Secrets, Tips and Tricks

Secret behind the graffiti on Oasis of the Seas' Royal Promenade

In:
05Feb2015

If you take a cruise on Oasis of the Seas, you may notice among the many pieces of art around the ship a "crew" cleaning up some graffiti that has the word "Genesis" written on the wall.  Royal Caribbean fans may recognize this piece of art as a rather large in joke to appreciate.

You'll find this display on the Royal Promenade and the word Genesis was the original project name of the Oasis-class before the Oasis name was selected.  It's common in the cruise industry to begin working on a new class of ships under a project name and then announce a formal name later on.

In the case of the Oasis-class, it was known as Project Genesis.

The art we see here is Royal Caribbean crew members covering up the word Genesis as if it were written down before the ship was built but since has to be erased since we all know the ship class is called Oasis.  It's a clever nod to the ship's history in plain sight.

Secrets to a better Quantum of the Seas cruise experience

In:
23Jan2015

Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, has a lot to see and do but as Royal Caribbean fans know there's always tips and tricks to getting the most out of your cruise.

We present here a list of our best Quantum of the Seas secrets to help you have a better time.  Enjoy!

Best uncrowded spot for breakfast: Cafe @ Two70

If the Windjammer or American Icon Grill is just too crowded for your taste, a lesser known breakfast spot to check out is the Cafe @ Two70.  It rarely fills up like the other places and offers some tasty options too!

Least crowds for North Star: port days

North Star is always in demand so lines seem to be long all the time but if you want to check it out without the long line, try to go on North Star on port days.  

In addition to there being less people onboard to compete with on port days, when Quantum of the Seas is in port, North Star has more limited movement and can only go up and down and not over the side of the ship like it does on sea days.  Because of this, the North Star rides are shorter and thus, the lines will move faster.

Best spot for sailaway: bridge wings

Leaving Cape Liberty will result in a crowded pool deck because of the amazing views of New York City and the surrounding area.  If you want a less crowded spot, check out the bridge wings, which are accessible from the Solarium on either side at the very front.

Best spot for sailaway for suite guests: Suite sun deck

If you're lucky enough to be in a suite, there's a special sun deck that is accessible from the pool deck just for suite guests.  It's usually empty and offers great views of the Verazanno Bridge and New York City.

Best day for bumper cars: embarkation day

Just like the pools and hot tub, the bumper cars have the shortest line on embarkation day.  Head there on your first day onboard to be able to smash into your fellow guests without a long line.

Book RipCord online in advance

As you might imagine, lots of passengers want to check out RipCord by iFly because it's the kind of experience lots want to try.  Royal Caribbean allows you to book in advance complimentary sessions so you don't have to worry about long lines.

Try to make reservations early in your cruise, so you can get in before others who have not signed up to reserve times.

Speaking of iFly, you cannot bring a camera into iFly, so if you don't want to spend money on buying photos, make sure someone in your party not scheduled to fly at the same time is available to take pictures.

You need your SeaPass card in port (even with a WOWband)

Royal Caribbean's new RFID bracelets, WOWbands, are pretty nifty but when your ship is in port, you will need to bring your SeaPass card too to use as proof of being a current cruise guests to return to the ship.

Catch the RoboShows on sea days

The amazing new robotic screens in Two70 will start performing on sea days starting at 12:30pm on the hour (more shows at 1:30pm, 2:30pm, etc).  These are fun to watch, especially when the weather outside is not so great.

Discover some hidden gems onboard

It's easy to overlook these rooms, but the Library (rear of Two70) and The Workshop (an arts and crafts room) on deck 6 are two nifty little locations.

Easiest place to get a drink: Michael's Genuine Pub

If you just want a quick drink without any crowds, try Michael's Genuine Pub in the Royal Esplanade for a quiet spot with quick service.

Best spot for deck chairs: Near the FlowRider

Getting a deck chair on sea days when the sun is shining is never an easy task, especially at the height of the day.  A good spot to snag a deck chair are on the back of the ship, port side.  You will find it's a good spot to grab a chair and catch some rays, even late in the day.

