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5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

30 Mar 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

While Royal Caribbean shore excursions have many options, some cruisers find themselves looking elsewhere for something to do in port. Whether you’re looking for an activity not offered by Royal Caribbean, hoping to find a better price, or want to see the widest range of tours available, it’s helpful to know where to look.

It’s important to note, of course, that booking a tour through an outside provider does not come with the same benefits as booking through Royal Caribbean directly. Booking through Royal Caribbean ensures the tour operators are vetted and approved, and on the off chance your tour runs late, you can take comfort in knowing the ship will wait for you before leaving port.

That being said, booking independently can mean smaller tour sizes, more excursion options, and lower prices. The benefits of an independent tour provider often outweigh the drawbacks, especially when you are able to read reviews from those who booked the tour in the past and know that you are booking with an experienced tour company.

The following websites and tips are what we use to find shore excursions outside of what Royal Caribbean offers.

If you’re looking for a relaxing beach day with all the amenities of a resort, look no further than is a service that sells day passes at resorts and hotels for cruise passengers. There are currently resorts available in 23 ports, the majority of which are in the Caribbean.

The exact amenities and inclusions of a day pass through Resort For A Day vary, as offerings are subject to the resort’s policies. Some resort day passes include all-inclusive food and drinks whereas others give a food and beverage credit. Likewise, some resorts are kid-friendly and include access to a waterpark or kids club whereas others are adults-only.

A day pass at the Westin Cozumel, for example, includes unlimited food and beverages, beach and pool access, a kids club for children aged 4-12, outdoor showers, wifi, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle-boarding.

Margaritaville Beach Resort & Waterpark in Nassau, on the other hand, is not all-inclusive. Food and drinks must be purchased individually, but pool, beach, and waterpark access are available to day pass guests.

It’s important to choose a day pass wisely to ensure the resort’s offerings and ambience fit within your travel style. If you want a relaxing, quieter day in port, an adults-only resort may be the best fit. If you’re traveling with kids, though, a resort offering a waterpark or kid-friendly activities would be a better choice.

Most resorts allow access to day pass guests from around 9 or 10am until 5pm. and

Tripadvisor is an excellent research option due to its lists of things to do in cruise ports around the world. To search for tours and activities in your port of call, go to Tripadvisor’s front page and click the “Things to Do” button.

Input the name of your cruise port and you’ll be taken to a page with a wide range of tours available. One of the best benefits of Tripadvisor is the amount of reviews available on the website. Reading reviews from those who have booked the tour in the past is helpful, as it allows you to learn more about the excursion’s benefits and drawbacks.

Not only does Tripadvisor list tours you can book directly through their website, but it also lists the essential things to do and eat at each location. These lists can be helpful for passengers planning a DIY excursion. Knowing the best beaches, restaurants, and attractions in your port of call can make exploring on your own a whole lot easier.

Viator, like Tripadvisor, allows you to book tours from independent tour operators, and has a wide range of tour categories available. From Arts & Culture to Classes & Workshops and Food & Drink, you’re sure to find a tour that fits your interest on Viator.

Shore Excursions Group

While similar to Tripadvisor and Viator, Shore Excursions Group focuses solely on shore excursions for cruise ship passengers. Tours are offered all around the world, from the Caribbean to the Arabian Gulf and Asia.

Shore Excursions Group makes it easy to pick a tour that fits within your cruise ship’s itinerary, as tours are filtered by your cruise ship’s specific departure date and ports of call. There’s no need to check your calendar or worry about accidentally booking the wrong day, as Shore Excursions Group has all Royal Caribbean itineraries listed on their website.

Shore Excursions Group features several different types of tours: small group tours, private tours, scenic tours, cultural tours, active tours, and city tours. Each type of tour comes with its own style, whether traveling to Alaska’s glaciers on a scenic tour or cycling through small towns in Europe on an active tour.

Message blog forums

Online message boards are a great way to find more information about your cruise ship, and they can also be a useful research tool when deciding what to do in port. Hearing from those cruisers who have been to your destination before is valuable, as they are able to offer their recommendations on what to do (and what not to do) in a particular port.

The Royal Caribbean Blog message boards, for example, have a shore excursions board where you can ask questions to fellow cruisers and learn more about what each port of call offers. If you’re wondering if a certain tour is worth it or you're trying to choose between two separate tours, odds are someone on the message boards has first-hand experience with your port of call and can help you make a decision.

Google (“port name + tour”)

Sometimes the easiest way to find a shore excursion on your own is through a simple Google search.

If you’re looking for something to do in St. Maarten, for example, search “St. Maarten tour” on Google. You can customize this further if you wish, searching “St. Maarten tour kid friendly” if you’re traveling with kids or “St. Maarten tour catamaran” if you want to sail around the island.

Google will list the most top-rated websites where you can book shore excursions and read reviews from those who have done the tour previously. It’s hard to go wrong with a Google search when researching shore excursions, and it is a good starting point for those researching activities in their ports of call.

Royal Caribbean cruises in April 2022: What to expect

29 Mar 2022
Matt Hochberg

April means a full month of spring Royal Caribbean cruises to choose from, as well as the moving of ships back to Europe.

Navigator of the Seas in Willemstad, Curacao

This article is an effort to share what you need to know about going on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the month of April, with important news, tips, and helpful information along the way.

Just like March, April is when many families look to enjoy a spring break cruise. That means higher demand for cruises in April through the Easter holiday, and higher guest counts more than likely.

Freedom of the Seas

Easter falls on April 17, 2022, which is usually the culmination of spring break demand.  The last week and half of April could see less demand for cruises, since school will be back in session.

If you want to avoid crowds, look for a cruise in the last week of April.

