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Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sitka, Alaska

In:
03 May 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Hi from Sitka today! I am currently blogging from our cabin because the seas are a little rough tonight. Captain said 9-12 ft waves can be expected as we sail from Sitka to Skagway and we will be sailing at (nearly) full speed. The Internet has been down all day on the ship, which is a bummer.

Sydney and I started our morning early again at 6:30 AM and grabbed a latte at Latitudes. We made our way to the Solarium to watch as we pulled into Sitka. The scenery was incredible, as Sitka is tucked away in the forested, snow-covered mountains.

I enjoyed my morning coffee while Sydney walked around the top deck and took pictures. As we pulled into port, we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. It was pretty busy this morning, but we could still find a table just fine.

Our plan for the day was to take the free shuttle into the city and then snag a taxi or Uber to Fortress of the Bear, which is a sanctuary and bear rescue in Sitka.

We got ready for the day and we were off the ship by 9:00 AM. The sun was actually shining! Praising the heavens above for good weather finally, we made our way through the cruise terminal and onto the free shuttle.

Our Uber and Lyft apps were showing that we could catch a ride for $15 from the city center to the sanctuary, so that was our plan when we arrived.

After getting off the bus, there was a taxi driver sitting there. She said it was $20 each way to get to the sanctuary. She scuffed at us when we said we were planning to take an Uber since that was a bit cheaper.

“There’s no Uber here” she laughed. Instead of trying to prove her wrong, we just gave in and had her bring us to the sanctuary. It took about 10 minutes to get there.

She also offered us a private tour for $100/hr with a 3-hour minimum. We laughed while politely declining. Here we are trying to save $10 by taking Uber (that might not exist) and she thought we might be interested in a $300 private tour.

I appreciate her business hustle, but that’s about as much as we spent each for this 7 day cruise, so she was definitely talking to the wrong cruisers.

DIY Bear Sanctuary: Fortress of the Bear

Entrance fees for the bear sanctuary were $15 normally but we received a military discount, paying only $10 each.

The sanctuary was self-guided, so we walked from the counter out to a walkway. Right away we saw three black bears and listened to one of the stand members talking about the rescue and its mission.

Each of the bears were orphaned as cubs and the sanctuary rescued them. Without the sanctuary, the cubs would have died in the wild.

The three of them have been raised together and live on an acre of land. They have plenty of area to roam, splash in the water and climb around. The staff said the bears are fed anywhere from 50 to 100 times a day depending on how hungry they are.

The sanctuary also had brown bears, which were much bigger. These were also rescued as cubs. With just 8 bears and a small staff, the sanctuary is able to have a very close relationship with the bears and understand their needs.

We got to watch the staff actually feed meat to the bears. It reminded me of my pups back home - they know instantly when it’s treat or meal time.

These bears are taught sign language to say ‘more’ and the staff tell the bears to ‘open’ their mouths before they get the meat. They also know ‘up’ and ‘paw’ commands.

Sydney took some amazing pictures of the bears during our time there.

They explained how the bears are taught these commands so they can easily check on their mouth, paws, legs bellies, etc. Similar to dogs, the bears are rewarded with meat for listening to commands and this allows the sanctuary to provide veterinary services regularly.

The staff also explained how the bear’s lifespan is doubled by living in the sanctuary compared to those living in the wild. Essentially, these orphaned cubs are raised to be very spoiled bears who have a great life with attentive service and care. Sydney and I joked it was an all-inclusive resort for the animals.

The bears were very intrigued to see all of us there, as it was the first cruise ship of the season! Sydney and I were equally as captivated by these huge creatures. Since they’ve been raised around humans, they were very comfortable with everyone there.

We loved learning about the bears’ behaviors and interactions with one another. You could tell the staff care deeply about these animals and want to provide them the best life possible.

Bald eagles were also hanging in the tree during our visit. Apparently, they’ve been known to steal the meat right from the staff members’ hands. They hang around hoping to get some food as well.

I’d highly recommend a visit to the sanctuary if you have time in Sitka. Multiple tour groups were shuffled in and out while we were there, but we enjoyed taking it at our own pace. As someone who hates zoos and aquariums, I absolutely loved our time at Fortress of the Bear.

Taxi services are more limited in Sitka, so you can ask the staff at the sanctuary to contact one of the drivers to come get you. We also learned that you can take the city bus for $1 to the sanctuary. Of course, this has a few stops on the way out and back; but, that would totally be worth it for $1!

Our dinner friends said they spent $75 on a Viator tour that included stops at the bear sanctuary, eagle reserve and the national park. They said the bear sanctuary was more worthwhile than the eagle reserve since Sitka was full of eagles. The totem pole park is right near the city and easily walkable.

We spent $33 each for our day and could have easily done the city bus to do it way cheaper. Still a great value compared to any excursion offered.

Sitka Wandering

After our two hour visit to the sanctuary, we took a taxi back to the city to walk around the waterfront and do some shopping.

We snacked on some chips while enjoying the weather. It was cloudy and overcast, but at least it wasn’t raining. I wish I had brought a slightly warmer coat, but I challenged myself to only pack a carry-on for the week.

There’s a nice sidewalk that goes right along the waterfront in the city, so we walked along the path towards the Totem Poles National Park. It was a lovely walk on the paved path, although it was a bit chilly. The national park has a nice trail through some wooded areas that leads to a small creek and bridge.

Once we arrived at the bridge, we turned back to town because we were getting a little hungry for lunch. We opted to do some shopping before catching the shuttle back.

There was a really cute store right across from the shuttle drop off. The employee was a fellow military spouse whose husband was in the Coast Guard and stationed there. She said it’s beautiful, but she was ready to move somewhere with more to do.

Come to find out she’s from Virginia (Sydney’s hometown) and will be moving to Panama City, FL (right near me). Such a small world!

We boarded the shuttle to head back to the ship. Sydney and I agreed that we’ve enjoyed getting up early, which is easy thanks for the time change, and spending our morning in port. It’s nice to come back and have lunch and relax before the evening.

Well, the world got even smaller when we found out the shuttle driver was also the trolley driver yesterday in Ketchikan. We laughed and told her that she had left us behind the day before! Of course, she apologized for leaving us behind.

I guess most of the tour drivers are seasonal workers in college who work in Alaska during the summer. She flew from Ketchikan last night to help drive the shuttles today.

Chill Evening

Sydney and I came back to the ship and grabbed a late lunch while sitting in the Solarium. At this point, my phone was almost dead and the internet onboard the ship still wasn’t working. I was annoyed with technology in general, so I opted to take a nap in the cabin instead.

After my power nap, I checked with the Internet Service desk and apparently the Internet was down because the ship has bad reception while inside the mountains. He said it should get better as we head out to sea, but it’s still been out most of the evening.

I am hoping to work while we are at sea on Wednesday and Thursday, but now I am second guessing if I will even have reliable service for that. If you’re planning to work remotely on the Radiance of the Seas’ Internet, I would definitely think twice.

The ship’s Internet would receive a reliability score of 6/10 in my book, so don’t count on doing anything time sensitive unless you’re in port and have service.

Sydney and I also stopped at the Diamond Lounge for the first time tonight. She grabbed us a few snacks before we went down to the Schooner Bar for a drink before dinner.

