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I tried the cheapest Celebrity cruise cabin I could find - see what my room on this cruise ship looked like

29 Mar 2023
Allie Hubers

I just returned from a 4-night spring break cruise on Celebrity Silhouette. This was my first cruise on Celebrity Cruises and it really impressed me!

Allie with Celebrity Silhouette

I'd always wanted to try a Celebrity cruise, especially as a longtime cruiser with Royal Caribbean. The adult-focused atmosphere onboard Celebrity cruise ships has been the biggest draw for me. 

However, I've found Celebrity Cruises to usually be more expensive compared to sister-brand Royal Caribbean. Regardless, I’m always on the hunt for a cheap deal and looking to try a new cruise line.

I was ecstatic to find a relatively affordable cabin on Celebrity Silhouette for a spring break sailing, costing me just $966 for 4-nights. The cheapest cabin available, per usual, was a guaranteed inside cabin

We booked the sailing and started planning our spring break getaway - the deal was too good to pass up! I’d be staying in the cabin with my sister, something we’ve done many times together. 

Celebrity Silhouette was built in 2011 as part of the Solstice Class. This beautiful cruise ship can accommodate 2,886 guests, making it a midsize cruise ship. 

Even as a relatively new vessel, Celebrity Silhouette received major refurbishments in 2020 as part of Celebrity’s Revolution initiative. 

For our cruise in Celebrity Silhouette, we were eager to see everything that the cruise line had to offer during a weekend cruise - even if it meant staying in a cheap interior cabin. 

I’m no stranger to an inside cabin, as this is typically the stateroom category that I prefer to book when I cruise because they’re simply so affordable.

As is usual with guaranteed cabins, we were not assigned a cabin until a few days before the cruise departed; we were assigned to inside stateroom 9174. 

A quick research online unveiled this cabin was located at the very front of the ship on Deck 9. Upon boarding, we weaved our way around Deck 9 to find our home for the next four nights. 

As expected based on deck plans, our cabin was the very last stateroom at the end of a hallway filled entirely with inside cabins. We noticed right away that our cabin was right next to a Crew Only door at the end of this hallway. 

At only 200 square feet, we were shocked that the inside cabin felt extremely spacious. 

The inside stateroom featured a large king bed at the very back of the cabin. It was perfectly made when we arrived. 

The plushy king bed was adorned with a Celebrity-themed throw pillow and blanket, making the cabin feel homey and inviting. 

On each side of the bed, the stateroom featured small lights for us to use with warm lights and personal nightstands. We wished the lights had USB plugs for charging our phones each night. 

Our inside cabin also featured a nearly full-size couch, which was the biggest surprise to us. Some inside cabins, such as the one we booked onboard Carnival Celebration, have no place to comfortably sit other than the bed. So, we really enjoyed having this amenity in the room. 

The large couch was super comfortable and ended up being one of our favorite features of the room. The decorative pillows on the couch were another nice touch.

The small coffee table was a good addition to the room as well, and we utilized this as an easy spot to put our things throughout the cruise. 

On the opposite side of the cabin was a tall vanity with TV above. This included multiple shelves for us to use, along with a mini cooler a safe. 

Adjacent to the taller vanity was a shorter vanity with chair, which was the perfect spot for doing our makeup each day. 

The vanity here was overtaken by two large water bottles for purchase, along with a bag of chips. We weren’t sure if the chips were complimentary, so they stayed in the same place for the entirety of the cruise. I wish we had been provided complimentary water bottles.

Along the shared wall with the taller vanity was a strip of outlets with multiple plugs for us to use. I packed my favorite USB extender, which plugs into European outlets and provides multiple USB plugs and additional outlets. 

The inside stateroom featured a large closet with plenty of hangers inside. I wish the closet had featured some shelving, but that’s just a preference. 

Inside the closet we found two lusciously soft Celebrity Cruises robes for us to use throughout the cruise. Even in the cheapest cabin, it felt like a slice of luxury. 

The inside stateroom bathroom was also surprisingly large with lots of storage for cosmetics. 

We appreciated having more room than we are used to in cruise ship bathrooms, especially on ships that aren't brand new. The larger shower was another huge win for us. 

Inside the shower, we found three different bottles of bath products to use: shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Needless to say, we didn’t miss the mysterious 3-in-1 product that we are used to on Royal Caribbean. 

The shower was very spacious with a plexiglass door. We noted that the shower head had multiple spray settings, something I can’t recall ever seeing on a cruise. 

The bathroom vanity featured shelving to the right of the sink, along with drawers under the sink, which was very handy for storing some of our cosmetics. 

The bathroom vanity also featured some high-quality body lotion. These little touches definitely made the experience feel more luxurious. 

Overall, the bathroom was equally spacious as it was functional, and we certainly enjoyed the provided bathroom products. 

For sleeping purposes, we opted to separate the king bed into two separate beds; although, as someone who is nearly 6-feet-tall, I think I would have preferred the beds together. That was a sister argument I wasn't able to win. 

Our inside stateroom was comfortable and cozy during our cruise with plenty of storage for us to use. We unpacked our suitcases to utilize the space as best as we could and tucked our suitcases under the bed. 

While we didn’t return to towel animals any night, we were greeted by a beautiful fresh rose in a vase one evening on the coffee table. 

On the second to last night, we came back in the evening to find a complimentary Celebrity tote and bag. Again, another lovely touch from the cruise line that really stood out. 

The only gripe about our cabin was the location. We were worried about having excessive motion being this far forward, but that’s a gamble you take with a guarantee stateroom. 

However, the cabin was actually very noisy with little motion felt at all. Each morning at 5:30, we could hear clinks, thuds and loud noises around us; seemingly, the noise was coming from the Crew Only area next door. 

Unfortunately, I’m a light sleeper and even with sleep meds, earplugs and blasting white noise, the morning symphony woke me up each day. 

When our stateroom attendant asked how we slept the first night, we mentioned the early morning noise. He seemed concerned and assured me that he would report the noise, which was very attentive. 

I didn’t expect the noise to go away, as it’s a cruise ship and I know the crew members start work early in the morning. 

In the future, I’ll be sure to always pack earplugs when I book guarantee cabins. Early one morning while I listened to the noises, I even reconsidered a guaranteed cabin I have booked on an upcoming 12-night cruise. 

Regardless of the noise, our inside cabin provided a very pleasant stay for our first Celebrity experience. The thoughtful touches amplified the experience as well, making it feel more luxurious than any inside cabin I've stayed in before. 

Between the spacious cabin and thoughtful touches, we were impressed by our stateroom, even though it was the cheapest cabin we could find. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to book another inside cabin, but I might look at the cost difference to choose my cabin and location, especially for longer voyages. 

Icon of the Seas: Itinerary, features, and more

28 Mar 2023
Matt Hochberg

Icon of the Seas will be the first of Royal Caribbean's Icon Class cruise ships when she launches, marking the first new type of vessel for the cruise line since 2014.

Icon of the Seas rendering

Being a new type of cruise ship, there will be all sorts of new features onboard, including a water park, new areas dedicated to families, revamped pool decks and a lot more.

While Royal Caribbean has not yet revealed all the information about the ship, we already know Icon of the Seas will be more than 6% bigger than Wonder of the Seas and able to hold up to 7,600 passengers. Icon of the Seas will also be 10 feet longer than Wonder of the Seas.

When she launches in early 2024, Icon of the Seas will become the largest cruise ship in the world.  If you are thinking of booking Icon of the Seas, or are planning for an upcoming cruise, there are quite a few things you should know about this new ship.

Here is a look at the most important things we know about Icon of the Seas.

How big is Icon of the Seas?

Hidewaway aerial

Icon of the Seas is the first Icon Class ship, which means this cruise ship will have a new design, size, and look compared to other ships that came before her.

Icon of the Seas will carry 7,600 passengers at maximum occupancy (or nearly 10,000 people when you account for the crew) when it first sets sail with guests Jan. 27, 2024.

When completed, Icon will be 20 decks high and 1,198 feet long and measure 250,800 gross tons.

Where will Icon of the Seas sail from?

Terminal A in PortMiami

Icon of the Seas will begin offering cruises from Miami in January 2024.

Miami will be homeport from January 2024 through at least April 2025.

Royal Caribbean has not announced plans yet for where the ship will sail from beyond April 2025.

Icon of the Seas itineraries

When Icon enters service, she will offer weeklong Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, and each will visit Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Icon of the Seas aerial render from the aft

The inaugural Icon of the Seas sailing will be January 27, 2024.

7-night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day at CocoCay: Miami; Phillipsburg, St Maarten; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Perfect Day at CocoCay; Miami

7-night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day at CocoCay: Basseterre, St Kitts & Nevis, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Perfect Day at CocoCay; Miami

7-night Western Caribbean & Perfect Day at CocoCay: Miami; Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico; Perfect Day at CocoCay; Miami

Icon of the Seas neighborhoods & layout

Introducing Icon of the Seas

Ready to see what you can do on Icon of the Seas?

Icon of the Seas will have 8 neighborhoods to help passengers easily navigate the ship.


Aquadome render

Instead of a Solarium at the front of the ship, Icon of the Seas will have an AquaDome area.

At its heart, this area is home to the indoor AquaTheater from the Oasis Class ships, and put it into this multipurpose space with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, offering 220-degree views. 

The shows here will feature aerialists, acrobatics, high dives, and the tallest waterfall at sea (55 feet tall).

