Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

A look at the best Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise deals in 2023

In:
13 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The Alaska cruise season has just begun in 2022, and all this excitement might be the impetus you need to book a cruise to The Last Frontier in 2023.

While some may be able to turn around and book an Alaska cruise for later this season, many families need more time to plan out a trip. Not to mention the financial benefits of booking a cruise to Alaska well in advance.

Being just about a year away, we are in a prime point of the calendar to look ahead to 2023 and reserve an Alaska cruise.

Royal Caribbean will send four cruise ships to Alaska in 2023, and we took a look at the cruise pricing as it stands now to pick out some of the best prices you could get by booking right now.

Alaska waterway

Just like cruises to the Caribbean and Europe, Alaska cruise prices fluctuate all the time. But, the best prices are usually found when booking a year in advance. The Alaska season is short, so that means limited opportunity (and subsequently cabins) to reserve a sailing.

A look at Royal Caribbean's Alaska 2023 cruise prices

Our methodology is simple: I looked at the price for two adults to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska in 2023 and came up with the lowest price for each of the sailings in Royal Caribbean's 2023 Alaska season.

The search was conducted on May 12, 2022 and the prices were accurate as of the time of the search. It's doubtful the price would have changed much, if at all, between when the search was conducted and when the article was published.

In comparing the data across 84 sailings, I wanted to come up with the best possible prices to see what patterns could be discerned.

There also could be various other discounts that could be applied to alter these prices, such as Crown and Anchor, residency, and age discounts.

Cheapest cabin price for 2023 Alaska cruise

  • Cheapest possible cabin (inside): Enchantment of the Seas 7-night Alaska cruise April 23, 2023 from Vancouver: $381
  • Cheapest possible oceanview cabin: Enchantment of the Seas 7-night Alaska cruise April 23, April 30 or September 17, 2023 from Vancouver: $621
  • Cheapest possible balcony cabin: Ovation of the Seas 8-night Alaska cruise May 11, 2023 from Seattle, Washington: $793
  • Cheapest possible suite: Enchantment of the Seas 7-night Alaska cruise September 17, 2023 from Vancouver: $2,005

It's no surprise that the cheapest Alaska prices came exclusively during the shoulder season in April and September. 

Moreover, the fact the cheapest cabin was found three out of four times on Enchantment of the Seas is not surprise since Enchantment is the smallest and oldest ship offering cruises to Alaska in 2023.

Typically, Royal Caribbean discounts its oldest and smallest ships because there is less demand for these vessels, regardless of where they are sailing to. When compared to the two Ovation Class ships or even Radiance of the Seas, Enchantment has the least activities and things to do onboard.

Average cheapest price for 2023 Alaska cruise

Radiance of the Seas in Seward, Alaska

Next I wanted to get an idea of what the average price is for each sailing when comparing the lowest price for each cruise ship cabin category.

Across all ships

  • Inside cabin: $744.04
  • Oceanview: $896.61
  • Balcony: $1,428
  • Suite: $2,544

Enchantment of the Seas

  • Inside cabin: $757.41
  • Oceanview: $907.85
  • Balcony: $1451.41
  • Suite: $2549.82

Ovation of the Seas

  • Inside cabin: $757.47
  • Oceanview: $908.51
  • Balcony: $1433.81
  • Suite: $2565.43

Quantum of the Seas

  • Inside cabin: $758.85
  • Oceanview: $907.51
  • Balcony: $1433.75
  • Suite: $2562.33

Radiance of the Seas

  • Inside cabin: $765.66
  • Oceanview: $916.48
  • Balcony: $1452.78
  • Suite: $2565.74

Most expensive cheap cabin price for 2023 Alaska cruise

Alaska balcony

In case you're wondering how much of a deal the cheapest cabin prices were listed earlier, here are the top weeks you can expect to find the highest price among the lowest fares available.

  • Inside cabin: Ovation of the Seas 7-night Alaska cruise July 21, 2023 from Seattle, Washington: $1,001.00
  • Oceanview cabin: Ovation of the Seas 7-night Alaska cruise July 17, 2023 from Seattle, Washington: $1191.00
  • Balcony cabin: Radiance of the Seas 7-night Southbound Alaska cruise July 21, 2023 from Seward, Alaska: $1987.00
  • Suite:  Ovation of the Seas 7-night Alaska cruise July 21, 2023 from Seattle, Washington: $3423.00

The highest prices for a 2023 Alaska cruise will be found right in the middle of prime season during the month of July.

July is when it is warmest in Alaska and every school is off for summer break. This means the most people possible have the opportunity to take a vacation, and mid July is exactly when we see the highest prices for an Alaska cruise.

Moreover, three out of the four highest prices are found on the newest cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas. Ovation offers the latest features of all the Royal Caribbean ships sailing to Alaska, which carries the highest wide-appeal.

I was surprised to see Radiance of the Seas coming in with the highest price for a balcony cabin given that Radiance is older and smaller than either Ovation or Quantum of the Seas. Plus, Radiance is sailing an open-jaw from Seward to Vancouver, which usually turns off a lot of people.  Perhaps the itinerary is particularly appealing to many, along with the fact Quantum Class ships have a higher percentage of balcony cabins.

Should I wait to book a last minute Alaska cruise?

Serenade of the Seas in Alaska

The alternative to booking a year in advance is to wait for a last minute cruise.

There can be good deals for Alaska cruises closer to sailing, but you run the risk of there not being that lucrative of a deal.

If you really don't care about your cabin type or week you sail, you might get lucky with a last minute booking, especially if you can cruise in the shoulder season when many others are unable to go.  The months of April, early May and September are in that shoulder season when the temperatures are lowest and school is still in session.

If you look at 2022 Alaska cruise prices, there are some low prices available, primarily on Radiance of the Seas open-jaw sailings. Prices at the time this article was written were as low as $240 per person, although that's for an interior cabin at the end of August. That price jumps to $863 per person if you want a balcony room.

Many cruise fans advocate a balcony cabin is a must-do when sailing to Alaska.