At this point, the Captain announced that the wind had picked up and our seas might be a little rough until 11:00 PM tonight. Sydney spent the first 4 days of our Semester at Sea in bed with sea sickness (along with most people) when we crossed the English Channel, so she popped some medication right way. I’ve got good sea legs apparently, so I opted for a mojito instead.

Dinner tonight was excellent. I started with the baked potato soup for an appetizer and then had the lasagna, which is a favorite RCL dish of mine. Sydney wasn’t feeling great at dinner, so she didn’t eat much.

I finished off my meal with Royal Chocolate Cake, which was full of rich, decadent chocolate.

Sydney and I called it a night early because of the rough seas. With the internet down all day, I wasn’t able to finish the live blog. We’ve had 2 busy days, so an early night was just fine with us.

Royal Caribbean changes its minimum age infant policy

In:
03 May 2022
By: 
Chantal McPhee

Royal Caribbean recently updated its infant policy to expand the definition of a sea day as it relates to its minimum age for infant cruisers.

Royal Caribbean allows infants between the ages of six months and 12 months to sail, provided there aren't too many sea days.

The amended policy now considers visits to Perfect Day at CocoCay or St. Kitts and Nevis as a sea day as it relates to infants. As a result, sailings with three consecutive sea days require infants to be 12 months or older at the beginning of the cruise.

Families traveling with infants who do not meet this age requirement for sailings with 3 consecutive sea days within this new definition will be unable to board the ship.


Previous policy language


Updated policy language

This is a significant update as many families select Royal Caribbean for its family friendly environment as well as amenities and services that cater to kids.

What’s considered a sea day?

For parents traveling with infants, specifically under 12 months of age, Royal Caribbean has a number of policies that families need to be aware of. As part of its operational rules, Royal Caribbean had previously required infants to be 12 months or older for cruises with three sea days.

The infant policy as detailed on Royal Caribbean’s website states:

“For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has 3 or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour.”

Port stops considered a sea day

A significant modification to the policy, the cruise line has added: “Stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay and Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis, are considered sea days under this policy. “

To provide cruisers with further clarity, they elaborate with examples: “…an itinerary with a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay followed (or preceded) by two consecutive days at sea, or a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay between days at sea, actually is considered to have three consecutive days at sea.”

What does this mean for families who have already booked?

This is a significant policy update, especially as it relates to cruisers who may lose their money on a cruise that is already booked. The site lists no exemptions for those cruisers with an existing booking or are able to provide a doctor’s note or medical waiver.

Royal Caribbean states: “Please be aware that guests traveling with a young infant that does not meet the infant policy will be denied boarding. “

The policy adds: “No refunds or other compensation shall be due from the cruise line to anyone as a result of the denial of boarding to an underage infant or other accompanying guests.”

Why did they make the change?

Royal Caribbean has not commented on the updated policy in a press release, but many understand the rationale for these restrictions to be related to access to pediatric care and the overall well being of its youngest passengers.    

Beyond workers, Perfect Day at CocoCay is a largely uninhabited island without major hospital facilities. The best medical care in the Bahamas is located in the capital Nassau, which is over 55 miles away by boat or plane.

The dual island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis has a population of just over 54,000 and has a few public hospitals. For some health care needs, inhabitants need to travel off island for more specialized care. Specific details on the level of pediatric care and beds are not readily available.

Impact on itineraries

Many of the cruise line’s four and five day sailings to the Bahamas that include Perfect Day at CocoCay also include a stop in Nassau before or after, which appears to be acceptable under the new policy.

Additionally, numerous cruises leave from Miami and Port Canaveral and arrive at Perfect Day at CocoCay the following day, causing no apparent impacts to these short term sailings.

A review of some of Royal Caribbean’s current itineraries show an 8 night cruise from Baltimore on the Enchantment of the Seas, with three consecutive sea days based on the new interpretation. With a stop in Bermuda, followed by a sea day, stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay and then another sea day, it would be an issue for infants under 12 months of age.

Other policies that relate to infants

In addition to this recent change, other policies that relate to infants remain in place. Specifically, infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise.

Additionally, transatlantic and transpacific cruises and those to Hawaii and select South American itineraries also require infants to be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise/tour.  

For those families concerned, it is advised to reach out to their travel agent or Royal Caribbean directly to ensure a clear understanding of the impacts on any future cruise bookings as it relates to the new infant policy and sea days.

Questions investors are wondering ahead of Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call this week

In:
02 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Group's first quarter 2022 earning call is scheduled for this week, and a lot of investors are going to be eager to hear about the financial well-being of the cruise giant.

Explorer of the Seas docked

Each quarter, every publicly traded company releases its financial results from the previous three months and then discusses what happened in-depth in a conference call that anyone listen to online.

Earnings calls are hosted by Royal Caribbean Group's top executives, and it is a combination of disclosures, prepared statements and answering questions from Wall Street analysts.

Royal Caribbean Group will host their call at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

To get a sense of the top things Wall Street wants to know this quarter, I reached out to Dan Kline, Managing Editor, TheStreet.

Have they seen a rise in average prices?

Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona

You don't need to be an investor to know that prices for cruise fares have been trending up lately.

Cruise vacations have always been a tremendous value, but like so many things in life, prices tend to go up over time.

People paying more for a cruise might not be what the average cruiser wants to see, but it is a good indicator for investors who want to see how quickly Royal Caribbean Group can knock down the debt it accrued during the pandemic.

Are people still spending more onboard?

Ever since cruise ships restarted sailing in 2021, guests have been spending more than ever beyond their cruise fares, and an update on that trend will be important to track.

Sometimes referred to as "revenge spending", consumers have demonstrated a strong desire to make up for lost time over the last couple of years by buying up drink packages, gambling in the casino, and booking lavish excursions.

It's not just cruise lines seeing this trend. Airline and hotel stocks have been surging this year thanks in part to what some are dubbing the "YOLO economy".  United  and American Airlines both reported strong earnings last week. Shares of Marriott, Hilton and Wyndham are near all-time highs. Theme park owner SeaWorld is not far from a record high, too. 

For Royal Caribbean, the question will be are cruise ship passengers continuing that trend.

How much of the record bookings use FCCs?

AquaTheater suite on Wonder of the Seas

An important indicator of Royal Caribbean's demand is how many bookings are being booked with cash or existing future cruise credits (FCC)

Future cruise credits are something given out when cruises are cancelled, and to get a better sense of the company's financial state, comparing the amount of cash the company has versus FCC is another common question.

Are there plans to retire more ships?

Granduer of the Seas

With Royal Caribbean taking on Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas in less than a year, and four more ships on order in the next few years, will existing ships be shed?

The cruise company has always said they would be strategic with selling or transferring older ships out of the fleet.

Whether or not the resale market for cruise ships has improved since the depths of pandemic remains to be seen, and it's not clear what to expect from the aging Vision Class ships.

Do they plan to refinance more debt?

Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami

It will be a while before Royal Caribbean Group can emerge from under all those loans it had to take out during the pandemic, but they're going to need to be creative to avoid it becoming a massive boondoggle.

No one expects the debt to disappear tomorrow, but investors will want to hear about how Royal Caribbean Group plans to handle it all.

