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Guide to weekend cruises: Tips for taking a 3-night Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
28 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean offers a lot of amazing cruise experiences, including 3-night getaway cruises that offer the perfect escape. While weekend cruises have their own pros and cons, a day on a cruise ship is always better than a day on land!

Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of taking a 3-night Royal Caribbean cruise. Knowing which departure ports offer weekend cruises, which destinations you can visit, and how much to budget for will help determine which weekend cruise will be best for your mini-getaway.

In this guide:

Weekend cruise itineraries

Royal Caribbean offers cruises as long as 19+ nights and as short as 2 nights to destinations all over the world. Regardless of whether you book the longest cruise, a transpacific sailing visiting French Polynesia and New Zealand, or the shortest cruise to the Bahamas, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable cruise vacation.

How long are weekend cruises?

Most weekend cruises tend to be 3-nights, leaving port on Friday afternoon and returning early Monday morning. A 3-night cruise gives the perfect length for a true “weekend getaway,” allowing you to forget all the stress brought on by work or school and truly escape.

Occasionally you may find 2-night cruises over the weekend, which leave Friday afternoon and return Sunday morning, although these are much less common.

Weekend cruise departure ports

Most of Royal Caribbean’s regularly scheduled weekend cruises leave from the ports of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, or Los Angeles.

Due to the Passenger Vessel Services Act (otherwise known as the Jones Act), all foreign-flagged ships departing from the United States must include an itinerary stop in a country other than the United States.

This severely limits options for weekend cruises, as any US port offering 2 and 3-night cruises must be able to travel to and from a secondary country in a short amount of time. Cruises departing from New York (Cape Liberty), for example, often visit northeast Canada, but this tends to require a 4-night minimum travel time round-trip.

Therefore, you will see weekend cruises leaving from ports closest to other countries. In Royal Caribbean’s case, Florida ports have quick access to the Bahamas whereas Los Angeles is just a short distance from Mexico.

On some occasions you may find weekend cruises leaving from other ports around the world, such as Southampton, England and Haifa, Israel, although these tend to be more of a one-time cruise than a weekly itinerary choice.

Where can I visit on a weekend cruise?

Weekend cruises are fairly limited in the destinations they can visit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience an amazing day in port on a 3-night getaway.

Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau is the capital of New Providence Island and is one of the most commonly visited ports on any Royal Caribbean cruise. The city is filled with fun activities, from waterparks to historical sites and enjoying day passes at all-inclusive resorts.

While it’s possible to disembark the ship in Nassau and simply walk around, we highly recommend planning what you would like to do in Nassau in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on the island’s best offerings and beaches.

Read more: Best things to do in Nassau on a cruise

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Perfect Day at CocoCay is Royal Caribbean’s private destination in the Bahamas and is a favorite port among cruise fans. The island offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking to spend the day relaxing at Chill Beach, join the party at the swim-up bar, reserve a private, floating cabana, or slide down the tallest waterslide in North America.

While it’s not necessary to have a plan for your day at CocoCay, it’s a good idea to be familiar with what is offered on the island to ensure you can book any excursions or addons in advance.

Ensenada, Mexico

Ensenada is a port city on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Baja California. If you’ve taken a cruise to other Mexican ports like Cozumel and Costa Maya, you’ll be surprised at how different the geography and coastline of Ensenada is compared to the Caribbean.

Whereas the Yucatan peninsula offers dense jungles, Mayan ruins, and calm beaches, Ensenada has a dry climate. A day in Ensenada is best spent enjoying Baja California’s nature, whether exploring the Calafia Valley Wine Country, riding an ATV on the coast, or hiking through El Salto Canyon.

Read more:  A day in Ensenada, Mexico while cruising on Navigator of the Seas

Other destinations

Royal Caribbean occasionally offers short cruises to more exotic destinations. Currently there are cruises to Cyprus, Le Havre (Paris), and Naples, Italy available to book! The vast majority of weekend cruises, however, tend to visit the same ports due to their proximity to the United States.

Will there be a sea day?

The majority of weekend cruises departing from Florida do not have a sea day, although you may occasionally run into an itinerary with one day at sea. Weekend cruises tend to be port-intensive, meaning they stop in a new port each day.

The exception is with cruises departing from the Port of Los Angeles on Navigator of the Seas. Weekend cruises on Navigator of the Seas have a full day at sea prior to a port day in Ensenada, Mexico. A sea day is perfect for trying the newly amplified ship’s upgraded features, including the longest waterslide at sea and The Lime & Coconut Bar.

If your weekend cruise itinerary does not include a sea day, that does not mean you have to disembark the ship in each port you visit. Many passengers opt to spend one of the port days onboard instead of in port so they can make the most of the cruise ship’s activities, dining, and amenities.

Which Royal Caribbean ships offer weekend cruises?

While all Royal Caribbean ships may offer a 3-night cruise here and there, there are several ships that almost exclusively run on the same schedule every week. These ships tend to offer 3-night cruises from Friday afternoon to Monday morning and 4-night cruises from Monday afternoon to Friday morning.

While most ships running weekend cruises are not the newest and largest in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, the majority of these ships have recently been amplified in the cruise line’s Royal Amplified program. Amplifications bring an impressive upgrade to Royal Caribbean ships, adding new onboard activities, stateroom options, and dining/lounge venues.

Freedom of the Seas, a Freedom Class ship, offers year-round 3-night weekend cruises departing from Miami, visiting both Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas. Freedom of the Seas was amplified in February 2020 and received a major upgrade, with additions including the Perfect Storm waterslides, a Caribbean resort-style pool deck, and the new Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen restaurant.

Liberty of the Seas is another Freedom Class cruise ship and she will offer 3-night cruises to Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas starting in November 2022. Those booking a weekend getaway on Liberty of the Seas will depart from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Liberty of the Seas was revamped in 2016, which added the waterslides, Splashaway Bay kids aqua park, and the Sabor Mexican restaurant.

Independence of the Seas is the weekend getaway ship of choice for those who prefer to depart from Port Canaveral, Florida. She is a Freedom Class cruise ship offering 3-night cruises to Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas. Passengers on Independence of the Seas can enjoy an escape room, water slides, and the Izumi hibachi restaurant.

Navigator of the Seas, a Voyager Class ship, is the only Royal Caribbean cruise ship permanently homeported at the Port of Los Angeles. She offers 3-night weekend cruises to Ensenada, Mexico. Navigator of the Seas was amplified in 2019 with a Caribbean resort-style pool deck, new tropical-themed bars like the Bamboo Room, an escape room, and more.

Allure of the Seas will begin offering 3-night weekend cruises in November 2023, making her the first Oasis Class ship to offer regularly scheduled weekend sailings. She will depart from Port Canaveral, Florida on Friday afternoons and visit both Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay before returning back to Florida on Monday morning.

