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You will be able to renew your passport online thanks to new executive order

In:
14 Dec 2021

Getting your passport renewed just got a lot easier, thanks to a new executive order.

The passport renewal process has traditionally been a burden that required an in-person appointment and plenty of paperwork. During the pandemic, the passport renewal queue became overrun and slowed to a crawl.  

But it it looks like now getting your passport renewed will be a lot easier.

President Biden directed the State Department to design and deliver a new online passport renewal experience that doesn’t require any physical documents to be mailed.

The "Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government" was signed on December 13, 2021 in an effort to save Americans time when they need to renew their passport. It also aims to reduce the effort and cost by requiring a post office visit and use checks.

"Every interaction between the Federal Government and the public, whether it involves renewing a passport or calling for a status update on a farm loan application, should be seen as an opportunity for the Government to save an individual’s time (and thus reduce “time taxes”) and to deliver the level of service that the public expects and deserves."

It is not clear when this new order will go into effect, nor when exactly the online passport renewal will become available, but it is a welcome step right in the right direction for travelers.

When the new site does launch, its goal is to offer a new online passport renewal experience that does not require any physical documents to be mailed.

Are passports required to go on a cruise?

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog Day 4 – Costa Maya | Royal Caribbean Blog

In short, American citizens need a passport for cruises that embark or disembark from a foreign country. Passports are also required for sailings that begin and end in different U.S. ports. 

However, U.S. Citizens on a closed loop sailing, a cruise that begins and ends in the same port in the United States, do not have to have a passport. Instead, they can travel with a government-issued photo ID and proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

There are exceptions to Americans being able to cruise without a passport, such as if a country the ship is visiting requires a passport.

Read moreDo you need a passport for a cruise?

Whether you need one or not, it is a really good idea to get a passport.

First, going through Royal Caribbean's check-in and the customs process after the cruise is significantly easier with a passport.

Second, if you were ever stuck in a foreign country, having a passport means being able to get home very simple.

Without a passport in a foreign country, you would need to obtain a temporary passport for reentry into the United States, but it is a time-consuming process.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - What's new for Royal Caribbean in 2022 & 2023

In:
17 Nov 2021

Listen to the Show

With cruising back, Royal Caribbean is now looking forward to the future. To give us a preview of what to expect, Royal Caribbean Group Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider talks about the ships, ports, and projects guests can look forward to seeing in the next two years.

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

On this episode:
Running time:

Royal Caribbean files trademarks for names the cruise line has been using for years

In:
04 Nov 2021

Royal Caribbean regularly trademarks names and phrases it intends to possibly use for a new offering in the future, but they recently filed trademarks for a number of names that they have been using for years.

Royal Caribbean expands new smartphone app to Oasis of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

In paperwork filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Royal Caribbean Group filed four trademarks for things guests who have sailed on Royal Caribbean cruise ships for years would easily recognize.

The reason for a company to trademark anything is to protect them so competitors cannot steal creative ideas, names, or symbols from other businesses.

Royal Caribbean's parent company has changed its name | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean Group filed trademarks for these terms recently:

  • RCTV (October 14, 2021)
  • Cruise Compass (October 19, 2021)
  • RCG (October 22, 2021)
  • Royal Caribbean Group (October 19, 2021)
  • Royal Caribbean Group logo (October 28, 2021)

RCTV is the abbreviation for Royal Caribbean's in-house television programming. Certain crew members working on RCTV manage the programming, as well as film select events onboard for broadcast onboard.

First time cruiser's guide to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Compass | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruise Compass is the name of Royal Caribbean's daily newspaper that lists all of the events and important information for the day onboard.

Passengers onboard can browse the Cruise Compass in the paper version or the digital version found in the cruise line app.

Read moreFirst time cruiser's guide to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Compass

Royal Caribbean Group lost over $5.8 billion in 2020 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean Group is the business name of the company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and other brands.

RCG is the abbreviation of Royal Caribbean Group.

Read moreWho owns Royal Caribbean?

How important are trademarks?

Royal Caribbean cruise ship restarts cruises after false positive scare | Royal Caribbean Blog

When Royal Caribbean trademarks something, how important is that to cruise fans?

Historically, Royal Caribbean uses trademarks for two purposes: protect names and slogans it is using, or protect names and slogans it might use.

