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Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: September 4, 2022

In:
04 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy weekend! It has been a busy week of Royal Caribbean news and events, and we have a look back at everything that happened this week.

Faster internet is coming to every single Royal Caribbean cruise ship!

Royal Caribbean Group announced a new partnership with SpaceX's Starlink to provide internet on cruise ships with high-speed & low-latency.

Royal Caribbean Group said it will begin deploying Starlink "immediately" and should be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Royal Caribbean News

Video: 10 insider tips for Royal Caribbean's main dining room

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: 10 insider tips for Royal Caribbean's main dining room

I tried AirTags to track my luggage on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Close up of AirTag

Should you buy AirTags to track your luggage on a cruise?

While I've always had good luck with my luggage being delivered to my stateroom in a timely manner, you can never be too careful when it comes to ensuring your luggage doesn't get lost.

I thought I would give it a try to see how well it works after reading from other readers that started using them.

Royal Caribbean brought back the behind-the-scenes tour

Royal Caribbean's behind-the-scenes paid tour is back again, and I tried it out on Mariner of the Seas to see if it was worth the money.

The 2-hour walking tour will bring you to places like the ship's bridge, kitchen, engine control room, and more.

The goal is to provide a glimpse of what goes on while guests are enjoying their vacation to make the cruise ship function.

I put the best inside cabin cruise hacks to the test

I picked out the best sounding cruise cabin tips to get an idea of how well they work.

There are lots of tips for how to maximize cruise ship cabins, but I was curious were these actually good ideas or just good sounding.

You could save money on pre-cruise purchases with Royal Caribbean's Labor Day sale

In:
02 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering discounts on certain Cruise Planner purchases during its Labor Day Weekend sale.

Getting a drink at the casita

Every few weeks Royal Caribbean starts a new sale on its pre-cruise purchases that have the potential to save money for guests.

The offer applies to bookings made September 1, 2022 – September 6, 2022 and applies to select sailings departing September 7, 2022 – July 31, 2023. 

Here's a look at what sort of discounts you might be able to find:

Labor Day sale

Beverage: Up to 40% off

  • Classic Soda Beverage Package: 30% Off onboard prices
  • Classic Soda Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 30% Off onboard prices
  • Water Bottle Pacakage: 40% off onboard prices.
  • San Benedetto Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Evian Water Bottles: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship
  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship.
  • Refreshment Package: Discount varies by ship.

Shore Excursions: Up to 25% off

  • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship.

Internet: Up to 50% Off

  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • The Key: Discounts varies by ship
Drink at the Lime and Coconut

Dining: Up to 50% Off

  • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings: Discount varies by ship.
  • Gifts & Gear: Up to 20% Off
  • Anniversary Decorations with Champagne
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Chocolate Cake & Strawberries
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Vanilla Cake & Strawberries
  • Inky Beach Set
  • Inky Beach Towel (TicTacToe)
  • Inky Travel Set
  • Red Wine and Cheese
  • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel
  • Strawberries with Champagne
  • White Wine and Cheese
Odyssey of the Seas pool deck

Gifts & Gear: Up to 20% Off

  • Anniversary Decorations with Champagne
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Chocolate Cake & Strawberries
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Vanilla Cake & Strawberries
  • Inky Beach Set
  • Inky Beach Towel (TicTacToe)
  • Inky Travel Set
  • Red Wine and Cheese
  • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel
  • Strawberries with Champagne
  • White Wine and Cheese
Playmakers

Photo Packages: Up to 65% off

  • Photo Packages: From 5 - 100 Print and/or Digital Options: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: Private Photo Session: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: All Digital: Discount varies by ship.

Casitas: Up to 20% Off

  • Casita Packages: 20% Off Onboard Prices
Casita on Wonder of the Seas

Spa: Up to 30% Off

  • Spa Packages: Discount varies by ship.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

More helpful information

SpaceX's Starlink could be added first to Independence of the Seas

In:
02 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

While Royal Caribbean has not confirmed any roll out schedule for its new Starlink internet deal, there's at least one ship that appears to be getting it installed already.

Royal Caribbean announced this week a new partnership with SpaceX's Starlink service that will bring high speed internet access to all Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson did not provide a timeline other than, "the Starlink technology rollout will start immediately across all Royal Caribbean International ships."

In the original press release, the company planned to get Starlink to ships across all three Royal Caribbean Group brands by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Independence first?

Cruisers aboard Independence of the Seas have noticed work being done at the aft of the ship that seem to be new antennas.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Paul "Land Genie" Crow shared photos from the area near the back of the ship where the new antennas are going.

If true, the antennas are located above the Flowrider surf simulator viewing area.

There's no word yet when the new service will be turned on, but Mr. Crow reports hearing from crew members that the installers boarded the ship in Nassau earlier in the cruise and have been working ever since.

Celebrity Beyond

Celebrity Beyond

If you're cruising with Celebrity, then the Celebrity Beyond could be first for them.

The Verge reports Celebrity Beyond would be ready to launch Starlink on September 5th.

