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Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Masada & Dead Sea, Israel

In:
25 Oct 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

It’s our second full-day in Israel onboard Odyssey of the Seas. The ship was docked overnight in Ashdod, which is the port city for Jerusalem.

Some chose to spend the night in Jerusalem while most of us seemingly returned to the ship. It was a quick night’s rest with another early morning for our full-day tour to Masada and the Dead Sea.

Originally, we had booked the Dead Sea on Your Own Tour. These excursions are essentially transportation to and from an attraction where you have time on your own. After second thought, we figured we should change to the Masada and Dead Sea tour to optimize our time in Israel and see as much as possible.

Today, we were not visiting any holy sites so we could wear shorts and tank tops. 

Masada Bound

The morning came too quickly at 5:45am. I think that is truly the earliest I’ve ever set my alarm on a cruise before! The earlier start is due to our ship moving from Ashdod to Haifa, and therefore we all need to be back by 6pm.

Our guide, Moshe (which means Moses in Hebrew) is apparently one of the oldest tour guides in Israel! He’s been giving tours for 40 years - so we knew we were in good hands.

The Windjammer was opened this early to accommodate those of us on long tours. The sun had yet to rise as we grabbed our breakfast.

We congregated in the Royal Theatre and soon we were on our way to Masada. We drove about an hour before the obligatory bathroom and shopping. I grabbed some local snacks to try. 

During the drive, we weaved through big mountains and valleys. We started to drive along the Dead Sea and we could see Jordan just on the other side of the sea.

For those who aren’t familiar (aka me this morning), Masada is actually a national park in Israel and it has the archeological structure of King Herod’s palace.

Mayhem at Masada National Park

Once we arrived at Masada, the parking lot filled in with tour bus after tour bus. We all blindly followed Moshe into the sea of people - little did we know the chaos we’d be walking into.

I should note, there are 3 ships in port today, including an Oceania cruise ship docked in Haifa and we had the addition of a Celebrity cruise ship today. Apparently, we were all on the same timeline of heading from the port to Masada and then on to the Dead Sea. Not to mention, there are other tour groups that are prevalent in these big attraction sites.

All this to say - there were tons of people. Come to find out, there are only two cable cars that go up to the top of Masada and back down.

Everyone first goes through a small theatre to watch the little bit about the history of Masada. During this point, people were getting a little more aggressive about pushing and shoving to stay with their groups. This felt a bit like Disney World with less organization and people who had no respect for waiting in a line.

After the theatre, it was a huge bottleneck to get to the platform for the cable car. My mom was losing it seeing all the people pushing and shoving. There was even a woman with her baby that people were shoving around, which was astonishing!

Moshe was cool as a cucumber during all this - stating in all his years of leading tours, he’s never seen anything like this.

We pushed our way onto the platform with many others from our group. We loaded into the cable car with about 60 others, packed in there like sardines. As we turned around, we saw dad was left behind and didn’t make it onto the platform with us.

As the cable car launched into the air, we waved goodbye to dad as he stood amidst the chaos. Luckily, there were others from our group that were also stuck so he wouldn’t be alone.

Even with the mess, the cable car ride was beautiful as it catapulted us to the top of Masada. As we landed to the launching pad, we could see a huge line of people waiting to get back. Imagining that we’d have to endure more pushing and shoving - this time in the heat - led to a collective, large and unanimous sigh among everyone in the cable car.

We made our way to a shaded area under the guidance of Moshe. It wasn’t long before we met up with the remaining group members and dad found us quickly, to the relief of everyone.

At this point, some group members contemplated getting right back in line to return to the museum. Mom considered going right back down, but I warned her this wouldn’t do anything productive. She’d still have to wait for the rest of the group to finish and I told her it wasn’t a good time for her to venture away from the group.

Many of us realized we were grossly behind schedule. I asked Moshe if we’d be getting back for the ship’s scheduled departure of 5:30. His eyes widened and he laughed. It was pretty obvious we wouldn’t be back on time, along with lots of other tour groups in the same boat.

This is an instance where I was extremely relieved to be on a cruise-sponsored excursion. Had someone ventured to Masada on their own and got caught up in the chaos, they could have easily missed the ship’s departure.

I don’t always take short excursions through the cruise line, but there’s a time and place where it’s worth the extra money and convenience. Since we were on a Royal Caribbean excursion, we had the security knowing the ship wouldn’t leave without us and that gave us all a sense of relief.

Moshe guided us through the Masada fortress; however, it was quite hot and I have to admit that I was more concerned with taking panoramic photos of the view than trying to hear everything Moshe had to say. Everything was a bit of a whirlwind!

We toured where Herod the Great, King of Judea, lived. We saw the original bath structure that King Herod built. It’s believe that a mass suicide event took place in Masada when the Romans came to conquer the fortress, although archeologists don’t all agree with this theory.

Masada is one of the top tourist attractions in Israel and seeing the mountain-top fortress was very compelling. It’s not surprising that this is a major attraction given how far back the history dates!

It wasn’t long before we found ourselves back in line to take the cable car again. This line appeared more organized, although there was another bottleneck before entering the structured line area.

Our little tour group started to band together and ensure people weren’t cutting in front of us. We started to yell and point at others who weren’t obliging to the line.

Again, Moshe was cool as a cucumber. He was chatting with everyone and learning about their lives. He said this was his first time to Masada in 3 years because of the pandemic and he had never seen so many lines.

On the other hand, we couldn’t find mom at one point because she was down by the bottleneck calling out groups for not going to the back of the line. “A line is a line!” she kept yelling.

We cheered on mom as the line patrol. Moshe never lost his cool and said that’s just the way it is in Israel!

At one point, a ton of people started yelling and one of the cable car workers had to run over and start putting people in their place.

There were some tour groups claiming that they were planning to take the trail down - which can take an hour depending on your health. We all rolled our eyes at the group of baby boomers claiming they were going to take the rocky trail downward.

This all transpired while my deodorant was working overtime to keep up with the rising heat. It was dry and hot on the top of Masada while we were all trying to find humor in the chaos.

That’s just the way it goes sometimes when you travel!

In actuality, it took about 30 minutes to get back on the cable car and make our way back to the national park entrance. This was an improvement from the hour we waited to go up. We started chatting with a lot of our fellow tour members; it was almost as if we had a little trauma bond going on.

Although this was a bit chaotic, I can't really blame anyone. No one wanted to be separated from their group, hence the aggression in the lines. One of the tour guides explained that this is how things work in Israel and that us Americans have high standards for how operations should be run. That was an interesting perspective.

With only a few people working the cable cars and thousands of people going to the same spot at the same time, it was destined for mayhem. Moshe was apologetic was how unorganized it was, but of course, this was not his fault. This is one of those instances where you just have to go with the flow!

Dead Sea Bound

Back on the bus, we all cheered when every person miraculously made it back to the bus. Some members only rode the cable car to the top and stayed on to ride it back down. For those with mobility issues, this wasn’t a bad idea since the cable car ride was beautiful!

We were about 1.5 hours behind schedule when our bus made the short drive to the resort area near the Dead Sea.

At the resort, we were provided lunch and entrance to the changing area, spa and beach. The buffet had a variety of options, but I enjoyed the chicken fingers and French fries while dad tried a mystery meat that we have yet to identify.

We changed into our swimsuits and walked down to the beach. The Dead Sea is 400 meters below sea level - making it the lowest place on the planet!

Mom was actually the first in the water, which is funny because she can’t swim! The idea of not physically being able to drown must have given her courage.

We all joined her in the sea and laid on our backs as the salty sea kept us bobbing on the surface. I’ve never felt anything like it! Truly, it was one of the coolest experiences ever! 

We bobbed around the sea for a while -  noting how smooth and salty our skin felt. A tiny taste of the water on my lips was enough to keep me from any sort of splashing.

The sea floor bottom is filled with clumps of salt, so it wasn’t necessarily very nice to walk on. We had about 30 minutes to enjoy the Dead Sea, which honestly was plenty given the saltiness of the water.

It wasn’t long before there was an announcement for our bus to get ready for leaving in the next 20 minutes. Angie and I used the outdoor shower to rinse off and back into the changing room.

The drive back to the port was uneventful and quiet as many napped. I worked on this blog whenever the bus wasn’t weaving up the mountains.

Late Arrival Back to Port

We arrived back to the ship only an hour late, which isn’t as late as many of us were anticipating. The captain announced we would be departing at 8:00pm instead of 6:00pm.

After a long day touring, we decided to have dinner in the Windjammer again rather than having a long meal in the dining room. Again, I was pleasantly surprised by dinner selection in the Windjammer, as I really don’t eat dinner here often.

The ship feels a little tired and slow tonight with everyone recovering from their second full in Israel.

We ended the night with cocktails at Lime and Coconut to watch the ship’s departure; however, we didn't end up leaving until 9:00pm. We also used all of our Diamond vouchers to get canned water instead of letting them to go to waste. 

Tonight, the ship will move from Ashdod to Haifa, which is just down the road. Tomorrow, we have a tour of Nazareth and Galilee, which will includes a stop in the Jordan River.

Luckily, we only have to meet our tour at 8am, so not as early. We are looking forward to a more restful night before our third and final day in Israel.

Get up to 25,000 rewards points from American Express with this new offer

In:
24 Oct 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If you carry an American Express credit card, you should check to see if you have a new offer to get a lot of money back for simply booking a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Amex Offers are an area at the bottom of the page when you log into the American Express site, where you can earn all sorts of statement credits for buying things from certain vendors.