In many cases, trademarks can provide a glimpse of plans the line has in the future, but not every trademark is necessarily an indication of a direction the company will go.

Royal Caribbean wants to offer guests Snapchat goggles for underwater broadcasts | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean has trademarked many different cruise ship names over the years that it never used.  Usually names get registered in a batch, and perhaps one ends up becoming the name of an actual cruise ship.

Last year, Royal Caribbean trademarked a name for its own brand of face mask, but ultimately decided not to do anything with it.

Read more: 8 things Royal Caribbean trademarked but never did anything with

In other cases, trademarks gave us a heads up on plans the line had before an announcement came, such as emuster, Chilla Thrilla beer, and venues on Wonder of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - The big cruise news this week

In:
05 May 2021

Listen to the Show

We're taking a look at what else is happening in the cruise industry outside of Royal Caribbean on this week's episode.

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

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Royal Caribbean condemns "inexcusable acts" of violence at Capitol

In:
07 Jan 2021

Less than a day after a mob of pro-Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Royal Caribbean sent an email to all of its employees to address the outrage the incident caused.

Photo by Leah Millis/Reuters

An email was sent to all Royal Caribbean employees on Thursday morning, which was shared with travel advisors.

It is not clear which Royal Caribbean executive wrote the email, but the message shares a combination of sadness, outrage, as well as hope for the future.

I had intended to make my first message of 2021 a message of hope and warm wishes. And I will still do that.

 

But for now, I am wracked with outrage, overcome with grief and worried for our country. The inexcusable acts of desecration on one of our most valued institutions should shock and appall all who love America and the democracy that we are so rightly proud of.

 

Worse, I am sad. Such anti-democratic, violent acts as we have witnessed today have crossed a long-respected line. The world has seen too many examples of mob rule, and the attack on the Capitol today will live in history as one of the more outrageous of such mob actions. There is no excuse for what happened, and I hope the thugs who perpetrated it are properly punished.

 

However, as saddened as I am, I am not discouraged. Indeed, I am hopeful. These pathetic hoodlums have gotten their moment of TV coverage. But our democracy was never in doubt.  Our institutions stood strong and performed their lawful functions. Congress has, in accordance with the constitution, certified the election. In fact, despite all the rhetoric and posturing, the actual certification process was boring — as it should be.

 

There will always be those who insist that things be their way regardless of consequences. I assume that almost half of those reading this letter preferred Trump and the rest preferred Biden.  Good for you. That is democracy and it is one of our most precious gifts. Many of you know that I love to argue . . . The challenge, the give and take all work to help us understand each other’s views and maybe change our minds.

 

The worst part of this vicious attack on the Capitol wasn’t the damage to the building or its contents. Rather, I think the worst part was the attempt to undermine faith and confidence in our institutions. And that this effort was encouraged by inexcusable rhetoric from some of our leaders. Fortunately, that effort failed. As President Bush said, “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic.”

 

But let’s remember the important point — our society won. Our democracy prevailed. Our country will move on. This has been a terrible day for America. But it can only become more than a minor sideshow if we — the American people — allow it to. As Vice President Pence so rightly said from the podium after the interruption, “Violence never wins.  Freedom wins.” The Vice President went on to say, “This is still the people’s house.  Let’s get back to work.”

 

I, for one, will sleep well tonight. I take courage from the universal disapproval this outrage provoked. America is strong, and I am confident that we will not allow the despicable acts of a few to drive the rest of us to overreact.

 

I look forward to writing a true New Year’s greeting to you all in the near future. I promise it will be forward looking and discussing what can make us better, not more divided.

The email to all employees seems to have been originally planned as a new year welcome, but felt necessary to be sent given the significant actions that took place.

There are quotes former President George W. Bush, as well as Vice President Mike Pence in the letter, while touching on the important takeaway that the democratic institution of this country continues.

The so-called insurrection that took place on Wednesday at the Capitol claimed the lives of four people, and horrified many to see such an event take place in the capital of the United States.

The Metropolitan Police Department reports at least 14 officers were wounded during the demonstrations. Two officers were hospitalized, including one who sustained serious injuries after he was pulled into a crowd and assaulted, police said. 

So far there have been at least 70 arrests. 

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said there will be an extension of the public emergency for the next 15 days.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean news stories of 2020

In:
22 Dec 2020

This has been the craziest year for the cruise industry ever, and there were plenty of headlines that got plenty of attention.  So what were the biggest stories of the year?

