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Questions investors are wondering ahead of Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call this week

In:
25 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group has scheduled its third quarter earnings to be released on October 29th, and there are more than a few questions cruise fans have that could be answered as part of this disclosure.

A lot has happened since the last earnings call, with many more cruise ships back in service, but executives have hinted that the next phase of the restart is moving towards a sense of normalcy.  So what should we expect going forward, and what does the current situation look like?

Earnings calls are hosted by Royal Caribbean Group's top executives, and it is a combination of disclosures, prepared statements and answering questions from Wall Street analysts. 

Royal Caribbean Group will host their call at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, on Friday, October 29, 2021.

Royal Caribbean Group amends loans and gives them more financial flexibility | Royal Caribbean Blog

Following prepared statements by Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain, as well as Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty, executives will take questions from Wall Street analysts. Quite often this question and answer session reveals a lot about where the company is now and what to expect going forward.

I reached out to Dan Kline, lead advisor/host of 7investing Now to get a better sense of what Wall Street is thinking ahead of Royal Caribbean's call this week.

1. Revenue

Wall Street: Royal Caribbean's revenue will take years to recover | Royal Caribbean Blog

No matter which company is releasing its financials, revenue is going to be the biggest question from analysts.

Mr. Kline thinks the real question this quarter is how much did revenue grow quarter over quarter, and how much is it below the same quarter two years ago?

Wall Street expects there to be a loss, and a company losing money is not necessarily a bad thing if there are signs of progress being made. Mr. Kline's question is about determining if revenues are starting to increase again, and how that pattern matches up with pre-pandemic numbers.

Live Blogging from Freedom of the Seas - Preamble | Royal Caribbean Blog

"They are going to say future bookings are great, but at what price? I booked a room on a short Freedom of the Seas cruise for next fall at under $500," Kline noted. "If that’s typical, then they have a long way to normal."

As revenue grows, the gap between profit and loss narrows, and that means they can not only get back to making money but also pay off some of the major debts it incurred during the shutdown.

2. Debt

Royal Caribbean Group announces new $700 million loan | Royal Caribbean Blog

A major albatross around Royal Caribbean Group's neck for the foreseeable future will be the loans it took out to stay in business while all cruise ships were idle last year.

Mr. Kline wants to know on what the company will do to address that issue, "Are they working on refinancing the debt they took on during the pandemic?"

Whether paying off the loans or renegotiating the debt deals under more favorable terms, this will be an ongoing concern for investors.

3. Crew staffing

Could crew members returning be a sign Royal Caribbean is serious about cruises restarting? | Royal Caribbean Blog

More and more Royal Caribbean ships are coming back into service, so are there any issues with getting crew members back?

The faster ships get back into service, the faster revenue can increase, and Mr. Kline wondered if getting ships back up and running fully is an issue, "Are they having trouble fully staffing as they open up more ships?"

Mr. Fain said at a convention in September the goal is to get back to full capacity as early as next year, "In our core markets, we expect to be essentially there by the end of this year."

While Royal Caribbean does not divulge passenger counts or capacity limits for its ships sailing, there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence from passengers that the amount of guests onboard is going up from what it was this summer.

4. Capital projectsRoyal Caribbean will build new Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas | Royal Caribbean Blog

 

Since the restart of cruises this summer, Royal Caribbean has quietly been working on other port projects that incur costs.

A new terminal in Galveston, beach club in Nassau, and possible expansion of port facilities in Freeport are at the top of Mr. Kline's list of questions.

"I’d be curious as to anything on capital expenditures specifically the Freeport and Nassau projects as well as amping up certain ships."

How you can listen to the earnings call

Royal Caribbean Group amends loans and gives them more financial flexibility | Royal Caribbean Blog

There will be full coverage of anything intriguing that comes out of Royal Caribbean Group's third quarter 2021 earnings call on RoyalCaribbeanBlog, but if you would like to listen on your own, here's how.

The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations website, www.rclinvestor.com.  

You will be able to listen via the link provided close to the start of the call.

How to plan a Royal Caribbean cruise on any budget

In:
25 Oct 2021
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Just like with airfare and hotels, a cruise vacation can be done on any budget. From picking a stateroom to dining onboard and exploring a port, a Royal Caribbean cruise offers options that fit every budget.

Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for how to plan a memorable cruise vacation on a low, moderate, and high budget.

Low Budget

It is entirely possible to go on a Royal Caribbean Cruise with a tight budget. While Royal Caribbean offers plenty of opportunities to enhance a cruise experience with specialty dining, shore excursions, and onboard activities, there is more than enough included in the cruise fare to have a wonderful vacation without blowing your budget.

Stateroom Selection

If you’re planning a low-budget cruise, you will most likely be booking in an interior stateroom. Located within the interior hallways of the ship, these rooms lack a window or balcony. Thus, an interior stateroom is nearly always the cheapest type available for a particular sailing.

With no window, no balcony, and total darkness at night, an interior stateroom must be pretty grim, right? Not necessarily.

Interior staterooms offer many of the same amenities as other stateroom types, such as a TV, private bathroom, desk, mini fridge, and a chair or couch. Interior staterooms, especially on newer ships, tend to be spacious and have plenty of storage options as well. Some interior staterooms even have virtual balconies, allowing guests to watch a live feed of the ship through a large screen on the wall.

Plus, there is so much to do onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise that many guests find they don’t spend as much time in their room as they thought they would!

Therefore, staying in an interior stateroom can be a great way to save money and it is usually the best bet on a low budget. However, Royal Caribbean’s pricing changes constantly and you may be able to score a good deal on an upgraded room.

Let’s take this 5-night Mariner of the Seas sailing, for example.

An interior room is priced at $248/pp, an outside view at $286/pp, and a balcony at $338/pp. With only a $90 difference between an interior and a balcony, it might be worth it to stretch your budget.

