Friday Photos - November 8, 2019

In:
08Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The weekend is here, and so are our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos! Each week, we share the best photos that our readers have sent in. 

If you want to submit your photos for a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us via this form.

First up is a photo by Mac and Lori of a whale, with Radiance of the Seas in the background. 

Next up is a photo of Allure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas docked next to each other in Cozumel. Photo by Patrick Russo.

Dave Horn shared this photo of Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda.

Here is a shot of the Boardwalk on Harmony of the Seas, taken by Jason Peterson.

Diesel Strommer sent in this photo of Symphony of the Seas docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

We have a sunset photo taken onboard Majesty of the Seas by Julie Tessel.

Our final photo is by David Summer, and it is of Spectrum of the Seas docked in Osaka, Japan.

That wraps up this week's edition of Friday Photos. If you want your Royal Caribbean photo featured here, use this form to send them in!

How to get excited for your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
07Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

You have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked, and if you are like me, then you probably have that warm, fuzzy feeling in anticipating of a brand new vacation adventure.

In the weeks and months leading up until your cruise, here is how to keep that fun feeling going until it is time to board.

Plan your onboard activities

Once you book your cruise, the next logical thing is to start planning what you're going to do on the cruise.  It's the next best thing to booking the cruise!

Figuring out which shore excursions you will take or which specialty restaurants you will eat at is always fun and it usually takes up a lot of time with the necessary research.  Don't forget about add-ons for your cruise like the unlimited beverage packages, stateroom decor and maybe even a surprise for your loved one.

You can also read a past Cruise Compass to get a better idea of what activities, events, and timing of everything on your sailing. We keep an archive of past Cruise Compasses to help everyone easily find one.

Meet people on your sailing

A fun way to make friends on the ship before you step foot onboard is to join a Facebook group for your sailing.

If you go on Facebook and search for your ship name and sail date, there is very likely a group set up for it.  It is free to join these groups, and often groups will set up special events, or simply provide a means of sharing in the pre-cruise planning excitement.

Every group is different, and depending on how many people have joined the Facebook Group, as well as everyone's level of participation in the group, you can get to know folks before the cruise. Plus it's just fun to find others who are as excited as you about your cruise (instead of annoying your friends).

Go cruise shopping

Our family has a running joke that when we book a cruise, we always end up at the mall buying a bunch of new clothes and other cruise related purchases that we simply "must" get. Clothes, gadgets, luggage and more always seem to be things we buy quite often once a cruise starts getting near.

The truth is, purchasing a new outfit or toy for the cruise is always a fun exercise and buying new duds helps keep the cruise in focus.  In addition, you can take advantage of off-season sales to stock up on things you will need in the warm Caribbean (or wherever your cruise is going).

Watch Royal Caribbean TV shows

Over the years, various travel shows have featured Royal Caribbean cruises in their episodes and thanks to the Internet, there's plenty of them around.

You can start on YouTube and search for phrases like "royal caribbean episode" or "royal caribbean tv" or "royal caribbean travel channel".  Google searches with the same phrases will also turn up results elsewhere.

If you don't mind paying for it, there are also some other TV show episodes available on iTunes or Amazon you can purchase for just a few dollars.

The great thing about these tv shows is they focus on life onboard the cruise and it helps me take a mental escape to my upcoming cruise.

Of course, I feel obligated to shamelessly plug the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast, which is an audio show that is free and full of Royal Caribbean fun!

Watch YouTube videos

To get a good visual of what you can expect for your Royal Caribbean, there are no shortage of videos on YouTube to check out.

Search for your ship name and odds are you will find hundreds of videos to watch.  Some are tours, some are family vacation videos and others explain aspects of the cruise.  Regardless, it's a fun way to see what you can expect on your cruise and add ideas to your little list.

While you are on YouTube, be sure to check out our channel of helpful trip planning videos.

Read trip reports/photo reports from others on same cruise

Speaking of mental escapes, I really find reading other people's trip reports and looking at their photos to be a great way to get excited for my own cruise.  After all, it's helpful to see what others found useful or a waste.

Once again message boards are a great place for this, such as the live blog area.  This is where cruisers share details of their cruise, as it happens.

Besides being entertaining, reading these reports helps with the first idea I posted about planning the cruise.  If someone reports a fun excursion or restaurant to try, I will note it in my cruise planning spreadsheet (yes, I have a cruise planning spreadsheet) for reference later.

Watch web cams

Catching a glimpse of the ship you are booked on in real-time is always a highlight. 

