Secrets, Tips and Tricks

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas hidden secrets

In:
02Dec2019

Oasis of the Seas is one of the most impressive Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and it is packed with plenty to see, do and enjoy onboard.

Naturally, it is easy to miss something onboard, so we have our list of the best hidden secrets easily overlooked on Oasis of the Seas. This includes the changes Royal Caribbean made to Oasis of the Seas in 2019 as part of her $165 amplification.

10. Solarium sun deck wings

On deck 15, if you venture to the front of the ship and into the Solarium, you will find a vast outdoor sundeck in the very front that offers not only ample seating, but viewing platforms that jet out from the side of the ship to provide a fantastic perfect vantage point.

Whether sailing into a port, departing another, or just enjoying the view of the ocean, these sun deck wings are always a good photo opportunity.

9. Central Park viewing overlook

There are a pair of overlooks in Central Park that provide not only additional seating in this popular neighborhood, but a neat vantage point.

They are accessible from the aft elevator banks on 9.

8. Johnny Rockets for breakfast

Everyone knows Johnny Rockets offers some amazing burgers and milk shakes for lunch, dinner and late night but did you also know that Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast?  And it's free!

Usually, Johnny Rockets is open from 7:30am to 10:00am, and it is a great spot to grab breakfast that will not be as crowded as the Windjammer or even the main dining room.  You will have a choice of scrambled eggs, omelettes, pancakes, French Toast and more.

Plus, you get a nice morning walk on the Boardwalk to go along with those eggs!

7. Less crowded lunch spot on embarkation day

When you board Oasis of the Seas on your first day and want somewhere a less crowded for lunch, try the Solarium Cafe.

Located on Deck 15 forward, the Solarium Cafe does not get nearly as crowded as the Windjammer and if you are boarding in the afternoon when everyone wants to grab lunch, try the Solarium Cafe as a good alternative.

The Solarium Cafe also has some beautiful views of the Solarium pool and the ocean too.

6. Quiet spot to relax

Looking for somewhere that is shaded and is quiet and a great spot to sit and relax?  

Head to deck 5 and go all the way to the aft of the ship.  You will find chairs that have a great view of the ocean and are usually devoid of other passengers. You can also access this area by going behind the AquaTheater and going down the stairs.

5. Secret AquaTheater viewing area

If you do not have tickets to a show in the AquaTheater, there is a hidden viewing area most guests are unaware of to see the show.

Walk to the AquaTheater, but go to either the left or right of the theater to find stairs that lead to the rock climbing wall area. There is a large viewing area, that even has a few chairs to enjoy. 

When there is not a show, it is still a great spot to enjoy a view of the ocean going past you.

4. Small wonders

Hidden all over Oasis of the Seas is a series of art displays known as "Small Wonders", where you will find 42 natural wonders positioned all over the ship.

When you find one, there will be something that looks like a periscope or telescope that if you peer into, you will find these tiny three dimensional pieces of art.

This is a fun activity for kids or adults to try to find them all and it is one of those hidden gems many guests simply overlook.

Hint: if you give up and cannot find them all, Guest Services can provide you with a list of them all to help!

3. Virtual reality games

 

Royal Caribbean's smart phone app is free to use onboard the ship, and features a few virtual reality games that you can play in the Boardwalk neighborhood.

Once in the Boardwalk, look for the various game posters near Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.  Launch the app, select the icon that looks like a circus tent and then point your camera towards the poster.

There are a variety of games you can play, and no cost to use it.

2. Teach yourself to play the steel drum

At the Lime & Coconut bars, look for mini-steel drums that you can play and learn a song or two.

The steel drums have their notes labeled, along with sheet music to learn to play some classic bar songs.

1. Secret USB charging spots

When on a Royal Caribbean ship, it seems phone batteries run out even quicker with all the photo opportunities, app options and whatnot.  If you remember to bring a charging cable with you, there are a few spots you can charge up!

These include:

  • Below the bar seating at Lime & Coconut
  • Select napkin dispensers at Portside BBQ
  • USB charging port behind your stateroom television
  • Phone charging station on pool deck near aft elevator bank on starboard side.

Did we miss any Oasis of the Seas secrets? Share them in our comments!

