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What it's like to go on an Alaskan cruise at the end of the season

In:
16 Nov 2021
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Cruising to Alaska is something that should be on everyone's bucket list. The state's southeast region, where cruises visit, is dotted with picturesque towns and gorgeous landscapes. Southeast Alaska has very few roads connecting its destinations, making a cruise an ideal way to visit the region.

The Alaskan cruise season generally operates between April and September each year. And while the peak season for an Alaskan cruise is between June and August, cruising in the shoulder season can have its perks.

If you’re looking at booking a cruise near the end of the Alaskan cruise season, such as in September, here are a few things to expect.

Colder and Wetter Weather

Most Alaskans you encounter at port will tell you that Alaska’s weather can change very suddenly. Southeast Alaska is a temperate rainforest. In fact, Ketchikan, a common port on an Alaskan cruise, can receive over thirteen feet of rain per year!

While visiting Alaska, you should expect and prepare for rain during any month. The two rainiest months of the year are September and October. Regardless of which month you cruise to Alaska, though, you should pack and plan accordingly with waterproof shoes, a raincoat, and a waterproof day bag for when you’re at port.

However, don’t let the rainier weather deter you from an Alaskan cruise later in the season. While it will likely rain during your cruise, it usually doesn’t last the whole day. On our most recent Alaskan cruise here at Royal Caribbean Blog, it did rain almost every day, but often only for a few minutes or hours. The rain was usually very light, so with proper rain gear, it was not a big deal.

Temperature-wise, expect a high in the mid-50s in September. While it won’t be extremely chilly, definitely pack layers. In Alaska, you might be wearing a winter jacket and a short sleeve shirt on the same day!

It’s worth noting that Alaska’s fall weather conditions might lead to higher seas and intense winds. When this happens, the outdoor decks are often temporarily closed and things may be swaying a bit more than usual onboard.

Autumn Sights

A change in seasons is noticeable in Alaska’s landscapes and wildlife viewing opportunities.

You can view diverse wildlife and landscapes at any time in Alaska, but each time of year can offer different sights. While bears begin hibernating in September, there are still plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as whales, eagles, and moose in the fall. Another plus of cruising later in the season is that there are fewer mosquitos to worry about while at port.

When it comes to landscape, the scenery in September can look much different than earlier in the year. Expect fall colors and snowy mountains, especially if you travel to a higher elevation while in port.

Additionally, as the daylight hours get shorter in September, there is a higher chance of spotting the northern lights. Though not guaranteed and dependent on cloud coverage, this is a perk of cruising to Alaska later in the season.

Lower prices

Cruising during the shoulder season in Alaska can mean finding better deals than in the peak summer months. Prices can be several hundred dollars more in July than in September.

If you’re traveling to Alaska on a budget or are looking to splurge on an upgraded stateroom or shore excursion, it might be worth it to cruise later in the season. That $300 you save on a cruise fare can be put toward excursions such as a helicopter tour of Mendenhall Glacier or a scenic train ride in Skagway. You may also wish to save on the cruise fare to splurge onboard with a dining or deluxe beverage package.

It’s never a good idea to book a cruise solely based on price, of course. If you like to spend most of your time on the pool deck, you probably don’t want to book a cruise to Alaska in September. But if you’re less concerned about the weather and are hoping to see snowier landscapes, don’t hesitate to book a cruise in the shoulder season.

Shorter Days

In the peak of summer, you can expect to see up to 18 hours of daylight while cruising in Alaska. In September, you may only have around 11-13 hours of daylight. In Juneau, for example, the sun may rise at 6:30AM and set at 7PM in mid-September.

Thus, a common concern of traveling to Alaska later in the season is the “lack” of daylight. And while there are less hours of daylight, this should not be a deterrent from booking a cruise later in the season.

After all, there are not many passengers walking around onboard before 6AM whether it is light outside or not. Therefore, when most passengers are waking up, the sun is also starting to rise.

Plus, more than likely, any time that you are in port will be during daylight hours. You don’t have to worry about walking around at night or missing a shore excursion opportunity due to the darkness.

The only time you may notice a change in the daytime hours on an Alaskan cruise is in the evening. In the summer, you’ll have the opportunity to stay outdoors at night for much longer to view the scenery. In September, though, it will probably be dark by 8PM.

The evening is a busy time onboard any Royal Caribbean cruise, though. Whether at dinner or a show, you will probably spend most of the evening indoors. Therefore, the earlier sunset may not affect your experience in the slightest.

Picking when to cruise to Alaska is a big decision. The views are outstanding at any time of year, and while there may not be as much sunshine later in the season, you get the added perks of the fall scenery and lower prices.