There are port webcams that on select days you can see Royal Caribbean ships in port and admire them for their beauty.   By far seeing them leave port in the evening is the highlight because it gives you a great view of these ships. PTZtv has a network of cams across North America and there's usually a couple of cams with Royal Caribbean ships to see.

Play music that reminds you of a cruise

There's a lot of great music out there that reminds me of a cruise.  It's the sort of music I'd hear on a cruise ship and for me, that can help get me through a day of work.

We posted earlier a cruise music mix but there's plenty of other music out there.  You can always tune into Radio Margaritaville for Jimmy Buffet music, which is all about warm islands with boat drinks.

Regardless of what music reminds you of being a cruise, I find it a great way to help me cope with not being on a cruise and getting excited for my upcoming cruise too.

How do you get excited for your upcoming cruise? Share your favorite ways in the comments below!

Video: 8 things I MUST do on every Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
07Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

When I go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, I look forward to trying out new activities and exploring the ports of call we visit.  I also relish revisiting favorite cruise traditions that my family has established over the years.

In today's video, I am sharing eight of my must-do activities on every cruise.  These are my favorite cruise traditions, and I hope a few of these can be a source of fun for your family as well!

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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What are your favorite cruise traditions and must-do activities on every sailing? 

17 Royal Caribbean tips repeat cruisers always use

In:
06Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Like many other cruisers, I love to share, read, and learn tricks of cruising. Large or small, every tip and cruise hack you can learn helps make your next Royal Caribbean cruise a bit easier.

With that in mind, I am sharing the one tip or trick that the repeat cruises that frequent our message boards use/love the most.

1. Arrive to the embarkation port early

The day your cruise is scheduled to begin, arrive to the cruise terminal in the morning to maximize your time onboard on the first day.

It seems most people arrive to the cruise terminal after lunch, but you can begin checking into your cruise usually around 10am, with boarding process usually beginning around 11am. Arriving early to the cruise terminal means you get onboard sooner and more time on the ship.

2. Bring a USB port outlet for more charging space.

Between phones, tablets and every device you may have, there is always a need to charge something and power outlets are limited on a cruise ship.

Surge protectors and power strips tend to be confiscated for being a fire hazard, but a good USB outlet is perfectly safe to bring along.

I recommend a USB outlet similar to this one. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

3. Bring bathing suits on embarkation day

One of the best times to enjoy the pools and water slides on a Royal Caribbean cruise is embarkation day. Most guests do not have their bathing suits with them, and that means very little competition for the aquatic fun onboard.

You can opt to either wear your bathing suits onboard, or keep it in your carry-on luggage and change in a restroom.

4. Once onboard put your phone in airplane mode

To avoid crazy roaming fees, once you get onboard the ship, the best thing you can do is place your phone into airplane mode.

By doing so, you will still be able to use the ship's WiFi, but avoid your carrier charging you exorbitant fees for roaming on another network, either at sea or in one of the countries you visit.

5. Bring a pen and a highlighter with you

You never know when you want to write a thank you note to a crew member, or highlight an activity that you do not want to miss in the Cruise Compass.

6. Study the Compass before the day starts.  

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver the next day's Cruise Compass to your room.

Your best bet to avoid missing out on an activity you really want to do is read it before you get going during the day.

7. Buy magnetic hooks

Something you may not realize about your cabin is how little opportunity there is to hang stuff.  By investing in a pack of strong magnetic hooks, you can place them around the room to hang your hats, swimsuits or whatever else needs to be hung.

Your stateroom walls are made out of metal, which means you can simply stick a magnet onto a wall or ceiling.

Here are some magnetic hooks you can order. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

8. Speak up if there is a problem

If something is not as expected or disappointing, do not just accept it and let it ruin your cruise vacation. Instead, speak up while onboard and nicely inform crew members of the issue, and ask how it can be resolved.

The crew members want to make your cruise exceptional, and will do what they can to make it right. The bottom line is do not hesitate to speak up if there is an issue.

9. Book anything you can in advance via the Cruise Planner

This sounds so simple, but booking activities, dining and more in advance via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site will make your cruise vacation easier.  On Oasis or Quantum Class ships, you can even pre-book entertainment to reserve admission into the event.

Keep in mind that you can always change your mind later, but having something locked in is better than nothing.  

10. Look for deals even if there is no sale

Royal Caribbean will run sales periodically, but do not limit yourself to just those sales to find deals.  Check the Cruise Planner site regularly, even if there is no sale.  You never know what you may find!

