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How to beat the chair hogs on your cruise ship

19 May 2022
Matt Hochberg

If there's one thing that annoys everyone on a cruise ship, it's the people that reserve pool chairs for the entire day.

Commonly referred to as "chair hogs", it's an unfortunate occurrence on cruise ships (and to be fair, many hotels and resorts as well). Basically, some people will leave their belongings on one or more loungers near the pool, and then disappear for hours before every using them.

Technically there should be pool attendants that look for the issue and remove the belongings, but in practice it rarely occurs.

All is not lost if you want to get a chair by the pool on your Royal Caribbean cruise. While we could complain about the issue occurring in the first place, I think the more practical solution is give you a way to beat the problem.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Speaking of the problem, it behooves me to point out that if the chair hog issue bothers you as much as it bothers me, don't be a part of the problem either. Utilize the strategies in this post and then relinquish your chair when you're not using it as a way to set a better example.

Read more8 things some cruisers do that annoy everyone else

Here are six easy ways to get a spot by the pool, despite the chair hogs you may encounter.

Get up early

Royal Caribbean to add lifeguards to its cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

While chair hogs are a problem, they don't get all the pool chairs right away.  In my experience, if you get yourself up to the pool in the morning, you can usually get a chair.

How early? Before 10am is usually a good rule of thumb to be able to get a chair. Shorter weekend cruises tend to attract more people to the pool, but you definitely want to get an early breakfast and then stake out your claim by the pool.

While sleeping in is a wonderful feeling, it will put you behind the eight ball in terms of getting a seat if you roll up to the pool deck later in the morning.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Michael's Day 4 - Falmouth | Royal Caribbean Blog

If getting up early is not going to happen (I'm looking at you Billy from, then your next best option is to wait the chair hogs out.

As the afternoon progresses, people start to slowly leave the pool in order to prepare for dinner or their evening plans.  By 4pm, many chairs start to open up.

If your plan is to spend all day at the pool, then get up early for a chair. But if you just want a couple hours, you might see if you can sneak them in closer to dinner.

Rent a casita

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Some people prefer to throw money at the problem, and Royal Caribbean offers casita rentals.

Available on a few cruise ships, these casitas come with a flat fee for use during the day.

Casitas are available on the pool decks of:

The price will likely vary, but we've seen prices of $199 for the day on a sea day and $149 on a port day.

Wonder of the Seas Guide, itinerary, features, and more | Royal Caribbean Blog

Not only do you get two chairs to use, but the rental also includes towels, a cooler, storage for your belongings and a charging outlet.

You will also get two complimentary Welcome Drinks and four chilled waters with your reservation.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean charging to reserve pool deck casitas on Odyssey of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

I'm sure there are some people not in love with the idea of spending money for pool chairs, but it is a sure-fire way to guarantee a spot for you on the pool deck.

Keep in mind the casitas are located on the upper pool deck, which means it is not on the same deck as the actual pool. You'll have to just walk down the stairs to the actual pool.

Hit the pool on port days

If waking up early and spending extra doesn't jive with you, then your next best bet is to hit the pool deck when your ship is docked in port.

On port days, many guests disembark the ship for their shore excursion and that means there is far less demand for the pool.

Port days will find the pool far less busy than on sea days, and that can be the perfect time to hit up the pool, as well as water slides or the FlowRider.

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The downside to going to the pool on a port day is you are forgoing whatever activities you might be interested in while in port.  A good compromise is to do a tour in the morning, and then go to the pool after your excursion is complete.

Even after lunch, the pool deck usually doesn't get too busy on a port day.

Get a chair away from the pool

Empty Pool chairs

Let's say it's 1pm, you want to be outside and lay out in the sun on a sea day and renting a casita isn't in the cards. Now what?

There are usually lots of lounge chairs elsewhere on the pool decks, especially if you venture away from the pool.

Often there are unused chairs and loungers if you walk all the way forward or aft. I've found these chairs both in the sun and in the shade, depending on the location.

You won't be able to see the pool fun, but for many guests, it's just about being able to lay out and read a book, catch a nap, or enjoy the sun.

Look for a chair near the kid's pool

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In my experience, chair hog's kryptonite is being near the kids area.

On ships that have Splashaway Bay or the H2O Zone, I've generally found more chairs available near these spots than the main pool.

Put on your noise cancelling headphones and enjoy the lounge chair you wanted, without nearly as much competition.

Book a suite

10 things to know about Sky Class suites on Royal Caribbean | Royal Caribbean Blog

On most ships, there is reserved seating for suite guests somewhere on the pool deck.

This reserved area usually has enough loungers throughout the day. Whether it's worth it to book a suite on Royal Caribbean or not, one consideration may be how much you may take advantage of the pool deck.

Odyssey Suite Sun Deck - Royal Caribbean Discussion - Royal Caribbean Blog

Keep in mind the suite sun deck is for guests in a Grand Suite or higher, so Junior Suites don't count.

If your idea of a great cruise is spending all day by the pool, booking a suite might be a good investment.

Which Royal Caribbean ships are powered by LNG?

19 May 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

The cruise industry is always innovating its ships to make cruising not only more fun and exciting, but safer for guests and better for the environment.

LNG tanks

Back in 2016, Royal Caribbean announced it would be building a new class of ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). This class of ships is the Icon Class, which will debut next year with the first ship in the class, Icon of the Seas.

As environmental impact is one of the biggest complaints given to the cruise industry, the transition from diesel fuel to liquefied natural gas will be a great step toward a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable future for Royal Caribbean.

What is liquefied natural gas (LNG)?

Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is the cleanest fossil fuel that can be used by cruise ships today. LNG is a natural gas that has been liquefied at around -260 ° fahrenheit, producing a volume of around 600 times smaller than in a gaseous state, which makes the gas much easier to store and transport.

When ships are powered by LNG fuel, a ship’s carbon emissions can be reduced by around 30%. Additionally, sulfur emissions will be reduced by nearly 100% and nitrogen oxide emissions by around 85%.

Outside of producing fewer emissions, ships powered by LNG will have less wear and tear on the engine, resulting in fewer repairs and lower maintenance costs. LNG fuel is also cheaper than low-sulfur fuel, allowing Royal Caribbean to decrease fuel costs with LNG-powered cruise ships.

LNG will be utilized in conjunction with many of Royal Caribbean’s other energy-reducing technologies, such as air lubrication, which sends microscopic bubbles along the ship’s hull to reduce friction as it moves through the ocean, and advantaged waste heat recovery systems which turn waste heat into extra energy.

Royal Caribbean has stated that the “use of such technologies, including LNG, will result in further reduced emissions overall, virtually zero sulfur dioxides and particulates, and a significant reduction in the production of nitrogen oxides.”

Which Royal Caribbean cruise ships are powered by LNG?

Icon of the Seas keel-laying ceremony

While there are no Royal Caribbean cruise ships sailing today that are powered by LNG, four ships are in construction or on order that will have LNG power.

The first ship to be powered by LNG is Icon of the Seas, the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s new Icon Class. While not many details are known about the layout, amenities, itineraries, and activities that will be found on Icon of the Seas, what we do know is that the ship will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas.

One of the first additions to the construction of Icon of the Seas was the ship’s LNG fuel tank, measuring 307 tons and 90 feet long, which Royal Caribbean has stated is the largest in the cruise industry.

Icon of the Seas will be launched in Fall 2023, when she will sail from England prior to being homeported in Miami, Florida. It was recently announced that Icon of the Seas will be the largest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

The next Royal Caribbean ship to be powered by LNG will be Utopia of the Seas, the sixth ship in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class. She will be the first of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class cruise ships to be powered by liquefied natural gas, and will debut in Spring 2024.

In addition to Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas are plans for two other ships powered by LNG, which will be the second and third ships in the Icon Class. These two ships are estimated for completion in the second quarter of 2025 and the second quarter 2026, but are not yet named.

Outside of Royal Caribbean, LNG is a common trend in the construction of new cruise ships throughout the industry, with new cruise ships such as the Disney Wish, Carnival Mardi Gras, Norwegian Prima, and MSC World Europa all powered by LNG.

Royal Caribbean updates: Odyssey of the Seas cancellations, SpaceX investigation & more

18 May 2022
Matt Hochberg

There's plenty happening with Royal Caribbean this week, so here is a quick wrap-up of changes and announcements you should know.

Harmony of the Seas aerial

Things move quickly in the cruise industry, so to keep you up to date with the news, this article has a few different things that have happened this week.

Let's take a look at this week's Royal Caribbean cruise news.

Odyssey of the Seas cruise cancellations

There's a bit of a log jam in Fort Lauderdale, Florida this fall, which has necessitated a few Odyssey of the Seas cruises to be changed.

Royal Caribbean alerted travel agents that Odyssey of the Seas cruises departing between December 17, 2022 and December 31, 2022 have been revised. Essentially, the departure dates have changed and that means anyone who was booked on one of these cruises needs to pick a new sailing.

Guests have the option of staying booked on the revised sailing, which departs a day earlier, re-book to other sailing minus change fees, or a full refund.

Royal Caribbean will reimburse passengers for non-refundable, pre-purchased transportation change fees incurred (such as flight, train ticket, or rental car). 

