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Why cruise ships are getting bigger

In:
12 Nov 2021
By: 
Chantal McPhee

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is almost ready to debut as the largest cruise ship in the world, and she is indeed massive.

With a passenger capacity of 6988, 2300 crew member, and a length of 1188 feet and 18 decks high, it rivals an aircraft carrier in size.

Building bigger is an industry trend seen among marker leaders such as Carnival and Norwegian, however, Royal Caribbean is leading the way with its Oasis class ships being the largest at sea.

For some guests, the ship is as important as the itinerary, and with the average cruise length at 7 days, larger ships provide lots to do and plenty of ways to spend money.

So why are cruise lines building bigger ships?

Some key factors that are driving the trend toward bigger ships:   

Industry Competition 

While it is evident that the pandemic has had a major impact on the travel industry as a whole, the future is looking better. Cruise lines have increased capacity in 2021 and bookings for 2022 are forecasted at pre-Covid levels.

In anticipation of growth, Royal Caribbean along with other cruise lines continues to order new ships. We will see another Oasis class ship in 2023 (name TBD) along with three new Icon class ships stretching out to 2025.

Prior to 2019, there was consistent revenue growth in the industry, driven by increased passenger numbers and higher onboard spending. With a resumption of service, cruise lines need to provide competitive offerings, and larger ships are a significant part of their strategy to improve profitability.

Economy of Scale

The other aspect of making money is cost control and economies of scale make these bigger ships more profitable. Whether it be 1000 or 5000 passengers there are common expenses such as wages for the captain, cruise director, chief engineer, and other staff that must be paid. Spreading these costs out over more passengers enhances profitability for the cruise line.   

What does this mean to the bottom line? According to Jason Liberty, the Chief Financial Officer and soon to be CEO, “newer, larger ships can breakeven on cash flow at around 35% capacity while older, smaller ships are closer to 50”, a significant difference.

Despite these news ships having a $1 billion plus price tag, they have proven to be more cost-effective as building one large ship is more feasible than building two smaller ones.

Once a cruise ship covers its costs, it can focus on additional revenue sources, the icing on the cake.

Marketing

A key aspect to a successful marketing strategy is a great product, and bigger cruise ships are just that. These floating cities have tons of amazing amenities, especially for those guests who want to try the latest and greatest things.

With kids' areas, lounges, adult only sun-decks, and world class dining options, larger ships appeal to a broad target market.  Whether it be families, solo travelers, honeymooners or retirees, there is something for everyone.

New cruise ships create lots of buzz. With each new ship being bigger than the last, anticipation is heightened.  Facebook groups monitor the construction progress posting pictures and providing updates on sea trials.

Travel agents and media provide reviews and YouTube videos with all the new details, in an effort to excite would be passengers and drive sales. All good publicity.

Great amenities and activities

New ships like the Odyssey of the Seas and the Wonder of the Seas have all the newest bells and whistles, with the flexibility to operate in different regions such as the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Odyssey of the Seas with its 17 different restaurants and a variety of bars and lounges means that cruisers will not be short on great food and drink options. New onboard activities like a skydiving simulator, virtual reality bungee experience, and the SeaPlex activity center all keep kids and parents busy.

Guests can also rent casitas for an additional fee, so no worries about getting a great spot on the sundeck on busy sea days.

Wonder of the Seas, which will start sailing in March, features some brand new design elements such as a designated suite neighborhood with more suite only amenities.

In addition. the ship has a redesigned pool deck experience and a new kids playscape. These new features on the fleet’s biggest ship will no doubt be a big draw for consumers.

Revenues

The purpose of these bigger ships is to make more money. A big part of this equation is to increase revenues, especially as it relates to the amount of onboard spending.

Gambling at the casino, specialty dining restaurants, spas, drink packages among other additional fee based activities are all geared toward this. Cruise lines are putting their newest ships on 7 day sailings, giving cruisers more to do and more time to spend. Older ships are more prevalent 3-4 day cruises.

For a 7 day cruise, Royal Caribbean makes an average of $ 300 per person after deducting expenses.  Passengers spending an extra couple hundred dollars on a drink or photo package, a massage of playing blackjack, all help to improve margins, a significant impact on their bottom line.

Suites5 giant suites you can book on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Larger ships mean more space. The development of a suite only exclusive area is another revenue management strategy. The Wonder of the Seas has a new layout with a dedicated suite neighborhood that includes a suite only sundeck, a pool, a private lounge, and a restaurant, all at a premium for those willing to pay.

A suite can be tens of thousands of dollars more than a standard balcony or interior room, providing added revenue for the cruise line. For example, for a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the Wonder of the Seas, an inside cabin is $821 per person while a one bedroom Owners Suite is priced at $5133. The suite is 5 times the price, for just over double the space.

Additionally, the demand for suites is growing even at the premium pricing associated with a new ship.  For Mediterranean itineraries in 2022, many suites are already sold out on the Wonder of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean patents opening a cruise ship cabin door with facial recognition

In:
11 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

In the future your stateroom door might be opened by your face instead of a card.

Photo tour of 2 Bedroom Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean filed paperwork with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a "multifunction smart door device", that among other things, can be opened via facial recognition.

The new patent is for a device that would be installed within or near stateroom doors of a cruise ship. Each smart door device can control access to a stateroom based on facial recognition or a wireless credential.

This smart device can perform other functions such as controlling stateroom personalization features, providing an electronic peephole function, allowing controlled access for authorized crew members, accommodating remote unlocking, and providing notifications. 

It could also be used by a passenger's mobile device.

Cabin doors on Royal Caribbean ships are all opened by a SeaPass card, which guests are issued at the start of the cruise.  Crew members have master key cards that can open the doors as well.

On some new ships, Royal Caribbean has added the ability for guests to open their cabin doors via the Royal Caribbean app.

Royal Caribbean app allows guests to open stateroom door on Spectrum of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean thinks this device can be utilized for service, safety, or security purposes, such as for anonymized foot traffic analysis, hazard detection, and stateroom access auditing. 

It is a prime example by Royal Caribbean of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that aims to  provide connected services to improve passenger comfort and efficiency.

