royal caribbean cruises

Travel News and Reviews

Royal Caribbean Celebrate 50th Birthday In Style!


Sea views, adventure and mouthwatering food – I wouldn’t have expected anything less when Royal Caribbean celebrated their 50th birthday. 


I am a big fan of Royal Caribbean Cruises. I have been on many of their cruise ships and am blown away with their innovation every time. When I was invited to join them for their 50th birthday celebrations, I knew it was going to be something special! 

royal caribbeans 50th birthday party at the cliff house hotel

The Cliff House Hotel, a boutique 5-star hotel in Co. Waterford was the chosen venue for the event. Jennifer Callister, Head of Ireland for Royal Caribbean, was quick to point out that the Cliff House was not only chosen because of its superb reputation, but also because aesthetically, it reminded her of a ship. As I looked around at the outdoor terrace and superb sea views, I immediately saw the resemblance.

royal caribbeans 50th birthday party at the cliff house hotel


After a quick lunch in the bar, it was time for our first activity. In true Royal Caribbean style, it was an outdoor adventure sport – sea-kayaking. This was a first for me, I have been in a kayak on a lake before, but the sea currents provided a more exhilarating experience. We teamed up in groups and had the task of finding various markers at sea. The team who collected the most markers were the winners. My competitive streak was out in full force, but unfortunately I had to settle for second place.


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After an active afternoon session, it was time to relax and enjoy some champagne tasting. This was another first for me. I learned so much about how champagne is made, corked and bottled, as well as the difference between a good champagne and the cheap brands you find in supermarkets. Did you know that the smaller the bubbles, the better the champagne? –  Neither did I until that moment.

royal caribbeans 50th birthday party at the cliff house hotel


After a quick shower and change it was time for the evening event. We were treated to delicious vodka-mango cocktails. They brought back memories of my cruise in the Caribbean – I’m assuming that was the objective… 

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas


Royal Caribbean then presented awards to their prestigious trade partners. The lucky winners were as follows:

  • Best Cruise Performance Europe 2018: Worldchoice Ireland
  • Best Cruise Performance Caribbean 2018: Tour America
  • Best Cruise Performance ROW 2018: Click&Go
  • Best Retail Outlet 2018: Cassidy Travel – The Pavillions
  • Outstanding Contribution Award 2018: Southern Ireland, Sunway
  • Outstanding Contribution Award 2018: Northern Ireland, Oasis Travel

royal caribbean award winners

The awards were followed by dinner in the Michelin Starred Restaurant at the Cliff House Hotel. This was, to quote one of Royal Caribbean’s slogans, ‘where extraordinary happened’. It was one of the best meals I have ever had. This was echoed throughout the room – all I could hear was exclamations of delight.

food at the cliff house hotel


The mouthwatering appetisers included Marshmallow with Smoked Popcorn, the trio of starters included Cured Bantry Bay Salmon and the trio of deserts, a Parfait Nougatine with Blackberry, Popcorn and Caramel. To say they were sublime is a massive understatement. I had the Black Angus Beef for main course, but felt like I was missing out by not having the Wild Atlantic Halibut too. It was a gastronomic feast, and one that I will cherish for many years to come.

food at the cliff house hotel waterford


Just when we thought the night couldn’t get any better, we were treated to a spectacular firework display to celebrate Royal Caribbeans’ 50th birthday, and a performance from Irish Dance music band, Scannal.  


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For anyone reading this who hasn’t cruised with Royal Caribbean before, this is indicative of what you can expect from a Royal Caribbean holiday – top class accommodation, plenty of adventure and mouth watering food. I love when an event is ‘on brand’ and this certainly was. 

royal caribban Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International is the world’s largest global cruise line. It cruises to 260 destinations in 72 countries on six continents, including Royal Caribbean’s private island Perfect Day at CocoCay. Royal Caribbean was named the “Best Ocean Cruise Company” at the Irish Travel Trade Awards in 2018, “Ireland’s favourite cruise line” at the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards in 2018 and 2019 and Irish media voted Royal Caribbean as ‘Best Cruise Company’ in the 2019 Travel Media Awards. For more details on Royal Caribbean Cruises visit their website or your local travel agent.



Want to know more about cruising with Royal Caribbean? Check out my reviews: 

My review of Independence of the Seas

My review of Harmony of the Seas

My review of Ovation of the Seas

10 reasons to choose Royal Caribbean for family cruises

Allure of the Seas will cruise from Barcelona in 2020



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery



Get All Inclusive Drinks on Royal Caribbean 2020 Cruises – Fly Cruises Available from €1489!

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If you are thinking of booking a cruise – now is the time to do it! Travelnet are offering all-inclusive drinks on Royal Caribbean 2020 cruises. Check out some of my favourites below.


Many of you already know I am a big fan of Royal Caribbean cruises. Their ships are extraordinary. With fine dining, scintillating entertainment and record breaking adventure activities, it is not surprising that they are one of the world’s most popular cruise lines. However, one of the main concerns many people have when booking cruises is the price of drinks onboard. With this amazing all-inclusive drinks promotion on Royal Caribbean 2020 cruises – you no longer need to worry about that!

Royal Caribbean 2020 cruises

You can enjoy cocktails, mocktails, beers, wines by the glass, premium coffees and fruit juices, all up to a $12 value – FREE OF CHARGE! Bar gratuities are also included and if you fancy a bottle of wine, rather than a glass, you can enjoy a 40% discount on bottles of wine under $100. This amazing promotion on Royal Caribbean 2020 cruises is available on selected sailings, including the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. This offer won’t last long though, you need to book by the 30th of September.

