Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort Hotel Review

In:
16Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

The Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort is just about the closest hotel you can stay at to where the cruise ships dock in Port Canaveral.  This review features photos of the rooms & resort, thoughts on the amenities, and our experience in staying here during our recent visit to the Port Canaveral area.

The appeal of this resort is for families that want to stay as close to Port Canaveral as possible, while enjoying resort accommodations.  Most hotels near Port Canaveral are further south on route A1A in the Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island areas.  Those hotels are not only geared towards people going on cruises, but mostly geared towards guests who are visiting the Space Coast of Florida.  

The Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort is a sprawling 10-acre resort adjacent to Jetty Park Campground and is perfectly situated to provide perfect views of cruise ships, NASA rocket launches and of course time at the beach.

The resort features spacious hotel-suite/condo-style 1 and 2 bedroom accommodations from 414 to 1,224 square feet. The rooms here are more than just a typical double set of beds and bathroom.  Ideally, guests staying here will make this resort a multi-day pre- or post-cruise stop.  To that point, families (especially larger families) will enjoy the sheer amount of space provided in each room as well as the resort amenities provided.  Staying at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort is best enjoyed if you have at least a full day to take advantage of everything it offers.

Since this is a resort, very likely the price of this hotel will not be among the cheapest options in the area, but then again, it offers a lot more to do than just a hotel pool.  There is direct beach access at Jetty Park, four-story water slide, lazy river, splash zones, and kiddie pool.  In addition, there is an arcade, movie theater, mini golf course, plus basketball, tennis and shuffleboard courts.  

Starting in the lobby, the hotel is comprised of a few different buildings across the 10-acres.  The lobby is part of the main building, which additional buildings a short walk and/or shuttle drive much closer to the beach. 

The pool area is one of Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort's biggest selling points, and this thing is huge.  There is a giant main pool, sprawling kiddie pool area, lazy river and water slide.

There is ample seating all around the pool, and we were able to find seats with no problem. 

Adjacent to the pool area is a nice little bar. This place was fairly popular most of the time during our visit, and seemed to have a decent drink menu. The bar not only served drinks, but also offered lunch and dinner.  In addition, each day there was a live band performing throughout the day.

The lazy river and water slides were big hits with my kids.  There is no additional charge to use either, so just grab a tube for the river or head up the stairs to the slide.  

It is worth noting guests must be 42 inches tall to go on the slide.

I could spend this entire review talking about the pool area, because it is the best thing about this resort.  

There is still plenty more activities in the resort to keep you busy.  My kids relished their time in the giant indoor play area, which is akin to a play area you might find at a fast-food restaurant, but on a giant scale.

Slides, tunnels, ropes and obstacles galore are enough to keep most kids busy for hours.

There is also a movie theater that has no additional cost and shows three to four movies a day. 

Holiday Inn advertises its rooms as hotel-suite/condo-style, which means you get a lot of space and more.  Rooms feature a kitchen and in-unit washer/dryer.  Plus, Wi-Fi and parking are free to guests.

We chose a 1 bedroom unit for our stay.  We ended up being assigned a handicap accessible room, but I do not think it was a problem at all.  The rate for our first night was $290.03 and the second night was $189.05. With taxes and fees, the average rate we paid per night came out to $268.29. I could have gotten it a bit cheaper if I had committed to a non-refundable rate.

Our room featured two double beds in the bedroom, a large bathroom, giant living room, kitchen and of course a balcony.

For the four of us, there was more than enough room.  The resort also offers two bedroom units, which would have been nice to have, but our kids slept fine on the pull-out sofa bed in the living room.

The room was clean and reasonably well-maintained.  You could make an argument that they could benefit from a refurbishment update to make it feel a bit more contemporary, but by no means did the room feel dirty or old.  It certainly felt familiar considering we have stayed in enough resorts around Florida.

Likewise, the unit’s regular bathroom was basic and on the smaller side. Absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Keep in mind we were in an accessible room, so the shower may look different in other rooms.

The full-size, fully-equipped kitchen is nice, and will certainly be appreciated by those on a budget who use the room to prepare their own meals.

For cruise fans, some rooms face the Port Canaveral channel where the cruise ships enter and leave from, which provides absolutely stunning and unmatched views anywhere else in Port Canaveral.

