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De Palm Island Aruba excursion review

In:
10 May 2022
By: 
Chantal McPhee

For those spending a day in port in Aruba and are looking for an all-inclusive day of fun in the sun, De Palm Tours offers a unique excursion on their own private island.

De Pal Island aerial

Just south of the capital Oranjestad, De Palm Island is just 5 minutes offshore and about 20 minutes from the cruise port.

The all-inclusive day package offers guests the chance to relax on sunny beaches and participate in lots of activities such as snorkeling, a waterpark, banana boat rides, salsa lessons and a friendly visit with the island’s flamingos. Unlimited food and drinks are also included.

I recently spent the day there, and here is how it went.

Before you go

Close up aerial of De Palm

De Palm is one of the island’s top tour providers, operating for more than 60 years. You can book your excursion through Royal Caribbean or online through the company’s website.

I would suggest using their transportation as the dock area is outside of town, in a bit of a remote area. Basic prices start at $119 for ages 13+, $95 for 4-12, and free for 3 and under (all in US dollars). There are some activities that are extras, such as SNUBA, Sea Trek, and cabanas.

What you need to bring:

  • Towels
  • Plenty of sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Bathing suit/ cover up
  • Optional snorkeling equipment (although they do provide some)
  • Credit card/ money for extras

There are locker rentals on the island at a cost of $5, and a gift shop that sells souvenirs, towels and such. While I was there, a few people forgot towels, so it was great to have the option to buy a few things.

Getting there

De Palm arranges transportation in an air-conditioned, comfortable bus which takes you from the cruise port, through the capital Oranjestad, on a scenic route.

We were fortunate to have a great driver, Jose, who took the time to tell us about the island, its people, culture and some interesting facts. On the way, we passed a water plant where ocean water is desalinated to provide drinking water for the whole island. I have to say, the water in Aruba is amongst the best I have tasted anywhere.

Once we arrived at the dock, there was a boat waiting for a brief ride to the island.

Seeking shade

Once on land, I quickly found a nice, shaded spot under a palapa. The weather in Aruba is fairly hot, so it is a great idea to secure a covered beach chair. Even with a few clouds in the sky and the frequent breezes, you can burn easily.

The beach is not too large, but there are a number of areas that make up the island, including a kids area by the waterpark and slides as well as basketball and volleyball courts. So lots of seating options.

By 11 am, most of the good spots were taken. If you are worried about shade or have a group you want to secure spots for, a cabana may be a good option.

Private Cabanas

There are private cabanas in various locations on the island, including the adult-only area. It would be a good idea to look at the map ahead of time, to see where you want to be. Most cabanas include:  

  • 6 Luxury Beach beds
  • Towels
  • 1 bottle of prosecco
  • Locker
  • Private shower
  • Private entrance to snorkel area

Some of the cabanas are waterfront, not beachfront, so it is best to ask questions about what you are getting. Prices range from $249 -$379 US dollars, depending upon location and number of people.

Food 

After securing a great beachfront spot, I set my sights on the food situation. There are two main eating areas with plenty of shaded seating.

Miramar, the main buffet, opened around 11:30 and offered a nice selection of salads, fresh fruits and soup (for which there seemed to be few takers on such a hot day). They had some appealing entrees such as hot pasta, BBQ chicken, grouper (a popular local fish) and potatoes. The lines went very quickly, and there were plenty of great spots to eat around the deck that encircled many of the main buildings. I started with a plate of mixed salads, which were tasty.

About a half hour later, the grill opened and was popular with its hamburger, hotdogs, chicken nuggets and freshly made fries. I went for a hamburger with fries, perfect for a beach day. Again, the lines moved quickly, and there was lots of food available throughout the day.  

Drinks

The island provides guests with Coke products, water (fountain, not bottled) and a variety of fruit juices.

There is a selection of alcoholic beverages included with your entry. They offer Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety of popular cocktails, spirits and Aruba's popular Balashi beer.

Pro tip – I was jealous I had not thought of this, but I noticed some guests had brought their own reusable cups for their drinks. This is a real bonus as they don’t have lids, and no one wants blowing sand in their cocktail. There are no straws on island to protect the local wildlife.

Highlights of the day 

  • I really enjoyed seeing the flamingos. They roam freely in the adult only area, but in the morning, guests are allowed to visit the restricted area.

These Chilean flamingos are not native to Aruba but have been imported to the island. They are a pale shade of pink as they are still young and have not developed their full color. Most people seemed to have fun visiting them. If you want to do this, I suggest trying earlier in the day.

  • The man-made cove area of the beach offers stunning views; it was very relaxing to hang out there for the day. Snorkeling was a popular activity, and the clear water let guests enjoy lots of local fish, including parrotfish.
  • The waterslides and small waterpark were also well used, and families seemed to spend lots of time there. Do note that kids need to be 48 inches tall for the slides.
  • Not a pure beach activity, but the complimentary salsa lessons were a real crowd-pleaser.

Around 3:45 pm the boats began to head back to the main island, with buses waiting for a return departure. There are a number of outdoor rain showers, to rinse off before heading back. 

Summary

My day at De Palm Island was relaxing, and I particularly enjoyed the wide open ocean views of the beach and sitting area. I did not do any extra activities and enjoyed the day regardless.

The staff were very friendly and well organized, and there was plenty of food and drinks with minimal lineups. The area is well designed so that nothing is far, and the crowds seem to disperse evenly throughout the island so that no one particular area felt really busy. The unlimited banana boat rides were popular though and had a long line in the afternoon.

This is a great option for those who want to access different activities in one spot, which can be hard to find all together on Palm or Eagle Beach.

There are, however, a number of upgrades that can easily add up, especially if you want a nice cabana with a stunning waterfront view—something to keep in mind.

15 reasons to book a cruise on Oasis of the Seas

In:
09 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Oasis of the Seas was a game-changing ship when she first debuted in 2009, and she is still considered one of Royal Caribbean’s most popular cruise ships. Not only is Oasis of the Seas one of the largest cruise ships in the world and jam-packed with nearly endless activities, but she was amplified in 2019 to add even more dining options, activities, and amenities for guests to enjoy.

When choosing between one cruise ship or another, it’s important to know what makes each ship stand apart from the others. Let’s take a look at the top reasons why you should book a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.

Portside BBQ

Oasis of the Seas is the only Royal Caribbean ship with Portside BBQ, which serves authentic, slow-cooked barbecue including St. Louis-style spare ribs, hand-pulled pork, BBQ half-chicken, and Texas beef brisket. Comfort food is in abundance at Portside BBQ, with sides including mac & cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, and fries. Don’t forget to end your meal with the Chocolate Brookie, a half-brownie, half-chocolate chip cookie dessert that is sure to impress.

Portside BBQ is open for lunch on Oasis of the Seas and comes at an extra cost, with combos of 2 to 3 cuts, 2 sides, and 1 dessert ranging from $12.50 to $15.40. Special drinks are available at Portside BBQ as well which are not found elsewhere onboard, including freshly brewed sweet tea and the Portside Spiked Palmer.

