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Royal Caribbean has quietly begun allowing guests to transfer their future cruise credits to someone else

In:
27 Apr 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will now allow guests to transfer a future cruise credit to someone else.

Allure of the Seas

Many people accrued future cruise credits from cancelled cruises during the pandemic, but the cruise line's policy was to keep the future cruise credits (FCC) non-transferable.

Future Cruise Credits are an option for guests who either choose to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before the sail date via the Cruise with Confidence program, or have their cruise cancelled by Royal Caribbean. In either case, a voucher code is provided that can be redeemed for the value of the sailing.

During a webinar with travel agents on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean informed travel agents they can do a one-time transfer of an FCC to someone else.

Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami

Rita Stolze, Royal Caribbean Associate Vice President of Trade Support & Service, clarified that Royal Caribbean has changed the rule on giving someone else their FCC.

"I wanted to share that we actually are going to allow one time transfers of FCC. It currently does require a call into the call center, but we're actually working on an enhancement where it can be used through the real time redemption tool where we just don't have that enhancement completed yet, but very soon."

Promenade deck

As of now, travel agents need to call in to make the one-time transfer request with Royal Caribbean, but a new automated tool is coming soon.

When the new tool is deployed, agents will be able to use an online form to request a transfer. Online forms have been a boon for Royal Caribbean because it speeds up requests while reducing the need for agents to call in and wait on hold.

This is a significant policy shift because it allows guests to gift their FCCs to someone else to use. When Royal Caribbean cancelled a cruise and issued a FCC, it would divide up the FCC among everyone in the cabin, which meant certain family members or friends may end up with a FCC they cannot or will not use.

With this new policy, it means that you can use someone else's credit for your own cruise fare or vice versa.

It's also worth noting that the expiration date for most cruise credits is rapidly approaching at the end of 2022.

This is one of many policy changes towards FCCs since the pandemic began in 2020.

Royal Caribbean's credit policy has evolved over time, such as allowing guests combine different FCCs together, allowing guests to start using a FCC towards a cruise fare deposit, and allowing leftover balances from a FCC not have to wait to apply it to a new reservation.

What are future cruise credits used for?

Royal Caribbean allows guests to use their future cruise credits to pay their cruise fare, including the deposit.

It cannot be used towards add-on purchases, like drink packages, shore excursions, port fees or taxes.

Royal Caribbean cruises in May 2022: What to expect

In:
27 Apr 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Taking a Royal Caribbean cruise in May opens the beginning of the summer cruise season.

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

If you have a cruise planned in May, this article is aimed at giving you a preview of what to expect for sailing this month, as well as helpful tips.

With spring break over, May is generally a slower month in terms of demand (with the exception of Memorial Day Weekend) because school is in session, and most families either just took vacation over spring break, or are about to take vacation next month when school is out.

It's also the month when Royal Caribbean's European cruise season begins in earnest with all the ship that will sail from the region in place to start service.

The Memorial Day holiday in the United States can see a bit more demand for cruises, although primarily for weekend cruises.

Certainly there is less demand for cruises in the first three weeks of May.

Ships sailing in May 2022

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty
  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey until she moves to Southampton
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Allure of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Adventure of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Explorer of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California
  • Spectrum of the Seas from Singapore
  • Grandeur of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland
  • Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada or Seward, Alaska
  • Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada
  • Voyager of the Seas from Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Quantum of the Seas from Seattle, Washington beginning May 4, 2022
  • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, Washington beginning May 5, 2022
  • Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, beginning May 8, 2022
  • Brilliance of the Seas from Rome, Italy beginning May 9, 2022
  • Wonder of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome beginning May 12, 2022
  • Vision of the Seas from Barcelona, Spain beginning May 13, 2022
  • Rhapsody of the Seas from Rome, Italy beginning May 23, 2022
  • Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam, Netherlands beginning May 27, 2022
Rhapsody of the Seas at sea

Most importantly, the last Royal Caribbean cruise ship to restart sailings since the pandemic will happen when Rhapsody of the Seas returns.

Rhapsody will offer 7-night Mediterranean and Greek Isles itineraries, sailing from Rome.

This is an important milestone for Royal Caribbean in its bid to recover from the pandemic.

The Alaska cruise season will also fully start up in the month of May. Royal Caribbean will have four cruise ships sailing to Alaska in 2022.

Read moreComparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska 2022

Health protocols for May 2022 cruises

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

Depending on where you sail from, the health protocols related to Covid-19 can vary somewhat.  The good news is the core protocols across the fleet are the same, with a few variations here and there.

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

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

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

Freedom of the Seas aerial at Nassau

A new change this month centers around masking. Masks are optional for vaccinated guests & recommended for unvaccinated children while onboard. Masks are no longer required at Adventure Ocean for kids 2 years and up, they are recommended for unvaccinated kids.

