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Carnival Corp. kicks passenger off cruise ship for breaking COVID rule

By: Matt Hochberg

Some are wondering how Royal Caribbean closely will enforce new health protocols, and rival Carnival Corporation showed they mean business.

One passenger on Carnival brand cruise ship AIDA was not allowed to come back on their cruise ship after breaking one of the new rules.

AIDA Cruises’ AIDAblu prohibited a guest from returning from a shore excursion while in Catania, Italy because he left the organized tour group.

Like other cruise lines that have restarted sailings, AIDA requires guests to only book cruise line approved shore excursions, and guests are made very aware of this rule prior to the cruise, and before the shore excursion begins. This is meant as a way of limiting potential exposures in the destinations ships visit.

An AIDA Cruises spokesperson said, "Our highest responsibility and top priorities are compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, crew, shoreside employees and the people and communities our ships visit."

The guest was not able to re-board the ship, and AIDA assisted him in arranging travel home. A Carnival spokesperson said this was the first case of a passenger being blocked from returning to one of its ships for breaking coronavirus protocols. 

AIDA is one of two Carnival Corporation cruise lines that restarted limited operations in Europe.

This is not the first time a cruise ship passenger has attempted to deviate from a tour. In August, a family on a MSC Cruises shore excursion tried to do the same thing and was not allowed back on the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean shore excursions

Just like AIDA, Costa and MSC, Royal Caribbean will also have a rule requiring guests to only book tours through the cruise line, and guests will only be permitted to disembark at ports if they are taking cruise line sponsored excursions.

Specifically, it calls to only permit shore excursions according to the cruise operators’ prescribed protocols, with strict adherence required of all passengers and denial of re-boarding for any passengers that do not comply.

The rule is one of many recommendations by the Healthy Sail Panel, which encompasses 74 key steps.  The entire cruise industry has committed to adopting these protocols as a means of restarting cruises safely.

The panel does recommend Royal Caribbean "potentially reconsidering the cost of curated experiences" to make these more appealing.

In addition, indoor excursions should only be offered if  if physical distancing, use of masks, and other recommended protective measures can be implemented.

50 things everyone should do on a Royal Caribbean cruise at least once

By: Matt Hochberg

There are so many great things to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and I have narrowed down the list to 50 things you have to do at least once.

Whether it is check out a signature activity, eat at your favorite restaurant onboard, or lay out in the sun, there are so many choices of what you can do on a cruise, but odds are you have not done everything yet.

A cruise is what you make of it, and while you can nap and sit by the pool for the entire cruise, here are the top picks of the 50 best things to do on a cruise.

Visit Perfect Day at CocoCay

Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas is so impressive that you need to take a cruise that brings you to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

There is a ton to do, including spending the day at the beach, pool, water park and more.

It is a big hit with families, and a must-visit port that never gets old.

Order breakfast in bed

Room service is available on all cruise ships for a modest fee, so one morning arrange to have breakfast delivered to your room.

Whether you choose to eat it on your balcony or in your bed, it is a fun way to start your day!

Ride the Ultimate Abyss

The Ultimate Abyss is more than 150 feet above sea level and offers side-by-side slides that send guests down 10 decks at a rate of 9 miles per hour. Launching onto the ride from a glass platform, guests can take one last look at the Boardwalk 10 decks below before climbing onto a customized mat and taking the plunge into the depths of the daunting slides.

Rides on the Ultimate Abyss are included with your cruise fare, so you will have plenty of opportunity to scream down the slide, over and over again.

Take a zip line ride

On Oasis Class ships, you can zip line 9 decks above the Boardwalk on a path that measures 82 feet from start to finish.

It is a really experience and completely free!

Challenge the family to mini-golf

Another fantastic complimentary activity is mini-golf, which is available on a lot of Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

You can play on the green as often as you like, while enjoying some beautiful views of the ocean that surrounds you.  No reservations are required, just show up and grab a putter and ball. 

Be sure to try out night time mini golf one evening to mix things up.

Enjoy a spa treatment

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself, and a treatment at the Vitality Spa is the perfect splurge.

Massages, facials, and even acupuncture are available to purchase and a great way to take your relaxation to the next level.

Spa treatments have an additional cost, but it is something you should try at least once.

See a show in the AquaTheater

The AquaTheater is arguably one of the top entertainment venues on any Royal Caribbean ship, because it offers some of the very best shows the cruise has developed.

The AquaTheater features two 10-meter high platforms and the hydraulic-floored pool, the largest and deepest freshwater pool at sea, below serves as podiums for high-diving, hair-raising aerobatics that AquaTheater audiences have come to love.

Available on the Oasis Class ships, there is a different show on each vessel. Regardless of which ship you sail on, this is an experience unlike anything else at sea.