How you can listen to the earnings call

There will be full coverage of anything intriguing that comes out of Royal Caribbean Group's first quarter 2022 earnings call on RoyalCaribbeanBlog, but if you would like to listen on your own, here's how.

The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations website, www.rclinvestor.com.  

You will be able to listen via the link provided close to the start of the call.

Royal Caribbean trademarks names for Perfect Day at CocoCay expansion areas

In:
02 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

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

Perfect Day at CocoCay aerial of South Beach

It's no secret that Royal Caribbean intends to expand Perfect Day at CocoCay, having already talked publicly about plans for an adults-only area of the island.

Trademarks filed last week with the United States Patent and Trademark Office confirm one name and signal the name of potentially another new area.

Here's what Royal Caribbean filed and what it could mean, keeping in mind that not everything Royal Caribbean trademarks ends up being used.

Hideaway Beach

Already announced by Royal Caribbean as a project, Hideaway Beach was formally trademarked with a filing on April 27.

Hidewaway Beach will be an adults-only expansion of Perfect Day at CocoCay. It will be located west of the island’s pier, adjacent to CocoCay’s Thrill Waterpark

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed the area will be an adults-only area. In March 2022, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider said the timeline for opening is mid to late 2023.

The trademark filing describes Hideaway Beach simply as, "Recreational services, namely island resort services". Trademark descriptions are usually quite vague.

Little else is known about what this new area will offer beyond the fact it will be limited to adults.

Secret Cove

Royal Caribbean also filed a trademark for Secret Cove on April 27.

Just like Hideaway Beach, the trademark lists in the description Secret Cove as being, "Recreational services, namely island resort services."

Royal Caribbean has not announced or referred to anything yet named Secret Cove, but a crew member YouTube video might share insight into what it could be.

Martina, a Royal Caribbean crew member onboard the Serenade of the Seas, posted a YouTube video from December 2021 that refers to an area of CocoCay beyond South Beach called "Secret Cove" that was being used as a crew member-only beach.

"This is the place to relax, to be ourselves, and to get a little bit away from the work," she says in her video.

She describes it as a place for crew members to hang out and enjoy time off.

Whether or not Secret Cove is intended to remain crew-only or become another new expansion area for cruise ship guests remains to be seen.

It's also entirely possible the trademark refers to something else completely unrelated to CocoCay.

Freedom of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
02 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today was the third and final night of our Bahamas cruise on Freedom of the Seas. We spent the day at Perfect Day at CocoCay while docked next to Mariner of the Seas.

While guests visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay yesterday encountered thunderstorms and rain, we were welcomed onto the island today with sunny skies, light cloud coverage, and a slight breeze.

My parents and I enjoyed a light breakfast in the Windjammer and walked around the running track a few times as Freedom of the Seas docked at CocoCay.

We got off the ship around 8AM and headed to Chill Beach. This is my preferred spot to relax on CocoCay due to the quieter atmosphere and plethora of chairs and umbrellas available. While we initially picked chairs right against the water, it was far too sunny so we decided to move back into the shade.

Next up was a swim at Oasis Lagoon, where we visited the swim up bar and enjoyed a cocktail. The water in both the pool and ocean today was quite chilly!

I had to make a brief stop back to the ship mid-day, and I couldn't believe how empty it was! Nearly everywhere onboard was empty around 11AM.

I headed back to shore around 11:30. It was noticeably more crowded during the afternoon than the morning, but it did not feel too crowded at CocoCay, even though there were probably around 7,000 - 8,000 passengers on the island. If you're looking for that quiet island-feel, though, make sure to get off the ship as soon as the gangway opens.

I wanted to show my parents as much of Perfect Day at CocoCay as possible, so we took the tram to South Beach. Here I grabbed a small lunch of mozzarella sticks from Snack Shack and went to find a shady place to sit.

Unfortunately South Beach does not have nearly as much seating as Chill Beach. All chairs with umbrellas were taken so we opted for a few chairs in the sun. While walking on the beach, I noticed the area of the beach that had been reserved for crew members has been converted into daybeds.

The far end of South Beach has a sandbar far into the water where visitors can walk out to and encounter warm water and great views. It was amazing how far you could walk into the water! I hung out there for a while, which had far warmer water than the main beach.

Next up after South Beach was a trip back to Oasis Lagoon, which had transformed from a quiet pool into a huge party. While it was not as insanely loud as the party at Oasis Lagoon when I visited the island on Wonder of the Seas during college spring break, there was definitely a high-energy party atmosphere!

It seems to be nearly impossible to find chairs near Oasis Lagoon once afternoon hits, but luckily there is a nice grassy area where we were able to lay down our towels.

After much fun in the sun, we got back onboard around 3PM and walked around the promenade deck with some incredible ocean and island views. The sprawling promenade deck is by far my favorite aspect of Freedom of the Seas.

Sailaway was at 5PM and we watched it from the helicopter pad. The helicopter pad is my favorite sailaway spot, and we watched as Mariner of the Seas departed for Port Canaveral, Florida followed by our own departure from Perfect Day at CocoCay.

We had dinner tonight at Izumi Hibachi. I had reserved this dinner ahead of time on the Cruise Planner app and was excited to show my parents what I think is the most fun restaurant in Royal Caribbean's fleet.

Unsurprisingly, it ended up being a ton of fun! We were seated with four other guests and our chef put on a fantastic show with jokes, the scrambled egg “snake,” and song and dance. The food was delicious as usual, including the She’s a Geisha cocktail that I just have to get every time I eat at Izumi.

Dinner ended around 7PM and we wanted to catch our final sunset on Freedom of the Seas. We were headed directly west, so the sunset was best viewed from the front of the ship. Therefore we walked to the helicopter pad again where we were rewarded with gorgeous ocean views as we sailed toward Miami.

We then spent some time relaxing on the upper pool deck, shopping for souvenirs, and watching a bit of karaoke.

It was a Perfect Day at CocoCay today, both on the island and onboard the ship, and all too soon it was time to pack our bags and get ready for departure tomorrow. A 3-night cruise definitely feels short, especially when there is no sea day, but it was a wonderful trip overall, filled with exciting days in port and near perfect weather the entire cruise.

Keep an eye out on the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel for our upcoming full ship tours of Oasis of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Thanks for following along on my live blogs!

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Ketchikan, Alaska

In:
02 May 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Greetings from Alaska! We arrived in our first port of the cruise today in Ketchikan. Mother Nature welcomed us with cloudy, foggy and rainy weather as we pulled into port.

With a time change on our side, Sydney and I were up early at 6:30 AM. Others clearly had the same idea of getting a specialty coffee at Latitudes because the line was at least 10 people long.

The warm latte was perfect to sip on as we watched us pull into port from the heated Solarium. 

Outside looked like cuddle-up-and-watch-a-movie kind of weather. Everyone was wandered around the ship in their cozy clothes.

Sydney and I made a few calls home before having breakfast in the Windjammer. We had purchased tickets for the Trolley and Lumberjack show last night since the forecast was looking bleak. The excursion was scheduled for 9:45 AM (this is an important detail for later!), so we enjoyed a nice breakfast and took our time getting ready.

We bundled up with jackets, hats and gloves because we had seen even a few snow flakes from the top deck as we pulled into Ketchikan.

