First Time Cruisers

5 travel agent tips for first time Royal Caribbean cruisers

In:
17Sep2015

Taking your first Royal Caribbean cruise is such an exciting opportunity and naturally, there are plenty of questions and concerns first timer cruisers may have.

One of the best resources for planning a Royal Caribbean cruise is a knowledgeable travel agent, who can guide you through the process and not just get you a low rate for your cruise, but also offer advice and assistance in making the planning part of your cruise super simple.

We asked a few travel agents what their advice would be for someone that is going to taking their first Royal Caribbean cruise.

Jason Poole of Cruise Planners: "Book early. The days of last minute deals are quickly coming to an end. Don't assume the price on the website is the price you will pay. Travel agents have access to special rates for their clients."

Stephanie Miller of MEI Travel: "Each sailing can be different due to the ship, itinerary, activities, ports visited and time of year. Be sure to ask an agent or educate yourself as to which sailing is best for you! Once you have the right expectations you can sit back and just enjoy."

Missy Geary Bonnice of Storybook Destinations: "Best tip-use an agent. Not only do they have knowledge of each ship (and with Royal Caribbean, there is a lot to know!), but they can also make sure you're getting the best deal possible, and it won't cost you anything! But if we are talking an onboard tip, I would say not to plan too strict of an itinerary. There is so much going on each day, just go with the flow and enjoy!"

Christy Pudyk of Vacations by Christy: "Read the Cruise Compass each night- it will be delivered in your cabin each night. Most things in it do not have an additional charge- it will be indicated if there is a charge. And you can't possibly do everything offered. Take the pictures with the photographers. They don't charge for them unless you want them! Take advantage and get family shots."

Michelle Cunningham of MEI Travel: "Take photos on your smart phone of the following things: Your passport your drivers license kids birth certificates. Line up and take a picture of all medicine that you're on and then tell your love ones that you've done that in case they need it

What tips would you offer to a first time Royal Caribbean cruiser? Share them in the comments!

Best advice for first timer cruisers on a 7-night Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
15Sep2015

We love to broadcast live on Periscope (a free social media app that allows live video streaming) and on one recent broadcast, we received a question about what is the best advice for someone going on their first 7-night cruise.

It got us thinking, because there is so much that goes into a Royal Caribbean cruise that we wanted to pick out the really important tips to share for someone about to take their first 7-night cruise.

Read the Cruise Compass

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver to your stateroom the Cruise Compass, which is a daily guide to the news, events and activities that will be occuring on your ship the next day.

Royal Caribbean packs a lot of things to do into each day and you are best served by reading it each evening to be aware of what is happening onboard. 

The Cruise Compass is more than just knowing what time bingo is at.  It offers you insight into tomorrow's weather, which bars will have drink specials, shore excursion information and more.

Some events are not repeated while other activities can change daily, so it is in your best interest to track what is happening so you do not miss any of it.

Pack for two formal nights

A typical Royal Caribbean 7-night cruise will feature two formal nights, so be sure to pack accordingly.

Usually, the first formal night will be on the second night, whereas the second formal night can vary between the fifth or sixth nights of your cruise.

What is formal night? Formal night is an evening where the dress code at the main dining room is more upscale.  For men, this means collared shirts with nice pants (tie and jacket optional) and for ladies, it is a nice cocktail dress, dress or something else similar.

TRUTH ABOUT DRESS CODES

Keep in mind that formal night dress attire only applies to the main dining room and no where else on the ship.  

If you prefer not to dress up for formal night, there are other dining options onboard that you can go to.

Explore the ship early

Your seven night Royal Caribbean cruise will be over before you know it, so be sure to explore the ship properly early so you do not miss out on any of it.

These ships are really big and that means there is a lot to see and do onboard.  Do yourself a favor and explore the ship as much as you can in the first day or two of the cruise so you can easily navigate the ship as well as learn about what is offered onboard.

Embarkation day is always the best time for exploring your ship, so take advantage of your first day onboard by arriving to the ship early (before noon) and just walk around.

You will discover bars, restaurants, public spaces, cinemas and more that you will likely want to stop by later on in the cruise.

Most Royal Caribbean ships now offer interactive wayfinders, that allow you to navigate your way around the ship quite easily. Take advantage of them on each deck to more easily acclimate yourself to the ship.

