Secrets, Tips and Tricks

Royal Caribbean Secrets: opening the balcony dividers


On Royal Caribbean ships, between each balcony is a divider that grants privacy for each guest, but if you're sailing with a group and have balcony staterooms adjacent to each other, it is sometimes possible to remove the dividers and open up a much larger balcony.

The secret to removing the dividers and opening up your balcony is pretty simple: you just need to ask.  Talk to your stateroom attendant and ask if you can have the balcony dividers opened up because you are friends with the balcony stateroom(s) next to you.

To be honest, the request can sometimes be approved and sometimes denied.  It seems the possibility to due so depends on the ship class and ship management policies.  

In addition, you may be told you have to wait for your ship to leave its homeport before they can take care of your request.  Many cruisers we've talked to about this reported that it was taken care of within a few hours of sailaway.

In general, we've heard on Voyager class ships the practice of opening up balcony dividers is prohibited (many of the ships' balcony dividers are attached to the hull so it's physically impossible) but all other classes of ships seem to allow it. Freedom-class ships seem to be the most consistant in allowing the balcony dividers to be opened. Ultimately, the decision lays with the ship's captain.

In short, you simply need to ask your stateroom attendant and if permitted, you can enjoy a much larger balcony experience as well as have a larger common space to spend time with your friends or family staying near you.

7 ways to get a discount on your Royal Caribbean cruise


You're ready to book a Royal Caribbean cruise and like anything you buy, you'll likely be looking for ways to shave off some money on the price of your cruise.  Royal Caribbean does offer some discounts that can help you save money on your cruise vacation if you qualify.

To get any of these discounts, it's important to mention the discounts you are eligible for to your travel agent or Royal Caribbean directly. 

Often many passengers are unaware these discounts exist, so do your research to make sure you qualify for any of them and then inquire when you are ready to book a cruise.

7. Military

If you are an active or retired member of the United States or Canadian military, there are special rates just for you.

You must be actively serving or retired from...

  • the Canadian National Defense
  • United States Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserves

All guests traveling in the same stateroom are eligible to receive the military rate. No additional staterooms, other than the one that is occupied by the military person is eligible for the military rate. Spouses, parents, in-laws, children or other family members or friends are not eligible for the military rate without the eligible military person occupying the stateroom.

6. Crown and Anchor Society members

Royal Caribean regularly offers reduced cruise fare rates and discounts to its loyalty program, Crown and Anchor Society.  

These special rates are often  available for select cruises.  You can easily check for the special rates by logging into Royal Caribbean's website and going to the Crown and Anchor area to see which cruises are available.

Royal Caribbean also offers discounts to Crown and Anchor Platinum and above members on balcony and suite staterooms.

Single supplement cruise fare is reduced to 150% from 200% for members that have 340 or more cruise points

5. Royal Caribbean Shareholder

Any shareholder holding a minimum of 100 RCL shares at time of sailing can qualify for a discount.

The discounts break down as follows

  • $250 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 14 or more nights.
  • $200 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 10 to 13 nights.
  • $100 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 6 to 9 nights.
  • $50 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 5 nights or less.

4.  Senior Citizens

Guests who are 55 years or older can qualify for reduced rates, so you will need to contact Royal Caribbean or your travel agent to inqiure about exact rates

3. Airline Employees

If you're a member of one of these organizations, you can qualify for special rates on inside, ocean-view and balcony staterooms.

  • Airline employees
  • Federal Express
  • DHL Worldwide Express
  • Airborne Express
  • United Parcel Service (UPS)
  • Retired employees of airlines currently in operation

If you are IATA/ARC appointed, you should contact your Human Resources Department to find out the names and phone numbers of Interline Travel Agencies. 

2. Firefighters and Police Officers

If you are an active or retired employee or volunteer of  a local or state law enforcement agency, fire department or Emergency Medical Services unit in the United States or Canada, you can qualify for a discount.

Qualified guests must present valid proof of employment (badge or ID) plus a second form of identification when boarding the ship.

1. Residents of certain states

From time to time, Royal Caribbean offers discounts on cruises to residents of certain states in the United States.

Commonly, there are discounts to residents of the states of Florida, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.  We've also seen discounts available to residents of other states, most notably the south eastern United States.

Pro tips on how to ride Royal Caribbean's FlowRider (better)


Royal Caribbean's FlowRider is a very popular (and free) activity aboard select cruise ships but if you're anything like me, you aren't a natural born surfer. 