Allure of the Seas makes a great weekend cruise option for those who love having a nearly endless amount of activities to choose from onboard, from zip lining to AquaTheater shows.

Mariner of the Seas, a Voyager Class ship, occasionally offers 3-night weekend cruises, although they are more sporadic and not offered year-round. When they are offered, she departs from Port Canaveral, Florida and visits Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.

Like many other ships offering weekend cruises, Mariner of the Seas was recently amplified to include new activities, amenities, and dining options.

Which cruise ship should I pick for a weekend cruise?

Most of Royal Caribbean’s ships offering weekend cruises are extremely similar to each other. The Voyager and Freedom Class cruise ships offering 3-night cruises are almost identical in layout and onboard features. While some dining venues, bars, and water slides may differ, passengers should expect a relatively similar experience no matter which Voyager or Freedom Class ship they choose.

There are a few differences between them that should be noted, though:

  • Mariner of the Seas does not have a baby splash pad area, so this ship may not be the best choice for parents who have children in diapers
  • Navigator of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas offer different style waterslides than the others
  • There is an escape room available on Independence, Mariner, and Navigator of the Seas
  • Freedom Class ships are longer than Voyager Class ships, giving more space for a Splashaway Bay area for kids on the pool deck and more venues and stores inside the ship
  • Freedom of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas offer the revamped Adventure Ocean kids programming, which offers kids more flexibility in activities rather than a rigid activity schedule

Should I pick Allure of the Seas?

Allure of the Seas stands apart from the other cruise ships offering weekend sailings in that she is an Oasis Class ship. The Oasis Class ships are the largest in Royal Caribbean’s fleet and are famous for their Central Park neighborhood, open-air Boardwalk, countless dining venues, and unique onboard activities and entertainment.

A 3-night cruise on Allure of the Seas will almost certainly be the type of sailing where the ship is considered the destination. Whether dining outdoors in Central Park, watching impressive acrobatics and diving in the AquaTheater, or zip lining over the Boardwalk, it’s unlikely a weekend will be enough time to explore the entire ship!

One important distinction to note before booking a weekend cruise on Allure of the Seas is that she has a few differences compared to other Oasis Class cruise ships. While she was scheduled to be amplified in 2020, her amplification has been postponed. Therefore she does not have many features you will find on other ships offering weekend cruises, including water slides, an upgraded pool deck, and new restaurants and bars.

How much does a weekend cruise cost?

Weekend cruises offer a great value for a short getaway, as food, lodging, entertainment, and onboard activities are included in your cruise fare. When comparing the price of a hotel, dining at restaurants, and purchasing tickets to entertainment on land, a cruise tends to come at a much lower cost.

In general, a weekend cruise in the cheapest stateroom category (interior) will cost between $700 and $1000 total for 2 adults. The cost of a balcony stateroom will be slightly higher, usually falling somewhere between $1000 and $1450.

Weekend cruises can differ in price depending on the following factors:

  • How far in advance you book the cruise
  • What time of year you plan to cruise
  • Which stateroom you select
  • Whether you purchase cruise addons or shore excursions

Generally speaking, the further in advance you book a cruise, the cheaper your price will be. Booking a year in advance can usually net a better price than waiting until just a few weeks or months until the cruise.

This is not always the case, however, as there may sometimes be last-minute weekend cruise deals available. Last-minute deals should not be relied upon, though, and the last thing you want to happen is have a weekend cruise sell out before you can book it!

The time of year you sail can be one of the biggest factors in determining how much a weekend cruise will cost. Summer months and holidays can bring the highest prices due to demand, whereas the months of January, February, September (excluding Labor Day weekend), October, and November (excluding Thanksgiving) tend to be cheaper.

The category of stateroom you select can also make a big difference on the overall cost of a weekend cruise. Interior staterooms will almost always be the cheapest stateroom category available.

Interior rooms can actually make a fantastic stateroom choice for a weekend cruise. Not only will you save money, but with such a short cruise, it’s unlikely you will be spending much time at all in your stateroom anyway. There is so much to do onboard a Royal Caribbean weekend cruise that you might only be in your room to shower and sleep!

Cost of cruise addons and excursions

One of the biggest benefits to booking a weekend cruise is that booking a dining or beverage package comes with less of a “sticker shock” than on a longer sailing.

If a beverage package is priced at $75/day on a 7-night cruise, your total cost will be over $500 plus gratuities! If that same price is offered on a 3-night cruise, you’ll only be shelling out around $225 plus gratuities.

This can make purchasing a beverage package much more enticing. Plus, it’s unlikely you will get bored or tired of drinking on a short cruise. It’s common for many passengers to order fewer drinks as the days go on during a longer cruise, thus not getting the full value of their drink package. 3-nights is a more reasonable amount of time to enjoy unlimited tropical cocktails, beer, wine, coffee drinks, and fresh juices without feeling like you’ve been drinking too much!

Another great thing about the majority of Royal Caribbean’s weekend cruises is that they include a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay. It’s extremely easy to spend an entire day at CocoCay without spending anything extra, as food, beaches, pools, hammocks, and more are included in your cruise fare. Drink packages work on the island, too, meaning you won’t have to budget anything extra for drinks.

For more information on what to do and what’s included at Perfect Day at CocoCay, check out our full tour on the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel:

Is a weekend cruise worth it? The pros and cons of a 3-night cruise

Pro: Relaxing getaway

A weekend cruise can offer a much-needed getaway for many passengers. Being able to leave any stress at home and visit multiple tropical destinations in a short amount of time is simply a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

Cruises tend to be much more relaxing than other weekend getaways as well. There’s no need to worry about constantly driving from place to place, paying high prices for food at every meal, and finding activities that are fun for both kids and adults. A cruise offers everything you need in one package.

Plus, many of the same benefits that you will receive from a longer cruise (excitement of going somewhere new, feeling pampered, etc.) you will also receive on a short sailing.

Pro: Less vacation time needed

A great benefit of a weekend cruise is that far less vacation time is needed compared to a 7-night cruise, especially if you live close to the departure port. By departing on Friday afternoon and returning Monday morning, it’s possible to take just one or two days off of work.

If you have few vacation hours or you’re saving them for a longer trip, a 3-night cruise offers the chance to have a mini-vacation without sacrificing your precious PTO time.

Pro: Ability to splurge

A shorter cruise can be a great time to splurge on things like drink packages, shore excursions, and specialty dining. Knowing you don’t have to budget for a full week’s vacation might make you more willing to pay for a few extras to enhance the cruise experience.

