Ships

Newest Royal Caribbean ships

In:
Category: 
22Aug2018

Are you trying to figure out what the newest cruise ships are in Royal Caribbean's fleet? Here is a breakdown of the top ten newest Royal Caribbean ships.

1. Symphony of the Seas

Year: 2018

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 228,081

Passengers (double/max): 5,518/6,680

2. Ovation of the Seas

Year: 2016

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 168, 666

Passengers: 4,180/4,905

3. Harmony of the Seas

Year: 2016

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 226,963

Passengers: 5,497/6,410

4. Anthem of the Seas

Year: 2015

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 168,666

Passengers: 4,180/4,905

5. Quantum of the Seas

Year: 2014

Last refurbishment: N/A

Gross Tonnage: 168,666

Passengers: 4,180/4,905

6. Allure of the Seas

Year: 2010

Last refurbishment: 2015. Next one scheduled for Summer 2020

Gross Tonnage: 225,282

Passengers: 5,492/6,410

7. Oasis of the Seas

Year: 2009

Last refurbishment: 2014. Next one scheduled for Summer 2019

Gross Tonnage: 225,282

Passengers: 5,400/6,360

8. Independence of the Seas

Year: 2008

Last refurbishment: 2018.

Gross Tonnage: 154,407

Passengers: 3,634/4,375

9. Liberty of the Seas

Year: 2007

Last refurbishment: 2016. Next one scheduled for 2021.

Gross Tonnage: 155,889

Passengers: 3,798/4,960

10. Freedom of the Seas

Year: 2006

Last refurbishment: 2015. Next one scheduled for 2020.

Gross Tonnage: 154,407

Passengers: 3,782/4,515

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Best Royal Caribbean ships and cruise guide

In:
Category: 
26Apr2018

This guide to Royal Caribbean ships contains short reviews of the best cruise ships based on a variety of considerations.  If you are planning to take a cruise and want the perfect ship for your family, this guide aims to help you. You may be familiar with some of Royal Caribbean's ships, but the different ship classes mean there is a lot to consider.

Of course, everyone has different preferences, so we will also provide a brief description of each ship to give you an idea of whether a particular ship might be a good fit for your family. 

This should help give you an idea of which Royal Caribbean cruise ships are a great choice for you. We are firm believers in the idea that all of Royal Caribbean's ships offer a really fun vacation experience. There is not one ship in the fleet that we would not sail on, but we also recognize there may be some ships better suited for the personal preferences of a family or group.

Let's take a look at the best Royal Caribbean ships for every need.

Thrills and fun aplenty

Symphony of the Seas - There is no denying Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, is filled to the brim with the cruise line's latest and greatest offerings.  Not only does it have the coolest new things onboard, but it has them in spades.  Water slides, laser tag, escape room, zip line, Broadway show are just a few of the incredible options available on Symphony of the Seas (with many of those features also available on other Oasis Class ships).

Anthem of the Seas - The Quantum Class ships offer a sleek, yet compelling cruise experience that offers guests onboard a lot to see and do.  In fact, entertainment is at the heart of Anthem of the Seas, with terrific venues to see it all.  In addition, Anthem of the Seas offers the giant indoor sports zone, North Star observation pod and a sky diving simulator.  

Harmony of the Seas - She may be only the second largest cruise ship in the world and second newest ship in the fleet, but Harmony of the Seas remains a great choice for those wanting lots of fun onboard.  In fact, Harmony of the Seas redefined the Oasis Class of cruise ships when she first offered water slides, an interactive aqua park, a new take on the Boardwalk and more. Taking a cruise on Harmony of the Seas means enjoying some of the best Royal Caribbean offers.

Families with young children

Oasis of the Seas - Oasis class ships have redefined what family cruising is all about, and if you have younger children, a cruise on Oasis of the Seas is a great choice.  We like Oasis for a few reasons.  First, she lacks the slides her newer sister ships have and that is not usually a concern for those with young children.  Moreover, she is priced slightly lower (on average) relative to her newer sisters.  Oasis of the Seas still offers plenty for young kids, such as a baby splash area in the pool, nursery, and open play area in Adventure Ocean.

Allure of the Seas - Like her sister Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas is quite similar in her offerings for families with young children. In our experience, having young kids means a slower pace while cruising, but it is important to have the facilities and options for young kids.  Allure of the Seas also offers the DreamWorks experience onboard, which means additional programming for kids of all ages.

