Anthem of the Seas 2019 Live Blog - Preview

By: Matt Hochberg

It is time once again to pack our bags, stock up on sunscreen, and get ready for our next Royal Caribbean adventure.  This time, we are going on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas for a 9-night Bermuda & Caribbean sailing.  Each day, I will be LIVE blogging to share with you what it is like to cruise on one of Royal Caribbean's most innovative ships. 

This particular sailing happens to be a Group Cruise, which means we have over 80 blog readers joining us on this sailing.  We have been doing group cruises for a few years now, and it remains a favorite way to enjoy a cruise because we get to share the cruise experience with friends who understand the excitement and pleasure of a Royal Caribbean cruise.

The Cruise

I picked this sailing because of the intriguing itinerary that combines Bermuda and a Caribbean sailing. Usually you have to pick one or the other, so to have both in one sailing is a real treat.

Our nine-night sailing will depart on Thursday, July 4th and take us to four ports. We will visit Bermuda, Labadee, San Juan and St. Maarten. It is a perfect blend of port stops and sea days to provide the right balance of rest and adventure.

This is my third time on Anthem of the Seas, and I am excited to return to this innovative class of ship. I have always enjoyed the great blend of entertainment and dining choices the Quantum Class offers, and to sail from the New York City area is an added bonus.


We employed one of my favorite strategies for family cruising on this sailing by booking two connecting balcony staterooms. Rather than put four of us in one room, or upgrade to a suite for added space, we went with two balcony rooms to not only keep the costs down but also provide separation between my wife and I and the kids, as well as provide another bathroom!

Our rooms are on deck eight, and that means we are essentially equidistant from the pool deck fun and the Royal Esplanade.


DayDateLocationPort of Call Guide
1Thursday, 07/04/2019Depart from CAPE LIBERTY - NJ (NY METRO)Cape Liberty, NJ
2Friday, 07/05/2019CRUISING 
3Saturday, 07/06/2019KINGS WHARF - BERMUDA 
4Sunday, 07/07/2019CRUISING 
5Monday, 07/08/2019PHILIPSBURG - ST. MAARTENPhilipsburg, St Maarten
6Tuesday, 07/09/2019SAN JUAN - PUERTO RICOSan Juan, Puerto Rico
7Wednesday, 07/10/2019LABADEE - HAITILabadee, Haiti
8Thursday, 07/11/2019CRUISING 
9Friday, 07/12/2019CRUISING 
10Saturday, 07/13/2019Arrive at CAPE LIBERTY - NJ (NY METRO)Cape Liberty, NJ

The itinerary is what drew us to this particular cruise and we will head to some favorite islands.

First and foremost, we get to spend the day in Bermuda. I have only been to Bermuda once, and that was back in 2012, so to say I am overdue for a return to Bermuda is an understatement. We have invited those who booked into our room block for the Group Cruise to join us for a private excursion through Royal Caribbean to Horseshoe Bay.  It promises to be a fun day at the beach, and the perfect opportunity for our friends on the cruise to do something together while in port. 

Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private destination, is always a highlight for me and we are snagged a Nellie's Beach cabana for the day.  We love Labadee, and cabanas are the icing on the cake for our family.  They are relaxing, provide a good "home base" for the children, and a nap spot.

In St. Maarten, we are hoping to visit a few spots around the island, namely Grand Case beach and Maho Beach.  

No plans yet for San Juan, but we typically walk around Old San Juan and explore on our own.  

What's next

Our Anthem of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, July 4th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: June 30, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We hope you’re having a relaxing weekend and enjoying summer! It’s time to sit back, relax, and catch up on all the recent Royal Caribbean news!

Royal Caribbean revealed the upgrades and changes coming to Voyager of the Seas as part of a $97 million amplification.

Part of the Royal Amplified program, Voyager of the Seas will become the fourth ship reimagined as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort. She will receive a number of new first-to-market features. 

Among the changes coming are new water slides, family activities, stateroom upgrades and more.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 308th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt discusses the different balcony stateroom options.

When you hear about a balcony stateroom, you may think it is one type of room, but Royal Caribbean has a variety of balcony room offerings.  In this episode, Matt goes over each type of balcony stateroom.

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

New RCB Video: Top 5 cruise tips for all cruisers

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — Top 5 cruise tips  — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

The Travel Women shared 11 things you did not know about Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Cruise Habit wrote about cruising during hurricane season.

Afar listed Royal Caribbean as the best cruise line for all ages.

Friday Photos - June 28, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

The weekend is here and we love to welcome some well-deserved time off with our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos.  Each week, we ask our readers to submit their best Royal Caribbean photos, so that we can showcase them right here.

Keith Davis starts us off with this sunrise on Symphony of the Seas, taken on debarkation day in PortMiami.

Gary Lorenz took this photo from his balcony on Freedom of the Seas.

Check out this beautiful photo of the Boardwalk on Symphony of the Seas taken by Cheva.

Ann and Gene Priest took some time to enjoy Johnny Rockets on Navigator of the Seas.

Here is a photo San Juan Antiguo Marina as Allure of the Seas enters. Photo by Norlydia and Eric McBee.

Our next photo is by Leonides Paesch and it was taken in Saint John.

Our final photo this week is by FlowBro Ty, and it is of Freedom of the Seas in St. Maarten.

Thank you to everyone that sent in their photos.  Would you like your Royal Caribbean photo to be showcased? Submit your photo via this form and we will use it in a future post!

Fun things to do on a cruise to Mexico

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean can take you on a cruise to various ports in Mexico to swim, scuba, eat, drink and climb your way around the country’s storied ancient pyramids and cenotes.

We get a lot of requests for recommendations of what to do in various ports of call, so today we are focusing on the cruise ports in Mexico that Royal Caribbean serves, and hand-picked excursions offered by both the cruise line and on your own.

Royal Caribbean offers Western Caribbean cruises from four to seven nights that depart ports in Florida and Texas. If you are interested in some fun activities offered in each Mexican port Royal Caribbean visits, here are some great suggestions.


Fun in the ocean is at the heart of Cozumel, as it is known for its exotic and exquisite diving.  In fact, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once said Cozumel had the best in the world for scuba diving.  Royal Caribbean offers shore excursions to snorkel in the Palancar Reef, where you can swim among starfish in a natural sanctuary.  Or give back a little and save sea turtle hatchlings.

You can combine the sea and land with a day by the beach. Cozumel has a number of great beach resorts you can spend the day at with a day pass.

If you want a little culture, try the Mexico in a Nutshell tour for a sampling of Mayan traditions, illustrated through aerial acrobatics and Mexican architecture. There are also tequila samplings and chocolate tastings to consider.

Costa Maya


Costa Maya has a great deal of intriguing options to consider to fill your day. Some of the best Mayan ruins are found around Costa Maya, including the premier preserved site at Chichen Itza. Royal Caribbean offers a multi-day tour that will take you to Chacchoben, Tulum and Chichen Itza, on an overnight adventure.

If aquatic adventure is what you want, the Meso-American Barrier Reef offers kayaking or scuba diving. This area is an important marine region spanning nearly 700 miles. You can always head to the beach and enjoy a relaxing day at Maya Chan Beach.

If you want to try to reel in your fun (see what we did there?), then grab a lure and head out for some deep sea fishing.


A newer cruise port for Royal Caribbean, Progresso (also known as Yucatan), is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza.

You can take a glimpse into Mexico's past with a visit to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state. There you will find colonial-era estates known as Mexican haciendas.

Speaking of the past, you can explore Mayan culture at the Uxmal ruins, one of the civilization’s political hubs. You can explore the classic Mesoamerican ball courts, where ancient games were played, and the stone decorations of the aptly named House of the Turtles. The Dzibilchaltun ruins, an ancient trading center, and Temple of the Seven Dolls are worth a visit too, as they reveal the Mayans’ long-held understanding of the solar system.

Your thoughts

What is your favorite thing to do in Mexico on a cruise? Are you considering another tour? Share your experiences and questions in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean announces $97 million Voyager of the Seas amplification

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced plans for $97 million in upgrades and enhancements to Voyager of the Seas.

Part of the Royal Amplified program, Voyager of the Seas will become the fourth ship reimagined as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort. She will receive a number of new first-to-market features. Beginning Oct. 21, the newly transformed ship will set sail on a series of 3- to 5-night Southeast Asia itineraries from Singapore, followed by a season down under with 9- to 12-night South Pacific cruises from Sydney, Australia, starting on Nov. 30.


Voyager of the Seas will receive two waterslides, collectively known as The Perfect Storm.  Typhoon and Cyclone will be added to the ship to provide guests with three stories of twists and turns.

Voyager of the Seas also offers the FlowRider surf simulator, rock-climbing wall and mini-golf to compliment the new additions.


Families on Voyager of the Seas will also enjoy Battle for Planet Z glow-in-the-dark laser tag in Studio B.

Adventure Ocean will be redesigned with a fresh take on the cruise line's programming for children. Kids 3-12 years old will enjoy a modern, free-play approach to a new, open layout in Adventure Ocean. A first on Voyager, a nursery for babies and tots will open its doors, while 3- to 5-year-olds can dive into the excitement in an area created just for them. 

Teens will be able to enjoy an exclusive, updated hangout, along with the addition of a laidback outdoor deck.


The Vitality Spa and Fitness Center will be enhanced and relocated to the aft of the ship as part of the upgrades.

A total of 72 new inside and balcony staterooms will be added to the ship, along with a Suite Lounge and outdoor area - exclusively for guests in Grand Suites and above; and the Diamond Lounge for members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program. 

Guests on Voyager of the Seas of the Seas will also be able to take advantage of the new mobile app, which allows for check-in, planning activities, viewing onboard expensses, booking and managing dining, shore excursion and show reservations and more.

Balcony staterooms on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 308 is available for downloading, where Matt breaks down the differences between balcony staterooms on Royal Caribbean.

A balcony stateroom comes in many forms on Royal Caribbean, and Matt has a look at the differences between the various balcony rooms and what you need to know about each type.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 308. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

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

All about the Royal Caribbean shareholder discount

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean offers a variety of discounts at any time of the year, but one discount that is consistently offered, and yet not very well-known, is the discount for people that own shares of Royal Caribbean stock.

The Royal Caribbean shareholder benefit may not be the most lucrative discount available, but every bit helps and it might save you some money.  Here is what you need to know about the stockholder discount.

Eligibility for the shareholder discount

The shareholder discount is available for any Royal Caribbean shareholder with a minimum of 100 RCL shares at the time of sailing.

The benefit is only available for the stateroom in which the shareholder (with a minimum of 100 shares) is sailing. Only one shareholder credit per stateroom on any one sailing. If shares are held jointly, 100 shares are required for each onboard credit request on any one sailing.

There is no limit on how many times you may take advantage of this discount, but it is one benefit per sailing.

Shareholder Discount Amount

The exact amount of your discount will depend on the length of your sailing.  The type of stateroom you stay in is irrelevant. The discount is applicable on any eligible Royal Caribbean International sailing.

  • $250 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 14 or more nights.
  • $100 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 6 to 13 nights.
  • $50 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 5 nights or less.

Can I combine the shareholder discount with other discounts?

The shareholder benefit offer was updated in June 2019 and applies to bookings made on or after June 1, 2019.  With the June 2019 update, the shareholder benefit is easier to use in conjunction with a lot of promotions that it was not in the past.

Benefit is non-transferable and not available to employees, agents of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. or its subsidiaries and affiliates, travel agents and tour operators. Benefit is not combinable with interline rates, travel agent rates, and employee friends and family rates. Benefit cannot be redeemed for chartered sailings, any Galapagos sailings or complimentary sailings.

Redeeming shareholder benefit

Provide your name, address, confirmation number, ship and sailing date along with a copy of your shareholder proxy card or a current brokerage statement showing proof of share ownership in Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. All shareholder onboard credit requests must be received approximately 2 -3 weeks prior to sail date. Via Mail: RCL Investor Benefit Offer, PO Box 025511, Miami, Florida 33102-5511 Via Fax: 1-305-373-6699 Via Email:

Please direct all inquiries to the Shareholder Benefit Team: (954) 628-9325, option #3

Video: Top 5 cruise tips for all cruisers

By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video is now available, where Matt shares his top tips that anyone going on any cruise should follow.

Matt wanted to share five of his favorite tips and advice for someone new to Royal Caribbean that they should be aware of for their sailing. These are the tips and tricks he uses on every sailing, and you should too. 

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

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

So check out the video and then let us know: What do you think is essential and universal cruise advice?

Royal Caribbean adds Kids Sail Free filter to website search

By: Matt Hochberg

Finding all the sailings that qualify for Royal Caribbean's super-popular Kids Sail Free deal just got easier with a recent update to their website that added a Kids Sail Free filter to the cruise search.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader FionaMG noticed a new filter that has been added to the site search to quickly narrow the search results to only show sailings that qualify for the Kids Sail Free offer.

To use the filter, simply go to the "Find A Cruise" option and select it to refine the results shown.

For more details on Kids Sail Free dates, terms and conditions, refer to our Kids Sail Free guide.

Royal Caribbean forms new joint venture to develop ports around the world

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today a new joint venture with ITM Group that seeks to develop cruise ports around the world.

The new company is called Holistica, and its goal is create an inclusive model for destination development that works holistically – thus the name – to meet the needs of coastal communities, local governments, and land, sea, and air travelers.

The first project for the new company is a $275 million development in Freeport, The Bahamas that is centered around the Grand Lucayan resort. The project includes ambitious plans for local ownership, employment, job training, community investment and sustainable construction practices.

In addition to the Freeport project, the companies said the new venture will own and operate destinations in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Kumamoto, Japan.

The partners have commenced a search for a CEO for the new company, which will be headquartered in Miami. 

"The continuing growth and rising popularity of cruise vacations make it clear that the sustainable development of coastal destinations, including the thoughtful evolution of existing ones, is in the travel industry's best interest," said Michael Bayley of RCL. "We have spent five decades learning what works and what doesn't, and we know the potential of strategic development to deliver extraordinary guest experiences and meet the needs of local communities."

Added Bayley: "Having more destinations, and developing them in a responsible manner, gives travelers greater vacation quality, and expands the landscape of available travel options as the tourism industry grows."