Bonus tip: Speaking of early, be sure to arrive to your ship early on embarkation day.  Between 10am and 11am is a great time to beat the crowds and start your vacation sooner!

See the shows

Something Royal Caribbean really excels at is entertainment and on a 7-night cruise, there are lots of great shows to take in.

Ice skating shows, Broadway shows, featured productions, comedians and more are available to see and they are all included in your cruise fare.

Do yourself a favor and see the shows, even if you just go for a little bit to get a taste of what to expect.  They really are great spectacles and each show offers a little something different.

Onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, you will find singing and dancing, comedians, magicians, acrobats and more.  

Royal Caribbean really does a great job with putting these shows together and the production values and acting are top notch in all of the shows.

Sign the kids up for Adventure Ocean on embarkation day

If you have children, be sure to stop by Adventure Ocean and sign them up for the complimentary kids program Royal Caribbean offers.

The Adventure Ocean program is designed to let kids explore, play and have fun and it really is a fun way to spend a week at sea.  

Kids will love it because it's a chance to meet and play with other kids their age and parents will enjoy the time to themselves.

If you wait until day two or later, everyone else will already be situated and your child may feel like a wallflower, especially if they are shy.

Adventure Ocean is included in your cruise fare, so stop by the Adventure Ocean room on embarkation day to check the facility out as well as get any questions answered.

Understand how unlimited beverage packages work

Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol and beverage packages have never been more popular and they can be a great way to lock in a single price for the duration of your cruise.

The key thing to remember about a 7-night cruise is that you want to make sure you will be able to leverage these drink packages on all 7-nights, otherwise the package may not make financial sense.

On 4-night cruises, the drink package value can be easily gotten but 7-nights is a longer time onboard and "drink fatigue" can set in.

Between having limited time to drink onboard during port days and the daily need to drink to "get your money's worth", we have talked to plenty of guests who would have been better off financially after a 7-night cruise by buying their drinks a la carte.

There is no simple answer for everyone, but our advice is to consider that you will be on your ship for 7-nights and whether you want to be drinking 5-6 drinks per day, every day.

Learn more

There is much more you can learn about a 7-night Royal Caribbean cruise and here are some additional resources to help you.

First time cruisers: How to find a deal on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
13Aug2015

All this week, we are helping first time Royal Caribbean cruisers with all aspects of the cruise vacation.  Check back every day for a new post aimed at those who are new to Royal Caribbean!

So you are ready to book your first Royal Caribbean cruise but the savvy consumer side of you knows there must be a sale or promotion that you can take advantage of to reduce the cost of your cruise.  

And you would be right! Here's what you need to know about finding a deal on your Royal Caribbean cruise so your first cruise can be an affordable one too!

The deals you can expect

To remain competitive in the cruise market, Royal Caribbean will usually have promotions and deals out there at any given time to entice guests to book a cruise.

While Royal Caribbean does change its sales tactics up now and then, there are some general promotions that are available somewhat regularly that you should be aware of and what they mean.

BOGO deals

Royal Caribbean's go-to promotion these days is the BOGO sale.  Essentially, you pay full price for the first guest in a stateroom and the second guest is 50% off.

This promotion has been available regularly for the last 12-18 months as of the writing of this post.  

Royal Caribbean does tend to combine this promotion with other promotions to make each offering a little more exciting.

WOW Sales

In general, Royal Caribbean has a WOW Sale at an almost quarterly basis, and for first time cruisers, this may be your best promotion.

WOW Sales offer 50% off deposits and free onboard credit.

What makes WOW sales good for folks new to Royal Caribbean is you get onboard credit that usually is not available to first time cruisers.  

Last minute sales

Royal Caribbean is in the process of phasing out last minute deals on cruises, but they do still pop up now and then.  

Last minute sales are for deals on cruises that sail somewhere between 30 and 60 days from booking, so you will need to act fast and be flexibile in the sailing, stateroom and transportation options to the port.

These can be legimitately good deals but most people need more advanced notice and prefer different sailings.

The "throw ins"

There are other promotions Royal Caribbean keeps up its sleeve that they use to enhance some of the other deals.  

These can include free gratutities, free shore excursions, a small amount of onboard credit and more.