Spending $100 for a shore excursion in Nassau may not seem as bad when you don’t have 3 or 4 other ports to visit. Likewise, booking a specialty dinner at Chops, Izumi Hibachi, or Jamie’s Italian can be a nice way to “splurge” while still having a fantastic weekend getaway.

Con: higher cost per day

A major drawback to a weekend cruise is that the cost per day of a 3-night cruise is often more expensive than the cost per day of a longer cruise. To put this into perspective, I checked the prices of two cruises: a 3-night cruise on Freedom of the Seas and a 7-night cruise on Harmony of the Seas. Both sailings take place in September, just after the summer cruise season is over.

On the 3-night sailing on Freedom of the Seas, the cruise fare for 2 adults in a balcony stateroom is $1068. This makes the cost per day $356 per room, or $178 per person.

On the 7-night sailing on Harmony of the Seas, the cruise fare for 2 adults in a balcony stateroom is $1,960 total. This makes the cost per day $280 per room, or $140 per person.

While the cost per day ($178 versus $140) may not seem too drastic, it becomes much different once the cost of airfare and a pre-cruise hotel stay are added to the total cruise cost.

Let’s say you pay $300 roundtrip (per person) in airfare and $250 for a hotel the night before your cruise. This adds $850 to your total cruise cost.

The 3-night cruise now costs $1918, making the cost per day around $639 per room, or $319 per person. The 7-night cruise, on the other hand, now costs $2,810, making the cost per day $401 per room, or around $200 per person.

Con: It’s over before you know it

Booking a 3-night cruise sounds like a perfect idea… until it’s over! Weekend cruises go by very quickly, and they seem to be over just as you are getting acquainted with the ship and settling into “vacation mode”.

While a short cruise is still better than no cruise at all, you’ll likely wish you had at least one or two more days onboard.

Read more: Is it worth it to book a 3-night cruise?

Con: Limited ships offer weekend cruises

Most weekend cruises are on Voyager and Freedom Class cruise ships. While these are amazing ships full of new activities and amenities, you won’t often have the chance to sail on Royal Caribbean’s newest ships when cruising on the weekend.

While this problem will be slightly improved once Allure of the Seas begins offering weekend cruises, it’s unlikely that Royal Caribbean will offer regularly scheduled 3-night cruises on new ships like Wonder of the Seas or Odyssey of the Seas.

Pro and Con: Party atmosphere

Weekend cruises tend to come with a bigger party atmosphere when compared to longer sailings. Bachelor parties, wedding guests, and friend groups are common on shorter cruises… and they come onboard to party!

Whether this is a pro or con ultimately depends on your preferences. It does lead to an extremely lively atmosphere onboard, but if you’re looking for a quiet sailing, a weekend cruise may not be the best choice for you.

Have you ever been on a weekend cruise? What tips and tricks do you have for others planning 3-night Royal Caribbean cruises? Let us know in the comments!

A look at the big suites on Wonder of the Seas

In:
28 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

What does a suite on the world's largest cruise ship look like?

Accessible Loft Suite

Staying in a suite means enjoying the finest accommodations on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, which come in variety of configurations and prices.

When you book a suite, you're getting the most space available in a cruise cabin on board both inside and on your balcony. That means space to spread out and take full advantage of your home away from home.

In addition, a suite gets you additional benefits such as concierge service, priority boarding and departure privileges, and dedicated entertainment seating.

Royal Loft Suite

Whether you choose to book a suite or not, it's always fun to look at what these giant cabins look like, just so you can get an idea of what it gets you.

Royal Caribbean recently shared remarkable photos from some of the suites on Wonder of the Seas. Keep in mind this isn't every type of suite, but there's a few varieties to give you an idea of what it's like.

From the spacious to the stupendous, here's a look at some of the suites on Wonder.

Accessible Loft Suite

Accessible Loft Suite

Loft suites are the two-level cabins first introduced on the Oasis Class cruise ships that truly stand out for the fact it encompasses more than one floor.

This particular suite is a wheelchair accessible cabin (there's an elevator to bring the wheelchair up to the second level near the cabin entrance). 

Royal Caribbean has accessible rooms are available in: Crown Loft Suite, Junior Suite, Ultra Spacious Ocean View with Large Balcony, Ocean View Balcony, Central Park View Balcony, Ocean View, Interior, Interior with Virtual Balcony

Loft Suite
Loft suite balcony

Crown Loft Suite

Crown Loft Suite

Here's a look at the standard loft suite on Wonder of the Seas, without the accessibility option.

The Crown Loft Suite (category L1) has two levels and has a Royal King bed upstairs and a sofa bed downstairs.

Crown Loft Suite

Royal Loft Suite

Royal Loft Suite

If you're looking to move up from a standard loft suite, the Royal Loft Suite provides more living space as well as Star Class benefits, such as your own Royal Genie.

Read moreWhat is the difference between suite concierge and a Royal Genie?

Royal Loft Suite
Royal Loft Suite
Royal Loft Suite

The Royal Loft Suite comes in at 1,524 square feet of living space, plus 843 square feet of balcony space. Compare that to 545 square feet in a Crown Loft Suite!

Two-bedroom AquaTheater Suite

AquaTheater suite on Wonder of the Seas

Another Star Class cabin is located on the end of the ship with sweeping views of the ocean and AquaTheater below it.

If you love a good balcony, this cabin arguably has the best one because of how massive it is.

On deck 8, the AquaTheater suite has  823 square feet of living space and an additional 772 square feet of balcony space. That's almost double the inside space.

Ultimate Family Suite

Ultimate family suite

Have you heard about the most expensive suite on Royal Caribbean?

The Ultimate Family Suite is massive on Wonder of the Seas, offering kid-centric design and 1,134 square footage indoors and 212 on the balcony. 

Ultimate family suite
Ultimate family suite
Ultimate family suite

The location of the suite is different on Wonder of the Seas compared to Symphony of the Seas, too. Whereas on Symphony the suite overlooks the sport area, the Ultimate Family Suite on Wonder faces the forward and starboard sides of the ship.

Ultimate family suite
Ultimate family suite
Ultimate family suite

If you're ready to book this bad boy, it won't come cheap. The price will vary depending on the sailing, but prices usually begin around $25,000 and go up quickly from there.

Suite Neighborhood Sun Deck

Plunge pool on Wonder of the Seas

There are many benefits that come with a suite on Wonder of the Seas, including access to the Suite Neighborhood sun deck.

Exclusively for suite guests, the sun deck offers a special area to enjoy ocean views that has a plunge pool, lounge chairs, and a bar.

Wonder of the Seas is the only Oasis Class cruise ship that has its own suite neighborhood, which required the company to put fewer suites on the ship so that they had space for the area.

More information

Royal Caribbean ship collision due to pilot error

In:
27 May 2022
By: 
Hayley Phillips

It appears the collision of Harmony of the Seas was due to the harbor pilot.