Ships sailing in April 2022

CocoCay aerial 2021
  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Allure of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Oasis of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Adventure of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Explorer of the Seas from San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California
  • Spectrum of the Seas from Singapore
  • Grandeur of the Seas from Bridgetown, Barbados
  • Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, Florida
  • Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland
  • Jewel of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Wonder of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Vision of the Seas from from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Radiance of the Seas from Los Angeles, California beginning April 23, 2022
  • Serenade of the Seas from Los Angeles, California, beginning April 26, 2022
  • Voyager of the Seas from Copenhagen, Denmark, beginning April 15, 2022

Three more Royal Caribbean cruise ships return to service in April.

Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas will start back up with a repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver so that they can be ready for the start of the Alaska cruise season in May.

Voyager of the Seas will sail from Barcelona to Copenhagen on April 15, and then begin regular service from Copenhagen in late April to kick off Royal Caribbean's European season.

At the end of April, only one Royal Caribbean cruise ship will remain out of service since the pandemic, which is Rhapsody of the Seas.

Transatlantic sailings

April is the time of year for many Royal Caribbean ships to leave the Caribbean waters and sail east to Europe.

Wonder of the Seas will bid adieu to her temporary home in Fort Lauderdale and sail to Barcelona, Spain on a 14-night transatlantic cruise on April 20th.

Here's a look at the other transatlantic crossings in April:

  • Brilliance of the Seas 14-Night Portugal & Spain Crossing to Rome: April 25, 2022
  • Jewel of the Seas 14-Night British Transatlantic to Amsterdam, Netherlands: April 29, 2022
  • Odyssey of the Seas 14-Night Spanish Transatlantic to Rome, Italy: April 23, 2022
  • Vision of the Seas 14 Night Transatlantic Cruise to Barcelona, Spain: April 29, 2022

Health protocols for April 2022 cruises

Freedom of the Seas aerial at CocoCay

With Royal Caribbean ships sailing from many places other than the United States in April 2022, the exact protocols will vary somewhat, but the core requirements seem to be universal.

All Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose of their vaccine administered at least 14 days before sailing. 

With the exception of the transatlantic crossings that do not allow anyone unvaccinated onboard, Royal Caribbean does not require kids younger than 12 to be vaccinated.

All crew members on every ship will be fully vaccinated.

Masks are optional for vaccinated passengers onboard its ships indoors.

Unvaccinated children are expected to wear masks indoors and in crowded settings. All children, regardless of vaccination status, will need to wear a mask in Adventure Ocean. Guests under 2 do not have to wear a mask at any time.

Covid testing requirements are nearly all the same, with the exception of transatlantic crossings. 

Vaccinated guests must show a negative COVID-19 test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. 

Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before boarding day. This test cannot be taken on boarding day for unvaccinated kids.

Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test. 

Different protocols for some sailings

Be sure to refer to Royal Caribbean's requirements for your sailing, especially if you are on a transatlantic cruise, or sailing from somewhere outside of the continental United States, such as Puerto Rico or Barbados.

As an example, the transatlantic crossings require all passengers to be fully vaccinated, and only one day before the cruise to get a negative Covid test result.

It's important to double check the protocols on Royal Caribbean's website well before your embarkation day to ensure you are doing everything you need to be, in the right timeframe.

April weather on a cruise

Child on pool deck

Spring in the Caribbean means warm temperatures before the summer heat arrives in the region.

You'll find higher temperatures across the board, with it far less likely to be chilly during your cruise once in the Caribbean.


You will find warmer temperatures in places like The Bahamas, and if you take a Southern Caribbean cruise, expect average high temps to reach the low 90s.

April is the the end of the dry season in the Caribbean, so don't expect too much rain.

Just like in the Caribbean, expect warm temperatures in the Mexican Riviera, with high temperatures in the mid 80's to low 90's.

April weather in the Mexican Riviera is some of the best weather once you get to Mexico. April is the driest month of the entire year based on historical data from the Mexico Tourism Ministry.

Easter on a cruise

Odyssey pool deck couple

If your cruise sails over the Easter holiday, you can expect some special events onboard.

The exact activities will depend on the sailing, but in the past we've seen:

  • Easter Sunday Catholic Mass
  • Easter Word Search
  • Easter Scrapbooking Workshop
  • Family Easter Scavenger Hunt

In addition, Royal Caribbean has had special foods in the Windjammer and main dining room.

Royal Caribbean releases new 2023-2024 cruises from Panama

29 Mar 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has posted new cruises in 2023-2024 from Panama.

The newly released sailings offer 6- and 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises that begin in either Colon, Panama or Cartagena, Columbia. Sailing from these ports is a first for Royal Caribbean in almost a decade.

Rhapsody of the Seas will sail between December 2023 and April 2024.

Royal Caribbean believes these new itineraries combine the international cuisine, entertainment and nightlife on a single cruise that does not require a travel visa.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley shared the exciting news on Facebook, "I am very excited to announce that starting in 2023, Panama is your newest jumping-off point for the captivating shores of the Southern Caribbean onboard Rhapsody of the Seas."

The new cruises are available to book immediately.

Short Panama Canal Cruises

Panama City

Not only are there cruises that visit many exotic destinations in the region, but this also offers 7-night Panama Canal crossings.

The 7-night Costa Rica & Panama Canal cruises starts off with a visit to Cartagena before traversing the Panama Canal and spending time in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

Sailings from Cartagena


Something else novel about this new deployment are cruises from Cartagena.

Located in Colombia, Cartagena is known for its romantic colonial architecture and Caribbean coast line.

More deployments to come

There are still more cruises to be announced for the 2023-2024 cruise season.

Royal Caribbean's deployment schedule is as follows:

  • Week of April 4: Los Angeles and 9/5-night Miami
  • Week of May 16: 7-night Caribbean
  • Week of June 6: Singapore

Keep in mind that the deployment schedule is subject to change.

Planning on booking a 2023 cruise? These stories will help:

Royal Caribbean releases health protocols for Alaska cruises

28 Mar 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released its Covid-19 health protocols for cruises sailing to Alaska, including ships that sail from Vancouver.

Radiance of the Seas in Vancouver

The Alaska cruise season is set to begin soon, and Royal Caribbean has released the pre-cruise & onboard Covid health requirements for passengers.

