Royal Caribbean cancels plans to introduce Spa stateroom category

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today it has decided to discontinue the introduction of Spa staterooms beginning with the 2021-2022 season.

After much consideration and as our product offerings continue to evolve in today’s environment, the brand has made the decision to discontinue the introduction of Spa staterooms beginning with the 2021-2022 season.

In a communication to travel agents, Royal Caribbean indicated beginning on May 5, 2020, all bookings in a Spa stateroom will be temporarily moved from their stateroom into a guarantee. Once the accommodation process is complete, guests will be moved back into their original stateroom with the stateroom location, dimensions, and cabin number all remaining the same.

There is no action needed from you as this process is completed.

In addition, Royal Caribbean is offering guests booked in these rooms a repricing to the prevailing fare of a comparable Ocean View Balcony and will also receive a refundable $50 USD onboard credit per cabin that can be used anywhere onboard – including in the spa as well as pre-cruise.

Royal Caribbean announced the new stateroom category in October 2019 that offered guests in-room amenities and spa privileges.

It included amenities and perks like lush bedding and bath products, daily tea and bottled water, and priority spa reservations.

Royal Caribbean celebrates one year anniversary of Perfect Day at CocoCay opening

By: Matt Hochberg

It may be hard to imagine, but it has been exactly one year since Royal Caribbean officially opened its revamped private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

In the year since Perfect Day at CocoCay opened, it has quickly become a favorite destination of so many cruisers, even those who questioned the massive overhaul concept.

In celebrating the anniversary of the opening, I thought it might be fun to look back at the highlights from the first year of paradise.

The announcement

At a ceremony in March 2018 in New York City, Royal Caribbean announced its plans to expand its private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.

The $200 million transformation (later it increased to $250 million) was part of an even bigger announcement to reveal the Royal Amplified fleet upgrades.

Originally, the timeline had an early opening in September 2018 with the completion of the pier, followed by the majority of the island will launch spring 2019. This timeline changed quite a few times in the months to come, but the objectives remained in tact.

Royal Caribbean hoped this destination would offer guests more than just a beach day experience.  A water park, zip-line, cabanas, dining venues, and even an upgraded luxury beach option were part of the initial plans.

“It’s true that our ships are technological and engineering marvels in their own right and offer a multitude of unexpected experiences; but our destinations are an equally important part of the cruise vacation,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We are introducing the Perfect Day Island Collection to deliver the most memorable vacation for adventure seekers on land and on board our ships. Once completed Perfect Day at CocoCay will be the ultimate family destination in the Caribbean.”

Pre-opening - March 2019

Royal Caribbean took a phased approach to opening its private destination, beginning with opening its new pier, along with the Oasis Lagoon pool, Snack Shack and Chill Grill.

On March 16, 2019, Mariner of the Seas docked at CocoCay, marking the first time a Royal Caribbean ship docked and disembarked guests on the island.  

While the water park and other venues were still under construction, guests got their first look at what Royal Caribbean had in mind.

The largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, Oasis Lagoon,offered a massive complimentary pool day for guests to enjoy. This included a swim-up bar, fountains and in-pool seating.

Two dining venues opened as well, Snack Shack and Chill Grill. These venues served up more than hot dogs and hamburgers, with the largest variety of private island food Royal Caribbean has ever had.

The Artisan Market was also revamped and opened, where Bahamians could sell guests their many wares in a straw market environment.

April 2019 - Splashaway Bay and Skipper's Grill open

A few short weeks after the initial venues opened, Royal Caribbean opened up two new areas: Splashaway Bay and Skipper's Grill.

Splashaway Bay is a complimentary aqua park for kids that features geysers, drench buckets, sprays and more. A complimentary option, it is a real hit with younger kids who enjoy non-stop splashing.

Skipper's Grill is another complimentary dining option on the island that provides lunch and snacks to guests.

In addition to the newly opened venues, it appears Royal Caribbean has expanded its Voom internet access to the island, marking the first time any of its private destinations offer internet access on the island.  

Up, Up and Away goes up for the first time

About a week later, one of the signature attractions Royal Caribbean added to Perfect Day at CocoCay launched.

The Up, Up and Away helium balloon takes guests 450 feet above Perfect Day at CocoCay, providing the highest vantage point in The Bahamas.

May 4 - Grand Opening of Perfect Day at CocoCay

Fourteen months after being announced, Royal Caribbean officially opened Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Guests sailing on Navigator of the Seas were welcomed to Perfect Day at CocoCay, where a number of new venues, activities and offerings were officially open for guest use.

Among the many options now available to guests, Thrill Waterpark was highly anticipated and open as well. 