20 things you should know before a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
18Nov2019

If you have your first Royal Caribbean cruise coming up soon, I wanted to share some helpful things you should be aware of before you get onboard.

1. Have the proper travel documents

The exact travel documentation required depends on what citizenship you hold, as well as where your cruise is sailing from and to.  It is critical to understand the proper documentation needed for a cruise, as no refunds are provided for guests who fail to bring proper documentation.  

The simplest approach for having the proper documentation for a cruise is to invest in a passport. A government-issued passport for all friends and family you are sailing with is the ideal scenario for going on a cruise. 

Yes, you can cruise with other documentation, such as a birth certificate, passport card or other documents, but in my opinion, these documents are less reliable than a passport.

2. Decide on a drink package

Royal Caribbean offers guests drink packages to enjoy unlimited beverages while on their cruise.  The decision to get a drink package is totally dependent on your drinking habits, and a drink package has the potential to save money, provided they drink enough every day of the cruise.

What you want to do is decide if a Royal Caribbean drink package is worth it, prior to getting onboard the ship.  The price of a drink package before the cruise will always be cheaper than compared to buying it onboard.

Here is what drinks are included with a cruise:

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

Any other beverages will cost you extra, including: 

  • soda
  • beer
  • wine
  • liquor
  • cocktails
  • premium coffee and tea, such as Starbucks
  • bottled water (still or sparkling)
  • fresh squeezed juice

These beverages can be purchased individually or included as part of a beverage package. 

3. How you will get to the cruise

You will need to arrange transportation to get you and your family from your home to the cruise ship terminal, and that can involve taxis, buses, airplanes or more. 

Some options will be more economical than others, but here are a couple of tips you should be aware of to help get you there:

  • If you need to get from the airport to the cruise terminal, a Lyft or Uber ride is usually the simplest, and most economical option.
  • If you are flying to your cruise embarkation port, be sure to fly in at least one day early to avoid travel delays impacting your ability to make the cruise.
  • Royal Caribbean does offer transfers between the airport and the cruise terminal, but they come with an additional cost.

4. Print out your luggage tags

Prior to leaving for your cruise, you should print out luggage tags to affix to your checked luggage so that it can be delivered to your stateroom.

After you complete online check-in for the cruise, you will find printable luggage tags. There is a luggage tag that is specific to the guest, ship, sailing date, stateroom and deck number.

Once you print out copies of the luggage tags, you simply fold the tags, loop them around the handle of the bag and staple the ends together.

Some guests opt for luggage tag holders, which can be purchased online and provide additional protection of the tag from being accidently ripped off. I recommend these luggage tag holders (disclosure: I make a small commission for someone that buys tags via this link).

5. Research shore excursions

Shore excursions are a major part of any Royal Caribbean cruise because a large part of your overall vacation is exploring the ports of call you will visit.  You have just a few hours at each stop, but it should be enough to get a taste of the city you are visiting.

Before you even look at one shore excursion, you should research the most popular activities in each port. 

When looking at shore excursion options, you can book tours through Royal Caribbean or on your own. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so I advise to consult both.

The key is to determine which tours you want to book, and reserve it in advance. In some cases booking in advance will save you money, and everyone can benefit from having the luxury of time to consider all options.

6. You can bring wine on your cruise

One of the best ways to save money on a cruise is to bring your own wine onboard.

Guests wishing to bring personal wine and champagne onboard may do so only on boarding day, limited to two (2) 750 ml bottles per stateroom. No beer or hard liquor may be brought onboard for consumption.

7. Pre-purchase WiFi access

Royal Caribbean's cruise ship WiFi will allow you to stay connected and surf the web, check email, and post to social media.

If you want to buy an internet package, your best bet is to pre-purchase it via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site to take advantage of some big discounts.

It is not uncommon to find discounts of up to 60% off the onboard prices for a Voom internet package. Regardless of the discount offered, pre-purchasing internet will save you money compared to buying it onboard.

8. The Key

You may notice an optional pre-cruise purchase that provides VIP access to select offerings onboard, known as The Key, and wonder what it is and if it is worth it.