Generally speaking, waiting to book a 2023 Alaska cruise at the last minute is not a great idea, unless you live close to the west coast. Expensive airfare prices alone might offset any savings you get from a last minute cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean updates: Land tour testing change, The Cove & more

In:
13 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Welcome to a new week of Royal Caribbean news, which has a few tidbits and updates you should know about.

There's a lot happening in the world of cruising, and this week's update aims at catching you up on a few changes that we've seen over the past few days.

If you notice something different, be sure to email any news tips over to [email protected]

Change for Covid testing on Alaska land tours

Cruisetour Alaska train

Royal Caribbean has changed the Covid-19 testing policy for guests that have booked a cruisetour add-on to their Alaska cruise.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader melmar02 shared an update that testing is no longer required prior to the land tour, although testing remains for the cruise portion.

"Cruisetours: Testing is no longer required prior to the land tour, but cruisetour guests must still meet the pre-cruise testing requirements."

"It's recommended guests bring an eMed Test Kit to take at the end of the land tour. Guests who don't bring their own test kit will have a test made available through a local medical service provider at their own expense. "

The cruise tours are optional tours that take guests into the interior of Alaska before or after their cruise.

Cove

Remember that Royal Caribbean trademarked the term "secret cove" that sounds like it could be a new area for Perfect Day at CocoCay

A few days later they made another registration for "The Cove", which is also described as " intended to cover the categories of recreational services, namely island resort services."

There's been no word from Royal Caribbean what any of these trademarks may be utilized for, but it's something to keep an eye on.

New Zealand will reopen borders to cruise ships this summer

Auckland, New Zealand

Good news for anyone cruising down under: you'll be able to visit New Zealand again.

Our friends at Cruise.Blog shared an update that New Zealand will reopen its maritime borders on July 31, 2022.

While Australia had re-opened its borders to cruise ships, New Zealand was still holding out.

CLIA statement

CLIA Australasia issued a statement in support of the change,"Today’s announcement is a huge breakthrough for the many New Zealanders who depend on cruise tourism, including travel agents, tour operators, food and produce providers, port workers and many other industry suppliers."

"The suspension of international cruising over the past two years has had a huge impact on the New Zealand travel industry and we now have an opportunity to work on a revival."

Royal Caribbean ship opens new Sitka cruise terminal

Photo by Caitlin Blaisdell for Royal Caribbean Group.

The arrival of Ovation of the Seas to Sitka on May 7 not only signaled the start of the Alaska cruise season, but also the opening of  newly constructed Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal.

The new terminal is a 40,000-square-foot timber-framed facility featuring local retail shops and restaurants, an outdoor covered terrace and a departure point for land- and water-based shore excursions.

The 1,300-foot dock is designed to accommodate two 1,000-foot neo-Panamax-class cruise ships, with a total capacity of 8,000 guests.

The terminal has six retail stores and two restaurants, all locally owned. A shuttle for cruise guests between the terminal and downtown Sitka is designed to load up to four 60-passenger motor coaches at a time.

Beach Reads: Mental Health Awareness Month

In:
13 May 2022
By: 
Haley Mills

Spring is turning into summer, and the temps are heating up. As we head off onto our summer vacations, let’s pick some books to read! Does anyone remember those library summer reading programs?

Woman reading on a beach

There’s no better time to read than a cruise, when you can kick off your shoes, grab a drink of choice, and settle in with whatever book you’ve been saving for just this opportunity.

Does this sound like a good idea to you? We have some recommendations perfect for all you May cruisers (and everyone else, too)! Pack one or two of these books in your suitcase or on your tablet for your next vacation.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and so the books I have picked out for you all touch on some kind of mental illness. Most of us are affected by mental illness in one way or another:  we may know someone who suffers from the effects of disease or we ourselves battle illness. Either way, learning more about mental health helps to reduce the stigma surrounding these disorders and allows us to remove barriers to empathy and care.

I’d love to hear in the comments which book you chose, or if you have a favorite read for Mental Health Awareness Month that wasn’t mentioned!

Fiction

  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman:  The story of a teen with schizoaffective disorder, and the chaotic delusions he lives with on a daily basis.
  • Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee:  Miranda tries to protect her sister, Lucia, who is fiercely independent. When Lucia’s schizophrenic disorder forces her to yield to it, Miranda tries to rescue her, but only Lucia can decide if she wants to be saved. Can the bonds of sisterly devotion protect them both?
  • Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall:  A soft teen romance that gives a very accurate view of what it is like to have OCD and Agoraphobia.
  • Made You Up by Francesca Zappia:  Because of her schizophrenia, Alex never totally knows what is real and what isn’t. So when she meets Miles, he seems too good to actually be true. She’s not prepared for normal.
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:  This one is a classic for a reason. If you’ve never read it, this is a good time to add it to your list. Sylvia Plath’s masterpiece perfectly encompasses her character’s breakdown and the dark corners of the psyche.

Non-Fiction

  • Darkness Visible by William Stryon:  A memoir of depression from a Pulitzer-Prize winning author. This book lays bare the realities of clinical depression and the difficult recovery this disease demands.
  • Scattershot by David Lovelace:  Four out of the five people in the Lovelace family have bipolar disorder, and David Lovelace shares the eccentricities of their family portrait.
  • Agorafabulous! By Sara Benincasa:  Comedian Sara Benincasa shows us what it is like to be terrified of the world outside, and how to confront some of the more awkward and challenging aspects of adulthood in her hilarious memoir.
  • Welcome to the United States of Anxiety by Jen Lancaster:  Why is everyone in the USA so anxious? Comedic author Jen Lancaster is here to help us all out of that stressful pit. Maybe. 
  • Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn:  You may have seen Neil Hilborn’s poetry when it went viral across Facebook several years ago. Since his debut of “OCD”, he’s had many others make their way across the web. This collection features several of those, along with others you’ve never heard before.
Book and a beach

Are you someone who likes to read when you get on board your vacation cruise? How many books do you usually pack? What are you reading for Mental Health Awareness Month? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

8 mocktails to try on your next Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
12 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Drinking may be synonymous with any cruise vacation, but there are plenty of nonalcoholic beverages to enjoy while on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Nothing hits the spot like a tropical, fruity drink, whether you’re sun tanning on the pool deck or exploring one of Royal Caribbean’s private destinations.

