Friday Photos

In:
06Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Friday is here and that means two things: the weekend is beginning and we have some terrific Royal Caribbean photos to share from our readers.

Each week, we invite our readers to share with us their favorite Royal Caribbean photos in a kind of virtual escape for everyone.

Let's get started with this photo of Allure of the Seas in Labadee, as taken by Kinny Lee while parasailing. 

Jonny Smith sent in this photo of Navigator of the Seas in Labadee, as seen from the top of the zip line.  

Henry Greenfield took this photo from his Panoramic View stateroom.

Check out this Anthem of the Seas shaped cake that Michael Kho found.  Yum!

Here is a view of the new Royal Caribbean Crown of Miami cruise terminal under construction as seen during sail away from PortMiami last weekend. Photo by David Berenbaum.

John Bamber took this photo of Anthem of the Seas docked in the Royal Naval Dockyard in Kings Wharf, Bermuda.

We wrap up Friday Photos with this sunset photo of Voyager of the Seas in the South China sea, taken by Traveler.

Thank you to everyone who sent in photos this week. We welcome your best Royal Caribbean cruise photos too, and you can send them in by using this form. Have a great weekend!

 

Video: Coolest Things to do on Symphony of the Seas

In:
06Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

The largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas is the bucket-list-worthy vacation for all ages. Packed with thrilling adventures, delicious dining and jaw-dropping entertainment, it’s the ultimate experience you won’t want to miss.

Royal Caribbean offering up to 30% off Cruise Planner purchases with weekend sale

In:
06Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off select Cruise Planner purchases this weekend, with its Springtime Savings sale.

The weekend Cruise Planner sale promises savings on certain shore excursions and drink package purchases.  Guests can check which discounts, if any, are available for their upcoming sailing by visiting the Cruise Planner site.

Based on the countdown timer, the sale will expire at midnight on Sunday night.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site and navigate to the Dining & Beverage section to see any available offers.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

Royal Caribbean names Symphony of the Seas 'The World's Most Instagrammable Ship'

In:
05Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean declared its newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is the world's most Instagrammable cruise ship.

To help guests make the most of these Insta-moments, Royal Caribbean has appointed Russ Francis as the company’s first ‘Instagrammer-in-Chief’ as Symphony takes her first guests on their holidays in the Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain.

Russ Francis’ Instagram skills were spotted by the company when he entered Royal Caribbean’s search for the first Instagram Intern-Ship at sea in 2017. His new role will be to help inspire guests to do the ship justice through their Instagram content and establish Symphony of the Seas as the world’s most Instagrammable ship.

“For something to be truly Instagrammable it has to be unique enough that people want to show off about it” comments Russ Francis, Royal Caribbean Instagrammer-in-Chief. “It’s so much more than being a pretty setting. Extraordinary Instagram content causes a reaction whether that’s jaws dropping in amazement or mouths watering at the very best dishes, it’s about capturing experiences that ‘wow’ the viewer. Symphony of the Seas ticks every single box making it the world’s most Instagrammable cruise ship.”

Russ has developed his guide to the ten most Insta-worthy moments that will help achieve the Insta-famous goal.