Since the hotel is perhaps a mile from Terminal 1, views of the cruise ships abundant.  We requested a room that faced the channel, while most rooms face the pool area, ocean or a parking lot.  We called a week ahead of time to make the view request and had no problem having the resort take care of it for us.

Being able to watch the cruise ships depart was a real highlight of our stay.

Speaking of the cruise ships, Holiday Inn offers a third-party service that can take you to the cruise terminal for $25 up to 4 people, and $5 for each additional guest.  My advice is use Lyft or Uber, since a ride to the terminal from our hotel came in at $6.

Of course, there is beach access with the hotel. Guests can take a private boardwalk-style path from the resort to the beach at Jetty Park.  Chairs, umbrellas, bikes, surfboards and boogie boards are available to rent on the beach for an additional cost.

The biggest drawback to Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort is also its greatest benefit.  Since the resort is so close to the cruise port, there is really nothing you can walk to in terms of dining or entertainment.  A car or taxi is pretty much required if you want to venture off property.  In my opinion, that's not a terrible price to pay, but something you should be aware of before booking. Other hotels in Cocoa Beach are much closer together and there seems to be more opportunity to walk around in Cocoa Beach.  Since we had our own car, this was not a problem for us and Lyft/Uber/taxi rides are quite inexpensive and plentiful.

Overall, Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort is a great choice for families that want to tack on a pre- or post-cruise stay in resort accommodations. The pool area and other resort amenities are perfect for families.  The rooms are spacious and provide some great nice to haves.  The larger the family, the more compelling this resort can be to choose.

If you are coming just for the night before your cruise, staying here might be overkill (depending on price), but if you can get at least a full day to take advantage of the resort, then it can make a lot of sense.

Your thoughts

Have you stayed at Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort ? Are you a fan of it? What did you think of the suites? Is this a hotel you’d consider? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!

Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in PortMiami photo report - October 14, 2018

In:
15Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

With just a few until Royal Caribbean opens its brand new cruise terminal in PortMiami, we have a look at the progress being made on Terminal A.

Royal Caribbean Blog readers Trina and Danny Martinez shared with us these photos of the new cruise terminal, which were taken as the cruise departed PortMiami yesterday.

A grand opening ceremony for Terminal A in PortMiami is scheduled for November 2, 2018.

Terminal A was designed to accommodate the passengers of two of the world’s largest ships, the new Symphony of the Seas and her sister, Allure of the Seas. In addition to housing two of the world’s largest ships, the new LEED certified facility, which will soon be the largest and most modern cruise facility in the world, has implemented new technologies and waiting areas to enhance the boarding experience of guests.

As a result of the new terminal, Royal Caribbean is expected to increase its passenger intake by 1.8 million annually. This will make PortMiami Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise port in the United States.

Royal Caribbean posts 2019 drink package pricing

In:
15Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Guests sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise in 2019 can get an idea of how much they are likely to spend on one of the popular unlimited drink packages with a recent update to Royal Caribbean's web site.

Royal Caribbean posted updated pricing for its three primary drink packages, which will see an increase in price for 2019 sailings when compared to 2018 sailings.

PACKAGE2018 SAILINGS2019 SAILINGS
Deluxe$57 - $63$63 - $70
Refreshment$26 - $29$29
Classic Soda$8.50 - $9.50$12.99

The Deluxe Beverage Package (commonly referred to as the unlimited alcohol package) has seen the largest jump, with a more than 10% increase from the 2018 price range. The Deluxe Beverage Package includes cocktails, beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, premium coffee, tea, fountain soda and bottled water. 

The non-alcoholic Royal Refreshment package will see a slight uptick in 2019 to $29 per person, per day.  The Refreshment Package includes premium coffees and teas, bottled water, fresh-squeezed juices, non-alcoholic cocktails and fountain soda. 

Likewise, the Classic Soda Package, which offers just soft drinks, will move up to $12.99 per person, per day.

How to get a discount on a Royal Caribbean drink package

It is worth noting that these price changes are reflective of the onboard pricing, and many guests are able to take advantage of discounts provided by the cruise line via the Cruise Planner site.

There is no guarantee your sailing will have a discount on drink packages via the Cruise Planner, but the pre-cruise discounts seem to be widely available.

The exact discount will vary, although it is common to see up to a 20% discount off the daily rate. Royal Caribbean has been known to run even more lucrative discounts from time to time. The intriguing aspect to that discount is the daily price for a drink package seems to vary from ship to ship, and sailing to sailing.  If you have more than one cruise booked on different ships, you may find different sale prices.

