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Norwegian Cruise drops Covid testing, but you'll still need a test if cruising from US

In:
06 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One of the major cruise lines has dropped its Covid-19 testing requirement in practice, although the policy shift will not yet affect the majority of its sailings.

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, which owns Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruise, announced a change in its pre-cruise covid testing policy on Wednesday.

All of its lines will drop a pre-cruise Covid-19 test requirement, unless the country the ship sails from requires it.

Essentially, there's no change to pre-cruise Covid testing for cruises from the U.S., Canada, Greece, or Bermuda. The difference is should one of those countries drop their testing mandate of cruise ships, then NCL wouldn't require it as part of their policy.

NCL logo on side of ship

The upside to this change is it will make it easier for North Americans headed to Europe for a cruise to book a cruise, since it eliminates one more hoop to jump through. North Americans make up a large percentage of people that cruise from Europe on the "big three" cruise brands.

For cruises sailing in the U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a policy that requires pre-cruise Covid testing of all cruise lines that have opted into the "highly vaccinated program."

NCLH's new policy goes into effect beginning August 1, 2022.

According to the company, they believe this change puts their policy in line with other forms of travel, "the relaxation of the testing policy is in line with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industry worldwide as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy."

NCLH reaffirmed their strong recommendation that all passengers be up to date on vaccination protocols and test at their convenience prior to travel.

The change by Norwegian is significant since up until now only a handful of smaller cruise lines operating in Europe dropped covid testing requirements and in very limited scenarios.

When might the U.S. drop cruise ship Covid testing?

Cruise ship docked in Miami

In light of NCLH's policy change, many Americans may be wondering when the CDC will drop the testing requirement.

The same day the United States removed the requirement of international flights to require a negative covid test, the cruise industry said it wants to next move to looking at pre-cruise testing requirements.

In a statement in June 2022, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said it wants the CDC to look at pre-cruise testing.

"As the CDC monitors the improving health landscape and works with airlines to support a smooth transition with the lifting of the pre-arrival testing requirement, we believe a review of pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order."

Will Royal Caribbean change its policy too?

Just last week, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley addressed the issue of pre-cruise testing, and he didn't think the U.S. would change policy for at least a little while longer.

Speaking onboard Ovation of the Seas, Mr. Bayley said, "I think pre cruise testing is going to be around for another couple of months."

"We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we're incredibly cognizant of our responsibilities to keep our crew, the communities and our guests safe."

Fried chicken recipe from Mason Jar on Wonder of the Seas

In:
06 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Did you know July 6th is National Fried Chicken Day? Did you know you don't need an excuse to eat really good fried chicken?

Fried Chicken at Mason Jar

I never considered myself much of a "fried chicken guy" until I went on Wonder of the Seas.  Sure, I enjoyed fried chicken, but outside of Nashville, it was tough to find really good fried chicken.

Then I ate at the Mason Jar Southern Restaurant & Bar.

Maybe it was the country music band playing in the bar, or the PB&J old fashioned (I'd love to get a recipe for that, by the way) that I had a few sips of first, but the Meemaw’s Fried Chicken was really darn good.

The chicken fell apart quite easily at the first tug, so there was no wrestling with a tough bird this time around.

Even better was the same fried chicken they put on the "Nashville Hot" Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Mason Jar chicken sandwich

We ended up dining at Mason Jar at least 4 different times (not counting a snack at the bar late at night), and I'm fairly certain every order I made had fried chicken as part of the recipe.

Then I tried Meemaw’s Fried Chicken N’ Waffles, which is a golden waffle topped with fried chicken and sweet maple syrup. It's an ideal mix between sweet and savory flavors. Suddenly, I began to question a lot of foods I previously thought I wasn't a huge fan of.

Chicken n Waffles at Mason Jar

I can't sail on Wonder of the Seas every week (or so my wife tells me), but Royal Caribbean has shared a copy of Meemaw’s Fried Chicken so anyone can make it at home. A copy of Garth Brooks' "Friends in low places" not included.

Here's how to make the fried chicken at home inbetween Wonder of the Seas cruises.

Meemaw’s Fried Chicken Recipe

Fried Chicken at Mason Jar

Ingredients: 

Chicken Marinade 

  • 2 whole chickens (3-3.5 lbs each) – broken down 8 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breasts) 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper spice 
  • 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite spice rub (we use our Royal secret recipe seasoning) 
  • 3 teaspoons of granulated garlic powder 
  • 1 ¾ cups of buttermilk 
  • 5 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce 
  • 1 medium egg 

Chicken Coating 

  • ¾ cup of flour 
  • ¾ cup of corn starch 
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon of salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon of granulated onion powder 
  • ½ teaspoon of granulated garlic powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper 
  • ⅛ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper 
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano 
  • ¼ teaspoon of dry mustard 

Instructions

Fried chicken

Steps: 

Marinate the Chicken 

  1. In a container, mix salt, pepper, granulated garlic, Cajun seasoning, spice rub of your choice, buttermilk, hot sauce and egg. 
  2. Add chicken pieces to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours (6 hours is suggested). 

Coat the Chicken 

  1. In a separate container, mix the chicken coating by adding the flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt, granulated onion powder, granulated garlic powder ground black pepper, Cayenne pepper, oregano, dry mustard. 
  2. Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and uncover. 
  3. Dredge each piece of chicken individually in the coating mixture, shaking any excess mixture and put aside (we’ll do this a second time). 
  4. Let the chicken rest for about 10-15 minutes on a cooling rack – this will help the coating stay on better (we suggest putting sheet pans under the rack to help with cleaning up). 
  5. Dredge each piece of chicken individually in the mixture for a second time. Shake off excess mixture. 

Fry the Chicken 

  1. Heat oil in a deep fryer at 284 degrees F (140 degrees C). 
  2. Once temperature is reached, carefully place chicken in the deep fryer for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and internal temperature is 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). 
  3. Remove chicken from deep fryer and transfer to a cooling rack over a sheet pan. 
  4. Let fried chicken sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  
  5. Plate, serve and enjoy! 
Fried chicken

Doesn't the fried chicken look amazing? It tastes even better!