Why Starlink on cruise ships matters

ebook reader

If having interenet access on a cruise vacation doesn't get you excited, you might be in the minority.

Just like anywhere on land, having reliable and fast internet access has become a way of life and not just for those looking to do some work while at sea.

Society has become more reliant than ever on having internet access, and on a cruise ship, the internet is the way to stay in contact with the outside world.

Social meda stock photo

Whether texting or calling family, checking on the latest updates on social media, or tracking sports, casual internet use is a major need for a lot of travelers.

And then there's the contingent of vacationers who do have a need to keep up with work while on vacation, or prefer to work remotely from somewhere else.

Up until now, Royal Caribbean's internet service had been hit or miss, depending on the ship you sailed on and the region of the world you visited. All but the newest ships had mediocre to poor internet speeds, and even the new ship internet access was generally slower than internet access on land.

What can guests expect?

Starlink internet receivers on Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean did not divulge technical details about the Starlink service onboard, such as what kind of speeds guests can expect or how much bandwidth each ship will receive. 

They did say passengers should expect to use streaming services and make video calls once deployed.

Another big question is price.

Starlink on Royal Caribbean

No pricing has been shared for Starlink, and it remains unknown what price changes, if any, will occur as a result of the switch to Starlink.

When Royal Caribbean tested Starlink on Freedom of the Seas earlier this summer, they did not alter the prices during the trial period.

Read moreI tried Elon Musk's Starlink internet on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Many readers seem to think prices will go up as a result of the upgrade, but the company has not commented on pricing.

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

In:
02 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

The final day of our 7-night Alaska cruise is a sea day, and it was supposed to include a visit to Hubbard Glacier.

Unfortunately the day did not turn out how we had hoped, but that doesn't mean it wasn't without several fun moments!

I purposely woke up early this morning to get ready for today's scenic cruising around Hubbard Glacier, one of the main highlights of this cruise itinerary. Many Alaska cruise itineraries not only include full days in port, but visits to glaciers from the sea.

Passengers do not disembark the ship on scenic cruising days. Instead, the ship does a full 360 degree rotation near the glacier, allowing guests to enjoy stunning views of the scenery no matter where on the ship they are located.

When I stepped outside around 7:30AM, however, the weather was concerning. Visibility was extremely low and winds were high. Because approaching a glacier requires careful navigation around narrow passages and icebergs, it's important to have stable weather before making the approach.

My scenic glacier day to Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier was affected by bad weather last year, and we could only see the glacier from very far away before turning around. Remembering this, I was skeptical we would successfully be able to approach Hubbard Glacier given the weather conditions.

Sure enough, the captain came on the loudspeaker to announce that we would, unfortunately, not be able to make it to Hubbard Glacier.

With that, Radiance of the Seas turned around and started the journey toward Seward through the Gulf of Alaska.

Afternoon in high seas

While I was of course disappointed we would not be able to witness the beauty of Hubbard Glacier, safety is of upmost importance, especially when navigating treacherous passages in Alaska. 

I spent the rest of the morning trying to get some work done at the Viking Crown Lounge, but as we entered the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska, things took a turn for the worse!

After 12 cruises, I've never felt seasick until today. Even when cruising through the choppy waters of the Bay of Biscay in Spain or through high winds on my Alaska cruise last year, I've always felt okay.

Today, however, I felt terrible throughout the afternoon! After a trip to the Windjammer for lunch, I realized I was not feeling well at all when I couldn't finish my plate.

Reeham, who also felt sick, and I sought refuge in our cabin where we hoped lying down in bed and taking a nap would help.

Motion sickness medication and eating a green apple did help a little bit, but anytime I got out of bed I felt nauseous.

For the purposes of this blog being more interesting than me sleeping in my cabin, though, I did manage to attend one event this afternoon: Captain's Corner! 

Captain's Corner is a Q&A session with the ship's captain where you can ask him/her any questions you have about the ship, itinerary, daily life onboard, ship navigation, etc.

I found it really fascinating and I was able to learn more about the ship's stabilizers, what it's like in the bridge, how much fuel is used on a cruise ship, and more. I definitely plan to attend more of these on future cruises.

Following Captain's Corner, I went back to my cabin to sleep off my motion sickness.

After another hour or two trying to feel better, I figured it was worth a try to see how I felt in another area of the ship. Our cabin is located far forward, so it's prone to more motion.

When I went upstairs to the Diamond Lounge, which is located more mid-ship, I felt much better. Phew! That definitely was not fun and I'm grateful I don't usually feel seasick on cruises.

After a snack and ginger ale in the Diamond Lounge, I took a walk around the upper pool deck. The ship was bobbing up and down, and I was surprised by how much motion I felt, as the weather didn't seem too bad outside. 

I also made a brief stop to the casino, where I put my $6 free play money to the test. Unfortunately I didn't win today and was in and out within 5 minutes!

Evening onboard

I went back to the Diamond Lounge to relax for a while before making a pit stop in the Viking Crown Lounge. I've been spending time in the lounge (called Starquest on Radiance of the Seas) every night, and I've made friends with two of the bartenders, Ari and Manuel.