Live music can be enjoyed from Portside BBQ, with a country guitarist performing throughout the afternoon.

Related: Portside BBQ restaurant review on Oasis of the Seas

Onboard activities

As an Oasis Class ship, Oasis of the Seas has many of Royal Caribbean’s latest and greatest amenities and features that appeal to guests of all ages. Complimentary onboard activities include:

  • The Ultimate Abyss, a dry slide taking guests from the sports deck to the Boardwalk
  • Rock climbing on two 40+ foot walls
  • FlowRider surf simulator
  • Ziplining across the Boardwalk
  • Ice skating
  • The Perfect Storm water slides
  • Battle for Planet Z laser tag
  • Karaoke
  • Trivia

Mission Control: Apollo 18

If you’re looking for a unique cruise ship activity, consider trying the Puzzle Break Center, or escape room, on Oasis of the Seas.

The escape room onboard is Mission Control: Apollo 18, where guests can work in a team to figure out puzzles and clues to “escape” the room in time. Several Royal Caribbean ships have an escape room, but they all have a different theme, meaning if you tried the escape room on a different ship, the challenge on Oasis of the Seas will be different.

Mission Control: Apollo 18 takes place on a “spacecraft” that passengers must successfully launch to the moon. Six launching stations are located in the escape room, each of which has three separate tasks. 

This activity comes at an extra cost of $20 per person and lasts approximately one hour. Any guest 12 years of age or older is welcome to try the escape room.

Solarium sun deck

If you head all the way to the front of the Solarium on deck 15, you’ll find a spacious outdoor sundeck that makes for a perfect place to spend a sea day (just make sure you apply sunscreen!).

On most other Oasis Class ships, guests will find Solarium bridge wings that extend over the side of the ship in the front of the Solarium. While these provide an excellent view and place to watch the sunset and sailaway, there is no room to sunbathe.

Guests on Oasis of the Seas will therefore love the large, adults-only sundeck that is not only relaxing, but offers some of the best views found onboard.

Small Wonders

Oasis of the Seas is dotted with 42 "small wonders," a collection of artwork displayed in tiny portholes through a periscope that can only be described as cute.

By peering through the telescope, a tiny piece of 3D artwork appears. Each small wonder has its own image inside, so a scavenger hunt around the ship to find them all makes for a fun activity to do onboard.

If you cannot find them all, Guest Services will provide you with a list of where to find all the small wonders on the ship.

Related: Top 10 Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas hidden secrets

Central Park

Like all Oasis Class cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas has a split-design with the Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods in the middle. This design creates the ship’s unique neighborhoods, which give diverse atmospheres onboard Oasis of the Seas.

Central Park is one of the most beloved areas on an Oasis Class ship due to its peaceful atmosphere, where many passengers forget they are on a ship at all as they relax among the neighborhood’s trees, bushes, and flowers. Comfy seating is in abundance in Central Park, allowing guests to listen to live piano music, have a drink at Trellis Bar, play chess, or read a book.

Specialty dining venues are found in Central Park as well, where guests can enjoy an upscale meal at 150 Central Park, traditional Italian cuisine at Giovanni’s Table, or classic steakhouse dishes at Chops Grille. Retail stores, the complimentary Park Cafe, Vintages wine bar, and the Central Park library are located in Central Park as well.

High-energy entertainment

There is no shortage of entertainment options on Oasis of the Seas. In fact, you’ll find it difficult to not find something to entertain you throughout the day. Live music, signature production shows, comedians, game shows, and more take place every day onboard.

The main entertainment venues onboard are the AquaTheater, Studio B ice rink, and Royal Theater.

Aqua80, an AquaTheater show on Oasis of the Seas, is a favorite among cruisers. Combining the best music of the 1980s with acrobatics, diving, slacklining, dancing, and aerial tricks, Aqua80 is a high-energy, upbeat performance to see onboard.

Those looking for Broadway entertainment can see Cats: The Musical in the Royal Theater, a 90-minute performance telling the story of the Jellicle cats and their decision of who will ascend to the Heaviside layer.

For escapades on ice, check out Frozen In Time in Studio B, which brings stories of Hans Christian Anderson to life through elaborate set design, costuming, and amazing tricks on the ice.

Cruises from the northeast

If you live in the northeast and are hoping to sail on an Oasis Class ship without having to fly to Florida, Oasis of the Seas makes a great option. She primarily sails 7-night Caribbean cruises, which run from May through October and visit Port Canaveral, Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Nassau.

The convenience of being able to drive to the Cape Liberty cruise port instead of flying to Florida makes choosing a cruise on Oasis of the Seas an easy decision for many cruisers.

Related: Guide to cruises from New York

Visit Canada on an Oasis Class ship

Most cruises on Oasis of the Seas visit the sunny, warm waters of the Caribbean. A limited number of itineraries, however, visit Canada's northeast ports of Halifax and Saint John. These sailings depart from Cape Liberty, New Jersey.

While in Canada, guests can enjoy walking through the historic, waterfront ports, going whale watching, visiting the Maritime Museum in Halifax, and feast on fresh seafood.

Cruises to Canada tend to be 4-5 night cruises instead of 7-nights, giving passengers a chance to try out an Oasis Class cruise ship even if they cannot take a whole week off.

Vitality Cafe

Health-conscious cruisers will love the food and drink options found at Vitality Cafe, located within the spa on Oasis of the Seas.

Vitality Cafe focuses on healthier food and drinks, offering a menu of fresh-squeezed juices, protein shakes, smoothies, and small bites like granola bars and fruit cups.

Smoothies and shakes are fully customizable, so you're able to choose from the selection of ingredients to create the drink you prefer.

Beverages at Vitality Cafe come at an extra cost but are included in Royal Caribbean's beverage packages, with the exception of protein powder. Food is complimentary.

Caribbean-style pool deck

One of the biggest improvements made to Oasis of the Seas during her amplification was the Caribbean-style pool deck enhancement.

Royal Caribbean has been designing its newest cruise ships with a Caribbean resort-style pool deck design, featuring colorful seating and decor. They also feature the Lime & Coconut Bar, which serves some of the best tropical drinks onboard.

Booking a cruise on Oasis of the Seas means you can enjoy the ship's Caribbean pool deck, which will bring the perfect tropical vibe to your cruise vacation.

Diverse dining options

Oasis of the Seas has a plethora of complimentary and specialty dining options open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether a s'mores cookie skillet at Playmakers,  risotto at Giovanni’s Table, or burrito at El Loco Fresh, it’s nearly impossible to get hungry while cruising on Oasis of the Seas.

