Royal Caribbean extends Singapore season for Quantum of the Seas in 2021

In:
21May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today it will add a new homeporting season in Singapore for Quantum of the Seas, sailing in the region until April 2021. The additional season
of seven months will be the cruise line’s longest ever Singapore deployment for a Quantum class ship.

Quantum of the Seas is scheduled to return to Singapore in November 2019. She will offer 34 sailings during the six months from November 2019 to April 2020. The ship will then return for a longer season in October 2020, with a total of 40 sailings over seven months till April 2021.

Royal Caribbean’s Senior Vice President International, Gavin Smith, said that the commitment to bring in two of Royal Caribbean’s largest and most innovative ships in 2019 alone, along with the decision to sustain the presence of a Quantum Class ship in the region till 2021, underscores Royal Caribbean’s confidence in the region’s thriving cruise industry,
with Singapore playing a major role as a cruise hub.

“Royal Caribbean has big ambitions for Asia – and Singapore sits at the heart of our growth in this region. The additional homeporting of Quantum of the Seas in the 2020/21 season announced today will add some 180,000 guests to the Singapore cruising scene, and we are excited for them to experience our world-class, innovative ships.

“2019 also marks a new era for cruising for both Royal Caribbean and the region. We celebrate our 50 th anniversary as a global brand, and ships like Spectrum of the Seas and our
additional capacity with Quantum of the Seas here shows that we are poised to ride on Asia’s astounding growth. Singapore plays an important role as one of the region’s most significant cruise destinations, and we look forward to growing the cruise industry here and in the region.”

First look: Ovation of the Seas visits Alaska glaciers

In:
21May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas has begun sailing her inaugural season in Alaska, and she is the first Quantum Class ship to offer cruises in the region.

When you combine the natural splendor and beauty of Alaska with one of the world's most advanced cruise ships, the result is a fantastic view.

Royal Caribbean crew ambassador Stephen Burke snapped these photos of Hubbard Glacier from Ovation of the Seas on her recent visit.

With the highest vantage point on any cruise ship, the North Star – the ship’s signature glass observation capsule with panoramic views from 300 feet above sea level – is the “best seat in the house” for guests to take in the majestic mountains, eye-catching glaciers and diverse wildlife native to the state’s stunning landscape.

This year marks Ovation of the Seas' first season offering cruises to The Last Frontier, with 7-night itineraries to destinations from Juneau to Victoria, British Columbia

Ovation will return to Alaska in 2020 for her second consecutive season to offer cruises through the region’s untouched wilds on 7-night itineraries from Seattle, Washington.

Royal Caribbean announces Oasis of the Seas $165 million amplification details

In:
21May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced today its big plans to enhance and upgrade Oasis of the Seas later this year.

The ten year anniversary of the iconic ship's launch will see a $165 million amplification that will add several new venues, including a few options new to the fleet. Oasis will become the first Oasis Class ship to be modernized as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort.

The amplified Oasis will set sail on Nov. 24, 2019, beginning 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Royal Caribbean’s new, state-of-the-art Terminal A in Miami. Oasis then moves to the New York City area in May 2020 as the largest ship to sail from the New York area. Oasis will reposition to her new summer home at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, offering 7-night sailings to The Bahamas with visits to Royal Caribbean’s newly transformed private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The 63-day modernization will include a number of new changes.  Here is a breakdown of what Royal Caribbean is adding or changing to the ship.

Top Deck

The pool deck will get a makeover with a new Caribbean-style pool deck that includes The Lime & Coconut. The signature bar was first added to Navigator of the Seas, and will offer plenty to do day or night with poolside cocktails, DJs and live music across two locations. The pools on Oasis of the Seas will deliver a larger variety of seating and shade, including comfy casitas, daybeds, hammocks and swing seats, new whirlpools on the top deck, and a refreshed Solarium for the adults.

Royal Caribbean will reimagine the Pool and Sports Zone when it adds the 10-story Ultimate Abyss slide, along with the trio of waterslides known as The Perfect Storm.

Kids will love to see Splashaway Bay come to the ship (including a Splash Pad for toddlers) that will feature three waterslides, water cannons, fountains, pools and the first-ever twin drench buckets.

Dining

Oasis of the Seas will expand its dining offerings with a few new options.

Oasis will introduce Royal Caribbean's first-ever barbecue restaurant, Portside BBQ, which serves an authentic, meat-packed menu inspired by the best-in-class barbecue across the United States.

From smoked marbled brisket, pulled pork and chicken, to beef ribs and burnt ends, the casual eatery on the pool deck will tie it all together with classic sides – including mac and cheese, homestyle cornbread, baked beans and coleslaw – and down-home desserts such as the Banana Dream and a brownie cookie mashup.

