Shore excursions to St. Maarten on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
26Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 269 is available for downloading, where Matt shares excursion ideas for cruises that visit St. Maarten.

If you sail on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, very likely you will visit St. Maarten.  This week, we look at what to expect when you disembark and some of the popular shore excursion ideas to consider.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 269. 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!

Secret Royal Caribbean staterooms: Liberty of the Seas stateroom 6305

In:
25Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

If you are looking for a fun and very different kind of stateroom, there is one on Liberty of the Seas that is a coveted choice among veteran cruisers (especially those that like ice cream).

On Liberty of the Seas, there is a specific Promenade stateroom known as the Ben & Jerry "Sweet".

Photos by Jeanne Fulton

Stateroom 6305 is actually considered a suite by Royal Caribbean despite it being a Promenade room.  The reason is because this particular room is blocked by the signage for Ben & Jerry's ice cream directly below the room.

The stateroom sits directly above the Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop on the Royal Promenade and so, the room has a view of the two cows that are prominently displayed by the shop.  Thus, the view out the window is blocked.

Royal Caribbean decided to embrace the Ben & Jerry's motif by transforming this room into  the "Ben & Jerry Sweet". 

Throughout the entire room, there are cow sheets, pillows, pictures and other cow-related decorations.

Besides the cute design, the room also has its own list of special benefits, which make the room highly desirable.

Guests staying in this particular cabin get:

  • Complimentary Ben & Jerry's ice cream for each guest (seven visits per guest)
  • Access to the Concierge Lounge

Without a doubt, the complimentary ice cream and concierge lounge access make this room a great deal.  Usually, concierge access is limited to guests staying in a suite (or high up Crown and Anchor members).

Sister ships Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas also offer this special kind of room.

Would you want to book this stateroom? Tell us in the comments!

Video: 9 Coolest Art Pieces on the Symphony of the Seas

In:
25Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Symphony of the Seas takes art to a new level with innovative pieces that combine creativity and engineering to create immersive pieces that will excite the imagination. With over 3,000 pieces of art on board, there is plenty to explore.

Royal Caribbean expands new smartphone app to Brilliance of the Seas

In:
24Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has quietly added Brilliance of the Seas as one of the ships in the fleet to be able to use the cruise line's new smart phone app.

While the app has not been updated, the list of supported ships in the app does now list Brilliance and we were able to pull up an upcoming Brilliance of the Seas sailing for use in the app.

 

Royal Caribbean has been expanding the apps to include more ships recently, with Independence of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas all added recently.  Moreover, Allure of the Seas is currently testing a new chat feature.  

There are currently nine ships supported by the new smart phone app, with each ship offering varying feature sets.  These include:

  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas

The new app is being actively developed, which means not all features area available on the app yet.  Moreover, the cruise line is slowly rolling out support for more ships.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale kicks off with 50% off second guest, kids sail free and bonus onboard credit

In:
24Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale begins today, with up to $300 bonus money to spend onboard the ship.

The WOW Sale is valid on bookings made between September 24 – 27, 2018 on all sailings departing on or after October 24, 2018.

The WOW Sale 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 $300 onboard credit. Onboard credit is determined by sailing length and category booked:
    • $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 OBC for Balcony and $100 OBC for Suite on sailings 5 nights and less
    • $75 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $125 OBC for Balcony, and $200 OBC for Suite on sailings 6 nights or longer
    • Onboard credit excludes China departures
  • Kids Sail Free Offer
    • Free cruise fare for 3rd guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on 4 nights or longer Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, CaribNE, Coastal, Cuba, Europe and Hawaii sailings departing between September 30, 2018 – May 14, 2019 and September 1, 2019 – December 14, 2019.
    • The Kids Sail Free Bonus excludes sailings between November 17 – November 23, 2018, sailings between December 18, 2018 – January 1, 2019, sailings between February 15 – 18, 2019, sailings between March 16 – 30, 2019, sailings between April 13 – 22, 2019 and sailings between November 23 – 30, 2019.
  • Free Upgrades Promo
    • Includes free upgrades from ocean view to balcony when sailing on Anthem of the seas for all sailings departing on or after October 24, 2018. Free upgrades refer to purchasing a Balcony at the price of an ocean view at standard/full fare.