The following complimentary dining options can be found onboard:

  • Main Dining Room
  • Windjammer
  • Solarium Bistro
  • Coastal Kitchen (suite guests only)
  • Park Cafe
  • Vitality Cafe
  • Cafe Promenade
  • Sorrento’s
  • Boardwalk Dog House
  • El Loco Fresh

For those who want to enhance their dining experience by dining at specialty restaurants, the following options are available:

  • 150 Central Park
  • Chef’s Table
  • Chops Grille
  • Giovanni’s Table
  • Izumi
  • Johnny Rockets (complimentary for breakfast)
  • Playmakers
  • Portside BBQ
  • Vintages Wine Bar (tapas)
  • Starbucks

Oasis of the Seas is an excellent ship to try out a Royal Caribbean dining package due to the sheer amount of restaurants to choose from. For more information on the pros and cons of a Royal Caribbean dining package, check out our YouTube video:

Bars and nightlife

Just like restaurants, there are plenty of bars and nightlife venues to enjoy on Oasis of the Seas. 

Those who like salsa dancing will love spending the evening at Boleros, where you’ll find not only live Latin music, but the best mojitos onboard!

If you prefer a nightclub experience, head of to Blaze Comedy Club or Music Hall, where you'll find DJs and live bands playing late into the night.

If a nightclub sounds too intense for your liking, relax at Jazz on 4 or Schooner Bar for live jazz and piano music that will help you wind down after a busy day onboard.

Needless to say, there is plenty to choose from when it comes to evening activities on Oasis of the Seas.

Central Park and Balcony Staterooms

Oasis of the Seas has an abundance of stateroom options that can fit any cruise budget. Everything from the most basic interior staterooms to lavish suites can be booked on Oasis of the Seas.

Something that sets Oasis Class ships like Oasis of the Seas apart are the neighborhood balcony rooms. The Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods each have their own set of balcony staterooms that overlook the neighborhood.

Central Park rooms tend to be more tranquil, allowing guests to be surrounded by plants and trees and listen to live music in the evenings from their balcony. No ocean view is available from these staterooms.

Boardwalk rooms, on the other hand, are in a more dynamic environment, home to the sights and sounds of the sports bar, arcade, carousel, and AquaTheater. These rooms provide a partial view of the ocean.

Boardwalk neighborhood

Another reason to book a cruise on Oasis of the Seas is to discover the ship’s Boardwalk neighborhood, which takes guests back in time to the seaside piers of New England.

Whether riding the colorful carousel, filling up a bag with candy at Sugar Beach, eating classic American cuisine at Johnny Rockets, or ending the day with a drink at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, the Boardwalk is a fun place to explore onboard during both day and night.

Royal Caribbean says cruise ships should be back to full capacity by summer

In:
09 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The days of Royal Caribbean cruise ships sailing at reduced capacity are limited.

It's no secret that the cruise industry is moving back towards normalcy with getting more ships back into service and more passengers onboard.

The only question cruise ship passengers had was when would full capacity return, and it looks like sooner than later this summer.

At last week's earnings call with investors, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said most ships should be back to full capacity again.

"And as we head towards Memorial Day weekend," Mr. Bayley explained to a Wall Street analyst during the call. "We're going to see significant percentage of our ship sailing at 100% and greater."

In fact, ships sailing at full capacity has already happened on select sailings, "we have ships now sailing at 100% and we've had ships sailing at 100% now for several weeks out of the Caribbean, into the Caribbean market and a short product."

Mr. Bayley further broke things down by saying the Oasis Class ships ship capacity has been around 80% or so.

In Royal Caribbean Group's quarterly results, the company as a whole (including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and SilverSea) had ships  sailing in the first quarter averaging a capacity of 59%. Month-by-month, capacity generally went up with March capacity averaging 68%.

By the time Royal Caribbean gets to the third quarter of the year, they expect the entire company to be at "triple digits" in terms of capacity.

Cruise ships sailing full was the norm prior to 2020, so the experience this summer should be more familiar for long-time cruise fans.

Getting back to profitability

Not only are full cruise ships a strong sign of demand for cruising, but it's what makes the cruise industry profitable.

Royal Caribbean Group Jason Liberty recently told Barron's the threshold for a profitable sailing is when a ship gets to 90% capacity in the current conditions.

"When you get to about a 90% load factor, you start to generate profit. Historically, that line of profitability can be lower, roughly 80%. But we have a lot more debt now. "

When Royal Caribbean can start making money instead of losing money, not only is the welfare of the company accounted for, but they can start doing more expansion and re-investment.

Many projects during the pandemic were put on hold, such as ship upgrades. 

Royal Caribbean room service guide & tips

In:
09 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Every Royal Caribbean cruise offers a 24-hour room service menu, where you can get breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert delivered to your cabin. Extremely convenient, room service is something many cruisers come to appreciate, especially those who love to enjoy a private meal on their balcony.

Understanding the ins and outs of Royal Caribbean’s room service offerings and policies is good to know before your cruise begins.

Let’s dive in to our guide and tips for ordering room service on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

How much does Royal Caribbean room service cost?

Royal Caribbean room service (aside from complimentary continental breakfast) comes at a cost of $7.95 USD per order, per room. This is a fixed-cost, so you will pay the same fee whether ordering one dish for one person in a cabin or ten separate items for four people in a cabin.

An 18% gratuity is added on top of the $7.95 fee for a total cost of around $9.40.

In addition, while tipping is not required, it’s customary to give a small cash tip ($1-5) to the crew member delivering room service to your room.

When and how can I order room service?

Room service breakfast is from 6AM - 11AM each day of the cruise except disembarkation day. All other room service is available from 11AM to 6AM.

Ordering room service from the breakfast menu can be ordered through Royal Caribbean’s door hanger menus or by calling room service from your stateroom’s telephone.

The door hanger menu is a breakfast menu where you put a checkmark next to which items you would like to order, the quantity of each item, and the time you would like breakfast delivered. After selecting your order, hang the menu on the outside of your stateroom door. Menus should be placed on your stateroom door no later than 3AM on the morning you would like room service breakfast.

When you arrive in your stateroom on the first day of the cruise, you should find a stack of breakfast room service menus in the cabin’s drawer or desk. If you do not see any, ask your stateroom attendant to deliver the menus to your room.

The door hanger menu only exists for breakfast, so all other room service orders should be placed over the phone.

Read moreFood on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Does Royal Caribbean have free room service?

Royal Caribbean’s continental breakfast menu is complimentary, and while the menu is limited, this can be a great perk for passengers onboard.

The continental breakfast menu offers the following, although is subject to change from sailing to sailing:

  • Toast (wheat, white, gluten-free)
  • Plain bagel
  • English muffin
  • Donuts (glazed, chocolate)
  • Baked pastries (Croissant, blueberry muffin, assorted pastries)
  • Assorted jams & spread (strawberry jam, honey, cream cheese, butter, etc.)
  • Cereals (Special K, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, granola, oatmeal, grits)
  • Fruits (apples, oranges, bananas, fruit plate)
  • Yogurts (plan, fruit)

Continental breakfast beverages include juices (apple and orange), caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, tea (black, green, and herbal), and milk (regular, chocolate, fat free, lactose free, and half & half).

Continental breakfast is the only free room service option available on Royal Caribbean for most guests. However, those passengers in Grand Suites and above (any suite except a Junior Suite) have 24-hour complimentary room service available.