Freedom of the Seas - Families with young children will likely find the best value with Freedom of the Seas.  She offers the type of facilities families look for in a cruise ship (nursery, baby splash pool, DreamWorks experience, etc) and is usually priced much less than any Oasis Class ship.  Later in 2018, she will move to San Juan, Puerto Rico and that means some incredible itineraries to enjoy alongside a fabulous ship.

Families with older children

Liberty of the Seas - If there is one thing older children typically enjoy a lot of, it is water slides and Liberty of the Seas has arguably the best collection of water slides in the fleet.  It has racer water slides, which typical now of any Royal Caribbean ship that has water slides, but it is the only ship with the Tidal Wave slide.  Liberty of the Seas also offers a rock climbing wall, FlowRider surf simulator, ice skating and more.  Moreover, Liberty of the Seas is a terrific value.

Anthem of the Seas - Older kids will find Anthem of the Seas to be one of the best suited for them, especially teens.  The SeaPlex area alone is home to so many activities that are perfect for older kids.  Bumper cars, roller skating, XBox, circus school...there is so much.  Plus, Anthem of the Seas has the FlowRider surf simulator, Ripcord by iFly sky diving simulator and an impressive teens club.  If you are a parent, do not plan on seeing much of your kids if cruising on Anthem (that is not a bad thing)!

Symphony of the Seas - The strength of the Oasis Class ships are the staggering amount of activities and things to do.  For older kids, having plenty of options is usually the best bet and Symphony of the Seas has plenty to keep the older kids busy.  Dual FlowRiders, ice skating, a large Adventure Ocean area, teens club, Boardwalk...that just barely scratches the surface of what is offered.  

Need to get away

Mariner of the Seas - Following Mariner of the Seas finishes $90 million refurbishment, Mariner of the Seas will call Miami, Florida home in 2018, and will be the first Voyager Class ship to offer short Caribbean sailings. Mariner of the Seas will offer 3- and 4-night itineraries from PortMiami.  That means an impressive ship offering the weekend getaways you are looking for without compromising on the ship.

Navigator of the Seas - Navigator of the Seas will also offer short Caribbean sailings, beginning in 2019.  Navigator of the Seas is a fabulous choice for the amount of fun activities onboard, plus the great prices we typically see on Navigator of the Seas. In addition, Navigator of the Seas will offer short cruises with stops in the newly expanded Perfect Day at CocoCay. Talk about an incredible long weekend!

Brilliance of the Seas - In the winter, Brilliance of the Seas offers short sailings that mix a great price and a terrific ship.  Being a Radiance class ship, weekend getaways on Brilliance of the Seas means a classic, relaxing cruise experience. If your idea of a get away cruise is enjoying drinks by the pool, Brilliance of the Seas is a perfect choice for you.

Honeymooners

Harmony of the Seas - Love birds will find lots to do and plenty of time for romance on Harmony of the Seas.  Harmony boasts a ton of activities, terrific specialty dining choices, adults-only Solarium, a beautiful spa and more. With all of the fun things to do onboard, we think Harmony of the Seas is a great choice for honeymooners that want fun in the sun.

Freedom of the Seas - Of all the cruise ships we have cruised on, Freedom of the Seas stands out as a great ship for nearly any cruiser.  It offers a well-rounded cruise experience, with enough activities and dining choices to cater to any honeymooner.  On top of that, Freedom of the Seas is priced so well, that a honeymooner can likely get more for their money and perhaps upgrade to a higher category stateroom than if they went on a newer ship.  

Anthem of the Seas - Going on a honeymoon? Anthem of the Seas is hard to beat as a great  option.  You can sip a fine wine at Vintages, take a dip in arguably one the most beautiful adults-only Solarium, watch the sunset from North Star observation pod, or maybe just enjoy a brunch date on your balcony. With sailings to Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada and more, Anthem of the Seas is a new ship with lots of options.

Exotic itineraries

Empress of the Seas - One word: Cuba.  Perhaps no cruise stop in the Caribbean is as intriguing or fun to try as Cuba.  Empress of the Seas was refitted specifically for the Cuban cruise market, and is the best choice for taking a cruise that will bring you to any one of the Cuban ports of call.  In fact, Empress of the Seas also offers to stops in Cuba beyond Havana, which means a greater opportunity to tour this newly opened up country.

