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Things you'll notice when cruising on the newest cruise ship

13 Jun 2023
Matt Hochberg

I often say that it's hard to have a bad cruise on a new cruise ship, and a large reason for that thought process is because of how much you can see and do on a new cruise ship.

Wonder of the Seas pool deck

Royal Caribbean's fleet of cruise ships offers ships of different size and age. There's a good reason to try them all, with the newest ships offering some superb experiences that truly stand out.

Of course, a new cruise ship will come with a premium price.  The newest ships have the most demand because of how intriguing they are to the general public. It leaves some people wondering what exactly a new cruise ships gets you and why you'd want to pay extra to sail on a brand new Royal Caribbean cruise ship compared to one that isn't as new.

Regardless of a ship's age, Royal Caribbean does a good job of maintaining its fleet with regular updates and even upgrades to some vessels.

Odyssey of the Seas pool deck

The appeal of the latest and greatest certainly draws in plenty of cruisers, because it represents the very best Royal Caribbean has to offer. When you watch a commercial for Royal Caribbean, inevitably you want to do the same things you see in the commercial, and those are offered on newer ships.

If you've only sailed on older ships, or are simply curious what makes a new ship different from an older ship, there are a few nuances you will notice about a brand new cruise ship when you get onboard.

Updated cabin aesthetics

Connecting rooms

If you think all cruise ships are the same regardless of age, you have to see the cabin of a new ship.

New cruise ships have much more modern aesthetics, and I'd say the look and feel of a new ship cabin mirrors that of a land based hotel much more than older ships cabins.

Royal Caribbean ship cabins on ships built prior to 2014 seem to have a very traditional maritime look to them, and it seemed like the motif for these staterooms was very much the same whether you were on a Radiance or Voyager Class cruise ship.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide

Oceanview balcony cabin on Anthem of the Seas

With the Quantum Class, the look of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship cabin began to change, and since then, it seems Royal Caribbean hasn't been content with delivering the same sort of cabin.

The colors have evolved over the last 10 years, and there's more accents that make your cruise ship cabin look less like a cruise ship cabin.  In my opinion, new ship cabins evoke more of a land resort look to them than older ship cabins did.

Read moreWhat are the different types of cabins on a cruise ship?

Smart TVs

Something else you'll notice in your cabin on a new cruise ship are the televisions.

I certainly don't watch a lot of TV while on a cruise, but when I do, the experience is much more enjoyable on a new TV given the feature set and performance you'll get with them.

Newer Royal Caribbean ships have interactive TVs, where you can complete your muster drill experience, order room service, review charges and more.

Suite living room

On the very newest Royal Caribbean ships, the TVs have a means to stream content from your smart device.  This alleviates one of the major pain points guests have had for years of trying to get a movie from their computer or phone on the TV without having to bring an HDMI cable and universal remote.

Plus, the new TVs change channels a heck of a lot quicker.  My pet peeve is using a TV that has a noticeable delay in trying to change channels, which is common with older units.

While the stateroom television isn't a reason to book a cruise or not, it certainly makes it slightly more enjoyable.

More specialty restaurants

Mason Jar with kids

There's simply more dining choices on a new cruise ship.

Part of the reason you'll find more dining variety is because the ship is bigger, which means more space onboard for more restaurants.

Over the years, Royal Caribbean has doubled down on specialty dining in particular because of how well-received it has been from guests.  It offers more cuisines and cooking styles than you can find in the complimentary venues, and it allows Royal Caribbean to experiment with new concepts too.


For those that opt to indulge in extra cost restaurants, you'll have many more choices on a new ship than an older ship.

As an example, Icon of the Seas will have more than 40 food and beverage concepts, with 23 of them completely new to Royal Caribbean.


Whether you go to all of those restaurants is secondary to the fact you have the choice to visit, and the sheer variety stands out to guests.

When you sail on an older ship, the amount of dining choices is considerably less.

