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7 Things We Love About The Ultimate Cruise Stateroom

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If you’re a big kid at heart, but have the kind of disposable income most adults only dream of, the Ultimate Family Suite aboard Royal Caribbean’s new Symphony of the Seas might be the perfect playground for you and up to 7 of your favorite people. Sure, it might be hard to imagine shelling out around $50,000 for a week’s long vacation, but this isn’t just any old stateroom.

Here’s just some of the things that have us hoping to win the lottery, which is what we’d probably have to do in order to book this awesome suite.

1. The Slide

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

If you know nothing else about this stateroom, you know about the slide connecting the upper and lower level. It’s the kind of thing that brings out the inner kid in even the most curmudgeonly adult. Plus, if the kids get too hyped up on sugar, you can have them run up the matching orange stairs and slide down a few times in order to wear them out just before bedtime.

2. The Air Hockey Table

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Talk about a flashback. When’s the last time you saw an air hockey table, let alone played on one? If there’s a downside to this — and parents who made the mistake of buying their kids one years ago will remember this instantly — it’s the constant clacking sound made each time the plastic paddles hit the puck to send it skittering across the surface.

3. The Hanging Chair

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Located at the base of the slide, this colorful piece of furniture is a great place to curl up and read while gently swinging… unless, of course, you’re a kid. In that case, it’s a great place to swing wildly as your parents worry that you’re going to break the thing, especially when your siblings climb in with you.

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4. The Lego Wall

Who doesn’t love Legos, right? Okay, sure, nobody enjoys stepping on them when they’re scattered across the floor (ouch!). But a Lego wall is pretty awesome. Plus, with a little creativity, you can use the wall to leave notes for each other, spelled out in colorful blocks of course.

5. The Balcony

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Plenty of space to relax, overlooking the beating heart of the ship. Plus, there’s a hot tub perfect for soaking in, a table with seating for six and more.

6. The Human-Sized Cubbyholes

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Built into the wall are several places your kid will love to curl up and read in. And if someone gets a little grumpy or needs punished, they’d also make perfect “naughty mats” that you won’t feel too terribly guilty about sending an unruly offspring to.

7. The Entertainment Center

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

While we’re really big fans of totally disconnecting while on a cruise ship… there’s something to be said for a sweet set-up that includes video games.

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BEFORE YOU GO

How Cruise Lines Boost The Price Of Your Vacation

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When it comes to budgeting for a vacation, we all try to get the most bang for our buck. But over the past few years, the cruise lines have gotten incredibly good at figuring out ways to get a little extra money out of passengers… and most people willingly fall into the trap!

Why We’re Willing To Pay Extra

When is a hidden fee not so hidden? When it’s promoted openly and accepted without question! Increasingly, cruise lines have found that people are more than happy to shell out a little extra money — above and beyond the initial cost of their cruise — months before even setting foot on a ship! And there’s more than a little bit of psychology at play when it comes to how and why the cruise lines market these extras!

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley shared how pre-cruise spending helps boost the bottom line. “What we found,” he explained, “is that, if you spend $100 before you sail, that’s spent and gone. You don’t even put it in your budget for when you’re on vacation. So every pre-cruise revenue dollar that we generate will often generate 50% more on-board revenue for that customer.”

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If you pay for your night at Royal Caribbean’s Chops Grille in advance, you’re more likely to spend more on other things.

As Norwegian Cruise Line’s President and CEO Frank Del Rio explained during a conference call last year, “When folks have money to spend on board, they spend it in restaurants and in shops and, primarily, shore excursions. We’ve seen this wide-spread move away from buying things to enjoying experiences.” And this, he said, had led to a pretty significant uptick in on-board spending in 2017.

Shore excursions — such as the Sentry Hill Zipline on St. Marteen — are a big source of revenue for cruise lines.

How To Avoid Breaking The Bank

If you’re looking to stay within a budget, it’s important to make sure that you’re keeping track of all the expenses associated with your cruise. While it’s all well and good to get a great price on your stateroom, make sure you know exactly what’s included… and just as important, what isn’t! What additional expenses will you incur along the way? Will you be staying on the ship during all or some of the port visits, or is doing shore excursions a major part of the experience for you? Is it worth purchasing a drink package, or would you be better off simply paying as you go? Will there be pre- and post-cruise expenses such as airline tickets and hotel stays involved? Are the daily gratuities included, or do you need to factor them in separately? While trip insurance isn’t required, it’s highly recommended and could ultimately wind up saving you a whole lot of money!

READ MORE: 17 Extra Costs To Factor Into Your Cruise Budget 

While cruise vacations are a fantastic bargain, they are also a bit of an investment and should be treated as such. Just as you wouldn’t simply blindly purchase a stock in which to invest (we hope!), it’s worth taking a little bit of time to make sure you know how much you’re spending and what you can expect in return!