Next time you've got family coming over, wow them with this fried chicken recipe. Then tell them they should come on a cruise with you so you can compare this to the real thing on Wonder of the Seas. You know, in the name of "research".

When should you buy Royal Caribbean drink package, wifi, tours & other add-ons

In:
05 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Everyone wants to save money, so when is the best time to buy popular add-ons for your Royal Caribbean cruise?

Perfect Day at CocoCay beach

Drink packages, specialty dining packages, internet, and shore excursions are just a few of the very popular extras lots of cruise fans buy for their cruise vacation.

While you could wait to buy these items on your ship, you will pay more for them because Royal Caribbean typically offers a pre-cruise discount.

A common reason for trepidation to pre-purchase is not knowing fully if someone needs them. After all, Royal Caribbean includes a great deal of food and activities with your cruise fare.

Rising Tide

While you can have a very nice cruise without spending extra on a tour, cocktails, specialty restaurants or the spa, these optional purchase will enhance your cruise experience. After all, you're on vacation and this is all about splurging and treating yourself.

If you decide to buy any cruise extra-charge items, it's a really good idea to take advantage of the lowest price possible so your money can go further.

Here is my advice for when to buy these cruise-addons.

Why you should buy extras before the cruise begins

There's a few good reasons you should buy certain cruise add-on's before your cruise, and not all of them are purely related to dollars and sense.

Here's a few compelling reasons to do so.

Discounted Price

Cruise Planner on an iPad

In many cases, Royal Caribbean promises a discount on select pre-cruise purchases compared to the price onboard.

The discounted savings can vary, with the price of drink and internet packages varying from ship to ship and sailing to sailing. 

Break up total cruise cost

Budget

When you purchase anything before your cruise via the Cruise Planner site, you will be required to pay for it at the time of purchase.  This provides the ability to break up the total cost of the cruise.

When you make purchases onboard your cruise, at the end of the cruise you get a final bill with all of the charges tallied up. 

By pre-purchasing certain items, you can pay off parts of the cruise months or years in advance, allowing you to reduce the cruise bill at the conclusion of your cruise. This is incredibly helpful for budgeting to have control of what charges come in on which billing cycles.

Save you time onboard

Couple with drinks on Suite Deck

An intangible benefit to pre-purchasing anything is it saves you time onboard from doing the exact same thing, which means more vacation time back to you.

Taking the time to purchase anything onboard does not take very much time, but every little bit helps, and some purchases on the first day of the cruise can require waiting in a line, such as drink packages.

You can use onboard credit

Onboard credit to spend

When you buy something on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site, you can use any onboard credit towards these purchases. This alleviates a primary concern among cruisers in the past that wished to use onboard credit towards any purchases first.

One thing to consider is the onboard credit available for use in the Cruise Planner is limited to onboard credit provided by Royal Caribbean.  This means, if you are receiving onboard credit from a travel agent or other source, it may not be available for use online. 

Granted, while I have never had any trouble using up onboard credit on a Royal Caribbean cruise, some guests prefer to save their credits for on the ship.

You can re-price if the price goes down

Drink package prices

No matter what price you pay today, if there's a lower price at any point before your cruise, you can cancel and rebook it.

Cruise Planner purchases are fully refundable with no cancellation penalties. This means you can book something now and lock in the price, but if there's a lower price later, you can cancel it and rebook online.

This also helps protect you if the price goes up.

Best time to buy Royal Caribbean drink package

Royal Caribbean drink package

You should buy a Royal Caribbean drink package at any point before your cruise because it will be cheaper online.

Royal Caribbean runs many pre-cruise sales, and even when there's not an active promotion going on, the price of an unlimited drink package is cheaper before the cruise that onboard the ship.

You'll find the drink packages available to purchase on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner website.

It can be a little confusing to understand how much of a discount you're getting, since Royal Caribbean bases its discounts on an unknown onboard price, and then combines the price of a drink package with a buy one get one 50% off deal.

When you look at the drink package price online, ignore the sale details and look at the price when you add the drink package to the cart.

It's a good idea to keep track of the drink package price, as there's new sale promotions every few weeks. These sales don't always lower the price, but sometimes it can.

Best time to buy a shore excursion

It's a good idea to book your shore excursions at least 2-3 months before your cruise.

Just as important as the fun things to do on your cruise ship are the things you can do in the ports of call you will visit.

Royal Caribbean will list a variety of shore excursions you can pick from in the Cruise Planner, and some of the most popular excursions will sell out before your cruise.

Royal Caribbean will begin listing excursions as early as six months before your cruise (although they can show up even earlier than that). 

Many cruisers prefer to book their shore excursions through the cruise line for the convenience and peace of mind Royal Caribbean offers. For that reason, tours can sell out.

I find the majority of people on a cruise don't start really booking tours up until closer to the sail date because they are unaware of all the tips and tricks cruise fans know, so you'll notice things begin to sell out around six weeks before the cruise begins.

Family on Alaska tour

Excursions selling out are at a much higher risk in destination cruises, such as Alaska or Europe.  If you are booked on one of these sailings, it's a good idea to start booking up tours as much as 3 months before you sail.

You could always reserve a tour on your own, and outside tours do not sell out nearly as early. If you go on your own, it's a good idea to book these 1-2 months before the cruise.

Best time to book a Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee activity

Ship at CocoCay

Due to the popularity of Royal Caribbean's private destinations, you're going to want to book something fun here to do even earlier than shore excursions.

It's a really good idea to book a cabana as much as 4-6 months before your cruise to assure yourself of one, and get a lower price.  Cabanas have become the hottest selling commodity at either Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee, so you're going to want to act fast to get one.

Read moreGuide to CocoCay Cabanas

Chill Island cabanas

The days of cabanas going unsold are pretty much gone, so act quickly if you want one. Just like everything else in the Cruise Planner, they're refundable if you change your mind later.

Another hot ticket is the CocoCay water park, which can sell out. The entire water park selling out is less likely, but the price going up certainly is common. So book that 3-5 months early whenever possible.

The other must-book early add-on is admission to the Coco Beach Club

If the idea of going to an exclusive area of CocoCay appeals to you, then book your admission before it sells out.  I suppose the word is out about this place, because it's pretty rare for the Coco Beach Club not to sell out before the cruise begins.

