If you ask anyone that is looking for a hotel before or after their cruise, they usually want a clean, safe and reasonably priced hotel. Getting all three of those requirements is no simple task, but I may have just found that with the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East.
Prior to a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, I needed a hotel for two nights prior to my sailing. I usually stay near downtown Miami, but I spotted a brand new hotel that seemed to offer a great value. Plus, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is located right near Miami International Airport. This means the drive from the airport to the hotel is a mere couple of minutes, and the drive to PorMiami is about 10-15 minutes.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is one of Holiday Inn's new "Formula Blue" properties. Formula Blue is meant to appeal to Holiday Inn Express’s target guest—the "smart traveler." The hotel is designed so that public space is wide open, so guests can immediately scan the area when they walk into the hotel and understand where everything is without having to ask for help. Another design element that supports the smart traveler is a headboard that minimize noise transfer between rooms, ensuring this busy demographic is able to get a restful night sleep.
Walking into the lobby of the hotel, you can see exactly what Holiday Inn was planning, with an open lobby area that you can easily spot the elevators, kitchen area, seating and more.
The hotel offers an outdoor pool, fitness center, continental breakfast each morning, and complimentary coffee throughout the day in the lobby. The hotel does offer a shuttle service to PortMiami at regularly scheduled times for a price per person. In my opinion, you are better off using a ride-share service like Lyft for value and convenience.
For my stay, I reserved a standard King-size bed for $80.75 for the first night, and $84.55 the second night. That is an incredible price for a name-brand hotel.
Walking into my room, I found a very large amount of living space. There was even a coffee nook, complete with Keurig machine available for my use.
The bathroom is large as well, which means there is plenty of space for two people to get ready in the morning.
One thing I loved about this room is how many outlets there are around the room. In fact, there are USB outlets, in addition to electric outlets, on each side of the bed and at the desk. This is incredibly convenient.
Overall, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is exactly as advertised: a convenient hotel that is well-priced, clean and safe to stay in. The worst thing I can say about this hotel is that you cannot walk anywhere nearby for dining or entertainment. You will be dependent on taxi or a rental car to get to the fun things to do in Miami. Of course, a lot of people that want a pre-cruise hotel are only really looking for somewhere to spend the night, and you can always order delivery to the hotel.
What is truly compelling about this hotel was the price combined with the well-kept rooms and building. If you can snag a rate of less than $100 per night (or closer to my $80/night rate) then it becomes an absolute steal compared to paying one or two hundred dollars more per night to stay in downtown Miami.
Have you stayed at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East? Is this a hotel you’d consider? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!
Happy Memorial Day weekend! We're starting this weekend with our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos. Each week we invite our readers to share their photos with us!
Joe Moran took this photo of the main dining room on Freedom of the Seas.
Melanie Kaplan took this photo of the Royal Promenade while on the Rising Tide Bar on Allure of the Seas.
Next up is a photo by Julie Polakow of Oasis of the Seas docked in St. Maarten.
Kinny Lee shared this photo from the Izumi hibachi on Harmony of the Seas.
Here is a photo of Harmony of the Seas by Mary Maas, taken by her daughter Jaden.
Here is a photo of Anthem of the Seas in San Juan, taken by Justin Amrhein.
Our final photo this week is by James Dezember and it was taken in Cozumel, with Symphony of the Seas in the background.
We want your Royal Caribbean photos too! Use this form to send us your favorite photos and we will include it in an upcoming blog post.
Royal Caribbean's private island in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, has caught a lot of cruisers' attention with all of the great activities and things to do.
If you are planning your own visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay, then here are our top ten tips and tricks for visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay.
1. Your drink package works at Perfect Day at CocoCay
If you purchase a Royal Caribbean drink package for your cruise, you can use the drink package benefits while at Perfect Day at CocoCay.
This means if you have the Deluxe Beverage Package, you can enjoy unlimited alcoholic beverages, along with bottled water, sodas and more. Likewise, the Royal Refreshment and Soda Package benefits extend to Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Just like on the ship, souvenir cups or drinks served in pineapples/coconuts are not included with your drink package benefits. If you have the Deluxe Beverage Package, you can get a discount on the souvenir cup. Or you can ask for the drink in a regular cup to pay no additional charge.
2. Your Voom package works at Perfect Day at CocoCay
If you have a Voom internet package, you will have internet connectivity at Perfect Day at CocoCay.
WiFi coverage extends across the island, which means you can stay connected and share photos or videos with friends back home. Heck, you can even post updates on our message boards!
3. Best times for shortest water slide lines
Thrill Waterpark is home to Perfect Day at CocoCay's incredible water slides, and as you might imagine, a lot of cruisers are going to want to try them all. While lines for the slides are usually quite manageable, here are the best times to try the slides to have a minimal wait:
- Before 11am
- After 3pm
4. Secret menu item at Snack Shack
Snack Shack serves up some great food, but they also have a menu item that is not listed on the printed menu. If you ask nicely, you can get a chicken parmigiana sandwich that is essentially a cross between the crispy chicken sandwich, mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce.
