Photos reveal Royal Caribbean's progress on the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island

In:
24 May 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Construction work is beginning on Royal Caribbean's new beach club in The Bahamas.

While visiting Nassau, Bahamas on Wednesday, our team captured photos of the work being done to build the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island.

From the photos, land is being cleared so construction of new structures can begin.

We saw fresh supplies being transported by ferry boat to the beach.

In partnership with the Bahamas, the Royal Beach Club is set to be built on the west end of Paradise Island, a narrow strip of land near the cruise port in Nassau.

Royal Caribbean is building this beach club on a 17-acre piece of property, near the famous lighthouse that can be seen from the Port of Nassau.

The cruise line announced  that the beach club is set to open in 2025, with "more details to be revealed in the coming months."

Royal Caribbean has described the beach club as a world-class destination experience, bringing the vibrant Bahamian spirit and culture to life alongside private cabanas and stunning pools.

"Vacationers will be welcomed by local architecture that complements the exceptional views of The Bahamas’ turquoise-blue waters and white sand beaches, along with experiences that feature Bahamian fare, island-style barbecues, live music, and local artisans."

Read moreRoyal Caribbean breaks ground on new beach club in Bahamas reserved for its passengers

Not much actual building has occurred yet, as it looks like construction is just starting.

So far, workers have cleared trees, logs, and dirt out of the way to begin construction.

A large excavator works on clearing and moving dirt.

Trucks can also be seen carrying palm trees and wood away from the area.

Mainly, progress so far has been in clearing the area and preparing the ground for construction.

Construction workers are also moving large packets of supplies—perhaps metal beams for the foundations.

So, what can cruisers expect from this beach club?

It likely has an entrance fee, an extra-cost experience much like the adults-only Hideaway Beach on Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Read moreRoyal Beach Club at Paradise Island: What you should know before it opens

Plans show that the Royal Beach Club will have a family zone, arrivals area, water sports center, food, and even a swimming pool.

Payment of a single entrance fee could include access to the Royal Beach Club, lunch, and a beach chair. 

Guests will also be able to purchase alcohol, soda, a cabana, or a day bed at an additional fee.

Watersports and local tours will also be offered at an extra cost.

Plans show that additional activities will be offered in tandem with the beach club's pool and beach.

Activities offered could include (but are not limited to):

  • Snorkeling
  • Scuba diving
  • Kayaking
  • Jet skiing
  • Floating mat rentals
  • Inflatable water slides
  • Parasailing
  • Nature hikes
  • Volleyball
  • Other sand and water-related activities

I'm a teen and went on the world's largest cruise ship. I was worried it would be juvenile, but it exceeded all my expectations

In:
24 May 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Icon of the Seas isn't just for younger kids.

Icon of the Seas for teens

We spoke to a teenager who recently cruised on Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, and he said the experience turned out to be an "extraordinary adventure."

Initially, Lucho worried that the ship might be too kid-centric.

However, the cruise exceeded his expectations and proved that every age group can have fun on Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean has marketed Icon as the perfect vacation for young families. But with such a strong focus on families with young children, does Icon of the Seas have activities for older age groups?

Lucho most enjoyed the opportunity to build new friendships

Since Lucho was traveling with family members, he initially expected to spend the cruise with them or alone.

However, on the second night of the cruise, he attended the silent disco.

This event took place in the Music Hall, where guests were given high-quality headphones.

Each headphone had two music stations that guests could choose between, changing whenever they wanted.

"Once the party started, everyone got energetic."

At the silent disco, the atmosphere was so fun and exciting that Lucho ended up meeting many new people hailing from all over the world: Mexico, Cuba, Canada, the US, and Peru.

It was "easy to socialize and have a great time together," he said, adding that "any teenager will find this opportunity the best part of the cruise."

However, one downside for the teenagers on Icon of the Seas is the 1:00 A.M. curfew. 

After 1:00 A.M., passengers under the age of 18 must return to their staterooms.

Lucho said: "My group of new friends and I found this quite annoying, as we were often having fun and then suddenly had to leave."

Read more: Royal Caribbean will introduce new family fun ambassador on Icon of the Seas

Teens can hang out in Social 020, but it has some restrictive policies 

Onboard Icon of the Seas, Social 020 is the dedicated space for passengers 13-17.

The area has fun activities for teenagers to enjoy; board games, video game booths, and digital screens for playing a variety of games like memory, chess, hockey, and even drawing. 

Lucho spent most of his time socializing with fellow teenagers in Social 020.

However, he found that the area had a few disappointing aspects.

It wasn't always open during the day.

Odyssey of the Seas pool deck

"Sometimes, when we wanted to meet up there, we found it closed with a sign indicating it would reopen in a few hours."

"This inconsistency was disappointing when we wanted to hang out together," Lucho said.

The teens club also required an adult to supervise the teens at all times.

Not only that, Lucho felt that some of the rules enforced in the club were over-the-top.

For example, teens aren't allowed to take photos or videos inside, bring snacks, or move chairs around.

Although these restrictions felt like a buzzkill, they didn't stop Lucho and his friends from having a fun time onboard.

The best food venues in the fleet, with fun crew members

Aquadome Market

Lucho has sailed on four Royal Caribbean cruises over the past five years, and Icon of the Seas had the best food venues in the fleet.

He said that the impressive variety of complimentary food was what most stood out compared to other cruise ships in the fleet.

He loved the delicious crepes at the Aquadome Market, the pizza at Sorrento's, the sandwiches at Pearl Cafe, and the Mexican cuisine at El Loco Fresh.

Read more: I spent a week on the world's largest cruise ship, the free food was the best of any Royal Caribbean ship

The crew members at each venue also enhanced Lucho's experience.

They were incredibly friendly and cheerful.

Lucho especially remembers "Mr. Washy" fondly—the crew member who sang and greeted everyone at the Windjammer's entrance, reminding guests to wash their hands.

"His cheerful presence caught everyone's attention and lifted our mood."

Read more: I went on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas. Here are the 7 best things I ate on the ship.

Lucho's favorite thrills were at the waterpark, but spaces became overcrowded

Thrill Island

The amenities onboard Icon also had thrills suitable for teenagers, with Lucho's favorite being the waterpark inside Thrill Island.

This Category 6 waterpark is the largest at sea, and he visited it almost every day.

The most exciting ride was the Hurricane Hunter waterslide, which is most fun when you ride with a group of four.

However, the lines could get long, the wait sometimes stretching from 10 to 20 minutes.

Lucho also said that a downside of his cruising experience was the overcrowding onboard.

Venues like the Windjammer Buffet, pools, and hot tubs were often packed, making it hard to find a spot. 

While he enjoyed the hot tubs, it was challenging to find one that wasn’t too crowded. 

Nevertheless, the pool area and hot tubs provided a great way to relax—if he got lucky enough to find a not-so-crowded one.

Read more: 5 busted Icon of the Seas myths

The shows were impressive, despite some technical difficulties

AquaAction

Lucho made an effort to watch all the entertainment shows onboard, even watching some shows twice.

His favorite was AquaAction—he even called it "one of the best shows I've ever seen on a Royal Caribbean cruise."

AquaAction takes place in the AquaTheater, inside the Aquadome neighborhood.

It combines cutting-edge technology and fantastic music with skilled acrobats, divers, dancers, and performers for an unforgettable experience.

However, Lucho noticed a surprising amount of technical difficulties at Icon's shows.

Wizard of Oz on Icon of the Seas

When he saw The Wizard of Oz at the Royal Theater, the performance had to pause three times and was eventually postponed. 

The Effectors: The Origin Story show also had some issues with the screens, which were malfunctioning and turning off occasionally.

However, Lucho still thought the shows were "truly extraordinary and worth watching."

Icon of the Seas proves Royal Caribbean's skill in catering to all ages

Despite a few minor drawbacks, Lucho felt that this vacation was truly the best he'd ever had. 

"This experience really opened my eyes to how capable Royal Caribbean is at providing an amazing vacation for everyone," he said. 

He's been able to keep in touch with his new friends through social media and feels that the 7-night cruise was the perfect escape from a daily routine.