BOGO and Deck the Holidays Deals are combinable with WOW Sale, Free Upgrades, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. BOGO and Kids Sail Free are combinable with WOW Sale, Free Upgrades, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Deck the Holiday Deals and Kids Sail Free are not combinable with each other. WOW Sale is combinable with Free Upgrades, NRDB OBC, OBC, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

Live blogging from Brilliance of the Seas 2018 - Preamble

In:
24Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

It is time for another live blog to kick off and this time we are headed for another sailing on the fantastic Brilliance of the Seas.

Photo by Michael Poole

For those keeping score at home, this our third time on Brilliance of the Seas and second time on her this year.  Brilliance just recently returned to Tampa to offer cruises for the fall and winter, my wife and I decided to book a sailing on her for a long weekend getaway.  We rarely need an excuse to book any Royal Caribbean sailing, but we purposefully booked Brilliance the week after our ten year wedding anniversary as a means of celebrating this milestone.  That and I wanted to cruise again.

A trend among all of our sailings on Brilliance of the Seas has been to leave the kids at home, and this sailing will be no different.  My in-laws will be watching the kiddos while my wife and I enjoy a 4-night Western Caribbean sailing.   Eventually we will take the kids on this ship, but each time we book Brilliance it tends to be for these quick getaways and it provides the kids some time with their grandparents (or at least that is what I tell them).

We booked this sailing back in April and at the time, I found a great rate for the much-talked about aft Junior Suite room.  The Radiance Class ships have quite the reputation for their fantastic aft rooms, so I booked one at a pretty good price for both me and my wife.  Fast forward to July and our final payment date was rapidly approaching.  At that point there was a significant price drop (here is how to check for a price drop) for our Junior Suite.  At first I asked my travel agent to reprice the cruise, but then we spotted the Grand Suite was also discounted and still cheaper than we had originally paid for our Junior Suite.  So we decided to upgrade to the Grand Suite while still paying less than we originally had planned!

Our four night Western Caribbean sailing will depart on Thursday, September 27 and take us to one port, Cozumel, Mexico.

As I mentioned, this is our third time on Brilliance.  We sailed on Brilliance of the Seas for Thanksgiving 2015 and again earlier this year in January 2018.  What brings us back to Brilliance is the fact she sails in our "back yard" of Tampa, which is just a smidge over an hour drive. Moreover, it sails over the weekend and we are able to minimize the amount of days off I need from work.  Of course, Brilliance is a fun ship and a great cruise for relaxing and enjoying some time well-spent by the pool.

Stateroom

Photo by Royal Caribbean

For this sailing, we have a Grand Suite booked and the impetus for booking it had more to do with the great price we got than anything else.  Suites are a great way to cruise, but I would be the first to admit booking a suite depends largely on the price.  A lot of people ask if a suite is worth it, and I always answer that it depends on how much more it is from other room categories.

Frankly, I am not certain how many perks of staying in a suite we will take advantage of on this sailing, but it is a nice way to cruise. Staying in a suite is a splurge, and I think in this situation it was well-worth the investment.

Itinerary

Our cruise has just one port stop, Cozumel, which will be our fourth time in Cozumel in 2018 (with another two visits to come later this year). 

We went back and forth with what to do in Cozumel.  With the time of year, it will still be plenty hot and humid so I thought it would make sense to hit up an all-inclusive beach.  My wife thought we would be better off heading downtown in the morning for some great Mexican food and then back to the ship to enjoy the pool and drink package benefits.

We are a fan of authentic Mexican food, as well as some good drinking spots around town.  We tend to favor Comidas Caseras Tonita, because it is the most authentic Mexican we have found in town.  If anyone has any suggestions for great food or drink in downtown Cozumel, please share in the comments.

Once the heat sets in, we will decide if we will head back to Brilliance for pool time or perhaps hop over to Paradise Beach.  I love having this sort of a "problem" of deciding between which great place to lounge and spend my afternoon.

Dining Plans

Photo by Michael Poole

In the spirit of splurging on this cruise, we decided to go with the Ultimate Dining Package on this cruise.  Originally I thought to get one of the other dining packages to augment the regular dining, but my wife thought if we are going to go the dining package route, we ought to "go big or go home."

Like all dining packages, we must wait to book reservations once onboard the ship.  In the past, we have had little trouble getting the times and restaurants we wanted by ensuring we make reservations as soon as we can once onboard the ship.  Brilliance has three specialty restaurants to choose from: Izumi, Giovanni's Table and Chops.  One of the "cruising traditions" we have is to figure out our restaurant preferences on the drive to the port. 