Ovation of the Seas - Australia, the South Pacific, Alaska...a cruise on Ovation of the Seas is very likely to bring you to some of the most beautiful spots on the planet.  Perhaps no other Royal Caribbean cruise ship can boast the sort of impressive itineraries that Ovation of the Seas enjoys. Being a Quantum Class ship, she offers an equally fun time onboard as well.

Rhapsody of the Seas - If exploring Europe is more your game, Rhapsody of the Seas will take you to some of the most beautiful European ports around.  Visits in the Adriatic, Aegean and Mediterranean seas will bring you to iconic ports of call.  Rhapsody of the Seas is no stranger to Europe, having become a stalwart of Royal Caribbean's European cruising season. 

Budget cruising

Majesty of the Seas - If your goal is to get on a cruise ship for as little money as possible, Majesty of the Seas is typically the first place to look.  Sure she is an older ship, but Majesty of the Seas offers the kind of chill cruise experience we all need from time to time.  Majesty was recently updated and has several whirlpools, plenty of bars, a revamped casino, and full-service spa. Majesty of the Seas often has some of the lowest cruise fares available on any Royal Caribbean ship, so it is unlikely to break any budget, regardless of time of year.

Enchantment of the Seas - Enchantment of the Seas combines a fun ship experience for bargain prices.  There are some great dining choices onboard, an expansive pool area, and all for a price you will likely not have to think twice about. For families, Enchantment of the Seas packs a lot into a small package, with an outdoor poolside movie screen, three pools—including the adults-only Solarium—and six different whirlpools. After a day spent lounging, there’s plenty of nighttime entertainment, like Broadway-style shows in the main theater, blackjack at Casino Royale, and eight different bars and lounges.

Mariner of the Seas - By offering short 3- and 4-night cruises, Mariner of the Seas is set up to offer a big ship experience for a small ship price.  Those that want to save money, but not compromise on the onboard experience may find the perfect fit with Mariner of the Seas.  With a full-sized basketball and volleyball court, as well as a rock-climbing wall that shoots up 200 feet above the sea, there’s no shortage of athletic action onboard any ship. The Royal Promenade regularly hosts parades, dance parties and many wonderful bars.

Your thoughts

Which Royal Caribbean ships are your favorites and which might you skip?  Do you agree or disagree with our ratings?  If you have not taken a Royal Caribbean cruise yet, which cruise ships are you most excited about?  Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!

All about Royal Caribbean's ship classes

In:
Category: 
17Apr2018

Are you wondering what the differences are between Royal Caribbean's ship classes?  Here is an easy-to-understand breakdown of each class of ship, and what they offer.

Oasis Class

The largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships offer the latest and greatest features found on any ship in the fleet, as well as in the industry.  

The Oasis Class ships can handle just about 5,500 passengers and have a gross tonnage of over 225,000 tons.  

If you are concerned about crowds and navigating a ship of this size, Royal Caribbean has you covered.  Royal Caribbean designed the ship to be easy to get around, and break up crowds.  Seven neighborhoods help distinguish parts of the ship apart to guests, and there are so many activities on Oasis Class ships that everyone will be on their own schedule.

Why choose Oasis Class: You want it all on one ship! The latest features, tons of activities, and great dining.

Oasis Class ships

Oasis Class highlights

  • Neighborhoods
  • AquaTheater
  • 3D Movies
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Waterslides (Harmony and Symphony only)
  • Zip Line
  • Central Park
  • 2 FlowRider Surf Simulators
  • Boardwalk 
  • Carousel
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Loft Suites
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • DreamWorks Experience (Oasis, Allure and Harmony)

Quantum Class

The innovative Quantum Class ships were designed to user in the 21st century with a blend of high-tech, and tried-and-true family vacation experiences. These stylish new ships offer incredible views and activities onboard. 

Quantum Class ships have signature features found just on these ships, and are a big hit with families of varied ages.  Quantum Class ships are the sort of cruise ship that has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you are new to cruising or an established veteran.

In 2019, Spectrum of the Seas will launch, becoming the first Quantum Ultra Class ship. The revolutionary Quantum Ultra ship will specifically be designed for guests in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature cutting-edge and unprecedented experiences and amenities.

Why choose Quantum Class: Families looking for lots to do onboard, along with some incredible features.

Quantum Class ships

Quantum Class highlights

  • North Star
  • RipCord by iFLY 
  • Seaplex
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Two70 Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • 3D Movies
  • Loft Suites
  • Music Hall
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • DreamWorks Experience (Anthem & Ovation)
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area

Freedom Class

Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class ships offer a big ship experience, with plenty to see and do onboard.  In fact, Royal Caribbean has added new features over the years, and plans another round of updates beginning in 2020 (although Independence of the Seas will get her update in 2018).