The protocols differ slightly if your ship embarks in Vancouver or Seattle.

The latest protocols are for guests cruising to Alaska from the U.S. and from Vancouver, British Columbia through May 31, 2022. 


All guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated.

Children aged 5 to 11 are not required to be vaccinated. However, kids who have been vaccinated may present proof and follow the fully vaccinated protocols. 

All crew members onboard will be fully vaccinated. 

Royal Caribbean will not accept a Certificate of Recovery in the place of a vaccination record.


Testing is required to enter Canada and to board the ship. These requirements vary depending on guests’ age and vaccination status.

  • Pre-Cruise: All guests 2 years and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result to board the ship.
    • Vaccinated guests: PCR or antigen test must be taken no more than 2 days prior to sailing.
    • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11: PCR test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to sailing — but not on boarding day. Antigen tests are not accepted for unvaccinated guests.
    • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.
  • Certificate of Recovery: Instead of a negative pre-cruise test, a Certificate of Recovery and a positive PCR test taken between 11-90 days prior to our sail date can be provided to sail with us.
  • Embarkation Day: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test for COVID-19 during check-in. Registration details will be sent via email in advance. 
  • Prior to Entering Canada: Unvaccinated guests 5 to 11 years old will take a complimentary antigen test onboard prior to visiting or debarking in Canada.

For sailings debarking in Seattle, Washington or Seward, Alaska: Unvaccinated guests age 2 – 11 years will take a complimentary antigen test onboard no more than 1 day before arrival to the U.S. 

Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested.

Testing for Cruisetour Guests

Cruisetour Alaska train

Passengers that booked an add-on tour before or after their cruise in Alaska (known as a cruisetour) have additional testing requirements.

  • Royal Caribbean Cruisetour guests need to take a COVID-19 test on their own, at guest's expense, before the land-tour portion of your Cruisetour.
  • Vaccinated guests must show a negative result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before the day the land tour starts. Kids age 5 to 11 who have been vaccinated may present proof of full vaccination and follow the testing protocols for vaccinated guests.
  • Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before the day the land tour starts.
  • Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-Cruisetour test.

Cruisetour guests will also need to complete the pre-cruise testing to board the ship in addition to the pre-tour testing. Vaccinated guests are advised to bring an eMed test kit with them on their Cruisetour to meet the pre-cruise testing requirement.

For vaccinated guests without a test kit or unvaccinated kids age 2-11 in need of a PCR test, a testing provider in Anchorage will be available to test guests at their own expense.

Details on how to register for testing in Anchorage will be provided by your Cruisetour guide.


Whale in Alaska

There are no restrictions on which tours passengers can book in Alaska, regardless of vaccination status.

Royal Caribbean is still "working closely with local government and health authorities to finalize protocols and requirements for going ashore in Canadian ports of call."


Mask guidance march 2022

Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests.

Royal Caribbean expects unvaccinated children to continue wearing masks indoors and in crowded settings.

Masks are required for all children age 2 years and older while at the Adventure Ocean youth program.

Guests under 2 years do not have to wear a mask at any time. 


ArriveCAN app

In addition to bringing a passport, Covid-19 vaccination card, and a Covid-19 test result, there's one additional piece of documentation passengers should bring for all sailings from Seattle, Seward and Vancouver.

All travelers to Canada, or their legal guardians, must download the ArriveCAN app or complete the mandatory travel information via the ArriveCAN website prior to your entry into Canada.

This applies whether guests are departing on their cruise from Canada, ending the cruise in Canada, or visiting the country as a port of call.

Royal Caribbean says they are working with the Canadian government to make this process easier for guests arriving by cruise ship, and will ensure guests have guidance to complete this process smoothly onboard. 

More information

Top desserts to try on Wonder of the Seas

28 Mar 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

A Royal Caribbean cruise offers endless opportunities to try new and exciting desserts. From a sundae with twelve scoops of ice cream to a s’mores cookie and tiramisu, there is a dessert fit for every guest onboard.

As someone with a sweet tooth, trying new desserts is one of my favorite parts of a cruise. Being able to order a dessert I may otherwise be hesitant to try, or one that I have never heard of before, is always a highlight of my meals onboard.

On my recent cruise on Wonder of the Seas, I took up the challenge of finding the best desserts to eat onboard. After much “strenuous” dessert research, I’ve put together my list of the top six desserts to try on Wonder of the Seas.

Fried Cheesecake from 150 Central Park

Starting off our list of top desserts is perhaps the most delicious of all: fried cheesecake from 150 Central Park.

Fried cheesecake is a dessert I never knew I needed until I tasted it. Rich, creamy cheesecake covered with a crunchy, powdered sugar-coated shell and doused with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce? Yes, please!

150 Central Park exceeded my expectations as soon as I tasted my first course, but they really went above and beyond with the fried cheesecake. This may be one of my favorite desserts of all time.

If you’re considering dining at 150 Central Park on your next cruise, don’t hesitate to order the fried cheesecake for dessert (and bring your stretchy pants!).

Warm Bread Puddin’ from The Mason Jar

I was so full after my hearty dinner at The Mason Jar that I actually skipped dessert. Due to my aforementioned sweet tooth, skipping dessert on a cruise is unheard of!

Because of this, I had major FOMO (fear of missing out), so I made sure to return to The Mason Jar later in the cruise to try a dessert.

Luckily The Mason Jar bar features a late night menu after 9PM, so I could order menu items without eating a full meal at the restaurant. With fried oreos, Georgia peach ice cream, and chocolate pecan pie on the menu, choosing a dessert was a difficult task in itself.

Ultimately, after hearing a few guests rave about it, I decided on the Warm Bread Puddin’.

Soft, sticky, and sweet, the warm bread pudding is made from buttery croissants and soaked in vanilla-bourbon custard. To top it all off is a serving of rich vanilla bean ice cream, offering the perfect balance between warm and cold.

