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Royal Caribbean updates: Alaska tour cancelled, Barbados, WWF & more!

28 Apr 2022

I don't want you to miss any of the important Royal Caribbean changes from this week, so here's a look at some of the updates from the last couple of days.

Skagway white pass train

With the industry moving closer to full capacity again, lots of changes are happening around Royal Caribbean.

Here's a quick wrap-up of what's new this week in the world of Royal Caribbean cruises.

Royal Caribbean renews partnership with World Wildlife Fund


Royal Caribbean Group has doubled down on its commitment to the environment by renewing its deal with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Royal Caribbean Group announced it has extended its existing partnership with the WWF with a new five year commitment.

The WWF provides Royal Caribbean Group with guidance and counsel in establishing environmental goals and sustainable business practices.

WWF and Royal Caribbean have been partners since 2016 in order to embed sustainability by promoting responsible tourism in priority coastal destinations and help protect the oceans by investing in conservation programs globally. This included establishing 2020 sustainability goals that the company has met or exceeded, with the exception of the sustainable seafood sourcing target, which was impacted by global suspension of service from the pandemic.

This year, WWF and Royal Caribbean Group will work together to establish sustainability goals across three key areas of Ship, Sea and Shore:

  • Ship — Continuous improvement of operational sustainability, including emissions, marine mammal protection, seafood sourcing, plastics reduction, and food waste.
  • Sea — Investing in ocean health through targeted philanthropy; engaging with a global science-driven agenda and consumer-facing education and fundraising campaigns.
  • Shore — Embedding principles of sustainable development in projects and increasing sustainability and certification of tour operators.

Royal Caribbean Group will also continue to provide financial support to WWF's global ocean conservation work through a $5 million philanthropic contribution and collaborate with WWF to build global awareness about ocean conservation issues among Royal Caribbean Group's millions of guests.

Royal Caribbean cancels Alaska train shore excursions

White Pass train in Skagway

Guests who had a shore excursion booked on the White Pass Railway for an Alaska cruise had their plans cancelled this week.

Royal Caribbean informed guests that the train tour operator was forced to temporarily suspend any train activities into Canadian territory.

The White Pass train tour is a popular excursion in Skagway

Skagway train

The good news is the train can still operate, although it must remain within the United States.

Thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Steve Cohen for sharing the information.

Canadian Switch Health test kit accepted by Royal Caribbean

Air Canada's new Covid testing is a good option for Canadians flying to the US for cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Good news for Canadian guests that the Canadian Switch Health test kit is accepted by Royal Caribbean for a pre-cruise test.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog writer Chantal McPhee asked the cruise line's social media team for clarification and it appears the answer is yes.

Similar to the Abbotts proctored tests for Americans, the Switch Health tests are available for at-home testing for Canadians.

Royal Caribbean deepens partnership with Barbados

Royal Caribbean announced a new strategic partnership with the Caribbean island of Barbados.

The agreement was signed in Miami earlier this week. Part of the deal will assist with employment opportunities for Barbadians onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

For the cruise line, Royal Caribbean is looking to deepen the commercial relationships with the country.

What you need to know about visiting Barbados on a cruise ship

01 Feb 2021

Barbados is a Southern Caribbean island known for its beautiful beaches, and it will be the homeport for one cruise ship later this year.

Royal Caribbean announced it will begin offering cruises on Grandeur of the Seas from Bridgetown, Barbados between December 2021 and April 2022, and the island is highlighted not only as a port of embarkation, but a great place for a pre- or post-cruise stay.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean will offer cruises from Barbados in December 2021

The island has a well-deserved reputation for its idyllic pink-sand beaches, emerald hills and valleys, and rich Bajan flavor.

If you have a cruise booked from Barbados, here is what you need to know about visiting the island and what to expect.

Getting to Barbados

Unless you live in Barbados, you will need to fly to reach the cruise ship.

Like any destination, you can book airfare on your own, but Royal Caribbean has gone the extra step by securing seats on existing flights to Barbados and added a charter flight from Miami.

The cruise line hopes these added options will give guests the opportunity to find a flight without paying higher prices when booking independently. 

To book a flight to Barbados through Royal Caribbean, you can can contact the Royal Caribbean call center at 844-278-9745 or book through your travel agent.