  1. Ultimate Abyss – The faces of those who have just survived the white-knuckle descents of the tallest slide at sea is not something you want to miss on camera… but can you capture the exhilaration just at the right moment for the perfect Insta shot?
  2. Central Park – Snap the lush greenery of over 12,000 tropical plants in this serene open-air neighbourhood. Packing this picture with as many beautiful and natural colours as possible will make it stand out on Instagram feeds.
  3. Ultimate Family Suite – For a shot at the most exclusive onboard content, make friends with the adventure seeking family staying in the Ultimate Family Suite! With 1,346 square foot filled with a plethora of features including an indoor slide, air hockey table and an eye-popping LEGO wall, you can take advantage of the mix of the bold colours and interesting shapes, making it the most brag-worthy content for Instagram.
  4. Vitality at Sea Spa – The tranquil spa is perfect for an ultra-smug Insta moment in between chilling out and being pampered. ‘Towel selfies’ are very in right now after all.
  5. Pool and Sports Zone – This part of the ship is teeming with action packed Instagram potential. Simply turn your camera towards one of the three colourful waterslides, two FlowRider ® surf simulators or nine-deck high zip line for adrenaline-fueled shots.
  6. Paradox Void– Discover an unusual and strangely captivating reflective art installation stretching high above you in the Royal Promenade. Made from 1,200 steel triangles, getting the lighting right here can work magic to the reflective surfaces, adding instant intrigue for your followers.
  7. AquaTheatre – Head to the aft of the ship to snap the dazzling amphitheatre-style theatre and experience stunning aquatic acrobatics and high-diving aerial performances. This will test your reflexes as you try to capture the live action against an unbeatable ocean backdrop.
  8. Royal Theatre – With unparalleled entertainment onboard there are umpteen content moments every evening, but for something really special just shimmy your way down to the Royal Theatre for a rendition of “Hairspray” to see if you can capture the excitement of live theatre in just one snap.
  9. Solarium Big Wonder (art installation) – A one-of-a-kind work of art comprised of thousands of dichroic acrylic elements is the first to be featured in the Solarium, spanning an area of 2,594 square feet and flooding the pool beneath with natural light. The poolside palm trees bathed in this contrast of light and shadow make it a must-capture shot for any serious Instagrammer.
  10. Hooked - Royal Caribbean’s first New England-style seafood restaurant will feature fresh seafood and a robust raw bar complete with oysters harvested to order. Located at the front of the ship in the adults-only Solarium, the casually sophisticated restaurant will offer expansive views of the open water – the perfect backdrop for a mouth-watering insta-shot.

To celebrate Symphony of the Seas being the world’s most Instagrammable ship, Royal Caribbean is launching a competition for all onboard guests to post in their best Instagram shots of the extraordinary ship. Using the hashtag #SymphonyoftheSeas, Russ Francis, the new Instagrammer-in-Chief will judge the best posts. The Instagrammers of the best ship shots will win an onboard treat from a massage in the spa to a bottle of Champagne in their suite.

Russ also shared some tips for anyone looking to use Instagram.

  • Take photos in a square frame - Instagram images appear as a square, so take your Instagram snaps in a square frame. This way, all of your picture will appear in the upload, and you won’t need to crop or zoom to ensure everything fits in.
  • Strong colours, shapes, lines and good lighting - To help your Instagram shot have the WOW factor; make sure it has strong colours and defined shapes and lines. If you’re struggling to make the lighting work and are flexible about timings then return to your shot at the ‘Golden Hour’, the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset, to capture something really shareable.
  • Use negative space - Negative space means the physical space that surrounds your image subject. Instagram photos that have the right mix of negative space and a tangible object can really stand out.
  • Reflections - Reflections are a quick and easy way to get an interesting and unusual effect on your Instagram picture. Water, mirrors and glass are three great surfaces to get you started
  • Use gridlines to balance your shot – Improve snaps by taking the photo outside of the Instagram app and using your phone’s gridlines function. Apply the ‘rule of thirds’ and ensure that compositional elements are placed along the nine lines and their intersections of the grid. Pros claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest than simply centering the subject.
  • Show some personality – Layering on words and stickers to an Instagram Story can add some fun and individuality to your extraordinary shots that usually encourages greater levels of engagement.
  • Use a great caption - These days, it isn’t just about the picture or videos. Captions play a big role in how many likes you get and how people engage with your Instagram content. Use emotive descriptions and humour to connect with your followers.

Video tour of Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas

In:
05Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Watch a hyperlapse of the world's largest ship, Symphony of the Seas.

Excursion Focus: Iberostar Cozumel all-inclusive day pass at Cozumel, Mexico

In:
04Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

If you are looking for a relaxing day in Cozumel, Mexico that offers fun in the water and much (if not all) included in your price, there are plenty of resorts to consider.

If you were to ask me, the gold standard for all-inclusive day pass spots in Cozumel has been Nachi Cocom, but on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise stop in Cozumel, our family tried to make a last-minute reservation and Nachi was sold out.  After spending some time researching our options, we decided to give Iberostar Cozumel a try.

Description

Iberostar Cozumel is a five star family friendly all-inclusive resort, located on the western side of Cozumel in the same area many resorts (like Nachi) are found. A taxi ride will take about 10-15 minutes to reach Iberostar Cozumel.

Iberostar is a family of all-inclusive resorts that you can find around the world.  In fact, most of the guests you are likely to encounter at Iberostar Cozumel are resort guests, rather than cruise ship guests. 

The resort itself is a large, sprawling retreat.  The lobby area is located in an enormous open air atrium, where you receive wristbands to identify yourself to staff around the resort.  Despite the fact you are a day guest at a hotel resort, admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you access to essentially everything and anything a resort guest would get, minus a hotel room.

