Category 2J Central Park View Balcony Stateroom on Symphony of the Seas Photo Tour

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas has a lot to offer, including a number of staterooms.  Today, we will look at the category 2J Central Park View Balcony Stateroom, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.

Central Park Balcony staterooms have two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, a Central Park view balcony, a sitting area, and a private bathroom. These rooms are designed to accommodate up to two guests.

A Central Park balcony offers 187 square feet of living space. The room also has a rather large sofa to sit on during the day.

Being a Central Park Balcony stateroom, you have a private balcony that offers views of the Central Park neighborhood on Symphony of the Seas.

Friday Photos - January 4, 2018

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first edition of Friday Photos for 2019.  Each week, we showcase our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean photos for everyone to enjoy!

Throw another log on the fire, put on an extra blanket, and let us jump into this week's batch of terrific cruise photos!

Our first photo this week is from Cassandra Ross and it is of Explorer of the Seas in Alaska.

David Epstein took this photo of Brilliance of the Seas tendered at Montenegro.

Vicky Nelson shared a photo from one of my favorite places, a hilltop cabana on Labadee with a view of Freedom of the Seas.

Next is a photo of Adventure of the Seas, taken by Corey Seeman. This photo is from the tender ride from Adventure to the piers in Bar Harbor.

David Donnelly took this photo on Independence of the Seas. Just shows that you do not have to be traditional to have style!

Next up is a photo by Jay Spiegel of the sunrise in the Bahamas.

Our final photo this week is of chef Ryan in Izumi on board Symphony of the Seas. Photo by Jorge C Toache Alcazar.

Thank you to everyone who shared photos with us this week. You can send in your favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos via this form to be included in a future edition of Friday Photos!

Royal Caribbean offering flight reservations Book Now Pay later option

By: Matt Hochberg

Beginning on January 4, 2019, Royal Caribbean will offer guests the option to Book Now Pay Later for Air2Sea reservations.

Air2Sea is Royal Caribbean's airfare option for guests to purchase flights in conjunction with their cruise.

Book Now Pay Later is available for refundable bookings only and guarantees no cancellation or change fees up to the cruise final payment date for the specified sailing.  The cost of airfare will be added onto the cruise amount and payment will follow cruise payment guidelines (90 days prior to sailing).

Unfortunately, only new air bookings made on or after January 4, 2019 are eligible to participate in this program.

If the cancellation is made outside of 90 days to sailing, the fares are fully refundable. At 90 days to departure or less, a $200 per person penalty will apply.

How much does a cruise cost?

By: Matt Hochberg

Many first-time cruisers are curious how much a Royal Caribbean cruise will cost.  While your cruise fare includes most onboard activities and meals, there are government fees, excursions, spa treatments, drinks and more to consider.

To help budget and give you a ballpark idea of what to expect cost-wise, you should be aware of the possible areas where costs exist. No one can accurately predict exactly the cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise in total, because the total vacation cost will depend on your preferences and what choices you make in the course of your trip.

To help you get a better idea of what you might actually spend on a cruise vacation, we compiled a list of the major factors that influence the total cost to figure out the total cost of your cruise before you book.

Cruise Fare

The largest chunk of calculating how much a cruise costs begins with the base cruise fare.  This is the cost Royal Caribbean charges you to get a stateroom onboard a ship, and that includes a lot of amenities.

Your base cruise fare will depend on a variety of factors, including the ship you choose, length of your sailing and which category stateroom you pick. You could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars per person, but it really depends on what you choose or prefer. A good travel agent can help you price out the cruise fare options get you started.

To help get a lower price on the cruise fare, be sure to try one of these strategies for finding the best deal on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Transportation costs

After the cruise fare, it is important to figure out your means of getting to and from the cruise ship.  Quite a lot of cruisers end up flying to their embarkation ports, but Royal Caribbean may offer a cruise that is close enough to your hometown that you can drive there.

In conjunction with booking your cruise fare, it is a good idea to price out transportation costs and see how much this will run you.  Like the cruise fare, this is a required cost and something that can drive up the total cost of your cruise vacation substantially.