From the delicious food to the fantastic activities and entertainment, Lucho had an unforgettable experience.

I spent a week on a cruise ship to Alaska, and while the Main Dining Room was disappointing, the specialty restaurants really impressed me

In:
24 May 2024
By: 
Elizabeth Wright

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas has 20 restaurants, from a hot dog stand to an "Alice in Wonderland"-themed restaurant.

Quantum-Food-Hero

The namesake ship of the Quantum Class launched in 2014 and is one of the biggest cruise ships in the world sailing to Alaska. The Quantum Class is best known for bringing industry firsts like the North Star observation capsule and SeaPlex, a multipurpose venue that hosts activities like roller skating, bumper cars, and more. 

Having never sailed to Alaska or onboard a Quantum Class ship, I was looking forward to this trip for months! Plus, it would mark the first time my dad and I would cruise by ourselves, and nothing beats quality time with your parents. 

Though the main appeal of the cruise was visiting Alaska, I couldn't overlook all of the food onboard, as it remains an important aspect of the cruise experience. 

Read more: I went on a 7-night Alaska cruise and stayed in a windowless cabin for $1,900

Brunch-Mothers-Day-Quantum-Menu

From delicious specialty restaurants to quick meals at Café @ Two70, here's a breakdown of what I ate during my 7-night cruise on Quantum of the Seas. 

Jamie's Italian 

Jamies-Italian-Quantum-1

We started off our 7-night cruise with lunch at Jamie's. We, of course, had to start with the delicious garlic buns. We ate two when they were served and saved the other two to dip in our pasta sauce! 

Jamies-Italian-Quantum-2

We also got the truffle arancini, as well as the truffle burrata. You can never have too much truffle, right?

Out of the two, we both enjoyed the arancini more— the Béchamel sauce is to die for! 

Jamies-Italian-Quantum-4

For our main course, my father and I ordered the penne vodka arrabbiata. We both have pretty high spice tolerances, so we didn't find this dish all that spicy; however, the pasta tasted incredibly fresh! Looking back, I should have asked for some extra red pepper flakes. 

Jamies-Italian-Quantum-5

After some indulgent appetizers and pasta, I figured I should start the cruise with some greens. The rocket salad is delicious. Though simple, the aged balsamic is flavorful enough. It doesn't need a ton of toppings! 

Jamies-Italian-Quantum-6

The tiramisu was one of the best desserts I had all week, topped only by those at Wonderland at Chops Grille. Truthfully, I don't order the tiramisu in the Main Dining Room anymore because it doesn't compare! 

Jamies-Italian-Quantum-7

My dad ordered the brownie and said, "You know, a chocolate brownie and ice cream is always good!"

Main Dining Room - Welcome Aboard 

Quantum-MDR-Welcome-Aboard-1

Overall, the Main Dining Room was a bit of a disappointment on our Quantum of the Seas cruise. Though nothing was truly horrible, there wasn't anything worth writing home about, either. 

Quantum-MDR-Welcome-Aboard-2

I appreciated how chilled the shrimp cocktail was served, but the fried chicken was a letdown. Perhaps I'm just too picky when it comes to fried chicken having been born and raised in the South. 

Quantum-MDR-Welcome-Aboard-3

I thought it lacked the crunch that true Southern fried chicken should have. That being said, my father and I thought that the honey Tabasco sauce was quite tasty.

Main Dining Room - French 

Quantum-MDR-French-1

I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed the butternut squash soup. This isn't typically a dish I'd order; however, I wanted to try something new! It was creamy and tasted even better with sourdough bread! 

Quantum-MDR-French-3

The seafood linguine was even more of a disappointment than the fried chicken. The seafood itself was good; however, the sauce was extremely bland and left much to be desired. 

Quantum-MDR-French-4

It didn't take long for me to choose a dessert, as I'm a firm believer that you can never go wrong with apple cobbler. 

Though crumbles are technically a bit different, they're pretty similar, with the primary difference being that crumbles have a streusel topping, whereas cobblers have biscuit-like toppings. Either way, I love a warm fruity dessert with vanilla ice cream!

Main Dining Room - Breakfast

Windjammer-Quantum-Breakfast

I've never been a fan of the Windjammer for breakfast. It's too chaotic and, usually, the quality of the food is just okay.

Quantum-MDR-Breakfast-2

Thankfully, my dad feels the same way I do, so we began most mornings in the Main Dining Room. 

Quantum-MDR-Breakfast-3

When it comes to breakfast, I typically don't order too much; I'd rather have a larger lunch or dinner! My go-to was the "Eggs Your Way," with hashbrowns and fruit. My dad got the hashbrowns a lot, too, and he said they were one of his favorite things on the ship. 

Quantum-MDR-Breakfast

One day, I opted for the cheddar cheese grits, which were a bit disappointing. They were pretty bland, and the cheese wasn't shredded finely enough to melt well. 

Quantum-MDR-Breakfast-2

On Mother's Day, we arrived at 9:00am for brunch, which featured an expanded menu compared to breakfast the rest of the week. Having lost my mother a few years ago, it's never an easy day; however, I try to make it special by ordering her favorite foods, one of which was eggs benedict. 

Quantum-MDR-Eggs-Benedict

The ham wasn't my favorite, as it had a weird texture in my opinion, but the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce were great! I think she would have approved. 

Royal-Chocolate-Cake-Quantum-Brunch

And while it was still early in the morning, we ordered the Royal chocolate cake, which is exactly what my mom would have done! The size was perfect for a small sweet treat to kickstart our final day onboard the ship. 

Windjammer

Quantum-Windjammer-Breakfast

On the first morning of our cruise, we ventured up to the Windjammer for a quick breakfast. 

After that, we decided it was best for us to wake up earlier and go to the Main Dining Room. The food itself was okay, but, personally, I don't like starting off my day at a crowded buffet! 

Windjammer-Lunch-Quantum

Before disembarking in Juneau, we had a quick lunch in the Windjammer, and this was our best meal in the buffet all week! 

They served Laksa, a noodle dish that's popular in Southeast Asia. My dad thought it was so delicious that he got a second bowl! 

Laska-Soup-Windjammer-Quantum

I spiced mine up with a dash of sesame and chili oil. 

Though not bland by any means, I prefer for my meals to have a kick, and if there's a way to spice something up, I'm going to! Looking back, I should have added more chili oil than I did. 

Windjammer-Quantum-Lunch

We ate lunch in the Windjammer on the last day of the cruise, too. Everything was just okay, which is what I expected. We figured it would be a bit hard to mess up roasted vegetables and a salad bar! 

Quantum-Windjammer-Stir-Fry

The most disappointing meal we had was dinner in the Windjammer. Personally, I thought the Asian dishes were too salty, and the Kung Pao Chicken sauce was too sweet. The stir-fry was alright, but the Laksa was much, much better. 

Solarium Bistro

Solarium-Bistro-Breakfast-Quantum

On Day 5 of our cruise, we sailed through Endicott Arms en route to Dawes Glacier. Though we couldn't get extremely close to the glacier due to the abundance of icebergs, sailing through the majestic fjords was quite a site. 

We woke up around 5:15am to claim front-row seats in the Solarium by 5:45am and decided it was best to have breakfast at the Solarium Bistro, rather than venturing across the ship to the Windjammer or downstairs to the Main Dining Room and miss the view.

Café @ Two70

Cafe-270-Quantum-Lunch-1

Café @ Two70 was our go-to spot for lunch the first couple of days. It's a great place to grab a quick sandwich or salad, as well as take in the amazing views from Two70. 

The quality of the food, however, did leave a bit to be desired. When I ordered the Reuben, it was placed under a panini press and still served cold; the cheese wasn't even melted! Similarly, my dad said his sandwich was in the microwave for too long. 

Cafe-270-Quantum-Lunch-2

The Thai noodle salad was also a bit bland. It would have been a winner with just a little more flavor in the dressing.

Cafe-270-Quantum-Lunch-3

The desserts, however, were wonderful. The coffee cream puff had a strong coffee flavor, which I loved, and the red velvet cake was moist with the creamiest buttercream! 