I was curious as to what types of mocktails are available on a Royal Caribbean cruise, so I engaged in some fun “research” to taste a variety of drinks around the ship during my recent sailing. While there are endless combinations of juices, fruits, and syrups that can be turned into tasty mocktails, here are 8 of my favorite options for when you’re craving a nonalcoholic drink.

Mojito from Boleros

Boleros is the Latin-themed bar found on most Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and it is undoubtedly the best place onboard to order a mojito.

While the drink’s exact birthplace is not entirely known, it’s said that the mojito originated in Havana, Cuba. Combining white rum, lime juice, fresh mint, white cane sugar, and soda water, a mojito is both light and refreshing.

To order a virgin mojito, simply order a mojito without rum. The result tastes like an extremely fresh mint lemonade, and it was my favorite mocktail I tried while onboard.

Piña Colada

Perhaps the most famous vacation cocktail in the world is a piña colada, a frozen drink combining rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice together. The piña colada originated in San Juan, Puerto Rico during the 1950s and has since become synonymous with a tropical vacation.

Most bars on any Royal Caribbean ship will be able to make a piña colada, although they are most commonly served on the pool deck. Ordering piña coladas without alcohol is very common and, due to the strong pineapple and coconut flavors, a virgin piña colada barely tastes any different than its alcoholic counterpart.

Not many drinks hit the spot on a warm Caribbean day like a piña colada does, and it is a must-have drink on any Royal Caribbean cruise.

Miami Vice

If you’re having a hard time choosing between a piña colada and a strawberry daiquiri… why not both? A Miami Vice is another delicious mocktail to try on a Royal Caribbean cruise, made with one side strawberry daiquiri and the other piña colada.

The combination of pineapple, strawberry, and coconut is sure to be the best of both worlds of any tropical mocktail.

Mai Tai

A Mai Tai is a classic drink to enjoy while at the beach or onboard a cruise ship. Made with Goslings Black Seal Rum, Myer’s Dark Rum, amaretto, orange juice, sweet & sour, lime juice, and grenadine, a Mai Tai brings an explosion of flavor to a tropical drink.

A Mai Tai can easily be made into a mocktail by removing the rum. I ordered a virgin Mai Tai at The Lime & Coconut bar onboard Freedom of the Seas and it was one of the best drinks I enjoyed all cruise long!

Lime & Coconut from The Lime & Coconut

If you’re sailing on a Royal Caribbean ship with The Lime & Coconut bar on the pool deck, be sure to order the signature Lime & Coconut drink without alcohol.

The Lime & Coconut is a creamy drink over ice that combines Malibu Coconut Rum, coconut milk, coconut syrup, Monin guava syrup, and lime juice for a unique fruity taste. I ordered the drink without rum to give the bar’s signature cocktail a try.

Initially I was not sure if I liked it due to flavor combinations of guava, lime, and coconut, but the drink grew on me. While I think I preferred the Mai Tai I ordered from The Lime & Coconut, both mocktails make a good choice for a sunny day on the pool deck.

Being able to order this drink is not totally guaranteed, however. When I asked the bartender on Oasis of the Seas if he could make it, he initially seemed confused but said he would try to make a virgin version (to which he did). On Freedom of the Seas, though, my bartender said he didn’t think it was possible to make it virgin and I was unable to order it.

It might be a good idea to just specify the drink order “without coconut rum” if the bartender seems confused whether or not they can make the drink without alcohol.

Coco Loco (or Labadoozie)

Royal Caribbean’s private destinations of Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee each have the same signature cocktail, despite the name differing between the two destinations. The Coco Loco (CocoCay) or Labadoozie (Labadee) is a frozen drink made with orange juice, pineapple juice, papaya juice, coconut cream, dark rum, coconut rum, and grenadine.

As this drink is so popular while in port, there are usually pre-made blended drinks available, and bartenders simply scoop the drink into a cup. Fortunately, this pre-made blend is nonalcoholic as the alcohol is poured into the drink once it is in the cup, so it’s an extremely easy mocktail to order.

In fact, if you’re interested in making the Coco Loco at home, we have a full recipe available on the blog.

Smoothies from Vitality Cafe

If you’re sailing on an Oasis Class cruise ship, one of my go-to “mocktails” is a fresh smoothie from Vitality Cafe, located in the Vitality Spa. Not only is a fresh fruit smoothie healthier than a mocktail loaded with added sugar, but it is extremely refreshing as well.

Smoothies at Vitality Cafe are entirely customizable, from selecting which fruits you would like to the type of milk. My favorite smoothie to order has bananas, strawberries, and blueberries blended with almond milk. A bit of peanut butter makes for a great addition to the smoothie as well.

Smoothies are included in Royal Caribbean’s drink packages, although if you decide to add protein powder to your drink an extra charge will be added.

Specialty coffee drinks

While not technically a mocktail, I always enjoy having frozen or iced coffee whenever I don’t feel like drinking alcohol but still want to sip on a tasty drink. All Royal Caribbean ships have somewhere to order specialty coffees onboard, whether at Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe, Cafe Latte-tudes, Starbucks, or Cafe @ Two 70.

Select drinks will be on the cafe’s menu, from frozen caramel “frappuccinos” to iced hazelnut or vanilla lattes. A variety of flavored syrups are available, though, so it’s possible to customize a drink exactly how you would like. Frozen white chocolate coffee drinks and iced caramel lattes are two of my favorites.

What is your favorite mocktail (or cocktail) to enjoy on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Let us know in the comments!

