Royal Caribbean and Carnival sign deal to construct new cruise port in Saint Lucia


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corporation & plc signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Saint Lucia to manage the current cruise pier and terminal facilities in Saint Lucia, and work together to construct and operate a new cruise port on southern part of island.

Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean and the government of Saint Lucia will establish a long-term concession agreement to formalize the terms and responsibilities for the joint venture to manage and operate the current cruise pier and terminal facilities at the Port of Castries.

Additionally, the joint venture will design, finance, construct and operate a new cruise port in Vieux Fort on the southern part of the island that will be able to accommodate the latest and most innovative ships in the cruise industry.

"The cruise market is the fastest growing sector of tourism and in the next decade cruising in the Caribbean region is anticipated to increase by 40%," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean. "We are excited to partner with the Government of Saint Lucia to ensure that the destination directly benefits from that growth, while giving more guests the opportunity to visit this unique gem in the Caribbean."

Under the new agreement, the joint venture would optimize the experience for guests visiting Saint Lucia while developing additional cruise infrastructure to support the industry's latest ships and promote the growth of cruise tourism on the island.

Royal Caribbean forms new joint venture to develop ports around the world


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today a new joint venture with ITM Group that seeks to develop cruise ports around the world.

The new company is called Holistica, and its goal is create an inclusive model for destination development that works holistically – thus the name – to meet the needs of coastal communities, local governments, and land, sea, and air travelers.

The first project for the new company is a $275 million development in Freeport, The Bahamas that is centered around the Grand Lucayan resort. The project includes ambitious plans for local ownership, employment, job training, community investment and sustainable construction practices.

In addition to the Freeport project, the companies said the new venture will own and operate destinations in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Kumamoto, Japan.

The partners have commenced a search for a CEO for the new company, which will be headquartered in Miami. 

"The continuing growth and rising popularity of cruise vacations make it clear that the sustainable development of coastal destinations, including the thoughtful evolution of existing ones, is in the travel industry's best interest," said Michael Bayley of RCL. "We have spent five decades learning what works and what doesn't, and we know the potential of strategic development to deliver extraordinary guest experiences and meet the needs of local communities."

Added Bayley: "Having more destinations, and developing them in a responsible manner, gives travelers greater vacation quality, and expands the landscape of available travel options as the tourism industry grows."

Port and dock update: February 7, 2019


We ran across a few quick updates on port news that have some impact on Royal Caribbean in the future.

St. Croix wants to handle Quantum Class ships

Caribbean Journal reports the US Virgin Islands Port Authority is exploring an opportunity to increase cruise passenger visits to the island of St Croix so that it could handle a Quantum Class ship.

According to the Port Authority, the plan would be to modify the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility in Frederiksted to accommodate Quantum Class cruise ships.

The largest ships that currently berth in St Croix have a max capacity of up to 2,501 passengers.

Victoria port expansion impacted by lost steel

CTV Vancouver is reporting a multi-million dollar dolphin extension destined to upgrade Victoria's cruise ship terminal has been lost at sea.

The piles were meant to extend Pier B at Ogden Point by 55 metres and allow it to serve bigger cruise ships like the Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas, which has committed to stopping in Victoria beginning this May.

The B.C. Pilots Association and Royal Caribbean International carried out tests at Pier A on Friday and it has been decided that for this summer, the Ovation of the Seas will stop at Pier A.

The replacement steel is expected to arrive in late summer from China. The extension is slated to be completed in time for the 2020 cruise season. 

Royal Caribbean enters into joint venture to upgrade Malaysian cruise port


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd announced it has entered into a joint venture with Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) to upgrade and improve Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. The upgraded pier will accommodate berthing of larger cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean - Legend of the Seas

Plans for the facilities include extension of the existing berths to 688 metres from its current length of 400 metres. This will enable the terminal to berth two mega cruise liners carrying over 4,900 passengers each at any one time.

In addition, the redevelopment will include spaces for tour buses to ease the flow of traffic in the areas around SPCT. The USD35 million project will further focus on improving accessibility for the aged and physically challenged throughout the terminal from ship to shore. This planned development has received unyielding support from both State and Federal government and associated government agencies including Tourism bodies, and will be a focal part of Malaysian Tourism EPP6 plan to create a “Straits and Borneo Cruise Riviera”.

Royal Caribbean will own a 40% stake in the venture, and the project will be managed by both parties.

Royal Caribbean is scheduled to make 38 calls in Penang in 2017.

Top 10 Reasons to visit Aruba


Our friend Don from EatSleepCruise.com is back again today, with a look at a great Southern Caribbean port, Aruba. Enjoy!

Aruba is a popular vacation spot welcoming over half a million cruise ship passengers each year. Many popular cruise lines have itineraries that visit Aruba, including Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas.

Located just 15 miles north of Venezuela, this Southern Caribbean island is truly one of a kind. Measuring only about 6 miles wide and about 20 miles long, you can see much of the island in a single visit.

Recently, we sailed on Adventure of the Seas, and our itinerary was altered resulting in an impromptu stop at this “one happy island”. After spending a full day exploring the island, we are already looking to return on another cruise.

If you want to know why we are so eager to get back to Aruba, our Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Aruba may have you booking your own trip to the island.  

Top Ten Reasons to Visit Aruba

10. The Weather

While the Caribbean is known for having great weather, Aruba might just be the ideal vacation spot.

Getting only 18 inches of rain a year and having constant temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees, you are almost guaranteed perfect weather.

Situated just 12 degrees north of the Equator, the island is located south of the hurricane belt, and only rarely experiences the effects of tropical storms.  In addition, the favorable trade winds make the feel-like temperatures tolerable; so, as long as you wear plenty of sunscreen, you can enjoy a full day in the sun.

9. The Stunning Views

While there is plenty to do while on the island, take some time to appreciate the magnificent views from both sides of the island.

In the southeastern Arikok National Park, you can get a bird’s eye view of the island from atop the Arikok Hilltop. If you head to the Casibari Rock Formation, you can reportedly see the coastline of Venezuela on a clear day (which is only 15 miles away).

On the island’s northern tip, you can climb the hillside in the area known as “Hudishibana” to get fantastic views of both the rocky coral shoreline to the east and the white sandy beaches to the west, as well as the Championship Golf Course, the Tierra del Sol.

8. The Hotel District

There’s also plenty of grown-up fun to be had for those who want to escape the beach while in Aruba.

Tons of bars and nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping can be found in the northern hotel district. You will find many familiar retail outlets, international cuisine, and upscale hotels resorts, like the Ritz Carlton Aruba.  You can explore this area on foot, do a little shopping, or press your luck at one of the dozens of casinos found in virtually every resort.

You may also want to enjoy a full day of pampering with a day pass, including food and drinks, at the luxurious 5-star Occidental Grand Aruba where you can use the beach, pools, water sports, and other resort facilities.

7. The Historic Sites

Now a Dutch colony, Aruba has a checkered past with its native Indian roots and influences from various European settlers.

Discover this heritage by visiting various historic buildings during your visit to Aruba. Among the locations on your tour, one should be the Alta Vista Chapel, the oldest church on the island dating back to the 1750s.  

For more excitement, you can relive the Aruban gold rush of the mid to late 19th century, in which 3 million pounds of gold were excavated from the island, by visiting the Bushirbana Gold Mill Ruins. This 140 year old smelting plant was built to resemble a fortress to ward off pirates. 

There is also the famous California Lighthouse. This 100 year old lighthouse was built after a steamship sank off the northern coast of the island and now provides stunning vistas of the surrounding areas.

6. Exquisite Cuisine

Indulge in some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean while you are docked in Aruba.  

You can dine in one of the first restaurants to make eating on the beach popular in Aruba, the Flying Fishbone, with its Mediterranean inspired menu. For more adventurous palates, there are several “chef’s table” options providing intimate 4 and 5 course meals at trendy locations like the 2 Fools and a Bull and the popular Carte Blanche, For families, Gostoso offers a casual atmosphere and a menu with traditional Aruban dishes with Portuguese influences.

There is also the well-known La Trattoria El Faro Blanco, located right near the California Lighthouse.

Famous Italian dishes are served in both indoor and outdoor dining rooms offering spectaculars views of the coast and the perfect romantic dinner location.

5. Rock Formations

Unique to Aruba are two Rock Formation sites.

The Casibari Rock Formation, toward the middle of the island, is a cluster of huge tonalite rocks. Appearing to just rise from the ground, you can take the 55 step climb to the top of these boulders for a great photo op.  Walking paths also exist around the formation to let visitors wander the adjacent large rocks and other landscapes near the site.

After your trek, you can get a drink at Casibari Café and perhaps listen to some of the live music.

Further east on the island is the Ayo Rock Formation. 

These diorite rocks were utilized by the native Arawak people for ceremonies and tribal rituals. Ancient cave paintings and carvings dating back thousands of years can be seen in some of the formations.  These large boulders seem like they have been purposely placed next to each other in unique designs. Travelers can transverse this area at their own risk.

4. The Landscape

Unlike your traditional Caribbean islands, with palm trees and lush green vegetation, Aruba offers a quite different landscape. It is mostly a flat, arid, desert with little vegetation. 

You will find several species of cacti that have various uses including fences for keeping out livestock, cooking (the tall Kadushi Cactus is used for making soup), and even Christmas decorations. After admiring the cacti, you can let the awe inspiring divi-divi trees be your guide, literally, as the constant eastern breeze has shaped these trees to all point in the southwest direction.  

Aruba appears to be one of the few locations in the world where these trees thrive, so make sure your camera is fully charged to capture this unique landscape.