Use the Coca-Cola FreeStyle Machines

If you get any soda package, you can use the Coca-Cola FreeStyle machines.  There are three of them: Sorentos (deck 4), Windjammer (Deck 14), and SeaPlex (Deck 15).

Best time for Bionic Bar: Later afternoon on sea days

We think the Bionic Bar is a bit of a gimmick but there's no denying it is a really cool concept.  If you want to be able to "belly up to the (bionic) bar", try for late afternoon on sea days.  There will be less people around before the bar starts to get crowded again at night.

Royal Caribbean Secrets: Unique Royal Caribbean staterooms

In:
19Jan2015

Royal Caribbean ships are amazing floating hotels that offer so much but each class of ships offers something a little different. Usually this means something different in terms of entertainment, activities or dining.  But there are some rather unique stateroom options in the fleet that you may not be aware of that would make for a great pick.

Kudos to blog reader and podcast listener Keith Davis for coming up with the idea for this blog post!

Vision Class

If you're looking for a little extra balcony for the money, try the deck 7 aft staterooms in the D2 category.  These staterooms cost the same as other D2 balconies but you get a significantly larger balcony.

Radiance Class

Just like the Vision class, the Radiance class ships have balcony cabins on the ship's "hump" that give more than double the normal balcony size.  The "hump" is the section of the ship that if you are looking at the deck plans, appear to pop out and create a hump, relative to the rest of the ship.  

Ranging in category from D1 through E2, these are among the largest balconies you can get and gives you an incredible amount of space for the money.

Our large "hump" balcony on #jeweloftheseas

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

Voyager/Freedom class

The deck 7 corner aft on the Freedom-class and the deck 10 corner aft on the Voyager-class.  The aft staterooms have a lot of subtleties in both of these classes. 

There are different shaped balconies because of the ship’s superstructure, the large flat deck behind the balconies on deck 6, the crew deck below on 5.  This is one spot where doing your research and understanding what you are getting will save you some possible disappointment.

On the non-balcony front, there is the Ben & Jerry’s sweet on the Freedom-class ships, which have an unique bovine themed room that costs the same as a Promenade View stateroom but comes with suite amenities. You can read more about this stateroom here

On the Voyager class, the balconies have differences depending on which ship you are on.  If you're interested in opening up balcony dividers on Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas, the balconies are attached to the ships' hull and cannot be removed.  But on sister ships Navigator of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas, their balcony dividers aren't attached and can be removed.

Oasis Class

There aren't a lot of hidden gems in the Oasis-class.  There are of course the D1 cabins, which have a bigger balcony, plus a couple of stray cabins located at the front or back of the two “humps” (not really humps, just to areas of extended balconies).  

There are, however, a number of staterooms on Oasis-class ships that do not give you much extra in space but do offer an interesting view.  Let's start with the Boardwalk balcony staterooms that allow a great vantage point of anyone coming down the zip-line that fellow guests can ride across the neighborhood.

In addition, you will find the only interior-facing balcony staterooms in the Boardwalk and Central Park staterooms.

If you've got money to burn, try the AquaTheater Suites that feature 600 to 800-square foot balconies with unbeatable views of the AquaTheater below.

Royal Caribbean Secrets: opening the balcony dividers

In:
30Dec2014

On Royal Caribbean ships, between each balcony is a divider that grants privacy for each guest, but if you're sailing with a group and have balcony staterooms adjacent to each other, it is sometimes possible to remove the dividers and open up a much larger balcony.

The secret to removing the dividers and opening up your balcony is pretty simple: you just need to ask.  Talk to your stateroom attendant and ask if you can have the balcony dividers opened up because you are friends with the balcony stateroom(s) next to you.

To be honest, the request can sometimes be approved and sometimes denied.  It seems the possibility to due so depends on the ship class and ship management policies.  