American breakfast menu

Outside of continental breakfast is an American breakfast menu which comes with the standard $7.95 room service cover charge. Items from the American breakfast menu can be ordered in conjunction with the continental breakfast menu.

The American breakfast menu features more cooked-to-order meals:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Scrambled egg whites
  • Scrambled egg beaters
  • Omelets (plain, ham, and cheese)
  • Fried eggs (sunny-side up, over medium, over easy, over hard)
  • Buttermilk pancakes (plain or blueberry)
  • Hash browns
  • Bacon
  • Pork sausage
  • Chicken sausage

All day room service menu

Aside from breakfast, all-day room service is available from 11AM - 6AM, and features a variety of lunch and dinner options as well as dessert. Whether for an afternoon snack, dinner, or late-night meal, you’re sure to find something that interests you on the room service menu.

Here is a sample of what may be included on the room service menu, although this is subject to change:

  • Soups (chicken noodle and tomato)
  • Salads (cobb, Greek, caesar)
  • Chicken tenders
  • The Royal Burger
  • Grilled cheese
  • Hot dog
  • Philly cheesesteak
  • Rigatoni Bolognese
  • Grilled salmon
  • Grilled quesadilla
  • Cheese or pepperoni pizza
  • Fried chicken wings
  • PB&J
  • Sides (French fries, side salad, potato chips)
  • New York cheesecake
  • Chocolate cake with caramel sauce
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Fresh seasonal fruit plate

Why should I order room service?

First and foremost, room service is extremely convenient. It may seem crazy to order meals directly to your cabin when there are so many dining options elsewhere onboard, but the ease of having a meal in your stateroom without having to get ready to go anywhere can be a favorable option.

Additionally, room service breakfast can be especially nice on port days when you have an excursion booked that starts early in the morning, especially if you have kids to get ready for the tour. Being able to eat breakfast in your room as you get ready for the day can be a lot easier than bringing the whole family to somewhere like the Windjammer for a rushed breakfast.

Room service can also be a great option if you have a balcony, as you can enjoy a private meal on the balcony with wonderful ocean views. Balconies include a small table as well, making it easy to enjoy a meal there.

Are drinks included with room service?

Drinks are not included with room service, even if you have a beverage package. The American breakfast menu, for example, has a mimosa and Bloody Mary available, but these will be priced at current bar pricing (plus gratuity).

If you have a beverage package, you’re usually better off walking to a bar onboard and bringing a drink back to your room than ordering drinks from room service.

That being said, you are still able to order drinks to your room even if they come at an extra cost.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 8, 2022

In:
08 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy Mothers Day! All the moms out there deserve a big hug, thank you, and hopefully a new cruise booking too.

Royal Caribbean is searching for a godmother for Wonder of the Seas on TikTok.

Woman using TikTok

The cruise line announced it will hold a #SearchForWonderMom contest by nominating a mom who inspires those around them to discover, wonder and make memories. 

The call for submissions is open through Monday, May 16, at 11:59 p.m. ET, and the winner will be announced on Royal Caribbean’s TikTok this summer.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 453rd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, which compares Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas.

This week, Matt looks at why you might want to sail on Wonder of the Seas vs Odyssey 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: Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship Tour

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 — Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship Tour — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean doesn't require back to back cruisers to do a covid test anymore

Cruise ship docked in Miami

There's one less covid test you'll have to take if you go on more than one Royal Caribbean cruise in a row.

Royal Caribbean has updated their policy for consecutive cruisers to not require a covid test between sailings when doing multiple cruises.

Up until now, Royal Caribbean required passengers who were staying on for another sailing to get a Covid test done while onboard the ship.

Royal Caribbean trademarks names for Perfect Day at CocoCay expansion areas

Royal Caribbean has filed two new trademarks that are likely intended for areas of its private island in The Bahamas.

"Hideaway Beach" & "Secret Cove" have both been trademarked, and they look like the names of areas of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean opens My Time Dining back up to unvaccinated cruise ship passengers

Families with unvaccinated children will be able to choose a My Time Dining dinner option once again.

Prior to this change, Royal Caribbean had restricted My Time Dining to vaccinated passengers only.

This allows families with unvaccinated children to have the choice to eat at My Time Dining for dinner.

Local guide of places to visit in Ketchikan, Alaska

In:
07 May 2022
By: 
Mollie Breese

A cruise along the Inside Passage of Southeastern Alaska is not complete without a destination stop at beautiful Ketchikan, Alaska. Perched against the backdrop of wild Alaska, the Ketchikan harbor is deep enough that cruise ships can dock right downtown, making disembarking and exploring this jewel of a town easy and accessible. 

Ketchikan aerial

Mollie Breese is a local Alaskan resident, who has spent many summers exploring the wilds of Alaska. Currently residing on Kodiak Island, she spends her weekends exploring new trails, remote villages, and her next favorite local brewery. She has travelled extensively throughout Southeastern Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and along the road system of central Alaska.

Downtown Ketchikan looks just like the front of a postcard with its brightly colored homes tucked cozily along boardwalks. This town is the “gateway to Southeast Alaska”, and the self-proclaimed Salmon Capital of the World. While there is much to explore within the downtown area, cruise ship passengers also can take advantage of the endless wilds of the Tongass National Forest, just beyond the town’s boundary. 

Downtown Ketchikan

A visitor could spend weeks exploring everything Ketchikan has to offer. Unfortunately, Alaska is a big place, and there is much more to see along your voyage. Many cruise ship passengers may only have a day to explore this historic stop. 

So, we’ve done the hard work and provided a line-up of the top things to do for a day in beautiful Ketchikan, Alaska. This list stays away from overpacked or overhyped stops, focusing on experiences that encompass the beauty, serenity, and adventure that Ketchikan offers. While some of these attractions may appear on other travel sites, we’ve taken the extra step to provide you with a local perspective on visiting this island during your Alaska cruise

Walk Along Creek Street

Creek Street in Ketchikan

Located just off Main Street, Creek Street is one of the most photographed spots in Southeast Alaska. Meandering along a cascading creek (hence, the name), the Creek Street boardwalk is a favorite for tourists and locals. Formerly the Red Light District, this boardwalk is now home to colorful homes, historic totem poles, local art and tourism shops, cafes, restaurants, and the Dolly’s House Museum. These attractions make it one of the best places to shop in town. If you’re looking for a gift for those back home, check out the Fish Creek Company. This is a great stop for quirky Alaskan souvenirs and quality products. 

Starting in May, Creek Street is also one of the best places to view the salmon run, with various salmon species surging upstream in the crystal clear water as they head to their spawning zones. This run draws an array of eagles, otters, and seals. Visitors can look over the boardwalk railings to see a real-life display of wild Alaska.