So we reached out to a couple of professional FlowRider veterans for tips on how to master the art of riding the artificial wave.

Our panel of FlowRider experts include

  • Nick, from All Things Flow13oarding, has been riding the FlowRider for 14 years and is a 7 time bodyboard world champion.
  • Brandon, from Heinen Motorsports, is a pro FlowRider and wakesurfer and uses the FlowRider to tran in the off season.

If you were to give someone brand new to the FlowRider one tip to, what would it be?

Nick: On the bodyboard: Hold the board on the side middle rails, keep your elbows on the board and use your legs in the water for speed and to keep the board straight. And most importantly have fun! 

On the Standup Flowboard: Keep at least a steady 80% pressure/balance on the back foot and lean on your back hip while trying to keep your shoulders balanced and pointing towards the front, Try not to twist and turn your shoulders and try to keep the board straight with your feet and hip. When you go on stay low on your back leg and try to go in a straight line with steady pressure and balance on your feet. About 80% on the back and 20% on the front. If the board starts to turn try to put more pressure on the back so that it straightens out. If you start falling get down lower and try to sit so that you fall safely. 

Brandon: I would say to new flow riders. Jst because you skateboard or snowboard or even wakeboard forget what you know and start from scratch. The flowrider is a beast of its own and there is no other sport that water is rushing at you up to 40 Mph.

What do you think the biggest mistake people new to the FlowRider make in terms of being able to stand up on the board?

Nick: Leaning forwards and jerking the board sideways and twisting your shoulders and hip. You want to try to go in a straight line and keep the pressure down on the board a steady pressure on the back.

Brandon: The trick to flowrider is keeping most of your weight on your back foot. I would say 85% of your weight. Stand up straight and don't hunch over. This keeps your weight more centered. When the board wants to turn just roll with it don't fight it. After a few falls you will be floweriding.

Honestly, how much does it hurt to wipe out on the FlowRider?

Nick: It doesn't really hurt at all! It's much like falling on a trampoline with water as padding. Bodyboarding is a much softer fall so that helps you learn how to fall a little safer.

Brandon: The first few falls might hurt a bit and the next day your neck will be sore. But its all in good fun!

Once you get the whole "standing up on the board" thing, what should people try if they want to learn a trick?

Nick: Stay low so you don't fall as hard and try to go slow; Some of the first tricks you can try are: Carving, 360, Ollie, Shuvit (Board Spin)

Staying low helps you keep your balance and more center of gravity. Recording yourself on video helps a lot and can help show you what you might be doing wrong. Watching videos on youtube helsp a lot as well!

Checkout Pro Flowboarders on our website and youtube! and Everything is practice and if you try over and over you'll get it!

Any recommendations on best type of clothing to wear or not wear on the FlowRider?

Nick: The best things to wear are tight board shorts, one pieces, shirts/rash guards. 

You're not allowed to wear accessories so be sure to take off your rings, ear rings etc! You might loose them as well as your bathing suit so be sure to have them on tight! 

How to convince someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise


I was inspired by a fellow blogger who wrote about, "How to convince someone to visit Disney" and it got me thinking about a common question I run across of how to convince someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise.

This question is targeted at two very different groups of people: those that have cruised before (but with other cruise lines) and those that have never cruised before.

I know I've received my fair share of friends, family and blog readers who want to know why I choose to cruise on Royal Caribbean so much.  It's a fair question because when you see someone really fall in love with a brand like Royal Caribbean, some people start to wonder what the appeal is to see if perhaps they are interested too.

As fans of Royal Caribbean cruising, we're passionate people that want to share the excitement of a Royal Caribbean cruise with everyone else.  After all, cruising with friends is always best and by bringing people new to Royal Caribbean to try it too, you're hopefully helping them discover a very fun vacation.

The good news is regardless of if the person you are looking to convince (new to cruising or not), I believe it is very possible to convince someone to give Royal Caribbean a try (and have a good time too).

Hype the value

Cruising in general is a pretty good vacation value when you start comparing it to comparable land vacations.  Because food, travel (between ports) and entertainment come with the price you pay for the cruise, what you get for what you pay is often a good balance.

With Royal Caribbean, I feel their balance of cost versus product is the best in the marketplace today.  Sure there are cruise lines out there with cheaper cruise prices but I feel what you get for the money isn't satisfying.  Likewise, cruise lines that charge more than Royal Caribbean don't deliver that much more than Royal Caribbean does (for less money).