For this sailing I opted to go for the deluxe beverage package.  If you follow my live blogs, you may have noticed I go back and forth on getting the drink packages.  On shorter cruises, it is a whole lot easier to make the drink package a worthwhile investment.  Plus, without the kids, the drink package makes more sense. On the other hand, we have easily cruised without the drink package too.  In this situation, we decided to go for it.  Ultimate dining package and drink package should make for a fun (and filling) cruise!

What's Next

Photo by Michael Poole

Our Brilliance of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, September 27th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have. I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Spotted: New Boarding Day Quick Guide

In:
24Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Embarkation day on any Royal Caribbean cruise is an exciting and busy day, and it appears Royal Caribbean is trying to simplify that first day for guests with a new boarding day quick guide.

So far we have heard from Royal Caribbean Blog readers on a couple of ships that they have seen a new style boarding day quick guide. 

 

Mariner of the Seas quick guide. Photos by Twangster.

Enchantment of the Seas quick guide. Photos by Twangster.

Empress of the Seas quick guide. Photos by Thomas Bissland.

The new guide is a quick flip open pamphlet, as opposed to the old style boarding day guide which tended to be a single sheet of paper with important information listed. The new guide lists important places on the ship, provides a deck plan overview, and explains which restaurants and bars are open on embarkation day.

An example of the previous boarding day guide style.

Do you like the new boarding day quick guide design? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: September 23, 2018

In:
23Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We are celebrating the first weekend of fall/autumn/leave changing season with our pumpkin-flavored coffee and sharing all of the Royal Caribbean news from this week!

Sit back, and enjoy this week's round-up.

Royal Caribbean announced this week it would be eliminating its in-room babysitting option as of September 30, 2018.

The Sitters at Sea program is being discontinued because the cruise line was not able to consistently guarantee this service on every sailing.

For sailings departing prior to September 30, 2018, Royal Caribbean will happily accommodate your request if sitters are available. Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean and Royal Babies & Tots programs remain unchanged.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 268th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we share what you need to know about using the internet on a Royal Caribbean ship.

In this episode, Matt discusses Royal Caribbean's onboard internet service and goves over the options available, provides pricing options and shares how to get a discount.

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.

Royal Caribbean Around The Internet

Cruise Habit shared some great last minute deals on October cruises.

Eat Sleep Cruise posted a bar guide to Mariner of the Seas.

Cruise Fever updated its Royal Caribbean ship drydock schedule.

Friday Photos - September 21, 2018

In:
21Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Photos, where we showcase our readers favorite Royal Caribbean photos.  If we all cannot be on a Royal Caribbean cruise at the moment, then the next best thing is to look at photos of a cruise longingly as a means of getting a "cruise fix."

If you want to submit your photos for a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us via this form.

Our first photo this week is by Melissa Turner, and it is a panorama photo from the Olive or Twist bar on Freedom of the Seas.

Shawn Ng took this photo of Ovation of the Seas docked in Marina Bay Cruise Centre, Singapore.

Next up is a photo of Grandeur of the Seas in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Photo by Wayne D Stephens.

Justin Amrhein took this photo of Enchantment of the Seas sailing out of PortMiami.

Here is a shot of Rhapsody of the Seas in Cozumel, taken by Ken.

Stephanie Morgan and her daughter, Alyssa, took this photo from the Captain's chair on Independence of the Seas.

We wrap things up with this shot of Freedom of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas docked in Cozumel. Photo by Jeff LeBriton.

That wraps up this week's edition of Friday Photos. If you want your Royal Caribbean photo featured here, use this form to send them in!

Save up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases with Fall into Savings sale

In:
21Sep2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's new weekend sale on pre-cruise purchases begins today, with select pre-cruise purchases discounted.

The Fall into Savings sale runs between September 21 - 24, 2018 and is valid on select sailings from October 1, 2018 - March 15, 2019.

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

Royal Caribbean states guests can expect to see:

  • Dining
    • Dinner Chop's Grille: Save 20% off. Available on select ships.
  • Beverage Packages: Up to 30% off onboard prices
    • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Discount varies by ship
    • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship
    • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices
  • Shore Excursions: Save up to 25% on select tours on select sailings. Discount varies by ship.
  • Internet
    • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship
    • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship

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

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

Pages