Do you find that you spend more on the ship if you’ve already paid for your other expenses? What are some of your best money-saving tips? 

 

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Could Free Wi-Fi Be Coming To Carnival Cruise Line?

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Gone are the days when people tried to completely disconnect while on vacation. Now, one of the things cruisers look for when planning a trip is how easily they’ll be able to stay connected… and how much it will cost! But is the idea of free wi-fi for everyone on board even a possibility, given both the technical aspects and cost prohibitions? In a recent interview, a Carnival exec suggested that might not be as far-fetched as it currently seems!

Connecting The Dots

In talking to Cruise Industry News, Reza Rasoulian, Carnival’s vice president of global connectivity (aka their internet guru), addressed some of the questions and issues all of the cruise lines are currently dealing with. And make no mistake: keeping passengers connected is something that all of the major cruise lines are interested in doing for numerous reasons. Not only is it something that their customers increasingly demand, but it also creates an avalanche of free advertising as passengers use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make everyone back home jealous!

Guests want to be able to connect from wherever they are on a ship… including the Carnival Sunshine’s atrium!

 

“There’s a lot of great ideas out tehre,” Rasoulian told the site. “We are on a great trajectory as an industry, because we need to change the conversation and make sure connectivity isn’t a problem.”

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But could this ultimately mean putting an end to wi-fi packages in favor of access being included in the price of a cruise? “We know that there are cruise lines offering it now,” he admits, “but the ships are small, 300 guests, so that’s a whole different equation. Scale is a factor, but we need to provide a situation where there’s no friction. Maybe it will happen in five or 10 years as a collaborative process.”

Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, echoed that sentiment when speaking to the press during the rollout of the line’s newest and biggest ship, Symphony of the Seas. “The theory is that over the next five to 10 years, as the technology improves, the cost of internet is going to start decreasing significantly. So I think at some point, when the cost becomes more sensible, then it will [probably be] something that will convert into free internet and Wi-Fi for our customers.”

Why Wi-Fi Is So Important

In February, Carnival Corporation tested its MedallionNet Wi-Fi on Princess Cruise Line’s Regal Princess in an effort to, as Chief Experience and Innovation officer John Padgett explained, “demonstrate that guests can have a connected experience that parallels land-based Wi-Fi.”

Over the past few years, the cruise industry has made major strides in reaching out to younger cruisers. But the executives behind the scenes know that in order to convince many gadget-addicted millennials to trade traditional land-based vacations for ones on the high seas, they must provide the kind of connectivity they demand. It’s a tall order, and one the cruise lines take very seriously… as evidenced by the fact that Carnival’s newest ship, the Carnival Horizon, even comes with a Wearable Tech outlet staffed by employees who can not only sell you the latest fitness tracking devices, but show you how to use them.

“One of the conscious decisions we continue to make is that we are not standing still,” says Rasoulian. “We want to continue to evolve.” Which would seem to indicate that when it comes to cruising, free Wi-Fi is more a matter of when than if!

Do you purchase a wi-fi package when you cruise? How important is it that you be able to stay connected to folks back home?

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Cruise News

Cruise Ship Crashes Through Pier [Video]

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It was the kind of moment that causes people to whip out their cellphones and hit record. So it’s not surprising that videos are popping up around the internet showing the MSC Armonia collide with the pier at Coxen Hole in Roatan, Honduras. And given the damage done by the incident, it’s also not surprising that several cruise lines have had to make alternative plans for ships unable to make this particular stop on their itinerary.

How The Cruise Ship Crash Happened

Screenshot via YouTube.

The videos surfacing on social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook show the ship approaching the pier a little bit too quickly and at an odd angle. As it does, you can hear people nearby go from interested to shocked as the situation escalates and the ship makes contact with the pier.

While it is unclear if there was a mechanical malfunction or a technical issue involved, the fact that the captain dropped the anchor in an attempt to slow the ship down indicates it was likely a controlled crash. Despite this attempt to avoid catastrophe, the ship remained on its collision course.

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The Ship “Grazed The End Of The Pier”

An E-mail statement released by MSC Cruises reads, in part, “While maneuvering alongside, for reasons that are currently still being duly investigated, the ship deviated from her course and grazed the end of the pier.”

According to USA Today, MSC reports that minimal damage was done to the ship, and that no passengers or crew were injured. “There was never any risk for guests or crew on board,” MSC said. “There was also no impact for the environment. In fact, while there was a slight delay for our guests to disembark, all who were scheduled to go ashore on excursions and other activities disembarked as planned.”

Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas was scheduled to dock in Coxenhole, Roatan on Wednesday but is instead spending the day at sea. Passengers aboard the Norwegian Getaway also reported that instead of Rotan, they would be visiting Belize City.

MSC Armonia is currently home-ported in Havana, Cuba offering Caribbean voyages.

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