Thanks to Royal Caribbean's vast fleet of ships, there's good prices to be found year-round and around the world.  

When you're trying to convince someone why Royal Caribbean makes sense, I often start with the bottom line price of how much it will cost to get onboard and remind them of everything they get for that price.  Food, onboard activities, pools, shows, demonstrations, more food, dancing, bars and more (did I mention food?).

It's not what you think

For those new to cruising, I think many people have certain ideas or pre-conceived notions of what a cruise is like.  It's largely based on what they've seen in television or movies and most times it's just not accurate.

The people that bring up the news stories about Norovirus, people getting lost at sea and other shocking stories, I remind them people get hurt everywhere on vacation.  Sadly, it's a fact of life.  

People get sick, hurt or worse at the beach, theme parks or in major cities.  The fact is, you can't avoid these risks because it's really just a fact of life.  However, the reality is it's very unlikely it will happen to you.  Remind them that the odds are low and Norovirus strikes many more people on land then ever at sea.  Remind them people get hurt all the time, everywhere.  You just have to be careful and mindful of the risks in advance.

The other major misconception is that all you do on a cruise is sit by the pool and there's nothing really to do.  I like to pull up a cruise compass from a recent Royal Caribbean cruise and start rattling off different activities onboard.  I often find these same people are surprised by how much there is to do on a Royal Caribbean ship.

In fact, I'll mention among the things Royal Caribbean does really well is offer a lot to do, especially on the newer cruise ships.  The company has strived for years to offer more and more onboard (often for free) and it's really up to you how much you want to do (or don't want to do).

Don't overdo it

I know you really, really want them to love Royal Caribbean cruises as much as you but the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them.  You and I probably enjoy reading a site like this, checking out the latest YouTube videos of Royal Caribbean cruises and perusing Cruise Critic message boards until the server crashes but don't put that stuff in front of them.

While you may be a super Royal Caribbean fan, they are new and likely hesitant.  Let them get excited on their own when you mention the cool ports you are visiting or the new specialty restaurants you want to try with them.

It's important to let them move at their own pace and respect that they are still on the fence, even if they have tentatively committed to the idea.  Remember, one of the best aspects of a Royal Caribbean cruise is it's your choice what you want to do and how much of it you want to do.

I think it can be fun to email them a cruise photo you run across now and then of something they can look forward to if they go on the cruise or maybe a video of sunset on the pool deck of a Royal Caribbean ship to give them the sense of what to expect.  

Family fun

Royal Caribbean is a cruise line for almost anyone I feel, but there's no denying it appeals directly to family cruising.  This can be families with young children or older children.  Heck, grown up kids too!

Knowing whom you are trying to convince, if they are looking for a family vacation talk up the family aspect of a Royal Caribbean cruise.  There's opportunity for doing a lot of things together as well as alone time too.

Certainly families with younger kids will appreciate Adventure Ocean for two basic reasons.  First and foremost, the kids will have structured and supervised activities each day to take part in and meet new friends.  Royal Caribbean has focused more and more attention to its Adventure Ocean program, which goes from 3 years old all the way up to 17.

The other big selling point is for the adults because it's your opportunity to get alone time on the cruise.  We all love our kids but having a little time to relax alone by the pool, go shopping or take a walk together means a lot.  I can tell you as a dad getting some time with my wife to enjoy a drink at the bar was lovely.

Of course, families do want to spend time together and the nature of a Royal Caribbean cruise celebrates that.  From shore excursions where you will experience new adventures together to the onboard dining venues to the daily activities, there's a lot for families to do together.

Anything else?

Those are some good selling points for convincing someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise but is there another good point or "ammunition" to use in convincing others to give Royal Caribbean a try?  Share your ideas in the comments below!

Why are there classic cars on Royal Caribbean's Royal Promenade?


If you've been on a Royal Caribbean Voyager, Freedom or Oasis class ship, you will have noticed a classic car on the Royal Promenade.  If you've been on more than one of those ships, you may have noticed that the cars featured on each ship are different.  So why does Royal Caribbean feature classic cars on its Royal Promenades?

The answer takes us back to 1997, when Royal Caribbean was building Voyager of the Seas.  The lead architect for the Royal Promenade, Njal Eide, had built a model of the Royal Promenade, and in the middle of the model, he had placed a nice little model of a Morgan Sportster complete with leather belt across the hood. 

Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain saw the car in the model and asked Njal about it because unknown to Njal, Fain was a big fan of the Morgans.  Njal just thought it looked right and that's why he included it.

