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Royal Caribbean News Round-Up April 21, 2024

21 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

Did you miss any of this week's Royal Caribbean news? No worries, because we have you covered with our wrap-up of cruise news!

Royal Caribbean crew members are often praised for going above and beyond, and this Windjammer employee is a cut above the rest.

Washy washy crew member

Reminding guests to wash their hands is a simple task, and Stacian makes it entertaining like no one else can.

She is one of the many members with the "Washy Washy" assignment, and has worked on Royal Caribbean cruise ships for 20 years.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Slot machine

The 531st episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available! 

How do you get a free Royal Caribbean cruise from gambling? And is it worth it?

Matt answers all your questions about the Casino Royale deal—the best one out there—in this episode.

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.

New RCB Video: The WORST Royal Caribbean Deals

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! 

This week, we are sharing our latest video—The WORST Royal Caribbean Deals—don’t forget to subscribe to our channel!

16 things to ask your cruise ship cabin attendant

What kind of special requests can you make to your stateroom attendant?

Whether you need a sharps container, extra towels, or even furniture moved out of your way, your stateroom attendant can tend to all your concerns.

To ensure you have the most comfortable stay, here's everything you can ask your cabin attendant for.

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Celebrity will visit Royal Caribbean's private island

Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean will be bringing their close sisterhood even closer.

Celebrity will visit CocoCay

On Monday, April 22nd, Celebrity ships begin visiting Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The move is symbolic of the sister lines' closer relationship.

Because of the high demand for Bahamas and Caribbean cruises, Celebrity will begin visiting the region, with occasional stops at CocoCay.

What happens on Turnaround Day on a Cruise?

Dirty laundry
Photo by Johnk6404

How do cruise ships go straight from one sailing to the next?

Turnaround day is when the previous guests disembark from a cruise and the incoming guests board.

Behind the scenes, crew members and cruise terminal staff work tirelessly to get it all down in just a few hours.

This is the entire process of turnaround day, and how the crew gets it all done.

Toilet paper: The unspoken downside of going on a cruise ship

20 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

When you think about a cruise vacation, you have images in your mind of sun soaked days in beautiful places that's a dream getaway, except for one oddly overlooked aspect: the toilet paper. 

There’s one thing most people hate about cruise ships: the toilet paper.

Anyone who’s been on a cruise before has also been victimized by the thin, sandpaper-like material in the bathroom that passes for toilet paper.

Rather than a soft double-ply, or a cheap single-ply tissue, the toilet paper resembles something like half-ply tissue paper.

Read more: 22 unpleasant cruise ship problems you aren't prepared for

Without going into too much detail, you can imagine that this type of paper would leave guests feeling uncomfortable. 

However, this choice of toilet paper is completely intentional, and it’s not just to save money.

There are good reasons as to why Royal Caribbean (and most other cruise lines) uses such scratchy, thin tissue.

Why is the cruise ship toilet paper so thin?

Cruise ships feel like a self-contained city, with cabins, bathrooms, dining, activities, and pools all onboard. But they’re still essentially an ecosystem that floats on water.

Because of this, they have to be mindful of the environment around them and the storage space onboard. 

Odyssey of the Seas interior cabin bathroom

Cruise ships have to use a thin toilet paper that is suitable for RV, portable toilet, or marine use. It’s specifically designed to flush easily and quickly break down in the holding tanks, preventing any nasty clogs.

Marine sewer systems are intricate, and so unable to process the thicker, plushier toilet paper you’re used to at home.

Cruise ship toilets can easily get clogged

Voyager of the Seas cabin bathroom

Because cruise ships are so contained, the sewage pipes are smaller and more susceptible to blockages. 

Any small clog could lead to a blockage of an entire pipe.

Not only that, but the toilets are also all connected. This means that if one guest’s toilet is blocked up, all the other guests will suffer.

Usually, the ship’s plumber will have to manually remove the blockage from the pipes.

Clogged plumbing is a common problem on cruises, and it's why crew members and signage repeatedly remind guests about what they can't flush, such as feminine hygiene items, tissues, or wipes. 

The only thing that should be going down the toilet is your business and that thin, scratchy toilet paper!

Can you pack your own toilet paper?


You might be tempted to bring your own toilet paper or flushable wipes onboard as a workaround to the problem.

However, this is not a good idea.

Remember, the plumbing on cruise ships is very sensitive. Anything other than marine-grade toilet paper could clog up the pipes.


Some guests have even reported that they had their personal rolls of toilet paper confiscated as they were boarding on embarkation day.

If you really don’t want to rely on the cruise ship’s toilet paper, but also don’t want to throw away wipes and tissues in the trash, you could also try a bidet.

Some suites have a bidet, but there's only a handful of cabins with this feature.

Where does the poop go when you flush?


You might be wondering where the contents go when you finish using that see-through toilet paper and flush the toilet.

All wastewater—including your poop and shower water—goes into a water-treatment system onboard.

None of it will go overboard until it is run through this treatment plant. This advanced treatment system has been rated above the US federal standard for purified water.

The wastewater purification plant onboard splits the water into three categories: grey water, black water, and bilge water.


Grey water is shower and tap water from sinks, laundries, and drains.

Black water is what comes from food waste and toilets.

And bilge water is the oils that are released from the engine compartments at the bottom of the ship.

Blackwater (that’s the human waste division) will go through three processes: aeration, filtration, and disinfection.

Icon of the Seas in the ocean

First, a bioreactor aeration chamber breaks down the organic contaminants with bacteria that can dissolve the black water.

Next, the sewage goes into a membrane filtration system that filters all impurities. Dense substances will float to the bottom in the settlement chamber, while water floats to the top.

The leftover sludge at the bottom is repeatedly cycled until the system is left with water and any remaining sludge is incinerated.

Lastly, the clean sewage (that leftover water) enters a disinfection chamber where any remaining pathogens are sterilized. UV radiation purifies any remaining bacteria, leaving clean and safe water that is left in a storage tank until it can be discharged.

Ocean water

This water really is fresh! It’s considered almost tap-water quality.

Once the cruise ship is far enough away from land to meet local and international regulations, they can discharge the water.

However, this does depend on the location of the ship, as regulations vary, and some areas even prohibit discharging.

The purified sewage water and the grey water are discharged far out to sea, and don’t contain any harmful bacteria.

Read more: Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ships will convert waste to energy

Royal Caribbean's Newest Ship to Feature an Epic '80s Music Spectacular

19 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

Fans of the decade of excess are going to want to check out Royal Caribbean's new show.

Aqua show coming to Utopia of the Seas

Utopia of the Seas is the sixth Oasis Class cruise ship and launches this summer with an all-new show that follows up on arguably Royal Caribbean's best musical tribute show to date.

Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Entertainment Nick Weir posted a teaser on his X account that revealed the name of its next show.

"Aqua 80 Too" is all the video teaser displayed, but it is clearly a follow up to Aqua 80 that first debuted on Oasis of the Seas.

Aqua 80 Too

Held in the open-air Aquatheater, Royal Caribbean first debuted Aqua 80 on Oasis of the Seas in 2019 to coincide with her massive amplification.

Read more: Oasis of the Seas ship guide

Like all Aquatheater shows, it features a live performance of world-class acrobats, extreme sports athletes and divers set to music.  In the case of Aqua 80s, it's only music of the 1980s.

