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Why Cruises are Great for People with Anxiety

In:
03 Nov 2021
By: 
Haley Mills

I recently shared extra tips to help prepare for a cruise in the case that you have anxiety, and several comments from readers really hit home. So many people in the US, and globally, suffer from anxiety and other mental illnesses, and this can make vacation planning so tough. 

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Why, though, if you have anxiety, would you want to plan a vacation where you’re essentially stuck on a ship full of people in the middle of the ocean? Let’s break down together the reason why this is actually a DREAM vacation, and not a nightmare scenario.

Financing

Let’s start with the big one:  money.

I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me feel more anxious than big expenses. Vacation is one of those--it’s one of the few times a year we get to escape work, kick back, and not think about real life, so we want to make it as enjoyable and memorable as possible--and that costs money.

When we were “land-tripping,” we’d save up for our trips, but because we had to open our wallet at every stop (gas station or flight, hotel, restaurant, tourist trap, etc), the anxiety about how much we were spending never left me. I was constantly calculating how much we were spending, ordering the cheapest thing on the menu, forgoing that glass of wine with a romantic dinner, skipping out on places we wanted to go because it was the end of the trip and we were cashed out. 

How Do Cruise Lines Make Money? | Royal Caribbean Blog

With a cruise, we start planning at least a year in advance. A deposit goes down, and we can set a payment plan and add it to our monthly budget right up until Final Payment Date.

Along the way, there are sales on excursions, drink packages, internet, etc that we watch out for. That way, we don’t have to buy everything all at once.

We also usually put it on a credit card, so we can earn points. By this point (I have under a month left to my next cruise!), the only thing I have left to pay for are some cruise wardrobe refreshes, and toiletries.

Once I get on the ship, we will carry cash to tip our favorite bartenders and waitstaff (most gratuities are included), and we will have a few minor expenditures in port, but mostly, there aren’t any money worries. I can totally relax in that sense.

Planning

Oasis Class | Royal Caribbean Blog

While we are on the subject of planning, you can do as much of that before the trip that you want, as well.

Like I said, there are always sales for excursions well in advance of the cruise, so we will sit down and figure out what we want to do in port. Is it a beach stop, like Coco Cay & Labadee; or a tour port like San Juan? Do we want to just walk around and do our own thing, or actually purchase an excursion? We are even staying on ship for one of the ports this time. 

How to plan your cruise vacation for when Royal Caribbean resumes sailing | Royal Caribbean Blog

There’s also plenty of activities on ship too! You can plan a trip to the spa, or a galley tour. What shows do you want to see? Some entertainment you can’t fully schedule beforehand, but looking at past Cruise Compasses from similar sailings can help you feel less overwhelmed by all the activities when you are onboard.

Remember, your Sea Day plans can always change. Leave some room for spontaneity--you may end up spending 3 hours drinking chocolate martinis on the Rising Tide with a fellow cruiser, instead of going to that trivia game you planned on...not that I know from experience or anything. 

There's more space than you think

Everything you wanted to know about Oasis of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

The number one thing I hear from fellow anxious travelers, when I mention cruising, is this:  “I could never do that, I’d be so claustrophobic, being surrounded by water, on a boat with thousands of other people.” And I cannot blame them, because that’s exactly what I thought when Mr. Mills approached me with the idea for our first cruise. But these ships are huge. Small cities, really.

Royal Caribbean is a master of traffic control, so there are very few times you will be in a crowd. There’s only two times I can think of when I have felt overwhelmed by a crowd on a ship: 

  1. Muster Drill, which was in the Pre-COVID days when we all had to gather in the same area for the safety information. Now it’s on your phone, so that is no more
  2. Getting off the ship first thing in the morning on a busy port day. That’s easily remedied by waiting an hour or two after the gangplank opens, but Mr. Mills and I are early risers, so I mostly just grin and bear it. 

Photo Tour of Owners Suite stateroom on Rhapsody of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

As for the ocean, it was a little intimidating the first time out. We like to keep the live ship tracking map up in our stateroom, so we can see where we are. This helps because I can see what islands are around us at any time. You almost always can see other ships off in the distance too, so you rarely feel alone.

By the end of that first cruise, I was totally in love, and now I find the ocean so peaceful. I crave that peace when I’m away from it, and it’s been a VERY long 2 years.

Travel with a home base

Cruising is one of only two vacations that I know of (RVing being the other), where you travel with your own home base.

Imagine visiting three different countries in a week, but never having to move hotel rooms, drive between them, check customs between each country, etc. Instead, you have one giant floating all-inclusive resort that takes you there.

