First Time Cruisers

First time cruisers: Royal Caribbean's Oasis class or Quantum class?

In:
08Jun2016

These days, the latest and greatest Royal Caribbean ships are the Oasis and Quantum class cruise ships and if you are trying to choose between them, it can be difficult to know which is the best choice.

Royal Caribbean has put so much into these amazing new ships, so here is what you need to know about both classes of ships and how they differ.

Quantum class benefits

Royal Caribbean's Quantum class ships are the newest class of ships and have been largely associated with being the most technologically advance cruise ships.

There are three Quantum class ships in service, with two more on order.

  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Unnamed Quantum class ship (to debut in 2019)
  • Unnamed Quantum class ship (to debut in 2020)

The Quantum class ships are best known for excelling in two specific areas: entertainment and dining.

The Quantum class ships offer a great variety of entertainment on its ships. Impressive shows, amazing venues and one-of-a-kind experiences.

Royal Caribbean designed the Quantum class ships to offer some impressive new experiences that stand out.

North Star

North Star is an observation pod that is attached to a giant arm on top of each Quantum class ship. North Star takes passengers 300 feet above the sea to see area around them.

Guests enter the observation pod and then are raised up in the air provide views all around the ship.  Whether in port or at sea, North Star offers the best views on any cruise ship.

Ripcord by iFly

You know what is a lot of fun? Sky diving. You know what is incredibly scary? Jumping out of an airplane.

Ripcord by iFly is the perfect solution, offering a sky diver simulator for guests to enjoy without the risk of jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft.

After a short orientation, guests take turns entering a wind tunnel, where they will experience the sensation of sky diving.

Two70

Royal Caribbean built a brand new venue not available on any other ship with Two70.

Located on the aft of the ship, Two70 offers a sweeping two hundred and seventy degree view of the ocean.  That alone might be a great area to enjoy the view, but there is much more to see here.

Throughout the day, different shows and events will take place.  Chief among them are the Roboshows that feature amazing robot screens that move, dance and synchronize together to provide the kind of show you have never seen.  

Then there's the premier evening show in Two70, which offers a multi-sensory show that combines music, visual effects, acrobats and more to deliver a one-of-a-kind show.

Oasis class benefits

Royal Caribbean's Oasis class redefined what a cruise ship could be and are the world's largest cruise ships in the world.

Everything about the Oasis class is big, and there is a ton of, well, everything to do onboard. 

Like the Quantum class, there are also three Oasis class ships in service with two more on order.

  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Unnamed Oasis class ship (to debut in 2018)
  • Unnamed Oasis class ship (to debut in 2021)

In short, the Oasis class ships offer a lot to see and do.  These ships are the biggest in the world and are packed with entertainment, dining, activities and more.

These ships are divided up into neighborhoods to help guests navigate easily around the ship and feature distinct visual areas of the ship. There is a boardwalk, an entire park in the middle, pools, and a whole lot more.

If your definition of a fun cruise is having plenty to do, then you will love the two FlowRiders, zip line across the Boardwalk, Royal Promenade shopping area, AquaTheater and now water slides.

Slides

While only on Harmony of the Seas, the water slides and Ultimate Abyss slide are truly impressive (and fun) ways to spend your cruise.

Dubbed "The Perfect Storm," three water slides are a beacon for families looking for some high-paced fun.

If that was not enough, there is the tallest slide at sea.  It is 10 stories tall and is an epic adventure. Spontaneous audio effects within each tunnel create a multi-sensory thrill for daring guests willing to test their mettle while traversing 216 feet through the one-of-a-kind slide duo.

AquaTheater

The AquaTheater is a venue on the aft of Oasis class ships that shows original Royal Caribbean productions that will take your breath away.

The AquaTheater shows feature distinct high diving, acrobatic performances with two 10-meter high platforms and hydraulic-floored pool and the largest and deepest freshwater pool at sea.  It all combines to serve as podiums for high-diving, hair-raising aerobatics that AquaTheater audiences have come to love.

It is hard to put into words what AquaTheater shows are all about, but rest assured they are fun and tantalizing entertainment.