Thrill Waterpark is home to Daredevil’s Tower, where guests can try a number of single-rider waterslides of various heights, including the 135-foot-tall Daredevil’s Peak – the tallest waterslide in North America.

Additional highlights are the twin Dueling Demon drop slides, launching riders from a vertical position; the Manta Raycers, where friends can race down twin open flume slides; the high-speed, fully vertical Screeching Serpent; and the coiling Green Mamba, a massive aqua tube slide.

Younger kids could enjoy the complimentary Captain Jill’s Galleon, which is an interactive play structure loaded with swashbuckling thrills.

Royal Caribbean also revamped its beach offerings with the dedication of Chill Island.

The 1,600 foot zipline opened as well, marking yet another fun activity for families to try.

Summer 2019: Late night stays & Two-stops

Off the bat, Perfect Day at CocoCay was such a hit with guests that Royal Caribbean announced it would add select sailings that visit Perfect Day at CocoCay twice, along with late night stays.

Beginning September 30, 2019, Royal Caribbean began to offer 4-night itineraries to the private island destination across nearly 40 sailings. 

In addition, three one-of-a-kind cruises with late-night visits to the island were offered on Navigator of the Seas. These visits included traditional Bahamian-inspired activities, including a Junkanoo Jam Up Party, an island barbeque and performances by a calypso band and fire dancers, topped off with unforgettable farewell fireworks before setting sail.

The official beer of Perfect Day at CocoCay!

In the fall, Royal Caribbean teamed up with Funky Buddha Brewery to create an exclusive beer for Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The Chilla Thrilla beer is available only at the island, and offers a fun and different option for guests to enjoy while spending the day there.

Coco Beach Club opens - January 2020

The final phase of Perfect Day at CocoCay opened on January 31, 2020 with the grand opening of the Coco Beach Club.

The Coco Beach Club is a exclusive area of Perfect Day at CocoCay that offers an oceanfront infinity pool, upgraded cuisine and the only floating cabanas in the Bahamas. Plus, there is a complimentary restaurant at Coco Beach Club featuring lobster, snapper, and steak— plus a buffet of soups, salads, and starters. 

Entry to the Coco Beach Club requires an additional cost. Guests can choose between a day pass to the Coco Beach Club, as well as the option to reserve a cabana or floating cabana.

The attention-grabbing floating cabanas also debuted, which sought to bring a bit of Bora Bora to the Bahamas.

The 20 luxurious cabanas feature a private slide into the ocean, overwater hammock, dining area, freshwater shower, wet bar and an unbeatable ocean vista.

Have you visited Perfect Day at CocoCay yet? What is your favorite spot on the island? Share your memories, tips and advice in the comments!

How to make Royal Caribbean's Grand Sabor Margarita at home for Cinco de Mayo

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Cinco de Mayo! While we cannot celebrate this festive holiday on a Royal Caribbean ship (or even at a bar near home), the next best thing is making the world famous Sabor margaritas at home!

The Grand Sabor Margarita is one of the premier beverages available at my favorite Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant, Sabor Modern Mexican.

Margaritas are a great drink to enjoy anytime of the year, but on Cinco de Mayo, it is a must-drink option. 

If you were at Sabor, you could choose between a variety of margaritas, like avocado or jalapeño-cucumber. 

Here is how to "plus" your Cinco de Mayo (and Taco Tuesday) festivities at home with the Grand Sabor Margarita recipe!

Grand Sabor Margarita Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Patron Reposado tequila
  • 1 oz. Cedilla Acai Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup

Suggested music while preparing your Grand Sabor Margarita

  • Tequila Song - The Champs

Grand Sabor Margarita Instructions

  1. Over ice in a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Cedilla Acai Liqueur, Grand Marnier, lime juice and simple syrup.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Double strain into a prepared glass with fresh ice and garnish.

Royal Caribbean cancels two sailings on Vision of the Seas & Anthem of the Seas to repatriate crew members

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced two upcoming sailings in June in order to assist with repatriating crew member efforts.

Vision of the Seas’ June 13th, 2020 and Anthem of the Seas’ June 20th, 2020 sailings are the two cancelled sailings that were announced today.


Royal Caribbean is using these ships to ferry crew members home due to local travel restrictions.

Unfortunately, local travel restrictions and commercial flights have made it extremely challenging to get our crew safely home. We’ve been working with our partners at Cruise Lines International Association and the CDC for months to get our crew safely home, and sailing to their home country is the best option.

As a result of the cancellation, Royal Caribbean is providing these guests with the option of a 125% Future Cruise Credit or a 100% refund.

Future Cruise Credits issued on these sailings should be received by Friday, June 5th, 2020.

The Vision of the Seas June 13th sailing was scheduled to be a 12-Night Mediterranean Greek Isles cruise from Barcelona.

The Anthem of the Seas June 20th sailing was scheduled to be an 8 Night Spain & Portugal Cruise from Southampton.

Royal Caribbean's plans to get crew members home was reported in the last 24 hours.

The crux of the matter that prevented crew from getting home sooner was evidently the CDC's rules for disembarking crew that included provisions such as requiring crew go home via chartered or private transportation.

In the letter from Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley to crew, it explains the legal entanglement that is created by sending crew home now, "The CDC will only allow us to disembark crew members if company executives, myself included, are willing to attest — subject to criminal penalties including imprisonment — that we will not use any public transportation and that each crew member will comply with certain conditions after disembarking the ships. We are happy to do all the things they requested, but the criminal penalties gave us [and our lawyers] pause."

While Bayley said he hopes the threat of criminal prosecution will be removed, he said, “we have decided that the importance of getting you home is so great that we will sign these documents as they are written today to help get you off the ships.”

Thanks to Katina Bradley for alerting us to this announcement.

Royal Caribbean Chairman talks of work to get crew home and restart cruises

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chairman and CEO Richard Fain provided an update on Monday of what the cruise line is doing to repatriate its crew members, as well as prepare itself to resume sailings.

In a new video, Mr. Fain spoke to travel advisors on his view of what the world looks like as it attempts to slowly overcome the current global health scenario.

"Our role is to do everything that passion and ingenuity can offer to keep our ships safe and healthy. Our guests are off our ship and we still have crew on ships who want to go home and we're working feverishly to overcome all the travel barriers to do that.  We believe we found ways to finish that imperative and expect to complete the process shortly."

"Looking forward to restarting, health and safety are absolutely paramount as I've said before, what was fine just a few weeks ago is no longer adequate. Good enough just good enough. We need to raise the bar to new heights, and we have teams of doctors, of scientists, of epidemiologists, and teams of people who know our business, all looking hard and charting the safest and surest path forward that we can."

In addition, Mr. Fain spent a great deal of time looking at the current state of flux in statistics, methods and policy changes.

"There is no silver bullet which will magically destroy this horrible infestation. On the other hand, there's a cornucopia of smaller actions, which taken together can bring it under control."

"We're not there yet, but every day seems to bring us just a little bit closer, and as we get closer, we can switch from focusing on only isolation to focusing on the other components of that cornucopia of actions."

At the conclusion of the video, Mr. Fain reiterated Royal Caribbean's support of the travel agent community and the cruise line's unwavering dedication to them.

You can view the other videos that Mr. Fain has produced over the last few weeks:

Carnival Cruises announces plan to resume cruises

By: Matt Hochberg

Carnival Cruise Line announced today it plans to resume sailings in North America this summer, which could be a sign of what Royal Caribbean has in store as well.

Generally speaking, the "big three" cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian) tend to act in tandem when it comes to sweeping policies, and Carnival Cruise Line announced today its plan to phase in a resumption in our North American service this summer, beginning on August 1 with a total of eight ships from Miami, Port Canaveral and Galveston.  

While the resumption of cruises sounds like good news, Carnival did announce it will also have to extend its suspension of sailings in  in all other North American and Australian markets through August 31.

Here is the basics of Carnival's plan:

  • All North American Carnival cruises from June 27 to July 31 will be cancelled.
  • Beginning August 1, Carnival plans to resume cruises on the following ships:
    • Galveston:  Carnival Dream, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista
    • Miami:  Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic and Carnival Sensation
    • Port Canaveral:  Carnival Breeze and Carnival Elation.
  • Other than the above referenced service from Galveston, Miami, and Port Canaveral, all other North American and Australian Carnival homeport cruises will be cancelled through August 31.
  • All Carnival Spirit Alaskan cruises from Seattle will be cancelled, as well as the Carnival Spirit Vancouver-Honolulu cruise on September 25 and the Honolulu-Brisbane transpacific cruise on October 6.
  • All Carnival Splendor cruises in Australia from June 19 to August 31 will be cancelled.

Royal Caribbean has made no announcement yet on what its plans are once cruises resume, however, this could be viewed as a positive sign that the cruise industry is preparing to resume service.

Royal Caribbean reportedly to begin sending many crew members home

By: Matt Hochberg

It looks like Royal Caribbean has a plan to send many of its crew members home.

The Miami Herald is reporting Royal Caribbean has a plan in place that complies with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s terms for disembarking crew. 

Letters were sent to crew members explaining the situation, and the new plan to get its international crew home.

The crux of the matter that prevented crew from getting home sooner was evidently the CDC's rules for disembarking crew that included provisions such as requiring crew go home via chartered or private transportation.

In the letter from Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley to crew, it explains the legal entanglement that is created by sending crew home now, "The CDC will only allow us to disembark crew members if company executives, myself included, are willing to attest — subject to criminal penalties including imprisonment — that we will not use any public transportation and that each crew member will comply with certain conditions after disembarking the ships. We are happy to do all the things they requested, but the criminal penalties gave us [and our lawyers] pause."

While Bayley said he hopes the threat of criminal prosecution will be removed, he said, “we have decided that the importance of getting you home is so great that we will sign these documents as they are written today to help get you off the ships.”

Cruise Industry News outlined the plan that involved getting crew home to 60 different countries, involving various ships in the fleet "busing" crew members home based on their country of origin.

The efforts include ships such as Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 3, 2020

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday, everyone! Can you believe May is here already? Warmer temperatures and plenty of Royal Caribbean news and info to share with you from this week!

Many cruisers were happy to hear Royal Caribbean says a letter from a doctor for guests who are 70 years old or older, or have a pre-existing chronic medical condition, is no longer necessary.

Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed confirmed the news during a webinar with travel agents earlier this week.

"We found out that CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) did actually change this requirement on April 3rd. So a health form is no longer required for those travelers ages 70 plus, nor are there restrictions for those guests with underlying health conditions."

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 352nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, that features Michael's story of an annual cruise tradition.

Michael shares how a cruise for a good cause has turned into his family's annual tradition that he looks forward to each and every year!

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.

The best Royal Caribbean vacation hacks pros swear by!

I love to share cruise tips, tricks, and advice, so that everyone can benefit from saving time or money (or both).

This week, I have some of my favorite expert-level Royal Caribbean cruise hacks that repeat cruisers swear by.

Check out these funny Royal Caribbean crew TikTok videos

By: Matt Hochberg

While there are no Royal Caribbean cruises sailing, the cruise line's ships are still staffed by some exceptionally talented and dedicated crew. While many crew members have been reptatriated back home, essential crew remains onboard to keep the ship working.

Since there are no guests onboard, some crew have taken to the popular social media app TikTok to engage in some really fun videos.

Let's start off with some great videos by Jayden Prelc, who is a performer on Rhapsody of the Seas.


Choose your Royal Caribbean character ##fyp ##chooseyourcharacter

♬ original sound - houseofbrooklyn


Late to the party but, happy quarantine from the Rhapsody of the Seas ##iamroyal ##fyp ##foryoupage ##cruiseship ##distancedance ##blindinglights

♬ Blinding Lights - The Weeknd


CRUISE SHIP CABIN CONFINEMENT - no room to do anything ##fyp ##foryou ##foryoupage ##trending ##australia ##cruiseship ##cruiseshipcrewmember ##quarantine

♬ Opening: I Hope I Get It - A Chorus Line Ensemble (2006)

Next up is a video by Airam, and it is of the NextCruise staff dancing on the Royal Promenade on Harmony of the Seas.


##iamroyal @lloydgonzagaarante

♬ original sound - Señorita_Airam

Ernesto brought back some Shaggy classic tunes for this video.


MTV naman hirit bago matulog ##foryou ##wasntme ##goodvibes ##fightcovid19 ##isolation ##iamroyal ##tiktokers ##seamantiktok

♬ original sound - devinfox22

Arturo decided to try out the "eyes only" challenge.


Eyes Only! ##challenge ##trending ##iamroyal ##tiktokatsea ##maskon ##lifeatsea ##eyesonly ##greeneyes

♬ original sound - hushupchild

Have you found a funny TikTok video from a crew member? Share a link in the comments!

Recipe: Love Connection frozen drink

By: Matt Hochberg

The days seem to be blending together to the point weekdays and weekends may not seem to differ all that much, but May is here, and that means warmer temperatures.  If the mercury is rising, then I have the perfect frozen drink to try.

The Love Connection is a blend of two favorite frozen concoctions in one.  It is one of those drinks that if you saw someone order at a bar on Royal Caribbean, you would probably ask the bartender to make one for you as well.

If you leave out the rum, this is also a fun drink for the kids!

Photo by Brian Robinson

If you are ready to welcome in summer, get your blender out and sip on the Love Connection.

Love Connection Ingredients

Suggested music while preparing your Love Connection

  • The Merrymen - Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Photo by Kris Leppien-Christensen

Love Connection Instructions

  1. Blend 1/2 oz rum with each of the mixes and ice.
  2. Layer each blend into a hurricane glass in the following order:
    1. Strawberry
    2. Pina Colada
    3. Mango
  3. Serve with colorful straw