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

When Travelnet asked me to highlight some of the super deals available on this Royal Caribbean 2020 cruises promotion, I was only too happy to oblige. There are lots more cruises available, so if my choices don’t suit you, make sure you check out ALL of their Royal Caribbean cruise deals by clicking here. And if a free deluxe drinks package isn’t enough to tempt you, perhaps this might – will secure your booking with a €30 deposit! Note a few Ts & Cs do apply.


Allure of the Seas: 7 Night Med Cruise from €1675!

Allure of the Seas is already the most awarded ship in the world, but it also happens to be getting a $165 million makeover – just in time for summer 2020 sailings from Barcelona. I was amazed to learn that this all-inclusive drinks promotion applied to Allure of the Seas too! You will have the opportunity to visit Majorca, Provence, Florence/ Tuscany, Rome and the Amalfi Coast over seven memorable days. 

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

There are seven different neighbourhoods on Allure of the Seas, each with its own distinctive vibe. The Royal Promenade is full of shops, bars and restaurants, and comes alive at night-time with a party atmosphere. The Boardwalk reminds me of a seaside pier and has a hand-painted carousel, and the pool / sports zone is full of non-stop action.

One of my personal favourite neighbourhoods is Central Park. There are a staggering 12,000 trees and plants there, it really feels like you are in a park, rather than on a cruise ship. There are great restaurants and bars there too. After a tasty dinner, what better than a world-class show. Mamma Mia is a must see, as are the Aqua shows in the open-air theatre. Read more about Allure of the Seas here.

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

The price of €1675 includes a seven-night cruise with deluxe drinks package, return flights, transfers and 20kg checked baggage, departing on the 30th of August. There are many different dates available throughout the summer, so if this date does not suit, talk to the team at Travelnet and they will find one to suit your requirements.

View offer here


Rhapsody of the Seas: 7 Nights Greek Isles Cruise from €1489!

Rhapsody of the Seas has floor to ceiling windows that ensure stunning ocean views throughout. You can expect world class shows and numerous restaurants onboard, including their famous steak-house, Chops Grille. It’s outdoor movie screen is a big hit with both adults and children, looking to enjoy balmy nights under the stars.

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

I love Greece, so when I saw the itinerary I was hooked. You depart from Venice, visiting Athens and the Greek islands, as well as Kotor in Montenegro, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Marvel at the Acropolis and take time to wander around the Greek towns of Corfu, Kefalonia and Mykonos, before returning to Venice for your flight home.

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

The price of €1489 includes flights, a seven-night cruise with deluxe drinks package, 20kg checked baggage and airport transfers. departing on the 3rd of October. There are many different dates available, so if this date does not suit, talk to the team at Travelnet and they will find one to suit your requirements.

View offer here


Oasis of the Seas: Western Caribbean Cruise with Balcony & Pre-Cruise Hotel Stay from €1795!

Oasis of the Seas was the original record breaker. It was the first ship to introduce seven different neighbourhoods onboard a cruise ship. It has recently undergone a $165 million amplification that added several new venues including Portside BBQ and Playmakers Sports Bar. The pool and sports zone has been reimagined too, with the addition of the 10-story Ultimate Abyss slide as well as the trio of waterslides known as The Perfect Storm.  

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

Old favourites like Central Park and the Aqua Theatre still remain, and rightly so. Check out my review of Harmony of the Seas, this should give you an idea of what to expect from her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas.

The Western Caribbean itinerary is one of my Caribbean favourites. You will visit Mexico, Jamaica, Labadee and Haiti, but also have plenty of time to enjoy the Caribbean sea views from your balcony stateroom.

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

The price of €1795 includes a seven-night cruise with deluxe drinks package, an upgrade to a balcony stateroom, a pre-cruise stay in Miami, return flights, transfers and baggage, departing the 25th of January. There are many different dates available, so if this date does not suit, talk to the team at Travelnet and they will find one to suit your requirements.

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Anthem of the Seas: Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise, from €1869!

Anthem of the Seas is part of the Quantum class of ships. I was lucky enough to cruise on her sister ship, Ovation of the Seas – and she is a beauty. The facilities onboard are superb. You can sky dive, ride a bumper car and even become a certified diver! The panoramic view from the 300ft high North Star viewing pod is amazing, and something that only Quantum Class ships can boast – to say this ship is innovative is putting it mildly.

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

Like all Royal Caribbean cruise ships, you can expect a wide selection of dining options, including Jamie’s Italian, Chops Grille – Royal Caribbean’s signature steak-house, and the extraordinary Wonderland – a gastronomic delight in an Alice in Wonderland setting. Night-time entertainment is top class too, with broadway shows such as Mamma Mia and the West End hit, We Will Rock You. Check out my review of Ovation of the Seas, this should give you an idea of what to expect from her sister, Anthem of the Seas.

As well as jaw-dropping facilities, this cruise will also enable you to visit Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day. I can’t wait to visit Perfect Day, it is high on my wish list! Royal Caribbean just spent $250 million dollars transforming this paradise island in the Bahamas, with incredible facilities to suit all ages and tastes. Thrillseekers will love the massive waterpark, which has the tallest waterslide in North America, and a 1,600-foot-long zip-line course. They even have a massive helium balloon that goes 450 feet up in air, to capture the ultimate selfie.  This cruise sails from New Jersey and stops in Orlando and Nassau too, with just enough sea days to enjoy all that Anthem of the Seas has to offer.

royal caribbean 2020 cruises

Price of €1869 includes a seven night cruise with deluxe drinks package, an upgrade to a balcony stateroom, a pre-cruise stay, return flights, transfers and baggage, departing the 28th of March. There are many different dates available, so if this date does not suit, talk to the team at Travelnet and they will find one to suit your requirements.