This past year has been a "tale of two cities", with traditional cruise news in the very beginning, and then of course the rest of the year was a myriad of shutdown updates.

Looking back on the year, I handpicked the top stories that I thought generated the most buzz and interest among cruisers, and the general public. Let's dive in!

10. Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas sold

Royal Caribbean just announced it sold two cruise ships last week, and it was a big enough deal to make the list of this year's top Royal Caribbean stories.

After months of speculation, Royal Caribbean announced it has sold its two oldest cruise ships, Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas.

It appears the ships have been sold, but not scrapped.  Royal Caribbean says they now belong to an undisclosed party, based in Asia-Pacific, that will release details for future sailings at a later time.

9. Cruise lines vs. the CDC

Since the cruise industry voluntarily shut itself down in March, it has been at odds with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over how and when cruises would resume.

In the 9 months since the industry shutdown, the CDC has raised its anti-cruise rhetoric by warning the public against taking cruises.

Between special travel warnings and summaries in the various No Sail orders, the agency regularly told people not to go on a cruise anywhere in the world, "because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high."

The CDC has warned the public against taking cruises since March due to the global health emergency, but has steadily increased its warnings from an alert, to a watch, to a warning and now simply a "Very High Level of COVID-19".

The CDC did rescind its cruise ship ban at the end of October, although there has been little to no progress in cruise lines moving towards sailings restarting.

8. Key West voted to ban most cruise ships

Unfortunately the residents of Key West voted to approve a referendum to prohibit large cruise ships from visiting their island.

Three different referendums to limit cruise ship traffic passed, which will ban large cruise ships completely, as well as limit small cruise ship traffic.

All three were approved by majorities of more than 60 percent, with the "giving priority to cruise lines that have the best environmental and health records" proposal passing at over 80%.

7. Introducing the electronic muster safety drill

Perhaps the best innovation to come out of this year was a new cruise ship safety drill that relies on technology.

Known as Muster 2.0, Royal Caribbean revealed its plans to implement a new way to conduct the mandatory guests safety drill, known as the muster drill. 

With Muster 2.0, the new tech will be used to help provide the information to guests via their mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs.

Travelers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. 

6. Cruise with Confidence

Another good change for consumers was the introduction of the Cruise with Confidence program, which allows for last-minute cancellations without penalties.

If a guest cancels under the policy, they will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest's choice.

This includes refundable or non-refundable cruise fares.  You are able to take advantage of either booking type with no penalty or change fee for opting into the Cruise with Confidence program.

5. Coco Beach Club opens

The year 2020 started off well when the final piece of Perfect Day at CocoCay opened to the public.

The exclusive Coco Beach Club opened to guests at the end of January, which offers an oceanfront infinity pool, upgraded cuisine and the only floating cabanas in the Bahamas. 

Plus, there is a complimentary restaurant at Coco Beach Club featuring lobster, snapper, and steak— plus a buffet of soups, salads, and starters. 

Entry to the Coco Beach Club requires an additional cost. Guests can choose between a day pass to the Coco Beach Club, as well as the option to reserve a cabana or floating cabana.

4. Royal Amplifications postponed cruise ships until further notice

The financial impact of the cruise industry shutdown forced Royal Caribbean to postpone its scheduled ship refurbishments until further notice.

Royal Amplifications for four cruise ships are on hold, including Allure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

Guests on affected sailings will be notified directly more details and options available.

3. Freedom of the Seas completes $116 million Royal Amplification

Perhaps the last hurrah of cruising before everything shutdown, Freedom of the Seas wrapped up a massive shipwide upgrade.

The ship underwent a bow to stern makeover, with new features being added including water slides, a new Caribbean pool deck look, the cruise line’s first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and new, dedicated spaces for kids and teens. 

Freedom of the Seas was able to offer one sailing before the rest of cruises for the year were cancelled.

2. Royal Caribbean asks for volunteers for test cruises

Royal Caribbean got an incredible amount of attention when it announced they would take sign-ups from the public to be a volunteer for a test cruise.

The cruise line has a form set up for adults only (18 years or older) to enter basic information about themselves.

While Royal Caribbean is working with the CDC to determine how the test sailings will operate, they have decided to begin gathering information from those who have shown interest.

1. Royal Caribbean cancels all cruises beginning in March

Without a doubt, the biggest story of the year was when Royal Caribbean cancelled all of its cruises due to the global health crisis.

At first, it was just for 30 days, which was big enough news in and of itself.  However, the shutdown went on to extend longer than anyone would have thought in March.

As of the writing of this post, cruises will not be able to restart until March 2021 at the earliest.

Your thoughts

What did you think was the biggest Royal Caribbean news of 2020? Did we miss one? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Carnival Cruises announces plan to resume cruises

In:
04 May 2020

Carnival Cruise Line announced today it plans to resume sailings in North America this summer, which could be a sign of what Royal Caribbean has in store as well.

Generally speaking, the "big three" cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian) tend to act in tandem when it comes to sweeping policies, and Carnival Cruise Line announced today its plan to phase in a resumption in our North American service this summer, beginning on August 1 with a total of eight ships from Miami, Port Canaveral and Galveston.  

While the resumption of cruises sounds like good news, Carnival did announce it will also have to extend its suspension of sailings in  in all other North American and Australian markets through August 31.

Here is the basics of Carnival's plan:

  • All North American Carnival cruises from June 27 to July 31 will be cancelled.
  • Beginning August 1, Carnival plans to resume cruises on the following ships:
    • Galveston:  Carnival Dream, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista
    • Miami:  Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic and Carnival Sensation
    • Port Canaveral:  Carnival Breeze and Carnival Elation.
  • Other than the above referenced service from Galveston, Miami, and Port Canaveral, all other North American and Australian Carnival homeport cruises will be cancelled through August 31.
  • All Carnival Spirit Alaskan cruises from Seattle will be cancelled, as well as the Carnival Spirit Vancouver-Honolulu cruise on September 25 and the Honolulu-Brisbane transpacific cruise on October 6.
  • All Carnival Splendor cruises in Australia from June 19 to August 31 will be cancelled.

Royal Caribbean has made no announcement yet on what its plans are once cruises resume, however, this could be viewed as a positive sign that the cruise industry is preparing to resume service.

No, Royal Caribbean did not extend its cruise cancellations until September

In:
01 Apr 2020

An article going around the internet today has spread a lot of misinformation about Royal Caribbean's current plans due to a misunderstanding about a recent policy change.

An article on Yahoo! Finance says Royal Caribbean has extended its halt of global cruise operations until September 1, 2020.

Unfortunately, this is inaccurate information.

Royal Caribbean has only cancelled nearly all of its sailings through May 11, 2020. Alaska, Canada and New England sailings are delayed until at least July 1, 2020.

The author likely is confusing Royal Caribbean's recent announcement to extend its Cruise with Confidence program through September 1.  This program allows guests to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before there sailing and receive a 100% future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean further clarified the article is indeed false as well.

Poll shows Americans will be slow to want to cruise again after coronavirus

In:
31 Mar 2020

A new Harris Poll indicates that cruise lines and airlines will have the toughest road back after the coronavirus threat passes.

The poll was conducted between March 21-23, and looked at the feelings of Americans as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the many questions asked, one area of focus was how long until Americans return to normal activity once the virus flattens.

The poll found airlines and cruises "may be impacted the worst."

It found 22% of Americans say it will take a year or longer before they take a cruise and 1 in 10 say never again.

According to CLIA, about 30 million people went on a cruise in 2019, with 11.9 million coming from the United States. In 2018, the United States had a population of about 327.2 million people.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean stories of 2019

In:
20 Dec 2019

With 2019 nearly over, this seemed liked the perfect opportunity to look back at the Royal Caribbean news stories that generated the most interest.  After all, 2019 was a super busy year for Royal Caribbean, with plenty of new offerings, ships, ports and more.

This year's top ten list is based on the Royal Caribbean stories we feel generated the most buzz and interest.  There are some stories that made the top ten list that surprised me and others I'm more surprises did not make the list.  Let's dive in!

Perfect Day at CocoCay opens

If there is one accolade for Royal Caribbean in 2019 that stands out above the rest, it has the be the mega-succesful opening of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

In May 2019, Royal Caribbean officially opened Perfect Day at CocoCay following a $250 million transformation of the cruise line's private island.

Guests visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay enjoyed a new water park, freshwater pool, refreshed beach areas, new dining choices and more.