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

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

Covid testing requirements are nearly all the same, with the exception of some European countries.

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

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

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

May weather on a cruise

Mediterranean

It's going to get warmer in May in the Caribbean, so expect high temperatures to reach the high 80s and low temperatures not getting below the 70s.

In terms of rainfall, the wet season will resume in some areas. You will see lots of passing showers in places like San Juan, Puerto Rico or Antigua.

Over in Europe, the sun will be shining in the Mediterranean without the larger crowds that will come later this summer. May is the best time for a Greek Isles cruise because there is very little rain combined with temperatures in the high 60s and 70s.

The one downside of May in the Mediterranean is sea temperatures tend to be still chilly. If you want warm ocean temperatures in May, the Caribbean is the place for you.

Read moreWhat is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

If you're cruising to Alaska in May, expect less rain than normal. May is one of the driest months of the season, with just a 25% chance of rain. 

The average high in southeast Alaska is 54 degrees and the average low is 39 degrees.

Read moreWhen is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Catalina

Sailings to the Mexican Riviera, expect more rain in the forecast. The months of May to October are the wettest months of the year (same for Eastern Mexico).

The eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30. 

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Costa Maya

In:
27 Apr 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today Oasis of the Seas docked in Costa Maya, Mexico for the only port day of our 4-night cruise. From beaches to cycling and eating mouth watering Mexican food, it was a day well spent.

The gangway opened around 8AM, and I disembarked Oasis of the Seas right away so I could start my day before it got too warm. We were docked next to Jewel of the Seas.

I hoped to rent a bicycle, but I was wary of booking in advance because the weather forecast showed thunderstorms. However, the weather appeared sunny with partial clouds in the morning, so I took the chance at a bike ride.

The best day I've ever had in port thus far was when I rented an e-bike in St. Maarten and looped the entire island in one day. Being on a bicycle is so freeing, as there is no need to wait for taxis or worry about how you will get from place to place, so I was looking forward to discovering Mexico by bike.

I rented a bike for the day from a tour operator located adjacent to the Mayan pyramid replica in Costa Maya, located just outside the port. The total cost for a day rental was 300 MXP, or around $15 USD. I was given a pink beach cruiser, and while it wasn't as fancy as the hybrid e-bike I had in St. Maarten, it was perfect for exploring the coastline of Costa Maya.

The only other time I was in Costa Maya, I visited the Chacchoben Mayan ruins, and while it was an awesome day, the tour did not leave any extra time to explore Costa Maya. Therefore, today's plan was to discover the culture and lifestyle of Mahahual, the town next to the Costa Maya cruise port.

Related: Excursion Focus: Chacchoben ruins in Costa Maya

I started with a short ride to the Faro de Mahahual, a lighthouse with a nice view of the port. From there begins a 1/2 mile stretch of a car-free boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, and beach clubs. Called a malecón in Spanish, this is a hub of activity and the perfect place to get a glimpse of Mexican culture.

I rode the length of the boardwalk and continued on, which turned into a gravel road followed by a stretch of sandy road surrounded by both ocean and rainforest. I rode about 6 miles each way on the quiet road, passing popular beach resorts like Maya Chan before turning back to cycle toward the malecón.

I'm lucky I turned around when I did, because as soon as I got back to the boardwalk it started to rain! I sought refuge in the La Dolce Vita cafe, where I had one of the best smoothies ever, made with mango, maracuya (passion fruit), and banana.

Next up was lunch, and I was hoping to taste authentic, non-touristy Mexican food. I decided on La Curvita, a small restaurant on the corner just two blocks off the malecón, where I had a delicious meal of chilaquiles rojos.

If you're looking to have a great meal in port, my top tip is to leave the main tourist street and find a small, hole in the wall restaurant filled with locals. Additionally, if the menu is small and not in English, this is a good sign the food will be authentic and at local prices.

Using these tips, whether in Rome, Thailand, the Bahamas, or Mexico, will usually always result in a fantastic meal.

It rained lightly on and off throughout the rest of the afternoon, but as the humidity was so high it actually felt quite nice! Today was a good reminder to never put too much thought into the weather forecast when cruising to tropical destinations. I expected a day of heavy rain and thunderstorms, but this was not the case at all.

I cycled a bit more around the boardwalk and in the town of Mahahual itself, grabbed an espresso and pastry from La Tartaleta Panadería, dropped off my bicycle, and headed back to Oasis of the Seas.

Just like I expected, renting a bike resulted in an unforgettable day exploring Costa Maya and Mahahual. I was surprised to see just how bike friendly the town is, and I would recommend to anyone interested in a slightly active day to rent a bike!

Once back onboard, I spent some time decompressing in the thermal suite and in my stateroom.