Quantum-Cafe-Two70-Roast-Beef

Learning from my first experience, I opted to skip the sandwiches and just get some roast beef the next day, which was a much better choice. 

Quantum-Two70-Custom-Salad

Similarly, I crafted my own salad, which tasted fresher than the ones I had in the Windjammer! 

Quantum-Two70-Mudslide-Cookies

Again, the dessert was a home run. I could have eaten an unacceptable amount of these mudslide cookies!

Pub

Quantum-Pub-Pretzels

My dad doesn't cruise as frequently as I do, and while he's been on Freedom and Oasis Class ships, he's never taken time to listen to the live music in the pub! 

Quantum-Pub-Pulled-Pork-Nachos

He ended up loving it, and we enjoyed drinks in the Harp & Horn Pub most evenings. We loved the small food menu they had and tried a couple items during our 7-night cruise! 

Quantum-Pub-Fried-Pickles

Between the German pretzels, pulled pork nachos, and fried pickles, our favorite treat was the pretzels. 

They were incredibly soft and served with spicy mustard! In my opinion, the fried pickles had too much breading, which made them a bit hard to bite into. 

Sorrento's

Sorrentos-Quantum

After returning from our excursion in Juneau, we opted for a quick and easy dinner at Sorrento's. We missed our traditional dining time in the Main Dining Room and weren't in the mood to deal with the crowds at the Windjammer. 

Honestly, Sorrento's has never been my favorite. As controversial as it sounds, I think Carnival and MSC Cruises have better pizza. For a quick meal or snack, though, it always hits the spot, especially with some crushed red pepper flakes. 

I went with two slices of cheese, whereas my dad wanted the veggie pizza. He said his slices were a bit cold, and after trying the cheese, he said he should have gotten them to begin with! 

Splash Away Cafe

Splashaway-Cafe-Quantum-1

Day 6 was spent at sea, and rather than return to the Windjammer or Café @ Two70°, we decided to try the specialty options at Splash Away Cafe. Though they had complimentary chicken tenders, mini hot dogs, and chocolate chip cookies, we were interested in the Asian dishes.

Splashaway-Cafe-Quantum-2

After ordering and receiving our food, we headed inside to sit at the Windjammer because it was too cold to eat on the pool deck! This ended up being quite advantageous, as we were near the soy and hot sauces, which were needed to add an extra kick to the dishes. 

Between the Kung Pao Chicken and Cantonese Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup, we'd skip the chicken and just order the soup. Though far better than the Kung Pao Chicken my dad tried in the Windjammer, it still wasn't quite what you'd expect at a land-based Chinese restaurant. 

Wonderland

Wonderland-Quantum-1

Having tried Wonderland on Symphony of the Seas last year, I was curious to see what my dad would think of this unique dining experience. He went into the meal with a few appetizers in mind, not knowing that the culinary guide would choose them for us! 

Wonderland-Quantum-2

We were brought The Bird's Nest, Mad Hatter's Purple Potted Shrimp, Crispy Crab Cones, Liquid Lobster, Tomato Water, and Baby Vegetables in the Garden. 

Wonderland-Quantum-3

The Crispy Crab Cones, Baby Vegetables in the Garden, and Tomato Water were new to me, and out of the three, I preferred the vegetables. The sauce drizzled on top was delicious, and each vegetable was perfectly tender. We finished just about everything on the plate, including the "dirt." 

Wonderland-Quantum-4

For our entrée, my dad and I ordered The Rib "I" Luscious Short Rib, which, like the vegetables, was incredibly tender in its own way. 

The mashed potatoes were mouthwatering, too, with the tomatoes being some of the juiciest I've ever had. The only quarrel I had with the short rib was that the cut of meat contained a lot of fat that I had to cut around. 

Wonderland-Quantum-6

The star of the entire meal, however, was dessert. When we sat down, my dad saw the table next to us being served desserts and wanted to skip to the end of the meal! To be fair, he's a man who loves his sweet treats. 

Wonderland-Desserts-Quantum

He wasn't disappointed, either. In fact, he loved the salted caramel ice cream so much that he asked for more! Our culinary guide even offered to bring him another chocolate orb because he could tell that he enjoyed it so much. 

Chops Grille

Chops-Quantum-1

In addition to Jamie's and Wonderland, we ate at Chops Grille, Royal Caribbean's signature steakhouse. Since we were docked in Victoria, British Columbia on the last night of the cruise, this was our final dinner onboard Quantum of the Seas— we saved the best for last! 

I started with the jumbo shrimp cocktail, which was indeed jumbo. I appreciated that it was served over a bed of ice, so the shrimp were perfectly chilled. 

Chops-Quantum-2

I was stuck between ordering the lobster bisque and goat cheese salad for my second course. 

In the end, I went with the bisque, mostly because I wanted to compare it to the bisque I had at The Porch on Celebrity Reflection a few weeks ago! Overall, they were pretty similar; however, I think the one at Chops was creamier with a stronger lobster flavor.

Chops-Quantum-3

I appreciate that they offered a petit filet, as I don't think I would have been able to finish a 9oz cut of meat. My dad and I ordered our steaks medium; however, his came out slightly more cooked—  it was definitely closer to medium well. 

When thinking about the steak I had at Tuscan Grille on Celebrity Reflection, the one on Celebrity was the clear winner. However, the filet at Chops was still delicious and juicy. 

Chops-Quantum-5

For our sides, we split the mashed potatoes and asparagus. 

While I loved both, I preferred the potatoes served with my short rib at Wonderland. The asparagus, however, were so tender! I could have eaten more than two of them. 

Chops-Quantum-4

My dad ordered the warm chocolate cake for dessert, and while it sounded tempting, I went with the warm apple pie à la mode. He thought the cake was good, but he was a bigger fan of the orb served in Wonderland. 

My dessert was wonderful and the best I had on the ship! It wasn't served too warm, and the scoop of vanilla ice cream was the perfect size to complete the slice of pie. 

We pre-purchased our three specialty meals through Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner, paying $137.42 per person for two dinners and one lunch

Alaska-Quantum

In addition, we spent close to $35 on snacks in the pub, as well as lunch at Splash Away Cafe. 

Though there was plenty of complimentary dining onboard Quantum of the Seas, we found it well worth the price to pay for a few specialty meals, especially Wonderland and Chops. 

Those sailing to Alaska will want to have some meals off the ship, too, especially if you love fresh seafood. 

Crab-Legs-Skagway

We had some of the best crab legs of our lives at the Skagway Brewing Company (pictured above), though we'd skip the Crab House in Icy Strait Point. My dad loved the restaurant in Skagway so much that he purchased a t-shirt in the downstairs gift shop! 

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

We had a wonderful dinner in Victoria, British Columbia, too. We disembarked the ship with no true plan in mind— we were going to wander the downtown area and see what we happened to stumble into. 

After my dad admired a large tree near the Parliament building, we continued to walk until we came across Bard & Banker. Not only was the building itself beautiful, but the food was delicious!, especially the parmesan brussel sprouts and prawn pesto linguine. 

Royal Caribbean's immersive train car restaurant brings the Old West and Far East to its next new cruise ship

In:
23 May 2024
By: 
Elizabeth Wright

Royal Caribbean is building a restaurant that will make you feel like you're dining on a train traveling through the Old West.

Utopia train concept

Utopia of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's sixth Oasis Class ship, will be the only ship in the fleet to feature an immersive train car dining experience. 

Though still two months from entering service, the excitement around the brand-new specialty restaurant continues to grow. 

Royal Caribbean Blog had an exclusive opportunity to visit Royal Caribbean's headquarters in Miami, Florida for a sneak peek regarding what guests can expect when dining at Royal Railway - Utopia Station. From the unique dishes, specialty cocktails, and overall ambiance, I can confirm it's worth the hype. 

Welcome aboard

Utopia-Railway-Cocktails-1

Royal Caribbean has been steadily improving its cocktail game, and you can expect a range of new beverages to set the mood with the Royal Railway.