Other CocoCay extras like the zip line, helium balloon ride, and aquatic activities rarely sell out, so book them at your convenience.

There is one extra I'd recommend not booking in advance at Perfect Day at CocoCay and that's the Up, Up & Away Helium Balloon Ride. The balloon can only go up in near-perfect wind conditions, and that tends to be fairly rare. 

Up, Up & Away Helium Balloon Ride

My advice is hold off and if you get to the island and see it going up, run over and book a spot. You might pay more, but I think it's a safer bet than waiting for an almost inevitable refund when it gets cancelled.

Over in Labadee, the zip line is a good idea to book in advance just to get a good time. Zip line rides are based on ride times, and it's a good idea to go in the morning before it gets overly hot or the threat of rain grows.

Best time to book an internet package

WiFi

Just like the drink package, the price of an internet package is always cheaper before the cruise.

These packages are good for the duration of your cruise, and are limited per device (not per person).

Unlike the drink package, wifi prices rarely change much. So you don't need to book it well in advance. Just book yourself a package at some point before you board.

Best time to book specialty dining restaurants

These days, you absolutely should pre-book a specialty dining package before your cruise, at least a month before your sail date.

Ever since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises after the global health crisis, demand for specialty dining has gone through the roof. A combination of pent-up demand, new dining concepts, and more cash to spend on vacations have lead a lot more people to try specialty dining.

If you are booking an individual restaurant, book it before the cruise. Izumi hibachi is one restaurant you must-book before the cruise because it sells out quite often before the cruise begins.

Izumi hibachi on Mariner of the Seas

If your cruise is over a major holiday, such as Christmas, New Years or Valentine's Day, pre-book a specialty restaurant to assure yourself of a spot. Everyone else will be thinking of a special meal on a special day.

Dining packages are just as popular, and it's becoming more commonplace to find dining packages sold out onboard. To be safe, if you want a dining package, buy it a couple months before your cruise.

Read moreHow to know if you should buy a Royal Caribbean dining package

Best time to book spa services

Thermal Spa

It's less clear of an advantage when to book a spa service, and it may make more sense to wait and book a spa service onboard on a port day.

Deciding to book a spa service before or after your cruise is not always a crystal clear decision, primarily because the spa services offered online do not always match up with the total services offered onboard.

Spa services are often discounted on the Cruise Planner, with the discount percentage depending on the day and time you select for the service.  The most lucrative discounts are usually earlier in the cruise.

Thermal spa

The challenge in figuring out whether to purchase or not prior to the cruise, is each day of your cruise will have some spa specials offered.  These spa specials are usually combination offers, which are not offered as an option in the Cruise Planner before the cruise. In my experience, the Cruise Planner offers individual services which are good for those that just want a massage, service or therapy.  

Royal Caribbean offers an onboard discount on an individual spa service, which varies depending on your Crown and Anchor Society status level.

Best time to book shows

Theater on Harmony of the Seas

You want to reserve a show as soon as you get onboard the ship.

Royal Caribbean allows guests on all ships to pre-reserve theater shows, but you're going to have to wait until you get onboard to do so.

Once on the ship, reservations open up via the Royal Caribbean app or at Guest Services.

You'll want to log onto the Royal Caribbean wifi and then open up the app and begin making reservations for shows because they will sell out, especially on ships that have must-see shows, such as the Oasis Class or Quantum Class.

There is no cost to make show reservations.

How to check for a price drop

Laptop

Regardless of which pre-cruise purchase is of interest to you, your best bet is to watch the price online in the months leading up to your cruise in case there is a price drop (or increase).

Royal Caribbean allows its guests to cancel and rebook any Cruise Planner purchase without a penalty.  This means that if you purchase something online, and then the price drops before your sailing, you can log back in and cancel the purchase and then immediately rebook to take advantage of the lower price.  Similarly, booking in advance protects against a price increase.

Moreover, if you decided to buy something online but change your mind later, you can get a refund on the pre-cruise purchase prior to your sailing.

More cruise advice

I tried my first cruise from the UK: here's what you should know

In:
05 Jul 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

I recently returned from my first ever cruise from the United Kingdom, a 7-night Spain & France cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. Taking a cruise from the UK came with several differences than what I’ve experienced on cruises from the US.

From Main Dining Room meals to port options and expanded drink menus, it was fun to spot the differences in a Royal Caribbean cruise experience when departing from across the pond.

If you’re interested in booking a cruise from Southampton, here’s what you need to know about sailing from the UK.

Limited ship choices

Anthem of the Seas, a Quantum Class ship, calls Southampton home in the summer months, offering cruises to Norway, Spain, France, the Canary Islands, and the Mediterranean.

While having only one ship to book is very limited compared to what you’ll find in the United States or Mediterranean, the good news is that Anthem of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s most modern cruise ships.

As a Quantum Class ship, Anthem was built to sail in many types of weather conditions, and you’ll find a variety of indoor spaces throughout the ship, from multiple indoor pools to an indoor SeaPlex offering activities like bumper cars and volleyball. The entertainment on Anthem of the Seas is sure to impress, too, with a full-length Broadway production of We Will Rock You.

The ship has plenty of complimentary and specialty dining venues to enjoy as well, including Jamie’s Italian, Izumi Sushi, Wonderland, Chops Grille, Johnny Rockets, Solarium Bistro, and Cafe @ Two70.

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas, will be debuting in the United Kingdom in fall 2023 prior to being homeported in Miami, Florida. If you’re hoping to sail on the latest and greatest ship offered by Royal Caribbean, keep an eye out for when Icon of the Seas will be available to book.

Main Dining Room menu differences

Something unique about cruising from the United Kingdom is that the Main Dining Room menu will offer two additional menu options each day: an English-style option and an Indian option.

Menu items include shepherd's pie, chicken tikka masala, chicken and leek pie, and fish curry. You’ll definitely have the opportunity to taste diverse Main Dining Room meals when sailing from the UK!

More gins and whiskeys available

One interesting find on my Anthem of the Seas cruise was a menu of gins and beers located at bars around the ship. This is another way in which Royal Caribbean caters its offerings to guests from the UK, and it was a fun difference to spot onboard!

