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Bad weather cancels port stop for Royal Caribbean ship

In:
21Oct2011

Some bad weather in the Caribbean yesterday forced Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas to miss a port of call.  Freedom of the Seas was scheduled to stop at Grand Cayman yesterday but instead took a sea day.

The main reason for not stopping at Grand Cayman was the waves were too big for tenders to safely transport passengers to and from the ship.

Freedom of the Seas was the only Royal Caribbean ship affected by the foul weather, whereas five Carinval Cruise ships and a Norwegian Cruise Line ship had to alter their itineraries in one way or another.

Bari, Italy will be new port of embarkation for Royal Caribbean in 2012

In:
18Oct2011

Voyager of the Seas made her last stop in Bari, Italy this season before she heads west to Caribbean.  In 2012, however, Bari will become the new port of embarkation for Royal Caribbean, according to Royal Caribbean Italy's General Manager John Rotondo.

"To confirm the growing interest in Royal Caribbean towards the Italian market and the role very strategic city of Bari, it has been announced that next year Bari will become the port of embarkation for ships of the group, with significant benefits for tourism in the city, natural gateway to discover the beauty and culture of Puglia. "

More Royal Caribbean ships will visit the Dominican Republic in 2012-2013

In:
10Oct2011

After several meetings with three major cruise lines that touch Dominican ports, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Radhames Martinez Aponte, said the country should feel satisfied with the achievements so far in the event organized by the Association of Cruise Florida and the Caribbean (FCCA).  Among the FCCA members is Royal Caribbean, who agreed to increase the amount of passengers that will visit the country in 2012-2013.

"During the meetings we held with Royal Caribbean, MSC and Norwegian have promised us that from the 2012-2013 season will increase the number of cruise ships or cruise the ability of playing the Dominican Republic, which would raise the number of tourists coming this way, "said Martinez Aponte.

Michael Roman, vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean for Royal Caribbean, acknowledged the efforts being made by the Ministry of Tourism to further improve the conditions of ports and the changes they have experienced.

Royal Caribbean enters agreement with ports of Yalta and Sevastopol

In:
07Oct2011

The Ministry of Infrastructure in the Ukraine agreed on Friday with Royal Caribbean to enter into a joint modernization of the passenger port of Yalta and Sevastopol, according to the deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Borys Kolesnikov.

"Tuesday will start a joint working group. We plan to implement a project to lengthen the quay walls in order to enter the ports to vessels travel the highest class of the largest size" - Kolesnikov said in Yalta, where the deputy prime minister came to participate in the Black Sea Economic Forum.

According to him, held talks on Friday were the first to the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine shall, within 30 days to develop a "detailed roadmap" for further cooperation with Royal Caribbean.

"The interest of Ukraine in the fact that tourists had a lot to all of the Yalta tourist facilities - restaurants, cafes and shops - was filled with" - he said.

Serenade of the Seas kicks off cruise season in St. Kitts

In:
03Oct2011

The 2011-2012 cruise season will kick off in St. Kitts with Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas arriving on October 8th.  

Serenade of the Seas, a cruise ship with a capacity of 2,450 guests, will dock at Port Zante and make two calls in October with a total of 16 stops for the season.  Serenade of the Seas will bring a total of 40,640 passengers during the 2011-2012 season.

In addition, Port Zante will welcome Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas six times as well as Navigator of the Seas and her 8 calls.

Falmouth named Port of the Year

In:
03Oct2011

At the Seatrade Europe in Hamburg, Germany the Seatrade Insider Cruise Awards 2011 were awarded and for Port of the Year, Falmouth was named the winner for 2011.  

Falmouth opened earlier this year on the coast north of Jamaica. Established by the Port Authority of Jamaica in partnership with Royal Caribbean and opened in March, Falmouth Harbor Theme represents an investment of about U.S. $ 270 million, with a pier with two piers, shops, restaurants and transportation center. Later phases of development planned for the immediate future include attractions, hotels, residences and more shops and restaurants.

Falmouth, located on the north coast of Jamaica, is located between the popular destinations of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, making it a convenient point of entry and exit to the island. In addition, cruise ships have more than 60 shore excursions to choose from, including walks around the city.

Splendour of the Seas will make stops in Maceio, Brazil

In:
26Sep2011

Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas, which arrives on December 9 on the Brazilian coast, will have two routes in the northeast of Brazil. The new destination of choice is the city of Maceio.

With seven-night and out of Santos, the Splendour of the Seas will make stops in Salvador and in the capital Alagona. There is also an itinerary for seven or eight nights, with stops in Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Punta del Este, and also mini-cruises of three, four and five nights, with esclas Buzios, Ilhabela, Porto Belo, Ilha Grande and Cabo Frio.

During the season in Brazil, Splendour of the Seas will conduct a total of 21 cruises.

Freedom of the Seas will remain in Port Canaveral through 2015

In:
22Sep2011

Royal Caribbean and Port Canaveral reached an agreement that will keep Freedom of the Seas sailing out of Brevard County, Florida through 2015.

The deal was approved by the Canaveral Port Authority board unanimously.  The deal's specifics say Royal Caribbean will keep Freedom of the Seas, or another ship that size or larger, in the port through the end of 2015.

Freedom of the Seas was once the largest cruise ship in the world and remains in the top five, sailing out of Port Canaveral, Florida with 7-night sailings throughout the year to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.  

J. Stanley Payne, Canaveral Port Authority Chief Executive Officer, is happy the deal got done, "It has been a big day for us.  I think that's a vote of confidence for the port."

Restaurant Review: Comidas Caseras Tonita

In:
21Sep2011

We love to explore the ports that Royal Caribbean stops at and find real, authentic experiences while in town.  While in Cozumel, Mexico, we set out to find the best authentic Mexican food we could find on the island and I think Comidas Caseras Tonita is exactly that.

Atmosphere

Comidas Caseras Tonita is a family run restaurant off the beaten path in Cozumel, Mexico offering home made Mexican dishes.  While we were there, two women ran the kitchen and took our orders.  They really didn't speak much English, but we were able to communicate what we wanted to them.  The menus at the restaurant are in Spanish and English, so you can know what you're ordering without being fluent in Spanish.

The room you dine in is an open air room, that reminds me of a living room in some ones house in Mexico.  There are book shelves along the wall as well as music playing for your entertainment.

The restaurant is rustic enough to feel "real" but not concerning enough to scare away American tourists, like ourselves.  While we enjoy eating authentic food, we don't want to feel like we've gone "too far" into the local element and feel unsafe.  The restaurant was inviting and warm and felt like we were eating at a friends house rather than a restaurant.

Eats

The menu consists of Mexican dishes that include chicken, fish and steak.  There's also a wide breakfast selection that you can order at anytime during your stay.  Before arriving at Comidas Caseras Tonita, we had heard they had the best guacamole on the island and it was something we ordered as well.

Given the reputation we had heard about, we ordered guacamole, salsa, chips and something called "Mexican style chicken".  We didn't want to gorge ourselves, but we wanted to get a good taste of what this restaurant has to offer.

After placing our order, we immediately knew this place was looking good when we could see in the kitchen the women preparing everything from scratch.  The chips were fried on the spot, the guacamole was made from fresh avocado and the salsa was cut up from fresh vegetables.  Very soon the aroma in the air was filled with our food.

First up were the chips, salsa and guacamole and I can safely say that the lofty expectations I had in my mind were quickly met and surpassed.

It's hard to communicate in blog form just how good the food was.  You could really tell from eating the food how fresh everything was.  There wasn't anything that tasted like it had been frozen previously.  Back in the USA, my family are quite the connoisseurs of Mexican food but these appetizers at Comidas Caseras Tonita were so much better than anything we had gotten at home.

We had gone through half of the food and two orders of chips and then our Mexican style chicken was brought over.  Immediately I wished I had skipped breakfast on the ship so I could feel hungrier.

On the outside, the chicken didn't really look all that different from chicken dishes I had ordered back home.  Granted, it wasn't swimming in melted cheese as is often the case with Mexican dishes in the USA, but once I took a bite, I could taste the difference right away.  The chicken was moist, tasty and even had a sense of feeling "light".  I'm not sure if it was the euphoria my taste buds were in from the salsa and guacamole earlier, but this tasted like one of the best chicken dishes I had ever had in my life.  A definite top 10 dish.

Overall

If you're looking for authentic Mexican food, Comidas Caseras Tonita is by far a great choice while in Cozumel.  On previous cruises to Cozumel we had tried other restaurants in an effort to get an authentic meal (Pancho's Backyard, Casa Denis) and while Casa Denis was our previous front runner, I think Comidas Caseras Tonita is our new favorite local restaurant on Cozumel.

To me, part of going on cruises is the adventure of getting out there and trying something new.  While Royal Caribbean thinks that can mean climbing the rock wall on the ship or zip lining in Labadee, I love to explore the ports on my own and if you have any desire to try to explore Cozumel on your own, then I really believe that Comidas Caseras Tonita is a great spot to have lunch at.  

The cost of the food was less than $20 (we also ordered two rounds of Cokes) and the service was impeccable.  Eating at Comidas Caseras Tonita made me feel like I was on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations television show.  

Location: Calle Rosado Salas 265 Cozumel, Q. Roo 77600

Walking directions: Walk south from the plaza on avenida 5 Sur for 1 block, then turn left on calle Salas and walk east 1 1/2 block and the restaurant will be on your left.

Mangalore, India says Royal Caribbean will stop at their city

In:
20Sep2011

Officials from the New Mangalore Port Trust say Royal Caribbean is likely to send 13 cruise ships to its port in one year.

Traffic Manager for the New Mangalore Port Trust, S. Gopalakrishna, claimed that Royal Caribbean sent a team to the city to visit the port on Tuesday.  While at the port, Royal Caribbean also held discussions with the Chairman of the New Mangalore Port Trust, Mr P. Tamilvanan.

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