new Royal Caribbean cruise.

Get a one-time $250 statement credit by using your enrolled eligible Card to spend a minimum of $1,000 in one or more transactions on cruise reservations booked at https://www.royalcaribbean.com, by phone at 1-866-562-7625 or by contacting your preferred travel advisor by 8/15/2022. 

You'll have to check if the offer is available on your card, because not all card holders may get this particular offer.

I tried my first 3-night cruise, here's how it went

In:
06 Jul 2022
By: 
Nicole Feist

I just went on my first weekend cruise, and it was a pleasant surprise. 

Originally being from the Midwest, whenever I would plan to go on a cruise, I wanted to maximize my vacation. I figured if I had to pay to fly down to the cruise port, I may as well book for at least 7 nights to make the travel time worth it.

Now that I live in Florida, it is a lot easier to get to many of the ports, and I’ve found that my cruising options have grown. I can easily take a weekend cruise, without the hassle of multiple travel days, taking up my PTO. 

For my first 3-nighter, I went on the Freedom of the Seas out of Miami, Fl. The primary purpose of this trip was to test the new SpaceX Starlink internet service, but it also gave me the opportunity to try my first weekend cruise. 

Read more: I tried Elon Musk's Starlink internet on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

The shortest cruise I had been on before this was a 5-night cruise, so I was worried that this trip would be over before I knew it. Royal Caribbean has so many fun activities and experiences onboard, that I wasn’t sure how I would fit in all of my favorite things in just 3 nights.

We drove down to the port early Friday morning, getting on the ship just after 11 AM. After grabbing some pizza at Sorrentos, testing the Wi-Fi speeds and getting some content for the Royal Caribbean Blog TikTok account, I set off to begin my vacation. 

I hadn’t been on Freedom since before it was renovated, so I decided to explore the ship to get my bearings. I wanted to ensure that I didn’t miss a thing, as our cruise had 2 stops in Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau. This meant that there weren't any sea days, which was new for me.

After watching the ship sail away from the helipad, we went to dinner and then checked the schedule to see what they had planned for that night. I was surprised to see that the first night’s activities and show schedules weren’t filled. There weren't productions in the Royal Theater or Studio B, though that may have just been for this sailing.

Looking forward throughout the weekend’s schedule, it seemed that a majority of the popular activities were saved for nights 2 and 3. 

Day two was spent at CocoCay.

We spent most of our day at Coco Beach Club, but on our way back to the ship I started to realize that the crowd on this short cruise was leaning towards a younger age, with more of a party vibe.

There was a dance party in the Oasis Pool between the swim up bar and DJ booth, with more people than I had ever seen in there before. 

That evening we went to watch karaoke, where the party atmosphere from the pool had continued. Before the singers start, the activities staff announced their name and where they were from.

Based on the number of singers from Miami, and the cheering from the crowd when that was announced, we realized that most of the cruisers were local. When we’ve taken longer cruises, most of the people that we meet tend to be from the Midwest and Northeast, especially when cruising in the wintertime. 

We also started noticing that there were a lot of bachelorette parties, groups of young friends celebrating birthdays, and large multi-generational families cruising with us. This made sense as it is less of a time commitment than a longer cruise, making it easier for people’s schedules to align, and get away together for a weekend. 

The most surprising thing to me was that they packed three of Royal’s most popular activities on the last day.

After another port day in Nassau, most of the ship gathered to watch the International Belly Flop competition, Battle of the Sexes and Love & Marriage. This crowd was eager to participate in these games, with multiple people ready to audition or sign up. 

Overall, my first 3-night cruise was a weekend well spent. I’m someone who always believes that I could use a few more nights on a ship, but with the activities schedule not being as packed as I expected, I was still able to see and do everything I had wanted to, as well as get a little bit of relaxation time. 

One of my worries before going on the cruise was that before I knew it, the weekend would be over. It may help that I have another cruise coming up, but I felt that I was able to experience everything that Freedom had to offer, while still having a great vacation.

With the costs of these cruises typically being lower, the ease of getting to the port and having to take less PTO, I am already looking ahead to see when I can book another 3-nighter.

More cruise advice

Norwegian Cruise drops Covid testing, but you'll still need a test if cruising from US

In:
06 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One of the major cruise lines has dropped its Covid-19 testing requirement in practice, although the policy shift will not yet affect the majority of its sailings.

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, which owns Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruise, announced a change in its pre-cruise covid testing policy on Wednesday.

All of its lines will drop a pre-cruise Covid-19 test requirement, unless the country the ship sails from requires it.

Essentially, there's no change to pre-cruise Covid testing for cruises from the U.S., Canada, Greece, or Bermuda. The difference is should one of those countries drop their testing mandate of cruise ships, then NCL wouldn't require it as part of their policy.

NCL logo on side of ship

The upside to this change is it will make it easier for North Americans headed to Europe for a cruise to book a cruise, since it eliminates one more hoop to jump through. North Americans make up a large percentage of people that cruise from Europe on the "big three" cruise brands.

