Royal Caribbean International are a multi-generational, family friendly cruise line that operates a fleet of over 26 ships.
They are an innovative cruise line and constantly seek to bring firsts at sea onboard their cruise ships.
Their ships vary in size and the onboard facilities vary from each one.
Kids Clubs are available on all of their cruise ships. These are called Adventure Ocean. They cater for ages 6 months to 17 years and open at various times throughout the day.
Royal Caribbean have great sports, health and fitness facilities. All of their ships include a gym, a running track, sports court and a spa. The larger vessels have rock walls, surf simulators, sky diving simulators, ice skating and other high energy activities.
There are plenty of restaurants onboard that cater for all tastes. Again, the larger ships have more options, but each ship has a main dining room to enjoy a sit down meal, as well as a self serve buffet restaurant.
One of the most popular features with Royal Caribbean, is the high standard of entertainment. From West End musicals such as Grease, Hairspray, We Will Rock You and Cats, to amazing visual effect shows using never seen before technology. You can also enjoy a singalong with a pianist in one of the bars, or have a laugh at one of the comedy nights.
Royal Caribbean are working hard to become a sustainable cruise line. Not only are their cruise ships using more energy efficient and environmentally friendly techologies, but they have also expanded their corporate responsibility in the way they operate shore excursions.
The ships are wheelchair friendly and accessible staterooms are available to book.
An Entirely New Approach To Delivering Safety Information To Guests
Royal Caribbean Group is replacing the traditional safety drill, with the new innovative Muster 2.0
The process will be faster and have a more personal, which encourages higher levels of safety.
Tested on Symphony of the Seas in January 2020, Muster 2.0 has been more than a year in the making. Guests who took part in the mock process indicated a strong preference for the new approach. They also reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.
The New Royal Caribbean Muster Drill Approach Will Help Guests Enjoy A Smoother Sail Away
Muster 2.0 enables guests to access the key elements of the safety drill. This includes things like; What to expect and where to go in case of an emergency and life jacket instructions.
eMuster provides information on mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs. Guests can avoid large group assemblies by reviewing the information at their own time prior to setting sail.
The new approach also allows guests to enjoy more of their vacation with no interruption.
After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. The ships will not depart until all guests have completed the drill.
The distributed muster for ocean-going vessels concept is patented in the United States and is patent-pending in major markets around the world, including the various cruise industry flag states. The company has also worked with international regulators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime and government authorities to ensure it meets all safety requirements.
Cruise Lines to Eliminate Crowding By Using The Technology
In addition to introducing the new process on the ships of its own cruise lines – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – Royal Caribbean Group is offering to license the patented technology to interested cruise operators and will waive patent license fees during the time the world and industry battle the global pandemic. Patent licenses have already been granted to the company’s joint venture, TUI Cruises GmbH, as well as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Anthem of the Seas is a Royal Caribbean QUANTUM Class ship. She was built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Her Maiden Voyage was on the 22nd April 2015 from Southampton, England.
Accommodating 4,609 passengers at full capacity, Anthem of the Seas is still not the largest cruise ship in the world. She is however, a close second to the largest in the world, her sister Oasis Class ships.
Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International – Outdoor Pool Deck and North Star
The 18 passenger decks offer plenty of space, which is great for those looking for somewhere quiet to relax.
Anthem of the Seas Dining
The ship has 17 dining options to choose from, ranging from casual buffet-style to multi-course fine dining and 24 hour snacks. These include an array of international cuisine and most dietary requirements are catered for.
Image CreditL Royal Caribbean International – Onboard Dining Room Chic
Activities Onboard Anthem of the Seas
Anthem of the Seas has plenty of activities for all ages. High adrenaline activities for thrill seekers, a west end musical for theatre lovers and high tech shows are just some of the things on offer.
Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International – We Will Rock You
Children will love the Adventure Ocean kids club. Free daily sessions are available for children aged 3 – 17. Check your planner onboard as the opening times may vary. These are a pretty good guide to how they usually work.
Morning Session 9am – 12pm
Afternoon Session 2pm – 5pm
Evening Session 6pm – 10pm
Late nights, lunch and dinner sessions are available at an extra charge, allowing the adults to enjoy everything the ship has to offer, without the guilt.
The Vitality Spa and Fitness Centre offers a state of the art gym, a range of fitness classes and some of the most advanced spa services at sea.
At the front of the ship is a stunning glass covered, adults-only solarium. Cascading pools, whirlpools, luxurious loungers and a dedicated bar, makes it the perfect place to unwind.
Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International – Adult Solarium
Anthem of the Seas is perfectly suitable for people with mobility issues. Corridors built to allow wheelchairs to turn 180 degrees, along with all public rooms featuring entrances with gradual inclines.
A wide choice of stateroom types are available, from single rooms to multi-bedroom family suites and two-storey loft suites. Rooms for five people or more cannot be booked online. Please contact your travel agent or the cruise line directly.
Anthem of the Seas is the perfect multi-generational cruise ship.
If you are new to cruise here is an easy guide to cruising with Royal Caribbean that answers the most frequently asked questions.
Cruising With or Without Kids
The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of Royal Caribbean, is kids. Whether you are travelling with or without children, there is still a Royal Caribbean cruise for you.
Every Royal Caribbean ship (unless otherwise stated below) has a sports court, FlowRider, rock climbing wall, in-stateroom movies, family events, and the Adventure Ocean kids club. This is a fantastic facility for kids which both of my children loved. So there is certainly plenty on board to keep them entertained.
Tips For Avoiding Kids on a Royal Caribbean Cruise
If you are not looking to cruise with kids, and the idea of having them onboard fills you with dread, don’t worry because not all Royal Caribbean cruises are the same.
First of all, the smaller ships are less likely to have as many young families on board, as all the exciting new features such as Splashaway Bay, Laser Tag, Bumper Cars, Trampolining, and water slides are mainly on the larger ships.
Secondly, if you avoid school holidays, you will not find too many kids onboard anyway. If you do book a larger ship during the school holidays, then you need to expect a lot of kids around.
Which Ship Should I Choose?
People cruise for different reasons. Not everyone wants to get off at every port and explore. For those with mobility issues, a cruise offers a great way to enjoy a resort-style holiday without staying in the same place. As a single mum, I would relish the port days when I could enjoy the pool deck all to myself while my kids were having fun in Adventure Ocean.
So before choosing a ship, you need to decide what you are looking for in a cruise. If you are going to be getting off at every opportunity, the chances are you will not have time to enjoy the vast array of activities onboard the larger ships. Some ports are only accessible by smaller ships, so that will also play a role in your decision.
If your cruise is more about spending quality family time together, with a bit of time to relax and unwind, then you may want to spend more time onboard the ship. This is when you should take a closer look at the onboard facilities.
What Are The Different Classes of Ship?
The first Royal Caribbean ships were called Sovereign Class and Vision Class. These ships are classic in design and feature a rock climbing wall.
Radiance Class ships are known as “ships of light”. This is due to their outward facing lifts and floor to ceiling glass windows in the atrium. Royal Caribbean introduced the sports court to this class of ship.
Voyager Class were the first ships to introduce the Royal Promenade. A street inside the ship with shops and bars. They also introduced an ice rink for guests to enjoy skating at their leisure and stunning ice show performances.
Freedom Class introduced the FlowRider surf simulator.
Oasis Class are the largest cruise ships in the world. They introduced an aquatheatre, a zip line, a carousel, 7 different neighbourhoods including Central Park.
Quantum Class take technology to a whole new level. The north star is a glass capsule that lifts guests 300ft above sea level. Guests can try the iFly skydiving simulator, drive bumper cars, roller skate and much more. Quantum Class ships do not have an ice rink.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Newest to Oldest
Empress of the Seas – June 1990
A maximum guest capacity of 1840. Empress of the Seas does not have a sports court, FlowRider or Adventure Ocean kids club.