Bread pudding is not a dessert I would typically order, but I was definitely glad I did.

Note: the Warm Bread Puddin’ isn’t technically on the late night menu, but I was still able to order it without a problem.

Campfire Cookie from Playmakers

I first tasted the campfire cookie on my first cruise on Mariner of the Seas and it has been one of my go-to desserts ever since. In fact, I love this dessert so much that I’m (very slightly) upset whenever I’m on a ship without Playmakers!

The campfire cookie is one of two desserts at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. In simple terms, the campfire cookie is a chocolate chip cookie with marshmallows on top.

A dessert of this caliber, though, deserves a more thorough description. Let’s take a deeper dive into the three components of the campfire cookie:

  • Layer 1: a warm, gooey, extra-chocolatey chocolate chip cookie cooked in a skillet
  • Layer 2: a generous coating of marshmallow, toasted to perfection and topped with nutella and caramel sauce
  • Layer 3: a side of rich vanilla ice cream and milk to add to the cookie

What’s great about Playmakers is that, while it is a specialty restaurant, the menu items are priced a la carte. Therefore, there’s no need to sit down for a lengthy three course meal in order to try the campfire cookie.

At $6, it’s a dessert well worth the cost.

Baklava from Solarium Bistro

Solarium Bistro is one of my favorite complimentary dinner options on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship. Not only is it usually much less crowded than other venues, but it offers cuisine not available elsewhere onboard.

From hummus and pita to lamb chops and babaganoush, the Mediterranean-style cuisine at Solarium Bistro always hits the spot.

If you have room in your stomach after your eighth serving of hummus, be sure to head to the dessert station. My favorite dessert at Solarium Bistro is also one of my favorites onboard, and that is the nutty, sugary, and sticky baklava.

For a complimentary dessert that is tricky to make, the baklava onboard is surprisingly good. I’ve never seen baklava anywhere else on a Royal Caribbean ship other than Solarium Bistro, so don’t miss it on your next Quantum or Oasis Class cruise.

Crispy Sesame Balls from Izumi

Overshadowed by Izumi’s mochi ice cream are the Crispy Sesame Balls. Unassuming yet unique, the sesame balls are the star of Izumi’s dessert menu.

The sesame balls are made from glutinous rice flour and sugar, which brings a chewy, mochi-like texture to the dessert.

Each sesame ball is then filled with a small amount of red bean filling, which is slightly sweet yet not overpowering. Red bean is a common dessert flavor in Japan, often used as a filling for steamed buns and mochi.

Lastly, each sesame ball is coated in sesame seeds and fried. The crunchy sesame coating gives each bite a toasted, nutty flavor that blends perfectly with the sugary, chewy consistency inside the sesame ball.

Each order comes with four sesame balls which are served warm.

The majority of guests dining at Izumi tend to order mochi ice cream without considering other desserts on the menu. During your next meal at Izumi, step out of your comfort zone and try the Crispy Sesame Balls. You’ll thank me later!

Pool deck soft serve

The last dessert on our list is also the most simple: a heaping cone of complimentary soft serve from the pool deck.

On every Royal Caribbean ship is a soft serve ice cream/frozen yogurt station where guests can enjoy unlimited and free ice cream cones. The most common flavors are vanilla, chocolate, and twist, although strawberry (my personal favorite) may be available as well.

While a cold ice cream cone is extremely satisfying on a warm Caribbean day, there are a few ways to take your soft serve game up a notch:

  • Add soft serve ice cream to a cup of soda for a soda float
  • Bring a cookie or brownie from the Windjammer and add ice cream on top
  • Put ice cream in a cup and add chocolate milk. Mix it together for a DIY chocolate milkshake!
  • Make an Italian affogato by filling a cup with vanilla ice cream and adding a shot of fresh, warm espresso

There are a few runner-ups I should add to my list: Key Lime Pie from Chops Grille, Go Bananas from Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, and coconut cookies from Cafe Promenade.

What is your favorite dessert on a Royal Caribbean ship? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out our FULL ship tour of Wonder of the Seas to learn more about Royal Caribbean’s newest ship:

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: March 27, 2022

27 Mar 2022
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.

It's been a few weeks since Royal Caribbean loosened the Covid-19 protocols, and I wanted to share my experience with the new rules.

Wonder of the Seas pool deck busy

With cruise ship health protocols so effective in keeping Covid-19 cases down, and Royal Caribbean opting into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) highly vaccinated program, face masks are optional onboard while indoors for fully vaccinated passengers. In addition, other policies have been scaled back.

After sailing on Wonder of the Seas for two weeks, here's a look at what it's like onboard for anyone who may be curious how close to normal cruising is right now.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 447th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt answers as many Royal Caribbean questions as he can.

This week's episode is all about catching up on listener emails that have been sent in.

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: 9 Things I Liked & Didn't Like about Wonder of the Seas

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 — 9 Things I Liked & Didn't Like about Wonder of the Seas — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Top 30 extra cruise costs that are not included

Your Royal Caribbean cruise includes a lot, but it's far from all-inclusive.

In planning for a cruise, it's important to know what is and what is not included with your cruise.  But just because things cost extra doesn't mean you should skip them.

Here's a look at the top things on a cruise that will cost you extra, and how to reduce your out-of-pocket price.

Western Mediterranean cruise guide

A European cruise might be something you have booked for this year, or perhaps you're thinking about booking one. Regardless, the Western Mediterranean is a popular option.

Offering some of the most significant historical monuments as well as beautiful scenery, a cruise to places like Spain, Italy or France packs a lot into one sailing.

Our guide to Western Mediterranean cruises offers a glimpse of what to expect from the ports of call and answers commonly asked questions.

Royal Caribbean moves Radiance of the Seas back to USA in 2023

Radiance of the Seas will stay in the United States instead of going to Australia in 2023.

Royal Caribbean announced Radiance will split time between New Orleans and Galveston instead of going to Australia as originally planned.

What should you bring on an Alaska cruise?