For cruises sailing in the U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a policy that requires pre-cruise Covid testing of all cruise lines that have opted into the "highly vaccinated program."

NCLH's new policy goes into effect beginning August 1, 2022.

According to the company, they believe this change puts their policy in line with other forms of travel, "the relaxation of the testing policy is in line with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industry worldwide as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy."

NCLH reaffirmed their strong recommendation that all passengers be up to date on vaccination protocols and test at their convenience prior to travel.

The change by Norwegian is significant since up until now only a handful of smaller cruise lines operating in Europe dropped covid testing requirements and in very limited scenarios.

When might the U.S. drop cruise ship Covid testing?

Cruise ship docked in Miami

In light of NCLH's policy change, many Americans may be wondering when the CDC will drop the testing requirement.

The same day the United States removed the requirement of international flights to require a negative covid test, the cruise industry said it wants to next move to looking at pre-cruise testing requirements.

In a statement in June 2022, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said it wants the CDC to look at pre-cruise testing.

"As the CDC monitors the improving health landscape and works with airlines to support a smooth transition with the lifting of the pre-arrival testing requirement, we believe a review of pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order."

Will Royal Caribbean change its policy too?

Just last week, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley addressed the issue of pre-cruise testing, and he didn't think the U.S. would change policy for at least a little while longer.

Speaking onboard Ovation of the Seas, Mr. Bayley said, "I think pre cruise testing is going to be around for another couple of months."

"We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we're incredibly cognizant of our responsibilities to keep our crew, the communities and our guests safe."

Fried chicken recipe from Mason Jar on Wonder of the Seas

In:
06 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Did you know July 6th is National Fried Chicken Day? Did you know you don't need an excuse to eat really good fried chicken?

Fried Chicken at Mason Jar

I never considered myself much of a "fried chicken guy" until I went on Wonder of the Seas.  Sure, I enjoyed fried chicken, but outside of Nashville, it was tough to find really good fried chicken.

Then I ate at the Mason Jar Southern Restaurant & Bar.

Maybe it was the country music band playing in the bar, or the PB&J old fashioned (I'd love to get a recipe for that, by the way) that I had a few sips of first, but the Meemaw’s Fried Chicken was really darn good.

The chicken fell apart quite easily at the first tug, so there was no wrestling with a tough bird this time around.

Even better was the same fried chicken they put on the "Nashville Hot" Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Mason Jar chicken sandwich

We ended up dining at Mason Jar at least 4 different times (not counting a snack at the bar late at night), and I'm fairly certain every order I made had fried chicken as part of the recipe.

Then I tried Meemaw’s Fried Chicken N’ Waffles, which is a golden waffle topped with fried chicken and sweet maple syrup. It's an ideal mix between sweet and savory flavors. Suddenly, I began to question a lot of foods I previously thought I wasn't a huge fan of.

Chicken n Waffles at Mason Jar

I can't sail on Wonder of the Seas every week (or so my wife tells me), but Royal Caribbean has shared a copy of Meemaw’s Fried Chicken so anyone can make it at home. A copy of Garth Brooks' "Friends in low places" not included.

Here's how to make the fried chicken at home inbetween Wonder of the Seas cruises.

Meemaw’s Fried Chicken Recipe

Fried Chicken at Mason Jar

Ingredients: 

Chicken Marinade 

  • 2 whole chickens (3-3.5 lbs each) – broken down 8 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breasts) 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper spice 
  • 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite spice rub (we use our Royal secret recipe seasoning) 
  • 3 teaspoons of granulated garlic powder 
  • 1 ¾ cups of buttermilk 
  • 5 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce 
  • 1 medium egg 

Chicken Coating 

  • ¾ cup of flour 
  • ¾ cup of corn starch 
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon of salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon of granulated onion powder 
  • ½ teaspoon of granulated garlic powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper 
  • ⅛ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper 
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano 
  • ¼ teaspoon of dry mustard 

Instructions

Fried chicken

Steps: 

Marinate the Chicken 

  1. In a container, mix salt, pepper, granulated garlic, Cajun seasoning, spice rub of your choice, buttermilk, hot sauce and egg. 
  2. Add chicken pieces to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours (6 hours is suggested). 

Coat the Chicken 

  1. In a separate container, mix the chicken coating by adding the flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt, granulated onion powder, granulated garlic powder ground black pepper, Cayenne pepper, oregano, dry mustard. 
  2. Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and uncover. 
  3. Dredge each piece of chicken individually in the coating mixture, shaking any excess mixture and put aside (we’ll do this a second time). 
  4. Let the chicken rest for about 10-15 minutes on a cooling rack – this will help the coating stay on better (we suggest putting sheet pans under the rack to help with cleaning up). 
  5. Dredge each piece of chicken individually in the mixture for a second time. Shake off excess mixture. 