More than 20 dining venues

If you love to eat and try lots of different kinds of food, the Oasis class ships offer more dining venues than you can probably dine at in one cruise.

Royal Caribbean stuffed these ships with a great assortment of complimentary and specialty dining that offer something for everyone.

Italian, Hibachi, dry-aged steaks, fresh salads, Mexican are just a whole a few of the great options available.

Royal Caribbean may have added so many restaurants to Oasis class ships as a means of offering enough places for guests to eat, but the class has become a foodie's dream.

Picking the one for you

We think those new to cruising, or at least new to Royal Caribbean, will really love the Oasis and Quantum class ships because of everything they offer.

The reality is you cannot go wrong picking either class, but there are certain advantages each class offers that might have appeal for certain guests.

You should lean towards Quantum class if...

Cruising with teens

Bumper cars, Ripcord, dance clubs and more make the Quantum class a great choice for teens and older kids.  

There are a lot of great activities onboard and it seems to favor older children who want to do it all.

Where you live

If you live in the Northeast United States, Anthem of the Seas is in your backyard and not having to fly is a big deal. Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas serve China and Australia.

Not only does cruising from the a port near your home save money on airfare, but it allows for year-round escapes to the warm and exotic destinations.

Love tech

Quantum class ships offer RFID bracelets, robot bartenders, smart phone planning app, virtual balconies and other "gee-wiz" innovations.

In short, Quantum class ships are about packing in the latest technology that enhances the guest experience instead of defining it.

On the other hand, you should lean towards the Oasis class if...

Want more to do than you can do

The sheer amount of activities and events on Oasis class ships are staggering.  They even have a day time and night time edition of the Cruise Compass, because they cannot fit all the events in one Compass, like on other ships.

If you love variety of activities and want lots of choices, then the Oasis class ships are good for you.

Love getting physical

For those that like to "get out there" and do a lot, then the Oasis class is a great fit.  Two FlowRiders, two rock climbing walls, ice skating, zip lining, mini-golf, running tracks and more are available for those that need a good physical challenge.

The sports facilities on Oasis class ships are truly impressive because of many options there are and the unique opportunities available only on an Oasis class ship.

Need (or want) lots of dining choices

While the Quantum class ships are no slouch in offering great dining, the Oasis class ships just offer a ton of dining choices that cannot be overlooked.

Bars, restaurants and lounges are found all over the ship and that means plenty of variety.  Foodies or just those that are hungry will enjoy the great selection of restaurants that are in all likelihood too many to sample in just one cruise.

Your thoughts

Have you ever set sail on the a Quantum or Oasis class ship? What do you think of it? If you’ve sailed other ships, how do you think it stacks up to those? Any other tips to add or recommendations? If you have questions or thoughts, please share them below and we’ll try to respond!

When is the best time to book a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
06Apr2016

For someone new to Royal Caribbean, one of the most common questions that is often asked is when exactly is the best time to book a Royal Caribbean cruise.

It is a simple question, but has major ramifications.  We all want to get a deal on our cruise vacations, or at the very least, save money where we can.

Here are some helpful guidelines to help you plan the right time to book your first (or next) Royal Caribbean cruise.

Book early

If there is one mantra everyone taking a Royal Caribbean cruise should know, it is to book cruises as early as possible.

In general, the best prices are found the earlier one books a cruise.

Royal Caribbean sells its cruises largely based on the concept of supply and demand. When a sailing is first offered, supply is at its highest because no one has purchase a stateroom yet. As time progress, more and more staterooms are reserved and stateroom inventory drops, so the price increases conversely.

The earlier you can book, the best chance you will have at getting a good price on your cruise.

When we say "early", it essentially means as early as you can.  Royal Caribbean puts its itineraries on sale as much as two years in advance of the sailing, and while that may be too far in advance for many to plan vacations, the earlier you can book the cruise, the better for that bottom line price.

Reprice when possible

Booking your cruise early not only lets you lock in a good price, but it gives you the maximum opportunity to ensure you have the lowest price.

Throughout the year, Royal Caribbean offers various cruise sales: BOGO deals, 72 hour sales, WOW sales, leap day sales and more are offered and each promotion comes with it different pricing and booking incentives.