Flights are available 11 months prior to travel date for all cities. Royal Caribbean is investing in new technologies that will allow our guests to book outside of 11 months for certain cities that will have nonstop flights to Barbados. This new functionality will be available in February 2021 for the U.S.

Interestingly, Royal Caribbean pushed back the departure time for sailings from Barbados until 10pm, so that there is more time for people to fly in for their cruise.

Read moreWhy you shouldn't fly to your cruise the same day it begins

At this time, U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need a visa to travel to Barbados or any of the destinations visited during their cruise.

Arriving in Barbados

Once you arrive to the island, the drive from Barbados airport to the Bridgetown cruise terminal is approximately 30 minutes.

Royal Caribbean will offer transportation between the Barbados airport and the cruise terminal. Please contact reservations at 866-562-7625 or your travel agent to purchase a transfer.

Where to stay in Barbados

Just like the airfare, you can book on your own a hotel or take advantage of booking through Royal Caribbean.

Finding a good hotel or resort is always a balance of price, amenities, and knowing who you are traveling with to find a good fit among all three.

You will find plenty of hotel options on the island, including all inclusive, eco-lodges, luxurious high-class hotels and more.

Here are some good recommendations to start off your research:

Royal Caribbean also highlighted these hotels for travel agents during a recent webinar:

What to do in Barbados

Barbados has a well-deserved reputation for being a beautiful Caribbean destination.  While its beaches are usually the first thing thought of when visiting the island, Barbados has a rich history that also includes a UNESCO World Heritage site, lively street parties, food spots, brightly colored roadside rum shops and more.

Royal Caribbean's choice of offering cruises between December and April coincides with hot temperatures and predictably sunny skies.

Getting around in Barbados is easy enough with taxis, which are abundant on the island. Be sure to agree on a fixed rate before getting in, as taxis on the island are not metered. You could rent a car, but remember that people drive on the left-hand side on the island.

Bathsheba Beach

If you have seen a photo of Barbados, you probably saw Bathsheba Beach. 

It features waves for surfing, a beautiful sandy beach to walk, and cliffs to admire. It is as picturesque as it is fun to visit. 

Keep in mind that Bathsheba Beach is not great for swimming because of the surf and riptide.

St. Nicholas Abbey

Dating back to the 1600s, you can explore the elegant Jacobean facades of St. Nicholas Abbey.

One of the few heritage sites in the Western Hemisphere that dates back as long as the Abbey, there is a museum to explore to get a look at life during the time when sugarcane was first raised in Barbados.

Explore Bridgetown

The downtown area of the capital has lots of shopping along Broad Street, as well as historic sites like the Chamberlain Bridge and the gorgeous neo-Gothic Parliament Buildings, built in the high style of Victorian England.

Hunte’s Gardens

A popular stop for a look at impressive horticulture is Hunte's Gardens, which was designed to be a multi-sensory experience.

Visitors are invited to stroll the winding paths and nurseries, where you can see orchid flowers and emerald-green fern explosions, looming palm boughs and yellow-tipped craboo trees.

Mount Gay distillery

Perhaps the best known export of Barbados (sorry Rihanna) is Mount Gay rum, and you can visit the distillery on the island.

Located just off Brandons Beach in the St Michael area, visitors can take a tour around Mount Gay’s distillery, the oldest commercial distillery in the world.

Oistins Fish Fry

A true Barbados experience involves a stop at Oistins Fish Fry.

On the grill are fresh swordfish, marlin, mahi mahi and lobster, along with live bands spouting a medley of reggaeton and samba, steel drums and Bajan folk.

Every Friday and Saturday night, you will find a street party nearby that really adds to the experience.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - New cruises from Barbados announced

20 Jan 2021

Listen to the Show

Did you hear about the new cruises from Barbados that Royal Caribbean just announced? This week's episode breaks down the announcement and what these new sailings mean.

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

Is Royal Caribbean cruising from Barbados a new strategy for the cruise line?

14 Jan 2021

When Royal Caribbean announced it would begin offering cruises from a new homeport of Barbados, it seemed like this was aimed at bypassing the regulations that have shut down the cruise industry in the United States.

Many have welcomed the newly announced sailings on Grandeur of the Seas, which will begin in December 2021 and sail from the Caribbean island of Barbados.

Royal Caribbean has never homeported a cruise ship in Barbados before, and the sailings include a variety of exotic ports of call that are also new places to visit.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean will offer cruises from Barbados in December 2021

Ever since Royal Caribbean decided to keep Grandeur of the Seas in the fleet, she has had no additional scheduled sailings added.  So perhaps putting Grandeur in Barbados was just the best available choice on short notice?

In any other year, the decision to homeport a cruise ship in Barbados might be seen as a bold move to shake up traditional offers. But in a world where there have been no Royal Caribbean cruises in North America for almost a year, things are seen through a different prism.

Nearly as soon as Royal Caribbean made the announcement that Grandeur of the Seas would sail from Barbados, many cruise fans assumed the decision was a result of a continued impasse with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the nearly three months since the CDC lifted the No Sail Order, there has been little visible progress in any cruise line moving towards getting approval to sail again.

Earlier this week, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said his company was still waiting on information from the CDC in order to move forward with its plans.

At the same time, sailings on Quantum of the Seas in Singapore have performed well and served as a good example of how new health protocols can work effectively.  So perhaps Royal Caribbean was looking at Barbados as another opportunity to get a ship back into service.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reached out to Royal Caribbean to see if the decision to offer cruises from Barbados had anything do with the CDC and getting more ships that can sail without US approval.

The cruise line issued this statement as an answer, "We made the decision to sail Grandeur of the Seas out of Barbados to provide our guests with the opportunity to explore the beautiful islands of the Southern Caribbean."

"We continually review our itineraries to provide the best vacation experience possible. "

New itineraries

Not only are the cruises announced from Barbados sailing from a new homeport, the places Royal Caribbean will visit are equally new.

There are three different itineraries offered with these cruises:

  • 7-night Southern Caribbean Island Hop: Departing Bridgetown, Barbados (new) and visiting Scarborough, Tobago (new); Port of Spain, Trinidad (new); St. George’s, Grenada; Kingstown, St. Vincent (new); Roseau, Dominica; and Castries, St. Lucia
  • 7-night Southern Caribbean Adventure: Departing Bridgetown, Barbados (new) and visiting St. George’s, Grenada; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; and Port of Spain, Trinidad (new)
  • 14-night Ultimate Caribbean: Departing Bridgetown, Barbados (new) and visiting St. George’s, Grenada; Kingstown, St. Vincent (new); Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba (overnight); Willemstad, Curacao; Port of Spain, Trinidad (new); Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, told travel agents that if these cruises prove popular enough, these cruises could return in Winter 2022-2023.  She added it might not be on Grandeur next year.

To help ensure the logistics of getting to Barbados does not hinder bookings, Royal Caribbean has secured space with several airlines that will offer direct flights from cities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to ensure there are enough seats for anyone that wants to cruise.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has partnered with hotels in Barbados to offer a cruise and stay package, another option rarely, if ever, seen before from the cruise line.

Cruise fans weigh in

As soon as the news was announced, many cruise fans saw this as a small step to bypassing the CDC.

Peggy Weatherington's excitement on our Facebook page mirrored a lot of others sentiments, "I have been wondering when a cruise line was going to do this to get around the CDC."

Twangster posted on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message board that he believes Royal Caribbean is saying the truth about the CDC not being part of the decision, "I don't think this is in anyway related to the CDC.  Hedging one small ship doesn't really accomplish anything in terms of bypassing the CDC.  The target audience will result in a lot of Americans on board but some Brits as well given the easy flights to the former British territory."

Royal Caribbean will offer cruises from Barbados in December 2021

13 Jan 2021

Royal Caribbean announced it will begin offering roundtrip cruises from Barbados at the end of 2021 on Grandeur of the Seas.

The new itineraries were announced on Wednesday, which will the first time Royal Caribbean has offered a homeport from Barbados.

Get ready for sun-soaked adventures to captivating southern Caribbean isles onboard Grandeur of the Seas, sailing from the newest Royal Caribbean home port — beautiful Bridgetown, Barbados. With its idyllic pink-sand beaches, emerald hills and valleys, and rich Bajan flavor, Barbados is an unforgettable destination in its own right. And for the first time ever, this tropical paradise unlocks spectacular shores in the southern Caribbean, Central America and beyond — including three new ports in Tobago, Trinidad and St. Vincent. Go the extra mile to go the extra isle on weeklong escapes that hit a different destination every day, or linger longer on 14-night adventures that offer late stays and overnights in top-rated ports. The adventure begins in Barbados, Winter 2021

The new sailings run between December 2021 and April 2022, although more sailings could be added if the sailings prove to be popular.