  • If they stay on Odyssey: up to $300 USD per guest for Domestic changes, or up to $500 USD per guest for International changes.
  • If they pick another sailing: up to $200 USD per guest for Domestic changes, or up to $400 USD per guest for International changes.

Coast Guard concludes investigation into Royal Caribbean SpaceX incursion

Remember in January 2022 when a SpaceX launch was cancelled because Harmony of the Seas got too close to the launch site?

The Coast Guard wrapped up its investigation of Harmony of the Seas moving within the safety zone.

Prior to any SpaceX launch, there is an exclusion zone established so that no planes, ships, etc are able to enter the space, which adjoins against the second busiest cruise and shipping port in the country at Port Canaveral.

The Harmony of the Seas’ crew got underway from Port Canaveral and began voyaging toward the Bahamas. Harmony of the Seas entered an established safety zone, designed to ensure the safety of the public during the Cosmo Skymed rocket launch, without proper authorization. The launch was ultimately cancelled due to the encroachment into the surveilled launch hazard area.

“We are committed to protecting the maritime transportation system as well as finding the best practices to manage the intersection of space and maritime operations,” said Capt. Janet D. Espino-Young, prevention division chief, Coast Guard District Seven.

The statement went on to say the Coast Guard may pursue administrative enforcement actions, but did not specify if it would do so. Such actions may include monetary fines and or future vessel control actions.

Cruise planner update for Grandeur & Enchantment of the Seas

Good news for anyone that is booked on an upcoming Grandeur of the Seas or Enchantment of the Seas sailing: expect the enhanced cruise planner.

Over the last year, Royal Caribbean introduced its next generation cruise planning software, called My Royal Cruise.

My Royal Cruise is a new look to the website guests access to browse options and add-ons for their sailing.

Guests booked onboard Grandeur of the Seas sailings departing on or after May 27, 2022 and Enchantment of the Seas sailings departing on or after June 24, 2022, will now see the My Royal Cruise platform with all their existing bookings seamlessly and automatically transferred.

Casino Royale makes change to free cruise program

Casino Royale is informing guests of its popular program of a change to how free cruises are earned.

According to TheStreet, Royal Caribbean's casino rewards program has changed how it offers free sailing offers.

"Our certificate program recently changed. We no longer offer prequalified certificates, that are based on the previous sailing. We still have a certificate program, but now they are based on the active sailing and are awarded at the end of the sailing," the company said.

The free casino offers are based on how much a person gambles in the casino. You earn points on slots at 1 point for every $5 fed through the machines. Tables earn at different and varying rates.

The first casino status level you can hit is at 2500 points, which means you're probably gambling about $12,500 in order to hit that threshold.

You have the entire year to earn that 2500 points which will qualify you at prime for the rest of the qualifying year and through the entire next year. Prime benefits include a free interior stateroom cruise, no convenience charge to get cash from the cashier or at the tables and also free drinks while in the casino.

Royal Caribbean sends first cruise ship in 3 years to visit Haines, Alaska

Another milestone in the cruise industry restart has been reached with the arrival of Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas to Haines, Alaska this week.

The arrival of Serenade to Haines is the first time in three years a large cruise ship has visited the port.

The last visit was in September 2019.

How to use the ArriveCAN app for your Alaska cruise

18 May 2022
Allie Hubers

Going on a cruise ship that docks in Canada? You're going to need to use Canada's mandatory app.

Radiance of the Seas in Vancouver

It’s currently a requirement to use the government’s ArriveCAN platform in order to enter the country for an upcoming Alaskan cruise. For cruises that depart and return to Canada, you will need to complete the form before boarding your cruise ship. 

You will also need to complete a form for any Alaskan cruise that includes a port stop in Canada, even if you do not plan to get off the ship.

ArriveCAN is a free, digital platform that requires travelers to enter upcoming travel plans and upload any COVID-19 vaccination certificates. You must create an account and submit the necessary travel information within 72 hours of your arrival into Canada. 

Anyone arriving to Canada by road, air, rail or marine vessel is required to provide travel information to the government through ArriveCAN. 

ArriveCAN is an app that you can download to your smartphone and submit upcoming travel to Canada. After creating an account and entering your travel information, you will instantly receive a QR code that verifies you have provided the necessary details for any upcoming trips.

Your ArriveCAN forms must be completed before you board any international flight that enters Canada. You will be required to show the QR code in order to board your Canada-bound flight. Additionally, crossing the land border through road or railway will also require the use of ArriveCAN. 

In addition, you must submit another ArriveCAN before boarding your cruise if your itinerary includes a return trip to Canada.

I sailed onboard Radiance of the Seas for the first Alaskan sailing of the season and everyone was caught off guard that a second ArriveCAN form was required. We thought we could use the same form required for the air arrival, but the port authorities required us to submit a second marine-entry form. 

Below is a step-by-step guide for how to complete the ArriveCAN form for an upcoming cruise. 

Download the App

To start, you’ll want to download the ArriveCAN app to your phone or tablet to enter your upcoming travel information. This is how you will generate the QR code needed to board your flight, cross the border and board your cruise ship. 

The app is available to download for iOS and Android devices. 

Although the ArriveCAN app will be the easiest way to complete the forms, you can also access the platform online through their website.

Create an Account

After downloading the app, you’ll be prompted to create an account. Again, you can also do this online through the ArriveCAN website. 

The account will require a password and email. Make sure this is an email you have access to while traveling, as you’ll receive confirmation of your completed forms. The app will also generate the QR code. 

Start a Form

Unless you live in Canada, you will be required to complete TWO forms for ArriveCAN. First, you’ll need to complete a form for your arrival into the country. Second, you will need to complete a form for entering the country by marine vessel (which includes cruise ships). 

Anyone that is entering Canada on a cruise ship from Alaska will need to complete the marine form. This includes one-way cruises from Alaska to Canada and round-trip cruises from Canada. 

You can only start your ArriveCAN form within 72 hours of your upcoming cruise embarks, so be sure you add this to your pre-cruise planning list. You will not have access to the form if your cruise is outside of 72 hours.

Reason for Travel

When you start a new form, you’ll be prompted to select your reason for traveling. Select ‘Discretionary/optional travel’, as this includes tourism. 

This option is only available if you’re a fully vaccinated foreign national. For those cruising to Alaska from Canada, vaccination is a requirement so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

Entry into Canada

The ArriveCAN form will next ask how you are entering Canada, whether by air, marine or by land. 

In this case, you will want to select ‘Entry by marine’ specifically for your Alaskan cruise because your cruise ship will technically be entering the country from the United States.

As we mentioned earlier, you should have already completed a separate form prior to your arrival in Canada, whether you arrive by air, rail or road. 

Marine Trip Details

ArriveCAN will next ask you to enter marine trip details, which includes the country of original departure, date of embarkation, port of entry and date of arrival. 

The country of original departure will be Canada if you are departing from Canada. Those cruising from Alaska will select the United States of America here. 

The date of embarkation will be the start date of your cruise. 

For port of entry, this will be the first port of arrival in Canada on your itinerary. For example, if you are cruising into Vancouver, you can select Vancouver Cruise Ship Operations. 

Date of arrival is the day you will be entering your first Canadian port. If your itinerary is a round trip from Vancouver or one-way from Alaska to Canada, this will likely be the last day of your cruise.

If you stop in Canada before the last day of your cruise, such as Victoria, Canada, you will want to use that date for the arrival date. 

Cruise Trip Details

The ArriveCAN will now ask if you are traveling on a cruise ship, in which you will select ‘Yes’. 

You will need to provide your cruise ship’s name, which should be available in the dropdown selection. It is also optional to provide your stateroom number(s) for your travel group. 

Finally, the ArriveCAN form will ask whether your cruise is terminating in Canada. If you are disembarking in a Canadian port, you will want to select ‘yes’. Cruises that simply stop in Canada during the sailing will want to select ‘no’. 

Contact Information

The form will next ask you to provide a phone number for your Primary Phone Number. There’s also a spot to provide a secondary phone number. 

You will also need to select whether your official language is ‘English’ or ‘French’. 

Traveler Information

ArriveCAN will now require you to select or add a traveler to your profile. You are able to add up to 8 travelers on the same trip as long as the people traveling together will be at the same locations. 

When entering traveler information, you will need to include your passport information, date of birth and name for each traveler. 

Proof of Vaccination

After entering your passport information for all travelers, you will be prompted to provide proof of vaccination. Currently, it’s a requirement to be fully vaccinated and provide proof for leisure travel to Canada.

The ArriveCAN app will ask you to enter information regarding your vaccination, including information regarding the first and second dose. The app will ask which vaccine you received (Pfizer, Moderna, etc), the country where the vaccine was administered, and the date of each vaccine dose you’ve received. 

Finally, you will be asked to upload proof of your vaccination. This can be a JPEG, JPG, PNG or PDF. You can also use your phone’s camera to take a photo of the vaccination receipt. 

You can upload one picture that proves you’ve received both doses or two separate photos that confirm each dose of the vaccine you received. If you only upload one photo, it will ask if you to confirm if you need to upload a second picture. For example, if you uploaded a picture of your CDC card and it shows both doses, you can select ‘No’ that you do not need to upload a second photo. 