It was Indian night at the Windjammer for dinner and it was super delicious! After dinner, I spent the rest of the evening relaxing in Central Park with an espresso martini while listening to live piano music.

Overall it was a wonderful day in port and onboard. Latin America has always been my favorite region of the world, so I absolutely love cruising to Mexico. Mahahual exceeded my expectations, and I found all the locals to be extremely friendly!

Tomorrow is the last day of our cruise, which will be spent at sea.

Stray observations

I'm not usually a fan of port areas, and the Costa Maya port feels a bit like a Mexico-themed Disneyland. The pool is nice and there are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy, but it definitely does not feel like you're in Mexico while there. I recommend leaving the port and visiting the malecón in Mahahual instead!

The seaweed in Costa Maya seemed a lot worse than I remembered it being when I briefly visited in September 2021.

If traveling with kids, I would recommend taking a taxi to the malecón and renting a bicycle from there instead of near the cruise port so that you can avoid cycling on roads with cars.

I still really want to try a day at Maya Chan, so I will definitely do this the next time I'm in Costa Maya!

Also, shout out to my stateroom attendant, Mustofa, for being a Royal Caribbean Blog reader!

Harmony of the Seas: What it's like onboard right now

In:
26 Apr 2022
By: 
Marcy Miyar

It has been just over nine months since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises from North America, and on April 24th, 2022 I boarded Harmony of the Seas for my 13th cruise since the "Royal Comeback."

Harmony of the Seas boardwalk

While I have been on many different ships, this is the first time I’ve been on Harmony since December 2019.

I was curious to see not only what’s different since then, but how cruising has progressed since my last sailing just two months ago. For reference sake, I’m writing this blog on day three of a seven night sailing.

Masks optional in cruise terminal

I received my e-mail from Royal Caribbean with their updated “Healthy Sailing” instructions two days before the cruise.

The updated mask policy read that masks are optional for vaccinated guests onboard and also in the terminal, unless required by local regulation.

It felt odd to enter Port Canaveral’s terminal without a mask. That’s something I haven’t done in over two years.

Entertainment: Main Theater

After doing the e-muster drill (which I hope Royal Caribbean never gets rid of), we went to our room.

We had a copy of the show schedule for the week tucked into the daily planner.

The main theater has their Broadway Musical “Grease” performing on three different days. The Headliner performers were a comedian, a musician and a magician. There was a movie showing the first night, “Reminiscence”. The Love and Marriage Game Show will be held later in the week. There are many days of Bingo scheduled.

What continues to be notably absent is the “Columbus! The Musical” stage show. There has been no word on when or if it’s returning.

Entertainment: Studio B

Studio B is where you will find the ice shows. Harmony has a brand new ice cast that signed on this week. In fact, the show we saw was their "opening night". The cast performs two different shows. “1887: A Journey in Time” is their main show.

I’ll be honest, it’s not one of my favorites in the fleet. The story is hard to follow and the music is not exactly engaging. However, I can appreciate the artistry and athletic abilities of the cast so it’s still enjoyable.

Their other show is “iSkate Showcase.” It’s a chance for the cast to show off their talent with songs that they have chosen. It is high energy, fun, and they are very engaging with the audience. We really enjoyed that show.

Entertainment: The AquaTheater

“The Fine Line” was Harmony’s main show in the aqua theater for years. I’m not sure if it’s been available on other sailings since the restart, but on this one it has been replaced by a “showcase,” which I assume is similar to the free skate show that we saw last night from the ice cast.

Movies are also being shown. Some examples are “Cruella,” “No Time to Die,” “Jungle Cruise” and “Fast and Furious 9: The Fast Saga.”

Later in the week, the aqua theater will host the 70’s Disco Inferno dance party.

Entertainment: Around the Ship

The pool has been a bustle of activities with the return of the belly flop and world’s sexiest man competitions as well as plenty of live music.

The On-Air Club and Schooner Bar are home to trivia. I counted 25 different trivia options in my Royal Caribbean app. Everything from music, movies, general knowledge and eras. They also offer a scavenger hunt throughout the ship.

The Boardwalk is the place for Hula Hoop Competitions and Beer Pong (with water instead of beer).

“The Quest” continues to be unavailable. In fact, I haven’t seen it come back on any ship since the restart.

Read moreTrying out the free activities on Harmony of the Seas

Dining

We purchased the Unlimited Dining Package for this sailing.

Yes, I know, there are so many free food options that you don’t need a dining package. We decided we wanted to be able to go to all of the specialty restaurants for lunches (embarkation and sea days only) and dinner.

We like the variety and a more intimate, personalized dining experience. The main dining room and Windjammer feel crowded and loud to me.