View offer here


royal caribbean 2020 cruises

The above Royal Caribbean 2020 cruises are just a sample of the all-inclusive cruises that Travelnet have available.  are part of the Barter Travel Group, who have been selling holidays and cruises for over 150 years in Ireland. Suffice to say they know their stuff! If the dates on their website don’t suit, or you have particular requirements, give the sales team a call on 01 5310402 or 021 4851700. Alternatively fill out the enquiry form online and they will get back with the best options to suit you.


This post was sponsored by but all views, as always, are my own.



CruisesFamily Holidays

10 Reasons to Choose Royal Caribbean For Family Cruises


Kids clubs up to age 17, non-stop entertainment and large family suites are just some of the reasons to choose Royal Caribbean for family cruises – here are my top 10.


Ahoy there, did you know the cruise industry is booming? Every week I hear about ground breaking technology and amazing activities on yet another new cruise ship! Who needs formal dining and bridge when you can have sushi bars and dance classes? Waterparks are now the the norm on Royal Caribbean family cruises and they have even replaced bar men with robots in their bionic bars!

The average age has changed dramatically over the past ten years and cruise ships have adapted so well to their new younger clientele, particularly Royal Caribbean cruises. I was fortunate to be able to bring my kids on Independence of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, so when Royal Caribbean asked me to tell you ten reasons why you should choose Royal Caribbean for family cruises, it was an easy decision to make! 

Royal Caribbean For Family Cruises

1. You will NEVER hear the words ‘I’m bored’!

Royal Caribbean know that with family cruises, active kids are happy kids! For anyone who hasn’t cruised before it is difficult to comprehend how much there is to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The fact that some of the newest ships are taller than the Eiffel Tower and have seven different neighbourhoods on board, might make it a little easier to visualise.  

A program is placed in your cabin each day which lists all the different activities available. There are games, shows and different activities daily, designed especially for each age group, as well as a host of different kids clubs for all ages (more on that later). You can expect to find multi-sports courts and waterparks on most of their new cruise ships, catering for kids of all ages. Kids will think it is like Christmas morning, all day, every day! 

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is great for family cruises

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2. Royal Caribbean’s family cruises are a great way to re-connect with your teenager! 

Watch your teenager’s mood swings sail away on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Although there are teen clubs (more on that below), games consoles and the all important WiFi on board, don’t be surprised if you see them ditch ‘Fortnite’ for the FlowRider® – Royal Caribbean’s surf simulator.


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They can put their muscles to the test on the Rock Climbing Wall, slide down the Ultimate AbyssSM, the tallest slide at sea, don a virtual reality mask on the bungee trampoline SkyPadSM, or zipline across an open atrium, nine decks above the boardwalk. I braved the zipline on Harmony of the Seas and it was terrifying, but I have no doubt teenagers will love it! I also tried the SKYPadSM on Independence of the Seas and was blown away – it is the only one of it’s kind at sea.


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Royal Caribbean have some mind blowing waterslides too, the Perfect Storm racer slides on Harmony of the Seas are perfect for teens and ‘The Blaster’ is coming to Navigator of the Seas soon, it will feature 800 feet of twists, turns, drops and the longest stretch of slide ever suspended over water.

Blaster slide - family cruises

They can enjoy activities at night time too with teen dinners, pool parties and movie nights. There are teen-only hang outs, a teen-only nightclub and open mic nights for budding performers.
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3. They have so many exciting dining options and you don’t have to dress up for dinner!

Royal Caribbean cruise ships have restaurants to suit all tastes and ages. As well as their popular buffet and main dining rooms, there are a host of speciality dining options . Enjoy mouth-watering steaks in Chops Grille, tasty burgers in Johnny Rockets or delicious pasta and pizza at Jamie’s Italian. We loved the Teppanyaki restaurant on Independence of the Seas. The kids enjoyed the interactive experience and now every time we go on holidays they always look to see if there is a Teppanyaki restaurant there.

Independence of the seas - teppanyaki

Why not take advantage of the late night kids club, (7$ per hour) and enjoy some fine dining on your own one night? You don’t need to select a specific dining time, just opt for ‘My Time Dining’ and dine whenever you like. You can reserve a table in advance for your preferred time, or simply show up and wait for an available table. Of course if you want to opt for traditional dining and select the same table and dining time each day, you can do that too. You can dress up or go casual, it is completely up to you. Royal Caribbean make it very simple – dine your own way!

wonderland on royal caribbean cruises

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4. There are family shows every night on Royal Caribbean’s family cruises.

While you may love to see your kids off enjoying themselves during the day, it is nice to do some family activities too. Royal Caribbean Broadway style shows are superb. We saw Grease and it was fantastic. The kids loved it, in fact I had to download the soundtrack when we got home! Shows vary depending on which ship you choose but Hairspray, Mamma Mia and the Queen tribute, We Will Rock You, are currently showing on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship near you…..

Royal Caribbean for family cruises

The Aqua shows on Oasis Class Ships are in an open air theatre, with a backdrop of the ocean across the horizon. The setting is remarkable. There are two 30-foot diving platforms on each side of a the deepest pool at sea, with professional acrobats walking tightropes, divers and synchronised swimmers. I recall thinking that the Royal Caribbean slogan ‘ Where Extraordinary Happens’ was so apt when we watched this show, it really was extraordinary.

Royal Caribbean's Aquatheatre is great for family cruises

Royal Caribbean also have their own original productions and ice skating shows so it is possible to have a completely different family evening each night – and all included in the cost of your cruise.

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5. No matter what time of year you want to travel, Royal Caribbean have family cruises to suit you.

Royal Caribbean International is the world’s largest global cruise line. They have 26 cruise ships, cruising to over 260 destinations in 72 countries across six continents! I think it is fair to say that no matter which destination you want to cruise to, they will always have family cruises to suit you.