Creek Street in Ketchikan

While the Creek Street boardwalk is level and an easy walk, if you are looking for a more strenuous experience, then head up the Married Man’s Trail at the end of Creek Street. This extension is rumored to be the hidden path that married men used to take when attempting to visit the brothels along the boardwalk “discreetly.” Today, the path is a wooden staircase that extends up to Park Avenue, where walkers can get a higher vista of the town.

If you do this extra leg of the journey, be sure to check out the Salmon Ladder at the end of Married Man’s Trail. At this point of the creek, the water turns into a rushing cascade, and you can watch salmon attempt to jump over the waterfall as they continue upstream.

Depending on how much you shop and hike, plan to spend anywhere from 1-2 hours exploring the Creek Street area.  

Visit the Tongass Historical Museum

Tongass Historical Museum

The Tongass Historical Museum is one of the best displays of native Alaskan history in Southeast Alaska. Located off of Creek Street, this stop can be combined with the boardwalk to fill up an entire morning. 

The Tongass Historical Museum is partnered with the Totem Heritage Center. Both museums offer an engaging educational experience. However, the Tongass Historical Museum is more centrally located in the downtown area, making it easier to visit when on a time restraint. While a fast visit can last about 20 minutes, if you take your time to appreciate each exhibit, then visitors can easily spend an hour learning here. 

 Exhibits cover the long and fascinating history of the inhabitants of Revillagigedo Island (where Ketichand is located). Visitors can learn about Tlingit history and culture, as well as the evolution of the town from a fishing port to the sixth-largest town in Alaska. Be sure to check out their homepage for current exhibits and any special events! 

After your visit, head west down Dock Street to the 55North Bakery, one of the best places to grab a coffee and a delicious sweet bakery treat! 

Go for a Hike in a Rainforest 

Rainbird hiking trail in Ketchikan

Ketchikan sits in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States. This temperate rainforest is full of lush ferns, rare flora, and towering trees. For any lover of the Pacific Northwest, you will be right at home in the acres of moss-covered trails set against the backdrop of mountains and glacier bays. 

While cruise ships do offer excursions to visit this wilderness, visitors can also access trails straight from downtown. Just off of 3rd Avenue is the Rainbird Hiking Trail. This 2-mile trail is a popular hiking trail for visitors and offers amazing views of the inlet and town. The trail is rated as moderate on AllTrails, with a 541-foot elevation gain. While rocks and roots can make the trail difficult to navigate, the views and scenery make hikers feel like they are deep in the Tongass Forest.

Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including black bears, eagles, foxes, and ermine, as they can be frequent visitors along this trail and on the outskirts of the town. 

Catch a Fishing Charter to Fill Your Freezer

Fishing charters

Ketchikan is known as the Salmon Capital of the World, and it is a title well-earned by the masses of salmon that surge upstream from mid-May to September. However, Ketchikan is home to more than just salmon. Pacific Halibut, Yelloweye Rockfish, and a variety of pacific cod species are also common in these waters. 

If you’re looking to try your hand at Alaskan fishing, booking a fishing charter for your day in Ketchikan is a great opportunity. While you can rent fishing gear in town to fish along the town streams, a charter provides all the gear, optional fish packing/shipping, and a knowledgeable captain to take you to the best spots. A fishing charter also offers the added benefit of enjoying the scenic Tongass shoreline from the water and the chance to get close to whales, orcas, and dolphins. If you’re trying to decide between fishing or a whale-watching cruise, a charter can combine both options. If you want to keep your catch, charters offer fish packing and mailing at an additional price, allowing you to ship your fish home and enjoy it for months to come. 

Ketchikan charter boats

There are a wide variety of charters available to book in Ketchikan. To get one of the best prices, book your charter a couple of months out from your cruise arrival date. With Ketchikan being one of the most popular ports of call in Alaska, the best charters can fill up quickly, and other charters can raise their prices. 

Most charters are around 4-6 hours. Plan to bring plenty of layers, waterproof clothing/boots, bug spray, and your camera. For recommendation, Oasis Alaska Charters offers a variety of fishing excursions, including King Salmon fishing. 

Important Note: You will need to purchase a fishing license (with a salmon stamp, if you plan on salmon fishing) prior to your fishing day. You can purchase your license online at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website. Try and purchase your license at least a month before your departure date to ensure time for processing and mailing. You can also purchase a license in Alaska at any outfitter store, though this will take time away from your time on the water. 

Take a Scenic Ride to Misty Fjords National Monument

Misty Fjords

Misty Fjords National Monument is not a local’s secret in Ketchikan. In fact, a quick Google search will show that this is a top favorite for most travel sites. But this high status is definitely earned. 

Misty Fjords National Monument combines everything that is beautiful about the wilderness of Southeast Alaska. A trip to Misty Fjords guarantees vistas filled with towering peaks, glacial lakes, sea cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and lush rainforests. Unlike some of the passages frequented by cruise ships during your days at sea, small cruise vessels and kayak tours allow visitors to fully explore these narrow fjord channels. In the summer, the fjord echoes with the calls of migrating birds, sea lions, seals, whales, and soaring eagles. 

Misty Fjords

To visit this area, visitors have a variety of options. You can take a small cruise that travels along the passage, typically about 2-3 hours long. You can also opt for a private kayak tour that will paddle along the shoreline, with the chance to spot bears and other wildlife. For a fancier option, floatplane charters also depart daily from Ketchikan, offering priceless views of the Tongass National Forest, Misty Fjords National Monument, and the picturesque islands spanning off into the horizon. 

Regardless of how you choose to spend your day in Ketchikan, Alaska, you are guaranteed to enjoy it. This makes it one of the top stops to enjoy on your Great Alaskan Journey! Bon, voyage!

More Alaska information

Best travel clothes for women on shore excursions

In:
07 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Disembarking your cruise ship in a new port is an exciting feeling, especially when you have a shore excursion booked. Whether kayaking near glaciers, ziplining over the beach, or island hopping on a catamaran, countless shore excursions are at your fingertips on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Packing for your cruise entails planning what to wear on shore excursions, and the best outfit to wear varies greatly depending on the tour you book. Sightseeing tours of European cities will require a completely different dress code than a relaxing Caribbean beach day or active shore excursion in Alaska.

Let’s take a look at the outfits we recommend wearing on your Royal Caribbean shore excursion, from the most active of excursions to the most tranquil.

What to wear on active shore excursions

While it’s possible to spend an entire day in port lounging at the beach, some cruisers prefer to explore a destination through an active adventure. Active shore excursions have a casual dress code, with comfort and reliability favored over sporting the most fashionable looks.

Clothing: A nonabsorbent, lightweight fabric like polyester is best to wear on an active shore excursion. Polyester workout shirts and tank tops are great options, as they will keep you cooler when breaking a sweat.

Workout shorts tend to be the best option for bottoms, especially on particularly hot days. Wearing a swimsuit underneath your clothes will also be convenient if your shore excursion combines active adventures with time at the beach.

Footwear: Sturdy, waterproof sandals like Chacos are an all-around great footwear option for active shore excursions. Not only do they hold up well when hiking on rugged terrain, but they work well at the beach, too. Plus, as Chacos are waterproof, there’s no need to worry about walking around in wet tennis shoes and socks if your shore excursion has you walking near beaches, lakes, or streams.