Ultimately, whether you cruise to Alaska in June or September, much of the experience on land or at sea will be more similar than different.

A beginner's guide to sailing in Star Class

In:
16 Nov 2021
By: 
Marcy Miyar

For those that want the ultimate in luxury, Royal Caribbean offers Star Class. 

When booking a cruise, one of the first decisions to make is what kind of room to sail in.  There are so many options within Star Class you may not know where to begin.

Hopefully these tips will help you make the planning go more smoothly.  

What is Star Class?

What is Star Class? | Royal Caribbean Blog

Star Class is available on Oasis and Quantum class ships.  They are the largest of the suites.  Some of the perks for staying in a Star Class room include:

  • Priority boarding
  • Complimentary VOOM wifi
  • Complimentary specialty restaurants
  • Complimentary deluxe drink packages
  • Access to the suite lounge and Coastal Kitchen for all meals
  • Complimentary laundry services
  • Standard gratuities (additional gratuities, for the Genie for example, are at your discretion)

And the best part, you get the services of the Royal Genie!

Choosing your room

My husband and I are frequent cruisers but had never stayed in Star Class.  We decided it would be perfect for us to try out for our 15th anniversary. 

Choosing a room was probably the hardest part for us.  Upon starting our research, we quickly realized most of the suites were designed for larger parties.  For example, the two bedroom Aqua Theater Suite is a Star Class option, as well as the Ultimate Family Suites. 

We ended up picking the Owner's Panoramic Suite that is only available on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.  It has one bedroom which was perfect for two people. 

As a bonus, it also has a hot tub on the balcony, which is something I’ve always wanted to try.

Pre-cruise communication

Photos: Oasis of the Seas arrives home to PortMiami | Royal Caribbean Blog

Approximately six weeks prior to sailing, you will receive your Star Class pre-cruise questionnaire.  The questions are a way to help your Genie get to know you better. 

It asks a lot about your cruising preferences and also has some fun questions. 

One that stuck out to me was, “if you could have dinner with any person living, or in history, which three would you choose?”  Our answers were Princess Diana, Walt Disney and Agatha Christie.  

Royal genie questionnaire - Royal Caribbean Discussion - Royal Caribbean Blog

Again, it’s a way for them to gauge your personality and personal interests. 

A month before sailing, we received our first e-mail from our Royal Genie.  He introduced himself to us and asked more specific questions regarding our cruise such as, were we travelling with anyone in a different cabin, what our preferred restaurants and dining times were and what shows we were interested in. 

As we sent messages back and forth, we were able to come up with a tentative schedule for our sailing.

Embarkation day

Quantum of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Star Class cruise begins | Royal Caribbean Blog

When you arrive at the terminal, you will see an area specifically for Star Class check in.  Make sure you keep all of your luggage with you, and not drop it off with the porters as you normally would. 

Once the agent checks you in, you will receive a ship porter that will whisk away your luggage and deliver it to you room shortly after you board.

After checking in at the terminal, your Royal Genie will meet you to escort you on to the ship.  They will take you straight to your suite and give you a printout of the plan you made together.  Remember, it’s not written in stone so you can change your mind at any time.

 

We had pre-arranged for lunch from Sabor to be set up in our suite.  Beef empanadas, chicken and steak quesadillas, chips with guacamole and even our favorite specialty margaritas were waiting for us.

We also met up with our loft attendant, which is a fancy name for room steward, that showed us how to use all of the controls in the room and asked if we had any special requests. 

One special request we had was to have the hot tub set up every evening after dinner.  We also advised her of our normal routine so she would know when the best time was to service the room.

The Royal Genie

Everything you need to know about Royal Caribbean's Royal Suite Class | Royal Caribbean Blog

During our research, the biggest mystery for us was the Royal Genie.  We did many searches online asking “what do they do?” 

We never truly felt we received a good answer to that and now I know why.  The Genie’s services are specific to you and your wishes. 

Of course you can expect them to make all of your dining reservations and get you the best seats in the house to every show, but they also surprise you in ways that make you feel special.

I’m not sure how every Genie does it, but for us, we were kept in constant communication with ours via WhatsApp. 

We downloaded it on our phone and could message him any time.  We hardly needed it though, he always seemed to know where we were and would check in with us at breakfast, dinner and even hanging out in the suite lounge, just to see if we were ok and needed anything.

We loved coming in to our room on our anniversary and finding it decorated with cards, balloons, banners, fresh flowers, a cake with our names on it and a beautiful Willow Tree figurine. 

