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I'm new to Royal Caribbean and tried 4 different kinds of cruise ships, here's what I like about each

27 Feb 2024
Calista Kiper

When I first started cruising in August of 2023, I thought I would never even learn the names of all Royal Caribbean’s different ships.

Royal Caribbean currently has seven classes: Icon, Oasis, Quantum, Freedom, Voyager, Radiance, and Vision.

With 28 ships to choose from—and more on the way!—it can feel intimidating to decide which one suits your preferences.

For the new cruiser, selecting the right class of ship to sail on takes a steep learning curve.

Fast forward to today, I’ve now sailed on five ships across four classes. This experience has given me a better grasp of what each class has to offer.

While the cruise line’s ships all stay true to specific branding and design, each class varies a lot when it comes to layout, amenities, atmosphere, and itinerary options.

The best fit for each person comes down to what they enjoy on their cruise vacation.

Sun rising in Alaska

If you’re looking for a floating resort with activities available onboard, you might prefer a bigger ship. 

But if you’re interested in unique itineraries with multiple ports of call, a smaller class of ship will be a better fit.

Read more: Royal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide (2024)

I prefer an ambient onboard experience while cruising

My cruising style focuses on the quality of the ship itself. I love ships that have many onboard activities, or a peaceful onboard atmosphere. 

While unique itineraries are fun, they’re not the major draw for me when choosing a cruise.

I don’t mind a not-updated or cheap stateroom, since I enjoy spending time out and about onboard. Most Royal Caribbean ships have a uniform stateroom design, anyway.

odyssey of the seas pool deck

My perfect cruise vacation includes a packed schedule of relaxing by the pool, people-watching, enjoying tasty food, and then heading to the nightclub or other entertainment in the evenings.

I don’t usually spend extra money on specialty dining, so I don’t require ships to have many different options when it comes to dining venues. I prefer that the complimentary food tastes high-quality.

I usually cruise with fellow young adults, looking for parties and relaxing spots. I don’t cruise with children, so childcare or kid’s activities don’t factor into my decision-making.


While I enjoy having many different activities to choose from, I like that balanced with a peaceful atmosphere. I dislike too much noise or large crowds, so I prefer ships with a calm ambiance or at least a location where I can get some quiet.

The best kind of ship is one where I have enough to explore over the length of the cruise, but not too much to be overwhelming. 

Oasis Class: Boundless fun

Ships I sailed on: Wonder of the Seas, Allure of the Seas

There’s a lot to love about the Oasis Class. As a new cruiser, these ships blew me away with the breadth of activities and entertainment.

Read more: All about Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class cruise ships

The ships feel huge—packed with food venues, shops, and plenty of other cruisers.

I love how many activities are available onboard, from ice skating to surfing to walking in Central Park. The same applies to specialty dining: there are an endless amount of venues to choose from.

These ships feel less like ships and more like walkable cities. 

The energy is infectious onboard. Crowds gather around and cheer on live musicians, elegant dinners host couples and families, and nightclubs pop with activity and dancing.


I always meet the most people—and make genuine friendships—when I’m on an Oasis Class ship.

However, there are downsides to a ship of this size. I find that you don’t get as many connections with crew members onboard, due to the amount of cruisers and crew members spread all over the ship.

It’s also insanely easy to get lost: I usually need 1-2 days to get my bearings onboard.

And lastly, it’s difficult to book shows. Reservations fill up quickly ahead of time, so I either have to check the app frequently, or get in line half an hour before the show. 

There usually ends up being enough seating, but you have to plan to get into the venue.

Read more: 13 things I wish I'd done differently on my first cruise, from avoiding seasickness to eating at different venues

Freedom Class: Quiet luxury 


Ship I sailed on: Freedom of the Seas

If you want the activity and fun of an Oasis Class ship without all the noise and crowds, I recommend a Freedom Class ship.

This ship felt like an older, more chill version of Wonder of the Seas.

Read more: All about Freedom Class cruise ships


There was plenty to explore onboard, and the ship was in good condition. It also felt less crowded, but still had the fun parties and activities onboard that I enjoyed.

It was easy to reserve or find seating in the shows onboard, and they were fairly good quality! The entertainment wasn’t equal to what you might find on land, but it was plenty of fun for a cruise ship.

When it comes to downsides, the WiFi was incredibly slow on board—especially in the stateroom.


There also isn’t much variety when it comes to specialty food options, and the ship lacks a varied itinerary. 

Radiance Class: Vibrant community

Ship I sailed on: Radiance of the Seas

For a sense of fun yet serenity, Radiance of the Seas was one of my favorite ships.

She is a comparatively smaller ship but with a vibrant nightlife and ample activities.

On my Oasis Class cruises, we joined a community of fellow cruisers onboard. But on Radiance of the Seas, I felt as though I was joining the ship’s community.

Read more: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

Crew members seemed close, and recognized me when I walked around the ship. Captain Marek also brought a personal touch to the sailing by talking with and performing for guests.

Out of all my cruises, Radiance is the only ship where I’ve remembered the name of the captain and other crew members I met while onboard.

The tranquil size and close-knit community made for a peaceful yet warm atmosphere onboard the ship.

As a bonus, Radiance of the Seas is also small enough to attend many diverse ports. I loved getting to experience an entirely new country at our stops in Mexico!

If you’re looking for a pleasant onboard experience, but also want to see exotic ports of call, a Radiance Class ship is the perfect in-between.

Vision Class: Amazing itinerary 

Centrum on Enchantment of the Seas

Ship I sailed on: Enchantment of the Seas 

Honestly, I can see why people call Enchantment the worst Royal Caribbean ship.

She’s old—originally launched in 1996—and it shows.

I noticed that the ship was pretty rundown. Lights would flicker or crack in the stateroom, and the elevator also broke down for a full day during my cruise. 

Read more: All about Vision Class cruise ships

Despite the quality of the ship, I loved Enchantment’s complimentary food and ports of call. 

I sailed on her for a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, with a once-in-a-lifetime itinerary. Enchantment’s smaller size allows her to stop at small ports of call, including Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Palma de Mallorca, and Barcelona. 

Being able to visit so many new locations moved all my focus to tours and excursions, leaving little time or energy to explore much onboard.

For the type of cruise I was on, Enchantment does just fine. But a port-focus isn’t my favorite style of cruising.

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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