If you prefer to wear tennis shoes over sandals, make sure you are packing a comfortable pair (preferably shoes you have already worn many times) to ensure no painful blisters await you!

Accessories: Bringing a lightweight backpack is recommended on active shore excursions, as you are able to carry the bag along with you without it being too heavy or cumbersome. In addition, it’s a good idea to make sure your daypack is water-resistant or waterproof if your excursion involves time in and around water, such as when kayaking or canoeing.

What to wear on beach shore excursions

One of the best parts of a Royal Caribbean cruise involves sunny days spent at tropical beaches. Whether the crystal clear waters of St. John or rocky shores of the Mediterranean, beach days make for an excellent shore excursion. Like active excursions, beach excursions have a casual dress code.

Clothing: A swimsuit is, unsurprisingly, important to pack for an excursion to the beach. There are no strict rules on what type of swimsuit to wear, so pack whatever you feel most comfortable wearing.

Casual, lightweight clothing is best to wear over a swimsuit on a beach excursion, such as a sundress, romper, shorts, t-shirts, or swimsuit cover up. Colorful, patterned clothing can be fun to wear to add to the tropical vibe of your vacation.

Be sure to wear clothes over your swimsuit and do not walk around the port in just a bathing suit! This may be culturally inappropriate in your port of call, so definitely remember to cover up prior to leaving the beach.

Footwear: Flip flops can be a nice choice of footwear for beach excursions, but are recommended only for strictly beach excursions. If an excursion simply brings you on a bus to a nearby beach and picks you up a few hours later, flip flops will suffice. Flip flops are a great choice for Perfect Day at CocoCay.

If the tour combines a few hours at the beach with activities like shopping, tubing, kayaking, or hiking, though, a more sturdy sandal or tennis shoe is recommended for maximum comfort. Packing flip flops in your daypack is always an option as well.

Accessories: Bringing a daypack to the beach is necessary in order to hold items like sunscreen, towels, sunglasses, and your personal belongings. Backpacks work well, but you may prefer a larger, waterproof beach bag, particularly if you will be carrying belongings for several members of your family.

What to wear on city shore excursions

Excursions that involve tours of cities and historic sites tend to require a slightly more formal dress code than what you’ll wear to the beach. While wearing heels and ball gowns is very much unnecessary, you may prefer to dress more fashionably than workout shorts and an old tank top.

Clothing: Consider wearing clothing like a sundress, jumpsuits, and semi-casual shorts when on a city excursion. Flowy, lightweight pants are another option that are a great choice on breezy summer days.

If your excursion involves visiting churches, particularly for those in the Mediterranean, be sure to research the church’s dress code. Many churches require shoulders and knees to be covered, meaning a sleeveless shirt, shorts, or short dress will not make the cut. Bringing a lightweight scarf to wear over your shoulders in the church is an option or you can pack a change of clothes in your daypack.

Footwear: Regardless of the city you’re visiting, comfort is key when exploring urban areas. City excursions often include more walking than a standard shore excursion, as it’s likely you’ll be wandering through picturesque streets, bustling plazas, historic museums, and archaeological sites.

Sandals with an ankle strap and closed-toed shoes are ideal when on a city-focused shore excursion. If you’re visiting somewhere like Rome or Florence, you may prefer to wear a nicer pair of sandals or closed-toe shoes like Sperrys in lieu of flip flops or running shoes, as it’s more likely you will be entering nice restaurants, churches, and museums during the day.

Accessories: A secure daypack is essential on a city excursion to ensure your belongings remain safe, especially if you’ll be traveling on public transport and visiting crowded tourist sites. Crossbody purses and backpacks with a secret pocket tend to be safer choices than handbags and over-the-shoulder purses.

Shore excursions in cold weather destinations

If you’re cruising to destinations like Alaska, Norway, Northern Europe, or the U.S. Northeast, it’s important to pack for many types of weather. 

Most Royal Caribbean cruises will not sail in the chilliest winter temperatures, as the more northerly destinations tend to offer cruises only during the warmer months of the year. Chilly weather can still arise, though, so be sure to research the average temperature of the ports you will visit before packing for your cruise.

Clothing: Layers are key when sailing to a destination that may encounter colder weather. It’s helpful to bring the following layers with you when you get off the ship at port:

  • Base layer: t-shirt and jeans or yoga pants
  • Warm layer: fleece, sweater, or down jacket
  • Waterproof layer: thin rain jacket with a hood

Having multiple layers available ensures you will remain comfortable no matter the weather, which can change multiple times throughout the day in destinations like Alaska.

Related: Ultimate Alaska cruise guide

Footwear: When cruising in colder weather, replace flip flops and sandals with sneakers and boots. Sturdy shoes that keep your feet warm are essential, and water-resistant shoes are even better.

Colder destinations often tend to entail more outdoorsy excursions, whether walking on a glacier in Alaska or hiking the fjords of Norway. A pair of waterproof hiking boots or sneakers can be great footwear options to wear in port.

Accessories: Like on all excursions, it’s recommended to bring a daypack in order to have a secure place to store your belongings. Wearing a water-resistant daypack is highly recommended in cold-weather destinations that may encounter rain.

Additionally, wearing a warm hat, gloves, and wool socks may be helpful on the chilliest of days.

Here's where you can get a Covid test in South Florida before your cruise

In:
06 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Have a cruise in Miami or Fort Lauderdale and need to find a place to get a covid test before you sail?

Prior to any Royal Caribbean cruise, every passenger must obtain a negative Covid test. While this policy has been in place since the restart of the cruise industry in June 2021, it is still a common cause for concern among many cruise passengers who are anxious about whether or not they can easily find a Covid test in their area.

Some cities in the US may have ample testing options whereas others may have more limited options. Additionally, as many passengers must fly to their cruise departure port one day ahead of their cruise, this gives them less time to secure a test in their area. This is especially true for those passengers arriving on international flights to the United States, as the Covid test they must take for entry into the US may be expired by the time they must board their cruise.

Therefore, some passengers may opt to book a Covid test appointment in their cruise departure port upon arrival as opposed to finding a test in their local area. Prior to my cruise last week on Freedom of the Seas, I wanted to try out a local Covid testing site in South Florida to see what options are available for those hoping for an easy way to secure a Covid test.

Fort Lauderdale hotel aerial

When searching for local Covid testing, TentTest.com was recommended to me, which offers rapid Covid-19 antigen testing with results in 15 minutes. They had a wide range of testing time slots available, all the way from 6AM to 10PM. This was a welcome change from the limited hours I had experienced in the past when testing at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.

I booked my Covid test appointment one week in advance, although the site also offers same-day appointments on the off chance that you are unable to book in advance.

Location

Tent Test is located around 4 miles from both Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades. The address of the testing location is 718 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316.