A variety of 7-night sailings are available to book immediately. There are three different itineraries, including two separate 7-night sailings and a 14-night sailing with stops in St. Lucia, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent, Grenada, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and more.

Royal Caribbean is also working on adding  options for embarkation tours (ending at the pier) and debarkation tours (ending at the airport). These options will include panoramic bus tours and beach stops. These options are a work in progress and have not yet been finalized.

Being a Caribbean island, getting to Barbados means taking a flight, and Royal Caribbean is working on a new system that will allow guests to book outside of 11 months for certain cities that will have nonstop flights to Barbados.

This new functionality will be available in February 2021 for the U.S.

Royal Caribbean will offer transportation between the Barbados airport and the cruise terminal.

A close relationship with Barbados

Ever since the cruise industry shutdown in March 2020, the government of Barbados has been open to working with Royal Caribbean.

It has been an open port for cruise ships to use for resupply and crew member repatriation.

In addition, the Americas Cruise Tourism Task Force is co-chaired with Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley.

While Royal Caribbean did not mention it as part of their announcement, sailings from Barbados do have an extra benefit of being outside the purview of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Since Grandeur of the Seas would sail from Barbados and not visit any U.S. ports, it would not be subject to regulations and requirements of the CDC.

Special offer for repeat cruisers

In addition to today's announcement, Royal Caribbean is offering a special promotion for members of the cruise line's customer loyalty program.

A special one-day preview of  up to$450 instant savings offer, which is on top of 60% off the second guest's fare. 

The Up to $300 Off Preview Sale provides Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members with an additional day to take advantage of our savings offer.

Up to $300 Off Preview Sale applies to new bookings made on 1/13/21.

Up to $300 Off Preview Sale provides instant savings of up to $300 USD per stateroom on select sailings departing on or after 5/1/21. Savings amount determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $75 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $300 for Suites.

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

Excursion Focus: Tyrone Griffith Barbados Tour

08 Nov 2013

Exploring the beautiful island of Barbados is no easy task so on a recent cruise to the island on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas we wanted a tour to see the highlights of what the island offers. For this reason, we tried Tyrone Griffith tour.


Tyrone Griffith is a man that runs a small bus tour of the island of Barbados.  He's one of those guys that has generated a small following on the internet thanks to a number of favorable reviews from recent cruisers.  Essentially, it's the 21st century equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising.

We were suggested the tour by someone in our Cruise Critic mix n mingle group (a collection of Cruise Critic members on the same cruise that all decided to meet up) and the premise of the island tour is a 3-4 tour of Barbados.  

The tour originally cost $35 per person but due to our group size (about a dozen people), the price was reduced to $25 per adult (kids were free!).  The tour includes opportunities to see or stop at 

  • Kensington Oval (cricket stadium)
  • Mount Gay Rum Distillery
  • Holetown (site of the first settlers)
  • Oldest church on the island
  • Cherry Tree Hill
  • Morgan Lewis Windmill
  • Bathsheba
  • St. John's Parish Church
  • Gun Hill Signal Church
  • Optional beach stop at Carlisle Bay

Like all group tours I've ever done, the tour offers roundtrip bus service to and from the cruise port.  The buses are enclosed, air conditioned vehicles and offer beer, water and rum punch at no additional cost.


Given what the tour offers and the price, it sounded like a great value.  Most tours we found to be much more expensive and renting a car or getting a private tour would have easily exceeded the $25 per person cost Tyrone Griffith's tour offered so we gave it a try.

We met our group and the tour right at 9am in the cruise terminal area.  Given this was a tour of people we had never met before, it's always a little awkward at first getting to know everyone but after an hour or so we were all joking.

After a small "paper work" issue (nothing worth reporting here), we all hopped into our van for the tour.  We took this tour in September and it was quite hot and humid.  The van was air conditioned but quite frankly, the air conditioning was weak and while it was better than no air conditioning, it was not exactly cold.  Speaking of the van, we were really packed in and crowded.  Technically the van had space for all of us but sitting in the last row, it felt very crowded and I would not describe it as comfortable.