A few days later, Halloween decorations were added to the room. I have no idea how he knew that was my favorite holiday, I guess it’s just part of the Genie magic.

On debarkation day, you will arrange a time to be escorted, with all of your luggage, off of the ship. 

Is Star Class worth it?

Aerial photos of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

As with everything, that is based on each individual. 

We were lucky enough to get an amazing deal on our room since we booked it during the pandemic.  In fact, looking at pricing for next year, our room is selling for three times what we paid. 

For a lot of people that cruise in Star Class regularly, it’s more about the personal experience than the cost, especially if you’re sailing in a group.  It’s nice to have someone there to make all of your arrangements. 

We loved the experience and hope to do it again in the future.

Royal Caribbean CEO talks double points return, capacity numbers, masks, and more

In:
15 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

While onboard Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley answered questions about a variety of topics related to cruising right now.

Mr. Bayley and Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, hosted a question and answer session with travel agents that covered many aspects of what Royal Caribbean is doing right now.

Questions touched on health protocols, the app, Perfect Day at Cococay, and more.

Here are some of the more interesting responses to the hot topics the executives touch upon.

Will antibody tests be accepted?

CDC updates guidance to Royal Caribbean on banning mixed vaccines | Royal Caribbean Blog

One question raised was if or when someone with antibodies from a previous Covid-19 infection would be acceptable to sail in lieu of a vaccine.

Mr. Bayley said he gets this question a lot, "I think I think we're going to get there. We're not there at the moment."

Besides discussions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) about the issue, Mr. Bayley said another issue are the various countries who each have their own requirements, "Typically the standards are in each of the countries, often that defines the whole itinerary."

Miami-Dade Mayor asks CDC to allow cruise ships to restart | Royal Caribbean Blog

"I can't tell you how many meetings we've had with health authorities literally around the world and particularly obviously with the CDC."

"I do believe we'll get to a good place with antibodies, but it's probably a few more months away."

Chat feature in the app

Royal Caribbean's chat feature is now available on every cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Another question was about the chat feature in the Royal Caribbean app, and why it costs extra instead of being free.

Mr. Bayley admitted they wrestled with charging or not for the chat feature, "I remember that we had a lot of arguments internally within the company about a dollar ninety nine."

"I'm tempted to say we'll drop it, but nobody seems to be reacting against it. So we'll we'll drop it. Yeah. I think that will be good."

Will the Double Point promo come back?

Royal Caribbean extends double point offer through December 2022 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Ever since the double points in Crown and Anchor Society promo ended earlier this fall, many cruise fans wanted to know if it will ever come back.

Mr. Bayley said he thinks the promo will come back, but they will use it "strategically."

"You'll see more of that coming, but it's not going to be a blanket open book."

Latest on Hideaway Beach

Royal Caribbean will expand Perfect Day at CocoCay with Hideaway Beach | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley took some time to talk about the new port projects Royal Caribbean has lined up, including the next expansion for Perfect Day at CocoCay.

A new adults-only beach area is coming to CocoCay, that will open in late 2022.

"We are opening Hideaway Beach in, I'm hoping it's going to be at some point in '22."

"Hideaway Beach is going to be a adult only zone. It's going to have a beautiful natural lagoon area and a phenomenal pool and of course, stunning new cabanas and overwater cabanas and great dining and entertainment.

Why did Royal Caribbean decide to do adults-only? Evidently there was a lot of demand, "the feedback we've got is that people love Perfect Day, but there's a segment of our customers who want to have more quiet and not have kids all over the place."

Royal Beach Club & other projects

Royal Caribbean could finish Nassau Beach Club by May 2023 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley also gave an update on the new Royal Beach Club in Nassau, among other port projects.

"We're very close to finalizing the Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas, that is going to be on Paradise Island."

"Royal Beach Club is going to be an absolutely stunning beach club vibe, looking out to the beautiful ocean with a stunning beach. We're building a really world class, incredible kind of infinity pool."

Report: Royal Caribbean targeting January 2023 opening of Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas | Royal Caribbean Blog

"It's going to be very much infused in the Bahamian culture with lots of Junkanoo and great music."

Mr. Bayley wasn't sure exactly when it might open, saying it will probably open in 2023.

Moving on, he touched on other projects.

Royal Caribbean announces new Perfect Day private island experience in Vanuatu | Royal Caribbean Blog

"We had other projects that we were working on before the pandemic. We were envisioning a new concept for Labadee. We were working on the project plan for Vanuatu off the coast of Australia."

"The Perfect Day in Vanuatu is absolutely stunning. I mean, it is game changing."

