Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: July 22, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We hope you are having a great weekend! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and catch up on all the Royal Caribbean news from the week!

Royal Caribbean's Gifts website has expanded to offer Royal Caribbean branded souvenirs that can be delivered directly to your home.

Gift items include, but are not limited to T-shirts, Polo Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hats, Visors, Flip Flops, Totes, Tumbler Cups, Glass Mugs, Sunglasses, and Gift Certificates. A wide selection of gift items are fully customizable and ready for purchase.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 259th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt talks about the written and unwritten rules of cruising etiquette.

In this episode, Matt goes over cruising customs that guests should be aware of prior to cruising.

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: How to cruise like a Royal Caribbean Pro

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 — 8 Things Royal Caribbean Pros Do, and You Should Too! — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

New Royal Caribbean Cruise Compasses

One of the best ways to learn about what sort of events a cruise ship offers is to consult a past Royal Caribbean Cruise Compass. Here is a look at which Cruise Compasses we added this week.

    Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

    Mommy for the Win shared the ultimate survival guide to cruising with a baby.

    Barrons interviewed Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chief Financial Officer about how Royal Caribbean is leading the industry.

    Cruise Fever wrote about a fitness themed cruise that will sail on Mariner of the Seas.

    Photo tour of Junior Suite stateroom on Explorer of the Seas

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Lots of Royal Caribbean fans relish a stay in a Junior Suite (JS) and today, we have a look at one of the Junior Suites from Explorer of the Seas to give you an idea of what to expect if you book a similar stateroom.

    We stayed in this particular room aboard a June 2018 Explorer of the Seas sailing from Seattle, Washington. These photos come from stateroom 9614 on deck 9, which is on the "hump" of the ship.

    This type of Junior Suite offers 277 square feet of living space.

    A private balcony offers 50 square feet of space outside.

    Spotted: Royal Caribbean thermal spa pass online

    By: Matt Hochberg

    It appears that guests can now pre-purchase thermal spa access via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

    Up until now, passes to the thermal spa were only sold onboard the ship.  A new "Relaxation Areas" subcategory has been added to the Spa & Fitness area of the Cruise Planner, with two available options: S.E.A Thermal Wellness Experience Week Pass and S.E.A Thermal Wellness Experience Couples Week Pass. Shoutout to Royal Caribbean Blog reader firebuck for alerting us to this new option.

    Only Royal Caribbean's Oasis, Quantum and Radiance Class ships offer a thermal spa, and we have spotted this new option for sale on select Symphony of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas sailings.

    Select Royal Caribbean ships offer a thermal spa, which is a collection of services that can be enjoyed on your own.  The exact options will depend on your ship, but usually it includes

    • hot stone chairs
    • rainforest shower room
    • infrared sauna
    • steam room

    This new option may not be available on all ships or sailings, so check the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner under the Spa & Fitness tab to see if it is available on your upcoming cruise.

    Royal Caribbean offering bonus onboard credit on cruises booked this weekend

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean's Explore More Sale kicks off this weekend, where guests can get 50% off the second guest, Kids Sail Free and up to $200 to spend at sea.

    The Explore More Sale is valid on cruises booked between July 20 - 23, 2018 on sailings departing on or after 8/20/18.

    Offer includes: 

    • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
    • 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.
    • Up to $200 onboard credit when booking a non-refundable rate 6 months or more prior to cruise departure, and up to $100 OBC if booking a sailing less than 6 months prior to cruise departure date. Onboard credit is determined by sailing length and category booked:
      • $25 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $50 OBC for Balcony and $75 OBC for Suite on sailings 5 nights and less.
      • $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 OBC for Balcony, and $100 OBC for Suite on sailings 6 nights or longer.
    • Kids Sail Free
      • Free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Europe and Hawaii sailings departing between 8/31/18 – 5/14/19.
      • The Kids Sail Free Bonus excludes sailings between 11/17/18 – 11/23/18, sailings between 12/17/18 – 1/1/19, sailings between 2/15/19 – 2/18/19, sailings between 3/16/19 – 3/30/19 and sailings between 4/13/19 – 4/22/19.

    Offer open to residents of US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries in the Caribbean. 