Be sure to also include the cost of a rental car, shared ride service or airport transfers into your calculations.

We are not experts on finding the lowest airfare prices, but you should try a few airfare tips and tricks to bring down the cost.


Another built-in cost of the cruise is the daily gratuity that Royal Caribbean will charge each guest. There are two types of gratuity on Royal Caribbean: an automatic gratuity and optional ones.

The automatic service gratuity is $14.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Junior Suites and below, or $17.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Grand Suites and above, applied to each guest’s SeaPass account on a daily basis. The gratuity applies to individual guests of all ages and stateroom categories. 

Guests can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into at least 48 hours prior to sailing. For guests booked through a travel agent, your agent can add pre-paid gratuities to the booking at least 48 hours prior to sailing. If gratuities are not prepaid prior to sailing, they will be automatically added to the folios once onboard.

A 18% gratuity is automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.


An area of the vacation that can add up quickly are beverages.  Royal Caribbean includes some beverages with your cruise vacation, but inevitably a lot of guests opt to indulge and order beverages such as beer, cocktails, wine or soft drinks.

You have the option of purchasing beverages one at a time, and can consult our list of Royal Caribbean drink prices for an idea of what to expect to pay. Certainly if you are not much of a drinker, going this route will be satisfactory.

If you think you might drink more than a couple drinks per day, perhaps consider investing in an unlimited drink package. Royal Caribbean offers these beverage packages as a means to offer a simple, yet simple approach to drinking onboard.  If you are wondering if a Royal Caribbean drink package is worth it, it ultimately depends on you and if you can drink enough every day of your cruise to make it worthwhile.

Besides alcohol, coffee and tea is another factor in your beverage budget.  Royal Caribbean does include complimentary coffee and tea, but if you prefer lattes, espresso, macchiatos or other specialty coffee drinks, those will come with an additional cost.  Just like alcoholic beverages, you can opt to purchase them individually or opt for a beverage package.

One last note about beverages is you can cut down on the cost of your drinks by opting to drink in the ports your cruise will visit.  Depending on your itinerary, this may or may not be a good alternative to paying Royal Caribbean's drink prices.

Specialty dining

There is no shortage of complimentary food on your Royal Caribbean cruise and you can easily go your entire cruise without paying a dime extra for food and be quite content.  However, Royal Caribbean does offer some additional dining options that carry an additional cost to them.

Specialty dining costs can come in the form of cover charges (pay one fee and get all the food included) or a la carte charges (pay for only what you order). In general, specialty dining offers food and cooking styles not available elsewhere on the ship for guests that choose to indulge in them.

Specialty dining is an option for guests who want something more than what is offered in the complimentary dining, with an emphasis on certain foods that are otherwise unavailable all the time. Think of specialty dining like you would going out for dinner versus staying home and cooking something.  You would be perfectly content with a home-cooked meal, but going out for dinner is a nice treat that comes with a higher cost. 

You can preview the cost of specialty dining, as well as consider a specialty dining package, by going to the Cruise Planner site on Royal Caribbean's website. Check out our restaurant reviews for an idea of what each restaurant offers.

Shore excursions

Inevitably, shore excursions are something everyone typically opts for on a cruise vacation.  These are the activities offered in the various ports of call that your cruise ship will visit. 

You could do something simple like taking a taxi downtown and walking around, take a walking tour or even a bus ride around town.  Or hop in a helicopter, ride a dog sled or visit historical sites.  In short, there are lots of options when visiting any port Royal Caribbean will take you.

Picking the perfect shore excursion will depend on what you are looking to do, but you have the choice of booking a tour through Royal Caribbean or going on your own and working with a third-party vendor.

The cost of shore excursions can be just as varied as your cruise fare.  


Having internet access on your cruise went from something nice to have, to a near necessity these days. Royal Caribbean's onboard WiFi comes in two options: an unlimited plan or 24 hour access packages.