The patent authors include Joey Hasty, Gregory Morwick, Alastair Partington, Jay Schneider. Mr. Schneider is Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer.

How it works

Photo tour of Category 2J Central Park View Balcony Stateroom on Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

According to the patent, a wide angle camera would be able to sense a face of a person within its view and then use one or more facial recognition software algorithms to determine if the person is authorized to unlock the door.

The patent also includes the possibility for the facial recognition software to be able to set guest stateroom preferences comprise at least one of a default climate control setting, a default in-room media setting, a default lighting setting, or a default window shade setting.

There is even a provision in the patent for the wide angle camera that serves as the facial recognition sensor, to transmit a live stream to a guest's mobile device, similar to how some smart locks for houses function.

Photo tour of Category B1 Boardwalk View Stateroom with Balcony on Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Of course, the door could be opened by crew members. It would be set up to allow one or more crew members to access the stateroom based at least in part on a facial recognition result or a proximity-based credential, and based at least in part on evaluating a business rule stored in the local data store.

These business rules could limit access to certain hours of the day, or determine whether the stateroom is occupied or unoccupied before allowing a crew member to enter.

Facial recognition is the future

One of the patent's authors, Jay Schneider, has spoken publicly about the value facial recognition will have for the cruise industry.

Earlier this year, Mr. Schneider talked about why facial recognition, and not wearables, are the best long-term solution for guests being able to customize their trip.

"There are use cases where a wearable on your arm or a lanyard, et cetera, might be relevant, but your face is a better wearable for you long term than having to distribute something to you."

Royal Caribbean has already implemented facial recognition technology in some of its cruise terminals, where the embarkation and disembarkation process is sped up thanks to facial recognition.

What to do if Royal Caribbean's shore excursions are sold out

In:
11 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One of the impactful changes to going on a cruise due to Covid-19 are the rules related to shore excursions, which can mean limited options for those traveling with unvaccinated passengers.

St. Kitts | Royal Caribbean Blog

As of now, Royal Caribbean requires anyone getting off a ship in a port of call to be on a tour booked with the cruise line if they have someone unvaccinated in the group. This means families with unvaccinated children cannot book their own tours, or wander around the port area.

Hopefully this rule gets rolled back soon, but in the meantime it can lead to an issue of trying to find a shore excursion when there are limited options that easily sell out among what Royal Caribbean offers.

Here are some alternatives and tips for what to do if you find yourself with many Royal Caribbean shore excursions sold out.

Leave the kids onboard the ship

Photos: Voyager of the Seas completes $97 million renovation | Royal Caribbean Blog

Not all families will be able or interested in doing this, but you can leave your children on the ship with Adventure Ocean.

Adventure Ocean is always open any hours your Royal Caribbean ship is in port. In fact, they will even open up early if you have a Royal Caribbean tour booked that requires an early morning departure.

By leaving your kids in Adventure Ocean, the vaccinated people in your group can explore on your own via a private tour or just walking around.

Another option is to leave the unvaccinated kids onboard under the supervision of an adult in the group. Perhaps that person is not interested in disembarking, or is simply doing a favor for everyone else.

Book a tour on your own

First and foremost, if the tours Royal Caribbean is offering are either sold out or not to your liking, going on your own is the natural next option.

Fully vaccinated passengers can choose between a tour on their own or a Royal Caribbean excursion, so booking something on your own (or even just walking around and exploring at your leisure without an organized tour) is a good option.

The key to finding a reputable and fun tour to do through a third party is to do research ahead of time before your cruise departs.

Read moreHow to book third party excursions

Book a tour with Private Journeys

A relatively new and lesser-known option is Private Journeys, which offers private tours that are organized by Royal Caribbean.

Private Journeys is a shore excursion option offered directly by Royal Caribbean, where guests can create a completely customized shore excursion in any port your ship visits.  You provide Private Journeys with an idea or basis of what you want to do, and then they work with local tour guides to come up with an excursion.

In the weeks and months leading up to your cruise, you and your Private Journeys representative will custom craft a tour for you and your family.  Just like a group tour, these tour operators are vetted and organized by the cruise line.  All you have to do, is show up.

I have tried Private Journeys twice (in Belize and Curacao), and think it is a great choice for anyone that wants to tour at their own pace, and like the benefits of what Royal Caribbean provides.

Check back later

The premise of this post is about what to do if the shore excursion you want is sold out already, but you should check back periodically to see if it becomes available.

People cancel tours all the time, so if someone were to cancel their excursion, the option to book it would be re-enabled again for anyone to book.

In addition, Royal Caribbean may add additional inventory online or on the ship. There is no way to know with certainty what to expect, but you should keep an eye to see if the tour comes back as a bookable option online.

If all else fails, consider going to the Shore Excursion desk to see if there is any additional space, or to be put on a waitlist.

Read more7 things worth checking again on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Royal Caribbean announces Godmother for Odyssey of the Seas

In:
10 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

It is maritime tradition to give a new cruise ship a Godmother, and Odyssey of the Seas now has a Bahamian paratriathlete as hers.

Royal Caribbean announced on Wednesday Erin Brown is not only the Godmother of Odyssey of the Seas, but the first Bahamian Godmother of a Royal Caribbean International ship.

Ms. Brown has become an inspiration to many after losing her leg to cancer, but continuing on to become a paratriathlete competing at the international level.

The 41-year-old mother of two will accept the honor of blessing Odyssey at its naming ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday, Nov. 13.

Odyssey of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship in 2021, and will have her official inaugural sailing and naming ceremony held on November 13.

The 16-deck-high, 1,138-foot-long ship is one of the largest ships in the world, and can accommodate 4,180 passengers.

The cruise industry shutdown greatly impacted Odyssey's timeline for debut, having been delayed in the construction yard and two different inaugural seasons cancelled in Europe.

Fortunately, Odyssey was able to start cruises from Fort Lauderdale in summer 2021 leading up to her naming ceremony this weekend.

About Erin Brown

During her time as a collegiate track and field athlete, Brown was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma after suffering a fall that resulted in a broken leg. 