"New classes of ships that are coming and our vision for destinations, we think that we're going to really move forward and create a whole new blue open space for Royal Caribbean as a vacation company and very excited about that."

Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean begins construction on its next generation cruise ship Icon of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Bayley also talked briefly about Icon of the Seas.

"We feel that Oasis Class was a game changer, particularly for the family market. But when Icon comes. We think it's just going to take it to a whole new level."

Masks

What is the best mask to wear on a cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

When might masks go away? No one knows quite yet, but Mr. Bayley is optimistic for a change in policy as we move in to 2022.

"I think it's pretty it's pretty certain that the mask policy is going to change for the whole industry, for everybody as we move into the first quarter... as long as we don't see any more variants appearing on the scene."

Mr. Bayley shared the results of a survey the cruise line conducted about masks, "Sixty five percent of all of our customers feel comfortable with some kind of mask guidance. A lot of people do feel comfortable with it as being something optional."

What is the best mask to wear on a cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

"We're very thoughtful about it and have been because of our family market. :So we're very sensitive to making sure we're not alienating a large group of customers."

"I 'm never arrogant enough to think that we solved it all, but our protocols are really working. Sometimes we can be accused of being a little overcautious, but it's just it's just all working out."

"I think for the industry and for our business, week by week, month by month, these things are going to start slipping away and we're going to get back to quite a quite a normal environment.

Capacity numbers

Frequently asked questions about cruising on Freedom of the Seas from Florida | Royal Caribbean Blog

One topic a lot of cruisers want to know his how full their ships will be in the near future.

Mr. Bayley shared some rough estimates for ships sailing over the next few months.

" In October, I think the Royal Caribbean International Brand fleet sailed at 50 percent load factor."

"In November it'll be 60 percent. In December, it'll be 65. As we move into January, we'll continue to increase it."

"We're monitoring and watching everything is occurring around us, and we're making sure that every time we increase our capacity, we believe it's very safe to do so. Our intention as we move into the spring is to get back to business as normal."

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
15 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The second day of our Odyssey of the Seas naming ceremony cruise brings us to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Before I could get to the island, there were a few meetings I had to go to. As part of a media cruise, there are immersion sessions for the press to learn more about the ship, as well as opportunities to meet with different executives.

My morning began with a question and answer session with Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, where he answered questions from the press.

There were questions about protocols, restart, plans for the future and many things inbetween.

I'm working on summarizing the more interesting questions asked in a post that will go up later today. I will update this post with a link once it is published.

After that, it was over to the SeaPlex to meet with Royal Caribbean Group Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider to talk about the role technology plays with a ship like Odyssey.

Mr. Schneider talked about the importance of balancing tech with the guest experience, but not having tech just for the sake of having tech. Moreover, he shared how spaces like Zone Zero, Adventure Ocean, and interactive kiosks on Odyssey are a step forward for the cruise line with new offerings.

By now it was lunch time, so I headed back to my cabin to get changed and then walked off the ship to visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Freedom of the Seas was docked with us today.

I knew today would be an abbreviated visit to CocoCay, so I went right to the Coco Beach Club to have lunch. Since this was a media cruise for us, admission to the club was complimentary.

Once again, the food did not disappoint and I loved it. Filet mignon was another home run.

I managed a little time in the infinity pool before heading back to the ship to get ready for more sessions this evening.

One thing I had to take care of was getting another Covid test for my cruise tomorrow.  I'm staying onboard Odyssey for her 5-night cruise, and I had to get an antigen test.

Royal Caribbean provides tests for back to back cruisers (along with anyone that needs a test before getting off the ship) at no additional cost.  

Guest Services brought me down to the medical center to get my test.  Clearly the crew members were also getting their weekly test while I was there.

First up was a talk with Royal Caribbean International Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Mark Tamis, to talk about the new Giovanni's Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar.

Mr. Tamis not only talked about the new refresh to Giovannis, but also introduced the master pizzaiolo behind the new menu, Chef Renato Viola.

Read moreHow Royal Caribbean reimagined its signature Italian restaurant

Next up was Royal Caribbean International Senior Vice President of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean International, Nick Weir, showcasing the technology behind Two70 on Odyssey of the Seas.

Before dinner, I went down to Casino Royale to say hello to Chris Wong, who is not only the casino host, but a great YouTuber.

Chris shares his experience as a crew member on YouTube, and is a really nice guy.  I encourage you to check out his work.

Speaking of nice people, this event allowed me to reconnect with friends I had not seen in a long time, as well as meet new ones.