The Key provides priority embarkation and disembarkation, a special boarding day lunch, internet access, access to signature activities and more.

There are some nice to have perks that come with The Key, but you should look at it like upgrading your airplane ticket to first class, or booking a suite.  A great way to splurge, but not necessarily required.

Generally speaking, The Key can make sense to purchase if you....

  • Are not staying in a suite
  • Are below Diamond in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society
  • Were already planning to purchase internet package for everyone in your group

9. Read the Cruise Compass every day

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver to your stateroom the Cruise Compass, which is a daily guide to the news, events and activities that will be occurring on your ship the next day.

Royal Caribbean packs a lot of things to do into each day and you are best served by reading it each evening to be aware of what is happening onboard. 

The Cruise Compass is more than just knowing what time bingo is at.  It offers you insight into the next day's weather, which bars will have drink specials, shore excursion information and much more.

Most importantly, there is a chronological listing of events from the early morning to the late evening. Each event has a time, event name, location and possibly brief description listed.  There will also be an indication if this event costs extra.

Some events are not repeated while other activities can change daily, so it is in your best interest to track what is happening so you do not miss any of it.

10. Arrive to your embarkation city at least one day early

If you are flying to the embarkation port your cruise departs from, you should absolutely fly in at least one day in advance to avoid a travel delay causing you to miss your cruise.

Having an extra day or two provides a buffer to account for travel delays.  You really do not want to be that person in the airport losing their mind because the latest delay means the entire vacation is in jeopardy.

As an added bonus, by arriving to your embarkation port at least a day early, that means you get to start your vacation sooner!  And in many cases, the port you are departing from has its own cultural and historical attractions that you can explore.

11. Daily gratuities

Cruise gratuities are a daily fee that is automatically paid to reward the hard work of the crew members that take care of you.

On Royal Caribbean, gratuities apply to all passengers. Royal Caribbean charges $14.50 per person, per day for most guests. This rate applies to interior cabins, ocean view, balcony and junior suites. The cruise lines charges $17.50 per person, per day for guests in grand suites and above.

You can also opt to go to Guest Services to have the gratuities adjusted. Guests have until the morning of their departure to make changes to the gratuities they pay.

12. You can arrive to the cruise terminal earlier than you think

Royal Caribbean may send you an email about boarding times, but those are mostly suggestions and not enforced at all. If you followed our previous advice about arriving to your port city early, then likely your hotel will have a check-out time in the early part of the morning, which is the perfect excuse to head to the cruise port.

If you are wondering what time constitutes, "early", we are talking about sometime between 10am and 11:30am. The earlier you arrive on embarkation day, the earlier you will board the ship. And the price you paid for the cruise is the same whether you get onboard at 11am or 2pm, so may as well get the most time possible.

13. Seasick

If there is one thing many first time cruisers ask a lot of questions about it, it is about getting sea sick.

Let us be clear, going on a Royal Caribbean cruise is nothing like going out on your buddy's fishing boat.  Royal Caribbean ships are massive vessels, equipped with precise GPS and stablizing technology. Moreover, the Captain will regularly plot courses that take optimal routes for guest comfort.

There are certain steps you can take to mitigate the risk of getting sea sick, such as over the counter medications and homeopathic treatments. 

The bottom line is while one could get sea sick on a cruise, it is a very low risk.  In fact, if you ask veteran cruisers, they will likely tell you their concern over getting sea sick is ranked somewhere around the feature film selection shown onboard.

14. Eating onboard

There is so much food available throughout the day and night on a Royal Caribbean cruise that being concerned with there not being enough to eat is one less thing to worry about.

On a Royal Caribbean ship, guests will find a lot of food included in their cruise fare, along with specialty dining options that augment the standard fare.

Complimentary food is available for all meals, and time inbetween. Simply put, there is plenty of great food included in the cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise. One can easily go an entire food and enjoy nothing but food that has no additional cost from morning to night. After all, that is what the concept of a cruise has been for a long time.

In addition to all the food that is included in your cruise fare are specialty dining options, that carry with it an extra cost to enjoy the food there. The exact amount extra will vary from restaurant to restaurant, and ship to ship.