Requirements for Travel 

The ArriveCAN app will now ask if you understand the requirements for travel that the Canadian government currently requires. For example, the first bullet on the list states that travelers who are fully-vaccinated with accepted vaccines and any accompanying children under 12 are no longer required to provide proof of a negative test result before entry. 

This section covers other requirements for travel for those under 5 and travelers who recently recovered from COVID-19. 

Additionally, fully-vaccinated travelers arriving in Canada no longer need to provide a suitable quarantine plan. 

Select ‘I Understand’ after reading through the requirements. 

Travel History

ArriveCAN will now ask if you or anyone traveling with you has recently visited any countries other than Canada in the last 14 days. 

For those who traveled from the United States, you will select ‘Yes’ and then select the arrow, in which you can enter the United States of America. 

You might also be prompted to provide an address in Canada, which could be the accommodations or address of the location you’re staying before embarking. 

Last Step: COVID-19 Self-Assessment

Finally, the last step of your form!

The ArriveCAN app will ask if you’ve had any COVID-19 symptoms that include fever, cough or difficulty breathing. You’ll want to select ‘no’ here unless you’re experiencing any symptoms.

After finishing the COVID-19 self-assessment, you will be ready to submit your form. 


After submitting, the ArriveCAN app will upload your documentation and required information into its system.

Once this is complete, you will receive a QR code in the app that can be used for boarding your Alaskan cruise. You will also receive an email confirmation that you have successfully completed the forms for your upcoming travels. 

In the ArriveCAN app homepage, you can also find the trip summary and the e-receipt of your trip. This will pull up the QR code if you need it again.

If you made a mistake on the form, you can also delete the trip and resubmit the necessary information. 

50 tips for planning your Alaska cruise

17 May 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

If there is a cruise destination worthy of anyone's bucket list, it has to be Alaska. Royal Caribbean is one of the biggest cruise operators that offers regular service to Alaska and it is one of the top destinations in cruising today.

Here are the fundamentals of planning a cruise to Alaska to kickstart your approach and ensure a great trip to the last—and vast—great frontier.

In this article:

Booking tips

Figure out the best time to visit Alaska for your preferences

The Alaska cruise season generally runs from May to September. While many offerings and experiences on an Alaska cruise will be similar no matter the month you sail, there are a few differences to consider.

May and September are shoulder seasons for Alaska cruises. During these months, you may find fewer families and passengers onboard and lower prices. In addition, you may have a greater chance of seeing the northern lights as fall begins in September.

The most popular months to cruise to Alaska are in June, July, and August. These months are when daylight hours are longest, wildlife viewing opportunities are greatest, and weather is warmest.

Read more: The best time to take an Alaska cruise

Research the best ship for you

Royal Caribbean deploys both large and small cruise ships to Alaska, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Larger ships will offer more onboard activities and venues, whereas smaller ships are able to fit into more destinations along Alaska’s inside passage. Taking a look at what you hope to see and experience while on an Alaska cruise is an important first step before booking a particular ship.

Are you traveling with kids and looking for the most onboard activities? If so, selecting a larger ship like Quantum of the Seas or Ovation of the Seas may be the best option. These Quantum Class ships feature the Seaplex, an indoor sports court that offers activities like bumper cars, soccer, pickleball, and more. They also have an indoor pool as well as more bars, dining options, and entertainment venues onboard.

Ships like Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas may be smaller, but don’t let that deter you from choosing one of these ships. Many passengers find that cruising to Alaska on a smaller ship comes with its own set of benefits. Smaller ships are able to fit into more ports, meaning that they can visit destinations like Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord. And like Royal Caribbean’s larger ships, these smaller ships also offer fantastic viewing opportunities with floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of outdoor deck space.

Consider a balcony cabin

If a balcony stateroom is in your budget, then definitely book one and enjoy the opportunity to have a private area to enjoy the natural beauty of Alaska anytime you see fit.  There is no denying that having easy access and private space, especially when near a glacier, is a lovely perk.

Balcony staterooms may come at a higher cost than interior or ocean view cabins, but for many cruisers it is well worth the cost.

Or… consider an interior or ocean view cabin

One of the lessons we learned from our first Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska was that while a balcony cabin is nice to have, it is not nearly as essential as others led us to believe.

You can still have an amazing Alaska cruise by depending on public areas to enjoy the view.  Royal Caribbean's ships feature ample deck space to enjoy the view any time of the day.  Even when near a glacier, you ought to find great viewing opportunities.  Moreover, the price of a balcony room may be much more expensive than an interior room. You may decide that it is a better investment to book the cheaper room and use the money saved to invest in an amazing shore excursion.

The bottom line is consider all room categories, but do not assume you have to get a balcony room.

Book with a travel agent

One of the top tips we share at Royal Caribbean Blog is to book your cruise with a travel agent. A travel agent will cost you nothing extra, but they can provide extremely valuable help and support during the booking process.

Being able to ask your travel agent questions–and get them resolved–without having to take time out of your day to contact Royal Caribbean yourself will save you valuable time. Additionally, good travel agents have an abundance of knowledge about Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry, so they are available to answer any questions you may have about your upcoming cruise.

Read more: Top 5 things to look for in a good travel agent for your cruise vacation

Book dining and drink packages in advance

Just like any Royal Caribbean cruise, it’s important to pre-book any dining or drink packages for your cruise via Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website. Booking early allows you to lock in the price. If the drink package you purchased for $63/day raises to $75/day, for example, you will have paid a much lower price than some passengers onboard.

Likewise, you’re also able to cancel and rebook if the price drops. If you initially paid $220 for an Unlimited Dining Package and it lowers to $179, you can cancel and rebook the package to obtain the lower price.

You can also cancel any packages booked up to two days before your cruise, so there is no harm in booking addons early to lock in the best price.

Book excursions in advance

The same rules that apply to dining and beverage packages also apply to shore excursions; it’s important to book shore excursions in advance. In fact, because popular shore excursions often risk selling out, it’s even more important to book shore excursions ahead of time compared to dining and beverage packages.

Whether you are booking through Royal Caribbean directly or through an outside provider, be sure to research what activities and excursions are recommended in each cruise port. While some ports may be best for whale watching, others may offer the best historic or cultural opportunities.

For more information on what to do in the most common cruise ports in Alaska, check out our guides:

Find the best itinerary for you

While there is no “best itinerary” for an Alaska cruise, it’s important to have an understanding of what options are available. Some cruise ships leave from Seattle whereas others leave from Vancouver, some are one-way sailings to Alaska while others are roundtrip, and some itineraries visit more cruise ports than others.

Read more: How to choose the right Alaska cruise itinerary

Browsing through all of Royal Caribbean’s Alaska cruise offerings on the website is a good starting point for researching the different options available. Alternatively, you can talk to your travel agent to discuss which option will work best for you.

Fly into your departure port a day early

No matter where in the world your cruise departs from, it is important to arrive to your departure city at least one day prior to the cruise. Flight delays and cancellations, missed connections, traffic, unexpected car issues, and weather can negatively affect your chance of getting to the cruise port on time. Arriving one day ahead of time and staying in a hotel the night before your cruise will give you buffer time in the chance you encounter unexpected delays.

Luckily, Alaska cruises depart from Vancouver, Seattle, or Seward, each of which offers plenty to do, eat, and experience before your cruise begins.

Know the difference between Alaska and Caribbean cruises

If you are used to cruising in the Caribbean, going to Alaska is going to surprise you in some ways with the different approach and experience it offers.

Cruising to Alaska is a port-intensive itinerary with shore excursions that cost significantly more money and far fewer party events.  Unlike the Caribbean where the places you visit can sometimes be secondary, an Alaska cruise is all about where you visit and the onboard experience can almost become an afterthought.

Extend your Alaska cruise with a Cruise Tour

In addition to the cruises, Royal Caribbean offers expanded journeys into Alaska with its Cruise Tour program.

A Royal Caribbean Cruise Tour will take you to incredible destinations that no cruise ship can visit. From the coastline to the heart of the frontier, a Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruise Tour land and sea package delivers all the must-see sights on land.

Either before or after your Royal Caribbean cruise, you can book a Cruise Tour that combines a cruise and a land tour, which usually runs three to seven nights. Popular destinations include Denali National Park (for wildlife viewing), Talkeetna (best place for Denali views) and Fairbanks (Alaska pipeline). 

Every Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruise Tour includes knowledgeable Adventure Specialists who act as guides, historians and concierges. They are by your side for the entirety of the land tour, providing insider tips and local perspective.

Expect abnormal hours in port

Most cruises tend to have port stops sometime between 7AM and 8PM at the latest. Alaska cruises, however, often have more abnormal hours. Some port stops, for example, may be between 4PM and midnight, or you might have two stops in one day!

Most ports will stick to more “normal” hours, but if you’re looking at your itinerary and are shocked to see such bizarre hours for port stops, don’t be too alarmed. Cruises to Alaska run primarily during the summer months when daylight hours are much longer, so it’s possible to be walking around the port at 9 or 10PM in the peak of summer while still enjoying the daylight.

Purchase travel insurance

Travel insurance is always a good idea whether you are cruising to international ports or within the United States. Even though the insurance plans of most US citizens should work while in Alaska, it’s still a good idea to purchase travel insurance prior to your cruise.

