Thursday, 28 February 2013

World's Amazing Royal Caribbean Cruise

 Royal Caribbean operates one of cruising's most intriguing fleets. Ships range from mid-sized, middle-aged ships which -- like Majesty of the Seas, for instance -- have received major updates, and state-of-the-art and on-the-cusp mega-ships, such as Freedom of the Seas, with its surf park and boxing ring...

 While not gourmet, Royal Caribbean's food is usually good enough to please most of their passengers. Royal Caribbean ships offer the choice of traditional two-seating dining schedule or flexible dining for dinner, with open seating in the dining room for breakfast and lunch. Passenger who opt for "My Time Dining" have to pre-pay gratuities. Passengers can now pre-book tables in the main dining room online before they cruise.
 The Windjammer Cafe aboard all the line's ships offers the popular breakfast and lunch buffets, and a casual alternative for dinner. On some ships, Jade, a special section of the Windjammer, offers Asian-themed dishes during the day and fresh sushi at night.
 Most Royal Caribbean ships (exceptions are all the Vision-class ships but Enchantment of the Seas) have at least one alternative restaurant, the Italian-themed Portofino; many also have the Chops Grille steakhouse. In all cases, the cover charge is $20 - $25 and the food and service is a notch above those in the line's standard dining areas. Reservations are required.
 The Voyager- and Freedom-class ships, as well as Majesty of the Seas, also have a seagoing branch of the Johnny Rockets fast-food franchise, with a $4.95 cover charge (and some menu items are priced on an a la carte basis). The Cafe Promenade on the Voyager- and Freedom-class ships offers Continental breakfast and around the clock sandwiches and other snacks; the Seaview Cafe aboard Radiance-class ships offers fast-food items like fish and chips at lunchtime and late at night. Sorrento Pizza and Compass Deli are new entries into the RCI brand name game. Compass Deli sandwiches/wraps carry a $3.50 price tag. Sorrento pizza is consistent -- never meant as a gourmet meal, it is fast and fairly good.
 Daytime activities aboard Royal Caribbean ships tend toward the active. Every Royal Caribbean ship has a rock-climbing wall; the Freedom-, Voyager- and Radiance-class ships and Legend and Splendour of the Seas have mini-golf courses. All ships have vast main pool areas; the luxurious adults-only Solarium is featured on all Freedom-, Voyager-, Radiance- and Vision-class ships. All ships have a wide variety of spa and fitness facilities. You'll find ice skating on the Freedom- and Voyager-class ships.
 Evening entertainment on Royal Caribbean comes in two types: splashy Vegas-style production shows that are among the most impressive at sea, and passenger-participation favorites like the "Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed Game." There's also a wide range of musical entertainment in a variety of public rooms; the new Latin-themed Boleros on many of the newer (and more recently refurbished) ships is especially popular. If you're sailing on a Freedom- or Voyager-class ship, don't miss the ice show: it's one of the most spectacular and unique performances you'll ever see on a cruise ship. These ships even have parades and "street performers" in the Royal Promenade -- another unique entertainment feature not found on any other ships.
 Accommodations range from standard inside and oceanview cabins, to standard balcony cabins (on most ships), with a wide range of suites, from mini-suites to huge Royal Suites with bars and grand pianos. On most ships, suite passengers gain access to a private concierge lounge (concierge privileges are also accorded to the line's most frequent passengers, Crown & Anchor Diamond Members). Freedom- and Voyager-class ships also have unique "promenade view" cabins overlooking the Royal Promenade; their inhabitants have a birds-eye view of the "city life" along this virtual indoor street, and of course the parades that occur several evenings per cruise. These unique cabins cost more than insides, but less than oceanview cabins, and along with the suites are often the first cabins to be booked up on each cruise.

 Nobody should have trouble "connecting" on a Royal Caribbean cruise. All RCI ships feature Wi-Fi hot spots (cabins included), and the Freedom-class vessels have Wi-Fi throughout the ship. This CyberCabin service costs $70 for a four- to five-night cruise, $100 for a one-week cruise, and $130 for nine- to 10-night sailings. In addition, for 55 cents a minute, passengers can connect at Internet Cafes equipped with one to two dozen terminals, and at the more private business centers on the Freedom-, Voyager- and Radiance-class ships.

GSM and CDMA mobile phone access is available on all ships. Charges apply. [More]

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