Aqua 80 on Oasis of the Seas

It's a musical tribute to the decade, and many cruisers have come back loving the show.

Reddit user kanojo22 posted, "I must recommend the Aqua80 show. It was amazing! I watched it 3 times and loved it every time. Even my kids who aren’t 80s music fans like me thought it was great."

Aqua 80 logo

Their post sparked a great deal of responses echoing the initial post.

LitigatedLaureate added, "Aqua 80 is the best cruise ship show I've ever seen. Honestly I'd rather sit and watch Aqua80 over a fair amount of actual Broadway shows I've seen."

KTrentLR agreed, "I couldn't agree more! Aqua '80 is the best aqua show in the fleet."

Royal Caribbean has not officially announced the entertainment for Utopia of the Seas yet, but Mr. Weir is fond of leaking bits of information about new shows on social media.


His passion for his shows is evident in how much work goes into crafting these original productions.  As such, he enjoys sharing behind-the-scenes previews of what guests can expect.

Utopia of the Seas is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Since the Aquatheater isn't ready yet, Royal Caribbean can still prepare for the show from land.

Royal Caribbean Productions

Royal Caribbean has its own Entertainment facility in South Florida, where the cast for the new show will begin rehearsals.

Inside the custom facility are stages where cast members can practice nearly all aspects of the show so that when they can get onboard the ship, they're not starting at the first step.

Coming July 2024

Utopia of the Seas night render

Utopia of the Seas will be the first new Royal Caribbean's ship that offers shorter cruises first. Usually new ships  conduct longer voyages when they enter service.

Utopia will sail from Port Canaveral, Florida on 3- and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas, each scheduled to stop at Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Why short cruises? It's an effort to attract first-time cruisers, who are leery of going on any cruise ship for a week.

Sun setting at CocoCay

The idea is to offer short cruises on its newest hardware so that anyone who is considering a short cruise as their first sailing will see a clear delineation between what options are out there.

The inaugural sailing is 3-night weekend cruise on July 19, 2024. 

While Utopia is about 7% smaller than Icon, she is still packed with plenty for passengers to do to keep them busy.

On the top deck, you'll find three pool areas, an aqua park for kids, surf simulator, zip line, basketball court, and 295-foot dry slide down the back of the ship.


The Royal Railroad will feature a classic train motif that delivers a mixed reality experience. After prototyping the train car experience at Royal Caribbean's Miami headquarters, the team feels confident it will deliver an incredible new option for passengers.

Izumi has been moved up to Central Park, which is a first for the Oasis Class. Izumi will also have a new pickup window which allows quick grab and go offerings for guests.

Park Cafe will have a new evening terrace experience, which the cruise line hopes will invigorate evenings in this neighborhood.

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar has been relocated into the deck 11 and 12 former Wonderland location.

Food truck on Utopia of the Seas

Speaking of food, there will be a food truck on the pool deck, and a tiki bar on the Royal Promenade.

16 things to ask your cruise ship cabin attendant

19 Apr 2024
Elizabeth Wright

While on your cruise, you won’t have to worry about daily tasks such as making your bed or taking out the trash. Instead, you’ll have a cabin attendant responsible for ensuring that your stateroom is clean and tidy.

Meet cabin attendant

In addition to making the bed and removing the trash, they'll perform tasks like cleaning the bathroom, refreshing used towels, leaving important disembarkation documents, and more. 

Unlike standard hotel housekeepers, however, they’re able to accommodate special requests made related to the cabin, saving you from waiting in line at Guest Services.

Here’s a list of 16 things you should ask your cabin steward for on embarkation day to make sure that you have a comfortable stay.

Their name


Typically, your cabin steward will stop by your stateroom on the first day to introduce themselves. If they don’t, or you miss their visit because you’re elsewhere on the ship, don’t hesitate to facilitate an introduction later on.

Since your attendant will be entering your stateroom at least once per day, it’s important to take the time to know their name.

They'll leave you with a small card that has their extension on it, which is how you can reach them if any cabin-related issues arise during your sailing. 

Extra towels


Even though your steward will refresh your towels daily, you may require more, especially if you’re cruising with more than one person in your room. 

By letting your attendant know that you’ll need extra towels, they'll refresh any used towels and make sure that you have an ample supply whenever they service your cabin. 

As of February 2023, guests staying in standard cabins (i.e., interior, ocean view, and balconies) will only have their room attended to once per day. On embarkation day, your steward will ask whether you want them to visit in the morning or evening. 

Before making a decision, consider things like when you expect to wake up, what activities you want to attend, and when you plan on heading to breakfast. 

Read more: Why you should get your cruise cabin serviced in the evening instead of the morning

Mattress topper

Mattress topper

If you like a plush mattress and find that your bed is a little too firm for your liking, ask your cabin steward for a mattress topper. 

They'll provide an extra layer of comfort during your sailing to ensure that you're getting a good night's rest. 

The toppers are also useful when keeping the two beds together, rather than separating them, as they'll help minimize how much of the crack in between the beds you're able to feel. 

Printed copy of the daily schedule

Cruise Compass in hand

Though Royal Caribbean no longer leaves physical Cruise Compass’ in cabins each evening, you can request copies from your stateroom attendant.

While it’s convenient to be able to access all of the information via your mobile phone, you may prefer the tangible experience of flipping through the pages and highlighting which activities appeal to you the most.

Having a physical copy also eliminates the need to carry your mobile device around with you all day. Cruises are a perfect time to disconnect, and having to keep up with your phone may seem like an unnecessary task.

Daily replenishment of your ice bucket


Those who aren’t purchasing a drink package may choose to take advantage of Royal Caribbean’s policy that allows passengers to bring 12 standard cans, bottles, or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages onboard on embarkation day.

Though your mini-fridge will help keep these drinks cool, you may want an ice-cold soda in a clean glass after a long day in the heat. 

When you meet your cabin steward, simply ask them if you’re able to get fresh ice each day. Whenever you return to your cabin, you’ll be greeted with a full bucket of ice. 



Unlike sister brand Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean staterooms don’t come equipped with bathrobes.

Once you accumulate 30 cruise points, you’ll reach the Platinum tier of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society. While this level doesn’t get you as many perks as Diamond cruisers, you’ll be able to request complimentary bathrobes during your cruise.

Imagine waking up and sitting on your private balcony while being swaddled in a plush robe and sipping a fresh cup of coffee. That sounds like a great way to begin any day on a cruise, whether you’re at sea or pulling into port. 

Additional hangers

Depending on how much you packed, you may need some extra hangers for your blouses, dresses, jackets, dress shirts, etc., especially if you're sailing on a longer cruise. 

Rather than try and cram some into your suitcase or purchase foldable hangers from the internet, your cabin steward will bring you more if there aren’t enough in your closet.

Speaking of clothing, this is your reminder to leave steamers and irons at home, as they’re not allowed onboard any Royal Caribbean ship. If you’re anticipating wrinkles in your clothing from being folded in your suitcase, purchase wrinkle-release spray before your cruise.

Read more: 115 item Ultimate Cruise Packing List (Printable PDF)

Certain bed configuration

If you’re traveling with a friend, you may prefer to have the beds separated. Likewise, those cruising with their spouse will most likely want the beds placed together. 