Freedom Class ships represent an excellent value for families that want to cruise on a large ship, have lots of activities, but not break their budget.  From a pure value standpoint, the Freedom Class ships are a great choice for a fabulous cruise experience.

Freedom Class ships are essentially a slightly larger version of their Voyager Class sisters.

Why choose Freedom Class: Big ship experience, minus the premium price tag that the newer ships in the fleet currently command.

Freedom Class ships

Freedom Class highlights

  • Aqua park
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Designer Shopping
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Panoramic staterooms
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Water slides (Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas)

Voyager Class

When Royal Caribbean introduced the Voyager Class, it revolutionized the industry with features and activities that we cannot dream of not having on a cruise ship these days.  Mini-golf, the Royal Promenade, ice skating and more all had their start on the Voyager Class.

Just like the larger Freedom Class ships, Voyager Class vessels are a terrific value, and offer some incredible itineraries.  Royal Caribbean is not done investing in these ships, having added new restaurants, surf simulators, aqua parks, entertainment and more over the last few years, with another round of updates beginning in 2018 and going through 2019.

Why choose Voyager Class: Plenty to do onboard, newly added features and terrific pricing.  It is a great choice for families looking to save.

Voyager Class ships

Voyager Class highlights

  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator

Radiance Class

Radiance of the Seas combine lots of glass and open areas to provide guests with a classic cruise experience.  

Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class ships are stylish, and get into many of the smaller cruise ports around the world that Royal Caribbean's larger ships cannot.  

Radiance Class ships do not skimp on things to do, offering varied dining experiences, as well as terrific live entertainment. Veteran cruisers enjoy the Radiance Class for the ship's refined offering and easy going atmosphere.

Why choose Radiance Class: Beautiful ships that offer a time-honored cruise experience, with a connection to the ocean itself.

Radiance Class ships

Radiance Class highlights

  • Sunlit Glass-Covered Spaces
  • Glass Elevators
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Self-Leveling Pool Tables
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Indoor movie theater
  • Mini-golf

Vision Class

Royal Caribbean designed their Vision Class ships to fit into almost any port, which means guests can travel to exotic ports of call around the world.

Like the Radiance Class, Vision Class ships combine a small size with many activities that have been added over the years. Whether you are looking to "do it all" or just relax, Vision Class ships are a good choice.

Why choose Vision Class: Impressive itineraries that other ships in the fleet cannot offer. 

Vision Class ships

  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas

Vision Class highlights

  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Bungee Trampoline (Enchantment of the Seas)
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Specialty Dining Options
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Broadway-Style Shows

Sovereign Class

Do not judge the last Sovereign Class ship by her age or size, because Royal Caribbean has been updating her regularly to keep her in-line with the rest of the fleet's offerings.

Those looking for a quick getaway will find a splendid choice that is perfect for relaxing by the pool, visiting nearby ports of call, and enjoying taking this easy.  

Majesty of the Seas received a large update in 2016, along with regular maintenance work that offer a fun ship experience.

Why choose Sovereign Class: Getaway cruises for folks that want to relax by the pool, have a beach day, and get away from it all.

Sovereign Class ships

  • Majesty of the Seas

Sovereign Class highlights

  • Poolside movie screen
  • Family Jacuzzis
  • Live entertainment and shows

Empress of the Seas

When Cuba opened up as a port Royal Caribbean could bring their guests to, Empress of the Seas returned to the fleet to do just that.

Empress of the Seas is the smallest Royal Caribbean ship, but it is designed for short cruises that bring you to Cuba and other destinations in the Western Caribbean. 

Cuban culture is reflected throughout Empress of the Seas with cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal, salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin lounge, and a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life while at sea.

Why choose Empress of the Seas: Cuba, Cuba, and Cuba.  Plus, a relaxed cruise atmosphere (did we mention she sails to Cuba).

Empress of the Seas highlights

  • Poolside Movie Screen
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Sunday Brunch every day
  • Poolside party
  • Latin experience infused lounges

The future: Icon Class

Something to keep an eye on will be Royal Caribbean's Icon class ships, which promise to bring us a new evolution in cruising.