Travel insurance can cover travel delays and cancellations, lost luggage or valuables, medical coverage, emergency transportation, and more. It’s always better to purchase travel insurance and not need it than to not have travel insurance when an unfortunate situation arises.

Tips for onboard the ship

Be flexible on ports

Your cruise will stop at a variety of ports in Alaska (with some stopping in Canada as well). Common ports include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Haines, and Hubbard Glacier, among others. 

Where you visit depends on your ship’s size, itinerary, and embarkation port. However, it is important to remain flexible and understand that your itinerary can change.

Alaska’s weather conditions may lead to high seas, storms, and heavy winds, especially if you are traveling during the shoulder season in early May or late September. The day you planned in Sitka, as an example, could be replaced by a stop in Ketchikan. Or perhaps the ship is unable to sail further into a passage for a glacier sighting.

The majority of sailings do go as planned, but staying flexible is important. Plus, you may end up having a fantastic day in a port you did not plan to go to in the first place!

Find a great spot to watch glaciers and scenery

A unique aspect to an Alaska cruise is that you can see land for the majority of the sailing. They mainly sail through Alaska’s inside passage, where fjords, waterfalls, and mountains dot the landscape on both sides of the ship.

On the first day or two of your cruise, we recommend exploring the ship to make note of areas from which you can view the scenery once you get to Alaska. The pool deck is a popular option, but you may find some hidden gems throughout the ship.

If you’re sailing on a Quantum Class ship to Alaska, head to the back of the Windjammer or the Solarium bridge wings for some fantastic views of the scenery with fewer crowds. On Radiance Class ships, check out the helicopter pad, the front of deck 12 above the bridge, or the Viking Crown Lounge.

Wake up early and stay up late

Traveling to Alaska will have different daylight hours than what you are used to on a Caribbean cruise, especially if you’re traveling in the middle of summer. With as many as 19 hours of daylight in the summer months, don’t forget to wake up early and stay up late to be amazed by the scenery around you on an Alaska cruise.

Try not to worry about the weather

News flash: it will rain while you are in Alaska, but it is also not the end of the world.

Weather forecasts do not always match what you will experience. Be prepared for changing weather daily. Be prepared with varying clothing options (i.e. wear layers).  And when it does rain, just give it a few minutes, as it generally does not last long. Take it all in. And remember, many excursions go rain or shine!

No matter what time of the year you pick for your cruise, the weather can be iffy, so plan for it all.

Bring motion sickness remedies

Depending on the weather conditions outside and time of year you sail to Alaska, you may encounter some choppy seas. While most days should be smooth sailing, it’s always good to plan in advance if you are prone to motion sickness. This is especially true if you plan to book a whale watching tour while in port, as most guests will feel more movement on a smaller vessel.

There are many remedies available for motion sickness, from dramamine to sea-bands or even natural remedies like green apples and ginger.

Take advantage of port lectures

Royal Caribbean offers complimentary lectures presented by higher education staff on the history and culture of the ports your cruise will visit.

It is easy to overlook these types of offerings with so many other activities and things to do onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, but do yourself a favor and check these out. The lectures provided onboard offer important context for the adventures you will take on shore later in your visit.

These lectures may not offer money saving tips or pitfalls to avoid, but they do offer an insider look at these ports that I think helps improve your appreciation of each city when you go to visit them later.

Relax and enjoy the scenery

Even with all the fun activities you’ll find onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, it’s always a great idea to spend time sitting back and relaxing on an Alaska cruise. Sailing through the Alaska Inside Passage comes with stunning views in every direction, whether you spot whales, eagles, glaciers, or waterfalls.

While it can be tempting to book a full day of fun activities onboard, don’t forget to spend some time relaxing in a comfy chair or on the pool deck to watch the scenery pass by.

Book shows and dining on the first day

Just like any Royal Caribbean cruise, be sure to book any specialty dining and entertainment reservations on the first day of your cruise to ensure you can reserve the days and times that work best for you.

As soon as you get onboard, connect to the ship’s wifi and open the Royal Caribbean app (you do not need to purchase a wifi package to access the Royal Caribbean app). Then scroll through the calendar to reserve any entertainment you are interested in.

If you have a dining package, head to any of the restaurants onboard to reserve all specialty dining days and times for the week.

Bring cards or board games

You may encounter more downtime on an Alaska cruise compared to what you would experience on a bigger cruise ship in warmer weather. While there are certainly enough activities and entertainment options to keep you occupied, some passengers like to spend time playing cards or games with fellow passengers.

While you may be able to find cards onboard, either in the library or Royal Caribbean gift shop, packing a deck of cards in your luggage isn’t a bad idea either.

Confirm Main Dining Room dining times and options

Another thing you should do on the first day of your Alaska cruise is double check your Main Dining Room preferences. When you booked your cruise, you should have selected a dining time and either Traditional or My Time Dining. Additionally, if you would prefer a private table as opposed to dining with others, it’s a good idea to speak with the staff in the Main Dining Room on embarkation day to ensure this is the case.

Shore excursion tips

Book a whale watching tour

Whale watching tours are arguably the most popular shore excursion to book on an Alaska cruise. The chance to view the largest mammals on earth in their natural habitat is simply a remarkable experience, and Alaska has some of the best whale watching in the world.

Whale watching tours are not cheap, but they won’t necessarily break the bank either. Some ports are better than others for whale watching, and some months bring a higher chance to spot whales than others. While you may be able to spot whales from your cruise ship at some point on an Alaska cruise, if you really want to see whales up close, be sure to book a whale watching excursion.

Read more: Alaska cruise whale watching guide & tips

View other wildlife

While whale watching may be popular, don’t miss the opportunity to spot more of Alaska’s amazing wildlife while in port. Bears, eagles, salmon, sea lions, sea otters, and other wildlife are often able to be spotted on an Alaska cruise.

In Sitka, consider visiting the Fortress of the Bear, a bear rescue center located near the city center. In Ketchikan, walk around Creek Street for the chance to spot sea otters playing in the creek. When you’re on a bus tour or walking through town, be sure to look up in the trees to see if you can spot any eagles.

Learn about Alaska’s Native history

While Alaska cruises are famous for providing stunning views, don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about Alaska’s history and culture while visiting the state.

Royal Caribbean offers shore excursions with a focus on history and culture in its Alaskan ports. As an example, one of these tours is the Native Cultural and Historical Tour in Sitka, where guests will experience first-hand the melting pot of native Tlingit culture as well as Russian and American influences. 

If you’re hoping to explore Native history and culture on your own, research museums and walking paths in your port of call.

Visit glaciers

While most cruises to Alaska will include a scenic cruising day to destinations like Hubbard Glacier and Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, you may also wish to explore glaciers up close while in port.

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau is one of the most visited glaciers on an Alaska cruise, as it is easily accessible via bus or taxi from the cruise port. While at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, visitors can enjoy walking trails, the spectacular Nugget Waterfall, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

If you’re looking for a truly once in a lifetime experience, you can even book a helicopter tour that lands on top of a glacier in Alaska!

Go on a day hike

Alaska is a dream for active cruisers, offering some of the country’s most magnificent nature and mountains to explore. All Alaska cruise ports offer fantastic day hike opportunities, from the easiest of trails to the most challenging.

Whether hiking to the pointy peak of Deer Mountain in Ketchikan, riding the Goldbelt tram to mellow trails in Juneau, or opting for a low-impact nature walk in Sitka, hiking through Alaska’s forests is a nice way to connect with nature and explore the port.

Kayak near glaciers

Kayaking is another popular active shore excursion in Alaska, bringing visitors to picturesque destinations along the coastline. Some kayaking excursions allow guests to get close to glaciers and you may even spot wildlife while on the tour.

Kayaking is a relatively low-impact activity, making it a great choice for those looking for an active excursion that also allows them to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Go biking or rent a scooter

If you’re looking to explore Alaska in a unique way, consider traveling on two wheels. Bicycle tours or rentals are available in most Alaska cruise ports, allowing guests to see much more of a port than they would on foot. The “Bike and Brew Glacier View” tour in Juneau combines a bike ride with a beer tasting!

If riding a bike sounds too active for your liking, consider renting an electric scooter in Skagway through Skagway Scooters to explore all of Skagway and the surrounding area.

Try local food

One big mistake we made on our Alaska cruise was not taking the time to research where to eat in the various ports we visited. Alaska has some amazing local cuisine, but there are a lot of pretenders alongside the great stuff.

Each port you visit will take you to some terrific spots to eat, so don't rely purely on your Yelp app once in town.  Figure out the restaurants and bars you want to go to before you leave home, especially if you are interested in enjoying the best crab, salmon and beers of Alaska.