To find the discounted rates, log into the My Cruises section of the Royal Caribbean web site, and navigate to the Cruise Planner section for the sailing you are interested in.

Once logged in, navigate to the Beverage Packages section and look for advertised rates. You will likely see something similar to this: 

If you are comfortable with the price, you can purchase the drink package.  Keep in mind that you will be charged in full for the drink package at the time of purchase.

It is also worth noting beverage package purchases made online can be canceled and full refunded at any time, up until about 3 days before your sail date.

More drink package info

Are you wondering if a Royal Caribbean drink package is worth it? Want to know what to think about before buying a drink package? Learn about how the drink packages work?  Check out our Royal Caribbean Drink Package Information and planning tips post for more helpful information.

Royal Caribbean partners with GRAMMY Museum to offer students chance to perform at Symphony of the Seas naming ceremony

In:
15Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is is partnering with the GRAMMY Museum® – the official foundation of the Recording Academy™ – to fund music education programs in underserved high schools within the Miami-Dade County Public School District. Twenty local schools will receive grants from Royal Caribbean through the GRAMMY Museum® Signature Schools program, and the chance to perform at Symphony’s naming ceremony.

The 20 schools were selected for maintaining thriving music programs with only limited resources. As the first Signature Schools program dedicated to Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Royal Caribbean and the GRAMMY Museum is taking music education beyond the classroom to inspire the next generation of performers with firsthand, career-building experiences.  

Each school will be honored during an exclusive tour behind the scenes at the Royal Caribbean Entertainment Studios on Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay campus, complete with hands-on introductions to what a career in music and entertainment could look like. Students will spend a day at the 132,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, which features a 300-seat theater, a 20,000-square-foot, costume-making facility, 14 dance studios, 15 vocal rehearsal rooms, an audio recording studio, two aerial training studios, and more. Further spotlighting the arts and flourishing talent in South Florida, one student ensemble will be invited to perform on a global stage at the official naming ceremony of Symphony of the Seas on Nov. 15 at Royal Caribbean’s new state-of-the-art Terminal A.

GRAMMY Museum Signature Schools Honorees:

  • American Senior High School
  • Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts
  • Booker T. Washington Senior High School
  • G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School
  • Hialeah Gardens Senior High School
  • Hialeah Senior High School
  • Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School
  • Miami Carol City Senior High School
  • Miami Central Senior High School
  • Miami Coral Park Senior High School
  • Miami Edison Senior High School
  • Miami Jackson Senior High School
  • Miami Norland Senior High School
  • Miami Northwestern Senior High School
  • Miami Southridge Senior High School
  • Miami Springs Senior High School
  • North Miami Beach Senior High School
  • South Dade Senior High School
  • Southwest Miami Senior High School
  • Westland Hialeah Senior High School   

“There is a reason behind choosing the name Symphony of the Seas; it’s because music, entertainment and family are woven throughout every aspect of the onboard experience of our guests’,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We have great pride in being a Miami-based company for nearly 50 years. Welcoming Symphony to our hometown is a special occasion, and it is important for us that we celebrate her arrival by giving back to our community in a meaningful way. In working with the GRAMMY Museum, we are helping inspire these incredible, young performers to continue pursuing their passion and show them the variety of career opportunities that exist.”

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 14, 2018

In:
14Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

We hope everyone reading this is having a wonderful Sunday and enjoying some time this weekend with friends, family and some good food too.  There was a lot of Royal Caribbean news this week, and we have summarized all up into one easy-to-read blog post for your convenience!

Royal Caribbean announced that Navigator of the Seas will be the first cruise ship to visit CocoCay following the transformation to Perfect Day in CocoCay.

Navigator of the Seas will sail a 3 night Bahamas sailing between May 3-6, 2019.

Perfect Day at CocoCay is a $200 million makeover of Royal Caribbean's private destination in the Bahamas.  CocoCay will offer guests plenty of ways to relax and enjoy beautiful beaches and pristine water, plus thrilling experiences like Thrill Water Park, ziplining and water sports.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Mariner of the Seas has a lot of people excited to go on a short cruise again, and on this week's podcast, we have a cruise review to share from a recent Mariner sailing.