Majesty of the Seas – April 1992
A sovereign class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2767. Majesty of the Seas does not have a sports court, FlowRider or Adventure Ocean kids club.
You never forget your first cruise. Mine was in 2011 on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. I had no idea what to expect and will admit to being a little apprehensive. Like many first time cruisers, I was concerned that I would feel trapped on a ship with lots of people. As soon as I stepped onboard, that feeling melted away.
The first thing that struck me was how beautiful the atrium was. It felt like I had stepped into a fairytale. Thankfully, I had been tipped off about taking my swimwear in my carry on bag so that I could head straight for the pool. That is exactly what I did (see photo above).
Grandeur of the Seas has undergone a major refurbishment since my cruise, so the photos here were taken before the updates. All I can say is that for my first cruise I was totally blown away.
First Sail Away
After a swim and getting settled into our room, we headed to the top deck for the customary sail away party.
This was my first sail away. As we started moving away from the Port of Palma de Majorca, I felt a huge sense of excitement, adventure, and freedom. I’d never experienced a feeling like it and I loved it. That was the moment I fell in love with cruising.
After the sail away party, we went back to our cabin and got ready for dinner. The group I was travelling with, arranged to meet up in the Schooner Bar. This was another place that totally amazed me. The atmosphere was relaxed but upbeat and friendly. The floor to ceiling glass windows gave incredible views of the mediterranean sea.
I stepped outside onto the promenade deck, gin and tonic in hand, and just could not believe what I was experiencing. I was in my element.
We enjoyed a three course meal in the stunning main dining room. Once again, I had never experienced anything quite like it. The room was grand, the service was attentive and the crew made us feel really special. The food was amazing and everything was perfect.
After dinner we enjoyed a beautiful sunset. My first sunset at sea.
Exploring The Ship
Even the smaller Royal Caribbean ships have a rock climbing wall. I had to give it a go. I may have thought twice had I known I would end up looking like this!
When I climbed to the top I rang the bell. It was quite a challenge, but it’s worth noting that the larger ships have higher rock walls. I tried rock climbing on Independence of the Seas last year and only made it two-thirds of the way up.
In the evening we went to one of the lounges which was having a few hours of karaoke. Of course I couldn’t resist singing a couple of songs.
Access All Areas Tour
I love the Access All Areas Tours. You can book them either before your cruise or when you are onboard. One of the places we were taken to was the Galley. It was fascinating.
The highlight of the tour for me was our visit to the Bridge.
So that was my first cruise and the start of my love of cruising. If you are looking at cruising on Grandeur of the Seas, these photos are not a true reflection as they were taken before an extensive refurbishment.
If you have any questions about the ship feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
With seven ships in the region, the cruise line is offering 70% new itineraries and new ports of call.
Royal Caribbean International has today announced European itineraries for 2021, with a new mix of destinations and industry-changing ships.
Family-favorites Anthem of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will return to Southampton and Barcelona respectively whilst the brand-new Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s second Quantum Ultra class ship, will sail through Turkey and Greece.
All itineraries are available to book as of today except for Odyssey of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas which will be open to book w/c December 9.
New Itineraries From Southampton
Anthem of the Seas will be the first Quantum-class ship to take guests to ports in Norway including Stavanger, Kristiansand, and Geiranger. Other new stops for Anthem include Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark and Bordeaux, France. Select sailings include late nights in Paris, France, and overnights in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Lisbon, Portugal.Explore Europe from Barcelona
Harmony of the Seas will be sailing7-night itineraries through the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona. For those wishing to start and end their trip in Italy, round-trip sailings from Rome are also available.
Vision of the Seas will continue to offer 12-night Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona sailing the Greek Isles and making stops in Kotor, Montenegro; Nice, France; Rome, Florence/Pisa, Italy and include an overnight in Venice, Italy and late nights in Split, Croatia.
Jewel of the Seaswill end the summer homeported in Barcelona where she’ll transport guests to the Iberian Peninsula and Greek Isles including stops in Cannes, France; Athens and Santorini, Greece.
Italian Adventures from Venice
Rhapsody of the Seas will spend another summer season in Venice offering 7-night sailings alternating between Greece/Croatia and the Greek Isles. Select sailings will offer late nights in Kotor, Montenegro.
British and Baltic Exploration
Select Jewel of the Seas sailings from her homeport of Amsterdam to the British Isles and Baltics will include overnights in Edinburgh (S. Queensferry), Scotland and in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as late-nights in Liverpool, England. This marks the first time a Radiance class ship calls to the city – and Bordeaux, France.
Adventure of the Seas will offer 7- to 11-night sailings including overnights in St. Petersburg, Russia from Stockholm, Sweden and will also sail to Helsinki, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia, and Visby, Sweden. Adventure will be open for booking the week of December 9.
Royal Caribbean International recently announced details on the newest Quantum Ultra Class ship Odyssey of the Seas.
Odyssey of the Seas is the 27th vessel to join the Royal Caribbean International fleet and looks like it is going to have the most action-packed top deck to date.
Amazing features for Odyssey of the Seas include a two-level pool deck with two open-air resort-style pools and four whirlpools. The new design provides plenty of sunny and shady space, so guests to soak up the sun and relax and cool off in the shade.
The two-storey Lime & Coconut has a tropical vibe with pool-front views, which replaces the old style pool bar. This will be a great place to hang out during the day and in the evening.
Image: Royal Caribbean International
El Loco Fresh, serves poolside authentic Mexican food, from tacos and burritos to quesadillas and fresh salsas. This provides guests with a convenient food option without having to leave the poolside.
Splashaway Bay features waterslides, fountains and water cannons, giving kids hours of fun.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Splashaway Bay
The Adult only Solarium has an exclusive space on the top deck, offering a retreat for some quiet time, with dedicated swimming pools and whirlpools. Daybeds and hidden nooks will be the ultimate place to relax whilst sipping on a drink from the full-service bar.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Solarium
Young cruisers will be able to choose their very own immersive experiences, as Adventure Ocean will have a whole new layout.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Adventure Ocean
The teen lounge will be maxed-out with gaming consoles, music and movies, which will provide endless hangout options.
Entertainment across the ship will include Royal Caribbean’s signature theatre productions and mind-blowing high tech shows in the innovative Two70.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Two70
Boasting 270-degree panoramic windows with sweeping ocean views at the aft of the ship, the expansive open area living room transforms into a 135-foot-wide and 22-foot-tall screen. At night, the iconic venue becomes a multidimensional theatre – where six Roboscreens come to life in sync with the music, special effects, live performers and aerialists.
I recorded this video onboard Anthem of the Seas in Two70. It was an afternoon show, which I will never forget.
The Music Hall provides the perfect place for a variety of live performances.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Music Hall
The Bionic Bar with robot bartenders allows you to order from an iPad, choosing your favourite drink from the menu, or design your own cocktail.
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade will be found in the SeaPlex. Sports fans can follow all the sports action, with TVs at every angle. The club-level views will offer great vantage points of the competition below. Guests can enjoy an ice-cold beer and order a range of bar food including the Playmakers Burger, buffalo wings and sliders. There will be a selection of classic board games available, trivia quizzes and pool tables. For an extra special experience, guests can reserve the Owner’s Box VIP area.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Playmakers Sports Bar
Odyssey of the Seas will have diverse dining to suit all tastes.
