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Icon of the Seas construction update: mystery sphere installed on ship

In:
24 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

While we don't know what it is yet, the sphere-like object that is part of Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship has been installed onboard.

Icon of the Seas sphere installation

Royal Caribbean released a new construction update teaser that talks about the pearl-shaped object being added to Icon of the Seas.

We first spotted this object in December 2021, and it remains a mystery as to what it possibly could be.  Royal Caribbean has not confirmed what it is, but we do know now where it is located.

In the video update, the object was placed about mid-ship, amidst the various blocks of Icon of the Seas during her construction progress.

Sphere installation

It measures 46 feet tall and 50 feet in diameter, with 578 aluminum external panels.

According to the update, the object is 175-metric tons and was transferred on a barge down to the shipyard for installation.

Icon of the Seas is under construction in Turku, Finland.

Other interesting facts:

  • 9 miles of cables for power & lighting
  • 1,323 feet of air conditioning ducts
  • Steel mounting frames on the inside
  • It required two tugboats to move it to the shipyard
  • 5,600-metric-ton-crane lifted it into position
  • It's taken 45,000 working hours to construct the sphere

What is the sphere?

Since news of the sphere's existence came to light, Royal Caribbean has not confirmed what it is.

In fact, Royal Caribbean has released no information about what the design of the ship will be at all.

In March 2022, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider said about the new class of ship, "everything you'll see on icon will will be an evolution or revolution."

"And and we'll push forward again us being the at the top of the mantle on the ultimate family vacation."

There has been quite a lot of guesses shared on social media as to what the sphere might be, but it remains a question.

Whatever it ends up being, we'll have to wait for Royal Caribbean to reveal it at a later date.

Icon of the Seas will be the first ship in the Icon Class to launch.  She is scheduled to be delivered in Fall 2023, and there are two other Icon Class ships on order.

The other two ships will be delivered in 2025 and 2026.

Royal Caribbean's Memorial Day Sale offers up to 35% off savings

In:
24 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is celebrating Memorial Day weekend with a new Cruise Planner sale that offers up to 35% savings on pre-cruise purchases.

Allure of the Seas aerial rear

The Memorial Day Sale runs between May 24, 2022 - May 31, 2022 and is valid on sailings from May 29, 2022 - March 31, 2023.

The offer is valid on certain shore excursions, drink packages and internet packages.

Royal Caribbean states guests can expect to see:

Beverage: Up to 40% off

  • Classic Soda Beverage Package: 30% off onboard prices.
  • Classic Soda + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 20% off onboard prices.
  • Spring Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • San Benedetto Water Cans: Discount varies by ship.
  • Evian Water Bottles: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package: 30% off onboard prices.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship.
  • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices.

Shore Excursions: Up to 25% off

  • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship. 

Internet: Up to 50% Off

  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship. 
Giovanni's Table on Allure of the Seas

Dining: Up to 55% Off

  • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings: Discount varies by ship.

Gifts & Gear: Up to 20% Off

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

Photo Packages: Up to 70% Off

  • Photo Packages: From 5 - 100 Print and/or Digital Options: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: Private Photo Session: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: All Digital: Discount varies by ship.
Casita on Oasis of the Seas

Casitas: Up to 20% Off

  • Casita Packages: 20% Off Onboard Prices

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

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

Royal Caribbean cruises in June 2022: What to expect

In:
23 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

June is the official start of the summer cruise season, which means warm temperatures on pretty much every Royal Caribbean ship you can sail on (outside of Alaska).

Side of Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Have a cruise planned in June? This should provide you the important information for navigating a cruise this month.

June is when summer cruises get into full swing in Europe and Alaska. This means all the ships are in position to offer a full assortment of cruises this month.

Depending on where you live, school begins to let out for summer break during the month of June. This means as the month progresses, so do the crowds and demand for sailings.

Amalfi Coast

If you're looking to get a deal on a cruise, your best is to look for a last-minute cruise deal for early June. Of course, that may be easier said than done, as available cabins may be limited.

Ships sailing in June 2022

This month will see every single Royal Caribbean ship back in service again, as Rhapsody of the Seas restarted operations on May 23.