Aquadome bar

When the space isn't being used for a show, passengers can take in wraparound ocean views and enjoy views of the waterfall as they enjoy a bite or drink.

Central Park

Central Park render on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas will have its own lush green place onboard, with thousands of real plants, dining, and live music.

More details about this space will be revealed later.

Chill Island

Lagoon pool

Royal Caribbean has plans for the best pool deck at sea with Chill Island.

Swim and Tonic pool

Chill Island will have ocean views galore from the three-deck pool area. Icon of the Seas will have Swim & Tonic, the first swim-up bar at sea.

You'll also find the largest pool at sea at Royal Bay Pool.

Cove pool

If you want a quieter pool experience, head to the infinity-edge Cove Pool that has in-water loungers.

And adults can find their own space at Cloud 17, which is the adults-only retreat with their own bar, the Lime & Coconut.

Pool information for Icon of the Seas:

  • Royal Bay: The largest pool at sea, designed for all guests to enjoy. Located in Chill Island
    Neighborhood on Deck 15. Hours of Operation: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • The Cove Pool: An infinity, portside pool directly facing the ocean. Located in Chill Island
    Neighborhood on Deck 15. Hours of Operation: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m
  • Cloud 17: Adults-only pool deck (age 16+ years old) overlooking the ocean with dedicated Lime &
    Coconut bar and whirlpool. Located in Chill Island Neighborhood on Deck 17. Hours of Operation:
    8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Maximum Capacity: 249)
  • Swim & Tonic: First-to-brand swim-up bar located in Chill Island Neighborhood on Deck 16.
    Seating for 12 at swim-up bar. Hours of Operation: 9:00 a.m. – Late.

Thrill Island

Thrill Island water park render on Icon of the Seas

Are you ready for the biggest water park at sea?

You'll find Category 6, the new water park that has six water slides, including an open free-fall slide, the tallest drop slide at sea, family raft slides that accommodate four riders at once and two mat-racing slides. 

  • • Frightening Bolt: The tallest drop slide at sea
    (Min Height: 55” tall | Max Weight: 265 lbs)
  • Pressure Drop: The first open freefall slide at sea
    (Min Height: 55” tall | Max Weight: 265 lbs)
  • Storm-Chasers (2): The longest mat racing slides at sea
    (Min Height: 42” tall | Max Weight: 265 lbs)
  • Hurricane Hunter: The first family raft slide at sea
    (Min Height: 48” tall with parents & 55” tall without parents | Max Weight: 595 lbs)
  • Storm Surge: The first suspended family raft slide at sea
    (Min Height: 48” tall with parents & 55” tall without parents | Max Weight: 595 lbs)

All adventures within Category 6 Waterpark are complimentary during the hours of operation: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM.

Crown's Edge on Icon of the Seas

Crown's Edge is part skywalk, part ropes course, part thrill ride, and an all-out test of courage. At any moment, the floor could collapse and leave you dangling high over the ocean.  Height and weight restrictions will be shared at a later date.

There will be one FlowRider surf simulator onboard, as well as other brand staples like Adrenaline Peak – the ultimate rock-climbing expedition, Sports Court, and a totally reimagined mini-golf course.


Surfside neighborhood with Water's Edge pool

Surfside is a new neighborhood dedicated to young families, and it's at the heart of the focus of Icon of the Seas.

This neighborhood will offer splash areas for babies and kids. There's a new pool-themed version of Royal Caribbean's carousel and a bar with "mommy and me" matching mocktails for kids and cocktails for grownups. 

Kids using Splashaway Bay must be fully potty trained, but Baby Bay is for children that are still in diapers a place to splash and play. Additionally, the slide within Splashaway Bay requires a minimum height of 42” tall and a maximum weight of 300 lbs.

A look down the Surfside neighborhood

Adventure Ocean and the teen club have entrances here, which means easy access to either place.

Splashaway Bay and Water's Edge

Grownups can hang back at Water’s Edge pool as the kiddos play at Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay, complete with slides, fountains, water cannons, a drench bucket and more.

Waters Edge hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

The Hideaway

Hideaway at sunset

Another brand new neighborhood is The Hideaway, which is Royal Caribbean's version of a beach club.

Think Las Vegas pool party, you'll find the first suspended infinity pool at sea.

Then there's a multilevel terrace, whirlpools, a variety of seating and dedicated bar.

The Hideaway Pool hours of Operation: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Suite neighborhood

Suite Sun Deck render on Icon of the Seas

The Royal Suite Class benefits will be available on Icon of the Seas, and that includes three decks of space for suite guests.

This will be Royal Caribbean's largest area for suite guests, and it includes a suite sun deck, Coastal Kitchen restaurant, and a new casual eatery just for suite guests, The Grove.

Royal Promenade

Absolute Zero

As you walk onto the ship, you'll be greeted by The Pearl, which is a new space that Royal Caribbean will reveal more details about later.

There will be one major change to the Royal Promenade most guests will notice: there's windows!

Pearl on the Royal Promenade
Pearl Cafe

When you walk onto the ship, you'll actually walk through The Pearl.

Something else different about the Royal Promenade is there's the largest ice arena yet in "Absolute Zero".

Icon of the Seas Bars & Nightlife

Music Hall concept for Icon

Royal Caribbean will offer a combination of new and fan-favorite bars to enjoy.

Dueling Pianos on Icon of the Seas

Dueling Pianos: Royal Caribbean’s first dueling pianos bar will have twin baby grand pianos with pianists taking song requests to bring high-energy performances to the Royal Promenade.

Jazz Bar

Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues: Jazz venue in Central Park with live performances of soulful classics and jazz pop tunes.

Rye & Bean

Rye & Bean: Coffee shop in AquaDome that can serve up coffee and espresso cocktails.

Sips and Spotlights

The Overlook and Overlook Pods: A new concept entirely, this bar has nooks and is located conveniently near the AquaDome. Royal Caribbean envisions this as a place to drink, play classic boardgames and kick back to live music, too. 

1400 Bar

1400 Lobby Bar: Located right when you board the ship, the drink menu was developed with renowned mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim.  The venue’s also the first to open the vibrant Royal Promenade to the outdoors with an ocean-facing terrace.


Bubbles: New walkup champagne window in Central Park open morning, noon, and night.

Royal Caribbean classic bars:

  • Trellis Bar
  • Boleros
  • Schooner Bar
  • Point & Feather English pub
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade
  • Spotlight Karaoke
  • Music Hall
  • The Attic comedy club

When will Icon of the Seas be delivered?

Icon of the Seas plaque

Icon of the Seas is expected to be delivered in late November or early December 2023.

She was originally scheduled to be delivered in second quarter of 2022, but the Covid-19 pandemic caused her construction plans to be delayed by a year.

Her first sailing with paying guests will be January 27, 2024.

Cabins and suites on Icon of the Seas

Infinite Grand Suite

Royal Caribbean has 28 different Icon of the Seas cruise ship cabins you can choose from, with an eye to provide the most spacious rooms designed by the cruise line.

There are new categories of cabins, new neighborhoods, and views never offered before on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

More than 82% of all rooms onboard Icon of the Seas will accommodate 3 or more guests, and more than 70% of all rooms onboard Icon of the Seas will have a balcony.

Icon loft suite

There are 2805 total staterooms on Odyssey of the Seas:

  • 179 suites
  • 1815 balcony staterooms
  • 276 ocean view staterooms
  • 535 interior staterooms

New stateroom options

Panoramic ocean view

Royal Caribbean has introduced new kinds of cruise cabins for the first time ever with the launch of Icon of the Seas.

There are 14 new categories that range from standard rooms to suites, including more options for families.

One mantra Royal Caribbean wanted for its cabins is more space for families that provide more space and accessible options in every category, locations and amenities.

Some of the new kinds of cabins you can find only on Icon of the Seas include:

Family infinite balcony

Family Infinite Oceanview Balconies: Cruise ship cabins that can accommodate up to six people in one room, with a bunk alcove for kids and enough TVs for everyone.

The bathroom features a split design – with a shower and a sink on one side and a sink and toilet on the other – to make getting ready for the day or bed easier for every family member.

Surfside family suite

Surfside Family View Cabins: Located in the new Surfside neighborhood, these cabins are designed for up to 4 people with convenience to the neighborhood just for young families.

Ultimate Family Townhouse

Ultimate Family Townhouse: If you are looking for the biggest and most impressive suite anywhere at sea, Royal Caribbean has a three-level townhouse for you.

It features a multilevel, in-suite slide, areas for karaoke and to watch movies, two private balconies and even a private entrance to Surfside – complete with a white picket fence and mailbox.

How much does it cost? According to Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, the average cost of the Ultimate Family Townhouse in 2024 is $75,000 per week.


Casino Royale

The casino on Icon of the Seas will feature more televisions so you can watch sports at the same time.

"On the all new Icon of the Seas, you don't have to choose between watching the big game and playing in the casino. More screens means more entertainment, everywhere you look."

Casino Royale render of Icon of the Seas

There will also be bar-top video poker and a high-limit area.

Icon of the Seas facts

Icon of the Seas cutaway
  • 20 total decks (18 guest decks)
  • 5,610 guests @ double capacity and 7,600 max guests
  • 2,350 crew (bringing ULTIMATE total to 9,950 guests)
  • 7 pools, 9 whirlpools
  • 6 record-breaking waterslides
  • 250,800 GT
  • 1,198 feet long
  • 159 feet wide at waterline
  • Captain: Captain Henrik Loy

When can we book Icon of the Seas?