Another issue was the beer, water and rum punch was not immediately available when the tour began.  We did eventually get what was promised, but it took an hour or so before that happened which bothered me.

As for the actual tour, we did see everything that was listed.  We did not stop at every place, with us driving by some places and stopping at others.  Frankly that's fine with me as stopping at every place would have taken far too long.  The tour driver was sure to announce things and describe them as we passed by and was able to answer the questions we had for him.

We stopped a number of places but the highlight of them was actually a golf course because hidden among the tees were a group of green monkeys that we were able to feed.  These are wild monkeys but it was something none of us had ever done before and it was a very cool experience.  Our driver brought bananas with him and give them to us to feed the monkeys, who were more than happy to take the food right out of our hands.  Amazing.

Barbados is a beautiful island and many of the other stops offered really terrific views and scenery.  By the end of the tour, it was almost like, "oh look, another beautiful view."  

At the conclusion of the tour, the driver gives everyone the option of being dropped off at a local beach or being brought back to the ship.  Beach goers will get a pre-arranged pickup time to be brought back to the ship as well.

Like all group bus tours, it's a different touring dynamic than when you tour somewhere on your own and that's something you have to be prepared for.  You move at the pace of the slowest person in your group and not all stops are going to interest everyone equally.  But if you go with a "go with the flow" mentality, it can be a good experience.

Overall, Tyrone Griffith tour was a fun experience that had some great views.  We managed to make friends with a few of the people on the ship, which was an added bonus.  It's really hard to go wrong with the price despite some of the issues the tour suffered from, including the beverages not being available immediately, the weak air conditioning and crowded bus.

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Phone number: (246) 233-3168

Royal Caribbean sailing year-round to Barbados once again

13 Aug 2013

Royal Caribbean will resume cruises to Barbados after removing all of its ships from the Southern Caribbean route last year.  

Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy made the announcement after negotiations with Royal Caribbean that he characterized as "intensive".

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas has been offering cruises back in May, will offer year-round service to the Southern Caribbean island.  In addition, Royal Caribbean's brand new Quantum of the Seas cruise ship that is under construction, will have incremental service starting in November 2014.

Sealy was excited about the news of Royal Caribbean's return, "I would like to think that the leadership of Barbados had something to do with that.  Certainly, the relationship with the port project would be part of it. But we have done our part."

Royal Caribbean had announced in March 2011 that it was leaving the island but then joined into a joint venture with Barbados to build a brand new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Barbados that will cost over $300 million.

Royal Caribbean enters into joint venture with Barbados

13 Sep 2012

Royal Caribbean is partnering with Barbados Port and SMI Infrastructure Solutions to build a brand new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Barbados that will cost over $300 million.  The new facility will allow some of the world's biggest cruise ships to dock at the island.

George Hutson, Barbados Minister of International Transport and International Business, announced the two year project at the recent Barbados Port Inc.’s 50th anniversary staff awards ceremony.

“If we are going to remain relevant, if we are going to capitalize on the opportunities available from cruise tourism, we must renew our plant from the basic infrastructure currently existing to one which will accommodate and service the increasingly large cruise ships."

According to Hutson, Barbados is hoping the new cruise terminal will attract more cruise ships to the island, which in turn will lead to increasing revenue generated by cruise passengers on the island.

The new terminal will be completed in two phases, the first phase will cost $300 million and will include two cruise piers, arrival and departure facilities, along with parking lots. The development will take involve reclaiming 15 acres of land from the sea, 100,000 square feet of which will be provided for commercial activity. Dredging is slated to begin in November.

Cruise tourism in Barbados has grown from 127,000 in 1985 to 726,543 last year.  The best year ever for cruise passenger traffic to the island was 2004 when 812,863 people visited the island.

Royal Caribbean leaving Barbados

09 Mar 2011

Royal Caribbean has decided to end port of calls in Barbados after moving Serenade of the Seas to Europe for the Summer 2012 cruise season.

The move has upset Caribbean officials, namely the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), which has expressed concern about the loss.  CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley said they are aware that repositioning is a normal course of business within the cruise sector, particularly during the summer months.

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