The testing location is convenient for anyone flying or driving to Fort Lauderdale, and it is located just a few blocks from popular hotels that many passengers book the night before their cruise, including Hyatt House Fort Lauderdale and Holiday Inn Express Ft. Lauderdale Cruise-Airport.

While it may not be the most convenient option for those flying into and cruising out of Miami, its proximity to the Fort Lauderdale cruise port is favorable.

Testing experience

I took an Lyft to the Tent Test site, but I was running late due to traffic and a slightly delayed disembarkation from my cruise on Oasis of the Seas. Nervous that I would miss the test, I called Tent Test and explained the situation. Luckily they were extremely understanding and allowed me to push my test back a half hour without any issue.

It was easy to spot the correct building as I arrived due to Covid testing signage on both the windows and curbside. The testing proctor, Ed, opened the door as he saw me approaching and welcomed me inside.

I was seated in a comfy waiting area inside the testing site. As I was the only person being tested in the time frame I selected, my testing process was extremely quick and efficient.

Normally those being tested would be moved from the waiting area to a private room, but as there was no one else in the building I was able to be tested in the waiting area. The proctor briefly explained what the test would entail and conducted the nasal swab.

While some tests, such as the Abbott BinaxNOW Ag Card Home Test, are a self-swab test, the proctor swabs your nose for you at Tent Test. I usually prefer self-swab, especially after an extra painful PCR Covid test I received in Egypt last year, but to my surprise my test at Tent Test ended up being the least-painful Covid test I have done yet!

After a simple swab right at the entrance of both nostrils, the proctor took the test to their lab area and I waited fifteen minutes for my result.

I was given a paper hard copy of my negative test results, which were complete with everything Royal Caribbean requires to board the ship: your name, test type, lab’s address, CLIA number, date of test, and your negative result. I had no issues presenting my negative test results from Tent Test at the cruise terminal in Miami.

Testing price

The standard Covid testing price for one person at Tent Test is $65 per rapid antigen test. Discounts may be available in larger groups. Additionally, Tent Test providers can also arrange to visit you directly at your hotel or house. For pricing and more information on these options, it’s best to give Tent Test a call ahead of time at (561)-888-0637.

While the test is not free like you will encounter at places like Walgreens and CVS, I felt it came at a fair price compared to many other testing options. Covid testing at Miami International Airport, for example, ranges from $79 to $179. In addition, while Royal Caribbean offers limited testing directly at the cruise terminal, costs start at $99 per person.

Tent Test also makes a great backup Covid test option in case something goes wrong with your primary testing method. Before one of my cruises, for example, I drove to Walgreens for a rapid NAAT test only to find out the pharmacy had unexpectedly closed early and there was no one to proctor my Covid test. Luckily I was able to reschedule for the next day, but if I had to travel that same day I would have been out of luck for a Covid test.

In addition, while the at-home Covid tests are extremely popular options for passengers, occasionally the test results are found invalid or the test kits are missing an item. Having Tent Test as a backup option can be extremely helpful.

Overall, I would recommend Test Test as an option for those who must secure a Covid test in South Florida before or after their cruise. The entire process was simple and just about as enjoyable as a Covid test can be. My testing proctor Ed was very friendly as well, which made me feel welcome and comfortable at the testing site.

What are the current testing requirements for Royal Caribbean cruises?

While Covid testing requirements are subject to change, here are the current pre-cruise testing requirements for cruises out of the United States:

  • Vaccinated guests must show a negative Covid-19 test result taken no more than 2 days before boarding day (PCR or antigen)
  • Unvaccinated kids aged 2-11 must show a negative PCR test taken no more than 3 days before boarding day
  • Unvaccinated kids’ pre-cruise test cannot be taken on boarding day (as they will receive an additional test at the terminal)

Royal Caribbean doesn't require back to back cruisers to do a covid test anymore

In:
06 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

It looks like anyone doing more than Royal Caribbean cruise in a row does not need to take a Covid test again between sailings.

Cruise ship docked in Miami

A number of Royal Caribbean cruisers have alerted us that the cruise line informed them while on a back to back cruise a new Covid test is no longer necessary.

Among the many people to tell us about the policy change is Royal Caribbean's top cruiser of all time, Mario "Super Mario" Salcedo.

"Just been informed that back-to-back cruisers no longer need to be Covid tested for the following cruise," Mr. Salcedo wrote in an email.

Read moreBack-to-back cruises tips and advice

Royal Caribbean's website has also been updated to note the change that fully vaccinated guests and/or guests with a valid certificate of recovery to not need a test.


New policy on Royal Caribbean's website


Old policy on Royal Caribbean's website

"Fully vaccinated guests and guests with a valid certificate of recovery do not require additional testing to board their subsequent sailing. Unvaccinated guests will require a new precruise test prior to boarding their subsequent sailing."

In addition, RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader CruiseGus shared a copy of his back to back cruiser letter from his sailing. 

Up until now, Royal Caribbean required passengers who were staying on for another sailing to get a Covid test done while onboard the ship.

Guests would head to a designed area of the ship to get a complimentary Covid test on the last day of the cruise.

What about people changing ships?

According to Royal Caribbean's website, guests who are changing ships on consecutive sailings or have a day or more inbetween subsequent sailings will not have a change in policy.

"If you are moving to a different ship for your subsequent sailing, or your subsequent sailing on the same ship departs the following day, you will need to meet the precruise testing requirements for your subsequent sailing. "

The website says complimentary testing will be conducted onboard for those passengers changing ships, with instructions provided while onboard.

To be considered back-to-back, the time between sailings must not exceed 1 day. 

For example, if Sailing A disembarks on Monday, Sailing B must embark on Monday or Tuesday to be considered back-to-back. 

Guests whose sailings are not considered back-to-back will be responsible for procuring their own Covid-19 test at their own expense to meet the precruise testing requirements for the subsequent sailing.

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
06 May 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

It’s the final day of our 7-night Alaska cruise! Can’t believe the week went so fast.

Schooner Bar on Radiance of the Seas

Today we’ve been at sea - sailing through the Inside Passage and making our way back to Vancouver.

The seas were rough last night so Sydney put on her patch and slept a solid 12 hours. She woke up feeling a little dizzy and had blurred vision, but she said she didn’t have any seasickness.

We saw lots of people onboard with patches behind their ears and heard of others who were seasick with the choppy waters.

I worked a little this morning while Sydney slept in. Surprisingly, the Internet connection was strong so I took advantage of this opportunity. I was worried once we went back into the Inside Passage that the Internet would drop again.

Covid Test Onboard

Since the connection was strong, I also decided to do my eMed Covid test in the cabin. I didn’t have any issues with the connection and got my negative test result quickly.

I wanted to take the test onboard the ship in case I had an unexpected positive result. In this case, I’m covered by Royal Caribbean’s Cruising with Confidence policy. It felt like the best option since there aren't really any testing options onboard for those of us needing one for travel requirements. 

I saw multiple people taking their covid tests onboard today, so I think there were a lot of us with the same idea. It also makes the disembarkation day much easier without having to worry about taking the test at the airport last minute.

