First time cruisers: What you need to know about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise


Whether you are new to cruising or just new to Royal Caribbean, there's some important things to know about taking a Royal Caribbean that can definitely improve your cruise experience.  

We're big fans of planning ahead for any cruise vacation and these tips will give you some good starting points to be prepared for your first cruise onboard Royal Caribbean.

Be sure to check-in online

In years past, Royal Caribbean used to mail you your cruise documents with everything you needed to get onboard but since we are in the digital age, Royal Caribbean now has it all online and you'll want to fill it all out in advance.

Royal Caribbean's Online Check-In is a pretty simple tool to save you time at the pier and greatly simplify the entire check in process. 

You simply need to go to the Royal Caribbean web site to check in and complete the steps.  

At the end, you will have access to print out your SetSail Pass (your cruise boarding pass) as well as luggage tags.  

Remember, you must complete and print out your SetSail Pass 3 days prior to your sail date.

Use a travel agent

We're big fans of using travel agents in general to book our Royal Caribbean cruises but if you're new to the brand, having someone who knows Royal Caribbean really well and costs you nothing extra is a great bonus.

Royal Caribbean has 22 ships in its fleet and sails to destinations around the world, so it can be difficult to be aware of all the differences and changes going on.  A good travel agent will be able to guide you in the right direction based on the kind of cruise vacation you're looking for.

There's also lots of deals and discounts to be found and between that and the general questions you may have, a travel agent will help make your first Royal Caribbean cruise a big success.

Your stateroom won't be ready until 1pm

In most cases, your stateroom may not be ready for you to go into until 1pm.  We've seen situations where the time is earlier or later but it's usually in the early afternoon.

It's important to keep this time in mind because until you get into your stateroom, you will have to carry all the luggage you opted not to check with the porters.  

I've seen plenty of families camped out with there many bags in the stairwell waiting for their stateroom to be open.  What you ought to do is only take with you what is really necessary and that way you can stay mobile and explore the ship.

Read the Cruise Compass every day

Each day of your cruise, you will find in your stateroom Royal Caribbean's daily newspaper of events called the Cruise Compass.  Inside is a listing of all the events, sales and information you need to know.

The Cruise Compass is your best way to be aware of all the interesting things going on onboard your ship.  It also included a weather forecast so you can know what to expect when you step outside or on shore.

Essentially, you're reading the Cruise Compass so you don't miss out on an event that you may have wanted to check out.  Royal Caribbean offers so much onboard their ships, it can be difficult to know what's going on, so the Cruise Compass is a great tool.

You can also get extra copies of the Cruise Compass at Guest Relations if you need additional copies for the kids (or if you're a bad sharer.  We're not judging).

Sign your kids up for Adventure Ocean on your first day

One of the must-do's for your first day aboard your Royal Caribbean ship is any children who are eligible for Royal Caribbean's complimentary kids program, Adventure Ocean, should be registered at some point that day.

Adventure Ocean is a wonderful program for kids as young as 3 years old and as old as their late teens.  On embarkation day, Adventure Ocean isn't usually open but the staff will be there to give tours of the facility as well as register your kids.  

By registering on day one, you're assured they can jump right into the fun on day two and you don't have to waste time at that point.  Embarkation day is the right time to register kids for Adventure Ocean and it will set them up for a days of great experiences.

Make reservations for the specialty restaurants

No matter which Royal Caribbean cruise you will be on, there's a number of great specialty restaurants to choose from and if you opt to dine at one of them, be sure to make a reservation.

Specialty restaurants come with an additional surcharge, either in the form of a cover charge or a la carte pricing.  Regardless, they can be quite popular for dinner, especially at peak times.  

Whether you choose to make a reservation online before your cruise or onboard, you should make a reservation to avoid waiting for a table or being locked out of dinner.  

It's easiest to make a reservation online at Royal Caribbean's website but if you prefer to wait for the cruise, you can always book a reservation onboard by visiting the restaurant, Guest Relations or calling the dining reservations phone number in your stateroom.

Don't double tip (unless you want to)

If you order a beer or alcoholic beverage, Royal Caribbean will automatically add a gratuity to your bill, so unless you really loved the bartender or waiter, don't tip them twice.

Often guests don't really read the receipt and are so accustomed to adding a tip that they don't realize gratuity has been automatically applied to the bill. 

We're not advocating not rewarding very good service, rather, be aware of what you're really paying.

There will always be something to eat available at any time

Cruises in general have a reputation for offering a lot of food to eat and it's definitely the case on Royal Caribbean too.

Check your Cruise Compass, but there's always at least one venue open 24 hours in addition to room service which has its own menu items.   You don't have to worry if you get the late-night munchies onboard because there will always be somewhere to grab a bite.

If you are looking for an after-hours meal and opt for room service, keep in mind Royal Caribbean has a $3.95 surcharge on meals ordered between midnight and 5am. 

Video: Anthem of the Seas docking out


Royal Caribbean released a new video, detailing the recent float out for Anthem of the Seas.

Friday Photos


The weekend is here and that means it's time to share your Royal Caribbean photos!  Each week we invite our readers to share their favorite Royal Caribbean photos with all of us, so here we go!

Our first photo this week comes from Sean McLellan and it's a size comparison between a number of ships and Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.  I think we have a winner!

Next, is this great shot of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor logo from Liberty of the Seas by Blake Baldwin.  Great shot!

We're going a couple hundred feet in the air for our next photo. It's Quantum of the Seas as seen from North Star, by Paquot.  These North Star photos never get old!