Royal Caribbean's beverage team worked to develop new alcoholic beverages that reminisce about the Wild West.  The idea is the drinks evoke the spirit of the specific time period and place your train will visit.

Early ideas for cocktails include a Pisco Sour, a drink that was popular in San Francisco during the era, to cocktails inspired by the Gold Rush and even a bourbon cherry Coke for something a bit more mainstream. 

Since Utopia Station is very much a family-friendly specialty restaurant, kids can enjoy a non-alcoholic Sarsaparilla served in a flask. 

Special effects and a new atmosphere

Utopia-Railway-Steam

Royal Caribbean's team was intent to set the mood by crafting this experience to have a real feel to it.

Some ideas include a departure board, boarding ticket, and mingling with other passengers.

The immersive experience begins before you step onto your designated train car. 

Utopia-Station-Ticket

"This is truly a storytelling platform," said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer. 

It's clear the intent is to give passengers something completely different from a traditional cruise ship specialty restaurant, and in its early stage of development, they have some really fun ideas.

Wanted-Sign-Utopia-Railway.

The Wild West theme, which is the first to debut on Utopia when the ship launches in July, is what Schneider referred to as a "long form" story that's a "lean in family experience." 

Schneider discussed how "short form" stories aren't out of the picture, though. 

Utopia-Railway-Train-Car

"Short form would be whiskey tasting through the Tennessee mountains, or when we do our wine tasting today, we sometimes do it in [the] Main Dining [Room].”

“It would be much better to [do a] wine tasting in a room like this where...you're flying through Napa and can...pair wines with things as that kind of immersion," he said. 

Despite being an immersive dining experience, train passengers have time between theatrical moments to mingle with their party and enjoy the meal. 

Utopia-Station-Bandit

Just like dining theater of the past, there will times where something is happening to capture your attention, and other times to enjoy being in the restaurant.

The experience is meant to appeal to guests of all ages, with jokes and elements targeted to be understood by different age groups. The guidebook, for instance, reads, “Ever since becoming a dry county in 1861, spirits here have been pretty low.”

A menu to match the journey

Utopia-Royal-Railway-Menu2

During our preview, the experience was an overview of what guests might expect onboard. It's not quite set yet, including the menu.

We were given an idea of what Royal Caribbean has in mind, as a means of understanding the overall idea and pace of the meal.  

Don't assume anything shown on the menu will make the final cut, but it's clear there's a motif in mind.  This will not be just another steakhouse, Italian restaurant, or something else familar.

Bread-Utopia-Station

The menu certainly seemed like it borrwed ideas from classic Western United States fare, to new takes on old favorites.

If nothing else, I hope the "Fart & Dart beans" name makes the final cut.

Fart-and-Dart-Beans-Utopia-Station
Short-Rib-Utopia-Station

It's clear Royal Caribbean has built upon the concept of an entire menu with a cohesive theme, similar to Wonderland or even the Mason Jar.

Royal Railway's menu incorporates fun ideas along with crowd pleasers.  The “Royal Railway Cigar” dessert is one idea they are working on, and it ties back into the story of the ride.

Utopia-Station-Dessert

From the steam on the platform to various effects on the train, the goal is to “trick” everyone’s senses as they walk into Utopia Station

Utopia-Railway-Motion

While you may technically be on a cruise ship, you’re supposed to believe you could be boarding a train to the Wild West. 

Every seat, for instance, is equipped with a "butt-kicker." According to Schneider, “The intent of the butt-kicker is it’s timed with the noise jostling, so when you saw the actor kind of jump forward…these seats got a butt-kick…that butt-kick will be episodic"

They’re also working on incorporating scents into the experience, so if there’s an explosion, you should smell a hint of sulfur. However, they must be able to evacuate the smell for the next group. 

Royal-Railway-Map

During my ride, I also heard a gunshot echo throughout the train car. In the future, however, passengers should expect to hear bandits running “across” the top of the car. 

Once completed, Utopia of the Seas will be one of the largest cruise ships in the world

Utopia-Saint-Nazaire-Shipyard

Coming in at 236,860 gross registered tons and 1,188, Utopia of the Seas is slightly larger than Wonder of the Seas, the newest Oasis Class ship at sea that launched in 2022. 

As Royal Caribbean's first-ever ship built targeting the short cruise market, guests will find numerous brand favorites and new experiences on 3- and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas. 

It's meant to attract passengers who may be weary about committing to a weeklong cruise but still want to get a taste of what makes Royal Caribbean one of the most popular mainstream cruise lines in the world. 

Utopia-Construction-Update-4

"There will be nothing better on planet Earth than having a phenomenal experience and party vibe onboard Utopia of the Seas," said Michael Bayley, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

Guests can begin their day at the lively Lime & Coconut Bar on the pool deck before transitioning to the brand-new Caribbean-themed bar, Pesky Parrot, in the Royal Promenade. 

After enjoying a tropical cocktail, passengers can make their way to one of the many dining options onboard, whether it's Royal Railway - Utopia Station, the classic Main Dining Room, the two-story Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, or casual Windjammer Marketplace. 

Read more: Utopia of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

utopia-lime-and-coconut-bar

Of course, it isn't a Royal Caribbean cruise to The Bahamas without a stop at their award-winning private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay

Guests have the option to enjoy the exciting amenities on the ships, ranging from the zip line to the FlowRider surf simulator, miniature golf, Perfect Storm water slides, and more, or venture ashore and test their bravery at Thrill Waterpark, relax at Coco Beach Club, head to the adults-only Hideaway Beach, or enjoy the complimentary lounge chairs and umbrellas scattered throughout the island. 

However you decide to spend your vacation on Utopia of the Seas, Royal Caribbean promises that it will be a memorable getaway.

Read more: Photos show Utopia of the Seas beginning her sea trials

Utopia of the Seas' inaugural voyage is slated to depart from Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida on July 19, 2024

Initially, Utopia of the Seas was scheduled to begin making regular sailings on July 22; however, construction moved faster than planned, and Royal Caribbean bumped the highly-awaited maiden voyage up a few days. 

Rather than a 4-night cruise to The Bahamas, Utopia's first cruise will be a 3-night voyage to The Bahamas, with all planned itineraries afterward remaining unaffected.  

Port Canaveral is the second largest cruise terminal in the world, surpassed only by PortMiami, which is home to Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship. Utopia of the Seas will be joined by Star of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's second Icon Class ship, in 2025. 

People onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship report sick from gastrointestinal illness

In:
23 May 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

It appears a case of food poisoning on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas has resulted in sick passengers and a delay in the ship not allowed to disembark at one port.

According to posts on Reddit, guests sailing on the 4-night cruise began reporting feeling ill on Allure of the Seas on social media.  Many different people posted on Reddit that a case of food poisoning resulted in the ship undertaking drastic measures to combat the spread of illness onboard.

Allure of the Seas is one of the biggest cruise ships in the world, and is sailing a 4-night cruise to Nassau, Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Asian-style-pork-bao-tacos-mdr-food

These reports say this is not a case of norovirus, but instead the result of undercooked pork tacos served on the ship in the Main Dining Room on Tuesday. It's not clear yet what the source of the illness is.

friedyolk posted, "It’s been confirmed not norovirus from the Captain. Everyone that was sick ate pork tacos."

Creative-Craft-2370 wrote, "On the Allure now defo pork tacos had them Tuesday evening and ill all night, table next to us husband had same as me ended up in medical centre."

Allure of the Seas main dining room

According to BradW91, the tacos were the issue, "200 cases of food poisoning , pork tacos is the underlying problem every person with the issue has said they had the tacos."

It appears crew members have implemented new protocols to stem the spread of anyone else getting sick. Dr-Bison posted, "They are being protective of customers touching bar menus, Windjammer entrance line being enforced, and Windjammer self service is now roped off so only staff can serve guests one at a time."

Hallway on Allure of the Seas

No matter what the source of passengers getting sick, Royal Caribbean has health protocols in place to enact once a certain percentage of guests report symptoms.  