Icon of the Seas render at sea

You can now book Icon of the Seas sailings via the Royal Caribbean website or with a travel agent.

The cruise line put bookings on sale beginning October 24, 2022 for Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor members and October 25 to the everyone else.

Next-gen power

Icon will be the cruise line’s first of three ships to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas).

LNG and the state-of-the-art ship’s additional environmentally friendly applications, such as shore power connection, will boost energy efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint. More details about Icon’s advanced environmental technologies will be revealed at a future date.

The LNG fuel tank on Icon of the Seas is 307 tons and 90 feet long.

Traditionally, cruise ships are powered by diesel. The advantage LNG has over diesel is it is more energy-efficient and will reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley talked about the efficiency of Icon of the Seas, "Our new Icon class is coming with LNG-hybrid but, basically it's LNG. It's 35% more fuel energy efficient than regular fuel. And the ship itself, because of the design, is about 30% more efficient."

In addition, Icon of the Seas will utilize a shore power connection that removes emissions while connected at port.

What is The Pearl?

Inside the Pearl

In January 2022, a large pearl-shaped object appeared in the shipyard that capture the attention of cruise fans who are curious to know what it might be.

So far, the Pearl is the centerpiece of the Royal Promenade and what you'll see when you walk onto the ship.

Royal Caribbean says there's more to The Pearl than just a staircase, but more details will be revealed later.

We do know that the Pearl has special panels that can produce all sorts of effects.

It measures 46 feet tall and 50 feet in diameter, with 578 aluminum external panels.

Other interesting facts:

  • 9 miles of cables for power & lighting
  • 1,323 feet of air conditioning ducts
  • Steel mounting frames on the inside
  • It required two tugboats to move it to the shipyard
  • 5,600-metric-ton-crane lifted it into position
  • It's taken 45,000 working hours to construct the sphere

On the 2022 President's Cruise, Michael Bayley accidently let it slip the name of the sphere is "The Pearl".

Royal Caribbean reveals 15 bars and nightlife spots on new Icon of the Seas cruise ship

28 Mar 2023
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean thinks you'll find some of the best bar fun possible when it launches its next cruise ship.

Icon of the Seas bar reval

Cruise ship passengers will find more than 40 bars and hot spots on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, which will be the first vessel in the line's Icon class and the next "world's largest cruise ship."

Royal Caribbean announced more than 15 of the bars and nightlife experiences on Icon of the Seas today. There is a combination of returning favorite bars as well as new concepts, such as dueling pianos, coffee-infused cocktails, or a new new walkup champagne bar.

More than 40 venues

Pool aerial on Icon of the Seas

There will be no shortage of places to wine, dine, and drink on Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean will have more than 40 venues on the ship, including a few new concepts, like Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues in Central Park and Dueling Pianos in Royal Promenade, and spots to grab a drink and mingle before a show like the Rye & Bean coffee bar in AquaDome and the Bubbles champagne bar in Central Park.

Making a return on Icon of the Seas are bars that cruise fans have come to love on other ships, such as from Trellis Bar and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.

Here's a list of the bars and nightlife coming to Icon of the Seas:

New concepts: Entertainment & Drinks

Dueling Pianos on Icon of the Seas

Dueling Pianos – In Royal Caribbean’s first dueling pianos bar, it’s the battle of the baby grands at the hands of two talented pianists who take song requests to bring high-energy performances of crowd-favorite hits to the Royal Promenade – the heart of Icon. 

Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues on Icon of the Seas

Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues – The new spot fills the open-air Central Park with live performances of soulful classics and jazz pop tunes, inviting music lovers to take it all in from indoors or as they stroll by the thousands of real plants during Jazz in the Park. 

Jazz Bar

Location: Deck 8, Central Park

Pricing: Complimentary

Capacity: 71 indoor, 16 outdoor seated

Rye & Bean

Rye & Bean – Matching the transformational experiences in the AquaDome, this new coffee shop offers everything from classic cups of joe to espresso cocktails. It’s a cozy morning hangout with endless ocean views by day and a buzzing bar with views of deck-defying entertainment in the AquaTheater by night.

Location: Deck 15, AquaDome

Pricing: A la carte or with Royal Caribbean drink package

Overlook Lounge on Icon of the Seas concept

The Overlook and Overlook Pods – The elevated lounge and first-of-their-kind nooks at sea take nights out and hangouts to another level.

The wraparound windows in the AquaDome bring the ocean center stage during the day, and at night, the cruise line’s marquee aqua shows are just a few steps away.

Overlook Lounge

The Overlook Lounge will have 160 degree views of the ocean and it's right above the ship's bridge.

The next-level pods are where friends can lounge with a drink, play classic board games and kick back to live music, too.

Location: Deck 14 & 15, AquaDome

Pricing: A la carte or with Royal Caribbean drink package

Capacity: 112 (lounge), 52 (pods) seated

New Concepts: Ambiance

1400 Bar

1400 Lobby Bar – The new meetup spot – inspired by the history of shipbuilding – is where vacationers can start to make memories as soon as they board, with a mix of daytime and evening sips developed with renowned mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, who's worked with James Beard Award-winning chefs, Bellagio and more.

The venue’s also the first to open the vibrant Royal Promenade to the outdoors with an ocean-facing terrace. 

Location: Deck 5

Capacity: 67 interior, 18 exterior seating


Bubbles – It’s three cheers at the new walkup champagne window in Central Park, where glasses of mimosas, prosecco, Bellini and even bottles of bubbly are on tap morning, noon and night. 

Location: Deck 8, Central Park

Hours: 7am - 10pm

Returning venues

The Attic on Icon of the Seas

The Attic, inspired by Manhattan’s dark and intimate comedy clubs with adults-only live shows.

Location: Deck 6, Royal Promenade

Capacity: 159 seated

Music Hall concept for Icon

Music Hall, to rock out to the house tribute band in a two-story venue.

Location: Deck 3 & 4, Royal Promenade

Trellis Bar concept on Icon of the Seas

A larger Trellis Bar in Central Park, with a new look and an all new menu featuring pre-dinner appetizers.

Location: Deck 8, Central Park

Capacity: 12 seated

Bubbles Icon concept

Boleros, the lively club that brings the heat with Latin flavor.

Location: Deck 6, Royal Promeande

Capacity: 85 seated

Schooner Bar, where pianists set the tone for pre-dinner drinks and nightcaps. 

Point & Feather – The neighborhood English pub on Royal Promenade has a new open layout, games – and tournaments – of darts and sips joining the signature lineup of pints and the live guitarist at the center of it all.

Darts are complimentary

Location: Deck 5, Royal Promenade

Capacity: 104 seated

Playmakers on Icon of the Seas

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade – The returning favorite, serving up gameday bar fare and ice-cold beers, is where vacationers can catch their home teams on dozens of screens and play arcade and tabletop games. 

Location: Deck 6, Royal Promenade

Capacity: 107 seated

Spotlight Karaoke

Spotlight Karaoke – Aspiring singers take the stage in front of the crowd or in a private room with their friends and family at this fan-favorite karaoke spot on Royal Promenade.

Complimentary karaoke venue with bar. Private karaoke rooms available to rent.

Location: Deck 5

Capacity: 106 seated

Pushing for new hot spots

Sips and Spotlights

It's clear Royal Caribbean wants Icon of the Seas to offer more places to enjoy a drink, as well as be entertained.

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

Royal Caribbean Vice President Food & Beverage, Linken D'Souza talked about the opportunity to bring new ideas to Icon, “We’ve set out to introduce a new kind of vacation in every sense and taken a blank slate to create an unparalleled blend of ways vacationers can celebrate and make memories whatever their mood, vibe and style."

"From all-new venues and bolder favorites to new iconic drinks on every menu, zero-proof cocktails and twists to classics, there’s something for everyone to make the most of their nights out on Icon of the Seas."

Icon of the Seas launches in 2024

Icon of the Seas aerial at night concept art

When it begins sailing, 20-deck 7,600-passenger Icon of the Seas will officially become the biggest cruise ship in the world, taking the title from its current holder, sister ship Wonder of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas is scheduled to be delivered in late 2023 and begin sailing in January 2024.

The first sailing of Icon of the Seas, a seven-night voyage out of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean, is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2024.

The ship will alternate between Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean itineraries.

We booked 2 cabins on the same cruise, but one was $300 more. Here's why booking a cruise early matters

27 Mar 2023
Jenna DeLaurentis

Nine times out of ten, the earlier you book a cruise, the more money you’ll save. No one wants to waste money, but unfortunately, booking a cruise just a few months later than another passenger onboard could see you spending hundreds of dollars more for the same cabin, sail date, and cruise ship.

I recently sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas for a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise. I booked my February cruise in early September—162 days before the sail date—and spent $1,656.

Just a few months later, my fellow Royal Caribbean staff member Elizabeth decided to book a separate cabin on the same sailing of Symphony of the Seas. She booked her room in mid December—59 days before the sail date—and spent $1986.

Both of our cruise rates reflect the total price for two adults in an interior cabin including taxes, fees, and gratuities. My cabin was only $828 per person, whereas Elizabeth’s was $993 per person.

Suffice to say, when Elizabeth found out she spent hundreds of dollars more than me for the same exact cruise experience, it was a bit of a letdown.

Money wasted is never ideal, especially when you could have saved money by just booking a few months earlier. Saving money on your cruise fare means stretching your budget further, freeing extra funds for that amazing shore excursion, spa treatment, or drink package.

