Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: August 19, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Welcome to this week's edition of the Royal Caribbean post round-up, where we summarize all of the Royal Caribbean news and information from this week into one handy-dandy post! There is plenty of great content to enjoy, so sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's round-up!

The big news this week was Royal Caribbean's announcement that it is banning emotional support animals from its cruise ships.

The cruise said they were updating its policy to differentiate emotional support animals from service animals that are trained to perform a function for a person with a disability.  

Moving forward, emotional support animals cannot be added to existing or new reservations.  Confirmed guests who already have emotional support animals noted in their reservation will be permitted to bring the animal.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 263rd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where we take an in-depth look at wheelchair accessibility on Royal Caribbean cruises.

If you or someone you know is going on a Royal Caribbean cruise and is in need of a wheelchair, this week's episode is full of tips and advice for having a hassle-free cruise experience.  

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New Royal Caribbean Cruise Compasses

One of the best ways to learn about what sort of events a cruise ship offers is to consult a past Royal Caribbean Cruise Compass. Here is a look at which Cruise Compasses we added this week.

    Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

    Cruise 1st wrote all about cruise line dress codes.

    Riviera Maya News reports that new security x-ray machines will be installed at Cozumel.

    Eat Sleep Cruise reviewed their recent sailing on Mariner of the Seas.

    Binny's Food & Travel Diaries reviewed their day on Independence of the Seas.

    Los Angeles Times wrote about Royal Caribbean's video-making tool that uses AI.

    Friday Photos

    By: Matt Hochberg

    The weekend is here and every Friday, we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos so that we can all enjoy a quick "virtual trip" back on a cruise.  If you want to share your Royal Caribbean photos, use this form to send them in!

    Cathy Drew sent in this photo from her balcony as her ship entered Marlborough Sound, Picton New Zealand.

    Henry Greenfield sent in this photo of sunset over Miami.

    Wayne D. Stephens shared this photo of the theater on Vision of the Seas.

    Vania Guillot took this photo of sunset from her baclony on Anthem of the Seas.

    Jeanne Fulton took this photo of Mendenhall Glacier while on Explorer of the Seas.

    Cruisin' Susan had to share this photo of hier "big winnings" in the casino on Harmony of the Seas.

    Our final photo this week is from Vivian, and it is of Explorer of the Seas just off the island of Lifou in the South Pacific. 

    Thank you to everyone that sent in their Royal Caribbean photos and if you want your photos featured here, be sure to send us your favorite photos with this form!

    Royal Caribbean offering bonus instant savings on cruises booked this weekend

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean is offering bonus instant savings on cruises booked this weekend during its Adventure Sale.

    The Adventure Sale applies to select sailings booked between 8/17/18 - 8/21/18 and applies to sailings departing on or after 9/17/18.

    The offer includes:

    • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
    • 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.
    • Instant savings up to $100 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length:
      • Sailings 5 nights or less
        • $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
      • Sailings 6 nights or longer
        • $50 savings for Interior, $75 for Ocean View and Balconies and $100 for Suites

    Offer open to residents of US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries in the Caribbean. 

    Why you should be excited about Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas arrival in the United States

    By: Matt Hochberg

    In just about three months, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas will be arriving at her new home port of PortMiami, Florida, and it will mark her debut in the United States.

    Symphony of the Seas is not only the largest cruise ship in the world, but also marks a significant moment for many Royal Caribbean fans because this brand new cruise ship offers so many enticing options.

    In anticipation of Symphony of the Seas' arrival, we are counting down the top reasons you ought to be excited to welcome Symphony of the Seas "home".

    New terminal

    Coinciding with Symphony of the Seas' arrival will be the opening of a brand new cruise terminal at PortMiami, colloquially known as, "The Crown of Miami".

    The new state-of-the-art terminal at PortMiami will be home to Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas. Terminal A will house an angular glass center and a parking garage with about 1,000 parking spaces at the northeastern side of the port, designed by England-based global architecture firm Broadway Malyan. 

    The 170,000-square-foot terminal is nicknamed the ‘Crown of Miami’ because of its distinct shape. The design evokes the points of the symbolic headgear when viewed from the water; the ‘M’ of Miami when viewed from the east or western approaches; and a sense of waves rising or ships passing when viewed from the terminal side. 

    New dining venues

    I really love the specialty restaurants Royal Caribbean offers, especially on its newer ships.  When a new restaurant concept is added, it definitely gets our attention and Symphony of the Seas has a couple of new additions.