  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey until she moves to Southampton
  • 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
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Adventure of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Explorer of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California
  • Spectrum of the Seas from Singapore
  • Grandeur of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland
  • Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada or Seward, Alaska
  • Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada
  • Voyager of the Seas from Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Quantum of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
  • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
  • Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Brilliance of the Seas from Rome, Italy
  • Wonder of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome
  • Odyssey of the Seas from from Rome, Italy
  • Vision of the Seas from Barcelona, Spain
  • Rhapsody of the Seas from Rome, Italy
  • Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam, Netherlands

Royal Caribbean's ships will be operating out of three primary markets: Alaska, Europe, and Caribbean.

Read moreComparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska 2022

Summer is actually a off-peak time for cruises to the Caribbean. You will find far less ships sailing to the Caribbean because many vessels have been redeployed to Europe and Alaska. It's also as hot as it gets in the Caribbean during the summer.

The advantage of a summer cruise to the Caribbean is there are less ships overall to contend with, making for favorable conditions in the ports you will visit since there will be less passengers in port.

Health protocols for June 2022 cruises

Royal Caribbean's Covid-19 protocols are fairly consistent across the board, although there can be a few variations for certain European departures.

All Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose of their vaccine administered at least 14 days before sailing.

Boosters are not required, except for some European sailings require anyone that hasn't had their last shot more than 270 days ago to get a booster.

Royal Caribbean does not require kids younger than 12 to be vaccinated.

Masks are optional for vaccinated guests & recommended for unvaccinated children while onboard. Masks are no longer required at Adventure Ocean for kids 2 years and up, they are recommended for unvaccinated kids.

Masks are also now optional while in the cruise terminal before or after your cruise, unless mandated by local authorities.

Guests under 2 years old do not need to wear a mask.

Covid test

Vaccinated guests must show a negative COVID-19 test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. 

Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. This test cannot be taken on boarding day for unvaccinated kids.

Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test. 

June weather on a cruise

Couple walking in Italy

June temperatures in the Caribbean typically range from about 78 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and 70 to 80 at night. 

Expect water temperatures around 81 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

This means hot and humid conditions for a Caribbean cruise with very warm ocean temperatures as well.

Officially, the hurricane season begins on June first, but tropical storms don't usually get going until later in the season.

Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

Kayaking in Palma de Mallorca

Let's move over to Europe, where you will find the sunniest month of the cruise season. June is a fabulous time to take a Mediterranean cruise because of the warm, but not yet hot, temperatures that come later in the summer. On top of that, there are less crowds in June compared to next month.

June is also the time of year when the Mediterranean Sea is finally warm enough to swim, with an average water temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Read moreWhat is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

copenhagen denmark rosenborg

If your European cruise goes to Northern Europe, expect high temperatures in the low 60s, and night time temperatures in the low 50s.

Downtown Ketchikan

In Alaska, expect the least rain of the year. This is the perfect month for outdoor shore excursions, such as hiking.

Read moreBest things to do on an Alaska cruise

The average temperature for an Alaska cruise are lows in the upper 40s and highs in the mid-60s Fahrenheit. Towards the end of June, you benefit from additional daylight, with up to 18 hours of sunlight.

You're going to need layers for this sort of weather, so it's important to pack for your Alaska cruise effectively.

More information

Full Royal Caribbean fleet returns to service with Rhapsody of the Seas restart today

In:
23 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

It's taken many months, but every single Royal Caribbean cruise ship is back in service.

Rhapsody of the Seas in Bay of Kotor, Adriatic Sea, Montenegro

Rhapsody of the Seas returned to service on Monday, which was the last cruise ship in the fleet to resume cruises following the shutdown due to Covid-19 in 2020-2021.

Rhapsody is beginning to offer 7-night Mediterranean and Greek Isles itineraries from her summer home in Rome (Civitavecchia).

As of today, all 26 ships are back in service. To date, Royal Caribbean International has carried more than two million passengers, cruising to 160 destinations across 2,000 voyages. 

Royal Caribbean had methodically resumed service on 13 of its ships since August 2021, which involved gathering crew members to staff the ship, prep the vessel for operation, and get everything going onboard.

Onboard cruise ships, the Cruise Compass daily newspaper celebrated the entire fleet's return.


Photo by Nick Vitani

A long journey back

The entire cruise industry voluntarily shut down operations in March 2020 at the onset of Covid-19, and the trek to get all of its ships back has been quite a process.

Quantum of the Seas was the first ship to restart sailings, when she resumed cruises in December 2020 out of Singapore. 