Rather than try and move the furniture yourself, tell your steward that you’d like it to be changed. 

Telling them on embarkation day is the best way to guarantee that the beds are arranged to your liking before bedtime rolls around. 

Sharps container


Those with medical conditions that require medications to be administered via needle will want to ask for a sharps container.

This will ensure that the needles, syringes, lancets, and other objects are properly disposed of during your trip.

Similarly, if you’re traveling with a CPAP machine, you may request an extension cord from your attendant. However, it’s best to fill out this form in advance, so you do not run into any issues while onboard.



Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring a limited amount of wine onboard on embarkation day. For those who don’t have a drink package, it’s a great way to save a little money on your trip.

Though having the bottle opened in public areas, such as the Main Dining Room, typically incurs a small corkage fee, you can have your cabin steward bring a corkscrew to your room to open the bottle for free.

While the corkscrew won't be anything fancy, it'll get the job done, and you will be sipping on your wine in no time. 

Read more: How much is a Royal Caribbean drink package?

Wine glasses


Rather than drink the wine out of the cups provided in the bathroom, you may request fresh wine glasses daily. 

I did this while sailing onboard Liberty of the Seas and received clean glasses each day during my short 3-night cruise. 

I appreciated never having to leave my cabin for a fresh glass. Instead, I was able to pour some wine while getting ready for dinner, as the cabin was always serviced by the time I returned from my afternoon activities. 

Extra pillows


Most beds onboard Royal Caribbean ships will come with two pillows. Guests who sleep with more than that can ask their attendant to provide them with extras.

Additionally, if you think the provided ones aren’t comfortable, you can ask your steward if they have any different ones that they can bring you. 

While not guaranteed, it doesn’t hurt to see what else is available.



Your cabin onboard will come with a thermostat that will allow you to adjust the stateroom’s temperature to your liking. 

Let’s say, however, you’re traveling with someone who prefers to sleep in what seems like the freezing cold, whereas you prefer a comfortable setting of around 72°.

If you find that you’re shivering during the night, see if your attendant can bring you an extra blanket to ensure that you’re getting as much rest as you need. 

Removal of furniture


Cruise ship cabins aren’t the most spacious rooms you’ll ever stay in. With floor space being so limited, you may want to get rid of any pieces of furniture you don’t plan on utilizing, such as the coffee table.

Rather than leaving it out in the hall, ask your attendant if it can be removed. If it’s possible, they’ll take care of getting it out of your way.

Read more: I tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

Storing pullman and/or sofa beds during the day

Pullman bed

Another way to maximize the limited amount of space that you have is to request that the pullman and sofa beds are stored when not in use. 

Unlike standard hotels, cruise cabins cannot accommodate two double beds. Instead, guests traveling with three or four passengers in their room will either have two pullman beds or one pullman and a sofa bed. 

Pullman beds are those that pull down from the ceiling or wall of a stateroom, allowing more guests to sleep in a single cabin without taking up more floor space. When down, however, they can make the room feel more confined, so you should inquire about seeing if you're attendant will ensure that they're properly stored during periods of non-use. 

Opening the balcony dividers

Connecting balconies

On Royal Caribbean ships, each balcony comes with dividers to help grant passengers some privacy. If you’re sailing with a group and have cabins that are located next to each other, it may be possible to remove the dividers to create a larger outdoor space. 

It's a good hack for families who were unable to book connecting cabins and don't want to have to walk outside of one stateroom to enter the other.

To figure out if this request can be accommodated or not, ask your stateroom attendant. Sometimes, it cannot be done right away, and you’ll be told that you have to wait until after the ship has set sail. 

Note that it’s not possible on every ship, as some dividers are attached to the hull and cannot be moved.

Read more: Guide to balcony staterooms on Royal Caribbean

4 common mistakes people make when booking another cruise onboard their ship

18 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

There are compelling reasons to book a cruise onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, but you'll want to double-check everything before you hand over your credit card.

Picture yourself onboard a cruise you’ve looked forward to for months (or even years). You’re having such a blast that you’re starting to dread disembarking.

With NextCruise, you can book your next cruise right onboard, having another fun experience guaranteed before you even get off the ship. Booking a cruise onboard at NextCruise offers promising deals and benefits.

You can conveniently plan out and book your next Royal Caribbean cruise with guidance from a qualified crew member.

Not only that, but using NextCruise offers some exciting deals, such as onboard credit, low deposits, and discounts on shore excursions.

Does it sound too good to be true?

When you find yourself at the NextCruise booth, avoid these common mistakes to get the best deal out of your experience.

In the excitement of experiencing your current cruise and planning your next one, it’s easy to overlook some important potential pitfalls.

As convenient as the NextCruise booth is, you never want to miss something that ends up costing you money or even delaying your upcoming cruise.

To avoid any problems when booking at NextCruise, watch out for these common mistakes.

Read more: Should you book your next cruise while onboard?

1. Forgetting to confirm offers in writing

Royal Caribbean’s website promises exciting deals for booking with NextCruise. These include:

  • The best offer on any sailing, guaranteed
  • Up to $600 in onboard credit for your next cruise
  • Deposits as low as $100 per person
  • The ability to handpick your suite or stateroom
  • Booking up to three staterooms with the same benefits for friends and family
  • Up to 10% off shore excursions

Not only that but you’re also guaranteed onboard credit when you book with NextCruise.

The onboard credit varies depending on the length of the sailing and the type of stateroom you choose.

  • 4-5 night cruises
    • Inside/Oceanview: $25
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $50
    • Grand Suite & Above: $150
  • 6-9 night cruises
    • Inside/Oceanview: $50
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $100
    • Grand Suite & Above: $300
  • 10 nights or longer cruises
    • Inside/Oceanview: $100
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $200
    • Grand Suite & Above: $600

But how can you guarantee that’s the offer you’ll be getting?

Desk with papers

When the NextCruise agent books your cruise, excursions, or add-ons, they will give you a printout of all the details and guarantees. It's easy to lose track of what you discussed, and which promotions or offers you're actually getting.

Double-check that printout you receive from NextCruise to make sure everything you were promised is there in writing.

From onboard credit to the final price, that physical paper will ensure that you get the discounts you’re looking for.

Read more: You can now book new cruises from the Royal Caribbean app while onboard a cruise

2. Not paying attention to deposit type

NextCruise sign

In the excitement of booking your next cruise, it’s easy to miss some details and not realize the important parts until later.

Before you hand over your credit card to book the cruise, there are a few things you should double-check

One key detail is checking your deposit type.

When booking your Royal Caribbean cruise, the two deposit types are refundable or non-refundable.

The NextCruise agent will likely automatically quote you a non-refundable deposit.

There’s nothing wrong with a non-refundable cruise deposit. In fact, the price is usually a bit lower than a refundable deposit. However, it’s important to double-check the deposit type and details of your cruise.

NextCruise office

If you don’t confirm that this is what you want, you could end up going home and needing to change or cancel the cruise. Or, you may have wanted a refundable fare in the first place.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of the sailing, from the date to ship to unexpected fees, be careful that you aren’t booking with a non-refundable fee.

If you do want a refundable deposit, verify that it is selected when you book your cruise.

Even if you choose a refundable deposit and get home and confirm that the cruise details still work for you, you can change the booking to a non-refundable deposit type.