Here are a few food and drink recommendations for your Alaska cruise:

  • Ketchikan: The Alaska Fish House is a popular seafood spot located just a few blocks from the port. In our experience, a long line formed around lunchtime, but the extremely fresh fish is said to be worth the wait.
  • Skagway: On a chilly Alaskan day, not much fills the spot more than a doughy, sugary, and warm piece of Alaskan fry bread. Similar to an elephant ear, Alaskan fry bread is a popular snack in the state, and the place to try it in Skagway is at Klondike Doughboy. Each piece of fry bread is fried to order, and it is guaranteed to warm you up no matter what the weather is like outside. If you’re looking for something more savory, check out the Skagway Fish Company.
  • Juneau and Sitka: Due to Alaska’s historical and geographical connection to Russia, you can find Russian influences in Alaskan cuisine. A restaurant to taste Russian flavors is Pel’Meni, which is located in both Juneau and Sitka. Pel’Meni offers steamed Russian dumplings in two flavors: beef or potato. The dumplings are then topped with butter, curry, hot sauce, and cilantro, creating an explosion of flavor with each bite.

Visit a saloon

Just like eating, drinking can be a way to learn more about the culture of Alaska. Our recommendation is to plan shore excursions for the morning and spend the afternoon walking around the port to try local food and drinks.

Dotted along most Alaska cruise ports are small, historic saloons filled with local history, and drinking at a saloon is a quintessential part of visiting any small town in Alaska.

One of the most famous places to grab a drink when cruising to Alaska is The Red Dog Saloon in Juneau. With western-themed architecture and eclectic decor, The Red Dog Saloon is certainly unique. It’s not uncommon for the saloon to be filled with cruisers enjoying live music, drinks, and food before getting back onboard the ship.

Three of the most popular drinks at the saloon are the Duck Fart shot, Glacier Margarita, and Miners Scratch Hard Lemonade.

Taste local beer

If you’re a beer lover, you’re in luck while on an Alaska cruise. A variety of local craft breweries are located in most Alaska cruise ports, offering the perfect place to wind down after a busy day exploring the state.

Here are a few of our recommended breweries to check out while in Alaska:

  • Ketchikan: Bawden Street Brewing Company
  • Juneau: Barnaby Brewing Company
  • Skagway: Skagway Brewing Company or Klondike Brewing Company

Visit the Yukon Territory

If your cruise visits Skagway, you may want to take the chance to visit Canada’s Yukon Territory, located just 15 miles from the center of town. The Yukon Territory, like much of Alaska, offers rugged terrain, fascinating culture, and breathtaking scenery.

You can opt to visit the Yukon Territory by renting a car or motorcycle, booking an excursion, or traveling on the White Pass & Yukon Railway.

Get a taste of Alaska’s Russian history

In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for a price of $7.2 million. Before this purchase, though, Russia had significant influence on the state, bringing architecture, food, and religion to the region. Visiting Alaska today offers visitors the chance to learn more about Russia’s impact on the state.

The best port to experience Alaska’s Russian history is in Sitka, the former capital of Russian Alaska. From visiting Orthodox cathedrals to Baranof Castle State Historic Site, where the formal transfer of Russia to the United States occurred, you’re sure to get a glimpse of the state’s dynamic history while in Sitka.

Pack snacks for shore excursions

It’s a good idea to pack a snack with you while on a shore excursion in Alaska, which may be further out into nature and more active than what you normally book on a Caribbean cruise. Packing granola bars, trail mix, or even the small boxes of cereal you can get with room service is recommended to ensure you don’t get too hungry while on tour.

Always get off the ship

Regardless of how bad the weather outside may be or if you have already visited a port before, always get off the ship when you can. Even if you don’t have anything planned, just walking around the historic port towns can be a nice way to spend a few hours.

If it’s cold and rainy, take shelter in a local seafood restaurant, saloon, coffee shop, or brewery and immerse yourself in the town’s culture while tasting delicious food and drinks.

Packing tips

Bring an all-weather jacket

Even though your Royal Caribbean cruise will take you to Alaska during the warmer months of the year, it can get downright cold (and wet) during your Alaska cruise.

Given its northerly position and varied geography—from mountains and oceans to glaciers and tundra—you can experience several microclimates in a short amount of time, which can mean extreme temperatures in one place, and mild conditions in the next.

There are plenty of great packing choices to consider, but an all-weather jacket is essential to ensure you remain warm and dry in the coldest of temperatures. Here are our top recommendations for the best jacket for an Alaska cruise:

Wear the right shoes

While you may walk around in flip flops in the Caribbean, you probably will not want to do this on an Alaska cruise! Packing the right shoes to fit Alaska’s terrain and shore excursion opportunities is essential to ensure you remain comfortable during your vacation.

The proper footwear to bring ultimately depends on what you plan to do while in port. Sneakers or other closed toed shoes are the most recommended footwear, especially those that are water-resistant. Rain is extremely common in Alaska, so having footwear that will not make your feet cold and wet is important.

Rugged hiking boots are not totally necessary unless you plan to do a lot of hiking while in Alaska. For walking around Alaska’s towns and visiting popular spots like Mendenhall Glacier, sneakers should suffice

Bring binoculars

Alaska is all about what you see around you, and often the very best of Alaska's natural beauty and wildlife is best seen through a pair of binoculars.

You do not need to go crazy with the fanciest binoculars on the market, but being able to zoom in on a bald eagle resting, or sea lions swimming is worth every penny you spend on binoculars.

On our recent Alaska cruise onboard Ovation of the Seas, we purchased these binoculars and found them to be a great budget option. 

Wear layers

Layers are key when it comes to packing for an Alaska cruise. Weather can change rapidly and several times throughout the day, so it’s important to be prepared with layers of clothing you can take on and off while in port or onboard.

In general, there are three layers to pack:

  • Base layer: t-shirt and jeans
  • Warm layer: Fleece or down jacket/sweater
  • Waterproof layer: Thin waterproof jacket suitable for when it rains

It can actually get fairly warm in Alaska during the day in the summer, so having a few t-shirts and even a pair of shorts can be a good idea.

Pack accessories

Outside of layers, remember to pack accessories for your Alaska cruise. Hats, gloves, and sunglasses are all important items to bring with you to ensure you stay warm in the chilliest temperatures you may encounter.

While you may picture rainy, cloudy days in Alaska, you’ll be surprised at how helpful sunglasses can be on sunny days. Not only is the sun shining down on you, but light will be reflected from glaciers and snow, making sunglasses really nice to have access to.

Buy lightly used clothing

If buying an all-new wardrobe sounds expensive, consider buying clothes on a website like eBay.  A quality jacket is an especially costly item, but buying a gently used one from eBay can save lots, especially for kids.

Additionally, check if there are any used outdoor gear stores in your area. These consignment stores can be an excellent place to find quality outdoor clothing at a lower price.

Don’t pack too many clothes

Packing for an Alaska cruise can feel overwhelming. From puffy jackets to rain gear, boots, dress clothes, and swimsuits, it can be easy to fill up a large suitcase with apparel fit for Alaska’s unpredictable weather.

A big lesson we learned from cruising to Alaska is to pack much less than you think (while still packing the essentials, of course). As the weather in Alaska is colder than on a Caribbean cruise, for example, you may find that your clothes stay cleaner much longer. You may also find yourself wearing nearly the same exact outfit each day in port, as well. 

Remember that you can do laundry

If you’re concerned over not packing enough or what you’ll do if clothes get dirty on a shore excursion, remember that all Royal Caribbean ships offer laundry service onboard. While self-service laundry is not available, you can choose to have a full bag of laundry washed and folded for $35.99 per bag.

While it isn’t the cheapest laundry service in the world, the convenience of washing clothes midway through the cruise and packing lighter can be worth the cost.

Bring a waterproof or water-resistant daypack

While it’s always a good idea to take a daypack ashore, it is especially important to do so when visiting Alaska. You’re going to need somewhere to put your sweatshirt when it gets too warm or your phone when it starts to rain.

Bringing a waterproof or water-resistant daypack with you to Alaska will ensure that your belongings are protected while exploring, rain or shine.

Don’t pack an umbrella

Despite the rain, do not pack an umbrella. Instead, make sure there’s a hood on your all-weather jacket. A hood takes up far less space than an umbrella, leaving more room for your gear and adventure essentials.

Don’t forget a swimsuit

Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit in your suitcase. Even though you’ll encounter colder weather than you are used to on a tropical cruise, the ships Royal Caribbean sends to Alaska tend to have an indoor pool or adults-only Solarium along with jacuzzis.

While you might not spend as much time in the pool as you would in the Caribbean, relaxing in the hot tub on a chilly morning or evening in Alaska can be extremely relaxing.

Quantum Class ships cruising to Alaska offer an indoor pool for all ages in addition to an indoor adults-only Solarium. Radiance Class ships have an indoor pool, but it’s only for ages 16+ as it is located in the Solarium. Jacuzzis are available on both ships.

Remember to pack clothes for onboard the ship

In between packing your down jacket, sweaters, raincoats, and gloves, remember to pack clothes to wear onboard the cruise ship as well. Dinner outfits, formal wear, loungewear, and pajamas are all important to pack for an Alaska cruise.

An expensive camera is not necessary

While some travel guides recommend bringing a fancy camera on an Alaska cruise to capture the state’s scenery, this is not totally necessary. If you have a phone with a great camera, don’t worry about purchasing an expensive camera to use on the cruise. A relatively new iPhone or Android will have fantastic picture quality that you can use to capture your cruise memories.

If you enjoy taking photos and are planning to invest in a new camera, though, Alaska is certainly a great spot to bring a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Remember to pack wide angle and telephoto lenses!