5. Buy Thrill waterpark admission before the cruise to save money
If you want to go to Thrill Waterpark, you will absolutely spend less money if you pre-purchase it before your cruise.
Royal Caribbean sells its waterpark passes via the Cruise Planner site and regularly puts the tickets on sale. If you want to save money (that is everyone), buy your tickets before you board the ship.
6. There is lots to do that costs nothing extra
There is a lot of attention for the activities on Perfect Day at CocoCay that costs extra, but there is a lot of fun things to do that costs absolutely nothing extra.
First and foremost, you can walk around Perfect Day at CocoCay without paying extra. Just like any port of call, you can walk off the ship and explore on your own.
Here is a list of things that is included with your cruise fare when you visit Perfect Day at CocoCay:
- Splashaway Bay
- Captain Jill's Galleon
- Skipper's Grill
- Chill Grill
- Snack Shack
- Oasis Lagoon pool (Beach chairs, umbrellas and towels)
- Chill Island (Beach chairs, umbrellas and towels)
- South Beach (Beach chairs, umbrellas and towels)
- Sports Courts
- Fitness Classes
- Freshwater showers
- Tram service
- Beach access wheelchairs
7. Free tram service around the island
Keep an eye out for the complimentary trams that are found around Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Beginning when you walk down the pier, you will find tram service to take you down the pier to save some steps (you will have plenty at Thrill Waterpark).
Once on the island, there is complimentary tram service that can take you all corners of Perfect Day at CocoCay.
As a bonus, many of the trams are solar powered!
8. If you want a quiet spot, go to Chill Island
If your idea of a fun day is quiet time getting away from it all, head to Chill Island. Chill Island is accessible via the green pathway that is towards the left side when you walk onto Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Once at Chill Island, keep to the left side of the area for pristine ocean views that has no music or the sounds of people at the pool or water park. Instead, you will find only the sound of the ocean waves.
9. DIY Ice cream sandwiches
You will find self-serve soft serve ice cream machines at Perfect Day, along with chocolate chip cookies. See where I am going with this?
Grab two cookies, dispense ice cream between the two and combine for an awesome dessert.
10. Keep an eye out for chickens, iguanas and birds
This is a fun tidbit, but Perfect Day at CocoCay is home to more than just beautiful views. If you walk enough of the island, it is not uncommon to see wild chickens roaming the grounds, along with iguanas that sometimes get close to the dining areas to see if any scraps of food rolled away.
Seagulls can also be found flying around, so be sure to keep an eye on your food.
Regardless of the animal, please do not feed any of them.
Did we miss any Perfect Day at CocoCay secrets? Share them in our comments!
Royal Caribbean has introduced a new Alaskan experience on it’s newest and largest ship to visit Alaska Ovation of the Seas. The North Star Alaskan Experience is offered in addition to the customary and complimentary North Star Experience offered to guests on some Quantum class ships. The new North Star Alaskan Experience is offered when the ship calls on Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier during the summer Alaska cruise season.
The Alaskan edition of the North Star Experience is offered at an additional charge and timed to occur during the ship’s visit to Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier. Unlike the complimentary North Star experience the Alaskan experience ride extends over the sides of the ship giving participants unparalleled views of the ship and the surroundings. Float over the side of the ship as pieces of glaciers float by below you.
The North Star Alaskan Experience begins with complimentary hot chocolate in an exclusive area of the North Star Bar for participants while they wait for their North Star Alaskan Experience.
The initial offering of the North Star Alaskan Experience is priced at $49 per person for adult or child with up to fourteen guests per ride. The experience is shared with any other guests who book the same time.
The North Star Alaskan Experience lasts approximately 15 to 20 minutes and begins by rising to a height of approximately 250 feet above sea level where the North Star turns and extends over the side of the ship. This position is held for a few minutes giving participants an incredible view of the ship and surroundings before the North Star climbs to a height of approximately 300 feet above sea level.
After several minutes the North Star lowers and extends over the opposite side of the ship at approximately 250 feet above seal level before eventually returning to center and gently lowering back to it’s starting position.
The North Star Alaskan Experience is available while the ship is within Endicott Arm during the approach and departure from Dawes Glacier and it is available while the ship is at Dawes Glacier. Both offer a unique and different perspective. On the Ovation of the Seas initial visit to Dawes Glacier the rides starting between 9am and 10am offered views of Dawes Glacier while the rides before and after featured views of Endicott Arm. This will vary from sailing to sailing depending on time of arrival and ice conditions.
Guests interested in the complimentary North Star Experience will find the North Star available based on reservations at certain times and purely on a walk up basis at other times. A standby line is available during reservation based times for last minute guests on a space available basis. The complimentary North Star Experience does not extend over the sides of the ship.