Serving Far East flavours, Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant will make its first appearance in North America.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Teppanyaki
Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, will serve rustic Italian dishes with a contemporary flair, from hand-tossed pizzas fresh out of the oven and made to order, to charcuterie delights including a wide selection of wines and limoncellos, from many of Italy’s well-known regions.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Chops Grille
Onboard restaurants include Izumi, Chop’s Grille, Chef’s Table and Wonderland.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Izumi
Fun For All The Family
Odyssey’s top deck SeaPlex is the largest indoor activity space at sea, offering fun for all the family. Drive the only bumper cars at sea, soar from a flying trapeze at circus school or battle for survival in a glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – Seaplex Bumper Cars
The upper level of SeaPlex will be dominated with the most interactive arcade at sea. Virtual Reality games offer individual and group play, with augmented reality walls and floors, for high-tech competitions and family experiences.
There is plenty on offer for thrill-seekers including the FlowRider , Rock Wall, RipCord by iFly and SkyPad.
Image: Royal Caribbean International – SkyPad
The iconic North Star boasting 360-degree views, will share a whole new perspective of some of the world’s most legendary shores from 300 feet above sea level.
Royal Caribbean Announce World’s First Carbon Neutral Private Cruise Island
Royal Caribbean have announced their second ‘Perfect Day’ resort will be in the heart of the South Pacific. Perfect Day at Lelepa in Vanuatu, will be the first carbon neutral* private cruise destination in the world.
Created in partnership with the local community, it will provide fantastic employment and education opportunities.
“Vanuatu is a true paradise for both our people and the visitors we welcome to our shores each year. Today marks a major step forward in our island nation’s close relationship with Royal Caribbean and one that will support sustainable growth for future generations. The Ni-Vanuatu people look forward to welcoming Royal Caribbean guests from around the world to enjoy extraordinary adventures and relaxation during their Perfect Day at Lelepa.”
Vanuatu Prime Minister Salwai
Perfect Day at Lepela will be built with sustainable features designed to protect the island’s ecosystems.
Perfect Day at Lepela will be located in the South Pacific Vanuatu Islands.
The new destination will have a different look and feel to Perfect Day at CocoCay. The
‘Anyone who has encountered the tremendous natural beauty of Lelepa, can understand why it is the perfect setting for ‘Perfect Day’. Our guests who travel to the South Pacific are seeking authentic adventures and genuine relaxation, and they will find both here.’
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO, Michael Bayley
*Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at Lelepe will be audited and certified by an independent third-party expert to ensure it meets the standards for carbon neutrality. Details on the extensive and innovative techniques used to achieve carbon neutrality will be released soon.
This announcement is further evidence that Royal Caribbean are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. It is a big challenge for the cruise industry as a whole, but new technologies are making this a reality.
Royal Caribbean International has announced the name of the next ship to join the fleet. Wonder of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world and will set sail from Shanghai, China in 2021.
Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Michael Bayley, revealed details at a global cruise industry conference event in Shanghai. Wonder of the Seas, will be the first Oasis Class ship to sail the Asia Pacific. This will be the start of a new era of cruising.
Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International at the press conference in Beijing. Photo provided to China Daily
“Royal Caribbean is known for its innovation and constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and anOasis Class ship inChina is proof of that,” said Bayley. “Wonder of the Seas will redefine the ultimate vacation and be revolutionary in her own right, and she marks one of Royal Caribbean’s most exciting chapters to come.”
What to expect on board
Wonder of the Seas will be part of the Oasis class of ships which are the largest in the world. The ship will feature the iconic seven-neighbourhoods and a bold lineup of thrilling experiences, imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology.
Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International Wonder of the Seas will be like her sister, Oasis of the Seas. (Pictured View of Central Park)
Construction of Wonder of the Seas took place this week,at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Wonder’s keel, a 970-tonne block measuring 155 feet by 65 feet, was lifted onto the building with a 1,400-tonne crane. This ceremony marks the beginning of her construction.
The coin ceremony is part of a long maritime tradition that takes place during the keel laying. You can read more about this in What Is A Keel Laying Ceremony?
Sustainable Tours Increase Across Royal Caribbean Brands
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has announced 1,400 sustainable tours for the Caribbean, Mediterranean and beyond.
These special tours are available across all Royal Caribbean brands, and are offered by certified sustainable tour operators. Experiences include kayaking along Majorca’s west coast, underground Mayan River Cenote in Cozumel and grape harvesting at Pizzorno Winery in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Commitment to Sustainability
The initiative began as part of the company’s 2020 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) target. Royal Caribbean’s goal was to offer guests 1,000 tours, provided by operators certified to the UN-created Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standard.
Educating Tour Operators
Engaging with its global independent tour operators was a key part of the programme.
RCL’s Global Tour Operations team and GSTC conducted educational sessions for its tour operators. They educated on the company’s commitment, the importance of certification and sustainable operations, and the process to become GSTC certified.
GSTC Criteria consists of four main themes;
effective sustainability planning
maximising social and economic benefits for the local community
enhancing cultural heritage
reducing negative impacts on the environment.
Unprecedented Scale and Scope
“The scale and scope of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ commitment to sustainable shore excursions and accomplishments to date, are unprecedented,” says Jim Sano, VP for Conservation Travel, WWF.
“GSTC commends Royal Caribbean for taking these important steps, encouraging tour operators to adopt–and seek GSTC accredited certification for sustainable tourism practices,” stated Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. “Royal Caribbean’s efforts to boost the global supply of certified sustainable shore excursions is a watershed moment for the cruise industry. Having almost 1,400 tours in Royal Caribbean’s portfolio is an important milestone, and we congratulate them for their ongoing efforts.”
In 2016, RCL announced a partnership with WWF to take its sustainability performance to the next level. This partnership set ambitious sustainability targets in three key areas:
sustainable food supply
This takes the company beyond its self-contained operations, with the support of sustainable travel and livelihoods at RCL destinations.
It’s taken me nearly a year to write this blog post about ‘The Best Cruise Of My Life’ because the experience was so mind-blowing that I just couldn’t find a way to put it into words. Being a traditional type of cruiser, I am always in awe of the ships’ Captain and Godmother. Call me old fashioned, but I love that side of things. So when Elizabeth Hill, Godmother of Independence of the Seas, commented on my Facebook page, I was thrilled. Elizabeth is such a lovely lady and she agreed to a telephone interview for my blog. We soon became friends and I helped Elizabeth create a blog of her own.
We had talked about doing a cruise together. Then I received a message from Elizabeth to say she had confirmed the date she would be cruising and would love for us to join her. I was absolutely beyond excited! To be cruising on a ship with the Godmother was the most amazing experience I could imagine. And that’s exactly what it was, but better than I could have imagined.
There were nine of us in total and we all enjoyed dinner together in the main dining room.
Our cruise itinerary was the Norwegian Fjords. We sailed from Southampton and stopped at Bergen Geiranger, Alesund, Skjolden, and Stavanger.
Joshua and I took a tour of the ship while we were docked in Gerainger
One of the benefits we enjoyed onboard was access to the Concierge Lounge. This is a dedicated area for top tier loyalty members and VIPs. Elizabeth was kind enough to extend the invitation to the entire group so we enjoyed a complimentary pre-dinner drink and appetizers, with stunning views.
Joshua enjoyed his Independence on the seas and would help himself to a chilled glass of water.
We were invited to a special ice show presentation.
We arrived at our first port of call, Bergen and joined a walking tour led by Cruise Director Craig Freeman. They were a little too fast on their feet for our group, so we dropped back and found our way to the lovely little fish market. The gentlemen of the group were struggling a bit with the walking (not that they would admit it), so we headed back to the ship.
Joshua entertains Elizabeth with some of his magic.
Day 3 saw our arrival into the Norwegian Fjords. I set my alarm for 4 am and made my way to the helipad, as I wanted to experience every minute of it. Anyone contemplating on doing the same, please note that I didn’t see a thing for the first hour, including other passengers.