Ric from CruiseHabit.com joins Matt to talk about his recent sailing on Mariner of the Seas. Ric talks about why he booked this cruise, what he did onboard, and what Ric thinks of the recent upgrades.

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

CruiseHabit tried out the Try Dive activity on a recent Royal Caribbean sailing.

Eat Sleep Cruise counted down their top ten favorite things to do on embarkation day.

Royal Caribbean shared a video on how the cruise line procures everything it needs for a sailing.

Friday Photos - October 12, 2018

In:
12Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Friday is here and that means it is time to share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos! Each week, we invite our readers to send us photos from their past Royal Caribbean cruises to be showcased on the blog.

With the weekend nearly upon us, here is this week's batch of fabulous photos!

Our first photo this week is Harmony of the Seas docked in Labadee, by Mike Sperduto.

Karen Chandler took this photo of Oasis of the Seas from her Beach Bungalow #3 in Columbus Cove.

Check out this photo of Explorer of the Seas docked in Honolulu while on a Transpacific sailing by F1guynz.

Michael Kho took this photo of Majesty of the Seas while docked in Cozumel.

Rob Young snapped this picture of Freedom of the Seas docked next to Carnival Magic while in St. Maarten.

A rainbow over a Royal Caribbean ship, as seen by Gwendolyn Salzman.

We will wrap up this week's edition of photos with this shot by Shane Eubanks at Holland House Beach Hotel in St. Maarten, with Oasis of the Seas in the background.

Thank you to everyone for their great photos, and we invite everyone reading to send in their photos too.  Use this form to submit your photos to be included in an upcoming Friday Photos post!

Must-Try Eats at Izumi on Royal Caribbean

In:
12Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Are you planning to try Royal Caribbean's signature sushi specialty restaurant, Izumi? We are big fans of Izumi across Royal Caribbean's fleet for the inspired menu, fresh ingredients and wide selection.

While the entire Izumi menu offers some intriguing choices, here is a quick look at a few of my top choices for ordering at Izumi on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Izumi Ryu Futomaki roll

If you are looking for a sushi roll to satisfy any appetite, then the Izumi Ryu Futomaki roll is sure to fill you up quickly.

This massive roll is one of the Chef's Signature Rolls, and it is a tempura fried mashup of sushi goodness.  It is comprised of assorted sashimi, scallions, scallions, spicy aioli, cream cheese, wakame salad, house ginger teppan dressing and a spicy chili thread.

Not only is this a giant sushi roll, it is also a deeply satisfying roll and the kind of thing to order when you really want a filling meal.  It is also a great value if you have a specialty dining package.

Tuna wasabi

One of Izumi's strengths are the great assortment of starters, and the Tuna Wasabi carpaccio is something I can order each time I visit Izumi and never tire of trying. 

The tuna wasabi is a simple, yet delectable appetizer.  It is also very light, which means you are not going into your main course already feeling full. 

Fresh tuna sashimi and a slice of jalapeño make for a brilliant contrast in flavors.  There is just enough kick from the jalapeño to compliment the tremendous tuna flavor.  Any tuna lover will relish this app.

Hot Rock

Izumi offers some of the best sushi at sea or on land, but it also has a really good option for those that do not like sushi (crazy, I know).  The hot rocks have become a staple of so many Izumi locations and it is as fun to cook as it is to eat.

Hot rocks are essentially a rock slab heated up to 575°F and served with raw meat and vegetables that you can cook at your table.  The hot rocks are available on all Vision, Radiance and most Voyager class of ships (with the exception of Adventure of the Seas) have hot rock and sushi. Quantum Class ships have sushi, hot appetizers and noodles. Oasis class have Hibachi and sushi. Mariner and Independence are the other 2 Izumis with mostly Hibachi.

The appeal of the hot rocks is more than just "something to order if you do not like sushi."  Freshly cooked steak, surf & turf, skewers and more are available to try and the result is a wonderful entrée.  Even as a sushi lover, I cannot help but take a few bites when my wife orders one of these.  

Mixed poke taco

Izumi updated its menu not too long ago and added a few new items, including the mixed poke taco.   Of all the new choices, these are my favorite for the great crunchy texture combined with excellent chopped sashimi.

Tuna, albacore (known also as the longfin tuna) and octopus are chopped up and mixed together with a few other complimentary ingredients to create an inspired take on a Mexican favorite. The mixed poke tacos are great for sharing too. 