It would take another six months for the next ship to restart, with Adventure of the Seas resuming cruises from Nassau, Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean's plan to restart sailings was centered around a slow and methodical process.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and former CEO Richard Fain talked about their plan at the onset of ships returning, "We don't expect that... someday somebody blows a horn, and all the ships start operating right away. We think that it will be a gradual start, a little bit like society is opening up gradually."

"So we would imagine that we would start with fewer ships, and more likely to be more drive markets in the beginning, and then it would then evolve and grow from there."

Since then, ships have been able to resume cruises from the United States, Europe, and select ports in the Caribbean.

The only market that remains completely shutdown still is China, although Royal Caribbean remains hopeful cruises will be able to sail from there again soon.

Odyssey of the Seas

In addition to getting all the ships back in service, Royal Caribbean also launched Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas.

Full capacity soon

Promenade deck

With every ship back in service, Royal Caribbean is also on the verge of its ships sailing full once again.

Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley indicated with every ship back in service, full capacity is around the corner as well.

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

By the time Royal Caribbean Group gets to the third quarter of 2022, they expect the entire company to be at "triple digits" in terms of capacity.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 22, 2022

In:
22 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!

Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean announced it has extended its Covid health protocols for both North America and European cruises.

North America protocols will be extended for sailings departing on or before September 30, 2022. European protocols have been extended for departures through June 30, 2022.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 455th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, featuring an interview with Chris Gray Faust from CruiseCritic.

In this episode, Chris and Matt discuss how Covid testing for European cruises is impacting demand for these sailings and what the future may hold.

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: I tried the cheapest Royal Caribbean cabin I could find

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 — I tried the cheapest Royal Caribbean cabin I could find — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

How to beat the chair hogs on your cruise ship

8 things some cruisers do that annoy everyone else | Royal Caribbean Blog

One of the most annoying things on a cruise are the people that reserve pool chairs without actually using them.

Since enforcement of the rules that are supposed to prevent chair hogs is lackadaisical, here are our best tips for getting around the chair hogs so you can still enjoy time by the pool.

50 Alaska cruise tips & secrets

Have an Alaska cruise coming up? We've compiled the largest list of Alaska cruise tips we can think of into one article!

Here are the fundamentals of planning a cruise to Alaska with some helpful advice you can use when you get there.

The top problems Royal Caribbean is facing as it returns to full capacity

Cruise ship docked in Miami

There's no sugar coating the fact that while Royal Caribbean is about to get all of its ships back into service this month, there are still challenges that lay ahead related to restart.

These issues impact the guest experience currently, and while likely temporary, they are still important considerations to be aware of before you sail.

Top ways to avoid crowds on an Alaska cruise

In:
21 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Alaska cruises are among the most popular cruise itineraries in the world. Delivering picturesque sailings to the state’s fjords, glaciers, and historic coastal towns, it’s no wonder so many cruise passengers flock to Alaska each summer. Over half of all tourists to Alaska visit via cruise ship, and it’s estimated that around 1.5 million passengers will cruise to Alaska in 2022 alone.

Empty Skagway street

After virtually zero cruise ship passengers in 2020 and figures at only a tenth of the typical passenger level in 2021, 2022 is shaping up to be a more “normal” year for Alaska’s cruise industry.

Passengers visiting Alaska this summer should expect crowds both onboard and in port. With Royal Caribbean’s ships set to reach full capacity and some Alaska cruise ports able to accommodate upwards of 15,000 visitors at once, you might be wondering if it’s possible to avoid crowds on your upcoming Alaska cruise.

The good news is that, no matter how crowded a ship or port may be, it’s always possible to find ways to escape the crowds. Whether that means opting for a private excursion as opposed to one with a large group, exploring on your own, or waking up early to enjoy an emptier cruise ship, here are our top tips for avoiding crowds on an Alaska cruise.

Wake up early

My best advice for avoiding crowds on any Royal Caribbean cruise, whether in Alaska, the Caribbean, or Europe, is to wake up early. Popular morning spots like the Windjammer, Cafe Promenade, and even the hot tubs are much less crowded early in the morning around 7AM as opposed to 8 or 9AM.

While waking up early on vacation may seem absurd, early morning on a cruise ship–especially in Alaska–can be extremely peaceful. Grabbing a latte or breakfast and watching the scenery from nearly empty public spaces onboard is a great way to start the day, and far less stressful than trying to eat in a jam-packed buffet once everyone else wakes up!