In most cases, the specialty dining options offer a greater variety of food choices than what is available at complimentary dining locations. Royal Caribbean has designed its specialty restaurants around themes or cuisines (Italian, steakhouse, sushi, etc).

15. Travel insurance

Travel insurance is not necessarily a must for everyone, but it is something you should consider. Depending on your risk tolerance, it may be a good investment.

A variety of offerings are available from Royal Caribbean, your travel agent, and a number of companies.

Trip insurance can protect you against a multitude of emergencies, unforeseen events and accidents.  It is one of those things that you are glad you have it, if you need it.  

It is important to not just look at price but consider what is actually covered by the plan.  A common misconception surrounds hurricanes.  Many people think trip insurance will cover them if there is a hurricane in the general vicinity of their cruise and they can cancel with a full refund.  The reality is most plans only cover hurricanes if the cruise is canceled or otherwise directly impacted by the storm.  A guest's desire to cancel because they fear a storm is not usually grounds for the insurance to kick in, so it is important to understand what the plan does and does not cover and what circumstances allow for the insurance to kick in.

Be sure to check if any of your credit cards include complimentary trip insurance as part of the card benefits.

16. Prepare a carry-on bag for the first day

You should plan to have a small carry-on bag with you for the first day of your cruise to bring a few items that will be useful in the couple of hours that you are onboard before your luggage is delivered.

It might be a good idea to pack these items:

  • Medications
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunscreen
  • Travel documents

As a bonus, use this same bag later in the cruise when you go on shore excursions to carry some of these items, as well as beach towels.

17. What to pack

I could write pages and pages on what to pack for a cruise, but the short answer is you will need to pack for time spent at pool, on shore and in the evening for dinner.

Where your cruise sails to will determine what exactly you need to pack, so it may be a good idea to research the weather in the ports you will be visiting, as well as figuring out if there will be any formal nights or themed nights on your sailing (more on formal nights and themed nights later).

This is also a good opportunity to check your luggage is good to go (i.e. no holes or rips).

In addition, you should start thinking about what clothing and outfits you want to bring with you.  This may trigger a memory that you wanted to replace a suit or shirt or get new shoes.

18. Don't be afraid to say something if there is a problem

One very common mistake among first time cruisers is not pointing out and taking care of a problem if something is not to your liking.

The crew wants you to have a fantastic cruise, so if there is something missing, broken, or could be improved, do not hesitate to speak to a crew member about how it can be made better.

The key is to politely point out the issue, and ask how to improve the situation. Do not let the issue fester, or otherwise disrupt your vacation.

19. Know what you cannot bring

You should definitely be aware of the kind of items you are prohibited from bringing on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  Some are pretty obvious (no baseball bats), while others are surprising (no surge protectors or clothing irons).

Refer to Royal Caribbean's list of prohibited item list, as their list changes from time to time.

20. How to stay in contact onboard

Once you are onboard the ship, there are a few ways to remain in contact with everyone in your group.

  • Utilizing Royal Caribbean's in-room phones and phones in common areas is a simple way to communicate with guests onboard your ship and onshore.
  • Royal Caribbean is working on a chat feature with its smart phone app, although it is still in development.  Currently, it is available on two ships: Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
  • Walkie Talkies are an option, but I do not recommend them.  Interference from the ship's electronics and metal structure cause issues with reception. Moreover, they are annoying to other guests.
  • A tried and true method is to leave notes on the stateroom door.  Go to a dollar store and purchase a dry erase board to post on the door and leave notes on the door.

10 tips for saving money on booking a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
12Nov2019

Anyone booking a Royal Caribbean cruise is going to want to know how to save some money. The price of a cruise will vary depending on a lot of factors, but there is always an opportunity to keep more cash in your pcket.

Cruise fares vary considerably, and insiders know there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep the cost of your next Royal Caribbean cruise low and save some of your money for other things (like spending it onboard your cruise).

1. Book Early

Booking early is one of the best strategies to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  As more and more people book a cruise, inventory drops and prices go up.  

Generally speaking, booking early is the safest and most reliable way to save on the price of your cruise. Booking more than a year in advance will garner you the lowest rates for quite some time and get you on the cruise you specifically want.  Heck, it's likely to even get you the best prices on even the most sought after staterooms.