26 Mar 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Packing for an Alaska cruise can seem daunting at first, but in reality, it just requires a little more preparation than going on a cruise elsewhere in the world.

Once you have an idea of the clothes you should pack for an Alaska cruise, you may wonder which gadgets and accessories to bring. Items like a waterproof bag, binoculars, and sunscreen can make your Alaska cruise experience a lot more enjoyable.

This list will help you decide which items to bring on an Alaska cruise to enhance your experience and avoid any potential mishaps along the way.

This post contains affiliate links, however, all opinions expressed are exclusively my own. As an Amazon Associate, Royal Caribbean Blog receives commission from qualifying purchases.

Water resistant day pack

It’s important to have a waterproof or water resistant day pack to bring with you in port. The weather can rapidly change in Alaska, with rainfall often sporadic and unpredictable.

Likewise, many shore excursions on an Alaska cruise take place near the water. Whether on a whale watching tour or kayaking, keeping your electronics and valuables dry is a must.

Water resistant backpacks should be sufficient in most scenarios, although 100% dry bags can be a safe option, too.

Some backpacks are able to be packed down into a very small size, which can be helpful for those traveling on airplanes or with limited room in their suitcase.


Binoculars may not be an item used regularly at home, but they are especially nice to have on an Alaska cruise.

You never know what the day’s sights may bring in Alaska. Whether you want to catch a closer glimpse of a glacier, eagle, or even a bear, you’ll be grateful to have binoculars.

Binoculars are a budget-friendly item and the most basic pair will work for the majority of cruisers. Here is a pair of binoculars we recommend taking with you to Alaska.

Camera for an Alaska cruise

Alaska is a dream destination for photography enthusiasts. Spectacular landscapes and wildlife are in abundance on an Alaska cruise, tempting many cruisers to pack their best camera equipment.

If you already have a camera at home, be sure to pack both a wide angle and telephoto lens to ensure you can capture the best of Alaska’s scenery and wildlife.

If you are looking to purchase a camera to take with you on an Alaska cruise, here are a few entry-level cameras to consider:

It’s not necessary to buy a whole set of professional camera equipment before a cruise, though. Most new phones have excellent picture quality, and there are even attachable lenses made specifically for phones that can improve wide angle or close-up shots.

Waterproof case for cellphone

Similar to a water-resistant daypack, having a waterproof case for a cellphone can be handy. With a waterproof case, you’ll be able to take photos and videos of Alaska’s scenery or wildlife no matter the weather conditions. 

You can wear these waterproof cases around your neck, too, which allows for easy access to your phone’s camera when on an excursion.


Port days in Alaska are often long and active, so having a few snacks packed in your bag can be helpful. While taking fresh food off the ship is generally a no-no, bringing pre-packaged snacks like granola bars and trail mix is permitted.

Packing snacks is a great tip if you are traveling to Alaska with kids, too, as they may get hungry and cranky during the day.


While Alaska may have unpredictable weather and rain during your cruise, the sun can get strong in the peak summer months. Sunlight also reflects off of snow and ice, so spending a few hours outside on a sunny day can lead to an unfortunate sunburn later on. 

You won’t need as much sunscreen as you would use on a Caribbean cruise, but having a small pack of sunscreen with you will be convenient when the sun comes out.

Mosquito repellent

You may come across mosquitos during your Alaska cruise, especially if you are traveling to Alaska in the middle of summer. And while they likely will not be swarming around the ship while at sea, you run the risk of being bit while in port.

The good news is that mosquitos are more prevalent at dawn and sunset, which coincides with the times guests are on the ship instead of on land. However, it’s still a good idea to pack insect repellent with you for an Alaska cruise to help mitigate any mosquito issues. 

Mosquitoes are usually worse inland than on the coast, so bringing insect repellent is extra important for those doing a Cruise Tour to Denali and other interior destinations before or after their cruise. 

Seasickness medication

An Alaska cruise can be more likely to encounter high winds while at sea compared to a Caribbean or European cruise. Rougher seas are more common in the shoulder seasons of May and September compared to the summer, but can happen at any time.

Even in the roughest sea conditions, most passengers will be fine. However, if you are prone to seasickness or are nervous, it might be a good idea to bring remedies with you to Alaska, such as a Sea-Band or dramamine. 

Cards, games, and books

Just like all Royal Caribbean cruises, there are endless activities and events happening throughout the day. Alaska cruises tend to have a more relaxed vibe, though, with many passengers opting to sit near a window or outside and watch the scenery pass by.

Bringing a pack of playing cards or games can be a great way to pass time as you sail to Alaska and through the Inside Passage.

A few nice spots to play cards while at sea are at the back of the Windjammer between meal times or at a quiet lounge onboard, such as the Schooner Bar or Viking Crown Lounge.

Packing a book is also a great item to bring with you on an Alaska cruise. While Royal Caribbean ships have libraries onboard, book selections are limited (recently the onboard library has been closed due to Covid-19 protocols).

Peaceful reading spaces onboard are at Two70 on Quantum Class ships and at the lounges in the aft of deck 6 on Radiance Class ships.

Mr Sanchos Beach Club Cozumel review

25 Mar 2022
Matt Hochberg

Is it possible to have a bad time at an all-inclusive day pass beach resort? It depends on how many other people are trying to do the same thing.

Since cruise ships restarted sailing in 2021, I've made an effort to re-visit some favorite spots in the ports of call Royal Caribbean's ships visit to ensure the experience has not changed since the last time.

In March 2022, I had the opportunity to visit Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel, after having visited Paradise Beach and Nachi Cocom recently. 

My goal was to see how it stacked up to the other resorts, and see what's changed since my last visit in 2018.


Like so many other all-inclusive beach resorts in Cozumel, Mr. Sanchos advertises unlimited food, drink, beach and pool access for one price.

Located on the south western side of Cozumel island, it's about a 10-15 minute taxi ride from where Royal Caribbean docks.

Reservations are optional, but it's a good idea to make a reservation to assure your family of a spot. A deposit is required in advance.