I even got to meet Odyssey of the Seas' Godmother!

Among the many people I was able to see this weekend, none topped having a minute to say hello to Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain.

I told him I wanted to thank him for all of us hard work, especially over the last 2 years, and he was gracious enough to pose for a photo with me.

Last but not least, I wrapped up my day with a great dinner at Izumi sushi.

After dinner, I made my way to Music Hall to check out the rock band performing there.

This concludes my two-night media cruise on Odyssey of the Seas, but the live blog fun continues this week when Jenna shares a live blog from a two-night media cruise on Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles! The fun continues on Wednesday, November 17!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 14, 2021

In:
14 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Another busy week of Royal Caribbean fun just wrapped up, but if you missed any of it, I have a concise look at all of it for you in this weekly news round-up!

 

 

Royal Caribbean announced the health protocols for its ships through March 2022.

The new protocols apply to Royal Caribbean sailings from Puerto Rico, Barbados and U.S. homeports through March 31, 2022. 

Surprisingly, Royal Caribbean released these protocols for sailings many months in advance. It had previously been releasing protocols one month at a time.

These protocols govern the rules and requirements passengers can expect if they want to go on a cruise between now and March 31, 2022.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 430th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, featuring a review of Serenade of the Seas.

Meagan and Jeff cruised on one of the first sailings from Tampa since the restart, and share their experience on Serenade of the Seas.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: Don't wait for a Black Friday cruise deal!

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 — Don't wait for a Black Friday cruise deal! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

5 things I purchased for a cruise that I regretted buying

 

Whether I thought they would make my life easier, or just improve the vacation experience, in practice, I've regretted a few purchases I made for a cruise.

At the time of purchase, it sounds like a revelation and I usually end up buying it because I think to myself how could I not buy it to improve my vacation.

Here is my own list of things I bought for a cruise that ended up being a terrible purchasing decision for me.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

In:
14 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

I'm back on Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship for her official inaugural sailing and naming!

Odyssey of the Seas has been sailing for a few months since the summer, but Royal Caribbean is celebrating her official welcome this weekend.

This is a 2-night cruise open to just members of the media and travel agents. Royal Caribbean invited me to be their guest on this sailing with a complimentary sailing.

I drove down to Fort Lauderdale the day before the cruise and tried a new hotel near the cruise port, Hyatt House Fort Lauderdale Airport - South & Cruise Port.

I got a good rate for it, and I liked the hotel.  I'll have a review of it to share later, but I think it makes my list of recommended hotels for a pre-cruise stay.

My check-in time was 1pm, so I took my time on Saturday morning before heading over to the port.

The embarkation process was fine, and I was able to get onboard the ship just as quickly as I could make it through the various checks.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing all the check-in steps in advance on the Royal Caribbean app to make it all super quick at the terminal.

My room was ready when I boarded, so I headed there first to drop off my belongings.

Royal Caribbean provided me with a a balcony cabin for this sailing on deck 9.

Balcony rooms are always a great room, and since it is just me on this sailing, I have more than enough space.

This room is close to the forward elevator bank, which means a short walk to my room.

With my stuff squared away in my room, it was time to head to lunch at the Windjammer.

I could quickly tell this was a celebratory sailing, because Royal Caribbean spared no expense with the lunch offerings. Filet mignon, lobster tails and a lot more to choose from across the different stations.

Next up on my agenda was to check out a few of the suites.

On these 2-night media cruises, Royal Caribbean opens up certain cabins for travel agents and media to look at so they can get a better sense of what is offered.

There are rooms across all categories, but I really wanted to see the suites.

I saw the Royal Loft Suite first, and in case you were wondering, yes it is an amazing room.

This is a Star Class suite, which means it is a top-tier suite offering with so much space. 

There is just about everything you could want in this room, spread across two decks, with even a hot tub.

To compare, I looked at a standard loft suite and I am always impressed with how much space you have in these two-deck layouts.

I think the views off the aft of the ship are really nice, and an underrated aspect of these cabins.

Next up, each of the specialty restaurants was offering tasting samplings so everyone could stop by and get a taste of what it offers.

Far be it for me to pass up on quick bites!

The big event today was the actual naming, where Royal Caribbean officials and the ship's Godmother will name the ship.

The event was held on the pool deck, and the timing and weather could not have been better.  As the sun set, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain and Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley spoke before Godmother Erin Brown performed her duties of christening the ship.

A ship naming is an important occasion for any cruise line to celebrate all the hard work that it took to get the ship from concept to reality, but this particular ship naming had extra significance because it was the first ship to join the fleet since the pandemic.