From when you book your cruise until the final payment date of your cruise, North American guests can cancel and rebook under the new promotions without any penalty (residents of other parts of the world need to check local laws and policies).

Since Royal Caribbean pricing can change daily, or even hourly, re-checking the price of your cruise often is a good way to ensure you are getting the lowest price possible.

When it comes to re-booking (and booking in general), we are big fans of using a travel agent for the services they provide.  A good travel agent will not only be knowledgeable about Royal Caribbean, but take the time to re-book the cruise for you and even notify you when new promotions come out that you can benefit from.

Not when you book, but when you cruise

If you are wondering if there is an ideal time to book a cruise for the best price, it is not so much about when you book as when you want to cruise.

While there are times of the year that offer deeper savings than others (Cyber Monday has been a good time), finding the lowest fares has more to do with when you are actually going on your cruise.

In general, you will find lower fares if you are willing to cruise during the "shoulder seasons" and/or when school is usually in session.

This includes

  • January (minus New Years holiday)
  • Most of February
  • May
  • September
  • October
  • First two weeks of November
  • First two weeks of December

Picking Royal Caribbean cruises that sail during these times of year often net the lowest fares because it is when less people have the opportunity or inclination to cruise.

What is your best tip for the best time to book a Royal Caribbean cruise? Share it in our comments!

7 things Royal Caribbean veterans always do (and you should too)

In:
03Feb2016

It is natural when you are new to Royal Caribbean to want to learn all the tips, secrets and hints you can so that your Royal Caribbean cruise experience can be the best.  These tried-and-true strategies are something many Royal Caribbean fans have come to learn after taking many cruises over the years.

If you are new to Royal Caribbean, here are seven things Royal Caribbean insiders know about taking a cruise that you might want to consider doing too.

1. Sign up for Crown and Anchor Society

This may not seem like that much of a secret, but the truth is guests that have cruised time and time again with Royal Caribbean embrace Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program known as Crown and Anchor Society.

Essentially, Crown and Anchor Society rewards guests for taking multiple Royal Caribbean cruises with special discounts onboard, priority embarkation and check-in, offers on upcoming cruises and exclusive events.

There is no cost to join Crown and Anchor Society and the discounts you receive onboard alone are worth signing up for.

2. Arrive to port very early

Your Royal Caribbean cruise may not depart your port until sometime in the afternoon or evening, but Royal Caribbean veterans always show up early for two good reasons.

First, the earlier you arrive means the earlier your vacation begins.  Whether you arrive at the port at 11am or 2pm on embarkation day, the price you pay does not change, so you may as well show up earlier to get more time from your cruise.

Second, by arriving early, you will avoid the longer lines at embarkation that typically occur on embarkation day when a majority of guests show up in the afternoon. Arriving in the morning allows you to get through security and check-in with less wait.

If you are wondering what constitutes early, usually this infers any time before noon.  Depending on your cruise, embarkation port and other factors, the check-in process can begin as early as 10am.

3. Book specialty dining in advance

These days, Royal Caribbean ships offer some amazing specialty dining options and if you want to ensure there is a table waiting for you, then you ought to book something before you set foot onboard.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to make reservations for its specialty restaurants online, via the Cruise Planner site.  

By making reservations online, you will guarantee yourself not just a table, but the day and time that fits your schedule.

This is especially important on formal nights or holidays, when many guests wish to do something special.

4. Book their cruises years in advance

Royal Caribbean recently announced their deployment schedule of when guests can see itineraries for 2017-2018 cruises and begin making reservations.  Royal Caribbean veterans know the key to getting a good deal on a cruise and the perfect stateroom, is to book as far in advance as possible.

Royal Caribbean veterans will tell you that the best way to get a good deal on a cruise is to book as early as you can.  Ideally, years in advance.

By booking early, you will often find the best rates available because cruise fares operate on a supply and demand basis.  The less supply there is (i.e. staterooms available to book), the higher prices.  So by booking one to two years early, you will find the best rates.