So far we have had lunch at Jamie’s Italian, Chops and Sabor (which is being replaced by Playmakers on most ships. It’s currently only available on Harmony and Allure.) Dinners have been at Coastal Kitchen and 150 Central Park. Everything from the service to the meals themselves have been outstanding.

It should be noted that the unlimited dining package isn’t exactly “unlimited”. It does not include Chef’s Table, room service, the tapas menu at Vintages or “Captain Jack’s” shack on CocoCay.

You may have heard that the Windjammer buffet has gone back to self service. We stopped in there to check out the situation for ourselves. There was a crew member at the entrance making sure everyone was washing their hands. We also witnessed the crew sanitizing each table between guests.

Crown and Anchor Society

This is the first cruise since we turned Pinnacle nine months ago that we are allowed back into the suite lounge and have access to Coastal Kitchen for lunch and dinner. Even though the two venues are connected, our sea pass cards only unlock the door to the suite lounge and not Coastal Kitchen.

On Harmony, Pinnacles are still not permitted in Coastal Kitchen for breakfast. There is a pinnacle breakfast available daily at Chops. We went yesterday as soon as they opened. We waited 45 minutes for our food to come out, only for it to be cold. It was very disappointing.

The top tier event was held in the main theater. That was a first for me. I’m used to it being in the aqua theater on the larger ships or the Star Lounge or Viking Crown lounge on smaller ships. Platinum members and above were invited to the event. It was a full house. Captain Johnny and Paul, the Loyalty Ambassador welcomed two new couples to the Pinnacle Club, recognized folks that were reaching 1050 and 1400 point milestones and introduced the top three cruisers. The passengers per tier were as follows:

  • 1,276 Gold Members
  • 491 Platinum Members
  • 234 Emerald Members
  • 464 Diamond Members
  • 295 Diamond Plus Members
  • 85 Pinnacle Members

Paul also mentioned that there are a total of 1175 Pinnacle members in the Crown and Anchor Society.

On the first day we had invitations in our room for the “virtual backstage tour.” I’m not sure what that entails, as it is on day 6 of our cruise, all I do know is that the bridge tours and the behind the scenes tours remain unavailable.

Day 6 will also be our “Cheers with an Officer” lunch in the main dining room. It’s available to Crown and Anchor members with 340 points or more and is typically offered on sailings of seven nights or longer. Pre-pandemic, it was “lunch with an officer”, where an officer would be seated at each table and you could chat with them and get to know their role on the ship.

Usually the Captain, Hotel Director and the cruise director toast to the room and say a few words before leaving you to your meal with your fellow passengers.

Capacity

Probably one of the most asked questions in recent times is “how crowded is the ship?” This sailing has 4992 passengers. It can reach max capacity of 6,780, which is not typical. The double occupancy total is 5,479. There are 1,964 crew members onboard.

It’s not as crowded as it was pre-pandemic but it is definitely getting there. If you’re concerned at all about social distancing, stay out of the elevators. The signs are gone that limited the number of people in the elevator and guests are using every inch of available space.

Final thoughts

Even though it’s only been three days, the cruise has been fantastic. Besides the Chops breakfast that wasn’t up to par, everything else has been outstanding. (In Chops defense, we had lunch there today and the food and service was great). We have been lucky enough to find two of our favorite bar staff from previous ships. It’s nice to see our crew friends again.

While masks are optional for passengers onboard, the crew is still required to wear them, even the lifeguards at the pool. Hopefully that can change soon. Slowly but surely things are returning to “normal,” which is wonderful to see.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO: 2023 will be better than pre-pandemic

In:
26 Apr 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The cruise industry is poised for a major comeback, and Royal Caribbean sees better things to come over the next year and a half.

Explorer of the Seas docked

Speaking at Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Miami on Tuesday, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty shared his thoughts on the prospects for emerging from the depths of the pandemic.

"We expect the back half of this year to normalize and 2023 to look and behave like the pre-Covid period," Mr. Liberty shared when asked about his thoughts of the future.

Mr. Liberty expects this to be a transitional year, with 2023 performing better than pre-pandemic, "That means all ships back up and running and full capacity."

A strong 2023 has largely been Royal Caribbean Group's plan since talking to Wall Street in February.

During the company's earnings call with investors in February, executives said they expected a a return to profitability in the second half of 2022.

Part of getting customers back is establishing confidence in the experience, "By doing our jobs and building that confidence, the desire to cruise is back to where it was before Covid."

"Throughout the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about the capabilities of our organizations, especially in terms of health and safety."

Joining Mr. Liberty at the keynote event was Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald and MSC CEO Pierfrancesco Vago.

Mr. Donald also thinks things are looking brighter in the near future, "The overall trajectory for the cruise industry is good … it’s resilient and there is a tremendous amount of growth potential. The overall future for cruise is extremely bright."