Where to eat like a local on your Alaska cruise

In:
12 May 2022
By: 
Mollie Breese

One of the greatest parts of traveling is the opportunity to explore all of the local delicacies of an area. While Alaska may not be known as the world's culinary capital, the state is full of quaint family-owned restaurants and local breweries that capture the essence of Alaskan. 

Ketchikan, Alaska restaurant

From fresh seafood pulled straight out of the ocean to caribou steaks and locally-grown greens, Alaska offers a variety of flavors and cuisines to please even the pickiest of travelers. While you are enjoying your incredible Alaskan journey, save some time to enjoy a meal at a rustic tavern or knock glasses with a salty fisherman to get a real taste of the people, cultures, and culinary traditions that make Alaska a wild and spectacular place. 

While each town along your journey will have a well-known bar or colorful saloon, sometimes it's better to get off the beaten path and enjoy a little flavor of the local life. We've compiled a list of our top picks for food, beers, cocktails, or coffee at each stop along your Alaska cruise.

From halibut chips in Juneau to elegant dinners in Sitka, these are the top picks from our Alaskan correspondent that will make you feel like a local in America's Last Frontier. 

Anchorage

Downtown Anchorage

Arctic Roadrunner: This no-frills burger joint is perfect for enjoying an excellent burger (or salmon burger) in classic, Alaskan fashion. Outdoor seating is available along a river, and the diner is cash-only.

There is an ATM on site. 

Korean Garden: With an unassuming front and interior, this is hands-down some of the best Korean food in the city. Visitors can expect authentic Korean dishes with fast service and fair prices.

Opt for the Dolsot Bibimbap, and you will not be disappointed. 

Rustic goat nachos

The Rustic Goat: This restaurant offers "comfort food with a modern twist." You can get a wide array of specialties here, including their delicious Bison sliders. The food is pricey, but they have a great seafood menu. I go for their excellent selection of craft beers offered on draft.

Try the Double Shovel Appalanche Cider for an ideal mix of tart and sweet. 

The Writer's Block Cafe: If you happen to catch Anchorage on a rainy day, this cafe is the perfect spot to spend a few hours enjoying a hot coffee and perusing some bookshelves.

The cafe also offers a drink menu, including specialty cocktails, beer, and wine. They also have a food menu offering breakfast, comfort foods, and delicious paninis.

Haines

Haines brewery

Alpenglow: Located downtown, Alpenglow offers visitors a warm escape and wood-fired pizza. This is the best pizzeria in the town, though the hours can be weird.

Check out their site before you head over to ensure they are open. 

Haines Brewery Company: The local Haines Brewery is an excellent stop to enjoy a local brew. A modest establishment, the brewery does not offer food but does offer a rustic aesthetic and gorgeous views.

Try the Spruce Tip Ale -- I guarantee it tastes like an Alaskan summer in a glass. 

Juneau

Scottish egg encased in longanisa and a loco moco with adobo gravy

The Rookery: The Rookery is a quick favorite for locals and visitors. This small cafe is located in downtown Juneau and offers American food with an Alaskan touch.

This cafe has a great breakfast and lunch spot with a mouthwatering Korean Chicken sandwich.

Alaska Po Boy

The Wild Alaskan: If you find yourself on the outskirts of Juneau, pop by the Wild Alaskan to pick up food for a picnic or to enjoy on the go.

This food truck may not look like much on the outside, but it has the best fries and halibut in the area.

Read moreTop 10 things to do in Juneau, Alaska

Ketchikan

Garcia's Galley

Garcia's Galley: If you're looking to avoid the crowds of downtown Ketchikan, head over to Garcia's Galley for lunch or dinner.

This local favorite offers authentic Mexican food and a few American favorites. The Chimi Deluxe pairs perfectly with a margarita for an after-hike treat. 

Potlatch Bar: As Ketchikan's oldest bar, the Potlatch Bar is not a secret, but it has managed to maintain its quaint, fisherman bar aesthetic even after decades of tourism. This alone makes it worth a stop to enjoy an adult beverage along the docks, but the friendly staff and excellent drink menu add to a great experience– especially on a rainy day! 

Read moreLocal guide of places to visit in Ketchikan, Alaska

Seward

Alaska Seward Waterfront and Ray s Restaurant

Mermaid Grotto Cafe and Boutique: This cafe is an eclectic blend of modern and rustic. This no-frills cafe offers breakfast, lunch, hot drinks, and cocktails (including a superb Bloody Mary).

While the inside is beautiful, swing by on a sunny day to enjoy their ample outdoor space. It's the perfect spot to work on that Alaskan tan.

The Porthole: Alaska is a big fan of food trucks. These colorful wagons dot the landscape of most Alaskan towns, offering their own spin on popular dishes and the freedom to take your food on the go as you race to catch the whale-watching boat. The Porthole is located in the small boat harbor parking lot, on 4th avenue.

Offering breakfast and lunch options, this is a great stop to grab a quick meal before heading out on your day.

I recommend the Captain (sausage patties on a brioche bun), but you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. 

Sitka

Ludvig's Paella

Ludvig's Bistro: Ludvig's offers a wide variety of Mediterranean fares mixed with local seafood offerings. It offers a wine bar, galley, and a beautiful outside patio in downtown Sitka.

While the food is on the pricier side of Alaskan fare, the taste and quality are worth it. If you're looking to try some local seafood during your trip to Alaska, grab a reservation at Ludvig's to top off your day in Sitka. 

cream cheese, smoked sockeye, cucumber and red onion bagel

Rising Tide Bakery: If you're in Sikta in the early morning, make a stop at Rising Tide Bakery for the best bagels in town (and possibly all of Alaska). Set your alarm clock early, as they will often sell out before noon. 

Read moreTop 10 things to do in Sitka, Alaska

Skagway

Skagway brewing beer

Skagway Brewing Company: The Skagway Brewery is an excellent example of sustainable living in remote Alaska. With their own on-site production of fresh greens, fruits, and herbs, their food is guaranteed to be the freshest in the area.

As a brewery, they also offer a great selection of local and craft beers, as well as a hearty Beer Chili that can warm you on even the coldest of days. 