Show the kids the wonders of Rome or ancient Greece on Royal Caribbean Mediterranean cruises, visit Alcatraz and DisneyLand on their West Coast of America cruise, give them a taste of the Orient with their wide selection of destinations in Asia ,or enjoy family days on the Caribbean’s best beaches.

royal caribbean cruise itineraries


6. Royal Caribbean have their own paradise island in the Bahamas called Perfect Day at Cococay!

I can’t wait to visit Perfect Day – it looks absolutely amazing! Royal Caribbean just spent $250 million dollars transforming this paradise island in the Bahamas, with incredible facilities to suit all ages and tastes. Thrillseekers will love the massive waterpark which has the tallest waterslide in North America, and a 1,600-foot-long zip-line course. They even have a massive helium balloon that goes 450 feet up in air, to capture the ultimate selfie!

best family cruises

Little ones are well catered for too with their own waterpark, Splashaway Bay and for those who just want to chill out, the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool is here, or simply relax on a cabana on Chill Island, Perfect Day’s very own chill zone. When you think of family cruises, this destination should be at the top of your wish list.

perfect day at cococay

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7. There are Kids Clubs for anyone between 6 months and 17 years!

Royal Caribbean award-winning Adventure Ocean® Kids Club has kids clubs to suit everyone from 6 months to 17 years. There are 45 minute interactive playgroups for babies, or if you fancy chilling out at the spa, you can use the Tots Nursery. The kids clubs are split into three groups, Aquanauts (3-5 years), Explorers (6-8 years) and Voyagers (9-11 years), while the teens club has two groups, Younger teens (aged 12-14) and Older Teens (aged 15-17) – because Royal Caribbean know all too well that 17 year olds don’t want to mix with 12 year olds!

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas best family cruises

From pirate parties to science experiments, Royal Caribbean family cruises offer a host of interactive programs and activities for each age group. They also have a Late Night Party Zone between 10pm and 2am – perfect if you have a date night. All kids clubs are included in the cost of your cruise, but additional fees apply for the nursery and the late night party zone.

kids clubs on royal caribbean cruise ships - family cruises

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8. Royal Caribbean’s family cruises offer shore excursions specifically for families.

Exploring new cities and destinations is all part of cruising, but let’s face it, there are only so many city tours kids can take! Luckily Royal Caribbean have curated shore excursions specifically with families in mind. You can enjoy fun-filled family days in exciting locations all over the world.

family cruise destinations

Make visiting Rome’s monuments exciting for kids. Let them learn the art of Roman gladiator combat followed by a tour of the Colosseum. Want to see Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast? Combine this scenic drive with a pizza making class in Sorrento. There are visits to a dog-sled camp in Alaska, you can save sea turtles in Mexico or swim with sharks and sting-rays in Belize.

family cruises

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9. Royal Caribbean cruise ships have family suites 

Royal Caribbean have a wide choice of accommodation options. Interior and Oceanview family staterooms can sleep up to six, or you can opt for two interconnecting staterooms if you want more privacy. If you have two families travelling together, or want to bring the grandparents along, opt for the Royal Family Suite which sleeps up to eight.

If you really want to push the boat out (excuse the pun), go for the Ultimate Family Suite! This two bedroom suite also sleeps up to eight, but has a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, a slide from the kids bedroom to the lounge, a movie room with a popcorn machine and a 3D TV. And that’s just the inside! The 212 square foot wrap-around balcony touts a bumper pool table, a climbing experience and a full-size whirlpool that will provide unmatched ocean views.  

Symphony of the Seas ultimate family suite - family cruises

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10. Royal Caribbean’s family cruises are great value

How much do you spend dining out with the family or going to a show together in your hometown? When you think that all meals, world-class shows, kids clubs and jaw dropping activities are included in the cost of your cruise, as well the the opportunity of visiting six different destinations on a seven-night holiday, Royal Caribbean family cruises are great value.

At the time of issue, Royal Caribbean is offering a seven-night Oman and Emirates cruise from €499 per person, a seven-night Mediterranean cruise from €619 per person and a fourteen-night Caribbean Transatlantic cruise from €839 per person! 

View latest cruise offers here



Want to know more about family cruises? Check out my reviews: 

My review of Independence of the Seas

My review of Harmony of the Seas


This post was sponsored by Royal Caribbean International, but all views, as always are my own.



The Travel Expert

CruisesFamily Holidays

My Review of Independence of the Seas – The Ultimate Family Cruise Ship!


Royal Caribbean have launched the largest cruise ship in the world, Symphony of the Seas recently, but Independence of the Seas, the UK’s favourite cruise ship, wasn’t going to be left out of the limelight, she had a multi million pound makeover!


It seems like every other month there is a new cruise ship launch, which makes choosing the right cruise harder and harder. So what makes Independence of the Seas different from the rest? Dubbed the Ultimate Family Cruise Ship, the multi-million pound makeover is a family focused one. Many of the new experiences on board are geared towards families. I was fortunate to be able to cruise on the revamped Independence of the Seas on it’s inaugural sailing from Southampton. I was also able to bring my two children Luke (10) and Alex (7) to Southampton the following week to see what they thought.

We were on Harmony of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s larger cruise ships, last year, so we had something great to compare it to. I am so proud that Luke was chosen as one of Royal Caribbean’s Little Extraordinaires, a panel of six children who will act as consultants on future Royal Caribbean ships. The panel was introduced following startling research that 70% of parents will consult their children before booking a holiday! Luke’s first ‘job’ was to road-test Independence of the Seas, and I was delighted to have an excuse to get back on board!