Royal Caribbean's protocols include:

  1. Stopping self-service in buffets if the onboard rate exceeds 1.5%
  2. Enhanced acute GI training for onboard medical teams
  3. Switching to PDI SaniCloth Prime hospital-grade disinfectant wipes 
  4. Enhanced crew training on what to do when experiencing acute GI symptoms and how to avoid cross-contamination in food and beverage service areas
Allure of the Seas in Perfect Day at CocoCay

In addition to passengers not feeling well, Bahamian officials delayed entry of Allure of the Seas to Royal Caribbean's private destination of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Much-Evening-4301 wrote, "I'm on Allure right now, we are docked at Coco Cay but they aren't letting us off the ship."

A bit later, Allure of the Seas was cleared to disembark passengers, and Royal Caribbean added an extra hour to its visit to make up for the roughly 90 minute delay earlier.

Would you pay more than $100 per day for a drink package on a cruise ship? That's the regular onboard price now on Royal Caribbean ships

In:
23 May 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Having unlimited drinks on your Royal Caribbean cruise isn't as cheap as it used to be.

Bamboo room drinks and crowd

Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink package that includes alcohol is now priced regularly at least $100 per person, per day when purchased onboard. The cruise line uses dynamic pricing, so it's not a standard fleetwide price, but our team has consistently observed that the advertised onboard price is regularly in triple digits.

On Freedom of the Seas this week, the price for the Deluxe Beverage Package was listed at $110 per person, per day for the 4-night cruise. On this week's Liberty of the Seas 5-night Bermuda sailing, it's at $105.

Drink package price
Freedom of the Seas
Drink package price on Liberty
Liberty of the Seas

On Icon of the Seas, the price was recently $115 per person, per day for a 7-night sailing.

Drink package prices
Icon of the Seas

That price is before the automatic 18% gratuity that is added on top of the drink package price which covers the bartenders that serve any drink ordered with the package.

Royal Caribbean's Deluxe Beverage Package includes almost every drink served onboard, minus super top shelf liquors. This includes a fruity cocktail, beer, some wines by the glass, premium coffees, sodas, smoothies, bottled water and sports drinks, milkshakes, and fresh squeezed juices. It's pretty much any beverage that is $14 or less.

Drinks on Icon of the Seas

You can even choose from top shelf liquor, like Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniel's, Johnnie Walker Black, Grey Goose, Captain Morgan, and Patron too. 

It also comes with 40% discount on bottles of wines under $100 and 20% discount on wines over $100.

While it does not  include drinks from in-room minibars or room service, they do work at its private destinations of Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee, Haiti.

It's also important to note that when you buy a drink package, you must buy it for every day of your sailing. You cannot "cherry pick" days you want to use it.  

In addition, Royal Caribbean has a rule in place if one adult purchases the Deluxe Beverage Package in a cabin, all other adults in the same cabin must buy it too.  This rule is prevent sharing drink package benefits with friends or family.  This rule doesn't apply to kids, or if you opt for the non-alcoholic drink packages.

Read more: 9 Ways That People Cheat The Royal Caribbean Drink Package

National Beverage Day sale

To be fair, the onboard price is a bit misleading because Royal Caribbean offers a significant discount of half off for the second person.  There are also Crown and Anchor Society discounts offered to some tiers to help with that price as well. In short, you can pay much less for a drink package by pre-purchasing.

There are two other Royal Caribbean drink packages that do not include any alcohol, the Royal Refreshment Package and the Soda Package.

Enjoying a cocktail

Royal Caribbean's drink packages have been quite popular since they first debuted, and the price has steadily climbed over the past few years. It's likely that strong demand for drink packages is a factor in driving up the price. Royal Caribbean Group executives have repeatedly pointed to strong demand by its customers for add-ons, such as the drink package, in its quarterly reports.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Jason Liberty said in April 2024 the significant uptick in onboard spending was a factor for the company's success., "Strong ticket and onboard revenue and favorable timing of expenses contributed to the better-than-expected earnings performance."  

How to save money on a drink package

Drink package cost

If a $100 per day price tag gives you pause, the good news is there's no reason to pay that price.

Royal Caribbean regularly offers pre-cruise discounts on its drink package when you buy it before the cruise begins. In fact, the line just kicked off it's Memorial Day sale on pre-cruise purchases. Guests can expect up to 35% off savings on purchases.

Drink package table

Depending on the promotion offered, you can usually get the Deluxe Beverage Package for around $60-$80 per person.  It varies from sailing to sailing, but the price offered in the Royal Caribbean app or website is always cheaper than buying it onboard.

Read more: When is the best time to purchase a Royal Caribbean drink package?

For example, on the Icon of the Seas June 29 sailing, the Deluxe Beverage Package is on sale for $76.99 instead of $110 per person, per day. Royal Caribbean says its 30% off savings.

Moreover, you can always re-price the drink package in the months leading up to your cruise by cancelling and rebooking if the price drops.  Its a significant advantage for consumers.

It's my recommendation to never wait to buy the drink package on the ship because of the higher price tag.

It's all about convenience

No matter the price, the top reason many cruisers buy a drink package is for the convenience of having a fixed price for all their vacation drink needs.

While not cheap, an often cited reason for buying a drink package is to not have to worry about running up a big bar bill during their cruise.

A cocktail can cost $14, plus gratuity.  After 3 or 4, you've already spent over $50 that day, and that doesn't include specialty coffees or juice.

Cove pool

RoyalCaribbeanBlog user WAYNO wrote, "The drink package is so convenient.  And I was able to experiment with drinks that I normally would never buy.  Or if a drink became warm or stale, or even boring, I could push it aside and order another."

aubtfan added, "Having drinks prepaid is worth it to us. So convenient."

FrogFanatic wrote, "I love the feeling of freedom knowing that if I chose to try something that I wouldn't try at home and don't like it, then no big deal, just order something else. It's the peace of mind that is part of what I am paying for and that is big for me."

I went on my first Royal Caribbean cruise and worried about big crowds. I ended up having more fun than expected.

In:
22 May 2024
By: 
Angie Vognild

I took a friend on her very first Royal Caribbean cruise, and while she has cruised before, this was her first mega-ship experience.

First time cruise tips on Harmony of the Seas

Your first Royal Caribbean cruise is one you will (most likely) never forget.

My first Royal Caribbean cruise was back in 2006 on Enchantment of the Seas. I was very young, but the memories I made on this cruise and the others I went on growing up will stay with me forever.

Recently, one of my good friends, Kate, was able to join me on her first Royal Caribbean cruise. We chose a cruise on Harmony of the Seas, an Oasis Class ship built in 2016, for a seven-night Western Caribbean voyage out of Galveston, Texas. 

Harmony of the Seas in Roatan, Honduras

You learn a lot when embarking on a new cruise line. Kate has cruised in the past, including sailings on Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, but she was intrigued to see how her experience on Royal Caribbean would compare to these other cruise lines.

Here are Kate’s honest thoughts and opinions about her first Royal Caribbean cruise.

Prior expectations and cruise preparation

Royal Promenade on Harmony of the Seas

As soon as we booked our cruise, Kate dived into researching everything about Harmony of the Seas.

“Watching Royal Caribbean Blog’s ship tour video was very helpful before the trip. They had the most thorough video I could find on YouTube, and I watched it several times,” Kate said. “It heightened my excitement about the trip since I knew exactly what to look forward to. Plus, it made it less overwhelming when I boarded the ship since I knew what to expect onboard.”

Although Kate was excited to experience all of the amenities of a large cruise ship, she was worried that having so many passengers onboard would create big crowds or long lines, which could detract from the experience.

People waiting in a standby line outside of the Royal Theater

“To my pleasant surprise, I rarely encountered large crowds on the ship! The most crowded places were for the shows or popular events, but if you arrived early, you could still get a good seat.”

As for packing, Kate decided to start packing a week in advance. “I didn’t end up wearing everything I brought, so in hindsight, I could’ve packed fewer clothes,” she said. “It was most helpful to pack various clothes to fit all the activities on the ship, from activewear for rock climbing to formal wear for dinner. I recommend thinking about how to layer, mix, and match your clothes when onboard.”