Watch a Broadway show

Speaking of fantastic entertainment, Royal Caribbean offers full Broadway shows on select cruise ships that cost absolutely nothing extra to see!

Select Royal Caribbean ships offer Tony Award-winning shows that are the exact show you would have seen on The Great White Way.

See the ship from the North Star

Royal Caribbean has been pushing the envelope for years in terms of what a cruise ship can include and North Star is another example of "they can put that on a cruise ship?".

North Star is an observation pod that is attached to a giant arm on top of Quantum and Quantum Ultra Class ships.  North Star will allow passengers to go up in the sky above the cruise ship 300 feet above the sea.

Climb the rock wall

Perhaps no other onboard activity put Royal Caribbean "on the map" quite as much as the rock climbing wall did. When Royal Caribbean introduced the first rock climbing wall, the guest feedback was so positive that rock climbing walls were added to other ships in the fleet and have become a staple of any Royal Caribbean ship going forward.

The rock climbing walls come in different sizes, but they all offer different tracks that allow for different experience levels.  It is usually open most of the day for kids and adults to enjoy.  Royal Caribbean provides all the safety equipment that you will need, including helmets, harnesses and shoes.  You just need to bring a pair of socks.

Win a game of trivia

One of my favorite sea day activities is to play trivia on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and the feeling you get when you finally win a game is a terrific thrill.

There are usually a few different trivia games offered each day of the cruise, and the topics range from general trivia to music, sports, visual or movie trivia.

There is no cost to participate, and the satisfaction of winning is worth the challenge.

Ride the carousel

In the Boardwalk neighborhood, guests young and old can enjoy a ride on a classic carousel that is sure to bring a smile to anyone's face. The carousel on Symphony of the Seas is hand-crafted and especially designed by Carousel Works for Royal Caribbean and is one-of-a-kind.

Inspired by turn-of-the-century carousels that were found in the northeastern United States, Symphony of the Seas' carousel is a classic attraction that is as beautiful in design as it is enjoyable to ride.

Have a drink in the Viking Crown Lounge

The Viking Crown Lounge is a signature location on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and you must enjoy at least one beverage while taking in the view.

Whether in day or night, the views of the pool deck and surrounding area are always worth the elevator ride up to see it.

Dine at the Chef's Table

Chef's Table offers a guided private Epicurean five-course experience with an upgraded menu and wine tasting to a limited number of guests. 

It is one of Royal Caribbean's most well-respected offerings and a must-do for any foodie.

Try to surf on the FlowRider

If you ever wanted to learn to surf, Mariner of the Seas has a Flowrider surf simulator on the back of the ship you can try. The FlowRider is a simulator that sends water a very high speed across a small area that mimics what it is like to surf on the ocean.

Guests can surf until they fall off the board, but the staff is pretty good at challenging the talented guests in an effort to improve their skills and increase the likelihood of falling off.

Wander around Central Park

Central Park is one of the prettiest and impressive areas on an Oasis class ship, and you must take the time to explore it.

It is an immense area in the middle of the ship that offers a lush park for guests to enjoy with tropical plants, trees and walkways.

Central Park is the perfect quiet place onboard to "get away" and just relax as the world goes by.

Have a drink on the Rising Tide Bar

There is something undeniably cool about a bar that moves between decks, and on Oasis class ships, the Rising Tide bar does just that.

The Rising Tide Bar continuously moves between the Royal Promenade and Central Park, offering some great views while you enjoy your favorite cocktail.

There's just something very cool about being on a bar that moves through the air and with a drink in hand, it's a great place to watch all those people that are watching you.

Chill out by the pool

There might not be any more classic cruise experience than spending your day at the pool on a cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean designed their pools to be fun, relaxing and most of all refreshing experiences.  Whether you are there for the ambiance, the cooling effect or the activities, time at the pool is a great idea.

In addition to splashing and lounging, you will find various events, such as the belly flop competition or crew vs. guests pool games.

Race down the water slides

Water slides are something guests of all ages can enjoy, and Royal Caribbean has steadily been adding water slides to new and existing ships.

The Perfect Storm water slides are included in your cruise fare, and a very fun family activity.  As you slide down any of the slides, you will twist and turn three decks into a splashy finish.

Watch a movie by the pool

Royal Caribbean regularly shows movies on the pool movie screen during the day and evening.

These movies are a combination of classics and new releases, and come with no cost.  You can opt to pull up a chair, or hop in the pool or hot tub to enjoy the movie.

Eat at Izumi Hibachi

Specialty dining is a great way to "plus" your cruise, and my favorite is Izumi Hibachi.

On ships that offer hibachi, you get to experience fun for the whole family that include authentic flavors, the freshest ingredients and impeccable presentation.