In addition, you may be told you have to wait for your ship to leave its homeport before they can take care of your request.  Many cruisers we've talked to about this reported that it was taken care of within a few hours of sailaway.

In general, we've heard on Voyager class ships the practice of opening up balcony dividers is prohibited (many of the ships' balcony dividers are attached to the hull so it's physically impossible) but all other classes of ships seem to allow it. Freedom-class ships seem to be the most consistant in allowing the balcony dividers to be opened. Ultimately, the decision lays with the ship's captain.

In short, you simply need to ask your stateroom attendant and if permitted, you can enjoy a much larger balcony experience as well as have a larger common space to spend time with your friends or family staying near you.

7 ways to get a discount on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
26Dec2014

You're ready to book a Royal Caribbean cruise and like anything you buy, you'll likely be looking for ways to shave off some money on the price of your cruise.  Royal Caribbean does offer some discounts that can help you save money on your cruise vacation if you qualify.

To get any of these discounts, it's important to mention the discounts you are eligible for to your travel agent or Royal Caribbean directly. 

Often many passengers are unaware these discounts exist, so do your research to make sure you qualify for any of them and then inquire when you are ready to book a cruise.

7. Military

If you are an active or retired member of the United States or Canadian military, there are special rates just for you.

You must be actively serving or retired from...

  • the Canadian National Defense
  • United States Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserves

All guests traveling in the same stateroom are eligible to receive the military rate. No additional staterooms, other than the one that is occupied by the military person is eligible for the military rate. Spouses, parents, in-laws, children or other family members or friends are not eligible for the military rate without the eligible military person occupying the stateroom.

6. Crown and Anchor Society members

Royal Caribean regularly offers reduced cruise fare rates and discounts to its loyalty program, Crown and Anchor Society.  

These special rates are often  available for select cruises.  You can easily check for the special rates by logging into Royal Caribbean's website and going to the Crown and Anchor area to see which cruises are available.

Royal Caribbean also offers discounts to Crown and Anchor Platinum and above members on balcony and suite staterooms.

Single supplement cruise fare is reduced to 150% from 200% for members that have 340 or more cruise points

5. Royal Caribbean Shareholder

Any shareholder holding a minimum of 100 RCL shares at time of sailing can qualify for a discount.

The discounts break down as follows

  • $250 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 14 or more nights.
  • $200 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 10 to 13 nights.
  • $100 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 6 to 9 nights.
  • $50 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 5 nights or less.

4.  Senior Citizens

Guests who are 55 years or older can qualify for reduced rates, so you will need to contact Royal Caribbean or your travel agent to inqiure about exact rates

3. Airline Employees

If you're a member of one of these organizations, you can qualify for special rates on inside, ocean-view and balcony staterooms.

  • Airline employees
  • Federal Express
  • DHL Worldwide Express
  • Airborne Express
  • United Parcel Service (UPS)
  • Retired employees of airlines currently in operation

If you are IATA/ARC appointed, you should contact your Human Resources Department to find out the names and phone numbers of Interline Travel Agencies. 

2. Firefighters and Police Officers

If you are an active or retired employee or volunteer of  a local or state law enforcement agency, fire department or Emergency Medical Services unit in the United States or Canada, you can qualify for a discount.

Qualified guests must present valid proof of employment (badge or ID) plus a second form of identification when boarding the ship.

1. Residents of certain states

From time to time, Royal Caribbean offers discounts on cruises to residents of certain states in the United States.

Commonly, there are discounts to residents of the states of Florida, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.  We've also seen discounts available to residents of other states, most notably the south eastern United States.

Pro tips on how to ride Royal Caribbean's FlowRider (better)

In:
29Apr2014

Royal Caribbean's FlowRider is a very popular (and free) activity aboard select cruise ships but if you're anything like me, you aren't a natural born surfer. 

So we reached out to a couple of professional FlowRider veterans for tips on how to master the art of riding the artificial wave.

