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Swim & Tonic swim-up bar on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Swim & Tonic swim-up bar on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Royal Caribbean News: Are Curfews for Kids In Bars a Possibility?

Swim & Tonic swim-up bar on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Swim & Tonic swim-up bar on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Editor
Jorge Oliver
Senior Editor, News and Features
Aaron Saunders
Executive Editor, U.S.
Chris Gray Faust

Last updated
Jul 23, 2024

(July 23, 2024) -- Should bars on Royal Caribbean ships come with a curfew? That’s the big debate, brought on by concerns that kids are overrunning certain venues at sea.

The question came up at a travel agent Q and A with Royal Caribbean International President Michael Bayley, during a meeting with travel agents aboard a preview cruise on Utopia of the Seas.

It was prompted by a query from a travel advisor, who said her adult clients were lodging complaints, particularly from the swim-up bar on Royal Caribbean’s family-focused ship, Icon of the Seas, according to the Royal Caribbean Blog.

According to the outlet, the agent said, “Icon is fantastic, but (at) the swim-up bar, there’s kids splashing into your drinks.” She also said that children were crawling around on the dance floor at Bolero’s after midnight.

In response, Bayley told her, “It’s probably time for us to take a look at (the curfew). I think the idea of curfews in some of the bars is a great idea.”

Kids in Bar Complaints Have Grown Since Icon of the Seas Launched

The travel advisor’s complaint echoes what Cruise Critic members have been saying since the 5,610-passenger megaship launched in January. In a thread called Icon of the Poop, DennysDad noted that closures in Icon’s main pool because of accidents have been driving smaller children to the pool at the swim-up bar Swim & Tonic – with similar results.

“Children have even pooped and closed the swim up bar,” he wrote from his May sailing. “Why children are even allowed in a swim-up bar makes no sense at all. They swim and around and dive underwater around concrete barstools.”

Said SeanGR from a February sailing on a thread called Icon of the Seas – the New Disney Cruise Line: “So. Many. Kids. And not just in kids areas. The only swim up bar? Full of kids splashing pool water in your drink. Karaoke Bar on adult night? Full of kids listening and singing. Playmakers bar? More like kids arcade.”

One of several main pools aboard Utopia of the Seas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
One of several main pools aboard Utopia of the Seas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

The response of some others is that the bars mentioned are not designated adults-only, and that Royal Caribbean is a family friendly cruise line. Said cr2000: “Get over it. Icon of the Seas is designed for families (which means LOTS AND LOTS of kids). You don’t like it? Cancel your cruise and go Virgin or Celebrity.”

The Hideaway Bar on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
The Hideaway Bar on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Icon of the Seas does have an adult-only area for passengers above age 18, the Hideaway. The Swim & Tonic swim-up bar is not located there, however. Other Royal Caribbean ships have the Solarium area, which is adults only (although we have definitely seen kids there on multiple ships).

Drinks menu at the Lemon Post bar in Surfside on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Drinks menu at the Lemon Post bar in Surfside on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Icon of the Seas also has the Lemon Post, a “mommy & me” bar where adults and kids can have the same drink – only the adult version has alcohol in it.

Royal Caribbean Has a Curfew; Would a Bar Curfew Make Sense?

Royal Caribbean has a curfew already of 1 a.m. for passengers under 17. The policy is similar to most mainstream cruise lines (for a complete list, see our Curfews at Sea story).

The Rising Tide Bar traverses from Deck 5 to Deck 8 over the span of about 15 minutes (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The Rising Tide Bar traverses from Deck 5 to Deck 8 over the span of about 15 minutes (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Other debates over kids in bars have centered around where they can sit. In a thread about the Rising Tide Bar on Oasis-class ships, Cruise Critic members wondered whether it was OK for kids to sit at the bar, as opposed to being with their parents at a table in the bar. Royal Caribbean has no policy regarding where kids can be within a venue (but they must be 21 years to drink alcohol).

Said TheBeardedCruiser: “If you walk into a bar and see a child seated with their parent/guardian, find another seat, or another bar. The child doesn't need to be drinking a mocktail or soda to legitimize their seat. What legitimizes them occupying a seat is the fact that they are a paying passenger just like you!”