11. Use a trusted travel agent

One of my favorite bits of advice is to use a good travel agent to book and manage your cruise.  A good travel agent is more than somebody to take your credit card details and reserve a cabin.  Travel agents are your advocate throughout the cruise process, and are invaluable if an issue should arise at any point.  More to the point, travel agents will absolutely save you time, and have the potential to save you money along the way.

Since a good travel agent should cost you nothing extra to use (the cruise line pays them a commission), you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by using one.

12. Figure out what kind of a traveler you are

A really good bit of advice is to figure out what you like to do, and craft the cruise around that.  

Are you an active, out and about person, or a room dweller? Are you in it for the ports, or are you in it for the ship? Are you a foodie, or are you fine with just the main dining room and Windjammer?

Knowing what you like (and do not like) impacts everything from your room selection, to your excursions, to your daily planning.  By figuring out your preferences, you can pick out a better cruise that matches what you want.

13. Do not wait for the elevator

The elevator is great, but using the stairs can be a lot faster, plus it can help burn off some of those vacation calories.

If you are going up or down just a few decks, opting for the stairs will likely get you there quicker.  This is especially true when shows or events let out and many other guests descend upon the elevators.

14. Bring Downy Wrinkle Release 

Did you know that there are no self-serve laundry options nor any clothing irons on Royal Caribbean cruise ships?  The only option if you want your clothes pressed or cleaned is to send them out for dry cleaning.

If you are concerned about your clothes being wrinkle-free after you unpack onboard, invest in a good wrinkle release spray  (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you).

You simply spray any clothing to remove any unwanted creases or wrinkles.  Plus, it has the added bonus of making your clothing smell good again, which can be an issue if your luggage that you store in your basement/attic has an odd odor to it.

15. Avoid getting seasick with an easy remedy

While you can take over-the-counter medication to combat nausea caused by motion in the ocean, mild seasickness can be remedied with a green apple. Seriously.

Green apples are a natural remedy that crew and guests use, along with crackers, to help ease an uneasy stomach. 

You will find green apples in the Windjammer, so it might be a good idea to take a couple to keep your stateroom.

16. Look for Kids Sail Free deals

Families looking to book a Royal Caribbean cruise should keep an eye out for Royal Caribbean's kids sail free deals.

Royal Caribbean offers promotions where kids under the age of 13 staying in the same room as two adults can qualify for free cruise fare.  There are a lot of blackout dates, but if you can make it work with your schedule, the kids sail free deal is among the most lucrative promotions offered.

There is usually a kids sail free promotion every few months.

17. Talk to the crew members

Beyond letting the crew take your drink orders, or asking where the nearest restroom is, be sure to strike up conversations with crew members you encounter.

Your cabin attendant is usually one for a quick chat. You might learn a thing or two, and it can really make someone's day.

Royal Caribbean releases 2021 Alaska, Hawaii & Transpacific sailings

In:
06Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

For the second consecutive year, Royal Caribbean will bring three ships to Alaska, as the cruise line opened up bookings for its 2021 Alaska itineraries.

New Alaska, Hawaii and Transpacific sailings are now available to book, with three ships offering varying 7-night itineraries sailing from Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia; and Seward, Alaska.

Beginning in April 2021, Radiance of the Seas will offer a 17-night Transpacific Tahiti & New Zealand cruise.  It will begin in Brisbane, Australia and visit destinations in New Zealand, Tahiti and French Polynesia before arriving in Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii.

Similarly, Serenade of the Seas will sail from Sydney, Australia in April 2021, and embark on a transpacific cruise that will go to Hawaii.

Ovation of the Seas will sail from Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan, and begin a 14-night Japan, Russia & Alaska cruise.  It will conclude in Seattle, Washington.

In May 2021, Serenade of the Seas will offer an 11-night Hawaii cruise that begins in Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii and will visit a few Hawaii islands before concluding in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Radiance of the Seas will offer a similar sailing, a 10-night Hawaii cruise that begins in Oahu and ends in Vancouver.

The 2021 sailings to Alaska show three ships will offer sailings: Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, and Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver.

 

At the conclusion of the Alaskan cruise season, Radiance of the Seas will offer a 10-night Hawaii cruise that begins in Vancouver, and then concludes in Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii.

All three ships will debut Royal Caribbean’s spa staterooms. The brand-new lineup of balcony accommodations will allow guests to relax in between adventures with an array of amenities and perks, including priority spa reservations, lush bedding and bath products, tranquil décor, daily delivery of tea, water and coffee; and priority boarding at embarkation.