After more than a year of chemotherapy, her tumor showed no signs of shrinking, and Brown made the decision to amputate her limb above the knee. Brown, who watched her own mother struggle for five years before losing her battle with lupus linked to cancer, knew she had to keep going because her family depended on her. “Mind over matter,” she repeated. And then, she reinvented herself.

She said she recognizes now that her disability was a signal to start over. The first time she completed the 100-mile cycling event in The Bahamas, Ride for Hope, to raise money for cancer research, education and prevention, she led a group of adaptive athletes who heard the thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd that had witnessed Brown achieve what few with two legs could on hilly terrain.

“A sudden change like the one I experienced is just an opportunity to rebrand yourself to yourself and to society. All those skills you had before – you still have them,” said Brown who has gone on to become an advocate for rights for the disabled and works at the University of The Bahamas as the compliance officer and counselor for those living with physical disabilities.

Choosing a Godmother

A Godmother is a ceremonial position that all ships have, and different women are chosen for various reasons. The role is often held by renowned athletes, celebrities and royalty.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said selecting Ms. Brown to be the ship's Godmother made a lot of sense, "From the moment we heard Erin’s story, how her courage and determination inspired others and led to a more inclusive consciousness about succeeding with disabilities, we were moved and knew she was a natural choice for Godmother of our newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas

"A Godmother serves as the guiding spirit of the ship and brings good luck and safe travels to its guests and crew who sail on board for years to come."

Of course, having a Bahamian Godmother is fitting considering Royal Caribbean's close relationship with the country.

"Having Erin as our Godmother is a fitting way for us to pay tribute to The Bahamas as well," said Bayley. 

"Royal Caribbean’s very first international destination was The Bahamas more than 50 years ago. To this day, Nassau remains one of our most popular ports of call, and our private island destination – Perfect Day at CocoCay – remains a top pick for our guests. We are excited about this ceremony and honoring our longtime partners as well as the newest Bahamian-flagged ship in our fleet."

Royal Caribbean releases cruise ship health protocols for sailings through March 2022

In:
10 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released its health protocols for cruise ships sailing in Winter 2021 for the longest period of time yet.

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

Previously, Royal Caribbean was releasing health protocols only a month at a time.

Royal Caribbean added that it expects health protocols to change over time. Guidance for other ports and sailings is still in development with federal, state, and local authorities. 

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

Vaccination

Celebrity Cruises will accept mixed vaccines following CDC update | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean will require all passengers who are 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated in order to sail.

All guests 12 years and older must bring proof of vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card, with the final dose of the vaccine completed at least 14 days prior to sailing.

For guests departing from Florida homeports, this vaccine requirement is the policy of several international governments for a cruise ship to enter their waters. 

Testing

Depending on where your ship departs from, the exact requirement for a pre-cruise test will vary:

Testing for sailings from U.S. Homeports 

  • Pre-Cruise: All guests 2 years and older must present a negative PCR or antigen test result.
  • Vaccinated guests ages 12 years and over, test must be taken no more than 2 days prior to sailing. Guests under the age of 12, who are considered fully vaccinated, should follow the guidance for vaccinated guests. 
    • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11 years, test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to sailing — but not on boarding day.
    • No testing required for guests under age 2 years.
    • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.
  • Embarkation Day: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years will take a complimentary PCR test for COVID-19 during check-in. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
  • Onboard: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years will take a complimentary antigen test prior to debarking. Depending on sailing length, there may be additional testing. Registration details will be provided onboard.

Testing for sailings from San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Entry to Puerto Rico:
    • All guests unvaccinated guests 2 years and older will need a PCR or antigen test for entry.
    • Guests arriving from non-US countries (regardless of vaccination status) will need a PCR or antigen test for entry.
    • Guests flying in or connecting should check the Puerto Rico’s entry rules.
  • Pre-Cruise
    • Vaccinated guests must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken no more than 48 hours prior to sailing in order to board. If for any reason your clients can’t arrange this test prior to sailing, we have port testing available for scheduling here.
    • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11 years must present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours prior to sailing in order to board. There continues to be no testing required for guests under age 2.
    • Proper documentation (printed negative test results or negative test results presented on your phone) from an accredited laboratory (no doctor’s notes) is required to sail. All costs for this test are the guest's responsibility and must be done on their own, not at the terminal.
  • At the terminal: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take a PCR test for COVID-19 when checking in at the terminal. Registration details for this test will be sent via email in advance. This test is complimentary.
  • Prior to disembarking: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take an antigen test onboard within 24 hours before the cruise ends. Registration details will be provided during your cruise. This test is complimentary.
    • For re-entry into one's home country, guests may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. If needed, we’ll offer complimentary testing on Day 5 or 6 of the cruise. Testing details will be provided onboard.
  • No testing is required for guests under age 2.

Vaccinations & Testing Requirements for sailings from Bridgetown, Barbados 

What you need to know about visiting Barbados on a cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Grandeur of the Seas will begin sailing from Barbados in December 2021, and it has its own set of protocols for sailings from here.

Due to the requirements of destinations on  Barbados itineraries, Royal Caribbean can only accept vaccines that are authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Guests under the age of 12 years, who are considered fully vaccinated, should follow the guidance for vaccinated guests below. Children with one dose of a vaccine do not count as fully vaccinated for the purpose of our sailing. The only mixed MRNA vaccines accepted are combinations of Pfizer and Moderna.

  • Entry to Barbados: Guests must follow Barbados’ COVID-19 Travel Guidelines. All guests 5 years and older — regardless of vaccination status — must present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 3 days prior to arriving in Barbados. 
  • Pre-cruise: All unvaccinated guests 2 - 11 years old must present a negative PCR test result no more than 3 days prior to sailing. The PCR test used for entry satisfies this pre-cruise test requirement as long as its within 3 days of sailing date.
    • The PCR test used for entry satisfies this pre-cruise test requirement as long as its within 3 days of sailing date.
    • If PCR test results are older than 3 days, guests will have to secure their own PCR test while in Barbados.
    • The terminal antigen test does not satisfy unvaccinated guests’ pre-cruise testing requirement. 
    • Barbados does not accept telehealth home test kits for the entry test, even if the test is supervised by a live telehealth professional. No self testing method is accepted.
  • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.
  • At the terminal: All guests 2 and older — regardless of vaccination status — are required to take a complimentary embarkation day antigen test and receive a negative test result. Registration details will be sent via email in advance for the antigen test at the terminal.
    No testing required for guests under age 2
  • Prior to Disembarking: Guests 5 and older (regardless of vaccination status) planning to tour Barbados before making their way to the airport or enjoy an extended stay in Barbados shoreside, are required to undergo additional testing.
    • Guests that go directly to the airport, on their own or through an RCI tour, will not be required to undergo any testing onboard. 
  • For re-entry into your home country, guests may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Testing details and options will be provided onboard at guests' expense.