At the event, Bayley told travel advisors that while Royal Caribbean remains family friendly, “we do need to make sure to respect the adults.”

The outlet quoted, “And you know what they say, everybody loves their own kids, but they’re not so fond of everybody else’s kids.”

-- Chris Gray Faust, Executive Editor

Status Match Across All Royal Caribbean Brands Announced

Silver Nova, Celebrity Ascent, and Icon of the Seas together (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group)
Silver Nova, Celebrity Ascent, and Icon of the Seas together (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group)

(May 30, 2024) -- Royal Caribbean Group, parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and luxury brand Silversea, announced Thursday it will roll out automatic status matching for guests sailing across all three lines.

Beginning June 5, 2024, members of any one of Royal Caribbean Group's three cruise brands will receive reciprocal status across the board, enabling frequent cruisers with either Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Silversea to receive commensurate perks when they sail with another Royal Caribbean cruise line.

“We strive to provide guests with experiences within our portfolio of brands that meet them for all of life’s moments,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group.

“Each of our differentiated brands have passionate fans who take pride in the status they've achieved through repeat sailings. In a first for the cruise industry, our new Loyalty Status Match program rewards guests traveling across our brands, and this is one more step in our journey of transforming a vacation of a lifetime into a lifetime of vacations.”

Guests who are already enrolled in multiple past passenger programs will have their status matched across all three brands within seven days. Status can also be matched for pre-booked, upcoming travel as well: those who qualify for top-tier benefits on Royal Caribbean, for example, will receive them on upcoming travel on Silversea or Celebrity.

Royal Caribbean Group's announcement is the first of its kind for the cruise industry, which tends to keep brand loyalty programs separate even between subsidiary cruise lines.

-- Aaron Saunders, Senior Editor, News and Features

Partnership with Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming Announced

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises announced a new partnership with Hard Rock International (Image: Royal Caribbean)
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises announced a new partnership with Hard Rock International (Image: Royal Caribbean)

(April 26, 2024) -- Royal Caribbean and sister-brand Celebrity Cruises have announced a new partnership with Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming that will see reciprocal benefits between the brand's customers and employees.

Under the new partnership, Unity by Hard Rock members will receive discounts on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises, and can qualify for members-only cruise giveaways. Top-tier loyalty members will also benefit from an annual complimentary cruise on select ships and itineraries.

Club Royale and Blue Chip Club members will be able to enjoy additional benefits, including annual complimentary trips at select Hard Rock hotels and casinos worldwide.

“Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming are thrilled to help our valued guests and team members bring their love of entertainment, traveling, dining and gaming to the high seas through this incredible ‘no limits’ partnership with our South Florida neighbors at Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises,” said Jeff Hook, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Seminole Hard Rock Support Services, which supports both Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming.

“Whether extending their cruise vacation at one of our port-adjacent properties, visiting one of the participating Hard Rock Hotel and Cafe locations worldwide or enjoying the cruise lines’ ships sailing around the world, travelers will have new ways to enjoy the best of what Hard Rock, Seminole Casinos and Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have to offer.”

The move also benefits employees of the aforementioned companies, who can now receive reciprocal discounts.

The new partnership, however, does offer benefits for Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor loyalty program guests, or Celebrity's Captain's Club members at this time.

-- Aaron Saunders, Senior Editor, News and Features

Construction of Royal Beach Club Paradise Island is Officially Underway

Royal Caribbean executives and Bahamian authorities break ground in Nassau for Royal Beach Club (Photo: Royal Caribbean)
Construction is underway for Royal Caribbean's Royal Beach Club Paradise Island (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

April 22, 2024) -- Shovels in hand, Royal Caribbean executives and Bahamian government leaders broke ground today on Royal Beach Club Paradise Island, the cruise line's 17-acre private beach club experience in Paradise Island, Nassau.

The locale is set to become the first of the Royal Beach Club Collection and is scheduled to open in 2025. The private beach club will boast structures designed by a local Bahamian architectural firm and a host of amenities, including three pools with swim-up bars, four food venues and stalls for local artisans.

The groundbreaking milestone was led by Royal Caribbean president and CEO Jason Liberty; Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley; and Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis and Deputy Prime Minister I. Chester Cooper.