3. Leaving your current travel agent on the reservation

travel agent

NextCruise automatically assigns any new bookings to the travel agent you booked the current cruise through.

For example, if you booked your cruise on some random website, and then decide to book a new cruise once onboard, the reservation will automatically go back to that original agency.

If you don’t want this to be the case—maybe you’d like to keep the reservation for yourself, or use a different travel agent—you’ll need to change this manually.

Next Cruise swag

If you’d like to change the travel agent on file, you’ll need to get a transfer form and complete it within 30 days of booking at the NextCruise booth.

Extra work like this negates the ease of booking at NextCruise, so try to avoid changing the travel agent after booking.

To prevent any extra changes, check which travel agent is on file before you pay for your next cruise.

Read more: Royal Caribbean Next Cruise program details, info and tips

Not taking airfare into account

Airplane landing

So you’re on an amazing cruise, and see a great deal for another one with an exciting destination.

You might see discounts on cruises to Europe, Australia, or Alaska.

A cruise to unique destinations such as these might appeal to you, and with the deals from NextCruise, you could jump right into booking.

But before you pay for a cruise to a far and exciting destination, make sure you also check the cost of other travel, such as airfare.

International flights can easily run into thousands of dollars per person, adding to the cost of your cruise even after you book it.

You don’t want to book at NextCruise, then go home and check the cost of flights and realize you can’t actually afford this trip.

Before you confirm your next cruise, check the prices of any additional travel you’ll need to do to make it to the port.

Celebrity Cruises will visit Royal Caribbean's private island for the first time. It's symbolic of the two lines' closer relationship

18 Apr 2024
Elizabeth Wright

Celebrity Cruises is scheduled to call at Perfect Day at CocoCay on Monday, April 22. It’s the first time Royal Caribbean’s sister line will visit the private island since its $250 million renovation.

Celebrity will visit CocoCay

Celebrity Reflection, a Solstice Class ship that was launched in 2012, is set to depart from Fort Lauderdale on a 5-night cruise on Sunday that'll visit CocoCay and Cozumel. 

She will be docked alongside Wonder of the Seas on Monday. On Tuesday, Celebrity Beyond and Freedom of the Seas are scheduled to visit CocoCay. 

By the end of the year, Celebrity will have sailed to CocoCay 47 times on cruises ranging from short 3-night getaways to weeklong Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

CocoCay aerial with balloon in view

Fares start as low as $277 per person for a 3-night cruise onboard Celebrity Reflection. 

Prior to Celebrity’s expansion, access to the island was reserved for those sailing on Royal Caribbean ships. Now, passengers can enjoy the family-friendly amenities during the day before returning to one of Celebrity’s upscale ships. 

Onboard, you won’t find any thrills that have come to define the Royal Caribbean brand, such as the FlowRider surf simulator, zip line, and AquaTheater high diving shows. 


Instead, Celebrity focuses on delivering a refined experience with world-class cuisine, high-end accommodations, and top-tier entertainment.

Typically, Celebrity’s itineraries highlight more unique ports across the globe, with two ships stationed year-round in Asia and Europe. 

Due to the demand for cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean, Celebrity will now offer sailings throughout the year, many of which will call at CocoCay. They will also tap into the weekend cruise market.

Celebrity Ascent

"Our customers are consistently asking for more opportunities to visit this stunning region year-round, have more weekend options so they can get away easier, and have expressed a desire for a private island destination,” said Laura Hodges Bethge, President of Celebrity Cruises.

“By introducing this new program, we can meet this demand and offer something new and historic to all our guests.”

Read more: 5 things I hope Royal Caribbean steals from Celebrity Ascent (and one they shouldn't)

Perfect Day at CocoCay is a popular destination that’s known for its beautiful beaches, thrilling water slides, and upscale amenities

Royal Caribbean

According to Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley, the demand for Perfect Day at CocoCay is “exceptionally high.”

"CocoCay is the number one destination that Royal Caribbean goes to in the world out of 100 global destinations, because it’s a curated experience designed and built to deliver a high-level experience to the customer,” Bayley said.

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Utopia of the Seas, is scheduled to enter service in July 2024. 

Going down the slides

It’s the first new build for the line that’s beginning with 3- and 4-night cruises, as transitioning from weeklong to weekend sailings is typically a hallmark of older vessels. The ship will visit CocoCay twice per week, compared to Icon of the Seas' singular weekly visit. 

Additionally, Royal Caribbean recently completed the island’s adult-only Hideaway Beach expansion, bringing the island’s capacity to 13,000 passengers per day.

Read more: I just spent 11 days on Celebrity Edge – did it live up to the hype?

Though guest satisfaction is paramount, sailing to CocoCay benefits Royal Caribbean Group from a financial perspective

Hideaway Beach

With CocoCay located about 140 miles from Miami, it’s a quick and convenient destination, which helps reduce the company’s fuel consumption and costs.

Plus, visiting private destinations, including Royal Caribbean’s Labadee, Haiti, helps keep more profits in-house.

There’s no competition for shore excursions, ensuring that passengers spend money with Royal Caribbean or Celebrity, rather than a third party.

Infinity pool

It’s easy to find cheaper operators in ports like Nassau and Cozumel. On my upcoming Celebrity Reflection cruise, for instance, an ATV tour in Mexico starts at $85.99 through the cruise line, whereas a tour through Cozumel Tours by Johann and Sandra is just over $100 for a shared vehicle.

Though CocoCay has complimentary beach chairs, a large freshwater pool, and plenty of dining options, the island is known for its paid activities, ranging from Thrill Waterpark to the upscale Coco Beach Club.

It’s not uncommon to see admission to the waterpark starting around $150 per person, with overwater cabanas sometimes costing upwards of $4,000 or $5,000.

Read more: I rented a $2,000 cabana at Royal Caribbean's adults-only area of CocoCay

Members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society can have their loyalty status matched within Celebrity’s Captain’s Club

Icon of the Seas

Climbing the ranks of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society is rewarding. From complimentary drink vouchers to exclusive events, discounts on laundry, and more, the company excels at keeping fans “Loyal to Royal.”

Though Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are owned by Royal Caribbean Group, the lines appeal to different crowds. According to Celebrity Cruises, 51% of guests on 7-night cruises are 60 years old and older. Additionally, Baby Boomers make up the majority of guests onboard Caribbean sailings, with anywhere from 47% to 63% of passengers coming from this generation.

Royal Caribbean is the more family-friendly of the two, with activities geared towards even the youngest sailors onboard.

Celebrity Apex docked in St. Thomas

Whether you've been a devout Celebrity or Royal cruiser, you don't have to give up all of your loyalty perks. Depending on your cruising needs, you may find yourself wanting to try the other line, as they both have a lot to offer! 

Perhaps, for instance, your children are grown and you're seeking a more refined vacation, but you've only ever cruised with Royal. 

You are able to match your Crown & Anchor status to Celebrity's Captain's Club once you accumulate 30 cruise points. Similarly, those within the Captain's Club can match their status to the Crown & Anchor Society upon reaching the Select tier. 

Wonder of the Seas at CocoCay

Though the programs aren't identical, you can benefit from perks like complimentary drinks, discounted Wi-Fi, upgraded bathroom amenities, and more. 