These promotions aren't deals on their own, but can be used in combination with other deals.

Where to look for Royal Caribbean cruise deals

Travel Agent

When you are new to Royal Caribbean cruising, your best place to start is with a travel agent that knows Royal Caribbean well.  

It is a travel agent's job to keep track of the various promotions and provide guidance to you for your best deals.

We always advocate using a travel agent for the services they provide you, which are free to you (Royal Caribbean pays them a commission, so there is cost to you).

Ask your travel agent about what promotions are out there as well as regional and vocational discounts available.

Travel agents may also have access to additional onboard credit or savings through agency-specific promotions.   It never hurts to consult a few different agencies to find the right one for you.

Check Royal Caribbean's deals page

Royal Caribbean maintains a list of deals available on their site that are also a good frame of reference to see what they are offering.

There may be a deal on Alaska cruises that you were not thinking about and find that to be a better deal for you.

Unline a grocery store, most promotions are applied automatically on Royal Caribbean's site.  So when you price out a cruise, it will use any deals that are out there, so you can track the cost of any sailing.

A word on prices

There are lots of places online and in-person that will sell you a Royal Caribbean cruise but keep in mind that Royal Caribbean maintains strict pricing on its cruises.  

That means the price of a given sailing at any given time will be the same no matter if you call Royal Caribbean directly, use a travel agent or find some web site selling a cruise. 

The difference can be travel agent specific deals, where perhaps a travel agency has a block of rooms reserved that lowers the cost of the stateroom or the agency is offering onboard credit that comes out of their pocket.  

The other important concept to understand about cruise prices is they are a lot like airline prices.  What you price out today may be completely different tomorrow, an hour from now and three months from now.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to rebook their cruise as many times as they want up until your final payment date.  

Once you hit final payment and make your final payment, your price is locked in and you cannot change it without a penalty.  

There is one caveat to this rule and that is if the price of your cruise drops to the point an upgrade in your cabin is as inexpensive or more than your current cabin, Royal Caribbean will upgrade you to that category.

Tricks to finding a deal on a cruise

Regardless of the promotion Royal Caribbean is running or where you live or anything else, there are some strategies to finding lower priced cruises.

Cruise during hurricane season in the Caribbean

The months of August through October are the height of hurricane season in the Caribbean and most folks avoid cruises during this time because of fear of a storm impacting their cruise.

Booking a cruise during these months can be cheaper than other months of the year because there is less demand for these sailings.

If you are worried about what happens if a hurricane should strike, the good news is Royal Caribbean will reroute their ships around the storms. It is quite rare to have a sailing be cancelled due to a hurricane.

Book early for popular times

If you only want to cruise during popular times, such as summer in Europe or winter in the Caribbean, then book as far in advance as you can.

The earlier you can book your cruise, the better the price in most cases and by locking in the price early, you will be rewarded with the lower fares.

In addition, you can always pre-book your sailing if the price drops up until your final payment date.

Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry as a whole want guests to book early and not wait for the last minute so they will price their cruises lowest when sailings are first announced.

How early is early? If you can book at least 8-12 months in advance, you are in the right time frame.  If you can book even earlier, such as up to 24 months in advance, you may net even larger savings.

Sailings that will be always popular are

  • New ship sailings
  • summer Alaska sailings
  • Christmas and New Year's cruises
  • Panama Canal crossings

Use holds to your advantage

Royal Caribbean will allow guests to place a 24 hold on a particular sailing, so your stateroom and price can be locked in.  

Use this strategy to give yourself time to research and think about a cruise without fear of losing out on availbility or price.

When in doubt, it is best to use these courtesy holds to get more time to consider all of your options.  Working with a travel agent and using courtesy holds can be a good way to keep your options open.

What first time cruisers need to know about Oasis and Allure of the Seas

In:
12Aug2015

All this week, we are helping first time Royal Caribbean cruisers with all aspects of the cruise vacation.  Check back every day for a new post aimed at those who are new to Royal Caribbean!

Royal Caribbean has a large fleet of cruise ships and quite often new cruisers are attracted to the world's largest cruise ships, the Oasis class.  

Whether you are sailing on Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas, here is what you need to know about these ships if you are new to cruising.

