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Six big changes coming to Royal Caribbean in 2020

In:
Category: 
16Dec2019

With the new year just days away, that means a brand new year of Royal Caribbean cruises to enjoy and with it, some changes.  I have picked out six of the most significant changes that guests going on a cruise in 2020 are likely to notice.

Coco Beach Club opening 

Royal Caribbean estimated the Coco Beach Club and the floating cabanas are slated to open on January 31, 2020.

The Coco Beach Club is a exclusive area of Perfect Day at CocoCay that 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. 

The Coco Beach Club will offer the first and only floating cabanas in The Bahamas that seeks to offer guests with an additional level of luxury.

Allure of the Seas amplification & summer in Europe

In summer 2020, Allure of the Seas will get her turn for a massive $165 million amplification that  will add new features, including the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, completely redesigned Adventure Ocean kids and teens spaces, the first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, and Quantum Class original Music Hall.

After the work is completed, Allure will offer 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises sailing roundtrip from Barcelona during the summer 2020 season.

In November 2020, Allure will make its way coast to coast to Miami for the winter season.

Odyssey of the Seas launch

Anytime a new cruise ship launches, that is a big deal, and the second Quantum Ultra Class ship will make her debut in November 2020.

Odyssey of the Seas will be the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to arrive in North America, and will feature a two-level pool deck, as well as a collection of restaurant choices to enjoy.

Odyssey's inaugural year will kick off with 8- and 6-night itineraries from Fort Lauderdale, FL. She will then sail to her homeport of Rome in May 2021 and become the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to cruise Europe for the summer. 

End of neighborhood balcony perks

When the calendar changes from 2019 to 2020, the neighborhood balcony perks on Oasis Class ships will cease to be offered.  Royal Caribbean announced in September 2019 that it would end the program on all sailings departing on or after January 1, 2020.

The Dine, Drink & Discover program offered extra benefits to guests who booked Boardwalk Balcony and Central Park Balcony staterooms on Oasis Class ships. 

If you had a neighborhood balcony room booked before September 18, 2019, then you will be grandfathered in for any sailing departing on-or-after January 1st, 2020. 

Royal Caribbean returns to New Orleans

Royal Caribbean will mark its return to offering cruises from the Big Easy, with Majesty of the Seas being homeported from New Orleans.

Majesty of the Seas will sail 7 night sailings primarily to the Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay, with some Western Caribbean itineraries too.

Explorer of the Seas & Freedom of the Seas amplifications

In addition to the upgrades for Allure of the Seas, the Royal Amplified program will also enhance Explorer of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas.

Freedom of the Seas will be first up for changes in March 2020, with a $116 million amplification that will add the Perfect Storm duo of waterslides, a redesigned Adventure Ocean, a Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade and a reimagined pool deck that will feature Splashaway Bay, El Loco Fresh and The Lime & Coconut.

Beginning in May 2020, Explorer of the Seas will be reimagined with a $110 million amplification that will add the Perfect Storm racer waterslides, Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen; a redesigned, resort-style poolscape with signature poolside bar The Lime & Coconut; and transformed kids and teens spaces. 

Which Royal Caribbean change are you most excited about for 2020? Tell us in the comments!

What is the cheapest month to go on a cruise?

In:
14Dec2019

Finding the best time of the year to go on a cruise and get the cheapest price is all about timing.  Regardless of which ship, itinerary or stateroom type you are interested in, the key is about when you elect to go and when you book the cruise.

Go when others cannot

All cruise cost factors being equal, the cheapest time to go on a cruise is when most others are busy or unwilling to go on that same sailing.

Most cruisers make a decision to go on a particular cruise based on their schedule at home, primarily related to their work or school schedule. Cruises that sail during times of the year when most kids are in school, or employers typically do not provide time off to their employees are the perfect time to snag a great deal on a cruise.

I will share good times of the year to consider cruises for many itineraries, but the common theme you will find among all of them is they are during times of the year when most families are not interested in cruising.

The other key factor to getting a deal is going on a cruise in what is known as the "shoulder season".  These are the weeks or months at the very beginning or very end of a ship's time in a particular region when factors such as weather, fauna or flora are not at their optimal levels. That is not to say cruising in the shoulder season would be a disappointment, but rather, not when conditions will be absolutely perfect.

Alaska 

May or September

The very beginning and very end of the Alaska cruise season typically sees the lowest prices for Alaska cruises. Generally speaking, May and September have the coldest temperatures of the Alaska cruise season, and it is also the time of year when school is still in session.

Beyond time of year, you will likely find lower prices on open jaw sailings (cruises that begin in one port and conclude in a different port) than roundtrip sailings. Of course, airfare prices may negate any savings from choosing an open jaw sailing.

Australia & New Zealand

April or November

If you are cruising down under, the busy months are around December and January because that is Australia's summer and also the most expensive prices.

Royal Caribbean concludes its cruise season in April or May, so if you can snag a cruise then, you will find some great deals. In addition, November is typically a less in-demand month.

Bermuda

May or September - October

The month of May is the beginning of the Bermuda cruise season, and prices will be lower due to it being the shoulder season.

September and October has two reasons why prices can be lower: school is in session and it is hurricane season.  While hurricanes do not typically impact Bermuda as much as the Caribbean islands, storms will usually pass by Bermuda at least once per year. 

Canada & New England

May or October

The weather is all about why you might want to cruise to Canada or Bermuda, and the months of May or October are not typically the most popular type of weather.

In both months, the weather is usually the coldest of the cruise season, with late October being especially cooler. New England can be still moderately warm during these months, but Canadian cities cool down quicker due to their latitude.

Caribbean

January, May, September, October or early December

The Caribbean cruise season is year-round, and there are some peaks and valleys in terms of demand and pricing throughout the year.

In terms of temperatures, it remains warm throughout most of the year, so there is almost always sun and warm enough temperatures to swim and be outdoors. November through February can see an occasional cold front pushing through to make things feel a bit chilly, but they are short lived and the exception.

When it comes to getting the lowest price on a Caribbean sailing, it is about cruising when school is in session or during hurricane season (June 1 through November 30).

The cheapest times of the year to cruise the Caribbean will be....

  • January (minus New Years week) [School in session]
  • First two weeks of February [School in session]
  • May [School in session]
  • September [Hurricane season]
  • October [Hurricane season]
  • First two weeks of December [School in session]

Mediterranean

March, April or November

Cruising to Europe is a very popular choice, and the Mediterranean is among the most popular places to cruise outside the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean begins its cruise season in March or April, and you will find most families still in school and the least crowds in the Mediterranean.

Temperatures can still be warm in the Mediterranean, but not as oppressively warm as the summer months.  Moreover, November usually sees the lowest prices of the year for Mediterranean cruises.

Northern Europe

May or October

Northern Europe cruises that visit the Baltics, Norway or the British Isles have a shorter cruise season than the Mediterranean, but pricing follows the same basic pricing principles of anywhere in Europe. Going during the shoulder season while temperatures and demand are lower will get you the lowest prices of the season.

Your thoughts

Do you agree with my picks for the cheapest months of the year to go on a cruise? Are there any months you think are better or worse than listed? Any specific times of the year that you think are ideal for going on a cruise and saving money? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

How to get excited for your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
07Nov2019

You have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked, and if you are like me, then you probably have that warm, fuzzy feeling in anticipating of a brand new vacation adventure.

In the weeks and months leading up until your cruise, here is how to keep that fun feeling going until it is time to board.

Plan your onboard activities

Once you book your cruise, the next logical thing is to start planning what you're going to do on the cruise.  It's the next best thing to booking the cruise!

Figuring out which shore excursions you will take or which specialty restaurants you will eat at is always fun and it usually takes up a lot of time with the necessary research.  Don't forget about add-ons for your cruise like the unlimited beverage packages, stateroom decor and maybe even a surprise for your loved one.

You can also read a past Cruise Compass to get a better idea of what activities, events, and timing of everything on your sailing. We keep an archive of past Cruise Compasses to help everyone easily find one.

Meet people on your sailing

A fun way to make friends on the ship before you step foot onboard is to join a Facebook group for your sailing.

If you go on Facebook and search for your ship name and sail date, there is very likely a group set up for it.  It is free to join these groups, and often groups will set up special events, or simply provide a means of sharing in the pre-cruise planning excitement.

Every group is different, and depending on how many people have joined the Facebook Group, as well as everyone's level of participation in the group, you can get to know folks before the cruise. Plus it's just fun to find others who are as excited as you about your cruise (instead of annoying your friends).

Go cruise shopping

Our family has a running joke that when we book a cruise, we always end up at the mall buying a bunch of new clothes and other cruise related purchases that we simply "must" get. Clothes, gadgets, luggage and more always seem to be things we buy quite often once a cruise starts getting near.