Royal Caribbean calls its internet service, Voom, and it boasts excellent speeds onboard its ships. Unlimited internet plans are available for purchase before or during your cruise.  Almost always, the cost of an internet package is cheaper before the cruise thanks to pre-cruise discounts.


During your cruise, Royal Caribbean's photographers will snap shots of you and your family that you have the choice to purchase later in the sailing.  While far from a neccesity, onboard photos represent for many families an opportunity to take professional shots and remember a fun family vacation.

Royal Caribbean offers photos priced individually, as well as photo packages.  Just like the drink packages, which option to take depends on how much you will take advantage of the photo opportunities.

Admittedly, it is quite difficult to exactly estimate how many photos you will want to take, but keep in mind that it is part of the cost of a cruise.  You can always take your own photos during the vacation, but the photo opportunities Royal Caribbean offers make for some very compelling memories.

Additional activities

Beyond everything else we have outlined, there are still spending opportunities on your cruise that you may or may not be interested in. This area of vacation budgeting will vary wildly, but here are some common spending options many cruisers consider:

  • Spa treatments (onboard or on shore)
  • Casino
  • Bingo
  • Fitness classes
  • Souvenirs

The total cost will vary depending on your preferences.

Add the costs together

If you add up the numbers from the spending categories outlined in this post, you should have a ballpark idea of what your Royal Caribbean cruise cost.

How much a Royal Caribbean costs depends so much on the choices you make before and during the cruise. Many of the extra costs are optional, but then again you are on vacation and indulging is what makes vacation so fun.

Hopefully this will give you a guide on what to expect and ultimately, you have the power to determine how much higher the cost will be in the end!

Royal Caribbean offering bonus instant savings on cruises booked this weekend

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is celebrating the start of the new year with bonus instant savings on top of 60% second guest and kids sail for less offers.

The New Year, New Thrills Sale offers up to $300 instant savings on cruises booked between January 3 – 8, 2019 on sailings departing on or after February 3, 2019.

It includes:

  • 60% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest
  • 30% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests
  • BOGO also offers up to $150 instant savings per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length
    • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • Sailing 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • New Year New Thrills Sale offers up to $150 instant savings per stateroom (up to $300 instant savings when combined with BOGO instant savings) determined by category booked and sailing length
    • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites

BOGO is combinable with New Year New Thrills Sale, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. New Year New Thrills Sale is combinable with promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers and Free Upgrades but not combinable with Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.  Promo Code driven offers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking, limit one promo code per booking.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean posts new Perfect Day at CocoCay opening schedule

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has updated its website with a new timeline for when different phases of its transformation of private island CocoCay.

Perfect Day is a $200 million transformation of Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas. Here is the new timeline posted today:

  • The new pier will begin welcoming guests to the island in March 2019.
  • Thrill Waterpark, the Zip Line, Splashaway Bay aqua park, Up, Up and Away helium balloon, Captain Jack’s Galleon, Skipper’s Grill dining, Captain Jack’s dining, Chill Island, Chill Grill dining, and Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool will open in May 2019.
  • South Beach, Coco Beach Club and the overwater cabanas will open in December 2019.

The primary change in the timeline is the pier completion date has been pushed back yet again.  The pier completion date has slid a few times since the project was originally announced.  Prior to today, it was expected that the pier would be complete in January 2019.

The other dates remain unchanged.

How to cruise on a budget on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

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

Episode 283 is available for downloading, where Matt shares tips and tricks for being able to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise without breaking the bank.

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise does not have to be an expensive vacation, and on this week's episode, Matt shares strategies for saving money on your cruise fare as well as onboard the sailing.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 283. 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!

Guide to Royal Caribbean 2019 new cruise ships and refurbishments

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has big plans for 2019, with plenty of new additions and changes to the fleet. Perhaps no change is bigger than the anticipated arrival of a new cruise ship and refurbishment of quite a few others.

Each year, Royal Caribbean plans on changes to its fleet of ships and if you are considering a 2019 cruise, then you are certainly going to want to consider some of these ships that are getting new upgrades or are joining the fleet for the first time.