Check out the color of the sky in this photo by Matteo of a Royal Caribbean ship sailing away from Allure of the Seas while in Cozumel.  Not sure what ship it is, but the pastel colors in the sky are beautiful.

This photo looks like it should be on a postcard.  It's by THorsten of Blue Lagoon Beach Break in the Bahamas from his Oasis of the Seas cruise.  Love it!

Our last photo this week is from Paul Jordan on Radiance of the Seas from the Champagne Bar, sailing from Newcastle to Hobart.  Sunset and a drink on a Royal Caribbean cruise is the definition of perfection!

I think this was a great collection of photos this week and of course we want to see your photos too!  Use this form to send us your best Royal Caribbean photos and we will feature them in an upcoming blog post!

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas experiencing engine problems


A guest on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas is reporting the ship is experiencing propulsion problems that is forcing the ship to travel at a reduced speed.

As a result of the slower speed, the ship has chandelled a scheduled port stop in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and will instead head back home to Fort Lauderdale.

The report has not been confirmed by Royal Caribbean yet but the guest did indicate Royal Caribbean is issuing an onboard credit of $100 for inside staterooms and $200 for balcony staterooms for the inconvenience.

Liberty of the Seas is not the first Royal Caribbean ship to experience problems like this. In December 2014 Freedom of the Seas had propulsion problems; In March 2014 Adventure of the Seas had propulsion problems; and in November 2013 Allure of the Seas had propulsion problems.  In the case of all these problems, the propulsion system had to be repaired in port as part of a drydock.

Hat tip to Cruise Fever for alerting us to the story.

Royal Caribbean announces Harmony of the Seas details


Just days after announcing its third Oasis-class cruise ship will be named Harmony of the Seas and feature water slides, Royal Caribbean is pulling back the covers even more on this new ship to reveal new details.

The waterslides coming to Harmony of the Seas will me multi-story waterslides that twist and turn over Central Park.  One of the slides will feature a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.

In addition, more venues were announced for Harmony of the Seas including a Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade.  The Bionic Bar was first introduced on Quantum of the Seas and features robot bartenders serving up one-of-a-kind crafted cocktails.

Speaking of technology, Harmony of the Seas will also offer guests use of the new RFID bracelets known as WOWbands, another Quantum-class innovation.  There will also be the same high-speed internet access that the other Oasis-class ships have had via the new satellite internet technology provided by partner O3b.

With the internet speeds on Harmony of the Seas, guests will be able to stream video, Skype with friends and family back at home and share their cruise vacation on social media.

Onboard Harmony of the Seas you will find virtual balcony staterooms and suite guests will have access to a well-appointed suite lounge and a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen, as well as an exclusive full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck.  There will also be studio stateroom choices for single travelers.

In the Boardwalk neighborhood, you will find classic arcade games and a relocated Starbucks location.

Dynamic Dining and Dynamic Dining Classic will be the dining choices on Harmony of the Seas.  Guests can choose between the two Dynamic Dining choices.  Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening.

Royal Caribbean announced a few of the restaurants that will be onboard Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean’s third new ship to launch throughout the next 18 months. Itineraries for Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will be announced this coming March.

Staying onboard while in port on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast


Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 82 is available for downloading where we talk about the benefits of staying onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise while in port.

There are a number of reasons you might want to consider staying onboard your Royal Caribbean ship while it's in port and this week, Matt discusses the rationale behind letting everyone else go ashore.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 82. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Royal Caribbean leads cruise lines in 2015 Members Choice Awards


The reults of the 2015 Members Choice Awards have been announced and Royal Caribbean walked away with 20 overall awards and 6 first place finishes, giving them the most total awards of any company in the competition.

The Members Choice Awards are culled from over 8,100 cruise reviews submitted by the site's members and then verified through travel agent partners.

Royal Caribbean came out in first place along these categories

  • Best Cruise Line
  • Best ship (Allure of the Seas)
  • Best ship for first timers (Allure of the Seas)
  • Best line for first timers
  • Best line for tweens and teens
  • Best line for suites

You can see the complete results from the awards here.

Royal Caribbean cancels February 23 sailing of Brilliance of the Seas due to fog


Due to heavy fog in the Tampa Bay area, Royal Caribbean has canceled the already delayed February 23 sailing of Brilliance of the Seas.

Photo by Dustin Fox

Royal Caribbean notified passengers on the scheduled sailing their cruise would not occur because of the existing delay and anticipated upcoming delays with additional fog.

Royal Caribbean will provide each guest a full refund of the cruise fare as well as a future cruise certificate worth 25% of the cruise fare paid for the February 23rd sailing.

Brilliance of the Seas was scheduled to return to Tampa yesterday but heavy fog at sea prevented the ship from entering the port.  Royal Caribbean originally postponed the start of cruise to February 24 but the additional delay forced Royal Caribbean to cancel the sailing all together.

Royal Caribbean confirms water slides coming to Harmony of the Seas


Just a day after announcing the name of the third Oasis-class cruise ship, Royal Caribbean confirmed that this brand new cruise ship will feature water slides onboard.

Royal Caribbean will add three water slides to the ship's Pool and Sports Zone.  The new slides will take guests down three decks in a series of twists and turns.

Other details surrounding Harmony of the Seas, including where it will be homeported or where it will sail to, have yet to be announced.

Harmony of the Seas is about halfway done with construction at STX France and scheduled for delivery in mid-2016.

Beautiful Anthem of the Seas float out photos


Over the weekend, Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship floated out of its Meyer Werft shipyard and already we found a lot of really beautiful photos of this new ship and wanted to share them.

The talented photographer Jeroen Houtman sent us these great shots of Anthem of the Seas.  Enjoy!