Both Mr. Fain and Mr. Bayley's speeches centered around celebrating not just Odyssey's arrival, but the return of cruising. In fact, Mr. Bayley at one point was choked up talking about the road back to this point.

In addition, this was one final public event for Mr. Fain as the CEO.

After the speeches were made, a giant bottle of champagne was smashed across the bow of Odyssey, and she is officially part of the fleet.

In celebration, Royal Caribbean shot fireworks off near the ship, while we were still docked in Port Everglades. 

Dinner tonight took me to Teppanyaki, one of my favorite restaurants on any ship.

I love hibachi, and it certainly did not disappoint.  Everything tasted good, and the chef put on a great performance.

After dinner, I went down to the Royal Theater to see the adult comedy show, featuring Simeon Kirkiles. 

Between Mr. Kirkiles and the other comedian, there were some really good laughs.

Tomorrow we will be at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean announces 2022 President's Cruise

In:
13 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has officially announced when its next President's Cruise will be and on what ship.

After hinting it will be an Alaska cruise recently, Royal Caribbean announced the 2022 President's Cruise will be on Ovation of the Seas.

It will be held on the June 24, 2022 sailing of Ovation of the Seas. It will be a 7-night cruise that will visit Juneau and Skagway, Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia.

Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval to start test sailings on Ovation of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

This will be the fifth President’s Cruise, and the first on a Quantum Class ship.

Royal Caribbean International CEO and President Michael Bayley, who is hosting the sailing, sent an email to Crown and Anchor Society members inviting them to join him for the festivities.

"I hope you’ll join me, our dedicated crew members and the Crown & Anchor Society team on board. There are more details to come as we plan a full schedule of events, including live performances, immersive destination experiences and more."

"I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We are so appreciative of your unwavering support and understanding during the last 20 months. A larger-than-life President’s Cruise is just one way we want to thank you."

What is a President's Cruise?

President's Cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Essentially, a Royal Caribbean President's Cruise is a regular sailing that anyone can book, but the appeal is for Royal Caribbean fans who want to go on a cruise together.

Hosted by the President and CEO of Royal Caribbean, it is a giant celebration of the cruise line for its loyal guests.

On past President's Cruises, there have been special events such as celebrity musicians who have performed onboard.

President's Cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog
Patti LaBelle & Michael Bayley on a past President's Cruise

In addition, there are surprises and commemorative opportunities for anyone onboard.

Part of the appeal of a President's Cruise is a lot of loyal Royal Caribbean fans book it, making it a kind of homecoming experience among cruise fans.

More about Alaska cruises

What to expect with Royal Caribbean's new virtual safety drill

In:
13 Nov 2021
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

One big change that Royal Caribbean has implemented this year is Muster 2.0. Otherwise known as eMuster, this is a streamlined and digital upgrade to the traditional muster drill.

The muster drill is a mandatory safety briefing during which passengers learn where to go and what to do in case of an emergency onboard. The drill must be completed by all passengers on the first day of a cruise before the ship can depart.

Prior to the cruise shutdown, the muster drill was an activity many passengers disliked. Passengers had to gather at their muster station at the same time as everyone else in their group. This often led to large crowds and a lot of waiting around outside in uncomfortable temperatures.

Muster 2.0 is a new and improved hybrid model, completed partly on the Royal Caribbean app (or stateroom television) and partly in-person at your designated assembly station. It is a quick, flexible, and stress-free experience.

If you haven’t been on a cruise yet this year, it’s important to know when and how to complete the new emuster drill. After all, you don’t want to be that one passenger who is delaying the ship’s departure!

Here’s what you can expect when doing the emuster drill on your next cruise.

What to do first: Download the Royal Caribbean App

The first step to completing Muster 2.0 is to make sure you have the Royal Caribbean app downloaded on your smartphone. Royal Caribbean’s app is free and is available on both iOS and Android devices.

After the app is downloaded, login to your Royal Caribbean account. You should see your next sailing appear on the app. Once on the main page, select the safety button in the bottom left corner. This will take you to the page where you can begin the emuster drill.

No smartphone?

If you do not have a smartphone, you can complete all necessary Muster 2.0 steps on the television in your stateroom once you get onboard.

Keep in mind that you could download the Royal Caribbean app on a tablet as well.

Muster 2.0 Steps

On the safety page within the app, you will see three steps that you must complete. Next to each step, you will see a box that says “incomplete”. As you complete each step, each box will change from “incomplete” to “complete”.

Step one: Watch the short safety video

The first step on the emuster drill is to watch a short, animated safety video demonstrating how to properly put on a lifejacket. At the end, you click on a checkbox next to your name to confirm that you have watched the video.