The only caveat is that you cannot match into the top level for either program. Those who are part of the elusive Pinnacle Club won't be able to become a Zenith Captain's Member. Instead, the highest you can match into is Elite. 

Similarly, the highest status you can achieve via the status match in Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society is Diamond. 


Currently, you only earn points on the line that you're sailing with, so if you're cruising on Celebrity, you won't earn Crown & Anchor points. 

In September 2023, Andrea Shay, AVP of Loyalty for Celebrity Cruises, mentioned that there's a possibility of consolidating Royal Caribbean Group loyalty programs

Shay acknowledged that the current status matching program doesn't thread the Royal Caribbean Group brands together. 

"We have some status match between the brands today, but there's such a huge opportunity for us to do more and really take advantage of the connection and us being part of the same family," she said. 

Celebrity is working with sister brands to hopefully reveal more information about what this could potentially look like. With Celebrity now sailing to CocoCay, an integrated program would make sense, as it would provide greater value and recognition for guests while fostering a stronger connection between Royal Caribbean Group brands.

Royal Caribbean will have a dog that lives on Star of the Seas

18 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

Expect another family dog on Royal Caribbean's second Icon Class cruise ship.

Sailor the dog on Star of the Seas

Royal Caribbean made headlines when it announced a golden retriever puppy would live on Icon of the Seas as a crew member, and it garnered a lot of attention.

The "Chief Dog Officer" on Icon of the Seas is Rover, who joined the ship at just 6-months-old.

Rover will soon be joined by a second dog in the fleet when Star of the Seas debuts in 2025.

Star of the Seas coming 2025

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed to travel agents on a webinar on Wednesday that Star of the Seas will have its own dog, "Rover is super happy on Icon. And of course we're going to have Sailor on Star of the Seas."

There's no word yet which dog breed Sailor will be, but Star of the Seas will indeed continue the trend of having a "family dog" on the ship.

Having a dog on a cruise ship is a symbol for the fun and family-centric nature that Royal Caribbean wants for its Icon Class vessels. If you're going to appeal to families and be a game-changer in terms of being different from other ships, a dog onboard is one way to do that.

Royal Beach Club groundbreaking scheduled

Royal Beach Club in Nassau

Mr. Bayley also confirmed the Royal Beach Club will have its groundbreaking next week.

"Next week we're going to the Bahamas for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Royal Beach Club in Nassau, which will be another new and exciting product for Royal Caribbean guests," he said during the webinar.

Nassau Cruise Port’s chief executive Michael Maura told local media last week the ground-breaking ceremony will take place on Monday, April 22. 


The goal is for a summer 2025 opening.

Royal Beach Club will be a new type of shore excursion experience opening in 2025, exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests.

Read more: Everything we know about the Royal Beach Club at Nassau

Royal Beach Club render

Once opened, it promises to create, "the ultimate beach day" for its guests. The Royal Beach Club is exclusively for Royal Caribbean cruise passengers, but unlike its private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay, admission is not complimentary. Instead, it will cost extra to visit the beach club and space is limited to about 2,750 guests per day. 

Full details have not been announced for the new beach club, but Mr. Bayley added during the webinar the cruise line will share more news about that destination experience over time.

Construction equipment was spotted last week arriving to the site of the club, and the confirmation of a groundbreaking ceremony means formal construction will begin soon.

Ready to shake up the short cruise market

Utopia aerial

While hyping the launch of Utopia of the Seas later this summer, Mr. Bayley talked about the significance of having a new Oasis Class ship start off with short cruises.

He began by explaining why a new Oasis Class ship makes a difference, "If you look at the kind of the history of the short product in the cruise industry, over time, it kind of degraded. There was older hardware placed into the short market, and it was really a bad representation of the industry in terms of new to cruise."

"We decided to turn that upside down some time ago when we started taking ships like Freedom and Navigator and investing significant significantly into upgrades of the product."

Utopia of the Seas pool deck

"Bringing Utopia, a brand new Oasis class, straight into the short product market is just literally putting the best hardware in the planet into this market. And it is absolutely a green light for new to cruise."

Royal Caribbean thinks dominating the short cruise market means big opportunities given the numbers they're looking at.

"Our statistics tell us that in the United States, the market of potential cruisers is around 120 million people," Mr. Bayley explained.


He said about 15-20 million people cruise right now in the United States.

"We've only really touched 20% of the potential market in the United States and this kind of product, and you combine Utopia with with Icon, for example the seven night product, we've really got this stunning lineup of products that are really exciting and really tick the box, particularly in this multigenerational family."

He also said the current makeup of cruisers is evenly distributed among generations, "if you look at our demographics at Royal Caribbean International, we're kind of evenly split across all generations, and that's something that's quite special."

24 Alaska cruise tips to follow in 2024

17 Apr 2024
Jenna DeLaurentis

The 2024 Alaska cruise season is quickly approaching, and we’re sharing 24 of our most helpful Alaska cruise tips that you need to follow.

Alaska cruise tips

Are you preparing for your Alaska cruise this summer? Whether you’re confused about what to pack or overwhelmed with the dozens of shore excursion offerings, the planning process can quickly seem more stressful than enjoyable.

Fortunately, after nearly a dozen Alaska cruises, our staff are well versed in the ins and outs of cruising to Alaska. From booking your pre-cruise hotel to utilizing Seattle’s stress-free luggage service, here are our top 24 tips for an Alaska cruise this year.

Read more: 50 Alaska cruise tips

If you haven’t booked shore excursions yet, book them ASAP

Mendenhall Glacier

Shore excursions in Alaska result in truly exceptional memories, whether you book a whale watching tour in Icy Strait Point or a helicopter ride in Juneau.

Due to the popularity of excursions on an Alaska cruise, they can fill up quickly, so it’s important to book excursions well ahead of time. If you have not yet booked excursions for your 2024 Alaska cruise, book them as soon as possible.

The last thing you want to happen is have your dream excursion sell out, leaving you scrambling to find other plans. Plus, excursions tend to only get more expensive over time, so booking early helps you lock in a lower price.

You don’t have to book your excursions through Royal Caribbean

jeep rental in Juneau Alaska

Speaking of excursions, it isn’t necessary to book excursions through Royal Caribbean. While booking shore excursions on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website is convenient, you might find more options (or lower prices) by booking through independent tour operators.

Search for shore excursions on websites like and, and compare them to what you see on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner. If prices are lower, or if there’s availability on a tour that’s sold out on the Cruise Planner, there’s no harm in booking through a third party.

Related: 7 ways to have a great time in port without a cruise ship shore excursion

Of course, you’ll want to look at the terms and conditions of each tour operator before booking. Check the tour’s cancellation policies—and whether or not they provide a guaranteed arrival back to port before your ship's departure—before booking.

Research low-cost things to do in port if you’re on a budget

Yakutania Point in Skagway

Even though booking shore excursions is popular on an Alaska cruise, you can still have a great time in port without an organized tour. If you’re on a budget (or would simply prefer to explore without a large group), research which activities are offered in each Alaskan town.

In Sitka, for instance, you can enjoy a leisurely walk through the Sitka National Historic Park, which comes at no extra cost and is within walking distance from the town center. Likewise, you could take a shuttle bus to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau for $45 roundtrip, which is much cheaper than excursions booked through the cruise line.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best free and low-cost activities to do in each Alaska cruise port, which should help give you some ideas.