Check-in was easy

Galveston, Texas terminal security

A great surprise to Kate was how easy the check-in process was at the Galveston cruise terminal.

For context, our check-in time was at 11:30 a.m.

“Once we dropped off our large luggage, we went to the check-in area where we didn’t have to wait in any line to be checked in. I was so shocked by the quick and easy process that it almost felt like we were missing a step,” Kate explained. “It was so lovely to get through the check-in so quickly that we could get right on the ship and enjoy our vacation.”

Read more: Harmony of the Seas review: What this cruise ship is like in 2024

An interior cabin was better than anticipated

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

Since we wanted to book the cheapest cabin for our cruise, we decided on an interior guarantee cabin. This type of cabin offers no natural sunlight because there are no windows. Shortly after booking, we were assigned a cabin on deck 10 towards the back of the ship.

“This cruise was my first time experiencing an interior cabin, so I wasn’t sure what it would be like," Kate said. "Although my first impression of the cabin was that it was small, I found throughout the week that we didn’t spend much time in it, so the space worked well for what we used it for, which was just getting ready and sleeping at night."

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

“The biggest perk of our interior cabin was that it was very easy to sleep in since it stayed dark until you decided to turn on the light. Thankfully, I didn’t hear much outside noise while in the cabin, which I worried about because of the many passengers and kids onboard. Also, since our cabin was toward the aft of the ship, I didn’t feel much of a sway, which was nice.”

Kate’s least favorite part of the cabin was the small bathroom. “The only thing I struggled with in the cabin was how small the bathroom was. I would frequently bump my elbows on the walls while getting ready. There also wasn’t a lot of bathroom counter space, which made it challenging to get ready.”

Harmony of the Seas bathroom

Another interesting comment Kate made was how she felt it was a lot of work to find spots onboard to see the ocean. 

“Especially staying in an interior cabin, I felt like I had to continuously try to find places to watch the waves go by. At times, it was easy to forget that we were at sea since there were primarily interior spaces within the large ship.” Kate's favorite place to watch the ocean was in the Solarium.

Overall, Kate would consider an interior cabin again since her experience was better than she anticipated.

Cabin review: I stayed in the cheapest cabin on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas for $463 a night. Take a look inside my 172-square-foot cabin

The food is great, even for vegetarians

Main dining room on Harmony of the Seas

One aspect of the cruise Kate was looking forward to was the food.

“I love trying new restaurants, but my options can be limited as a vegetarian. I was both looking forward to the cuisine onboard and nervous about whether they would have enough options for me,” Kate said.

“I was very impressed with the quality and variety of the complimentary food. I was also impressed with the Main Dining Room for many reasons! They had a vegan option for each course every night, so I knew there would always be something I could eat. I found the quality of the food to be exceptional. Each dish was tasty and came out hot. With a party of two people, our three-course dinner usually took around an hour which was nice so we had time to experience more evening entertainment.”

Salad options onboard Harmony of the Seas

Kate liked the new themed menu every night. “Having variety and trying different foods was nice,” she said. “Plus, it’s a great way to try new foods because if I didn’t like something I ordered, the staff would be happy to bring something else out for me. The staff would bring me additional servings if I asked for them, which was a fun treat to have so much flexibility without the fear of running up a bill.”

Kate eating at Jamie's Italian

During our seven-night cruise, we ate at two specialty restaurants: Jamie’s Italian and Johnny Rockets. Kate said she was quite satisfied with the vegetarian options at these venues, especially the Aubergine Parmigiana and Truffle Tagliatelle at Jamie's Italian.

Read more: Vegetarian and Vegan Guide to Royal Caribbean

Jamies Italian on Harmony of the Seas

“Jamies’s Italian was definitely my favorite meal of the week. Every dish was superb. However, you could find plenty of quality food throughout the week without the specialty dining. I loved the salad bar at the buffet because I was able to get exactly what I wanted.”

Kate’s only feedback would be to have labels on the signs at the buffet to easily identify which dishes are meat-free. 

Impressive entertainment

Grease on Harmony of the Seas

Another aspect of the cruise Kate loved was the entertainment offered on Harmony of the Seas. She greatly enjoyed the live music that was performed throughout the night, like the piano music in the Schooner Bar and the jazz bands in Dazzles.

In addition to the traditional theater entertainment, Kate was impressed by the unique entertainment options such as the ice skating and aqua shows.

Big Daddy's Hideaway Heist on Harmony of the Seas

“I had never seen performances like these on land, so it was even more impressive that they could perform on the sea. I was truly in awe when I left those shows because of how unique and talented the performances were,” Kate said.

Attentive service

Bar service onboard Harmony of the Seas

With so many passengers on the ship, Kate was initially worried that the service from staff would not be as attentive and personal as she would like it to be.

“The staff definitely exceeded my expectations with how personal they made the experience,” Kate said. “I was highly impressed that not only did we get to meet our stateroom attendant on embarkation day, but he also greeted us by name every time we passed him in the hallway.”

Kate was also wowed by how knowledgeable every bartender was onboard. “They always knew precisely what drink I requested and made it quickly without hesitation. I even had one of the best Amaretto Sours on the ship - my favorite!”

Some aspects of the cruise could’ve been better

Harmony of the Seas

Not everything on a cruise is perfect, and Kate did have a few things she pointed out that could’ve been better.

First, Kate was surprised that the Solarium isn’t really adults-only like it claims to be.

“Although I understand it was a family-friendly cruise, it was frustrating that the adults-only rule wasn’t enforced,” Kate commented. “It took away from the relaxing retreat that the space is designed to be. It also would have been nice to have a pool in the Solarium to relax in since the regular pools were so packed with kids that you were constantly being kicked and splashed on. I was also surprised that the hot tubs often were allowed to be over-capacity.”

Solarium on Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas is actually the only Royal Caribbean ship without a pool inside the Solarium. Instead, there is a mister that guests can use to cool down.

Next, Kate wished there were more water stations around the ship.

“I understand they don’t want you to fill water bottles at the stations for sanitary reasons. I don’t want to have to carry a water bottle everywhere. However, I found it hard to find water stations where I’d often have to travel several decks to find water. Sometimes, I would have to wait in line at a bar just to get a glass of water, which was inconvenient. Plus, I felt bad for slowing down the bartenders.”

Next, Kate and I encountered a few issues with the Royal Caribbean app while on our cruise.

“I admired how much information you could find on the Royal Caribbean app. However, I found that it would take a lot of time to load every time I opened the app. This can be frustrating, especially with how often I wanted to reference it. I also found it inconsistent in which activities were being offered each day. I usually needed to exit and reload the app to ensure I saw all the activities. I would definitely appreciate some updates for the app.”

Harmony of the Seas in Cozumel, Mexico

Lastly, we had an unexpected event occur while on our cruise. Our seven-day cruise had planned stops in Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico. Unfortunately, we were not able to dock in Costa Maya due to poor weather, so we only had two port stops and the rest were sea days. Kate had planned excursions in every port.

“The tour company canceled the excursion I was booked to go on in Honduras a week before the trip, which was a bummer. But, I appreciated that Royal Caribbean gave me a discount to book another excursion, which is what I ended up doing. The other excursion I had booked in Costa Maya was automatically refunded on the day we couldn’t make it into port.”

Read more: I went on Harmony of the Seas and these are the 7 mistakes I saw people make

Visiting new countries was a highlight

Harmony of the Seas pool deck and Central Park

Kate’s favorite part of the cruise was getting to visit and experience different countries and cultures.

“I went horseback riding in Honduras and explored ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico. I booked both excursions through the cruise line, which I highly recommend doing,” Kate said. “Both excursions were well organized and ran smoothly. It put me at ease to know we would be picked up and dropped off by the ship, and Royal Caribbean had vetted the excursions. The tour guides who led my excursions were very friendly and knowledgeable. Plus, I felt safe in the countries since I was with the tour group.”

Horseback riding excursion in Honduras

Another aspect Kate loves about cruising is that it’s very flexible when traveling with a group and it’s easy to plan.