Navigator of the Seas may have been the first ship to officially call on Perfect Day at CocoCay, but so many guests have visited the new destination in the months since then and the reviews have been excellent across the board.

Accidental $18 drink package

Many guests were shocked to see Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol drink package offered for just $18 per day. This was a price mistake that lasted for just a few hours, but during that time quite a few people were able to lock in the price.

Usually, the Deluxe Beverage Package runs somewhere between $40 - $52 per person, per day when purchased in advance.

At first, Royal Caribbean said the price mistake was an error and the purchases would be cancelled.  However, following a lot of guest feedback, the cruise line decided to honor the "computer glitch" for anyone that booked it.

Oasis of the Seas crane accident

While undergoing some routine work at a shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas struck by a construction crane.

Oasis of the Seas was in the Bahamas for a short period of work. No passengers were onboard the ship at the time of the accident.

The accident did cause a few sailings to be cancelled in the weeks that followed in order for the ship to be fully repaired.

Oasis of the Seas $165 amplification

Speaking of Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean completed a massive $165 million refurbishment that added new amenities, activities and more.

Oasis of the Seas had a lot of changed to it, including the cruise line’s first barbecue restaurant, Portside BBQ; and guest favorites, from the tallest slide at sea–the Ultimate Abyss–to popular live music venue Music Hall, and a reimagined, Caribbean pool deck. 

Now that Oasis of the Seas is amplified, the ship is offering sailings from Miami, and will transition to the New York City area for summer 2020.

Royal Caribbean's Hurricane Dorian relief efforts

Following the devastation Hurricane Dorian inflicted upon The Bahamas, Royal Caribbean stepped up in the hours following the storm's departure to pledge $1 million in disaster relief.

The cruise line delivered much-needed supplies to the people of Freeport, Bahamas by ferrying in supplies as each of its cruise ships passed through the area.

Teams of volunteers onboard Royal Caribbean ships worked for hours to package up meals and bottled water to be delivered once the ship arrived in Freeport.

In the first few days, the cruise line delivered 20,000 daily meals to the Grand Bahama Island community.

Grandeur of the Seas will leave the fleet

Royal Caribbean announced it plans to transfer Grandeur of the Seas out of its fleet and will join sister brand, Pullmantur Cruises in spring 2021.

Grandeur of the Seas’ final sailing with Royal Caribbean will take place on March 26th, 2021. Thereafter, she will transition to Pullmantur.

Enchantment of the Seas, will return to Baltimore to replace Grandeur in spring of 2021.

Grandeur's final sailing for Royal Caribbean International will be March 26th, 2021.

Toddler death on Freedom of the Seas

One of the saddest news of the year was the death of a toddler from Freedom of the Seas in July 2019.

An 18-month-old girl died after falling on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas while docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sunday. The toddler fell after she fell out of her grandfather's grasp at a window on deck 11 of the ship.

Tragic and disturbing, the story has transformed in recent months with the gradfather being charged in the accident, and tabloid-level coverage of the aftermath.

Royal Caribbean purchases resort in Grand Bahama

In March 2019, Royal Caribbean signed a letter of intent with the government of The Bahamas for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort and redevelopment of the Freeport Harbor.

The cruise line has been fairly quiet with details on what it intends to do with the property. Royal Caribbean's CEO hinted the resort could become a multi-million dollar, multi-phased project on par with CocoCay in Freeport.

The development will take place over a 24-month period, with $65 million of the purchase price for the Grand Lucayan Resort.

Social apprentice search

Royal Caribbean went viral with their search in February 2019 for a social media apprentice, who would be paid to go on cruises and share the experience online.

The role was open to British and Irish citizens which garnered 37,000 applicants.  After a lengthy search, Harry McNulty was chosen to become the Shore Explorer.

The Shore Explorer's job is to discover fun and incredible experiences around the world that will ultimately influence the brand’s shore excursion offerings.

No more cruises to Cuba

Following the United States travel ban to Cuba in June 2019, Royal Caribbean had no choice but to cancel all scheduled visits to Cuba.

The two ships that were offering cruises to Cuba, Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas, had their sailings cancelled and visits to Cuban ports replaced with other ports of call.

While Cuba cruises were never a major destination for the cruise line, many guests were disappointed with the news and inability to visit.

Your thoughts

What did you think was the biggest Royal Caribbean news of 2019? Did we miss one? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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