Booking early also affords you the ability to track prices after you book because you can always apply any cheaper rates to your cruise up until final payment. 

2. Book at the last minute

This tip is clearly the opposite of our first tip but when all else fails, Royal Caribbean sometimes offers good prices on a cruise in the last couple of months leading up to the cruise. Some cruise fares drop to really absurd prices that make living at home more expensive. 

If you have the means to get to the port in short notice without incurring high travel costs, last minute cruises can be a great choice.  The problem with last minute sailings is you will have limited selection of itineraries and/or stateroom options.

Last minute cruises are usually past the final payment date, so booking the cruise will require full payment up front but the deals that are out there can be substatial if you can time it right.

3. Research your discounts

Royal Caribbean offers numerous discounts to different groups of people and demographis, so it is worth researching if any apply to you.

Regional and military discounts are offered from time to time to the general public while past Royal Caribbean cruises can get discounts based on their level of membership in the Crown and Anchor Society.

Crown and Anchor Society offers Savings Certificates that are available by logging into the Royal Caribbean site and seeing which certificates are currently available.  Select sailings will receive anywhere from $25 to hundreds of dollars off their cruise, which is usually stackable with other discounts.

4. Consider different room(s)

Sometimes booking two staterooms instead of one can actually save you money.  Larger families or those seeking more space may find two inside cabins cheaper than a larger room/suite.  This is especially true on older Royal Caribbean ships, where large balconies and suites are in less abundance.

Likewise, family staterooms and some suites may become available to the general public if unbooked and can offer lots of space for less cost.  It's important to consider all cabin categories before deciding which is the best choice.

5. Consider your time of year

Supply and demand dominates Royal Caribbean pricing strategy, which means cruises during Christmas, Spring Break and the Summer can much more expensive than other times of the year.

If you have the flexibility to go when kids are still in school, you can save lots of money.  Likewise, cruising during hurricane season can net you savings along with immediately after or before major holidays when most people do not have vacation time.

The difference in price between one week and the next can be tremendous, so if you can swing it, consider alternative weeks as a way to reduce the cruise fare.  Combining this tip with our first tip of booking early can save you even more.

6. Older ships are a great value

Royal Caribbean loves to advertise their newest cruise ships but the older class of ships are still great options for a cruise vacation and are prices much less on average.

Royal Caribbean has been working on refurbishing every one of its older cruise ships with amenities found first on the Oasis-class and Vision and Radiance class ships now offer modern upgrades and options that have breathed new life into these ships.

Even with the upgrades, older Royal Caribbean ships will have more competitive prices and are often located in smaller cruise markets that may mean a shorter trip to the port for you.  

And did we mention the older ships are still a lot of fun?  Radiance class ships are beautiful with their glass protected views of the ocean and Vision class ships pack a lot of fun into each vessel. 

7. Look for booking incentives

These days the fare you pay for your Royal Caribbean cruise may not change all that much but what you get for booking can make the difference between an average priced cruise and a cheap cruise.

Booking incentives like onboard credit, free gratuities and complimentary unlimited drink packages can save you hundreds of dollars and it's important to see what offers are out there.  

Travel agents are often the best people to assist in finding these booking incentive deals.  

These days, most cruises can offer you at least some sort of booking incentive and every dollar saved counts!

8. Use your credit card rewards

Credit card rewards programs have never been more competitive and if you use credit cards to pay for every day purchases, you can rack up savings for your next Royal Caribbean cruise quickly. 

Royal Caribbean has partnered with Bank of America to offer a credit card that allows everyone to earn points towards onboard credits and even a free cruise.

Other credit cards also offer cash rewards that can be used towards your Royal Caribbean cruise.  By saving your points, you can cash out your reward points close to your cruise date to help reduce the cost of your cruise fare or help pay for things on your cruise.

9. Book your next Royal Caribbean cruise onboard

Royal Caribbean will reward new bookings made onboard its ships with bonus incentives.

Depending on how far in advance you book, the length of the sailing, stateroom type and fare type, you can get hundreds of dollars in bonus onboard credit. While the cruise fare price is the same onboard as back at home, the difference is Royal Caribbean will give you extra money to spend onboard.