Once you arrive, you will check in and pay the remainder of the balance.

Before you get to the beach or pool, there are a series of souvenir stands that you can stop at in order to buy something. Some people buy it before or after their visit, although most tend to walk past it all.

At this point your waiter is assigned to you, which means this is the person to place all your food and drink orders.  This person will also assign you a set of chairs and umbrella.

Most people end up near the beach, but you could ask for an open set of chairs elsewhere, including closer to the pool.

The layout of Mr. Sanchos is a series of pools with swim up bars that extend parallel to the beach.

The beach itself looks great, although there is substantial seaweed and rocks in areas under water, so it's necessarily to tread lightly.

There's an optional aqua park with inflatable objects to climb on. Access to this costs extra.

The aquatic park includes:

  • Large climbing Iceberg
  • Climbing rock
  • Two large trampolines
  • Two medium trampolines
  • Pyramid slider
  • Two water totters
  • Moonwalk with two bouncers
  • Rock slider
  • Stadium ball

Each of the pool areas has a swim up bar, along with seating around the edge. There's enough room to wade and enjoy a drink. Kids may find enough space to swim a bit.

Food and drink is included with admission, and you'll find the typical mix of Mexican fare and beach-friendly options.

You have the choice of going to a buffet station and serving yourself, or asking your waiter to bring you the food. No difference in price.


Mr. Sanchos tries to offer everything you might want in an all-inclusive beach day, and its popularity seemed to have lead to the one faux pas of any beach spot: overcrowding.

On the day I visited, there were at three or four cruise ships in port, and by mid-morning I noticed almost all the tables and chairs were occupied. The result was an experience I found to be overcrowded and unenjoyable.

Our waiters did a good job of keeping up with demand, but the pools and beach were pretty full. On an island where there are so many different beach options, I found it disappointing how busy things were because it felt like we were all pushed together a little too much.

It didn't help there were two different families who smoked cigarettes adjacent to our table. I asked the waiter if there was perhaps a non-smoking area we could be moved to, but he said smoking was allowed anywhere outdoors. Obviously this was just bad luck of the draw in terms of being close to these folks, but it also detracted from the experience.

Then there is the food, which was equally poor. Much of the food came overcooked and under impressive. 

Being in Mexico, I'd expect the Mexican fare to be better than average, but I found much of it to be something I might get back at home in a Chilis. Then again, Chilis doesn't serve up nearly as dry food as we had.

I freely admit that one visit is not necessarily indicative of what your experience was like, but Mr. Sanchos seemed to be too crowded when you consider the other options available.

There were certainly people enjoying themselves, and my kids had a good enough time splashing around. But the overcrowded setting, poor food, and murky ocean water left me wanting to leave.

In fact, I cannot recommend Mr. Sanchos if you're looking for an all-inclusive beach day. I think Nachi Cocom is a far superior all-inclusive option because they limit the amount of people each day.  If you want something else with more for the kids, consider a Cozumel day pass to a resort

It's a shame we didn't have a better time, but the overcrowding ended up overshadowing what is otherwise a picturesque beach to enjoy.

How to book: Reservations can be made online via the Mr. Sanchos website.

First look at Perfect Day at Lelepa

25 Mar 2022
Matt Hochberg

The pandemic may have delayed Royal Caribbean's plans to open a new private island, but those plans are still moving forward.

Perfect Day at Lelepa artist rendering

According to Royal Caribbean, Perfect Day at Lelepa is still on track to open and we have a look at what it might look like.

Located in Vanuatu in the South Pacific, Perfect Day at Lelepa was initially announced in October 2019 to open sometime in 2022. Then Covid hit and those plans were put on hold.

There is no updated opening date as of yet.

Australian website Cruise Passenger shared an artist rendering of what the private destination will look like, which is our first preview of the island's design.

While Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas offers thrills, Royal Caribbean has a different vision for Lelepa.

When first announced, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said the new project was created in partnership with the community of Vanuatu, "to showcase the distinct natural ecological beauty and diverse local culture of the island nation as well as provide employment and education opportunities."

"We believe our destinations should be sustainably designed," Bayley said. "That idea goes beyond simply protecting the ecological features of Lelepa and includes showing respect for the people and traditions that make this a special place."

Ocean water at Lelepa

Earlier in March, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider confirmed that Lelepa is still part of the cruise line's plans.

According to Mr. Schneider, it's still in their "planning cycle" and Royal Caribbean hopes Perfect Day at Lelepa is part of a broader strategy in the region.

"We are really waiting for the Pacific to reopen in a massive way....but we still have our property in the Lelepa, and still have plans for a Lelepa."

Environmentally friendly

Lelepa beach

Whenever Perfect Day at Lelepa gets built, it will be designed in a sustainable way.

When Royal Caribbean announced the project, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman Richard Fain talked about what the company is doing to reduce the carbon footprint of the destination.

"There's also one, very special aspect of this project that is also worth noting. Lelapa will be the first private cruise destination in the world that achieves carbon neutrality. All of the energy consumed will be generated from renewable sources. Accomplishing that requires both major investment and major innovation, but Perfect Day at Lelapa will be rich in both."

How big will it be?

The original plans for Lelepa was to handle less passengers than CocoCay.

Mr. Bayley talked about the capacity, "The volume will be less less than Perfect Day at CocoCay, which I think at its peak in a few years will get to close to 3 million people going there."

"The number for Vanuatu, I think, reaches close to 750-800,000 is currently in our plans."

Western Mediterranean cruise guide

24 Mar 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

A Mediterranean cruise is one of Royal Caribbean’s most popular European cruise destinations, with the Western Mediterranean often a starting point for first time cruisers to Europe.

With some of the world’s most historic and breathtaking scenery, monuments, and cultures, going on a cruise to the Mediterranean allows you to experience multiple locations in a short amount of time.

Deciding which itinerary and ship to choose from as well as what to do in port, however, can be overwhelming for those who have never cruised to Europe.