The ship is big but easy to navigate

Yes, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are the two largest cruise ships in the world (as of the writing of this blog post) but that does not mean these ships are impossible to navigate.  

Despite their size, Royal Caribbean designed these ships to be easy to get around.  Each ship has 7 distinct neighborhoods that have their own look and feel.  The neighborhood concept makes getting around easier because areas of the ship do not blend into each other.

One of the best things you can do once onboard these ships is walk around and explore.  There is a ton to see and do on the Oasis class ships and beyond just knowing where everything is, there is lots to discover.  Art, activities, live music, decor and more are in all the neighborhoods.

Embarkation day is a great time to just walk around the ship and explore because it is the one day of the cruise where there is not a ton of activities going on. 

Here are some areas you will definitely want to explore early

  • Central Park
  • Boardwalk
  • Take a spa tour
  • Walk the Royal Promenade
  • Find Adventure Ocean (if you have kids)

You will discover a lot more but just finding these handful of areas onboard will be a good starting point.

 Also be sure to explore these areas at night too.  Places like Central Park and the Boardwalk literally transform when the sun goes down and can be great spots to sit and enjoy the view.

TOP 10 OASIS OF THE SEAS HIDDEN SECRETS

Don't miss the shows

The entertainment on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are really hard to beat and Royal Caribbean has put on them some of the best shows you will find across Royal Caribbean's fleet.

Even if you aren't "a show person", Royal Caribbean puts on some impressive entertainment that caters to a lot of tastes.  You will find Broadway shows, ice skating, water shows and a whole lot more!

Speaking of Broadway, each ship has their own Broadway show.  Oasis of the Seas is showing Cats and Allure of the Seas is showing Mamma Mia!.

By far the Broadway shows and the shows in the Aqua Theater stand out as must-see entertainment on either ship.

One important tip if you are new to cruising is on Oasis class ships you can book your entertainment in advance from the comfort of home.

Select shows offer the ability to book reservations in advance via Royal Caribbean's web site.  Don't worry, there is no cost to do this, but we recommend booking any entertainment you can in advance to avoid lines at show time.

All you have to do is go to My Cruises and then log in (register an account if you have not done so already).  Then find your cruise reservation and go to the Cruise Planner.  A few clicks later and you should be able to reserve your entertainment.

Keep in mind that reservations for entertainment is usually available for booking 64-60 days in advance of your cruise.  Check our planning timeline for more information on when things like entertainment can be reserved.

There are a lot of specialty restaurants (and you should try some of them)

There are plenty of complimentary restaurants to eat at on your Royal Caribbean cruise but you should really consider dining at some of the specialty restaurants available onboard.

Specialty restaurants are restaurants where there is an additional charge to dine there.  Usually, there is just a cover charge that includes the cost of the meal and gratuity, although some restaurants are priced a la carte too.

The reason you want to try some of these specialty restaurants out is because of the wide variety of really good food they offer.

Sushi, Italian, American, Mexican and more are available at these restaurants on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.  Either browse their menus online or walk by the restaurants during your cruise and check out what they offer.

Remember there are some good ways to save money off the cost of specialty restaurants, so there is no excuse to pay full price!

What would you recommend to someone going on Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas? Share your tips in the comments!

First time cruisers: What drinks are included with your Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
11Aug2015

All this week, we are helping first time Royal Caribbean cruisers with all aspects of the cruise vacation.  Check back every day for a new post aimed at those who are new to Royal Caribbean!

There is so much to see and do onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, and for a lot of guests, dining is a big part of that activity.  

Even if you aren't a foodie you still will be eating quite a few meals onboard and that has some folks wondering which drinks are included and which drinks cost extra.  Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about the drinks on a Royal Caribbean ship.

What Royal Caribbean includes

Royal Caribbean provides all its guests on all its cruise ships a few different drinks throughout the day that are included in your cruise fare.   These drinks include

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free.

What costs extra

Alternatively, guests may purchase other beverages for an additional cost during the cruise.

This list is essentially anything else available onboard, including

  • soda
  • beer
  • wine
  • liquor
  • cocktails
  • premium coffee and tea, such as Starbucks
  • bottled water (still or sparkling)
  • fresh squeezed juice

For all of these drinks, you may purchase each drink individually or purchase a beverage package that will give you either a set allotment of beverages or unlimited access onboard to them.