If you prefer less carbs, or simply more of this dish, try the Poke Bowl, which is essentially the same ingredients as the taco, minus the shell.

DX Sushi Combo

If your goal is to find the one option on the Izumi menu that offers the best value, the DX Sushi Combo is the choice for you.

Simply put, the DX Sushi Combo offers the most sushi for the dollar on the menu.  8 pieces of nigiri, 2 tamago and 8 pieces of spicy tuna roll for $16. 

While the value is good, the sushi is even better and it has become my go-to sushi dish of choice.

Overall

I will admit that I am terribly biased when it comes to Izumi.  I love Izumi and will go there no matter what is on the menu, because I find so many great choices. 

The highlighted choices here are wonderful options, but I encourage you to seek out other items on the menu.  The soups & noodle dishes offer great non-sushi choices, and the signature rolls menu alone offer some fan favorite choices.

Have you been to Izumi on a Royal Caribbean ship? Share your favorite menu item with us in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean's Fall Savings Sale offers bonus savings this weekend

In:
11Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering 60% off second guest, plus bonus instant savings on cruises booked this weekend.

The Fall Savings Sale is valid on cruises booked between October 11-15, 2018 on sailings departing on or after November 11, 2018.

BOGO Offer

 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.

Fall Savings Sale

Booking Window: October 11 – 15, 2018
Sailing Window: All sailings departing on or after November 11, 2018

Offer details: Up to $100 instant savings

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
  • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites

Fall Bonus

Booking Window: October 11 – 15, 2018
Sailing Window: sailings between November 11, 2018 – December 17, 2018

Offer details: Up to $100 instant savings

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
  • On sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites

 BOGO and Deck the Holidays Deals are combinable with Falling Savings Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Falling Savings Sale is combinable with 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. 

Navigator of the Seas scheduled to be first ship to experience Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
11Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has informed its travel partners that the Navigator of the Seas May 3, 2019 sailing is targeted as the first ship to experience private destination Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Navigator of the Seas will sail a 3 night Bahamas sailing between May 3-6, 2019.

Perfect Day at CocoCay is a $200 million makeover of Royal Caribbean's private destination in the Bahamas.  CocoCay will offer guests plenty of ways to relax and enjoy beautiful beaches and pristine water, plus thrilling experiences like Thrill Water Park, ziplining and water sports.

According to Royal Caribbean's website, Thrill Waterpark, the Zip Line, Splashaway Bay aqua park, Up, Up and Away helium balloon, Captain Jack’s Galleon, Skipper’s Grill dining, Captain Jack’s dining, Chill Island, Chill Grill dining, and Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool will open in May 2019.

Perfect Day at CocoCay will open in phases, and May 2019 marks the first phase opening.  

Royal Caribbean plans to offset some of its emissions with wind power

In:
11Oct2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today it has signed a deal with Southern Power for Southern Power's 200-megawatt (MW) Reading Wind Facility. This initiative, which will offset up to 12 percent of Royal Caribbean's emissions beginning in 2020, is one of many programs the cruise line has to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through innovations at sea and in port.

The facility is expected to generate roughly 760,000 megawatt hours per year over the duration of the 12-year agreement, which translates to enough clean energy to offset 10-12 percent of Royal Caribbean's annual carbon emissions starting in 2020. With this innovative program, Royal Caribbean is able to apply a new approach while continuing its primary initiatives to advance sustainability efforts across the company's fleet.

The wind facility is located in Osage and Lyon Counties in Kasnas and the deal provides Southern Power with the economic basis to construct the project. 

"This agreement complements our longstanding strategic initiatives to reduce the company's emissions and become a more sustainable operator," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint, both in the short and long term, and thanks to our partnership with Southern Power this is the latest step in our journey."

The project is expected to break ground in the second quarter of 2019 and is expected to be complete by the second quarter of 2020. Southern Power will operate and maintain the facility upon completion.

Royal Caribbean is also employing several technologies and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create more efficient vessels, including:

  • Advanced Emission Purification systems, which remove approximately 98 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions
  • Air lubrication systems to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency
  • Energy management software, an industry first, to achieve top fuel efficiency
  • The introduction of new fuels such as liquefied natural gas, in the near future
  • Onboard the ship: the use of energy-efficient equipment in galleys and the replacement of incandescent bulbs with fluorescent and LED lighting, as well as the introduction of fuel cells

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