As the light came up, the towering Fjords appeared. It was an unforgettable moment of ultimate beauty and tranquility, despite being battered by the wind.
Around 5 am a few other passengers appeared.
By 6 am we were well into the heart of the fjordland, and so it was time for me to pop back to the cabin.
Joshua enjoying the view from the comfort of his bed. As soon as Adventure Ocean was open, I dropped Josh off and went to explore Gerainger.
I will share more about the ports and the cruise itself on another post, but for now, there is so much to share about cruising with the Godmother!
One afternoon, Elizabeth invited us to her Grand Suite to enjoy a glass of champagne as we sailed off from Alesund.
We enjoyed a lovely send off too.
Here is a photo of “Mother and I”, on a formal night.
Cruise ship royalty, Godmother Elizabeth Hill with her husband Edward, rightly taking to their thrones in the concierge lounge.
There’s nothing like a good old quiz after dinner to get everyone together. Elizabeth and I in the Star Lounge enjoying the fun.
At The Request Of The Captain
We were having the time of our lives which became even better when we received this invitation.
It had never even crossed my mind that we would receive an invitation like this. I wish my Mum could have captured the look of sheer amazement on my face at the time.
Working in Royal Caribbean’s call centre 8 years prior, I could never have dreamed something like this would happen.
The exquisite food and wine in Chops Grille were perfectly complemented by our host and Master. Although Captain Iv was keen to get to know us, we were more interested in hearing his funny and fascinating stories as we quizzed him on his life at sea.
Elizabeth’s daughter, without whom none of us would have been there (Alicia nominated her Mum for a competition to be the ships’ Godmother), is an opera singer. The most spellbinding moment of the evening came at the end of our meal. Alicia stood up and gave an impromptu tableside performance of the famous aria from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
The excitement didn’t end there. Captain Iv had offered us all the opportunity to visit the bridge. When we arrived, the Captain presented Joshua with his very own model Independence of the Seas.
I can’t put into words how grateful I am for such a wonderful opportunity. One that I shared with my son who, I hope, realises what a lucky little lad he is. This truly was the best cruise of my life!
Royal Caribbean Have Launched A Search For The World’s First ‘Shore Explorer Apprentice’
The lucky apprentice will visit Norway, Dubai, Alaska, Japan, Portugal and also Royal Caribbean’s very own private island. Plus, they will receive £2,000 per week for three weeks. That is the equivalent to an annual salary of £104k. In return all they have to do is capture their experiences on Instagram, Insta-Stories and IGTV.
They also get their hotels, transfers include, standard meals, non-alcoholic drinks and gratuities included. Plus a Wi-Fi allowance and £50GP per day to spend on anything else.
Used with permission of Icy Strait Point and Huna Totem Corporation
The position is open to consumers and travel agents 21 and over, living in the UK or Republic of Ireland. To enter, simply share your favourite travel experience picture or video on Instagram, Insta-Stories or IGTV. Tag @RoyalCaribbeanUK and use the hashtag #ShoreExplorer. That’s it. The winner will also play a part in influencing Royal Caribbean’s future shore excursion programme.
Millennials Prefer Experiences Over Possessions
The search for a Shore Explorer ‘Apprentice-Ship’ follows the results of a poll commissioned by Royal Caribbean. A survey of 2,000 UK adults revealed that millennials prefer to “do things” rather than “buy things”. This is driven mainly by the increasing use of social media. 43 per cent of millennials interviewed claimed they would invest in an experience, to brag about it on Instagram and other social media. Other results showed;
Over half (51 per cent) of millennials claim that they would rather spend their money on memorable experiences over material possessions.
Almost a third (28 per cent) of this age group have booked a holiday or experience after seeing a post about it on Instagram.
A fifth (21 per cent) of millennials have a fear of missing out and use this as a reason for spending their money on real-world experiences.
The panel of judges chosen to decide on a winner, includes The Vamps’ writer & guitarist and I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! 2018 contestant, James McVey.
Travel and beauty writer and owner of The Daily S’elf ,Nadia El Ferdaoussi is also on the judging panel. You can see from her instagram feed that Nadia is used to adventure.
I asked Nadia how she felt about the competition. She said “If I wasn’t on the judging panel for this competition I’d absolutely be entering. It’s an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity that could be the beginning of an entirely new direction in life for someone. I can’t wait to review the entries.”
This job search comes after the success of Royal Caribbean’s ‘Intern-ship of the Seas’ programme 2 years ago. Russ Francis, was appointed the role of Instagrammer-in-Chief after his winning entry. Russ also joins the judging panel.
Royal Caribbean Managing Director UK & Ireland, Ben Bouldin, completes the panel. He believes this is “another chance for them [travel agents], and our guests, to take the Royal Caribbean experience to the next level.”
Bucket List Experiences
The lucky apprentice will get the chance to enjoy a range of ‘bucket list experiences’ such as visiting a glacier in Alaska, white water rafting in the Norwegian Fjords, or riding the world’s longest urban zip wire in Dubai. The apprentice will also be one of the first to step foot on Royal Caribbean’s new and exclusive Perfect Day℠ at CocoCay®, its very own private Caribbean island which boasts the tallest waterslide in North America.
Entrants must also hold a valid passport and be able to travel this year. The position closes at 23:59 on 1st March. Full terms and conditions can be found here.
Royal Caribbean International has designed and built a first-of-its-kind tool that transforms holidaymakers’ most memorable photos into an original, shareable soundtrack, with a video to match.
SoundSeeker is the latest technological advancement Royal Caribbean have introduced. With a legacy of nearly 50 years of innovation, the cruise line has pioneered many technological “firsts.” These include: VOOM, the fastest internet at sea; Virtual balconies, giving interior rooms a view; a mobile app that boasts smart features like expedited arrival and X-ray vision into behind-the-scenes areas of the ship, such as the navigational bridge; RFID technology, cocktails served by robots at the Bionic Bar and SeaSeeker, a custom-engineered scuba mask for Snapchat Spectacles.
Royal Caribbean teamed up with experts from Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA), Unit 9 (London) and Plan 8 (Stockholm). The innovative tool is specifically designed to use machine learning to seamlessly create original soundtracks based on the content of each photograph.
Users can upload three photos of their choice, and the AI analyses them based on colour, landscape, backdrop, emotion, body language and facial expression. SoundSeeker then turns them into a shareable and one-of-a kind soundtrack – virtually DJing life’s most brag-worthy moments. Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s social channels, and by searching #SoundSeeker.
The Technical Bit
SoundSeeker uses machine learning, an artificial intelligence technique that enables computers to simulate human intelligence and make decisions on their own without explicit instructions. The learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 10 moods.
The AI in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colours in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee. SoundSeeker then finds the musical elements corresponding to each mood in the photo to compose a genuinely distinct audio and visual photo album. The Royal Caribbean tool is equipped to generate over one million unique tracks, based on custom base tracks, composed exclusively for the cruise line. The customised tracks take inspiration from a wide variety of music, including 90s hip-hop, rock, modern and electronic dance music.
Berklee leveraged music theory to create a roadmap for the tool that helps determine the musical pairing to photos, accounting for pitch, tempo and instrumental combinations, among others.The contributors from Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) – an on-campus initiative that promotes entrepreneurialism in part by engaging Berklee students and faculty with emerging creative technologies – included Electronic Production and Design Chair Michael Bierylo, associate professors Ben Hogue and Michael Sweet, and assistant professor Jean-Luc Cohen.
“We were excited to work with Royal Caribbean International on this new technological innovation, and in the process, redefine what creative collaboration means,” said Panos A. Panay, Berklee vice president for Innovation and Strategy and managing director of BerkleeICE. “The work of BerkleeICE expands our students’ definition of what can be accomplished with music education by pushing the boundaries of creative expression utilising technology. By harnessing AI to develop customised soundtracks for treasured memories, together, we have created a new way for people to share their experiences with one another.”