Shore Excursions

How to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion | Royal Caribbean Blog

Families traveling with unvaccinated kids are required to purchase a tour through Royal Caribbean to go ashore (except at Perfect Day at CocoCay).

Fully vaccinated parties may book a shore excursion or visit most ports freely — with the exception of those listed below, which will require tours for all guests who wish to go ashore in November and December, regardless of their vaccination status: St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tobago, Trinidad, Grenada, Martinique, Dominica & St. Vincent. 

For Barbados
All guests on December sailings from Barbados will need to book a tour if they wish to go ashore in ports of call, regardless of vaccination status. 

Masks

Masks are required in the terminal, in select locations inside the ship, and may be required at various destinations.

Masks are NOT required to be worn:

  • In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting
  • In the pool or any activity where they may become wet
  • At venues designated for vaccinated guests only, such as select bars, lounges, restaurants and shows
  • In your stateroom when you are with your traveling party
  • While visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless you are in a crowded setting
  • By any guest under the age of 2

CDC will require everyone to wear face masks on cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Masks ARE required to be worn:

  • While indoors onboard the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking
  • While visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them

Your mask should be at least two layers of tight weave fabric with loops that fit over your ears in accordance with health guidelines. The mask should fit your face closely and cover your nose and mouth but allow you to breathe easily. Note that neck gaiters, open chin bandanas and scarves, and face masks with valves do not meet health authority guidelines and will not be permitted.

Dining

How to request your favorite foods be prepared in the main dining room on your Royal Caribbean cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

For Main Dining, Royal Caribbean will designate areas for everyone, including parents and unvaccinated children, and areas for vaccinated parties only.

My Time Dining will not be available to parties that include unvaccinated guests.

Some specialty restaurants will be open to everyone, while others will be for vaccinated parties only. 

Email with protocols

Here is a full copy of the protocols shared by Royal Caribbean with travel agents.

5 things I purchased for a cruise that I regretted buying

In:
10 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

A lot of people get ready for a cruise vacation by hitting the mall or online shops to purchase a few items they think they will need onboard, but I've walked away later on regretting some of these purchases.

Whether I thought they would make my life easier, or just improve the vacation experience, in practice, some items I've bought for my cruise ended up not being what I expected.

Typically what happens is I will be browsing the internet and run across someone with a neat gadget, or read about something that might make my day at the beach or in my cabin better. At the time, 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.

Just like rompers, duck-faced selfies, or flat brim hats with the sticker still on it, we just aren't as hip as we thought.  Or perhaps the product ended up not living up to the hype.

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

Smart luggage

A few times in my life, my late-night television browsing has come back to bite me, and this happened when I saw a commercial for smart luggage.

Smart luggage is supposed to be an enhancement to traditional bags you pack, where it not only optimizes the space better, it can charge your mobile devices, and maybe even last forever. In a world of traditional luggage that rips too easily and looks boring, why wouldn't I go for one of these bags?

After I bought it on a whim, I realized first and foremost that it was quite expensive. While you can find luggage at all sorts of prices, smart luggage are anything but cheap in cost.

After the new luggage arrived at home, I realized how small it was.  Clearly, it was meant for business travelers who want to do a carry-on only kind of trip.  Since cruise ships do not charge for luggage, sticking with just carry-on bags has never been a priority.

And then you have the smart features, like being able to charge your device or even tracking.  Sounds neat, but in practice, it's more of a gimmick. In fact, the lithium-ion battery packs are sometimes not permitted by airlines. 

So essentially, I overpaid for luggage that did nothing more than I had before, but with less space.

GoPro camera

If you watch YouTube enough, you will run across some amazing videos of people doing some really fun activities and it is all captured on action cameras that can handle wind, water, heat, and sand, while delivering incredible high-fidelity pictures.

I bought a GoPro so that we could capture our family trips, especially when on shore excursions.  I thought the GoPro would be perfect for the kids and we could remember all the times we swam, jumped, and dove.

My issue with buying a GoPro isn't the quality of the video or anything the GoPro promises.  It is exactly as advertised when you edit and upload your footage.

The problem is video editing is downright awful. If you want your video to not be a snoozefest, you will need to invest many hours editing it all down.  This is tedious and has a steep learning curve.

Moreover, the particular model I bought had no viewfinder or way to see what I'm filming, or review it later. Subsequent models of GoPro have a small screen, but I was filming blindly and hoping it looked okay later.

After one trip and many hours of editing later, I stopped bringing the GoPro because I could not be bothered to spend the necessary time making it all look good.  Perhaps that's just the perfectionist in me, but it seemed more trouble than it was worth.

Water shoes

The worst part of any beach day is if you accidently step on a rock, crustacean, seaweed, or anything else pointy or slimy in the ocean. So the obvious answer is to buy water shoes, right?

I have bought at least 3 pairs of water shoes over the years to address this problem and every time I come to the same conclusion that I wasted my money.

All water shoes feel weird when you wear them in water. They are clingy and make my feet feel like they are trapped in a rubber/silicone bag. So yes, I feel better about not touching seaweed or something else mysterious underwater, but I still feel icky.

Excursion Focus: Valley Church Beach in Antigua | Royal Caribbean Blog

Equally important is the fact the bottoms are not puncture proof, so you still have to walk gingerly to avoid stepping on something really sharp.

Worst of all, after you are done in the ocean, you are stuck with a soaking wet (and likely sandy) pair of shoes that are a burden to bring back to the ship. Not to mention the added bulk of carrying them with you.