Fain was so impressed that he donated his own Morgan car that he had received for his 40th birthday some years back.

From that point on, having a vintage car was so popular that Royal Caribbean continued with the tradition with later ships in the Voyager, Freedom and Oasis classes.

10 ways to save money when booking a Royal Caribbean cruise


Booking a Royal Caribbean cruise, like any vacation, is going to cost you money and it's safe to say if you can save some money on your cruise, then it's something worth considering.  After all, not everyone on the same Royal Caribbean cruise paid the same amount.  

Cruise fares vary considerably and there are ways to keep the cost of your next Royal Caribbean cruise low and save some of your money for other things (like spending it onboard your cruise).

1. Book Early

If you know your vacation plans well in advance, booking early is one of the best ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  As more and more people book a cruise, inventory drops and prices go up.  

Generally speaking, booking early is the safest and most reliable way to save on the price of your cruise. Booking more than a year in advance will garner you the lowest rates for quite some time and get you on the cruise you specifically want.  Heck, it's likely to even get you the best prices on even the most sought after staterooms.

Booking early also affords you the ability to track prices after you book because you can always apply any cheaper rates to your cruise up until final payment. 

2. Book at the last minute

This tip is clearly the opposite of our first tip but when all else fails, Royal Caribbean will offer unfilled space on their ships for a significant discount.  Some cruise fares drop to really absurd prices that make living at home more expensive. It may be hard to pass up these Royal Caribbean deals.

If you have the means to get to the port in short notice without incurring high travel costs, last minute cruises can be a great choice.  Granted, the selection of itineraries and/or staterooms may be limited, sometimes these are the best priced cruises you will ever go on.

Last minute cruises are usually past the final payment date, so booking the cruise will require full payment up front but the deals that are out there can be worth it.

3. Research your discounts

Royal Caribbean does offer a number of discounts to different groups of people and it's worth researching which you qualify for.  

Regional and military discounts are offered from time to time to the general public while past Royal Caribbean cruises can get discounts based on their level of membership in the Crown and Anchor Society.

Crown and Anchor Society offers Savings Certificates that are available by logging into the Royal Caribbean site and seeing which certificates are currently available.  Select sailings will receive anywhere from $25 to hundreds of dollars off their cruise, which is usually stackable with other discounts.

4. Consider different room(s)

Sometimes booking two staterooms instead of one can actually save you money.  Larger families or those seeking more space may find two inside cabins cheaper than a larger room/suite.  This is especially true on older Royal Caribbean ships, where large balconies and suites are in less abundance.

Likewise, family staterooms and some suites may become available to the general public if unbooked and can offer lots of space for less cost.  It's important to consider all cabin categories before deciding which is the best choice.

5. Consider your time of year

Supply and demand dominates Royal Caribbean pricing strategy and so cruises during Christmas, Spring Break and the Summer can much more expensive than other times of the year.

If you have the flexibility to go when kids are still in school, you can save lots of money.  Likewise, cruising during hurricane season can net you savings along with immediately after or before major holidays when most people do not have vacation time.

The difference in price between one week and the next can be tremendous, so if you can swing it, consider alternative weeks as a way to reduce the cruise fare.  Combining this tip with our first tip of booking early can save you even more.

6. Older ships are a great value

Royal Caribbean loves to advertise their newest cruise ships but the older class of ships are still great options for a cruise vacation and are prices much less on average.

Royal Caribbean has been working on refurbishing every one of its older cruise ships with amenities found first on the Oasis-class and Vision and Radiance class ships now offer modern upgrades and options that have breathed new life into these ships.

Even with the upgrades, older Royal Caribbean ships will have more competitive prices and are often located in smaller cruise markets that may mean a shorter trip to the port for you.  

And did we mention the older ships are still a lot of fun?  Radiance class ships are beautiful with their glass protected views of the ocean and Vision class ships pack a lot of fun into each vessel. 

7. Look for booking incentives

These days the fare you pay for your Royal Caribbean cruise may not change all that much but what you get for booking can make the difference between an average priced cruise and a cheap cruise.

Booking incentives like onboard credit, free gratuities and complimentary unlimited drink packages can save you hundreds of dollars and it's important to see what offers are out there.  

Travel agents are often the best people to assist in finding these booking incentive deals and we've become fans of using a site called CruiseCompete, which pits travel agents against each other to offer you the best deal.  

These days, most cruises can offer you at least some sort of booking incentive and every dollar saved counts!