Cruise industry resilience

Vision of the Seas sailing away

The same day of the keynote, the cruise industry took a moment to celebrate some important milestones that point to more people wanting to get back on a cruise ship.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) shared their new findings of how strong demand has been for cruises despite all the challenges.

In a statement, CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead talked about the recovery process, "As the industry resumes operations, passenger volume is expected to recover and surpass 2019 levels by the end of 2023, with passenger volumes projected to recover 12% above pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2026.

Odyssey pool deck couple

"Cruising is accessible, responsible, and experiential - making it the best way to see the world for people of all ages and interests. With the support of an incredibly resilient community, the future of the cruise industry is bright."

CLIA's consumer research had some interesting facts:

  • Intent to cruise is rebounding, with 63% of cruisers or potential cruisers indicating they are ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to cruise in the next two years.
  • 69% of respondents that have never cruised said they are open to cruise, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
  • Millennial cruisers are the most enthusiastic about taking another cruise, with 87% indicating they will take a cruise in the next few years, followed by Gen X at 85%.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
26 Apr 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

The second day of my 4-night cruise on Oasis of the Seas is a sea day as we make our way to Costa Maya, Mexico. The weather today was perfect, with near total sunshine and a slight breeze, making for a beautiful day to spend onboard a beautiful ship.

I headed to Central Park as the sun was rising around 7AM and had a quick, casual breakfast at Park Cafe. I was happy to see a specialty coffee station within Park Cafe, as I did not have to brave the Cafe Promenade line for my latte.

Early morning on a cruise ship is my favorite time of day. The ship feels nearly empty before guests wake up, there are no lines anywhere, and a sunrise walk on the pool deck is always wonderful.

The majority of my day was spent filming our upcoming full ship tour of Oasis of the Seas on the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel, which will premiere in the next few weeks. As a result, I walked up, down, and around the ship today to explore every nook and cranny onboard.

First up was the Solarium. I love the Solarium's layout on Oasis of the Seas! Not only is it filled with jacuzzis, comfy seating, and a pool, but there is a huge outdoor sundeck area to enjoy.

Solarium Bistro is not open for dinner on this sailing, instead offering a combo breakfast and lunch. Today's hours were from 9:30 to 1PM, so I had a casual buffet lunch there. By lunch time, the Solarium was packed with people.

In fact, it felt as if every person on the cruise headed to the pool deck at the same time! Because I had never cruised prior to last year, I was used to cruising with capacities from around 30-60%. Being on a cruise closer to full capacity is a bit of a shock (there's a line for food?), but it also gives a fun energy and atmosphere to the cruise that wasn't as possible with so few guests.

Puzzle Break Center

Today I also had the opportunity to try the Puzzle Break Center onboard. This is the first cruise I have been on where the escape room was open, so I was excited to try it out as I had never done an escape room before on neither land nor sea. The escape room comes at an extra cost of $20 per person.

Mission Control: Apollo 18 is the Puzzle Break Center on Oasis of the Seas, and players must solve puzzles and challenges to send their rocket off to space before time is up. The room is set up with six launching stations, each of which has three sets of challenges to solve.

There were around twelve passengers in the room and we all worked together to try and break out in time. From finding hidden keys to figuring out interactive patterns and puzzles, it ended up being a lot more fun than I initially thought it would be. Plus, our group solved the escape room with just 4 minutes to spare!

Relaxation and entertainment

Next up was my daily smoothie at Vitality Cafe, this time strawberry banana with peanut butter! I also relaxed a bit in the spa's thermal suite and took an afternoon walk on the pool deck.

I had reservations to see the matinee show of Cats, but when I went down to the theater I was informed the show got changed to the fourth day of the cruise. Instead, I decided to enjoy a glass of wine at Vintages, the wine bar onboard Oasis of the Seas.

Vintages is never very crowded and always has comfy seating, so it's a nice place to go onboard to get away from the crowds. Plus, the venue has a tapas menu and does wine tastings!

I opted for an early dinner at Park Cafe and enjoyed soup and salad, followed by a well-deserved nap in my stateroom. The biggest perk of staying in an interior cabin is definitely how well you sleep when in a room with no windows!

Prior to the ice skating show, I made my first ever visit to the Diamond Club. I did not realize there are complimentary appetizers in the evening in the Diamond Club (I thought only breakfast was served), so this was a nice surprise!

Tonight's ice skating show was Frozen in Time. Ice skating shows are one of my favorite entertainment options on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and while I did not fully grasp the storyline of the show, I was impressed with the talent and set design in Studio B. The costumes at ice skating shows never fail to make me laugh, especially tonight's full body duck costumes worn by the cast!

I watched the sunset from the "secret" chairs at the aft of the running track. As there are only a few chairs there and not many guests know about the area, it was a peaceful way to end a sea day onboard Oasis of the Seas.