The grounds at Iberostar are immaculate and sprawling.  Not only is there a beautiful collection of flora to see anywhere you walk, you will also find flamingos, peacocks, and other beautiful animals along the way.

Your day pass includes:

  • Access to Iberostar from 8am to 6pm.
  • Unlimited meals & snacks at your choice of open establishments. This includes breakfast and lunch.
  • Unlimited drinks (alcohol & non alcohol)
  • Full access to beach
  • "Lake style" pool and separate kiddies pool
  • Lounge chairs and towels
  • Kids Club with supervised activities for ages 4-12
  • 3 Lit Tennis Courts plus 1 multi-purpose court for basketball or volleyball
  • Activities program by the pool and beach.
  • Use of snorkeling equipment ($2 USD fee for Marine Park not included)
  • Kayaking and catamarans
  • Fitness Center
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

If that sounds like a lot, that is a lot to be included with a day pass. While I think most cruise passengers are primarily interested in beach or pool time, coupled with drinks and meals, there are lots of activities you can take advantage of as well. 

Iberostar describes its pool as "lake style" and it is indeed massive.  It is essentially three main pools, along with a rather large kiddie (shallow) pool that all intertwine.  The result is one of the loveliest resort pools I may have ever been to at any resort in the Caribbean.  

There is a swim-up bar in the middle, lounge chairs in the shallow end of the pool, basketball hoops, and plenty of room to relax. In short, it is an impressive pool.

Naturally, Iberostar offers a large white sand beach area.  The pool is close enough to the beach that you can fairly easily walk between the two areas.

Admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you unlimited food and drink during your stay.  There are a few restaurants around the resort that you may visit and enjoy.  Something that distinguishes Iberostar is the fact breakfast is served along with lunch later in the day. The food is served at any of the buffet-style restaurants, with one large restaurant and a grill located within steps of the pool and beach.

Much of the food offered is American fare, with a few Mexican dishes thrown in.  The menu at Iberostar rotates on a daily basis, with the idea that resort guests will be there for a week or so, and thus, get different choices each day to mix things up. As a result, the exact menu you get may differ depending on the day.

Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available as part of admission.  There are roaming waiters around the pool and beach area, along with the aforementioned swim-up bar, and some bars around the resort you can visit.

Comments

For a family looking to enjoy a relaxing day at a beautiful resort, Iberostar Cozumel fits the bill nearly perfectly.  It is an impressive resort that rivals many all inclusive experiences we have had in the region.

In general, we enjoyed our time at Iberostar and had a fun day splashing, eating, and drinking. I was truly impressed by the resort grounds and what they offered.  In fact, I found the assortment of activities very impressive.  Yoga, aquatic aerobics, archery, tennis, skeet shooting, snorkeling, etc.  Where most day pass resorts are limited to a beach, pool and snorkeling equipment, Iberostar shines with its rich array of things to do.

I had two gripes about my visit to Iberostar that prevent it from being my top choice for a day pass option in Cozumel. 

We arrived right around 9am or so, and already 65-75% of the pool chairs had been reserved.  There were not people actually there, but the "chair hog" situation was worse than anything I have seen on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Second, the lunch offered was fine, but lacked Mexican cuisine that I think many (including myself) look to enjoy while in Cozumel.  The lunch offered consisted mostly of American food, with a taco making station that was sufficient.  There were no quesadillas, guacamole, chips, or salsa to enjoy during our visit.  The flip side to this issue is my children had no problem chomping down on burgers and hot dogs all day long.

The level of service in terms of getting drinks while lounging was more than acceptable.  Roaming waiters took drink orders and once the initial surge of drink orders subsided, it was quite easy to get refills.  Of course, the assortment of bars around the resort means getting one on your own is easy enough.

Inevitably, I have to compare Iberostar Cozumel to Nachi Cocom resort, because Nachi has been my go-to recommendation for a while.  Iberostar's grounds and range of activities exceed what Nachi offers.  The quality and variety of food is better at Nachi, and Nachi's personalized waiter approach is still a preferred method in my opinion.

In terms of cost, Iberostar Cozumel cost us just about the same as most other all-inclusive day pass resorts in Cozumel. We paid $72 per adult and $36 for kids 3-12.