I brought the Abbott home test, but there were other tests that people used as well. I know one couple who used their FlowFlex covid test and did their proctored test through www.azova.com. I saw another couple using the orange branded covid tests who said they followed the proctor link on the box too.

I didn’t realize you could have other tests proctored, but it appears that’s not the case. Both of these couples I met purchased tests in Alaska since they didn’t bring tests onboard and paid online for a proctor ($20)

Breakfast + Spa

We had a time change last night, so the 11:00 AM closing of the Windjammer crept up on us.

I waited in line to talk to the Internet representative to make sure I was on the list of passengers getting refunded for 2 days of internet that didn’t work. He processed the refund on the spot, which was nice. I saw a few others taking their covid tests in the Internet cafe area during this time too.

With coffee in hand, we made our way to the top deck to grab a quick bite to eat before they closed down the restaurant. Sydney and I made our way to the spa to try out the thermal suite!

Upon entry, we were given a locker and bathrobes to use throughout the spa.

We first started in the thermal chairs and made our way into the steam room, sauna and aromatic room.

It was pretty quiet in the thermal suite and that doesn’t exact fit our vibe. We have a hard time relaxing for an extended time because we like to be on the go. We are always laughing and chatting, so we struggled to be quiet.

It was fun to try everything out, but I am not sure if it’s something that I would pay to do just because I am not necessarily a spa person.

Egg Drop Challenge

This one was a first, but our ship had an egg drop contest! What a concept.

Teams enrolled on the first sea day and had one week to create an egg contraption. If your contraption successfully protected the egg from an atrium drop and the egg didn’t crack, your team won a prize.

The atrium was pretty busy with spectators. The entire floor and furniture surrounding the bar was covered to protect any scrambled eggs.

Some teams got really creative with how to protect their egg. Others clearly didn’t think about the impact of gravity, drag and force when their contraption plopped right to the ground. The very first drop got caught in some atrium wiring, which was pretty funny.

The cruise director, sporting a hard helmet for the ultimate egg protection, was having a great time hosting the event. One egg splattered all over the bar, which I am sure the bartender did not appreciate.

This was a fun event and we both enjoyed watching everyone try to protect their precious egg. I am wondering if this will be a new cruising tradition or if it was just a one-time thing?

Afternoon Activities

By late afternoon, Sydney had a card date with our ‘ship mom’ from dinner and I had a little bit of work to get done.

They enjoyed a few rounds of Phase 10. The ship finally entered back into the Inside Passage during this time, so the ocean was a sheet of glass again.

I was feeling deep gratitude for the Internet finally working reliably, which allowed me to get some time sensitive things done, including the covid test. I even created a hotspot with my computer so Sydney and I could have multiple devices connected at once. 

We still had our swimsuits on from the spa earlier today, so we made our way to the Solarium for the hot tub. Unfortunately, there is only one small hot tub in the Solarium and it’s been packed almost every time we’ve tried to use it.

We did grab a snack at the Windjammer since we had forgotten to grab lunch.

Sydney and I ran into our new ship friends, Mimi and her grandson Bret (who is our age), and we invited them to join us in the outdoor hot tub.

These hot tubs haven’t been as crowded, but the outdoor weather also hasn’t cooperated much. It was misting and rainy out, but we enjoyed the hot tub and getting to chat.

Final Dinner in the Dining Room

Tonight was our final night in the dining room. The menu tonight featured options of fish & chips, prime rib, roasted turkey, cheese tortellini and lamb.

I had one last bowl of French onion soup and Sydney had the lentil soup as a starter. She said the lentil soup was super good.

For dinner, Sydney had the cheese tortellini and I had the roasted turkey. These weren’t our favorite meals of the cruise, but they were good!

Dessert was a showstopper for me with the pavlova and caramel brownie, which was topped with a marshmallow meringue. It was super sweet - exactly as I like it! Two desserts is the best way to end a cruise. 

It’s always sad to say goodbye to new friends on the final evening. Sydney and I have been blessed with great servers who took good care of us. We also connected with so many people on this cruise and loved seeing familiar faces around.

Packing and Cruising with a Carry-On

Another sad part of the last cruise night is packing up your suitcase for the journey home tomorrow. Sydney and I had gotten pretty comfortable in our cabin over the last week, so it seemed like a tornado came through when we started to pack. 

Sydney heads to Seattle and Hawaii for the next week to continue her Masters Celebration adventure. I head to Minnesota tomorrow for a quick stop for my best friend’s baby shower before flying back to Florida on Saturday.

I opted to pack for this cruise using just a carry-on, which made it really easy to pack tonight. I used some packing cubes to utilize my small packing space. I think this made a big difference!

I had a few outfits that I didn’t even wear while other pieces were worn heavily. I had to purchase a sweater because I didn’t have something warm enough to wear with my leggings. I also bought some gloves in the first port.

Layering was key for me. I packed pieces that could be worn for dinner and during the day, like dark jeans and a jean jacket. I brought 3 dresses for dinners and then wore my dark jeans with various tops the other nights. Some days I didn’t even change for dinner.

I packed just one swimsuit, which was plenty for our hot tub visits. Casual clothes included sweat pants, a golf skirt, long sleeve t-shirt and a crewneck sweatshirt. I packed a pair of overalls, which I only wore once so I probably could have left that behind and opt for a heavier coat instead.

For the trip, I only packed 3 pairs of shoes, which included rain boots, dinner shoes and tennis shoes. I wish I had packed some slip-in shoes to wear around the ship, so I did buy a $5 pair of slippers from Old Navy in Vancouver to wear. I might leave these behind if I can’t pack them last minute tomorrow.

All of my cosmetics and toiletries I carried in my backpack with me. I still had room for my laptops, umbrella and 2 covid tests.

I really limited myself to just the essentials for this trip. It’s nice to not have so much clutter. Packing lightly forces you to only wear what you have packed because you don't have many options. I also think packing cubes made it easier because I can compress my outfits into time little dense cubes.

Granted, I think packing in a carry-on would be much easier for warmer climates. I also don't think I could do any trips longer than 10 days in a carry-on without doing some laundry. 

Disembarkation + Final Thoughts

Tomorrow we will get off the ship around 9:30 AM and my flight is at 2:00 PM. I plan to head straight to the airport and hopefully have a painless travel day.

Sydney is taking the Amtrak bus to Seattle before flying to Hawaii on her next big adventure.

We are both sad that our friend-cruise is coming to an end. It was so nice to be able to travel again, especially together.

Our friendship is really special and having this much time together again at sea was wonderful. We loved our time on the cruise and getting to meet such nice people was really a highlight.

Radiance of the Seas feels like she’s been well maintained and the crew are doing their best to get the ship back to a well-oiled machine. We had a few hiccups, but everything was handled with excellent service. I think this is to be expected with any cruise ship returning to service. We've met a lot of crew members onboard who are working for the first time onboard a ship.

That's the end of my live blog for Alaska. Until next time, happy cruising!