If you choose to eat at one specialty restaurant, Izumi is a solid choice.

Challenge yourself to the Escape Room

If I am on a Royal Caribbean ship with an escape room that I have not tried yet, then it becomes a must-do activity.

Escape rooms challenge your brain and teamwork skills by attempting to solve the clues and escape before time on the clock runs out.

Whether you are already a fan of the escape room trend or just eager to try this challenge for the first time, I think you will enjoy the thrill of trying to beat the escape room on select Royal Caribbean ships.

Watch the game from Playmakers

While Playmakers Sports Bar costs money to order food or drink, watching a game on one of their many television screens is totally complimentary.

Sports fans will love catching their favorite team playing on game day from the comfort of a table at Playmakers. Heck, you can play a round or two of Jenga or Connect Four in-between innings!

Try a few cocktails at the Bamboo Room

Royal Caribbean calls the Bamboo Room a "laid back Polynesian watering hole with a throwback vibe and kitschy-cool craft cocktails". 

Some of the most creative and unique drinks you will find on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship are available at the Bamboo Room, making it totally worth a visit.

Find the stowaway piano player

One of the best not-so-well-known entertainment options that Royal Caribbean has recently added is the "stowaway" piano player.

The idea is there is a piano player with a far-out piano that will move around the ship and perform for guests but encouraging guests to not report him.  

The piano is no ordinary piano.  It has hidden compartments and functions and can dispense various things, such as lollipops for kids or appear to overheat because of "intense" piano playing.

Try the food at Wonderland

Some guests may be quick to group all of Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants together as offering similar experiences, but there is one restaurant that breaks the mold.

Wonderland was introduced on Royal Caribbean's Quantum class ships and has quickly become a favorite for its whimsical, over-the-top experience it offers alongside some really good food.

For guests looking to try something different and bring a bit of "show" into their meals, Wonderland is a superb choice and it promises to be a dining experience you will be talking about for a while.

The Quest

For the adults only, make plans to watch the Crazy Quest on your cruise.  Assuming you have a good sense of humor, the Crazy Quest is an adult scavenger hunt that involves guests going to great lengths to complete a number of physical challenges.

Having seen the Quest many times, it is safe to say no two Crazy Quest shows are the same and there is no telling exactly what you will witness.  It is wild, intense and provides some great late-night entertainment.

Sing along at the Schooner Bar

I would wager to say that the Schooner Bar is a staple of any Royal Caribbean experience because there is always something going on here.

Whether you pronounce it "shooner" or "skooner", we can all agree the Schooner Bar is home to fun trivia, live music and great people.

Get there early, because seats go quickly for the fun evening piano sing-alongs.

Have lunch in the main dining room

On sea days, Royal Caribbean opens the main dining room for lunch and offers a combination of seated waiter service along with a fantastic salad bar.

The lunch menu changes every day that it is open, so keep an eye on it for a great alternative to the buffet for lunch.

Rent a cabana

If your cruise visits Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee, my favorite splurge is to rent a cabana.

Getting a cabana means you get to enjoy a mix of privacy, luxury and excellent service. 

Try a cooking class

Sushi making, cupcake decorating, or guacamole making classes are a lot of fun and taste great too!

Watch the sunset

Being out in the ocean, catching a sunset is a gorgeous event that should be done every cruise, but definitely at least once.

The spectacle of the sun setting is amazing, with the many colors in the sky and reflections in the ocean. Be sure to bring a camera to try to capture the splendor of it all

See the Love & Marriage game show

Royal Caribbean has some very fun shows onboard its ships, and one of my favorite shows has to be the Love and Marriage game show.  

Most Royal Caribbean cruise directors that I have heard talk about the show, describe it as being similar to the The Newlywed Game television show.

Based loosely on "The Newly Wed game," Royal Caribbean's version involves three couples trying to prove they know their spouse the best.  It is a quiz of memory and how well one spouse thinks they know the other.

What makes the show fun is when one spouse is very wrong or a spouse reveals something embarrassing about themselves.  The cruise director certainly plays a part in encouraging the couples to be honest and then poking fun at the answers. 

Take a nap in the Solarium

The only thing better than spending time in the adults-only pool area is to take a nap there!

The Solarium is one of the most relaxing areas of the cruise ship, and it tends to be somewhat (if not fully) enclosed.  In addition, it has padded lounge chairs that are just perfect for an afternoon nap.

Go for a night swim

Anyone can swim during the day but on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but I love to put on my bathing suit late after the sun goes down and hop in the pool.  

Night swims are a great experience and with the new giant movie screens near the pools on most Royal Caribbean ships, it's fun to take in a classic film while being in the water.  It is a great family activity and the perfect way to end a fun day.