    Hooked is Royal Caribbean's new seafood restaurant that features fresh seafood and a robust raw bar complete with oysters shucked to order. While other restaurants have had seafood items on their menus, having a dedicated restaurant to offer these type of dishes is a welcome addition.

    Hooked is described as, "This is the ultimate catch if you’re angling for the freshest seafood. It’s a real taste of New England in a casual atmosphere — and it’s a brand-new addition on our newest ship, Symphony of the Seas. Introducing Hooked Seafood — taste bud-tempting fare to satisfy every seafood craving, including raw bar favorites, a variety of crab claws and a selection of just-shucked East Coast oysters. Plus enjoy classic apps, clam chowder, lobster and fresh caught local fish. It’s reel fresh, real good."

    While Hooked brings a new sit down experience to Symphony of the Seas, there is also a brand new venue for hanging out and enjoying sports, drinks and games at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.

    As a fan of the various incarnations of pubs on Royal Caribbean ships, Playmakers follows in that tradition of offering great drinks combined with plenty to see, watch and play. Located in the iconic Boardwalk neighborhood, this massive new venue is all about beer, chicken wings, skeeball, sports and hanging out.

    Return of Hairspray

    Symphony of the Seas will see the first Broadway revival at sea, with the Tony Award-winning show, Hairspray, headlining the main theater .

    Hairspray was first offered on Oasis of the Seas and was the first Broadway show to be offered on a cruise ship.  Not only is Hairspray a favorite Broadway show, it features classic Broadway songs and a heartwarming story. 

    Hairspray is set in Baltimore in 1962 where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair, only has one passion – to dance. After winning a spot on the local TV dance program “The Corny Collins Show”, she is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. As a trendsetter in dance and fashion she goes up against the program’s reigning princess, wins the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin and plays a major role in the integration of the television show. Welcome to the 60’s!

    Lots of WOWs

    Building the largest cruise ship in the world is more than just about how large the ship is, because Royal Caribbean has packed Symphony of the Seas with so many exciting activities for the entire family to enjoy.

    Symphony of the Seas will offer guests a wide variety of activities, dining options and places to relax.

    There is no way to list all of the fun things to do on Symphony of the Seas in just one post, but here are the ones not tmiss:

    • Glow-in-the-dark laser tag
    • Ultimate Abyss slide (10 stories high!)
    • Waterslides
    • Two FlowRider surf simulators
    • Escape room game
    • AquaTheatre shows
    • Solarium Big Wonder art installation

    Biggest ship in the world

    At the end of the day, Symphony of the Seas' arrival is going to be an exciting moment because she is the largest cruise ship in the world and that alone signifies a big change (no pun intended).

    In addition to the key features highlighted in this post, there is lots more to see and do to the point you will have to return a few more times to be able to "do it all."

    Royal Caribbean designed its Oasis-class ships to be a floating hub of dining, entertainment and activities, and Symphony of the Seas is included in that mold of amazing cruise ships.

    What are you most excited about to experience on Symphony of the Seas? Share your thoughts in the comments!

    Perfect Day at CocoCay construction progress photo report

    By: Matt Hochberg

    We have a quick look at the progress Royal Caribbean is transforming its private destination in the Bahamas from CocoCay to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

    Royal Caribbean Blog reader Lovetocruise2002 took these photos on August 15, while on a Mariner of the Seas cruise to the island.

    Royal Caribbean's website indicates Perfect Day at CocoCay will open in phases (with dates subject to change depending on the progress of construction):

    • Up, Up and Away helium balloon, Chill Island, and Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool will open in December 2018.
    • The new pier will open in January 2019.
    • Thrill Waterpark, Splashaway Bay aqua park, the Zip Line, Captain Jack ’s Galleon, Captain Jack ’s dining and Skipper’s Grill dining will open in May 2019.
    • South Beach, Coco Beach Club and the overwater cabanas will open in December 2019.

    Spectrum of the Seas construction photo update

    By: Matt Hochberg

    The shipyard that is building Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas released a batch of photos to show off the progress being made on Royal Caribbean's first Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship.

    The photos were posted to the shipyard's Facebook page, and shows off that the bridge block was added to Spectrum of the Seas, weighing 750 tons.  In fact, the bridge block was barely light enough for the largest crane in Meyer Werft's yard to handle (the crane can handle up to 800 tons).