So often with anxiety, we get in our heads that these big trips aren’t worth it, because they are so overwhelming. But because you have a place to go back and rest, it makes it so easy! There are often days where I will go out to port in the morning, come back and take a nap, and then find some fun activity to do in the afternoon before dinner. 

Staff prepared to help you

The top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Lastly, Royal Caribbean’s staff is the absolute best I’ve ever come across in the service industry. They make you feel at ease from the moment you step into the terminal. If you have any concern, they will do everything they can to put it to rights.

As anxious people, we naturally have a tendency to avoid asking questions or causing a stir if something isn’t to our liking, but I have found every single person to be extraordinarily helpful and genuinely kind. The staff wants you to enjoy your vacation, and they will do what they can to make that happen. 

Live on Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship to restart from the United States | Royal Caribbean Blog

I did not want to go on our first cruise. I tried to get Mr. Mills to book an all-inclusive resort instead, but we had a special deal for Royal Caribbean. I was so nervous, and was sure I was going to be miserably anxious and overwhelmed the entire time. I came out of that experience not only happy we went, but absolutely in love with cruising.

In my opinion, it is the best vacation someone with an anxiety condition can take, because there’s so much preparation that is done to make sure you have a good time. Give cruising a chance, and come back and tell me how it goes! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Guide to Hideaway Beach adults-only beach at CocoCay

In:
02 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced it will add a new adults-only area to Perfect Day at CocoCay, called Hideaway Beach.

There are not many details on what to expect with this new area, but already the expansion is generating a lot of interest among cruise fans who want to know what will be offered and when it might open.

Hideaway Beach will become one of many distinct areas of Royal Caribbean's private island, and this post will include as much information that we know about the area as things progress.

Here is what you need to know about Hideaway Beach when it opens.

What is Hideaway Beach?

On September 1, 2021, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley announced plans for an expansion of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The only detail provided in the announcement was the name of the area, Hideaway Beach.

Hideaway Beach is the first expansion of CocoCay since Royal Caribbean launched Coco Beach Club in 2020.

Then in October 2021, Mr. Bayley told investors on an earnings call it will be an adults-only beach area.

Where will Hideaway Beach be located?

Royal Caribbean has not announced its exact location, but sources on the island have repeatedly pointed to an area on the north side of the island, adjacent to the CocoCay waterpark.

The western end of CocoCay is still undeveloped, and only being used for storage and housing for some of the crew members.

Check out the CocoCay map.

Will Hideaway Beach cost extra or will it be complimentary?

It is not certain yet if Hideaway Beach will have an admission cost or not, as the cruise line has not announced pricing or other related details.

During the earnings call, Mr. Bayley said the new area will increase the island's capacity by 3,000 guests and said the new area will improve the cruise line's overall profitability and drive more more revenue. 

"It will allow us to increase our capacity by approximately 3,000 people a day in late '22, which is obviously going to help improve our overall profitability and drive more revenue, both both ticket and on board."

It is unclear if the additional revenue will be a reflection of an admission cost, or simply more people on the island will generate additional spending elsewhere.

When will Hideaway Beach open?

Friday Photos | Royal Caribbean Blog

According to Mr. Bayley, Hideaway Beach should open in late 2022.

More Perfect Day at CocoCay information

Cruising to Alaska: What I Did Right and Wrong

In:
02 Nov 2021
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

No matter how much research and planning you do before a cruise, there are bound to be a few surprises.

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

Looking back on last month's cruise to Alaska on Ovation of the Seas, there were several things I think I did right, but also several mistakes I made along the way.

From packing for Alaska's unpredictable weather to rushing to make my flight home, here are a few takeaways and lessons learned from my sailing.

What I did right

Planning what to do in port in advance

A cruise to Alaska is less about lounging on a beach with a cocktail in hand and more about experiencing the nature and sights that each Alaskan port has to offer.

Do you want to book a whale watching tour? Go on the White Pass & Yukon Railway? Explore Mendenhall Glacier? Doing a little research on each port before arriving can make your time in port go much smoother. Not only that, but many popular excursions run the chance of selling out. Planning early ensures you can book an excursion when it is still available (and often at the best price).

Planning in advance doesn't just have to mean booking an excursion directly through Royal Caribbean, either. You can research local tour operators and transportation, too, as well as restaurants, bars, shopping, museums, and hikes you may want to check out.

While I don't recommend planning a day in port on a super strict schedule, it can be helpful to know the basics of what there is to do in each location before arriving.

Bringing binoculars

Binoculars may not be an object you use very often at home, but they come in handy on an Alaskan cruise.