Menu items include Guinness, Magners Irish Cider, Old Speckled Hen, Hendrick’s, Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger, and Sipsmith.

Getting to the Mediterranean will take more time

If the idea of a sunny Mediterranean cruise sounds appealing to you, keep in mind that the United Kingdom does not have the most convenient access to the Mediterranean sea.

Reaching destinations like Rome and Barcelona from Southampton can take quite some time, so you won’t find any 7-night cruises visiting Mediterranean ports from the UK. Many Mediterranean cruise itineraries will be around 14 nights instead!

The Bay of Biscay can be choppy

If you’re on a cruise itinerary leaving from Southampton that travels to France, Spain, the Canary Islands, or the Mediterranean, your ship will be passing through the Bay of Biscay. The bay is located above northern Spain and to the west of France.

The Bay of Biscay is a body of water that has been feared by sailors for centuries due to its proximity to the open Atlantic waters and storms in the winter months. While today’s modern navigation technology and ship construction has no problem passing through the Bay of Biscay, you may still encounter choppy waters.

If you’re prone to motion sickness, be sure to pack seasickness remedies with you to ensure you can remain comfortable throughout the cruise.

Visiting unique ports

One advantage of cruising from the United Kingdom is that you’ll have the opportunity to visit less common cruise ports.

As an example, cruising from Southampton will give you the chance to visit ports like La Coruña, Vigo, and Bilbao in Spain along with La Rochelle and Le Havre in France.

These ports receive far fewer tourists and cruise ships compared to the most popular European cruise destinations. This can lead to a much more relaxed feel while in port, giving you more opportunity to immerse in local culture and lifestyle without hoards of other tourists around.

If you have more time to spare, you can also book a longer cruise visiting the Canary Islands along with ports in Portugal and mainland Spain. Cruise itineraries to the Canary Islands are not very common, but you’ll typically find a few itineraries on Anthem of the Seas every year.

Weather is unpredictable

While this may not be surprising for those who call the United Kingdom home, don’t be shocked if you encounter cloudy skies and chilly weather when cruising from Southampton. The weather on my June UK cruise was far from ideal for much of our time at sea, and I found myself wearing jeans and a jacket nearly every day.

This may not always be the case, however. When we arrived in our first port of call in France, we encountered lovely temperatures in the 70s. Just a day or two before, though, a heat wave passed through with temperatures over 100 degrees!

Weather is likely to be unpredictable, so remember to check the weather forecast before packing for your cruise!

You can visit Paris

If visiting Paris is on your bucket list, look for cruise itineraries that visit the port of Le Havre, located around 2.5-3 hours from the city center of Paris. Royal Caribbean offers excursions visiting popular spots in the city, from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre.

Be prepared for a long port day in Le Havre, as excursions to Paris will likely be over 10 hours! They also tend to be quite expensive, with some tours costing several hundreds of dollars.

You can choose to visit Paris on your own instead of on a Royal Caribbean excursion, but keep an eye on the time. With such a long travel time required to reach the city from Le Havre, you don’t want to risk missing the ship!

Gateway to Norway

If you’re hoping to visit Norway, cruising from Southampton will offer the chance to visit the country’s stunning fjords and charming towns. Royal Caribbean regularly offers 7-night Norwegian Fjords cruises visiting ports like Geiranger, Bergen, and Alesund.

A Norwegian cruise is arguably one of the most scenic in the world. If the idea of sailing past colossal mountain peaks on both sides of your cruise ship seems intriguing, don’t hesitate to book a cruise to Norway.

More guests and crew from the UK onboard

A Royal Caribbean cruise departing from Southampton will likely have a higher percentage of crew and guests onboard from the United Kingdom and Ireland. On my recent cruise on Anthem of the Seas, I'd guess that upwards of 80% of guests were from the UK! This was a huge difference compared to cruises leaving from the United States, where a large majority of guests are from the US or Latin America.

I enjoyed the shift in guest makeup on my UK cruise and it was fun talking to other guests on Anthem of the Seas, as I was able to learn more about the lifestyle in culture in different areas of the UK.

Cruising from Southampton is convenient

One aspect I really appreciated on my cruise from Southampton was how accessible the port is from London via public transit. The United Kingdom has an extensive train network, and there is a direct train from London’s Waterloo station to Southampton.

I paid $70 for my roundtrip train ticket on the app Trainline, and it only took around 90 minutes to reach Southampton from central London.

Not only that, but the port in Southampton is within walking distance of the train station! While I took an Uber on my way to the ship, I decided to walk to the station on disembarkation day to avoid a long wait for a taxi or Uber. It only took around 15 minutes!

Have you ever cruised from the United Kingdom? What tips and tricks do you have for those cruising from Southampton for the first time? Let us know in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean cruises in July 2022: What to expect

In:
04 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

No month is more synonymous with summer cruise vacations than the month of July.

Liberty of the Seas pool deck

You'll find warm temperatures across all of Royal Caribbean's sailings along with (hopefully) sunny skies.

The month of July is the peak of the summer cruise season, which means families are on summer break and demand for a summer vacation reaches its height. Very likely your ship and the places you visit will have lots of people looking to enjoy a break.

In Europe specifically, July is the month when Europeans go on holiday (along with August), so prepare to see a lot of people wherever you go in ports. Be vigilant about your surroundings, as pickpockets in Europe are common in the summer.

Ship at CocoCay

The one region where the month of July is off-season is the Caribbean. Given many ships left the Caribbean to sail Europe or Alaska, there are less ships in the Caribbean.  While that may mean less ships in Caribbean ports of call, there's still plenty of people that will be booked on the ships that are left.

If you have a summer cruise in July, here's what to expect on your sailing.

Ships sailing in July 2022

Wonder of the Seas

Every single Royal Caribbean cruise ship is back in service, so here's a breakdown of where each ship is located.