On the ship

The majority of dining options and activities onboard a Royal Caribbean ship are complimentary. So if you’re on a tight budget, there is no need to spend extra money onboard.

Before your cruise, be sure to look up what dining options are available on your particular ship. All ships will offer the complimentary Main Dining Room and Windjammer Cafe, but other dining options can differ.

Depending on the ship, you may have other complimentary options such as the Solarium Bistro, El Loco Fresh, Sorrento’s, Park Cafe, and Cafe at Two70, among others.

If you are hoping to try one of Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants but are worried about the cost, try eating there for lunch! Many specialty restaurants onboard offer the same menu options for lunch and dinner, but lunch comes at around half the cost of dinner.

Just like dining, the majority of activities onboard are also complementary. Whether bumper cars, the gym, broadway shows, rock climbing, ice skating, waterslides, trivia, or surfing on the FlowRider, there is no shortage of fun and free activities to keep you busy onboard.

Keep a look out for activities that have both a complimentary and extra-fee option. RipCord by iFLY, for example, has a 1-minute complimentary flight experience and a 2-minute paid flight experience. The North Star generally has shorter ride options that are complementary as well as “premium” options that can run anywhere from $30-50.

To score a complimentary reservation, it is important to reserve the activity as soon as possible on the Royal Caribbean app once onboard. Most guests are looking to reserve the complimentary option of these activities, so the reservations can fill up fast. Be sure to open the Royal Caribbean app the first day of your cruise so you can reserve these activities without breaking your budget.

At port

While it is doable to maintain a strict budget while onboard, what about when you’re in port?

Whether a tropical island in the Caribbean or a historic mining town in Alaska, disembarking a cruise ship means it is time to explore an amazing destination. That often means spending money on ground transportation, activities, and food. With a little research and preparation, though, it is possible to explore a port without breaking the bank.

Before your cruise, do a little research into free activities in port. Find out which beaches are free, what hikes are nearby, and what historical monuments or museums are available at a low cost. Some destinations are simply so quaint to explore that just walking around the town can be a great way to spend a few hours at no extra cost.

Spending extra money on food in port can also be a concern. If the ship docks close enough to the main part of town, you can technically embark  the ship for lunch before heading back out to explore the port. However, since food is such an integral part of experiencing a culture or destination, I would recommend setting aside a small part of your budget to try local cuisine instead.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

An itinerary that includes Perfect Day at CocoCay is a great choice for budget cruisers. At Royal Caribbean’s private island, it is entirely possible to disembark the ship, enjoy a beautiful day on the island, and get back onboard without spending a penny.

CocoCay includes many complimentary dining options, such as Chill Grill and Snack Shack, where guests can enjoy a variety of food like burgers and fries, chicken sandwiches, salads, tacos, ice cream, and more.

And while the island offers many upcharge activities like the Coco Beach Club, Thrill Waterpark, and cabana rentals, the majority of the island can be enjoyed at no extra cost. Spending the day at Oasis Lagoon or lounging at Chill Beach is the perfect budget-friendly day in port.

Moderate Budget

Cruising on a moderate budget allows you the chance to try dining, activities, and excursions that you may not be able to do on a low budget. If you’re not counting every penny but also don’t want to blow your entire savings, here are a few ideas on how to plan your cruise.

Stateroom Selection

If you’re hoping to splurge a little on a stateroom, but not to the extent of a suite, a balcony room is a great option while cruising on a moderate budget. Balcony rooms offer a private place to enjoy the incredible views you are sure to experience on a cruise vacation.

There are a few types of balcony rooms available to book on Royal Caribbean ships. The standard balcony has a picture-perfect ocean view with a table and two chairs outside.

Oasis Class ships offer Central Park and Boardwalk balconies. These balconies do not always have a view of the ocean, but are a great option for those looking to try something different. With these balconies, guests can spend the day relaxing, listening to live music, and watching everything going on below.

The last type of balcony offered is an obstructed view balcony. These balcony rooms are the same size as a standard balcony, but there is something outside obstructing the view of the ocean. Usually a lifeboat or a piece of the ship's design, the views of the ocean can be slightly or severely obstructed. Because of this, these rooms usually come at a lower cost.

On the ship

Having a little more leeway in your vacation budget gives you more options for things to do and eat onboard. 

A great option for those looking for an enhanced dining experience on a moderate budget is the 3 Night Dining Package, which allows guests to eat at three specialty restaurants onboard. The price for this package is quite reasonable, coming in around $110.

This is a great option for guests looking to have a mix of specialty and complimentary dining. From homemade pasta at Giovanni’s to hibachi at Izumi, Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants are really good and offer extremely diverse cuisine.

A moderate budget can also allow for the opportunity to try out upcharge activities onboard. Several ships offer an escape room which comes at a cost of around $20-25 per person. There is also the new Zone Zero onboard Odyssey of the Seas, where guests can make their way through a virtual reality experience for a cost of $18 per person.

Other upcharge activities onboard include the arcade, FlowRider lessons, premium North Star experiences, and longer RipCord by iFLY flight times.

You may also choose to splurge a bit and treat yourself to a moderately-priced treatment at the Vitality Spa or try out a class in the fitness center. Or perhaps try a sushi making class at Izumi or reserve a backstage tour of the ship.

At port

While it is nice to explore a new island or town on your own, with a moderate budget, you can enjoy a destination without worrying too much about the costs you will encounter at port.

You can dive deeper into a port through activities such as a shore excursion, all-inclusive day club, or a cabana/equipment rental. 

Royal Caribbean offers plenty of shore excursion opportunities in every port of call and for all ages and fitness levels. Excursions are available to purchase on the Cruise Planner website prior to the sailing, and they can also be purchased onboard at the Shore Excursions Desk.