Step two: Listen to the emergency horn

If there is an emergency onboard, you will hear a very loud, high-pitched beeping sound. The emergency horn on Royal Caribbean ships consists of seven short beeping noises followed by one long noise. It is important to know what the horn sounds like so that you are aware of an emergency should the horn blast through the cruise ship’s speakers.

To complete this step, simply press the blue play button in the “Emergency horn” box. Make sure your phone’s audio levels aren’t up all the way as the emergency horn can be quite loud.

Step three: Locate and visit your assembly station

Step three of the emuster drill differs from the first two steps in that it requires going to your assembly station onboard the ship.

After you’ve listened to the emergency horn, scroll down to the box that says “Visit Assembly Station” and click “Find on deck”. A deck plan of the ship will pop up showing you exactly where your assembly station is located.

With your phone in hand (or SeaPass card if you do not have a smartphone), go to your assembly station. If you need help locating your assembly station, simply ask one of the crew members.

Once you arrive at the assembly station, a crew member will give you a very brief safety demonstration. After this is done, they will scan your SeaPass, indicating that you have completed the emuster drill.

It’s a good idea to double check that all steps on the app’s safety page have been marked as complete. Once you see a green “complete” box next to each step, you have successfully completed the emuster drill.

How to do Muster 2.0 with children

Children also have to complete the emuster drill, although the process is a little different for them. When an adult in the cabin watches the safety video and listens to the emergency horn, the children in that cabin are automatically considered to have completed those steps too.

Children must also accompany the adults in their cabin to the assembly station to have their SeaPass cards scanned, indicating that they have completed the emuster drill.

Royal Caribbean also has a safety section for children located at the bottom of the safety page on the app or on the stateroom television. It is called “Learn about safety with Lulu & Mika” and goes over the safety information in a fun, cartoon-style video.

The video is not mandatory to watch, but may be helpful to give children a better idea of what to expect in an emergency situation.

When to do the Muster 2.0

In the weeks leading up to your cruise, you may be eager to get everything done ahead of time. You can watch the safety video and listen to the emergency horn at any time on the app, but unless you see the “Incomplete” box next to each step, the muster drill has not officially opened for your sailing yet.

You will receive a notification on your phone when you can start working on the steps of the emuster drill. If you don’t receive a notification, simply check the day before your sailing to see if the emuster drill is available.

A good idea is to complete the first two steps of the emuster drill the night before your cruise so that all you have to do once onboard is go to your assembly station. You can even choose to do this immediately after boarding so that you are done with the emuster drill within the first few minutes of being on the ship.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to do the emuster drill! Some passengers may be so excited to explore the ship or grab a drink by the pool that they completely forget about it. The ship will not leave port until all passengers have completed every step.

Royal Caribbean is constantly working to improve the cruise experience for its guests, and Muster 2.0 is no exception. What used to be an experience many passengers disliked doing on the first day of a cruise is now an easy, straightforward process that will allow your vacation to begin without any hassle.

Why did Royal Caribbean put fewer suites on Wonder of the Seas?

In:
12 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

It's not your imagination, there are less suites on Royal Caribbean's next new Oasis Class ship than older Oasis Class ships.

As soon as Royal Caribbean began opening up bookings for Wonder of the Seas, many guests began noticing there were less suite cabins to choose from than you would find on other Oasis Class ships.

Considering how lucrative suites are for the cruise line, as well as how in-demand suites can be for passengers, it seemed a strange decision to change the amount of suite cabins.

Royal Caribbean's executives recently talked about why there are less suites on Wonder of the Seas.

A new neighborhood

One big change on Wonder of the Seas is the ship will have an eighth neighborhood, dedicated to suite guests.

The Suites neighborhood on Wonder of the Seas is an area that doesn't exist on other Royal Caribbean Oasis Class ships.

Read more: Wonder of the Seas neighborhoods tour

In order to make room for the new amenities suite guests will enjoy, the amount of suites had to be cut back so there could be room for it all.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, explained to travel agents during a meeting onboard Odyssey of the Seas that ship designers needed to take space from somewhere to be able to make the new neighborhood a reality, "We are going to have a private deck area for our suite guests and we're dedicating more room for our suite guests, which unfortunately kind of cuts into the amount of suites we can have."

Royal Caribbean's new Oasis Class ship will have an all suites neighborhood | Royal Caribbean Blog

The benefit of having less suites is the exclusivity suite guests enjoy will be even higher on Wonder of the Seas.

