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What's included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare

In:
01 Mar 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If you’re going on a Royal Caribbean cruise, you might be wondering what aspects of the cruise experience are included in the cruise fare.  There are a lot of components to any cruise vacation and it can seem overwhelming to distinguish between what is and is not included in the base fare.

Royal Caribbean includes a lot of activities, food, entertainment, and destinations in your cruise fare. When you consider all that the base fare includes, a cruise can be a fantastic vacation value.

Over the years, though, Royal Caribbean realized some of its guests prefer to add extras on to their core cruise experience. As a result, Royal Caribbean created cruise add-ons like specialty dining packages, drink packages, fitness classes, and more. These add-ons come at an extra fee on top of the cruise fare.

It can be helpful to have an idea of what is and is not included in your Royal Caribbean cruise to make your time at sea and in port stress-free. Here’s a breakdown of what is and is not included in your cruise fare.

Accommodations

Accommodations are included in your cruise fare, with a stateroom exclusively for your use. 

Depending on which type of stateroom you book, the exact size, amenities and layout of the room will vary.  But at the very least, your cruise fare includes your own private room and bathroom.

In general, staterooms can accommodate between one and four guests, with two guests per room being the most common option.

Gratuities

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean have two choices when it comes to gratuities for service-oriented crew onboard. They may elect to prepay gratuities prior to the cruise, or have gratuities automatically charged on a daily basis to their SeaPass account. Cruise fares in some countries, such as Australia, include the gratuities with your cruise fare.

As of March 3, 2022, guests will pay a $14.50 per guest, per day service charge. For guests in a Grand Suite or above, the amount is $17.50 per guest, per day.

Purchases and services rendered onboard a Royal Caribbean ship will have gratuities added at the time of purchase.  If you buy a drink, get a massage at the spa, or eat at a specialty restaurant, you will be charged an 18% gratuity automatically.  Your receipt will display the cost breakdown.

Drink packages and specialty dining packages will be charged an automatic gratuity upon purchase of the package, which means no additional gratuity is required when taking advantage of the package benefits (i.e. ordering a drink at a bar with a drink package).

In addition to the gratuities listed earlier, there are opportunities to give crew members an additional tip for excellent service.  Even crew members who receive an automatic gratuity can receive additional gratuities if you feel it is warranted.

Meals & Snacks

All Royal Caribbean cruise fares include most meals and snacks onboard your ship and at any private destination you visit (such as Labadee or CocoCay).  This means there will be ample opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks without additional cost.

The exact venues included with your cruise fare will depend on the ship you sail on, but here are some venues found on nearly every Royal Caribbean ship:

  • Main Dining Room, the hub of dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It is open for breakfast and dinner every day, and for lunch on sea days.
  • Windjammer buffet, Royal Caribbean’s signature buffet featuring a wide assortment of cuisines, dishes, and flavors. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
  • Solarium Bistro, a Mediterranean-style restaurant open for breakfast and dinner on Oasis and Quantum Class ships
  • Grab and go spots for food, such as Cafe Promenade, El Loco Fresh, Sorrento's Pizza, Boardwalk Dog House, Park Cafe, Cafe @ Two70, etc. These are casual venues with quick service meals, and the selection of grab and go venues changes by ship.
  • Johnny Rockets (for breakfast on Oasis Class ships only)

There is an extensive amount of complimentary dining options on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It’s easy to go an entire cruise by eating at only the restaurants included in your cruise fare. Plus, Royal Caribbean maintains excellent food quality in all of its dining venues, complimentary or specialty.

You may find a few extra cost items on the Main Dining Room menu, such as a filet or lobster.  These items are available for free on cruise ship formal nights during your cruise, but come at an extra cost on other nights.

Royal Caribbean offers its guests pizza at some of its restaurants and buffets, as well as at Sorrento’s on the larger ships. Pizza at these locations is included in your cruise fare.

Soft serve ice cream can be found near the pool deck and is in operation for most of the day. The Windjammer and Main Dining Room also offer their own selection of hand-scooped ice cream.  Some Royal Caribbean ships offer Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which has an additional cost.