Select card members may see an offer to get up to 25,000 bonus rewards points for booking a new Royal Caribbean cruise.

The exact offer seems to vary depending on who the cardholder is, but if you have an American Express card, it is worth checking out if the offer is for you. 

Since there are many types of American Express cards, not all of them may offer it.

Like all Amex Offers, there is specific language about how you can redeem this offer:

"Offer valid on cruise bookings made online at royalcaribbean.com, by calling 1-866-562-7625 or booked through your Travel Professional. Reservations must be booked on US website only. Purchases must be made in US dollars. "

"Excludes onboard purchases, e-gift card and physical gift card purchases made online, transfers/transportation to the ship, MGM Resort International Joint Vacation and Royal Wedding Packages. Excludes Celebrity Cruise, TUI Cruises and Silversea brands."

American Express cards

Keep in mind you do not have to spend the qualifying amount in one transaction. Rather, you can do it over the course of many transactions, but the offer kicks in once the aggregate total exceeds the threshold for the offer.

It can be redeemed once, and is open to only U.S.-issued American Express Cards.

You must take advantage of the offer by 12/31/2022.

Typically, Amex offer statements appear on your statement within a day or two, it can sometimes take several days for the statement credit to hit your account. 

How much are 25,000 AmEx Membership Rewards Points worth?

American Express website on laptop

Getting 25,000 points sounds great, but what kind of a benefit is that to you?

There are many ways to possibly redeem your points, especially depending on which American Express card you have.

AmEx card corner

According to a NerdWallet analysis, AmEx points value is between 1 cent when used to book travel directly and 2 cents when transferred to partners.

The Points Guy estimates Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each.

Using your points for airfare is typically the best value, while redeeming them for cash to erase eligible charges from your statement is widely considered a poor value.

How to activate the offer

Person using computer

Before you can utilize an Amex Offer, you generally have to activate it on your account, so before paying for anything, be sure to do that. By using your credit card at a qualifying merchant, you can instantly take advantage of the discount, credit or bonus by using your American Express card there.

Simply log into your American Express account on their website or via their app.

Amex Offers

Look for the Amex Offers & Benefits section, which is usually located towards the bottom of the main page.

Categorized under "Travel", you should see the Royal Caribbean offer there.

Pro tip: This offer can be activated for each card, so if your spouse has a shared card, you could activate the offer for their card and "double dip".

How to use this if you use a travel agent

You may notice in the fine print for this offer it states you can use a travel professional with this offer, which means you can still support your favorite travel agent.

You could simply book this offer with them, or book it on your own and transfer it to the agent immediately afterwards.

Even after booking a cruise with Royal Caribbean directly, you have up to 30 days to transfer it to a travel agent after initial booking. It must be outside of Final Payment and the booking is not paid in full.

I would recommend informing your travel agent what you are doing first, so they can be prepared for the necessary paperwork to transfer it to them.

All you have to do is complete this online form and the booking gets transferred to the agent.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Jerusalem, Israel

In:
24 Oct 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Hello from Israel - we’ve made it! Our morning started super early with a 6:30am alarm, which gave us an hour to get ready, have breakfast and meet in the Royal Theatre for our excursion.

Today, we had a 10 hour excursion that would visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Angie and I made our way to the Windjammer to meet mom and dad for breakfast. We ate quickly and got ready just in time for us to go to the Royal Theatre.

By 8am, the ship had docked in Ashdod and they were clearing immigration. Along with the rest of our tour, we were escorted off the ship and into the terminal for face to face immigration.

As I mentioned yesterday, everyone onboard has to do immigration in Israel - even if you’re not getting off the ship in the port. Everyone on a Royal Caribbean excursion has priority, so most people on independent tours weren’t able to go through immigration until later in the morning.

Most were scrambling to get on a Royal Caribbean excursion or to move their independent tours to later in the day.

I’d highly recommend if you’re in a port that requires immigration to book an excursion for priority disembarkation. We also had this same mentality for Santorini, where we have to tender and will have priority on an excursion.

Immigration was quick and painless. From our research, we were prepared to pack our patience for going through immigration; it was a breeze for us on our excursion!! We were given a gate pass to keep in our passport throughout our stay in Israel.

In leu of a stamp, the gate pass acts as our entrance into the country. An Israeli stamp could prohibit future travel to Arab countries, so the gate pass is a way around that.

We were on the tour bus by 8:30 and on our way into Jerusalem from the port. The drive is about an hour into town and the port is very industrial.

Our guide, Ronen, gave us the low down on Israel. Our first stop in Jerusalem was a lookout spot that overlooked the entire city. We could see the Dome of the Rock with its gold dome off in the distance - this is one of the most photographed buildings in the world!

Also within view was the Mount of Olives, which Christians believe to be the mountain where Jesus the Messiah ascended into heaven.

This was a beautiful stop with panoramic views of the mountainous and hilly Jerusalem.

After the photo-op, we made our way into the old town to see the Western Wall. We had to go through a basic security check-point. There was a side for men and a side for women, but this was not being followed by anyone.

Once inside, there was a large square surrounded by the Western Wall with many people praying.

This is made of ancient limestone in the Old City of Jerusalem. The ancient wall, a small segment still standing off a once-larger surrounding wall, is a sacred place for Jews. It’s common practice to write your prayers/wishes on a piece of paper and place the paper in the wall.

There were 2 sections of the wall, one for men and one for women. Interestingly, the men’s side is probably three times bigger than the women’s side. The men’s side has tables with purple cloths overhanging while the women’s side had no such thing.

There was also a barricade between the two sides. The women’s side had stools that we could step on to see the men’s side.

I read that women needed to wear head coverings at the Western Wall, but this did not appear to be true. If it was, no one was enforcing the head coverings.

We didn’t have too much time at the Western Wall, just enough to take some pictures and place our prayer wish in the wall. Some were complaining about the lack of time at the Western Wall; however, I thought it was enough time.

Following our time at the Western Wall, we walked through a series of markets. These remind me of the medians in Morocco with lots of trinkets and hagglers.

As we made our way through the alleyways, we learned about a few Stations of the Cross along the way. Quite the juxtaposition to hear about Jesus walking these same steps to seeing Mickey Mouse on a bunch of t-shirts.

The alleyways were narrow with many shops, but it was fascinating to see and learn about the different stations of the cross that led us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church has 2 grey domes that can be seen from across Israel and it’s considered one of Christianity’s most holy site. 

At this point, the guide said we would be climbing steep, slippery stairs inside the church. Some of the others in our group stated they weren’t able to do the stairs. As we went inside, we saw one lady crawling up the stairs because she was so determined to get to the top. 

This is why I’m so vocal to others, and especially to my parents, about the importance of traveling while you are (relatively) young and able. These kinds of trips are exhausting for able-bodied people, but we had some struggle to keep up all day. 

The excursion stated we would be walking on uneven surfaces for 3 miles - and we definitely did. Some were grumbling that the tour was too fast-paced for them, although we found it to be appropriate given all the things we were seeing in one day. 

Inside the church, we made our way up the stairs to see multiple sacred spaces, which include the spots where Christians believe Jesus was nailed to the cross and crucified. Many were waiting in line to kiss and bow to these sacred spots, although our tour didn’t allow time for this. 

We also touched the Stone of Anointing, which is known as the spot where Jesus was laid before he was buried. Many were taking personally items, like veils and souvenirs. and rubbing them on the stone as well. 

Last, we were able to see the Tomb of Jesus inside the church. According to traditions dating back to the 4th century, Christians believe this to be the spot where Jesus was resurrected after his death. There was a long line to enter the tomb with only one person able to go inside at a time, and our tour didn’t include this. 

We weaved quickly through the markets and I snagged a magnet, which is my favorite souvenir for my fridge. I haggled down from $7 to $3, which is about what I expected. 

Back on the bus, we stopped for a lunch buffet with all the other tours from the ship. There was a wide selection of food served in a buffet style.

We finished eating and the bus started heading towards Bethlehem. Those familiar with the area will know that Bethlehem is under Palestinian rule in the West Bank, so we had to enter their territory. We drove right through the border check but could see barbed wire and police guarding the entrance. 

Upon entering the West Bank, we also got another tour guide who would cover the Palestinian locations. 

I could immediately tell Bethlehem was not as nice as Jerusalem- there were many run down buildings and the streets were filled with trash. 

While I’ve always envisioned Bethlehem as being some sort of nativity with donkeys, I was shocked by the KFC right in the city center. It was nothing like I envisioned. 

Our new guide took us into the Church of the Nativity, which is where Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus. We didn’t have time to wait in the 2 hour line to see the actual manger spot, but those in line were showing signs of frustrating and angst as they stood in the heat.

At one point, someone in line pushed and yelled at our tour guide as he maneuvered our group around the line to talk about the church’s restoration. 

Throughout this tour, we lost 2 separate groups that would rejoin us during a later part of the tour. I thought the guide was joking when he said it’s normal for at least a few people to get lost or left behind! Luckily, our ship is docked overnight and they gave out the locations to share with taxi drivers to meet up. 

I had always pictured some sort of farm on the prairie with a cute little nativity scene in a barn - and this was nothing like what I expected. Travel can surprise us, that’s for sure. 

We had a quick shopping stop at a store that was almost certainly sponsored by Royal Caribbean. They put Jesus’ face on everything you can imagine in this store - even fingernail clippers. 