  • El Loco Fresh will offer made-to-order tacos and burritos, quesadillas, mini salads and salsas galore.
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade will be added to the Boardwalk neighborhood. With 80 big-screen TVs, tabletop games, arcade classics, tournaments, an Owner’s Box VIP room, bar fare and ice-cold brews,
  • Sugar Beach will have more than 220 types of candy and a new walkup ice cream window
  • Oasis of the Seas will still offer Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and Izumi.

Entertainment

Coming to the Royal Promenade is a new venue, Spotlight Karaoke.  The venue will have a main stage, as well as two private rooms for guests to sing their favorite songs.

Oasis of the Seas will also have a Quantum Class favorite added to the ship, with Music Hall being added. Music Hall will include live cover bands, an expansive dance floor, pool tables and intimate loungers across two levels.

Bionic Bar will also be added to Oasis of the Seas, alongside existing fun spots such as Boleros, Schooner Bar, Blaze Nightclub & Comedy and English pub Atlas & Globe.

Kids & Family

Royal Caribbean is reimagining its dedicated spaces for babies, teens and kids.  Each of these areas is being enhanced from top to bottom and amplified with technology to offer interactive, personalized and unexpected experiences.

Adventure Ocean will receive a total makeover, with newly designed areas organized by activity type and created to fully immerse kids and their families in the adventures they choose based on their interests.

Returning offerings include a nursery for the youngest of travelers, and a specialized area with programming for kids 3 to 5 years old. Teens will enjoy their private area that has exclusive features like a “hidden” entrance, gaming lounge, movies, music, and a new, laidback outdoor deck.

A new glow-in-the-dark laser tag game, Clash for the Crystal City, will be offered onboard that will pit two clans, the Yetis and
Snowshifters, to battle for claim of the crystal city and defeat impending extinction.

A new Royal Escape Room will be added, Mission Control: Apollo 18. The year is 1973 and travelers must come together to launch Apollo 18 to the moon by solving every mind-bending puzzle before time runs out.

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Nassau

In:
20May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

The final day of our 3-night cruise takes us to Nassau, Bahamas. I thought it might be a slower day to catch up and relax, but I ended up doing more than I thought.

First up was a chance to hop in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 and try my hand at (virtually) flying. This is a Royal Caribbean excursion that brings me to Jetline Simulations.  

This time around, we did one full flight from Baltimore to Reagan National in Washington DC, a landing in St. Maarten and a landing in Shanghai.  I think I did pretty darn well!

After impressing myself with flying skills, I met up with Cruise Life Matt for drinks and lunch in downtown Nassau.

We started out at Pirate Republic Brewery and then headed over to dine at Sharkeez Tiki Bar.

Following lunch, I went back onboard Navigator of the Seas and joined a group of other media to try out the Royal Escape Room.  

Each escape room on Royal Caribbean is different, and while the layout and general aesthetic is similar to the escape room on Mariner of the Seas, the puzzles are completely different.

We did not escape in time, but we did manage to solve the entire puzzle in an extra 4 minutes or so. Our game host said of the roughly 300 game sessions so far, we were only one of 14 teams to complete the puzzle, regardless of overtime or not.

Following the escape room, I was in desperate need of a nap so I took a very satisfying nap back in my room.

I awoke from my midafternoon slumber to see our ship begin sailing away from Nassau.

For dinner, I chose between Izumi and Jamie's Italian and ultimately decided on Jamie's Italian simply because the menu at Jamie's Italian on Navigator of the Seas is different from any other Jamie's Italian across the fleet.  

I started out the tomato bruschetta, and then moved onto the eggplant parmigiana, with a side of linguine. 

Great meal, and the service was fantastic.

After dinner, I went outside to enjoy a lovely sunset.

While at the pool deck, I finally got to meet the man who has cruised with Royal Caribbean the most.  He is affectionally known as Super Mario, and fellow blog writer Michael Poole interviewed him a couple years ago

Mario was incredibly gracious, and we had a great chat.

With no way to possibly top meeting Mario, I enjoyed a few drinks around the ship and then decided to do the responsible thing and head to bed.

Thanks for following along this live blog. I had a lot of fun sharing all the big Perfect Day at CocoCay changes, and I love hearing back from all of you.

My next live blog kicks off sooner than you think, as I decided to "YOLO" book another sailing to Perfect Day at CocoCay on Mariner of the Seas for June 14. Stay tuned for that live blog!