I had great timing because when I walked into the lounge, Manuel was doing a cocktail demonstration! I enjoyed a fruity sangria while chatting with the two of them for an hour or so.

I've had a great time this week meeting and connecting with so many crew members! I've enjoyed talking with Dionata, the Diamond Concierge, Manuel and Ari, and my stateroom attendant throughout the week.

Special shout out to my stateroom attendant, Vevir from the Philippines, for being a Royal Caribbean Blog reader! He's been working on Royal Caribbean ships all over the world for years, from Japan to New Zealand, the Caribbean, and Alaska!

Following the Viking Crown Lounge was a late dinner in the Main Dining Room. Reeham and I have almost missed the dining room every night because we've been so busy chatting and we kept losing track of time.

The Main Dining Room was really great as usual, and the service for late-night seating was really quick!

The rest of the evening was spent packing (boo!) because tomorrow is sadly disembarkation day!

Tomorrow we disembark the ship in Seward, Alaska and take a bus to Anchorage. I wish I had more time to spend a few days in Alaska's interior before flying home, but there's always next time!

Thanks for following along this week on my Radiance of the Seas cruise! It was a fantastic week overall and I'm always happy when cruising to such a beautiful place. I've learned that my favorite cruise itineraries are those where I can see mountain scenery outside the ship every day.

Stay tuned for a full review of my cruise to Alaska next week AND a full ship tour of Radiance of the Seas on the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel!

Royal Caribbean brought back the behind-the-scenes tour: here's what it's like

In:
01 Sep 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has brought back its behind-the-scenes tours that provide a look at areas of its cruise ships passengers aren't allowed to see most times.

All Access tour badge

The All Access Tour is one of the last activities to return to service since cruises restarted last year due to the close proximity of guests and crew members. In the last few weeks, the tour is operational again and I decided to try it out while sailing on Mariner of the Seas.

The All Access Tour is a 2-hour walking tour of many areas of the ship, and costs extra. The goal is to provide a glimpse of what goes on while guests are enjoying their vacation to make the cruise ship function.

It's as much educational as it is eye opening to how much work goes on to keep the ship functional and optimal.

The tour was conducted on a sea day, and all guests are required to sign a waiver as well as wear a KN-95 mask, which Royal Caribbean provides.

Guests also have to wear pants and closed-toed shoes. Unlike the masks, this requirement was in place pre-2020 as well.

The tour visits 6 key areas along the way

  • Galley
  • Engine control room
  • Waste management
  • Laundry room
  • Food provisions
  • Bridge
  • Royal Theater

Guests are given an ear piece to wear during the tour, which makes hearing what is being said much easier. In the past I've done this tour without the ear piece and it makes things much simpler.

At each location, the tour leader usually hands off the narration to another crew member that works in the area you are visiting to explain in greater detail what goes on.

Prior to visiting the engine control room and bridge, the ship's security will pat down each guest since these are sensitive areas of the ship.

Photos are allowed in almost every area of the tour, minus the main I-95 crew corridor on deck 1 because there are posters on the wall with security information posted.

In the galley, you get to visit two galleys, which provides a look at a working galley that was serving breakfast at the time and another galley preparing for meals later in the day.

You get to see how they plan meals for guests and crew, which include seeing pastries, produce, and various cooking stations.

It's a round-the-clock operation to have the right logistics of getting food prepared and moved around the ship.

We also got to see where the food provisions are stored.

The engine control room is the heart beat of the ship, and we got to see all the controls for the systems that keep the ship moving and comfortable.

The trash area shows how waste is separated and disposed of properly. Royal Caribbean not only follows international maritime regulations, but actually goes above what's required as it relates to disposal.

To get to the laundry room, we had to go below the ship's water line and two decks below deck 1. I don't think I've ever been to this deck before.

There are machines for cleaning towels, sheets, table cloths and more.

This is also where laundry gets done for both guests and crew.

The highlight of the tour is going up to the bridge, where you can see the command center for Mariner of the Seas.

We got to not only see the primary bridge area, but also the bridge wings that allow for control during port operations.

The final stop was the Royal Theater, where we walked on stage and then headed backstage.

They explained both the technical operation of the show with rigging, lights, and scenery, as well as the cast prep for the performances.

In all, the All Access tour delivers on showing pretty much all the backstage areas you would want to see in order to fully appreciate how a cruise ship operates.

The tour doesn't include crew member quarters, restaurants, or bars. I think Royal Caribbean wants to limit the behind-the-scenes views to operational needs and let crew relax in those other areas.

It's insightful to see how a ship works, and if you've ever been curious about a cruise ship functions, then this is the tour for you.

I paid $86.99 per person for the All Access Ship tour when I purchased it prior to my cruise.

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Skagway, Alaska

In:
01 Sep 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

The last port of call on our Alaska cruise brings us to Skagway, a small town most known for its Gold Rush history.

Skagway has been having landslides on the mountainside located near their main cruise dock, so I wasn't sure what the dock/tender situation would be this morning.