Royal Caribbean has been quiet on exactly what the Icon Class will offer, but these new ships will handle about 5,000 passengers and will be built using new fuel technology including liquid nitrogen gas and fuel cells. This technology has been used on space shuttles and satellites for years, and is a much greener way of powering ships.

The first two Icon Class ships will debut in 2022 and 2024.

Royal Caribbean talks changes to ship design, cultural shifts, millennials and more

In:
Category: 
07Nov2017

During Royal Caribbean's third quarter 2017 financial call with investors, the company shared some interesting anecdotes, facts, and insight into the ever changing cruising environment.  While most of the information discussed in these earnings calls deal primarily with financial indicators, cruise guests can glean some insight into how Royal Caribbean runs its business.

Cultural change to responding to major events

Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain took a few minutes to talk about the response the company has noticed from the general public, when it comes to major events like a hurricane disrupting the flow and life of the islands visited, and the cruise itineraries planned.

"We've noticed a significant change in the way people in general seem to respond to unusual events, whether those events are weather, geo-political acts, or something else.

Years ago, a bad incident would have a bad and lasting impact.  Whenever something happened, our bookings would fall and they would stay down for an extended period. People seemed to curl up in a ball and obsess about whatever the issue was.  It could, and did impact bookings, for a really long time. Even after the event left the front page, people would persist in focusing on it.  Eventually, they would move on and bookings would recover, but that process seemed to take forever.

More recently, we have seen a much more sanguine response. Instead of the incident lingering for a long time, the recovery seems much quicker. People seemed to be more apt today to see such events as ordinary, with little impact. The events still aren't normal, but they are seen as less relevant to the broader audience.  In effect, the public appears to become inured to such one off events.  They are still interested in the event, and concerned about it, but people seem to continue living their lives with less change. They move on.

From a societal point of view, I have to say that it's discouraging that we've reached such a point. It's distressing that incidents are now so common, that society seems to have formed a thicker skin towards them. On the other hand, as a response to the actual events, it's probably more constructive if society doesn't allow such things to interfere with our normal day-to-day existence.

From a purely commercial point of view, this cultural shift is very helpful.  It's much better for us if the negative impact of such incidents are so much more fleeting than in the past. "

Design changes in ships over decades

Over the last couple of years, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has been fond of noting a cultural shift among consumers, where they are tending to prefer buying experiences over buying things. In the past, consumers seemed to be focused on buying things like new televisions, appliances, or other items of the like. More recently, Mr. Fain believes the focus has shifted to people looking for experiences, especially ones that include the whole family.

This shift has made Royal Caribbean change as well, to meet the needs and habits of consumers.

"Over the years, as people's habits and tastes, we've shifted our product to take advantage of these new consumer buying practices. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a dramatic shift in the way ships were designed and built. Instead of ships being designed as a form of transportation, we shifted to ships that were designed specifically for cruising. Our aspirations at the time were for ships to be more yacht-like. Now, that change really brought cruising into the modern era.

But in the '80s and '90s, there was another change in people's expectations.  The public's vacation desires changed, and we needed to shift with them. We shifted our design focus from trying to be yacht-like, to be more like hotels.  We started to design ships with more spacious public areas, better outfitting, and more amenities onboard.  We wanted the ships to feel more open, to have more things to do and to have a more luxurious feel of a modern hotel.  Our design metaphor changed from trying to seem like a yacht, to feeling more like a full service hotel.  Again, that fit in nicely with trends in consumer interests, and it resulted in better sales.

Now, over the last decade or so, travel habits have further changed and our ship designs have shifted yet again. Consumers now want a more active vacation, a more things to do and to experience. In response, we changed our design metaphor, from trying to be like hotels to be more like cities. Today, our ships have more features of cities, with a cornucopia of activities, amenity, and design.  We don't simply check the box with bars and restaurants and discos, we talk about designing parks, and gardens, and neighborhoods and quiet spaces. We model our medical facilities on urgent care facilities. Our specialty restaurants compare to anything you will find on land.  We have every stripe of nightlife, you can sail with us for seven nights and never experiencing the same things twice.

And again, adjusting our products to suit the changing wishes of the consumer has paid off in a very nice way. Our guests really enjoy the broader choice and amenities that the new ships offer.  And again, accommodating these wishes has resulted in improved demand for our product. "

Winning the perception war

One of the "battles" that Royal Caribbean (and the cruising industry) has faced over the years have been old stereotypes about what a cruise experience is all about.  It has been a stumbling point for the cruise industry, but Mr. Fain believes things are changing now and consumers are far more educated than ever.