“Due to the various activities and excursions, you can find something interesting for everyone! It’s easy to go off alone to experience what interests you but then come back together with your group for dinner or whatever else. The other aspect I love so much is that all the logistics are taken care of for you, so you can enjoy it! I love planning, but knowing that everything will be taken care of for you is a nice break for me.”

Would Kate cruise with Royal Caribbean again?

Central Park on Harmony of the Seas

So, did Kate like her cruise on Harmony of the Seas and would she consider another cruise on Royal Caribbean?

“I would definitely cruise on Royal Caribbean again! Overall, I had a fantastic experience and a great vacation. There were a wide variety of excursions to see the world, and they were well done. I greatly enjoyed the quality food and unique entertainment onboard. I had a great customer experience with all of the staff. I trust that Royal Caribbean would provide another solid experience if I booked another trip with them.”

“Personally, I would prefer a more inclusive price model, like Virgin Voyages or Regent Seven Seas. This would allow me to access all the food and experiences without considering additional costs on vacation. I would especially prefer that all the food be included so you don’t have to consider prices and payment while on vacation.”

Kate’s last quote is one that I also agree with. “If you’re looking for a trustworthy cruise line with a large variety of experiences, I would definitely recommend Royal Caribbean!”

I took my first Royal Caribbean cruise - here are my honest thoughts

7 bathroom hacks to use in your cruise ship cabin

In:
21 May 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Just like the cabin, your cruise ship bathroom is going to be small. But there are ways to make it better.

I've heard comedians joke that showering on a cruise ship is the most intimate experience they've had—with a shower curtain!

Cruise ship bathrooms usually lack storage space and have limited air circulation.

But before you start stressing about having a miserable time whenever you have to use the bathroom on your cruise, we have some hacks that will help.

Voyager of the Seas cabin bathroom

To make the most of your experience, you'll have to get creative and be prepared with some extra supplies.

Don't skip these tips for how to improve your cruise ship cabin's bathroom.

Here are seven bathroom hacks that will help you stay fresh and clean for the length of your cruise.

1. Use an air freshener

Cruise ship bathrooms can be tiny, and you’ll end up sharing them with your travel group for the length of the cruise.

With every person doing their business at least once a day, it’s easy for smells to build up in the air.

It’s easy to start dreading opening the bathroom door and being hit with a nasty scent. You might even begin delaying your showers to avoid smelling the bathroom for too long.

To avoid these smells lingering in the air, pack an air freshener or poo-pourri spray (This link contains an affiliate link, which costs you nothing extra to use).

By keeping this close by, you’ll improve the scent in the bathroom and ensure everyone has a pleasant cruise.

Read more: 40 essential things to bring on a cruise

2. Night light

motion-sensor-light

You'll want to bring a night light to keep in your bathroom to avoid feeling like a deer in headlights.

On many Royal Caribbean ships, it's pitch black in the cabin once you turn off the lights at night, including the bathroom.  The bathroom light only has two modes: on and off, and the on mode is extremely bright.

To avoid being blinded when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a night light is a great idea.

It can be disorientating to wake up to a completely dark room, and then turn the light on to use the bathroom. And trying to use the bathroom with the lights off? Always seems like a better idea than it is.

Pack a night light and you can use it over and over again on every cruise (This link contains an affiliate link, which costs you nothing extra to use).

3. Upgrade your experience by bringing your products

Royal Caribbean provides soap, shampoo, and conditioner in its cabins, but, unless you’re in a suite, this will come in the form of a drying, 3-in-1 product.

While you can always opt to use the provided soaps, I highly recommend bringing your own stuff.

Especially if you have dry skin, textured hair, or a sensitive face, you’ll want to bring along your own bathroom products.

These will help to enhance your experience, keeping you clean, moisturized, and healthy for the length of your cruise.

Plus, if you do end up needing more products while onboard, the items sold on the ship will come at a high price.

Before you leave for your cruise, try to pack all the products you usually use in the bathroom.

Here’s a list of toiletries you should consider packing: 

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Loofah
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste 
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash 
  • Contact lens and solution
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume or cologne 
  • Shaving cream and razors 
  • Feminine hygiene products 
  • Lotion
  • Detangling spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Tweezers 
  • Nail file and clippers 
  • Lip balm or chapstick 
  • Hairbrush and comb 
  • Hair products such as mousse and gel 
  • Hair ties and scrunchies

4. Hang and organize your toiletries

Shoe Organizer

Cruise ship bathrooms can be short on space, but (as mentioned before) you might have a ton of products you’ve packed along.

Most cruisers like to unpack everything for the length of their cruise (especially if it’s longer than 5 nights) but can become limited on counter space.

To keep everything within reach, and ensure that no one fights over cabinet space, bring along a shoe organizer or toiletry hanger (This is an affiliate link that costs you nothing extra to use, but makes us a small commission).

Other than a way to fit shoes in the cabin, bottles of shampoo, lotion, and conditioner can also fit well into a shoe organizer.

Special toiletries bags also have useful compartments for all the items you might pack, like toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Bringing an organizer that can hang up is a great alternative to save space; instead of taking up room on the counter, you can fill up a blank wall.

No hooks where you want to hang them? No problem. Bring some magnetic hooks, and they’ll stick to the steel walls anywhere in the cabin.

5. Use wrinkle-release spray for messy clothes 

Wrinkle release

Royal Caribbean prohibits you from packing irons or steamers onto its cruise ships. These items present a fire hazard, so they will be confiscated if you attempt to bring them onboard.

Laundry services onboard also come at an extra cost.

So, how do you get rid of any pesky wrinkles, especially after you’ve folded up clothes in your suitcase?

wrinkle-release-spray

We recommend bringing a wrinkle release spray, such as this Downy Wrinkle Release (contains an affiliate link, which costs you nothing extra to use but supports this site).

Simply spray your clothes, hang them up, and wear them when ready!

Hanging your clothes up in the bathroom in some post-shower steam also helps smooth out those wrinkles.

6. Bring along a Tide pen to prevent stains

Harmony of the Seas vanity chair

Whether I’m going on a 7-day cruise or a day trip out of my house, I always try to bring a Tide To Go Pen.

This small, portable pen can be quickly rubbed on any stain to prevent it from setting.

On a longer cruise where you may not be able to do laundry, these pens are a lifesaver for preventing lasting stains on your favorite clothes.

They work best on food and drink stains, even for deep colors like red wine or pasta sauce. All you have to do is remove the cap, rub the pen on the stain, wait for the fabric to dry, and then blot off any extra solution with a napkin or paper towel.

Tide pens can truly rescue your clothes on a cruise.

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

7. Dry clothes on the provided clothesline

Another great laundry hack—especially for those wet bathroom suits that will quickly stack up—is to look for the clothesline inside your cabin bathroom.

All Royal Caribbean ships have a small clothesline that pulls out of the wall and attaches to the opposite wall, usually somewhere over the shower.

It might be hard to find the small knob but keep an eye out for this useful tool.

As a bonus hack, hang your clothes on hangers, and then place the hangers on the clothesline to save more space. 

7 bathroom hacks to use in your cruise ship cabin

I finally got to try Royal Caribbean's faster Express Boarding. It was so easy, but not everyone knows how to get it.

In:
20 May 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean quietly introduced a faster embarkation process at one of its cruise ports, and it promises to get you on the ship as fast as possible.

I got Express Boarding and it was so easy

Express Boarding first showed up in November 2023 on Freedom of the Seas as a test to prepare it for the arrival of Icon of the Seas in January 2024. When I sailed on Icon, I did not get the Express Boarding option, but I finally was able to get it for my 4-night Freedom of the Seas cruise.

There's no cost or "catch" to getting Express Boarding, but you'll need to complete a few pre-check-in steps in order to qualify for it.

If you do manage to get it, then expect the simplest terminal check-in process possible.

Express Boarding sign

Royal Caribbean's check-in has always been quite easy, so why is it necessary to even have an express option? Essentially, it rewards those that do everything they're supposed to do before the cruise begins and keep those people moving through the cruise terminal faster. That keeps lines shorter for those that didn't complete the steps, and rewards those that did.