Let’s dive in to share how you should approach the cruise booking process to avoid paying more than other passengers on the same sailing.

Booking your cruise early to save money

In general, the cheapest cruise fares are found as soon as Royal Caribbean releases new itineraries. Cruise itineraries are released around two or three years prior to the sail date.

Keeping an eye on when new cruise itineraries will be announced will help you snag the best deals. Two easy ways to do this are to sign up for Royal Caribbean’s newsletter or follow our newsletter here at

Related: Pros and Cons of booking a cruise early vs last-minute

As more and more people book a cruise, the price of that cruise is likely to increase over time. Not only that, but certain cabin categories can sell out, which might force you to either book a more expensive stateroom or downgrade to a cabin you would rather avoid.

What about last-minute cruise deals?

Some people prefer waiting to book a cruise with the hope of finding a last-minute cruise deal. In the case of Elizabeth’s sailing on Symphony of the Seas, this strategy would not have worked.

She booked within the cruise’s final payment date, which is after all passengers had paid the cruise in full. If there was a last-minute deal offered, it almost certainly would have been offered around the same time Elizabeth booked the cruise.

Related: Ultimate Guide to last-minute cruise deals

Royal Caribbean only offers last-minute deals if a certain cruise has low demand, but this did not appear to be the case with Symphony of the Seas.

If you do want to find a last-minute cruise deal you definitely can, but you’ll have to remain flexible on ship, sail date, and destination. Finding a cheap last-minute cruise is not something you can necessarily plan for; it’s more about the luck of finding a deal than anything else!

Book with a travel agent

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve saved money simply by booking my cruise with a travel agent. As someone who always preferred booking vacations on my own, I’ve been blown away by the service and convenience a travel agent provides.

Whenever I find a cruise I’m interested in booking, I send the cruise information to my travel agent. More often than not, she either responds back with a lower price than I found on Royal Caribbean’s website, or the cruise fare includes a generous amount of onboard credit.

By booking with a travel agent, I often save more money than other passengers who booked a cruise on their own. Whether $50 or $200, any dollar saved is another dollar to put toward cruise add-ons like shore excursions and specialty dining!

Related: Top 5 things to look for in a good travel agent for your cruise vacation

Not only can using a travel agent save me money on cruise fare, but it saves time. Whenever I have a question or concern, all I need to do is email my travel agent, and she will be the one who contacts Royal Caribbean instead of having to do it myself! Time is money, after all, and I’ve saved hours upon hours of time by using a travel agent instead of booking on my own.

If I’m being honest, when I first started cruising I didn’t even know people still used travel agents to book vacations. After seeing the amazing service they provide, though, I can’t imagine not using one for my cruise, especially if I’m looking to find the best cruise deals!

Check frequently for a drop in the price of your cruise

Symphony of the Seas in Miami

One of the best Royal Caribbean hacks to save money on cruise fare is to reprice your cruise. Royal Caribbean allows you to reprice your cruise until final payment date if you notice a lower fare.

Repricing a Royal Caribbean cruise means checking if the price of your cruise has lowered since you booked the sailing. If you booked a cruise for $3000 and notice a few months later that the price has dropped to $2500, the lower price will be honored on your reservation.

You can find out if a price dropped by searching for your sailing on Royal Caribbean’s website or contacting your travel agent for an updated quote.

You should know that Royal Caribbean’s website does not specifically mention this repricing policy. In fact, the Royal Caribbean website states that you can take advantage of a lower fare within 48 hours of booking your cruise.

That being said, we have had no problem repricing our cruises until final payment date. If you notice a price drop, simply contact your travel agent or call Royal Caribbean directly to take advantage of the lower fare.

Related: 45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Let’s take a look at a common scenario to highlight why it’s important to reprice your cruise and save money.

Two passengers—let’s call them John and Peter—book a Royal Caribbean cruise at the same time. Both book a balcony cabin on the same Oasis of the Seas cruise and pay $1500 each.

Four months before the cruise, however, John notices the price has changed to $1350 for a balcony cabin on his sailing. Noticing this change, he contacts Royal Caribbean (or his travel agent) and has the price readjusted, saving $150 total.

Unfortunately, Peter never checked the price of his cruise again after he made the initial booking, so he paid $150 more than John for the same cabin on the same cruise!

As you can see, taking advantage of repricing your cruise can make the difference between paying more or less for a cruise than another passenger. No one wants to pay hundreds more than someone else for the same experience, so checking the price of your cruise every so often is recommended.

Why saving money matters on a cruise


For my 7-night sailing on Symphony of the Seas, I spent $330 less than what Elizabeth paid for her cabin. With that money saved, I was able to spend extra on specialty dining and shore excursions without breaking the bank.

On my cruise, I spent a total of $60 on specialty restaurants and $150 in port—and that’s before I accounted for the onboard credit I received by booking with a travel agent.

At $210 total, the amount of money I paid extra on top of my cruise fare was still less than the amount Elizabeth paid for just her cruise fare. Booking just three months earlier than she did allowed me to spend that money on additional ways to enhance my cruise experience.

Related: I’m a budget cruiser. Here are 8 strategies I used on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise to save money

Symphony of the Seas pool deck

If Elizabeth had booked her cruise earlier, she could have put the $330 extra she spent toward her flight, travel insurance, or a pre-cruise hotel stay. Essentially, she "wasted" hundreds of dollars just because she booked a few months later than me!

If there’s anything I learned from this experience, it is to always book my cruises as early as possible. Although snagging a last-minute cruise deal is always a possibility, it’s best to plan further in advance to ensure you get the lowest possible price.

11 of our favorite under-the-radar Crown & Anchor perks

27 Mar 2023
Allie Hubers

Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society is arguably one of the best loyalty programs in the cruise industry. 

Under the radar Crown and Anchor perks

Rewarding loyal customers is a common practice not just in the cruise industry, but in the travel sector as a whole. Airlines, hotels and car rental companies all have some-sort of loyalty program that rewards customers who continue to choose their brand over and over again.

After just one cruise, you can start accumulating points towards earning status with Royal Caribbean. Typically, each night spent on a Royal Caribbean cruise will earn you one point towards your loyalty status. If you stay in a suite or cruise solo, you can earn double points towards your status. 

Below is a breakdown of the Crown and Anchor Society’s status levels, starting with the lowest tier of Gold Members.

Crown and Anchor Levels

The highest tier of membership you can reach with Royal Caribbean is dubbed the Pinnacle Club, which you achieve after earning 700 points. Loyalty can pay off in the long-run and this is especially true with Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society. As you move through the program’s totem pole of statuses, the benefits become more lucrative. 


Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program has some incredible perks that would be considered not under-the-radar benefits. In particular, top-tier members earn daily, complimentary drinks for Diamond members and above. These members also receive access to a special Diamond Lounge, which hosts nightly appetizers and daily breakfast with specialty coffees. Pinnacle Club members even receive a complimentary cruise!

Of course, these are all major perks of choosing to cruise with Royal Caribbean time and time again. But, most Royal Caribbean cruisers might not even know about all of the other perks that are available through the Crown and Anchor Society. 

Wonder of the Seas aerial photo

Here’s a list of our favorite under-the-radar perks of the Crown and Anchor Society.

Complimentary internet

Cruising with access to Wi-Fi onboard is crucial for many, especially those of us who cruise often. Internet can be expensive to purchase onboard. The Surf and Stream package, which is the fastest service onboard, starts at $25.99 per day, per device. If you want to purchase internet for a 7-day cruise, this means you’ll be spending around $180 for access to the internet throughout your voyage. 

All members of Crown and Anchor Society are eligible for complimentary discounted Internet onboard. Platinum and Emerald members will receive a 15% discount any onboard internet purchases; even Gold members (who only need 3 cruise points) can receive a 10% discount on internet purchases. 


Once you reach Diamond status, you start to receive even better benefits with complimentary internet access. Diamond guests receive one complimentary day of Surf + Stream while Diamond Plus receive two complimentary days. This can also transfer to a discount of equivalent value, from $25.99 for Diamond to $51.98 for Diamond Plus. 

Top-tier Pinnacle Club members receive free unlimited Surf and Stream internet on their cruises for the entire duration of their cruise, which amounts to huge savings on each cruise!

BOGO specialty dining

There’s plenty to eat and drink onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, but I’ve found that I am increasingly drawn to the specialty dining experiences while cruising. I enjoy the change of pace, the ambiance, the high-quality food and the impeccable service.

Giovanni's Kitchen

Crown and Anchor Society’s top-tier members can receive complimentary speciality dining onboard their cruises. Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Members each receive a BOGO deal to buy any specialty dining restaurant on the first or second night, and receive complimentary dining for the second guest. (Note, this does exclude Izumi Hibachi and Teppanyaki, Chef’s Table and Hooked Seafood). 

Considering every member receives this discount, you can save pretty big money with this complimentary BOGO offer. For example, my husband and I each have this BOGO voucher, which means we can essentially get an entire specialty dining meal comped between the two of us. 


I’ve also found that as long as you pre-pay for the specialty dining on the first or second night, the hosts will normally let you dine at a later date as long as it’s been paid for during the voucher timeframe. 

Platinum members and above can each receive a complimentary coffee beverage with a purchase of a specialty dining purchase. 

Finally, top-tier Pinnacle members receive Coastal Kitchen access and daily breakfast in a specialty dining restaurant throughout their cruise. Coastal Kitchen is designed as a top-tier dining option for suite guests, so this is a very nice benefit to receive. 

Priority access and seating for events

Royal Caribbean is known for building mega cruise ships that can hold thousands of people onboard. They don’t call ‘em the world’s biggest cruise ships for nothing!

With so many people onboard, it can sometimes be difficult to find seating at popular shows, events and entertainment offerings. Some of Royal Caribbean's biggest ships require reservations for shows, but others do not require any reservation - and events can be equally as popular. 

Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members of the Crown and Anchor are given propriety access and seating at theater shows, Ice shows and AquaTheater events. This can be a huge perk that many overlook because it doesn’t have a monetary value; however, it’s really nice to arrive to a show right on time and not worry about finding a seat.

Ice Show

I’ve even had luck with attendants allowing others in my party to sit in the section who were cruising with me but didn’t have the same status, if there were open seats. 

Exclusive events

On each Royal Caribbean cruise, you can almost always find Crown and Anchor Society hosting a Top Tier Event during the cruise. This exclusive event normally features free champagne, but I’ve also been invited to events with morning mimosas and special pastries or baked goods.

Platinum members and above will receive an invite to this exclusive event in their stateroom for a designated date, time and location of the Top Tier Event. 

On my recent Odyssey of the Seas cruise, the Top Tier Event was a special Icon of the Seas reveal, which was highly-anticipated at the time. This was an exciting event with luxurious baked goods and free drinks. 

Icon of the Seas event

Not everyone goes to these events, but it’s a nice offering that Royal Caribbean wants to recognize loyalty members on each cruise. The free alcohol is a bonus for sure! You can also usually meet the Captain or other Senior Officers during the Top Tier Event. 

If the event fits in my schedule, you can often find me there. Who doesn’t like being recognized and thanked for their loyalty?

Complimentary bottled water

While this might seem like a small perk, I always appreciate boarding my cruise and finding complimentary bottled waters waiting for me on the vanity. 

Bottled water is not free onboard, so it’s nice to have disposable bottles that can be used around the ship. I often use these to take ashore too so I don’t have to lug my personal water bottle around. 

Bottled water

In addition, I travel with LiquidIV (or equivalent hydration packets, like these Propel electrolyte packets) because I want to stay as hydrated as possible. I hate adding these packets to my personal water bottle because I am not able to wash it for a few days. It’s much easier to use bottled water to add my hydration or flavor and toss the bottle when I’m done. 

Note, we receive a small commission if you purchase from these affiliate links while it costs you nothing extra. 

Discounts on balcony staterooms

One of the best perks for booking your Royal Caribbean cruise is receiving a Crown and Anchor discount on Balcony and Suite Staterooms. Anyone with a status of Platinum or above is eligible to receive a balcony or suite discount when booking their stateroom. If booking online, you simply need to enter your Crown and Anchor number to have the discount automatically applied. 

Junior Suite Balcony

I can’t tell you how much money this has saved me over the years! I’ve been able to upgrade my inside guarantee cabin to a balcony for the same price because of this Crown and Anchor discount. A quick look at recent reservations from the last year unveil a savings of $150 on a 4-night sailing and a $326 discount on a 12-night European cruise last summer, just to name a few. 

Upon review, the discount received varies on your loyalty status and when you are booking your cruise relative to the sail date. Those who book more than 6 months in advance receive bigger discounts than those booked within 6 months of sailing.

Alaska balcony

However, I’ve also seen prices drop more significantly as a sailing gets closer and after final payments are made, which can be a good time to upgrade or book your stateroom with this discount. 

In fact, I just upgraded from an inside guarantee to a balcony guarantee for just $300, which is the lowest price I’ve been able to lock-in for an upcoming Iceland cruise. For a scenic cruise, I think this is totally worth it and the balcony discount saved us $326. 

Dedicated Loyalty Service Desk

Waiting on the phone or holding for hours is not a great experience for anyone. When Royal Caribbean runs certain sales and promotions, the call center can get very busy, which can make it difficult to get ahold of anyone. 

Odyssey of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members can call (800) 526-9723 to reach the dedicated line for Crown and Anchor members. Those outside of the US and Canada should call (541) 285-9723. 

The desk is not open 24/7, so be sure to call during business hours: M-F from 9am-10PM EST and weekends from 9am - 8pm EST.

Just recently, I tried to call on a Sunday evening to upgrade my inside stateroom to a balcony, as I mentioned above. It was a 2-hour wait so I gave up. Two days later, the sale returned and I called during business hours to the dedicated loyalty desk. The entire call took 8 minutes and I had already made the payment to upgrade and received confirmation. This is a HUGE timesaver and benefit that might fly under most peoples' radar. 

Status Match Program

If you’re a member of Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society, you can also receive some pretty awesome status match perks with other cruise lines and travel companies. 

Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor members can receive reciprocity benefits with sister-brand Celebrity Cruises. Those with a status of Platinum or above will receive status match when sailing on Celebrity cruise ships. 

For example, as a Diamond Plus member, I just sailed on Celebrity for the first time and received Elite-level benefits, which included free drinks, discounted internet, free laundry, and more. I absolutely loved my first Celebrity cruise experience and receiving benefits was a huge perk for the onboard experience. 

There are other companies that will provide some level of reciprocity with your Crown and Anchor status as well. Most notable, your Crown and Anchor status will be matched at MGM Rewards. Emerald and above will receive Gold status at MGM while lower tiers will also receive some status perks. Simply visit an MGM Rewards desk at any MGM Rewards destination to validate your status. 

Finally, all of Crown and Anchor Society members can receive Hertz Gold Plus Reward points as well. For the purposes of this article, I followed instructions through Royal Caribbean’s website and entered information on Hertz’s website to sign up. The link from Royal Caribbean pre-populated a few fields during the sign-up process.

Hertz Gold Rewards includes Skip the Counter and E-Return access, which can save time at the airport. You will earn points with rentals and receive Ultimate Choice benefits.

Complimentary Photos

While phones are becoming very sophisticated with picture-taking capabilities, there’s a hint of nostalgia when it comes to taking and purchasing cruise photos. Personally, I love getting the welcome abroad picture which has the sail dates, itinerary and ship because it’s a great memory keepsake. 

Diamond members and above each receive a complimentary photo of any size during every single cruise. The 8x10 pictures are upwards of $25 onboard now. I always pick out a picture on the last day of the cruise (or two pictures if I am sailing with my husband who also gets a free picture).

Family Photo

Gold through Emerald members receive a discount on photos in which buying 1 photo earned a 50% discount on a second photo. 

With so many cruise pictures, I decided to get this photo album where I can keep all of the cruise pictures in an orderly fashion (this one fits up to 8x10 photographs). I was running out of space to hang up all of the photos; and let’s be honest, some of those cruise pictures are NOT wall worthy!

This photo album has sticky pages, so I can simply place the printed cruise photos in there without needing to tape or glue anything. I know I won’t have time to scrapbook these days, but it really is a nice keepsake to have all of your cruise photos in an easy album.

You also have an option to download the digital file of your photo, which can often make more sense than lugging home a physical photo. 

Single Supplement Reduced Cruise Fare

If you’re someone who cruises solo, paying double occupancy can be a huge blow to your budget. Royal Caribbean provides top-tier loyalty members with discounts for reduced cruise fares for single supplement rates.

Diamond Plus members with 340+ points and Pinnacle members can received a reduced rate for solo cruising from 200% to 150%. For solo cruisers, this can amount to big savings!

Complimentary and Discounted Laundry 

It can be tough living out of a suitcase, especially if you’ve traveling for a while. Royal Caribbean does not offer any self-service laundry options; instead, you have to send in your laundry to be washed and folded by crew members. Platinum and above members receive anywhere from $5 to $10 discounts on wash and gold laundry for sailings 5+ nights or longer.

Laundry bags

Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members can receive one free $34.99 wash and gold bag on cruises longer than 5+ nights. This is a super nice perk, especially on those longer itineraries where you desperately need some clean clothes.

My husband even likes to send out his laundry towards the end of the cruise so he can bring home a bag of clean clothes, meaning we don’t have to wash them when we get home. He simply places the clean clothes in a separate packing cube from the dirty clothes, which our future selves are always grateful for. 

Royal Caribbean News Round-Up: March 26, 2023

26 Mar 2023
Matt Hochberg

This was a busy week with Royal Caribbean news, and we have a summary of all of the news from this week to make certain you did not miss any of it.

Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean announced it will remove the Sky Pad from all of its ships.

No reason was given why, but the venue will be replaced with an unnamed new activity.

Beginning March 31, 2023, Royal Caribbean will begin removing the trampoline experience.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 492nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt reviews his recent Wonder of the Seas cruise.

Matt sailed on Wonder of the Seas almost a year after the ship debuted, and shares what stood out from his spring break cruise.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: What it's like to sail on Royal Caribbean's NEWEST vs OLDEST cruise ships

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — What it's like to sail on Royal Caribbean's NEWEST vs OLDEST cruise ships — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

6 things I did in advance to prepare for a stress-free vacation

Wonder of the Seas docked in St. Thomas

After spending a week on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, I greatly benefitted by doing 6 important things to ensure a relaxing cruise.

After years of cruising, it's become apparent to me how important just a little planning ahead of time can do to improve your vacation experience.

Looking back at thee cruise, these are the things Matt did on Wonder to eliminate hassles before they could ever occur.

How to use Royal Caribbean loyalty perks to save money on a Celebrity Cruise

Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society program is such a good loyalty program, it even benefits you if you sail Celebrity.