"Many consumers thought of cruising through the lens of outdated stereotypes. We in the industry often complained about the inaccuracies of such misconceptions and our marketing was geared to correct the image. This sense of not being properly understood pervaded our industry, and profoundly influenced all of our communications.

But then, a strange thing happened. The evolution of consumer's changing tastes, and of our changing product, converged. The prevalence of these old, erroneous perceptions has waned. In effect, we have won the perception war.  We have crossed a tipping point, and moving beyond it.

Yes, there are still many people out there who suffer from these old misperceptions, but their numbers are dwindling everyday. Today, while this issue remains an issue at the margin, cruising has now firmly established itself as a relevant and a desirable vacation option for consumers generally."

Rethinking retail spaces

With the shift in consumers looking for experiences instead of products, and the news that particularly higher guest spending on shore excursions and internet packages, an investor asked if Royal Caribbean was going to rethink its allocation of retail space onboard their cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley spoke to this question, "When we talk about the two programs, Celebrity Revolution and Royal Amplified, really a lot of thinking going into that is really thinking  through how our guest spend is changing. You will start to see that when we bring these ships out of the moderinzation programs that we have really reallocated space to generate better revenues in areas that we see guests now naturally gravitating towards."

Millennial cruising is on the rebound

When asked about new to cruise guests, and millennial demand, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley talked about the reversal in fortunes the cruise line has seen over the last few years, "In fact, if you go back before that three year period, we were actually in a situation where year over year we saw a decline in new to cruise and millennial.  Over the past three years, we've seen a very good increase year over year.  That's very much part of our marketing and communication focus on new to cruise and millennial, and we are seeing good progress."

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chief Financial Officer, Jason Liberty, provided a bit more feedback on what those numbers look like, "Over the past several years, we are carrying about 30-33% more millennials than we did several years ago."

The differences between Royal Caribbean's ships

In:
Category: 
16Aug2016

Royal Caribbean has a fairly large fleet of ships, with 25 different elegant vessels that offer cruises around the world, and often those new to Royal Caribbean may be wondering what the differences are between them.  Understanding what each ship offers makes the decision of which ship to sail on an easier process.

Here is a guide to understanding the similarities and differences among Royal Caribbean's cruise ships and what each class of ship offers.

Royal Caribbean ship classes

Royal Caribbean defines its fleet of ships by the classes.  Think of this like the model of a car, where many ships have a common base among them, and that common base is the distinguishing factor from other classes of ships.  Each class of ships has a similar size, structure and signature offerings that separate themselves from the other classes of ships.  The ship classes are an easy way to group Royal Caribbean ships, and quickly know the basic differences.

Within each class of ships, there can be varying degrees of differences between "sister ships."  These differences vary, with some classes of ship having barely any noticeable differences to other ship classes having more noticeable features among the vessels.  The key concept to understand is that while each class of ships are a grouping, within that grouping there can be more subtle differences between the ships.  As an example, Liberty of the Seas offers water slides, whereas her sister ships of Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas do not.  Royal Caribbean continuously works on and upgrades their ships, with regularly scheduled drydock sessions and these can result in new offerings onboard.

Today, Royal Caribbean has eight classes of ships in the fleet.

Oasis class

These are the largest cruise ships in the world, with seven distinct neighborhoods that help differentiate each area of the ship for easier navigation.  Oasis of the Seas launched in 2009, and was a revolutionary ship because of its overall size and offerings.  Oasis-class ships are known for the Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods, as well as the Aqua Theater and zip-line on the ship.   Because of the ship's enormous size, it offers pretty much everything Royal Caribbean is known for.

  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Oasis IV
  • Oasis V

Quantum class

The newest class of cruise ships, the Quantum class ships are slightly smaller than the Oasis class, but have made their mark on the cruise industry by combining a large ship size with impressive tech. Quantum class ships have two main features that stand out, the North Star observation pod and Two70 theater.  Quantum class ships also feature a Royal Esplanade district, which offers dining, shopping and bars.  Being the newest class of ships, Quantum class ships offer the latest designs onboard and their integration of tech is unparalleled.

  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Quantum IV
  • Quantum V

Freedom class

The Freedom class ships are known for their size and offering a good mix of activities.  Freedom class ships were the largest in the world when they debuted, but have been dwarfed by newer ships in the last ten years. While no longer the biggest, they are still quite large and offer a lot.  Recent refurbishments have upgraded their offerings and they compare very well to their bigger sister ships.  Freedom class ships offer FlowRiders, a Royal Promenade and cantilevered hot tubs. In terms of value, Freedom class ships are in that "sweet spot" of offering many of the popular amenities Royal Caribbean is known for at a great price.