In this guide we take a deeper look at the Western Mediterranean’s top destinations, itineraries, and things to do, as well as common concerns and questions faced by those planning a cruise to Europe.


Best itinerary for a Western Mediterranean cruise

Cruises to the Western Mediterranean generally visit Spain, France, and Italy. Some of the most common ports visited are Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Pisa), Villefranche (Nice), Provence (Marseille), Naples/Capri, and Barcelona.

Royal Caribbean’s newest and biggest cruise ships tend to visit the most popular Mediterranean ports in Western Europe, whereas smaller ships visit both popular and lesser known destinations.

Other Western Mediterranean ports include Palermo, Catania, Portofino, Valencia, Cartagena (Spain), Ajaccio (Corsica), Palma de Mallorca, and Monte Carlo (Monaco).

Choosing which itinerary to book for a Western Mediterranean cruise comes down to your preference, budget, and ship choice.

All Mediterranean ports will offer the opportunity to explore European cultures, try new foods, visit historic monuments, discover unique architecture, visit the beach, and make memories to carry with you far after your cruise is over.

If you’ve never been to the Mediterranean before, picking an itinerary that includes the most popular cities in the region (Rome, Florence, Barcelona, etc.) can be a great choice. If you’ve visited those cities before, though, choosing an itinerary that visits smaller cities in the Mediterranean might be your best bet.

While picking a cruise based on the ship is not as important in Europe as it is in the Caribbean, you’ll still want to take the ship into consideration. If you know you want to sail on a large, new cruise ship, you will want to book a cruise on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship. This greatly lowers the itinerary choices to choose from.

If you are more interested in visiting unique ports even if it means sailing on a smaller ship, consider sailing on a Vision or Radiance Class ship to the Mediterranean.

Something unique about Mediterranean cruises is that you can opt to start the cruise from multiple ports.

For example, you can book a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise leaving from Rome on May 12th or you can book the same cruise leaving from Barcelona on May 15th.

If you embark in Barcelona, you’re joining a cruise that many have already been on for several days. Likewise, when the cruise returns to Rome, you will get off at port to explore the city whereas passengers who started the cruise a week ago are now disembarking the ship.

How far away are cities from ports?

As you’re planning a Mediterranean cruise, you may notice that, while cities like Rome and Florence are listed on the itinerary, the cruise technically docks in Civitavecchia or Livorno, Italy.

Several major cities in the Mediterranean are not oceanfront, meaning a train, bus, or car ride is necessary to reach the city from the cruise port. In other ports, such Barcelona and Genoa, cruise ships dock nearby the city center, making access to the city a breeze.

While ports may be far away from some cities, Royal Caribbean allots a significant amount of time per day at these stops. When a cruise docks in Civitavecchia, as an example, the ship may be there from 7am - 8pm, allowing guests plenty of time to travel to Rome, spend the day exploring the city, and return back in the evening.

Self explore cities

Royal Caribbean will often have an excursion option that solely provides transport to and from the port to the center of the city. This is a great option for those who want the ease of Royal Caribbean transport to and from a destination but want to explore the city without a guided tour.

For example, in Pisa they offer the “Pisa on Your Own” tour, which takes guests from the port of Livorno to the heart of Pisa. They can then explore the city on their own for an allotted time before catching the shuttle bus back to port.

There is no need to worry about local train or bus delays causing you to miss the ship when booking transport through Royal Caribbean. You only need to be back at the designated shuttle bus or location at the allocated time in order to make it back to the ship.

These self-guided excursions with transport are often named “[Destination city] on Your Own” in the Cruise Planner.

Will I have enough time at each port stop?

A common concern of cruisers booking a Mediterranean cruise is whether they will have enough time at each port stop or not. While in the Caribbean many islands are small enough to see in one day, Mediterranean cities often require more time to explore thoroughly. 

A Mediterranean cruise should be looked at more as a “sampler” rather than an immersive dive into each destination. One could spend a year in Rome or Barcelona trying to see everything and that still wouldn’t be enough time. A day in each port is usually not enough time to fully explore the city, but does provide enough time to view the highlights.

My recommendation is to spend a few days before and after your cruise in your departure city to allow for extra sightseeing opportunities.

If your cruise departs from Barcelona or Rome, for example, try to arrive there at least 2-3 days before the cruise begins. Not only do you need extra time to recover from jetlag, but these cities are some of the world’s most spectacular and deserve a few days for sightseeing.

Likewise, if your cruise starts in one city and ends in another, try to plan a few days on land both before and after the cruise.

Land vs cruise vacation to the Mediterranean

Another common concern for those planning a cruise to the Mediterranean is they will “miss out” on European culture and lifestyle by spending evenings on a cruise ship instead of on land.

While it’s true that a Mediterranean cruise will not allow you to dive as deep into local culture compared to traveling more slowly on a land-based vacation, a cruise offers its own set of benefits.

One of the best parts of cruising in Europe compared to traveling on land is that all transportation is arranged for you. There’s no need to worry about booking a ton of train tickets, reserving multiple hotels, and lugging your suitcase from one city to another. On a cruise you will be able to visit multiple European countries while only unpacking once.

Another benefit of a cruise to the Mediterranean is that you’ll be able to see many destinations in a short amount of time. Trying to fit 3-4 destinations in multiple countries on a weeklong land vacation would be hectic and stressful. On a cruise, though, you are traveling from one port to another as you sleep, waking up in a new city each day stress-free.

That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks to a cruise vs land vacation in Europe, however. A land vacation to Europe, assuming you are spending more than one day in each place, generally gives you more time to experience each destination. Being able to spend evenings wandering around European cities and experiencing nightlife is a highlight for some travelers to Europe, and this is not very common to have access to while on a cruise.

Planning a few days before and after your cruise in your departure city can give you the best of both worlds. Being on land for a few days prior to the cruise will allow you to see more of your departure city, experience European nightlife, and explore the Mediterranean without worrying about making it back to the ship on time.