Our first mission was to try the brand new Sky Pad. This virtual reality bungee trampoline experience is another ‘first’ for Royal Caribbean and is only available on Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas; another cruise ship that has had a $90 million dollar makeover. Sky Pad is suitable for adults and children, aged 5 and over. If you want to don the VR head-set you need to be at least 7 years of age. There are four trampolines encased in a bright orange sphere on the top deck of the ship. It looks impressive even before you try it! All three of us had a go and we loved it. Myself and Alex smashed candies in the sugar world while my son went into the future and dodged bouncing balls. There is a knack to bouncing and if you manage to balance in the centre of the trampoline you can go really high! Alex managed to do this and gave Luke and I a mild panic attack in the process!

Much to my surprise, Luke decided to try the Flowrider surf simulator. The expert staff let you use a bodyboard for an easier experience although it is only a matter of time before you fall off… The great thing about this and the Sky Pad is that you can try them over and over again and I would imagine by the end of your week’s cruise, the novice would become the master!

For all around family run there is a large aqua park called Splashaway Bay which is great for kids of all ages, with small slides and a large splash bucket. There are also two larger waterslides for older children, kids need to be 122cm to ride. These were a big hit with Luke and Alex who loved racing each other over and over again.

Independence of the Seas

After a morning at the pool, it was time for lunch. We debated between Sorrento’s pizza  or the Windjammer buffet restaurant, both included in the price of your cruise, but decided the Windjammer ticked all boxes for the three of us. The decadent array of hot and cold foods is enough to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. The only problem I have with buffets is that I eat too much, but needless to say the kids were not complaining!

Independence of the seas

Independence of the Seas has four restaurants included in the cost of your cruise as well as six speciality dining options. Kids will love the Fish & Ships restaurant on the pool deck but it caters well for adults too, with lobster rolls and deep fried calamari. I wasn’t overly convinced about the deep fried chocolate bars though…. I ate in the main dining room for dinner and it was superb. The food, service and even the room itself is very impressive.

Independence of the Seas

I also tried the speciality restaurant, Izumi. This sushi and hibachi grill has the largest teppanyaki dining experience in the fleet. We enjoyed a lively presentation from our host Elvis, as he cooked up delicious asian food right in front of us. If sushi isn’t your thing, you can opt for the beef and tiger shrimp combo, sea scallops and lobster or even steak and chicken breast! It was a great experience and one I would urge everyone to book at least once during their cruise. 

Independence of the seas

There are eight bars on board. For kick-ass cocktails try the latin themed Boleros. There is also The Champagne Bar somewhere – I don’t know how I missed that one! The brand new sports bar Playmakers is impressive. With pool tables and live events on 30 large screen TV’s, it has a cool American vibe. You can also pick up some tasty wings, sliders and a wide selection of beers. 

Independence of the seas

Getting back to the kids! After lunch they played a quick game of mini-golf before trying the team game, Laser-Tag. This incredible set up is in Studio B, where the night club and ice rink are. Did I mention there is an ice-skating rink on board? In true Royal Caribbean style the floor rotates and the ice rink stays underneath, while the studio transforms into a glow-in-the-dark laser tag course, where aliens fight robots in the battle for Planet Z! This was another big hit with my kids and all the other children too.

Independence of the seas

There are plenty more activities on board that they didn’t get a chance to try. The rock climbing wall and multi sports court are no doubt huge draws as is Puzzle Break. This is an escape room where guests need to work together to find hidden clues and solve high-tech riddles to reveal the mystery. Unlike most of the activities on board, there is an additional charge for this. There is also an arcade room with a host of video games, including the latest Star Wars games. Independence of the Seas has traditional kids entertainment too, with a host of kids clubs, from a babies nursery to the teen club, as well as an outdoor movie screen by the pool!

Independence of the Seas

Parents are well looked after too with a spa and fitness centre, jogging track, a host of swimming pools, seven jacuzzis and a casino! There is also an adult-only solarium if you fancy escaping the kids for a few hours. Make sure you try the frozen pina coladas with mango, they are to die for!

Grease the musical is the on show in the Royal Theatre which is suitable for both adults and children. We saw this on Harmony of the Seas and loved it. I had to download the soundtrack and the movie when I got home and the kids watched it over and over again.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

There are numerous live music and comedy acts each night, including a Take That tribute band. We were lucky to be able to see Mark Wright on the decks in Studio B. It was like being at a rock concert, the atmosphere was electric. Who said cruise ships are boring?

Another great show is the party on the Royal Promenade every night. People spill out of the bars and there is a street party feel to it. From Buck’s Fizz’ ‘Making your Mind Up’ to Elton John’s ‘I’m still standing’, the Royal Britannia show is holiday atmosphere at it’s best. This may sound cheesy, believe me it is, but it is also great fun and shouldn’t be missed! The Royal Promenade is one of the focal points of the ship and is full of shops, bars and restaurants. I bought some costume jewellery in one of the shops while the kids tucked into some Ben & Jerry’s! Sugar lovers will love the brand new Sugar Beach candy store. Packed with thousands of sweets and some cuddly toys, this is a children’s dream, or nightmare, depending on how you look at it!

Independence of the Seas

There are a wide selection of staterooms available including panoramic ocean view staterooms with floor to ceiling views, for the ultimate sunset views. We stayed in a spacious ocean view stateroom with a balcony. It even had a large walk in wardrobe!

Independence of the Seas

The revamped Independence of the Seas has 1929 staterooms. This is 830 rooms less than Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Symphony of the Seas. I loved the size of Independence of the Seas. It is a massive cruise ship with 15 decks and capable of housing over 4500 guests, but it doesn’t feel that big when you are on it. It is very easy to navigate, the lifts have all the facilities listed, I didn’t ask for directions once! My sense of direction is fairly poor and I have got ‘lost’ on many occasions on other cruise ships! If you were relaxing on your balcony you could meet up with the kids within minutes, regardless of where they were on the ship. I have no doubt it will continue to be regarded as the UK’s favourite cruise ship. I wonder in time will it be Ireland’s favourite too?