Give It A Go
I have played around with Soundseeker and here is my favourite video.
Have you ever wondered how they pick a cruise ship Godmother? Cruise lines generally look for a Celebrity. In 2008 Royal Caribbean introduced Independence of the Seas. At that time the vessel was the World’s largest and most innovative cruise ship. The cruise line decided that the Godmother for their newest ship should be an ordinary woman. Someone who was doing something extraordinary in her community.
1700 entries were narrowed down to just four finalists after a nationwide search. The judging panel, including Sir Steve Redgrave, chose Elizabeth Hill as the special lady to carry the honour.
I met up with Elizabeth recently, while she was visiting relatives in their country farmhouse. It was great to hear all about her experience of becoming Godmother to the UK’s favourite Royal Caribbean ship.
How Did You Become Godmother of Independence of the Seas?
“It was a series of good connections in a way. I actually didn’t know I had been entered into the competition. Sir Steve Redgrave had retired from rowing and set up his own sports foundation which was being sponsored by Royal Caribbean, at the same time Independence of the Seas was being built. Royal Caribbean had already run a search for an “ordinary” Godmother in America and it had been very successful.”
“For the UK competition, they were asking for the public to nominate an ordinary woman who had done extraordinary things for the community. At the time I was running a charity and I guess I was pioneering what I was doing, lots of people do it now but nobody had seriously done what I was doing which is called care farming now. So my daughter who was 12 was poorly and at home one-day watching daytime tv and Sir Steve Redgrave went on This Morning and Loose Women and he put out this call on both shows I think.”
“All I know is that Alicia had seen Loose Women and she got on the computer and sent off this email. She said to me later “Well, I fancied a holiday Mum” However, in the email she told them that the day of the naming ceremony was her 13th Birthday.”
“Well I knew nothing about it so when they actually rang me to tell me they had sifted through thousands of entries and got down to the last six and they were doing a telephone interview, I thought one of the kids had entered me into something like Big Brother. So I said “Oh I am really sorry I don’t do reality television” and they said “No no no don’t put the phone down let me explain what it is” so then they explained and I was gobsmacked because I had no concept of it, I had not seen it, I had no idea about the ship and cruising was not in my experience, I knew nothing about this at all. I explained this to the woman that rang me, and she thought it was hilarious.”
6 out of 1700
“She asked if she could go through some questions as they had got 1700 entries down to six but were trying to narrow it down to four. So she asked me a series of questions and that was it as far as I was concerned.”
“A few days later I got a phone call and they said, “have you got a passport because we’ve narrowed it down to four and we’d like to take you to Finland to see the ship and the handover”.
“I was shocked again. But the funny thing was after I said “yes that would be fantastic”, I went to get my passport and it was out of date! So it was a mad dash to the passport office to get all the stuff within two days.”
“We got down to Stansted and were flown in a private jet to Finland, the four of us and Richard Fain were onboard. That was fabulous because we were in this private jet and he talked to all of us. He tended to talk to me more than the others and I know why because my husband is a farmer but he also loves engines and engineering, so he had asked me all sorts of questions about the ship which I asked Richard Fain. Richard Fain is not just the Chair, he likes to take interest in every little part of it and particularly the engineering side of it. He spent most of the time explaining to me in great detail about the engines, what sort of engines they were, the stabilisers, and all the innovative things that were on this ship. It was absolutely fascinating, he knew everything.”
“When we arrived, Captain Tao met us and we went on board the ship”.
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean
Was this your first time on a cruise ship?
“Absolutely I had never seen anything like it, I’d never even seen one! Yes, It was gobsmacking I absolutely could not believe the size of this ship. It was so fabulous, so beautiful, such a fabulous feat of engineering and I just thought it was absolutely wonderful”.
“I got chatting to Captain Tao and told him I had a daughter. He also has a daughter the same age as Alicia and his family were farmers so we had some things in common. Things just fitted into place”.
“We had a wonderful night onboard and we were at this lovely ball and had a meal to celebrate the handover ceremony from the Shipyard to the Americans. We were all involved in that and had been told to take an evening dress so it was fabulous.”
Sir Steve Redgrave
“Then we came back. We weren’t flown back on the jet but went back to the office in England and were interviewed by the panel with Sir Steve Redgrave. He was really interested in what I did, which was to have kids who had been excluded from school coming up onto the farm and we were doing recognised qualifications with them without them knowing that they were actually doing it. They weren’t in a classroom we were doing literacy, numeracy in all sorts of innovative ways that involved animals, tractors, Land Rovers, woodwork, metalwork and all those sorts of things.”
Gamelea Farm – The Care Farm that Elizabeth and her husband ran to help young people learn through farming.
“They were mainly boys all of whom had been in trouble with the police. Most of them had got tags on. We were just being very successful because they didn’t want to be in a classroom, they hated being in a classroom and it wasn’t meeting their needs and we ended up giving them skills to go and get jobs which a lot of them did. So a lot of them just needed somebody to find what they were interested in and tap into that.”
“Throughout the whole experience we were treated so wonderfully well and the other three were lovely, lovely women. So that would have been enough for me because I’d had this exciting few days, it was fabulous.”
The Phone Call
“They said they would let us know the outcome the following day. At about 8 am the next morning I had a telephone call to tell me I had won but it didn’t enter my head that I had actually won. I thought someone else had won. I said oh that’s absolutely fabulous, I had such a lovely time oh please send her my congratulations. She said no Its YOU. I said me? Oh! She said yes we have rung you early because when we release it, we think you might be inundated. We have spoken to the local television crew, we’ve spoken to the local radio we’ve spoken to the local newspaper, we think you are going to be inundated... and yes we were.”
“The television crew were there around about 9 o’clock and local radio station arrived shortly after. Talk about fifteen minutes of fame, well I certainly had it. It literally was madness, being thrown into this world that I had no experience of whatsoever.”
“Then it was only a few days until the naming ceremony. They said put your list together of guests you would like to bring. So I said obviously I would like to bring my husband and my daughter. It’s our second marriage so we’ve got children from other marriages. So we ended up bringing our own parents, who were alive then, and our extended family and their partners. I can’t remember how many of us there were but possibly at least 15 of us.
Edward (my husband) and I, my Mum and sister, Edward’s parents and Alicia and her friend, were all put in the Presidential Suite and all the rest of the family were in nice suites not far away. They all used our suite. It was one big party for my family because literally as one bottle of champagne was emptied they had another one. I don’t drink so it was wasted on me, but I didn’t get to be part of the party because once I got onboard I just had time to do my things in my cabin and then I had to go through the rehearsal. Sir Steve Redgrave was held up so we didn’t have time to go through the whole rehearsal. I actually pressed the red button on stage and broke the champagne in the rehearsal, so I did it twice!”
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean
“They do it from the stage electronically so you see the champagne smashing on the hull of the ship from a big screen. It’s a spectacular thing to be part of its total razzmatazz. What they had forgotten to do is tell me I had to say something and I hadn’t even got a speech or anything.
So Richard Fain actually called Alicia up onto the stage because it was her birthday and got everyone to sing her happy birthday to her and he gave her a little pendant with a heart and a diamond in it and then he gave me a diamond brooch and I just said thank you and went and sat down.
Then Captain Tao said to me it’s your turn to say something now. Anyway I don’t know how my legs carried me back to the front of the stage. I have absolutely no idea and apparently, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, so I didn’t say very much but what I said was very emotional for people.
They always have celebrities like footballers and television people that you see on a regular basis, Coronation Street people, there were quite a few faces that I recognised and I signed my autograph for them. My family was getting people’s autographs and they were getting mine which was funny.”