3. The Wildlife

Although they are not native to Aruba, donkeys have played an important role in the Aruban economy for close to 500 years.

With the influx of cars on the island, donkeys were nearing extinction until the 1970s when the non-profit Donkey Sanctuary was founded. Visit the sanctuary to learn more about these animals and help support their preservation.

You can also take time to learn more about the mysterious ostrich at the Ostrich Farm on the eastern coast. Interact with over 80 ostriches and emus as guides provide details about the largest living bird species on earth.

Or, you can explore the Butterfly Farm in Aruba, providing you the opportunity to view 100s of different butterfly and moth species. A guided tour comes included with your admission, and it is recommended that you arrive early when butterflies are more active.

2. Natural Water Attractions

If the natural landscape and rock formations are not tantalizing enough, then Aruba’s famous natural water attractions may have you calling your travel agent.  

The most famous of these sites is the island’s Natural Bridge, a 25 foot high and 100 foot long bridge made of coral limestone.  

Even though it partially collapsed in 2005, it is still a popular tourist stop and amazing photo opportunity. For more adventurous swimmers, the Natural Pool (or Conchi) in Arikok National Park is surrounded by rigid rocks and offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.

The terrain is rocky so getting to this natural pool requires 4X4 transportation or horseback.

1. The Beaches

Many Caribbean islands are known for their beaches, but of all the islands we have visited, Aruba by far has the most pristine beaches of any island in our opinion.

We relaxed on Eagle Beach during our visit, the widest beach on the island. The white sandy beach and crystal clear water was pure paradise!

This public beach is free to all visitors, and you can rent chairs from seaside vendors. On the southern tip of Aruba is the famous Baby Beach, this lagoon beach has shallow water making it the perfect stop for families.  The calm waters within the lagoon also provide ample opportunity for snorkelers of all skill levels.

If you like your beach break with a little more energy and excitement, then Palm Beach is your destination. This two mile stretch is adjacent to the hotel district with bars, restaurants, and a variety of water sports.

Visiting Aruba

We have only scratched the surface on things you can do and see while in Aruba, but I’m sure you can already see why we can’t wait to plan another cruise stopping at the island.

Aruba truly has a variety of attractions, entertainment, and Caribbean life making it one of our favorite ports of call. So the only question remaining is “When is MY next trip to Aruba?”.

Embarkation on your Royal Caribbean cruise in San Juan, Puerto Rico


Royal Caribbean offers cruises that begin in San Juan, Puerto Rico that offer some great Southern Caribbean itineraries to try.  If you're considering going on one of these cruises, here's what you need to know about embarkation day in San Juan.

It's not where you think it is

If you've ever taken a cruise that stops in San Juan for the day, you've likely been to the San Juan Cruise Port, but that's just for cruise ships that are in the city for the day.

Royal Caribbean cruises that originate in San Juan will dock at the Pan American Pier, which is across the channel from the San Juan Cruise Port.  It's adjacent to the Isla Grande Airport and is about a 5 minute taxi drive from Old San Juan.

As you're driving in, you should be able to see the ship docked since there isn't much around there.  As of the writing of this blog post, Jewel of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas are offering cruises out of San Juan.

Getting checked in

Once you arrive at the pier, the check-in process is similar to other ports but we've also noticed a few differences too.

There will be porters at the pier to help take your luggage and load it onto the ship.  In addition, there is a special line to enter the building for Platinum and above Crown and Anchor Society members.  Everyone else will wait in a separate line.

Waiting to check in for our Jewel of the Seas cruise #cruise #JewelOfTheSeas #cruiseship #travel

A photo posted by Royal Caribbean Blog.com (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

We've gotten to the pier as early as 10:30am and we've generally heard passengers are let into the embarkation building around 11am.  One potential issue is the check-in building is not very large and the staff will only allow batches of passengers in at a time, so you may get stuck outside waiting to get in.  Given this is Puerto Rico, the temperature and humidity outside can be quite high.

Since most Royal Caribbean ships do not leave port until later in the evening (usually around 8pm), so getting to the port early in the morning is not as critical but lines outside the building are possible.  The good news is, often the lines outside are infrequent.


Once inside the building, you will find lines for Crown and Anchor Society members and lines for everyone else.  

You will be subjected to a security check that consists of an x-ray machine and metal detector.  Once through there, you will enter your line and get checked in.

We should also note there is a duty-free liquor store inside the check-in area, which is a great place to pick up a few bottles of wine to bring onboard your cruise. Remember, Royal Caribbean allows up to two bottles of wine per stateroom to bring onboard.

After check-in, it's just a short walk onto your Royal Caribbean cruise!

Boarding #jeweloftheseas!

A photo posted by Royal Caribbean Blog.com (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

Have you embarked in San Juan?

Did you have a chance to take a Royal Caribbean cruise out of San Juan?  Share your tips and suggestions for embarkation day in San Juan in our comments below!