Book a balcony stateroom

If it fits into your cruise budget, consider booking a balcony stateroom to avoid crowds on an Alaska cruise. There’s no denying that a balcony enhances a cruise vacation, and having your own private space onboard where you can relax and watch Alaska’s scenery can be a huge benefit.

If a balcony room is out of your budget, though, you can still have a fantastic Alaska cruise vacation. In fact, a balcony may not be as necessary as you initially believe. You'll have more limited views from a balcony when compared to watching scenery from more panoramic areas onboard and you might find that you spend less time on the balcony due to chillier temperatures.

However, if maximum privacy is important to you, a balcony might be the best option.

Read more: 6 mistakes & 3 things we did right on our Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska

Find underrated spots to watch the scenery

A highlight of an Alaska cruise is watching the state’s magnificent scenery as you sail through the Inside Passage. Waterfalls, rocky mountain peaks, glaciers, and trees dot Alaska’s wilderness, and watching the scenery pass by from the ship is truly awe-inspiring.

Most passengers tend to flock to the pool deck on scenic cruising days, hoping to catch the best view of the scenery in all directions. Unfortunately, this area can get quite crowded and you may not always be able to snag a great viewing spot.

Therefore, instead of heading to the pool deck, consider watching scenery from other areas onboard. The Promenade deck, helicopter pad, far back of the sports deck, and indoor lounges like Two70 and the Viking Crown Lounge may have far fewer guests than the pool deck.

The Windjammer can be another unexpected great spot for scenery viewing, too. Windjammer locations on Royal Caribbean ships have large, floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a panoramic view of the scenery outside. Some ships may even have an outdoor seating area in the Windjammer, which is almost guaranteed to have fewer crowds than other areas onboard.

Book an Alaska cruise during shoulder season

If you haven’t booked your Alaska cruise yet but are hoping to avoid crowds, consider cruising to Alaska in the shoulder season. The months of May and September tend to bring fewer crowds than the peak summer months of June, July, and August.

Because the peak summer months coincide with the school calendar, you tend to see more families and crowds onboard and in port. This is also when Alaska’s weather is warmest, leading to higher demand.

While cruising to Alaska in the shoulder season may bring fewer crowds, it might also mean more unpredictable and rainier weather. However, prices during this time can often be much lower than in the peak season, allowing for some potentially big savings on cruise fare.

Read more: When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Explore ports on your own

Exploring ports on your own is always a nice way to avoid crowds, as you won’t be traveling with a large tour on a shore excursion. Luckily, Alaska cruise ports tend to be small and walkable, giving you easy access to the town’s highlights and nature on foot. You may also opt to rent a car, bike, or scooter to explore ports more in-depth on your own.

If you are exploring on your own, travel just a little off the beaten path to avoid crowds. Most visitors tend to stay within the first few streets of town closest to where cruise ships dock. By walking further away from the ship, you’ll encounter far fewer crowds while still being able to enjoy a nice walk through town and the surrounding areas.

If you’re hoping to visit destinations further from port, such as Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, consider visiting independently as opposed to booking an excursion. A guided tour may seem nice in theory, but being able to explore the glacier and hiking trails on your own time–and with fewer crowds from the tour group–will be well appreciated.

We recommend researching Alaska cruise ports in advance so you can have a better idea of what activities are available before your ship docks in port. Here are a few of our favorite activities and things to do in Alaska’s most popular cruise ports:

Book an excursion through Royal Caribbean’s Private Journeys

If you’re looking for a truly private and personalized shore excursion option, consider booking through Royal Caribbean’s Private Journeys. Royal Private Journeys is Royal Caribbean’s shore excursion option for those who would like a fully customizable, personalized excursion curated by the cruise line's Destination Insiders.

To book a Private Journey, you’ll first fill out a request form detailing the number of guests in your party, places of interests you would like to visit, and language preferences. Destination Insiders will then use your preferences to tailor a private shore excursion that fits within your interests.

Private Journeys do come at a higher cost than a regular shore excursion, but if avoiding crowds is important to you, a private excursion may be a nice solution.

What are your best tips for avoiding crowds on an Alaska cruise? Let us know in the comments!

Royal Caribbean extends North America and European cruise protocols

In:
20 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has extended its health protocols for both North America and European departures. 

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

North America protocols will be extended for sailings departing on or before September 30, 2022. In addition, European protocols have been extended for departures through June 30, 2022.