Falmouth, Jamiaca

Thursday morning Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas collided with a dock at the port of Falmouth, Jamaica.

No injuries were sustained to either crew or passengers. The collision is said to have caused mostly cosmetic damage to the vessel, including dents and paint scrapes.

The damage was caused when Harmony of the Seas struck a concrete mooring pylon while docking at the port. The incident occurred around 7 a.m. local time, Thursday morning. 

“There were no injuries to guests or crew and only minor cosmetic damage to the ship’s stern. The sailing will continue as scheduled,” stated Royal Caribbean about the incident. 

According to the Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, the collision by Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, at the Falmouth port was caused by Pilot error. 

The Jamaica Gleaner quoted Bartlett saying, “the good news is that nobody got hurt and the damage was minimal to the vessel and it was able to continue its journey unfazed and really unaffected.”

Bartlett is also said to have stated that the collision with the dock occurred when the Pilot was badly directed while steering the ship in to be docked in Falmouth. 

The port did sustain some damage from the incident. The Tourism Minister stated, “we are repairing the damaged areas at the port now. The divers are there now recovering the broken elements and we should be back in full order for the ships that come next week.”

Who is the harbor pilot?

Pilot boat

A harbor pilot is someone who guides ships and vessels through congested waters of a port or harbor.

You may have seen a pilot boat when your cruise departed or entered a port, usually during sailaway is when they are most commonly spotted.

Harbor pilots have detailed knowledge and experience in the waterways that they help direct vessels through. At almost every port, a harbor pilot will be brought aboard a cruise ship to help direct the large ship into place at the dock. Harbor Pilots are considered to be experts on the particular port that they manage.

Harbor Pilots work for the port that they help direct ships into, while a ship’s Captain works for the cruise line.

While Jamaican regulations may differ, the Florida Harbor Pilots association says when a pilot is onboard a ship, it's their responsibility to guide the ship when docking or departing.

"Harbor pilots are responsible for the safety of the vessel which they are navigating, and also with the protection of the state waters, harbors, ports, environment, life and property, including effects that ships transiting a harbor may have on other ships moored at the docks and any impact on port facilities."

No significant damage to Harmony of the Seas

If you have an upcoming cruise on Harmony of the Seas, this week's incident will have no impact on your sailing.

Royal Caribbean described the damage as, "cosmetic", and not to expect any impact to sailings.

This is somewhat similar to when another vessel drifted into Mariner of the Seas while docked in Freeport. Just like Harmony, the incident looked worse than it was in terms of the visuals.

Here is where you can smoke on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
27 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean allows cigarette, cigar, e-cigarette, and pipe smoking on its cruise ships, but smoking is restricted to designated areas onboard for the comfort and safety of all guests. Knowing where you’re allowed to smoke (and where smoking is prohibited) will help you be better prepared for your upcoming cruise.

Royal Caribbean’s smoking policies are fleetwide, so you can expect to find the same smoking areas on most ships. Guests who violate this smoking policy may be subject to further action pursuant to the "Consequences Section" of this Guest Conduct Policy.

Whether you’re looking for a place to smoke or trying to select a stateroom further from smoking areas, here’s what you need to know about smoking on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Promenade deck

All Royal Caribbean ships have an outdoor Promenade deck where guests can enjoy an outdoor walk away from the hustle and bustle found elsewhere onboard. This space is located on deck 4 or 5 and wraps around the ship, offering fantastic views of the ocean.

Smoking is permitted in a designated area on one side of the Promenade deck only. Whether this smoking area is on the port or starboard side of the ship depends on the ship you’re sailing on. Even ships in the same class may differ in smoking location, so it’s recommended to take a look at past Cruise Compasses to check where smoking is allowed on the Promenade deck.

On most ships, the Promenade deck smoking section will be small, with just a few chairs and ashtrays. On Quantum Class ships (excluding Odyssey of the Seas), there is a larger, covered smoking area outdoors with comfy seating. 

Oasis Class ships do not have a traditional Promenade Deck, as this area was designated to be a jogging track. While there are still places to sit and relax on the jogging track, this area is designated as non-smoking on all Oasis Class ships.

Pool deck

You can smoke in a designated area on one side of the pool deck on Royal Caribbean ships. The smoking side of the ship differs by ship, so it’s best to check a recent Cruise Compass for the ship you’ll be sailing on to see which side allows smoking.

The designated smoking area will have comfy seating, tables, and ashtrays. Note that while smoking is permitted on one side of the pool deck, it will only be allowed in the designated smoking area on that side, not the entire half of the pool deck.

Smoking is not allowed in other spaces on the pool deck, including near food venues, the upper pool deck jogging track, and the sports deck.

Casino

Casino smoking policies vary depending on your cruise departure port. For most departure ports, including those from the United States and Canada, smoking is permitted in the casino while the casino is in operation. Guests will find both a smoking area and non-smoking area at the casino.

On ships departing from the United Kingdom and Australia, no smoking is permitted in the casino. Passengers on cruises departing from China and Hong Kong are free to smoke in any part of the casino.

Cigar and pipe tobacco is not permitted in the casino, as it is only allowed in outside areas (with the exception of the Connoisseur Club).

Connoisseur Club

Select Royal Caribbean ships have the Connoisseur Club, an indoor cigar lounge where guests can purchase and smoke cigars as well as order drinks and chat with other passengers.

The Connoisseur Club is being phased out on Royal Caribbean ships, but it can still be found on Liberty of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas. The club will likely be removed when the two ships are amplified. The space will become either the Diamond Club or Library/Card Room.

Vaping

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are only permitted within the designated smoking areas.

Non-smoking areas

Balcony and stateroom

Royal Caribbean does not permit smoking on stateroom balconies or in the cabin itself. While a balcony may be your own private outdoor space, smoking can cause discomfort to guests in staterooms around you. Any passenger caught smoking in their stateroom or on their balcony will be subject to a $250 USD cleaning fee.

Solarium

The adults-only Solarium on Royal Caribbean ships is non-smoking. While it can be a relaxing place to spend the day away from younger passengers, passengers must stay in the designated area on the pool deck when smoking.

Central Park & Boardwalk neighborhoods

While Oasis Class ships offer many public outdoor spaces onboard, smoking is only allowed in the casino and on one side of the pool deck. The Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods are non-smoking.

Other public spaces

Entertainment venues, the Royal Promenade, bars, lounges, and restaurants are all non-smoking. Restaurants with outdoor seating, including the outdoor seating in the Windjammer, are also non-smoking.

One other important distinction is that passengers must be at least 21 years old to smoke on sailings departing from the United States and 18 years old on sailings departing from other countries.