When the excursion leaves you behind

Sydney and I got off the ship around 9:35 AM and made our way to the terminal meeting place. We took a few pictures with the ship and started looking around for our excursion.

After looking around a bit, Sydney asked one of RCL’s excursion staff members where we should meet for the Trolley. We showed them our tickets and the crew member looked concerned and responded, “Oh… the tour has already left”. 

We looked at our watches and it was 9:42 AM, so the trolley shouldn’t have even left the cruise port yet because it was scheduled to depart at 9:45 AM.

The crew member stated the meeting time was 9:30 AM and we told her we were in the terminal within probably 5 minutes of that time. We didn’t see the trolley or anyone holding the sign while we waited before asking for help. 

She said she would try to call the trolley back, but then the other crew members stated the trolley wouldn’t be able to return to pick us up. We asked if we could go meet the trolley somewhere, thinking it hadn't gone very far. That wasn't an option, unfortunately. 

Apparently, the tour only had 8 people booked for today. We bought tickets last night but she said 2 people must have bought tickets early this morning as well. The lists are printed the night before for excursion runs, so the total number of participants wasn’t updated from 8 to 10 people.

When 8 people showed up, the trolley tour decided to leave early because that matched the list total. Bummer for us.

At first, the crew members told us we could do one of the following: either take a later trolley only and miss the show or do a later lumberjack show and skip the trolley.

They said the later lumberjack show could include a crab feast, but it was $199. I think they could tell we were not pleased with either of these options and questioned how the excursion could have left without us when they had our names even on the list. 

Finally, they said we could do the lumberjack show at a discounted rate - first it was 30% and then they upped It to 50%. This felt reasonable, so we accepted that offer.

We had an extra hour to burn so we shopped in the terminal and walked to a coffee shop in the freezing drizzle.

At the end of the day, this was probably just a series of unfortunate events on both sides. We should have been off the ship sooner to be at the meeting place right at 9:30. The excursion certainly shouldn't have left early and without checking the list of passengers who were booked. With such a small group, once everyone showed up, we were already out of luck. 

I am glad Royal Caribbean gave us options and they wanted to make up for the unfortunate instance happened. Of course, we were bummed we couldn't do the trolley but at least we had options. 

Sydney and I joked that 'travel is back!' and all of the unexpected that comes along with it - that's part of the fun. Our semester abroad was filled with the unexpected and unplanned. It's best to just go with the flow, especially traveling in this post-pandemic phase.

Excursion round 2

We figured that there would be transportation included to the show since it was raining. But, at the designating meeting place and time, they instructed us to all walk 3 blocks for the show.

Here's us in the cold rain walking to the lumberjack show.

This was no big deal for us, but certainly took us by surprise because we figured the sticker price of $59 would include transportation. If we had older family members with us, I wouldn’t have been very pleased with walking in the rain. 

As we arrived at the show, I saw a ticket stand at the venue where tickets were being sold for only $37 - for the same show and time!

Had we known this, we would have just done that from the start. The excursion didn’t even include transportation so there was literally nothing that made the excursion worth $20+ more!

Luckily, the venue was covered and had heaters. It was still very chilly and I opted to purchase souvenir gloves to be more comfortable.

The show was fun and very interactive. It was cheesy, which would make it a great option for families with kids. I am glad we opted to do the show since there wasn’t much else that appealed to us in town, especially considering the weather.

I wouldn’t say the show was worth $60, but it would be a nice activity for the $37 tickets sold at the venue.

Creek Street

After the hour show, we briskly walked in the cold rain to Creek Street. I had visited this area with my husband last summer, and it was a beautiful spot to stroll and shop. We also had gorgeous weather last year, keep in mind.

Sydney and I walked into a few shops but after sitting in the rain at the lumberjack show for an hour, we were both pretty chilly and ready for lunch.

We did make one last stop to an art shop where the owner told us how her roommate in college did Semester at Sea 30 years ago, so that was a fun coincidence.

It was a quick walk back to the ship luckily. Ketchikan is very walkable right off the port area and it really is a lovely town. Last year, Luke and I grabbed lunch at a taphouse that had great food (cheese curds for us Midwesterners), craft beer and fun cocktails.

There’s also plenty of jewelry shopping and other local shops to enjoy. If you forget a coat for the cruise, you can find pretty nice coats for $10-$20 in the shops. We had to do this 12 years ago when we took an Alaska cruise and it was much colder than we anticipated.

Slow Afternoon

After the excursion debacle and the cold weather, Sydney and I grabbed lunch at the Windjammer. We made our way to the Solarium where I plopped myself down on a chair with 3 towels and napped.

We heard that people who did the Misty Fjords that they had rough seas today, so I was grateful we didn’t choose that excursion. It was nice to come back to the ship and take it slow.

I strongly believe the scenery that can be seen from the ship is equally as gorgeous and scenic as the excursions offered to the fjords and glaciers.

Of course, if you want to do something particular or see a glacier, you will have to venture to those places specifically. Overall though, the scenery from the cruise ship is captivating and stunning on its own.

We’ve seen whales and dolphins from the ship too! Even just sailing the Inside Passage is great for me and I don’t feel like I need to do any special excursions to see more scenery.

Dinner in the dining room

Our first night in the dining room felt a little disorganized and chaotic. The servers seemed to be a little frazzled, perhaps because they had a much larger crowd this sailing than the last one.

Last week was the first sailing on Radiance of the Seas since the pandemic restart and 800 passengers sailed from California to Canada. This week, we have 1,600 passengers, which is around 60% capacity. I am sure that was stressful the crew to transition to a busier ship. 

Tonight, we had great service in the dining room and the experience was much smoother.

We stopped at the Schooner Bar to grab a cocktail for dinner since the night before it took a while to get our drinks. One of the bartenders looked very familiar... and then it clicked - Luke and I had met her last summer on our cruise! She was from Colombia and gave Luke recommendations for an upcoming training he had in her home country. She remembered us, so that was another fun coincidence of the day. 

Sydney had the lavender daiquiri and I had a strawberry mojito - both were excellent. 

For dinner tonight, Sydney and I both started with French onion soup and had beef short rib for entree. Sydney’s short rib was fattier than mine, but it had great flavor and it was very tender.

We both polished off the meal with Mississippi Mud Pie, which was excellent.

Comedy Show and Solarium

We had finished dinner just in time to make the 7:00 PM comedian show. Since we had missed both showtimes for the Tango show, we were excited to experience the entertainment.

The theatre was pretty full and we both liked the comedian, who was decently funny. With an older crowd onboard, the jokes were definitely geared towards the greater audience.

The internet connection has been great in the Solarium, so Sydney and I made our way up to the top deck to relax as the sun begins to set. There’s virtually no one in here; as I blog, Sydney as the hot tub to herself.

Tomorrow’s Plans

We arrive tomorrow in Sitka for our second port. Sydney did a little research and found that there is a bear sanctuary just 5 miles from the town.

A free shuttle is provided from the ship to the city center, which is a nice option. We plan to look at either a taxi or see if they have Uber or Lyft available for us to get to the bear sanctuary.

The weather outlook seems to be a bit more promising with only a slight change of light rain showers tomorrow in the afternoon. Hoping we get lucky with some better weather than today!

That’s all for now! Good night from Alaska.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 1, 2022

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy weekend! In case you missed any Royal Caribbean news, here is a look at everything that happened this week!

If friends or family still have a future cruise credit laying around, there's good news that came out this week.

Promenade deck

Royal Caribbean will now allow guests to transfer a future cruise credit to someone else.

The process requires a phone call to Royal Caribbean to make a one-time name change of a FCC, but the process is pretty simple.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 452nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, in which Matt answers emails from podcast listeners.

This week's episode focuses just on emails our listeners have sent to be answered.

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: What's you should know about a cruise contract

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 — What's in the cruise ship fine print that you should know about — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

I tried the cheapest cabin I could find

Inside cabin on Mariner of the Seas

What happens if you try to book the cheapest cruise cabin you can find? Is it a great or not-so-great experience?

By booking a cheap cruise fare, you can splurge on things like eating delicious food, drinking fun cocktails and exploring incredible cities.

Here's what happened when Allie went on Mariner of the Seas and booked the cheapest cabin she could find.

Check out our live blogs

This week we had a few live blogs from different Royal Caribbean cruise ships going, which provides a glimpse of what it's like on these ships.

Be sure to follow along with the fun of our live blogs across three ships!

Guide to Royal Caribbean cruises in May

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty

Check out what you should know about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise in May.

May is a slower month of the year, following the busy Spring Break season of the past two months. It's also a transitional month, with many ships starting service in Europe and Alaska.

Guide to picking the perfect Royal Caribbean shore excursion

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

You booked a Royal Caribbean cruise and now you want to figure out what you are going to do at the ports your ship will be visiting.

Where do you start?

Family excursion in St Kitts

Shore excursions are a major part of any Royal Caribbean cruise because a large part of your overall vacation is exploring the ports of call you will visit.  You have just a few hours at each stop, but it should be enough to get a taste of the city you are visiting.

The concern many guests have is figuring out what the options are to choose from and which ones are a good idea and which are a mistake.

The way to be assured that you have the most options and pick the right one for you, is to do your research ahead of time.  

Many of your fellow passengers will not do much, if any, research and will rely purely on the information Royal Caribbean provides them.  In fact, most will wait to get onboard the ship and then book something.

Besides risking a poor decision, they are also wasting time on their cruise from doing fun activities.

Let's explore what you need to know so that you can research your ports properly and make all of your reservations in advance, leaving you with more time onboard your ship to do what you really want to be doing.

Learn the basics about the ports

Before you even look at one shore excursion, you should research what each port is best known for.

Typically, the individual ports you visit are best known for something and there can be a few activities that stand out among the rest.

Depending on your itinerary, you may even know what each port is known for ahead of time, such as major cites like Boston, Rome, Barcelona, or Venice.

Start off with a list of the ports you will be visiting.  

The port you start and end your cruise with is a very important place because you may end up spending the most time of any ports here.  I recommend folks arrive to their embarkation port at least one day in advance to avoid travel delays impacting your ability to get to your Royal Caribbean cruise.  

Some people will tack on extra days beyond that on the beginning or end of the cruise, so you will find that you may be spending a lot of time in your embarkation/disembarkation port.  The most important factor can be aspects like an affordable hotel, dining and transportation to/from the ship.

For your embarkation port as well as the rest of the ports you are visiting, start off with some light reading.  I recommend doing an internet search for each city and learning about its significance.  

Wikipedia articles are often good starting points, because they will quickly get to why the port you are going to is frequented and some of the major attractions.

The goal of this step is to understand if you are visiting somewhere that is known for its beaches, or for its history, or for its culture, or for something else.  

Just because a port is known for its beaches does not mean you cannot take a tour of ancient ruins or go shopping, but you want to make sure you are not missing a big draw.  A good example would be going to Civitavecchia, Italy and not knowing that Rome is a quick drive from there.

Read more5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

Understanding the difference the two kinds of shore excursions

Lover's Beach in Cabo

Before you look at one shore excursion, it is important to know about some fundamental differences between shore excursions.

At a very basic level, there are two kinds of shore excursions: shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean and shore excursions offered by third parties.

Royal Caribbean shore excursions

Royal Caribbean shore excursions are sold directly by Royal Caribbean to its guests, and they are group activities managed by local companies in each port that Royal Caribbean has vetted and will stand by.  

Royal Caribbean also guarantees if you take one of its shore excursions, they will ensure you do not miss the ship if you are delayed on the excursion.  Even if the ship is slated to leave, the ship will wait for your group to return or provide transportation for your group to meet up with the ship at the next port.

Furthermore, if your ship cannot dock at a port for any reason, any shore excursions you booked with Royal Caribbean directly will be completely refunded.

Royal Caribbean excursion sign

The price of Royal Caribbean shore excursions are set in stone and are not negotiable.  The full cost of the shore excursion will be due upon booking and if you were to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion onboard your ship, you could use onboard credit to pay for it.

The price of a shore excursion will be no less expensive if you pre-purchase it online.  In many cases, shore excursions are more expensive on the ship than compared to buying it online before the cruise. Not to mention pre-purchasing before you get to the ship will guard against the tour being sold out.

Royal Caribbean shore excursion pros

  • Easy to find and learn about
  • Guaranteed return to your ship
  • Fully refundable if your ship skips a port

Royal Caribbean shore excursion cons

  • Tends to be more expensive than third party shore excursions
  • Group tours, which means tour will move at the slowest person in the group's pace
  • Limited offerings

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

Third party shore excursions

Third party shore excursions are essentially any tour or activity you do on your own that is not sold to you by Royal Caribbean.  This can be a group tour or an individual tour.  It can even be you taking a taxi somewhere and doing something on your own.

With third party shore excursions, you are responsible for planning all aspects of the tour, so you will have to find a company or person, negotiate the rate and then find them in port and ensure you return on time.

The policies of what happens if your ship cannot dock at the port and refunds can vary from tour guide to tour guide.  Many will offer a refund policy if your ship cannot dock, but it is something else to consider.

Ketchikan charter boats

Prices for third party shore excursions can sometimes be negotiated, depending on the excursion and the guide.  Some excursions will require full payment at the time of booking, but many will require just a deposit to hold your spot, with full payment prior to the excursion beginning.

Third party excursions are far less limited than what Royal Caribbean offers, and you can price shop among many competing companies to find the one for you.  

Third party shore excursion pros

  • Far greater variety of choices
  • Tends to be less expensive than Royal Caribbean shore excursions
  • Possibility for personalization and be more efficient with your time

Third party shore excursion cons

  • You are responsible for getting back to the ship on time
  • Requires more leg work to learn about them all
  • You must handle any financial dealings, including cancelations.

Start with Royal Caribbean's shore excursions

Royal Caribbean's shore excursions are a good starting point because they are simple to find and will give you a basis to compare other options later.

To find all of the shore excursions for your cruise, it is best to register your cruise on Royal Caribbean's My Cruises section and then visit the Cruise Planner.

Shore excursions are divided up by the port you are visiting and then further categorized by the type of activity (culture, culinary, family, sightseeing, etc).

Go through each port and look at the various options to choose from.  

In addition of deciding if any of these excursions look appealing, you should be considering the following aspects of each shore excursion

  • Cost (adult vs child)
  • Duration (a few hours, half day, full day)
  • Physical and age limitations

Be sure to read the descriptions of any shore excursions that sound interesting for all the aspects of the excursion. Often a main activity is accompanied with smaller activities, such as a zip line adventure also including a beach break and lunch.

How to find third party shore excursions

Mediterranean cruise in Rome

Whereas Royal Caribbean's shore excursions are nicely laid out for you, third party excursions require some leg work to discover.

Between your initial port research and looking at Royal Caribbean's shore excursions, you probably have a good idea of what each port offers but there is plenty more to discover.  There are two resources I always go to when I want to find shore excursion ideas.

TripAdvisor

Mazatlan

TripAdvisor is a user submitted review site that has lists for hotels, activities, restaurants and more.  I find it to be a really good means of discovering popular activities as well as activities that float under the radar.

For each port, do an internet search for the port name and TripAdvisor.  If you are visiting Cozumel, then you would search for "Cozumel TripAdvisor".  The first result back should be TripAdvisor's page on Cozumel.  Going about it this way is faster and simpler than navigating TripAdvisor's site.

Click around and look at the activities mentioned.  You may find beaches, buildings, restaurants and other cultural spots listed, with reviews and photos from other people that have been there.

Read the reviews for insight into what the activity offers and what the people that left reviews liked and did not like about it.

In most cases, you will not find a vendor here, but you will discover the places you want to visit.

Message boards

Next, visit the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards for excursion ideas and recommendations.

Message boards are a little tricky to browse, but they are a wealth of knowledge.  What is great about this message board is you will not only find a list of things to do, but the activities here are focused on what cruise passengers will be interested in and often there are recommendations for which guides or companies to work with.

Read through the various forums for each port you will be visiting and read what others have to say.  You might even be inclined to sign up for the message boards and post your own question to get a more personalized answer.  

Skagway train

Like TripAdvisor, your goal is to narrow down what activities you want to do while in each port based on others advice as well as descriptions and photos you run across.

If you find individual companies at this stage, that's great but if you still have not found someone to work with yet, don't worry. The next step will take care of that.

Search for what you want to do


By this point you should have a really good idea of what you want to do in each port.  Maybe you know you want to spend the day at a particular beach or you really want to get a tour of a city's major historical landmarks.

For each port and activity, go to your favorite internet search engine and do a search for the port name and the activity.  Here are some examples

  • Cozumel beaches
  • New York landmark tour
  • St Thomas guided tour
Navigator of the Seas in Willemstad, Curacao

You should find a lot of listings for the kind of tours you are looking for.  If your search is coming back with too many results or they are too vague, try adding more keywords to specify exactly what you want.

  • Cozumel Paradise Beach
  • New York midtown tour bus
  • St Thomas private tour

For each tour operator you find that looks promising, consider sending them an email or calling and asking some basic questions.

  • Is the price the same for adults and kids/infants?
  • What happens if our ship cannot dock in the port?
  • What is your cancelation policy?
  • Would you be willing to accept $____ instead?

Ask as many questions as you want and also consider asking for more a more personalized experience.  The worst they will say is no, but often these people and companies want your business quite a bit and will work with you.

Make the decision

At this point, you have a pretty good idea of what each port offers, the prices and options available to you and expectations for the excursions.

Booking the excursion for you and your group is now a matter of weighing the pros and cons of booking with Royal Caribbean or not, as well as between individual excursions in each port.

Decisions such as, to book with Royal Caribbean or not, or which tour sounds the most interesting will vary from person to person and port to port.

Cabo

By engaging in the steps listed in this post, you should have a good understanding of what each port offers, which activities are of interest to you and the right price.

Although this may further complicate the decision, it is important to note that there is always a third choice in any of the ports of forgoing an organized tour all together and exploring the port on your own.

Many ports are conducive for walking off the ship, taking a taxi and exploring the port on your own.  

London

In the end, the decision can come down to price and one's comfort level with booking on their own versus Royal Caribbean.

You do not have to make a decision right away, but the longer you wait, the greater the risk of the shore excursion you want filling up.  This is especially true with Royal Caribbean shore excursions.

You should treat each port individually and not be concerned with if you book something on your own or go with Royal Caribbean across all ports. 

With this information, you should have the tools to make an informed decision and pick a great shore excursion before you set foot on your ship, leaving you more time onboard to enjoy the cruise.

Common shore excursion questions

Can you get off a cruise ship without an excursion?

Yes, in almost every port of call, you can walk off the ship with no tour or excursion booked and walk around on your own.

Depending on the port, there may or may not be much to see or do near where the ship docks.

Most ports have at least a few shops, bars, or restaurants near where the ship docks. These are usually not authentic offerings, but you cannot deny the convenience of having them so close to the ship.

Some people will walk to a downtown area, or take a taxi as well.

What are the different categories of shore excursions offered?

There are a few common types of shore excursions:

  • Accessible Shore Excursions
  • Active Adventures
  • Culinary
  • Culture
  • Destination Highlights
  • Family Friendly
  • Sustainable Tours

Accessible excursions are tours that are designed for parties that have wheelchair accessibility needs.

An active shore excursion refers to a tour that centers around physical activities, such as swimming, paddling, hiking, or something else requiring physical effort.

How much exertion is required truly depends on the tour, but these are not tours that are passive where the passengers take a bus tour of the area.

Culinary tours center the experience around food or drinks, usually the sort of eats the port you are visiting is known for.

Culture tours tend to highlight the historical sites and people of the country.

A destination highlight excursion will take you to the major tourist attractions your port is known for.

Family friendly tours ensure the tour is appropriate for children of all ages, which avoids any experiences that may have a height or age restriction.

Sustainable tours are certified excursions that are not hindering the local environment in anyway.

Are shore excursions cheaper on the ship?

No, shore excursions will not be any cheaper if you wait to book it onboard. In fact, it may cost more.

Royal Caribbean regularly discounts its shore excursions before the cruise on its website. So booking a tour online before the cruise will cost you nothing more.

How far in advance can you book excursions on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean will usually begin loading in shore excursions for booking up to 8-10 months before your cruise.

There is no set timeline for all sailings to expect shore excursions to be added, but you can start to look for tours once you are less than a year from your sail date.

You'll be able to book a tour up to 48 hours before your cruise begins via the Royal Caribbean website.

How much do you tip a cruise excursion guide?

Cuba tour driver

It is customary to tip your excursion guide at the conclusion of the tour, but the exact amount will depend on your experience.

Tipping the driver of your vehicle is also common.

How much to tip depends on what you are comfortable with, but usually tipping per person in your group is a good plan.

More information

Do you book shore excursions through Royal Caribbean or on your own? What shore excursion research benefited you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Hello from Radiance of the Seas! It's day two of our 7-night sailing to Alaska and today was a sea day. 

We lucked out with beautiful weather today for our day at sea! It was 60 degrees and sunny all day with not a cloud in the sky. The seas have been so calm both days. I can barely feel the ship moving. 

Breakfast with new friends

Sydney and I slept off our jet lag this morning thanks to our inside cabin being pitch black. I normally sleep with white noise but the ship has been so quiet, I didn't even need to. We woke up just in time to have breakfast in the main dining room, which was open until 9:30.

I started with a latte from Latitudes while Sydney waited to be seated. I'm low functioning without my coffee so this was a delicious way to start my day and use one of my drink vouchers.

We were seated with a really sweet couple from the UK who were on their very first cruise! I typically don’t love sitting with strangers but we really enjoyed our relaxing breakfast with new friends. We all started with yogurt parfaits and then I ordered the breakfast burrito while Sydney had the power bowl.

My burrito was delicious - filled with chorizo, hash browns and cheese. Sydney said the power bowl tasted healthy and definitely needed salt + pepper.

A morning stroll

As we were leaving breakfast, the atrium was filled with people doing a group Zumba class. I haven’t seen that many people in a workout class on a cruise in a long time! Everyone looked like they were having a lot of fun with the music and dance moves.

We bundled up and started to walk along the top deck. Sydney and I both love walks, so this was perfect after our breakfast.

The sea was perfectly calm with the water beautifully glistening in the sun. As we turned the corner, we even saw whales and dolphins off in the distance. The nature up here in Alaska is so untouched - it really does take your breath away.

Sydney and I couldn’t get over how nice the weather was. It was definitely nice to get on the top deck for a bit and take in the sunshine. The forecast for the next few days looks like it will be cloudy and rainy.

Apparently, there’s 100% chance of rain the next few days. The statistician in me questions that kind of certainty, so I am holding out hope we might have better weather than predicted.

I couldn’t believe the number of people who were walking and exercising. This is probably the most exercise I've seen happening on a cruise ship. Maybe it was just the weather, but we saw tons of people being active. Between everyone doing Zumba earlier and then lots of people doing their own workouts on the top deck, the ship seems to be full of active cruisers. The gym looked pretty busy as well.

This is a far cry from my spring break cruise on Mariner of the Seas the other week where the main activities were drinking, tanning and eating. 

Afternoon activities

After walking the top deck for about an hour, Sydney and I headed down to the Schooner Bar. There was a solo traveler meet-up at 12:00 PM and Alaska Trivia starting at 12:15 PM. We couldn’t really identify if there were any solo travelers meeting, so we opted just to wait for trivia to start.

Trivia was Alaska themed, but Sydney and I both warned one another that we were not good with trivia or knowing fun facts. To our surprise, we scored 7.5/15 questions! Nothing to write home about, but better than we expected.

I didn’t imagine we would be able to sit on the top deck during this cruise, but the weather was too gorgeous not to enjoy the pool deck today.

We bounced between the hot tub and pool chairs a few times. We also indulged in a pool-side cocktail. There weren't many people on the pool deck, as I think people assume it's cooler outside than it really is. The Solarium was much busier. The pool water was actually pretty comfortable; we even saw a few people in there while walking earlier.

Since we had a reservation for Samba Grill at 6:00 PM, we went back to our cabin to freshen up. We also treated ourselves to some downtime with face masks before getting ready for dinner.

If you are like us and love pampering yourself but don’t want to pay for the spa, consider bringing a few spa-like treatments onboard. We brought 2 kinds of face masks to enjoy each night and I packed some nail polish too. We also requested robes from our housekeeper to help us really bring the spa to our little inside cabin.

Samba Grill

Sydney and I made a reservation for 6:00 PM to dine at the specialty restaurant, Samba Grill. I’ve cruised a lot with Royal Caribbean and hadn’t even heard of this specialty option. Since I have a BOGO voucher to use on Day 1 or 2 for specialty dining, we thought it would be fun to try something new.

I was blown away by the experience!

We were greeted by servers from Brazil when we entered the restaurant. Sydney and I actually traveled to Brazil during our Semester at Sea, so we were excited to talk about the cities we visited and ask the servers about their hometowns.

Our waiter explained each part of the meal, which would start with a trip to the appetizer bar. This included a goat cheese and pineapple salad, Canja de galinha (chicken soup) and assorted meats and cheese.

The next course was a warm bread basket that had 3 different options. I have very fond memories of Brazilian Pau de Quejio, or small balls of cheesy bread goodness. We also enjoyed a warm, flaky empanada with cheese inside. It melted in your mouth as the cheese oozed from the pastry. There was also garlic bread in the basket, which was crispy and delicious.

Not to be dramatic, but the heavens opened when the bread basket was delivered. 

Next, we were served feijoada (pronounced like 'fish - wader'), which reminded me of a burrito bowl. The feijoada had a mixture of rice, beans, pork, bread crumbs, collard greens and oranges. Our server explained that Brazilians eat feijoada at least once a week so it was a must-try.

We were also served fried bananas, polenta and yuca fries. We loved the bananas and feijoada!

The main event was up next - THE MEATS! Served by a gaucho sporting a cowboy hat, we were given tongs to grab freshly carved meats as he made his way around the restaurant delivering the meats.

We started with bacon-wrapped chicken followed by sausage. The chicken was amazing. Next we had garlic marinated steak, which was so tender and flavorful. Then we were served parmesan crusted pork and lamb. These weren’t our favorites, as Sydney said the lamb was fatty and my pork was a bit dry.

The last one served was a filet mignon, which was a showstopper.

A few times we had to turn our green card back to red so we could have a break and make room for more food! Everything tasted really good but our tummies needed breaks once in a while.

We were lucky enough to start spotting whales during our dinner too! The seas have been so calm that it’s easy to spot any motion in the ocean. Sydney ran outside a few times to get pictures, even though they all look like splashing blobs in the distance.

At one point, there were 4 spouts that we could see at one time in the horizon. The whales were breaching and putting on quite the show for us.

It’s so funny when someone spots a whale or dolphin because everyone stands up and heads over to the windows at once. It’s a unifying moment onboard when wildlife is spotted!

Back at our table and after the whales swam off in the distance, we were served cinnamon spiced pineapple. The pineapple was warm and sweet, a perfect comfort food that hit the spot. This was Sydney’s favorite part of the meal.

As if we needed more food, we ended the meal with a dessert sampler, which included a domed, dense chocolate cake, a passion-fruit flavored parfait called mousse de maracuja, and a rum custard.

The mousse was our absolute favorite! 

The whole dining experience took about 2.5 hours between eating, talking with the servers and whale spotting. Apparently, it was our server’s second day of work on the ship! He said he had never worked on a cruise ship and we told him he did an excellent job. Alexander, who is from Brazil, took the time to explain everything in great detail, which made the experience more authentic.

We were planning to go to the 8:00 PM Tango production show, but we didn’t make it in time. We then planned to attend the Tango production show at 10 PM, but the seas were mesmerizing and we couldn't get ourselves down there in time. Also, 10 PM is a little late for us these days!

I am glad we took a long time to savor the meal and watch the wildlife, which you can’t predict! That's what this cruise is all about anyways - enjoying the Earth's beauty. 

Tomorrow's plans in Ketchikan

I am taking the time to write tonight’s blog from the Solarium, as it’s still light out at 10:00 PM. The ocean looks like a sheet of glass and I think our ship is moving at a snail’s pace as we work our way towards Ketchikan.

As I wrote earlier, we didn’t have any excursions planned for this cruise, but unfortunately the forecast looks bleak to just meander around town. We ended up booking an excursion tomorrow for $69 called Ketchikan Trolley and Lumberjack show. 

This seemed like a good option for seeing the city even if it’s raining most of the day. It would be a shame to come all this way and feel like we can’t do or see anything because we aren’t able to walk around.

We purchased tickets at the shore excursion desk because the app was giving us an error. The crew member who helped us was from Brazil and we told him how we just had an amazing meal at Samba Grill.

He said he actually worked with the head chef at Royal Caribbean, along with other Brazilian crew members, to develop the menu that is served to ensure it's authentic. He was happy to hear it was a great experience and I told him it was probably better than the steakhouse I tried when visiting Brazil!

Off to bed for us! Sydney was told the Alaskan pilot comes on the ship at 6am, which will be 5am with the time change. Lucky for me, she decided that was too early so we should be getting a restful night's sleep. 

How to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

No one likes to think about it, but occasionally there is a need to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Whether you are flat out cancelling the reservation or opting to postpone the cruise to a future sail date, there are important rules and policies to be aware of before you call in to change your booking.

No matter what the rationale, here is what you need to know on how to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Updated: May 12, 2022

Know the cancellation policy

Before you cancel, you should be aware of the terms of cancellation you agreed to when placing that initial deposit.

Cruise Fares

There are two types of cruise fare deposits: refundable and non-refundable.  

If you booked refundable cruise fare, and have not yet made your final payment, you can cancel for a full refund of your deposit and any money paid.

If you booked a non-refundable cruise fare, and are outside of final payment, you will receive a Future Cruise Certificate in the amount of the cruise deposit, less a $100 per guest change fee.

Once you pass the final payment date, you may be subject to cancelation charges that vary depending on how close you are to your sailing. 

A traditional cruise cancellation will provide cash back, but potentially with penalties.

Cancellation Window

Once you pass the final payment date, cancellations that occur may incur a cancellation charge that depends on how close to sailing you decide not to cruise.

FOR 1 TO 4 NIGHT CRUISES
(including Holiday sailings)
IF CANCELLATION IS MADE
CANCELLATION CHARGE
75 days or more prior to the first day of the CruiseNo charge (except for Nonrefundable Deposit amounts)
74 to 61 days50% of total price
60 to 31 days75% of total price
30 days or less100% of total price (No refund)

 

FOR 5 NIGHTS OR LONGER CRUISES
(including Holiday sailings and Cruisetours)
IF CANCELLATION IS MADE
CANCELLATION CHARGE
90 days or more prior to the first day of the CruiseNo charge (except for Nonrefundable Deposit amounts)
89 to 75 days25% of total price
74 to 61 days50% of total price
60 to 31 days75% of total price
30 days or less100% of total price (No refund)

How to cancel a cruise

Once you determine you want to cancel your cruise, you need to contact whomever you booked your cruise with to make the change.

If you booked directly with Royal Caribbean via its website or on their site, you can call Royal Caribbean to cancel the reservation.

If you prefer to cancel a cruise online, you can refer to the online cancellation form that will provide the different options you have for cancellation.

If you booked the cruise with a travel agent, and/or any website other than Royal Caribbean's site, you must go through your travel provider to cancel the cruise.

Can I get a refund on my Royal Caribbean cruise?

You may be able to get a refund for your cruise, depending on how far in advance you cancel you cruise and the type of cruise deposit booked. It is critical you understand the terms and conditions of your cruise contract before booking a cruise to prevent any surprises if you decide to cancel later on.

Refer to the chart above for specific cancellation charges, but if you inform Royal Caribbean at least 90 days prior to your sailing date for 5-night or longer cruises (including Holiday sailings and Cruisetours), or 75 days for 1-4 night cruises (including Holiday sailings), you may qualify for a full or partial refund.

The type of cruise fare deposit on the reservation and timing of the decision to cancel will ultimately dictate how much of a refund you will receive.

Can I cancel my cruise if I booked it during Covid-19?

Depending on when you booked your cruise, your reservation may still qualify for a flexible cancellation policy.

For much of the public health emergency in 2020 and 2021, Royal Caribbean offered customers the "Cruise with Confidence" program that allowed for cancelling or changing cruise plans without the usual penalties or fees associated with typically cancelling a cruise.

If your cruise was booked before March 31, 2022 and is scheduled to sail on or before September 30, 2022, then your reservation can be cancelled up to 48 hours before the sailing is scheduled to begin in exchange for a 100% future cruise credit.

The future cruise credit you receive must be used on a sailing that departs within one year of when the FCC is issued.

Cruise with Confidence covers even non-refundable deposits, which means no penalty for cancelling under Cruise with Confidence.

Can I cancel my cruise if someone tests positive for Covid-19?

Woman taking covid test

While the Cruise with Confidence program is no longer being offered, Royal Caribbean still offers a full refund if you or someone in your group tests positive for Covid-19.

Royal Caribbean's Covid-19 assistance program covers guests who test positive for covid at no extra charge.

If you, or anyone in your traveling party, tests positive for Covid-19 within 10 days before your cruise begins (or at the cruise terminal), Royal Caribbean will refund 100% of the cruise fare to all of you. You also have the option for a future cruise credit (FCC) instead.

Royal Caribbean defines "traveling party" as your family members living with you in the same household and traveling companions assigned to your stateroom on the cruise.

This applies to cruises departing on or before March 31, 2023.

Royal Caribbean says your test result must be submitted as proof of a positive result in order to qualify for a refund, unless you tested positive from a test administered by Royal Caribbean.

Can I cancel my Royal Caribbean cruise online?

In order to expedite the amount of requests for cancellations, Royal Caribbean has set up an online form to cancel your cruise.

You will need the Booking ID, Ship, Sail Date, and Last Name from the reservation you wish to cancel.  At that point, the website will present options available to you.

If you booked with a travel agent, I strongly advise that you speak with them first to determine your options. Moreover, an agent can handle the paperwork required for a refund; and serve as a go-between when (not if) refund delays occur.

How can I get my money back if I want to cancel?

If you are interested in getting your cash back, here are the options available to you:

Traditional cancellations will provide cash back, minus any change fees or associated penalties.  Quite often, guests run into penalties because they booked a non-refundable cruise fare and/or they are past the final payment date.

What about travel insurance?

Travel insurance covers a great deal of scenarios, but cancelling your vacation because you want to cancel is usually not covered.

Refer to your travel insurance policy, but unless you have a 'Cancel For Any Reason' policy, most travel insurance does not kick in until an outside influence occurs that prevents you from going on the cruise, such as becoming ill or another covered scenario.

Non-Royal Caribbean related refunds

Of course, you may have other purchases made in conjunction with your cruise vacation that is outside of Royal Caribbean. 

Each company you work with will have different cancellation policies, with some being far more flexible than others.

The airlines have modified their cancellation terms to be more flexible, although each airline has different rules regarding travel credits, refunds, or both. One loophole to getting a refund is if the airline cancels or changes your flight time, you may be able to jump in on a refund request.

Hotels have traditionally offered flexible cancellation terms, provided you did not opt for a non-refundable deposit. 

Perhaps car rentals have the most customer-friendly cancellations available; but you will have to refer to your rental reservation. 

Regardless of which refund you are requesting, the key is to be persistent and polite about getting answers to options available to you.

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