Ms. Freed also noted that unfortunately the swapping of Allure of the Seas to Wonder of the Seas in Europe in summer 2022 resulted in some guests being left without an available room, "We had to unfortunately downgrade some people who are in top suite categories because we had fewer suites on the line there. But that's all been sorted out now to the best of our ability."

Suites have never been more popular

A look at Royal Caribbean's Grand Suites | Royal Caribbean Blog

Something else anyone that books suites on a cruise ship typically may notice is that there is much more demand for them than ever.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO and Chairman Richard Fain said the cruise line is seeing big time demand for suites, "We are selling our top categories quickly."

Quantum of the Seas Royal Loft Suite | Royal Caribbean Blog

"So while the ships are going less full than we would like, we're oversold in the Star Class and the top categories."

In fact, on Royal Caribbean's 274 day world cruise, Ms. Freed mentioned all of the suites have either been deposited or booked.

Will Royal Caribbean require kids to be vaccinated in order to go on a cruise ship?

In:
12 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Now that the Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for kids under 12, many want to know if Royal Caribbean will require kids to be vaccinated in order to sail.

Royal Caribbean won't accept mixed vaccines as being fully vaccinated | Royal Caribbean Blog

Ever since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved vaccines for 5-11 year-olds, cruise fans have wanted to know what Royal Caribbean might do.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain was asked at a media event aboard Odyssey of the Seas on Friday if they would require kids to be vaccinated as well.

Mr. Fain said he thinks there will be an update to the protocols soon, but the cruise line has no change yet to announce for vaccine requirements.

"I think we will be coming out with protocols for the smaller children soon," Mr. Fain explained.

"Now that they've authorized vaccines down to the five, we're looking at how that's going to affect us."

Mr. Fain went on to talk about changes in protocols, and how while masks are required onboard Royal Caribbean ships, the reality is the time someone needs to wear a mask actively is around 20% of the time (thanks to vaccinated zones and outdoor areas).

Richard Fain | Royal Caribbean Blog

"I think we're moving in the direction where every cruise will have 100 percent of the crew vaccinated and ninety five or more percent of the guests."

A follow-up question was asked by a travel agent about the notion of selling a Royal Caribbean cruise to a family in January or February. Mr. Fain responded he thinks there will still be room for unvaccinated kids onboard.

"Probably by then we'll still be, if they don't want to vaccinate their children. I would still encourage them to do so. The vaccines are simply so effective and so safe that they owe it to the children and they owe it to their friends and loved ones to do so. But I don't think we're about to implement that requirement because the only just became available."

Safer than Walmart

Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

In talking about the vaccine requirements, Mr. Fain referenced a recent article by USA Today that indicated cruise ships health protocols are proving to be extremely effective.

CDC data shows not only are have there been very few cases this summer on cruise ships in the United States, but cruisers feel more secure with the protocols in place on a ship than they do visiting other businesses with little to no protocols.

"We have cases on board just as you have cases everywhere. But the cases are handled easily, efficiently and people are taken care of, and it doesn't spread. So we don't have these big outbreaks onboard."

Royal Caribbean produces video where masks are required on Quantum of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Fain called that a "dramatic change" for the cruise industry, because many in the public never thought it would happen and certainly not as quickly as it has compared to other segments of society.

Fain pointed to the vaccines as the major factor in making cruise ships so safe, "I think the reason we're seeing that is because the vaccines work and because they are preventing the spread."

Don't expect a change after January 15

Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval for Independence of the Seas to sail | Royal Caribbean Blog

Some have speculated that once the CDC's Conditional Sailing Order becomes voluntary on January 15, 2022, that protocols will erode or go away quickly. Mr. Fain rejected that notion.

"I want to make it clear the controlling protocols today in almost every case, not every case, but almost every case is our own standards, not the CDC. We are acting significantly in excess of CDC requirements. And I actually don't expect January 15th when they have said that they would go through a purely voluntary program that will have any noticeable impact on us."

Mr. Fain said they worked hard to make cruises safe, and they are not going to abandon what has been working.

In terms of the pre-cruise testing, Mr. Fain said it is his preference to allow everyone three days instead of two days to get a negative test, but a lot of those decisions are based on what is happening in society.

"There are two days and we would much prefer it to be three. And that is one constraint that the CDC has imposed on us. We're not sure that the science supports that."

"You've seen how quickly it's changed over the last two months, and I think it will continue to quickly change, especially if we start getting more people vaccinated."

"I think we need to get through the winter months because the winter months traditionally resulted in an upsurge as people have people who aren't lucky enough to live in Florida who have to go indoors."