  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas

Voyager class

Voyager class ships were the first class of ships by Royal Caribbean to offer amenities we know come to expect onboard, such as ice skating, the Royal Promenade, miniature golf and more.  In the past few years, Royal Caribbean has refurbished many of the ships in this class to offer even more options for guests.  New restaurants, water slides, entertainment and FlowRiders have provided even more fun onboard.  Voyager class ships are very similar in build and look to Freedom class ships, but slightly smaller.

  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas

Radiance class

Royal Caribbean designed Radiance class ships to be able to go anywhere, while providing views of the ocean all over the ship.  Radiance class ships are about half the size of the classes of ships mentioned earlier in this post, but they still offer plenty to do onboard. Radiance class ships offer a rock-climbing wall, pools, lounges and sleek design.  Radiance class ships are popular with Royal Caribbean veterans for their elegant offerings and relaxing atmosphere.

  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas
  • Radiance of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas

​Vision class

Like the Radiance class, Vision class ships are on the smaller side and offer a great pool deck, casino, themed dining rooms.  Just like the Radiance class, recent refurbishments have brought many new restaurants and entertainment to these ships.  Combined with the great value of a Vision class ship, guess can enjoy cruises to nearly anywhere.

  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Legend of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas

​Sovereign Class

The Sovereign class defined the term "mega ship," when they first debuted and over the years, Royal Caribbean has transferred some of the ships out of the fleet, with just Majesty of the Seas left. While she may be an older ship, she makes up for her age in offering great getaway cruises the Bahamas at low prices.  Do not judge these ships by their age alone, because they still offer a fun atmosphere onboard, with an impressive pool deck and dining choices.  Majesty of the Seas was refurbished in 2016 and many new family amenities were added.

  • Majesty of the Seas

Empress of the Seas

Royal Caribbean brought Empress of the Seas back into its fleet in 2016, to also offer 4- and 5-night getaway cruises to destinations in the Caribbean and Bahamas.  Like Majesty of the Seas, Empress is on the smaller side, but Royal Caribbean spent a considerable amount of time and money to upgrade her offerings and make her a compelling choice.  

What is important to know between the classes

When you compare ships to each other in order to pick one that will be the best fit for your vacation, there is a lot to consider.  Ship size is not the only factor, with many details contributing to the overall decision.  Every Royal Caribbean ship offers a lot to see and do, but if the main features are not of interest to you or the ship is missing something that you want, then it will not be a good fit.  Having a good understanding of the key factors between the ships will make the decision much easier.

Kids

All Royal Caribbean ships offer the award-winning Adventure Ocean program, which provides complimentary supervised programming for children between the ages of 3 and 17. Many families look to Adventure Ocean to be the center piece of their family's day, and cruising with children is at the heart of the Royal Caribbean cruise experience.

The important difference among Royal Caribbean's ships when it comes to kids is knowing that the larger (and newer) the ship, the more wide-ranging facilities and activities there are for kids.  With each new class of ship, Royal Caribbean has placed a larger emphasis on kids facilities and the newest ships certainly offer the most impressive experiences. 

Families should by no means avoid smaller ships.  There is plenty for kids to onboard, but it is important to know the scope of facilities and activities for children is considerably different between a Quantum class ship and a Radiance class ship.

Cost

A very noticeable difference between Royal Caribbean ships is the price.  In general, the price of a cruise on a given ship will go down as newer ships are introduced.  Royal Caribbean charges a premium for its newer ships, and the effect that pricing strategy has on its older ships is prices tend to go down over time.

I believe all of Royal Caribbean's ships offer a tremendous value, but the value of the not-as-new ships provide is hard to overlook.  The newest ships will usually come with a higher price tag, but depending on your desire for the latest and greatest, the price you pay will be affected by it.  Price should not be the sole factor in determining which ship you sail on, but we recognize that it is a powerful factor.

Itinerary

Not all Royal Caribbean ships can visit the same ports, and which area of the world you have in mind to visit may dictate largely which ships you will want to sail on.  It has been hotly debated over the years whether the ship or the destinations are the primary decision making factor, but it is difficult for anyone to overlook the ports a ship will visit because where your ship goes is a major part of the vacation.