Stray Observations

  • I love these elevators on Adventure, Mariner and Navigator that tell you what the next stop will be.
  • I stopped by the Diamond Lounge and found a few menus to show



Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
18May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Back in March 2018, Royal Caribbean announced its plans to expand its private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay, and since that day, I have been among many that have been quite excited to see it open.  Today, that dream was realized.

I woke up much too early and got ready for a full day of fun.  We were scheduled to be in port from 8am to 8pm, so roughly 12 hours (cleared for disembarkation and all-aboard eat some of that time) of fun in the sun, exploring the island was ahead of me.

I caught a quick breakfast in the Windjammer and then walked off the ship.  There was continuous tram service provided on the pier so I managed to save a walk and get to the island even faster!

Once on the island, I made a beeline to Thrill Waterpark to experience all the slides there.  

There are about a half dozen slides on Daredevil's Tower, which encompass the most thrilling slides available.

In the name of "research", I tried all the slides and think Daredevil's Peak was my favorite for sheer ride length speed.  

The Dueling Demons drop slide absolutely, positively scared me to death. You stand vertically on a platform and then the lifeguard counts down until the slide opens up and you fall vertically before beginning the slide.  If he had stopped at one and asked if I wanted to get off, I would have.  It was exhilarating, but I found my limit.

I made up for it with the other great slides that each offer a different kind of thrill.

Over at Splash Summit, you have another three types of slides. These are more family-friendly, although I saw plenty of kids hit up Daredevil's Tower.

You might be wondering about lines for the slides, and there were barely any. The longest wait is for the Slingshot raft slide (for 2-4 guests). But even that maxed out at about 20 minutes.  Nearly all the slides I rode had little to no wait.

Next up was the wave pool. The depth is not very deep, so it allows families to enjoy this and I think my kids would love it.

If that is not enough, Thrill Waterpark also has the Adventure Pool that is designed for kids to traverse the obstacles, climb around and otherwise find a new way to splash around.

 

The water park did not disappoint and my advice is to hit the slides either before 11am or after 3pm. If your ship stays late (past 5pm), you will find you have the water park to yourself by mid-afternoon as families head back to the ship for dinner.

For lunch, I ate at the Snack Shack, which is home to the absolute best food on the island (and rivals a lot of the food on any Royal Caribbean ship): the Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Continuing my "research", I did a lot of walking around the island to check out everything.

 Oasis Lagoon continues to be an incredibly fun spot and the pool bar area was super popular with guests, as a newly added DJ has proven to be a big hit.

As noted in my other live blog post, I was invited to go on this cruise as a guest of Royal Caribbean (along with a number of other members of the media). Royal Caribbean provided complimentary rides on the zip line and Up, Up and Away helium balloon.

The zip line involves three towers, so that means three different zip line rides in total. The views were fantastic and I loved the thrill of going over other areas of the waterpark.

My helium balloon ride took me up 330 feet to provide some incredible views.  The exact height you hit will depend on wind conditions. 

 

Of course, Perfect Day at CocoCay still offers that fantastic traditional beach experience at Chill Island and South Beach. I walked both beaches and if you want a beach day with no noise other than the waves splashing, then Chill Island is the spot for you.

Traditionalists will find Chill Island a true to form beach day experience.

   

My kids were not with me, or I would have probably spent time at Splashaway Bay and Captain Jill's Galleon.  The kids I saw there looked thrilled to be running around.  

I asked the lifeguard and adults can do down the slides at Splashaway Bay and Captain Jill's Galleon.

Many blog readers wanted to know what each type of cabana on the island looks like, so here they are...

Thrill waterpark cabana

Chill Island cabanas

Oasis Lagoon cabana

There was also Perfect Day at CocoCay merchandise available for sale at a few kiosks.

I had an incredible day, and I had to take a little time in late afternoon to simply relax in the pool after a day of running around and trying it all. Royal Caribbean designed Perfect Day to offer a blend of "thrill" and "chill" and it is not just marketing speak. The island delivers both in ample supply.

I got back onboard the ship around 7pm and prepared for dinner, which tonight would take me to Chops Grille.

Chops was busy, but the service and food were excellent. After a day of walking around Perfect Day at CocoCay, it was nice to just sit for a while.

After dinner I headed down the Bamboo Room for some after-dinner cocktails, followed by Royal Caribbean's Red nightclub experience in Studio B.

Tomorrow is our last day, and it takes us to Nassau, Bahamas.

 

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
18May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

We are back with our next live blog and this week we are headed on Navigator of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean invited me to come sail on Navigator of the Seas for the purposes of checking out the revamped Perfect Day at CocoCay. We will have more on that tomorrow, but in the meantime let us talk about my first day on Navigator.

Prior to the cruise, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Miami Airport East.  It was quite affordable ($80/night) and well kept.  I will have a more in-depth review on the hotel later, but it is a great affordable choice for a pre-cruise hotel near the airport.

The nice thing about staying near the airport is Lyft drivers are plentiful, and I grabbed a ride to the port following a meeting I had earlier in the morning.

Check-in at Terminal A at PortMiami is as simple as it was on Symphony of the Seas or Mariner of the Seas in previous sailings. Frankly, it is impressive how quickly you move through the entire process.

Once onboard Navigator, it felt like a homecoming being on Navigator of the Seas again.  Being a few months post-dry dock, the ship still has that "new ship feel" and I relished being back onboard.

As is tradition for me, I grabbed lunch at the Windjammer and it did not disappoint. I love the variety of food, and it hit the spot.

After lunch, I had to check out the ship and see some of the venues that were not quite complete when I sailed on her right before Navigator launched post-dry dock. Frankly, it is impressive the layout and flow of the pool deck. 

Staterooms were ready at 2pm (a bit of a departure from the usual 1pm time) and I have a balcony room for this sailing.

The room looked great, and I loved how much space there was around the room. 

One of the venues I wanted to check out was the redesigned Adventure Ocean space.

Instead of Adventure Ocean groupings segregated by age, Navigator of the Seas combines the kids in one group with activity areas based on interest.

I will defer a review of this until my kids get to sail with me, but the space is impressive.

Following muster drill, it was time for sail away. The Miami sail away is among the most beautiful and scenic cruise sail aways that exist and I loved passing by all the beautiful (and expensive) homes that I could only dream of living in one day.

Prior to getting ready for dinner, I had to jump on the Navigator of the Seas water slides. I rode both the Blaster and Riptide slides and it was a lot of fun. While I had ridden the Riptide before, the Blaster was a great tube ride slide.  Riptide is just a plain-simple head-first rush. 

As day turned to evening, members of the media met at the Lime and Coconut for cocktails and a lovely sunset at sea.

Dinner this evening took me to Hooked.  I have dined at Hooked a couple of times, and I opted for the messy fish sandwich.  The key to the messy fish sandwich is to press the sandwich down as much as possible prior to eating.

We called it an early evening, because tomorrow will be a full day at Perfect Day at CocoCay tomorrow.

Stray Observations

  • On this sailing, the new souvenir Coca-Cola souvenir cup is the defacto cup across the ship. 
  • During the day on embarkation day, the Pub and Bamboo room were closed with interesting signs outside. 

  • The first day Cruise Compass included this Perfect Day at CocoCay laminated insert.

 

Spotted: North Star Alaska Experience on Ovation of the Seas

In:
17May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas has begun her inaugural season in Alaska this year, and guests sailing on her can enjoy an incomparable view of the glaciers.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader twangster shared with us a new activity to reserve via the Royal iQ app or the shore excursions tablets onboard, North Star Alaska Experience.

For $49 per person, you can take a ride up in North Star while the ship visits a glacier and take in a view of this natural wonder 300 feet above sea level.

This North Star experience is available while the ship visits Hubbard Glacier or Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier.

Royal Caribbean opens 2020 Cuba sailings for bookings

In:
16May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has put its 2020 Cuba sailings online for guests to begin booking.

Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas return to offer sailings to Cuba with some new itineraries included.  Majesty of the Seas will offer 4 to 6 night adventures, with stops at destinations like Costa Maya, Cozumel and Perfect Day at CocoCay on select sailings.

Empress of the Seas will offer 3 to 8 night sailings, including an overnight or a late stay in Havana, plus Perfect Day at CocoCay on select sailings.

These new 2020 Cuba sailings are available to book exclusively by Crown & Anchor Society members on May 16, 2019. Bookings become available to the general public on May 17, 2019.

You can view a full list of 2020 Cuba sailings here:

Royal Caribbean adds support for Quantum of the Seas and The Key to smart phone app

In:
16May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released version 1.17 of its smart phone app which adds app support for Quantum of the Seas as well as identifying guests who purchase The Key.

The new app update is available via the Google Play store, and will be available for iTunes App Store shortly.

Quantum of the Seas is now listed as being supported with the app. Moreover, guests who are enrolled in The Key are now identified as members at check-in.

Thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers Michael S. and Michael C. for alerting us to these changes.

Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
15May2019
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 302 is available for downloading where Matt shares his thoughts on his recent cruise aboard Harmony of the Seas.

Matt experienced a lot onboard Harmony of the Seas, and this week, he dives into what makes Harmony of the Seas unique and discusses the aspects of dining, entertainment and accomodations that stood out and why.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 302. 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!

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