Our panel of FlowRider experts include

  • Nick, from All Things Flow13oarding, has been riding the FlowRider for 14 years and is a 7 time bodyboard world champion.
  • Brandon, from Heinen Motorsports, is a pro FlowRider and wakesurfer and uses the FlowRider to tran in the off season.

If you were to give someone brand new to the FlowRider one tip to, what would it be?

Nick: On the bodyboard: Hold the board on the side middle rails, keep your elbows on the board and use your legs in the water for speed and to keep the board straight. And most importantly have fun! 

On the Standup Flowboard: Keep at least a steady 80% pressure/balance on the back foot and lean on your back hip while trying to keep your shoulders balanced and pointing towards the front, Try not to twist and turn your shoulders and try to keep the board straight with your feet and hip. When you go on stay low on your back leg and try to go in a straight line with steady pressure and balance on your feet. About 80% on the back and 20% on the front. If the board starts to turn try to put more pressure on the back so that it straightens out. If you start falling get down lower and try to sit so that you fall safely. 

Brandon: I would say to new flow riders. Jst because you skateboard or snowboard or even wakeboard forget what you know and start from scratch. The flowrider is a beast of its own and there is no other sport that water is rushing at you up to 40 Mph.

What do you think the biggest mistake people new to the FlowRider make in terms of being able to stand up on the board?

Nick: Leaning forwards and jerking the board sideways and twisting your shoulders and hip. You want to try to go in a straight line and keep the pressure down on the board a steady pressure on the back.

Brandon: The trick to flowrider is keeping most of your weight on your back foot. I would say 85% of your weight. Stand up straight and don't hunch over. This keeps your weight more centered. When the board wants to turn just roll with it don't fight it. After a few falls you will be floweriding.

Honestly, how much does it hurt to wipe out on the FlowRider?

Nick: It doesn't really hurt at all! It's much like falling on a trampoline with water as padding. Bodyboarding is a much softer fall so that helps you learn how to fall a little safer.

Brandon: The first few falls might hurt a bit and the next day your neck will be sore. But its all in good fun!

Once you get the whole "standing up on the board" thing, what should people try if they want to learn a trick?

Nick: Stay low so you don't fall as hard and try to go slow; Some of the first tricks you can try are: Carving, 360, Ollie, Shuvit (Board Spin)

Staying low helps you keep your balance and more center of gravity. Recording yourself on video helps a lot and can help show you what you might be doing wrong. Watching videos on youtube helsp a lot as well!

Checkout Pro Flowboarders on our website and youtube! www.13roz.com and www.youtube.com/thirteenareowes. Everything is practice and if you try over and over you'll get it!

Any recommendations on best type of clothing to wear or not wear on the FlowRider?

Nick: The best things to wear are tight board shorts, one pieces, shirts/rash guards. 

You're not allowed to wear accessories so be sure to take off your rings, ear rings etc! You might loose them as well as your bathing suit so be sure to have them on tight! 

How to convince someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
19Mar2014

I was inspired by a fellow blogger who wrote about, "How to convince someone to visit Disney" and it got me thinking about a common question I run across of how to convince someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise.

This question is targeted at two very different groups of people: those that have cruised before (but with other cruise lines) and those that have never cruised before.

I know I've received my fair share of friends, family and blog readers who want to know why I choose to cruise on Royal Caribbean so much.  It's a fair question because when you see someone really fall in love with a brand like Royal Caribbean, some people start to wonder what the appeal is to see if perhaps they are interested too.

As fans of Royal Caribbean cruising, we're passionate people that want to share the excitement of a Royal Caribbean cruise with everyone else.  After all, cruising with friends is always best and by bringing people new to Royal Caribbean to try it too, you're hopefully helping them discover a very fun vacation.

The good news is regardless of if the person you are looking to convince (new to cruising or not), I believe it is very possible to convince someone to give Royal Caribbean a try (and have a good time too).