    Spectrum of the Seas will be the first in the Quantum Ultra class of ships, and will boast the cruise line’s first private enclave for suite guests, new stateroom categories, innovative dining concepts, and stunning features and experiences – many of which have never before been seen at sea. Spectrum will be the largest and most expensive ship in Asia when she sails from Shanghai starting in June 2019.

    Royal Caribbean provides smart phone app and online check-in feature updates

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean issued an update to travel agents on the current status of its new smart phone app and mobile check-in options for guests sailing on select cruise ships.

    Royal Caribbean's new smartphone app is available on six ships currently (Mariner of the Seas was recently added), with Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas offering real-time folio access, along with an expedited arrival option.

    The folio option allows guests to see all charges being made while on the cruise, directly in the app.  Instead of going to Guest Services for a print out, or checking the stateroom television, the app will offer a real-time look at what they have spent onboard.

    Expedited Arrival is part of the mobile check-in process, and once guests complete their mobile check-in in full, they may qualify for expedited arrival. When the guest arrives to the pier with their digital Set Sail Pass, they can go into the Expedited Arrival line. This means these guests can bypass the traditional check-in line and instead check-in very quickly via the mobile station. Royal Caribbean hopes this will mean getting from curbside to onboard the ship in a matter of minutes. Expedited Arrival is currently available on Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, and will roll out to other ships in the future. 

    The new app is still under development, but the arrival of folio management and expedited arrival marks another milestone for its development. Version 1.9.0 of the Royal Caribbean app was released on August 10. The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

    Last month, Royal Caribbean introduced the mobile check-in option to the app as well (and its website) for a simpler check-in process.

    Royal Caribbean has also introduced recently online web check-in on three of its ships to offer a cleaner traditional check-in process.

    While online check-in is available for all Royal Caribbean ships, the enhanced online web check-in is a new features fewer steps needed for check-in completion, along with some other improved functionality:

    • Option to check in one person or your entire party simultaneously
    • Ability to edit previously entered information without repeating any steps
    • Easy add-guest or remove-guest functionality from check-in process
    • The ability to stop and save at any point
    • Easily pick up where you left off on either the website or the Royal Caribbean mobile App check in
    • Convenient digital SetSail pass for mobile use at terminal

    Guests can check-in from 90 days to 72 hours prior to the sail date. If a guest misses the check-in window, the guest has the option to check-in at the Port.

    Wheelchair accessibility on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

    Episode 263 is available for downloading, which shares tips, tricks and advice for anyone who is going on a Royal Caribbean cruise in a wheelchair.

    Laura joins Matt to talk about her experience with accessibility cruising, and offers helpful information for having a great cruise vacation if they or someone they know has need of a wheelchair.

    Here’s the podcast page for Episode 263. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

    Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

    Video: How One of the World’s Largest Cruise Ships Sails into St. Thomas

    By: Matt Hochberg

    For Oasis of the Seas, one of the world’s largest cruise ships, arriving to St. Thomas in the Caribbean can be daunting. With narrow water ways, sailboats anchored in the harbor, a tight turn and just six feet of clearance below the keel, the water around this popular port is one of the most difficult to maneuver. But thanks to an expert marine team using the industry’s leading technology, arriving is just another day at the office for the Oasis of the Seas crew. With a local pilot offering his expertise on the currents and local marine environment, and powerful bow thrusters which gives the captain the control he needs to pull the 1,187-foot ship, this is nothing but smooth sailing.

    Royal Caribbean prohibits emotional support animals from its cruise ships

    By: Matt Hochberg

    Royal Caribbean has updated its policy regarding emotional support animals by announcing that effective immediately, emotional support animals may not sail onboard Royal Caribbean International ships. 

    The cruise line cites that emotional support animals are not recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    All Emotional Support Animals noted on reservations prior to July 30, 2018 are protected and will be allowed to sail. A notation advising of a protected emotional support animal will be placed on the reservation by the Access Department.

    Royal Caribbean joins Southwest Airlines, which also announced today, it will restrict emotional support animals on its airplanes.

    Royal Caribbean issued a statement regarding the change and why it was implemented, "We are updating the policy to differentiate emotional support animals from service animals that are trained to perform a function for a person with a disability.  It is important to us that all our guests enjoy their vacation, which is why we put into practice this new policy.  Royal Caribbean’s policy remains the same for service animals traveling with guests that have a physical or non-physical disability.

    Moving forward, emotional support animals cannot be added to existing or new reservations.  Confirmed guests who already have emotional support animals noted in their reservation will be permitted to bring the animal."