Catch a performance in the Pub

Almost every evening, the British pub is home to a talented singer who plays the kind of bar songs we have all come to enjoy over the years.

Pubs are available on most ships (Radiance Class and larger), and I love the type of music played.  The tunes in the pub will range from oldies, to '90s, and to decades in-between. Basically, these are songs you likely know all the words to and likely have heard in many bars before.

Go ice skating

Cruise ships that have an ice skating rink in Studio B allow guests to put on a pair of ice skates and hit the ice rink during their cruise

Check the Cruise Compass for open skate sessions during your sailing.  Royal Caribbean will provide you with complimentary ice skate and safety equipment rentals.  Just be sure to pack long pants and socks.

Ice cream on the pool deck

Did you know there is a self-serve ice cream station at the pool deck with unlimited soft serve ice cream? Grab a cone at your leisure, because very likely you will be having quite a few of these on your cruise.

Dance in a party on the Promenade

You will find deck parties galore on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  From the 70's Dancing in the Street Party, to the Hush! Silent Party, to the sail away parties, there are many opportunities to dance the night away.

Watch the belly flop competition

In terms of spectacles, you cannot top the belly flop competition in the main pool.

As the name implies, it is a competition of wills, determination and iron guts.  You might cringe, laugh or applaud, but it is the kind of show that everyone needs to see once.

Let the kids run wild in Splashaway Bay

Got kids? If so, expect them to want to spend a lot of time at Splashaway Bay aquatic adventure park.

Splashway Bay has plenty of splashing, with fountains, buckets, sprays and even slides for kids to enjoy to their heart's content.  Splashaway Bay was built to be a focal point of the pool area, and offer yet another improvement on what the cruise line has been known for in the past.

Like all the pool deck fun, Splashaway Bay has no cost to use, and is certain to be a very popular spot with your kids.

Free breakfast in Johnny Rockets

On Oasis class ships, Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast and it is included in your cruise fare. During breakfast, you will find classic American fare (just like the other meals), including pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, eggs, French toast and more.

Besides the price tag, Johnny Rockets is often a less crowded spot for breakfast, so if you need a break from breakfast in the Windjammer, head over to the Boardwalk and start your morning there.

Watch the ship's wake

Taking a cruise is such a relaxing and wonderful way to enjoy a vacation, and regardless of which ship you happen to be on, take a walk on the outside promenade deck at least once to enjoy the view of the ship's wake from the aft of the ship.

This vantage point is quite beautiful and calming, and you might find yourself spending more time here than you thought. Since most guests do not make it over here, it is one of the more secluded spots on a Royal Caribbean ship.

On Oasis-class ships, Royal Caribbean even added chairs for guests to enjoy and watch the wake as their ship moves to the next adventure.

Try the escargot (seriously)

In case you did not know, escargot are cooked snails and they are a delicacy and available each evening in the main dining room.  And yes, most people probably make a face when they first read about it, but it has become a cruising classic and you ought to give it a whirl at least once.

Most fans of escargot will tell you that it is not nearly as bad as you think, and the fact they are cooked in plenty of garlic and butter means you can barely taste them.  Eat it with bread and you may not even recognize the former terrestrial pulmonate gastropod molluscs.

Wake up for sunrise

If you have a balcony room booked, be sure to muster the strength to wake up one morning and watch the sunrise from the comfort of your balcony.

Make a point to grab a cup of coffee and try for a sunrise.

Join in the sailaway party

Your Royal Caribbean cruise really begins when the muster drill is over and the ship drops its lines and leaves port to head to the first stop.  To celebrate this moment, Royal Caribbean offers a sailaway party at the pool deck and invites all guests to join.

The sailaway party involves dancing, music and drinks and is something worth trying at least once.

Take a behind-the-scenes tour

Royal Caribbean offers an all access tour for guests to join, where they can peek behind the proverbial curtain and see how their massive and impressive cruise ships function.

Guests are escorted through a number of critical areas of the ship, including the galley, bridge and engine room.  It is a fun way to take a glimpse of what it takes to keep a ship functioning, and even get those nagging questions you have always wondered about finally answered.

The All Access Tour is available to purchase through the Cruise Planner prior to the cruise.

Have a Kummelweck sandwich

On cruise ships that have a Park Cafe location, be sure to stop in and try their Kummelweck roast beef sandwich

These sandwiches are just amazing and no trip to Central Park is complete without one of these tasty (and complimentary) snacks.

Enjoy live music by the pool

Imagine this: the sun is shinning, with a cloud or two passing by as the warm Caribbean breeze brushes past your cheek.  You have a colorful cocktail in your hand, as the band is playing "Red Red Wine" close your eyes.  That epitomizes the perfect moment on a Royal Caribbean cruise!

The live music on a Royal Caribbean cruise is among the best hidden secrets.  Royal Caribbean's dedication to live music has become something I always look forward to and enjoying the live band at the pool is just the icing on an incredible cake.

Spend a holiday on a cruise

Lastly, you should try to book a cruise over a major holiday, such as July 4th, New Years Eve or Thanksgiving.

Celebrating a holiday on a cruise is a great way not only to have a lot of fun, but change up what you usually do to celebrate.

Royal Caribbean gets into the spirit of the major holidays, and you will not be short-changed by the fact you are on a cruise ship.

The top three holidays to try on a cruise at least once are Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Each is a lot of fun onboard!

Royal Caribbean will stream second virtual variety show

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is bringing back an online variety show that showcases some of the top entertainment acts across the cruise line.

The Very Virtual Variety Show 2 is a collection of popular onboard acts, including Tap Factory, Simeon Kirkiles, MO5AIC, Earl Turner and more.

Hosting the live performance will be Senior Vice President of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean International, Nick Weir.

You can catch the event live on Royal Caribbean's Facebook page on Friday, October 23 at 5 p.m. EDT.

The first Virtual Variety Show aired online in August and proved to be so popular, Royal Caribbean decided to bring it back.

This month's event has a mix of comedians, musicians, illusionists and more.

Mr. Weir describes the online event as, "kind of a bit of a cross between a podcast, and a talk show, and a variety show. And it's all very virtual and it's going to be great fun."

The show is described as family friendly, and it is offered as a means of enjoying the kind of entertainment we usually have on a cruise ship while there are no cruises sail on.

This is another online event held by Royal Caribbean during the global cruise shutdown. In June, Royal Caribbean streamed a virtual concert performance that was traditionally shown in Two70 on its Quantum Class ships.

The Virtual Concert featured Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns. High resolution video footage of that performance was captured on five 4K cameras to create a truly unique, immersive experience.

Royal Caribbean Group schedules conference call for business update & third quarter

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group announced it has scheduled a conference call with investors to discuss its third quarter results and provide a business update.

The call is scheduled for 10am Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, October 29, 2020.

The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations website,

To listen to the call by phone, please dial (877) 663-9606 in the US and Canada.  International phone calls should be made to (706) 758-4628. 

Where Royal Caribbean cruising is right now - October 2020

By: Matt Hochberg

So many cruise fans want to know when will Royal Caribbean restart cruises, and there has been a lot of positive change in the month of October.

In an effort to make it easier to keep track of what is happening with Royal Caribbean cruises restarting, here is a summary of this month's Royal Caribbean news, changes and announcements.

It seems as though what we know about cruises restarting changes every week, and the cruise industry saw quite a lot of changes in October.

Royal Caribbean will restart cruises in Singapore first

The best news this month was the announcement Quantum of the Seas will sail from Singapore in December 2020.

Royal Caribbean received permission from the Singapore government to offer cruises only to residents of Singapore.

Quantum will offer 3- and 4-night cruises to no where from Singapore, beginning on December 1.

When cruises resume in Singapore, a variety of comprehensive new health protocols will be implemented onboard Quantum of the Seas including:

  • Testing and screening
  • Upgraded Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems that enhance filtration
  • Stringent cleaning practices
  • Reduced capacities for greater physical distancing
  • Expert medical care and onboard facilities

These protocols will continuously be evaluated and enhanced as new procedures and advancements in technology become available. 

These cruises will sail at a maximum of 50% capacity and not make any port stops.

No restart plan yet for the United States or Europe

Royal Caribbean has not announced any plans to restart cruises outside of Singapore, having cancelled all cruises through November 30, 2020.

The cruise line has not ruled out December 2020 sailings from the United States, but it has not announced any firm plans to restart either.

Guests on any of these cancelled sailings were given the option of getting a 100% refund, 125% future cruise credit, or even moving the reservation to next year at the same price.

Why can't cruise ships sail?

The primary reason Royal Caribbean has cancelled so many cruises and not announced any restart plans is due to government prohibits from operating cruise ships.

In the United States and Australia, temporary regulations have been passed due to the global health crisis to prevent cruise lines from sailing in their waters.

In the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a No Sail Order to the cruise lines, which means cruise lines may not resume sailings until at least the end of October.

As of the publishing of this article, the No Sail Order is set to expire on October 31, unless extended. The CDC has not indicated or hinted at if the ban will be extended or not.

Comprehensive new health protocols

While the cruise industry waits for permission to sail again, Royal Caribbean has released its initial new rules and protocols for keeping guests and crew members healthy onboard.

Royal Caribbean calls its collection of new health protocols the, "Royal Promise", and it is a collection of changes and new health policies that encompass the entire cruise experience.

Changes include limiting the capacity of guests to no more than 50% occupancy, 100% testing of all passengers and crew, and enhanced cleanliness standards.

In addition, face masks will be required onboard in most areas.

Next steps for Royal Caribbean

Without a doubt, the first obstacle to a restart is the No Sail Order has to be lifted.

Closer to the end of October, U.S. Center for Disease Control will make the decision to extend or lift the No Sail order

In the meantime, the cruise operators are in the process of bringing back a lot of their crew to ensure that if they do get the green light from the CDC, that they have a staff available to set sail.

Once crew members are back onboard, a series of test sailings that implement the new health protocols will be required to acclimate the crew to all the changes, and prepare everyone for the return of passengers.

When will cruises resume?

Outside of Singapore, there is no firm restart plan announced to give any kind of indication when cruises might actually begin again.

Royal Caribbean has strongly hinted when they are ready to restart cruises in North America, it will be on a series of short sailings first.  No specific ships, dates or itineraries have been announced.

While cruises have been shutdown since March, there is some positive momentum and news to seem to indicate we are closer to cruises restarting than ever before.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, told travel advisors this week, "we're going to make sure that everyone is really ready to go, because when that light turns green, we are going and I think that light's going to turn green rather soon."

The current date Royal Caribbean states to restart cruises of December 1, 2020 is a moving target, and should not be viewed as the "gospel truth" until there is a more firm announcement.

8 things some cruisers do that annoy everyone else

By: Matt Hochberg

Being respectful to other people on your cruise ship is something that should be automatic, and yet, there are plenty of times where cruise ship guests do things that make you shake your head.

Most of the time, people do the right thing, but occasionally you might witness someone breaking an unwritten rule of cruising. Whether it is poor etiquette, manners or selfish, these kinds of missteps are things no one wants to see.

In an effort to avoid any of these gaffes, here are the top commonly made annoyances you should avoid on your cruise

Grabbing food from the buffet with your hands

This might be a thing of the past when cruises actually resume (since buffets will change to full service for health reasons), but never grab food with your hands instead of using a tong.

While it may seem innocent enough to grab a roll, apple or strawberry as you pass by with your hands, doing this spreads germs more than you might think. Not to mention the fact if you touch something and then change your mind, no one wants to eat that.

The provided tongs are simple, so use them.

Chair hogs

People reserving chairs at the pool deck for the entire day is a major pain point for so many cruisers.

There is no issue with a family spending the day at the pool, but the people that get up at dawn to reserve chairs, then disappear for a few hours to arrive later on is something that has gotten out of control on many ships.

Of course everyone wants to have a chair near the pool, and obviously there are not enough chairs for everyone on the ship at once, so the considerate thing to do is only reserve the chair while you are there. If Aunt Beth is busy at the gym, getting her nails done, or sleeping in, reserving a chair for her for a few hours is also not cool.

Lead by example and regardless of what others do, only take chairs while you are actually there.

Not washing your hands

If the current global health crisis does nothing more than to force everyone to finally wash their hands after using the restrooms, then at least a little good came out of all of this.

If you go to the restroom, wash your hands upon leaving. 

You would be amazed how many people skip washing their hands after departing the restroom, or prior to entering a restaurant or buffet when there are crew members actively reminding everyone to wash.

For the benefit of everyone, keeping yourself as germ-free as possible is the right thing to do.

Removing gratuities to save money

Royal Caribbean allows guests to remove the automatic gratuity as a way to give crew members cash directly. It is not a mechanism for bypassing gratuities all together.

Like it or not, gratuity on a cruise is part of the overall cost.  Yes, technically they are listed as optional, but in practice, they are there to reward the hard working crew members that look after your every need. 

If you are removing the gratuity in order to make your vacation cheaper, you should reconsider a cruise vacation.

Bad elevator etiquette

This tip applies to not only cruise ships but elevators everywhere: when the elevator opens, let the people in the elevator out first.

Whether you are in a rush or just on your way, there is no reason not to let the people in the elevator out first. Letting them out speeds up the process for everyone, and it makes it clearer how much room there is for others to board the elevator.

Ignoring crew member instructions

When a crew member gives a guest an instruction, it is not a suggestion.

Crew members are not only present to serve, but also to maintain order and ensure safety protocols are being followed. So when a crew member tells you to do something, ignoring them or circumventing their instruction is a bad idea.

Not only is it disrespectful, but you may be putting yourself or others at risk by continuing to do whatever you were just told not to do. 

Flaunting your Crown and Anchor status

If you have cruised enough to get to the top tiers of Crown and Anchor Society, you should be proud of the fact you made it that far, but everyone else does not really care.

Royal Caribbean provides pins, lapels and even special events for its top cruisers as recognition for their loyalty. But being a top tier member does not mean everyone else on the ship needs to be constantly reminded of that fact.

Essentially, take the benefits Royal Caribbean provides for being a loyal cruiser, but conversations involving your Crown and Anchor tier are not necessary.

Getting in a fight

Not only is getting in a verbal or physical altercation really silly, it is against the cruise line rules and you will likely regret it later.

Think about any shouting match or fracas you may have been involved in, and then think about if you wish now that you avoided the whole thing.

If there is a problem with another guest, speak to a crew member so they can get involved. Even if it is one of the annoyances listed in this post, it is not your place to enforce the cruise line rules or even common courtesies. 

There is no winning when it comes to these sort of altercations, so move on or alert a crew member to take care of it.

Royal Caribbean adds new Odyssey of the Seas cruises from England & Spain in 2021

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has added two new sailings on Odyssey of the Seas ahead of her published schedule to sail out of Southampton, England in 2021.

A 3-night Weekend Getaway Cruise from Southampton is available on April 2, 2021, which will include stops in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Following that sailing, Odyssey will have a 5-night repositioning cruise between Southampton and Barcelona, Spain.

In addition, Royal Caribbean added new sailings from Barcelona ahead of her previously scheduled cruises from Rome.

The Barcelona sailings include a 4-night cruise on April 26 and two 5-night sailings out of Barcelona on April 12 and 21.

Prior to these newly added sailings, Odyssey of the Seas was scheduled to debut in Europe with cruises from Rome in April 2021.

Odyssey will then spend her inaugural season sailing Eastern Mediterranean cruises from Rome, before arriving to the U.S. in November 2021.

The next new Royal Caribbean cruise ship was originally to debut in November 2020, but delays at the shipyard due to the global health crisis changed plans.

The Quantum Ultra Class ship will tout game-changing, technological innovations like the next generation SeaPlex, the largest indoor space for recreational activities at sea, which will see the addition of this venue’s first Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade with club-level views of the competition below; a reimagined Adventure Ocean kids program and a maxed-out teen lounge with gaming consoles, music and movies.

Guests onboard Odyssey can enjoy all-new dining, including Teppanyaki, serving East Asian flavors in a traditional Japanese style; and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar with rustic Italian dishes and a contemporary flair. Odyssey’s vibrant, two-level pool deck will feature two open-air, resort-style pools and four whirlpools with shady casitas and hammocks.

The ship will also feature guest favorites, including FlowRider surf simulator; skydiving with Ripcord by iFly; the iconic North Star glass capsule that boasts 360-degree views from 300 feet above sea level; and robot bartenders at Bionic Bar.

Cruise ports workers rally in support of cruise ships restarting sailings

By: Matt Hochberg

Longshoremen, hotel workers, port officials and everyone affected by the effect of cruise lines shut down held a rally across different cruise ports on Wednesday in support of cruise lines being able to restart sailings again.

Cruise industry workers rallied in Florida and Texas to tell lawmakers to allow the cruise industry to restart.

Cruise lines have been shutdown since March due to the global health crisis, and are currently unable to restart cruises because of the U.S. Center for Disease Control's No Sail order that prevents passenger service in the United States.

Rallies were held in Port Canaveral, PortMiami and the Port of Galveston to protest the shutdown and the effect it has had on all the jobs.

Photos by the Port of Galveston

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) stated cruise activity in Florida supports over 150,000 local jobs, contributing $7.7 billion in wages and salaries to Floridians across a variety of local sectors and industries. 

U.S. Senator Rick Scott went on Fox News Radio to talk about the work he has been doing to try to convince the CDC to work with cruise lines on a way to restart the industry.

Senator Scott was clearly upset with the lack of any kind of progress with the CDC, "not being responsive. I don’t get it. It’s like a black hole."

Government, said Scott, should do as he did when he was Governor, and “tell people yes or no” and “make the regulations really clear.”

“Tell me no, that’s an answer,” Scott said.

Why the CDC has banned cruise ships

If you read the opening portion of the No Sail Order, it explains early on out why the CDC believes cruise ships should not operate.

"Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected," is the direct rationale for why cruise ships may not sail.

In order to prove this, the Executive Summary cites CDC data on COVID-19 cases aboard cruise ships.

"Cumulative CDC data from March 1 through September 28, 2020, show a total of 3,689 confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COV1D-like illness cases on cruise ships and 41 deaths. These data have also revealed a total of 102 outbreaks on 124 different cruise ships, meaning more than 82% of ships within U.S. jurisdiction were affected by COVID-19 during this time frame. In addition, four cruise ships still have ongoing or resolving COV1D-19 outbreaks on board. Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas continue to demonstrate that reduced capacity alone has not diminished transmission."

In addition, the CDC cited small-scale cases of the virus on a few sailings that have restarted outside the United States.

All of this lead the CDC to believe cruise ships, "would likely spread the infection  into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States."

Royal Caribbean will redeploy six cruise ships for winter 2021-2022

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced some new changes to its winter 2021-2022 cruise schedule for the Caribbean and Australia regions.

The changes encompass six ships, which offer new ships, as well as new itineraries, from a few different ports. Royal Caribbean says, "we’ve listened to our guests and valued travel partners, and are ready to share some Winter 2021 – 2022 deployment updates."

Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service announced the changes during a webinar with travel advisors, "We've modified our schedule to make room for some incredible new itineraries."

Royal Caribbean issued a statement that elaborated on the changes, "Our new deployment line-up provides guests with greater variety, including new itineraries in the Caribbean and Australia that will help strengthen the cruise line’s footprint globally."

These changes are in addition to five other Royal Caribbean ships that were redeployed for summer 2021.


Explorer of the Seas will sail 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Explorer will replace previously scheduled sailings on Freedom of the Seas.

Freedom of the Seas will offer 3- and 4-night Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay cruises from Miami, Florida.

Radiance of the Seas will offer 5- and 9-night Caribbean cruises from Miami, Florida.  Radiance will replace Explorer of the Seas.


Royal Caribbean will offer new sailings from Brisbane and Sydney, including 25 itineraries sailing from Brisbane to 18 destinations across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Ovation of the Seas will sail from Sydney, Australia and offer guests a variety of sailings, including:

  • 9/12 night New Zealand cruises
  • 5/7 night Queensland cruises
  • 6/8 night Tasmania cruises

Quantum of the Seas will sail from Brisbane and offer 3-night Weekend Getaway cruises along with 7/9 night South Pacific sailings. Quantum of the Seas will be the newest and biggest ship to ever call Brisbane home

Serenade of the Seas will also sail from Sydney and offer 7-night Australia cruises.

These new itineraries are currently open and available to book immediately.

Guests who may have been booked on the previous sailings should be hearing from Royal Caribbean soon with their rebooking options.

Individual reservations will be moved to the new ship/sailing on-or-before October 30, 2020.

The re-accommodation of Groups with at least one (1) named reservation will be completed on-or-before November 18, 2020.

More helpful resources

The best reasons to get a Royal Caribbean drink package on your cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

A Royal Caribbean drink package offers unlimited drinks for a fixed price, which makes it a very attractive offer for many guests.

Should you spend the money to get a drink package, or is it better to pay for drinks as you go? This is a debate many cruise fans have time and time again.

While the decision to get a drink package or not is going to vary from person to person, here are the top reasons you might want to get a drink package on your cruise.


The best part of having an unlimited drink package on your cruise is you can order a drink whenever and where you feel like onboard.

This means not having to compromise on when you feel like getting a drink, and it is great when traveling with friends or family.  There is no worrying about how much a drink costs, or if you will like a new cocktail.

With a drink package, there is no risk in trying new drinks and then being "stuck" with something you do not like.

Fixed cost

By pre-paying the cost of drinks on a cruise, having a drink package means an easier means of staying within your vacation budget.

For a lot of guests, not having to think about money on a vacation is a major relief.

Moreover, if you pre-purchase your drink package before the cruise begins on Royal Caribbean's website, there are often significant discounts that bring the daily cost down compared to waiting to buy it onboard.

There is no need to be concerned with receipts, gratuity, or how much one drink costs over another.

Not just alcohol

While the unlimited alcohol package gets a lot of attention for all the various beers, cocktails and wine included, there is way more included than just booze.

The Deluxe Beverage Package also includes a lot of non-alcoholic beverages that can greatly sway the value proposition for any guest.

It also includes bottled water, sparkling water, sodas, juices, and premium coffee or tea. 

Considering how so many of us rely on a morning espresso, as well as having bottled water available to bring on shore excursions or while in the gym, the fact these are included with the Deluxe Beverage package is a major benefit.

It can (potentially) save you a lot of money

If you can drink enough every day of your cruise, the drink packages will absolutely save you money compared to ordering the same amount of drinks individually.

When you calculate how many drinks per day you would need to drink to "break even" on a drink package, it often sounds a bit much to new cruisers. However, those that have bought the drink package in the past will tell you it is not as bad as it looks.

When you consider a beer will set you back around $8, a cocktail between $10-12, soda around $3 and a latte around $5, breaking even on a drink package investment is not that difficult to achieve.

When you spread your drink consumption out throughout the day and evening, the result tends to be a good value. Especially if your cruise visits a Royal Caribbean private destination where your drink package benefits also work.

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