  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey until she moves to Southampton
  • Allure of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Adventure of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Explorer of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California
  • Spectrum of the Seas from Singapore
  • Grandeur of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland
  • Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada or Seward, Alaska
  • Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada
  • Voyager of the Seas from Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Quantum of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
  • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
  • Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Brilliance of the Seas from Rome, Italy
  • Wonder of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome
  • Odyssey of the Seas from from Rome, Italy
  • Vision of the Seas from Barcelona, Spain
  • Rhapsody of the Seas from Ravenna, Italy & Piareus, Greece
  • Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam, Netherlands

You will find Royal Caribbean cruises sailing in three markets during July: the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe.

Health protocols for July 2022 cruises

Parasailing in Labadee

If your cruise is sailing in July, you can expect certain core Covid-19 health protocols to be in place for your sailing, with the exception of select European itineraries that have slightly stricter vaccine requirements.

All Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose of their vaccine administered at least 14 days before sailing.

Boosters are not required, except for some European sailings require anyone that hasn't had their last shot more than 270 days ago to get a booster.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean extends European cruise ship Covid protocols through July 2022

Kids in pool

Royal Caribbean does not require kids younger than 12 to be vaccinated.

Masks are optional for vaccinated guests & recommended for unvaccinated children while onboard. Masks are no longer required at Adventure Ocean for kids 2 years and up, they are recommended for unvaccinated kids.

Masks are also now optional while in the cruise terminal before or after your cruise, unless mandated by local authorities.

Allure of the Seas

Guests under 2 years old do not need to wear a mask.

Vaccinated guests must show a negative Covid-19 test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. 

Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. This test cannot be taken on boarding day for unvaccinated kids.

Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test. 

July weather on a cruise

Rome

July sees some of the hottest temperatures for any of the regions you will be cruising from.

In Europe, heatwaves are not uncommon in July. The Greek islands can see temperatures that get into the 90s, but most of Europe should have high temperatures in the 80s, with overnight lows in the 60s.

Sea conditions in the Mediterranean are quite calm, with smooth sailing expected.  Likewise, July has great weather in terms of low chance of rain. 

Nice, France

In short, expect hot, sunny skies when you are in port or ashore.

Read moreWhat is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

If you are headed to Alaska, you will also enjoy some of the warmest temperatures of the season. July is one of the best months for an Alaska cruise because of the very comfortable outdoor conditions. Temperatures are always all over the place in Alaska, but high temperatures in the 70s or even 80s is not unheard of.

Expect up to 18 hours of sunlight in July. Chances of rain also increase as the summer months go by, so don’t forget to bring all of your rain gear.

Read moreWhen is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Freedom of the Seas in CocoCay

If you have a Caribbean cruise, I hope you like it hot and humid.

Daily high temperatures in the Caribbean during July will be in the upper 70s to upper 80s, and plenty of humidity. Believe it or not, temperatures don't go much into the 90s because of how the tropics tend to always be around the same temperature throughout the year.

With those toasty temperatures, it will feel perfect for a swim, as the ocean temperatures will be quite warm.

Expect it to rain every day of your July cruise in the Caribbean, but that doesn't mean an all-day soaker. Thunderstorms roll in and out quickly in the Caribbean, so afternoon downpours are common, but short lived. Plan on outdoor activities but you may need to seek shelter for a few minutes to let the rain pass.

Don't forget, it's hurricane season in the Caribbean, so a tropical storm could cause a change in your itinerary.

Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

More information

Rhapsody of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Split, Croatia

In:
04 Jul 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Our last port of call brought us to Split, Croatia. The past week has flown by way too quickly, and it was bittersweet disembarking the ship this morning knowing we were visiting the last of five beautiful ports on this itinerary!

Split is the second biggest city in Croatia, and it's a seaside destination for both Croatians and international tourists.

Split is the first port we've had this week where you can walk off the ship and get to town without a tender or bus ride. It was a nice change of pace to be able to disembark on our own time and get to town quickly without spending time waiting around.

It was a ten minute walk from the port to town, where we walked through the city's walls into old town. Just like yesterday in Kotor, it was like we had stepped into medieval times.

Our first glance of Split was the central square of the Palace of Diocletian, an ancient palace built in the 4th century. The palace was built to be both a Roman military camp and a place for Diocletian, a Roman Emperor, to spend his retirement.

We spent some time navigating through Split's narrow streets and taking in the city's history. I was fascinated by the city's old walls, where the old section of Split met the new.

Interestingly enough, many exterior shots in the series Game of Thrones were filmed in Split. It's easy to see why they picked Split as a filming location, as parts of the city definitely make you feel like you've traveled back in time.

A Game of Thrones museum and souvenir shop are located in town, too, which could make for a fun activity for big fans of the series!

Afternoon at the beach

The temperature today was unpleasantly toasty at 96 degrees, so we didn't have the best conditions for walking around town all day.

Instead of roasting in the heat, we decided to visit a nearby beach in the afternoon to cool down.

Split is known for being a resort town with plenty of beaches, so I was curious to see what the hype was about. We decided on Kasjuni Beach, located 15 minutes away from Split.

For whatever reason, my phone service was not working this morning in Croatia, so I could not order an Uber to the beach. Instead we grabbed a taxi near Split's old town entrance. The taxi was metered, but at around $30 for a 15-minute ride to the beach, it seemed pretty steep.

Kasjuni Beach is located in a small cove, so the water is calm, clear, and refreshing. Greenery and hills line one side of the beach, whereas the other faces the open Adriatic.

We forgot to bring pool towels out with us this morning (a rookie mistake!), so we decided to rent beach chairs to use for the day. A beach club operates on Kasjuni Beach and offers daybed and beach chair rentals. A restaurant and bar are also available, as well as changing areas and restrooms.

We stayed at the beach for around two and a half hours, where we cooled off in the sea, relaxed on our beach chairs, and enjoyed a lunch we packed from a bakery in Split.

Fortunately my phone service began working later in the day, so we were able to Uber back to town for about $8 (over $20 cheaper than the taxi!).

Back to Split

While the beach was really nice, we wanted to head back to Split to explore more of the old city. After all, we can find beaches anywhere in the world, but we would only have a few more hours to explore Croatia!

We did some souvenir shopping in the city and enjoyed some tasty gelato. In these historic towns, it's just as fun to wander around without a plan as it is to plan a full day of sightseeing!