Another popular option is to spend the day at a nearby beach club. For a flat fee, these all-inclusive day clubs include food, drinks, and a private beach. Nachi Cocom in Cozumel and Maya Chan in Costa Maya are two examples of all-inclusives that you can enjoy during your day in port.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Perfect Day at CocoCay offers many enhanced experiences that are attainable with a moderate budget.

If you are traveling with kids or looking for an adrenaline-filled day, Thrill Waterpark is a great option. With costs usually ranging between $70-90, the waterpark features a wave pool, an adventure pool, and the tallest waterslide in North America.

CocoCay also offers equipment rentals for kayaks, snorkel gear, and jet skis for those hoping to get into the water. A few activities on the island, such as the zipline and the Up, Up and Away helium balloon ride also come at an extra cost.

Another upgraded venue at CocoCay is the Coco Beach Club. Guests at the Coco Beach Club can enjoy a private beach, infinity pool, private lounging area, and a delightful meal at the Coco Beach Club Restaurant. The beach club has a limited capacity, ensuring that the area remains tranquil for guests looking for a more enhanced beach experience. Costs for the Coco Beach Club vary, but often range from $80-180 for a full day pass.

High Budget

If you're looking to splurge at sea and have the vacation of your dreams, get ready for a once in a lifetime cruise experience. Cruising on a high budget offers the most flexibility in terms of dining options, shore excursions, and premium treatment onboard. 

Stateroom Selection

Forget interior rooms. If you’re looking to splurge, book a suite! Suites offer a more upgraded experience in your stateroom and range from offering solely extra living space to full-fledged luxury.

Junior Suites are the most affordable type of suite onboard, which have an extra large balcony and increased living space. However, they don’t include the same perks that guests will receive staying in a regular suite.

Regular suites include extra living space as well as perks like priority boarding, concierge service, and deluxe amenities. Some suites have multiple bedrooms which can be a nice perk when traveling with kids or in a larger group.

The Royal Suite Class, available on Oasis and Quantum Class ships, takes the suite experience to another level. It has three tiers: Sea Class, Sky Class, and Star Class. Each comes with benefits like a dedicated check in line, priority boarding, and dinner at Coastal Kitchen.

Star Class, the highest tier, includes complimentary specialty dining, a complimentary deluxe beverage package, and even a Royal Genie who acts as your own personal concierge onboard.

Staying in a suite is a fantastic way to add a touch of luxury to your vacation, and Royal Caribbean is constantly working to enhance the cruise experience for suite guests. Wonder of the Seas, the newest ship in the fleet, will even feature a brand new Suite Neighborhood. The Suite Neighborhood is dedicated only to suite guests and will feature its own pool, bar, seating, Coastal Kitchen, and the Suite Lounge.

Onboard

The majority of the Royal Caribbean experience onboard is included in the cruise fare. However, there are a few ways to enhance your vacation even more.

If you’re traveling for a special occasion, such as an anniversary or birthday, make your travel companion feel extra special the moment they walk into the stateroom for the first time. Royal Caribbean offers the option of having your stateroom decorated for a special occasion and having special treats, like birthday cake or champagne, in the stateroom when you arrive. These options are available to purchase in advance of your sailing on the Cruise Planner website.

As far as dining and drinking onboard, don't hesitate to book the Unlimited Dining Package and the Deluxe Beverage Package. With both of these packages, you will be free to eat and drink wherever and whenever you want. Depending on the ship and sailing length, this will allow you to try a brand new specialty restaurant each night of your cruise.

One extra dining experience you may want to book is Chef’s Table. Coming in around $100 per guest, Chef’s Table is an intimate dining experience pairing the chef’s course selection with fine wine selected by a sommelier. As a relaxed, 2-3 hour dinner, Chef’s Table allows you opportune time to enjoy an elegant meal onboard.

With a high budget, you may also be interested in checking out all the treatments offered at Vitality Spa. A great way to do this is to visit the spa on the first day of your cruise and ask for a tour. One of the crew members will take you on a tour of the spa and discuss what treatment options are available and best for you.

At Port

Just like onboard, Royal Caribbean offers a variety of ways to enhance your cruise experience while in port.

Royal Caribbean has several “premium” shore excursion experiences, which tend to cost more than the average excursion. In Alaska, for example, guests can book a helicopter ride that travels above Mendenhall Glacier before landing on the glacier and allowing guests to walk on the ice. While not cheap, traveling with a higher budget can give you the financial flexibility to book an excursion of this caliber.

If you’re looking for a private shore excursion option, book a tour with Royal Caribbean’s Private Journeys. With Private Journeys, guests have an exclusive and personalized shore experience planned by Royal Caribbean's Destination Insiders. With Private Journeys, you can sightsee at your own pace and without the hassle of a large group tour. In addition, since it is booked through Royal Caribbean, there are no worries of missing the ship if the tour runs late.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

You don't have to visit the Maldives to have an extravagant beach day. At Perfect Day at CocoCay, there are several full-day cabana rental options available to enjoy. The most exclusive are the floating cabanas at the Coco Beach Club.

The Coco Beach Club offers a total of twenty floating cabanas that, as the name implies, “float” over the island’s crystal clear water. Each cabana has a lounging area with comfy furniture, dining table, freshwater shower, mini fridge, padded pool chairs, a slide, a hammock, and outlets. In addition, a cabana gives guests access to the Coco Beach Club itself, including the excellent lunch offerings at the Coco Beach Club restaurant.

Guests can enjoy this meal at the restaurant itself or from the comfort of the floating cabana.

The cabanas come at a premium, though, with costs reaching up to $1800 for a day rental. However, since each cabana has a capacity of eight guests (with the possibility of adding two more), the cost is not as much of a sticker shock when you split it up.

Overview

By evaluating how much money you are willing to spend on a cruise vacation, you can plan a Royal Caribbean cruise to meet your specific needs.