The truth is, purchasing a new outfit or toy for the cruise is always a fun exercise and buying new duds helps keep the cruise in focus.  In addition, you can take advantage of off-season sales to stock up on things you will need in the warm Caribbean (or wherever your cruise is going).

Watch Royal Caribbean TV shows

Over the years, various travel shows have featured Royal Caribbean cruises in their episodes and thanks to the Internet, there's plenty of them around.

You can start on YouTube and search for phrases like "royal caribbean episode" or "royal caribbean tv" or "royal caribbean travel channel".  Google searches with the same phrases will also turn up results elsewhere.

If you don't mind paying for it, there are also some other TV show episodes available on iTunes or Amazon you can purchase for just a few dollars.

The great thing about these tv shows is they focus on life onboard the cruise and it helps me take a mental escape to my upcoming cruise.

Of course, I feel obligated to shamelessly plug the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast, which is an audio show that is free and full of Royal Caribbean fun!

Watch YouTube videos

To get a good visual of what you can expect for your Royal Caribbean, there are no shortage of videos on YouTube to check out.

Search for your ship name and odds are you will find hundreds of videos to watch.  Some are tours, some are family vacation videos and others explain aspects of the cruise.  Regardless, it's a fun way to see what you can expect on your cruise and add ideas to your little list.

While you are on YouTube, be sure to check out our channel of helpful trip planning videos.

Read trip reports/photo reports from others on same cruise

Speaking of mental escapes, I really find reading other people's trip reports and looking at their photos to be a great way to get excited for my own cruise.  After all, it's helpful to see what others found useful or a waste.

Once again message boards are a great place for this, such as the live blog area.  This is where cruisers share details of their cruise, as it happens.

Besides being entertaining, reading these reports helps with the first idea I posted about planning the cruise.  If someone reports a fun excursion or restaurant to try, I will note it in my cruise planning spreadsheet (yes, I have a cruise planning spreadsheet) for reference later.

Watch web cams

Catching a glimpse of the ship you are booked on in real-time is always a highlight. 

There are port webcams that on select days you can see Royal Caribbean ships in port and admire them for their beauty.   By far seeing them leave port in the evening is the highlight because it gives you a great view of these ships. PTZtv has a network of cams across North America and there's usually a couple of cams with Royal Caribbean ships to see.

Play music that reminds you of a cruise

There's a lot of great music out there that reminds me of a cruise.  It's the sort of music I'd hear on a cruise ship and for me, that can help get me through a day of work.

We posted earlier a cruise music mix but there's plenty of other music out there.  You can always tune into Radio Margaritaville for Jimmy Buffet music, which is all about warm islands with boat drinks.

Regardless of what music reminds you of being a cruise, I find it a great way to help me cope with not being on a cruise and getting excited for my upcoming cruise too.

How do you get excited for your upcoming cruise? Share your favorite ways in the comments below!

Video: The Questions People ALWAYS Ask Us About Royal Caribbean

In:
Category: 
17Sep2019

As you might imagine, we get asked a lot of questions about Royal Caribbean cruises and today we decided to share answers to the most common ones!

Is The Key worth it? Will a drink package save money? Are negative reviews of the ship I'm going on cause for concern? These are just some of the questions we get asked on a nearly daily basis.

To help everyone, we assembled a list of the most common questions and share our advice to provide simle answers to these really common questions.  Our newest video aims to give you answers to your most burning Royal Caribbean questions!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: What exciting new tip did you learn about your Royal Caribbean cruise?

Video: Don't book a cruise because of these reasons!

In:
Category: 
12Sep2019

There are lots of considerations for booking a cruise vacation, but we have five things you should not pay too much attention to when picking the ship for you.

Out of all the important things to know about a ship before you book, I have picked five things you may read or hear about that should not be a reason to book (or not book) a cruise ship.

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

What are some things you think should be ignored when booking a specific ship? Share your experience in the comments!

Video: Top 5 cruise tips for all cruisers

In:
Category: 
25Jun2019

Our newest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video is now available, where Matt shares his top tips that anyone going on any cruise should follow.

Matt wanted to share five of his favorite tips and advice for someone new to Royal Caribbean that they should be aware of for their sailing. These are the tips and tricks he uses on every sailing, and you should too. 

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: What do you think is essential and universal cruise advice?

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