Royal Caribbean hires new loyalty program ambassador

In:
27 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has a new face for its customer loyalty program.

In an update to members of the Crown and Anchor Society, Royal Caribbean announced it has hired a new Director of Loyalty.

Courtney Brant will serve as Royal Caribbean's "face of the Crown and Anchor Society", which has traditionally been a role that gives frequent cruisers a singular point of reference for communication.

In the email sent to Crown and Anchor Society members, Ms. Brant shared a brief message, "I’m absolutely thrilled to join not only Royal Caribbean, but the Crown & Anchor Society family too. I can’t wait to get to know our loyal members on a personal level and help create incredible vacation memories for you all."

Meet Courtney Brant

Prior to becoming the Director of Loyalty, Ms. Brant worked at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings for four years, where she served as a Senior Manager of Loyalty and Revenue Marketing prior to moving to Royal Caribbean.

At the onset of the pandemic, Royal Caribbean laid off the previous person to hold the position, Molly Paolini.  She had served in the role between July 2019 and April 2020.

What does the Director of Loyalty do?

You can expect Ms. Brant to act as a figurehead for Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

The Crown and Anchor Society has a lot of fervent fans that not only love to cruise, but their status in the program and the benefits it provides quite seriously.

In the past, one of the chief responsibilities was to keep Crown and Anchor members updated on everything Royal Caribbean, planning special events and more.

Royal Caribbean updates: Harmony of the Seas, crew member hiring drive & more

In:
26 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Another week of Royal Caribbean cruise news to catch up on, and we have the latest morsels of updates you should be aware of over the past few days.

Not every piece of Royal Caribbean news is significant enough for its own article, so this weekly wrap-up has the happenings we've noticed.

You can always email anything you spot to [email protected]

Here's a look at this week's goings-on.

Harmony of the Seas backs into Falmouth pier

The Harmony of the Seas had a small incident on Thursday when she backed into the pier during the docking procedure in Falmouth, Jamaica.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader BobNoxiousUSA shared photos from onboard the ship.

In a statement by Royal Caribbean, the ship incurred very minor damage of no consequence as a result of the incident, "During arrival into Falmouth, Jamaica, Harmony of the Seas made contact with an extension part of the dock."

"There were no injuries to guests or crew and only minor cosmetic damage to the ship’s stern. The sailing will continue as scheduled."

Global crew member recruitment drive

Royal Caribbean is actively working to hire as many new crew members as they can, given the staff shortages noted by people that have been on cruises recently.

The company has been holding job fairs in Europe since April to get more crew members, which have taken them to countries such as Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia and more.

In addition, Royal Caribbean Group signed a deal in Trinidad and Tobago to hire more crew. The goal is to hire 2,000 people from the islands to work on Royal Caribbean Group ships.

Royal Caribbean Group partners with company for zero carbon shipping

Royal Caribbean Group signed a new deal to provide zero carbon technologies and solutions.

Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean Group and Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for zero carbon shipping, which is part of the company's overall Destination Net Zero goal to reduce net zero emissions by 2050.

The Moller Center explores viable de-carbonization pathways; facilitates the development and implementation of new energy technologies; builds confidence in new concepts and their supply chains; and defines and matures viable strategic pathways to the required systemic change. 

"Collective action is imperative as we deploy our Destination Net Zero strategy to decarbonize our business and catalyze innovation for our industry," said Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO.

"By joining the Center Royal Caribbean Group aligns itself with a network of like-minded companies with an unrelenting drive to find solutions for a sustainable future."

This is a long-term strategic collaboration between the two companies

What is the cheapest month for an Alaska cruise?

In:
26 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

An Alaska cruise makes for an unforgettable vacation experience, but the cost of sailing to Alaska can vary greatly from month to month. While some cruisers may not put a price on such a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, others prefer to travel as budget-friendly as possible.

While a cruise itinerary as beautiful as Alaska may seem like it would come with a shockingly-high price tag, visiting Alaska on a cruise can actually be surprisingly affordable. In fact, if you’re willing to be a little flexible with the time of the year you sail, itinerary, and stateroom selection, it’s possible to find Alaska cruise deals for as little as $85 per day, per person!

Let’s look at the cheapest month for an Alaska cruise and see just how much the cruise fare can change from month to month.

Alaska cruise season

The Alaska cruise season typically runs from late April to late September, and the cheapest months to cruise to Alaska are during the shoulder season months of April, May, and September.

Prices tend to be cheaper during shoulder season due to chillier temperatures and the fact that school is still in session. Weather can also be more unpredictable at this time, although, to be fair, that can be said about nearly every day in Alaska!

Read more: How to cruise on the cheap

Regardless, if booking the cheapest Alaska cruise is important to you, a good starting point is to look at fares during the months of April, May, and September. Let’s take a look at a few examples of an Alaska cruise fare for 2 adults in the shoulder season compared to the peak summer months of June, July, and August.

7-night Alaska Glacier Cruise on Ovation of the Seas

Price of 2 adults in a balcony stateroom, including taxes and fees:

  • May 19, 2023: $2,182
  • July 21, 2023: $3,613
  • September 15, 2023: $2,193

7-night Alaska Glacier Experience on Enchantment of the Seas

Price of 2 adults in an interior stateroom, including taxes and fees:

  • April 23, 2023: $1,215
  • July 2, 2023: $2,091
  • August 27, 2023: $1,571

7-night Alaska Glacier Cruise on Quantum of the Seas

Price of 2 adults in a 1 bedroom Grand Suite, including taxes and fees:

  • May 22, 2023: $9,674
  • June 19, 2023: $10,736
  • September 18, 2023: $9,574

It’s possible to have savings upwards of $1000 by sailing during shoulder season as opposed to mid-summer. These savings can easily be put toward Alaska shore excursions like whale watching, kayaking, and even helicopter tours!

Read more: When should I book my Alaska shore excursion?

Alternatively, you can use these savings and book a higher category stateroom. If a balcony room is out of budget for a cruise in July, it might be doable in April, May, or September.

Simply put, by cruising in shoulder season, you can get more bang for your buck on an Alaska cruise.

Benefits of booking an Alaska cruise during the cheapest months

Booking an Alaska cruise during shoulder season can lead to benefits beyond a cheaper cruise fare.

Cruising to Alaska in the early season of late April and May can come with a lower chance of rain than late summer and fall. In addition, daylight hours are from around 4AM to 10PM in May, giving visitors plenty of time to enjoy Alaska’s attractions. Temperatures can be quite comfortable as summer approaches, with highs in the 60s common in mid to late-May.

The early season also brings the chance to spot gray whales, bears, and orcas.

Read more: What it’s like to go on an Alaska cruise in the early season

Cruising in September brings the start of fall foliage and snow capped mountain peaks. You may also have the chance to spot the northern lights in late September, although this is not guaranteed.

Drawbacks of booking an Alaska cruise during the cheapest months

October is the rainiest month of the year in southeast Alaska, with September coming in second. This can lead to high chances of cloud coverage and precipitation as well as colder temperatures. It may also lead to rougher seas when outside of the Inside Passage and a higher chance of ports being changed at the last minute. 

There are also fewer daylight hours in September, with only around 12-13 daylight hours in Juneau as opposed to 18 in June.

Read more: What it’s like to go on an Alaska cruise at the end of the season

If you are planning an Alaska cruise with kids, the shoulder season falls during the school calendar. Cruising in April, May, or September may require taking kids out of school for a week, which can lead to extra logistics with making up homework and tests.

Likewise, if you are interested in booking an Alaska Cruise Tour before or after your cruise, it’s important to note that visits to Denali National Park & Reserve are limited to when the park is open to visitors. The earliest and latest Alaska cruises of the season will likely not offer a Cruise Tour option.

Open-jaw sailings

The cheapest Alaska cruises tend to be in the months of May and September, but booking an open-jaw Alaska cruise can lead to even bigger savings not only in the shoulder season, but during the peak summer months as well.

Open-jaw Alaska sailings are one-way cruises to or from Alaska. One-way cruises travel between Vancouver, Canada and Seward, Alaska, visiting a variety of ports and glaciers along the Inside Passage. They can be booked either Northbound (departing from Vancouver and ending in Seward) or Southbound (departing from Seward and ending in Vancouver).

Read more: Ultimate Alaska cruise guide

One-way cruises exist primarily to serve Royal Caribbean’s land-based Cruise Tours, which are multi-day land tours before or after an Alaska cruise. However, one-way cruises are open to all passengers regardless of whether or not they booked a Cruise Tour.

Let’s compare a few one-way cruises to roundtrip sailings and see how much prices can differ. This pricing is for a guaranteed interior cabin for 2 adults during the peak summer season, including taxes and fees.

One-way 7-night Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier cruise on Radiance of the Seas

  • June 17, 2022: $1,126
  • July 29, 2022: $1,258

Roundtrip 7-night Alaska Glacier Cruise on Quantum of the Seas

  • June 27, 2022: $1,956
  • July 25, 2022: $2,096

As you can see, it’s possible to find fantastic cruise fares on one-way sailings if you want to sail during the warmest months of the year in Alaska. 

Why one-way cruises are cheaper

Cheaper prices can be found on open-jaw Alaska cruises due to the travel logistics needed on a one-way cruise, including flying into one city and out of another, figuring out transportation from Seward to the Anchorage airport, and being unable to drive to port.

If you don’t mind the extra logistics, open-jaw sailings can lead to great savings and the opportunity to visit Alaska more in-depth. Because there is less travel time required as opposed to a roundtrip cruise, open-jaw sailings often include more port stops and fewer sea days.

As a plus, you can also visit Alaska’s inland destinations such as Talkeetna and Denali National Park & Reserve by starting or ending your cruise in Seward.

Is it worth it to cruise to Alaska in the shoulder season?

While prices may be cheaper in May and September compared to June, July, and August, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each month before selecting a sail date.

If an Alaska cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you and you want the warmest temperatures and most daylight, booking the cheapest fare in, say, late September, may lead to disappointment.

Read more: Why you shouldn’t book the cheapest cruise you can find

Temperatures on an Alaska can actually be quite comfortable in late spring, so while it’s of course recommended to pack a jacket, hat, and gloves, you may be surprised with sunny skies and somewhat warm weather.

Regardless of the month you book an Alaska cruise, it’s important to remain flexible. Temperature, precipitation, port changes, and unexpected mishaps can happen at any time of year in Alaska, so keeping an open mind will help you have the best experience possible.

More Alaska cruise resources:

What to pack for a Bahamas cruise

In:
25 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

A cruise to the Bahamas offers a classic Caribbean cruise experience. From snorkeling in crystal clear waters to spending the day at Perfect Day at CocoCay, there’s always something to enjoy in the Bahamas.

Packing for a cruise efficiently means you can enjoy your vacation as much as possible without having to worry about forgetting essential items or lugging around extra weight.

From packing lightweight clothing to remembering sunscreen and comfortable shoes, here is our list of the top items to pack on a cruise to the Bahamas.

Breathable, casual clothing

Lightweight fabrics are key on a Bahamas cruise, where you’ll encounter warm temperatures nearly all year round. Heavy fabrics and non-breathable clothing are not recommended unless you plan on overheating!

Lightweight shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, sundresses, and rompers are all acceptable clothing options in the Bahamas. Packing loose-fitting clothing is recommended over tight, restrictive outfits to ensure you remain comfortable.

It can also be fun to pack colorful, tropical patterned clothing to fully immerse yourself in vacation-mode. Leave the boring, black clothes at home and opt for a floral sundress or Hawaiian-print shirt instead.

If you opt to wear only a swimsuit and coverup, be sure to pack a change of clothes or a lightweight dress to throw over your swimsuit. It’s common courtesy to wear real clothing if you spend time walking around port and entering local businesses after the beach. 

Footwear

Packing footwear for a Bahamas cruise can be a bit challenging, as you want to ensure your shoes are comfortable for walking through town and also for the beach.

Flip flops are acceptable to wear both on the beach and in Bahamian ports, but reconsider wearing flip flops if you plan to do a lot of walking. Sturdier sandals with an ankle strap, such as Chacos, will fare more comfortably during a port day with various activities.

If your only goal is to go from cruise ship to beach with little walking in between, flip flops will be totally fine.

Sneakers can be a solid footwear option for comfortability, but they aren’t the best choice for a beach day. If you want to wear sneakers, consider packing sandals in your daypack so you can change shoes once at the beach.

Evening and formal wear

In between colorful shirts, shorts, and a swimsuit, don’t forget to pack for evening wear you’ll need once you get back onboard the ship.

While you can choose to eat at casual restaurants like the buffet every night of the cruise, if you want to eat in the Main Dining Room or specialty restaurants you should dress in clothing a bit nicer than what you wore to the beach.

Slacks, collared shirts, polos, jumpsuits, dresses, skirts, and blouses are all acceptable outfits for the dining room and restaurants onboard. Additionally, your cruise may have at least one formal night, so packing your best formal wear can be a good idea.

While dress codes are not strictly enforced, it’s common practice to pack a few nice outfits for evenings onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Read more: What to wear on a cruise ship formal night

Water-resistant daypack

Bahamas

Our top recommended accessory for a Bahamas cruise is a water-resistant daypack. A good daypack is extremely valuable to have, as it offers a safe place to store your phone, camera, wallet, ID, and SeaPass card while on shore.