    Friday Photos

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Welcome back to Friday Photos, our weekly showcase of Royal Caribbean photos that were taken by readers of this blog.  

    Every week, we ask our readers to send us their best Royal Caribbean vacation photos to be considered for this post. We love to feature photos of the ships, excursions, activities onboard and anything else that reminds you of a great time while sailing with Royal Caribbean.

    So without further adieu, here is this week's batch of photos.

    Our first photo is from LaShawn Harris and it is of Navigator of the Seas docked in Costa Maya.

    Here is a shot of Harmony of the Seas docked in Labadee, taken by Mark Pizzo.

    Jorge Toache sent in this photo of a cold January night on Anthem of the Seas.

    Pascal Everard shared this photo of a local vendor preparing to go home with Harmony of the Seas behind him.

    Bonus points for Todd Steinberg representing Royal Caribbean when applying suncreen, although I am not certain this will do much to protect against sun burn.

    Marc vanNiekerk took this photo of Empress of the Seas docked in Nassau, Bahamas.

    Our final photo this week is by Deb W., taken on Anthem of the Seas.

    Thanks to everyone who sent in their photos this week.  Be sure to send your photos in as well by using this form.

    Royal Caribbean expands gifts website and adds ability to ship to homes

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean has rolled out an update to its Royal Gifts site, where guests can purchase items to be delivered to their stateroom.  The new update offers not only a greater array of merchandise, but also introduces the ability to ship directly to guests' homes.

    The new update was rolled out on July 17th.  In the past, guests were limited to purchasing items for onboard delivery.  Now, guests have the option of having these items delivered to their homes.

    Gift items include, but are not limited to T-shirts, Polo Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hats, Visors, Flip Flops, Totes, Tumbler Cups, Glass Mugs, Sunglasses, and Gift Certificates. A wide selection of gift items are fully customizable and ready for purchase.

    Cruise etiquette on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

    Episode 259 is available for downloading, where we share cruise ship guest best practices.

    The culture of a cruise has its own list of written and unwritten rules, and this week, Matt talks about some of the important etiquette tips you should know about before getting onboard.

    Here’s the podcast page for Episode 249. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

    Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

    Excursion Focus: Alaska Sled Dogs & Musher's Camp in Juneau, Alaska

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Do you like cute puppies? Do you like playing with cute puppies.  You have satisfied the prerequisites for the Alaska Sled Dogs & Musher's Camp shore excursion.

    That is essentially what we thought when we booked the Alaska Sled Dogs & Musher's Camp excursion on a recent Explorer of the Seas cruise to Alaska.  While browsing the Juneau shore excursions, we decided to conduct some serious scientific research and spend a couple of hours playing with puppies...and maybe learning something or two about the Iditarod race.


    There are many different shore excursions in Alaska that incorporate dog sledding into them, but if all you want to do is focus just on the dog sled aspect and play with puppies, this is the excursion for you.

    The Alaska Sled Dogs & Musher's Camp tour is offered directly by Royal Caribbean, and can be booked prior to the cruise or once onboard.

    After disembarking the ship in Juneau, we found our group meeting location in the parking lot adjacent to the pier area.  Once everyone arrived, we boarded a small bus that would take us on the roughly 10-15 minute ride to the dog sledding camp.

    The camp is located on the outskirts of Juneau, Alaska.  We visited a real dog sledding camp, where when the operators are not offering tours to cruise passengers, they are training for dog sled races that will take place in the winter.

    Upon arrival, our group was split up to maximize our time and minimize standing around and waiting.  There are three basic components to the Alaska Sled Dogs & Musher's Camp excursion:

    1. Riding the dog sled
    2. Learning about dog sled races
    3. Playing with puppies

    In our case, we started off with the dog sled experience while the other people in our group met the puppies.  Later on, we would switch.

    Contrary to popular belief, there is no snow in the ground in the summer in Alaska, so the dogs practice pulling a cart that is meant to evoke the same experience as a dog sled.  A group of dogs pull the cart around a track that goes through a large portion of the forest.  

    You are seated in the cart, get buckled in, and are lead by a dog sled musher.  The musher explains how the races work, describes the nuances of dog sledding and how the dogs train for the race, and takes you and the dogs out on the track.

    The entire race portion takes you around the track, with a break along the way for the dogs.  The track area goes through a heavily wooded part of the camp and it is quite lovely and beautiful to be in there.  Meanwhile, the dogs seem to relish the thrill of the race.

    Along the way, the musher will take photos of you in the cart while you remain seated. 

    After the race concludes, you get a chance to meet and pet the dogs that pulled you.  The make up of the dog team will vary from experienced dogs who tend to lead the pack, to the inexperienced and brand new dogs that pull up the rear of the team.  

    After the dog sled portion, there is an opportunity to learn more about dog sled racing. 

    You learn about the history of the Iditarod race, and how dog sledding has evolved to where it is today.  On our visit, we also had an opportunity to meet a retired dog sled racer, who is now quite content laying around and being petted by strangers.

    The camp also features a suspension bridge for taking photos.

    Following the lesson in dog sledding, it was time for the pièce de résistance, the puppies!

    On our visit there were three sets of puppies of different ages: very young puppies, young puppies, and adolescent puppies.

    A member of the camp team will distribute puppies to people in the group. Ultimately, it is up to your fellow excursioneers to share time with the puppies and pass them around.

    You can pet them, hold them, take selfies with them, hug them and likely try to convince your significant other/parent/cousin/uncle to adopt a puppy as soon as you get home.

    During the puppy petting time, there is also complimentary hot chocolate you may enjoy.


    Just as the excursion promises, this is an opportunity to see, play and pet puppies.  I was a bit skeptical about how many puppies there would be (as opposed to older dogs), but they had quite a few and it lived up to the expectations.

    The race part of the tour was better than I thought it would be, with a sense of exhilaration as we raced around the track.  These dogs are the real deal and at the very hint of going on a race, they would all start howling and barking in euphoric anticipation of what they knew what was coming next.  

    Of course, meeting the puppies is what everyone is really there to see, and it is quite the experience.

    The only real issue with meeting the puppies is it is wholeheartedly dependent on your fellow guests to share and be gracious with time.  There is a limited amount of time with each group of puppies, and in our experience, there were definitely some people who tended to hold onto the puppies longer than others. There is no guidance given on time, nor is there any kind of rule.  Just keep in mind that there are not enough puppies for everyone to have one at the same time, and so, whoever does not have a puppy is likely looking longingly at the people with the puppies for a turn.  Be kind and rewind, err, share the puppies.

    I liked how they split up the group at the start of the excursion to minimize the time we spent waiting.  It helped keep everything moving, and when it came time to meet the puppies, having less people to compete with meant more quality time with the dogs.

    Our tour clocked in at two hours, which was just the perfect amount of time, in my opinion.  We had enough time to do everything without having that feeling of, "when are we going to start the next part already?".

    As mentioned earlier, there are a few different excursions offered that incorporate this experience into the total tour.  If you are looking to just meet the puppies, this is the tour for you.  If you want to meet puppies and do some other touring, consider one of the other tours.  We ended up touring on our own after this excursion, but it is important to know there are other excursions in Juneau and Skagway that offer very similar experiences.

    Cost: $127 per adult and $127 per child (our three year old daughter was free).

    Spotted: Interactive luggage departure form on Symphony of the Seas

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas now have a new option for letting the cruise line know their luggage prefernces upon departure.

    Royal Caribbean Blog reader Rich Freudenberg noticed this new interactive luggage departure form on his stateroom television.

    Rich noted that when you turn it on, it instantly asks you about your luggage preferences upon departure.  

    By taking advantage of this interactive option, it forgoes the need to fill out any forms.

    Video: 8 Things Royal Caribbean Pros Do, and You Should Too!

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Hello, friends! We are back with another Royal Caribbean Blog video today, and we are sharing 8 things that Royal Caribbean pros do, and you should too!

    The famous saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" is a great approach to cruising, because there are a lot of great tips and advice new cruisers can pick up from veteran Royal Caribbean cruisers.  This will will share how cruise pros book their cruises, strategies for saving money, how they learn everything about Royal Caribbean, and a whole lot more!

    And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

    By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!