If you haven’t booked travel arrangements yet, now is the time

Seattle aerial view

Hopefully, if you have an Alaska cruise booked this summer, you’ve already booked your airfare to and from the cruise port. If you have not done so yet, we recommend booking flights as soon as possible.

More often than not, flight prices will increase significantly as your travel date approaches. Waiting to see if the price drops almost always results in paying more for your flight, so it’s important to get your flights booked to avoid wasting money.

Leave plenty of time to make it to the airport on disembarkation day

When scheduling your return flights, don’t book a flight too early on disembarkation day.

Although your cruise itinerary might say you arrive at 6AM on disembarkation day, this does not mean you can get off your ship at 6AM. It takes time for your ship to dock, get cleared by local authorities, and prepare for disembarkation. If all goes to plan, you could start disembarking by 7AM, but unexpected delays could cause a later disembarkation time.

Related: Guide to Seattle cruise port for Alaska cruises

Therefore, booking a flight too early in the day could cause you to miss the flight if you encounter delays. Stressing over making it to the airport in time is not worth it; instead, the general rule of thumb is to avoid booking flights before noon.

If your cruise ends in Seward, you’ll want to schedule even more time to catch your flight, as it takes several hours to get to Anchorage from Seward.

Book your pre-cruise hotel stay

Hotel in Vancouver Canada

Because you will arrive in your embarkation city the night before your cruise, remember to book your hotel stay sooner rather than later. When booking a hotel in Seattle or Vancouver (or Anchorage/Seward for one-way itineraries), you will want to book a hotel in a convenient location.

If your flight doesn’t arrive until 11PM the night before your cruise, it probably isn’t worth it to travel to the city center. Instead, consider a hotel near the airport so you can simply land and head straight to bed. For those arriving earlier in the day, though, it’s worth it to find a hotel downtown for easy access to tourist sites.

Figure out your transportation logistics to and from the airport, hotel, and cruise port

Check-in Vancouver Port

In addition to airfare, you’ll also want to figure out transportation logistics on land, which can vary from one embarkation city to another.

In Seattle, for instance, you’ll want to research the best way to get from the airport to your hotel, and from your hotel to the cruise port. In most instances, a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft is the most convenient option. However, your hotel may also provide a shuttle, or you could even take the light rail from the airport to downtown.

If your cruise is a one-way itinerary that starts or ends in Seward, Alaska, transportation logistics require more pre-planning. The closest major airport to Seward is Anchorage, which is over two hours away by car. Due to this, you might want to consider taking a Royal Caribbean shuttle or the train from Seward to Anchorage, which must be scheduled in advance.

Regardless of where your cruise starts and ends, it’s always better to plan transportation logistics ahead of time to avoid any surprises and confusion upon arrival.

Plan exciting activities in Seattle or Vancouver before your cruise

Pike Place Market in Seattle

One of my favorite aspects of cruising to Alaska is the pre-cruise stay in Seattle or Vancouver. Not only do both of these cities offer breathtaking natural scenery, but they boast an impressive amount of things to do within the city, too.

You’d be surprised by how many activities you can fit into a pre-cruise stay in Seattle or Vancouver. Even if you arrive at 3PM the day before your cruise, you will have around twenty hours in either city before embarkation begins.

Because of this, take a look at the main attractions in your embarkation city. You might enjoy shopping at Pike’s Place Market and visiting the Space Needle in Seattle, or enjoying a relaxing stroll through Stanley Park in Vancouver.

Consider upgrading to a balcony cabin or trying RoyalUp

While a balcony is not a requirement on an Alaska cruise, there’s no denying a balcony cabin is nicer than an interior cabin on such a scenic itinerary. If you booked an interior or oceanview cabin for your 2024 Alaska cruise, consider upgrading to a balcony before your sail date.

Related: 8 reasons a balcony cabin is worth it to book on a cruise

There’s no harm in asking your travel agent to check the price of a balcony cabin. If the price to upgrade won’t break your budget, why not upgrade?

Alternatively, you can try to bid on a cabin upgrade through Royal Caribbean’s RoyalUp program, although there’s no guarantee your bid will be successful.

Start shopping for cold weather clothing now, as winter gear may be on sale

serenade docked in haines

As summer approaches, many retail stores will discount winter wear like gloves, jackets, and hats. If you haven’t already bought the clothing and accessories recommended for an Alaska cruise, now is the time.

If you’re unsure what to pack for an Alaska cruise, check out our comprehensive packing list.

Shop for jackets at your local thrift shop

Woman wearing jacket in Alaska

If you live in a warm climate or don’t wear winter jackets often, consider purchasing gently-used cold weather gear at a thrift shop or on eBay. There’s really no need to spend hundreds of dollars on new winter gear just for an Alaska cruise, especially if you’re traveling with children who will quickly outgrow clothing.

Browse a local outdoor consignment shop or search for used clothing on websites like Facebook Marketplace or eBay to find the best deals.

Don’t forget to pack short sleeve shirts and sunscreen

Skagway Alaska

On my Alaska cruise last June, it was nearly 80 degrees on several port days—I spent the day sweating while walking around Skagway. Having packed only long sleeve shirts and pants for my Alaska cruise, I regretted not bringing more lightweight clothing.

Related: The best time to visit Alaska

Just as Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable in terms of rain and snow, you may also encounter surprisingly warm weather, particularly in the peak summer season. This is another reason why layers are so important—you never know when you’ll need that t-shirt over your winter jacket.

Buy the right footwear, and wear your new shoes before the cruise begins

Pool deck on an Alaska cruise

When packing for an Alaska cruise, we recommend bringing a pair of sneakers that are water resistant. Unless you plan on doing some serious trekking in each port, there’s no need to bring hefty hiking boots or rain boots. A pair of sneakers made from a water-resistant material will keep your feet dry and warm under most weather conditions.

If you’re purchasing new shoes, it’s crucial to wear your shoes around the house and out on walks before the cruise to avoid painful blisters once onboard.

Order essentials ahead of time, like binoculars and motion-sickness remedies

woman using binoculars on a cruise ship

Outside of clothing, there are other essentials you should pack for an Alaska cruise. While not required, bringing items like motion-sickness medication, binoculars, and cabin essentials like outlet adapters are helpful to have handy.

Ordering these items on Royal Caribbean Blog’s Amazon Storefront is the easiest way to shop, as you can find everything in one place. Despite Amason’s speedy delivery, we still recommend ordering these essentials well ahead of time in order to ensure you’re not scrambling to order items and pack at the last minute.

If you haven’t booked a 2024 Alaska cruise yet, you can still find a cheap last-minute deal

Radiance of the Seas docked in Skagway

One of our favorite “tricks” when planning an Alaska cruise on Royal Caribbean is to take advantage of cheap last-minute sailings.

Cheap cruises are never a guarantee, but one trend we have noticed in the past few years is that Alaska cruises in the shoulder season are often heavily discounted at the last minute.

In 2022, for example, I booked the cheapest Alaska cruise I could find on Radiance of the Seas. The cruise fare was only $240 for an entire week with $293 in taxes and fees. Having booked the cruise only three months before I sailed, it offered a fantastic value.

