The Virtual Balcony: Royal Caribbean’s way of making the interior room more appealing.

I am not a fan of the interior rooms on cruise ships.  Out of the many cruises I have been on,  I have only stayed in one interior room.  The main reason I don’t care for them is because I like to wake up to see the natural sunlight shining around the drawn curtains.  It helps me to wake up.  I could probably sleep the cruise away if I was in an interior room and I didn’t set an alarm to wake myself up.  I once had someone give me some good advice for getting an interior room but still getting some natural light (sort of).  They said before you go to sleep set the TV on the ship’s outside view channel and mute it.  Because it is a constant, real-time view, usually out the front of the ship, it will be dark at night and get lighter as the sun rises.  I thought that was a genius idea!

Royal Caribbean Virtual Balcony Room

Royal Caribbean Virtual Balcony Room

Well, Royal Caribbean apparently found it to be a genius idea as well because in 2014 they began offering interior rooms with a virtual balcony.  When they refurbished Navigator of the Seas they incorporated the concept in a select number of interior rooms and Quantum of the Seas set to launch in November will have a virtual balcony in all the interior cabins, 373 to be exact.  Voyager, Adventure, and Explorer of the Seas are slated next to receive the upgrade.

The concept is basically the same as what I described above, but on a much more high-tech level.  An 80-inch, High-Definition display will be framed to look like a real balcony that will stretch nearly from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall depending on the room.  What will be viewed on that display is a real-time view of one of the ship’s cameras giving the room’s occupants a virtual view of the ocean on sea days and the surrounding port on port days.  How fantastic is that?!?!  To make this amenity even more realistic, actual sounds of the sea in real-time will be piped in to enhance the authenticity.  (There will be volume control)  A-mazing!!!

Another interesting feature the virtual balconies will include is a banister to offer a feeling of safety.  Apparently, the display is so HD that it was making people feel like they could fall right into the ocean! There was a lot of details that the creators of these virtual balconies had to deal with that frankly, I got bored reading about, including how to keep people from feeling seasick.  But basically, there are a lot of really smart, tech-savvy people working on this project to bring it to all of us cruise lovers and make the interior room more appealing.

Now Royal Caribbean is not the first cruise line to come up with this virtual-view concept.  When Disney launched the Disney Dream in January 2011, many of the interior rooms boasted a virtual porthole.  The virtual portholes display a real-time ocean view on a 42-inch monitor and once in a while a popular Disney character peeps in.

Of course, it all boils down to price.  I found that on average for a 7-night Caribbean cruise a virtual balcony room was about $100 per person more expensive than an interior room.  Interestingly, I found the virtual balcony room to be the same or slightly higher in price for the lowest category ocean view room.  Honestly, I think if I was paying the same price I would rather have a window with an actual view, but I have not had a chance to see a virtual balcony yet so my opinion might change once I have.

So tell me, what do you think of this virtual balcony concept?  Would you like to stay in a virtual balcony room?  For more information on booking a cruise in one of these rooms please visit or email me at


Voyager of the Seas: Day 7, Heading Home.

So I think my unintended break from blogging has lasted way too long and it’s time to get this review of the Voyager finished up.  Once summer hit and the kids got out of school life seem to get in the way, and I have definitely neglected this blog.  I have also been a bit busy with getting my travel business up and going, but enough is enough! Let’s get this show on the road.

Day 7 seem to come way to soon for me, and all of the sudden it was our last day to enjoy this great ship.  It was of course, a sea day traveling back north out of the beautiful, blue waters of the Caribbean to the mouth of the Mississippi River; making our way once again to New Orleans.

There are many ways that one might choose to spend their last day aboard the ship before debarking to head home.  Some might like to take advantage of the spa with massages or facial treatments, body wraps or aroma therapies, pedicures or a new hair style. Possibly all of the above depending on your bank account!  But if this is something you think you might want to do, be sure to make your appointments earlier in the week as they will fill up fast.

Others may decide to explore parts of ship that they may not previously had a chance to during the week.  This might be your last chance to ring that bell at the top of the climbing wall 200 feet above the sea.  What a view!  Maybe some save ice skating for the last day.