Throughout my sailing, I was happy I brought binoculars with me. Alaska's scenery is stunning in every direction. Binoculars allowed me to feel closer to the state's gargantuan nature.

While sailing through Alaska's inside passage on the way to Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, I used my binoculars to look for eagles in the trees and watch waterfalls flow into the icy water.  At Mendenhall Glacier, binoculars allowed me to see the glacier "up close" even though I was standing several hundred feet away.

The basic binoculars I purchased for my Alaskan cruise ran only $30 and were worth every penny.

Being flexible

Royal Caribbean cannot, of course, control the weather. Itinerary changes and other unexpected events can happen on a cruise.

There are two ways to approach any unexpected changes: by going with the flow or by letting it negatively impact your vacation.

Your North Star reservation gets cancelled because of windy weather? A port changes due to high seas? Sure, it may not be the best news you've ever heard, but remember that Royal Caribbean's top priority is to keep everyone safe.

I encountered quite a few unexpected changes in Alaska, but embraced whatever new scenarios those changes brought.

When our itinerary dropped Sitka and added Ketchikan as a port, I found myself excited to explore a new place I did not know anything about. When our highly anticipated North Star experience was cancelled, we watched the scenery while enjoying a drink at the North Star Bar instead.

Being flexible is always important on a cruise, but especially in Alaska where the weather can change every five minutes!

What I did wrong:

While there are many things I did right on my Alaskan cruise, I did, of course, make a few mistakes.

Packing way too many clothes

I am usually a light packer and a big fan of traveling with just a carry on, but I packed WAY too many clothes for my Alaskan cruise.

When I looked at the weather forecast for Alaska, I panicked. It showed rain nearly every day and temperatures in the 40s. I packed my rain gear and winter gear. I packed daytime clothes to wear around the ship and dinner outfits. Plus swimwear. Plus pajamas.

My aforementioned light packing skills failed completely and I checked a 50lb bag filled with what felt like my entire wardrobe.

How many clothes did I end up wearing? About half of what I brought.

The old saying to pack a suitcase and take out half of the clothes before leaving for vacation rang true here, and I definitely regretted packing so much.

Cruising in cold weather is much different than in warm weather. In the Caribbean, for example, clothes tend to get dirtier much faster due to the sweltering heat, sand, and salt water.

In Alaska, where I was often shivering instead of sweating, I found that my clothes stayed cleaner for much longer.

In fact, I ended up wearing nearly the same exact outfit every day of the cruise: jeans, waterproof boots, a sweater, and a raincoat. Therefore, most of what I had packed remained untouched.

Booking my flight home before noon

I booked my departure flight from Seattle at 11:27AM on disembarkation day. Originally, we were set to arrive in Seattle at 6AM, leaving me plenty of time to get to the airport (or so I thought). Due to the sailing's itinerary change and unexpected delays, though, I did not have nearly as much time as I anticipated.

While I did make my flight home with nearly an hour to spare, I wish I had booked a flight just a little later to avoid the extra stress I encountered due to my early flight.

On the last morning of the cruise, I brought my suitcase to the Royal Esplanade to get in line for disembarkation. At around 7AM, there were only a few people ahead of me.

Then the departure process ran into several delays as we entered and docked in Seattle, leading to huge lines and a little bit of chaos. Many passengers were getting nervous about their early flights.

Luckily, since I was one of the first people in line for departure, I was able to quickly get an Uber and did not run into traffic on the way to the airport.

Was it worth the stress, though? Not really. While waiting at the airport longer before a flight isn't always enjoyable, it is certainly better than missing a flight if things go wrong. Disembarkation can be affected by many scenarios, so if you're sailing to Alaska, try to get a flight leaving Seattle at 1PM or later.

Ultimately, whether in Alaska, the Caribbean, or anywhere else, a little bit of planning and flexibility can go a long way.

And while I made a couple mistakes along the way, my cruise to Alaska was unbelievably beautiful and was an adventure I will definitely never forget.

How to avoid post cruise depression

In:
01 Nov 2021
By: 
Allie Hubers

Walking onto a cruise ship for your first day of vacation is one of the best feelings. There’s so much excitement that comes with exploring a new ship and getting settled in your cabin. The first dinner at sea always feels extra special as the servers go above and beyond to take care of you. Finally, you don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning for a few days!

Why did the CDC extend the No Sail order? | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you’re like me, you love looking forward to your next cruise. This is a time for me to disconnect from reality and reconnect with my family. I greatly value the opportunity to relax and reset, all while enjoying delicious food and visiting amazing destinations. 

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. If only vacation could last forever! 