The rest of the evening was spent listening to bossa nova and jazz music at Jazz on 4 before calling it a night to get ready for a port day in Costa Maya tomorrow.

Masks are not required anymore in Adventure Ocean

In:
25 Apr 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has rolled back the rule requiring children to wear masks in the supervised programming areas of the cruise ship.

Adventure Ocean with kids

When Royal Caribbean dropped its mask requirement for vaccinated cruisers in late February, the only area of the ship that still required mask wearing as in Adventure Ocean, regardless of vaccination status.

As of this weekend, it appears the mask rule in Adventure Ocean has been changed.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader AshleyDillo posted a new posted rule on Oasis of the Seas that says masks are now optional for kids in Adventure Ocean.

"Mask wearing is optional for children participating in Adventure Ocean. However, masks are recommended for unvaccinated children 2 and up."

"Children under 2 do not need to wear a mask at any time."

Adventure Ocean is the kids camp on Royal Caribbean ships, where parents can drop their children off.

The updated mask rules for Adventure Ocean matches the general guideline for masks on ships made last week, in which Royal Caribbean said masks are optional for vaccinated guests and recommended for unvaccinated children onboard.

The change in mask wearing for Adventure Ocean tied in with the cruise line relaxing mask rules in cruise ship terminals.

Masks on a cruise are virtually non-existent

Oasis of the Seas boardwalk

Over the last couple of months, mask requirements are greatly eroded away to point now they are all but gone from cruise ships.

As cruise ships restarted operations in 2021, masks were a cornerstone of new cruise ship protocols.

It looked as though masks might have gone away as required in summer 2021, but a combination of the Delta and Omicron variants required Royal Caribbean to keep the requirement in place for much longer.

A combination of Covid cases dropping dramatically on land and Royal Caribbean opting into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly vaccinated program has enabled the cruise line to progressively remove mask requirements.

Face masks are among the most visible signs of the pandemic, and the need to wear them has been a major pain point for cruise fans who want to get the cruise experience back to a sense of normalcy.

In late February, Royal Caribbean dropped the requirement to wear masks while indoors.

Face masks free zone Royal Caribbean

Just last week, the cruise line announced masks are optional in cruise ship terminals.  

Now with masks not needed in Adventure Ocean, the only time you would need to wear a mask potentially on a cruise is due to local regulations, such as in a port of call the ship visits or in some cruise ship terminals as mandated by local requirements.

Royal Caribbean offering kids sail free deal this week

In:
25 Apr 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The Kids Sail Free offer is back.

Boy after riding water slide on Mariner

Royal Caribbean has brought back the Kids Sail Free offer for the last week of April, where children under the age of 12 booked in the same cabin as two adults will qualify for free cruise fare.

Families may find extra savings on a new cruise booked in which kids stay in the same cabin.

This is the second time Royal Caribbean has brought back Kids Sail Free since the pandemic, with the previous sale about a month ago.

 

In addition to Kids sail Free, there's also up to $550 off sailings departing May 27, 2022 or after, 30% off every guest, and even bonus bonus onboard credit when redeeming a future cruise credit.

Deal details

Kids Sail Free applies to new bookings made between April 25 – May 2, 2022 on sailings departing on or after June 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023, providing free cruise fare for third guests and higher who are 12 years old and younger as of Offer Cruise departure date on sailings 3 nights or longer booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad- occupancy stateroom.

Kids Sail Free excludes Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022, Holiday sailings departing December 21, 2022 – January 6, 2023, Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023, and Holy Week/Easter sailings departing April 1, 2023 – April 11, 2023.

Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests. 

Up to $550 off applies to new bookings made between April 25 – 30, 2022 on sailings departing on or after May 25, 2022, and provides instant savings of up to $550 USD per stateroom.

Savings amount varies by stateroom category booked and sailing length as follows:

  • 5 nights or less, $25 USD savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 USD for Balconies, and $150 USD for Suites
  • 6 nights or longer, $50 USD savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 USD for Balconies, and $550 USD for Suites

Up to $550 off is combinable with 30% Off Every Guest, FCC Kicker, and Kids Sail Free as well as with promotional OBCs, Next Cruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Shareholder Benefits, but not combinable with Ultimate World Cruise and Crown and Anchor discounts. Resident rates apply to select states on select sailings; valid state of residence must be provided at time of booking. 

Will I save money with this offer?

They say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and similarly, how lucrative a deal is depends on the person trying to book it.

The biggest drawback of any Kids Sail Free offer are the blackout dates, which greatly hinder many families ability to book a cruise that qualifies for the offer.

If you can find a sailing date that isn't blacked out, kids sail free offers can absolutely save money, especially for higher category rooms. Suites, in particular, offer big savings with kids sail free.