Ultimately, whichever stateroom, dining choices, onboard activities, or shore excursions you choose, a cruise is sure to create unforgettable memories for all those onboard.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 24, 2021

In:
24 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We are so happy that you stopped by and hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Grab a mug of your favorite hot beverage, sit back, and check out the latest in Royal Caribbean news.

Royal Caribbean announced earlier this week its first ever cruise around-the-world.

The 274-night sailing will be held aboard Serenade of the Seas and will visit all seven continents, along with visits to more than 150 destinations along the way.

The price range for the full excursion is between $66,000 to $112,000 per person, plus taxes and fees.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Royal Caribbean was finally able to start cruises from New York this year with an Oasis Class ship, and Rebecca sailed on one of those early sailings.

This week's podcast episode shares Rebecca's experience on Oasis of the Seas out of Cape Liberty.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: 15 Little Things That Make a BIG Difference on Royal Caribbean

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — 15 Little Things That Make a BIG Difference on Royal Caribbean — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

10 things everyone on a cruise ship should do before their cruise ends

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog Day 7 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

The last day of the cruise leaves plenty of fun, but there are also a few things everyone should do before it all comes to an end.

These 10 tips for everyone to do before their cruise ends will expedite your final morning onboard, as well as avoid billing issues or problems afterwards.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO: Time to focus on how we come out of the pandemic

In:
22 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has a new video update where he says he is done talking about the Covid-19, and it's time to move on.

Which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

The new video update is aimed at travel agents, but provides important insight into what he and the cruise line are thinking about at the moment.

In a new video update, Mr. Fain shares why now is the time to look past the pandemic and focus on cruises in 2022.

In fact, Mr. Fain declared he is going to stop talking about the disease, which is in itself significant since he began issuing these video updates during the cruise industry shutdown due to Covid-19.

South Florida Mayors ask Governor to lift ban on cruise ships asking for vaccine proof | Royal Caribbean Blog

"The time has come to look forward," Mr. Fain firmly stated. "The time has come to focus on how we come out of the panic and out of the pandemic, rather than how we should live during it."

"We all need to think differently. Our future becomes clearer every day."

Mr. Fain's message comes as the Royal Caribbean Group has re-opened its headquarters in Miami. While the disease will remain a concern, he feels society has a much better grasp on it becoming controlled, especially with children on the brink of being able to get vaccinated.

"It will continue to produce variants that vex us, but now we understand the main drivers. We know how to control the disease as it moves from totally uncontrolled spread with a high level of fatalities to a more ubiquitous, ongoing disease that impacts a declining number of people."

"There are likely to be more variants, but they are not likely to upset our ongoing progress, and all of this progress still isn't going to eliminate COVID, but it should bring it down from being a terrifying pandemic."

Mr. Fain also shared a recent map of Covid cases by county in the United States, and contrasted the case loads to cruise ships, which he believes have an advantage over land based comparables.

"The vast bulk of the people are vaccinated. We can control our sanitation, including air filtration, etc., and we can establish strict protocols. As a result, we can make ships safer than shore based alternatives," Mr. Fain explained.

"Although the CDC doesn't do a comparison, I believe a fair reading of all the data taking into account all the factors would color this ship blue, which is the lowest category of risk. Certainly better than the bulk of counties in America, and that's why I'm going to stop talking about the disease."

Mr. Fain also talked about a surge in new bookings coming from online rather than travel agents. To that point, he believes now is the time for travel agents to double their efforts to work on selling cruises since the market is showing signs of people wanting to travel again.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

CDC hasn't provided technical instructions to cruises lines four months after lifting the No Sail Order | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Fain pointed to demand returning in the form of more visitors to Royal Caribbean's website, along with more calls and bookings made directly with the cruise line.

"We need you, our travel partners, to reach our full potential. Of course, there still will be many who prefer to buy buy online, and the internet does make that very easy."

"Simply put, we need you and we need your personal touch. We need you and your knowledge, and the clients need you to help them understand the complexities."

10 things everyone on a cruise ship should do before their cruise ends

In:
22 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

They say all good things must come to an end, and that includes cruise vacations.

As your time left onboard begins to wane, there are a few important things to do before it's time to head off the ship and end your vacation.

Doing so will not only expedite your final morning onboard before you disembark, but avoid regrets or billing problems later.

Here are ten things every cruiser should do on the last day of their sailing before their cruise comes to an end.

Check the bill

The top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Setting your bill is a good idea on the last day of the cruise so you can review everything on there looks to be correct, as well as render payment.

If you have a cash account, you will want to get that squared away before heading to bed. Likewise, if you are sharing a cabin with someone and need to split the bill, or otherwise change how you pay it out, this is the time do so.

If you want to deposit any cash to offset your charges, you can also do this now.

Should you prepay gratuities for a Royal Caribbean cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

If by chance you still have extra onboard credit that is refundable, you can go to Guest Services to refund it as cash.  If your onboard credit is non-refundable onboard credit, go down to the casino and cash it out at one of the slot machines as a cash advance against your account.

This can all be done at Guest Services, although keep in mind that lines for Guest Services on the last day can sometimes get long. The best time to visit Guest Services on the final day is during the day. Everyone seems to go there in the evening.

Remember, get any accounting issues settled while onboard the ship. Calling after the cruise is much more time consuming and difficult.

Read moreCruising 101: SeaPass Account

Return towels

Royal Caribbean updates guest towel rental policy | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean will charge you $25 per pool towel you take that is not returned, so now is the time to bring it back.

The cruise line added this charge after years of guests taking towels and leaving them on shore excursions rather than bringing them back onboard.

Go through your stateroom and ensure any towels you tossed in the corner are brought back to the towel station and double check with the crew member there that your account is all set.

Give out extra tips

How to make the drink packages on Royal Caribbean work for you | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you wanted to reward a specific crew member or two with extra gratuities, the last day is a good time to do it.

Whether your stateroom attendant, favorite bartender, or waiter, the last day is the perfect opportunity to say thank you one more time.