In addition to complimentary dining, Royal Caribbean offers specialty restaurants which come at an extra cost. Specialty restaurants follow either a cover charge or a la carte pricing model.

Here is a list of the specialty restaurants in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.  Specialty restaurants vary per ship, with some smaller ships offering 2-3 specialty venues and large ships offering up to 7 or 8 different restaurants.

  • Johnny Rockets, Americana fare with burgers, fries, and milkshakes
  • Chops Grille, the classic Royal Caribbean steakhouse
  • Giovanni's Table, a traditional Italian restaurant
  • Sabor, a Mexican-style restaurant with a tequila bar and build-your-own tacos
  • Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a Japanese teppanyaki and sushi restaurant
  • Jamie's Italian, a modern take at Italian cuisine
  • Samba Grill, an all-you-can-eat-meat Brazilian rodizio
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, modern Italian cuisine featuring a pizza and pasta menu
  • Wonderland, a unique, molecular dining experience themed by the tales of Alice and Wonderland
  • Portside BBQ, with a selection of barbecued meats and comfort food like mac and cheese, cornbread, and baked beans
  • Chef's Table, a 6-course tasting menu where each course is paired with a different type of wine
  • 150 Central Park, an elegant venue focused on locally-sourced ingredients
  • Hooked Seafood, a seafood restaurant with oysters, fish sandwiches, lobster rolls, and more
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, a sports bar with standard bar food including nachos, burgers, and chicken wings
  • The Mason Jar, a southern style restaurant with separate brunch and dinner menus

Specialty restaurants offer cuisine options not otherwise available onboard your ship, as well as an opportunity to indulge in meals that you may prefer to enjoy at your own pace. 

In addition, the ambiance is usually enhanced at these locations and the prices charged are not exorbitant. Even though Royal Caribbean’s complimentary dining options are very good, specialty restaurants can be a great way to enhance or splurge on your cruise. Dining at specialty restaurants can also be a nice way to celebrate a special occasion.

Drinks

Royal Caribbean provides a selection of beverages included in your cruise fare.  These drinks are available at any time, and include tap water, tea, coffee, lemonade, iced tea, milk, juices (not fresh squeezed), and hot chocolate.

These drinks are available at a number of locations onboard, such as Cafe Promenade and the Windjammer. Water can be found at any bar onboard as well, and it’s safe to drink the tap water onboard, as it is of high quality.

Alternatively, if you want beverages like alcohol, soda, fresh juices, mocktails, specialty coffee drinks, milkshakes, canned water, and Starbucks, you can purchase them for an additional cost during the cruise.

You can purchase each drink individually or purchase a Royal Caribbean beverage package. There are several types of beverage packages available. A Deluxe Beverage Package gives unlimited access to alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty beverages. A refreshment package includes all beverages without alcohol, and a soda package includes only soda onboard.

Royal Caribbean does allow its guests to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom with them onboard a ship.  It must be brought onboard on embarkation day, and is subject to a corkage fee if opened in a public venue.

Room service

Room service on Royal Caribbean is available 24 hours per day, but there is a $7.95 fee per order, per room. As the fee is per room and not per person or per item, you can order as much as you like off the menu and only incur a $7.95 charge.

The continental breakfast option is complimentary and does not have an order fee. Continental breakfast includes items such as toast, yogurt, fruit, coffee, and oatmeal.

Child programming and care

Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean offers complimentary programming to children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old.  From when Adventure Ocean opens each day until 10pm, there is no additional cost. From 10pm to 2am, Adventure Ocean incurs an hourly cost.

While in Adventure Ocean, kids take part in activities led by the staff. There's a lot for kids to do at Adventure Ocean and the programming is specialized for each age group. It's a mix of learning, play time and socializing.

Select ships have science lab and craft workshop rooms within Adventure Ocean, where kids can participate in staff-led scientific experiments and crafts.

Teens aged 12-17 onboard have access to a complimentary teen club and hangout area.