If you ever strike up a conversation with a Royal Caribbean veteran, ask them when they booked their cruises, because the answer is often measured in years.

5. Read old Cruise Compass' to know what to expect

You just picked the perfect Royal Caribbean cruise for you and your family and it sounds like it will be a blast, but you might be wondering what events, activities and specials may be offered on your cruise.  

There is no way to know in absolute terms what your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise will or will not offer, but Royal Caribbean insiders will consult past Cruise Compass' to see what was available on those similar sailings to get an idea of what to expect.

Generally speaking, Royal Caribbean sailings on a particular ship do not change that much from week to week in terms of the activities or entertainment offered.  There will be some discrepancies, but an old Cruise Compass can give you a good ballpark of expectations to plan around.

By reading an old Cruise Compass, you can prepare yourself for activities and events that you might want to participate in, such as themed dance parties, sporting events and anything inbetween.

6. Take cruises on the smaller ships

These days, any Royal Caribbean commercial you see on television probably shows off the amazing things its newest, and biggest cruise ships offer and they are really, really stunning.  But Royal Caribbean veterans know that it is just as fun and important to consider the smaller ships in the fleet.

Royal Caribbean has a fleet of 23 ships of various shapes and sizes.  While the largest ships gain the lion's share of attention, many veterans will tell you the virtues of the smaller ships in the fleet.

Radiance, Vision, Sovereign and even Voyager class ships all offer some amazing experiences that cannot be matched on the larger ships. 

These smaller ships can get to ports of call that larger ships cannot, as well as offer a more intimate experience in relationship with your fellow guests.  Not to mention, these smaller ships also come with a lower price tag!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sailing on an Oasis or Quantum class ship, but consider every class in the fleet for your next Royal Caribbean cruise, because Royal Caribbean super fans love them all.

7. Learn from others

Let's face it: no one knows it all and that is why veteran cruisers often look for ways to congregate online and share in their experiences.

The internet is perfect for sharing our collective Royal Caribbean knowledge, and there are some great resources you should consider when looking to learn more about Royal Caribbean.

At the risk of sounding self-serving, this web site offers more than just blog posts as means of helping others have a better cruise.  Read our message boards, listen to our podcast and chat with us on Periscope for some easy and fun ways to learn more about Royal Caribbean.

In addition, Facebook has become a wealth of Royal Caribbean information, and here are a few of our favorite Facebook groups that you might consider joining.

We would also be remiss if we did not mention the Cruise Critic message boards as another great online resource of Royal Caribbean information.

Are you a Royal Caribbean veteran? What advice would you give to someone new to Royal Caribbean? Share that tip in our comments!

Royal Caribbean itinerary recommendations for first-time cruisers

In:
04Jan2016

Royal Caribbean offers cruises on 25 cruise ships to destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, Asia, Australia and everywhere in between. 

That is a lot of cruises!

First time cruisers may find the choices a bit overwhelming with the various options. The good news is, the decision is not as complicated as it may seem. 

Here are a few guidelines that would make for a perfect first cruise.  

Ships

Royal Caribbean has built up a lot of cruise ships over the years and they each offer something different and interesting. 

For first time cruisers, the best choice is to lean towards the newer ships in the fleet because they will offer the latest innovations, entertainment and choices. 

Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Quantum class ships are perfect for first timers. In fact, it can be argued the Quantum class was designed with first time cruisers in mind.  

Ships such as Allure of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas pack a lot of entertainment, dining and tech onboard that offer the kind of "WOW moment" experiences many new to cruise guests have heard about. 

The other ships in the fleet are wonderful too, but we feel the Oasis and Quantum class ships are best suited for new cruisers. 

Itineraries

If you are trying to decide between itineraries like eastern or western Mediterranean or a Bahamas cruise or to visit Cozumel or St. Thomas, these are the typical quandaries those new to cruising all go through.

For a fist time cruiser, we think it makes the most sense to pick an itinerary that mixes in an even amount of sea days with port days.  The reason for this is so that you have ample opportunity to explore the ship as well as the places you visit.  

Cruise length

It may be tempting to pick a shorter cruise, but we recommend going with a five to seven night sailing because those three and four night cruises are really, really short.