Cruises to smaller ports, like Northern Europe, East Asia and the South Pacific may require smaller ships since the docking facilities there are not able to handle larger ships.  Some ports, like those in Alaska, have additional environmental regulations that limit the kind of cruise ships that can visit.

The more popular cruising destinations of the Caribbean and Mediterranean can handle much larger ships, and ports around the world are upgrading their port facilities to be able to handle larger ships.

Onboard offerings

I always share the story of a cruise I took on Brilliance of the Seas to help prove a point about the differences between ship classes.  I was lounging in the Solarium when a guest next to me started vocally complaining to his wife about the lack of things to do onboard.  Into his rant, he mentioned that compared to his recent Oasis of the Seas cruise, there was nothing to do onboard.

The takeaway from this experience is it is important to know what each ship offers (and does not offer) onboard in terms of activities, entertainment, dining and more. If you want a never ending array of "things to do," then lean towards taking a cruise on the larger ships.  If your idea of a good time is lounging by the pool and exploring the ports of call you visit, then any size ship will be fine. The key is knowing if there is a FlowRider, particular specialty restaurant or something else important to you onboard the ship you are considering.

Lost Royal Caribbean ship names

In:
Category: 
11Aug2014

Royal Caribbean has 21 ships in service today along with another handful of ships on their way and each has a name that help make each ship unique.  Did you know Royal Caribbean has had other names for ships that never got used?

When Royal Caribbean builds new cruise ships these days, they register for a trademark for many possible ship names but not all names get used for reasons we may never know.  Searching through the Trademark Electronic Search System, we found a list of ship names Royal Caribbean registered that never used and it got us dreaming about the "what if's" with these names.

Endeavour of the Seas

First up is Endeavour of the Seas, whcih was registered on September 17, 2004, which was the same day they registered for Freedom of the Seas. 

In fact, Endeavour of the Seas was originally the name of the second Freedom-class ship before ultimately being named Liberty of the Seas.  Even to this day, www.endeavoroftheseas.com redirects you to Royal Caribbean's web site.

Journey of the Seas

Royal Caribbean registered the name Journey of the Seas back on February 16, 2001, which was also the same day it registered Jewel of the Seas.

Traveler of the Seas

Traveler of the Seas was also registered on February 16, 2001

The other Quantum class names

In late 2012 Royal Caribbean applied for six trademarks for new cruise ship names but ultimately only used two of them (Quantum & Anthem) so the other four names appear to be abandonded as well.

  • Vantage of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Passion of the Seas
  • Pulse of the Seas

Which ship name do you think Royal Caribbean should have used? Add your suggestion in the comments below!

Cruise Line and Ship Review

In:
17Jun2010

AllVoices wrote up a review of the Royal Caribbean cruise line as a whole, as a means of introducing the line to others and comparing it against other cruise lines.  Based on it's review, here are the conclusions it drew about Royal Caribbean...

  • Royal Caribbean tends to build the biggest ships first.
  • This cruise line usually wins the race for new on board amenities
  • Of the four cruise lines reviewed, Royal Caribbean was by far the most efficient at embarkation
  • The food on Royal Caribbean is about standard fare for cruise ships
  • The cabin and dining room service were top flight
  • The cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise is slightly higher than some of the competition

The other 3 cruise lines compared were Costa Cruise Lines, Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines.  I don't have much experience with Costa, but in terms of Carnival and Norwegian, I found the review to be about what I expected to read.  There's a big debate about the food on Royal Caribbean versus Carnival and the price issue, well, you do get what you pay for in many cases.

By in large, Royal Caribbean fared well in the review and came off sounding like a high quality cruise line.

AllVoices also posted a review of Enchantment of the Seas and it's a pretty favorable one at that.  The review covers many aspects of the ship from it's dining options to entertainment to its rooms.  If you have a cruise coming up on Enchantment or are considering a cruise on her, this might be a good read.

The dining room staff is top notch. They are personable as well as professional. The quality of the food is superior, and it is served in a timely manner. When multiple appetizers, entrees, or desserts or ordered, there is no delay in their arrival. Like all cruise ships, Enchantment of the Seas will provide some entertainment most nights during the dining experience.

The reviewer seemed mostly positive on Enchantment and only mentioned a few negatives such as, "The entertainment is good but not exceptional unless you happen to draw a particularly funny comedian or really enjoy musicals".  Overall, the review seemed to be highly favorable.