As it is common to encounter rain in the Bahamas, even if only for a few minutes at a time, having a water-resistant daypack will cause less concern over your electronics and valuables being damaged.

Some daypacks even have “hidden” pockets that rest against your back, which can offer extra security when walking through busy port areas.

Miscellaneous accessories

Once you have your water-resistant daypack, be sure to pack it full of accessories that will come in handy on your cruise, whether onboard or on shore.

Sunscreen is of utmost importance on a Bahamas cruise, so remember to apply it regularly throughout the day. If you run out of sunscreen or forget it altogether, you can purchase extra onboard, but it will come at a higher price than at home.

Sunglasses and a sun hat are also important to ensure you remain covered, cool, and comfortable. If you plan on reading while at the beach, don’t forget to put your e-reader or book in your daypack as well.

If you booked an excursion in the Bahamas that requires traveling on a small boat (i.e. a catamaran tour), be sure to pack medication like Dramamine if you are prone to motion sickness. While your cruise ship will have stabilizers to reduce motion, it’s common to feel the seas much more on a smaller boat.

Bahamas cruise in winter

If you’re traveling to the Bahamas in the winter months, we recommend packing a few outfits to keep you warm in case of chilly weather. While you’ll likely encounter sunny skies and comfortable temperatures, short “cold” stretches can appear in the winter months.

Having a lightweight cardigan or pair of jeans on hand will be helpful in case of unexpectedly cold weather.

Packing list for a Bahamas cruise

Now that you know the basics of what to pack for a Bahamas cruise, use this list as a reference point when it comes time to pack:

  • 1-2 swimsuits
  • 2-3 pairs of lightweight shorts, preferably one pair of “nicer” shorts like jean shorts and one casual, lightweight pair
  • Casual, lightweight t-shirts or tank tops (1-2 shirts per day of your cruise)
  • 1-2 sundresses or rompers (for ladies)
  • Evening wear (slacks, blouses, etc.)
  • Lightweight cardigan or jacket for winter months
  • Water-resistant daypack
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat (straw hat, baseball cap, etc.)
  • Beach toys if traveling with kids
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of sandals with an ankle strap (Chacos or similar)
  • 1 pair of formal shoes for dinner
  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash)
  • Hairbrush, razors, and other personal hygiene products
  • Book or ereader
  • Underwear and pajamas
  • Lightweight socks

More packing tips:

Live Blogging from Serenade of the Seas in Alaska - Preamble

In:
25 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Not only is my next live blog ready to go live, but I'll be headed to Alaska for the first time since 2018.

After taking my first Alaska cruise in 2018, I instantly knew I wanted to return.  We had plans to do so in 2020 and 2021, but Covid and family obligations cancelled those.  Nonetheless, this is the year we're headed back!

This is an opportunity to not only cruise to Alaska, but hopefully visit all the major ports in Alaska over the course of two weeks.

Why we chose this cruise

Serenade of the Seas in Alaska

If you've never been to Alaska, you've probably heard others tell you how amazing and beautiful it is. And they're absolutely right.

I wasn't prepared for the splendor of Alaska my first time, so this time I'm even more excited to return and focus more on what Alaska has to offer.

Royal Caribbean has four ships sailing to Alaska in 2022, so I picked Serenade because I wanted to be able to get to more ports than Ovation or Quantum of the Seas could offer. Plus, Serenade's prices were great and I like some of the upgrades Serenade received that Radiance did not (even though they are the same class of ship).

I think what sealed the deal for choosing Serenade is we were able to snag a rather special suite category, the 2 bedroom Panoramic oceanview suite. 

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

After a recent Serenade of the Seas drydock, the Concierge Lounge was moved to a higher deck and they converted this large space into a Family Oceanview Stateroom.

There is only one of these suites on this ship and unlike similar suites on other classes of ships, this one is midship, facing the port side instead at the front of the ship. 

Since there's no balcony, but it has large panoramic windows, you can enjoy the Alaska scenery without dealing with the cold weather from the comfort of our bed.

My plans on shore

Juneau aerial view

Our cruise is all about doing as much as we can in Alaska while in port.

There are two x-factors when it comes to seeing as much as possible in Alaska: the weather and my children.

My kids are old enough now to be able to handle a reasonably adventurous day, where we do a fair amount of walking. I'm not talking about strenuous hikes or going for miles, but I think they can handle more walking than when they would need to be carried at a younger age. Plus, they seem to enjoy walking trails based on other recent trips we took.

Of course, the weather can be so hit or miss in Alaska. I'm hoping the rain will be at a minimum so we can enjoy lots of outdoor time. June is one of the driest months in Alaska, so I'm hoping for the best while also packing lots of waterproof layering. 

Over the course of the two sailings, we are scheduled to visit Ketchikan, Juneau (x2), Sitka (x2), Haines, & Skagway. We've only been to Skagway and Juneau.

Whale watching in Juneau

I've booked a few tours through Royal Caribbean, but some of our recent articles about what locals recommend doing in Alaska opened my eyes to how much you can do on your own without a cruise tour. 

Read moreLocal’s guide of what to do in Juneau, Alaska

Plus, I greatly prefer not doing group tours.

Radiance of the Seas in Vancouver

Plus, we sail out of Vancouver and that means my first time exploring Vancouver since I was a kid. We're spending an extra day in Vancouver before the cruise, so we'll check out some of the major landmarks the day before the sailing.

My plans onboard

Serenade of the Seas dining room

Believe it or not, my kids have never been on a Radiance Class ship, so this will be an introduction for them into small ship cruising.

While they've been on Majesty and Rhapsody of the Seas many years ago, I think it's been quite a while since they've sailed on something smaller than Voyager Class.

In terms of dining, we did not buy a dining package.  Since we are Diamond Plus, we get a BOGO deal with our benefits.  I think with the busy port schedule, we may end up just doing Windjammer a lot for dinner.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't talk about the elevated cases of Covid onboard, based on various readers sharing their observations recently. I'd be lying if I said I'm more concerned about catching Covid this time around than on previous sailings.

I think we're going to plan to wear our masks while indoors, even though they are not required. It's not ideal, but since we're traveling so far to see Alaska, I think taking extra precautions is prudent.

Nothing is risk free, and I'm not letting Covid stop my plans anymore.  But taking extra precautions is also not a bad idea. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

What's next

On Friday, May 27th, we fly to Seattle from our home in Orlando. It's a morning flight, so we should be on the west coast by lunch time.  The plan is to then rent a car and drive to Vancouver, which is roughly 143 miles on very scenic highways.