Read moreFood on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Newer songs in production shows

AquaTheater on Wonder of the Seas

If you want to tell which decade a cruise ship was launched, watch the production shows and listen for which songs are included.

When Royal Caribbean builds a new cruise ship, they develop new shows for guests onboard.  Inevitably, there are hit songs from the last few years included in the dance numbers.

When I went on Anthem of the Seas earlier this summer, I recall hearing Macklemore's, "Can't Hold Us" as part of a show in Two70.  It's a great hit from 2012, and it instantly sets the age of a ship in your mind.

Newer cruise ships seem to sample newer songs in their shows.

A lot of new cruisers

Bartender at Lime and Coconut

New cruise ships are built to bring in the crowds, especially those that have never cruised before.

Growth in the cruise industry is predicated on the concept of marketing to people that have never taken a cruise before because that is the largest segment of the population. According to statistics published by Cruise Lines International Association, around 15% of the total US population have ever cruised.

As a result, Royal Caribbean designs new cruise ships to be very intriguing to someone who has never cruised before, and the result is there will probably be a lot of new cruisers onboard.

To be fair, you'll find new cruisers on every Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  But there seems to be many more newbies on a new ship.

Certainly there will be many families on a new ship because of Royal Caribbean's historic appeal to the family travel market.

Those Royal Caribbean television commercials are made to attract the public to the ship, and often the whizz-bang activities onboard are the sort that compel someone who has never cruised before to try the ship. The Bionic Bar, Ultimate Abyss, and FlowRider all endear themselves to first time cruisers because they are the sort of activities someone might not have imagined you could do on a cruise ship.

More storage space in your cabin


Going back to the rooms on a cruise ship, one big difference with a new ship is how much more storage space there is in your cabin.

When I started cruising, I found storage space to always be at a premium.  But with cruise ships built in the last decade, there has been many more drawers, closets, and nooks added to store all of your belongings.

Inside Plus

Instead of rationing shelves, I find even in inside cabins more shelving and drawers than we can possibly use.

This is especially helpful when cruising with kids, as the amount of stuff you have seems to grow exponentially.

Read more8 things you should know about your cruise ship cabin

The line's best musical acts

In terms of entertainment on a new cruise ship, the better acts tend to end up on the new ships.

When Royal Caribbean launches a new cruise ship, they will pluck the top rated bands and musicians to sail on the newest ship. This is largely based on guest feedback and reputation these performers have garnered over the years.

To be clear, all the musical acts across the fleet are talented, but the stagemanship the best acts have makes them stand out.

More app features

The Royal Caribbean app is now a must-use part of the cruise experience, and the feature set on a new ship is substantial.

The bottom row of the app has various things you can do in the app, and the newest ships in the fleet can do things like being able to open your stateroom door, augmented reality experiences, and even open your cabin curtains.

Whether you use all these features or not is another question, but it's nice to have them all as an option.

Better suite amenities

Royal Loft Suite

If you'd like to stay in a Royal Caribbean suite, you'll find the best suite perks on a new ship.

Royal Caribbean has two tiers of suite benefits, with its new ships offering Royal Suite Class amenities that are aimed at rivaling land resort suite benefits.

AquaTheater suite on Wonder of the Seas

The Royal Suite Class has three tiers: Sea Class, Sky Class, and Star Class. They are available only on Quantum, Oasis, and Icon Class ships.

Read moreGuide to Icon of the Seas cabins and suites

Not only are the benefits better on new ships, but the size and layout of suites are arguably superior too.

Ultimate Family Townhouse

Because of how lucrative the suite market is for the cruise line, Royal Caribbean has developed larger and more opulent suites that feature multi-deck layouts, in-suite slides, and private jacuzzis.

Read more5 best cruise ship suites on Royal Caribbean

A suite on an older ship will still be a lovely experience, but when you try a suite on the newer ships, I think the variety of perks stands out more.

More information

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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