Overall, Iberostar Cozumel is a beautiful resort that is a good choice for groups that are looking for a phenomenal pool day, and/or lots to do around the resort, in addition to all the food and drink they care to enjoy. The reserving of chairs and food selection may or may not be an issue during your visit.  Our family certainly had a fun day at Iberostar and would love to return again just for that pool.

Comparing Royal Caribbean to Disney Cruise Line on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
04Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 244 is available for downloading, where a first-time Royal Caribbean cruisers talks about his experience relative to past Disney Cruise Line sailings.

Fred Hazelton tried out Anthem of the Seas and while his family had a good vacation, there were aspects of the cruise that bothered him.  On this week's episode, Matt, Fred and Billy from CruiseHabit.com discuss Fred's experiences and talk about how it all stacks up.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 244. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

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

Royal Caribbean announces 2019/2020 Australia deployment

In:
04Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced its 2019/2020 cruises in and around Australia. Bookings for the 2019/20 Australia summer season open on Tuesday April 10, 2018.

The 2019/20 season will kick off with the arrival of Radiance of the Seas to Sydney on October 9, 2019, Ovation of the Seas on October 20, 2019, and Voyager of the Seas will begin her season with a three-night sampler cruise on November 30, 2019. Together, the three ships will offer 61 sailings, ranging from two to 19 nights, and sailing to nine different countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Singapore, Indonesia, the USA and Vanuatu.

Ovation of the Seas returns for her fourth and longest season yet down under, following her maiden season in Alaska in the Northern Hemisphere summer.

Ovation of the Seas, will offer guests a range of South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand itineraries – including five incredible New Zealand and South Pacific hybrid sailings, nine New Zealand voyages and new 18 and 19-night sailings between Sydney and Hawaii calling in Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora in French Polynesia.

Voyager of the Seas returns to her homeport of Sydney after a one-year hiatus, fresh from a multi-million dollar revitalisation in late 2019. She will replace sister ship Explorer of the Seas, which returns to cruising in Europe and the Caribbean in 2019/20.

“Voyager of the Seas will be making her grand Aussie comeback in 2019, boasting a stack of new features following a multi-million dollar makeover – all part of our Royal Amplification programme, which will see us invest US$900 million in modernising our fleet,” said Adam Armstrong, managing director Australia and New Zealand.

Australia’s second largest ship, Voyager of the Seas will be back to focus on South Pacific and Sampler voyages, with a range of two to 14-night sailings. Along with onboard amenities like the FlowRider surf machine, rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, Broadway-style shows and full sized sports court, she’ll boast plenty of brand new features yet to be announced, all destined to appeal perfectly to the Australian market. She will also offer more short “sampler” sailings than ever before – ideal for the new-to-cruise – as well as a six-night Tasmania sailing, an eight-night Queensland sailing and two epic repositioning voyages between Singapore and Sydney.

Radiance of the Seas returns for her ninth season and will offer her usual New Zealand program as well as an expanded range of South Pacific sailings calling to destinations such as Noumea, Mystery Island and Port Vila.

As well as her additional eight to 11-night South Pacific sailings, Radiance of the Seas will sail a three-night Sampler cruise, a 16-night Top End sailing from Sydney to Fremantle, and an epic 18-night Bottom End sailing from Fremantle to Sydney. Guests can also cruise on six, 9 to 13-night New Zealand sailings and two 18-night Hawaii repositioning sailings.

Royal Caribbean announces new cruise cancellation policy

In:
03Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced a new cruise cancellation policy that will go into effect on all bookings made on or after April 8, 2018.

The policy change is aimed at encouraging guests to finalize their bookings earlier.  The cancellation policy adjustments announced, "were decided upon in an effort to better align with industry standards and to make the schedule simpler and more concise."

The change impacts both individual, NextCruise, and group reservations created on or after April 8, 2018.

Royal Caribbean last updated its cancellation policy in February 2016.

Royal Caribbean cancels Radiance of the Seas sailing to due to propulsion problem

In:
03Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean informed guests booked on an upcoming Radiance of the Seas sailing their sailing has been cancelled as a result of needed repairs.

The cruise line announced the upcoming 11-night cruise on Radiance of the Seas departing April 6, 2018 will be cancelled in order to conduct necessary repairs on the ship's Azipod propulsion system, which impacts the ships’ speed and ability to deliver future scheduled cruises.

Repairs to Radiance of the Seas will take place from April 6 to April 17.

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