8. Use your credit card rewards

Credit card rewards programs have never been more competitive and if you use credit cards to pay for every day purchases, you can rack up savings for your next Royal Caribbean cruise quickly. 

Royal Caribbean has partnered with Bank of America to offer a credit card that allows everyone to earn points towards onboard credits and even a free cruise.

Other credit cards also offer cash rewards that can be used towards your Royal Caribbean cruise.  By saving your points, you can cash out your reward points close to your cruise date to help reduce the cost of your cruise fare or help pay for things on your cruise.

9. Book your next Royal Caribbean cruise onboard

One thing I always do on my Royal Caribbean cruise is make a stop at the Loyalty Ambassador's desk and book my next cruise.

Royal Caribbean offers two types of bookings that can really save you money.  First is a future cruise booking, which allows you to select a cruise itinerary and reserve your spot.  If you know which ship and when you want to cruise next, this can be a great way to get your next vacation set up.

If you aren't sure when you want to cruise next but know that you do want to cruise with Royal Caribbean again, NextCruise Certificates require just $100 deposit and will give you $100 in onboard credit towards your next cruise booking.  NextCruise Certificates never expire and is something I've come to find to be among the best deals for booking my next Royal Caribbean cruise.

10. Use a travel agent

Travel agents have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in the world of Royal Caribbean offers.  They get word of new offers first and because it's their job to book cruises all day long, they know the system in an out.

I've used a travel agent to book every one of my Royal Caribbean cruises and I can't tell you how much time they have saved me as well as money.  A good Royal Caribbean travel agent can be your partner in the planning process as well as saving you money.

I will admit not all travel agents are the same, and some are definitely better than others, so it's important to ask questions of them.  The good ones will be able to find the best deals for you and track any new deals that come out that can lower your cruise fare.

Our sponsor travel agency, and one I recommend, is MEI Travel.

Royal Caribbean Secrets: Helipad on Freedom of the Seas


We love to share with our readers different tricks, secrets and other lesser known tidbits about cruising on Royal Caribbean so you can take advantage of them on your next cruise.  Today, we've got a great spot to go to for sail away on Freedom of the Seas that will get you a great view without a lot of people around.

The helipad on Freedom of the Seas is located on the bow (front) of the ship and during sailaway, Royal Caribbean permits guests access to the helipad.  This is a great spot to see the port as you leave, especially for those that do not have a balcony stateroom or simply want something a little different.

Photo by Andrew Quested

You can get to this special spot by walking all the way forward on deck 4 outside. There will be stairs that go up to the next deck, and farther forward is the helipad.  Once there, you will find benches to sit on but the best spots are as far forward as you can get.

In addition to sailaway, the helipad is usually open most of the day, but it can close at any time for safety reasons (usually high winds).

In addition to Freedom of the Seas, you should expect this secret to work on her sister ships Independence of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.  We've also heard this works from time to time on Voyager class ships and Radiance class ships, although your mileage may vary.

Royal Caribbean Secrets: Hidden sundeck on Allure of the Seas


Whether you're a first time cruiser with Royal Caribbean or a veteran, there's always something to be learned and we love to share tips, secrets and little tricks for your next cruise.  Today we're going to share a great spot if you want to get away from the crowd on Allure of the Seas.

Once aboard Allure of the Seas, if you want a great spot for sailaway or just somewhere to go to escape people (and with well over 5,000 people onboard, there's a lot of people!), then this tip is for you.  

Go to the port side of deck 14 and walk all the way to the end of the hall and then take a right and go to the end of that hall. At the end of the hall, you will find a door leading out to this special spot.  Once outside, you will find yourself on a secluded deck that is on top of the ship's bridge and one deck below the Solarium.

This door is the only way in or out so it's not easily found by other passengers and it's a great place to come and get some space.

We've found this to be a great place for sunbathing, sailaway or just enjoying some quiet time. Since there's very few people here usually, it's quite pleasant.  

As an added bonus, there's one more secret to this secret deck.  In addition to being a secluded spot, it also is home to a piece of Royal Caribbean history. When Allure of the Seas was built, one of the first things the crew did was to add a number of "lucky coins" to the ship's keel, as part of maritime tradition.  These lucky coins are held in a cabinet that is welded to the ship and has a small commemorative plaque.

Of course, loyal Royal Caribbean fans will note this tip can be applied to Oasis of the Seas as well since the two vessels are sister ships and nearly identical in construction.