Limited reservations are usually offered in the Cruise Planner before sailing while the majority of North Star reservations are offered only on board once the cruise has started. Reservations can be made by visiting the temporary Box Office kiosks upon boarding on embarkation day.
The North Star Alaskan Experience is only offered on Ovation of the Seas and it’s a unique perspective to an Alaska cruise available on no other ship or cruise line.
Royal Caribbean's Memorial Day Weekend sale offers 50% off second guest, kids sail for less and up to $200 bonus instant savings.
The promotion runs between May 23, 2019 - May 27, 2019 and is valid on sailings departing on or after June 23, 2019.
- 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first, full-fare paying guest.
- 25% cruise fare savings for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests
- Up to $200 instant savings per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
- Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
- Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $200 for Suites
BOGO is combinable with Memorial Weekend Sale, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Memorial Weekend Sale is combinable with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers and Free Upgrades but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent, Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates. Promo Code driven offers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking, limit one promo code per booking.
Offer open to residents of US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries in the Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean has opened bookings for Voyager of the Seas 2020 sailings from Singapore.
Voyager of the Seas will offer a short season from Singapore, between May 2020 and June 2020 to destinations in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
At the conclusion of her season, Voyager of the Seas will re-position to Hong Kong, China.
You can view all the 2020 Singapore sailings on Voyager of the Seas.
Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!
Episode 303 is available for downloading, where Matt shares his thoughts on the newly opened Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Royal Caribbean has unveiled their private island in The Bahamas, and Matt tried out all the new additions. From the waterpark, to the zip line, to the beaches, to the helium balloon, Matt discusses his experience across Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!
Royal Caribbean is celebrating Memorial Day weekend with a new Cruise Planner sale that offers up to 30% savings on pre-cruise purchases.
The Memorial Day Sale runs between May 22 - May 29, 2019 and is valid on sailings from June 1, 2019 - December 15, 2019.
The offer is valid on certain shore excursions, drink packages and internet packages. It is available on all ships, except Spectrum of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean states guests can expect to see:
- Beverage Packages: Up to 30% off onboard prices
- Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
- Deluxe Beverage Package. Discount Varies by Ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
- Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
- Shore Excursions: Save up to 25% on select tours on select sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
- Internet: up to 60% off on select sailings
- VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
- VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4, Device(s): Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
- Unlimited Dining Package on 3 Night - 9 Night sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes MJ, QN, SC + Charter Sailings
- ACTIVITIES: Up to 10% off on select sailings
- All Access Ship Tour. 10% off. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC + Charter Sailings).
To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.
If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.
Royal Caribbean announced today it will add a new homeporting season in Singapore for Quantum of the Seas, sailing in the region until April 2021. The additional season
of seven months will be the cruise line’s longest ever Singapore deployment for a Quantum class ship.
Quantum of the Seas is scheduled to return to Singapore in November 2019. She will offer 34 sailings during the six months from November 2019 to April 2020. The ship will then return for a longer season in October 2020, with a total of 40 sailings over seven months till April 2021.
Royal Caribbean’s Senior Vice President International, Gavin Smith, said that the commitment to bring in two of Royal Caribbean’s largest and most innovative ships in 2019 alone, along with the decision to sustain the presence of a Quantum Class ship in the region till 2021, underscores Royal Caribbean’s confidence in the region’s thriving cruise industry,
with Singapore playing a major role as a cruise hub.
“Royal Caribbean has big ambitions for Asia – and Singapore sits at the heart of our growth in this region. The additional homeporting of Quantum of the Seas in the 2020/21 season announced today will add some 180,000 guests to the Singapore cruising scene, and we are excited for them to experience our world-class, innovative ships.
“2019 also marks a new era for cruising for both Royal Caribbean and the region. We celebrate our 50 th anniversary as a global brand, and ships like Spectrum of the Seas and our
additional capacity with Quantum of the Seas here shows that we are poised to ride on Asia’s astounding growth. Singapore plays an important role as one of the region’s most significant cruise destinations, and we look forward to growing the cruise industry here and in the region.”
Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas has begun sailing her inaugural season in Alaska, and she is the first Quantum Class ship to offer cruises in the region.
When you combine the natural splendor and beauty of Alaska with one of the world's most advanced cruise ships, the result is a fantastic view.
Royal Caribbean crew ambassador Stephen Burke snapped these photos of Hubbard Glacier from Ovation of the Seas on her recent visit.
With the highest vantage point on any cruise ship, the North Star – the ship’s signature glass observation capsule with panoramic views from 300 feet above sea level – is the “best seat in the house” for guests to take in the majestic mountains, eye-catching glaciers and diverse wildlife native to the state’s stunning landscape.
This year marks Ovation of the Seas' first season offering cruises to The Last Frontier, with 7-night itineraries to destinations from Juneau to Victoria, British Columbia
Ovation will return to Alaska in 2020 for her second consecutive season to offer cruises through the region’s untouched wilds on 7-night itineraries from Seattle, Washington.