Here is what you need to know about the cruise ships joining Royal Caribbean's fleet and which ships will be upgraded this year.

New cruise ships in 2019

Royal Caribbean will add one new ship in 2019 to its fleet, which will be the first subclass of an existing class.

Spectrum of the Seas

The first Quantum Ultra Class ship joins Royal Caribbean's fleet in 2019 with the launch of Spectrum of the Seas.

Spectrum of the Seas is the first Quantum Ultra Class vessel. What separates Spectrum from previous Quantum Class vessels is the fact she will boast private enclave for suite guests, new stateroom categories, innovative dining concepts, and stunning features and experiences – many of which have never before been seen at sea.

Accommodating 4,246 guests at double occupancy and 1,551 international crew members, Spectrum will be the largest and most expensive ship in Asia when she sails from Shanghai starting in June 2019.

Spectrum will debut Royal Caribbean’s first exclusive suites-only area, which will feature the exquisite Golden and Silver suite accommodations in a private enclave at the forward end of the ship on decks 13 through 16. Vacationers booked in these luxury suites will have special keycard access, a private elevator and a dedicated restaurant and lounge. In addition to a range of exclusive amenities, guests will have access to The Balcony – a private outdoor space for sunbathing and relaxing – that offers the best views on board; and The Boutique, a shopping area where travelers can book private shopping experiences.

Another big change for Spectrum is the ship's take on dining,  The three-level main dining room will serve a variety of Chinese and Western a la carte options rotating each day of the sailing.  The Windjammer Marketplace – 20 percent larger than those on Quantum Class ships – will offer a wide buffet selection of Chinese and Western dishes, including noodles, pizza, Japanese teppanyaki and mini hot pot.  

Spectrum will boast a number of specialty restaurants, including Wonderland’s Dadong (run by Chinese chef Dong Zhenxiang), Jamie's Italian, Izumi, Chops Grille and the new Leaf and Bean traditional tea room and café parlor.

Spectrum of the Seas will feature bold and unexpected experiences, including the iconic Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience located on the aft of the ship. 

Cruise ship refurbishments in 2019

Royal Caribbean is always looking to add more value to their ships and in 2019, four Royal Caribbean ships are getting upgrades, refurbishments and some nice changes.

Here is a list of what you can expect to see changed in the coming year.

Navigator of the Seas

Refurbishment dates: January 3 – February 23, 2019

Royal Caribbean will start 2019 with a major refurbishment of Navigator of the Seas.  Navigator will undergo a $115 million upgrade, as part of the fleet's Royal Amplified program.

Royal Caribbean will add all-new features and firsts, including a revamped Caribbean poolscape, two waterslides, the first blow dry bar at sea, nightlife and dining, and activities for the whole family. 

Navigator of the Seas will return to service on February 24, 2019 and offering 3- and 4-night Caribbean cruises from Miami.

Empress of the Seas

Refurbishment dates: February 3, 2019 and March 3, 2019

Empress of the Seas will undergo a dry dock for maintenance work in February 2019.

There are no sailings scheduled between February 3, 2019 and March 3, 2019.

No word on what work will be done, but it is expected to be mostly a maintenance effort to keep the ship running in great condition.

Voyager of the Seas

Refurbishment dates: September 10 – October 14, 2019

Like Navigator of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas will also undergo a refurbishment in 2019 as part of the Royal Amplified program.

Royal Caribbean has not announced the exact changes that are coming to Voyager of the Seas, although it stands to reason the changes should be similar to recent changes made to Mariner of the Seas or the scheduled changes for Navigator of the Seas.

Oasis of the Seas

Refurbishment dates: September 22 – November 23, 2019

The Royal Amplified program continues with upgrades coming to Oasis of the Seas.  Just like Voyager of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has not announced any specific details on what will be changed on Oasis quite yet.

Oasis of the Seas will undergo the refurbishment work after wrapping up her summer cruise season in Europe.  Following the bow-to-stern revitalization, Oasis of the Seas will change her homeport to Terminal A at PortMiami for the fall and winter seasons. 