“After that, we went to a cocktail party, and the owner of the shipyard was there and they presented me with a gold and diamond necklace, and there was a little plaque in the box saying who I am and what I did and that was a real surprise that was wonderful. Then we went off and had the dinner and Richard Fain sat one side of me and Sir Steve Redgrave sat the other.”
“I’ve always been treated extremely well and when I speak to some of the seasoned people their ambition has always been to work for Royal Caribbean because they always say its best.”
What are you doing now?
“I take my job as Godmother seriously. I do get some perks so I try to give back wherever I can, by answering things on blogs or giving talks to ladies groups, I feel then that I’m not getting something for nothing.”
“I still get involved in Voluntary work. I am involved with our local church, I’m the president of our WI, I run and organise an older peoples group and I volunteer for home start. I may be retired but I still want to do things so I do something for the local community and its good because I meet new friends.”
“Because I am on the speaker circuit for the WI, I do go around and do a talk Five Things I Learned from being Godmother of the Independence.”
“I know that some people have booked cruises as a direct result of my talk. Because my husband has Parkinson’s Disease, I do a talk to the Parkinson’s group. I explain to people that being disabled is brilliant being on a ship. There are plenty of things to do onboard if you don’t want to get off the ship and there is food 24 hours a day.”
“When I am on board the staff are always trying to do nice things for me like get the best table and I say no no no I am going to do my Godmother duty and I am going to sit at shared tables and talk to people every night. If I’m in a really nice suite I will invite people back who aren’t in suites for afternoon tea so they can see what a suite is like and once we were lucky enough to have the Presidential Suite I invited loads of people back. I want Royal Caribbean to think that they have chosen the right person.”
“When I get onboard they always meet me I never have to queue to get on board. I’m always escorted off, so they do treat me in a very special way. And they always say if we are in Southampton that we must come onboard.
So the crew very much want me onboard and there is a huge superstition which is quite interesting because one of the officers saw me and said oh The Godmother, the Godmother, Elizabeth I can say good morning to you in person because I always say good morning to your picture and he said he and his partner do that and it brings us good luck and it’s true because one day I was so busy and I didn’t do it and my day was such a terrible day that I never want to do that again.”
“Because there’s a huge superstition around it. The Godmother is supposed to be keeping the ship safe, she is the mother that keeps the ship safe. That’s how I interpret it. I’ve researched it and that’s the best I can find. If you go back to the days of the Vikings they used to have women carved on the front. Its always a woman and the ship is always female. They really do take it very seriously.”
Have You Kept In Contact With Any of Your Care Farm Children?
“We are still in touch with some of them and they still come and visit us it’s great they’ve got jobs and homes and families and we’re really proud of that and I did it for nearly twenty years and in that time we were employing 20 people so it was pretty big.”
What would you say to someone who is thinking of taking their first cruise?
“Do it because it suits everybody from the youngest to the eldest. People are very surprised what its like, the fact that you get all this wonderful treatment. It’s better than all your top-class hotels. You don’t have to get off the ship if you don’t want to. Your holiday starts as soon as you get on board the ship.”
Cruise Like A Godmother
Elizabeth started a blog. This gives insights into her daily life as well as stories of her role as a Godmother. You can subscribe to Elizabeth’s blog and read articles here
It wasn’t so long ago that having an iPad on a cruise ship was innovative, but the latest thing to have now is a SkyPad. If anyone was going to do find a way to take you to the moon on a cruise ship, it was Royal Caribbean.
This incredible new feature is going to appear first on the UK’s favourite ship, Independence of the Seas which will shortly be undergoing a major multi-million pound refit. She will arrive in Southampton in May with new staterooms, waterslides, laser tag, a fish and chip shop, sports bar and much more.
Independence of the Seas will be fitted with the SkyPad virtual reality bungee trampoline
How Does It Work?
The SkyPad combines a bungee trampoline park with a virtual reality experience. Guests can choose to walk across moon craters and enjoy the feeling of zero gravity. They can compete in inter-galactic games or simply enjoy a top deck view of the ocean without wearing the headset.
There will be no charge to use the SkyPad initially, but this could change depending on popularity. Royal Caribbean have already started charging guests to use the North Star which is featured on the Quantum Class ships, which was complimentary at first.
Join Us Onboard
Why not try this for yourself on the 3 night sailing on 17th May calling at Cherbourg. Josh and I will be onboard and would love you to join us.
The current price for an OCEANVIEW cabin is just £359pp (it has increased by £10pp in the last few days and is likely to go up or sell out). Here is a link to the cruise on the Royal Caribbean International website BOOK NOW
Royal Caribbean have just announced that their third Quantum Class ship, Ovation of the Seas will be spending the Summer Season 2019 cruising Alaska.
It has been announced today, that Ovation of the Seas is to be based in Seattle, Washington in 2019. Having a Quantum Class ship in Alaska will offer guests a unique and exciting experience. Alaska is undoubtedly one of the most sought after cruise destinations. It’s awe-inspiring beauty and magnificent wildlife continue to attract more than a million passengers each year. Now guests will be able to experience these sights whilst being elevated 300 feet above sea level, with 360 degree views of snow-capped mountain peaks and stunning shoreline. Ovation of the Seas will sail a variety of seven night itineraries taking in much loved ports including British Columbia, Victoria and Juneau.
The best news for us Brits is that Oasis of the Seas is coming to Europe. She will be sailing from Barcelona and her itineraries will include the beautiful port of Palma de Mallorca (one of my favourites). After finishing her summer season in Europe, Oasis of the seas will undergo a massive transformation from bow-to-stern, before she repositions to Miami for the winter season. She will be joined by her three sisters; Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas cruising Caribbean itineraries from Florida.
Back in Europe and four new ports have been added, Visby, Sweden; Zadar, Croatia; Portofino, Italy and Porto, Portugal. The cruise line have not yet confirmed the ships headed for the UK or Australia.
Anthem of the Seas remains in Cape Liberty. New York continues to be a popular destination to cruise from and Royal Caribbean will be bringing Adventure of the Seas to join her.
Open For Business
Royal Caribbean 2019 – 2020 on sale dates are as follows:
13 November – 7 Night Caribbean Cruises
20 November – Short Caribbean Cruises
4 December – Northeast, Canada and Bermuda Cruises
I recently had the opportunity to meet Marc Walker who is currently the Cruise Director onboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. I’ve always thought it would be such a great job to do, but after speaking to Marc in person, I think I’ll stick to sipping cocktails by the pool while someone else does all the hardwork.
How long have you been a Cruise Director?
I was promoted to Cruise Director in January 2001 after being with the company for 4 years. This is my 22nd year with Royal Caribbean, 17 of them as Cruise Director.
How did you end up working onboard Royal Caribbean ships?
I was a DJ back in England, and when I worked at Butlin’s I met people who worked for Royal Caribbean. At that time there were only 12 ships in the fleet, and there was no no such thing as the internet. So it was purely word of mouth and sending resumes off. A juggler, who still works for us, told me to apply to Royal Caribbean as a DJ. I had never heard of Royal Caribbean, I said Royal who? This was in England and they weren’t even in England at that point, they were just sailing out of the Caribbean. So I got a job interview in London, I was offered the job as cruise staff which is what you do. You call bingo and you socialise, you start at the bottom. My first ship was the Viking Serenade in 19 July 1996.
1996 Marc’s first contract as cruise staff, with Fernando Castro on Viking Serenade
How long do you spend onboard the cruiseship at a time?
We usually do four months on two months off, but depending on business needs or if you have a holiday request it can be longer or shorter. I am doing four months on here then I am going to take only five days off, then I go to our bigger ship the Harmony of the Seas. At the end of the year I’ll be going to our brand new ship the Symphony of the Seas and will take the ship to Miami for the Inaugural Christening.
