Miami

Photos: Oasis of the Seas arrives home to PortMiami

In:
24Nov2019

Following a $165 million drydock, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas arrived to her homeport in PortMiami.

The talented photographer AdamsAway was able to snap these brand new photos of Oasis of the Seas at her new homeport at Terminal A.

Photos by AdamsAway

Beginning today, Oasis of the Seas will offer 7-night sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

New lighting added to Terminal A in PortMiami

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20Nov2019

Royal Caribbean added new lights to its Terminal A in PortMiami, that really make the building stand out once the sun goes down.

Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet shared photos on Twitter of the new lighting.

Mr. Van Fleet also indicated the lights are capable of changing colors.

What do you think of the new Terminal A lights? Let us know in the comments.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East Hotel Review

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Category: 
24May2019

If you ask anyone that is looking for a hotel before or after their cruise, they usually want a clean, safe and reasonably priced hotel. Getting all three of those requirements is no simple task, but I may have just found that with the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East.

Prior to a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, I needed a hotel for two nights prior to my sailing.  I usually stay near downtown Miami, but I spotted a brand new hotel that seemed to offer a great value.  Plus, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is located right near Miami International Airport.  This means the drive from the airport to the hotel is a mere couple of minutes, and the drive to PorMiami is about 10-15 minutes.

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is one of Holiday Inn's new "Formula Blue" properties.  Formula Blue is meant to appeal to Holiday Inn Express’s target guest—the "smart traveler."  The hotel is designed so that public space is wide open, so guests can immediately scan the area when they walk into the hotel and understand where everything is without having to ask for help. Another design element that supports the smart traveler is a headboard that minimize noise transfer between rooms, ensuring this busy demographic is able to get a restful night sleep.  

Walking into the lobby of the hotel, you can see exactly what Holiday Inn was planning, with an open lobby area that you can easily spot the elevators, kitchen area, seating and more.

The hotel offers an outdoor pool, fitness center, continental breakfast each morning, and complimentary coffee throughout the day in the lobby.  The hotel does offer a shuttle service to PortMiami at regularly scheduled times for a price per person.  In my opinion, you are better off using a ride-share service like Lyft for value and convenience.

For my stay, I reserved a standard King-size bed for $80.75 for the first night, and $84.55 the second night.  That is an incredible price for a name-brand hotel.

Walking into my room, I found a very large amount of living space.  There was even a coffee nook, complete with Keurig machine available for my use.

The bathroom is large as well, which means there is plenty of space for two people to get ready in the morning.

One thing I loved about this room is how many outlets there are around the room. In fact, there are USB outlets, in addition to electric outlets, on each side of the bed and at the desk. This is incredibly convenient.

Overall, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is exactly as advertised: a convenient hotel that is well-priced, clean and safe to stay in. The worst thing I can say about this hotel is that you cannot walk anywhere nearby for dining or entertainment.  You will be dependent on taxi or a rental car to get to the fun things to do in Miami.  Of course, a lot of people that want a pre-cruise hotel are only really looking for somewhere to spend the night, and you can always order delivery to the hotel.

What is truly compelling about this hotel was the price combined with the well-kept rooms and building. If you can snag a rate of less than $100 per night (or closer to my $80/night rate) then it becomes an absolute steal compared to paying one or two hundred dollars more per night to stay in downtown Miami.

Your thoughts

Have you stayed at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East? Is this a hotel you’d consider? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!

Royal Caribbean receives approval for headquarters expansion plan

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08May2019

The Miami-Dade County Commission approved Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd proposal to renovate and expand its corporate headquarters in PortMiami.

The South Florida Business Journal reported that approval was given to amend the lease on county land.

Last month, Royal Caribbean International's parent company proposed an expanded and renovated corporate campus on the southwest corner of Dodge Island.  The new campus would expand the company’s workforce capacity from 2,200 to 4,200. The project is estimated to cost approximately $300 million.

The campus, landscaped with indigenous flora, will sport a soccer field, volleyball court, basketball court, and fitness center for employees.  It will include a new parking garage and built-in sustainability features, such as electric car chargers, photovoltaic cells, and rainwater collectors. At the heart of campus will be a 10-story, 350,000 square-foot building influenced by the graceful utility, fluidity, and innovative designs evident in the company’s ships.   

The new corporate headquarters would include a fitness center, a day care, a cafeteria, an auditorium and a maritime innovation center for the design development and renovation of cruise vessels.

The project groundbreaking is slated for June, and should debut in 2020.

Royal Caribbean looking to expand its headquarters in Miami

In:
Category: 
15Apr2019

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the parent company of Royal Caribbean International, is looking to renovate and expand its corporate headquarters.

South Florida Business Journal reports the project would cost approximately $300 million and be located at the southwest corner of Dodge Island next to where its older offices sit now. The new campus would expand the company’s workforce capacity from 2,200 to 4,200.

The plan is to would demolish the building at 1040 Caribbean Way. It would build a Terminal K parking garage with about 1,820 spaces plus a new unspecified size office building. Royal Caribbean would perform major renovations to the buildings it leases at 1050 and 1080 Caribbean Way.

When finished, the renovated and expanded headquarters would include a fitness center, a daycare, a cafeteria, an auditorium and a maritime innovation center for the design development and renovation of cruise vessels.

The Miami Herald reports the design for the new buildings is by New York architecture firm HOK. The building is designed to look like a ship.  Royal Caribbean’s giant crown logo will be emblazoned on the roof to catch the eyes of airline passengers overhead.

Royal Caribbean’s Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty also talked about the focus on climate change and the need to make changes to the buildings now. Liberty said to prepare for inevitable sea level rise, the company plans to build the structures 15 feet above sea level and store critical machinery on higher floors. Many climate models project Miami streets will be flooding daily by 2070.

On Monday the Miami-Dade Tourism and Ports Committee approved a deal, but the full board of commissioners will vote on the proposal in May.

DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay Hotel Review

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Category: 
13Dec2018

The DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida is located in the heart of downtown Miami, a mere few miles from PortMiami.  We tried out this hotel as a pre-cruise hotel stay before a Royal Caribbean cruise and have our thoughts on what the hotel offers and our experience staying here.

Being in downtown Miami, the DoubleTree is located quite close to PortMiami.  In fact, many of the rooms in the hotel offer a view of the port. The proximity to PortMiami makes this a compelling choice for a pre- or post-cruise stay.

This particular hotel is a waterfront condominium hotel located next to Sea Isle Marina.  What this means is as you enter the building, you will notice two entrances.  One entrance is for hotel guests and the other for condo residents.  Evidently this is a thing in Miami, where the building owner can invest in multiple revenue streams (hotel guests and tennants).  

The DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay offers 152 guest rooms, along with 50 condominiums for short or extended stays. Since it is downtown, you can easily walk out the hotel and explore some nearby attractions and restaurants.  Miami is more spread out than some other major American cities, so expect to rely on taxis or ride sharing to truly get around town.

One nice aspect of the hotel is attached to the lobby area is a small shopping plaza, which has coffee shops, restaurants, convenience store, hair stylist and more.  There was a surprising amount of shops in this area, and it is extremely convenient to not have to leave the hotel building and have access to a lot of services.

The hotel does have a large outdoor pool for guests to use during their stay, along with a fitness center and 24-hour business center.

The room itself is quite large, with lots of living space.

The bathroom is large as well, and offers a great deal of space for toiletries and a shower/tub that does not feel confined at all.

The rooms have a balcony, and if you are lucky enough to have a room that faces the water, you not only get extra living space to enjoy, but a fantastic view of the ships in port.

Thanks to John Bamber for providing these photos

Overall, the DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay is a clean, safe and well-appointed hotel suitable for anyone that needs a hotel before or after their cruise.  It may not be the least expensive hotel in downtown Miami, but it is likely to be a mid-range priced hotel and not one you have to be concerned about compromising on the quality.

If you are just staying one night, I think this hotel is just fine for a place to rest and relax until you depart on your cruise. 

Your thoughts

Have you stayed at DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay? Is this a hotel you’d consider? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!

Symphony of the Seas officially named at ceremony in Miami

In:
16Nov2018

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas was officially named by the first-ever Godfamily, actors Alexa & Carlos PenaVega, with Son Ocean, at a ceremony in PortMiami on Thursday.

Symphony of the Seas becomes the 25th ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet as the PenaVega family were on hand to christen the ship and bestow a blessing of safekeeping over her crew and guests.

The naming ceremony was the largest in Royal Caribbean's history, with nearly 1,000 guests in attendance, which occured at Terminal A in PortMiami.

The customary event was infused with modern day elements – ranging from an electronic violinist who serenaded the crowd throughout the ceremony, to a stunning sail away performance by nearly 400 choreographed drones – and also incorporated a number of local Miami touches. Florida International University’s Marching Band kicked off the celebration, while students from Miami Southridge Senior High headlined the occasion on stage with a rousing drumline performance. Through Royal Caribbean’s partnership with the GRAMMY® Museum, Miami Southridge Senior High was one of 20 high schools within the Miami-Dade County Public School District that received a Royal Caribbean-funded grant through the GRAMMY Museum® Signature Schools program, which supports music education programs in underserved high schools.

Symphony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will offer 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Terminal A in PortMiami. It is anticipated that Royal Caribbean will welcome at least 1.8 million guests at PortMiami, representing no less than 30 percent of the port’s projected traveler traffic. 

Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown Hotel Review

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Category: 
07Nov2018

The Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown is located just a mile and a half from PortMiami, making it an extremely convenient place to stay before or after a Royal Caribbean cruise.  This review features photos of the room & hotel, thoughts on the amenities, and our experience in staying here during our recent visit to the Miami area.

The primary rationale for picking this hotel is simply its location.  Being right on Biscayne Boulevard means you can practically see the cruise ships from the hotel's higher floors.  In fact, step outside the hotel in the afternoon and you are likely to hear a ship's horn as it conducts muster drill.  The proximity to PortMiami makes this Holiday Inn an appealing choice.

The hotel offers 200 rooms, including eight "Bayview" suites, and is located in the heart of Downtown Miami.  You can easily walk outside the hotel and check out various shops, hop on the Metro Mover (the city's monorail), or walk across the street to the Bayside Market.

In my opinion, being downtown is a double edged sword.  You are incredibly close to the cruise port, and there is lots around you to explore.  However, downtown Miami like so many major cities has its share of issues.  In the grand scheme of neighborhoods in and around Miami, downtown is not necessarily the most tourist-laden spots you will find.

Being a Holiday Inn hotel, walking into the lobby reminded me of so many other Holiday Inn hotels.  It features a lot of characteristic greens and other Holiday Inn decor. 

Anytime I walked past the Front Desk or had a need to stop by, there seemed to be little to no lines.

This location offers an outdoor pool, business center, complimentary health & fitness center, WiFi (free for IHG members, which is free to sign up for) and daily housekeeping.

I booked a King Suite Nonsmoking room for my stay.  It was located on the third floor at the end of the hallway. The rate for the first night was $179.55 and the second night was $231.83.  If you had booked a regular room, you can easily find rates closer to $110-$150 per night.

Upon walking into the room, it is indeed quite massive.

There is a very large living room, small kitchenette, sprawling bedroom, bathroom and closet.

The living room has plenty of space, and would be great for kids to sleep on the pull out couch.  I like the fact the living room and bedroom are separated by a set of doors.

The kitchenette is quite small, but functional.  There is a fridge, freezer, sink and microwave.  Perfect for storing and reheating food that you will likely get if you are staying a few nights.

The bedroom has a king size bed, along with a large desk area that was perfect for doing work.  

The bathroom seemed to have been more recently updated than the rest of the room.  Its lights were brighter, and the floor and tub appeared to have been replaced.

The room offered a lot of living space and was clean.  It is worth noting that there was an odd smell to the room, which I never complained about because within a few minutes I stopped noticing it.  But anytime I left the room and came back, I would note the smell.  If I had to describe the smell, I would probably peg it as a putrid, but I seemed to adjust quite quickly.  I also have no idea if any other rooms had this experience, but I figured I would note it.

I would also note that the room felt a bit old.  It was well maintained and certainly clean, but you can tell this is not a new construction hotel.  Some of the room walls had that look and feel of being repainted a few times. This is by far not a problem, but I know some people prefer newer hotels.

Overall, the Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown hotel fit the bill of what many look for in any pre- or post-cruise hotel, which is somewhere clean, safe and moderately priced. It is a very utilitarian spot to stay that will get you about as close as you can get to PortMiami.  

If you are just staying one night, I think this hotel is just fine for a place to rest and relax until you depart on your cruise. 

Your thoughts

Have you stayed at Holiday Inn Port Of Miami-Downtown? 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 officially opens new Terminal A cruise terminal in Miami

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Category: 
02Nov2018

Royal Caribbean formally opened its new cruise terminal in PortMiami with a celebration event held inside Terminal A.

The event was headlined with speeches by Royal Caribbean's leadership, as well as Miami city and PortMiami officials.

Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. started off the day talking about what this new terminal means to the cruise line.

Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Rebecca Sosa, Chairwoman for the Economic & Tourism Committee, both congratulated Royal Caribbean on the opening of this terminal, and declared today to be Royal Caribbean day in Miami.

Michael Bayley, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International, also said a few words at the event.

The official opening saw Royal Caribbean's leadership, along with the Mayor of Miami and other city officials, activate the 56 foot tall gold propellors to welcome everyone into the terminal.

Terminal A is a brand new, state-of-the-art cruise terminal that was built to be the home of Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas and her sister, Allure of the Seas.  The building was designed by England-based global architecture firm Broadway Malyan. 

The names of Royal Caribbean ships appear on the staircase.

A fire department celebration of the special day.

Check-in and security screening area

Security screening area

The 170,000-square-foot terminal is nicknamed the ‘Crown of Miami’ because of its distinct shape.

Symphony of the Seas arrives to Terminal A on November 9, 2018.

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