Independence of the seas

Royal Caribbean are revamping 10 cruise ships over the next few years and spending a staggering 900 million dollars in the process! They have been bringing industry firsts to the cruise industry for 49 years, and with over 40 national and international awards in 2017, they want to ensure that they continue to be regarded as the most innovative cruise line in the industry.


For more details visit This post was sponsored by Royal Caribbean Cruises but all views as always, are my own.



The Travel Expert



Royal Caribbean Previews World’s Largest Cruise Ship, Symphony of the Seas, in London


I’m a big fan of Royal Caribbean Cruises so when they invited me to see the first interactive cruise experience on dry land, I jumped at the chance!


The world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas will be cruising the Mediterranean this Summer and Royal Caribbean wanted to give the public a taste of what they can expect to find on a Royal Caribbean holiday.  This pop-up experience was open to the public for two days right in the centre of London, and was aptly named Symphony of the Senses.

Food glorious food! I have been fortunate to cruise with Royal Caribbean before and the dining options are superb. In true Royal Caribbean fashion we were greeted with champagne and canapés and throughout the experience there were indicators of just how much variety you can expect on board. We were treated to a rendition of La Bamba by Mexican singers – a reminder that El Loco Fresh, a delicious Mexican Restaurant, will be on Symphony of the Seas, serving up burritos, fish tacos and chicken enchiladas. You will find lots more dining experiences on board such as ‘Hooked’, Royal Caribbean’s first New England-style seafood restaurant as well as firm favourites, Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian and Wonderland. There are a staggering 18 different restaurants to choose from …..

Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas will also have a dedicated place for those with sweet tooths – Sugar Beach. This will be fully loaded with all your favourite sweets and homemade ice cream. Kids can even decorate their own cakes! We met ‘Lolly’ who showed us exactly what to expect.

Symphony of the Seas

We were allowed ‘backstage’ at Hairspray the Musical where Tracy Turnblad burst into song in front of us! The Broadway hit Hairspray will be one of the many shows on Symphony of the Seas this year.  You can also expect to be treated to an ice rink spectacular and the jaw-dropping acrobatic show at the AquaTheatre. I saw a similar show on Symphony of Seas’ sister ship, Harmony of the Seas. You can read all about my review of Harmony of the Seas here.

Symphony of the Seas

A walk through the jungle reminded us of how much adventure can be had on a Royal Caribbean holiday, both on board the cruise ship and when you dock in various ports. Symphony of the Seas will cruise the Mediterranean this Summer but will move to the Caribbean during the Winter time. Royal Caribbean visit 250 destinations in 77 countries across 6 continents, suffice to say there is plenty of adventure to be had when you are on land too.

Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas offers extraordinary facilities for families.  There is a kids waterpark, a trio of water slides, the Ultimate Abyss (the tallest slide at sea), surf simulators, a new glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena and Puzzle Break, where teams try to escape a submarine-themed room. There are many accommodation options to choose from, the ultimate family suite being the top of the range. This two bedroom suite can sleep up to eight and includes a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, a slide from the kids bedroom to the lounge, a movie room with a popcorn machine and a 3D TV. And that’s just the inside! The 212 square foot wrap-around balcony touts a bumper pool table, a climbing experience and a full-size whirlpool that will provide unmatched ocean views.

Symphony of the Seas


It looks like a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas will provide the ultimate family holiday. I hope I get the chance to try it! For more details visit their website.


Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.



 The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery


In The Media

Tips & Deals for Booking Summer Holidays As Discussed on Newstalk


With tons of special offers available and a desire to have something to look forward to, January is the best time to book a holiday. Check out my top tips and deals for booking Summer holidays that I discussed with Ivan Yates on Newstalk.


Compare like with like.

I say this time and time again as this is the biggest mistake people make when booking holidays online. When comparing package holidays with holidays you design yourself, make sure you include baggage charges, airport transfers and local taxes. Tour Operators like Sunway , Topflight and TUI Holidays will offer packages with no hidden extras, so make sure the ‘deal’ you think you have found online is really as good as it seems.

A 20kg checked bag costs €110 to Lanzarote in the Summer with Aer Lingus and airport transfer costs to some resorts in the Algarve and Majorca can also be extremely high, so make sure you add these to the cost of the basic flight and accommodation before you compare with a package holiday.

The same applies to long haul holidays. Sometimes specialists like Tropical Sky will be able to offer cheaper packages than if you bought a flight and hotel separately. Some low cost carriers charge high amounts for baggage, allocated seating, even meals, on long haul flights. Compare these with airlines such as Turkish Airlines who include a generous baggage allowance, all meals and even drinks on board.



Check the total flight duration.

You may find a special offer on a particular website to Los Angeles or Thailand but when you book it you will find that it takes you 24 hours to get there! Sometimes the lowest airfares have many stopovers and can take double the time of a direct flight – make sure you read the times!

Check one way and return airfares.

When booking a flight make sure you check both one way and return airfares. With Aer Lingus and Ryanair for instance, you may find it is cheaper to fly out with one airline and home with another. This can also be useful for good flight times, one airline may have better times on the outward journey and another on the return. 

Skycanner will combine all airlines so you can automatically find the best airfares and quite often the lowest priced journey will be with two different carriers. Skyscanner will also show you carriers that you may not have thought of, i.e Vueling who fly direct to Barcelona from Dublin or Iberian Express who fly to Madrid.

tips and deals for booking summer holidays


Like these tips? See more here.