Drone

Another "I can't wait to bring on my cruise so I can get amazing video" idea was to buy a drone.

My plan was buy one, and then take amazing aerial footage of my cruise ship and the places I visit. 

The problem is Royal Caribbean prohibits anyone from operating a drone on the ship or at their private islands.

On top of all of that, every country has its own rules about where you can operate drones and the last thing I want to do is get in trouble with the local authorities because my drone went somewhere it should not.

Ultimately, I regretted buying a drone because you cannot use it near the cruise ship and footage of my backyard is just not that exciting.

Clothes washing device

Where does the poop go on a cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean does not have any self-service laundry option on its ships, and dry cleaning is pricey, so washing clothes is tough on a cruise ship.

You can hand wash small items in your bathroom sink, but you are really limited to smaller garments. Plus, it can be a big mess.

I remember running across a Facebook ad for a device that you could toss your clothes into and similar to Shake n Bake, wash your clothes easily without much fuss.

First time cruisers: How do I wash my clothes on my Royal Caribbean cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

This item is really intended for campers, but it seemed the perfect way to get pants and shirts clean for another use.

I don't think it was much of an improvement in terms of effort over filling the bathroom sink or tub with water and washing clothes there. So it ended up being money I did not need to spend to achieve similar results to what I had going before.

Richard Fain leaves Royal Caribbean with legacy of innovation and growth

In:
10 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Richard Fain announced he will step down as Royal Caribbean Group CEO in January 2022, leaving behind an incredible legacy over his 33 years at the helm.

With Mr. Fain moving away from the day-to-day operations of the company, it makes sense to look back on some of his many accomplishments.

Mr. Fain joined the company at a time when Royal Caribbean was still deeply rooted in the beginnings of modern cruising, and ushered in innovations and changes that fundamentally changed what the public thinks a cruise ship can be.

There is no way to perfectly encapsulate all of Mr. Fain's accomplishments in one post, but as Royal Caribbean and the industry wish Mr. Fain a fond farewell, we look back at some of his major achievements.

How Fain joined Royal Caribbean

In the 1980's, Royal Caribbean was a middleweight contender in the cruise industry, and it quickly reached a crossroads of what to do next.

Song of Norway had ushered in a new era of cruising, but by the end of 1983, the company was considering what expansion would make sense.  Economies of scale, already realized onboard Song of America, were clearly the wave of the future.

Like any sensible enterprise pondering its next step, Miami's management went shopping for advice, turning to the Cambridge-based consulting firm of Arthur D. Little.

The highly respected organization was asked to undertake a survey of the cruise industry with an eye to determining Royal Caribbean's position and potential within it.

At the time, Richard D. Fain was the vice-president of finance for one of the original investors in Royal Caribbean, Gotaas-Larsen.

In the 1970s, Fain had served as treasurer for both Gotaas-Larsen and its parent company, International Utilities, becoming increasingly involved in Royal Caribbean's financial operations.

Richard Fain chaired that committee, an appointment to which two of the founding families of the cruise objected (Skaugens and the Wilhelmsens) because his chairmanship would give Gotaas-Larsen double representation.

But Fain, in turn, promised to remain impartial. Fain discovered that by holding meetings in Miami, he was able to guarantee the attendance of key corporate personnel, who had a wealth of information to enrich Arthur D. Little's accumulating data.

As of 1984, the report pointed out, Royal Caribbean had an eleven percent market share, compared with NCL's fourteen percent and Carnival's fifteen percent. Although the conclusions were the result of a strategic thought process and were not motivated by the importance of being big, immediate expansion was recommended: additional newbuilding and/or a merger with another cruise line.

Sovereign of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

"Expansion" was the operative word, expansion not only of Royal Caribbean's next class of vessel but its size of operations as well. 

This report galvanized Royal Caribbean, and in 1984, the world's largest purpose-built cruise ship, Sovereign of the Seas, was conceived. And the committee that bad been assembled to assist with the Little report evolved into Royal Caribbean's Steering Committee, with Fain remaining in the chair.

Voyager of the Seas

Voyager of the Seas makes maiden call at Manila, Philippines | Royal Caribbean Blog

Mr. Fain began his career as the CEO of Royal Caribbean right around the time Sovereign of the Seas launched, and the cruise world was once again changed when Voyager of the Seas redefined what a mega ship is.

He realized that the image problem the cruise industry had among the public of being outdated, boring and, as an industry joke put it, full of "the newlywed and the nearly dead".

Mr. Fain believed to attract a new kind of customer, he needed a new kind of ship. To build it, he hired Harri Kulovaara in 1995, a Finnish naval architect who made a name for himself designing passenger ferries. 

Oasis 4 Keel Laying | Royal Caribbean Blog

Kulovaara was brought onboard to help run the company’s shipbuilding department.

Originally, Royal Caribbean was looking to commission a carbon copy of Sovereign of the Seas. "We’re not going to build that, Harri,” Fain told him. “We need something better."

That "better" idea ended up being Voyager of the Seas.

Voyager of the Seas launched in 1999, and introduced the first ice-skating rink at sea, the first rock climbing wall at sea, and indoor promenade. It was also 75% bigger than the previous-largest cruise ship, exceeding Panamax – the width of the Panama Canal, an industry-standard measurement.

Photo report: Voyager of the Seas in Auckland, New Zealand | Royal Caribbean Blog

"You wanted things that helped convey that this [cruising] was an unusual activity, that you could do what you wanted," Fain said. He said Voyager of the Seas was instrumental in continuing to shift the idea that cruising was for everyone.

Like Song of Norway and Sovereign before her, Voyager of the Seas would innovate ship design for decades and become the new standard going forward.

Oasis


Copyright :©BRIANSMITH.COM

Turning the cruise industry on its head is something Richard Fain started getting good at, and history would repeat itself yet again with the most ambitious project yet for Royal Caribbean with Project Genesis.

Six years before Oasis of the Seas would be launched, Mr. Fain and the team at Royal Caribbean started out with the concept of wanting to do something new and different. 

We decided to start with a blank sheet of paper and said, "What do we want our guests to do? What activities do we want to offer them?” The name of this project was Project Genesis. The idea was to indicate that this was a fresh start in terms of design. We didn’t actually start out intending to build something quite so large."