This was the last stop on our tour, and I used the hour drive back to the ship to go through photos and get started on this blog. 

The weather today was perfect and about as good as we could have hoped for! It was warm but not super humid with a slight breeze. 

We are so grateful that we booked this excursion instead of doing a third-party excursion as we had planned. We had a full day and got everything on our agenda before sunset. We certainly wouldn’t have seen everything we wanted to without getting off the ship so early with the priority immigration through the RCL excursion we booked. 

Before entering the port, we had to go through an immigration check where a local immigration officer had our tour guide sign a form. Almost every tour was getting back at the same time and it took us 30 minutes by the time we entered the port to the time we actually got to the ship. 

We were back onboard by 8:00pm, so we weren’t able to dine in the dining room. We went up to the Windjammer for dinner, which might be a first for me as well! I can't remember the last time I had Windjammer for dinner, but I was pleasantly surprised with how tasty it was. By this point, we were pretty hungry. 

Dinner tonight was BBQ themed in the Windjammer! Crazy to think we wandered some of the oldest religious sites in the world and then came back to the ship to have corn dogs, ribs, mac and cheese and funnel cakes. 

 

Tomorrow, we have an even earlier wake-up time with a 5:45am alarm. We will be heading to the Dead Sea and Masada for a full-day tour! It takes 2 hours to get to the Dead Sea from Ashdod, so we are anticipating another long day of exploring this beautiful country.

Until then, good night everyone!

Royal Caribbean opens Icon of the Seas cruises for booking

In:
24 Oct 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

You can now book a room on the world's next largest cruise ship in the world.

Icon of the Seas render at CocoCay

Icon of the Seas sailings from Miami are now available for booking on Royal Caribbean's website, beginning with January 2024 sailings.

The inaugural sailing is listed as January 27, 2024 and sailings are available to book from January 2024 through April 2025.

Icon of the Seas will sail year-round, 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean vacations from Miami. Every cruise will visit Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas.

Icon of the Seas sailings for sale

Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley talked about the significance Icon of the Seas represents to both Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry, "Icon of the Seas is the culmination of more than 50 years of delivering memorable experiences and our next bold commitment to those who love to vacation."

"Now more than ever, families and friends are prioritizing experiences where they can bond and enjoy their own adventures. We set out to create a vacation that makes all that possible in one place for the thrill-seekers, the chill enthusiasts and everyone in between, without compromise. It’s this first-of-its-kind combination that makes Icon the future of family vacations, and that future is here."

Royal Caribbean not only has cabins to book on Icon of the Seas that follow the traditional four types of categories (inside, oceanview, balcony and suite), but there are 28 unique categories, offering some of the most spacious rooms Royal Caribbean has ever designed.

Hidewaway aerial

With a gross tonnage of 250,800 gross tons, the ship is 365 meters long, and it features a total of 20 decks and 2,805 staterooms to accommodate up to 5,610 guests at double occupancy.

ou will find 82% of rooms have a high occupancy of 3 or more guests, which is more than double the Oasis Class ships.

Icon of the Seas will be home to seven pools, a 55-foot indoor waterfall, the largest waterpark at sea and much more.

New neighborhoods

Surfside family

Similar to the Oasis Class ships, Icon of the Seas will have eight distinct neighborhoods that have unique experiences that will draw you to each one, such as entertainment, dining choices, or activities.

Thrill Island water park render on Icon of the Seas

Thrill Island – Vacationers can test their limits, scale new heights and reach top speeds at the center of thrillThis lost island adventure is home to highlights like Category 6, the largest waterpark at sea, with six record-breaking slides: Pressure Drop and its 66-degree incline make it the industry’s first open free-fall slide; the 46-foot-tall Frightening Bolt, the tallest drop slide at sea; Storm Surge and Hurricane Hunter, the first family raft slides at sea with four riders per raft; and Storm Chasers, cruising’s first mat-racing duo. Living on the edge takes new meaning with Crown’s Edge. Part skywalk, part ropes course and part thrill ride, it culminates in a surprising, shocking moment that will see travelers swing 154 feet above the ocean.

Lagoon pool

Chill Island – Among the seven pools on board, four are in this three-deck slice of paradise. There’s a pool for every mood, each with prime ocean views: the vibrant Swim & Tonic, the line’s first swim-up bar at seaRoyal Bay Pool, the largest pool at sea; Cloud 17, an adults-only retreat; and the serene, infinity-edge Cove Pool. Plus, The Lime & Coconut returns with four locations, including Royal Caribbean’s first frozen cocktail bar.

A look down the Surfside neighborhood

Surfside – Introducing a neighborhood made for young families from end to end, where adults and kids ages six and under will want to stay and play all day. Grownups can soak up the endless views at Water’s Edge pool, as they keep an eye on the kids at Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay. Only steps away are dining options, places to lounge, a bar, the signature carousel, an arcade, Adventure Ocean, and Social020 for teens.  

Hideaway at sunset

The Hideaway – Tucked away, this neighborhood 135 feet above the ocean combines the good vibes of beach club scenes around the world and the uninterrupted ocean views only a cruise can offer. The first suspended infinity pool at sea is at the center of it all, and it’s surrounded by a multilevel sun terrace with whirlpools, a variety of seating and a dedicated bar.

Aquadome render

AquaDome – Perched at the top of Icon, what’s in store is a transformational place unlike any other. In a tranquil oasis by day, guests can take in wraparound ocean views and an awe-inspiring waterfall as they enjoy a bite or drink. By night, it becomes a vibrant place great for a night out, complete with restaurants, bars and the cruise line’s marquee aqua shows at the next-level AquaTheater. The signature entertainment venue takes artistry and cutting-edge technology to new heights, with a transforming pool, four robotic arms, state-of-the-art projection and more.

Pearl on the Royal Promenade

A grander Royal Promenade features its first floor-to-ceiling ocean views, plus more than 15 restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges.

Central Park render on Icon of the Seas

A more lush and livelier Central Park has more ways to dine and be entertained.

Suite Sun Deck render on Icon of the Seas

The largest Suite Neighborhood is four decks of luxury, offering a multilevel suite sun deck – The Grove – that has a private pool, whirlpool and dining, and a two-story Coastal Kitchen.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean reveals spectacular design for new Icon of the Seas cruise ship

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

Icon of the Seas is under construction at the Meyer Turku Shipyard shipyard in southwestern Finland.

This is the first of the Icon Class ships, with two other Icon Class ships on order.

Her delivery was pushed back from 2022 to 2023 due to the global health crisis. 

Icon of the Seas teaser screen grab

Royal Caribbean expects to take delivery of the ship in late 2023 and then put the ship through a series of tests before she is ready for paying passengers.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Limassol, Cyprus

In:
23 Oct 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Hello from the beautiful island of Cyprus! Our consecutive sea days came to an end as we pulled into Limassol, Cyprus around 9am.

Odyssey of the Seas docked in Cyprus

As I mentioned yesterday, we opted to cancel our walking tour excursion through the ship to do our own thing. Knowing we have 3 full days in Israel coming up, we wanted to have the flexibility to do whatever we wanted.

Angie and I enjoyed sleeping in a little longer than we were planning. Tomorrow morning's 6:30am wake-up call will be brutal!

We met up with mom and dad in the Windjammer for breakfast. This was, shockingly, our first time we’ve been to to the Windjammer. I love all the options available in the Windjammer - I think it's my favorite spot for breakfast when cruising. 

I was hoping to find outdoor seating like my husband and I enjoyed on Anthem of the Seas each morning, but there was no outdoor Windjammer seating for this ship. 

After a delicious breakfast, we made our way to the stateroom to get ready for the day and make our way to the gangway.

A Cyprus Dizzy Spell

After exiting the ship, I had my own 'Alpha Alpha Alpha' medical scare right after getting off the ship!

We took the elevator straight down from the top deck and then got off the ship. I noticed my ears were not popping, which is unusual, so I plugged my nose and forced my ears to pop.

All of the sudden, my ears started making some screeching sounds and everything started to spin. I was so dizzy, I couldn’t even look straight. Angie said I looked like I was in a sumo wrestler squat as I tried to get my footing. I started to hang onto my mom and then crouched a bit to create a sturdy base.

Unfortunately, the dizziness got worse and I went straight to the ground. I didn't want to take mom down with me, as she's not necessarily the most physically stable person as is. I didn’t feel faint, just extremely dizzy.

I knew if I didn’t get to the ground myself that the ground would find me - and I would fall flat on the concrete. There I was, having my own alpha alpha alpha medical scare right off the gangway.

I started to panic - what if I can’t see straight for a while?! I’ve never had vertigo of any sort and I rarely even get seasick. It felt like I was on an uncontrollable roller coaster.

A small group of concerned cruisers came crowding around me but I kept saying, “I’m fine, I’m fine! I popped my ears and now I can’t see straight”. 

Luckily, after staring straight into the distance for a minute or so, my vision started to get better.  Once the world stopped spinning, I grounded myself and felt fine enough to continue walking. I’ve never had something like this happen to me - it was a scary moment for sure. 

Perhaps my equilibrium was thrown off from getting off sea to land and then popping my ears exasperated the issue. That's the last time I force my ears to pop!

Exploring Limassol

Royal Caribbean provided free shuttles from the port into the city for free. This was a nice option, as the port was more industrial than I expected. The ride lasted no more than 10 minutes into town, which is just a few miles from where our ship docked.