Our last stop of the day was a climb up the bell tower at Diocletian’s Palace, which stands over 180 feet in the air and offers panoramic views of Split. We purchased tickets to the bell tower for $6 each and began the climb. Extremely steep stone stairs at the beginning of the tower turned into metal stairs a few flights up, which were much easier to climb.

The view from the top was spectacular, offering views of Split, the port, the Adriatic, and surrounding mountains.

Back onboard

Our port day in Split was short today, with all-aboard at 4PM. Once we got back onboard, I spent a couple hours working on Royal Caribbean Blog content in the Centrum. With views of Croatia and the Adriatic as we sailed away from Split, it was as good as an "office" can get!

We still had around $100 of onboard credit available to spend, so we made a reservation at Izumi for dinner tonight. There is no hibachi option on Rhapsody of the Seas, so we enjoyed udon noodle dishes, ramen, fried rice, and potstickers!

Everything was delicious as usual, and a meal at Izumi isn't over until you have mochi ice cream and crispy red bean sesame balls.

We ended our night with a gorgeous sunset on the pool deck before heading back to our staterooms to (sadly) pack our bags.

I think this has been the best cruise itinerary I've ever done (although it may be tied with Alaska). It was very port-intensive, so I wouldn't say it was the most relaxing cruise, but the early mornings and thousands of steps walked in port were beyond worth it.

I'm sad to see this cruise end, but I'm super glad I got to share this experience with my siblings. The good news? Our cruise ends tomorrow in Italy, which makes for a good excuse to keep exploring Europe!

Thanks for following along on my live blog! We'll be back again with more live blogs from Matt on Mariner of the Seas during the Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise later this month.

Royal Caribbean updates Quantum of the Seas engine trouble that requires skipping glacier viewings in August

In:
03 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has updated the situation with Quantum of the Seas needing to slow its speed and skip Alaska glacier visits.

Earlier this week, guests booked on Quantum of the Seas on August sailings were sent an email to inform them that the ship would skip glacier viewings on their sailing.

Thus far, the August 1, 8, and 15 Alaska cruise sailings are impacted. Quantum of the Seas is sailing 7-night Alaska cruises from Seattle.

A new email was sent today to guests booked on Quantum of the Seas to update the situation as to why the change is necessary.

Royal Caribbean says the speed limitations are caused by a technical issue with one of the engines.

While that may sound alarming, the cruise line reminded guests the ship has four engines, and one of them requires repairs and the repair parts are delayed, "Quantum has four engines. One requires some repair and there's a delay in receiving the parts needed. Additionally, another engine is scheduled for routine maintenance soon, which means we'll have to reduce our overall speed during these sailings."

"While we're doing everything we can to expedite this, the global supply chain situation that we're all experiencing is further impacting the delay."

Royal Caribbean was sure to note the safety of the ship is not compromised, "Safety is always our top priority. Our ships can safely sail in these kinds of situations, just at reduced speeds."

Trying to make up for a missed glacier

Alaska Glacier viewing from Quantum Class ship

As to skipping a visit to Dawes Glacier, Royal Caribbean says they have tried to find an alternative but the logistics are not simple, "We've been working tirelessly to find a way to visit Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier for your sailing, but this would result in drastically reduced port times."

"And given that there's always a risk of missing the Glacier due to weather, it's best to go with the surer option of keeping better times in port. The decision to modify our itinerary wasn't taken lightly."

"We've done everything possible to minimize the impact to your time with us and are sorry for the inconvenience."

Increased compensation

Royal Caribbean also included a change to the compensation for the change in itinerary.

First, the amount of onboard credit offered is now one full day of cruise fare paid, per person.

Any unused onboard credit will be available to be refunded back to your credit card.

Alaska glacier viewing

If not visiting the glacier causes someone to no longer want to sail, Royal Caribbean will allow them to cancel.

Guests have until July 17 to change their mind if they no longer want to sail and they can get a full refund, including non-refundable deposits and/or pre-paid amenities.

Guests will need to contact their travel agent to cancel, and should get a refund within 14 business days.

Royal Caribbean will also allow the refund amount to be moved to a different sailing.

Full letter

Here's a copy of the full letter Royal Caribbean sent.

Thanks to John Trivedi for sharing the email.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: July 3, 2022

In:
03 Jul 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy July 4th and Canada Day to everyone out in blog land! Many of you are enjoying a relaxing and long weekend, and I hope this week's round up of all the Royal Caribbean news makes it even better!

Woman with Covid-19 vaccine card

When will Covid testing and vaccine requirements go away?

That might be the most frequently asked question cruisers want to know and Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley addressed this question.

He also talked about if Royal Caribbean will add a fuel surcharge, when the Icon of the Seas reveal will be, smoking in the casino & more.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 459th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, in which Matt reflects on his Covid experience on an Alaska cruise.

As an addendum to last week's podcast episode, Matt talks about his experience with Covid on a cruise ship and what his takeaway from it all.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! 

New RCB Video: What’s the best piece of cruise advice you have ever received?

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — What’s the best piece of cruise advice you have ever received? — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Read our Greek Isles Live Blog

Rhapsody of the Seas in Kotor

A European cruise is a bucket list cruise for so many people, especially a Greek Isles cruise.

We have a day-by-day look at what it's like to sail on Rhapsody of the Seas around Greece.

Read our 7-night Greek Isles cruise live blog and see all the fun you can have exploring these beautiful islands.

Royal Caribbean’s Utopia of the Seas reaches first major milestone

Utopia of the Seas keel laying

The next Oasis Class cruise ship is on its way to becoming a reality.

At the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, a keel-laying ceremony was held for Utopia of the Seas.

Utopia of the Seas will be the first LNG-powered ship in the Oasis Class when she debuts in 2024.

We tried the new Starlink internet on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Starlink internet receivers on Freedom of the Seas

How fast is Elon Musk's Starlink internet service? We put it through its paces on a weekend sailing of Freedom of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean has quietly begun testing Starlink on Freedom of the Seas, and many are curious just how much faster this internet is compared to the traditional onboard internet service.

Over the course of 3-nights, Nicole tested the ship wifi and the results did not disappoint.