I've often thought I would just see them on the final morning, but you would be surprised how difficult it can be to track down a crew member.

If you prefer to give out cash tips to your stateroom attendant and dining room staff, you can opt to do that by going to Guest Services and asking to pay cash tips and remove the automatic gratuity from your account.

Read moreWhy do I have to pay gratuities for my toddler?

Pack

Category 6V Interior Stateroom on Mariner of the Seas Photo Tour | Royal Caribbean Blog

Perhaps the least fun thing to do on your last day, but a necessary evil is packing everything back up.

I have to remind myself packing on the last day is better than trying to pack it all up on the final morning when you are groggy and extremely displeased with the fact you have to get off the ship.

Find some time in the afternoon to pack up as much as you can.

Be very certain to leave out sometime to wear the last morning of the cruise, otherwise you may have to wear your pajamas off the ship.

Read moreTop 9 bad mistakes to make on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Leave luggage outOasis of the Seas Live Blog Day 7 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

 

If you want assistance with getting your luggage off the ship, Royal Caribbean will deliver your bags from your stateroom to the cruise terminal.

The key is to leave your bags out by a certain time on the final night of the cruise, usually 10pm.  Check the paperwork left in your stateroom on the last day to confirm what time bags need to be out in the hallway by.

Also be sure to affix the luggage tags provided to you in your stateroom on the last day so that your luggage gets delivered.  It is also a good idea to take a photo of the luggage tag so you don't forget which number is yours.

Even though I mentioned it in the previous tip, I will mention it again: make sure you leave clothes to wear for the next morning, as well as any medication and toiletries.

Read moreWhat's the earliest time I can get off my cruise ship when it's over?

Get your photos

Spotted: New Royal Caribbean photo packages | Royal Caribbean Blog

If there is something I forget the most on the last day of the cruise, it is to print and pick up the onboard photos.

Remember all those photos you posed for onboard? The last day is when most people go to order prints and pick them up.

The final evening of the cruise will see likely a swarm of other guests doing the same thing, so ideally, try to hit up the photo area a little earlier in the day before everyone gets there at night.

Regardless of when you go, you can easily use the self-service kiosks to order prints.  The machine will give you a time to pick up the prints, so be sure to get there before it's too late.

Read moreIs a Royal Caribbean photo package worth it?

Book another cruise

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - San Juan | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you had a great time onboard, maybe a stop at NextCruise to book another vacation makes sense.

NextCruise is where you can go to book a new Royal Caribbean cruise, and they will give you the added benefit of reduced deposit and extra onboard credit.

Just like Guest Services and the photo area, the last day tends to be quite busy at NextCruise. You can book a reservation via the sign up sheet out front, or hope for an open slot as you walk by.  The earlier in the day, the more likely there will be times available to chat.

If all else fails, NextCruise is usually open the final morning of the cruise. Be sure to check with the staff for exact times.

ListenRoyal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Booking another cruise onboard

Cash in casino chips

Royal Caribbean testing self-service casino SeaPass charge option on Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Assuming you don't go back one last time to double down, be sure to cash out your casino chips.

Royal Caribbean is quite specific that if you fail to cash in your casino chips or vouchers, they are not eligible for cash after the cruise ends.  It is quite common for guests to leave these items in their pocket and forget to cash them out later.

Whether you won big or this is all you have left, be sure to get the cash for them.

Take a Covid test

Adventure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you need a negative Covid test result to get back into your country of origin, make sure you have a test done onboard the last day of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean will provide a complimentary Covid test to any passenger that requests one, but you need to schedule it earlier than the last day. My advice is ask to book one on the first day or two of the cruise so you can be in the schedule.

Just be sure to show up for the Covid test on time, as testing is limited.

Check-in for your flightRoyal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

 

If you are flying home after your cruise, it may make sense to complete the online check-in for your flight (especially if you are flying Southwest Airlines).

You can purchase a 24 hour pass for Royal Caribbean's internet onboard to do this (assuming you didn't buy a Voom package before). Suite guests can usually get the assistance of the Suite Concierge to help complete it.

If you need to print out a boarding pass or other paperwork, speak to Guest Service or the Suite Concierge.

Odyssey of the Seas restaurants

In:
21 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Whether you are a foodie or just enjoy lots of options when eating, Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas has a lot of great restaurants to choose from.

Best things to do on Royal Caribbean while there is limited capacity onboard | Royal Caribbean Blog

Most of the dining venues on Odyssey of the Seas are included with your cruise fare, along with optional specialty restaurants that cost extra to dine there.

From steak to omelets to sushi, there is a good variety of food available to consider.

If you have a cruise on Odyssey of the Seas and want to get a sense of what options are available to you, bring your stretchy pants and let's talk all things food!

Restaurants included with your cruise fare

Unlike other Quantum Class cruise ships, Odyssey of the Seas has a different layout for its complimentary dining, primarily in the main dining room.

Odyssey of the Seas has a large and inviting two-deck main dining room that is as stunning to look at as it is filled with great food throughout the day. Previous Quantum Class ships had smaller and separate dining rooms instead.

The main dining room is open for breakfast and dinner every day, with lunch served on sea days. The lunch and dinner menus change daily, while the breakfast menu remains the same.

Guests have a choice of having a set time and table for dinner every day of the cruise, or they can choose to dine in the main dining room at their discretion, subject to availability. Check out our guide on My Time Dining versus Traditional Dining for more information on these choices.

Another popular complimentary option is the Windjammer, which is the buffet on deck 14.

The Windjammer serves breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday (dinner is served assuming the ship is at least at 50% capacity), and has just about any kind of food you would want.

There are cooking stations, carved meats, soups, salads, vegetarian options, desserts and everything between. Picky eaters will love the variety of choices in the Windjammer, and the choice of international foods is a nice touch as well.