Once we arrive in Vancouver, we'll be staying at the Pan Pacific Vancouver hotel because it was so highly recommended by others that have cruised out of Vancouver.

We board Serenade of the Seas on May 29th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter for live updates throughout the day.

Haines brewery

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

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

In:
25 May 2022
By: 
Mollie Breese

Perched at the northern end of the Taiyla Inlet, Skagway, Alaska is one of the only destinations in Southeast Alaska that you can drive to. This made it a hot spot for thousands of prospectors during the turn of the 20th century. 

Skagway ship at end of street

Skagway was a boomtown unlike any other. Over 40,000 eager gold-rush prospectors landed in Skagway during the Klondike Gold Rush before heading north to the Yukon along the Chilkoot Trail. Over just a few years, this fisherman village grew into a bustling metropolis and played host to characters from around the world.  

Now, this town has returned to a sleepy fisher’s paradise, except for the short months of summer when it transforms into a tourist destination. Over 8,000 visitors a day disembark at this port to adventure through old saloons and pose for photos on Broadway Avenue.

It is easy to get caught up in the crowds, but Skagway offers more than just old Gold Rush charm and pretty backdrops. If you know where to go, this is a town ripe for an outdoor adventurer. So pack your bag and grab your raincoat as we launch into the local’s guide of top things to do in Skagway on your Alaska cruise

4. Attend a Ranger Chat at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center

Klondike Goldrush National Historic Visitor Center

The Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center is on Broadway Street, within easy walking distance of the docks. While this isn’t a local’s secret, the Visitor Center is the perfect spot to start your day in Skagway. 

Entrance into the center is free, and you can access an array of great interactive exhibits that document the history and cultures of the area, including great exhibits on the Klondike Gold Rush and the individuals that headed north. A free 25-minute movie plays throughout the day to show how much this town has transformed throughout the decades. By starting here, you can walk around town and easily spot historical landmarks on your own. 

One of the biggest benefits of starting at the visitor center is the Ranger presentations given each morning. These 30-minute talks change daily and are a quick way to gain some history and knowledge of the area before heading out on some trails or excursions. Skagway has one of the richest gold rush histories of any town in Alaska, so this is worth checking out. 

Local Tip: Head north down Broadway when you’re done for some photo ops and to admire historical buildings. Pop into Klondike Doughboy on 3rd Avenue for a delicious pastry and coffee to start off your walk. 

3. Go for a Walk at Yakutania Point

Yakutania Point 

At the cruise port, you can walk towards the Skagway Airport to access one of the best hiking areas in town. At the airport, walk across the pedestrian bridge to Yakutania Point. Only about 1.5 miles roundtrip from the port, this is a very accessible walk to any visitor looking to get out in nature during their time in town. 

Yakutania Point is directly west of town and overlooks Tailya Inlet. There are multiple trails to explore in this area, but turn left after the bridge and head towards the point for the best view. This is a great spot to watch eagles fish or explore the rocky beach. If it’s sunny, grab a picnic on your way over, and enjoy lunch at one of the numerous picnic areas in the park. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, continue on the path past the point to Smuggler’s Cove. This path dips into the forest before dropping into the quiet inlet, with a picnic area and outhouse. Most crowds turn back at the point, so the trail is much more peaceful by continuing to the cove. Be sure to pack bug spray, rain gear, and sunscreen during this outing. The cruise port to Smuggler’s Cove is a 2-mile round trip with very little elevation gain.

2: Look for Wildlife at Dewey Lake

Lower Dewey Lake

For those seeking a longer hiking excursion than just Yakutania Point, Skagway has a plethora of trails extending directly out of the town, accessible by foot from the cruise port. One of the best is the Dewey Lake Trail System. While this area is full of a network of tails, my two favorites are the Lower Dewey Lake Trail and the Upper Lake Trail. 

You can access the trails by going across Pullen Creek bridge at the end of Second Avenue. Head north along the path for a quarter of a mile, before seeing the trail marker on the right. This will bring you onto the Lower Dewey Lake loop. 

Lower Dewey Lake Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail that meanders through pine forest around Lower Dewey lake. Grouse, marmot, and pikas are frequent visitors in this area. In the summer, this trail is filled with wildflowers and colorful mushrooms that make you feel like you are walking in a fantasy world. Expect some climbing in the beginning, as this trail goes up 500 feet before reaching the lake. The climb is worth it for the fantastic views or the town and harbor.

Alaska's Upper Dewey Lake

If the trail is crowded, you can continue onto Upper Lake Trail at the north end of the loop. This trail continues for 3 miles to Upper Dewey Lake, where the landscape transforms from pine forest to alpine meadows. Mountain Goats and ptarmigan can be spotted along the route and on the surrounding ridgelines.

If you are hiking this loop, be sure to pack a lot of water and snacks as the trail goes up 3,000 feet. This trail is for only confident hikers with proper footwear. If you want a leisurely meander through the woods, stick to the Lower Dewey Lake Trail or Yakutania Point. 

Skagway brewing beer

Local Tip: Treat yourself to a beer at the Skagway Brewing Company when you’re back in town. This brewpub has a delicious selection of microbrews and comfort food that are the perfect ending to a long hike. 

1. Take a Drive along the Klondike Highway

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

If you’re in Skagway for a more extended stop or finishing your cruise here, then renting a car is a great option to see the area. While Skagway is a cute gold rush town, the natural beauty and history lie just beyond the town. Many tours operate rides between Skagway and Emerald Lake for cruise travelers, but these tours cover over 180 miles, with limited options for getting out and exploring.

Instead of taking a tour, opt to rent your own car and go exploring along the Klondike Highway. This gives you the flexibility to stop and explore any places that catch your interest along the way.

If you have at least 10 hours at port, you can do the entire drive to Emerald Lake on your own. If you get to the lake, consider continuing on a bit further to Robinson Roadhouse. This old rail station is a great place to see marmots. 

If you’re limited on time, you can do the shorter 20-mile drive between Skagway and Fraser. This drive crosses into Canada and follows along Summit Lake. The road goes through tundra and high alpine meadows, which is also a great opportunity to spot wildlife. 

Be sure to pack your passport for this excursion, as you will be crossing into Canada before returning. If you have more time, go past Fraser to the Yukon Suspension Bridge. This stop offers a small gift shop, restaurant, and bridge that spans the infamous Yukon River.

Local Tip: If you are planning to drive to Emerald Lake, leave Skagway right away and don’t stop on your way. Get to the lake first, and then plan your stops on the way back. This will allow you to avoid tour buses and traffic on your outward journey and not feel pressed for time.

You can also walk to the rental lot directly from the cruise port. It is about a 10-minute walk, and you will be in front of the shuttle buses that drop off visitors from the port. This will maximize your time with your car rental and time exploring the road.