You might find yourself feeling depressed after a highly anticipated cruise. As a kid, I would cry as we left the ship because I was so sad for our cruises to end. My mom used to remind me that the anticipation was sometimes just as exciting as the cruise itself. It’s so hard to not feel sadness after your cruise ends, especially if it was a once in a lifetime vacation for you. 

Luckily, there are few ways to avoid post-cruise depression while still having a great time at sea!

Planning another cruise

Navigator of the Seas first sailing canceled due to upgrade delays | Royal Caribbean Blog

Maybe this is too obvious, but planning another cruise is probably the quickest way to avoid the post vacation blues. I am a firm believer that mundane, daily life is better when you have something exciting to look forward to. 

Royal Caribbean makes it super easy to book a future cruise onboard any of their ships. Next Cruise is typically located near the promenade or central atrium. You can meet with one of the travel planners to book your next cruise. These specialists will answer all of your questions and help you book the best cabin with the best rate.

If you decide to book your cruise with Next Cruise, you’ll also receive some pretty sweet benefits. You can reserve an itinerary with reduced deposits and increased onboard credit. This makes it very convenient and affordable to plan your next cruise - and immediately gives you something to look forward to when your cruise concludes!

Disconnecting

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Our lives are deeply intertwined with technology, making it harder to truly disconnect from our everyday stress. One of the reasons I love cruising is having the rare opportunity to put my phone down and enjoy the present. Internet packages and international cell-service can be pricey anyway, which gives me a great excuse to disconnect as much as possible. 

I spent 105 days at sea in college during my study abroad with no internet. Can you imagine a ship full of college students in the 21st century with only access to email?! While you might imagine we were miserable, almost everyone agreed that being forced to disconnect was one of the best aspects of life at sea. We learned to live in the moment and soak up every experience. We journaled about our travels and read plenty of books. I took more naps in 4 months than I had my entire life! We all realized very quickly how easily technology distracts us from seizing the day. 

Balcony room on a Royal Caribbean cruise: Is it worth the price? | Royal Caribbean Blog

By leaving my phone and computer behind, I am able to be present and live in the moment while cruising. I try to avoid emails, texts and phone calls from home as much as possible. 

This is especially important with work emails and messages! Unless there’s an absolute emergency, I always set the expectation that I will be unreachable on my cruise. I also refrain from reading news articles and checking social media to help myself live in the moment.

The more present you are for your vacation, the less likely you’ll leave your cruise feeling desperate for another vacation. 

Prioritize Your Needs

Royal Caribbean eliminates complimentary perks for Oasis Class neighborhood balcony staterooms | Royal Caribbean Blog

I always recommend cruising for people looking to take a vacation with a large group of friends or family. There’s something for everyone to enjoy because there’s so much to do! 

However, sometimes traveling in a group can be stressful. Having too many excursions planned or packing your itinerary full might leave you feeling exhausted on the last day of your cruise. No one wants to feel like they spent time and money just for vacation to be stressful and exhausting. 

Cruising should be all about relaxation. Prioritizing your needs is vitally important to fully relax and rejuvenate. 

Celebrity Cruises announces changes to Captain's Club customer loyalty program | Royal Caribbean Blog

Book a massage or schedule some alone time to take advantage of self-care opportunities. My mom always takes one port day to stay onboard for alone time - she typically reads a book, takes a nap and enjoys the quiet ship. Similarly, if you want to see a certain landmark but no one else does, take that opportunity to do what you want! 

That 7am excursion you booked months ago? Don’t feel bad if you need to cancel and sleep in that morning instead. Your 7am wakeup call will be at home when you return from your cruise anyway.

8 Secret spots on Royal Caribbean cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Prioritizing and catering your vacation to fit your needs ensures you’ll leave the ship feeling refreshed and rested. We’ve cruised with no plans or obligations because we just wanted to relax and prioritize rest. Other cruises, we’ve been exploring nonstop in each port and walking 7+ miles a day. 

Evaluate what you want out of your cruise and try your best to honor those needs, even if you’re traveling with a group. There’s nothing worse than needing a vacation after your vacation!

Help your future self

Top 5 things to do on Royal Caribbean for adults | Royal Caribbean Blog

After being pampered for days on end, it can be a rude awakening returning to life back on land. No one is making your bed everyday or cooking you delicious food to your heart’s content. The view from your window is just your backyard now rather than the beautiful blue ocean. It can be depressing that your long-awaited cruise is over and you’re back to the normal stress and routine of daily life.

Make a few arrangements to ease your future self back to reality after you return. I found that giving myself a day to get reacclimated before returning to work helps tremendously. Too many times have I flown back from a cruise on Sunday night and dragged myself to work the next morning. I was never productive and always felt depressed that I wasn’t cruising anymore. 