Radiance of the Seas docked in the port furthest away from the mountainside. A Princess ship was docked far back on the pier affected by landslides and they were tendering guests from the ship to port instead of walking on the pier.

A Holland America ship was also in port with us today, so it definitely felt crowded in town early in the day!

We disembarked around 9:30AM and started exploring Skagway. The town has historic gold-rush era architecture throughout downtown, and it almost feels like you're stepping back in time.

One of the most popular activities to try in Skagway is a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, which follows the trail of the gold rush into the Yukon Territory of Canada. I went on the railway last year and loved it, but we did not book any excursions for today in Skagway.

Related: My experience on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad in Skagway

I planned to spend most of the day walking around town and visiting local businesses. When I was here in October last year, it was so frigid and rainy that I didn't spend much time at all in town.

We started the day by walking into a few souvenir shops and mailed postcards to friends and family back home.

Next up was a trip to one of my favorite places I discovered last year in Skagway: Klondike Doughboy.

Klondike Doughboy specializes in Alaskan Fry Bread. Similar to an elephant ear, fry bread is a large piece of fried dough tossed in cinnamon sugar.

Not much hits the spot more than a warm, sweet serving of fried dough on a chilly day in Alaska!

Speaking of the weather, today was definitely the best weather we encountered on our cruise. It didn't rain once (that I noticed anyway), and while windy, the temperature felt comfortable. Never follow the weather forecast too strictly on an Alaska cruise!

An Egyptian afternoon

Our day took a fun, interesting turn this afternoon in Skagway.

As I mentioned in my live blog preview, I'm traveling to Alaska this week with my good friend Reeham from Egypt.

While window shopping on Skagway's main street, Reeham noticed a jewelry store with Egyptian decor and souvenirs. She called me over to show me the shop, and the shop's owner waved and invited us inside.

Mohamed is the owner of Klondike Gold Rush Jewels, and he is also from Egypt! Reeham and Mohamed spent some time talking with each other and we were curious how someone from Egypt ended up owning a jewelry store in Skagway, Alaska.

If there's anything I learned from my trip to Egypt last year, it's that Egyptian people are extremely friendly and generous, and this was definitely the case today in Skagway. We sat down and chatted in the shop with a coffee and ended up staying for a few hours!

I think one of the best parts of traveling is getting to know the locals, and it was interesting to learn more about local life in Skagway and what it's like to operate a jewelry business in a busy cruise port.

Mohamed also treated us to lunch from Northern Lights Pizzeria. The pasta with salmon, fish n' chips, and salad were excellent!

Additionally, Mohamed gave us two cute necklaces in the shape of a whale's tail. He said we were his "lucky charms" for the day because he made a lot of sales while we were in the shop. It was a super fun afternoon!

If you're looking to buy jewelry in Skagway, be sure to head to Klondike Gold Rush Jewels. There are a lot of cool Egyptian souvenirs available, too.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Skagway, Alaska

We also stopped by Kone Kompany for some ice cream, and it was the perfect way to end our day in Skagway.

Today was a good example of why I often like to travel without a plan. While I enjoy organized excursions and tours, it's always fun to see where the day can take you!

We were so busy chatting in the jewelry shop that we didn't get back onboard until 15 minutes before all-aboard time.

Back onboard

Tonight is the second formal night of our cruise, so we got ready in our stateroom and headed upstairs to the Viking Crown Lounge to watch sailaway from Skagway.

One unique feature of Radiance Class ships is the rotating bar in the Viking Crown Lounge. I asked the bartender to turn it on and it was pretty cool, although probably not best for those prone to motion sickness.

Skagway's sailaway was gorgeous! The Inside Passage to and from Skagway is relatively narrow, so the mountains on both sides of the ship were closer than in other ports. We could even spot small glaciers on top of several of the peaks.

I think Caribbean cruises are going to feel "boring" when at sea in comparison to the beautiful views of Alaska!

Before dinner, we checked out the The Colony Club, a lounge in the aft of Radiance of the Seas. It had amazing views of the Inside Passage! We also listened to some live music in the Centrum.

We dined in the Main Dining Room for formal night tonight. My favorite was the molten chocolate cake for dessert and Reeham loved the lobster tail.

Following dinner was a brief visit to the pub before heading to bed to catch some sleep before waking up early tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are set to visit Hubbard Glacier in the morning as a scenic cruising day, and I cannot wait to view this huge glacier up close!

I tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

In:
31 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Staying in an inside cabin on a cruise ship means you're probably saving lots of money compared to a balcony cabin (or suite), but it also means a lot less living space than usual.

Inside cabin

For a lot of cruisers, that tradeoff is well worth it given the low prices an inside room usually costs. But that doesn't mean there aren't at least a few tricks for maximizing the space.

I've seen plenty of articles and videos over the years talking about easy ways to get more space out of a smaller cabin. Since I was booked in an inside cabin for a cruise on Mariner of the Seas, I picked out the best sounding tips to get an idea of how well they work.

I combed over a lot of cabin hacks, and settled on 10 of them from two really informative sources: Cruise Tips TV and Life Well Cruised.

Inside cabin on Mariner of the Seas

 

Both of these ladies are cruise packing, planning, and travel hack experts. I figured if they shared them, these tips had to have some sense of usefulness.

In looking over the list, I was skeptical about some tips being actually useful.  I had no doubt they worked as intended, but would I actually find them such a benefit that I would not only recommend it, but adopt it in my own strategy.

After going through the cabin hacks, I had to purchase a number of items. Luckily, all of them were available on Amazon and I was able to get every single item in this article for just around $130 total with shipping. 

Amazon package

Given that they can be re-used over and over again from cruise to cruise, it's not much of an investment to try out.

I decided to rate each one from one of these labels:

  • Worth it
  • Meh/Indifferent
  • Not practical

Please note that I linked to each item on Amazon which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but I make a small commission if you purchase it.

Let's see how they went!

Luggage under the bed trick

Luggage under bed

This is a cabin hack that works on any kind of cabin, not just inside rooms.

Did you know there's enough room under your bed to put your luggage underneath it?

This is actually a trick I've been using for years, and it works everytime. After unpacking, shove your empty luggage under your bed and it's out of sight until you need it when you have to pack.

The only downside to this trick is if you either have a lot of luggage and/or your bags are oversized. Stacking the smaller bags inside the larger ones helps a lot, and I've found no issues with any of the luggage we ever had in getting it under the bed.

Conclusion: Worth it

The perfect outlet extender

Even on the newest cruise ships, power outlets in your cabin are at a premium. Juggling devices with which to plug in and which to leave unplugged is not a fun game.

An appropriately named "Cruise ship power strip" by Cruise On seemed to be the perfect fit and it promises that it was designed to get around cruise ship rules that prohibit anything with a surge protector. The product description claims it is fully cruise compliant.

It takes up one outlet space and offers 3 new outlets along with 2 USB plugs.

I've been using a USB hub up until now, but never had something for extra plugs too.

I left the power strip in my checked luggage and sure enough it made it through and my bags were delivered without incident.

Other than the fact the outlets are upside down for some reason on Mariner of the Seas, it worked as expected.

Not only would I recommend it, I would suggest buying two so that you can get enough USB plugs along with the outlets.

Conclusion: Worth it

Night light motion sensor

In addition to inside cabins being super small and inexpensive, they're also very dark.

Since there's no outside light, trying to navigate the room without lights on can be a challenge, such as when you wake up from sleeping and need to get to the bathroom.

The workaround I've always employed is to leave the bathroom light on, but that lets more light out than I would care for. I enjoy the pitch blackness of an inside room when it comes to sleep!

The night light not only offers lighting, but it will only come on when someone moves around.

The light itself pivots on its base in almost any direction, so you can position it.

It's powered by 3 AAA batteries and has LED lights that are activated when motion is detected. The base is magnetic too, so that means you can attach it to any wall or door in your cabin.

It worked as intended and gave me just enough light once the lights were out if I got out of bed. I positioned it near the bathroom so it wouldn't pick me up moving around in bed.

Conclusion: Worth it

Sunrise alarm clock

Sunrise alarm clock

The idea is to not only have an alarm clock, but a light that will come on slowly to let you know there's daylight out.

Since you have no windows in your cabin, it's hard to know when you wake up on your own if it's 3am or 3pm. If you're like me, opening your eyes to check what time it is can be a dangerous game because you might end up waking up too much and find it difficult to go back to sleep.

The sunrise alarm clock has a gradual light, with two alarms and even has noise you can sleep to: birds, running water, white noise, and more.

There are 7 different light setting too, so you can choose the color you like.

As advertised, the light was off when I went to sleep and on when I woke up. The nice thing about this is when I woke up earlier than my alarm, I could sense no light without opening my eyes.

While it worked as intended, at this point in my life, I rarely sleep without an alarm set whether I am in a balcony or inside room. In my mind, if my alarm didn't go off yet, then it's not time to get up.

The benefit of this light would be if I woke up on my own a half hour early, I could more easily determine if I could just get about and go rather than turn over and try to fall back asleep. This is also common when nature calls in the morning.

I think this might be better for my kids, who seem to think noon is too early to get up while on a cruise.

Conclusion: Meh/Indifferent

Fridge magnets

There are two kinds of magnets that make the list, and this one is more of a general purpose magnet.

The idea is since the walls are metal, you can put magnets up to get certain other items off the desk, couch, or floor and free up that space.

Things like hats, coverups, important paperwork and more would be ideal. In fact, these have clips to them (rather than hooks) so they can "grab" items that cannot otherwise be hung.

My only problem is the magnets I bought are rather underpowered. I needed two to be able to keep my hat on without the magnets sliding down.

Otherwise, this is a great cabin trick for any kind of room because the couch and desk end up the catch-all for all of our junk. It won't work for everything, but every little bit helps.

Conclusion: Worth it, but I need to find stronger magnets.

Laundry hamper

Another cabin trick I've used in the past is to buy a cheap laundry hamper.

You can find pop-up laundry hampers that are easy to pack and keep your dirty laundry more organized.

For years, we just picked a corner of the cabin and designated it "laundry corner" and tossed all the dirty laundry there. By the end of the cruise, it was a mountain of dirty laundry.

A laundry hamper means there's less of a mountain and just like one you have at home, it does the trick.

Before buying it on Amazon, you should check if there's one at your local dollar store since this is a commonly sold item at those stores.

While a pop-up laundry hamper won't result in any less dirty clothes, it will help keep them better organized.

Conclusion: Worth it

Over the door hanging shoe organizer

I've seen the shoe organizer trick for years and always thought it sounded better than it was.

The idea is you get a plastic shoe organizer to hang over the back of your bathroom door and put all sorts of things in one of the pockets.

You could fit shoes, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen and something else that starts with the letter "s".

Because the pockets are designed for shoes, they are large enough to hold a lot of small items. 

It certainly did the trick for me and when I took the time to put a lot of things in there just to get a nice photo for this article, I realized I had gotten rid of a lot of little things off my desk.  I suppose that's an endorsement.

Conclusion: Meh/indifferent

Curtain divider

This was an interesting idea to get a shower curtain with magnetic hooks and get a divider for the room.

If you are sharing a cabin, privacy is always going to be at a premium. Royal Caribbean's cabins have a curtain in the middle, but it only goes a bit of the way. Frankly, I'm not sure why they exist in inside rooms unless someone is going to lay on the couch very still.

You hang the magnetic hooks from the ceiling (which is also metallic) and then attach the shower curtain.

The particular shower curtain I bought was more see-through than I thought, so it would not give total privacy if someone needed to change.

It also only went about 75% of the way across. When combined with the Royal Caribbean curtain, then it worked, but I would check if there was a longer and more opaque curtain next time.

If you shared a cabin and had the beds split, putting the curtain between the beds might give just enough privacy so you can feel like you have your own space.

Conclusion: Meh/indifferent

Outside TV channel

Rather than purchasing a sunrise alarm clock, a no-cost hack is to leave your cabin TV on and tuned to the channel that has a view from the ship's bridge.

The idea is you'll know when it's day time when the light show on TV illuminates the room.

This may work for some people, but wasn't good for me because I don't like the amount of light the TV emits even at night.

Moreover, the channel changes between the bridge view and a map view. Moving back to map view means more light than when it's on bridge view.

If you can sleep despite light from the TV, then it could work for you.

Conclusion: Not practical

Bed configuration

I never considered the layout of the bed can help with providing more space.

Whether you are sailing solo or sharing the cabin with someone else, having the beds separated can actually create more space.

By asking your stateroom attendant to split the bids, you'll now get a walkway in the middle of the room between the beds. This extra space makes it much easier to get around your bed because when the bed is together, you have to move to the walls to get in and out of bed.

The only problem with this hack is you are giving up the luxury of having a larger bed by keeping it together. Personally, I prefer to keep the bed together to have a larger bed, but there's no doubt this trick works.

Conclusion: Worth it

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Sitka, Alaska

In:
31 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today is the fifth day of my Alaska cruise and Radiance of the Seas docked in Sitka today for a full day of exploring another beautiful Alaskan port.

Sitka is the 4th largest city in Alaska, with a population of around 8,500 people. The city is the former capital of Russian Alaska and there are several Russian influences to see throughout town, from historic buildings to monuments and souvenir shops.

Like other Alaska cruise ports, the surrounding scenery is breathtaking in Sitka, and the Mount Edgecumbe volcano towers over town.

I was supposed to visit Sitka last year, but our port was changed to Ketchikan due to high seas, so I was excited to have the opportunity to visit today.

We ate breakfast today in the Windjammer, where I enjoyed another plate of my favorite breakfast: french toast topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips.

I also took in my first views of Sitka. I'm definitely going to miss the outdoor seating area at the Windjammer!

Serenade of the Seas pulled into port as we were eating breakfast. This is the first time I've seen Serenade of the Seas and, as Serenade is another Radiance Class cruise ship, she looks identical to Radiance of the Seas.

We disembarked the ship around 9:30AM. Sitka's cruise port is located around 15 minutes from downtown, and there are complimentary shuttle buses available to transport guests to and from the city.

I was worried we'd have to wait a while before getting on a shuttle bus, but the line only took around 5 minutes and we quickly arrived in town.

We did not book any excursions today. Most of Sitka's main attractions are all walkable from downtown, so we planned to explore on foot without a plan and see where the day led us!

We started the day at Lincoln Street, Sitka's main tourist street. It was nice to see that the town blocks the street from cars, making exploring the street easy and safe for all visitors.

The street is lined with souvenir shops and local restaurants. Our first stop was to a Russian souvenir shop selling dolls and Christmas decor. It was definitely more unique than other souvenir shops I've visited so far in Alaska and the displays were beautiful.

At this point it wasn't raining too hard, so we took advantage of the weather and walked to the Baranof Castle State Historic Site, located adjacent to Lincoln Street.

This small hill is the site where the ceremonial transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States occurred. Not only was it fascinating to stand where such an influential historical event took place, but the hill had the best views of Sitka I saw all day.

Sitka's mountain scenery is dramatic and absolutely gorgeous, with jagged peaks and a rainforest dominating over the town. I could have stayed on the hill looking at Sitka's skyline for hours!

However, we're in Alaska, so the rain made us head back to Lincoln Street.

We continued window shopping and visiting local businesses in Sitka. While we didn't purchase the $30,000 fur coat on display at one shop, we did warm up with some hot chocolate at Old Harbor Books coffee shop and bookstore.

We also made a brief visit to St. Michael’s Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church located in downtown Sitka that was founded in 1848. While the original building was destroyed, the replica was built with the same architecture, transporting visitors back in time to when Sitka was owned by the Russians.

Our last stop downtown was to Ashmo’s, a seafood food truck with menu items including salmon mac n' cheese, teriyaki halibut, and rockfish fish n' chips. I ordered the fish n' chips and thought it was well worth the price of only $13 for freshly caught Alaskan seafood.

There was also a small food stand selling reindeer hot dogs, and although I wasn't quite adventurous enough to order one, I'm sure they are delicious.

After lunch, we left Lincoln Street and walked along Sitka's marina. At the end of the marina was a salmon hatchery. It's prime salmon spawning season and there had to have been over a thousand salmon swimming around!

Next I continued walking along the waterfront path, which led to the Sitka National Historic Park. The park had beautiful trails, although the amount of bear warning signs made me pretty cautious! There were also hundreds of salmon in the river at the park.

My last stop for the day was the Alaska Raptor Center, a rehabilitation center for eagles, owls, and other birds of prey. This non-profit organization rescues injured birds and helps the birds reach a point where they can return to the wild.

Admission to the Alaska Raptor Center was $15, which I found well worth the cost as it goes to a great cause.

After a brief introduction, a staff member introduced a rescued eagle and we were able to learn more about how they improve the health of these birds. We made a stop by the center's Flight Training Center, where eagles practice improving their flight skills after injury.

Located outside the center are various habitats for rescued birds of prey. Here visitors can get more close up views of the birds and read about each bird at the center. The outdoor area was definitely my favorite part of my visit.

I walked back to the shuttle bus area in downtown Sitka from the Alaska Raptor Center, which probably took me around 25 minutes.

The line to catch a shuttle bus back to port was pretty long and I waited another 20 minutes or so in the rain before getting on a bus. Be sure to bring a rain jacket or umbrella!

I was back onboard around 3:30PM and took a much needed rest in my stateroom before watching sailaway from the Viking Crown Lounge at 5. I enjoyed a glass of wine for sailaway and Reeham ordered a blueberry mojito frozen mocktail.

Unfortunately I do not have photos from sailaway today due to issues with the internet on Radiance of the Seas... but rest assured, it was beautiful!

We hung out there for a while before heading to dinner around 7. We've been terrible about showing up to our Main Dining Room reservations this week, and have only showed up to our 5:15 reservation once. Luckily we've had no issue being assigned a table right away, and we enjoyed a nice meal before heading back to our stateroom for the night.

Overall, I loved my time in Sitka today! Next time I'm here I'd like to make a trip to the Fortress of the Bear to see rescued bears in their natural habitat and do more hiking in the surrounding areas.

Tomorrow we are in our last port of call: Skagway, Alaska.

Royal Caribbean announces it will add Elon Musk's Starlink internet to its ships

In:
30 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

After months of speculation, Royal Caribbean confirmed on Tuesday it will add a new high-speed internet option to its cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean Group announced a new partnership with SpaceX's Starlink to provide internet on cruise ships with high-speed & low-latency.

Starlink will be added on all Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises ships, along with all new vessels for each of the brands.

Royal Caribbean had been testing Starlink on Freedom of the Seas since June 2022, but did not confirm the testing or intentions to adopt Starlink.

Starlink towers on Freedom of the Seas

In the press release issued today, Royal Caribbean said the trials had, "received tremendous positive feedback from guests and crew."

Royal Caribbean Group said it will begin deploying Starlink "immediately" and should be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Read moreI tried Elon Musk's Starlink internet on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty praised the new partnership, "Our purpose as a company is to deliver the best vacation experiences to our guests responsibly, and this new offering, which is the biggest public deployment of Starlink's high-speed internet in the travel industry so far, demonstrates our commitment to that purpose."

"This technology will provide game-changing internet connectivity onboard our ships, enhancing the cruise experience for guests and crew alike. It will improve and enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming as well as activities like video calls. Using Starlink is one more example of our continued focus on innovation and excellence for our guests, our crew, the communities we visit and our shareholders."

Addressing a problem

Starlink means a significant improvement to Royal Caribbean's internet speeds, which have ranged from average to downright awful.

Satellite internet has traditionally been an expensive and slow product when compared to land-based internet options.

With so much of the internet needs of guests and crew members relying on cloud-based services, onboard demand for internet has been grown dramatically.