Skagway downtown

The Station Bar & Grill: Skagway doesn't offer many options as far as food, and downtown restaurants can get busy very quickly when a cruise ship is in port.

To avoid the crowds and escape tourist prices, head over to The Station Bar & Grill. Still, within walking distance of the docks, this grill is removed enough from the main streets not to get overcrowded but offers a great menu of burgers, home-cooking, and beers. 

Read moreTop 10 things to do in Skagway, Alaska

More Alaska information

Five ways to find fitness on a Royal Caribbean Cruise

In:
12 May 2022
By: 
Haley Mills

One of our stops on our Embarkation Day front to back ship walks is always the Vitality Spa and Gym. When we first started cruising, I always made the joke that “Why would anyone want to give up precious relaxing time to spend it working out, when you do so much walking on a cruise anyway?” Flash forward several years, and so much has changed.

Rock wall on Allure of the Seas

Mr. M has been into fitness for awhile, but he’s now got me working out regularly and while I’ll never be a "gym head", I at least understand now. So let’s talk about exercising on vacation.

Once we’re on ship, obviously our normal routine goes out the window. It’s so easy to slack off and just forget about fitness for the rest of the trip. And I’ll be honest, I am really good at procrastinating on gym work. Thankfully, Royal Caribbean is all about staying active. There are no shortage of options for moving your body. What is your favorite?

Running track

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog Day 7 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

On land, in addition to our studio workouts, Mr. M runs. He runs a lot. He’ll be running his first marathon this year, so being able to train is important, even when at sea. Royal Caribbean understands how much an obsession running is to their guests, and there is a running track on every ship.

Oasis Class is built with a track around the outside of Deck 5 that you can get to from the gym. It’s out of the way, and makes for a fantastic experience. The smaller ships generally have their track up top on the pool and sports decks, so sometimes you may have to hurdle a chair or two, or dodge some folks out for a morning stroll. Mr. M definitely recommends getting up early for those sessions.

Traditional gym

Everyday things that are better on a cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Connected to Vitality Spa, you will find a traditional-style gym, with equipment just like you’d see at your local YMCA or Planet Fitness. There are treadmills facing windows or portholes, bikes, and rowers. You’ll find plenty of weight machines and free weight dumbbells.

While the size of gym and amount of equipment may vary by ship, you can easily create your own workout routine for the week. I recommend heading down on embarkation day to map out the floor to make a plan. 

Fitness classes

Photos: Voyager of the Seas completes $97 million renovation | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean also plans a variety of fitness classes throughout the cruise.

On Oasis Class ships, there’s a room for spin classes, and while I’ve never taken one myself–I’ve heard that they are pretty intense! There’s also usually a yoga class every day, and sometimes Zumba.

On one cruise (pre-Covid), I even saw them teach a Zumba class in the Promenade, and then they did a flash mob with the same group later that week!

Check your Cruise Compass for details on these activities. Sometimes there is an additional cost for the classes, and you’ll need to sign up ahead of time.

Sports deck and other activities

In addition to the more obvious forms of fitness, Royal Caribbean has a lot of fun activities to do while on board that will help keep your body moving.

Many of these can be found on the Sports Deck–it’s in the name, after all. The Sports Deck is home to two large netted basketball courts that can host a variety of games. Ping pong tables are also found here.

On the larger ships, rock climbing walls can provide skyhigh fitness, and a pretty fantastic view of the ocean! If water sports are more your style, give surfing a try on the FlowRider. That’s some serious leg and ab power, right there.

On Quantum Class ships, you can work on body control in the iFly experience, while you fight against a wind tunnel in a faux skydive. If you enjoy that antigravity feeling, the SkyPad on some ships is another full body workout as you strap on a harness and VR set, springing into the unknown. 

For those of us who prefer a little less impact and/or daring, there are still ways to stay in motion throughout our vacation while relaxing the whole time! I spend much of my onboard time in the pool. If you’ve ever treaded water for a few hours, you know that you will use plenty of muscles that you’re not used to using on land. I always come out so sore at the end of the week!

You’ll also do an unbelievable amount of walking. Make sure your step counter is on, because you’ll be sure to win your workplace’s fitness contest even while you’re on vacation! Between the sheer size of the ships, and the excursions, there’s a lot of point A to Bs, but it’s hard to notice with all the fun you’ll be having!

Excursions

Shore excursions are the final way to find fitness on a cruise. There are limitless options of what you can do, depending on the ports you travel to.

Again, you will probably be walking a lot, so that alone will add movement to your fitness tracker. Add in some sporty schemes to your port stops and you won’t have to spend an hour in the gym. Here are some examples:

  • City Bike Tour
  • Hike Up a Waterfall
  • Swimming at a Beach Break
  • Kayaking to a Lagoon
  • Paddleboarding

While there is zero shame in taking it easy and giving yourself a rest week for vacation, many of us are in the habit of moving our bodies and must have some form of exercise at least every other day. Thankfully, Royal Caribbean has a great balance of fun and fitness with many options of both.

How do you work out while on a cruise? 

Must-eat foods on a cruise to Italy

In:
11 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Mediterranean brings historical sites, picturesque streets, and arguably the most important thing: food.

Italy is one of the most popular cruise destinations in Europe, with common ports including Rome, Palermo, Catania, Florence, and Naples. Each region and city in Italy has its own culinary history, traditional dishes, and famous restaurants. Be sure to disembark your cruise ship hungry when you arrive in Italy because there are endless new foods to discover.

Foods to try on a cruise to Florence

The region of Tuscany, where Florence is found, is most well known for its meat. From paninis to steak, you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to try meat dishes in Florence. And whether you choose to have a fancier sit-down meal or you end up ordering a sandwich to go, you will not be left disappointed with food options when visiting the city.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

One of the most popular meat dishes to try in Florence is bistecca alla Fiorentina, which is a T-bone steak from the Chianina cow, a breed of cow from Tuscany.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina is traditionally only cooked for a few minutes on each side to ensure that the flavor and texture is correct. The steak is commonly served with olive oil and cannellini beans.