I also schedule a grocery pickup for the first day back so I don’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner. If you have time before your cruise, you can also prepare a freezer meal to easily heat up when you return.

Royal Caribbean announces test cruise ship volunteers sweepstakes begins on Friday | Royal Caribbean Blog

We enjoy meal-delivery services (like HelloFresh or HomeChef) to reduce the stress around cooking and meal-planning. After returning from our last cruise, I scheduled our weekly delivery for the following day with low-effort meals. This helped me feel less overwhelmed about getting back into a routine or needing to go grocery shopping right away.

We also try to leave the house clean and organized before leaving for our cruises. Coming home to a messy house with dirty laundry or chores only makes the post-cruise depression worse. 

In this way, a little preparation can help ease you back into your normal routine again - hopefully with a new cruise to look forward to!

Royal Caribbean cruises in November 2021: What to expect

In:
01 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Time is running out of 2021, but there are going to be plenty of cruises in November to look forward to before the month ends.

November marks the beginning of the peak Caribbean cruise season, and two more Royal Caribbean cruise ships will be able to restart cruises this month.

Hopefully this article shares with you what you need to know about going on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the month of November, with important news, tips, and helpful information along the way.

November is a month dichotomies: the first half of the month is traditionally a less in-demand time to cruise, with some great cruise deals to be found, while the second half of the month transitions into higher demand with the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Nonetheless, there can be excellent deals to be found, even at the last minute.

Is it worth it to book a short 3-night cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

November is also the very end of hurricane season in the Caribbean.  Technically, hurricane season ends on November 30, so there is still a chance of a tropical disturbance impacting your sailing. Storms this late in the season are rarer, but not unheard of, so keep tracking storms leading up to your sailing.

Ships sailing in November 2021

Everything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Two more Royal Caribbean cruise ships return to service in November, although Ovation of the Seas is back out of service again due to the cancellation of the Australian cruise season.

  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Jewel of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Allure of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Oasis of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Serenade of the Seas from Tampa, Florida
  • Adventure of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Explorer of the Seas from San Juan, Puerto Rico (beginning November 7)
  • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California (beginning November 19)
  • Quantum of the Seas from Singapore

No changes to Royal Caribbean cruises following Puerto Rico earthquake | Royal Caribbean Blog

Without a doubt, the major change is two ports will see cruises return. San Juan will have Explorer of the Seas call her home when she offers seven-night sailings, stopping in San Juan; St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI); St Croix, USVI; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and returning to disembark back in San Juan.

Royal Caribbean is especially excited to bring a cruise ship back to Los Angeles, marking the company's return to the west coast for over a decade.

Royal Caribbean will offer 3-, 4- and 5-night itineraries to Catalina Island, California and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – plus, select winter holiday 7-night sailings.

Health protocols for November 2021 cruises

Odyssey of The Seas - Port Canaveral June 4, 2021 - Royal Caribbean News and Rumors - Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean released its November cruise protocols just last week, and there is not much change at all from the October protocols.

Royal Caribbean requires all passengers 12 years old and older to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination at check-in.

Guests under 12, who are currently ineligible for the vaccine, can still cruise as long as they continue to provide a negative test result at boarding and follow certain health and safety protocols.

Things I've done that I'll never do again on a Royal Caribbean cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

All passengers must also get a negative Covid-19 test completed before the cruise. The test can be either a PCR or antigen test. Vaccinated guests can get their test done up to 2 days before sailing, while unvaccinated kids can get their test done up to 3 days before the sailing.

Masks are required in the terminal, in select locations inside the ship, and may be required at various destinations. Guests under 2 years old don’t need a mask. 

One notable change is for cruises sailing from Puerto Rico, where you may need to provide a negative test result if flying to Puerto Rico before your cruise.

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

Another change is the requirement for all cruise passengers, regardless of vaccination, to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion at select islands in order to disembark the ship:

  • St. Lucia (November visits)
  • Barbados (November visits)
  • St. Kitts (November visits)

Antigua was on this list initially, but it was removed.

Families traveling with unvaccinated kids must purchase a local tour through Royal Caribbean if they wish to go ashore in ports of call. This applies to all ports of call except Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Port Canaveral, Florida.

Everyone should review the full list of protocols related to where and when you need to wear a mask, vaccinated-only guest areas of the ship, and more on Royal Caribbean's website.

November weather on a cruise

Why you shouldn't book the cheapest cruise you can find | Royal Caribbean Blog

While it may start getting chilly where you live, temperatures in the Caribbean remain steady, with a range in the 70s-80s.

The end of the rainy season comes in November, so storms are not unheard of, especially since hurricane season does not end until the end of the month.

According to data from NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, for the years from 1851 to 2018, 47 total hurricanes have formed in November and only five of those made landfall in the United States.

10 mistakes travel agents see people make going on a cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Of course, Mother Nature does not follow a calendar, so there are no guarantees when bad weather could or could not occur.

Just like other times of the summer and fall, your best bet is to assume a passing shower or storm, but not an all-day rain out. Packing a poncho or rain coat/windbreaker would allow you to quickly adapt to a storm. 

Thanksgiving on Royal Caribbean

If your cruise happens to sail over the Thanksgiving holiday, you can expect the celebration to extend onboard as well.

Royal Caribbean gets into the spirit of the holiday with fall color decorations around the ship on Thanksgiving sailings, and even a few special events such as Thanksgiving trivia games, and special cocktails.

Of course, there will be plenty of turkey offerings. The main dining room menu will have its regular menu, as well as a special Thanksgiving menu you can order from that has the traditional foods available.

Football games will be available to watch in the bars and screens around the ship.

And in case you are wondering, Christmas decorations start going up around this time, but it varies by ship.  Some ships don't start putting them up until after Thanksgiving.  This can vary by ship and year-to-year.  Some ships doing early December. 

Royal Caribbean adds validation to Covid-19 vaccine card photo uploads in app

In:
01 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The Royal Caribbean app is getting updates all the time, and some cruisers have noticed a change to the option to upload a photo of your Covid-19 vaccine card.

Royal Caribbean changes Covid-19 vaccine requirements for cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

In September 2021, Royal Caribbean added a new way for passengers to upload a photo of their vaccine card directly into the app to speed up the check-in process in the cruise terminal.

The ability to upload a photo is not yet possible for every ship, but it is being offered on more ships once available.

When the feature was added in September, the app would immediately move your status to green to indicate you are done, but now cruise fans are noticing it changes to a gray hourglass status instead to indicate your card is being validated.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader David Beers reached out to Royal Caribbean to get an idea of what this change means exactly, especially as it relates to checking in for a cruise.

Jheanell Pagon from Royal Caribbean's Executive Office indicated the vaccination submission status has been updated so that the cruise line can manually check the validity of the card being uploaded.

"After reviewing your correspondence with our Port Operations team, they advised they recently deployed a new feature in the Guest Check-in App to include a Vaccination Submission Status. So now, the status We are validating your card is the normal new status you’ll see once you enter your vaccine record during Online Check-in."

The Royal Caribbean App: Everything you should know | Royal Caribbean Blog

"Once submitted, it then takes us 24 to 48 hours to approve since we are manually checking the validity of each card."

Guests will still need to bring their vaccine card with them, but taking the photo at home will allow the embarkation process to move just a little bit faster since the terminal staff will not have to take time to take photos of everyone's card.

Royal Caribbean's app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 31, 2021

In:
31 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy Halloween! I don't have any bad Halloween themed puns to include here, just the latest Royal Caribbean news to catch up on before you hit up the neighborhood for candy this evening. 

The cruise industry got mostly good news this week when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it temporarily extended the Conditional Sailing Order.

The CDC announced a temporary extension of the rules and requirements for cruise ships through January 15, 2022.

While the cruise industry has an additional few months of regulation, the CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program in January, giving the cruise lines a bit more flexibility.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 2021 Alaska cruise season was a short one, but we were able to check it out before it ended.

This week's podcast episode has a review of Ovation of the Seas' final sailing to Alaska this year from someone who had never cruised to Alaska before.

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

New RCB Video: Things people do on a cruise that I don't understand at all

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 — Things people do on a cruise that I don't understand at all — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

How to plan a Royal Caribbean cruise on any budget

 

Royal Caribbean cruises are affordable vacations for guests of pretty much any budget, which makes them an attractive way to vacation.

Whether you are going all out, counting every last penny, or looking for a reasonable value, there are options that should fit into any family spending plan.

Here is a look at tips and tricks for how to plan a memorable cruise vacation on a low, moderate, and high budget.

Royal Caribbean talks higher capacity, protocol changes, world cruise and more

In:
30 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group's third quarter earnings call on Friday with analysts was full of tidbits that provided insight into what cruise fans and Wall Street investors alike should expect in the coming months.

After releasing its quarterly financials, a trio of Royal Caribbean Group executives took questions from investment firms about the company's health. Included on the call were:

  • Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain
  • Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty
  • Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley

While the call primarily dealt with discussing fiscal health and the financial outlook, some answers gave operational insight that is of interest to cruise ship guests.

Royal Caribbean prioritized ships back in service over capacity

What happens if a cruise is oversold above reduced capacity? | Royal Caribbean Blog

There was a conscientious effort by Royal Caribbean to get more cruise ships back in service first, over trying to max out how full the ships were.

Anyone who went on a cruise this summer and fall definitely noticed the limited capacity onboard, which was almost always well before half full.

Mr. Fain talked about why they wanted more ships back sooner, "Like the pilot of a plane during takeoff, prioritizing speed over altitude, we have prioritized spreading the wealth."

"We have prioritized starting up more ships even with lower loads per vessel, rather than trying for higher load factors on fewer ships. We have been executing this in a financially and medically prudent manner."

Top 8 things you should know about going on a cruise in 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

He pointed out that in January 2022 the major booking season for cruise begins, and Royal Caribbean Group wants their core markets operating normally as quickly as possible. He believes with as many ships as they have ready to go in January, this will position the company well financially.

"That will put us in an excellent position to have a good wave period. Our bookings are already showing that the public has a great deal of pent up demand and is eager to travel again. We have a long period of poor bookings to make up for, but current booking trends give us a high level of confidence for 2022, especially from the summer on."

Royal Caribbean has been quietly increasing the capacity of its ships even as early as October, as evidenced by cruise passengers who reported seeing sailings with more than 50% capacity.

First Royal Caribbean test cruise should begin today | Royal Caribbean Blog

During the call, Mr. Bayley mentioned Freedom of the Seas sailed at 85% occupancy.

"We've brought back significantly more capacity, ships, beds and berths, than any of our competitors by a significant amount. And what that means is that operationally and logistically, we've already climbed over that mountain and we've now got a large number of our assets available for booking. And more importantly, we've now gone through and absorbed all of those expenses."

So when might Royal Caribbean truly get back to full capacity across the board?

Mr. Liberty said somewhere around summer 2022 is the plan for now, "We are kind of preparing our business to maximize our revenues and profitability in this very kind of lucrative peak summer season."

Future of protocols

CDC wants cruise lines to reconsider mask policies on cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

One of the major obstacles to get more customers back on cruise ships are the Covid-19 protocols that are necessary right now, either as mandated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or by the cruise line.  So when will those change?

One investor asked Royal Caribbean how they were thinking about vaccine mandates across different age demographics into next year.

In replying, Mr. Bayley provided a glimpse into Royal Caribbean's relationship with the CDC, as well as when protocols could change.

CDC gives cruise lines relaxed face mask guidelines and issues new rules for vaccinated passengers | Royal Caribbean Blog

"I think what's what's happened over this past several months is that we've really got a a focused, collaborative effort and we found the relationship with the CDC has been very constructive."

"While the CSO comes to a kind of a technical end on January the 15th, we will continue our ongoing collaboration with the CDC in terms of the protocols that will voluntarily operate after the CSO expires."

"They certainly, and we, want to make sure that we're operating safely and they're also well aware that some of the protocols that we have in place will naturally fall away as the pandemic moves further and further in the rearview mirror."

"I think as we move into '22, hopefully what we'll see is is the protocols become easier and less cumbersome for our customers."

World Cruise selling extremely well

Royal Caribbean announced its first world cruise to sail in 2023, and if you were wondering who would realistically book a 9 month cruise that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, the answer was clearly a lot of people.

Within the first 10 days, the cruise was only bookable by repeat cruise guests, and Mr. Bayley indicated already it is 70% booked.

"Within seven days we were 70 percent booked and the average price of a balcony room is $75000 for the balcony. The Royal Suite sold within a week at $760000, and all of these suites have booked with non-refundable deposit."

Mr. Bayley admitted they were surprised how well it sold, "Even we were taken aback by the unbelievable response of our royalty customers. The fact that within a week we were 70 percent booked on a ship that carries around 2,100 guests and is on a nine month world cruise was just remarkable, and I think that's indicative of what we're we're seeing."

Port project update

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

One investor asked Royal Caribbean for an update on its port projects that it had announced before the pandemic.

Mr. Bayley reiterated some of the short term projects that are still moving ahead, "We did obviously have a plan in place. Pre-pandemic, we pressed pause. We're now re-engaging on all of those plans in the immediate future."

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

Hideaway Beach

"We have an expansion taking place in perfect day with the addition of Hideaway Beach, which is a new experience that will open in late '22 for Perfect Day."

"The beauty of Hideaway Beach is that it is an adult only area as part of Perfect Day. It will allow us to increase our capacity by approximately 3000 people a day in late 22, which is, you know, obviously going to help improve our overall profitability and drive more more revenue, both both ticket and on board."

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

Nassau Beach Club

"We're close to finalizing the design and construction plans and the approvals for Beach Club in Nassau, which were we're hoping to start work on that very soon."

New renderings released of Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in Galveston | Royal Caribbean BlogGalveston terminal

"We've got a Galveston terminal that's opening in '22 and that will accommodate our Oasis class ships and then future Icon. And of course, that gives us remarkable access into the Texas, Oklahoma and that whole region as a market for drive into."

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruises, shortens final payment window, and extends Covid-19 assistance program

In:
29 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Anyone with a Royal Caribbean cruise booked for early 2022 will now have more flexibility in changing plans, as well as when they have to pay it.

Royal Caribbean informed travel agents on Friday of a number of changes related to guest-facing programs, many of which have been well-received by guests.

Here is a breakdown of the major changes just announced.

More time to cancel cruise for a credit

The Cruise with Confidence program has been extended yet again.

The Cruise with Confidence program  will expand to reservations confirmed on or before December 17, 2021 and sailing through April 30, 2022.

This program allows guests to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before their sail date with no penalty in exchange for a 100% Future Cruise Credit.

 

Cruise with Confidence was introduced at the beginning of the cruise industry shutdown in 2020, and was designed to give guests peace of mind that they can change their plans after final payment date.

Ordinarily, guests would incur a penalty for canceling a sailing beyond the final payment date, which is typically 90 days before a sailing commences. Cruise with Confidence provides a great deal more flexibility to change minds with no penalty.

Included with this extension is the Best Price Guarantee, which allows guests to reprice their sailing up to 48-hours prior to the sail date if the price drops.

Credits accrued from the Cruise with Confidence program must be redeemed by April 30, 2022 on sailings departing on or before December 31, 2022, or 1-year from the original sail date, whichever is later.

Final payment window pushed back

Royal Caribbean cancels December 2020 cruises while preparing to restart | Royal Caribbean Blog

The final payment due date on sailings departing through March 31, 2022 will now have until 30 days prior to sailing to submit full payment. 

The change was made to give guests more flexibility in deciding if they want to cruise without forcing a cancellation earlier.

Royal Caribbean said they will not inform guests directly of this change, so that travel agents can do so if they choose.

"Rest assured, no action is needed on your part, and no cancellations will occur until the new final payment date."

Ordinarily, final payment date for a cruise is 90 days before sailing. 

COVID-19 Assistance program extended

One more extension is for Royal Caribbean's COVID-19 Assistance program, which covers passengers if anyone tests positive within 14 days of the cruise, or while onboard.

Vaccinated guests and children not yet eligible to be vaccinated who are sailing on or before April 30th, 2022 will have the following COVID-19 Assistance at no extra charge.

  • 100% cruise fare refund for you, and your Traveling Party, if any of you tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days prior to the cruise or at the boarding terminal.
  • Pro-rated cruise fare refund if your cruise is cut short for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise, Royal Caribbean will cover the costs of COVID-19 related medical treatment onboard, any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for you and your Traveling Party.

Royal Caribbean will add adults-only area to Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
29 Oct 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

A new expansion at Royal Caribbean's private island in The Bahamas will cater to adults.

Royal Caribbean opens Perfect Day at CocoCay | Royal Caribbean Blog

In September 2021, Royal Caribbean teased a new expansion coming to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Hideaway Beach.

The announcement confirmed the expansion and name, but no other details.

During an earnings call with investors on Friday, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO confirmed Hideaway Beach will be an adults-only area.

Top 5 things to do on Royal Caribbean for adults | Royal Caribbean Blog

"We have an expansion taking place in perfect day with the addition of Hideaway Beach, which is a new experience that will open in late '22 for Perfect Day," Mr. Bayley said while talking about port projects on the books. "The beauty of Hideaway Beach is that it is an adult only area as part of Perfect Day."

Mr. Bayley said the new area will increase the capacity of the private island by "approximately 3000" passengers.

Mr. Bayley also added that Hideaway Beach will help improve the cruise line's overall profitability and drive more more revenue, which seems to indicate Hideaway Beach will have an extra cost.

The choice of an adults-only was part of a survey sent to some guests in late September for what sort of activities they would want see added to the island experience.

Hideaway Beach will be located on the western end of the island in a cove area that is slowly being developed.

The western end of the island is undeveloped land, as well as backstage storage and lodging, but it appears those operations can be relocated.

This will be the first expansion of CocoCay since the pandemic, and first since the Coco Beach Club was completed in early 2020.