Because Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are owned by the same parent company, the two cruise lines actually have a status reciprocity program. Celebrity’s Loyalty Match program allows cruisers to receive comparable benefits from Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Program when sailing on Celebrity cruise ships. 

Allie found her years of Royal Caribbean cruising saved her money on her first Celebrity cruise.

11 reasons to get as early a check-in time as possible for your cruise

Allure of the Seas in Galveston cruise terminal

The earlier you get onboard your cruise, the more quickly you can start the vacation you’ve been dreaming about for so long.

Beyond just starting your vacation earlier, though, are a range of other benefits you can experience by boarding earlier than most other passengers.

Here are the top 11 reasons to get as early a check-in time as possible for your cruise.

How much does it cost to build a cruise ship?

25 Mar 2023
Jenna DeLaurentis

Most people are awestruck by the size and amenities of today’s modern cruise ships, but how much do they cost?

Cruise ships are often referred to as floating cities. With upwards of twenty decks, a length of over 1,000 feet, and thousands of cabins, it’s no surprise that building a cruise ship is expensive.

Even when accounting for inflation, most new cruise ships built in the early 1990s would cost only around $300 million today. As cruise ships became even bigger in the 2000s, the average cost exceeded $500 million.

Today’s newest cruise ships can easily break $1 billion dollars, although construction costs can vary widely depending on the ship’s size. In fact, almost all cruise ships with a capacity of over 3,000 passengers cost over $750 million to build!

Why do cruise ships cost so much money to build?

Icon of the Seas construction photo from October 2022

Most major cruise lines launch a new ship nearly every year. Here are some of the estimated construction costs for recent ships:

  • Wonder of the Seas: $1.35 billion
  • MSC World Europa: $1.25 billion
  • Norwegian Prima: $850 million
  • Carnival Celebration: $1 billion
  • Celebrity Beyond: $900 million

All of these ships fit over 3,200 passengers. In fact, the Carnival Celebration, MSC World Europa, and Wonder of the Seas have a capacity of over 6,000 passengers!

Wonder of the Seas aerial overhead

With so many passengers onboard, cruise lines need to ensure they are building enough cabins, dining venues, and entertainment spaces to satisfy all customers. This requires extensive market research, during which cruise lines design the ship’s layout and amenities.

Royal Caribbean has a spacious innovation lab for use throughout the research process. It includes a virtual reality room where designers can immerse themselves “inside” the cruise ship’s design.

After a thorough research process, construction on the cruise ship begins, which typically takes between 12-18 months. This involves an intricate process of building the ship in blocks which are later added together (think Legos!).

The manpower to build a cruise ship cannot be understated. For instance, there are over 3,000 people working every day on the construction of Icon of the Seas, set to be the biggest cruise ship in the world when she launches in 2024!

Refurbishing older ships versus buying new ships

Many cruise lines choose to refurbish older ships to modernize the vessel’s activities, amenities, and cabins. This is much less expensive than building a new ship from scratch, so it can be a cost-effective way to improve older cruise ships in order to increase demand and revenue.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, for example, completed a $165 million amplification in 2019. This modernized the ship by adding new activities like waterslides, additional dining venues and lounges, and new cabins.

Refurbishing—or amplifying—the cruise ship was nearly eight times less expensive than building a new cruise ship, and the refurbishment was able to increase demand for the vessel.

Related: Does it matter how old your cruise ship is?

Royal Caribbean tends to only amplify its ships built after 2000. Norwegian Cruise Line, however, has refurbished ships that were built in the 1990s.

Norwegian Sky, built in 1996, underwent a major refurbishment in 2019 that added updated cabins and eight new dining and lounge venues, including Starbucks and a new Italian restaurant.

In the past, cruise ships over twenty years old would often be sent to the scrapyard. With the popularity of today’s refurbishment programs, though, cruise lines are choosing to maintain their vessels for longer amounts of time instead of replacing each vessel with a new ship.

What was the most expensive cruise ship ever built?

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class cruise ships are the most expensive cruise ships to ever be built; they’re also the biggest cruise ships in the world. Each Oasis Class cruise ship cost between $1.3 to $1.45 billion.

It’s likely that Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas will become the most expensive cruise ship ever built. Early estimates of the build are around $2 billion, but an exact number is not yet known.

Icon of the Seas water park

Icon of the Seas will boast impressive features, including:

  • The Category 6 waterpark with six record-breaking waterslides
  • An indoor AquaDome for impressive entertainment shows
  • Chill Island pool deck, with a swim-up bar and the largest pool at sea
  • Surfside, a family-focused neighborhood with kid-friendly restaurants and activities

Related: Icon of the Seas: Itinerary, features, and more

Building Icon of the Seas is no small feat, and it will surely be one of the most popular cruise ships in the world when it launches.

Mass market ships versus luxury ships

Ships from mass market cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival, generally have a lower cost per berth than luxury cruise ships.

As an example, Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Celebration, cost $900 million to build. With a maximum of 6500 passengers, this brings the price per berth to around $138,000.

To put this into perspective, the Regent Seven Seas Splendor, a luxury cruise ship built in 2020, reportedly cost over $600 million. With a capacity of only 750 passengers, though, the price per berth was over $800,000!

Construction costs of a luxury cruise ship can rival that of larger ships, leading to much higher cruise fares. A cruise on the Seven Seas Splendor—an all-suite ship—can start at over $1,000 per person, per day.

Why aren’t cruise ships built in the United States?

Even though the cruise industry is most popular in North America, most cruise ships are built in Europe instead of the United States. Whether at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland or at Chantiers de l’Atlantique in France, the majority of today’s modern cruise ships are built overseas.

The main reason why cruise ships are not built in the United States is due to cost. Given that most large cruise ships cost upwards of one billion dollars, cruise lines try to find the most cost effective option.

Related: Why aren’t cruise ships built in the United States?

Both labor costs and material costs are much higher in the United States compared to other countries. The shipyard industry receives subsidies in the European Union, which helps to keep labor and construction prices down.

Additionally, cruise ships are foreign flagged. In order for a cruise ship to be U.S. flagged, most of the material onboard must be built and manufactured in the United States, and this can add a much higher cost to the overall construction.

Where to find cheap last-minute cruises

24 Mar 2023
Jenna DeLaurentis

In search of a cheap cruise? Some of the lowest cruise fares can be found on sailings booked at the last minute. Whether a 3-night weekend cruise or 15-night transatlantic, it’s possible to find cheap last-minute cruises at any point during the year.

Last-minute cruises refer to any cruise departing within the next 90 days. Most cruise lines require final payment to be made 75-90 days before the cruise departs, and if they haven’t sold enough cabins by this point, the price may drop.

The trick to finding a cheap last-minute cruise deal is to remain flexible. If you keep your mind open to a wide variety of destinations, ships, and sail dates, you can almost always find a great deal.

The good news is that finding cheap last-minute cruises is easy. Several websites provide detailed lists of cheap cruises you can book, and little effort is required in order to find the best and most affordable cruises.

Here are our favorite ways to find cheap last-minute cruises.

Royal Caribbean website

The most straightforward way to find last-minute cruises on Royal Caribbean is directly on the cruise line’s website. Royal Caribbean’s website has a Last Minute Cruises page where they list the best deals on cruises.

Last-minute deals are organized by port and destination, and you can search for last-minute deals to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, and Alaska. Royal Caribbean will list their best last-minute cruise deals on this page, so be sure to check periodically for any new sailings that pop up.

Related: How to find the cheapest cabins on Royal Caribbean

However, you can also use Royal Caribbean’s traditional search engine to find last-minute cruises. Filter the cruise dates to sailings within the next few months and change the results to populate from “Price lowest to highest.”

By doing this, you can see a list of the cheapest cruises departing in the next few months. You can also filter by departure port, destination, number of nights, and ships.

Going, Going, Gone

Another way to find cheap last-minute cruises on Royal Caribbean’s website is the Going, Going, Gone flyer. This flyer is published weekly (usually late Monday) by Royal Caribbean and lists cruise deals departing within the next few months.

You can find the flyer on Royal Caribbean’s website here.

The flyer lists the ship name, sail date, itinerary, embarkation port, and special rates for cabins. Not every cabin category will offer a great deal on the flyer—one sailing may offer a cheap deal on a balcony cabin whereas another has a promotion on interior or oceanview cabins.

Suite deals, however, are not found as often as standard cabin categories.

We recommend checking the Going, Going, Gone flyer late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. The flyer is not updated throughout the week, so certain sailings and cabin category promotions can sell out quickly.

Vacations to Go

Vacations To Go has what they call a 90 Day Ticker on their website, and this is one of the easiest places to find all last-minute cruise deals in one place. All cruises on the 90 Day Ticker set sail within the next 90 days, allowing you to make the most of any cheap cruise deals available.

On the ticker you’ll find a long list of sailings organized by destinations around the world. Destinations include Alaska, Antarctica, the Arctic, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific U.S., the Panama Canal, South America, transatlantic, and transpacific cruises.

Under each destination is list of cruises with the following details in each row:

  • Number of nights
  • Sail date
  • Embarkation and disembarkation ports
  • Cruise line and ship name
  • Ship rating
  • Price

The 90 Day Ticker lists cruises for a number of cruise lines, from mass market lines like Royal Caribbean to more upscale lines like Silversea. At the top of the ticker, you can click on each column name (Nights, Sailing Date, Cruise Line, etc.) to filter the results in alphabetical order.

Using Vacations To Go’s 90 Day Ticker is a valuable resource for those without a set plan for a last-minute cruise. Hundreds of cruise itineraries are on the ticker, which gives you the chance to discover the best deals much easier than you could by visiting each cruise line’s website individually.

You do not have to book a cruise through Vacations To Go in order to use the ticker. The resource is completely free, but you will have to provide your email to sign up and access the list of cruises.

Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic's website has a Find a Cruise page where you can easily compare prices from multiple websites. This is another great way to find cheap last-minute cruises, as you can filter the results by destination, departure port, departure month, cruise line, ship, cruise length, and more.

Once you click Find a Cruise, a list of cruises will populate. Cruises will be automatically sorted by the “Popularity” filter; to have cruises ordered by price, select “Price” in the dropdown menu instead.

Each cruise on the Find a Cruise search results lists the following:

  • Sail date
  • Number of nights
  • Name of cruise
  • Cruise line
  • Price per person
  • Price per person, per night

Not only is this tool helpful for finding cheap last-minute cruises, but it’s a fantastic way to find cheap cruises several months and years into the future as well. Although you can find the same deals on the Find a Cruise page as you can on Royal Caribbean’s website, the search and filter tools are a little more intuitive.

How to book a cheap cruise

In addition to the Royal Caribbean website, Vacations To Go, and Cruise Critic, you can find cheap last-minute cruises on a variety of other websites.

Popular travel websites like Expedia, Priceline, and Costco Travel all have extensive lists of last-minute cruise deals. You’ll also find many smaller websites and travel agencies with pages of cheap cruises you can book at the last minute.

Just because you find a cheap cruise deal on a particular website, though, does not mean you have to book the cruise from that website. If you find a cheap cruise deal on Vacations To Go, for example, you are not obligated to book the cruise from them.

Freedom of the Seas aerial at Nassau

Instead, you can search for the cruise directly on Royal Caribbean’s website or contact your travel agent to book the cruise for you. Because these tools are free, they provide an easy way to find cheap deals, but it’s up to you how you would like to book the cheap sailing you find.

As always, we recommend booking a cheap last-minute cruise with a travel agent. They can help to answer any questions you have about the sailing, organize ground transportation and pre-cruise hotels, and contact Royal Caribbean in case of any issues or concerns you encounter before, during, and after your cruise. 

Related: Top 5 things to look for in a good travel agent for your cruise vacation

Travel agents cost nothing extra and are extremely helpful during the cruise booking process, especially when booking a cruise so soon in the future.

Is a last-minute cruise worth it?

Is booking a last-minute cruise worth it, or is it better to book a cruise further in advance?

In most situations, booking a cruise early is the better choice. Booking as early as possible means you can (usually) find the lowest prices and you can take advantage of repricing the sailing if you spot a lower price before final payment date.

Booking a cruise early also gives you the most choices in stateroom options. If you’re hoping to sail in a certain type of cabin—whether a suite or solo room—it’s better to book early before these categories sell out.

Not only that, but airfare tends to be cheaper when booked further in advance, and booking a cruise early gives you extra time to handle logistics at home, whether reserving a dog sitter or requesting vacation time from work.

Related: Pros and cons of booking a cruise early vs last-minute

This isn’t to say, however, that a last-minute cruise is a bad idea. Planning a spontaneous, last-minute vacation is exciting, whether you’re sailing to Florida or France. Instead of spending months (or even years) anxiously waiting for your cruise vacation, you’ll be heading to your cruise before you know it!

Moreover, even though booking far in advance usually means finding the best deals, it’s not guaranteed. It’s possible to find a cheap last-minute cruise for a lower price than the sailing was ever listed at before.

For those flexible on ship choice, embarkation port, itinerary, and cabin category, booking a cheap last-minute cruise can lead to a memorable, affordable vacation. Ultimately, being on a cruise ship is always better than being at home!

Planning a last-minute cruise? Check out more of our tips and tricks:

The Best Time To Visit Alaska

24 Mar 2023
Jenna DeLaurentis

When is the best time to visit Alaska? This is one of the first questions people ask when planning an Alaska cruise because they want ideal conditions for their trip.

Haines, Alaska

For such an exciting vacation, it’s understandable to want to pick the best time to visit Alaska. After all, Alaska cruises put a focus on exploring the outdoors like no other cruise itinerary, and passengers want to make the most of their time amongst the state’s glaciers, mountains, and wildlife.

Most Alaska cruises occur from early May to late September each year, although some cruise lines may offer sailings from April to October.

The beautiful, wild landscape of Alaska is an ideal destination for a summer vacation. From mid-June to mid-September, the average temperatures are perfect for outdoor activities, ranging from 60°F to 67°F - cool enough to be comfortable in the warmer months. During this time of year, the long days and bright sunshine make lovely conditions for being outdoors.

Glacier Bay, Alaska

The weather, activities, and cost of an Alaska cruise can vary greatly from month to month. Certain times of the year may see little rain and higher prices whereas others may have chillier temperatures and fewer crowds.

Here’s the best time to visit Alaska if you want to encounter the most favorable weather, cheapest cruise fares, fewest crowds, and best wildlife viewing opportunities.

The best time to visit Alaska for good weather

Beautiful day in Juneau

One of the main considerations people make when planning an Alaska cruise is the weather. Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable, but with the right preparation (and packing), you can have an amazing cruise at any time of the season.

May is the driest month during the southeast Alaska cruise season, but spring temperatures can be a bit uncertain. You may encounter sunny days with relatively warm temperatures or you can experience cold, rainy days. Generally speaking, the later into May you cruise to Alaska, the better chance you have at nicer weather.

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

Mid June to late July tends to bring the most favorable weather for an Alaska cruise. During these months, temperatures are usually in the mid 60s and days are long, with between 14 and 18 hours of daylight. Like May, June and July tend to encounter less rain compared to late summer and fall.

August can still offer comfortable temperatures for exploring Alaska cruise ports, but rain is much more common. More than half the days of the month in August experience rain, so packing appropriate water-resistant clothing is recommended.

It’s important to note, though, that rain can occur during any month on an Alaska cruise, so you shouldn’t let the possibility of rain deter you from booking your sailing during August. Plus, August still offers plenty of daylight, especially during the first half of the month.

As fall approaches in September, weather is more volatile. You should expect temperatures with a high in the mid 50s and more rain than any other month of the cruise season. Despite the weather, this can be a fantastic time to book an Alaska cruise, as cheap cruise deals are common and the start of fall foliage and snow makes scenic cruising days particularly beautiful.

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

The best time to visit Alaska for wildlife

You can spot wildlife at any time of the year in Alaska. Truthfully, there’s no “best” time to see wildlife, and it varies greatly from month to month.

The best time to visit Alaska if you want to see bears is from July to September. During these months, bears are commonly spotted along Alaska’s streams.

Related: What is the best time of year to see wildlife in Alaska?

These months coincide with Alaska’s annual salmon run, so many bears are feasting on the abundance of salmon in the streams and creeks. This makes your chances of spotting a bear higher than other times of the year.

Pack creek

If you’re hoping to spot whales in Alaska, you’re in luck, as whales call Alaska home from late April to September each year. You have a great chance at spotting whales at any time on an Alaska cruise, but certain months have a higher chance at spotting one species of whale over another.

Related: Alaska cruise whale watching guide & tips

Gray whales are some of the earliest to arrive in Alaska each year, and they can be spotted in late spring. Orcas are more likely to be seen in May and June, whereas humpback whales are most common in June and July.

Other wildlife, including sea lions, otters, and eagles, can be spotted year-round in Alaska.

The best time to visit Alaska on a budget

If you’re looking for a cheap cruise deal to Alaska, you’re almost guaranteed to see the lowest prices during shoulder season. Alaska’s shoulder season runs from May to early June and from mid August to late September.

During these months, there is less demand for Alaska cruises due to more unpredictable weather, shorter hours of daylight, and the fact that these times of year coincide with the school calendar.

Related: How much does an Alaska cruise cost?

Because of less demand, you have a great chance at finding a cheap cruise deal to Alaska, especially if you’re flexible on the ship, embarkation port, and sail date. You can often find deals for under $600 per person, including taxes and fees. At less than $100 a day, visiting Alaska during the shoulder months offers an amazing value.

That’s not to say you can’t find cruise deals to Alaska during the busy season in June, July, and August. The further in advance you book your Alaska cruise, the better chance you have at scoring a lower price.

Plus, when you book an Alaska cruise far in advance, you have more opportunities to reprice your cruise before it begins. Royal Caribbean allows you to reprice your sailing up to final payment date. If you spot a lower price, you can readjust your cruise fare to the new, lower price. This can save you money on an Alaska cruise whether you sail in May, July, or September.

Related: Tips for taking an Alaska cruise on a budget

The best time to visit Alaska’s interior

When you book an Alaska cruise, you can choose between a round trip and one-way cruise itinerary. Round trip cruises depart and return to the same cruise port—either Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia.

One-way itineraries, on the other hand, start in Vancouver and end in Seward, Alaska and vice versa. There are two main advantages with a one-way Alaska cruise:

  • The opportunity to visit more ports, including those more remote such as Hubbard Glacier
  • The ability to start or end your cruise in Alaska’s interior, making destinations like Denali National Park & Reserve just a short drive away

Most passengers who book one-way Alaska cruise itineraries tack on several days in interior Alaska before or after their cruise. You can book these cruises from May to September each year, and each month comes with its own set of advantages.