Bonus tips!

Book the North Star and RipCord by iFLY

If you’re sailing on a Quantum Class ship to Alaska, such as Quantum of the Seas or Ovation of the Seas, you’ll likely want to experience two of the ships’ most exciting onboard activities: the North Star (observation pod) and RipCord by iFLY (indoor skydiving).

It’s important to reserve these activities in advance to not only ensure you can try the activity onboard, but to reserve the best time, day, and price that works for you.

Both the North Star and RipCord by iFLY have complimentary and extra-cost options. Complimentary spots for the North Star are available when the ship is in port, but cost extra on sea days ($29.99) or when the ship is visiting a glacier ($49.99). RipCord by iFLY has a 1-minute complimentary flight option or a longer, 2-minute flight available for $49.99.

Just like entertainment, open the Royal Caribbean app as soon as you get onboard to reserve a time slot for these two activities.

Buy forgotten items in port

If you forget a piece of clothing like a waterproof coat or sweatshirt, don’t fret! There are plenty of souvenir shops available at each Alaskan port which offer a variety of clothing to fit any weather condition you encounter.

Plus, most of the clothing you will find in souvenir shops will be branded with “Alaska” or the port’s name, making it a great souvenir to take home with you.

What to wear on a Mediterranean cruise

17 May 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

For those who have never cruised to the Mediterranean or traveled to Europe before, packing for a Mediterranean cruise can seem stressful.

Family visiting Rome

Whether bringing clothing comfortable enough to walk around historic cities, modest enough to wear into churches, and dressy enough to dine at chic restaurants, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

In reality, however, there are only a few key differences to note between packing for a beach-centric Caribbean cruise and a Mediterranean cruise. From swapping flip flops for sneakers to packing nicer, fashionable outfits, here are our main tips and tricks to remember when packing for your Mediterranean cruise.

Comfortable walking shoes

Cruising to the Mediterranean can entail a lot of walking. It’s not unheard of for guests to walk several miles a day while exploring their ports of call. Therefore, packing a pair of sneakers or other comfortable shoes is essential to ensure you don’t get any painful blisters.

As far as closed-toed shoes, it’s not necessary to pack bulky tennis shoes that you would wear to the gym. Instead, casual yet comfortable shoes are recommended. Slip-on shoes, such as Toms, are comfortable enough to walk in all day, yet still appear sleek enough to fit in in a variety of destinations on your port day, such as in restaurants, museums, and even the beach.

If you’re traveling to Europe in the peak of summer, though, you may prefer sandals. Pick sandals wisely, as it’s important to get a durable pair of sandals for a trip to Europe. Many streets in the Mediterranean are made from cobblestone, and walking in loose flip flops or thin sandals can easily get uncomfortable over the course of the day. Look for sandals with a durable sole and ankle strap for maximum comfort and reliability.

If you’re buying a brand new pair of shoes for your Mediterranean cruise, regardless of whether they are sneakers or sandals, be sure to walk around in them for a day or two before your cruise to ensure they are comfortable.

What shoes to NOT pack: While you may see European women walking around cobblestone streets in heels, these would not be the most comfortable shoes to wear for a full-day exploring port.

Breathable, light fabrics

The weather at Mediterranean ports, especially in the peak of summer, can get pretty hot. Cotten, linen, and other breathable fabrics are recommended. As a rule of thumb, if an article of clothing is comfortable to wear in the peak of summer back at home, it will probably be good to pack for a Mediterranean cruise.

Sundresses, rompers, and flowy shorts tend to be comfortable yet fashionable clothing for women while exploring the Mediterranean. Men may want to pack shorts or lightweight pants as well as t-shirts and light button up shirts.

Casual yet nice clothing

Europeans take pride in dressing nicely, with a fashion-sense that is, on average, more formal than what visitors from places like the United States or Canada may be used to, especially those who are used to cruising in the Caribbean.

The standard dress at Caribbean cruise ports tends to be extremely casual. Shorts, flip flops, and a tie-dye t-shirt from home is normal and acceptable. On a Mediterranean cruise, though, it’s smart to dress a bit more neatly.

During your port day in the Mediterranean, you may find yourself in a variety of settings, all with varying dress codes. From churches to restaurants, museums, and the beach, it’s smart to be prepared with the right outfit.

Men may want to wear well-fitted, nice t-shirts or short sleeved button ups as opposed to old and baggy shirts. Instead of athletic shorts, opt for a nicer pair.

Women have a little more flexibility in terms of casual yet fashionable clothing. Lightweight sundresses, patterned shorts with a solid shirt, capris, a fitted t-shirt, and summer jumpsuits can all be great outfits on a Mediterranean cruise.

A great way to plan outfit ideas is by thinking of what you would wear to a semi-formal summer party back home. If you wouldn’t wear a wrinkled tie-dye t-shirt over stretchy athletic shorts, this probably isn’t the best outfit for a European cruise, either.

Pack appropriately if you plan to visit churches

Churches in the Mediterranean tend to have their own dress codes.

Those visiting Vatican City, for example, should have their shoulders and knees covered at all times during the visit. Offensive tattoos or apparel with slogans should not be visible and hats and caps must be removed prior to entrance. Generally, shorts, dresses, and skirts are allowed as long as they are at least knee-length.

A good rule of thumb is to wear what you would wear to church back home. If a crop top, flip flops, and booty shorts aren’t permitted at your local church, don’t wear this to a church in Europe, either.

You can always pack a change of clothes in your daypack if you're worried it might be too hot to walk around in the same clothing you wear into churches.

Purses and daypacks

Port days in the Mediterranean tend to be long, so it’s helpful to have a nice daypack or purse to carry your belongings in throughout the day. Choosing the perfect bag, though, requires a few more considerations than simply picking the first backpack you see.

While Europe is a safe destination for travelers, pickpocketing is not unheard of in major tourist areas, much like any other destination in the world. Be cautious of putting your phone or wallet in your back pocket, and choose a day bag wisely.

For ladies, consider a crossbody purse that you can wear from one shoulder to the opposite hip. This is a secure purse as it cannot easily fall off your body, and you can even place your hand over the crossbody bag while in busy environments like markets or the subway for added security.

If you prefer a larger backpack, consider a daypack with a “secret” back pocket. This is a backpack that has a zippered pocket at the back of the bag. As this pocket is against your back when walking, your valuables (passport, wallet, etc.) remain secure.

Cruise attire

Aside from packing the perfect outfits to wear in port, it’s important to remember to pack for your time onboard as well. Onboard attire on a Mediterranean cruise will be similar to any other cruise, with casual attire during the day and nicer outfits for the evening.

Mediterranean weather should remain quite comfortable throughout the summer, although it’s a good idea to pack a lightweight jacket or cardigan in case of chilly weather in the morning and evenings while onboard. Likewise, those traveling to the Mediterranean in shoulder season will want to pack more warm-weather clothing like pants, long sleeve shirts, and jackets.

Read more about what the weather looks like on a Mediterranean cruise month by month here.

What not to wear

Now that you have an idea of what to wear while on a Mediterranean cruise, what clothing items should you avoid?

Truthfully, there is no clothing item you necessarily have to avoid wearing on a European cruise that you would wear at home. There may be certain items that are unusual to wear among Europeans and clothing that will make you stick out as being from a certain location, but whether or not this matters to you is a personal choice.

You will stick out as a tourist when wearing items not usually worn by Europeans, including apparel with American sports team logos, American flags, camouflage patterned clothing, baseball caps, and workout apparel such as leggings.

This doesn’t mean you cannot wear these items, and you’ll see many tourists dressed like this, but it will make you stick out much more compared to wearing more neutral, neat clothing.

You may hear that Europeans don’t wear shorts or sneakers, but this is generally false information. You’ll see plenty of Europeans wearing shorts, particularly in cities near the coast. Sneakers are common as well, with brands like Adidas, Reebok, and Nike popular with Europeans throughout the Mediterranean.

More on the Mediterranean

The top problems Royal Caribbean is facing as it returns to full capacity

16 May 2022
Matt Hochberg

It's incredible to see how much progress Royal Caribbean has made in less than a year with its restart plans, but there are still a handful of issues the cruise line is working through.

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

Royal Caribbean is on the brink of having the last ship in the fleet restart operations (Rhapsody of the Seas), which is an important milestone for a company that was decimated by a "black swan" event in the form of the global health crisis.

While the cruise experience has improved rapidly with higher guest satisfaction scores, more ships back in service, and rolled back Covid protocols, there are still a few notable issues that Royal Caribbean is tackling.

It's important to note that these issues are not just Royal Caribbean problems. Nearly every form of travel leisure has their fair share of challenges. The reason why I'm bringing these issues up is to help anyone with a cruise manage expectations properly.

Cruise ship docked in Miami

There has been many bumps on the road to Royal Caribbean's restart, but they've been able to navigate them well, and it stands to reason these issues are likely temporary as well.

Here are the challenges Royal Caribbean has to tackle at the moment, which anyone with a cruise this summer should be aware of.

Covid cases

Covid isn't gone by any means, and that means there are still Covid cases on cruise ships.

To be fair, there's always been some level of Covid cases on any Royal Caribbean sailing, but Royal Caribbean's protocols have limited the spread to ensure it doesn't become a ship-wide problem.