10. Use a travel agent

Travel agents have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in the world of Royal Caribbean offers.  They get word of new offers first and because it's their job to book cruises all day long, they know the system in an out.

I have used a travel agent to book every one of my Royal Caribbean cruises and I can't tell you how much time they have saved me, as well as money.  A good Royal Caribbean travel agent can be your partner in the planning process as well as saving you money.

I will admit not all travel agents are the same, and some are definitely better than others, so it is important to ask questions of them.  The good ones will be able to find the best deals for you and track any new deals that come out that can lower your cruise fare.

Our sponsor travel agency, and one I recommend, is MEI Travel.

17 Royal Caribbean tips repeat cruisers always use

In:
06Nov2019

Like many other cruisers, I love to share, read, and learn tricks of cruising. Large or small, every tip and cruise hack you can learn helps make your next Royal Caribbean cruise a bit easier.

With that in mind, I am sharing the one tip or trick that the repeat cruises that frequent our message boards use/love the most.

1. Arrive to the embarkation port early

The day your cruise is scheduled to begin, arrive to the cruise terminal in the morning to maximize your time onboard on the first day.

It seems most people arrive to the cruise terminal after lunch, but you can begin checking into your cruise usually around 10am, with boarding process usually beginning around 11am. Arriving early to the cruise terminal means you get onboard sooner and more time on the ship.

2. Bring a USB port outlet for more charging space.

Between phones, tablets and every device you may have, there is always a need to charge something and power outlets are limited on a cruise ship.

Surge protectors and power strips tend to be confiscated for being a fire hazard, but a good USB outlet is perfectly safe to bring along.

I recommend a USB outlet similar to this one. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

3. Bring bathing suits on embarkation day

One of the best times to enjoy the pools and water slides on a Royal Caribbean cruise is embarkation day. Most guests do not have their bathing suits with them, and that means very little competition for the aquatic fun onboard.

You can opt to either wear your bathing suits onboard, or keep it in your carry-on luggage and change in a restroom.

4. Once onboard put your phone in airplane mode

To avoid crazy roaming fees, once you get onboard the ship, the best thing you can do is place your phone into airplane mode.

By doing so, you will still be able to use the ship's WiFi, but avoid your carrier charging you exorbitant fees for roaming on another network, either at sea or in one of the countries you visit.

5. Bring a pen and a highlighter with you

You never know when you want to write a thank you note to a crew member, or highlight an activity that you do not want to miss in the Cruise Compass.

6. Study the Compass before the day starts.  

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver the next day's Cruise Compass to your room.

Your best bet to avoid missing out on an activity you really want to do is read it before you get going during the day.

7. Buy magnetic hooks

Something you may not realize about your cabin is how little opportunity there is to hang stuff.  By investing in a pack of strong magnetic hooks, you can place them around the room to hang your hats, swimsuits or whatever else needs to be hung.

Your stateroom walls are made out of metal, which means you can simply stick a magnet onto a wall or ceiling.

Here are some magnetic hooks you can order. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

8. Speak up if there is a problem

If something is not as expected or disappointing, do not just accept it and let it ruin your cruise vacation. Instead, speak up while onboard and nicely inform crew members of the issue, and ask how it can be resolved.

The crew members want to make your cruise exceptional, and will do what they can to make it right. The bottom line is do not hesitate to speak up if there is an issue.

9. Book anything you can in advance via the Cruise Planner

This sounds so simple, but booking activities, dining and more in advance via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site will make your cruise vacation easier.  On Oasis or Quantum Class ships, you can even pre-book entertainment to reserve admission into the event.

Keep in mind that you can always change your mind later, but having something locked in is better than nothing.  

10. Look for deals even if there is no sale

Royal Caribbean will run sales periodically, but do not limit yourself to just those sales to find deals.  Check the Cruise Planner site regularly, even if there is no sale.  You never know what you may find!

11. Use a trusted travel agent

One of my favorite bits of advice is to use a good travel agent to book and manage your cruise.  A good travel agent is more than somebody to take your credit card details and reserve a cabin.  Travel agents are your advocate throughout the cruise process, and are invaluable if an issue should arise at any point.  More to the point, travel agents will absolutely save you time, and have the potential to save you money along the way.