Do you get to see your family at all when you are working?
Never when I am working because my wife and two kids live in Florida. But they are going to be cruising at the end of November for a one off cruise. Lily will be in school and she is five, so she can only come a few times a year. But they usually have to wait until I get home, which will be January for five days.
I keep reading on social media that you are Roy ‘Catchphrase’ Walker’s son. Is this true?
I’ve actually met Roy, he does a few comedy shows onboard. He is really nice but I am not related despite the same name.
What is the average Day In The Life for you when you are at work?
8 o’clock every morning my day starts, that’s seven days a week and I usually take a couple of hours off in the afternoon. We call it international nap time where crew members have to sleep for a couple of hours in the day. Then my shift starts again at 4pm until midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning. So 8am until about 1 or 2pm is paperwork and meetings, then the evening is shows, socialising, being out there.
Have you met any Celebrities onboard, and if so can you give us some names?
John Travolta came onboard once. We looked after him for 4 days. He is a really nice man. And Donny Osmond in 2004.
What is your favourite meal onboard?
I should eat salads but I don’t. On this ship I like the roasts because you don’t get them in America. So I go to the Windjammer and have my roasts whenever I can. And then when I go Stateside I just have to have the Mongolian stir fry.
What is your favourite port of call?
Do you have any hobbies?
I do flight simulator. I have the joystick, the yoke and the foot pedals and I bring them with me. So I do transatlantic flights when I go to bed at night, and when I wake up I’m landing (laughs). Its very soothing. It sends me off.
Your job is very demanding. Do you have any tips you can share that help you stay energetic, healthy and in shape?
You have to pace yourself especially at my ripe old age of 46. It gets harder the older you get and the ships are getting bigger which is harder to handle, harder to manage. So it’s all in the mind. You can get so stressed out so quickly and it will kill your career. You just have to really take a step back, focus on what the most important things are and then keep everything in a waiting file, don’t do everything at once. But the most important thing is being out there with the guests. If you’ve got that covered then everything else will follow. But we have two jobs, we have administration and we have front of house. There’s no job like it, you have to be good at everything.
If you could do any other job, what would it be?
Television. I actually have a part time job with Home Shopping Network it’s QVC. So when I’m in Florida for a few weeks I tell them I’m coming and they give me a couple of shows. I love it because you are on live television to 97 million people.
Iain Bruce-Low and his partner Anne-Marie own an award-winning hair salon in the scenic Scottish seaside town of Oban. With their three lovely children, they find family cruising is the perfect solution to meet their needs.
When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?
It was a Western Mediterranean Cruise in 2013 with Royal Caribbean onboard Adventure of the Seas.
What made you decide to book your first cruise?
Having 3 children all different ages 15, 12 and 3, we wanted to find a holiday that had something to keep everyone happy.
The Bruce-Low Family
What did you like about your first cruise?
The quality, the service and the number of things to do for everyone.
What is the best cruise you have been on, and why?
We cruised on Anthem of the Seas in 2015 and the ship is incredible! It is so modern and new, with a lot more dining options, much more our style. There were an incredible amount of things for the kids to do, they were never bored!
The Bruce-Low’s prefer the larger cruise ships
What is it that appeals to you about cruising?
I love the freedom and choices, you can be as active or as lazy as you want. It is by far the most you can ever do on holiday as well as being the most relaxing holiday you’ll ever have.
How do you decide which cruises to take?
For me, it’s about the ship. It has to be a good enough size, we have learnt the bigger the better. Smaller ships tend to get more overcrowded where bigger ships people spread out more. Having plenty for the kids means they are happy – meaning we are even happier.
So much to do for families. Anthem of the Sea’s North Star takes you high above the ocean waves.
What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?
We go to the Champagne Bar to pick up a drink, then go off exploring.
What was your last cruise? What did you like/dislike about it?
It was a Venice and Greek Isle cruise onboard Rhapsody of the Seas. As it was out of season, we found it was more family cruising for adults and their parents, rather than small children. Also, the ship was probably too small for our liking. However, the smaller ship did allow us to explore a new area of the world, which we loved.
What would be your dream cruise if you could create your own?
For me, it would be from Greenock/Glasgow and all around the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and on to Dubai and Asia. At least a couple of months, please?
Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?
I would always recommend staying the night before the cruise, in a hotel nearby. It takes out the stress of arriving at the same time as everyone else. Also, you can tip the members of staff directly when you are onboard, then you don’t have to prepay gratuities.
Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?
Eat drink as much as you want and remember there is a gym, although I’ve still not seen it.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?
I’ve heard it all before and best thing I could say is book it because you’ll never know until you try it.
I’m So Excited About the Independence of the Seas Refit
Have you heard the news? Are you as excited as I am about the upcoming Independence of the Seas refit? With the Brits favourite Royal Caribbean ship back in the UK after it was greatly missed for one season, we are in for some special treats.
So let’s just recap on some of the incredible things you can already do on Independence of the Seas.
Ice skating and enjoy spectacular ice shows
Surf or boogie board freestyle or take lessons on the Flowrider
Family activies on the full size sports court include basketball and football
Golfing on the 9-hole miniature golf course
Climb the rock wall 200ft above sea level
Workout in the state of the art fitness centre
Stroll along the Royal Promenade or enjoy a parade or street party
A wide selection of dining venues and bars to choose from
Enjoy a show in the Alhambra Theatre
Indule in the spa
Have a flutter in the Vegas style casino
Let your kids loose in the kids club where they will have an amazing time in a safe environment (my number one reason to cruise in my Top 10 Reasons I Choose To Cruise post
Take a dip in one of the 3 onboard pools
Sit back in one of the 6 whirlpools. 2 of which extend 12 feet from the side of the ship
Pretty impressive don’t you think?
Image: Royal Caribbean International
But There’s More …
Aside from these amazing features, Royal Caribbean are going to give our beloved Indy a multi-million dollar makeover. In March 2018, she will enter dry-dock in Freeport, Bahamas. On completion, Royal Caribbean will have added features that have already debuted on newer ships, but Independence of the Seas will be the first cruise ship to have it’s very own Trampoline park. Located on the top deck for extra exhilaration. Trampolining will not be everyones cup of tea, but those brave enough to give it a go will be jumping for joy.
The Escape Room was first introduced on Harmony of the Seas and is now being added to Indy. If you are a fan of mind games then this one’s for you. This is a game where you work as a group to solve clues which lead you to your escape route. It’s great for team work and gives your problem solving skills a workout.
Image: Royal Caribbean International
In the Alhambra theatre you will now have the opportunity to experience the West End version of Grease The Musical which has proved a massive hit with the guests during its first season onboard Harmony of the Seas.
Image: Royal Caribbean International
Even the pool deck is getting some attention in the Independence of the Seas refit as they will be adding Splashaway Bay for the kids to enjoy as well as three different waterslides.
Image: Royal Caribbean International
Image: Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean are great at finding activities that are suitable for kids as well as adults who want to act like kids again. Laser Tag is perfect for this and will no doubt be very popular with all ages.
Image: Royal Caribbean International
The cruise line have proved they are confident this will generate higher demand for this ship as they also plan to add more staterooms.
The Ultimate Immersive Experience with Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers
Once again Royal Caribbean have taken the latest technology and media trends to another level. Passengers are now able to enjoy the beauty of the marine life around them on the ocean floor, without even dipping a toe in the water.
Adopting the cutting-edge application of Snapchat Spectacles, Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers are the focus of a vibrant aquatic event being held by the cruise line that enables the viewers to explore the mysteries of the deep. This five day event was launched on the 21st of June and you can follow it on social media channels using #SeekDeeper.