Be sure to consult the Royal Caribbean website or your travel professional for further assistance with itinerary options and booking.

Watch: Drone footage of Oasis of the Seas in drydock

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released a new drone video of Oasis of the Seas as it goes through a $165 million amplification.

The ship is in Cadiz, Spain, where it will receive a number of new upgrades prior to her return to service on November 24.

You can read all about what Royal Caribbean is changing on Oasis of the Seas, as well as look at a deck-by-deck list of changes.

Video: Things that cost extra on Royal Caribbean that are totally worth it!

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

There is plenty to spend your money on during the course of a Royal Caribbean cruise, but today I am sharing my top choices for things are worth every penny!

Dining, excursions, activities and more are all available to try on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  Many of these things to do are included with your cruise fare, but there are some extras you can opt to try.  In this video, I have listed the four things I think are always worth the extra cost.

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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What things that cost extra on Royal Caribbean do you think is worth paying for?

A look back at 50 years of Royal Caribbean dining with Linken D'Souza

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and a great deal of Royal Caribbean's legacy is based in the culinary offerings. Dining on Royal Caribbean has transformed over the years, with more and more new options, innovations and approaches to delivering outstanding cuisine. From the dining rooms, to the buffet, to the pizza and even robot bartenders, Royal Caribbean is never one to shy away from pushing the envelope with what can be delivered to ships.

At the heart of Royal Caribbean's food and beverage operations is Linken D'Souza, Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage. 

He and his team have the task of making the food, drinks and meals onboard an unforgettable experience for guests. Mr. D'Souza has worked for Royal Caribbean in this capacity for about two and a half years, and his team carries a tradition of striving to serve up the best dining experience.

"What hasn't changed is the ability of our staff to produce just an amazing product, amazing service to along with it, and I think that's what has kept us so strong as an organization."

"I think the key to research is to understand the guests, creating a product that they really want, and then taking their feedback. We're in the process of creating the new Giovanni's restaurant that will launch in the next little while, and in fact yesterday, we did a tasting onboard the ship with our guests to really get a sense of what they liked, what they didn't like. That's just one step. We'll go through three or four iterations before we launch Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar on Freedom of the Seas."

Of course, plenty has changed in Royal Caribbean's 50 years of operations, and the options guests have to dine at has grown every year.

"If we wind back time to 1969 with the Song of Norway, and you think about the two venues we had onboard, which was the dining room and the Windjammer, which was essentially a window that served burgers and hot dogs, to Symphony of the Seas, our flagship here in the United States. Sixty-five food and beverage venues onboard, that's a huge evolution."

 

To commemorate Royal Caribbean's 50 years, a limited edition hardcover book was created and given to guests sailing on Symphony of the Seas this week as part of the 50th Anniversary Birthday Cruise.  All guests can read the book for free by downloading the eBook.

Mr. D'Souza looked at the evolution of dining, explained the research that goes into a new restaurant and even talked about they pick a featured dish that eventually ends up on the menu. Listen to episode 327 of our interview with Linken D'Souza in its entirety below.

Be sure to subscribe to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog Podcast at Google Podcasts, Apple PodcastsTuneIn, and Stitcher.

Photos: Slides added to Oasis of the Seas

In:
05Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas is undergoing a $165 million amplification in Cadiz, Spain, and today we have a look at the progress being made onboard with the addition of new slides for guests to enjoy.

The transformation of Oasis of the Seas will add a variety of new activities, venues and options.  This will include the addition of the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea.

Thrill seekers will also love the new trio of water slide sbeing added, known as The Perfect Storm.

Oasis of the Seas is also set to receive Splashaway Bay kids aqua park, a reimagined Caribbean pool deck, the cruise line's first barbecue restaurant, Portside BBQ, and more. You can view the deck-by-deck changes to Oasis of the Seas.

The amplified Oasis will set sail on November 24, 2019, beginning 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Terminal A in Miami. 

Royal Caribbean announces 2020 President's Cruise sailing

In:
04Nov2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley announced to a theater full of cruise fans the next President's Cruise will be held on the October 25, 2020 sailing of Allure of the Seas.

Allure of the Seas will sail a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona, Spain and visit the ports of Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence (Marseille), France; Florence/Pisa (La Spezia), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and Naples (Capri), Italy.

The President's Cruise has become an annual Royal Caribbean tradition that invites fans of the cruise line to sail with the cruise line's CEO, and enjoy a series of special events, surprises and offerings.

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