The only notable adjustment to the previous health & safety requirements includes terminal testing updates for departures from Italy, with the full details provided below. 

The remainder of the protocols remain unchanged and are simply extended beyond a broader sailing window.  

Empty Pool chairs

An update was sent to guests booked on cruises, as well as travel advisors, with the changes.

You can review every protocol depending on where you are sailing from on Royal Caribbean's website.

Protocols for sailings from Florida

Vaccines

All Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing.

Children age 11 and under do not require COVID-19 vaccination to cruise. However, kids age 5 to 11 who have been vaccinated may present proof of full vaccination and follow the protocols for vaccinated guests. 

Royal Caribbean will not accept a Certificate of Recovery in lieu of a vaccination record card for guests of vaccine eligible age.

All crew onboard the ship and at our private destinations are fully vaccinated and receive a booster dose as they become eligible.

Testing

Woman taking covid test

Before arriving on boarding day, you’ll need to take a COVID-19 test on your own, at your own expense, to meet boarding requirements in line with U.S. CDC guidance.

  • Vaccinated guests must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. Kids age 5 to 11 who have been vaccinated may present proof of full vaccination and follow the testing protocols for vaccinated guests.
  • Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before boarding day.
  • Unvaccinated kids' pre-cruise test cannot be taken on boarding day, because that may affect the sample taken during the kids' test at the terminal.
  • Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test.

For guests sailing to Bermuda, additional travel and testing requirements may apply to your sailing.

In addition to the pre-cruise test, unvaccinated kids will take one or two more tests, depending on the length of the cruise. Royal Caribbean's test provider will administer these, at no cost to our guests.

At the Terminal
For all cruises, unvaccinated kids will take a complimentary test when checking in at the terminal. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Prior to Disembarking
For cruises that are 5 nights or longer, unvaccinated kids will take a complimentary antigen test onboard before the cruise ends. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.

Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested.

Sailings longer than 10 nights may have additional onboard testing requirements.

Masks

Allure of the Seas

Masks are optional for vaccinated guests and recommended for unvaccinated children while onboard. 

In cruise terminals, masks are optional unless required by local regulation. Some destinations we visit may require masks.

Guests under 2 years old don’t need to wear a mask. These protocols remain subject to change.

Dining

In the Main Dining Room, vaccinated guests may dine with other vaccinated guests outside their travel party. Parties that include unvaccinated kids will be assigned a table of their own.

We recommend that you make dining reservations via Cruise Planner before your cruise or using the Royal Caribbean app onboard.

Tables and chairs in all dining areas are sanitized frequently.

Ports of call

Guests can visit most ports of call freely, regardless of vaccination status.

A couple of ports currently require guests to book a shore excursion to go ashore. These tours are available at a variety of price points and may be purchased in advance on Cruise Planner or once onboard using the Royal Caribbean App.

Protocols for cruises from Italy

Vaccines

Guests 12 years and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing.

Guests under 12 years who are vaccinated can present proof of vaccination and follow the vaccinated protocols.

Additionally, to be considered up-to-date, guests must have received all doses in their vaccine series and have received their booster if the second vaccine was administered over 270 days (9 months) ago.

The vaccine must be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Guests who are vaccinated with WHO approved vaccines, not approved by the EMA, will be considered unvaccinated for the purpose of our sailings departing from Italy.

Testing

Covid test

Pre-Cruise

  • Guests who are fully vaccinated must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day.
  • Guests who are considered unvaccinated must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 1 day before boarding day.
  • Kids under 12 years who have been vaccinated may present proof of full vaccination and follow the testing protocols for vaccinated guests.

Embark

There will no longer be testing requirements in the terminal for Italian departures. 

Onboard Testing

  • Guests who are considered unvaccinated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or who are not up-to-date with their vaccines will require additional testing during our sailings.
  • Onboard testing will be at the guest's expense if they 12 years and older and considered unvaccinated or if they are not up-to-date at the price of $55 USD per test.
  • Onboard testing will be complimentary for any unvaccinated guests ages 6 – 11 years who require testing.
  • These guests will receive registration information once onboard based on the below.
    • During the Cruise: Depending on our itinerary, guests 12 years and older — or 6 years and older in Italian ports — will have additional testing requirements.
    • Prior to Disembarking: Guests 6 and older who meet the above criteria may be required to test before disembarking.

Guests under 2 years old are not required to test.

Masks

Masks are optional for vaccinated guests and recommended for unvaccinated children while onboard. In our terminals, masks are optional unless required by local regulation.