Royal Caribbean’s SVP of Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer, Jim Berra said “The SeaSeekers will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before. Snapchat continues to be a favorite channel for curious travellers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration. We are excited to find an innovative way to use the Snapchat Spectacles with our SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring the underwater experience to our guests as they visit the incredible destinations we sail to.”
Meet the Divers Behind Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers
Roberto Ochoa is a well known Conservationist and Marine wildlife photographer, He will be giving viewers the very rare glimpse of the annual migration of Whale Sharks as he dives into the Mexican waters of Cozumel. After which, guest will then be shown a coral reef restoration project by Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava.
To top off the incredible experience, free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole In Belize. It is believed to be the largest underwater sinkhole of its kind.
Royal Caribbean are hoping to offer this event exclusively to it’s guests and have applied for a patent for the SeaSeekers mask.
“Our event promises the participants the blood-rushing excitement as in the aquatic adventure events. We are organizing this event to raise the awareness on the underwater kingdom. We are overwhelmed with the reaction of the participants. The credit for the success of this event is completely owed to the participants who have been out patron to crown this effort of us with success. The success of this event will motivate us to conceive more such events in the forthcoming time”, stated the spokesperson.
Although this five day experience draws to a close today, we very much hope that Royal Caribbean will look at bringing more events like this to it’s guests.
Cruising With Royal Caribbean
If you are new to cruise, here are my top 10 reasons for taking a cruise. Or have cruised before but not tried Royal Caribbean, take a look at my Allure of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas cruise reviews for insights. I love them, they are one of my favourite cruise lines. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions you would like me to answer.
During the inaugural cruise on Harmony of the Seas, I saw so many incredible works of art, I felt the collection onboard the world’s largest cruise ship, required a page of it’s own.
The 3,000 piece original art collection includes contemporary art work and modern art sculpture. Curated by International Corporate Art, they worked with artists from over 60 nationalities.
Scott James Gundersen created this portrait of his wife using recycled wine corks. This was one of my favourite pieces of art. Vintages Wine Bar is where you will find the portrait.
His concept came from a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gundersen was inspired by the resourcefulnes of the Congolese people who reuse everything. For more information on his work visit scottjamesgundersen.com
“Young, Wild and Free”
Artist Javier Vazquez’s artwork is themed on the young people of today, and how they are affected by the use of stereotypes in mass media. This painting made me stop and smile. It reminds me of how I feel inside. I should imagine alot of people feel like this when they are on the world’s largest cruise ship.
Mixed media on wood
The artist collaborated with Galeria Trama for this and other pieces of his artwork. So next time you are looking for something to do in Barcelona, why not visit the Galeria Trama yourself? You can follow them on their facebook page.
“Rose Colored Glasses”
Pretty as they are, I don’t think that was the artist’s intention when creating this sculpture. Desire Obtain Cherish, otherwise known as Jonathan Paul is another artist who likes to challenge convention. His other work includes a painting of three babies in cots, each being drip fed by different designer brands.
My interpretation is that Desire Obtain Cherish is suggesting the media feeds everything to us through a big pair of rose tinted glasses. What do you think? Find out more on his facebook page Desire Obtain Cherish
Ol’ Blue Eyes
Whether it is classed as part of the collection or not, I thought this definitely needed a mention. The jokes start before you enter this new venue. The Attic is a new adult entertainment venue which hosts comedy nights and muscial performances.
Quotes from the great Aristotle, Voltaire and Sinatra.
I could have stared at this for hours. British artist Claire Shegog, created this artwork to reflect the impressive choreography Busby Berkeley was known for.
Up close you can see the tiny detail that has gone into creating each individual dancer. The piece contains Swarovski crystals and goldleaf.
“The Wonder of our World ….
The world we live in …….. people, places, what we do, what inspires us.”
That is the title given to this incredible 3,000 piece collection. Here is a short video of a few of the other pieces I saw onboard the world’s largest cruise ship.
I wanted to compare my last cruise on Harmony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, to something smaller. Jewel of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class ship. Due to their outward-facing glass lifts, they provide stunning views and are fondly referred to as ‘ships of light’.
One benefit of a smaller cruise ship like Jewel of the Seas, is getting access to more ports of call. You will find more detail regarding the onboard experience, at the end of this article. Let’s look at the destinations first of all.
The Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus tour was probably the best option for us, due to travelling with a child and an elderly man.
The traffic is slow as you would expect in a city and the bus stops very often and as a result, seems like quite a while at each stop. It is a great value for money option at 17 Euros per person (Joshua was free). Driving around the city in the sunshine for an hour gives you a sense of the local culture.
My tip would be to fill your bag with essentials such as water and snacks and make the most of the free wifi onboard.
After our bus tour, we took the long way back to the Jewel of the Seas via horse and cart. For just 20 Euros for 3 of us, it was an incredible experience and one I will never forget.
I have always wanted to visit Santorini. The mode of transport was a choice between donkey (which will hopefully be withdrawn shortly), cable car or a hike up the mountain, so in this instance, I decided against it. The majority of people disembarked the ship, as a result, I was able to relax by the pool.
Mykonos is stunning, romantic, friendly, quaint and more. It was a short ferry ride from where we docked to the town.
The bus will take you to one of the stunning beaches. After the ferry ride, we took the option of wandering around the town, with a quick dip in the sea, followed by a relaxing lunch in a local taverna. The waterfront restaurant we went to was called Kavos. We ordered a bottle of local wine and the most delicious calamari I have ever tasted. It even beats my favourite seafood restaurant at home, Loch Fyne where I told you about the Best Oysters Ever. So we followed that with another bottle of wine and more calamari.
Athens and Kusadasi
While I love travelling and experiencing new things, cruising became attractive for me because, in addition to offering value for money, being onboard a cruise ship is a safe and convenient option when you are looking for to holiday in the sun with children. Athens and Kusadasi have amazing sights, but I will return to see them when Joshua is a bit older.
This was a great place to stroll off the ship and into the local village. The street is lined with shops selling souvenirs, jewellery, hats, handbags, clothes and various forms of art. There are restaurants, bars and coffee shops on the water’s edge, for you to sample the local cuisine. The people are friendly and the goods are very reasonably priced. This is a great place to stock up on all your presents for people back at home.
Pro Tip – this was the cheapest place for duty-free goods compared to everywhere else on our trip. The shop is right outside the ship as you disembark.
Onboard Jewel of the Seas
The currency used on all Royal Caribbean ships is the US Dollars.
Things to do
At the centre of the ship is the atrium which is 9 decks high. When you visit the loyalty desk on deck 12, just outside the Adventure Ocean kids club, you can stand on a glass platform and see the decks below.
I attended my first art auction purely because free champagne was on offer, however, I enjoyed it. You get to see a huge collection of amazing artwork. On entry, you are given a complimentary print to keep and take home with you and some raffle tickets for prizes drawn throughout the auction. So sit back and relax for an hour with your glass of bubbly and whatever you do, DON’T raise your hand!
Royal Caribbean offer great facilities for children and the Adventure Ocean program is fantastic. There are three sessions per day which are free of charge for children between the ages of 3 and 17. Almost all of the larger ships offer a drop off nursery for 6 months – 3-year-olds. While this was not available on Jewel of the Seas, they did have a play area where parents could come in with their children. The toys were changed daily in addition to the free toy loan service as well.
I love the formal night. Royal Caribbean doesn’t enforce a strict dress code, so you have the option to dress up or not. I enjoy it, and although I am not one for souvenirs, I was pleased to add Jewel of the Seas to my collection of photos with the Captain.
In conclusion, Jewel of the Seas is a lovely ship. With great staff and facilities. We had the added benefit of fantastic ports of call and great weather. It seems like bigger is not always better when it comes to cruise ship sizes. It all depends on what you are looking to get from each cruise that matters.
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