Copyright :©BRIANSMITH.COM

"The whole thesis was to give people more choice. So instead of one large pool deck divided into two we wanted to have a series—one just for families, one just for adults, one just for sports … When we added up all the things we wanted to provide for people to do, it turned out the ship was much bigger than originally expected, as we were also able to provide much more in terms of activities and amenities. "

Royal Caribbean brought in architects and designers to help take all the ideas the company had and create a revolutionary cruise ship.

At 225,000 tons, the Oasis of the Seas weighs as much as four Titanics. 

Beyond her size, Oasis of the Seas introduced the crowd-control concept of "neighborhoods", with seven in total.  Oasis also was the first ship to have a split-back design that opened the back of the ship up (Boardwalk), as well as an open-air park featuring 12,000 plants in the middle (Central Park).

Then there's the first AquaTheater at sea, the first zip line at sea and much more.

In short, Oasis of the Seas continued Royal Caribbean's legacy of revolutionary cruise ship design.  Any new mass-market cruise ship built since has had to compare itself to the game-changing Oasis of the Seas.

Covid

Richard Fain | Royal Caribbean Blog

There is no way to talk about Mr. Fain's legacy without also acknowledging the tremendous work he did publicly and behind the scenes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

No company was properly prepared for the government mandated shutdown of the cruise industry, which was the only industry to voluntarily shut down on its own but then face stiff opposition to prevent it from returning.

From the onset of the shutdown, Mr. Fain began producing short videos posted online for travel agents that shared his outlook on the situation, as well as hope for the future.

Royal Caribbean new cruise ship health protocols include masks, social distancing, testing and more | Royal Caribbean Blog

While these videos may have been intended only for the trade, they became a beacon of hope in a shroud of unknowns. For many cruise fans, it provided helpful insight into what may come next, as well as much needed optimism.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Fain championed the creation of the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of renowned health experts who established safety and wellness protocols to restore confidence in cruising safety.

It was fitting he announced stepping away as CEO in a video update for travel agents, bringing his tenure to a close in the same way he provided updates for more than a year.

The best cruise lines for 2022 have been announced

In:
09 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The best cruise line may be a very subjective question, but U.S. News & World Report has released their opinion of the best lines across various categories.

12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

The 2022 Best Cruises rankings were announced on Tuesday, which is an annual look at which cruise lines rank among the top picks.

There are six categories of categories for ranking 17 different cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean did not come out as the winner in any one category, but did rank near the top in a few.

Rankings

U.S. News & World Report scouted the cruise lines across six categories to give readers an idea of the strengths each line has.

Royal Caribbean came in the top 3 for two categories this year, Best Cruise Lines for the Money & Best Cruise Lines for Families.

Royal Caribbean came in fourth place for Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean, and almost last for the Mediterranean rankings.

Best Luxury Cruise Lines

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  4. Azamara
  5. Crystal Cruises
  6. Silversea Cruises
  7. Oceania Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for the Money

  1. Celebrity Cruises
  2. Holland America Line
  3. Royal Caribbean International
  4. Norwegian Cruise Line
  5. Carnival Cruise Line
  6. Princess Cruises
  7. Costa Cruises
  8. MSC Cruises

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Celebrity Cruises
  3. Seabourn Cruise Line
  4. Royal Caribbean International
  5. Crystal Cruises
  6. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  7. Holland America Line
  8. Carnival Cruise Line
  9. Norwegian Cruise Line
  10. Oceania Cruises
  11. Princess Cruises
  12. MSC Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for Couples

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara
  4. Crystal Cruises
  5. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  6. Celebrity Cruises
  7. Oceania Cruises
  8. Silversea Cruises
  9. Cunard Line
  10. Holland America Line

Families and kids are the reason why Royal Caribbean is doing test cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Best Cruise Lines for Families

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Royal Caribbean International
  3. Carnival Cruise Line
  4. Norwegian Cruise Line
  5. MSC Cruises
  6. Costa Cruises

Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara
  4. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  5. Celebrity Cruises
  6. Oceania Cruises
  7. Crystal Cruises
  8. Costa Cruises
  9. MSC Cruises
  10. Silversea Cruises
  11. Holland America Line
  12. Norwegian Cruise Line
  13. Princess Cruises
  14. Royal Caribbean International
  15. Cunard Line

How they picked the winners

Norwegian Cruise Line pushes CDC for an answer to their proposal to restart cruising | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you're reading these rankings and want to know how winners were picked (or why one line did better than another), then here is the methodology used.

Here is how U.S. News & World Report explained the way they got to their rankings.

Expert Rating (30 percent weight): Our editors assign each ship an Expert Rating between 1 and 5 based on the ship's level of luxury, with 5 being the highest score. This score represents our editors' analysis of a ship's atmosphere, facilities, activities, cabins, cuisine and service.

Traveler Rating (50 percent weight): A ship's traveler rating is provided under license by Cruiseline.com. Reviewers assign a rating between 1 and 5 based on their level of satisfaction with their cruise experience.

Health Rating (20 percent weight): A ship's health rating is based on sanitation inspection scores published by the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individual ship inspection reports can be found here. The CDC defines "Satisfactory Scores" as those that are 86 or above (out of a possible 100 points). A ship's Health Rating is the average of the vessel's individual inspection reports from the 22 months prior to the calculation of the U.S. News Best Cruises rankings. For our rankings, CDC scores are translated to a five-point scale as follows: Vessels with average CDC ratings greater than 97.5 received a score of 5; vessels with average CDC ratings greater than 95 and up to 97.5 received a score of 4.5; vessels with average CDC scores greater than 92.5 and up to 95 received a score of 4; vessels with average CDC scores greater than 90 and up to 92.5 received a score of 3.5; vessels with average CDC scores greater than 87.5 and up to 90 received a score of 3; vessels with average ratings greater than 85.1 and up to 87.5 received a score of 2.5 and vessels with an average CDC rating of 85.1 or lower received a score of 1. If a ship has not received a health inspection score within the past 22 months, the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line is used as proxy in the calculation of the ship's Overall Rating.