For the time being, Express Boarding is only available for Royal Caribbean cruises sailing from Terminal A in PortMiami.

How Express Boarding works

Boarding Wonder of the Seas

When I completed my health questionnaire the day before my cruise, I was alerted by the Royal Caribbean app that I had qualified for Express Boarding.

The app made a big deal of it, showing virtual confetti and updating my SetSail pass to show I have Express Boarding.

Notification of Express Boarding

The instructions in the app was to bring all my travel documents and follow the signs for Express Boarding.

Once you get to the cruise terminal, look for the Express Boarding line.  It's one of the three "special" lines you can enter, in addition to the regular line.

Boarding lines

I showed the port agent my boarding pass, which had the Express Boarding icon on it and he admitted me in.

Lines welcoming guests
SetSail Pass with Express Boarding

When you get to the primary check-in area, there's a special line for those with Express Boarding. The idea is it's more of a checkpoint to verify you have everything.

Express Boarding sign

The agent scanned my Set Sail Pass and my passport, verifying everything was correct.

Read more: Do you need a passport for a cruise?

I was surprised she took my photo again, but I breezed through check-in with no line.

After being check-ed in, you essentially rejoin the regular flow of guests. I went through security and then went to the boarding area.  Freedom of the Seas had already begun boarding, so I never stopped walking.

In the cruise terminal

The process was very easy, and I went from being dropped off at the terminal with my luggage at 10:37am to boarding Freedom of the Seas at 10:43am. A total of 6 minutes, and that includes a quick check of my carry-on bag for a non-existent extension cord.

Even if you don't have Express Boarding, the check-in process is pretty quick.  The difference is you waste less time re-verifying things. Plus, your check-in line may be shorter with this option.

The only people that probably wouldn't care if they got Express Boarding are anyone staying in a suite, as there's a special line and check-in area for them.

How to qualify for Express Boarding

Miami terminals

There's no cost to get Express Boarding, you just need to complete a few key steps.

First, you must use the Royal Caribbean app to complete all steps of your check-in.  You cannot use the Royal Caribbean website. Keep in mind it's only available right now at Terminal A, so only Freedom of the Seas and Icon of the Seas offer it.

Boarding pass

Once in the app, you need to complete all the steps including scanning your passport.  You cannot manually enter information.

  1. Scan your passport
  2. Enter all personal and contact information
  3. Take a selfie photo and upload it
  4. Complete the health questionnaire 24 hours before your cruise begins

You won't see the Express Boarding option until you complete the health questions.  Assuming you did everything else, you should get confetti and a notification in the app that you qualify for Express Boarding.

11 food favorites at CocoCay that never disappoint

In:
20 May 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

There are a few foods at Royal Caribbean's private island that I must order every single time I visit.

From funnel cakes to refreshing fresh fruit, a wide variety of free food caters to every pallet. 

Five complimentary venues serve the island: Skipper’s Grill, Chill Grill, and 3 locations of the Snack Shack.

You’ll also find four extra-cost restaurants, or ones included with the cost of admission: Captain Jack’s, Coco Beach Club, Hideaway Hut, and Slice of Paradise at Hideaway Beach.

What are the best dishes to try at each venue?

If your next cruise includes a visit to this idyllic island, here are the top eleven food favorites at Perfect Day at CocoCay to try out. 

Read more: Your really dumb Perfect Day at CocoCay questions answered

1. Funnel cake

Even if you don’t usually indulge in a deep-fried snack, the free funnel cake is the perfect beach treat.

Made with deep-fried spirals of dough and light powdered sugar, the sweet and greasy treat makes for a delicious snack by the beach, the pool, or before you enter an exciting amenity.

I always notice that whenever someone walks by with a funnel cake, other people take notice and then go order one for themselves. This sweet, warm dessert will inspire everyone around you to get a taste.

You can find funnel cake at any of the three different Snack Shack locations on the island: near Thrill Waterpark, Oasis Lagoon, or South Beach.

2. Fresh fruit

I always love eating fresh fruit, whether for a snack, breakfast, or dessert.

You can find pineapple, watermelon, apples, and oranges available at many complimentary food venues. The pineapple and watermelon come in pre-cut slices, while you can grab the apples and oranges whole, even putting them away in a bag for later.

I’ve also seen other varieties of fruit available. 

Depending on the day, they could serve pears, mangos, kiwis, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, or papayas.

You can find fruit at all the dining locations, but Skipper’s Grill and Chill Grill will have the most options.

Read more: I went to CocoCay for the first time, and here's what I'd do differently

3. Greek salad

I love the salad options on Perfect Day at CocoCay. You can add chicken to any salad, free of charge.

Made up of lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, cucumbers, bell peppers, and feta cheese, this salad is a refreshing, healthy dish.

The Greek salad is served at the Snack Shack.

4. Shack burger

The Shack burger is one of the favorite entrees offered on Perfect Day at CocoCay. Royal Caribbean refers to this burger as its “hall of fame dish” when it comes to Perfect Day at CocoCay selections.

Made with a beef patty on a brioche bun, the burger is stacked with American cheese, lettuce, a slice of Beefsteak tomato, and a secret sauce called the Shack sauce. 

The cruise line has revealed that this sauce is made with mayonnaise, ketchup, and sweet relish, all mixed together and refrigerated.

You can find this burger at the Snack Shack.

5. Crispy chicken sandwich

Another popular sandwich is the crispy chicken sandwich.

Crispy fried chicken is served up on a brioche bun with lettuce, basil, mayonnaise, and pickles.

To create the "secret sandwich" pictured above, just ask the Snack Shack worker for it by name.

You can find the crispy chicken sandwich at the Snack Shack.

6. Portobello and mozzarella sandwich

For a slightly healthier sandwich—or if you’re looking for a vegetarian option—we recommend the panini portobello and mozzarella sandwich. 

Portobello mushrooms and mozzarella cheese make up the protein of this sandwich. The mozzarella is melted over fried mushrooms for a simple yet tasty meal.

You can find this sandwich at Skipper’s Grill and Chill Grill.

7. Tacos

Not only are there delicious tacos available on this private island, but they’re also served in a build-your-own, buffet format.

You can create your own tacos, starting with your choice of tortilla, and choose additions like pork, Mexican rice, and beans. Next, you can add even more toppings like salsa, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, lettuce, jalapenos, lime, Tabasco sauce, and more.

You can find tacos at Skipper’s Grill and Chill Grill.

8. Brownie

For an extra-decadent dessert, try the rich, gooey chocolate brownie with double the chocolate chips. Not only is it filled with chocolate goodness, but it’s also topped with caramel for an extra sweet and chewy texture. 

To add even more sweetness to your dessert, you can top the brownie with a side of soft-serve ice cream.

You can find brownies at Skipper’s Grill, Chill Grill, and the Snack Shack.

9. Grilled Bahamian Lobster

For a luxury private dining experience, you can purchase exclusive access to the Coco Beach Club.

All the food at this venue is included in the cost of your admission, and one of the best is the Bahamian lobster.

This local seafood is served with sea salt, olive oil, lemon juice, aioli sauce, and a side of truffle fries and grilled vegetables.

The lobster is included with your entrance fee for the Coco Beach Club.

Read more: I tried it: Coco Beach Club at Perfect Day at CocoCay

10. Mozzarella sticks

The mozzarella sticks at Perfect Day at CocoCay are delightful—one of my favorite snacks on the island.

Gooey, melted mozzarella cheese is encased in golden-brown fried flour. The salty flavor of the sticks is complete on its own, but they also come with a marinara sauce for that savory, garlic-y punch.

You can find mozzarella sticks at the Snack Shack.

11. Chicken wings

Craving chicken wings?

For an extra cost, you can satisfy your cravings. 

The chicken wings are served with a variety of sauces you can choose from: buffalo, mango habanero, Caribbean jerk, and bourbon barbecue.

You can find chicken wings at Captain’s Jack’s, for sale for $7.95 per 10 wings.

Read more: What to do at CocoCay? 18 things to try on your visit

11 foods to try at Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay