Tag: Royal Caribbean Cruises

The New Sound Of Adventure Is Here

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 863 0

Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas makes U.S. Debut as Miami welcomes World’s Largest Cruise Ship for the very first time.

MIAMI, Nov. 9, 2018 – Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas, the new sound of adventure, made her highly anticipated debut to the cruise capital of the world today, dropping the mic on vacations for adventure-seekers everywhere. Fresh from her inaugural Europe season, the world’s largest cruise ship sailed into her permanent, year-round home at Royal Caribbean’s new, state-of-the-art Terminal A at PortMiami, the largest cruise terminal in the U.S.

“Symphony takes family vacationing to a whole new level with energy and options never before found in one place. This ship is the perfect blend of our greatest hits we know guests love and a lineup of vibrant, new restaurants, activities and unparalleled entertainment – all purposefully designed around vacationers’ preferences.” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “With her U.S. homecoming this week, Symphony is changing the game for how travelers of all ages vacation on our biggest and boldest adventure yet.”

The ultimate family vacation, Symphony of the Seas will sail 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami beginning Saturday, Nov. 17, and will add visits to the cruise line’s highly anticipated private island destination in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, opening May 2019. Featured in TIME Magazine’s first annual “World’s Greatest Places” list (Sept. 2018), Symphony features a next-level collection of new experiences including:

  • The two-story Ultimate Family Suite for eight guests includes an in-suite slide, air hockey table, building block wall and “Royal Genie” concierge.
  • The high-energy Boardwalk with activities for the whole family offers game-day favorites at Playmaker’s Sports Bar & Arcade, the Sugar Beach specialty candy and ice cream shop, face painting, caricature artists, live music and more.
  • New restaurants, including Hooked Seafood with fresh, New England-style favorites, and made-to-order Mexican “street fare” at El Loco Fresh.
  • A glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure called Battle for Planet Z.
  • An always-evolving Royal Caribbean app, designed to be a game changer for the guest experience, enables expedited arrival, more personalized experience on board and interactive onboard features.

Symphony of the Seas also features a playlist of the greatest hits that Royal Caribbean guests know and love from the iconic Oasis Class ships:

  • The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, a 10-story test of courage
  • The Perfect Storm, a trio of thrilling multistory waterslides named Cyclone, Typhoon and Supercell.
  • Two FlowRider surf simulators, where adventure-seekers can hang ten
  • Twin rock-climbing walls, standing at 40 feet tall and boasting stunning sea views
  • A zip line nine decks high, speeding riders 82 feet across an open-air atrium
  • AquaTheater, an open-air theater with jaw-dropping, high-diving acrobatic and aquatic performances set at the deepest pool at sea
  • Central Park, a green sanctuary lush with more than 20,000 living plants and trees.

The official naming ceremony for Symphony of the Seas will take place on Thursday, Nov. 15, hosted by the industry’s first-ever Godfamily – actors and avid Royal Caribbean fans Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, along with their toddler son Ocean.

The 25th ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Symphony of the Seas encompasses 228,081 gross registered tons, measures 238 feet tall and spans 1,188 feet in length. Each week, Symphony will welcome 5,518 guests at double occupancy in 2,759 staterooms, including 28 additional balcony rooms that overlook the ocean or the ship’s signature Boardwalk neighborhood.

 

Royal Caribbean Unveils Groundbreaking Features on New Spectrum of the Seas

Posted By : cruising/ 736 0

With Newest, Largest and Most Expensive Ship in Asia, Cruise Line to Offer Exciting, New Itineraries in the Region for 2019

SHANGHAI, June 12, 2018 – After a decade of rapid growth and development in China and introducing the world’s most technologically advanced cruise ships to the market, Royal Caribbean International is once again set to redefine vacations in the region with the debut of its newest ship, Spectrum of the Seas. Designed and built to deliver an unforgettable vacation experience for all guests, the first in the Quantum Ultra class of ships 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. Accommodating 4,246 guests at double occupancy and 1,551 international crew members, Spectrum will be the largest and most expensive ship in Asia when she sails from Shanghai starting in June 2019.

“When Quantum of the Seas made her debut in Shanghai three years ago, it changed the face of cruising in China. Fast forward to today, and we are revealing just how we’ll transform the cruise vacation market, yet again, with the debut of Spectrum of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “The introduction of our highly anticipated Quantum Ultra Class will represent a quantum leap forward in ship design and experiences specifically tailored to Chinese guests.”

FIRST-AT-SEA ADVENTURES
Custom built for the Chinese market, Spectrum of the Seas will feature bold and unexpected experiences, including the iconic Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience located on the aft of the ship. Guests will strap in and don their VR headset to transport them to another time and planet. The out-of-this-world experience is for guests of all ages, and also can be enjoyed without headsets, for those who prefer to look out over the ocean as they leap toward the sky.

ULTRA-LUXURIOUS, PRIVATE SUITE ENCLAVE
The first Quantum Ultra ship will debut Royal Caribbean’s first exclusive suites-only area, which will feature the exquisite Golden and Silver suite accommodations in a private enclave at the forward end of the ship on decks 13 through 16. Vacationers booked in these luxury suites will have special keycard access, a private elevator and a dedicated restaurant and lounge. In addition to a range of exclusive amenities, guests will have access to The Balcony – a private outdoor space for sunbathing and relaxing – that offers the best views on board; and The Boutique, a shopping area where travelers can book private shopping experiences.

For families that want to experience more quality time together, Spectrum of the Seas will introduce the two-level, 2,809-square-foot Ultimate Family Suite, accommodating up to 11 guests. The three-bedroom suite, which will include a master bedroom with a bathroom that extends over the side of the ship to provide unparalleled ocean views, along with two additional suites for grandparents and other family members. Kids have their own kid-friendly space on the upper level, complete with an in-suite slide that will transport them to the living area below. Everyone in the family can enjoy time together in the recreation room, featuring surround-sound equipment for a night of karaoke, movies or video games.

REVOLUTIONARY DINING
Spectrum of the Seas will feature an awe-inspiring three-level main dining room with 1,844 seats to serve a variety of Chinese and Western a la carte options rotating each day of the sailing. For guests looking for a more casual venue, the Windjammer Marketplace – 20 percent larger than those on Quantum Class ships – will offer a wide buffet selection of Chinese and Western dishes, including noodles, pizza, Japanese teppanyaki and mini hot pot.

Vacationers celebrating a special evening can enjoy a new specialty restaurant. Sichuan Red, located in the Royal Esplanade, will serve authentic cuisine from the Sichuan province of China. Royal Caribbean’s popular signature restaurants, including Wonderland’s Dadong – a new outpost of Chinese chef Dong Zhenxiang, renowned for his much-coveted roast duck dish; Jamie’s Italian by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver; Izumi Japanese cuisine; and Chops Grille will join the lineup as well. In addition, the new Leaf and Bean traditional tea room and café parlor will debut on the Royal Esplanade. The quaint spot will offer a range of authentic Chinese teas, classic coffee drinks as well as freshly baked Chinese and Western desserts and pastries.

ULTRA-TRANSFORMATIVE ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCES
New to Royal Caribbean and first on Spectrum of the Seas is Star Moment, a lively and energetic karaoke venue where family and friends can belt out and sing like stars. The cruise line also will enhance SeaPlex – the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea where families can enjoy bumper cars, roller skating and basketball – with new augmented reality walls and floors, providing guests with thrilling, high-tech interactive experiences.

Additional innovations guests will find on board include the North Star, a glass capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean for incomparable panoramic views; RipCord by iFly, a heart-pounding skydiving simulator experience; and the FlowRider surfing simulator. Travelers also will be dazzled with Spectrum’s cutting-edge and transformative venues, such as Two70 with its expansive floor-to-ceiling windows offering breath-taking 270-degree views of the ocean.

The venue returns with its signature Vistarama technology, which transforms the panoramic windows into a projection surface more than 100 feet wide and over 20 feet tall showcasing spectacular digital shows. The innovative Vistarama is complemented by six agile Roboscreens, measuring over 7 feet tall and controlled by powerful, yet nimble robotic arms that create scenes as they soar and twist solo or as one. This unique state-of-the-art venue serves as a great room for relaxing by day and an immersive, multimedia entertainment spectacular by night.

COMPELLING AND IMMERSIVE ITINERARIES IN ASIA
Royal Caribbean will deliver a more diversified lineup of cruises in the Asia region for 2019, which include new longer sailings with exciting first-time destinations, weekend sailings for quick getaways, warm winter sailings to tropical destinations – to escape the cold weather, and special holiday and festival sailings to discover new cultures and traditions. Guests can choose from 27 unique itineraries, featuring 23 destinations across three countries, departing from ports such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China.

When Spectrum of the Seas debuts in April 2019, she will sail a 51-night Global Odyssey from Barcelona, Spain to Shanghai, taking vacationers to 13 countries. Guests with limited time also can choose to sail one or more of the five separate segments of the Global Odyssey. When Spectrum arrives at her new home in Shanghai in June 2019, she will introduce new itineraries with visits to new ports, such as Hakodate and Niigita, Japan; Ilocos, Philippines; and Vladivostok, Russia. In winter 2019, the ship will reposition to Hong Kong to offer special holiday cruises.

Meanwhile, the iconic and widely popular Quantum of the Seas will sail her farewell season from Shanghai before moving to Tianjin in summer 2019. Voyager of the Seas is set to return to Hong Kong and Shenzhen for the summer, and will sail a variety of itineraries calling on Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines.

These new itineraries and more are now open for sale.

Mega Ship Experience on the Allure of the Seas

Posted By : Rene Schneeberger/ 0 0

With cruise ships getting bigger and bigger these days, many travelers wonder what that experience is truly like.  I had this same question and frankly some hesitation about sailing on a mega ship for years as I love to cruise on small intimate vessels between 250 and 1000 passengers.

However, in early January, I found a killer rate for a balcony cabin at $750 per person (normally these run for $1100 or more) and took the plunge by boarding Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class vessel Allure of the Seas for a 7-night exploration in Fort Lauderdale.  This review will take you through my week aboard.

As you can see from the picture I took in San Juan, the sheer size of the Allure of the Seas trumps everything in its sight.  Note the smallest vessel on the picture, Holland America Line’s Eurodam (2nd from the left) is itself not that small with 2104 passenger capacity. However, the Allure holds 3 times as many with 6488 passengers on my particular sailing.

Boarding/Disembarkation

It was a busy Sunday at Port Everglades with 7 vessels in port.  I was concerned at first that boarding would be a major effort.  However, I can attest to the fact that I have never boarded a ship faster. We went from curb side to cabin in 20 minutes – Absolutely amazing.  The entire experience reminded me of how Lufthansa boards 500 passengers on an Airbus 380 in 45 minutes while it takes as long or longer to get 120 passengers on a Boeing 737.  The lesson here is that “size matters” as it permits the use of better access infrastructure which Royal Caribbean purpose built at this port.

Similarly upon return, the ship crew is well versed in guiding guests to the gangway and off to customs.  We did the return journey in about 35 minutes from cabin to curb.

Amenities & Activities

One of the biggest advantages of a ship of this size is the space available for entertainment and activities.  Guests will notice right away that they are on a Mega ship the moment they step on board.  Large public spaces abound with expansive lounges, theaters and innovative activities to choose from.  My favorites were the Show lounge where I saw Mamma Mia and Blue Planet as well as the Aqua Theatre with the fantastic “Oceanaria” show. From a dining perspective, there are plenty of options as well, albeit several had long wait lines.  My personal tip is the Park Café on Central Park with fresh salads, sandwiches and paninis.   Favorite meal on board – Captain’s table which was a fantastic small, group experience with a $95 charge per person.  It is well worth the cost as it includes the 5 course gourmet meal and accompanying wine pairing.

Positives

With over 220,000 Gross Register Tons, this class of Mega-ships provides a smooth cruise experience even for folks worried about seasickness.  The ship just doesn’t move, even with decent waves, the motion is not noticeable.

Service and attention to detail by the crew was on par with smaller vessels and there is plenty of staff to serve large number of guests aboard.  Our stateroom a Category D2 Balcony on Deck 12, facing the ocean was very well laid out, had plenty of power outlets and the beds were very comfortable.  We toured a couple of Mini-suites which is the category I would pick on a future cruise.

Not a dull moment aboard either.  With flow riders (surf simulators), zip line, rock wall, ice rink, shows, games, movies, and so much more, there is always something happening aboard and the week just flew by. I used the walking/running track on deck 3 daily and I found it to be the perfect hide-away to enjoy ocean views on the handful of deck chairs in the very aft of the vessel.  Go check it out.

Challenges

To illustrate the biggest challenge, see the picture above.  Finding deck chairs on sea days was a frustrating experience to say the least.  There just are not enough spaces on deck for 6000+ people to lounge.  I have noticed the same issue on NCL’s Epic, Breakaway and Getaway where, to make matters even worse, the forward portion of the ship is taken up by the Haven – a Private Suites Club.  Another area of improvement for Royal Caribbean is the main dining room where during dinner service, noise levels are astronomical.  While the food was fine and the service attentive, don’t plan on a romantic dinner date or long conversations.  You would have to upgrade to Chops or Café 150 to have a tranquil dinner experience.  Mind you that these specialty dining venues cost from $35 per person and up – money well spent a couple of times during the voyage.

Tips:

  • Ask your travel advisor to book your show tickets in advance and know that you can see any show again on a stand-by basis. (Line up begins about 1 hour prior to the show).
  • Upgrade to Balcony or higher category for enjoyment and higher floors.  The lower levels are prone to noise from the 4 story boardwalk and all the activities going on.
  • Consider some of the “upgrade” restaurants and book them in advance (especially the Chef’s table)
  • This type of mega-ship is ideally suited for multi-gen family gatherings and for cruisers that want to experience the “latest & greatest”
  • Ask your travel advisor to plan custom shore-excursions (not booked with the cruise line) as a means to get away from the crowds and get personalized service – often at lower per person costs than the ship excursions

Final Reflections

After a week aboard, I was sad and at the same time glad to leave the vessel.  I am satisfied that I took the time to experience a Mega Ship with all its technical marvels, full-length Broadway shows and all the world-class entertainment.  Yet, my personal preference remain smaller, more intimate vessels of the 200 to 1100 category.  Peace and tranquility with plenty of personal space are more in line with my expectations than sharing lobbies, elevators and public spaces with crowds usually seen at malls.  It is a personal choice of course, and I heard many guests on board that were totally enamored with Allure and its sister ships.