We were out of the shuttle and dropped off near the Limassol Marina, which was a beautiful part of the city. This area was lined with shops, boats and seaside eateries. The water was strikingly blue.

First on our list was the Limassol Castle, which would have been part of our walking tour we originally booked. As we weaved through the side streets, we stumbled upon a lot of little souvenir shops. It was nice to shop and explore the old city without being on a time crunch.

We also noticed there were tons of cats wandering around the island. One of the shop owners claimed a street cat as their own, but we saw probably a dozen different cats throughout the day wandering the streets.

The Limassol Castle was not far from where the shuttles dropped us off. It was an easy and leisure walk - no more than 5 minutes had we walked straight there. The castle was built in 1590 according to our online research and it was a quaint little castle.

There was an entrance fee for going into the castle and we didn’t really feel like going inside, so we just admired the outside of the medieval structure.

Next, we walked through old town a little more and stumbled into some cute side streets and alleys. There were even more shops to enjoy. I was amazed by how quiet the city seemed, but perhaps this was because it was a Saturday.

We made out way back to the ocean and found a promenade, which was a nice walkway right along the sea. It was lined with palm trees, parks and eateries. There was a lovely breeze that kept the heat at bay.

During our walk, we found a spot to sit down and grab a quick drink. The menu stated if you left a TripAdvisor review that you would get a free drink; so, I promptly opened my phone and left a review. Say no more - anything for a free drink! Angie had the free drink while I ordered a limoncello cocktail.

Both cocktails were equally beautiful as they were delicious! It was nice to sit down and enjoy the ocean views under some covered shade.

 

Once we finished our drinks, we started to make our way back to the shuttle meeting spot; again, we walked along the promenade. This brought us all the way back to the Marina, where we enjoyed more of the local sights.

All of us really enjoyed Limassol! I would love to go back and take a tour of some of the other main attractions on the island. Given the port-intensity of this itinerary, we wanted to take it easy today in preparation for our next 3 days in Israel.

Back Onboard

As we made our way back to the ship, we went up to the pool deck for a quick snack. We walked about 4 miles while in Limassol so we worked up an appetite!

We all went to my new favorite spot, El Loco Fresh. The cheesy chicken quesadilla with sour cream just hits the spot every time. Mom and dad enjoyed some nachos.

The Caribbean band started to play as I went through today’s photos. I loved all the songs they were playing - even some Ed Sheeran ones with a Caribbean flair. It was a nice way to spend the late afternoon before we went back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. I even dozed off at one point while relaxing in the lounger.

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen

As the sun started to set, we went back to our staterooms to get ready for dinner. For tonight, we had a reservation for Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen. We’ve dined many times at the old Giovani’s Table, but we had not tried this new twist on the Royal Caribbean classic.

To start, our waiter, Anil, was excellent. His warm presence immediately made us feel welcomed into the restaurant. Since we’ve never dined at this establishment, there were quite a few things on the menu that we wanted to try.

He first brought us the warm garlic knots were oozing with buttery goodness - we immediately ordered a second serving.

For starters, we tried the Giant Meatball, Stromboli, Truffle Caprese Salad and Calamari. Everything was excellent. I loved the Truffle Caprese Salad and Angie also really liked the Stromboli. The meatball was indeed giant and very hearty. 

Giovanni’s is known for its pizza, so we ordered the Meatlovers pizza and the Truffle & Egg pizza sans the egg. The hit of the night was the Truffle pizza, which had the perfect hints of truffle. There wasn’t a piece left at the end of the night.

For pasta, we tried the Carbonara and Fettuccini Alfredo. The Carbonara was the showstopper at our table.

Entree wise, Mom ordered the Chicken Parmesan and Dad ordered the steak filet. Both said their meals were awesome. Dad even said the filet was *almost* as good as the steak he had in Chops Grille the first night! Our compliments to the chef.

Halfway through dinner, we saw the ship start to pull away from the port. We were hoping to see the sunset over Cyprus, but the sun had already set. We waved goodbye to the city as the ship turned around and started its way out to sea.

I wish the specialty restaurants had better ocean views, as all we could see were the big yellow lifeboats from inside the both Chops Grille and Giovani's.

 

Back to our meal, we also ordered a lasagna to share and the serving was absolutely huge. It was practically an entire pan of lasagna; unfortunately, this one wasn’t our favorite and we felt a little wasteful for wanting to try it and then not loving it.

 

Normally, we are pretty good about ordering only what we know we will eat. We’ve cruised enough to know the portion sizes that are adequate, but we definitely over ordered tonight. If we return to Giovanni’s, we know what to order and how big to expect the portions.

We always save enough room for dessert, which is served with a complementary shot of limoncello. Mom and I are the only ones who like limoncello, so I finished the shots from Dad and Angie.

Angie and I tried the Nutella fried ravioli, which was rich and decadent. Dad had the tiramisu and mom had the banana Nutella Stromboli, which is what Anil recommended. We were in Nutella heaven!

Overall, dinner was excellent and we would happily dine at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen again. I love the revamped feel to make the space more trendy and less formal. I always enjoyed Giovanni’s Table and the food that was served, but I think we prefer Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen.

We had wonderful and attentive service from Anil and his partner - they both made our experience even better. 

Angie said she was ‘as stuffed as that Giant Meatball’ after the meal! I empathize with this metaphor.

Israeli Plans for Tomorrow

There isn’t a ton of entertainment tonight happening, as most are getting ready for the next few days in Israel. We have all day shore excursions booked through the ship for all 3 days.

We originally had a third-party tour booked for tomorrow, but we opted to book a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean instead. Excursions for the days in Israel were booked many months in advance and some have been sold out for months. Just about two months ago, more excursions were opened up and we made the decision to book through the cruise line instead.

There are a few reasons for this. First, we felt it would be the safest option to book through Royal Caribbean since local tour guides might have less risk tolerance. We also had extra flexibility and added convenience of booking through the cruise line

Second, some of the research I did uncovered that immigration in Israel can take a long time once we dock - like up to 4 hours. That’s a lot of time to miss out on during our first day in Israel and the Holy Land is our reason for taking this cruise.

Royal Caribbean shore excursions have priority to go through immigration first, so we should be off the ship in the morning once we go through face-to-face immigration. Everyone on an independent tour has to wait for all excursions to clear customs first.

We are required to carry our passport while in Israel. Most of the holy sites require shoulders and knees to be covered, so we are dressing appropriately. Some require women to cover their heads, so we are packing scarves as well.

Tomorrow, we are visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem when our ship docks in Ashdod, Israel. The tour is 10 hours long with 1 hour driving each way and lunch provided.

We are stoked to be in Israel and to see incredibly historic and religious spots!

Rather than attend activities tonight on the ship, we are ensuring we have everything ready to go for tomorrow. I am going to read through the Israel immigration information that was provided through Royal Caribbean to make sure I am not missing anything important. 

Cameras are charging and passports are ready - here we come, Israel!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 23, 2022

In:
23 Oct 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We are so happy that you stopped by and hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Grab a mug of your favorite hot beverage, sit back, and check out the latest in Royal Caribbean news.

The big news this week was Royal Caribbean revealing Icon of the Seas to the public.

Icon of the Seas render night aerial

For the first time, we got to see what the new cruise ship looks like, as well as the major features onboard.

Designed with families in mind, Icon of the Seas will have 8 neighborhoods, including four new neighborhoods: Surfside, Thrill Island, Chill Island, and The Hideaway.

Icon of the Seas will be the biggest cruise ship in the world and begin sailing from Miami in late January 2024.

Your first chance to book a cruise will be on Tuesday, October 25, while Crown & Anchor loyalty members will be granted early access to bookings on Monday, October 24.

More Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

What does Matt think of Icon of the Seas?

Matt shares his thoughts on Royal Caribbean's big reveal on this week's podcast episode, including a first-hand report of what happened at the media event held at Royal Caribbean headquarters.

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: 5 cruise ship shore excursions I tried and instantly regretted

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 — 5 cruise ship shore excursions I tried and instantly regretted — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

50 best cruising with kids tips & secrets

LAser tag on Oasis of the Seas

If you're going on a cruise with kids, then we have all the best tips and tricks to help you have a fabulous cruise.

When you go on a cruise with your family, it can mean a mix of ages and even generations, and we wanted to focus on the sort of things families should know before they go on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Whether you are taking your own kids or going with someone else's, here are the top 50 best tips for cruising with kids on Royal Caribbean.

Odyssey of the Seas live blog

Allie and Angie

Allie is live blogging from Odyssey of the Seas this week!

She's sailing a 12-night Holy Land cruise aboard one of Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ships that includes three days in Israel, along with stops in Limmasol (Cyprus), Santorini (Greece), Rhodes (Greece) and Chania (Greece).

Follow Allie's adventure every day with her live blog posts.

Ultimate Guide to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner site

Cruise planner results

Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner is where you book add-ons like shore excursions, drink packages, specialty restaurants, and internet packages. It’s your go-to place to see what is available on your upcoming cruise.

If you’re new to Royal Caribbean, the Cruise Planner can feel a bit overwhelming at first. 

Here’s our Ultimate Guide to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner site.

The Ultimate Icon of the Seas Dining & Lounges Guide

In:
22 Oct 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean recently released the first look at their brand new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas. Set to be the biggest cruise ship in the world with a maximum capacity of 7,600 passengers, Icon of the Seas has no shortage of places to dine and drink onboard the ship.

Crown's Edge on Icon of the Seas

Both long-time favorites like Chops Grille and new dining venues can be found on Icon of the Seas. Restaurants are located throughout the ship, but most are located in one of the ship’s eight distinct neighborhoods.

While Royal Caribbean hasn’t released detailed information about every dining venue and lounge found onboard, we have an initial idea of which venues are available based on the ship’s deck plans and renderings. We will continue to update this post as Royal Caribbean releases more information.

Let’s dive in to take a more in-depth look, neighborhood by neighborhood, at everywhere you can eat and drink on this record-breaking cruise ship.

#1: Royal Promenade

Pearl Café

Pearl Cafe

While we don’t know much yet about The Pearl, a large sphere located in the middle of the Royal Promenade, deck plans show an eatery next to The Pearl on deck 6.

Based on video renderings, this eatery appears to be a casual, complimentary grab-and-go venue that is named “Pearl Café.” It also shows a sign for specialty coffee in the cafe, so this area could be the Icon Class rendition of Cafe Promenade.

The cafe is located in front of the giant, 36x95 foot window found on Icon of the Seas, so amazing ocean views are sure to be in abundance at this venue.

Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar

The newest Italian restaurant in Royal Caribbean’s fleet will be found on Icon of the Seas, which combines a modern Italian restaurant with a connected wine bar.

Menu highlights at this specialty restaurant include 12-inch pizzas, chicken parmigiana, and spaghetti carbonara. 

Related: How Royal Caribbean reimagined its signature Italian restaurant

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade is also located on the Royal Promenade. Known for its plethora of television screens and bar games, Playmakers is sure to be busy with sports fans during any cruise on Icon of the Seas.

Related: Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade restaurant review

Be sure to try the specialty restaurant’s Campfire Cookie, a skillet chocolate chip cookie topped with toasted marshmallows. In the mood for something savory? A burger or nachos should do the trick.

Sorrento’s

The best spot for unlimited pizza onboard is Sorrento’s. Most popular for an afternoon snack after busy port days or for a late-night meal after an evening of fun, you’ll find pizza and antipasti included in your cruise fare.

Other bars and lounges on or near the Royal Promenade include:

  • Point & Feather, an English pub with acoustic guitar music in the evenings
  • Boleros, a Latin-themed bar with live music and the best mojitos onboard
  • Schooner Bar, a nautical-themed bar with activities during the day and piano music at night
  • Starbucks, a standalone Starbucks store (not included with drink packages)
  • Spotlight Karaoke, a karaoke stage and bar
  • The Attic, a comedy club and bar
  • Diamond Club, a lounge for those who are Diamond Level and above in Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society

#2: Central Park

Izumi Hibachi & Sushi

Royal Caribbean’s beloved Japanese specialty restaurant will be located in Central Park on Icon of the Seas, a first for the restaurant.

There are two sides to Izumi: hibachi and sushi, and guests can enjoy either one in the charming atmosphere of Central Park.

Related: Should you book the Izumi pre-fixed sushi option?

Chops Grille

Chops Grille, the cruise line’s signature steakhouse, is found on all Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and Icon of the Seas is no exception. Just like on Oasis Class ships, Chops Grille is located in Central Park with both indoor and outdoor seating. 

Related: Royal Caribbean’s specialty dining packages guide

Park Cafe

If you’re looking for a complimentary dining option in Central Park, grab breakfast or lunch at Park Cafe. This restaurant is known for its bagel station, soups, salads, and roast beef sandwiches, and it’s sure to offer options for the whole family to enjoy.

Trellis Bar

The last bar found in Central Park is Trellis Bar, the best place to grab a drink and relax amongst the plants and trees in all directions.

2 unnamed dining venues

Located near the forward entrance to Central Park near the elevators appears to be another dining venue, although Royal Caribbean has not released any additional information on what this venue could be as of yet.

Similarly, there is also an unnamed lounge near the aft end of Central Park. On other ships with Central Park, this is where you would find Vintages or Giovanni’s Wine Bar.

#3: Surfside

The Lemon Post

Located adjacent to Splashaway Bay in the Surfside neighborhood is The Lemon Post, a bar that will mix drinks for both kids and adults. Royal Caribbean describes the bar as follows:

Toast to your best family vacation ever at a new family-friendly hangout mixing up kid-approved sips as well as grownup drinks with a twist.

Based on renderings, this hangout/bar looks to be a colorful space where adults can relax as they watch their kids play in Splashaway Bay and the Water’s Edge pool.

Related: 50 best cruising with kids tips & secrets

This bar will have its own featured drink menu, including the Watermelon Hibiscus Lemonade, made with fresh-squeezed lemonade, watermelon juice, pineapple hibiscus syrup, Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit & Rose, and soda water.

3 unnamed dining venues in Surfside

Outside of The Lemon Post, there appears to be three distinct dining venues available in Surfside.

First is a quick-service station generically named “Bites” on Royal Caribbean’s renderings. This venue appears to be a grab-and-go spot for quick, casual eats, similar to Wipeout Cafe or Mini Bites on Oasis Class ships. Next to the quick-service station is a soft service ice cream machine.

Second is a sit-down dining venue generically named “Surfside Eatery” on Royal Caribbean’s renderings. There are no other details yet as to what this dining venue may be. It could be a Johnny Rockets location like on Oasis Class cruise ships or something completely new.

The last dining venue is located at the end of Surfside next to Splashaway Bay. Some speculated this area might be reserved for Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, but that venue is already found elsewhere onboard.

Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach is located in Surfside, and this venue is where you can purchase candy, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and souvenirs at an extra cost.

#4: AquaDome

Hooked Seafood

Royal Caribbean’s New England-style seafood restaurant can be found in the AquaDome neighborhood on Icon of the Seas. This specialty dining venue brings fresh seafood to the table, with menu highlights including clam chowder, drunken mussels, and Maine lobster rolls.

Unnamed dining venue

Initial deck plans for Icon of the Seas show space for an additional dining venue in the AquaDome, although it’s not yet known whether this will be a complimentary or specialty restaurant.

AquaDome bar deck 14

There’s a bar on the lowest deck of the AquaDome (deck 14), so you can easily grab a drink before an indoor AquaTheater performance or to sit and relax with an ocean view.

#5: Suite Neighborhood

Located in the Suite Neighborhood of Icon of the Seas are two dining venues exclusive for suite guests.

Coastal Kitchen

Coastal Kitchen on Icon of the Seas

Coastal Kitchen has been a staple restaurant for suite guests since its debut on Quantum of the Seas in 2014, and Icon of the Seas will be the first ship in the fleet to have a two-story Coastal Kitchen restaurant.

The Grove

Royal Caribbean wanted to bring a second dining option for suite guests with The Grove. Unlike Coastal Kitchen, The Grove is a more casual, grab-and-go dining spot with a Mediterranean flare.

The Grove is located on the Suite Sun Deck near the pool, and a bar is located here as well.

#6 & #7: Chill Island & Thrill Island

Thrill Island

The top decks of Icon of the Seas are where you’ll find both Chill Island and Thrill Island.

Royal Caribbean aims to include a variety of dining and bar venues on the pool and sports deck so you don’t have to worry about leaving the pool to grab a bite to eat. Here are the venues you’ll find in these two top-deck neighborhoods:

El Loco Fresh & Cantina Fresca

In between laps at the pool, you’ll want to head to El Loco Fresh on the pool deck for fresh Mexican fare.

This complimentary grab-and-go spot offers burritos, quesadillas, nachos, tacos, and a salsa station that is sure to satisfy any hungry passenger.

Next to El Loco Fresh is Cantina Fresca, a Mexican-themed bar known for their specialty margaritas and aguas frescas. Specialty cocktails at Cantina Fresca include the Watermelon Margarita, Mezcal Mule, and Cozumel Sunrise.

The Lime and Coconut

Cloud 17

Royal Caribbean’s resort-style pool bar returns on Icon of the Seas with three locations in Chill Island, one of which is located in the new adults-only area, Cloud 17.

Signature drinks at the Lime and Coconut include:

  • Lime & Coconut, made with Malibu coconut rum, coconut milk, coconut syrup, guava syrup, and lime juice
  • Blue Wave, made with Tito’s vodka, blue curacao, and pineapple juice
  • Caribbean sunset, made with aperol, sparkling wine, and a splash of soda 

Swim & Tonic

Swim and Tonic Bar

Connected to one Lime and Coconut location is Swim & Tonic, Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar at sea.

Sprinkles

Also located in Chill Island is Sprinkles, where you can enjoy complimentary soft serve ice cream throughout the day.

Unnamed dining and bar venue below sports court

Directly underneath the Sports Court on deck 16 of Icon of the Seas is an unnamed dining venue.

While we do not have additional information on what type of restaurant this may be, it will likely be a quick-service casual restaurant aimed at families spending the day at the waterpark or in The Hideaway neighborhood.

#8: The Hideaway

The Hideaway is Royal Caribbean’s new neighborhood concept located at the ship’s aft on deck 15. While there are no dining venues at The Hideaway, you’ll find the Hideaway Bar.

This bar offers unbeatable views of the aft and has plenty of comfortable seating where you can enjoy a drink.

Other dining and lounge venues

While there are plenty of places to eat and drink within the neighborhoods of Icon of the Seas, there are a few options that don’t fit into a particular neighborhood.

Windjammer Marketplace

It wouldn’t be a Royal Caribbean cruise without the Windjammer Marketplace, the cruise line’s signature complimentary buffet.

The Windjammer is located on deck 15 and wraps around the entirety of the deck below Thrill Island, so the area should be quite spacious.

Main Dining Room

Another complimentary venue found on Icon of the Seas is the Main Dining Room, which spans three decks (3-5) in the aft of the ship.

Music Hall

If you’re looking for a nightclub experience on Icon of the Seas, you can head to Music Hall. Located on decks three and four, this two-story venue features live bands and DJs in the evenings.

Looking for more information on Icon of the Seas? Check out our latest articles on this new cruise ship:

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day

In:
22 Oct 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

It’s our second sea day onboard Odyssey of the Seas! Tomorrow we will be in Limassol, Cyprus - our first port of call. This is a new port and country for all of us, so we are very excited. 

We originally had a walking tour booked for tomorrow, but upon further consideration, we decided to cancel tonight.

Sea day on Odyssey of the seas

The itinerary for the excursion included all things that we think we can do on our own and it will save us $200 to just get off the ship independently. There’s no tendering tomorrow and we want to take things at our own pace. It looks like a pretty easy port to explore on our own. Will report back on that tomorrow!

One of the reasons we like booking shore excursions through the cruise line is the ease of canceling, even the night before. We've done this for years and it's always been a total breeze canceling excursions onboard. 

I jinxed us by saying the seas were calm yesterday because we've definitely been rocking and rolling a bit today. Nothing horrible, but more noticeable and especially noticeable last night. 

Sea Day Sleeping and Breakfast

In the spirit of rest and rejuvenation, Angie and I slept until 10:30am. I had a lovely night relaxing and even took a bath in our stateroom - a cruise first for me!

Our ship had the dreaded time change forward last night, but it’s all good since we had no plans for today. I did consider going to the Hebrew Language class this morning, but my rest felt more important than stumbling through learning a new language in 30 minutes.

Our only option for breakfast was brunch in the main dining room again, so we made our way down there.

I opted for a simple breakfast with yogurt and a bagel while Angie and mom had an omelet. Angie also ordered the French toast again, which is served with a berry compote. 

The menu was slightly different than the brunch menu from yesterday morning, which was interesting.

They’ve also been coming around with different and fun juices during breakfast that are complimentary. I’ve tried both celery and carrot juice in an attempt to cancel out the alcohol I've been consuming. 

I enjoy having a slower breakfast in the morning on sea days, especially knowing we have 4 busy days coming up.

After breakfast, Angie went to a dance class with mom and dad on the SeaPlex. She explained it as a 'random compilation of wedding reception songs' that included the Cupid shuffle and electric slide. They said it was fun to dance and get moving. The instructor even noted how many people showed up and how pleased he was to have such a big group!

During this time, I stayed in the cabin so I could finish grading projects - which only took me about 45 minutes. Gotta pay for the cruises somehow, right?!

My Taylor Swift Moment

After finishing my work for the week, I wanted to get footage of the belly flop contest and see who would be participating in this event. Come to find out, the event was possibly done by the time I got to the pool deck, although I was only 15 minutes late. 

Dad claims he met someone who had a medal from the competition and said you couldn’t miss it on the pool deck! I guess it was a quick competition.

Today’s an important and historic day, as Taylor Swift released her newest album! As a big fan, I wanted to slot some me-time to listen to the new album. Might seem silly, but it's something I love to do. 

I made my way to the top deck and found there to be plenty of places for me to get comfortable. I found a little colorful cocoon daybed to make my sacred Swiftie spot.

It was so relaxing listening to the album and the crashing waves in the distance. I was having a happy moment.

In the distance, I saw the rest of my travel crew walking around. Dad decided to hit the gym while Angie, mom and I went to the pool deck. I opted for another Lime & Coconut cocktail and Angie joined me.

I love all the fun colors around this ship and couldn't help but take a cute picture of the cocktail again. 

We also enjoyed a warm cookie skillet from Windjammer topped with ice cream on top. Angie said the Windjammer didn’t have vanilla ice cream - so she went to the ice cream station. We indulged while jamming to the Caribbean tunes along with others bopping along.

Before long, it was creeping up on the early evening hours so we made our way back to the cabin. I love having a balcony all to myself and not feeling like I’m missing out on stunning ocean views by going to my stateroom.

I found that I enjoy spending more time in my cabin when I have a nicer, larger room. I really love coming back to our suite and each night have been enjoying the walk-in shower and bathtub.

Angie and dad decided to try the Diamond Lounge while mom and I finished getting ready for dinner.

They said they couldn’t find a spot to sit! With over 1,200 Diamond and Diamond+ people onboard, I guess it’s unsurprising that they couldn’t find a spot.

My husband and I found the same issue when we sailed on Anthem of the Seas this summer, which is the same ship class. We went one night to the Diamond Lounge and didn’t end up going back.

This is a disappointment for us, as we’ve always enjoyed going to the Diamond Lounge before dinner and smaller ships have much larger Diamond lounges.

For dinner tonight, we decided to deviate from our plans to dine at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen. We pushed back our reservation to tomorrow night, although we wanted to move it to the next sea day.

We’ve had 2 big meals the last two nights and we wanted to just enjoy a more casual night in the main dining room. We always seem to eat more in the speciality restaurants because everything is so delicious. 

Lucky for us, our dining table is right by the window! We have a lovely table that seats all 4 of us.

I enjoyed another round of French onion soup while Angie had the roasted tomato soup. Mom had her nightly escargot and dad loves high nightly Cesar salad.

For main entrees, we enjoyed the Steak Diane, Chicken Cordon Blu, and a pesto pasta dish. Everything tasted delicious and the view couldn’t be beat as the Mediterranean sun went down.

We finished off with Royal Chocolate Cake, Tiramisu and Cherries Jubilee. The Royal Chocolate Cake is a RCL staple and it seems that every ship does it a little bit differently.

I adored the richness of Odyssey’s Royal Chocolate Cake! Some of the best I’ve had.

Showgirl Production

Tonight's entertainment was a Production Show: Showgirl, which included the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. There was not an empty seat in the house for the early seating. 

As I mentioned, this ship has an older demographic so I assume everyone is going to the early show rather than the 10:15pm showtime. 

The show was dazzling with spectacular music and choreography. There were even acrobats at one point, which was a fun addition. Everyone enjoyed the upbeat music. It was energetic very entertaining! 

Stray Observations

Dad also had an exciting day - he finally found some strawberry purée so he was able to get his Miami Vice in the Music Hall. This is a fun venue each evening with live music - my husband and I spent a few nights in this venue during our summer cruise on Anthem of the Seas.

The ship is only sailing around 60% capacity but most of the guests are Diamond members or above! 

Guide to Icon of the Seas cabins and suites

In:
21 Oct 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

After seeing all the new things Royal Caribbean has planned for its next new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, you might want to know more about the cabins.

Icon of the Seas sunset suite

Icon of the Seas will offer guests a variety of room options spanning across 28 unique categories, offering some of the most spacious rooms Royal Caribbean has ever designed. 

There are new categories of cabins, new neighborhoods, and views never offered before on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

New cruise ship categories

Over 50% of Icon’s room types are new to the cruise line, including 8 new Suite categories and rooms designed specifically with families in mind. More than 82% of all rooms onboard Icon of the Seas will accommodate 3 or more guests, opening a broad array of accommodation options for families.

More than 70% of all rooms onboard Icon of the Seas will have balconies. You will find 82% of rooms have a high occupancy of 3 or more guests, which is more than double the Oasis Class ships.

There are 2805 total staterooms on Icon of the Seas:

  • 179 suites
  • 1815 balcony staterooms
  • 276 ocean view staterooms
  • 535 interior staterooms

Icon of the Seas cabin guide

Icon of the Seas cutaway

Here is a breakdown of the types of cabins available on Icon of the Seas.

One interesting fact is Royal Caribbean has increased the size of the shower in every stateroom across the ship. Royal Caribbean also added an integrated bench to every standard shower, which means it's part of the shower and does not fold up or down.

Stateroom list on Icon of the Seas

If a room type is brand new, we've made a note that it's new next to the name.

Family Infinite Ocean View Balcony (IB) [NEW]

Family infinite balcony

View: Ocean view
Occupancy: 6
Room size: 285 square feet
Balcony size: 50 square feet
Bedrooms: 1.5
Number of cabins: 78

A new concept has space for families with the new infinite balcony concept added.

Family infinite balcony split bathroom

There's a Scrabble game on the wall for family fun, split compartment bathroom, and separate alcove with bunk beds for kids. In fact, there's two televisions for each bunk bed, which means no fighting over who controls the remote.

Infinite Ocean View Balcony (I1, I3) [NEW]

Infinite balcony

View: Ocean view
Occupancy: I1, I3 = 4
Room size: 200 square feet
Balcony size: 50 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 419

This cabin has private ocean view infinite balcony that allows you to expand your indoor living space or invite in the sea breeze with the touch of a button.

Ocean View Large Balcony (C3, C5)

View: Ocean view
Occupancy: C3 = 4; C5 = 3
Room size: 204 square feet
Balcony size: 65-70 sq. ft.
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 84

Connecting Ocean View Balcony (CB)

View: Ocean view
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 204 square feet
Balcony size: 50 sq. ft.
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 86

Ocean View Balcony (D1,D2,D3,D4,D5)

View: Ocean view
Occupancy: 

  • D1, D3 = 4
  • D2, D4 = 2
  • D5 = 3

Room size: 204 square feet
Balcony size: 50 sq. ft.
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 738

Infinite Central Park View Balcony (IF) [NEW]

Central Park infinite balcony

View: Central Park View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 200 square feet
Balcony size: 50 sq. ft.
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 196

Another infinite balcony cabin allows you to expand your indoor living space or open up the fresh air with the touch of a button. When you press the button, the upper panel slides down below the lower panel creating a balcony, with the top open and the lower glass remaining.

Central Park View Balcony (F1, F5)

View: Central Park View
Occupancy: F1 = 4, F5 = 3
Room size: 196 square feet
Balcony size: 50 sq. ft.
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 42

Surfside Family View Balcony (H3, H5) [NEW]

SURFSIDE FAMILY VIEW BALCONY

View: Surfside View
Occupancy: H3 = 4, H5 = 3
Room size: 196 square feet
Balcony size: 50 sq. ft.
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 172

Panoramic Ocean View (L5)

PANORAMIC OCEAN VIEW

View: Ocean view
Occupancy: 3
Room size: 258 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 12

Ocean View (N1, N4, N5)

Ocean view cabin

View: Ocean view
Occupancy: 

  • N1 = 4
  • N4 = 2
  • N5 = 3

Room size: 160-187 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 264

Central Park View Interior (U5)

View: Central Park View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 187 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 45

Surfside Family View Interior (T5) [NEW]

View: Surfside View
Occupancy: H3 = 4, H5 = 3
Room size: 187 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 20

Spacious Interior (R3, R4)

 

Inside cabin on Icon of the Seas

View: Interior
Occupancy: R3 = 4, R4 = 2
Room size: 178 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 192

Interior Plus (Q2) [NEW]

Inside Plus

View: Interior
Occupancy: 2
Room size: 157 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 203

This is the perfect room for someone that prefers an interior room but wants more storage space.

Interior (V4)

Inside cabin on Icon of the Seas

View: Interior
Occupancy: 2
Room size: 156 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 75

Icon of the Seas Suites

Icon of the Seas will be the next class of Royal Caribbean cruise ship to be offer the Royal Suite Class program.

Icon of the Seas suites

Suite guide

Star Class

Ultimate Family Townhouse (UL) [NEW]

Ultimate Family Townhouse

View: Ocean View + Surfside View
Occupancy: 8
Room size: 1772 square feet
Balcony size: 751  square feet

  • 1st Level - Backyard: 251
  • 2nd Level - Main Entrance: 410
  • 3rd Level - Bedrooms: 90

Bedrooms: 2
Number of cabins: 1

Royal Loft (RL)

Royal Loft suite on Icon

View: Ocean View + Chill Island View (Deck 16)
Occupancy: 6
Room size: 1482 square feet
Balcony size: 705  square feet
Bedrooms: 2
Number of cabins: 1

Two-decks-high stateroom with panoramic ocean views of Icon and the ocean, Dining area with wet bar and piano.  

The private balcony features whirlpool and dining area with bar and sink.

Icon Loft (IL) [NEW]

Icon loft suite

View: Ocean View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 656 square feet
Balcony size: 151-183  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 7

Two decks-high with panoramic views. The master bedroom is on the second level. The bathroom includes a shower for two people. 

You'll find a balcony with dining area.

Sky Class

Owner's Suite (OS)

Owner suite on Icon

View: Ocean View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 658 square feet
Balcony size: 190  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 8

The Owner's Suite has a dedicated bedroom area with door. Stone entry bathroom with tub, shower and two sinks.

Living room with table and a sofa that coverts to a double bed.

There is a private balcony with table and chairs.

Sunset Corner Suite (SN) [NEW]

Susnet Corner suite on Icon

View: Ocean View & Surfside View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 380-480 square feet
Balcony size: 280-360  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 10

Royal Caribbean's internal research showed them that guests wanted to see the ship's wake, so this type of cabin was crated. Wrap around balcony with endless views from the aft of the ship.

Stone entry bathroom with tub and shower with two sinks.

Living area with table and sofa that converts to a double bed.

Sunset Suite (SS) [NEW]

Icon of the Seas sunset suite

View: Ocean View & Surfside View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 390 square feet
Balcony size: 66-120  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 6

The draw of this suite are the floor to ceiling windows that lead to the balcony.

There's a full bathroom with tub and two sinks. The living area with sofa that convers to a double bed.

Infinite Grand Suite (IG) [NEW]

Infinite Grand Suite

View: Ocean View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 431 square feet
Balcony size: 102  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 6

This is the only suite with an infinite balcony that extends the interior living space.

This cabin also has a split compartment bath.

Grand Suite (GS)

Grand Suite on Icon of the Seas

View: Ocean View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 431 square feet
Balcony size: 108  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 10

You'll find floor to ceiling views, with the living room that has a sofa bed that converts to double bed.

Panoramic Suite (VP)

Panoramic ocean view suites

View: Ocean View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 370-440 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 10

These suites are located within the AquaDome.

There is a full bathroom with tub, seating area with sofa, and panoramic views with an extended seating area.

Sky Junior Suite (JY) [NEW]

Sky Junior Suite

View: Ocean View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 322 square feet
Balcony size: 80  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 8

This is the first Junior Suite that has Sky Class benefits (more details below) and is located in Suite Neighborhood.

There are floor to ceiling benefits, with a dressing area in the bedroom and has a full bathroom with tub.

Surfside Family Suite (SF) [NEW]

Surfside family suite

View: Surfside View
Occupancy: 4 (2 Adults & 2 Kids)
Room size: 269 square feet
Balcony size: 53 square feet
Bedrooms: 1.5
Number of cabins: 42

This suite was designed with families in mind so everyone has their own space.

You'll find a kids nook with pullout sofa. There is split bathroom and private balcony.

Sea Class

Sunset Junior Suite (JT) [NEW]

Sunset Junior Suite

View: Ocean View & Surfside View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 320-330 square feet
Balcony size: 115-130  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 4

The Sunset Junior Suite has panoramic views and a corner balcony. The ceiling height is the tallest of all the Junior Suites (over 7 feet tall).

This is located on the aft of the ship.

Junior Suite (JS)

Junior Suite on Icon of the Seas

View: Ocean View
Occupancy: 4
Room size: 322 square feet
Balcony size: 80  square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Number of cabins: 66

Floor to ceiling ocean views are available in this Junior Suite.

Suite neighborhood benefits

Suite guests can experience our largest Suite neighborhood yet –including The Grove Suite Sun Deck, the Suite Lounge, and exclusive dining options.

The Grove Suite Sun Deck is an exclusive outdoor deck dedicated to Sky and Star Class Suite guests which features a pool, whirlpool, and al fresco restaurant – The Grove.

Royal Suite Class benefits for Icon of the Seas

Star Class Benefits

  • Complimentary gratuities
  • Complimentary internet
  • Expedited boarding and departure
  • Reserved premium seats in select entertainment venues
  • Priority entrance to many onboard activities
  • Suite Lounge access
  • Access to Suite Sun Deck
  • Exclusive access to Royal Genie Service
  • All-day access to Coastal Kitchen and The Grove
  • Complimentary specialty restaurants
  • Complimentary Deluxe Beverage Package
  • Complimentary Refreshment Package
  • Still and sparkling water replenished Daily
  • Complimentary minibar stocked with Coca-Cola, beverages and water
  • Complimentary laundry and pressing services
  • Luxury mattress and pillows
  • Frette linens
  • Luxury bathroom amenities
  • Royal Caribbean plush bathrobes for use onboard
  • Lavazza Espresso coffee maker

Sky Class Benefits

  • Concierge service
  • All-day access to Coastal Kitchen and The Grove
  • Specialty bottled water upon arrival
  • Complimentary internet 
  • Priority boarding and departure
  • Priority dining reservations
  • Suite Lounge access
  • Access to Suite Sun Deck
  • Royal Caribbean plush bathrobes for use onboard
  • Luxury pillow top mattress
  • Luxury bathroom amenities
  • Lavazza Espresso coffee maker

Sea Class Benefits

  • Dinner at Coastal Kitchen
  • Royal Caribbean bathrobes for use onboard
  • Luxury pillow top mattress
  • Luxury bathroom amenities
  • Lavazza Espresso coffee maker

Suite neighborhood

Suite Sun Deck render on Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has dedicated space on Icon of the Seas specifically for suite guests with its Suite Neighborhood.

Reserved for those staying in a suite, the Suite Neighborhood has special amenities not available to other guests onboard.

Suite Sun Deck render on Icon of the Seas

The Grove Suite Sun Deck is an upgraded pool deck exclusively for Star & Sky Class Suite guests. 

Of course, there is a suite lounge with the suite concierge services available.

Icon of the Seas will have two dining venues just for suite guests. Coastal Kitchen has been expanded to two stories, and a brand new Grove casual dining venue has been added, featuring Mediterranean cuisine.

Ultimate Family Townhouse

Ultimate Family Townhouse

For the most over-the-top VIP stay, the Ultimate Family Townhouse takes family vacations to the max – spanning across three different levels with an in-suite slide, cinema, and patio with exclusive entrance to Surfside Neighborhood.

The Ultimate Family Townhouse is a sprawling adventure-filled pad with three levels of incredible surprises. Guests of all ages can plunge down the slide into the coolest living room ever, where hidden nooks wait to be explored.

Ultimate Family Townhouse

The cinema room sets the stage for unrivaled movie nights and karaoke sing-offs with a popcorn machine and monster-themed daybed. And a private patio level is sure to be the new favorite hang spot for table tennis competitions, with all the fun and splash of Surfside just steps away.

The whole family enjoys Royal Suite Class Star status that unlocks exclusive experiences, like a personal Royal Genie, priority access everywhere onboard, and so much more.

This room is 1,772 square feet with a wrap-around balcony on the second level and a private balcony off the main bedroom The main bedroom and kids’ bedroom reside on the second level.

Accessible Suites and Staterooms

Icon loft suite

There are 10 accessible categories on Icon of the Seas for a total of 50 accessible cabins.

Accessible Categories

  • Icon Loft
  • Surfside Family Suite
  • Junior Suite
  • Family Infinite Ocean View Balcony
  • Infinite Ocean View Balcony
  • Infinite  Central Park View Balcony
  • Ocean View Balcony
  • Surfside Family View Balcony
  • Ocean View
  • Interior

Amenities for Accessible Staterooms

  • Elevator in 2-level Icon Loft
  • 5-foot wheelchair turning radius
  • Roll-in Showers
  • Showers offer a handheld showerhead and a bench
  • Wider doors

Cabin technology

App function

All cabins on Icon of the Seas will have a number of amenities that enhance the experience with technology.

The Royal Caribbean app on Icon of the Seas will have a digital key feature, which allows you to open your cabin door with your phone instead of a SeaPass card.  You can also control the television with the app, as well as the cabin lights and temperature.

You'll find mood lighting in all cabins, with lights being able to be set to:

  • All on
  • 50% on
  • All off
  • Set to morning (lights on gradually)
  • Evening (low lights)
  • Movie or night (lights turn off gradually)

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

In:
20 Oct 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

It's Day 2 onboard the stunning Odyssey of the Seas. Today was a sea day on the calm Mediterranean as we make our way to The Holy Land!

We have sea days both today and tomorrow before reaching Cyprus for one day and then three full days in Israel.

I’m using these two days to get lots of sleep, take it easy and drink a ton of water. After plenty of wine and cocktails in Paris and Rome, I want to stay a little more hydrated before our big tour days in Israel! 

Our morning started late after Angie and I both slept in. I knew I needed to get some rest after the last five days of traveling and exploring; so, I am very grateful that we have these two sea days to relax before the busy port days come up.

When it comes to these longer itineraries, having a few sea days scattered throughout is essential for me to reset. 

After a restful night’s sleep, we decided to try brunch in the dining room at 11am. This brunch was served until 12:30pm, which was something new to us! Normally, we find the Windjammer to serve the latest breakfast option, usually until 11am on sea days; but we were pleased to find this brunch option available until 12:30pm.

The menu had an assortment of breakfast and lunch options - most of the options I recognized from the normal main dining room breakfast menu.

Angie and I had the French Toast while mom and dad both had omelets. I also enjoyed my morning latte using one of my daily drink vouchers. Everything tasted good to us. 

Bumper Cars

After we finished breakfast, mom suggested we head up to the Seaplex to try out the bumper cars. We thought that would be a fun way to start the day since the line was short. 

Bumper cars on Odyssey

As we walked in, we kind of laughed to each other at how everyone was riding in a circle - going rather slowly - instead of actually bumping into each other.

There were only two cars left in the next group so we decided to ride together in the two cars. Angie got behind the wheel, as did my dad, and I brought my camera for blog content.

To start, those little suckers go faster than they appear!

Angie thought it would be a great idea to run into our parents at full speed, which was a horrible idea. She slammed into mom and dad's bumper car in a head-on collision!

Mom and I had the wind knocked out of us and exclaimed some not-so-family-friendly words. I also jammed my knee against the dashboard! I think mom and I took the brunt of the hit since we didn’t have our hands on the wheel to soften the blow.

Here are a few live-action stills from the video I took - mom's face says it all!

After we scolded Angie for her lapse in judgement, she turned into Driving Miss Daisy and we avoided contact with every car until the end of the session. It was a fun experience but also somewhat of a bust given the collision that was entirely preventable!

We laughed about it later but I definitely have a burn from the seatbelt and I am pretty positive I will wake up with a sore neck tomorrow.

Now, it makes sense why everyone was driving in a circle and NOT engaging in lots of bumping.

After we recovered from the bumper car trauma, I decided to go back to the stateroom and finally unpack my suitcase. I always unpack my suitcase and store it under the bed. Regardless of how long a cruise is, I put everything away because I hate living out of a suitcase.

Our suite has tons of space to unpack comfortably with six large drawers and a closet with about 20 hangers and a shoe rack. We also brought a collapsable, mesh hamper to use for dirty clothes and this fits perfectly in the closet. 

Icon of the Seas Reveal

Last night when we returned to our stateroom, we found an invitation to an Icon of the Seas reveal party for loyalty members.

As hard working gals of Royal Caribbean Blog, we knew we would need to check out this event in the Royal Theatre! Upon entering, there were servers with tons of different snack options. I was looking for any free cocktails that might be served (of course), but we got there right as it started so maybe there were some but they ran out.

I enjoyed a chocolate covered mousse ball while Angie had some strawberry whipped dessert as the presentation started.

We watched the first two episodes of Making an Icon and then they released the new episode that unveiled Icon of the Seas! Wow - it looks stunning!

Solarium Afternoon

Once the Icon of the Seas reveal event was finished, we made our way upstairs to the Solarium.

It was unfortunately quite busy in here, but we were able to snag a table and chairs near the side entrance. Mom and dad played cribbage while Angie tried out the Massager Taster event.

Since I am an adjunct instructor (in addition to blogging and my other corporate job), I had to get some grading done for class. I can’t complain about the office view though and the Wi-Fi onboard has been pretty good so far.

Angie came back from the Massage Taster event with her new favorite cocktail - The Lime & Coconut Cocktail!

I was inspired to head to the El Loco Fresh again for a quick snack, which consisted of cheese and chicken quesadillas with sour cream. I absolutely love this little place on the pool deck for lunch and it hit the spot, again!

As the sun was starting to set, we went back to our cabin to get ready for formal night. The sunset tonight was so stunning from our balcony that we had to take some pictures.

I also realized that our balcony has really nice furniture compared to a standard balcony with a plushy seat, back support pillow and padded footrest. I am definitely going to be spending some time tomorrow on the balcony enjoying the calm seas.

Tales of a Lost SeaPass

While heading out the door for dinner, I searched everywhere for my SeaPass card to no avail. I knew I must have left my SeaPass (on a lanyard) in the Solarium during our afternoon visit.

Before going to dinner, I made my way back to our chairs to find that everything was already cleaned up. I asked the gentleman sitting if he had seen my SeaPass, and he said no.

I then made my way to the Solarium Bar and asked the bartenders if anyone had handed in a lost SeaPass card. They said no and to check with the towel attendants, as that’s where left-behind items go on the pool deck and Solarium.

As I rushed to the towel stand, I realized in all my years of cruising that I have NEVER lost my SeaPass card! Walking up to the towel station, I saw a handful of lost and found items. Low and behold, my SeaPass was there in my lanyard.

Although I knew they could just make me a new SeaPass card if the key was really lost, it was a relief to just get it back and move on.

Coastal Kitchen for Dinner

We made reservations yesterday to dine at Coastal Kitchen tonight, as junior suite guests can dine here on a per-availability basis. We were told that reservations can only be made on a daily basis given the number of Pinnacle guests onboard.

I’ve heard from some people that they love Coastal Kitchen because it's a great, elevated dining option for suite guests; on the other hand, I’ve heard from others (like our very own Matt Hochberg) that Coastal Kitchen isn’t necessarily anything special or worth the hype.

After tonight’s experience, I’d have to agree with Matt that Coastal Kitchen isn’t something I’d rave about.

On a positive note, our waitress was very sweet and the dining space is really gorgeous with floor to ceiling windows. It was nice to be in a more intimate dining environment and try something new. However, the food wasn’t anything special even though we had expectations that it would be better than the dining room.

For dinner, dad and I ordered the rib eye steak while Angie ordered a pasta dish and mom ordered a seafood dish. The rib eye was excellent and Angie enjoyed her pasta. Mom wasn’t wowed by her fish or her lobster salad starter either. Dad and I didn't love the potatoes or ratatouille served with the steak and Angie felt her soup starter lacked flavor. 

Dessert consisted of a chocolate bar, cheesecake, creme brulee and apple blossom - most of these are available in the dining room. 

During dinner, the entire room felt a little too quiet and maybe even too stuffy for our liking. For reference, we are a pretty loud family so we don't ever feel like we need to keep it down with the commotion of the main dining room.

Everyone in Coastal Kitchen had their Pinnacle pins on; we joked that we need to order fake Pinnacle pins off Ebay so we can fit in better next time! Our eyes widened as we heard one couple say how they book two separate junior suites for cruises so they can earn four points per night of their cruise - and they’ve taken 62 cruises. Another couple responded, “You’ve ONLY done 62 cruises?”

As my mom stated, perhaps we are just more meat-and-potato folks. We might need to give Coastal Kitchen another try depending on the different menu offerings, but we were unfortunately not super impressed tonight with the experience. 

Tomorrow we are dining at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, which is new to all of us! We’ve dined at the old Giovanni’s Table and Jamie’s Italian, but have not tried the reimagined Giovani’s Kitchen.