Royal Caribbean describes the goal of the Royal Amplified program as something that will, "innovative attractions, pools, bars, and dining." Royal Amplified targets three key areas: pool deck & attractions, bars & nightlife, and onboard dining.

Quantum of the Seas

Refurbishment dates: November 2019

Prior to Quantum of the Seas' six month homeport in Singapore, she will be revitalised in a multi-million dollar project that will see the ship refreshed and upgraded.

If you are wondering what work will be done on Quantum of the Seas, so are we.  Royal Caribbean has not announced yet the scope of changes coming to Quantum of the Seas. 

Which ship addition or refurbishment are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments!

38 Royal Caribbean drink recipes perfect for any party

By: Matt Hochberg

Whether New Years Eve, July 4th, Arbor Day or really any celebration, we have some cocktail recipes to share that you can sample between Royal Caribbean cruises from the comfort of your own home.


  • 1/2 oz House Tequila
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • Margarita Mix
  • Salt Rim 

Shake and Strain over fresh ice for on the Rocks Or Blend 


  • 1/2 oz Patron Anejo
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • Margarita Mix

Shake and Strain over fresh ice for on the Rocks and float Grand Marnier Or Blend and float Grand Marnier 


  • 1 1/2 oz House Tequila
  • Orange Juice
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine

Shake and strain over fresh ice 


  • 3/4 oz House Gold Tequila
  • 1/4 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 1/4 oz Banana Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz Blue Curacao
  • 3 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1/4 oz Sugar Syrup 

Shake and Strain over fresh ice 


  • 1 1/2 oz House White Rum Top with Coke 
  • Fresh Lime Wedge 

Pina Colada

  • 1 1/2 oz House White Rum
  • Pina Colada Mix Blend
  • Pineapple & Cherry 


  • 3/4 oz Pyrat XO Rum
  • 1/2 oz Amaretto Disaronno
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • 1 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz Sweet & Sour
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • 3/4 oz Myer's Rum 

Shake, strain and pour over fresh ice.

Float Myer's Rum 


  • 1 1/2 oz House White Rum
  • Strawberry Mix



  • 1 1/2 oz Stoli Elite
  • Spices to taste
  • Top with tomato juice
  • Lime
  • 2 Olives

Shake and pour over fresh ice.


  • 1 oz Grey Goose
  • 1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 3 1/2 oz Orange Juice
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • Top with Sprite 
  • Pineapple 

Shake and strain over fresh ice 


  • 1 1/2oz Vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Orange Juice
  • Top with Cranberry Juice 
  • Lime Wedge 


  • 1 1/2 oz House Vodka
  • Top with Cranberry Juice 
  • Lime Wedge 


  • 1/2 oz House Gin
  • 1/2 oz Peach Schnapps 
  • 1/2 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1/2 oz of Pineapple Juice 
  • Pineapple & Cherry 

Shake and Strain over fresh ice 


  • 1 1/2 oz Aviation Gin
  • 1/2 oz Blackberry Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • 2oz Sweet & Sour
  • Soda Water

Shake and strain over fresh ice and top with Soda pour Grenadine on top to float down.


  • 1 oz House Gin
  • 2 1/2 oz Sweet & Sour
  • Soda Water 

Shake until frothy, strain over fresh ice and top with soda.


  • 2 oz New Amsterdam Gin
  • 3/4 oz Raspberry Mix
  • 1 1/2 oz Sweet & Sour
  • Soda Water 

Shake and strain over fresh ice and top with soda.


  • 1 1/2 oz House Whiskey
  • 3 oz Citus Mix Shake until frothy, strain over fresh ice
  • Lemon & Cherry 


  • 1 1/2 oz House Whiskey
  • 1 x Orange Slice
  • 1 x Cherry
  • 1 x Sugar Sachet
  • 3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 oz Soda 

Muddle Orange, Cherry, Sugar & Bitters. Add Liquor, Stir, Add Ice and Top with Soda 


  • 1 oz Jack Daniels
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 3 oz Sweet & Sour
  • Sprite 

Shake until frothy and strain over fresh ice. Top with Sprite 


  • 1 oz House Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Drambuie 

Strawberry Lemonade 

  • 2oz Strawberry Mix
  • 2oz Lemonade Mix
  • Top with Soda

Shake and strain over fresh ice, Top with Soda. Stir as required.