The best time to go on a Caribbean cruise

In:
03 Jul 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

You'll find Caribbean cruises available throughout the year, so when is the best time to go on a cruise?

There are ample cruises to choose from throughout the year that visit the Caribbean, and just like anywhere in the world, you'll find time of the year with higher and lower demand.

The key is finding a time that combines the best weather with the lowest prices.

When is the best Caribbean Weather?

Cruises to the Caribbean are split up into three regions: Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean.

Best weather in the Eastern and Western Caribbean

In terms of the best weather for a Caribbean cruise, the months of December through April will see the most comfortable weather. During these winter and early spring months, there is the least amount of precipitation and humidity. Moreover, this is the time of year that is not part of hurricane season.

In addition, cruising between December and April means an escape for many guests who are coming from colder locations further north.  It is a popular time for many to escape to warmer temperatures. When it is 5 degrees at home, spending the day in the Caribbean can be a really great idea.

The weather on excursions and beach days will be more comfortable in the winter months. Whether you’re walking around Mayan ruins in Costa Maya, lounging in a beach chair in St. Thomas, or going hiking in St. Lucia, you won’t feel as hot as you would in the peak of summer.

Best weather in the Southern Caribbean

While winter is still a fantastic time to cruise to the southern Caribbean, our recommendation for the best time to cruise this region is during hurricane season.

The southern Caribbean has a lower chance of being impacted by hurricanes, as it mainly lies below the hurricane belt. Therefore, during hurricane season in the fall, you are still likely to see lower prices but have a lower probability of your cruise being affected by a hurricane.

What about the summer?

June, July, and August are the most popular months to cruise to the Caribbean, and cruising in the summer comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

In the summer, expect higher humidity, hotter temperatures, and more chances of rainfall. Beach days will be welcomed as the temperature and humidity levels can be quite high, and the pool deck will be a very popular spot on the ship.

Looking at a weather forecast in the summer can initially be a bit disappointing, as you will often see that the forecast shows rain every day. However, usually the rain does not last the entire day, and often lasts only an hour or so.

With kids out of school in the summer, you should expect to see more families onboard. Summer can be a great time for families to cruise because they do not have to rely on a school schedule, giving them more flexibility in cruise itinerary and length.

One advantage of cruising in the summer is that the ocean temperatures tend to be warmer than in the winter. While the water in the Caribbean usually stays quite comfortable, the water temperature can get chilly in more northerly Caribbean destinations during the winter. This is something that you will not have to worry about by selecting a cruise in the summer.

Another advantage of cruising in the summer months is that daylight hours are longer. Whereas in the winter it may get dark around 5:30PM, in the summertime, sunset may not be until 7 or 8PM, depending on where in the Caribbean you are sailing.

Should I cruise in the Caribbean during hurricane season?

Cruising during hurricane season may sound scary, but it is not as crazy as it may seem.

Hurricane season runs between June 1 and November 30, and it is the time of year when we typically see tropical storms form in the Caribbean. The most common months to see hurricanes are in August and September. Of course, that does not mean there is a hurricane every day, nor does it mean when there is one, the entire Caribbean is affected.

First and foremost, Royal Caribbean employs a Chief Meteorologist to track every disturbance and storm out there, and provide guidance to each cruise ship on how to best avoid the storm. 

Cruise ship in Grand Cayman

Royal Caribbean will absolutely, positively, avoid the path of any hurricane. Itineraries will be flipped, swapped or completely changed to avoid going anywhere near the storm. The cruise line has said time and time again that the safety of its guests, crew and ships are vital, and they will not send their vessels near any hurricane.

In rare situations, entire sailings have been cancelled if the path of the storm rules out any possibility of a ship making it in or out of its homeport.

The top reason to cruise during hurricane season is it will cost you a lot less to cruise during this time of year, and the likelihood of a storm directly impacting your cruise is low.  Moreover, your ship will not go in or near any storm.

Cheapest months to go on a Caribbean cruise

If you are looking to get the lowest cost for a Caribbean cruise, late August through early November see some of the lowest prices of the year.

Cruises in this time period have two things in common: it is the peak of hurricane season and it is also when most families are unable to vacation due to the school calendar. The combined effect is lower demand for cruises, and thus, lower prices.

You can also find bargains during other times of the year when school is typically in session, such as mid-January to mid-February, mid-April through the end of May, and the first two weeks of December.

While we recommend cruising to the Caribbean in the winter months, don’t expect to find the cheapest fares around the holidays. Cruises around Christmas and New Year’s will, unsurprisingly, come with higher prices. That being said, the holidays can be a fun time to set sail with special dining menus, decor, and events throughout the ship.

There are always exceptions, but the key to finding the best price on a Caribbean cruise is to try to go when most others cannot cruise. Avoiding religious holidays and the school vacation calendar is a good start.

Caribbean holidays and festivals

A great way to dive deeper into the cultures of the Caribbean islands you visit is by experiencing local holidays and festivals. Festivals happen throughout the year and can be a unique way to experience a port during your cruise.

Heading to Barbados? Each summer, the island nation hosts the Crop Over Festival. Crop Over is a festival that originated over three hundred years ago when the Bajan people celebrated the end of the sugar cane growing season. Nowadays, Crop Over is celebrated with music, dance, arts, concerts, street parties, and plenty of Barbadian rum!

The festival is celebrated with events from May to August, with the biggest celebration taking place on Grand Kadooment Day in early August. Most events take place in Bridgetown, where Royal Caribbean ships port.

The biggest festival in the Caribbean each year is Carnival. Celebrated throughout the Caribbean, the most famous Caribbean carnival is in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago is held each year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. From street parades to calypso music, elaborate costumes, and dancing, a full port day of partying is guaranteed.

Carnival and similar festivals are also celebrated in other Caribbean islands. Exact dates may change depending on the year, so be sure to check if you will be sailing to these islands during Carnival.

  • St. Lucia: Mid-July
  • St. Vincent: June and July
  • Grenada: August
  • Aruba: January - March
  • St. Maarten: April
  • Bahamas: May
  • Curaçao: January - March
  • Dominica: February

What times of the year should I avoid?

While there isn’t a particular time of year that needs to be avoided when cruising to the Caribbean, you may prefer a certain time of the year based on your schedule and cruising style.