Related: Best Alaska cruises for every travel style

Traveling interior Alaska in May is fantastic for wildlife viewing. It’s also one of the driest months, and there will be fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season.

June and July are also great months to spot wildlife in interior Alaska. Visiting Denali National Park & Reserve during this time brings long days (up to 20 hours of daylight!) and temperatures in the mid 60s. The mountainsides and meadows spark a wonderful green color during these months.

As fall approaches, colors begin to change and temperatures lower. Days tend to be comfortable whereas nights are chilly; there’s even the possibility of snow in these months.

However, as the school year begins, there will be fewer crowds in Alaska, leading to more competitive pricing on travel and lodging. You may even see the aurora borealis (northern lights) during the fall as well.

The best time to visit Alaska for fewer crowds

Alaska cruises are extremely popular. It’s estimated that around 1.5 million passengers visited the state by cruise ship in 2022!  As cruises to the Last Frontier continue to increase in popularity, many people are wondering how to avoid crowds on an Alaska cruise.

The best time to visit Alaska with fewer crowds tends to be in either the very early or late cruise season. Sailing to Alaska in early May or mid to late September brings far fewer crowds compared to June, July, and August.

Related: Top ways to avoid crowds on an Alaska cruise

Most people want to cruise to Alaska during the warmest months of the year, whereas the shoulder season sees less demand. Not only will you encounter fewer passengers in the very beginning or end of the season, but you’ll see fewer ships in port.

Royal Caribbean, for example, sends four ships to Alaska each year. The first ship to arrive starts offering cruises in late April, but other ships don’t start offering cruises until the second week of May.

People watching glaciers on Alaska cruise

Therefore, with only one Royal Caribbean ship sailing in late April as opposed to four, there are over 10,000 fewer passengers cruising in Alaska each week.

Even if you sail to Alaska during the most busy time of year, there are a few ways to avoid the crowds. We recommend getting off the ship as early as possible on port days to begin exploring before the crowds arrive. Walking around Alaska’s cruise ports is much calmer at 8AM compared to later in the morning and afternoon.

Likewise, exploring ports on your own can give you more flexibility with avoiding crowds. Without a tour, you are free to explore anything of interest, whether it means doing a quiet day hike or renting a car with your travel party. Getting off the beaten path is a sure-fire way to enjoy Alaska without as many crowds.

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

Finally, booking a balcony cabin is an excellent way to enjoy extra privacy on an Alaska cruise. Instead of watching Alaska’s scenery on a busy pool deck, you can enjoy the views from the comfort of your own balcony.

When should I cruise to Alaska?

As you can see, there’s no correct answer as to the best time to visit Alaska. Your budget, interests, and travel preferences can all influence your decision on the best month to book an Alaska cruise.

For most travelers, however, we recommend cruising to Alaska in June or July. The warm temperatures (for Alaska standards), long hours of sunlight, and ample wildlife viewing opportunities make these months hard to beat.

Sure, cruising to Alaska in the peak summer months may be more expensive, but you can still find great cruise deals by booking far in advance and repricing your cruise often.

Related: 45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Like any cruise vacation, cruising to Alaska is all about keeping an open mind and about keeping your expectations in check. If you expect to see whales every day, encounter little rain, and have every Alaska cruise port to yourself, you’ll likely end up disappointed.

No matter the month you sail, it’s important to be flexible when planning an Alaska cruise. Going with the flow allows you to make the most of your time in this beautiful destination whether it’s early May, late June, or mid September.

I spent 7 nights on the world’s biggest cruise ship. Here are 6 things I did in advance to prepare for a stress-free vacation

23 Mar 2023
Matt Hochberg

After spending a week on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, I had a great family spring break vacation, and I know I greatly benefitted from some pre-cruise planning.

Wonder of the Seas docked in St. Thomas

After years of cruising, it's become apparent to me how important just a little planning ahead of time can do to improve your vacation experience.

While you could simply show up to the cruise ship and have a good time without any forethought, planning out a few aspects of your vacation adds a lot to the experience and avoids some common cruise pitfalls.

Matt in CocoCay

On a ship as big as Wonder of the Seas, you're also competing in a way with your fellow guests for opportunities and things to do onboard. From dining, to entertainment, to waiting, there's a limit on how much you can do onboard and I firmly believe your time on a cruise ship can be optimized.

In retrospect, here are five super simple things I did before my cruise began to eliminate hassles before they could ever occur.

1. I did everything in the pre-cruise check-in

RC app

When you step foot into the cruise terminal, your cruise vacation begins and ideally, your time in the terminal is as quick as possible so you can get onto the ship.

Royal Caribbean has made it super simple to breeze through the check-in process by making the entire process digital via the Royal Caribbean app.

First and foremost, at 45 days before my cruise, I grabbed an early check-in time to ensure we could likely get onboard first. It's a good idea to set a calendar reminder to get a time right away, because a lot of people will be vying for those early times.

Next, complete every step of the check-in process before the cruise.  

  1. Scan your passport
  2. Take a selfie photo
  3. Add your emergency contact info
  4. Add a credit card

If you don't do these things at home, you're going to do it at the terminal with the agent.  It feels like the agents often struggle with their tablets working correctly, and it just wastes time.

Galveston terminal check-in agents

Because we did everything at home, every terminal representative we encountered merely had to look over our paperwork, verify it was all there, and sent us on our way.

Your vacation time is precious, so don't waste it in the cruise terminal.

2. Booked my shows early

inTENse show

If you're sailing on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship, you can pre-book shows and you really need to do this as soon as it becomes available.

While you can probably still get into the shows without a reservation, having a reservation really makes the entire experience so much simpler.

At around 30 days before your cruise, the shows will become available to book and it's complimentary to book shows.

It's quite clear enough people have gotten the memo about booking shows that times go quickly, so you'll want to book it right away. Put a calendar reminder for this time too.

By having the show reservations, there was no concern once onboard if we would be able to see a particular show time or having to waste time standing in a standby line.

3. I took a ride share to the port instead of parking

Lyft sticker

This tip was not part of my original plan, but I was really glad to have taken a Lyft ride to the port instead of driving myself.

The day before the cruise, we discovered a nail in the tire of our family car and there wasn't enough time to get it patched before we left the next morning for the cruise.  As a result, I decided to use Lyft instead.

We live about an hour from Port Canaveral, so driving to the port so we've almost always driven ourselves in the past.

Terminal 3 in Port Canveral

The reason why I'm including getting a ride to the port on this list is because the parking situation in Port Canaveral (and other Florida ports) has become much more of a problem than in the past.  In short, the parking lots at the port seem to be fuller than ever before.

Wonder of the Seas departs from Terminal 1, and the main garage was already quite busy when we got there. There are more ships and bigger ships sailing than in the past, and the overflow lots are now the norm instead of the exception.

Lyft app

By taking Lyft, we pulled right up to the terminal, dropped our luggage with the porters and we walked right into the terminal.  It was a breath of fresh air compared to having to wait in the traffic to get back into the terminal and find a spot.

If this sounds like a "first world problem", it definitely is, but we saw the backup to get into Terminal 1 only get worse as the day wore on. 

4. I did traditional dining instead of My Time Dining

Main Dining Room

While 5pm is earlier than I would like to have dinner, the ease of which it is to have a fixed table and time seems to greatly outweigh the downsides to My Time Dining.

My Time Dining is great since you can eat at different times during your cruise. This is super helpful when you have a later day in port, but there's also more waiting and it always seems the people waiting to get in for My Time Dining look annoyed.

To be fair, our family has always done traditional dining when we eat in the Main Dining Room, but since this article is about how to be stress-free, there's no doubt having a set time every day with no waiting is the definition of that.

Menu from Wonder of the Seas

When it was our dinner time, we walked right into the Main Dining Room and sat at our table. We had menus in hand and a drink order being taken shortly thereafter.

I'm not advocating no one should do My Time Dining, rather, I think traditional is just easier.

Read moreMy Time Dining versus Traditional Dining

5. Pre-booked my shore excursions

Beach in St Kitts

It feels like waiting to figure out your plans on shore the day you get to the port is becoming a new mistake.

Royal Caribbean's shore excursions seem to be selling out much faster than in years past, and if you try winging it with a vendor in port, there's just too much ambiguity as to what the experience could end up being.

The issue is exacerbated in Perfect Day at CocoCay because Royal Caribbean's marketing machine has been so effective in getting the word out. The result is everything other than a floating mat is sold out months before the cruise begins.

Snorkel spot in St John

Prior to the cruise, we made reservations for shore excursions in St. Thomas and St. Kitts and we not only loved both of our tours, but I was glad to not have to deal with trying to navigate a last-minute tour decision.

Whether you book a tour through Royal Caribbean or on your own, it's a good idea to plan it out well before the cruise begins and to have a plan in place so that you can be assured you'll it's all waiting for you when you arrive.

More information:

6. I took naps

Suite lounger

This is such a small thing, but taking a nap really makes your day seem more care-free.

We had three sea days on this sailing, and I found myself taking a nap every day of them right after lunch.  While there is indeed so much to see and do on Wonder of the Seas, I relished a refreshing doze in my cabin.

It certainly helped with any FOMO that I had been on Wonder of the Seas a few times already, but if your goal is have an easy going time of things, I really think a good nap helps a lot.

Sunset off Wonder of the Seas

Plus, taking a nap meant I had more energy for evening activities. Especially late-night fun in the casino or bars around the ship.

Sometimes it's the little things that can put yourself at ease during your trip.