By going with a slightly longer cruise, you will have the opportunity to really explore the ship and enjoy the experience.  Shorter cruises go by so quickly and for someone new to cruising, it may not provide enough time on ship or on shore to really get a sense of it all.

Royal Caribbean ships are designed to be destinations rather than just a floating hotel room, so you will want more time to experience it all.  We typically find cruises closer to a week in length provide a great balance of value, time and opportunity.

Picking the right sailing

An itinerary with a good mix of port calls and sea days will give first time cruisers a good sense of what a cruise is like, so try to avoid sailings with lots of sea days (such as repositioning cruises) or lots of port stops.

It is difficult to go wrong with an eastern or western Caribbean sailing that includes a stop at Royal Caribbean's private destinations of Labadee or CocoCay.  These private stops are great for a beach day and many guests really enjoy their time there.

In addition, cruises to the Caribbean offer fun islands to visit that are well-established with plenty to offer in terms of shore excursions.

For cruises that go to Europe, Asia or Alaska, it is important to look for sailings that mix in that blend of port stops and sea days. 

Saving money on your cruise

Regardless of which ship you pick and which sailing you want to cruise on, everyone wants to make sure they are getting the lowest price.  There are some good strategies for ensuring you get the lowest price possible.

Book early

If there is one rule of cruise pricing that you should remember, it is that it is always best to book your Royal Caribbean cruise as far in advance as you can.

There is no such thing as booking your cruise too early because as more guests book a sailing, inventory drops and prices start to creep up.

Cruising has never been more popular and Royal Caribbean ships routinely sail completely full, so it is best to book well in advance.

Ideally, you will book somewhere between 7-18 months prior to your sail date.  If you can manage to book earlier, that is even better.

Cruise during less busy times of the year

A great strategy to keeping your cruise fare low is to choose times of the year to sail when many others are not.

Royal Caribbean offers cruises year-round and like every industry, there are high seasons and low seasons.

For the best fares, consider cruises during these times of the year

  • January (excluding New Years)
  • Early February
  • September
  • October
  • Early November
  • First two weeks of December

If you can take a cruise during times of the year that do not coincide with school or government holidays, you will find lower prices overall.

How to find the best deal on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
20Nov2015

Everyone is looking for a deal when they book a Royal Caribbean cruise and there are definitely some good ways to save money.

Getting a deal on a cruise has a lot to do when you book your cruise and what time of year you are looking to cruise.

Here are a few good ways to save money on your next Royal Caribbean cruise booking.

Time of year

Keep in mind that when you book a Royal Caribbean cruise, the time of year you are looking to cruise has a great influence on the price.

In general, the more people that are also looking to vacation, the higher the prices.

For example, a cruise over a time when there is a school vacation will likely see higher prices than similar sailings in the weeks before or after.

For a good starting point, consider when schools are on vacation as times to avoid, since that is when a lot of families look to travel.

The best months for the lowest fares include

  • January (except New Years)
  • February (except Presidents Week)
  • First two weeks of March
  • October
  • November (except Thanksgiving)
  • First two weeks of December

Where you want to go

Just like the time of year, where you want to cruise can factor into the prices.

Summer in the Mediterranean, summer in Alaska, winter in the Caribbean are all good examples of high season demand, and that leads to higher prices.

By looking at different months, you can swing a much better rate.  

Look for what's known as "shoulder months", which are the times of year at the beginning or end of the prime season, when demand is less and prices are lower.

Use a travel agent

A good travel agent can really help you nail down some great rates because they are "in the loop" for all the promotions available today, as well as any new promotions that can be applied to your reservation.

Keep in mind that the price of a Royal Caribbean cruise is the same everywhere.  

The difference is a travel agent can help you figure out which discounts and booking incentives will benefit you the most, and assist with ensuring that any new promotions that come out will be applied to your booking.

When you book

These days, Royal Caribbean cruises have never been more popular, so the key to getting the best rates is to book as early as you can.

Ideally, booking your cruise 9, 12, 18 or 24 months in advance is the best way to lock in low prices.