Since a good travel agent should cost you nothing extra to use (the cruise line pays them a commission), you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by using one.

12. Figure out what kind of a traveler you are

A really good bit of advice is to figure out what you like to do, and craft the cruise around that.  

Are you an active, out and about person, or a room dweller? Are you in it for the ports, or are you in it for the ship? Are you a foodie, or are you fine with just the main dining room and Windjammer?

Knowing what you like (and do not like) impacts everything from your room selection, to your excursions, to your daily planning.  By figuring out your preferences, you can pick out a better cruise that matches what you want.

13. Do not wait for the elevator

The elevator is great, but using the stairs can be a lot faster, plus it can help burn off some of those vacation calories.

If you are going up or down just a few decks, opting for the stairs will likely get you there quicker.  This is especially true when shows or events let out and many other guests descend upon the elevators.

14. Bring Downy Wrinkle Release 

Did you know that there are no self-serve laundry options nor any clothing irons on Royal Caribbean cruise ships?  The only option if you want your clothes pressed or cleaned is to send them out for dry cleaning.

If you are concerned about your clothes being wrinkle-free after you unpack onboard, invest in a good wrinkle release spray  (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you).

You simply spray any clothing to remove any unwanted creases or wrinkles.  Plus, it has the added bonus of making your clothing smell good again, which can be an issue if your luggage that you store in your basement/attic has an odd odor to it.

15. Avoid getting seasick with an easy remedy

While you can take over-the-counter medication to combat nausea caused by motion in the ocean, mild seasickness can be remedied with a green apple. Seriously.

Green apples are a natural remedy that crew and guests use, along with crackers, to help ease an uneasy stomach. 

You will find green apples in the Windjammer, so it might be a good idea to take a couple to keep your stateroom.

16. Look for Kids Sail Free deals

Families looking to book a Royal Caribbean cruise should keep an eye out for Royal Caribbean's kids sail free deals.

Royal Caribbean offers promotions where kids under the age of 13 staying in the same room as two adults can qualify for free cruise fare.  There are a lot of blackout dates, but if you can make it work with your schedule, the kids sail free deal is among the most lucrative promotions offered.

There is usually a kids sail free promotion every few months.

17. Talk to the crew members

Beyond letting the crew take your drink orders, or asking where the nearest restroom is, be sure to strike up conversations with crew members you encounter.

Your cabin attendant is usually one for a quick chat. You might learn a thing or two, and it can really make someone's day.

Video: Top things the pros wish they knew before taking a cruise!

In:
17Oct2019

At one point, everyone who has taken a cruise was a first time cruiser, and we all have a few tips and tricks we knew before we stepped foot onboard.

In our brand new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video, our readers share one thing they wish they knew before taking their first cruise.

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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What do YOU wish you knew before you cruised?

Video: How to get free drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
13Aug2019

Did you know Royal Caribbean regularly gives out free alcoholic beverages on their cruise? We have the top seven ways to score a free drink in our brand new video!

We are all trying to save a little bit of money and keep that bar bill down, so this week Matt shares seven tried-and-true methods of getting an alcoholic beverage on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Did you love this video? We have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

Have you subscribed to our YouTube Channel yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is your favorite way to get a free drink on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Video: Royal Caribbean food secrets — Discounts, tips and more!

In:
25Jul2019

We love a little intrigue as much as the next person, but nothing beats finding out about a secret, right? Today, we are talking about dining on Royal Caribbean in our latest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video.

For instance, did you know you on Oasis Class ships you can enjoy breakfast at Johnny Rockets without any additional cost?

We also have ways to avoid lines at the Windjammer buffet stations, getting a discount on a specialty restaurant, where your drink packages work and a lot more.  Check out this video for our tips and tricks!

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 video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What are your favorite Royal Caribbean dining secrets? Share them with us in the comments below!

Top 10 Perfect Day at CocoCay secrets and tricks

In:
23May2019

Royal Caribbean's private island in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, has caught a lot of cruisers' attention with all of the great activities and things to do.