Carnival and NCL announce summer cruise ship restart plans from United States | Royal Caribbean Blog

Filtering Lists by Criteria: Cutoff points and other criteria are used to identify cruise ships or cruise lines that qualify for a given ranking list.

Traveler Type: Each cruise ship and cruise line's placement on our traveler type cruise rankings takes into account the aggregate traveler rating among specific types of travelers. Cruise ships and lines with the highest Overall Ratings and the greatest approval rating among a certain traveler type (e.g., families), appear on such lists. To qualify for a cruise ship traveler type ranking list, a ship had to have a minimum of 10 total guest reviews, and a certain percentage of reviews had to come from the specified traveler type; the percentage required varies by list.

Region: We rank the best cruise ships in seven popular regions: Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Mexico, the Pacific and Hawaii. We also rank the Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean and Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean. Regional scores are assigned based on percentage of itineraries a ship has in each of these regions over a 24-month basis. The ship-level regional scores are updated as new information is made available; however, the list of the Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean and the Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean will only be updated once a year.

Price Class: A cruise ship's price class rating is based on its average daily price. Ships with average daily rates of $300 or more are rated 4; average daily rates of $150 to $299 are rated 3; average daily rates of $100 to $149 are rated 2; ships with average daily rates below $100 are rated 1. Cruise lines with average price class ratings of 3.5 and above are included in the Best Luxury Cruise Lines rankings. Cruise lines with average price class ratings of 2.5 or lower are included in the Best Cruise Lines for the Money rankings.

Calculating the Cruise Line Rankings

Best Luxury Cruise Lines: For our luxury cruise lines ranking, we include only cruise lines with a price class rating of 3.5 or above. Qualifying cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest based on their Overall Rating. 

Best Cruise Lines for the Money: For our affordable cruise lines ranking, we include only cruise lines with a price class rating less than 2.5. Qualifying cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest based on their average Overall Rating, which carries a 40 percent weight and their price class rating, which carries a 60 percent weight.

Best Cruise Lines for Couples: This ranking factors in (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the aggregate traveler rating by "couples" travelers and (3) the percentage of a cruise line's reviews on Cruiseline.com that are left by couples. For example, a cruise line that receives a high percentage of its reviews from couples is more likely to be couples-oriented. Cruise lines are ranked according to the weighted average of their rank within each of these three factors. For a cruise line to be eligible for inclusion in this ranking, at least 62 percent of its total traveler reviews had to come from couples.

Best Cruise Lines for Families: This ranking factors in (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the aggregate traveler rating by "families with kids" and (3) the percentage of a cruise line's reviews on Cruiseline.com that are left by family travelers. For example, a cruise line that receives a high percentage of its reviews from families is more likely to attract family travelers. Cruise lines are ranked according to the weighted average of their rank within each of these three factors. For a cruise line to qualify for this ranking, at least 25 percent of its total traveler reviews had to come from families.

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean: This ranking is based on (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the percentage of scheduled itineraries in the Caribbean over a 24-month period (3) the number and variety of Caribbean itineraries available over a 24-month period. Cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest according to the weighted average of their rank combined with the annualized rate of scheduled itineraries and the number of total Caribbean itinerary options over a two-year period. The Overall Rating carries a 50 percent weight. Line coverage components are both weighted at 25 percent. 

Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean: This ranking is based on (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the percentage of scheduled itineraries in the Mediterranean over a 24-month period and (3) the number and variety of Mediterranean itineraries available over a 24-month period. Cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest according to the weighted average of their rank combined with the annualized rate of scheduled itineraries and the number of total Mediterranean itinerary options over a two-year period. The Overall Rating carries a 50 percent weight. Line coverage components are both weighted at 25 percent.

Online reviews

This is also a good time to remind readers of how subjective online reviews of cruise ships can be, especially for a cruise line or ship, where everyone has different experiences. Everyone on a sailing does not interact with the exact same staff, do the same activities, or stay in the same kind of room.

The reality is cruise ships offer such a varied and experiential vacation that it cannot be properly reviewed in its entirety based on a single experience.  Cruises are by their very design a "create your own adventure" experience.  You could sit at the pool every day of the cruise and never do one activity, whereas the guy next to you could be zip lining, crocheting, belly flopping and dancing the night away.  In short, we all cruise differently.

Read moreWhy you can't trust online reviews of cruise ships

Richard Fain announces he is stepping down as Royal Caribbean Group CEO

In:
09 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

When 2022 begins, it will mark the end of an era for Royal Caribbean when the head of the company steps away.

Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO, announced on Tuesday he is stepping down as the CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group effective January 3, 2022. 

Richard will remain Chairman of the Royal Caribbean Group Board and will stay involved in our new shipbuilding projects.

"I'm not disappearing from this industry we all love. I will remain as Chair and I will continue my involvement in our new building projects. But starting in January, I will no longer be involved in the day to day running of the business," Mr. Fain said in a video announcement.

Richard Fain | Royal Caribbean Blog

Taking over as CEO will be Royal Caribbean's current Chief Financial Officer, Jason Liberty.

Replacing Mr. Liberty will be Naftali Holtz, who is currently the senior vice president of finance for the Royal Caribbean Group, responsible for corporate, capital and revenue planning and analysis, deployment planning, risk management and treasury.

For 33 years, Mr. Fain has been the CEO, taking the company from the Sovereign Class era to today.

Sovereign of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Under Fain, Royal Caribbean introduced new ship classes that transformed the cruise industry, such as the Sovereign, Voyager, and Oasis classes.

Of course, Mr. Fain was also running sister brand Celebrity Cruises with the introduction of their Solstice and Edge classes.

Just as importantly, Mr. Fain was a stalwart figure over the last two years during the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping Royal Caribbean Group afloat during a massive shutdown that threatened the core business after over a year of no operations.

In your dreams!" Royal Caribbean and NCL CEOs have funny exchange while talking new health protocols | Royal Caribbean Blog

Fain joined forces with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings' CEO Frank del Rio to form the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of renowned health experts who established safety and wellness protocols to restore confidence in cruising safety.