Hype the value

Cruising in general is a pretty good vacation value when you start comparing it to comparable land vacations.  Because food, travel (between ports) and entertainment come with the price you pay for the cruise, what you get for what you pay is often a good balance.

With Royal Caribbean, I feel their balance of cost versus product is the best in the marketplace today.  Sure there are cruise lines out there with cheaper cruise prices but I feel what you get for the money isn't satisfying.  Likewise, cruise lines that charge more than Royal Caribbean don't deliver that much more than Royal Caribbean does (for less money).

Thanks to Royal Caribbean's vast fleet of ships, there's good prices to be found year-round and around the world.  

When you're trying to convince someone why Royal Caribbean makes sense, I often start with the bottom line price of how much it will cost to get onboard and remind them of everything they get for that price.  Food, onboard activities, pools, shows, demonstrations, more food, dancing, bars and more (did I mention food?).

It's not what you think

For those new to cruising, I think many people have certain ideas or pre-conceived notions of what a cruise is like.  It's largely based on what they've seen in television or movies and most times it's just not accurate.

The people that bring up the news stories about Norovirus, people getting lost at sea and other shocking stories, I remind them people get hurt everywhere on vacation.  Sadly, it's a fact of life.  

People get sick, hurt or worse at the beach, theme parks or in major cities.  The fact is, you can't avoid these risks because it's really just a fact of life.  However, the reality is it's very unlikely it will happen to you.  Remind them that the odds are low and Norovirus strikes many more people on land then ever at sea.  Remind them people get hurt all the time, everywhere.  You just have to be careful and mindful of the risks in advance.

The other major misconception is that all you do on a cruise is sit by the pool and there's nothing really to do.  I like to pull up a cruise compass from a recent Royal Caribbean cruise and start rattling off different activities onboard.  I often find these same people are surprised by how much there is to do on a Royal Caribbean ship.

In fact, I'll mention among the things Royal Caribbean does really well is offer a lot to do, especially on the newer cruise ships.  The company has strived for years to offer more and more onboard (often for free) and it's really up to you how much you want to do (or don't want to do).

Don't overdo it

I know you really, really want them to love Royal Caribbean cruises as much as you but the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them.  You and I probably enjoy reading a site like this, checking out the latest YouTube videos of Royal Caribbean cruises and perusing Cruise Critic message boards until the server crashes but don't put that stuff in front of them.

While you may be a super Royal Caribbean fan, they are new and likely hesitant.  Let them get excited on their own when you mention the cool ports you are visiting or the new specialty restaurants you want to try with them.

It's important to let them move at their own pace and respect that they are still on the fence, even if they have tentatively committed to the idea.  Remember, one of the best aspects of a Royal Caribbean cruise is it's your choice what you want to do and how much of it you want to do.

I think it can be fun to email them a cruise photo you run across now and then of something they can look forward to if they go on the cruise or maybe a video of sunset on the pool deck of a Royal Caribbean ship to give them the sense of what to expect.  

Family fun

Royal Caribbean is a cruise line for almost anyone I feel, but there's no denying it appeals directly to family cruising.  This can be families with young children or older children.  Heck, grown up kids too!

Knowing whom you are trying to convince, if they are looking for a family vacation talk up the family aspect of a Royal Caribbean cruise.  There's opportunity for doing a lot of things together as well as alone time too.

Certainly families with younger kids will appreciate Adventure Ocean for two basic reasons.  First and foremost, the kids will have structured and supervised activities each day to take part in and meet new friends.  Royal Caribbean has focused more and more attention to its Adventure Ocean program, which goes from 3 years old all the way up to 17.

The other big selling point is for the adults because it's your opportunity to get alone time on the cruise.  We all love our kids but having a little time to relax alone by the pool, go shopping or take a walk together means a lot.  I can tell you as a dad getting some time with my wife to enjoy a drink at the bar was lovely.

Of course, families do want to spend time together and the nature of a Royal Caribbean cruise celebrates that.  From shore excursions where you will experience new adventures together to the onboard dining venues to the daily activities, there's a lot for families to do together.

