Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day Five - Sea Day

By: Michael Poole

Today was our final day on board Brilliance of the Seas as we sailed back to Tampa, Florida.  It’s always sad on the final day of the cruise, but I’m excited I’m staying on board for the next sailing too!

This morning we slept in a little took things at a slower pace, since we had nothing really planned.  We ended up skipping breakfast, just too much food and needed a break from it. 

The pool deck was very busy this morning selling $10 t-shirts, bags, etc.  Also, everyone was trying to get that last bit of sunshine before we returned to Florida.  Hillary and I just spent the morning in the solarium; I really like how the pool water is heated.  The Brilliance only has 3 total hot tubs, so it’s usually hard to find one that’s not packed.  So we settle for the heated pool!  I should mention the pool water is salt water, so be sure to rinse off when you get out, I learned that one that hard way. 

Since we were getting closer to Florida the conditions were starting to turn and the temperature was dropping.  I decided to head back to the room around 2pm to start the ever dreadful packing since I’m changing cabins on the next sailing. 

After packing I went down to the pub to relax with a pint or two.  When I arrived I was the only person in the pub, but a few moments later it was packed.  I was thinking, what is going on?! They were having a singing game and I stayed to listen for a while.  Nice to see they have mid-day entertainment for those looking to get out of the sun. 

Evening on board was full of shopping, looking at the cruise photos they took.  We used our two free Diamond Plus coupons for 8x10’s on formal night.  Without a coupon they are $20 or the 5x7 are $10. 


Dinner tonight was again in Giovanni’s Table, our waiter invited us back with 30% off cover charge.  Since it was the last night, I thought it would be fun to enjoy some amazing Caymus wine.  I purchased the bottle at Vintages with our drink package discount of 20% off. 

Our meal was outstanding; I can’t say more positive things about Giovanni’s on Brilliance.  Once again they did family style dining and brought out all the options.  I finally had to say, please no more food! Hillary went with the fish and I took a bite and loved it, so fresh.  Her mom ordered the Chops Grill lobster; I know it was a small upcharge, around $15.  We ended up staying a little over two hours tonight, but it was one memorable meal. 

Final Thoughts

Brilliance of the Seas is a great ship if you aren’t looking for a mega ship with a lot of options on board.  This sailing was very relaxing, not a lot of lines at any of the bars.  The VOOM Internet worked well, the first day I was having some issues staying connected but it seem to fix itself.  I know many were wondering if they have the freestyle coke machines, they still don’t off this on Brilliance.  The coffee shop was very busy every morning; they did move things along very nicely but plan on waiting 10-15 minutes. 

This will be the end of the live blog; I hope you enjoyed the five days of coverage.  If you have questions feel free to comment below and I’ll respond! 

Video: Surf’s Up on Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider

By: Matt Hochberg

While cruising with Royal Caribbean, travelers looking for thrills can catch waves without ever having to leave the ship! Beginners and experienced surfers are able to hang ten by boogie boarding or standup surfing on any one of 19 FlowRider surf simulators in the cruise line’s fleet. Pair that with great views and the ocean breeze, the surf is always up on Royal Caribbean ships.

Royal Caribbean talks Perfect Day at CocoCay impact, booking trends, smart phone app impact and more

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean held a call with investors to go over their record 2018 financial results and provide guidance for the coming year.  Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd earnings beat Wall Street expectations, benefiting from higher demand for its Caribbean cruises and passengers spending more money on activities while on board.

Between the fiscal anecdotes and figures shared, cruise fans could glean a few tidbits of interesting information.

Two powerful booking trends

At the beginning of the call, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain started off that two powerful trends are dominating bookings for Royal Caribbean: experiences over material possessions and favorable demographic shifts.

Mr. Fain spoke about what he is seeing in the market, "As we have been very vocal about two important and positive consumer trends. First, the trend in favor of experiences over material possessions, and second, the favorable demographic shifts.

We've been talking for a long time about how people have shifted their focus from buying TVs, cars, etc to buying memories or experiences. And that shift has become so powerful that I think it's now obvious to everybody.

At the same time, the demographic makeup of our population keeps shifting in our direction. 

These two trends have become increasingly powerful, and our company and our brands are well-positioned to benefit from these trends."

The first two weeks of Wave season have been fantastic

For those unaware, Wave season is the sales period that has historically taken place between January and March and stands out because a large percentage of cruisers book their sailings in the early months of the year. This year, Royal Caribbean has seen a record Wave season take place.

Richard Fain mentioned it at the top of the call, "Happily, the record-breaking start to Wave validates our confidence. And with Wave off to a wonderful start, our already good booked position continues to strengthen.  Bookings have been at higher levels than last year, and in fact we received more bookings during the first week of Wave than we have in any other week in our history...except for the second week in Wave, which was even better."

Royal Caribbean Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty also touched on the great start to the year, "Over the past three months, bookings have been higher than the same time last year.... In fact, two out of the past three weeks have been record-booking weeks for the company."

Perfect Day at CocoCay facts

With the launch of Perfect Day at CocoCay coming up in just a few months, Royal Caribbean sounded quite bullish on the impact it is already having and will have on the cruise line's bottom line.

Richard Fain commented on the impact Perfect Day at CocoCay will have on the cruise industry, "The island development will really shake-up the short-term cruise market, and I am confident that our guests will love it."

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley also had some interesting facts to share about Perfect Day, "When you look at Royal Caribbean International, we have I think 13 ships operating in the Caribbean during the year, and then when you look at the deployment of those ships to Perfect Day in 2019, I believe ten out of the thirteen ships are calling to Perfect Day.  Our projections are that by 2020, we will be taking just shy of two million guests a year to Perfect Day.

And then of course the other element is the sales associated with the experience of Perfect Day, and we've seen our sales of activities and experiences really take off on our pre-cruise sales for the experience, so we're up by a factor of close to nine, I think, for our Perfect Day sales."

Smart phone app investment return

Naturally investors want to hear that a company's investment in a piece of technology or a new initiative is driving home a return and Royal Caribbean is happy to report that despite its major tech initiative, code named Project Excalibur, has not fully launched yet, already the cruise line is reaping some benefits.

Mr. Liberty explained that essentially, the cruise line is seeing guest satisfaction rising quickly because the app and other tech advances remove friction from the guest experience.  That in turn provides higher yields for Royal Caribbean.  In the future that will make it easier for the consumer to buy things from the cruise line.

"There is a strong relationship to where guest satisfaction scores go up, and people pay more both for their ticket as well as onboard. Certainly ships that we have put Excalibur on we are seeing those benefits."

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day Four - Grand Cayman

By: Michael Poole

Today was our second port stop in Grand Cayman.  We arrived a little later than I thought we would at 10AM.  Due to the change in our schedule we were on the back side of the island.  This is a tender port, so you have to take small boats into the island.  

Before we went to bed last night we placed the room service card outside our door for breakfast.  Many options on the menu that is included at no charge, so we took advantage of our large balcony.  If you want bacon or anything “warm” it is an upcharge of $7.95. 

Hillary and I were here a few months ago on Adventure of the Seas, so we decided to stay on board and enjoy the ship.  Our first stop was actually the gym to burn some calories off and I’m happy to report all the equipment is brand new. 

Most of the day I just lounged around the pool deck and took advantage of my drink package.  I was surprised to see how many people stayed on board, the pool deck wasn’t packed but every chair taken.

I decided to surprise Hillary to a spa treatment, so I used my Crown and Anchor discount of 20% off and made her appointment.  She was so surprised, and reported back it was a great experience.  To avoid the end “up-sell” she said she just left the room after getting dressed. 

We hung out on the pool deck until 3PM, but I noticed they never played any live music today, I suppose since it’s a port day.

My first stop after cleaning up for the night was the diamond lounge up on deck 13.  I wanted to see what menu they had, since a few new options have been showing up across the fleet.  They did have the new menu so it’s nice to see Royal Caribbean adding more options to happy hour. 


Tonight I decided to have dinner in the main dining room.  I noticed the new modern looking chairs they added during her dry dock last year.  Our service was really great, they knew we did not want a very long dinner so the keep things moving.  I was happy to come back to the dining room and surprised they had the very French onion soup served in Chops Grill. 

The main event tonight was the 70’s disco party in the Centrum at 10pm.  I was surprised to see how many people came out tonight.  The party was so much fun, I think it’s been my favorite event all cruise.  I was out dancing having fun with the cruise staff and even ran into the cruise director Chris!  I also noticed many of the passenger dressed up in 70’s theme attire. 


After the party it was time to wind down and call it a night.  Tomorrow is our last day as we make our journey back to Tampa, Florida. 


Independence of the Seas Listener Cruise Review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 287 is available for downloading where our friends Alanna and Rafael review their recent sailing on Independence of the Seas.

Rafael and Alanna join Matt to discuss their first sailing on Independence of the Seas on this week's episode.  They share what they did on the ship, their shore excursion plans and how their first big Royal Caribbean cruise went.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 287. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Royal Caribbean announces 2020-2021 deployment opening schedule dates

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released its deployment schedule for the remaining 2020-2021 itineraries, which indicates when these sailings will go on sale.

While Royal Caribbean released a number of sailings for 2020 and 2021 in the Fall of 2018, the remaining 2020-2021 sailings will be released as follows:

  • Week of March 11, 2019: Caribbean (Phase II)
  • Week of March 18, 2019: Australia & Transpacific
  • Week of March 25, 2019: Dubai
  • Week of April 29, 2019: China
  • Week of May 20, 2019: Asia & Singapore
  • Cuba: Coming soon

All itineraries and openings are subject to change without notice. 

Video: 7 things that surprise people about Royal Caribbean

By: Matt Hochberg

We have a brand new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video to share today, which features seven things that surprise people about a Royal Caribbean cruise.

A little planning can go a long way… and now more than ever that is true when it comes to planning a trip on Royal Caribbean! That is why we are sharing seven things that some guests find surprising about going on Royal Caribbean so you can know those things ahead of time to make the absolute most of your vacation!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: What did you find most surprising the first time you cruised on Royal Caribbean?

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day Three - Cozumel

By: Michael Poole

Today was our first port of call in Cozumel, Mexico.  We arrived at 8am and I was surprised to see Mariner of the Seas docked next to us, as she’s usually just in the Bahamas. 

We arranged to do the Cozumel Bar hop yesterday via email with the owner, since we had a flop in our schedule.  The cost for this five hour tour is $57 per person.  That includes a tour guide, a driver, transportation around the other side of the island and a welcome shot at the four bars, and a t-shirt. 

The name itself sounds like a crazy bar hop for hours, I suppose you could make it that.  But its more about seeing a side of the island with no Wi-Fi, no electricity and always closed at sunset.  We also learned how it’s helping the sea turtles lay eggs due to no lights on at night, and they just finished a very successful season. 

Each stop you get 50 minutes to explore, have lunch or order a beer.  The beers were $3-$4 at each stop and lunch was $11-$13 at each stop. You do need to meet the driver downtown, so a taxi was $3 per person to the downtown area.  Once it's over, they return you to the ship.  

It was really fun having a group of 12 friends with us on the hop.  I liked spending more time with everyone and laughing over some beers in Mexico. 

If you are looking to do something in Mexico that’s more budget friendly, I would not recommend this option.  I spent around $100 on lunch, beers, etc combined plus the cover charge of $114 with two adults. 

All aboard was 5:30PM and we were dropped off a little before 5pm and took some group photos at the Cozumel sign.  It was such a fun day and I’m really happy I got to experience the stop with this group. 

Back on board

Most all of our group decided to get some sleep from all the fun in Mexico.  I pushed through and hung out in the Schooner Bar mainly just for he views enjoying coffee.  I love how large this venue is on Brilliance of the Seas, and great views for sailaway. 

Hillary woke up around 7pm and we enjoyed the ship, listening to music.   It seem like a lot of people were still tired from Mexico all day.  The group went to the main dining room for dinner, but Hillary and I just opted for the Windjammer.  I went with the sampler platter and tried everything! I liked being able to eat in 15 minutes and not having a long dinner and we were back on our way.

We didn’t see any shows or even the pub singer tonight, we decided to call it at 9:30pm.  I did not nap, so I was pretty beat.  Not to worry, tomorrow we have a full day in Grand Cayman. 


Spotted: Updated Diamond Happy Hour drink menu

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has updated the Diamond member happy hour drink menu on Independence of the Seas, which features a new look and a few additions.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Twangster shared a photo of the new menu while onboard Independence of the Seas.

Diamond drink menu from Independence of the Seas January 2019

Diamond drink menu from Jewel of the Seas January 2019. Photo by Steve Pellegrino

Diamond drink menu from Serenade of the Seas February 2018

Glenfiddich scotch has been added to the menu, along with Captain Morgan rum.

Each evening, Royal Caribbean offers complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in its Diamond lounges for Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members. In addition, Diamond members and above receive three complimentary drink vouchers to use at bars and lounges around the ship during the same time.

Royal Caribbean named one of America's Best Employers for Diversity by Forbes

By: Matt Hochberg

Forbes announced today that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has been named to the America's Best Employers for Diversity 2019.

Forbes and research firm Statista surveyed 50,000 American employees in companies that have at least 1,000 employees.  Survey questions focused on diversity with respect to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and ability. Other components of the ranking included gender diversity among top executives and the board of directors, and the company's proactive communication about diversity.

"I am extremely pleased that Forbes has recognized Royal Caribbean as one of America's Best Employers for Diversity," said Laura Miller, SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer for  Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "This recognition would not be possible without our employees. As one of the world's largest cruise companies, we are committed to our over 75,000 talented and devoted employees representing nearly 200 countries.  We will continue to focus and demonstrate the importance of diversity and inclusion both on shore and at sea."