You can try this dish throughout the city, but one of the best restaurants to order this bistecca is at Buca Lapi. Founded in 1880, this traditional restaurant was built inside a barrel-vaulted cellar and serves bistecca alla Fiorentina that can be big enough for two to three people.

Pizza at Gusta Pizza

You’ll know you’ve reached Gusta Pizza when you spot a long line of people waiting outside the small pizzeria. Gusta Pizza is one of the most famous pizzerias in Florence and the pizzas there live up to the hype.

The menu at Gusta Pizza is simple. With only seven pizzas to choose from, each pizza has been crafted for perfection before it makes its way into the wood fired brick oven. Be sure to try the classic Margherita Pizza and the “GustaPizza,” which is topped with tomato, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and parmesan.

Sandwiches at All’antico Vinaio

All’antico Vinaio is a famous sandwich shop located in the heart of Florence. Sandwiches at All’antico Vinaio are served on a local bread, schiacciata, and filled with cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables, and homemade creams including artichoke and truffle cream.

Since the shop has limited seating, you can take your sandwich out to the street and enjoy it as you watch the day go by in the historical center of Florence. In fact, All’antico Vinaio is so popular with both Italians and foreigners alike that they recently opened a location in New York City!

Other dishes to try: Gelato, lampredotto (beef tripe)

Foods to try on a cruise to Sicily

If your cruise visits the ports of Palermo, Messina, or Catania, consider yourself lucky. Sicily is home to some of Italy’s most diverse and multicultural cuisine. Due to its strategic location as an island between Europe and northern Africa, Sicily’s culture and cuisine have been influenced by its neighboring countries and regions for centuries. 

While all Sicilian cuisine is flavorful, there are a few dishes and desserts that stand out from the rest.

Granita

One of the most popular desserts in Sicily is granita. Often preferred to gelato by Sicilians, granita is somewhat similar to a creamy Italian ice or sorbet, but with a smoother, more liquidy texture.

Common flavors of granita include mandorla (almond), pistacchio, limone (lemon), frutti di bosco (berry), and fragola (strawberry). I recommend asking for “granita con panna” for a cup of granita topped with freshly whipped cream.

Not much is more refreshing than any icy cup of granita when walking around a Sicilian cruise port on a hot summer day. This is personally, by far, my favorite Italian dessert of all time.

Pasta alla Norma

Eggplant is one of the most utilized ingredients in Sicilian cuisine, and one of the best dishes to try with eggplant in Sicily is Pasta alla Norma. Pasta alla Norma combines fresh pasta with slices of fried eggplant, tomato sauce, grated ricotta salata cheese, and fresh basil.

Named after Vicenzo Bellini, a native Sicilian who composed the opera Norma, the dish was said to have been called a true masterpiece worthy of the same name of the opera. This is a popular Sicilian dish, so you will not have any trouble finding it on a menu when cruising to Sicily.

Arancini

Not only is arancini a dish you will find at Jamie’s Italian and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, but you can taste authentic arancini on a cruise to Italy. Arancini are stuffed rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and fried. While not a full meal, they are usually quite big and make a filling snack to enjoy as you wander around Sicily.

Arancini are native to Sicily and are most easily found in grab-and-go “bars” throughout the region. Popular fillings include meat with tomato sauce (ragù), mozzarella cheese, and peas.

Other dishes to try: Cannoli, cassata cake, caponata, pasta con le sarde

Foods to try on a cruise to Rome

A few of Italy’s most popular pasta dishes have origins in Rome. Whether your cruise begins in Rome or you are just stopping in the port of Civitavecchia for the day, be sure to try one of these famous pastas.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe is a pasta dish that originated in Rome and has recently spread in popularity. While cacio e pepe can be found in some restaurants in the United States, the best place to taste it is, of course, in Rome.

Cacio e pepe is made by boiling pasta and, after draining the pasta, mixing the leftover starchy water with pecorino cheese and black pepper. This results in a semi-creamy, cheesy pasta with a slight kick of spice. It is most often made from a long pasta such as spaghetti or tonnarelli.

Amatriciana

If you’re in the mood for a tomato-based sauce, order Amatriciana. Amatriciana is a traditional sauce made from guanciale (pork cheek), pecorino romano, and tomato. A simple, classic tomato sauce enhanced with the hearty flavor of pork, it is likely to be among your favorite dishes on a cruise to Italy.

This sauce is traditionally served with Bucatini pasta, a spaghetti-like pasta that is hollow inside. You may see this dish listed on a menu as Bucatini all’amatriciana.

Carbonara

Carbonara may just be the most beloved pasta dish for Italians. Carbonara sauce is made with eggs, pecorino romano or parmigiana, guanciale, and black pepper. It is most commonly served with spaghetti.

This dish may sound a bit odd to foreigners visiting Italy. Pasta with an egg and bacon sauce? Don’t knock it until you try it, though, and there’s no better place to do so than in Rome.

Other dishes to try: Pizza al taglio, maritozzi, supplì

Foods to try on a cruise to Naples

If your cruise ship docks in Naples, you will have the opportunity to not only explore the city of Napoli, but the entire Amalfi coast region. The Amalfi coast is home to an abundance of fresh flavors. From lemons to seafood and tomatoes, there is no shortage of fresh ingredients to enjoy.

Neapolitan pizza

Naples, or Napoli, is most famous for being the birthplace of pizza. Modern pizza is said to have originated in Naples from flatbread dishes in the 18th or early 19th century, although it did not gain widespread popularity until the 1940s.

One of the most famous pizzerias in Naples today is Sorbillo. Located in the historical center of Napoli, Sorbillo makes traditional Neapolitan pizza with a thick outer crust and thin, gooey, saucey, and cheesy middle. The classic pizza flavors to try in Naples are the pizza marinara or pizza margherita.