If you are planning your own visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay, then here are our top ten tips and tricks for visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay.

1. Your drink package works at Perfect Day at CocoCay

If you purchase a Royal Caribbean drink package for your cruise, you can use the drink package benefits while at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

This means if you have the Deluxe Beverage Package, you can enjoy unlimited alcoholic beverages, along with bottled water, sodas and more. Likewise, the Royal Refreshment and Soda Package benefits extend to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Just like on the ship, souvenir cups or drinks served in pineapples/coconuts are not included with your drink package benefits.  If you have the Deluxe Beverage Package, you can get a discount on the souvenir cup.  Or you can ask for the drink in a regular cup to pay no additional charge.

2. Your Voom package works at Perfect Day at CocoCay

If you have a Voom internet package, you will have internet connectivity at Perfect Day at CocoCay.  

WiFi coverage extends across the island, which means you can stay connected and share photos or videos with friends back home.  Heck, you can even post updates on our message boards!

3. Best times for shortest water slide lines

Thrill Waterpark is home to Perfect Day at CocoCay's incredible water slides, and as you might imagine, a lot of cruisers are going to want to try them all.  While lines for the slides are usually quite manageable, here are the best times to try the slides to have a minimal wait:

  • Before 11am
  • After 3pm

4. Secret menu item at Snack Shack

Snack Shack serves up some great food, but they also have a menu item that is not listed on the printed menu. If you ask nicely, you can get a chicken parmigiana sandwich that is essentially a cross between the crispy chicken sandwich, mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce.

5. Buy Thrill waterpark admission before the cruise to save money

If you want to go to Thrill Waterpark, you will absolutely spend less money if you pre-purchase it before your cruise.

Royal Caribbean sells its waterpark passes via the Cruise Planner site and regularly puts the tickets on sale.  If you want to save money (that is everyone), buy your tickets before you board the ship.

6. There is lots to do that costs nothing extra

There is a lot of attention for the activities on Perfect Day at CocoCay that costs extra, but there is a lot of fun things to do that costs absolutely nothing extra.

First and foremost, you can walk around Perfect Day at CocoCay without paying extra.  Just like any port of call, you can walk off the ship and explore on your own.

Here is a list of things that is included with your cruise fare when you visit Perfect Day at CocoCay:

  • Splashaway Bay
  • Captain Jill's Galleon
  • Skipper's Grill
  • Chill Grill
  • Snack Shack
  • Oasis Lagoon pool (Beach  chairs, umbrellas and towels)
  • Chill Island (Beach  chairs, umbrellas and towels)
  • South Beach (Beach  chairs, umbrellas and towels)
  • Sports Courts
  • Fitness Classes
  • Freshwater showers
  • Tram service
  • Beach access wheelchairs

7. Free tram service around the island

Keep an eye out for the complimentary trams that are found around Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Beginning when you walk down the pier, you will find tram service to take you down the pier to save some steps (you will have plenty at Thrill Waterpark).

Once on the island, there is complimentary tram service that can take you all corners of Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

As a bonus, many of the trams are solar powered!

8. If you want a quiet spot, go to Chill Island

If your idea of a fun day is quiet time getting away from it all, head to Chill Island.  Chill Island is accessible via the green pathway that is towards the left side when you walk onto Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Once at Chill Island, keep to the left side of the area for pristine ocean views that has no music or the sounds of people at the pool or water park.  Instead, you will find only the sound of the ocean waves.

9. DIY Ice cream sandwiches

You will find self-serve soft serve ice cream machines at Perfect Day, along with chocolate chip cookies.  See where I am going with this?

Grab two cookies, dispense ice cream between the two and combine for an awesome dessert.

10. Keep an eye out for chickens, iguanas and birds

This is a fun tidbit, but Perfect Day at CocoCay is home to more than just beautiful views.  If you walk enough of the island, it is not uncommon to see wild chickens roaming the grounds, along with iguanas that sometimes get close to the dining areas to see if any scraps of food rolled away.

Seagulls can also be found flying around, so be sure to keep an eye on your food.

Regardless of the animal, please do not feed any of them.

Did we miss any Perfect Day at CocoCay secrets? Share them in our comments!

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