Fry the Chicken 

  1. Heat oil in a deep fryer at 284 degrees F (140 degrees C). 
  2. Once temperature is reached, carefully place chicken in the deep fryer for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and internal temperature is 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). 
  3. Remove chicken from deep fryer and transfer to a cooling rack over a sheet pan. 
  4. Let fried chicken sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  
  5. Plate, serve and enjoy! 
Fried chicken

Doesn't the fried chicken look amazing? It tastes even better!

Next time you've got family coming over, wow them with this fried chicken recipe. Then tell them they should come on a cruise with you so you can compare this to the real thing on Wonder of the Seas. You know, in the name of "research".

When should you buy Royal Caribbean drink package, wifi, tours & other add-ons

In:
05 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Everyone wants to save money, so when is the best time to buy popular add-ons for your Royal Caribbean cruise?

Perfect Day at CocoCay beach

Drink packages, specialty dining packages, internet, and shore excursions are just a few of the very popular extras lots of cruise fans buy for their cruise vacation.

While you could wait to buy these items on your ship, you will pay more for them because Royal Caribbean typically offers a pre-cruise discount.

A common reason for trepidation to pre-purchase is not knowing fully if someone needs them. After all, Royal Caribbean includes a great deal of food and activities with your cruise fare.

Rising Tide

While you can have a very nice cruise without spending extra on a tour, cocktails, specialty restaurants or the spa, these optional purchase will enhance your cruise experience. After all, you're on vacation and this is all about splurging and treating yourself.

If you decide to buy any cruise extra-charge items, it's a really good idea to take advantage of the lowest price possible so your money can go further.

Here is my advice for when to buy these cruise-addons.

Why you should buy extras before the cruise begins

There's a few good reasons you should buy certain cruise add-on's before your cruise, and not all of them are purely related to dollars and sense.

Here's a few compelling reasons to do so.

Discounted Price

Cruise Planner on an iPad

In many cases, Royal Caribbean promises a discount on select pre-cruise purchases compared to the price onboard.

The discounted savings can vary, with the price of drink and internet packages varying from ship to ship and sailing to sailing. 

Break up total cruise cost

Budget

When you purchase anything before your cruise via the Cruise Planner site, you will be required to pay for it at the time of purchase.  This provides the ability to break up the total cost of the cruise.

When you make purchases onboard your cruise, at the end of the cruise you get a final bill with all of the charges tallied up. 

By pre-purchasing certain items, you can pay off parts of the cruise months or years in advance, allowing you to reduce the cruise bill at the conclusion of your cruise. This is incredibly helpful for budgeting to have control of what charges come in on which billing cycles.

Save you time onboard

Couple with drinks on Suite Deck

An intangible benefit to pre-purchasing anything is it saves you time onboard from doing the exact same thing, which means more vacation time back to you.

Taking the time to purchase anything onboard does not take very much time, but every little bit helps, and some purchases on the first day of the cruise can require waiting in a line, such as drink packages.

You can use onboard credit

Onboard credit to spend

When you buy something on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site, you can use any onboard credit towards these purchases. This alleviates a primary concern among cruisers in the past that wished to use onboard credit towards any purchases first.

One thing to consider is the onboard credit available for use in the Cruise Planner is limited to onboard credit provided by Royal Caribbean.  This means, if you are receiving onboard credit from a travel agent or other source, it may not be available for use online. 

Granted, while I have never had any trouble using up onboard credit on a Royal Caribbean cruise, some guests prefer to save their credits for on the ship.

You can re-price if the price goes down

Drink package prices

No matter what price you pay today, if there's a lower price at any point before your cruise, you can cancel and rebook it.

Cruise Planner purchases are fully refundable with no cancellation penalties. This means you can book something now and lock in the price, but if there's a lower price later, you can cancel it and rebook online.

This also helps protect you if the price goes up.

Best time to buy Royal Caribbean drink package

Royal Caribbean drink package

You should buy a Royal Caribbean drink package at any point before your cruise because it will be cheaper online.

Royal Caribbean runs many pre-cruise sales, and even when there's not an active promotion going on, the price of an unlimited drink package is cheaper before the cruise that onboard the ship.

You'll find the drink packages available to purchase on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner website.

It can be a little confusing to understand how much of a discount you're getting, since Royal Caribbean bases its discounts on an unknown onboard price, and then combines the price of a drink package with a buy one get one 50% off deal.

When you look at the drink package price online, ignore the sale details and look at the price when you add the drink package to the cart.

It's a good idea to keep track of the drink package price, as there's new sale promotions every few weeks. These sales don't always lower the price, but sometimes it can.

Best time to buy a shore excursion

It's a good idea to book your shore excursions at least 2-3 months before your cruise.

Just as important as the fun things to do on your cruise ship are the things you can do in the ports of call you will visit.

Royal Caribbean will list a variety of shore excursions you can pick from in the Cruise Planner, and some of the most popular excursions will sell out before your cruise.

Royal Caribbean will begin listing excursions as early as six months before your cruise (although they can show up even earlier than that). 

Many cruisers prefer to book their shore excursions through the cruise line for the convenience and peace of mind Royal Caribbean offers. For that reason, tours can sell out.

I find the majority of people on a cruise don't start really booking tours up until closer to the sail date because they are unaware of all the tips and tricks cruise fans know, so you'll notice things begin to sell out around six weeks before the cruise begins.

Family on Alaska tour

Excursions selling out are at a much higher risk in destination cruises, such as Alaska or Europe.  If you are booked on one of these sailings, it's a good idea to start booking up tours as much as 3 months before you sail.

You could always reserve a tour on your own, and outside tours do not sell out nearly as early. If you go on your own, it's a good idea to book these 1-2 months before the cruise.

Best time to book a Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee activity

Ship at CocoCay

Due to the popularity of Royal Caribbean's private destinations, you're going to want to book something fun here to do even earlier than shore excursions.

It's a really good idea to book a cabana as much as 4-6 months before your cruise to assure yourself of one, and get a lower price.  Cabanas have become the hottest selling commodity at either Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee, so you're going to want to act fast to get one.

Read moreGuide to CocoCay Cabanas

Chill Island cabanas

The days of cabanas going unsold are pretty much gone, so act quickly if you want one. Just like everything else in the Cruise Planner, they're refundable if you change your mind later.

Another hot ticket is the CocoCay water park, which can sell out. The entire water park selling out is less likely, but the price going up certainly is common. So book that 3-5 months early whenever possible.

The other must-book early add-on is admission to the Coco Beach Club

If the idea of going to an exclusive area of CocoCay appeals to you, then book your admission before it sells out.  I suppose the word is out about this place, because it's pretty rare for the Coco Beach Club not to sell out before the cruise begins.

Other CocoCay extras like the zip line, helium balloon ride, and aquatic activities rarely sell out, so book them at your convenience.

There is one extra I'd recommend not booking in advance at Perfect Day at CocoCay and that's the Up, Up & Away Helium Balloon Ride. The balloon can only go up in near-perfect wind conditions, and that tends to be fairly rare. 

Up, Up & Away Helium Balloon Ride

My advice is hold off and if you get to the island and see it going up, run over and book a spot. You might pay more, but I think it's a safer bet than waiting for an almost inevitable refund when it gets cancelled.

Over in Labadee, the zip line is a good idea to book in advance just to get a good time. Zip line rides are based on ride times, and it's a good idea to go in the morning before it gets overly hot or the threat of rain grows.

Best time to book an internet package

WiFi

Just like the drink package, the price of an internet package is always cheaper before the cruise.

These packages are good for the duration of your cruise, and are limited per device (not per person).

Unlike the drink package, wifi prices rarely change much. So you don't need to book it well in advance. Just book yourself a package at some point before you board.

Best time to book specialty dining restaurants

These days, you absolutely should pre-book a specialty dining package before your cruise, at least a month before your sail date.

Ever since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises after the global health crisis, demand for specialty dining has gone through the roof. A combination of pent-up demand, new dining concepts, and more cash to spend on vacations have lead a lot more people to try specialty dining.

If you are booking an individual restaurant, book it before the cruise. Izumi hibachi is one restaurant you must-book before the cruise because it sells out quite often before the cruise begins.

Izumi hibachi on Mariner of the Seas

If your cruise is over a major holiday, such as Christmas, New Years or Valentine's Day, pre-book a specialty restaurant to assure yourself of a spot. Everyone else will be thinking of a special meal on a special day.

Dining packages are just as popular, and it's becoming more commonplace to find dining packages sold out onboard. To be safe, if you want a dining package, buy it a couple months before your cruise.

Read moreHow to know if you should buy a Royal Caribbean dining package

Best time to book spa services

Thermal Spa

It's less clear of an advantage when to book a spa service, and it may make more sense to wait and book a spa service onboard on a port day.

Deciding to book a spa service before or after your cruise is not always a crystal clear decision, primarily because the spa services offered online do not always match up with the total services offered onboard.

Spa services are often discounted on the Cruise Planner, with the discount percentage depending on the day and time you select for the service.  The most lucrative discounts are usually earlier in the cruise.

Thermal spa

The challenge in figuring out whether to purchase or not prior to the cruise, is each day of your cruise will have some spa specials offered.  These spa specials are usually combination offers, which are not offered as an option in the Cruise Planner before the cruise. In my experience, the Cruise Planner offers individual services which are good for those that just want a massage, service or therapy.  

Royal Caribbean offers an onboard discount on an individual spa service, which varies depending on your Crown and Anchor Society status level.

Best time to book shows

Theater on Harmony of the Seas

You want to reserve a show as soon as you get onboard the ship.

Royal Caribbean allows guests on all ships to pre-reserve theater shows, but you're going to have to wait until you get onboard to do so.

Once on the ship, reservations open up via the Royal Caribbean app or at Guest Services.

You'll want to log onto the Royal Caribbean wifi and then open up the app and begin making reservations for shows because they will sell out, especially on ships that have must-see shows, such as the Oasis Class or Quantum Class.

There is no cost to make show reservations.

How to check for a price drop

Laptop

Regardless of which pre-cruise purchase is of interest to you, your best bet is to watch the price online in the months leading up to your cruise in case there is a price drop (or increase).

Royal Caribbean allows its guests to cancel and rebook any Cruise Planner purchase without a penalty.  This means that if you purchase something online, and then the price drops before your sailing, you can log back in and cancel the purchase and then immediately rebook to take advantage of the lower price.  Similarly, booking in advance protects against a price increase.

Moreover, if you decided to buy something online but change your mind later, you can get a refund on the pre-cruise purchase prior to your sailing.

More cruise advice

I tried my first cruise from the UK: here's what you should know

In:
05 Jul 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

I recently returned from my first ever cruise from the United Kingdom, a 7-night Spain & France cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. Taking a cruise from the UK came with several differences than what I’ve experienced on cruises from the US.

From Main Dining Room meals to port options and expanded drink menus, it was fun to spot the differences in a Royal Caribbean cruise experience when departing from across the pond.

If you’re interested in booking a cruise from Southampton, here’s what you need to know about sailing from the UK.

Limited ship choices

Anthem of the Seas, a Quantum Class ship, calls Southampton home in the summer months, offering cruises to Norway, Spain, France, the Canary Islands, and the Mediterranean.

While having only one ship to book is very limited compared to what you’ll find in the United States or Mediterranean, the good news is that Anthem of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s most modern cruise ships.

As a Quantum Class ship, Anthem was built to sail in many types of weather conditions, and you’ll find a variety of indoor spaces throughout the ship, from multiple indoor pools to an indoor SeaPlex offering activities like bumper cars and volleyball. The entertainment on Anthem of the Seas is sure to impress, too, with a full-length Broadway production of We Will Rock You.

The ship has plenty of complimentary and specialty dining venues to enjoy as well, including Jamie’s Italian, Izumi Sushi, Wonderland, Chops Grille, Johnny Rockets, Solarium Bistro, and Cafe @ Two70.

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas, will be debuting in the United Kingdom in fall 2023 prior to being homeported in Miami, Florida. If you’re hoping to sail on the latest and greatest ship offered by Royal Caribbean, keep an eye out for when Icon of the Seas will be available to book.

Main Dining Room menu differences

Something unique about cruising from the United Kingdom is that the Main Dining Room menu will offer two additional menu options each day: an English-style option and an Indian option.

Menu items include shepherd's pie, chicken tikka masala, chicken and leek pie, and fish curry. You’ll definitely have the opportunity to taste diverse Main Dining Room meals when sailing from the UK!

More gins and whiskeys available

One interesting find on my Anthem of the Seas cruise was a menu of gins and beers located at bars around the ship. This is another way in which Royal Caribbean caters its offerings to guests from the UK, and it was a fun difference to spot onboard!

Menu items include Guinness, Magners Irish Cider, Old Speckled Hen, Hendrick’s, Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger, and Sipsmith.

Getting to the Mediterranean will take more time

If the idea of a sunny Mediterranean cruise sounds appealing to you, keep in mind that the United Kingdom does not have the most convenient access to the Mediterranean sea.

Reaching destinations like Rome and Barcelona from Southampton can take quite some time, so you won’t find any 7-night cruises visiting Mediterranean ports from the UK. Many Mediterranean cruise itineraries will be around 14 nights instead!

The Bay of Biscay can be choppy

If you’re on a cruise itinerary leaving from Southampton that travels to France, Spain, the Canary Islands, or the Mediterranean, your ship will be passing through the Bay of Biscay. The bay is located above northern Spain and to the west of France.

The Bay of Biscay is a body of water that has been feared by sailors for centuries due to its proximity to the open Atlantic waters and storms in the winter months. While today’s modern navigation technology and ship construction has no problem passing through the Bay of Biscay, you may still encounter choppy waters.

If you’re prone to motion sickness, be sure to pack seasickness remedies with you to ensure you can remain comfortable throughout the cruise.

Visiting unique ports

One advantage of cruising from the United Kingdom is that you’ll have the opportunity to visit less common cruise ports.

As an example, cruising from Southampton will give you the chance to visit ports like La Coruña, Vigo, and Bilbao in Spain along with La Rochelle and Le Havre in France.

These ports receive far fewer tourists and cruise ships compared to the most popular European cruise destinations. This can lead to a much more relaxed feel while in port, giving you more opportunity to immerse in local culture and lifestyle without hoards of other tourists around.

If you have more time to spare, you can also book a longer cruise visiting the Canary Islands along with ports in Portugal and mainland Spain. Cruise itineraries to the Canary Islands are not very common, but you’ll typically find a few itineraries on Anthem of the Seas every year.

Weather is unpredictable

While this may not be surprising for those who call the United Kingdom home, don’t be shocked if you encounter cloudy skies and chilly weather when cruising from Southampton. The weather on my June UK cruise was far from ideal for much of our time at sea, and I found myself wearing jeans and a jacket nearly every day.

This may not always be the case, however. When we arrived in our first port of call in France, we encountered lovely temperatures in the 70s. Just a day or two before, though, a heat wave passed through with temperatures over 100 degrees!

Weather is likely to be unpredictable, so remember to check the weather forecast before packing for your cruise!

You can visit Paris

If visiting Paris is on your bucket list, look for cruise itineraries that visit the port of Le Havre, located around 2.5-3 hours from the city center of Paris. Royal Caribbean offers excursions visiting popular spots in the city, from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre.

Be prepared for a long port day in Le Havre, as excursions to Paris will likely be over 10 hours! They also tend to be quite expensive, with some tours costing several hundreds of dollars.

You can choose to visit Paris on your own instead of on a Royal Caribbean excursion, but keep an eye on the time. With such a long travel time required to reach the city from Le Havre, you don’t want to risk missing the ship!

Gateway to Norway

If you’re hoping to visit Norway, cruising from Southampton will offer the chance to visit the country’s stunning fjords and charming towns. Royal Caribbean regularly offers 7-night Norwegian Fjords cruises visiting ports like Geiranger, Bergen, and Alesund.

A Norwegian cruise is arguably one of the most scenic in the world. If the idea of sailing past colossal mountain peaks on both sides of your cruise ship seems intriguing, don’t hesitate to book a cruise to Norway.

More guests and crew from the UK onboard

A Royal Caribbean cruise departing from Southampton will likely have a higher percentage of crew and guests onboard from the United Kingdom and Ireland. On my recent cruise on Anthem of the Seas, I'd guess that upwards of 80% of guests were from the UK! This was a huge difference compared to cruises leaving from the United States, where a large majority of guests are from the US or Latin America.

I enjoyed the shift in guest makeup on my UK cruise and it was fun talking to other guests on Anthem of the Seas, as I was able to learn more about the lifestyle in culture in different areas of the UK.

Cruising from Southampton is convenient

One aspect I really appreciated on my cruise from Southampton was how accessible the port is from London via public transit. The United Kingdom has an extensive train network, and there is a direct train from London’s Waterloo station to Southampton.

I paid $70 for my roundtrip train ticket on the app Trainline, and it only took around 90 minutes to reach Southampton from central London.

Not only that, but the port in Southampton is within walking distance of the train station! While I took an Uber on my way to the ship, I decided to walk to the station on disembarkation day to avoid a long wait for a taxi or Uber. It only took around 15 minutes!

Have you ever cruised from the United Kingdom? What tips and tricks do you have for those cruising from Southampton for the first time? Let us know in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean cruises in July 2022: What to expect

In:
04 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

No month is more synonymous with summer cruise vacations than the month of July.

Liberty of the Seas pool deck

You'll find warm temperatures across all of Royal Caribbean's sailings along with (hopefully) sunny skies.

The month of July is the peak of the summer cruise season, which means families are on summer break and demand for a summer vacation reaches its height. Very likely your ship and the places you visit will have lots of people looking to enjoy a break.

In Europe specifically, July is the month when Europeans go on holiday (along with August), so prepare to see a lot of people wherever you go in ports. Be vigilant about your surroundings, as pickpockets in Europe are common in the summer.

Ship at CocoCay

The one region where the month of July is off-season is the Caribbean. Given many ships left the Caribbean to sail Europe or Alaska, there are less ships in the Caribbean.  While that may mean less ships in Caribbean ports of call, there's still plenty of people that will be booked on the ships that are left.

If you have a summer cruise in July, here's what to expect on your sailing.

Ships sailing in July 2022

Wonder of the Seas

Every single Royal Caribbean cruise ship is back in service, so here's a breakdown of where each ship is located.

  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey until she moves to Southampton
  • Allure of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Adventure of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Explorer of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California
  • Spectrum of the Seas from Singapore
  • Grandeur of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland
  • Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada or Seward, Alaska
  • Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada
  • Voyager of the Seas from Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Quantum of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
  • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
  • Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Brilliance of the Seas from Rome, Italy
  • Wonder of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome
  • Odyssey of the Seas from from Rome, Italy
  • Vision of the Seas from Barcelona, Spain
  • Rhapsody of the Seas from Ravenna, Italy & Piareus, Greece
  • Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam, Netherlands

You will find Royal Caribbean cruises sailing in three markets during July: the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe.

Health protocols for July 2022 cruises

Parasailing in Labadee

If your cruise is sailing in July, you can expect certain core Covid-19 health protocols to be in place for your sailing, with the exception of select European itineraries that have slightly stricter vaccine requirements.

All Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose of their vaccine administered at least 14 days before sailing.

Boosters are not required, except for some European sailings require anyone that hasn't had their last shot more than 270 days ago to get a booster.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean extends European cruise ship Covid protocols through July 2022

Kids in pool

Royal Caribbean does not require kids younger than 12 to be vaccinated.

Masks are optional for vaccinated guests & recommended for unvaccinated children while onboard. Masks are no longer required at Adventure Ocean for kids 2 years and up, they are recommended for unvaccinated kids.

Masks are also now optional while in the cruise terminal before or after your cruise, unless mandated by local authorities.

Allure of the Seas

Guests under 2 years old do not need to wear a mask.

Vaccinated guests must show a negative Covid-19 test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. 

Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. This test cannot be taken on boarding day for unvaccinated kids.

Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test. 

July weather on a cruise

Rome

July sees some of the hottest temperatures for any of the regions you will be cruising from.

In Europe, heatwaves are not uncommon in July. The Greek islands can see temperatures that get into the 90s, but most of Europe should have high temperatures in the 80s, with overnight lows in the 60s.

Sea conditions in the Mediterranean are quite calm, with smooth sailing expected.  Likewise, July has great weather in terms of low chance of rain. 

Nice, France

In short, expect hot, sunny skies when you are in port or ashore.

Read moreWhat is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

If you are headed to Alaska, you will also enjoy some of the warmest temperatures of the season. July is one of the best months for an Alaska cruise because of the very comfortable outdoor conditions. Temperatures are always all over the place in Alaska, but high temperatures in the 70s or even 80s is not unheard of.

Expect up to 18 hours of sunlight in July. Chances of rain also increase as the summer months go by, so don’t forget to bring all of your rain gear.

Read moreWhen is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Freedom of the Seas in CocoCay

If you have a Caribbean cruise, I hope you like it hot and humid.

Daily high temperatures in the Caribbean during July will be in the upper 70s to upper 80s, and plenty of humidity. Believe it or not, temperatures don't go much into the 90s because of how the tropics tend to always be around the same temperature throughout the year.

With those toasty temperatures, it will feel perfect for a swim, as the ocean temperatures will be quite warm.

Expect it to rain every day of your July cruise in the Caribbean, but that doesn't mean an all-day soaker. Thunderstorms roll in and out quickly in the Caribbean, so afternoon downpours are common, but short lived. Plan on outdoor activities but you may need to seek shelter for a few minutes to let the rain pass.

Don't forget, it's hurricane season in the Caribbean, so a tropical storm could cause a change in your itinerary.

Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

More information

Rhapsody of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Split, Croatia

In:
04 Jul 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Our last port of call brought us to Split, Croatia. The past week has flown by way too quickly, and it was bittersweet disembarking the ship this morning knowing we were visiting the last of five beautiful ports on this itinerary!

Split is the second biggest city in Croatia, and it's a seaside destination for both Croatians and international tourists.

Split is the first port we've had this week where you can walk off the ship and get to town without a tender or bus ride. It was a nice change of pace to be able to disembark on our own time and get to town quickly without spending time waiting around.

It was a ten minute walk from the port to town, where we walked through the city's walls into old town. Just like yesterday in Kotor, it was like we had stepped into medieval times.

Our first glance of Split was the central square of the Palace of Diocletian, an ancient palace built in the 4th century. The palace was built to be both a Roman military camp and a place for Diocletian, a Roman Emperor, to spend his retirement.

We spent some time navigating through Split's narrow streets and taking in the city's history. I was fascinated by the city's old walls, where the old section of Split met the new.

Interestingly enough, many exterior shots in the series Game of Thrones were filmed in Split. It's easy to see why they picked Split as a filming location, as parts of the city definitely make you feel like you've traveled back in time.

A Game of Thrones museum and souvenir shop are located in town, too, which could make for a fun activity for big fans of the series!

Afternoon at the beach

The temperature today was unpleasantly toasty at 96 degrees, so we didn't have the best conditions for walking around town all day.

Instead of roasting in the heat, we decided to visit a nearby beach in the afternoon to cool down.

Split is known for being a resort town with plenty of beaches, so I was curious to see what the hype was about. We decided on Kasjuni Beach, located 15 minutes away from Split.

For whatever reason, my phone service was not working this morning in Croatia, so I could not order an Uber to the beach. Instead we grabbed a taxi near Split's old town entrance. The taxi was metered, but at around $30 for a 15-minute ride to the beach, it seemed pretty steep.

Kasjuni Beach is located in a small cove, so the water is calm, clear, and refreshing. Greenery and hills line one side of the beach, whereas the other faces the open Adriatic.

We forgot to bring pool towels out with us this morning (a rookie mistake!), so we decided to rent beach chairs to use for the day. A beach club operates on Kasjuni Beach and offers daybed and beach chair rentals. A restaurant and bar are also available, as well as changing areas and restrooms.

We stayed at the beach for around two and a half hours, where we cooled off in the sea, relaxed on our beach chairs, and enjoyed a lunch we packed from a bakery in Split.

Fortunately my phone service began working later in the day, so we were able to Uber back to town for about $8 (over $20 cheaper than the taxi!).

Back to Split

While the beach was really nice, we wanted to head back to Split to explore more of the old city. After all, we can find beaches anywhere in the world, but we would only have a few more hours to explore Croatia!

We did some souvenir shopping in the city and enjoyed some tasty gelato. In these historic towns, it's just as fun to wander around without a plan as it is to plan a full day of sightseeing!

Our last stop of the day was a climb up the bell tower at Diocletian’s Palace, which stands over 180 feet in the air and offers panoramic views of Split. We purchased tickets to the bell tower for $6 each and began the climb. Extremely steep stone stairs at the beginning of the tower turned into metal stairs a few flights up, which were much easier to climb.

The view from the top was spectacular, offering views of Split, the port, the Adriatic, and surrounding mountains.

Back onboard

Our port day in Split was short today, with all-aboard at 4PM. Once we got back onboard, I spent a couple hours working on Royal Caribbean Blog content in the Centrum. With views of Croatia and the Adriatic as we sailed away from Split, it was as good as an "office" can get!

We still had around $100 of onboard credit available to spend, so we made a reservation at Izumi for dinner tonight. There is no hibachi option on Rhapsody of the Seas, so we enjoyed udon noodle dishes, ramen, fried rice, and potstickers!

Everything was delicious as usual, and a meal at Izumi isn't over until you have mochi ice cream and crispy red bean sesame balls.

We ended our night with a gorgeous sunset on the pool deck before heading back to our staterooms to (sadly) pack our bags.

I think this has been the best cruise itinerary I've ever done (although it may be tied with Alaska). It was very port-intensive, so I wouldn't say it was the most relaxing cruise, but the early mornings and thousands of steps walked in port were beyond worth it.

I'm sad to see this cruise end, but I'm super glad I got to share this experience with my siblings. The good news? Our cruise ends tomorrow in Italy, which makes for a good excuse to keep exploring Europe!

Thanks for following along on my live blog! We'll be back again with more live blogs from Matt on Mariner of the Seas during the Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise later this month.

Royal Caribbean updates Quantum of the Seas engine trouble that requires skipping glacier viewings in August

In:
03 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has updated the situation with Quantum of the Seas needing to slow its speed and skip Alaska glacier visits.

Earlier this week, guests booked on Quantum of the Seas on August sailings were sent an email to inform them that the ship would skip glacier viewings on their sailing.

Thus far, the August 1, 8, and 15 Alaska cruise sailings are impacted. Quantum of the Seas is sailing 7-night Alaska cruises from Seattle.

A new email was sent today to guests booked on Quantum of the Seas to update the situation as to why the change is necessary.

Royal Caribbean says the speed limitations are caused by a technical issue with one of the engines.

While that may sound alarming, the cruise line reminded guests the ship has four engines, and one of them requires repairs and the repair parts are delayed, "Quantum has four engines. One requires some repair and there's a delay in receiving the parts needed. Additionally, another engine is scheduled for routine maintenance soon, which means we'll have to reduce our overall speed during these sailings."

"While we're doing everything we can to expedite this, the global supply chain situation that we're all experiencing is further impacting the delay."

Royal Caribbean was sure to note the safety of the ship is not compromised, "Safety is always our top priority. Our ships can safely sail in these kinds of situations, just at reduced speeds."

Trying to make up for a missed glacier

Alaska Glacier viewing from Quantum Class ship

As to skipping a visit to Dawes Glacier, Royal Caribbean says they have tried to find an alternative but the logistics are not simple, "We've been working tirelessly to find a way to visit Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier for your sailing, but this would result in drastically reduced port times."

"And given that there's always a risk of missing the Glacier due to weather, it's best to go with the surer option of keeping better times in port. The decision to modify our itinerary wasn't taken lightly."

"We've done everything possible to minimize the impact to your time with us and are sorry for the inconvenience."

Increased compensation

Royal Caribbean also included a change to the compensation for the change in itinerary.

First, the amount of onboard credit offered is now one full day of cruise fare paid, per person.

Any unused onboard credit will be available to be refunded back to your credit card.

Alaska glacier viewing

If not visiting the glacier causes someone to no longer want to sail, Royal Caribbean will allow them to cancel.

Guests have until July 17 to change their mind if they no longer want to sail and they can get a full refund, including non-refundable deposits and/or pre-paid amenities.

Guests will need to contact their travel agent to cancel, and should get a refund within 14 business days.

Royal Caribbean will also allow the refund amount to be moved to a different sailing.

Full letter

Here's a copy of the full letter Royal Caribbean sent.

Thanks to John Trivedi for sharing the email.