“Marking more than the beginning of the construction process, today’s groundbreaking event symbolizes partnership, momentum and continued economic development for so many Bahamian entrepreneurs and the entire community,” said Liberty. “We are grateful to our partners for their support, especially the Bahamian government, who stand with us here today in celebration of what is to come.”

Royal Beach Club Paradise Island will feature a unique public-private partnership in which Bahamians will own up to 49% equity. Local businesses and entrepreneurs will also manage parts of the construction and experience.

"Signing today’s agreement, we add another world-class experience to our tourism offerings. And even more importantly, we take a bold step toward greater Bahamian empowerment in the tourism industry,” said Prime Minister Davis.

Royal Caribbean has signaled that more Royal Beach Clubs will be built in the future. For now, a second site was announced in Cozumel and is scheduled to open in 2026. The cruise line also operates Perfect Day at CocoCay, a private island experience in the Bahamas.

--Jorge Oliver, Editor

New Royal Beach Club to Open in Cozumel in 2026

Rendering of Royal Caribbean Beach Club in Cozumel (Photo: Royal Caribbean)
Rendering of Royal Caribbean Beach Club in Cozumel (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

(March 22, 2024) -- Less than a year after announcing the Royal Caribbean Beach Club in Nassau's Paradise Island, the cruise line has revealed that a second private club is in the works in the Mexican island of Cozumel.

Officially named Royal Beach Club Cozumel, the upcoming private destination is scheduled to open 2026. While details are currently scarce, Royal Caribbean shared that the new beach club will be located along the western coast of Cozumel.

The cruise line also revealed that Royal Beach Club Cozumel will feature swim-up bars, dedicated pools for families and private cabanas, as well as opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking and other activities. The venue will also have a restaurant, a bar, a lounge and a street market experience specializing in traditional Mexican flavors, and will host hands-on experiences like tequila tastings and cooking classes.

Rendering of Royal Caribbean Beach Club in Cozumel (Photo: Royal Caribbean)
Rendering of Royal Caribbean Beach Club in Cozumel (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

“The expansion of our destination offerings aligns with the growing global demand for the ultimate vacation experiences and enables our guests to connect with the beauty of local cultures and people in the places they visit,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “Cozumel is an incredible destination, and the beach club will perfectly complement all the island has to offer as an experience that combines familiar Royal Caribbean touches with the spirit of Mexico, alongside amenities and activities for every type of vacationer,” added Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

With Royal Beach Club Cozumel, Royal Caribbean continues adding to its list of exclusive destinations. The cruise line recently opened Hideaway Beach, an adults-only venue in Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas. And Royal Beach Club in Paradise Island, a 17-acre site near Nassau, is scheduled to open in 2025. Rumors had also surfaced about a potential beach club on the island of Antigua in the Eastern Caribbean, but no specific plans have been released yet.

Pinnacle Club Members Can Now Bring One Guest to Exclusive Onboard Venues

Coastal Kitchen restaurant for suite guests on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Coastal Kitchen restaurant for suite guests on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

(March 14, 2024) -- Members of the top tier of Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program can now share some of the wealth of their benefits.

Starting on March 15, 2024, Pinnacle Club members can invite one guest who doesn't enjoy the same level of loyalty status to accompany them into the Suite/Concierge Lounge, Suite Sun Decks, and Coastal Kitchen. The change applies to non-Pinnacle Club passengers staying in the same cabin as the Pinnacle Club member, provided they're not staying in an eligible Suite stateroom.

The cruise line announced this change in a letter sent to Pinnacle Club members and shared on Cruise Critic's community boards.

In order to enjoy this benefit, non-Pinnacle Club passengers must always be accompanied by a Pinnacle Club member when accessing the aforementioned venues. Royal Caribbean also added that any beverages consumed in these venues will be charged to the passengers' SeaPass cards, but members with Diamond status or higher can redeem their daily drink vouchers.

In the letter, the cruise line also mentioned that this new benefit will also be contingent on capacity. On sailings where the number of eligible Suite & Pinnacle Club passengers exceeds the venue capacity, access for Pinnacle Club members will be determined by cruise points and extended to one of their stateroom occupants. Eligible passengers will receive access notifications 48 hours before the sailing as well as a reminder on boarding day in the Welcome Letter.

Similarly, access to Coastal Kitchen will be based on space and availability; reservations will be required and can only be made once passengers are onboard.

Access to Royal Caribbean's Crown Access will remain exclusive to Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members of Royal Caribbean's loyalty program.

Royal Caribbean Announces New Three- to Six-Night Voyages From Six U.S. Ports

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Jewel of the Seas (Photo: Jorge Oliver)

(February 28, 2024) -- In an effort to offer more short getaway options, Royal Caribbean has announced new three- to six-night itineraries to tropical destinations from six ports across Florida, Texas and California.

The itineraries, set to run in 2025 and 2026, will feature the two newest Oasis-class ships -- Utopia of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas -- as well as Quantum of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas.

Debuting in July 2024, Utopia of the Seas will offer three-night weekend and four-night weekend trips from Port Canaveral, stopping at Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay private island in the Bahamas as well as Nassau. The Central Florida port will also welcome Explorer of the Seas for the winter 2025-2026 season, embarking on four- and five-night itineraries to CocoCay, Labadee, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Puerto Plata.

Making its PortMiami debut in August 2025, Wonder of the Seas will also embark on three- and four-night weekend voyages to Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay. From April 2025 to August 2025, the ship will be homeported in Port Canaveral, from where it will offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. Also sailing from Miami, Freedom of the Seas will offer three- to 4-night sailings to Nassau and CocoCay in summer 2025, and in winter the ship will embark on four- to five-night itineraries, visiting destinations like Grand Cayman, Labadee and Antigua.

Elsewhere in Florida, Liberty of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas will both offer three- and four-night getaways to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades, while Enchantment of the Seas will call Tampa home throughout 2025, offering four- and five-night getaways to the Western Caribbean and the Bahamas.

In Texas, Mariner of the Seas will spend all of 2025 in Royal Caribbean's Galveston terminal offering four- to five-night vacations to Roatan, Cozumel and Costa Maya.

Finally, Quantum of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas will be homeported in Los Angeles. The Quantum-class ship will embark on three- to six-night jaunts to destinations like Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. The Voyager-class vessel will also offer three- to six-night getaways to Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, and Catalina Island, as well as seven-night sailings that will also visit Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.

Royal Caribbean Orders 7th New Oasis-Class Ship

Rendering of Utopia of the Seas (Photo/Royal Caribbean)
Rendering of Utopia of the Seas (Photo/Royal Caribbean)

(February 15) – Royal Caribbean Group has announced today it has ordered a seventh Oasis-class ship for delivery in 2028.

The group has entered into an agreement with French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique, which has built the previous six Oasis-class vessels, to build the as-yet-unnamed ship.

The announcement comes as the line counts down to the launch of the sixth Oasis-class vessel, Utopia of the Seas, which is due to launch in July this year, and just a few weeks after the launch of its newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

“While we eagerly anticipate the debut of Royal Caribbean’s Utopia of the Seas this summer, we’re already dreaming up her sister ship and the next installation in the brand’s extremely popular Oasis Class,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “Across our three brands, we are focused on continuously challenging ourselves to deliver the ultimate vacation experience.”

Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, said:

“These are exciting times for Royal Caribbean, and we have an incredible partner in Chantiers de l’Atlantique to bring to life the lucky seventh Oasis Class vessel of what is a remarkable class of ships.”

This order is contingent upon financing, which is expected to be completed later this year.

by Adam Coulter, Executive Editor

Royal Caribbean Reveals Series of Eurovision-Themed Sailings in 2024

(February 7) -- As an official partner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 and 2025, Royal Caribbean has revealed details of four themed sailings for May 2024 to coincide with the event, which this year takes place in Malmo, Sweden, on May 11.

The Europe-based sailings will take place onboard Anthem of the SeasExplorer of the SeasOasis of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas, featuring themed menus and cocktails and the live event broadcast in venues Two70, Studio B and Music Hall.

Royal Caribbean's vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa Ben Bouldin, said: "Millions of fans across the world watch the Eurovision Song Contest from home every year, and now these sailings give fans the chance to unite and celebrate the world’s largest live music event in a way they never have before while adventuring around Europe."