Remember to book pre-cruise add-ons before you board

Planning to book cruise add-ons like drink and specialty dining packages? One must-do before you board an Alaska cruise in 2024 is to pre-purchase these add-ons.

While you can purchase packages once onboard, the cost may be significantly higher than what you could have booked ahead of time. Plus, because you can cancel add-ons for a full refund up to 48 hours before your sailing, you have flexibility in case you change your mind on these purchases later on.

Hone your photography skills prior to sailing

girl taking picture on phone

Alaska’s landscapes are spectacular, so you’ll want to brush up on your photography skills before your cruise.

Whether you’re cruising with an elaborate mirrorless camera or just your cell phone, it’s hard to take a bad photo of somewhere as beautiful as Alaska.

Nonetheless, it’s helpful to know the basic rules of photography before setting sail. Practice taking pictures at home and watch a few beginner photography tutorials on YouTube to ensure you have the skills needed to take that perfect shot.

Watch a ship tour of your cruise ship to become acquainted with the vessel

Ovation North Star AK Experience

Royal Caribbean sends four cruise ships to Alaska each season, and each ship varies from one another. Although ships in the same class, such as Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, share similarities, they still offer varied dining venues, entertainment, and decor.

One of the best ways to become acquainted with Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships is to watch a full tour of the ship on YouTube. On our YouTube channel, we have full, high definition tours of each Royal Caribbean ship sailing to Alaska.

Watching a ship tour will help make your first few days onboard stress-free, as you will already have a general understanding of what is offered onboard, as well as the location of popular venues.

Reserve entertainment ahead of time, and stick to shows early in the week

Show in Two70

If you’re cruising to Alaska on a Quantum Class cruise ship, you can book reservations for select entertainment shows prior to your cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website.

When booking entertainment reservations, we recommend sticking to shows earlier in the week. If, for instance, a show is offered on the second, fifth, and last evening of the cruise, try to book the first day available.

Should your cruise encounter rough seas, an itinerary change, or another unforeseen circumstance, there’s a chance a showtime could get canceled or rescheduled. Booking reservations for earlier in the week ensures you have wiggle room in case of an unanticipated schedule change.

Maintain a positive mindset about the weather

Skagway Pier

Cruising to the Caribbean? If so, you can almost always expect warm temperatures and, aside from a chance of rain, pleasant weather conditions.

In Alaska, on the other hand, you will want to lower your expectations when it comes to weather. It’s challenging to predict whether your cruise will encounter sunny skies and 70 degrees, or seven days of straight rain. Sure, booking your cruise in June usually results in better weather compared to one in September, but weather conditions are never guaranteed.

Related: The worst months to cruise to Alaska

Instead of getting upset over a cold, rainy day in port, maintain a positive attitude. Find a cozy saloon to enjoy a warm Irish coffee, or bundle up in your rain gear and make the most of the day.

Consider booking a later dining time

dessert in the dining room

Dinner in the Main Dining Room is a traditional part of any cruise experience, but think twice before selecting your dining time.

If you’ve opted for Traditional Dining in the Main Dining Room, you will be assigned the same table and dining time for each evening of the cruise. Those who eat dinner early at home might opt for the earliest time slot, around 5 or 5:30PM, but we recommend considering a later dining time instead.

Related: How Royal Caribbean's Main Dining Room works and what to expect

As your ship sails away from each port of call in Alaska, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Inside Passage, and you won’t want to miss sailaway each evening. However, sailaway times often overlap with the early dining time, meaning you’ll miss these scenic sailings if you're in the Main Dining Room.

To ensure you don’t miss out, consider booking a later dinner time, or simply eat dinner elsewhere on the nights the sailaway overlaps with your dining time. The Windjammer buffet can be an excellent place to enjoy dinner in Alaska, as the buffet has floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the venue, in addition to outdoor seating on select ships.

Use Seattle airport’s port valet service when disembarking in Seattle

suitcases in hallway

One of my favorite Alaska cruise “hacks” is to utilize Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s luggage valet service.

Dreading transporting your luggage from the cruise terminal to the airport check-in desk? If your Alaska cruise ends in Seattle, you may be in luck. Royal Caribbean and the Port of Seattle offer a luggage valet service, which allows you to bypass standard airport check-in.

Instead of transporting your luggage to the airport yourself, bags are collected outside your stateroom door in the evening prior to disembarkation. The bags are then delivered and checked onto your flight on disembarkation morning, meaning you won’t see your bags again until you arrive at your home airport.

Although the service comes with a small fee in addition to any airline baggage fees, it offers unparalleled convenience for travelers.

Disembark your ship early on each port day to avoid crowds

busy cruise port in Ketchikan

As Alaska cruises have grown in popularity, the crowds have grown as well. It’s not uncommon for there to be three, four, or even five cruise ships docked in Alaska's ports at once.

No one enjoys navigating crowds, but it’s almost inevitable when cruising to Alaska. If you want to avoid the highest crowds, we recommend disembarking your ship early on each port day.

Related: Top ways to avoid crowds on an Alaska cruise

On most itineraries, you will arrive in port in the morning. While it could be tempting to sleep in, we advise starting your port day earlier rather than later. Crowds only increase throughout the morning and early afternoon, so if you want the best chance of exploring port without thousands of other passengers, your best bet is to disembark as soon as the gangway goes down.

Read as much Alaska cruise advice as you can before your cruise begins

Jenna's dad in Alaska

If you made it to the end of this article, chances are you’re already following our final tip on this list, and that is to read as many tips as you can about Alaska cruises before you set sail.

It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, so there’s no harm in reading articles and watching YouTube videos to help you prepare for your Alaska cruise.

Doing research will help you pack correctly, plan your travel logistics without any issues, and book that once-in-a-lifetime excursion you’ve dreamed about for years.

In search of even more content to prepare for your upcoming cruise? Check out more of our Alaska cruise tips and advice:

8 Useful Apps Every Cruiser Should Know About

17 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

You can make your cruise so much easier with a few helpful apps.

Useful apps to use

As a traveler who’s visited 12 countries and countless cities, I’ve had to build up my toolbox from the ground up.

From Google Maps to Airbnb, a variety of modern apps and websites have been created that help travelers with everything they need. When you have the right tools by your side, your experiences will become much easier and incredibly rewarding.

It takes trial and error (and sometimes some embarrassing mistakes!) to find all the best apps and websites to help you out along the way.

Some of these apps aren’t well-known but they can save you a lot of time, money, and energy.

To make sure you’re not missing out on any tools, here are the top 8 apps I recommend every cruiser use.

1. Airalo

International travelers are familiar with the feeling of stepping foot in a foreign place and desperately searching for WiFi.

Cruise ships don’t stop in one place for long, and this can leave cruisers at a disadvantage when it comes to phone connectivity on land.

When you’re visiting a country for only eight hours or so, it doesn't make sense to find a store and waste money buying a physical SIM card for your phone that you’ll throw away the next day.

Airalo provides a simple solution. The app allows you to purchase eSIMs for a selected amount of days so that you can connect to data on your trip.

While it depends on the region and offers available, you can usually choose between 7 days, 15 days, 30 days, and 365 days.

The eSIM uploads directly to your phone, and you can activate it immediately! The app is free to download, and you get 5% cashback with each transaction you make.

The best part is, these eSIMs are extremely affordable. Most 7-day packages are under $5.