Anything else?

Those are some good selling points for convincing someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise but is there another good point or "ammunition" to use in convincing others to give Royal Caribbean a try?  Share your ideas in the comments below!

Why are there classic cars on Royal Caribbean's Royal Promenade?

In:
17Jan2014

If you've been on a Royal Caribbean Voyager, Freedom or Oasis class ship, you will have noticed a classic car on the Royal Promenade.  If you've been on more than one of those ships, you may have noticed that the cars featured on each ship are different.  So why does Royal Caribbean feature classic cars on its Royal Promenades?

The answer takes us back to 1997, when Royal Caribbean was building Voyager of the Seas.  The lead architect for the Royal Promenade, Njal Eide, had built a model of the Royal Promenade, and in the middle of the model, he had placed a nice little model of a Morgan Sportster complete with leather belt across the hood. 

Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain saw the car in the model and asked Njal about it because unknown to Njal, Fain was a big fan of the Morgans.  Njal just thought it looked right and that's why he included it.

Fain was so impressed that he donated his own Morgan car that he had received for his 40th birthday some years back.

From that point on, having a vintage car was so popular that Royal Caribbean continued with the tradition with later ships in the Voyager, Freedom and Oasis classes.

Royal Caribbean Secrets: Helipad on Freedom of the Seas

In:
03Sep2013

We love to share with our readers different tricks, secrets and other lesser known tidbits about cruising on Royal Caribbean so you can take advantage of them on your next cruise.  Today, we've got a great spot to go to for sail away on Freedom of the Seas that will get you a great view without a lot of people around.

The helipad on Freedom of the Seas is located on the bow (front) of the ship and during sailaway, Royal Caribbean permits guests access to the helipad.  This is a great spot to see the port as you leave, especially for those that do not have a balcony stateroom or simply want something a little different.

Photo by Andrew Quested

You can get to this special spot by walking all the way forward on deck 4 outside. There will be stairs that go up to the next deck, and farther forward is the helipad.  Once there, you will find benches to sit on but the best spots are as far forward as you can get.

In addition to sailaway, the helipad is usually open most of the day, but it can close at any time for safety reasons (usually high winds).

In addition to Freedom of the Seas, you should expect this secret to work on her sister ships Independence of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.  Guests may access the helipad on all Freedom, Voyager and Radiance Class ships.

Royal Caribbean Secrets: Hidden sundeck on Allure of the Seas

In:
07Aug2013

Whether you're a first time cruiser with Royal Caribbean or a veteran, there's always something to be learned and we love to share tips, secrets and little tricks for your next cruise.  Today we're going to share a great spot if you want to get away from the crowd on Allure of the Seas.

Once aboard Allure of the Seas, if you want a great spot for sailaway or just somewhere to go to escape people (and with well over 5,000 people onboard, there's a lot of people!), then this tip is for you.  

Go to the port side of deck 14 and walk all the way to the end of the hall and then take a right and go to the end of that hall. At the end of the hall, you will find a door leading out to this special spot.  Once outside, you will find yourself on a secluded deck that is on top of the ship's bridge and one deck below the Solarium.

This door is the only way in or out so it's not easily found by other passengers and it's a great place to come and get some space.

We've found this to be a great place for sunbathing, sailaway or just enjoying some quiet time. Since there's very few people here usually, it's quite pleasant.  

As an added bonus, there's one more secret to this secret deck.  In addition to being a secluded spot, it also is home to a piece of Royal Caribbean history. When Allure of the Seas was built, one of the first things the crew did was to add a number of "lucky coins" to the ship's keel, as part of maritime tradition.  These lucky coins are held in a cabinet that is welded to the ship and has a small commemorative plaque.

Of course, loyal Royal Caribbean fans will note this tip can be applied to Oasis of the Seas as well since the two vessels are sister ships and nearly identical in construction.

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