Crew members serve you food from one of the many food stations, at which point you then take your food to a table nearby.

If you are staying in a suite, Coastal Kitchen is another complimentary restaurant available to you every day of the sailing.

Coastal Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for suite guests (Junior Suite guests can only dine there at dinner), and Royal Caribbean describes it as a mix of California and Mediterranean style dining).

Just like the main dining room, the menu changes daily, and the food served here is different from the main dining room.

Since it is a perk for suite guests, it is included with the price of your suite and many suite guests consider Coastal Kitchen to be a "plussed version" of the main dining room.

The Solarium Bistro is a hidden gem, and complimentary to all guests.

Solarium Bistro is located on deck 14 at the forward part of the ship near the Solarium. While the Solarium is for adults only, the restaurant is open to guests of all ages.

You will find a good variety of food in the Solarium Bistro, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since many guests are unaware it exists, it tends to be far less crowded than the Windjammer or other dining venues onboard.

On the pool deck you will find Royal Caribbean's new complimentary Mexican restaurant, El Loco Fresh.

El Loco Fresh has a create your own menu of tacos, quesadillas, and burritos. Simply start with a base, and then take it to the toppings bar to add as much (or little) toppings you like, such as guacamole, salsa, cheese, jalapeños and more.

Let's move to the grab-and-go dining options included with your cruise fare, beginning with [email protected] on deck 5.

Serving small bites throughout the day, [email protected] is where you can go to get a cup of coffee, sandwich, bagel, doughnut or panini. For a smaller venue, it has a surprising amount of choices. Be sure to try the Kummelweck sandwich for a really good roast beef sandwich.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation | Royal Caribbean Blog

A staple of any Royal Caribbean ship is Sorrento's Pizza, which has hot pizza during the day, and well into the evening.

There is usually a few variety of pizzas to choose from, with special selections changing daily.  You will always find cheese and pepperoni offered, and usually one or two other options. 

Not only is the pizza good, but it is open for late night slices.

Nearby is Café Promenade, which has sandwiches, coffee, and desserts.

Read moreEverything I ate on Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas

Restaurants that cost extra

Specialty dining on Odyssey of the Seas offers guests cuisines and cooking styles otherwise not available in the complimentary venues.

Whether you are looking to change things up on one night, or dine exclusively at specialty dining, there are excellent choices to consider.

All specialty restaurants are open for dinner, although some are also open for lunch. Check the Cruise Compass for exact hours, but usually Izumi and Giovanni's Italian Kitchen are open for lunch on sea days.

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen | Royal Caribbean Blog

Odyssey of the Seas is home to Royal Caribbean's revamped Italian specialty restaurant, Giovanni's Italian Kitchen.

Passengers dining here have a wide selection of Italian favorites, including freshly cooked pastas, pizzas, and lots more. The appetizer menu in particular is quite large, and when you compare this restaurant to Royal Caribbean's previous generation of Giovanni's, you will quickly notice a jump in quality.

Be sure not to overlook the pizzas, as these are of a significantly higher quality than the pizza found in Sorrento's. There are quite a few varieties, and Royal Caribbean invested a lot of time to get these just right.

If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing specialty restaurant, look no further than Teppanyaki.

Hibachi dining is where guests sit around a cooking table and enjoy their chef cook all of the food, while performing a number of fun gags and making jokes along the way.  

Teppanyaki is a popular choice with limited seating, so advanced reservations are a good idea.

Another great venue on Odyssey of the Seas is Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade, located in the SeaPlex.

You will find beers and bar food galore here, with some really tasty options to enjoy as you watch the game, play a game, or talk to friends about something else (perhaps a game?). The appetizers in particular are fantastic.

You will also find 56 TV's around the bar, meaning there is no bad seat. 

No Royal Caribbean cruise ship is complete without a Chops Grille, the cruise line's tried-and-true steakhouse.

You will find a variety of cuts of steak at Chops, along with plentiful sides. 

If you like sushi, Izumi is a great choice for your favorite roll. Royal Caribbean separated the sushi operation from the hibachi on Odyssey of the Seas, which means more space for each.

Open for lunch and dinner, Izumi offers a good mix of traditional and bold rolls, along with other Japanese cuisine. 

For something completely different, head to Wonderland for a restaurant loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

Everything in Wonderland is meant to look different than you expect, but in the end, the way the food is presented is secondary to the actual taste.  Some dishes (especially the appetizers), will cause you to stop and question what exactly you are about to eat, but it all tends to end up come off as satisfying.

If you are a truly adventurous eater, then consider booking Chef's Table for an epic fully curated meal. 

You and a group of other passengers will enjoy a 5-course meal that is paired with glasses of wine along the way.  Be sure to allocate plenty of time, as it can take many hours to complete, but cruise fans rave about the quality of this fine-tuned meal.

How to see the menus

If you are curious what's on the menu for Odyssey of the Seas restaurants, you can view the menu from all of the restaurants on the Royal Caribbean app before your cruise.

Royal Caribbean's app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Once in the app, go to your sailing and click the Dining icon from the bottom menu. From there, you can browse the menus of all the dining venues onboard Odyssey of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean will accept cruise ship passengers with mixed vaccines

In:
20 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Following an update by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Royal Caribbean has updated its policy to allow passengers with any sort of mixed vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

The cruise line updated its policy on its website, which follows up on the United States altering its stance on the issue.

The United States confirmed last week it will accept mixed vaccines when new rules kick in on Nov. 8 requiring that foreign travelers entering the U.S. be fully vaccinated. 

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Royal Caribbean will now accept a mixed vaccination series consisting of doses from different manufacturers, as long as your vaccine series meets the following requirements:

  • Must consist of at least two doses of vaccines that are fully approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. FDA or the World Health Organization.
  • The 2 doses must be administered at least 28 days apart*
  • The final dose must be completed at least 14 days before sailing.

*For guests sailing from non-U.S. homeports, who have a combination of AstraZeneca plus an mRNA shot (Pfizer or Moderna), the shots must be at least 42 days apart.

Mixed vaccines may not be accepted at all ports of call. Guests who are vaccinated with a mixed series may not be allowed to go ashore at these ports, or may need to undergo additional testing if they wish to go ashore.

The full policy has been posted on Royal Caribbean's website.

The change comes almost exactly one month after Royal Caribbean began allowing cruise ship passengers with mixed series of mRNA vaccines to be considered fully vaccinated.

Sister brand Celebrity Cruises updated their policy on Tuesday to allow passengers with mixed vaccines as well.

Earlier this summer, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines announced they would not consider someone with mixed vaccines fully vaccinated, following a CDC policy change.

Not allowing mixed vaccines has been a problem for Canadian cruisers because the practice is widespread in that country.

Vaccine trials

Royal Caribbean also added a section for someone who is part of a vaccine trial, either from AstraZeneca or Novavax.

U.S. based AstraZeneca and Novavax clinical trial participants will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after completing their vaccine series, and must provide required documents that show proof of vaccination.

 

Royal Caribbean will offer first ever world cruise in 2023

In:
20 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If you're in the market for an epic cruise, how about one that goes around the world?

Royal Caribbean announced a new 274-night Ultimate World Cruise on Serenade of the Seas that will promises to bring you to amazing destinations across all seven continents.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley hinted at this announcement earlier this week, when he promised "big news" and included an emoji of the Earth.

This is the first ever world cruise for Royal Caribbean International, and it will visit more than 150 destinations in 65 countries and 11 great wonders of the world.

Serenade of the Seas will sail roundtrip from Miami on Dec. 10, 2023 and through Sept. 10, 2024.

Fares for this world cruise include business class airfare, premium transportation as well as an evening of festivities and accommodations at a five-star
hotel before setting sail.

In addition, Crown & Anchor Society Platinum status members and above will receive a bonus Seven New World Wonders shore excursion package in addition to other perks, including a Deluxe Beverage package, VOOM Wi-Fi, laundry service and more.

Sound like fun? Here's where you can go on the world cruise:

Round the Horn: Americas and Antarctica Expedition
Dec. 10, 2023 - Feb. 11, 2024 

Three continents, 36 destinations, four wonders The once-in-a-lifetime journey begins in Miami, the cruise capital of the world, and sets course for postcard- perfect Caribbean destinations – like the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) – before heading to glacier- studded Antarctica and around Cape Horn.

Travelers can take in four of the world’s stunning wonders along the way in Central and South America, including Chichen Itza in Cozumel, Mexico; the largest art deco sculpture in the world, Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro – where they’ll celebrate New Year’s Eve – and the largest waterfall system on the planet, Iguazu Falls near Buenos Aires, Argentina.

One of the most iconic symbols of ancient Inca civilization and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu, awaits in Peru, while sunshine and glamour will welcome guests in Los Angeles.

Wonders of Asia and the Pacific Expedition
Feb. 11 - May 9, 2024

Three continents, 40 destinations, three wonders Guests will venture miles from the ordinary in Oceania, Asia and beyond on the cruise’s next showstopping leg. They can discover the beauty and adventure throughout the Hawaiian Islands’ world-renowned mountainous landscapes and black sand beaches before sailing south to Moorea and Tahiti, French Polynesia, for sapphire blue skies and crystal-clear waters.

The thrills continue with an exploration of New Zealand, before a deep-dive into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – the only living thing on the planet that’s visible from space. Pristine natural beauty in Bali, Indonesia, is soon followed by two of the most iconic manmade world wonders, the Great Wall of China and India’s Taj Mahal, and gems of the South Pacific – from Vietnam to Malaysia.

Rounding out the expedition are endless possibilities in Japan, with unparalleled culture in Tokyo, street food in Osaka and the tropical beaches of Okinawa.

Middle East Treasures and Marvels of the Med Expedition
May 9 - July 10, 2024 

Three continents, 44 destinations, four wonders This expedition begins in glamorous Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and brings many of history’s greatest mysteries, myths and legends to life.

Adventurers can uncover ancient sites and more world wonders from the times of emperors and pharaohs, like Jordan’s lost city of Petra, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, Turkey, and the Colosseum in Rome. There are also less-traveled places to explore, such as Greece’s Olympia, once a sanctuary site to honor Zeus and the location of the first Olympic games.

The journey only continues to even more destinations known for their storied history — like Split, Croatia, and Cannes and Provence in France.

Spain will open its borders to cruise ships in June | Royal Caribbean Blog

Capitals of Culture
July 10 - Sept. 10, 2024

Three continents, 40 destinations The final leg of the Ultimate World Cruise is an immersive, cultural experience that begins in the Mediterranean and heads north. At travelers’ fingertips is the opportunity to discover Barcelona’s brilliant architecture, including Antoni Gaudi’s famed Sagrada Familia and whimsical Park Guell, and savor new flavors across continents — such as an indulgent lunch in a Parisian bistro and a dinner of tagine and mint tea in Morocco.

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Museums, theaters and galleries line the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, while larger-than-life fjords await in Norway. Guests can reflect on their epic voyage in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland before visiting New York on their way back to Miami.

How much is the world cruise?

If you are interested in booking the 274-night cruise, Royal Caribbean has starting prices available.  There is a discount when paying in full of 10% off the fare by January 6, 2023.

*Taxes, fees, and port expenses of $4,667 USD per person are additional and are subject to change at any time. All starting prices listed are per person, in USD, cruise only, based on double occupancy and are subject to change at any time. Pay in full by January 6, 2023, for savings of 10% on starting Lead Rate.

Pricing for the four expeditions will be announced once these sailings become available to book in December 2021.

How to book the world cruise

Bookings for the full Ultimate World Cruise can be made by phone starting today, with an exclusive one-week window through Oct. 26 for Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society Diamond status members and above.

Guests interested in booking can call Royal Caribbean’s dedicated line for the Ultimate World Cruise at 800-423-2100 (US toll free) or their travel advisor.

Celebrity Cruises will accept mixed vaccines following CDC update

In:
19 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Celebrity Cruises will accept mixed series of Covid-19 vaccines of many kinds for cruise ship passengers.

Following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update to its policy last week, the Celebrity Cruises website has been updated to reflect it will accept mixed series of any two of the following vaccines, with a minimum of 28 days between doses, as fully vaccinated: 

  • Pfizer
  • Moderna
  • Johnson & Johnson,
  • AstraZeneca
  • Sinovac
  • Sinopharm

Prior to this update, Celebrity Cruises did not accept mixed dosages of non-mRNA vaccines, such as AstraZeneca.

Earlier this summer, most cruise lines changed their policy to prohibit mixed vaccines due to the CDC update.

Celebrity stated in its policy the change was a result of the CDC's change in stance, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has clarified their position regarding mixed vaccinations and provided Celebrity Cruises with updated guidance."

You can view the updated policy on Celebrity's website.

The issue of mixed vaccines affects residents of certain countries where the practice was encouraged by their governments, such as Canada.

Read moreWhat you need to know about going on a cruise if you're Canadian

Thus far, Royal Caribbean International has not updated their policy to match yet, but Celebrity has been usually quicker to update their policies than Royal Caribbean International, including the many updates to mixed vaccines.

When the mixed vaccine policy was changed earlier this summer, Celebrity was always a day or two ahead of Royal Caribbean in posting the new policy.

Booster shots

In addition to mixed vaccines, the Celebrity Cruises website lists a policy about booster shots.

Guests who have received 3 or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, due to booster regimens, will be considered fully vaccinated if at least one of these conditions is satisfied:

  • At least 2 of the doses are mRNA vaccines administered at least 28 days apart. The final dose must be completed at least 14 days before sailing.
  • At least 2 of the doses are AstraZeneca administered at least 28 days apart. The final dose must be completed at least 14 days before sailing.
  • At least 1 dose is Johnson & Johnson, completed at least 14 days before sailing.

What Canadians need to know about cruise insurance

In:
19 Oct 2021
By: 
Chantal McPhee

One of the biggest issues for Canadians wanting to cruise is the federal government’s advisory against cruise travel and its impact on insurance.

This level of risk assessment can void a portion or all of a travel policy, even if already purchased. Some cruisers have expressed concerns about the lack of transparency as it relates to insurance coverage in the current situation.

Consider the following tips when evaluating cruise travel insurance requirements.

Terms and Conditions

When purchasing travel insurance there are three main travel categories: trip interruption, trip cancellation, and emergency medical. It is important to understand coverage and limitations for all of them, especially as it relates to Covid.

Most insurance companies list Covid related travel products on their websites. However, the depth of coverage is not always clear. A detailed review of the terms and conditions or frequently asked questions (FAQs) section is often required to determine what is included, or more importantly what’s not included. In some cases, policies don’t reference cruising specifically but rather that travelling despite a travel warning or travel ban, will result in a lack of coverage.

For example, TD Insurance clearly lists on their insurance homepage, that travel advisories will invalidate any claims for Covid related expenses. However, for Manulife Insurance, their Covid travel insurance list exclusions in the FAQs section. There are also questions that relate to pre-conditions, which may impact eligibility for insurance.

Royal Caribbean’s Benefits

One great benefit to cruising with Royal Caribbean is their “We’ll Get you Home” policy. The Healthy Sail Centre explains:

  • “If you or a member of your traveling party tests positive for COVID-19 during your cruise, we'll take care of things so you can focus on getting better. Costs related to onboard medical care and your travel home — even a private jet, if needed — are on us.*”

It further specifies:

  • If you are fully vaccinated or unable to be vaccinated and you test positive for COVID-19 during the voyage, the cruise line will: • cover the cost of necessary COVID-19 related medical treatment onboard the ship; • coordinate and cover the costs of any required land-based quarantine for you and members of your Traveling Party; and • coordinate and cover the costs of travel arrangements to get you and members of your Traveling Party back home.

For those who add some vacation time pre or post cruise, it should be highlighted that this program covers getting Covid during the cruise (not pre or post cruise). And, as with most policies, is subject to change, so monitor accordingly.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean is flying passengers home on a private jet if they have Covid-19

Insurance Review

Given the variables in insurance, it is best to complete a review of travel insurance from all sources for both the land and cruise portions of the vacation. Check current travel insurance, annual plans, employee benefits, etc.

Note, major airlines such as Air Canada and WestJet were offering complimentary Covid insurance with ticket purchases, however, this has not been extended beyond Oct.31. 2021.

Consider what’s needed:

  • Trip cancellation, coverage if a trip is cancelled due to Covid
  • Trip interruption, for example, for quarantine
  • Emergency travel/ medical Insurance pre/ post cruise
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions, age, and other exclusions

Often, the insurance legal ease can be unclear, and policies can vary amongst provincial jurisdictions. If ambiguous, it is best to contact the insurance company and seek clarification in writing so there is no confusion in the event that claims are submitted.

What the future holds

In July, The Canadian government said that they will open Canada to cruise ships starting Nov 1, 2021. The Federal Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra noted at that time that cruise companies will be required to "fully comply with public health requirements" in order to sail through Canada's waters and dock at its ports.

No additional updates have been provided on these conditions, or changes in timelines.  It is unclear if the government will maintain its travel ban on cruising while welcoming international cruise ships.

Travel advisories can change quickly, so it is critical to monitor both cruise and specific country travel notices, especially when a trip has been booked well in advance. Subscribe to travel updates through the government of Canada website and follow social media accounts.