Most of the time the shops on the Promenade are having great sales on the last day, so shoppers looking for that special souvenir to take home might find a great bargain.  The packaged liquors sometimes have two-for-one sales, so this could be a good time to stock up on that special Spiced Rum while it’s still duty free.

If gamblers haven’t stopped by the casino to try their hand at black jack or poker, they might want to get the chance before leaving International waters.  Otherwise, they just might miss the chance because the casino will be closed.

Many people realize this is their last chance to relax so they find a good book and a quiet place in the shade (deck 4 is perfect!) and try and soak up the last bits of relaxation before heading back to the real world.  I caught a lot of people snoozing with their books spread across their chest.

So what did we do for our last day?

The beer is always cold and the view is always great.

You guessed it!  We hung out at the pool, our favorite spot.  Our oldest son went straight for the teen hangout, while our youngest was back and forth between the kids club and the pool with us.  We, however, pretty much soaked up the last rays of Caribbean sun before having to head back to the cold days of Illinois.  The band, who had entertained us all week long with the sounds of the steel drum, did not disappoint as they played all through the morning and afternoon.  Derek Lewis from the Pig and Whistle even came up and played guitar with them for a while as well.

Caribbean rhythm serenading us back to New Orleans.

Drinks by the pool. The kids always knew where to find us.

I enjoyed a few more of my favorite cruise drink, the Miami Vice and indulged in the pool side BBQ.  I then topped it all off with a few rounds of the self-serve ice cream cones.  I unfortunately indulged a bit too much knowing it was going to be my last opportunity to do so.   But that’s what vacation is all about, right?

We soaked in the hot tubs in the Solarium for a while before deciding we had better head down and get ready for our last dinner in the dinning room.  We could already start to tell by the color of the water that we were getting closer and closer to the Mississippi, and as much as we didn’t want it to, our cruise was coming to an end.

Since our table was by a window we started noticing more and more lights from oil rigs out in the water.  Dinner was very casual that night, and we chatted with our table mates about all the oil rigs and how we didn’t want the week to end.  Towards the end of dinner, we noticed a boat coming along side the ship and figured that must be a pilot boat coming to escort us into the mouth of the Mississippi, and we knew we were now just mere hours away from New Orleans.

We said our goodbyes to the family we had shared our dinner table with all week and gave our tips to our wonderful wait staff.   Then, we headed down to the room to pack before having one last go ’round at the Adult Daycare at Night with Derek Lewis.  On our way, I wanted to stop on Deck 4 and go outside to see what the river looked like.  I went out on the starboard side and immediately noticed how close we were to the river bank.  It was obvious we were definitely not out to sea anymore.  I then crossed over to the port side and could feel at least a 10-degree difference in the temperature from the starboard side and saw a brilliant cloud of fog hanging over the river.  Apparently, because we were hugging the east bank of the river, it was holding in some of the warmth, I guess.  That’s my only explanation for the temperature difference.  Whatever the reason, it was quite a thing to experience.

Knowing we had an early morning, we only had one at the pub before turning in for the night.  The next morning we would begin our 9-hour journey back home to Illinois.

We chose to carry off all our luggage so we were able to get up and eat breakfast and exit the ship as we wanted.  It was fairly easy getting off the ship.  There was no crowds and short lines unless you had to wait for luggage, but the line moved quickly to get through customs .  It was even easy getting back my confiscated travel iron.

Trying to get a shuttle for the 5-minute ride back to the off-site parking garage was a whole other story.  There were, what seemed like thousands of people trying to get on a 25-30 passenger bus, and nobody was in the mood to be courteous.  I nearly had a knock-out, drag-down with some guy because he thought he could get smart with me.  I might be short, but my mouth is as tall as Goliath, and I am not afraid to use it.  If we ever use that garage again, we will forego the shuttle on the return trip and walk the block to the garage to get the car and pick up the luggage.

Alas, we were on our way home and heading back to the real world.  The memories we created on the Voyager of the Seas during Spring Break 2012 will forever be etched in our hearts and minds.

My boys and the Voyager.

On to the next adventure……….

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