Cruise fares are a lot like airfare, where the more folks that book, the less capacity there is and therefore, prices rise.

The days of last minute discounts are being eliminated, so you definitely want to book as early as you can to ensure you have the lowest rates.

What are your best tips on the cheapest time to book a cruise? Share them in the comments!

What to do if your Royal Caribbean dining preference is not available

In:
12Oct2015

We get a lot of questions on the blog, and a common question is about what to do if the dining choice for dinner that a guest wants is not available.

Sometimes a guest will book a Royal Caribbean cruise, but discover that a particular traditional dinner seating is not available.  Or perhaps My Time Dining is booked up.  Is there any chance to change it?

The answer is, there are two strategies to use when trying to get into the dining option you really wanted.

Add yourself to a waitlist

When a particular dining option gets filled up, Royal Caribbean will allow guests to be added to a waitlist.

These waitlists are virtual queues, where if another guest leaves that dining option for some reason (usually due to cancelling or transferring their cruise reservation), the next guest "in line" can take their spot.

To be added to a waitlist, you need to contact either Royal Caribbean directly or have your travel agent do it on your behalf.

Once you are added to the waitlist, you should see a notation on your reservation in the My Cruises section of Royal Caribbean's web site.

In many cases, the waitlist will eventually come through and you will be automatically added to the dining option of your choice  You will likely not be notified of the change, so you will have to log in periodically to your cruise reservation to see if something has changed.

The fallback: speak to the head waiter

Sometimes, the waitlist option does not work and your next best option is to go speak to the head waiter on embarkation day.

Once you board your Royal Caribbean cruise, go to the main dining room in the afternoon to speak to the head waiter.

There should be a head waiter on duty in the main dining room for a few hours in the afternoon.  

Politely explain your request to the head waiter and ask if there is a way to be moved to the dining option you prefer.

In our experience, this fallback usually gets the job done.  Royal Caribbean wants their guests happy and the head waiters have a good sense of the guest dinner distribution.

More dining room tips

Check out these other helpful posts about dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Hopefully one of these two choices will get you the dining preference you really want!

First time cruisers: Making final payment

In:
21Sep2015

When the days until your next Royal Caribbean cruise start to tick down to the point where you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, that means it is time to pay off your Royal Caribbean cruise in full.

Royal Caribbean requires guests pay the full fare by a certain point in advance of embarkation day. 

Guests only have to put a deposit down well in advance to reserve a stateroom and price but a good two months before your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will have to make a final payment.

When is payment due

Final payment for your cruise will due on a specific date prior to your cruise. The exact date depends on the length of your cruise:

  • Cruises over Christmas or New Years day: 90 days prior to sailing
  • 7+ night cruise: 75 days prior to sailing
  • 3-6 night cruise: 60 days prior to sailing

If you fail to make final payment on time, you risk jeopardizing your stateroom you reserved and the rate you had locked in.

How to make final payment

If you booked your Royal Caribbean cruise directly with Royal Caribbean, you can either call Royal Caribbean directly and give payment over the phone or you can log onto the Royal Caribbean web site and provide payment there.

If you booked through a travel agent, you can simply contact your travel agent and provide payment to them.  Some travel agents will require final payment a few days before final payment date because the agents want to make sure there are no slip ups.

How to make final payment easier

Let’s face it, no one likes having to lay out thousands of dollars at once because, well, most folks prefer to make smaller payments than a large lump sum.  Larger lump payments mean it is more of a hit on your family’s personal finances.

Make smaller payments

One option you have is to spread out payments between when you make a deposit and the cruise itself.

Royal Caribbean will allow guests to make payments of any amount in the interim period before final payment.  This will require some pro-active work on your part but it will mean less of a “big hit” once you have to pay the cruise. 

Guests may make payments of $500 or more online or call Royal Caribbean directly to make payments of less than $500.

Save money on your own

Another option if you would prefer to keep your money with you but avoid that “big hit”, is to stash the money in a “piggy bank” of sorts.

Many banks allow automatic transfers between accounts, so conceivably one could have a little bit of money stashed away at specific periods so when final payment date shows up, you are prepared.

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.

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