With Airalo, you will never again have to find strange cafes to sit in while you download maps or Google search for what to do next.

Read more: Royal Caribbean WiFi: Guide to Internet at sea

2. Been

Orlando, Florida on a map

What Goodreads is to readers, Been is to travelers. 

Been is an app that allows you to track the places you’ve visited, lived, and wish to travel to.

Been tracks how many countries you’ve visited and calculates what percentage of the world you’ve been to.

When you update your map with a location, that location lights up in color. You can edit your map to display your countries in many different ways.

The app also allows you to share an image or video of all the places you’ve visited.

It’s an exciting way to craft your travel bucket list and remember all the places you’ve been.

While the app is free, there is a premium version you can upgrade to.

The premium version is $2.29 and allows you to update specific cities and airports, compare your profile with friends, and add more visualizations to your map.

3. WhatsApp

Americans may not be familiar with WhatsApp, but it’s useful in almost every other country.

WhatsApp is a secure messaging platform that many use for texts and calls. It works without data, just on WiFi, so it’s a great option for travelers.

It is a free app that connects your contacts using your phone number.

When traveling abroad, you’ll find that many hotels, tours, and other locations offer a WhatsApp number to contact them.

RC message watch

For example, when my Mediterranean cruise ended in Barcelona, I ordered a shuttle service to get me to the airport in time for my flight home.

However, the driver was 20 minutes late, and the only contact number listed was a WhatsApp number. 

If I didn't have the app downloaded and set up, I could have been delayed even more in contacting them and getting on the road.

Before you leave for your cruise, just download WhatsApp and you’ll be one step ahead.

4. Tripit

Allegiant airplane

Cruising often involves organizing several different methods of travel.

You may have to fly to your cruise ship, and then get onboard. You will have to enter different ports of call and find transportation to your tourist destinations.

It’s a lot to organize—but TripIt can help. TripIt is an app that organizes all your travel plans into one place.

The best part is that you can forward your travel receipts and plans directly to [email protected], and the app will automatically add them to your profile.

You can even share your plans with others inside the app or in a text or email.

All these features are free to use, but the pro version—which costs $48.99 a year—automatically invites others to your trips and tracks your loyalty programs and rewards.

TripIt is the most simple and efficient way of organizing your trip.

5. Royal Caribbean

If you cruise Royal Caribbean, you definitely need to have the app downloaded.

The Royal app is your key to the entire cruise vacation.

Before the cruise begins, you can use the app to check in, plan your arrival time, and make pre-cruise purchases like dining, shore excursions, and WiFi.

YYou will also complete your safety briefing on the app by watching a series of short videos.

Once you’re onboard, you also have access to maps of every deck, a daily Cruise planner, and your own personal calendar.

It’s an indispensable tool throughout your cruise, from finding out what dining venues are open to seeing the dress theme for the night.

In-app messaging also allows you to communicate with guests who are linked under your booking, or who have your full name. 

The app is completely free to use, even if you do not purchase Royal Caribbean WiFi. Free WiFi onboard will allow you to use the app 24/7.

6. Xe Currency

Currency exchange windows

How many dollars are in a euro again? Why does this item cost thousands of yen?

When you use Xe Currency, you won’t have to memorize the exact conversation rates.

This app automatically displays the most updated exchange rates for as many currencies as you need.

Australian banknotes

It’s also a method of sending money directly to bank accounts or mobile wallets.

To save yourself the headache of memorization, or the embarrassment of opening a calculator at every purchase, you should use Xe Currency.

7. CruiseMapper

Tracking ships

If you’ve ever wondered where a cruise ship is at this moment in time, CruiseMapper is a great app to download.

There are many free cruise ship tracking apps available online.

CruiseMapper is one such free version, but it does display ads on the bottom of the screen.

The app takes you to a world map that displays ships sailing all over. Arrow icons indicate ships that are currently sailing, while dots are ships that are docked at port.

Tracking cruise ships on internet

You can click on each icon to explore the ship or search by ship/port to find a specific one.

Whether you’re curious about someone else’s voyage or checking up on a familiar ship, CruiseMapper is a great way to track a cruise ship’s location.

8. My Cruise

Kids together on Wonder of the Seas

If you’re trying to get younger kids used to the idea of cruising, My Cruise is a game that can help.

My Cruise is a free mobile game where you can control all the parts of creating a luxury cruise vacation. You will work to build a cruise ship, developing restaurants and staterooms. 

You can even set sail, visit different ports of call and collect passengers.

It’s a fun game with calming music and a cute art style, also making it a relaxing option for adults who love to cruise!

Royal Caribbean cancels cruise because of Houthi Attacks in Red Sea

16 Apr 2024
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has been forced to cancel a cruise due to the conflict in the region of the Red Sea.

Anthem of the Seas in Spain

Guests booked on the October 14, 2024 sailing of Anthem of the Seas were informed by Royal Caribbean that they have decided to cancel a Middle East cruise because of concerns for the ship's safety.

A rise of attacks since October 2023 on commercial ships in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden by the Houthis has greatly impacted tourism in the area. This includes pirate activity and even drones to attack ships in the area.

There have been more than 60 recorded attacks so far, and the incidents have drawn a military response from a number of countries, including the United States.

Photo by Kokza Ekn

"We have all been closely monitoring the unrest in the Red Sea and were hopeful everything would settle down. Unfortunately, due to security risks and with the safety of our guests and crew top of mind, we've made the difficult decision that Anthem of the Seas will instead have to transit around the southern tip of Africa."

Instead of sailing through the Suez Canal, Anthem of the Seas will sail without any passengers around Africa.

Anthem of the Seas was to sail through the Suez Canal as part of a repositioning from Southampton, UK to her new homeport in Singapore. It's not clear yet if any of the scheduled sailings from Singapore will be affected.

Red Sea map

The cruise industry has had to reroute and cancel cruises as a result of violence in the area. 

"We're truly sorry for the impact that this has on your vacation plans," Royal Caribbean said in a statement to guests booked on the now cancelled cruise.

This isn't the first Royal Caribbean cruise to have changes made to avoid the Middle East.

Serenade of the Seas in Maine

Royal Caribbean announced its 9-month world cruise would be re-routed around Africa as well.  The original plan was for Serenade of the Seas to go through the Suez Canal in May. 

Instead of sailing through the Middle East, Serenade of the Seas will transit Africa and offer its guests an immersive tour of the continent. The 42-day route will visit a number of countries around Africa, including the Seychelles, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, and Senegal.

Houthi attacks wrecking vacation plans

Island Princess Cruise ship

While cruises in the Middle East do not constitute a major region for sailings, it's certainly impacting many lines and people's vacations.

Attacks by the Iran-backed rebel group have prompted a military response, and the cruise industry has had to shift gears.

Royal Caribbean Group had already made changes to avoid the region when the Palestinians sparked a war with Israel on October 7. The ensuing conflict sparked the Houthis to launch their own attacks on interests in the region as a sign of support.

Middle east map

Carnival Corporation rerouted itineraries for 12 ships across seven brands for voyages scheduled to sail through the Red Sea through May.

This includes two world cruises on Princess cruise ships.

MSC Cruises cancelled three sailings in April to avoid the Red Sea. Instead of going through the Middle East, the MSC ships will sail with no passengers on board and go around Africa.