Children between the ages of 6 months and 36 months old can participate in the Royal Babies & Tots program. Most Royal Caribbean ships offer a nursery, where parents can drop children off throughout the day and evening. Use of the nursery comes at an hourly charge.

Some ships often have an open play area set up during the day, where parents can bring toddlers to play. This is unsupervised play time and the parents must remain present.

Activities and Shows

A vast majority of cruise activities are included with your cruise fare.  Your daily Cruise Compass or the Royal Caribbean app will list a schedule of activities offered onboard, and most have no charge. 

Performances in the Royal Theater, as well as the AquaTheater, Two70, and Studio B are included in your cruise fare. Likewise, comedy shows, magic shows, live music, audience participation shows and more are included as well. Even the Broadway shows on Royal Caribbean ships are included in the price of your cruise.

There will be shows each evening, along with additional performances during the day on sea days. Live music is also included in your cruise fare, which comes in many genres and is offered throughout the day at multiple locations onboard.

Other activities like pool games, movies, trivia, dance classes, and scavenger hunts are regularly offered on Royal Caribbean and have no additional charge.

There are some activities offered that have an additional fee, such as some fitness classes, bingo, casino activities, drink seminars, spa services and more.

Signature activities and games

Royal Caribbean offers fun and unique signature activities onboard its cruise ships, the majority of which are included in your cruise fare.  If you watch any Royal Caribbean cruise commercial, you will inevitably see people tackling the FlowRider, rock climbing wall, skydiving simulator, and more.

Signature activities included in your cruise fare include the FlowRider, rock climbing wall, mini golf, waterslides, zipline, the Ultimate Abyss, sports court, SeaPlex, bumper cars, aqua parks (H20 Zone and Splashaway Bay), and ice skating.

RipCord by iFLY, the skydiving simulator found on Quantum Class ships, has both complimentary and extra cost options available. Complimentary time slots often get reserved quickly, so it’s important to reserve a time slot in the Royal Caribbean app as soon as you get onboard the ship.

Also on Quantum Class ships is the North Star observation pod. This activity is complimentary on port days and comes with an extra cost when the ship is at sea.

Fitness and Spa

Every Royal Caribbean ship has a fitness center that offers cardio and weight lifting machines, free weights, and more for no additional cost. Some, but not all fitness classes are included in your cruise fare, such as stretching and ab workouts.

Each Royal Caribbean ship also has a jogging track, which is available to use throughout the day at no additional cost.

The sports court (referred to as the SeaPlex on Quantum Class ships) also offers complimentary use of its facilities, with organized sport games held throughout the sailing.

Outside of the select few fitness classes included in your cruise fare, the fitness center offers extra fee classes for yoga, spinning, pilates, and more. The fitness center also offers personalized training and consultations for an additional fee.

The spa is not included in your cruise fare, and spa treatments, salon services, and day passes all come with an additional cost.

Some Royal Caribbean ships have a sauna, hot tub and/or steam room available for no additional cost. Others have a thermal spa for which you can purchase a pass.

Tours of the spa are available at any time during your cruise and have no additional cost or obligation. In fact, these tours are a great way to learn about what the spa offers.

Pool and sun decks

Access to Royal Caribbean's pools are included in your cruise fare, including the lounge chairs, hot tubs, water slides, aqua parks and more. The Solarium area has no additional cost, but is limited to adults only.

Some areas of the pool deck are reserved for suite guests only.  If you are a suite guest (Grand Suite and above), you will have complimentary access to these areas.  Depending on the ship, the suites-only area can be a small section of reserved lounge chairs or an entire deck area.

Wonder of the Seas has an entire Suite Neighborhood dedicated for suite guests with its own pool, bar, outdoor hangout area, lounge, and restaurant.

Miscellaneous services

The following services and activities onboard are also not included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare:

  • Gambling (Including Bingo)
  • Art Auction
  • Any purchases made in the gift shops onboard
  • Shore excursions
  • Photographs
  • Video Arcade
  • Medical Services
  • Internet Access
  • Transfers (Unless guest has purchased our air/sea package)
  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services
  • Ship to Shore Telephone calls