Then, after a few days on land, you can board the cruise to experience multiple destinations and countries in one week without the hassle of traveling to and from different cities and countries on your own.

What to do in Mediterranean cruise ports

After you book a cruise to the Mediterranean, it’s time to plan your days in port. While it’s not necessary to plan everything in advance, it’s helpful to have an idea of what is offered at each port in your itinerary.

Many cruisers visiting Florence plan to visit the Duomo or Statue of David. Those visiting Nice may take a stroll along the waterfront Promenade des Anglais. Likewise, Vatican City and the Colosseum are extremely popular places to visit in Rome. 

Deciding what to do in port comes down to your interests. For some cruisers, a day in Barcelona visiting museums and historical monuments is ideal. Others may prefer to spend the day drinking sangria on the beach or walking around the city center.

Therefore, don’t feel pressured to book an excursion only because it is the “must do'' activity in a certain place. If you would rather explore a city on your own as opposed to standing in line for historical monuments or churches, you will still have an amazing cruise experience.

In fact, part of the fun on a Mediterranean cruise is simply wandering around the destinations you visit. It can be easy to plan an entire day from start to finish, but sometimes it is even better to arrive without a plan and see where the day takes you.

I would recommend knowing ahead of time whether or not you want to make the journey into cities far away from port (such as visiting Rome from Civitavecchia). As some destinations require 1-2 hours of traveling each way to reach the city from port, having a plan of how you will get to and from port is helpful.

Languages on a Mediterranean cruise

From French to Spanish, Catalan, and Italian, you can expect to hear a diverse range of languages on a Western Mediterranean cruise. And while English is widely spoken in Europe, you shouldn’t always expect everyone to speak it.

You likely won’t have trouble getting by with English in tourist areas and city centers of popular European destinations such as Florence and Marseille. If you’re traveling to the countryside or to lesser visited destinations in the Mediterranean, though, English may be less widely spoken.

Learning the basics of the language spoken in the countries you will visit on a Mediterranean cruise can make your experience smoother. Luckily, most languages spoken in the Western Mediterranean share many similarities with each other and are relatively easy to pick up as an English speaker.

Here are some key phrases I recommend learning in your destination’s language:

Mediterranean cuisine

One of the most attractive parts of booking a cruise vacation is the fact that food is included in your cruise fare. It’s possible to spend an entire week (or longer!) on a cruise ship and solely eat at complimentary restaurants, making your vacation food budget effectively $0.

However, eating exclusively on the cruise ship is one of the worst things you can do on a Mediterranean cruise!

Mediterranean cuisine is one of the most beloved in the world. Whether wood-fired pizzas in Naples, baguettes and croissants in Nice, paella in Barcelona, or gelato in Rome, trying new foods is a key aspect of traveling through the Mediterranean.

Allocate some of your budget toward trying food while in port. From a morning espresso and pastry at a local cafe to a sit-down lunch in the city center, trying local cuisine will definitely be a highlight of a Mediterranean cruise.

While some may feel taking the time to sit down for a long lunch while at port is wasting time, it’s actually one of the best ways to experience a destination’s culture. In addition, it forces you to relax in the middle of the day while at port which can be well appreciated during long, hot summer days.

Here are a few key food tips for a Mediterranean cruise:

  • Always walk several blocks in either direction away from the tourist areas before selecting a restaurant. Food in tourist areas is often lower quality, inauthentic, and overpriced
  • Restaurants with small menus are typically always better than those with many pages of menu items offering several different types of cuisines
  • Restaurants with menus solely in the local language are usually a good bet for authentic cuisine

What to bring on a Mediterranean cruise

Packing for a Mediterranean cruise shares some similarities with a Caribbean cruise, but has a few more considerations.

When I travel to Europe, I tend to pack clothes that are comfortable yet fashionable. While I may wear a wrinkly t-shirt and gym shorts off the ship at Perfect Day at CocoCay, I prefer dressing nicer while visiting European cities. Nice jeans, sundresses, jumpsuits, and blouses tend to fit in more with the style found in Europe compared to the casual outfits of a Caribbean cruise.

Packing comfortable walking shoes is a must while in Europe, as you’ll likely find yourself walking a lot more than on a Caribbean cruise. It’s not uncommon for guests to walk several miles a day while exploring a Mediterranean city, and the last thing you want to bring back to the ship are painful blisters.

Some churches in Europe will have their own dress codes, as well, so this is important to know for guests planning to visit places like the Sagrada Familia and Sistine Chapel. Generally, major churches in the Mediterranean require arms, shoulders, and legs to be covered. If you don’t want to be covered the entire day, pack a change of clothes in your day bag for after the church visit.

I also recommend avoiding certain clothing items that will make you stick out as a tourist, including apparel with American sports team logos, any type of patriotic or political attire, and camo patterns.

Make sure to pack euros with you or visit an ATM while in port. Unlike in the Caribbean or Mexican ports where you can usually get by with USD, this is not accepted in Europe.

When I travel to Europe I make sure to bring a debit or credit card with no international fees. That way I can take out money at ATMs without worrying about incurring high fees.

As always, be sure to alert your bank of your upcoming travels to avoid any pauses or alerts on your account due to withdrawals made in Europe.

Will my phone work on a Mediterranean cruise?

Unless you have a phone plan that includes international data, your phone’s data will not work in Europe. And while having phone service isn’t entirely necessary, I would recommend at least one person in your travel group has international data on their phone for the duration of the cruise.

International data offerings differ based on which phone provider you use. Some providers may have a daily fee for international service whereas others can charge by the amount of data used.

In addition, some phone plans may already come with international data in the Mediterranean, so be sure to check with your phone provider about whether or not you can access data abroad free of charge.

If you don’t have international data, you can access the internet via wifi while in port. Wifi should be relatively easy to encounter, especially closer to the city center. Many restaurants and cafes will have free wifi available to customers.

Like on all cruises, make sure to put your phone back on airplane mode once onboard the ship to avoid roaming charges.