Where to get premium beverages for free

During your cruise, there are opportunities to get drinks that would otherwise cost extra for free.  If you keep an eye on your Cruise Compass, you should see many, if not all, of these opportunities on your next cruise.

Crown and Anchor members with level Diamond or above

Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members will get free alcoholic drinks before dinner.  Since this post is aimed at first time cruisers, that is probably not you, but it is something to keep in mind for the future.

Welcome Back Parties

If you are at least a Gold member or above in Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society, there are welcome back parties held, where wine and cocktails are served for free.

Art Auctions

There will be regularly held art auctions onboard your cruise and as a means of enticing guests to attend, there is complimentary champagne available.

Suite Guests ( excluding Junior Suites)

Guests that are staying in a suite will have access to free drinks in the Concierge Lounge.

First time cruisers: What makes Royal Caribbean different from other cruise lines

In:
10Aug2015

All this week, we are helping first time Royal Caribbean cruisers with all aspects of the cruise vacation.  Check back every day for a new post aimed at those who are new to Royal Caribbean!

You may be asking what does Royal Caribbean do that makes it different from its competitors and why should you consider a Royal Caribbean cruise over a different cruise. 

Listed here are the ways Royal Caribbean seperates itself from the pack and why so many Royal Caribbean fans have come back again and again over the years.

Leader in offering more to do onboard

Photo by Graham Cairns

For years, Royal Caribbean has been blazing a path of innovation on its cruise ships, especially when it comes to the really neat activities to do onboard its ships.

Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to offer a rock climbing wall, FlowRider surf simulator, ice skating rink, Broadway shows, true high speed internet at sea and a lot more.

What many fans like about Royal Caribbean is they are continuously pushing the envelope in terms of what a cruise ship can offer.  If you are looking for a cruise experience that offers more onboard activity options than you can possibly do in one week, Royal Caribbean is perfect for you.

Many of these innovations are still exclusive to Royal Caribbean and they have become staples of the Royal Caribbean cruise experience.  The FlowRider, bumper cars and Promenade shopping are all Royal Caribbean signature offerings.

All of this is in addition to the great variety of onboard activities available each day of your cruise.  Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for being a cruise line that offers a lot to do onboard.

The biggest cruise ships in the world

They say size is not everything, but it sure does help!

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are among the largest in the world.  Its Oasis class cruise ships redefined not only how big a cruise ship can be but also what it can offer.

These ships are not just built to be big, rather, they are built to be large enough to house all the really cool adventures that await you.  Looking back to our first way Royal Caribbean differentiates itself, all those innovative activities need to go somewhere and so Royal Caribbean has built its ships bigger and bigger to offer more and more to its guests.

If you are worried that the ships might be too big, don't worry.  Folks that have been on these mega-cruise ships will tell you that they are truly designed with crowd control in mind and despite the ship's size, the layouts work to help spread the crowds around.

These large cruise ships go hand-in-hand with the wonderful activities available onboard to create a fun vacation experience.

Focus on families

Royal Caribbean cruises are designed to be family experiences, where kids, parents, grandparents and friends can share in the vacation together.

Looking over the array of things to do onboard and onshore, you will see there are activities that can be great for certain ages and other activities that blend demographics together.  A Royal Caribbean cruise is meant to be fun for all.

The Adventure Ocean program for kids and the teen-only lounges and activities will give the underage set ample opportunity to have fun on their own in a supervised and fun environment.  Royal Caribbean has built these programs to appeal to each age group and they want it to be somewhere the kids want to be all day (and night).

Both Adventure Ocean and the teen program are complimentary and included in your cruise.  

If you are cruising with the babies or toddlers, Royal Caribbean has been adding nurseries to many of its ships to give parents a safe and inexpensive option for child care.

Of course, there is plenty for kids and adults to do together.  Evening shows, parades, dance parties, restaurants and shore excursions are just the beginning of what is available and they are great for all ages.

Value

There are a lot of choices for a cruise vacation but what brings back many guests to Royal Caribbean cruise after cruise is the tremendous value of a Royal Caribbean cruise.  

Royal Caribbean prices its cruises competitively and it offers a great balance between what you pay for the cruise and what you get out of the cruise.  In fact, Royal Caribbean prides itself on offering cruise vacations that are not only affordable, but very comparable to a land based vacation elsewhere.  