Some destinations we visit may require masks. Guests under 2 years old don’t need to wear a mask.

These protocols remain subject to change.

What's real and made up on the 'Hacks' episode featured on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

In:
20 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

HBO's Emmy Award-winning show, "Hacks" just premiered its second season, that has one episode predominantly shown onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Photo HBO Max

Episode 4 in the second season is titled, "The Captain's Wife", and is centered around the main character's attempt to kickstart her comedy career by performing on a lesbian charter cruise.

Royal Caribbean fans would instantly notice the ship featured in this episode is Navigator of the Seas, which sails from Los Angeles down to the Mexican Riviera. 

Anytime a cruise ship is the focus of a television show or movie, cruise fans like to analyze how truthful the cruise experience is to reality.  In this episode, I found most of what they portrayed as accurate. As we'll see, there are a few things the show got right and a few areas they clearly took "poetic license" to make things look better.

Overall, I thought it was a very positive portrayal of Royal Caribbean and it was fun to see this week's episode prominently focus on a cruise ship. I'll let you be the judge.

Pool

Photo HBO Max

When the main characters arrive onboard, they start off at the Lime & Coconut pool bar, which is absolutely what the pool deck looks like today.

The pool deck is used quite a few times for the day scenes throughout the episode. It's clear they probably filmed while the ship was in port before the next sailing began, as the pool deck is the only area that actually looks like it does in real life.

"This is amazing! No wonder you love cruises, they're like the Vegas of the sea", Hannah Einbinder exclaims as soon as she boards the ship. I was glad to see cruise ships portrayed positively in this episode.  It's not uncommon for cruise ships to be the subject of stereotypes and clichés rooted in ships of the past.

Read moreWhy the cliche about cruise ships is totally wrong

Solarium


Photo HBO Max

After getting onboard the ship, Einbender's character heads to the Solarium bar for a drink.

This scene is filmed in the Solarium, which is the adults-only area of the ship. The bartender even has a Royal Caribbean nametag on and the same shirt the bar staff wears on the pool deck.


Photo HBO Max

If you want to nitpick, there was no exchange of a SeaPass card after she got the drink, but it's perhaps because this a charter sailing. 

Something else accurate is she asks the bartender about if they can make mocktails. When Royal Caribbean revamped their drink menu in 2021, they added a focus on mocktails. 

Read more8 mocktails to try on your next Royal Caribbean cruise

"It's a ship, not a boat"


Photo HBO Max

A recurring joke is anytime one of the characters refers to the ship as a "boat", someone immediately corrects them that they are on a ship.

This actually a very important distinction that crew members and repeat cruisers alike will almost always correct people on, because it's basically insulting to refer to a cruise ship as a "boat".

Vernacular understanding often explains that a ship can carry a boat, but a boat cannot carry a ship. That is a vessel is a boat if it is small enough to be carried, and a vessel is a ship if it is large enough to carry one smaller than itself. 

Read moreThe top 7 cruise ship things you're still saying wrong

Buffet


Photo HBO Max

All the interior shots are clearly on soundstages and not representative of what Navigator, or any Royal Caribbean cruise ship actually looks like. As I said before, I think they only had time to shoot while the ship was in port so they limited it to outdoor scenes.

The buffet certainly resembles the Windjammer buffet, although this version is quite narrower.

In short, there is indeed a buffet on the real thing, but there's more to it than we see.

Suite


Photo HBO Max

Jean Smart's suite almost looks like a real suite, but Navigator's interior motif is not nearly as nice as the show.

Besides the fact the room looks quite spacious, the room aesthetics are far different than the look of Navigator of the Seas' cabins. 


Photo HBO Max

It doesn't look that different from what Royal Caribbean suites sort of look like on newer ships, but it's certainly more modern looking than what you'll find onboard a real ship.

Piano bar


Photo HBO Max

In the evening, the main characters go to get a drink at a piano bar.

Navigator of the Seas has a piano bar, which is known as the Schooner Bar, but this is definitely not the Schooner Bar.


Photo HBO Max

Like the suite, this piano bar looks more modern and glitzy.  Unlike the Schooner Bar, there's no nautical theme at all present.

At the end of the scene, Jean Smart sings one of the songs instead of the piano player. This is definitely something that happens at the Schooner Bar, although rarely do the guests ever sound as good as Ms. Smart did in this.

Theater


Photo HBO Max

Jean Smart's character performs her comedy act onboard in the theater, which is a real location on Navigator of the Seas, but looks completely different in the show.

It's a shame they couldn't have filmed in the actual theater on Navigator of the Seas, because it's a beautiful space.

Aerial views


Photo HBO Max

Perhaps the most common mistake made about cruise ships on film is how they look. While they never name the ship in the episode, they use aerial shots of Symphony of the Seas.

Interestingly at the end of the show when the main characters disembark the ship unceremoniously, Navigator of the Seas is back in view from afar.

How to beat the chair hogs on your cruise ship

In:
19 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If there's one thing that annoys everyone on a cruise ship, it's the people that reserve pool chairs for the entire day.

Commonly referred to as "chair hogs", it's an unfortunate occurrence on cruise ships (and to be fair, many hotels and resorts as well). Basically, some people will leave their belongings on one or more loungers near the pool, and then disappear for hours before every using them.

Technically there should be pool attendants that look for the issue and remove the belongings, but in practice it rarely occurs.

All is not lost if you want to get a chair by the pool on your Royal Caribbean cruise. While we could complain about the issue occurring in the first place, I think the more practical solution is give you a way to beat the problem.

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

Speaking of the problem, it behooves me to point out that if the chair hog issue bothers you as much as it bothers me, don't be a part of the problem either. Utilize the strategies in this post and then relinquish your chair when you're not using it as a way to set a better example.

Read more8 things some cruisers do that annoy everyone else

Here are six easy ways to get a spot by the pool, despite the chair hogs you may encounter.

Get up early

Royal Caribbean to add lifeguards to its cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

While chair hogs are a problem, they don't get all the pool chairs right away.  In my experience, if you get yourself up to the pool in the morning, you can usually get a chair.

How early? Before 10am is usually a good rule of thumb to be able to get a chair. Shorter weekend cruises tend to attract more people to the pool, but you definitely want to get an early breakfast and then stake out your claim by the pool.

While sleeping in is a wonderful feeling, it will put you behind the eight ball in terms of getting a seat if you roll up to the pool deck later in the morning.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Michael's Day 4 - Falmouth | Royal Caribbean Blog

If getting up early is not going to happen (I'm looking at you Billy from CruiseHabit.com), then your next best option is to wait the chair hogs out.

As the afternoon progresses, people start to slowly leave the pool in order to prepare for dinner or their evening plans.  By 4pm, many chairs start to open up.

If your plan is to spend all day at the pool, then get up early for a chair. But if you just want a couple hours, you might see if you can sneak them in closer to dinner.

Rent a casita

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

Some people prefer to throw money at the problem, and Royal Caribbean offers casita rentals.

Available on a few cruise ships, these casitas come with a flat fee for use during the day.

Casitas are available on the pool decks of:

The price will likely vary, but we've seen prices of $199 for the day on a sea day and $149 on a port day.

Wonder of the Seas Guide, itinerary, features, and more | Royal Caribbean Blog

Not only do you get two chairs to use, but the rental also includes towels, a cooler, storage for your belongings and a charging outlet.

You will also get two complimentary Welcome Drinks and four chilled waters with your reservation.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean charging to reserve pool deck casitas on Odyssey of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

I'm sure there are some people not in love with the idea of spending money for pool chairs, but it is a sure-fire way to guarantee a spot for you on the pool deck.

Keep in mind the casitas are located on the upper pool deck, which means it is not on the same deck as the actual pool. You'll have to just walk down the stairs to the actual pool.

Hit the pool on port days

If waking up early and spending extra doesn't jive with you, then your next best bet is to hit the pool deck when your ship is docked in port.

On port days, many guests disembark the ship for their shore excursion and that means there is far less demand for the pool.

Port days will find the pool far less busy than on sea days, and that can be the perfect time to hit up the pool, as well as water slides or the FlowRider.

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

The downside to going to the pool on a port day is you are forgoing whatever activities you might be interested in while in port.  A good compromise is to do a tour in the morning, and then go to the pool after your excursion is complete.

Even after lunch, the pool deck usually doesn't get too busy on a port day.

Get a chair away from the pool

Empty Pool chairs

Let's say it's 1pm, you want to be outside and lay out in the sun on a sea day and renting a casita isn't in the cards. Now what?

There are usually lots of lounge chairs elsewhere on the pool decks, especially if you venture away from the pool.

Often there are unused chairs and loungers if you walk all the way forward or aft. I've found these chairs both in the sun and in the shade, depending on the location.

You won't be able to see the pool fun, but for many guests, it's just about being able to lay out and read a book, catch a nap, or enjoy the sun.

Look for a chair near the kid's pool

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

In my experience, chair hog's kryptonite is being near the kids area.

On ships that have Splashaway Bay or the H2O Zone, I've generally found more chairs available near these spots than the main pool.

Put on your noise cancelling headphones and enjoy the lounge chair you wanted, without nearly as much competition.

Book a suite

10 things to know about Sky Class suites on Royal Caribbean | Royal Caribbean Blog

On most ships, there is reserved seating for suite guests somewhere on the pool deck.

This reserved area usually has enough loungers throughout the day. Whether it's worth it to book a suite on Royal Caribbean or not, one consideration may be how much you may take advantage of the pool deck.

Odyssey Suite Sun Deck - Royal Caribbean Discussion - Royal Caribbean Blog

Keep in mind the suite sun deck is for guests in a Grand Suite or higher, so Junior Suites don't count.

If your idea of a great cruise is spending all day by the pool, booking a suite might be a good investment.

Which Royal Caribbean ships are powered by LNG?

In:
19 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

The cruise industry is always innovating its ships to make cruising not only more fun and exciting, but safer for guests and better for the environment.

LNG tanks

Back in 2016, Royal Caribbean announced it would be building a new class of ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). This class of ships is the Icon Class, which will debut next year with the first ship in the class, Icon of the Seas.

As environmental impact is one of the biggest complaints given to the cruise industry, the transition from diesel fuel to liquefied natural gas will be a great step toward a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable future for Royal Caribbean.

What is liquefied natural gas (LNG)?

Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is the cleanest fossil fuel that can be used by cruise ships today. LNG is a natural gas that has been liquefied at around -260 ° fahrenheit, producing a volume of around 600 times smaller than in a gaseous state, which makes the gas much easier to store and transport.

When ships are powered by LNG fuel, a ship’s carbon emissions can be reduced by around 30%. Additionally, sulfur emissions will be reduced by nearly 100% and nitrogen oxide emissions by around 85%.

Outside of producing fewer emissions, ships powered by LNG will have less wear and tear on the engine, resulting in fewer repairs and lower maintenance costs. LNG fuel is also cheaper than low-sulfur fuel, allowing Royal Caribbean to decrease fuel costs with LNG-powered cruise ships.

LNG will be utilized in conjunction with many of Royal Caribbean’s other energy-reducing technologies, such as air lubrication, which sends microscopic bubbles along the ship’s hull to reduce friction as it moves through the ocean, and advantaged waste heat recovery systems which turn waste heat into extra energy.

Royal Caribbean has stated that the “use of such technologies, including LNG, will result in further reduced emissions overall, virtually zero sulfur dioxides and particulates, and a significant reduction in the production of nitrogen oxides.”

Which Royal Caribbean cruise ships are powered by LNG?

Icon of the Seas keel-laying ceremony

While there are no Royal Caribbean cruise ships sailing today that are powered by LNG, four ships are in construction or on order that will have LNG power.

The first ship to be powered by LNG is Icon of the Seas, the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s new Icon Class. While not many details are known about the layout, amenities, itineraries, and activities that will be found on Icon of the Seas, what we do know is that the ship will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas.

One of the first additions to the construction of Icon of the Seas was the ship’s LNG fuel tank, measuring 307 tons and 90 feet long, which Royal Caribbean has stated is the largest in the cruise industry.

Icon of the Seas will be launched in Fall 2023, when she will sail from England prior to being homeported in Miami, Florida. It was recently announced that Icon of the Seas will be the largest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

The next Royal Caribbean ship to be powered by LNG will be Utopia of the Seas, the sixth ship in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class. She will be the first of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class cruise ships to be powered by liquefied natural gas, and will debut in Spring 2024.

In addition to Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas are plans for two other ships powered by LNG, which will be the second and third ships in the Icon Class. These two ships are estimated for completion in the second quarter of 2025 and the second quarter 2026, but are not yet named.

Outside of Royal Caribbean, LNG is a common trend in the construction of new cruise ships throughout the industry, with new cruise ships such as the Disney Wish, Carnival Mardi Gras, Norwegian Prima, and MSC World Europa all powered by LNG.