Royal Caribbean is a family-oriented cruise line. Sailings that occur during spring break, holidays, and the peak of summer will have more kids and families onboard. If you are looking for a sailing free from a lot of kids, these are probably not the best times to cruise. Likewise, if you have children and are wanting them to be around a lot of other kids or teens, these times of the year can be a good choice.

In addition, cruises during spring break may see an influx of college-aged students, thus leading to a bigger party atmosphere. Cruise pricing during this time in March or April can also be higher than choosing to cruise in February or May instead.

Oftentimes, however, the length of a cruise can have a bigger impact on the ship’s atmosphere even more than the time of year. Shorter, 3 and 4-night cruises are likely to have a bigger party vibe and more families onboard, whereas longer cruises tend to skew quieter.

Luckily, you will likely have nice weather no matter what time of the year you sail to the Caribbean. Certain times of the year may be more warm, humid, or rainy than others, but in general, the weather in the Caribbean is warm and breezy. 

Rhapsody of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Kotor, Montenegro

In:
03 Jul 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today we visited one of the most scenic places I have ever been: Kotor, Montenegro! Nestled in an isolated area on the Bay of Kotor, this small town is known for its medieval Old Town and unbelievable scenery.

From the moment I saw a photo of Kotor on Royal Caribbean’s website, I knew I had to book a cruise to Montenegro. In fact, I made sure to book this itinerary specifically over others because it visited not only the Greek Isles, but also the Balkans.

That decision turned out to be a great one, because today was one of the best port days yet! (Do I say that every day?)

First impressions of Kotor, Montenegro

I did not want to miss the scenic passage into Kotor, so I set my alarm for 5AM this morning. Luckily our clocks were set back one hour the night before, so it wasn't too early. A lot of other passengers must have had the same idea, because when I reached the pool deck around 5:30 there were already plenty of people outside eager to watch Montenegro's gorgeous scenery pass by.

We collected our tender tickets at 7AM and were off the ship by 7:30. The tender ride to Kotor was only around five minutes, offering stunning views of Rhapsody of the Seas surrounded by tall mountain peaks on all sides. The tender boat dropped us off at the pier, which is only a 1-2 minute walk to Kotor's famous Old Town.

It was like we had stepped out of the 21st century and entered medieval Europe. Many buildings and churches were built over 900 years ago, and I felt like I could be in a fairytale. Narrow, cobblestone streets led to public squares, where locals and tourists alike gathered to enjoy breakfast and relax amongst Kotor's surrounding mountains.

I fell in love with the town instantly, and my day was only just beginning!

Hiking to the Castle of San Giovanni

One of the top activities to do in Kotor is to visit the Castle of San Giovanni, located above Kotor’s Old Town and the city walls. Some type of fortification has been located in Kotor since before the 6th century, although the current structure of the castle was built by the Venetians in the 15th century.

The trailhead to the Castle of San Giovanni can be accessed from Old Town with an €8 entrance fee. The hike takes around 40 minutes to reach the top via over 1350 steps!

Luckily, almost the entire hike was in the shade, so it was relatively pleasant even when climbing. The trail had plenty of areas to take a rest, and there were also vendors selling water and snacks. Amazing views were in abundance for the entirety of the trail, but the best views were, of course, at the top.

Exploring more of Kotor’s Old Town

Following the hike, I stopped at a local cafe for a fresh orange juice and “Moscow Cake”, made with cream, cherries, pineapple, and almonds. It was delightful!

One thing you’ll notice when walking around town is the abundance of cats. Cats are a symbol of Kotor, and it was fun to check out a bit of the town's "cat tourism". There are several cat-themed souvenir shops filled with handmade trinkets, magnets, and decor.

We also made a brief visit to the Kotor Cat Museum, which offers photos and information dedicated to the love of cats around the world. It was certainly a unique place. Proceeds at the museum go toward keeping Kotor’s cats fed and happy. A few kittens called the museum home, too, which was definitely very cute!

After so much exploring and hiking, it was time for lunch. There’s quite a bit of Italian influence in Kotor due to Italy’s proximity and presence in the Bay of Kotor throughout history. This influence can be seen in the cuisine as well, with risottos and pastas common on menus in Kotor.

We had lunch at La Catedrale Pasta Bar, where we enjoyed pasta pomodoro and homemade white wine, which was quite refreshing on such a sunny day. One of my favorite parts of a European cruise so far is having a nice sit-down lunch outdoors each day!

Back onboard

Unfortunately the weather was almost to the point of being unbearably hot once afternoon came, and we were quickly getting exhausted. The sun was beyond strong today, and while there were plenty of shady spots in Kotor, there was not much of a breeze! The Old Town of Kotor is small, however, so we felt as if we had seen most of the town in a relatively short amount of time.

We got back onboard around 1:30 and were in desperate need of a nap, both to cool down and catch up on sleep. I'm glad we got off the ship as soon as possible this morning, as we were able to explore the majority of Old Town before it got too hot. Plus, crowds increased significantly in the afternoon. If you have a Mediterranean cruise booked in the future, I'd definitely recommend disembarking the ship early in the morning.

After our "quick" nap (which ended up being about 3 hours), we hung out in the Centrum where we took in the views of Kotor and surrounding area. By late afternoon, clouds started to roll into the bay and temperatures cooled down significantly.

We had dinner tonight in the Windjammer, which proved to be a wonderful place to watch the beginning of sailaway. The Windjammer on Rhapsody of the Seas is located forward instead of aft, so it offered a great view of the helicopter pad and ship as we began the journey to Croatia.

After dinner, we headed upstairs to the pool deck to enjoy more panoramic views of one of the most beautiful sailaways I've ever seen!

We also found a "hidden secret" spot on Rhapsody of the Seas. Located on deck 9 and accessible from the Solarium or via steps near the rock climbing wall is an area of pool chairs with nice views off the ship’s port side. We relaxed here for an hour, taking in the last views of Montenegro before we entered the open seas of the Adriatic.

We spent the rest of the evening in the Solarium and on the pool deck before heading back to our stateroom. Tomorrow we will be in our last port of call: Split: Croatia!