Pasta in Sorrento

Many cruise passengers arriving in Naples will choose to skip the city in favor of spending more time on the Amalfi Coast in destinations like Sorrento, Pompeii, and Capri.

A classic dish to try in the south of Italy is a classic pomodoro sauce made from fresh tomatoes and basil.

Those looking for a taste of fresh vegetables may want to order spaghetti alla nerano. Made with fried zucchinis and provolone cheese, this pasta dish is full of light and savory flavors.

Another popular pasta dish from Sorrento is gnocchi alla sorrentina. Prepared with potato gnocchi, tomato sauce, parmigiana, basil, and fresh mozzarella, gnocchi alla sorrentina is a meal that is certain to fill you up on a busy day in port.

If you’re hoping to try seafood, order spaghetti alle vongole. Spaghetti alle vongole is a simple pasta dish that is said to have originated in Campania, the Italian region where Naples is located. The pasta combines spaghetti noodles with freshly caught clams, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and white wine, although it may sometimes include tomatoes and fresh basil.

Other dishes to try: Sfogliatelle, limoncello, mozzarella di bufala, pizza fritta

 

Royal Caribbean allows crew members to freely get off the ship in ports again

In:
11 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Crew members can now disembark cruise ships in port during their time off once again.

One of the many Covid-19 protocols on cruise ships prohibited crew members from visiting ports of call, but that rule has been changed.

Ovation of the Seas crew member Chris Wong shared a video update recently that crew members are getting once again free flow.

"We have just been told that we are officially getting once again free flow surely for crew members, which means we can go back out into port, just like it was pre-pandemic days."

"Since the restart, crew shore leave or any crew members to go out into port was not allowed."

Crew members in port

He explained that small changes were made over the last few months, but it just wasn't the same, "towards the end of last year, they slowly started allowing crew to get off again. But it was a very it was in a very controlled environment. These were bubble tours. So it wasn't really the same thing. And to be honest, it wasn't that much fun."

Mr. Wong cited a crew newsletter email that explained the new policy, "we're thrilled to announce that our shore leave pilot was a success. And beginning May 1st, free flow shore leave will be extended to all ships and participating ports of call."

"As we ease back into free flow, capacity limits of 250 crew per port will be implemented."

Mr. Wong added that the updated policy excludes turnaround ports, which do not have capacity limits.

Mr. Wong was visibly excited for the change because being limited to staying on the ship during a contract meant missing out on some real fun that one can have while working on a cruise ship, "this is certainly a lot better than how it used to be."

Street in Cozumel

"I cannot wait to just visit the first port of call wherever it will be, to walk off the gangway and to just be able to walk around wherever I want and not, you know, having to think, oh, am I allowed to go there?"

"This is a really big deal for us crew members."

Royal Caribbean has been slowly relaxing certain protocols for crew members and guests alike.

Following the Omicron variant, Royal Caribbean began to slowly open up shore leave for crew members in February. This week's update follows up on that initiative even further.

Excursion Focus: Pearl Island Beach Escape in Nassau

In:
11 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Nassau, Bahamas is one of the most common port stops on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and offers a variety of activities for all interests and budgets. Whether relaxing on the beach, walking around the city center, or trying out a day pass at a local resort, I try to find a new activity to do every time I visit Nassau.

On my recent weekend cruise on Freedom of the Seas, I booked an excursion to Pearl Island during our stop in Nassau. While I did not know much about Pearl Island prior to booking the excursion, I was excited to see what the island had to offer.

Booking options

There are three types of tours to book at Pearl Island: Pearl Island Beach Escape, Pearl Island Beach Escape & Snorkel, and Pearl Island VIP Cabana for 2. Each tour is five hours long including transportation.

I decided to book the Pearl Island Beach Escape excursion. I booked the tour directly through Royal Caribbean for $92.99, although the price briefly lowered to $83.99 a few weeks prior to the cruise.

The Pearl Island Beach Escape tour includes transportation, water sport gear, beach chairs and umbrellas, lunch, and access to climb the island’s lighthouse. The snorkeling tour, which is priced around $20 more than the Beach Escape, includes a 30-minute guided underwater tour of a protected reef on one side of the island.

VIP cabanas are also available to book through the “Pearl Island VIP Cabana for 2” shore excursion. Each private waterfront cabana comes with butler service, complimentary towels, a power outlet, ceiling fan, 30-minute guided snorkeling trip, and fully-stocked cooler.

The cabanas also come with an all-inclusive drink package, which includes sodas, beer, wine, and cocktails. While cabana guests will indulge in the same lunch as other guests on Pearl Island, they are served lunch directly in the cabana.

The cost of a VIP cabana at Pearl Island is $480 total for two guests.

It appears you are able to book a Pearl Island tour directly on the island’s website, although booking through the cruise line seems to be a much better option. The price is comparable to what Royal Caribbean offers, but when booking independently the website states that the boat will depart from the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal as opposed to right near the cruise ships. When factoring in the cost of a taxi to and from Paradise Island, it will probably end up being more expensive to book directly through Pearl Island.

How to get to Pearl Island

Booking an excursion to Pearl Island through Royal Caribbean includes roundtrip transportation from the cruise port to the island. Fortunately our tour boarded the boat that would take us to Pearl Island very close to where we disembarked the ship, so there was no need to walk very far.

Pearl Island is located just 30 minutes by boat from the cruise terminal, passing through Nassau Harbor and the luxury homes, resorts, and golf courses along the way. As most of the ride is within the harbor itself, the water should be fairly smooth.

The excursion description does say that the ride to Pearl Island will include a half-hour "commentated harbor cruise" where guests can learn more about the island and its history, but this did not occur on my excursion. This did not matter to me, but it should be noted that Royal Caribbean’s description did not entirely match what we experienced on the tour.

Island layout

Photo credit: Pearl Island

Pearl Island is small and narrow and the majority of the island has a rocky coastline. Crystal clear water surrounds the island in various shades of turquoise.

Technically there is only one beach on the island, but bushes and plants somewhat separate the beach into two areas: one main beach and one smaller beach located near the VIP cabanas. The beaches have mostly calm seas, making for a nice swim for visitors of all ages.