Mr. Fain describes his decision to leave as an easy one, "We have been blessed with 33 years leading the best company in the world with some of the finest, most dedicated, most passionate people in the world.

"I couldn't be prouder of what that team has accomplished over these years, and I know without any doubt that I have had the very best job in the world."

Meet Jason Liberty

Royal Caribbean Group's new CEO is Jason Liberty, who joined the company in 2005.

Mr. Liberty served in several financial, strategic and operational roles before becoming CFO in 2013.

Liberty is also responsible for Silversea Cruises, the Group's joint ventures with TUI Cruises and Hapag Lloyd Cruises, as well as the Royal Caribbean Group's strategy, technology, supply chain, port operations and legal functions.

Mr. Fain believes Mr. Liberty is ready for this role, "Jason is exactly the right person at the right time to do so, and he is supported by an amazing team of innovative and imaginative leaders who will help drive that growth."

Royal Caribbean's past Black Friday deals

In:
08 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Black Friday is not only a major retail sales event, but the cruise lines get into the action as well with their own set of deals and promotions.

Royal Caribbean has not revealed what its 2021 Black Friday deals will be, nor if we can expect any kind of Black Friday promotion.

While we wait to see what deals might be offered in 2021, here is a look back at the last few Black Friday offers to get a sense of what has been offered in the past. It is important to note that past promotions are not indicative of what might be coming this year.

What is Black Friday?

If you are unaware, Black Friday is a major sales event in primarily the United States, where there are major sales the day after the Thanksgiving holiday to kick off the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season.

Traditionally, retailers offer their best deals of the year on Black Friday in order to kick-start their best sales times, and you typically see crazy low prices on consumer electronics and other goods.

The cruise lines have gotten into the spirit of the event, by offering their own promotions.  Cruise lines typically have their best offers in the early part of the year during Wave Season, but since so many consumers are looking for new sales, Royal Caribbean has offered some too.

Black Friday 2020

Royal Caribbean's Cyber Week Sale in 2020 ran between November 24 - December 1, 2020 and offered a bundle of savings, with up to $550 off cruise fares.

Guests could combine the Cyber Week Sale with the November monthly offer, which provided 60% off the second guest, and kids sail free.

In addition, there was a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale on pre-cruise add-ons, like drink packagesshore excursions, wifi and more.

Black Friday 2019

Royal Caribbean offered a Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal in 2019, although it was effectively the same offer. 

The Cyber Weekend sale ran between November 27 - December 2, 2019.

  • 60% off second guest
  • Instant savings up to $300 off
  • Kids Sail Free

In addition, there was a Black Friday sale on pre-cruise purchases such as up to 50% off Beverage Packages. Plus, up to 65% off Internet, up to 30% off Shore Excursions, up to 55% off Dining Packages, and up to 40% off Gifts and Gear.

The Cyber Monday Cruise Planner sale runs between November 27 - December 3, 2019.

Black Friday 2018

Royal Caribbean's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal in 2018 offered a very similar deal to the 2019 offer.

The Cyber Weekend sale ran between November 22, 2018 – November 27, 2018.

  • 60% off second guest
  • 30% off third guests and higher in same room as first two qualified guests
  • Instant savings up to $300 off
  • Kids Sail Free

The 2018 Cyber Monday Cruise Planner sale offered up to 40% off pre-cruise purchases, including up to 40% off drink packages, up to 25% off excursions, up to 60% off internet and 20% off specialty dining.

The pre-cruise planner sale ran between November 23, 2018 - November 27, 2018.

Black Friday 2017

The Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal in 2017 had a sligtly different combination compared to 2018-2019.

  • 50% off second guest
  • 25% Savings for 3/4 guests “Kids Sail for Less”
  • Up to $400 Onboard Credit per stateroom
    • The extra $100 was for booking more than six months in advance

The 2017 Black Friday Sale on Cruise Planner purchases offered up to 30% off everything in the store, such as beverage packages, shore excursions and more.

Black Friday 2016

The 2016 Black Friday through Cyber Monday Super Sale ran between November 26 - 28, 2016.

  • 50% Reduced Deposits
  • Up to $300 Onboard Credit per stateroom
  • BOGO 50% off with 25% savings for 3rd and 4th guests
  • up to $100 Onboard Credit per stateroom

There was also a Cruise Planner sale in 2016 for pre-cruise purchases on beverage packages, shore excursions and more.

Black Friday 2015

In 2015, Royal Caribbean offered slightly different offers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday offered:

  • 50% off second guest
  • 50% reduced deposit
  • Up to $300 per stateroom onboard credit
  • 25% off 3rd and 4th guests in a room
  • One Voom internet package for one device on Anthem, Harmony, Allure, Oasis, Freedom, and Enchantment of the Seas on sailings departing between May 1 - September 30, 2016.

The Cyber Monday sale was essentially the same as the Black Friday sale, but with a bit more onboard credit.

  • 50% off second guest
  • 50% reduced deposit
  • Up to $400 per stateroom onboard credit
  • 25% off 3rd and 4th guests in a room
  • One Voom internet package for one device on Anthem, Harmony, Allure, Oasis, Freedom, and Enchantment of the Seas on sailings departing between May 1 - September 30, 2016.

Should you wait until Black Friday to book a cruise?

If you want to get the best possible deal, your best bet is to actually book a cruise or cruise planner purchase now and rebook if the price goes down later.

There is no telling what Royal Caribbean's Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals will be in 2020, but the best strategy for getting the lowest price is to book now at current rates and then compare to thee new prices if/when a deal is announced later.

By booking now, you can lock in the current rates. If there is a better sale between now and Black Friday, you can always get a price adjustment.

One of the overlooked, yet quite significant, benefits of the Cruise with Confidence program is Royal Caribbean's Best Price Guarantee has been expanded.

This means guests can now take advantage of price drops after final payment date, up until 48 hours before the cruise, and it applies to all countries.

Price variances will result in a rate adjustment if requested outside of final payment or a non-refundable onboard credit when inside final payment period.

Pre-cruise purchases for drink packages or excursions are even easier to cancel and rebook to take advantage of a lower price.

Since you can take advantage of price drops later, you do not have to worry that you missed a better deal in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.