Of course, Kids Sail Free deal requires the kids to be in the same stateroom as the parents, so you cannot split across multiple rooms and use the offer.

Using a good travel agent, you can easily compare and contrast prices between sailings.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

In:
25 Apr 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today is the first day of my Western Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas, and I’m live blogging this week to showcase all that this Oasis Class cruise ship has to offer. This is a 4-night cruise with two sea days and one port day in Costa Maya, Mexico.

Oasis of the Seas marks my first time sailing out of Miami and my first cruise as a Diamond member in the Crown & Anchor Society!

While I don’t have any set plans for the week, I’m hoping to experience the activities and venues that make Oasis of the Seas unique, such as Portside BBQ and CATS the Musical.

Embarkation

I arrived in Miami late last night and spent the night at the Holiday Inn & Suites Miami Airport East. Located just across the street from the airport, the Holiday Inn was convenient, clean, and affordable. While not the most exciting location in Miami, it worked well for a 10PM arrival.

The hotel offered a shuttle to the cruise terminal, but I opted to take a Lyft, which came out to be around $22. Upon arrival at the terminal, I was pleased to see relatively few lines. The check-in procedure took around 20 minutes in total.

I did not feel like going to the Windjammer, which was likely packed with people, so I enjoyed a quick lunch at El Loco Fresh while waiting for my cabin to be ready.

Staterooms were ready at 1PM, and I am staying in an inside cabin for this sailing. While the decor looks a bit dated when compared to my cruise last month on Wonder of the Seas, I was pleased to find the room comfortable and quite spacious.

Thermal spa

First up on my agenda today was to use my first Diamond drink voucher. Up until this point, most of the extra money I spent on cruises had been on drinks, and I never enjoyed paying $15 for one cocktail. Therefore, to celebrate achieving Diamond status, I enjoyed my first complimentary drink: a mango banana smoothie from Vitality Cafe.

I had quite a bit of onboard credit, so I decided to try out something new for this cruise: a thermal suite pass at the Vitality Spa. I booked the 4-day pass at the spa’s front desk for $59 (plus 18% gratuity).

The thermal spa, located on Oasis and Quantum Class ships, is a thermal suite featuring hot stone loungers, steam chambers, a dry heat chamber, and rainforest showers. Vitality Spa sells passes that last the entire cruise and there is no limit on how many times you can enjoy the thermal spa, which is open from 8AM to 8:30PM.

After purchasing my pass, I changed into a bathing suite and tested out the thermal spa. I tried all three sauna rooms: the steam room, aromatic steam room, and dry heat chamber. All were fantastic, but my favorite was the aromatic steam room.

I also tested out the rainforest shower, which has four options: rainforest, thunderstorm, waterfall, and ice fog. Each shower type disperses water differently, from the mist of the ice fog shower to the rapid stream of a waterfall.

I spent most of my time in the thermal spa on the hot stone lounger wondering why it took me so long to purchase a thermal spa pass!

Needless to say, I will likely be spending a lot of my time in the thermal spa on this cruise. In fact, laying in the hot stone lounger with my laptop might become my new blogging office…

Dinner and sailaway

I spent the rest of the afternoon onboard relaxing, first on the pool deck and later in my stateroom.

Dinner tonight was at the Windjammer. I am not a huge fan of the Windjammer location on Oasis Class ships, as the area usually feels cramped. I think this is one of the biggest improvements made on Wonder of the Seas, which has the biggest Windjammer in the fleet.

Despite the crowds, though, the Indian curry I had at the Windjammer tonight may have been the best I’ve ever tried on a Royal Caribbean cruise! My dessert did not disappoint either.

As I started cruising last August, this is my first cruise with a self-service buffet. While it is nice being able to pick exactly what you want from the buffet, I definitely prefer the crew serving guests. The stations quickly got messy and it seemed a lot slower than what I was used to.

Sailaway was delayed an hour to 6:30 PM. As this was right in the middle of dinnertime, there were virtually no crowds outside for sailaway and I was able to grab a great spot on the back of the sports deck!

Sailing out of Miami was gorgeous, with the sunset creating a silhouette of downtown and giving the perfect glow to Miami Beach. I had heard great things about sailing out of Miami, and this was certainly one of the most beautiful sailaways I’ve seen yet.

Read moreThe best spot for sailaway on every Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Evening activities

I reserved a spot to see Aqua80s in the AquaTheater tonight. I had heard great things about this AquaTheater show, so excitement was high. Originally I was going to book the show on day 3, but as the AquaTheater performances can often be canceled due to weather conditions, I figured I should try it on the first day just in case.