On the western side of the island is Pearl Island’s iconic lighthouse, which is open to visitors and offers panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding islands. This is also where lunch is held and where the snorkeling tour begins.

The eastern part of Pearl Island is where you’ll find the beaches and cabana areas as well as the island’s bar.

Throughout the entire island are a ton of beach chairs, many of which have umbrellas or shade structures. Chairs are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you want to be in a specific location or have the most shade possible, be sure to reserve a spot on the island right away.

Luckily, there should be no shortage of chairs to find as the island limits capacity. In fact, the island seemed pretty empty when I was there, even after a group from another cruise ship arrived midway through the day.

Food

A Bahamian style lunch is included in the excursion cost, which was available starting at 11AM. Lunch included coleslaw, beans and rice, BBQ chicken, and fish fingers. Iced tea and water were also available. The food was served in a full-service buffet-style, where the staff member placed the dish on your plate.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the lunch at Pearl Island, but I found it to be quite tasty. The fish fingers were exceptionally crispy and flavorful and the rice, while a bit dry, had a good amount of spice and beans mixed throughout.

Outside of the complimentary lunch, there were snacks for sale at the bar including chips and cookies.

Drinks

When researching details about Pearl Island prior to booking the excursion, I had read a few reviews stating that drinks were expensive. While I did not plan to drink much while on the island anyway, I was a bit disappointed to hear this. After reading reviews, I was expecting drinks to be around $15+.

However, I really should have done more research because this was not the case at all once I arrived! I was pleasantly surprised to see a drink menu with reasonable prices, with beers around $6, mocktails $8, and cocktails between $9-12. Soda, water, and juice is also available.

I ordered a Miami Vice (half piña colada and half strawberry daiquiri) and it really hit the spot on a warm, sunny day in the Bahamas!

Highlights & Comments

A nice highlight of my day on Pearl Island was taking advantage of the water sport activities available. Outside of the snorkeling tour, all water activities are available free of charge.

I initially planned to use a standup paddle, but due to the winds making the beach a bit choppier than usual, only kayaks were available. Kayaking was a whole lot of fun. Even though I could only go out so far due to ropes blocking off the beach, it was definitely a highlight of my time on the island.

Outside of kayaking and standup paddling, there were floating beach mats available in the water and a few games to play on the beach.

My only complaint was that my time on the island seemed to pass by way too quickly! When factoring in a slightly delayed departure from the pier and travel time to the island, we were only there for around 3.5 hours. An extra hour or two would have been nice, and if I had more time I would have explored the lighthouse.

Additionally, due to the short time spent on the island, I was glad I did not book the snorkeling excursion. Those that did the snorkeling tour did not have nearly as much time to relax and enjoy the island’s beauty.

As a whole, Pearl Island exceeded my expectations and I had a wonderful, beautiful day relaxing amongst the island’s crystal clear beaches, kayaking, and enjoying food and drinks. I always enjoy discovering new things to see, do, eat, and experience during my day in Nassau, and my time on Pearl Island was the best day I've had in Nassau yet.

Royal Caribbean exec: Icon of the Seas will be bigger than Oasis Class

In:
10 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Will Royal Caribbean's new Icon Class cruise ships be the largest in the world?

When Royal Caribbean announced plans for a new class of cruise ship, they provided very few details, but becoming the new biggest cruise ship in the world wasn't part of the announcement.

It now looks like perhaps the Icon Class ships will be larger, according to recent comments made by a Royal Caribbean executive this week.

Travel Weekly is reporting the newly promoted Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Sean Treacy, indicated Icon of the Seas will be larger than the Oasis class cruise ships.

Icon of the Seas 2023

"Icon will be the biggest. It launches in the fall of next year and will be the first new ship class for Royal in a decade," Mr. Treacy said while onboard Wonder of the Seas during a trade event.

Travel Weekly went on to say a Royal Caribbean spokesperson confirmed the fact Icon of the Seas, which will be the first Icon Class cruise ship, will be larger, "Icon-class ships will be bigger than our Oasis class."

The disclosure by Mr. Treacy is the first public statement about the fact Icon will be larger than Oasis Class, although it's not clear in what aspect will Icon be larger.

Icon of the Seas plaque

According to Royal Caribbean's Form 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on May 5, 2022, it still lists Icon of the Seas has having slightly less passenger capacity than Wonder of the Seas or Utopia of the Seas.

In the filing, Icon and the other unnamed Icon Class ships have approximately 5,600 berths compared to Wonder and Utopia's 5,700 berths.

When Royal Caribbean first announced the Icon Class in October 2016, they estimated the ship would be able to handle approximately 5,000 passengers. Of course, the cruise line indicated at that time and for some time thereafter that the concepts were still being developed.

Icon of the Seas keel-laying ceremony

There are three Icon Class ships on order:

  • Icon of the Seas delivery in 3rd Quarter 2023
  • Unnamed second Icon class ship delivery in 2nd Quarter 2025
  • Unnamed third Icon class ship delivery in 2nd Quarter 2026

The keel was recently laid for Icon of the Seas at the shipyard in Finland, which signals the official start of construction.

Terminal A in PortMiami

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed that Icon will initially debut in the UK, and then sail from Miami.

While Royal Caribbean has not announced yet what the ship will look like, itineraries, or other important features, they have hyped the vessel as a game changer.

“The ship is unbelievable," said Mr. Bayley in a recent interview. "It's an amazing ship. What’s fascinating about Icon is the sheer amount of product."

Icon of the Seas construction

Bayley indicated Icon of the Seas will feature a combination of ‘tradition, evolution and revolution’ cruising elements from Royal Caribbean. 

Favorites, such as the Schooner Bar, will continue to be found on Icon.

On the other hand, evolution elements revolve around continuously improving elements that cruisers love, such as entertainment venues and waterslides. Finally, revolution elements are ‘industry-firsts’ and are meant to be WOW factors for the company.