Red Delight

  • 2oz Strawberry Mix
  • 1 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Top with Red Bull (Regular)

Shake and strain over fresh ice, top with soda. Stir as required.

Island Fusion

  • 1 1/4 oz Pina Colada Mix
  • 1 1/4 oz Passion Fruit Mix
  • 2 1/2 oz Orange juice
  • Slice of pineapple and Cherry

Shake and strain over fresh ice

Slushy Coco Loco

  • 4oz Red Bull Yellow Edition
  • 2 oz Pineapple juice
  • 1 oz coconut cream/Pina colada mix
  • Slice of pineapple



  • 2oz Tito's Vodka
  • 1oz Sour Apple Pucker
  • Cherry

Shake and Strain into a Martini glass or on the rocks


  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace
  • 3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Bar Spoon of Cherry Juice
  • Cherry

Guest preference, Stir, Shake and Strain 


  • 1 1/4 oz Ron Zacapa
  • 1/2 oz Baileys
  • 1/2 oz Kahula
  • 1/2 oz Amaretto
  • 1/2 oz Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 oz Sugar Syrup 

Shake and Strain 


  • 2oz Grey Goose Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau 
  • 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1 Lime Wedge Squeezed 
  • Lime Twist 

Shake and Strain 

Melon Mojito Cosmo 

  • 1 1/4 oz White Rum
  • 3/4 oz Midori
  • 1 oz Mojito Syrup
  • 4 oz Soda 
  • Mint Sprig & Lime 

Build ingredients and stir through, top with Soda 

Starboard Madras Cosmo 

  • 2 oz House Vodka
  • 3 oz Orange Juice
  • 2 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1 oz Sprite 
  • Orange Wedge 

Shake all ingredients except Sprite. Strain over fresh ice and finish with sprite 

Caribbean Sling Cosmo 

  • 1 1/4 oz Spice Rum
  • 3/4 oz Blackberry Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • 3 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz Orange Juice 
  • Pineapple Wedge 

Shake all ingredients & strain over fresh ice 

Mai Tai 

  • 1 1/4 oz House Dark Rum
  • 3/4 oz Disaronno
  • 3 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • 1/4 oz Grenadine 
  • Slice of pineapple & Cherry 

Shake all ingredients except grenadine, Strain over fresh ice 

Port Side Punch 

  • 1oz House White Rum
  • 1/2 oz Malibu
  • 1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • 3 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz Cranberry 
  • Pineapple Cherry 

Shake all ingredients except Cranberry Juice, Strain over fresh ice and finish with soda 

Citrus Cooler 

  • 1 1/4 oz House Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Triple Sec
  • 4 oz Orange Juice
  • 1 oz Sprite
  • Orange Wedge 

Shake all (except Sprite) and strain over fresh ice. Then top with Sprite 

Margarita Azul Pilsner 

  • 1 oz House tequila
  • 1/2 oz Triple sec
  • 1/2 oz Blue curacao
  • 2 oz Margarita Mix
  • 2 oz Sprite 
  • Lemon wedge / Half Salt Rim 

Shake and strain over fresh ice filled pilsner glass top with Sptrite 

Royal Lemonade 

  • 2 oz House Vodka
  • 2 oz Lemonade mix
  • 4 oz Sprite 
  • Lemon wedge 

Build ingredients in Glass over fresh ice and stir 

Woo Woo

  • 1 1/4 oz House Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 1 oz Sour mix
  • 4 oz Cranberry Juice 
  • Lime Wedge 

Build all ingredients in glass

Captains Collins 

  • 2 oz House gin
  • 1 1/2 oz Sour mix
  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup
  • 4 oz Soda 
  • Lemon & Cherry 

Shake Gin with sour mix, strain over fresh ice and finish with soda 

Symphony of the Seas family cruising guide

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas offers a lot for families to enjoy on their Caribbean cruise vacations. When we took our daughters on Symphony of the Seas, we sought to enjoy the very best activities, entertainment and things to do for a family. 