Results of Starlink tests on Freedom of the Seas in June

Up until now, Royal Caribbean's Voom internet service has relied on internet from other providers, including O3b MEO. The O3b internet had made it on Royal Caribbean's newer ships, but did not get added to older ships in the fleet.

Moreover, it has anecdotally not performed nearly as well more recently, especially when compared to other cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises.

Anthem of the Seas docked in Southampton

Freedom, Oasis and Quantum class use newer satellite technology, which means better speeds overall and you will likely find it performing well.

Older ships use older satellite technology.  You can still stream but will likely see some more buffering at times on the older ships. 

More details to be revealed later

Mariner of the Seas sailing away from Port Canaveral

If you're wondering which ship will get the faster internet speeds and what the prices will be, we will have to wait a bit longer for those details.

The announcement made no mention of when each ship would get Starlink added. Nor was there any indication of pricing.

Royal Caribbean's current prices for its faster tier internet start at $19.99 per day, per device. Multi-device plans bring down the daily cost a bit.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog has reached out to Royal Caribbean International for comment on when each ship would get Starlink.

I tried AirTags to track my luggage on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
30 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The eternal question all travelers have is, "Where's my luggage" and that's true on cruise ships as much as airports.

AirTag on luggage in hallway

While I've always had good luck with my luggage being delivered to my stateroom in a timely manner, you can never be too careful when it comes to ensuring your luggage doesn't get lost.

When you go on a cruise ship, Royal Caribbean will deliver your luggage to your cabin.  Guests drop off their luggage with porters outside of the cruise terminal, and then that luggage gets taken onboard the ship and eventually makes it to in front of your door.

In my experience, the issue of when will my luggage get delivered rather than it getting lost is a game of cat and mouse we play trying to see if it's arrived yet.

Luggage drop off at PortMiami

Recently, a number of RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have started using AirTags to track their bags and I thought I would give it a try to see how well it works.

As an iPhone user, I wanted to know if AirTags would be a simple and effective way to monitor my luggage location during the embarkation process.

What are AirTags?

Pair of AirTags

AirTags are the name of an Apple product that you can attach to almost any item so that you can track it using Bluetooth technology.

The AirTag is a small, button-shaped tracking device with a glossy white front and measures in at 1.26 inches in diameter, and it has a height of 0.31 inches, or 8mm. It weighs 0.39 ounces (11 grams).

Once activated, AirTags can be tracked using Bluetooth right alongside Apple devices in the Find My app.

AirTag

A single AirTag will cost $29 and a 4-pack costs $99. [Note, these links contain an affiliate link. I earn from qualifying purchases that costs you nothing extra]

If you have an Android phone, you can't set up AirTags, but you can use the Tracker Detect app to track an AirTag with Android. 

There are alternative products for Android devices that work very similarly, such as Tile Pro. A 4-pack costs $92.99.

How do AirTags work?

AirTag directions

A major misconception about AirTags are they are not GPS trackers.

AirTags have no means to communicate directly to the internet because they don't have GPS chips in them.  They rely on an iPhone being a host to communicate their position.  

An iPhone near an AirTag will detect the AirTag and report it's discovery to iCloud if that iPhone passing by has an internet connection. 

Connecting an AirTag

This is done without consent or awareness of the passing iPhone - it's baked into the iPhone OS.  iCloud uses the position or GPS fix of the iPhone that detected the AirTag to record the location of the AirTag. 

If the iPhone has a poor GPS fix iCloud doesn't note that, it assumes the iPhone GPS fix is right.

Trying out AirTags in my cruise luggage

Close up of AirTag

On my Mariner of the Seas cruise, I placed a single AirTag in my one piece of luggage I checked with the porters.

Prior to the cruise, I connected my AirTag to my phone. You'll need to do this to pair the devices together prior to using the accessory.

The great thing about air tags is how easy it is to use them. Once they're paired, there's nothing else to do other than put the AirTags in the the place you want it and then track it via the app.

The Apple AirTag battery lasts about a year and when you remove them from their plastic wrapper, they become instantly active.  Then when you place it near your phone, it pops up on your screen to pair and connect.

Since it's dependent on anyone's iPhone being nearby, sometimes the location is hit or miss as to how accurate it would be. Occasionally my luggage appeared to be in the ocean or close-by.

Later, I checked the app again and the AirTag was reported once again to be "with me". I went out of my cabin and looked down the hallway and there was my luggage.

Thoughts on AirTags

Luggage under bed

While not the exact tracking option some may think it is, AirTags worked just fine for what I needed.

Given that the luggage never goes that far away from you while onboard, it's good peace of mind to have them just in case they were to be misplaced.

Unlike air travel, where you may end up taking off and across the country while your bags are somewhere else, it's far less likely your luggage stays behind.  But there's been enough times where one bag doesn't get delivered that it would save some sanity.

AirTag

The key is to understand that it's not like having a tracker that is akin to a movie where you have a red dot you can see in real-time.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, if you don't have an Apple device, then Tile Pro could be a suitable alternative but you'll be out of luck with AirTags.