Prices for a Royal Caribbean cruise vary from sailing to sailing and region to region, but generally speaking, Royal Caribbean sells its cruises on the notion guests are going to get a lot of value back from their time onboard.  

Top five things to do after booking a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
29Jun2015

You have decided on the right Royal Caribbean cruise for you, made a deposit on your sailing and have your stateroom reserved just for you. What should you do next?

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise can be a fun exercise in planning, as you discover there is a lot to do before you ever set foot on your ship.  

Once you have your cruise booked, here are five things you should look into as your next step and really jump into the pre-cruise excitement!

1. Select your dining preference

Dinner on a Royal Caribbean cruise has a few options to choose from, and you will want to make sure you pick the option you want.  Depending on your ship, there can be a few choices: traditional, My Time Dining or Dynamic Dining.

Traditional dining is where you have a set time each night of your cruise, where you will be seated at the same table in the main dining room and have the same wait staff and table mates.  This is the most common choice available and is also the most widely available option.  There are two times, early and late seating.

My Time Dining takes place in the Main Dining Room as well, but instead of a fixed time and table, you reserve times during the evening or show up and get the first available table.  My Time Dining allows for more flexibility in when you eat, but requires more planning to ensure you have a spot each night to dine at.

Dynamic Dining is the newest choice, and is available on Quantum class ships currently.  There is no Main Dining Room, but instead you have a choice among complimentary and specialty restaurants to book reservations at.  You can pick the same restaurant or as many as you want, with different waiters and times each evening.

To enroll in any of these options for your cruise, contact your travel agent or Royal Caribbean directly and request the one you want. There can be times where the choice you want is full, but you can request to be put on a wait list and in our experience, wait list requests usually are fulfilled.

2. Register your cruise on My Cruises

In order to gain access to all of Royal Caribbean's pre-cruise planning options online, you will want to register yourself on Royal Caribbean's web site and tie your reservation to your account.

If you have not done so already, create a My Cruises account on Royal Caribbean's web site. It's free and should take just a few minutes to complete.

Log into your account and then add an existing reservation to your My Cruises account.

Now, you will have access to every detail of your sailing, including shore excursions, beverage packages, entertainment, dining reservations and more.

3. Research your pre-cruise transportation

We recommend arriving to your cruise embarkation port at least one day early, to avoid transportation delays that can potentially cause you to miss your cruise.

For those that are flying on an airplane to your cruise, booking airfare in advance is a good idea.  It is also a good idea to research a hotel to stay at and lock in a price now before others do the same.

Depending on the port you are leaving from, there can be lots of hotels and resorts to choose from.  Use consumer review web sites to find which hotel will offer you the amenities you want for the price you can afford.  

It is easy to overlook your pre-cruise transportation and lodging and then have to pay more than you should later.

4. Review your travel documents

Before you can get onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will need to provide local authorities the proper documentation to prove who you are, and you definitely do not want to arrive at the pier missing something important.

Research what proof of identification you may need for everyone in your party, such as birth certificates, drivers licenses and/or passports.  If you are traveling to another country for your cruise, look into if you will need to apply for a visa.

Processing times for documents like visas and passports can take weeks, if not months, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get any necessary documents ready for your sail date.

5. Research if you should purchase travel insurance

Insurance is one of things that you do not think of until you need it and then it is worth every penny.  The thing is, not everyone needs travel insurance but you should look into what travel insurance offers and if you are at an elevated risk and would benefit from it.

Royal Caribbean offers travel insurance, as well as many third party companies.  Read exactly what the insurance covers and the scenarios in which you can make a claim.  It is important to be aware that travel insurance does not cover every scenario, but issues such as personal illness, death of a family member, airline delays, lost baggage and more are common times when insurance will be of great benefit.

There is no easy way to determine who does and who does not need travel insurance, but you should at least consider the option now to safeguard yourself in the future.  

First time cruisers: comparing Royal Caribbean's Oasis class to Voyager class

In:
30May2015

When you are looking to pick the perfect Royal Caribbean cruise for your family, often you will find a few good choices to choose from and in many cases, it can come down to the ship class as the big difference. 

With over 20 ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet, there are a lot of choices and today we will compare two of the most popular classes of ships, the Oasis-class to the Voyager class.

The ships

The Voyager-class ships include Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas.

The Oasis-class ships include Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.

Ship size

The Voyager class ships were built between 1999 and 2003 and set the standard for what a large cruise ship is these days.  You will have a little over 3000 passengers onboard with you, has 15 decks and is 138,000 GT.

The Oasis class was first built between 2007 and 2010 with some new ships under construction since 2013.  On these ships, there are somewhere between 5400 and 6200 passengers, has 16 decks and is 225,282 –227,700 GT.

Both classes of cruise ships are large but the Oasis class is currently the largest in the world.  While the Oasis class dwarfs the Voyager class, they are both really big ships and essentially we are talking about a big class and a bigger class.

What's onboard

Voyager class ships are best known for their 350-foot indoor mall known as the Royal Promenade,that features indoor pubs, shops, cafes, and bars.

Activity options on all five ships board include a basketball court, at least 3 pools, a mini-golf course, a rock wall, an ice skating rink and on some ships a FlowRider surf simulator.

Royal Promenade on Navigator of the Seas

The Oasis class is known for having it all and have seven different "neighborhoods" that are areas of the ship with a distinct theme, such as a Royal Promenade, Boardwalk, Central Park and more.  There's also a slew of dining choices (25 in total) and Broadway shows.

You will find onboard Oasis class ships many of the same features of the Voyager class but larger and in some cases more of them.  For example, there are two rock climbing walls and two Flow Riders on the Oasis class.

Central Park on Oasis class

Both classes of ships have the same core offerings, such as the Adventure Ocean kids club, dining rooms, specialty restaurants, pools and more.

Significant differences

Besides the size of the ships, there are some key differences that will either be a plus or minus for you.  

The Oasis-class ships have a special pool splash area just for kids and babies.  On the Voyager class, you will find pools but no water play area for kids and no pool access for children with diapers. This can be a big factor for families with younger children.

H2O Zone on Oasis class ships

In terms of pricing, generally speaking the Voyager class ships tend to cost less and offer more variety in their itineraries.

Voyager class ships also offer a lot of the same onboard activities and entertainment that the Oasis class does, such as the ice skating rink, FlowRider, and Royal Promenade.

Both classes of ships have recently been refurbished over the last few years and have gotten new specialty dining options as well as updates to their staterooms.

For families with children under 18, the Oasis class offers a lot more in kids activities, both in terms of the Adventure Ocean club as well as activities.

In terms of dining, if you enjoy specialty restaurants and do not mind the extra cost, the Oasis class offers far more choices than any Voyager class ship.  If you want a Voyager class ship with a lot of specialty dining, Navigator of the Seas should be your pick.

Sabor Modern Mexican on Navigator of the Seas

Another key difference is the Oasis class ships have Broadway shows, such as Cats (Oasis of the Seas) and Mamma Mia (Allure of the Seas).  The Voyager class ships have Broadway caliber shows but they do not feature former Broadway shows.

Where the ships sail

The Voyager class ships have spread to nearly every corner of the globe.  At the time of this blog post, there are two Voyager class ships based in Asia and Australia, one in the United States, one in Puerto Rico and many traveling to Europe in the summer.  You will find a great deal of port options on a Voyager class ship.

Voyager of the Seas in Sydney

The Oasis class ships are traditionally based in Florida although Royal Caribbean has started to send them to Europe for the summer.  As of the time of this blog post, the home ports for all Oasis class ships will still be in Florida.

Conclusions

Voyager class ships offer a lot for very likely less cost than the Oasis class.  You still get a decent variety of specialty dining, pools, and lots to do .  

The Oasis class offers it all and has more for families with young children to enjoy.  It still has premium pricing so you will likely pay more for it on average.

Both classes are large ships and with the recent refurbishments to the Voyager class, the differences are not as wide as they once were.

Honorable mention for the Voyager class goes to Navigator of the Seas.  It seemingly had the best refurbishment with a slew of restaurants, virtual balconies and more.

Honorable mention for the Oasis class is Harmony of the Seas, which will debut in 2016 and will have water slides, a first for Royal Caribbean ships.

Which class do you prefer? Is Voyager class a better choice or do you think there's no beating Oasis class? Share your opinion in the comments below!

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