If you have never been on an Oasis Class ship, these are incredible vessels that pack as much into a cruise vacation as any ship in the world.  In fact, it is the largest cruise ship in the world and that means plenty to choose from onboard.  Family cruising on Symphony of the Seas means there is something for everyone and always something else to do or see, regardless of your age. 

Signature Activities

Prior to booking Symphony of the Seas, you may notice certain offerings onboard prominently advertised.  Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for itself by offering some of the best things to do onboard its ships.

A few activities and shows stand out as the premiere options that Symphony is well-known for.  The good news is that many of the activities are available to children of many ages. Some of the physical activities may have a height requirement that are best suited for children who are older elementary-school aged children or older. If your kids do not meet the height requirements, there is no need to worry as there is still plenty of other options to enjoy.

Families can enjoy these wonderful activities together:

  • The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, is a duo of racing slides where guests spiral down a 92-foot drop in about 13 seconds
  • The zipline crosses the open-air Boardwalk neighborhood at nine decks high
  • Two FlowRider surf simulators
  • Perfect Storm: three waterslides
  • Splashaway Bay aquatic adventure park
  • Escape from Planet Z laser tag
  • Escape room

Adventure Ocean

The heart of children's programming on Symphony of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's award-winning Adventure Ocean program.  

Adventure Ocean is divided into three age-appropriate groups

  • Aquanauts (ages 3 to 5)
  • Explorers (ages 6 to 8)
  • Voyagers (ages 9 to 11)

Adventure Ocean is complimentary, but kids need to be registered with Adventure Ocean and fully toilet trained to take part in activities. There are dedicated spaces for each age group, plus specialized areas like science labs and a theater for enhanced programming.  

Adventure Ocean is open most of the day, but their hours vary depending on if it is a port day or sea day.  On Sea days, Adventure Ocean can open as early as 6:30am.  Guests that have Royal Caribbean excursions booked and need to drop their children off earlier, can arrange with Adventure Ocean for that benefit.  For lunch, kids are brought to Wipe Out Cafe or Windjammer between noon and 1pm, and then again to the Windjammer for dinner between 5pm and 7pm. Adventure Ocean programming is included with your cruise fare.

Adventure Ocean closes at 10pm, but parents can leave their children with Adventure Ocean until 2am for an hourly fee.  The Late Night Party Zone runs from 10pm to 2am in Adventure Ocean, and is billed at $7 per hour, per child for children who remain after 10pm.

Tweens and teenagers also have their own club, plus a variety of activities onboard such as the FlowRider surf simulator, rock climbing walls, an ice skating rink, a mini-golf course and a zip line. Teens meet at the Living Room, on Deck 15 aft and also have exclusive access to their own night club, known as Fuel on deck 15. Teens are free to come and go as they want, and curfew for all cruisers younger than 18 is 1 a.m. unless they're supervised by a parent.

Royal Babies & Tots Nursery

Any parent with a toddler or infant will find the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery an absolute blessing.  Royal Caribbean offers a nursery for children up to 36 months old.

At the nursery, you can drop off infants and toddlers off in a supervised environment, where the kids can watch TV, play with other children, explore and nap.   

The nursery will offer parents a drop-off option in the daytime and evening, while always maintaining an optimum staff-to-child ratio.

For a modest fee per hour ($8 at the time of this blog post), parents can reserve time for their kids here to give parents some time alone to enjoy what Royal Caribbean offers or explore a port.

The nursery staff are trained child care professionals and they will make sure your child is taken care of in the time they are there.  Parents also get a special mobile phone to use on the ship in case the nursery needs to call them or if the parents want to call and check in on things.

Entertainment & Shows

Symphony of the Seas offers shows that appeal to kids and adults, with its evening shows being real highlights. Depending on your kids ages and preferences, these shows may or may not be of interest to them, but Royal Caribbean designs its evening entertainment shows to be open to be family friendly.

