January always seems like the right time to dwell on the past year and choose your favourite moments, whether it be from work or home, with friends and family, or even the best holidays you had: from cruises to city breaks.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team have been dwelling on 2016 for cruises and what discoveries we made (this ranged all the way from robotic bartenders to the realisation that living on a cruise ship is cheaper than renting in London. We know, we still can’t believe it either).
Let’s start with Royal Caribbean and its stories of storms, new ship announcements and finally breaking the ban of visiting this one destination…
1 – Sister Ships Arrive Together
2016 was the year we all welcomed the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, along with her sister ship, Ovation of the Seas. Royal Caribbean had a very busy spring with the arrival of these two sensations.
Ovation began with a 52-night ‘Global Odyssey’ cruise that culminated her arrival to her homeport in Tianjin, China, and one month later Harmony was delivered to the line where she spent the summer in Europe before heading to the US in November.
Click here for everything you need to know about why we still think you should be excited for Ovation of the Seas, and click here for five things you should do on Harmony VS four things you should avoid…
2 – Making Miami A Home
Royal Caribbean decided to make a comeback to Miami. The announcement over summer that the line was planning to build a brand new cruise terminal there was big.
Terminal A will open late 2018 and will handle Oasis class ships, which has sparked a lot of speculation on which of these ships will be calling PortMiami home…
It has so far been revealed that the new terminal will feature a cutting-edge design and has been nicknamed the ‘Crown of Miami’ because of its distinct shape. When viewed from the water, the design will evoke the points of the symbolic headgear; when viewed from the east or western approaches it will resemble the ‘M’ of Miami; and when viewed from the terminal side, it will mirror a sense of waves rising or ships passing!
At nighttime, the terminal’s facade will be lit to make sure that the building makes a striking impression whilst being known as a dynamic addition to the PortMiami landscape.
3 – A Whole Other (Icon) Class
Royal Caribbean announced that two brand new cruise ships had been ordered and that they would be powered by liquefied natural gas and fuel cell technology.
It was revealed that these ships would represent the first two members of the new Icon class of ships and that the Icon ships would accommodate approximately 5,000 passengers, yet the details were still to be worked out.
Although, we will still be waiting for the delivery of these ships! The vessels will arrive in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024 and Royal stated that, in the meantime, it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an exciting Oasis-class ship in 2017. The line will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum class ships being built in the next several years…
4 – Cuba Gets Given The Green Light
For the majority of 2016, Royal Caribbean had been hinting at the possibility of offering their guests cruises to Cuba, but the decision finally went ahead in December.
And the line actually had a very quick turnaround from when it officially received permission from the Cuban and American governments to offer cruises to when sailings on Empress of the Seas went on sale. The ship was chosen to offer Royal’s first ever sailings to Cuba which will start in the late spring of this year!
5 – The Drinking Debate Is Over
It doesn’t have to be stated that Royal Caribbean’s drink packages are quite the hit with their guests, but 2016 saw quite a few changes to what the line offers…
Before last year, drink packages onboard a Royal ship rarely included discounts, but not so far into the year passengers noticed a steady stream of discounts for any drink packages purchased prior to the cruise. This new change was the last straw for any guests debating over whether a drink package was worth: the decision was no longer that hard to make.
In September 2016, the line revamped the drink package options by simplifying the options available to those wishing to cruise with Royal. Three unlimited alcohol packages became just one package and the non-alcoholic packages were also reconsidered, all in the name of making things simpler for guests.
6 – Three Isn’t Always A Crowd
This one was an undeniably enjoyable sight to witness for all cruise lovers. Royal Caribbean’s three Oasis class cruise ships met for the first, and perhaps only, time!
If this was one of Royal’s highlights that you missed, then imagine this: the three ships rendezvoused off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in celebration of the arrival of Harmony of the Seas to her homeport of Port Everglades.
Perhaps only something real cruise geeks will understand…
7 – Pick Of The Bunch
Revitalization of the year goes to…Liberty of the Seas! Royal Caribbean often use the Galveston cruise market as a testing ground for new ideas that make it to the fleet a lot later on.
This ship was one to immensely benefit from these ideas with the new Tidal Wave water slide and tonnes of new activities and experiences (including a water park and slides that made it to Liberty way before Harmony!)
8- Stormy Seas
Way back in February of last year, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas was most unfortunate with the weather when a cruise to New York turned into enduring the winter storm found off the coast of the Carolinas. It usually takes more than a little bad weather to officially cancel a cruise but waves of over 30 feet with a side of hurricane force winds does in fact suffice.
Not to worry, there were very few injuries and Anthem of the Seas was back in operation very quickly.
9 – Trouble In The Waters
If you don’t remember, the year started off with a series of unexpected protests in Royal Caribbean’s destination of Labadee, Haiti. Some of the locals decided to protest in the waters in reaction to the then current Haitian political situation.
Royal made an executive decision to skip the scheduled stops in Labadee , despite the peaceful nature of the protest. The line felt it was clear that if the protest continued, there would be a significant impact on the guests’ enjoyment of the private island.
The protests did in fact continue for a few more days before subsiding, and cruise ships were then able to resume visit shortly after.
10 – Empty Plates And Furious Feedback
Royal Caribbean (believe it or not) did actually drop the bombshell news of their decision to abandon the Dynamic Dining concept on all of its ships, yes all of them.
Although, true Royal fans did not take too kindly to this and their reaction alone sparked the line’s decision to off a My Time Dining programme on Anthem of the Seas. It includes traditional and flexible options, aswell as new and upgraded dinner menus.
The Dynamic Dining programme was once known as the future of cruise ship dining, so the combination of Royal’s decision to abort this with the newly introduced programme only emphasises how much the brand values the opinions of its fans. Don’t hold back on your feedback, lesson learnt…
Have we missed out any top Royal Caribbean stories from 2016? What was your favourite moment onboard a Royal ship? What would you love to expect to happen for the cruise line in 2017? Leave us your thoughts and comments!
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