Join Royal Caribbean's Eurovision Grand Final Viewing Party on the following sailings:

  • Oasis of the Seas, departing May 5 from Barcelona on a seven-night Western Mediterranean sailing to Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Florence (La Spezia), Italy; and Provence (Marseille), France.

  • Odyssey of the Seas, departing May 5 from Civitavecchia, Italy on a 12-night Mediterranean voyage with calls to Mykonos, Greece; Pompeii, Italy; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey

  • Anthem of the Seas, departing May 10 from Southampton on a two-night voyage to Le Havre (for Paris)

  • Explorer of the Seas, departing May 11 from Ravenna, Italy, on a seven-night voyage to Italy, Greece and Croatia

  • by Kerry Spencer, Cruise Critic contributor

Changes to Royal Caribbean Dining Packages

Sushi at Izumi on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Izumi is one of the specialty restaurants on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Jorge Oliver)

Thinking of getting a Royal Caribbean dining package for your next cruise? Soon you might have an additional reason to do so.

During a recent visit to Royal Caribbean’s headquarters in PortMiami, Cruise Critic learned that the cruise line is preparing to implement a change that will allow passengers who purchase a dining package to make reservations on specialty restaurants before their cruise.

Currently, cruisers who purchase a dining package can only make reservations for specialty restaurants once they get onboard their ship, which can create stress on embarkation day. Royal Caribbean offers two dining package options: a 3 restaurant dining package and an unlimited dining package.

There isn’t a set date yet for the implementation of this new reservation feature. But according to Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean’s Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer, the cruise line is aiming to have it up and running a few days soon after the launch of Icon of the Seas, whose debut is slated for Jan. 27.

Moreover, Schneider revealed that this functionality is currently being tested on board Wonder of the Seas. And the plan is to eventually roll it out across the fleet.

The upcoming change was well received among the Cruise Critic community, who have voiced that not being able to make reservations before a cruise has been a pain point.

“This is great news!” wrote pcur. “I don't have to also pay for specialty restaurant lunch on embarkation day, and then request a refund because I have the UDP (unlimited dining package). Also, I don't have to burden whomever is at that restaurant's podium to book all my reservations for the whole cruise.”

Other users mentioned that this feature makes the dining package more desirable.

“This is the incentive I need. I will book a 3- or 5- meal package, and reserve specialty dining on sea days,” said gmerick. “I hesitated until now due to the uncertainty and commotion of paying for an unspecified dining experience, then possibly finding no preferred restaurant availability once on board.

by Jorge Oliver, Editor

Royal Caribbean Gratuities Going Up in November

A Cash Tip Which is Common on Cruises (Photo: elwynn/Shutterstock)
A Cash Tip Which is Common on Cruises (Photo: elwynn/Shutterstock)

Another change is much closer to implementation, as Royal Caribbean just announced an increase in its automatic gratuity rate that’s set to come into effect on Nov. 11.

Gratuities for passengers on standard cabins are increasing from $16 to $18 per person, per day, while the suite gratuity will rise from $18.50 to $20.50 per person, per day. Until Nov. 11, passengers who book a cruise will have the option to pre-pay their gratuities at the current rate.

According to Royal Caribbean, this daily gratuity is shared among the dining, bar & culinary services staff, cabin attendants and other hotel services teams.

The cruise line also applies an 18% gratuity that is automatically added to onboard purchases, including beverages, room service and spa services. This rate will remain unchanged after Nov. 11.

Anthem of the Seas to Make its Alaska Debut in 2025

Cruising Endicott Arm aboard Serenade of the Seas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Cruising Endicott Arm aboard Serenade of the Seas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Royal Caribbean also announced its 2025 Alaska summer season, with four ships offering 7-night itineraries in the Last Frontier.

Anthem of the Seas leads the pack, marking the first time that the Quantum-class ship sails in Alaska. The ship will be homeported in Seattle, from where it embark on two different round-trip itineraries that will visit destinations like Sitka, Skagway, Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier, as well as the Canadian city of Victoria.

Anthem’s sister ship Quantum of the Seas will also sail round-trip itineraries from Seattle, while Serenade of the Seas will offer sailings out of Vancouver. Radiance-class flagship Radiance of the Seas rounds up Royal Caribbean’s 2025 offerings in Alaska, with itineraries departing from Vancouver and Seward.


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