Plus, even though this is my third cruise on an Oasis Class ship, I had yet to see a full AquaTheater show. I sailed on Harmony of the Seas during the peak of omicron and Wonder of the Seas when the AquaTheater show was not fully ready, so I was definitely eager to see a full AquaTheater performance.

I ended up really enjoying the show, which had a high-energy and upbeat atmosphere. The performers put full effort into the show with diving, slacklining, acrobatics, dancing, and aerialists, and it was a lot of fun to watch.

I called it a night after the AquaTheater show to get well rested for a fun-filled sea day tomorrow while on our way to Mexico.

Stray observations

Because I started cruising right when the industry restarted after the coronavirus shutdown, my experience of cruises has been quite different from what was once considered “normal”. Thus, one thing that confuses me are the amount of chairs and lounging areas in the cruise terminals. Did people sit in these at one point waiting to board the ship? I cannot think of a time when you would ever need to sit in these waiting areas now with the staggered boarding times!

The plants in Central Park seem bigger on Oasis compared to what I saw on Harmony and Wonder. I feel like I am in a park more on this ship than the others.

I’m surprised there are no chairs of any kind on the back of the sports deck by the Ultimate Abyss (outside of the seating at Wipe Out Bar).

I had a 12PM arrival time at the terminal, but no one was checking times when I arrived.

Royal Caribbean Kids Sail Free 2022-2023 Dates & Tips

In:
24 Apr 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Kids Sail Free is a promotion Royal Caribbean offers from time to time on select sailings that are usually a great vacation discount.  Throughout the year, Royal Caribbean will offer Kids Sail Free deals as a way to encourage new bookings. 

 In this post, we will cover information about the promotion, tips for booking it, and offer answers to frequently asked questions.

For starters, Kids Sail Free is an offer Royal Caribbean offers selectively throughout the year.  It is not available all the time and there is no way to know exactly when it will be offered again.  We always post new cruise promotions on this site, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for notifications when a new Kids Sail Free promotion begins.

Kids Sail Free offer details

The exact offer details may vary, but Royal Caribbean's Kids Sail Free offers are usually consistent in their basics. Third guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on select 4 nights or longer sailings are eligible for free cruise fare.

There are usually many blackout dates associated with any Kids Sail Free offer, which means if your cruise begins on or in any of the blackout dates, the Kids Sail Free offer does not qualify. Not surprisingly, most of the black out dates are over major school holidays in the United States calendar year. 

Here are some sample blackout dates from past Kids Sail Free offers:

  • Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022
  • Holiday sailings departing December 22, 2022 – January 8, 2023
  • Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023
  • Easter sailings departing April 6, 2023 – April 16, 2023

How often does Royal Caribbean offer Kids Sail Free?

Best reader tips for having fun with kids on a cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

There is no pattern to how many times a year or when the offer will become available.

Kids Sail Free is usually available a few times throughout the year.

Is it really free?

Assuming your kids qualify for the deal, their cruise fare cost will be zero.

You are still responsible for paying for the taxes and port fees associated with the children, along with any other charges onboard.  But if you look at the cruise invoice, their cruise fare will be zero. 

Kids stuck at home? Check out these Royal Caribbean coloring sheets! | Royal Caribbean Blog

Like all guests, a daily gratuity will be charged per passenger, including the kids.

Be sure to check the fine print before booking to understand exactly the full price of the cruise.

Kids Sail Free dates

Last updated April 25, 2022

Royal Caribbean will bring back Kids Sail Free as of April 25, 2022.

The offer will run between April 25 – May 2, 2022 on sailings departing on or after June 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023.

The new offer will provide free cruise fare for third guests and higher who are 12 years old and younger as of departure date on sailings 3 nights or longer booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom.

Kids Sail Free excludes Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022, Holiday sailings departing December 21, 2022 – January 6, 2023, Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023, and Holy Week/Easter sailings departing April 1, 2023 – April 11, 2023.

Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests.

Kids Sail For Less

Best reader tips for having fun with kids on a cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

In addition to the Kids Sail Free offer, Royal Caribbean may also offer the Kids Sail For Less offer, which is typically 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.

The primary advantage of Kids Sail For Less is there are no blackout dates associated with Kids Sail For Less.  This means if you have a couple of kids in your stateroom, you receive a discount on them. 

Moreover, Kids Sail For Less often does not have age restrictions in place, so really any guest of any age who is a third guest, fourth guest, fifth guest, et al in the same stateroom as the first two guests can get a discount.

Other cruising with kids posts & resources

If you are interested in the Kids Sail Free offer, then you probably will find these blog posts equally helpful:

Your thoughts

Now, we want to hear from you.  Are you a fan of the Kids Sail Free promotion?  Have any tips for someone looking to cruise with kids?  Is there a better deal for families in your opinion? Let us know what you think of the promotion and whether you are planning on taking advantage of it in the comments!