Covid cases are going to be an ongoing problem for a while, just like every facet of life.  Just like in society, we're learning to live with it, but that doesn't mean there won't be cases popping up onboard.

Based on reader feedback, it seems guests are reporting seeing or experiencing Covid cases on individual sailings and it's almost certainly a reflection of a general rise in Covid cases around the world right now.

YouTube vloggers Travel Spree unfortunately caught Covid and had to be isolated while on their Symphony of the Seas cruise.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog message board user anxiouscruiser shared their experience testing positive for Covid while onboard Serenade of the Seas, "it sucks but I knew the risk when I chose to cruise. I just wish it didn't happen to us."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly review, there has been a week-on-week increase in the number of counties with high levels of COVID-19. As of May 11, 2022, the current 7-day moving average of daily new cases (84,778) increased 30.7% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (64,863).

Vision of the Seas sailing away

In short, more Covid cases in society is going to likely translate to more Covid cases onboard cruise ships. Unlike on land, cruise ships at least have requirements and protocols that do their best to mitigate the spread of Covid.

What this all means is you should be cognizant of the fact there are more Covid cases, and take whatever precautions you deem fit. Perhaps that's wearing a N95 mask while indoors, or changing shore excursion plans to prioritize outdoor tours.

Staff shortages

Schooner Bar on Radiance of the Seas

Every company is dealing with not enough workers, and that includes cruise ships.

On some ships, certain venues or forms of entertainment are not yet open so that they can better utilize crew members. In other cases, there may simply not be enough crew members to manage every situation that can arise.

There's an interesting message board thread discussing the general issue on the Royal Caribbean Blog message boards.

While many guests are understanding of the general problems all business have in hiring, they also feel moving to full capacity with less than a full compliment of crew causes guest satisfaction problems, "I think we all understand the troubles of staffing right now, but Royal Caribbean should match their ships capacity with their staffing.," said carlosalonsor.

"I think Royal Caribbean just found it a bit harder to staff up than they expected to," smokeybandit opined. "For those who do want to return, lots of red tape to get them on board again. Then there are those who have found a happy life off a ship or those that are just hesitant to return for various reasons."

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Robert Joseph Dulo shared a similar issue with staffing shortages on Explorer of the Seas last week, "The staff and the ship could not handle the capacity with many service and food issues."

"I left them detailed survey responses and hope they look closely at them as my experience was similar to others that I talked to. I hope they make the appropriate changes or they will start to lose cruisers, especially me. They seemed to not be ready for higher capacity."

Even if Royal Caribbean could snap their fingers and hire everyone they need right now, there's still the issue of visa delays, quarantine rules in some countries, vaccine requirements, and more.

The good news is Royal Caribbean is indeed trying to hire as many new crew members as they can, with recruitment drives in countries around the world. It does not appear to be a problem the cruise line is not aware of by any means.

In the meantime, bring extra patience with you, along with sunscreen, a camera, and a good book.

Supply chain problems

Bottles of liquor

Tangentially related to the first two issues, you may run into certain items not available onboard your cruise.

Primarily, we've seen this in the past in the form of certain brands of liquors not available. Remember the CocoCay-branded beer? That was an early victim of supply chain issues.

Bottles of liquor at a bar

Just like staffing problems, this is not likely an issue that will go away overnight. In its first quarter 2022 earnings, Royal Caribbean Group said they're managing supply chain challenges, mainly related to fuel and food costs.

In my experience, how much of an impact it has on your sailing will greatly depend on which brands of types of food and drink you prefer, as well as general demand onboard. Each sailing has a different assortment of guests onboard, and the ships are doing their best to supply accordingly.

What this means for your cruise?

AquaTheater suite on Wonder of the Seas

After reading about these issues, what should your takeaway be for an upcoming sailing?

Certainly the problems Royal Caribbean is facing are the sort of things the company has to mitigate and address in order to improve, but if your cruise is coming up in the next few weeks, it's possible it could impact your cruise.

At a minimum, it's food for thought. Throughout the restart of cruise operations, there have been hurdles for passengers to navigate. So while today's problems are a concern, it's not like there haven't been things Royal Caribbean has overcome in the past year.

It may also be an opportunity to gauge how comfortable you are with embracing a certain level of flexibility. Nothing is perfect, including cruise ships, so if the prospect of your favorite liquor not being available, or a longer wait for drinks at bar truly irks you, then perhaps you should put off your cruise until the situation improves.

As cruise fans, we love this kind of a vacation and no one ever wants to be disappointed. It's why I think it's critical to be as honest and up-front with what others are seeing so we can all make the right decision to sail or not.

The sort of problems Royal Caribbean has are also being dealt with at plenty of other land-based travel destinations. So the grass is not greener necessarily elsewhere.  But that doesn't mean a cruise right now is superb either.

An educated consumer tends to have a better experience overall, and this article is intended to ensure you are up-to-date with what's happening.

Local’s guide of what to do in Juneau, Alaska

16 May 2022
Mollie Breese

Alaska's state capital is chock full of adventure. As one of the state's largest cruise and airport hubs, Juneau has established itself as a tourist destination.

Juneau aerial view

Tucked beneath towering mountains, this city offers something for everyone while taking an Alaska cruise. Whether you want to stroll down the historic streets of downtown, toss out a line in a picturesque inlet, or climb aboard a floatplane to view glaciers from the sky – Juneau has it all. 

Mollie is a resident of Alaska, who has spent many years visiting everything her state has to offer, including extensive visits throughout Southeast Alaska.

You can easily find recommendations for top things to do or see in this bustling Alaskan community, but we're going to take you off the beaten path. In this guide, I will provide you with a list of top places to visit in Juneau from a local's perspective. 

5. Spend an Afternoon on South Franklin Street (Downtown Juneau)

Juneau street

Juneau boomed during the late 1800s. Thanks to the discovery of gold, miners, traders, swindlers, and more made the trek north to America's Last Frontier. Fishing villages quickly transformed into bustling cities (Well, cities by Alaska standards), and many of the old buildings still stand today. 

Walking around Juneau's downtown is like stepping back into a time machine to the 1890s. Visitors can head towards South Franklin Street to reach the heart of the historic area. The wide sidewalks and quaint buildings have played host to a variety of shops and restaurants throughout the ages. The multitude of stores carries souvenirs, local Alaskan crafts, fine arts, books on Alaskan history and nature, and handmade jewelry. 

Franklin Street

The downtown area is easily accessible by foot to the main cruise ship port. During your shopping experience, be sure to pop over to Marine Park with your binoculars to take a peek at Mount Juneau.

This is a popular spot to see mountain goats, especially in the late summer when their white coats stand out against the green landscape. 

Mt Roberts Tramway

Local Tip: If it's sunny, be sure to catch a ride to the top of Mount Roberts via the Mount Roberts Tramway.

While this trip isn't worth it on a cloudy day, the views are unparalleled on a clear day. Be sure to pack extra layers. It is often much windier or colder at the top.

Top 10 things to do in Juneau, Alaska | Royal Caribbean Blog

You can also hike to the top if you're feeling more adventurous. The trail from downtown is 6 miles round trip and takes about 2-3 hours (depending on stops). You can also hike to the top and ride down (or vice versa).

Treat yourself to a beer at the tram's bar, and the ride down is free! 

4. Visit the Touch Tank at the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Hatchery

Touch tanks. Photo by DIPAC

The Douglas Island Pink and Chum Hatchery (DIPAC) is a great place to learn, view, and touch the sea life that inhabits the waters around Juneau and southeastern Alaskan. This hatchery is crucial to maintaining salmon populations, but it also offers a variety of great activities for visitors eager to learn more about the infamous salmon run and other wildlife. 

If you're visiting between July and September, the hatchery is one of the best places in the area to view the salmon run. Head over to the Ladd Macaulay Visitor, situated inside of the hatcher, to watch this natural phenomenon unfold. 

In season, salmon surge up the hatchery's fish ladder. At times, the run is so thick that you could walk across the water on their backs (Of course, this activity is not allowed. But you get the picture). This is also one of the best spots to watch bald eagles fish the waters. With the salmon so thick, eagles are almost guaranteed to snag a meal on each dive. 

Salmon viewing window. Photo by DIPAC

The hatchery also has viewing windows where you can watch the salmon struggle upstream beneath the surface. Education signs will help you identify which species of salmon you're viewing. 

If you're visiting outside of the salmon season, there is still plenty to see and do. DIPAC's touch tanks invite both the young and old to get close to Alaskan beautiful sea critters. You can touch urchins, crabs, sea stars, and sea cucumbers, and staff is available to educate curious visitors. There is also a salmon rearing facility and aquarium onsite, where salmon and other marine life can be viewed year-round. 

3. Drive to Echo Cove

Glacier Highway

Juneau can only be accessed by plane or boat, but that doesn't mean there aren't any roads in the area.

There are approximately 250 miles of road throughout the city and borough of Juneau, with stretches of road extending out into the beautiful wilderness surrounding the city.

One of the best stretches of road extends out of downtown Juneau to Echo Cove via the Glacier Highway. This 80-mile round trip offers visitors the chance to hike and view wildlife at their own pace. 

Glacier highway

Car rentals are available throughout the Juneau area, with many offering pick-up services at the cruise ship port. Be sure to pack a lunch, water, sunscreen, and bug spray for this journey, as services are few and far between outside of the city.

This drive can easily fill up a day with all of the scenic viewpoints and trails along the route, or you can opt to camp along the road if you are staying in Juneau longer. 

Eagle Beach

Here are some of my favorite stops along this drive: 

  • Eagle Beach - This beach offers great views of Lynn Canal, the Chilkat and Juneau Mountains, and plenty of easy hiking trails. This is also a great vantage point to see humpback whales from the shore. 
  • Jensen-Olsen Arboretum - An idyllic public garden that is a miniature version of the famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia
  • The National Shrine of St. Therese – a historic landmark about 20 miles outside of Juneau. This stop has a beach stone chapel, spanning views, and quiet gardens. There is also a gift shop and lodge onsite. 

Local Tip: Do a portion of this drive at sunrise or sunset (assuming your ship is there late enough).

This is when wildlife is more active, and you are more likely to catch sight of a fox, wolf, or bear along the route. The lighting also makes for dramatic landscapes as a backdrop for your photos. 

2. Go Bear Viewing on Admiralty Island

Pack creek

Juneau is home to both black and coastal brown bears. Both of these species of bears can be viewed in and around Juneau, especially when out on the road. In the late summer, both bears are a common sight in salmon streams and berry bushes. Due to their dense population, it is always recommended to carry bear spray and a small blow horn when hiking or exploring. Both are easily available in the downtown shops and outfitters in Juneau. 

If you're heading to Juneau to catch sight of the infamous grizzly, there is no better place than at Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area on Admiralty Island. While black bears can average around 400 pounds, their distant cousins, the coastal brown bear, can weigh more than 1,000 pounds. Brown bears are Grizzlies, but they are considerably larger than the grizzlies found in the interior. That is thanks to a rich diet of salmon, berries, and other fatty-riched foods that are readily available along the Alaskan coast. 

While both species co-exist elsewhere, Admiralty Island is home to only the brown bear. It is estimated that around 1,600 brown bears call Admiralty Island home, making it one of the densest populations of brown bears in the world. 

Pack Creek bear

The Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area is situated inside the Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary. This sanctuary is only accessible by boat or plane, so most visitors catch a 30-minute floatplane ride from Juneau. The sanctuary is open from June 1 through September 10, with the peak season occurring from July 5 through August 25. During the peak season, visitors are limited to 25 per a day. 

A permit is required to visit the sanctuary, with half of the permits available for public purchase. Due to the difficulty in reaching the sanctuary and securing a permit, I recommend booking a bear guide to solve both of these problems. Bear guides are also knowledgeable in bear behavior and help keep you safe while you observe these majestic animals in the wild. 

While this isn’t a local secret, this is one of the best places to view brown bears en masse in Alaska.

Bear warning sign

But don’t worry if you can’t swing a permit here. Black bears are numerous throughout Juneau and out on the road, and brown bears are incredibly common throughout mainland Alaska.

When visiting Alaska, it is never if you see a bear, but when. 

1. Take a Guided Kayak Trip to Mendenhall Lake

6 mistakes & 3 things we did right on our Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska | Royal Caribbean Blog

Juneau is a water destination. Surrounded by islands with countless inlets and glacier lakes, this is a water lover's dream destination. One of the most spectacular trips is a voyage along Mendenhall Lake to Mendenhall Glacier. 

Visitors can opt for a guided kayak tour to Mendenhall Lake, where you can kayak between floating icebergs and experience the serenity of Tongass National Forest for the water. The tours allow paddlers to view the glacier from a safe distance while learning more about the history and nature of the region from the experienced guide. Keep an eye out for otters, beavers, and bears, as they are frequent visitors along the banks of Mendenhall Lake.

Top 10 things to do in Juneau, Alaska | Royal Caribbean Blog

Permits are required to paddle close to the glacier, so opting for a guide makes this journey easier and safer. Guides also supply all the gear needed. While some fitness level is needed to participate in the 2-hour adventure, visitors do not need to be kayak experts. Guides provide kayaking tips and lessons, and the lake remains calm on sunny days. 

If kayaking sounds too extreme, visitors can also enjoy Mendenhall Glacier on a charter cruise. Helicopter tours are also often if you want to see the glacier from the sky. Both of these experiences are easier physically, but they lack the serenity found only with a paddle. 

Nugget falls

Local Tip: If you're under a time restraint, you can also view the glacier from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

If you have longer to explore, consider a hike to Nugget Falls from the visitor center. This trail will bring you close to the glacier as well as to the viewing point of Nugget Falls, a 377-foot waterfall plummeting into the lake.

Simply look for signs from the visitor center pointing to the falls. The 2-mile hike is level and on gravel, making it the perfect option for families. 

More Alaska information

How to link Royal Caribbean cruise reservations together

16 May 2022
Haley Mills

If you're going on a Royal Caribbean cruise with close friends or family, you might want to link your reservations together.

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

Linking reservations is an optional feature to make dining arrangements a little bit easier.

Here's a look at the why and how of linking reservations on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Why link reservations?

Main dining room table

In short, linking reservations together means you can more easily facilitate dining reservations, especially in the main dining room.

Every stateroom has a reservation number, and there is no inherit way for Royal Caribbean to know guests staying in one cabin want to dine with guests in another cabin. This is especially true of families that split up among different cabins.

Royal Caribbean makes cruising fun for families and groups of all sizes, but that usually means there are multiple reservations involved. Since you’re traveling together, it makes sense that you would want to eat together in the dining room and plan excursions together.

Spa facial

Or maybe you have someone really generous in your group who is paying for your drink package, or wants to surprise you with a spa day! 

In addition, linking reservations allows for an easier time of booking entertainment since you won't have to look up the reservations later.

It's an extra step that makes planning other aspects of the cruise a little bit easier when your travelling party is spread across more than one cabin.

How to find my reservation number

Before you can link a reservation with yours, you will need some basic information about each person's reservation:

  • Reservation number
  • Last name
  • Date of birth

The most common issue for anyone that wants to link reservations is finding their reservation number.

There are a few ways to find your reservation number, so it's just a matter of whatever is easier for you.

You can find that by logging into your Royal Caribbean account. I find that it is easiest to do this on an actual computer, rather than the mobile app.

After logging in, the reservation number should be listed with every cruise you have booked.

Other ways to get the reservation number include:

  • Look at your invoice you received when you booked the cruise
  • Call Royal Caribbean or your travel and ask for the number

How to link reservations

8 Things I learned on my first Royal Caribbean cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Once you're ready, you can link reservations together in one of three ways:

  • Have your travel agent do it for you
  • Call Royal Caribbean and have them do it
  • Do it yourself online

In the case of a travel agent or going through Royal Caribbean, this requires you to simply contact either one to make it happen.

If you want to do this on your own, you and them can log onto the Royal Caribbean website.

Just below your reservation information, you should see a button that says Have a Reservation? Click the blue Add a Cruise button.

This will take you to the Link A Cruise page. It will ask you for the Surname (Last Name) of the person you want to link, their date of birth, and their reservation number. Click Continue.

From there, it should locate their reservation and give you the option to link their reservation with your cruise!

Now you are all set! Your Main Dining Room table reservations will be set together. You’ll also have access to each other so that you can pay for each other’s excursions and other Cruise Planner items.

For example, my husband and I are traveling with his sister in November, and we are trading off paying for some of the fun things we are planning on board. Linking our reservations has made that super easy! Have fun and get to planning!

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 15, 2022

15 May 2022
Matt Hochberg

Stay up-to-date with all the Royal Caribbean news from this week with our roundup of all this week's news.

Could Icon of the Seas be even bigger than the Oasis Class cruise ships?

Icon of the Seas plaque

One Royal Caribbean executive recently said Icon of the Seas will be the largest ship when she debuts next year.

Sean Treacy, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, said, "Icon will be the biggest. It launches in the fall of next year."

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 454th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, which explains how and why to book a cruise onboard.

NextCruise is where you can go on your ship to book another cruise. Matt details what you need to know about booking a cruise onboard.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

15 reasons to book a cruise on Oasis of the Seas

There are a few different Oasis Class cruise ships, but the original is still a great choice to sail on.

Oasis of the Seas was upgraded in 2019 and offers plenty to see and do onboard. In fact, we came up with 15 reasons to book a cruise on Oasis of the Seas.

8 mocktails to try on your next Royal Caribbean cruise

Need a recommendation for a great non-alcoholic drink to try on your cruise?

There are lots of possibilities, but we have a list of 8 must-try mocktails when you go on your next cruise.

Where to eat like a local on your Alaska cruise

Scottish egg encased in longanisa and a loco moco with adobo gravy

Besides seeing the amazing sights of Alaska, there are some great places to eat and have a drink.

Our in-house Alaska expert shares her top picks for food, beers, cocktails, or coffee at each stop along your Alaska cruise.

Why Freedom of the Seas is a great choice for a short cruise

Ever thought about taking a weekend cruise?

Freedom of the Seas sails short 3-night cruises from Miami, and here's why Freedom of the Seas is a great option for a cruise vacation.