Some of the best sales / deals available.

tips and deals for booking summer holidays

Aer Lingus annual seat sale is on until the 16th of January offering up to 50% off selected European airfares and flights to the USA from €209 one way, if sold as part of a return ticket. Apparently they have reductions on 3 million seats!

TUI Holidays ( formerly Falcon Holidays ) is offering 1000’s of free child places with a low booking deposit of €75.

Attraction Tickets Direct have a Win Win promotion. If you pay a €25 deposit on theme park tickets to Florida and the price reduces when you are due to pay your balance, you will be charged the lower price. If the price increases ( due to currency fluctuations or general price increases ) they wont charge you any more. Hence the term win win – you can’t loose!

Topflight has a ski and summer sale with discounts across all seasons and destinations including ski holidays and a wide range of holidays to Italy.

Click& is offering €1 deposits on holidays booked with Aer Lingus, departing 10 or more weeks from the booking date. A further €150 deposit is due 4 weeks after booking and the balance is payable 10 weeks before departure.

Royal Caribbean Cruises is offering buy one get one half price, plus free deluxe drinks packages on selected sailings. They are also offering 25% discount on the 3rd and 4th passengers, which is ideal for families.


My Top 3 Top Long Haul Picks:

top tips and deals for bookings summer holidays

Sunway is offering a seven night all-inclusive stay in the Dominican Republic from €875 in May. Price includes flights and hotel for 1 week, with all meals and drinks included. Upgrade to the 5* Dreams Punta Cana for €1189. Click here for more details:

Tropical Sky is offering a seven night all-inclusive stay in the Maldives from €1499 including flights and speed boat transfers. Click here for more details:

Travalue has a 12 night holiday to South Africa with accommodation in Cape Town, the wine lands and the Garden Route, with 9 days car hire, and a safari for 2 nights on a full board basis, from €1695 in May or June. Click here for more details:


Like these deals? See more here.




Travel News and Reviews

Royal Caribbean Show Us Something Extraordinary on the Streets of Dublin

Royal Caribbean Levitation Stunt

Royal Caribbean took their slogan ‘where extraordinary happens’ to a whole new level by showing Dublin’s shoppers a truly extraordinary levitation stunt.


TV personality David Meade developed this unique performance to coincide with the launch of Royal Caribbean’s 2018 cruise brochure. Apparently David Meade was so excited by the extraordinary offerings in their new brochure that he levitated off the ground! ” We wanted to encapsulate this extraordinary experience in an ordinary context to demonstrate how Royal Caribbean can transport you to somewhere spectacular, said Meade.  ”Jennifer Callister, Head of Ireland, Royal Caribbean, commented: “At Royal Caribbean our aim is to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary and as one in 10 of our customers are from Ireland we wanted to celebrate the launch of the 2018/2019 brochure by bringing something extraordinary directly to the streets of Dublin. This ground-breaking performance epitomises the adventure playground of incredible experiences both off and onboard our ships, and was a fantastic way to kick-start that summer feeling and inspire new adventures.”

The stunt which took place just of Dublin’s busiest street, Grafton Street, was not the only surprise in store for Dublin shoppers. Another illusion transformed a €50 note into a golden ticket for a lucky winner who will get the opportunity to cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas next year. This extraordinary cruise ship will be the world’s largest when it is launched in 2018. On-lookers were also encouraged to post pics on social media to win a €100 voucher for Jamie’s Italian in Dundrum Town Centre, a restaurant that is also on many of Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean continues to provide extraordinary cruise ships and holiday experiences. They visit 250 destinations in 77 countries across 6 continents, and are bound to have a cruise to suit you 🙂

For more details visit their website or your local travel agent.




Travel The World For Free – An Extraordinary Intern ‘Ship’ From Royal Caribbean

Ovation of the Seas

Do you have a smartphone? Are you adventurous? Are you a instagram whiz? Are you available to travel the world for three weeks between June and July?  Then I might have found your dream job! An extraordinary intern ‘ship’ from Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean want you to travel the world on their extraordinary cruise ships and document life on board on via instagram. You will travel to New York, the Caribbean, Asia and the Med on three of Royal Caribbean’s luxurious cruise ships. All travel, accommodation, meals and expenses are included. You can sky dive, rock climb, surf, zip line, swim and pretty much do what ever you want for three whole weeks! And not that you should need any more incentive to apply but… the winner receives 3,000 in prize money!


Review of Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas


Open to applicants from the UK and Ireland who are aged over 21 years old. Full passport with no criminal record and no travel restrictions.


Click below for more details on how to enter and good luck!


Source: Extraordinary-‘Intern-Ship’ – Royal Caribbean UK






Cruise Hong Kong and Japan with Royal Caribbean, 9 Nights inc flights €1199!

Voyager of the Seas

Enjoy a cruise of a lifetime for a once in a lifetime price! Cruise Hong Kong and Japan with Royal Caribbean for only €1199!


It doesn’t get much better than this – this is a one time limited offer, so if you can fly off to the Far East at a moment’s notice – then do it! You won’t set sail till 5pm on the second day so you should have plenty of time to enjoy the the amazing city of Hong Kong, where culture and modern society combine. Take the cable car ride for the best view, a dragon boat ride ( just to say you did ), or shop till you drop in the markets or designer shops, FYI – there is no sales tax in Hong Kong! At night time enjoy the iconic skyline as you taste the orient’s best choice of cuisine.

Hong Kong

Once you board Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas you will be delighted that you have some days at sea. This modern cruise ship has so much to offer including an ice skating rink, a luxury spa and a royal promenade with excellent shopping. There are also outstanding restaurants on board as well as top class west end style shows.

Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas

Your stops in Japan include the stunning island of Okinawa. The scene of one of the fiercest battles of World War II, Okinawa now offers a laid back vibe with stunning beaches. Often described as the Hawaii of the East, this is not typically Japanese. With crystal clear waters, sub-tropical jungles and a bustling city, this is bound to be one of your highlights.


You will also get the opportunity to stop at the spa town of Beppu. Home to over 2,000 hot springs, you can enjoy a bathe in one of their therapeutic mud baths.  Another highlight will be the attractive city of Hiroshima. Renowned also for the second world war atrocities, it is a vibrant city that has recovered and is now thriving.


Fly from Dublin to Hong Kong on the 17th of September and cruise Hong Kong and Japan with Royal Caribbean  for only €1,199 per person. Price includes flights, over night in Hong Kong, eight night cruise, checked baggage and taxes! Price is based on an inside stateroom, upgrade to an ocean-view from €80 or balcony from €240.


Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713 – Open 7 days a week!


Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by but all views, as always, are my own 🙂


Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.



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In The Media

Cruise Holidays as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM


Thinking of cruise holidays but not sure which ship to choose? I discussed cruise holidays on TV3’s Sunday AM this morning, here are the highlights.

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For anyone who thinks cruises are only for elderly people – they are completely mistaken. I have been on board many ships and I can honestly say there is a cruise for everyone out there. Cruise ships are often referred to as floating hotels and in some cases they are more like floating cities. You can choose the massive ships like Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas which can carry 6,700 passengers, or opt for a smaller more intimate river cruise like Uniworld’s SS Catherine, which carries 159 passengers.


Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Cruise Holidays - Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

Special offer:  28th August, 7 Nights, €1479pp! Includes flights,transfers, baggage and cruise in a neighbourhood balcony stateroom. Click here for more details.


If you want non stop action and great facilities for kids, then it is hard to beat Harmony of the Seas. This is the newest and largest ship at sea and was recently launched in Barcelona. I was on board for two days with my family, and we had a blast. There are numerous swimming pools, a kids splash park, three water slides and also the largest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss. This is a pair of slides that offer a 100 foot drop over 10 decks. You can also zip line (I did and it was terrifying), ice skate, surf, use the rock climbing wall. See what I mean about non stop action! They also offer amazing entertainment at night time with top class west end shows and an aqua theatre at the back of the ship. This modern show sees acrobats and synchronised swimmers perform just as the sun sets over the horizon. It is really dramatic and quite an experience.

Cruise Holidays - Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

There are over 20 different restaurants on board, some with additional charges but there are plenty of dining options included in the cost of your cruise. This is the most innovative ship I have ever seen, even the wifi on board is super fast. They have bionic bars (where your drinks are served by robots) and a bar that moves between decks, so you don’t miss any action. Kind of like a large elevator with a bar inside! There are seven different neighbourhoods on board including the Boardwalk and Central Park, which has 12,000 real trees and plants! It is enormous, but there are so many different places to go, that it can handle all 6,780 passengers. For more information on Harmony of the Seas, read my blog here.




Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Silhouette.

Cruise Holidays - Celebrity Silhouette

Special Offer: Celebrity Constellation 8th December, 9 night Dubai & Emirates Cruise, €1299 per person. Includes over night stays in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, direct flights, transfers, baggage, oceanview stateroom, with classic drinks package. Click here for more details.


For those who are looking for something a little more upmarket, try Celebrity Cruises. I was on Celebrity Silhouette when it was docked in Dublin and I loved it. It carries approximately 3000 passengers so in my opinion a nice size, not too big but not too small either. It has a country club feel rather than a large cruise ship and interiors are bright and airy. They have a manicured grass lawn and cabanas on deck and even the sun loungers are luxurious.

Cruise Holidays - Cabanas on Celebrity Silhouette

Over 85% of the staterooms have balconies. Many opt to stay there reading a book on sea days, meaning the pools are never crowded. The restaurants on board are top class. There are plenty of dining options included in the cost of your cruise or you can choose specialty restaurants which range from $7.50 – $50. They also offer plenty of over night stays which I think is great. They were docked in Cannes for the film festival this year so you could mix with the celebrities without having to pay €500 a night for a hotel room. Although there is a great mix of entertainment and kids facilities on board, it is a more relaxed ship and definitely offers modern luxury. For more information on Celebrity Silhouette, read my blog here.


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Thomson Cruises – TUI Discovery

Cruise Holidays - TUI Discovery

Thomson Cruises have just this month launched TUI Discovery. This was an old Royal Caribbean ship, Splendour of the Seas but they have revamped it and added some great extras like an outdoor cinema and an adult only sundeck. This is a smaller more intimate ship that carries 1800 passengers. For anyone who finds the larger ships daunting, this might be for them. The big ‘game changer’ is that for Summer 2017 it will be all-inclusive as standard. Most cruise ships offer drinks packages and some even give them away free as a booking incentive.  Some can have beer and wine, others can have spirits. It can get confusing at the bar and also expensive, depending on which package you have booked. I love that with the Discovery, everyone is treated equally, no need for wrist bands or the Spanish inquisition when you are ordering a drink. They include branded drinks and prosecco too, so it’s not just local beer and wine!

Cruise Holidays - Live Room on TUI Discovery

They have plenty of good dining options too and two speciality restaurants which carry a supplement of £19.95 each. This is good value compared to similar restaurants on other ships which cost a lot more. Another plus is that it is a package holiday so everything is included flights, transfers and baggage. Fights are available from Cork and Shannon too. I think this will be a very popular with new cruisers, groups or people who like all inclusive holidays. For more information on TUI Discovery, read my blog here.


For more cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.



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