You will find Symphony of the Seas' biggest shows across three venues: The Royal Theater, Studio B and the AquaTheater.

Here are the must-see shows on Symphony of the Seas and where to see each show:

  • Hairspray (Royal Theater)
  • 1977 (Studio B)
  • HiRo (AquaTheater)
  • Flight (Royal Theater)

Prior to your cruise, be sure to make reservations for each of these shows via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.  Reservations for these shows are complimentary and while it does not guarantee a specific seat, it will ensure you will be able to get into the show.  Guests without a reservation can wait in a standby line and take up any remaining seats, but it is simpler (and a whole lot easier for families) to make reservations before the cruise.

If you are wondering when you can make reservations for shows on Symphony of the Seas, it really depends.  If entertainment is available to reserve for your cruise, we have typically seen shows become available for booking around 75-60 days prior to the sail date, but your experience may vary.


Symphony of the Seas offers 23 dining venues for guests to choose between when eating onboard. Some of these restaurants are included with your cruise fare, while others have an additional cost.

Complimentary dining options are included with your cruise fare and guests can enjoy as much food as they like from these locations.  There is at least one complimentary option open at anytime during the day or night, with often quite a number of great choices. 

The alternative dining option are specialty dining, in which there is an additional cost to dine there.  Specialty dining costs can come in the form of cover charges (pay one fee and get all the food included) or a la carte charges (pay for only what you order). In general, specialty dining offers food and cooking styles not available elsewhere on the ship for guests that choose to indulge in them.

If you are looking for great choices for kids to grab something quickly, you will find some great options throughout the day for families at:

  • Windjammer
  • Park Cafe
  • Sorrento's Pizzeria
  • El Loco Fresh
  • Johnny Rockets (breakfast is complimentary, cover charge for lunch and dinner)
  • Boardwalk Dog House
  • Room service ($7.95 per order fee, complimentary for suite guests)

When it comes to dinner, you might want to look into My Family Time Dining. My Family Time Dining is offered in the first seating time in the main dining room for children ages three to eleven.

Here is how it works

  1. You arrive at the dining room with the kids and let your server know that the kids will be headed to Adventure Ocean as part of the My Family Time Dining program.
  2. The kids order and are served right away so that they can finish their meal within the first 40 minutes.
  3. After about 45 minutes, the Adventure Ocean staff arrive in the dining room lobby to sign in and hand off the kids.Parents will need to escort their children to the designated Main Dining room entrance doors at 6:45 pm to check their child in with the Adventure Ocean counselors. Once checked­in, the Adventure Ocean counselors will then escort their children to Adventure Ocean for ongoing evening activities.
  4. Adults return to their table to enjoy the rest of their meal at a more leisurely place.

Prior to the cruise, you can can contact Royal Caribbean or travel agent to book it. Alternatively, guests can sign up onboard in the Adventure Ocean area. Pre­-cruise reservations are encouraged.


When booking a Symphony of the Seas cruise, you will need to find the right stateroom for your family. Symphony has staterooms that can accommodate three and four passengers easily, along with some stateroom configurations that can handle even more guests.

Depending on your family size, age of your children, and your comfort level, booking multiple staterooms can often be the same or cheaper than booking a large room.  Multiple rooms provides not only additional living space, but extra restrooms and separation from parents and children. Royal Caribbean does offer some rooms with a connecting inside door between rooms.  

If you are cruising with young children, you should pack your own diapers, bottles, and other supplies.  There is milk available to all guests without an additional charge (skim or regular).  Some parents prefer to bring their own kid-friendly snacks and food, which is permissible by Royal Caribbean. Refer to our Taking an Infant on a Royal Caribbean cruise article for more information.

More cruising with kids info

You may have additional questions about cruising with kids on Royal Caribbean, or simply would like to learn more tips and advice.  Here are some good resources to consider:

Your thoughts

Now that you have read over our guide to taking kids on Symphony of the Seas, let's hear from other parents. What tips do you parents think are most important? Which advice we shared do you agree with? Where do you disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments!