World's largest cruise ship will have a family dog that lives on the ship

In:
08 Jan 2024
By: 
Elizabeth Wright

As if Icon of the Seas wasn't already full of firsts, it appears that there will be a dog living onboard the world's largest cruise ship. 

icon-rover-dog-mascot-1

Based on social media posts from crew members, it seems that Rover boarded the ship when docked in Ponce, Puerto Rico before it began its final leg of the journey to Miami, Florida. 

"We are absolutely thrilled to introduce our newest team member, Rover, who has joined us as a permanent resident aboard [the] magnificent Icon of the Seas," read a post by @godwin_fernandes2000

"Meet Rover... the resident Mascot of the Icon," said @roseveltrodrigues on Instagram.

icon-rover

While in Ponce, Icon underwent some final regulatory inspections and received finishing touches to prepare for guests in late January. This is also where the loading and off-loading of equipment occurred. 

Some yard workers disembarked in Ponce to return home, with new crew members and the brand-new resident Rover arriving onboard. 

Read more: Icon of the Seas is ready: Here’s the timeline for Royal Caribbean’s new cruise ship debut

Guests won't find a classic car in the Royal Promenade

dog-statue-icon

In lieu of the classic car in the Royal Promenade, there's a statue of a dog.

Ever since Voyager of the Seas launched and debuted the first-ever Royal Promenade, there's been a different classic car featured in each ship. 

Njal Eide, the lead architect for the Royal Promenade, had included a model of a Morgan Sportster in his model of the Royal Promenade. Richard Fain, then-chairman and former CEO of Royal Caribbean, ended up donating his own Morgan car that he received for his 40th birthday. 

Royal Promenade on Adventure of the Seas

These cars are a popular photo-op for pictures throughout the cruise, especially on formal night! 

The Royal Promenade is the main thoroughfare of the ship where you'll find bars, shops, and more. There are parties and parades hosted here, too. 

Read more: Why are there classic cars on Royal Caribbean's Royal Promenade?

Icon of the Seas' Royal Promenade will leap forward with new innovations

icon-promenade-3

In addition to the first-ever dog statue in the Royal Promenade, Icon of the Seas' Promenade will be home to other firsts for the cruise line, including the Pearl, expansive windows, and more. 

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar will be located on Deck 6, marking the first time that Royal Caribbean will feature a specialty restaurant in the initial design of the Royal Promenade. 

Thanks to renovations, it's not uncommon to find specialty restaurants in the Royal Promenade on older vessels. Playmaker's, for instance, can be found in the Promenade on Navigator of the Seas, whereas Adventure of the Seas has Izumi in the heart of all the action. 

icon-promenade-pearl

Icon of the Seas will also be the first ship in the fleet to receive the Dueling Pianos bar on Deck 6. This is where two performers will take requests and involve guests in the musical fun during two 90-minute shows each night. 

Nearly all the venues in the Royal Promenade, including Dueling Pianos, will be fully open, allowing passengers to hear all the excitement wherever they are. 

Note that Icon of the Seas doesn't have any Promenade view staterooms. With over 10 new categories of cabins, that doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice, though! 

Read more: First look at The Pearl on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas

Nearing Icon of the Seas' maiden voyage to the Eastern Caribbean

Icon of the Seas sailing away

We are less than twenty days away from Icon of the Seas' inaugural cruise. On January 27, she'll leave Miami, Florida with a ship full of guests eager to be on Icon's first weeklong cruise sailing to Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts & Nevis.

Before then, however, she'll have two shakedown sailings that will take place on January 20 and 23, each of which will only be 3-nights. 

These are essentially dress rehearsals that will allow the crew to test and adjust their procedures before welcoming paying guests. 

Thrill park concept

On January 10, Icon of the Seas will arrive in Miami and be greeted by the ICON arrival party at the Port of Miami. She was originally supposed to arrive on Tuesday; however, unfavorable weather conditions resulted in her delay. 

Read more: 11 reasons Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas will change the cruise industry

Why you need to cruise the Mediterranean in winter with Royal Caribbean

In:
08 Jan 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

I cruised on Enchantment of the Seas this November for my first Mediterranean voyage. 

Mediterranean cruises are not uncommon, but taking them in early Winter is not nearly as popular.

The 7-night sailing traveled from Athens, Greece, to Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Palma de Mallorca, and Barcelona, Spain. 

Despite the colder weather and occasional wind, this winter cruise was a perfect opportunity to explore the Mediterranean for the first time.

Winter is the off-season for Mediterranean cruises and tourist spots. The Mediterranean slows down as crowds flock to the Caribbean during the cold winter months. 

It’s the best time to take advantage of the cruise deals and calmer crowds in tourist areas.

Here are several reasons why you should consider sailing the Mediterranean in winter with Royal Caribbean. 

Read more: What is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

Avoid crowds 

Royal Caribbean’s European cruise season runs from April to October. The busiest and most popular cruises fall between July and August.

For a less crowded cruise, we recommend sailing during the off-season, such as in winter.

While Caribbean cruises will be crowded with passengers during the popular winter season, the Mediterranean has a peaceful off-season.

This is also a great way to enjoy a smaller ship—just like I did. Smaller ships will have an even smaller occupancy and are unlikely to be completely full in the off-season.

I noticed the benefit I gained from fewer crowds in nearly every aspect of the cruise.

For example, I bought my shore excursions only a week before the cruise, but hardly any had sold out!

When I got in line to take tender ships to ports, the process was speedy and required very little preparation beforehand.

When we embarked on our tours, they were unhurried and calm, with few crowds.

I could almost always find seating in the Windjammer and pool deck, famously difficult places to stake out a spot.  

During the wintery off-season, you can enjoy a peaceful, unhurried cruise.

Milder weather

If escaping extreme weather is a goal for your cruise vacations, don’t fear!

In general, the weather in the Mediterranean is mild, with only two distinct seasons: summer and winter. 

Cruising during winter is a great way to avoid the scorching summer heat. 

Since most European exploration requires a lot of walking, avoiding the hot weather is a great benefit for those of us who hate getting tired and sweaty.

While the weather cools down in the Mediterranean winter, it still isn’t as cold as other places with four distinct seasons. 

In early November, when I visited, it remained in the 60s and cloudly, with a few days of sunshine. 

The only unpleasant aspect of the wintery weather was some frequent wind, which made it hard to stay on the pool deck. However, this was also due to the speed of the ship’s movement on sea days.

It wasn’t too chilly while I was exploring tourist sites, and I appreciated that we weren’t getting hot and sweaty.  

Read more: ​​I’ve been on 3 European cruises, and I see people making the same 12 mistakes: here’s how to avoid them

Onboard comfort

Not only was the weather milder than other wintery places, the cruise ship was also a comfortable place to stay.

Royal Caribbean ships are equipped to handle many weather conditions. Being on a cruise ship provides a lot of protection from the elements because you don’t have to go far for anything you need.

If you stayed on land, you might have to walk from the hotel to the restaurant in the rain. 

But on a cruise ship, you can simply take an elevator up a few floors and be served a gourmet meal. Then, you can take the elevator up a few more floors for dance parties, bars, pools, and more! Everything is right at your fingertips.

Even on days when the pool deck was cloudy and windy, I could hop into the hot tub and warm up immediately.

If you are wanting to travel in the winter but need to branch out from the warm Caribbean, consider Mediterranean cruises! 

Take advantage of deals

I actually found my Enchantment of the Seas cruise in a list of Royal Caribbean last-minute deals

My cruise was the last Mediterranean cruise Enchantment offered before her re-positioning to Tampa, Florida. 

Booking immediately before or after a ship’s repositioning is a great way to take advantage of cruise deals.

Many ships transition from Europe to the Caribbean in winter, so try booking your Europe cruise right before they set sail!

This is the best way to get deals and smaller crowds on a cruise, but you can also find deals on land.

Since it’s the off-season, accommodations, and excursions also offer deals for tourists

Read more: What to wear on a Mediterranean cruise

Authentic cultural immersion

One limitation of cruising is the quick, touristy stops at ports of call. When you only visit a port for one day, you only have time to visit the most popular tourist spots.

Sometimes, stopping at a cruise port feels like a disingenuous experience crowded with other tourists and overworked locals.

In an off-season trip, however, the tourist influence fades away, and local life quiets down.

I definitely sensed this difference on my winter cruise. 

Mediterranean destinations have such a rich, ancient cultural heritage and history. An off-season visit allowed me to get a more intimate immersion into this culture. 

I got the impression that I was visiting thriving, independent communities rather than seeing a false front for tourists.  

This could have the added disadvantage of locals trying even harder to get you to spend your money in an area, but that wasn’t my experience at this time.

I felt that shop owners and servers had a bit more time to care for each customer’s needs instead of feeling hurried. They also gave me a wide berth, so I wasn’t faced with the usual pushy hawkers. 

I also recognize that this change could be something unique about visiting Europe itself—rather than popular cruising destinations such as the Caribbean. 

Either way, it’s a great reason to visit the Mediterranean during an off-season and experience more authentic international travel.

Royal Caribbean News Round-Up January 7, 2024

In:
07 Jan 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Welcome to this week's round-up of all the Royal Caribbean news and happenings.  Hope you are staying warm and are ready to cozy up to the cruise happenings this week.

2024 just started, and this might be the year we get an official confirmation of a new smaller cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on social media that something could be announced this year.

The cruise line has tip-toed around talking about a new ship class, but this is the firmest acknowledgement yet of a rumored new ship class.

Royal Caribbean News

Video: 5 big changes coming to Royal Caribbean in 2024

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 — 5 big changes coming to Royal Caribbean in 2024 — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Icon of the Seas is coming to Miami this week. Here's when and where you can see it

icon-sea-trials-round-2-2

After much anticipation, Icon of the Seas is finally ready to take guests onboard.

Before that can happen, Icon needs a do a few things first. She will sail to Miami, where Royal Caribbean will host an arrival party on January 10th. Then, she will embark on shakedown and media cruises, which double as a dress rehearsal for staff and a chance for media and travel agents to preview the ship.

On January 27th, she will embark on her 7-night inaugural cruise, sailing from Miami, Florida to Perfect Day at Coco Cay, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts & Nevis. 

8 ways I saved over $2,000 on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise

Although cruising is one of the most affordable forms of travel, you still want to save all the money you can on your next cruise. And the more you put away, the more money you can put towards making another cruise great!

These hacks allowed her to save thousands of dollars on her recent Brilliance of the Seas cruise—a 10-night sailing to the South Pacific from Sydney, Australia.

From the cabin she booked to private shore excursions, here’s how she saved over $2,000 on her cruise.

5 best reasons to stay onboard the ship while in Perfect Day at CocoCay

Are you finding the frequent stops redundant? There are many reasons why the Perfect Day at CocoCay doesn’t have to be on the private island.

For example, if you enjoy the pool during quiet moments, and don't want to fight with chair hogs to grab a seat, you should consider staying onboard the ship.

If you also want to save money on spa treatments and more, consider staying onboard the ship.

24 Do's and Don'ts for your 2024 cruise

docked-cococay

While you make your New Year’s Resolutions and plan for your next vacation, we have all the essential Royal Caribbean news to guide your way forward.

Whether you’re considering a cruise for the first time or are a devout Royal Caribbean cruiser, there are important do’s and don’ts to remember for your next cruise.

To prepare you for your best year of cruising yet, we’ve formulated a list of essential do’s and don’ts for your Royal Caribbean cruise in 2024.

Icon of the Seas is coming to Miami this week. Here's when and where you can see it

In:
07 Jan 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship will arrive to her homeport this week, and there's going to be a giant celebration.

Icon of the Seas is coming to Miami

Icon of the Seas is on her way to Miami, which will be her homeport and where she will sail out of when cruises begin.

The new cruise ship is a big deal to Royal Caribbean, and they want a party to celebrate her arrival.

Read more: Everything you need to know about Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on social media an invitation to an early morning welcome party in Miami to celebrate Icon's arrival.

Icon of the Seas leaving Ponce

Icon of the Seas departed Ponce, Puerto Rico a few days ago, and will arrive in Miami on Wednesday, January 10. 

The ship is scheduled to arrive around 7am eastern into the PortMiami area on Wednesday. The cruise line had originally planned to bring Icon in on Tuesday, but the forecast was not favorable, and pushed back her sail-in to Wednesday.

Mr. Bayley wants cruise fans that can be in the area to join in the festivities, "Come and join us!" he wrote on his Facebook post.

Perez Art Museum Miami

Anyone interested in attending should go to Perez Art Museum Miami for the ship's arrival.

If you go, you won't be alone. Mr. Bayley said many Royal Caribbean employees and cruise fans will be there to celebrate.

"Look for us waving from ICON as we arrive into Miami," he wrote as he implored fans to join in.

"Let’s wake up the whole city with our excitement for the Icon of Vacations’ arrival home." 

He also said there's going to be games, breakfast bites, live music and giveaways every 15 minutes.

But first, a crew member party

Hideaway Beach construction

Before Icon heads to Miami, she will make a stop at the cruise line's private island and give the hard working crew members onboard an opportunity to rest and party before more the inaugural work starts.

Mr. Bayley posted a photo of the nearly complete new adults-only beach expansion, Hideaway Beach.

Hideaway Beach construction

Hideaway Beach is an extra-cost area that will be only for guests visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay that are 18-years-old or older. 

Read more: Perfect Day at CocoCay tips, secrets, and tricks

It's located on the western side of the private island, and will feature an infinity pool, cove pool, DJ, private cabanas, and a few included restaurants.

Hideaway Beach Club render

The cost to visit Hideaway Beach depends on your sailing, but the price has been around $30-$50 per person on many sailings.

The new beach won't open to the public until Icon of the Seas' first official visit with paying passengers early next month, but it will be ready for crew members on Monday.

Hideaway Beach Club render

"Our amazing Icon crew will be the first to experience the biggest and best private island party at the new Hideaway Beach," Mr. Bayley posted on Facebook. 

"This break is so well-deserved as they've been working hard to put the finishing details on Icon, making sure the ship is just right for our first guests."

"I am so grateful for this startup crew and the years of expertise and passion they bring to the World’s Best Family Vacation."

After the party on Monday, the crew members have a day off while at sea for, "crew recovery".  There's also high winds and rain expected in Miami on Tuesday, so the cruise line will wait an extra day for Icon's arrival to avoid the front moving through South Florida on Tuesday.

Prepping for cruises to begin

Crown's Edge on Icon of the Seas

Once Icon is in Miami, Royal Caribbean has plans to ready the ship for the first official sailing.

Icon of the Seas will remain in Miami for a couple of days, before a series of employee shakedown cruises.

Shakedown cruises are cruises with employees who act as guests to give the crew members onboard an opportunity to test and adjust their procedures. Think of it like a dress rehearsal.

The final shakedown cruises will occur on January 20 and January 23 when Royal Caribbean hosts members of the media and travel agents onboard for two 3-night cruises. The latter sailing will include the naming ceremony with the ship's Godfather, Lionel Messi.

Icon then takes one final break on January 26 before paying passengers will be able to board the ship for it's official maiden voyage on January 27.

The maiden voyage will be a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise that visits Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts & Nevis.

5 mistakes I saw people making on my cruise last week

In:
06 Jan 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

I spent 5-nights on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas and noticed some common cruise mistakes being committed that could have been easily avoided.

Mariner of the Seas docked at CocoCay

There are many mistakes to avoid on any cruise, and you don't have to be a cruise ship expert to know about them all.

Avoiding these mistakes will save you time, money, or sanity. No matter how big or small the savings, it all adds up.

After a day or two, I picked up on the mistakes I saw my fellow cruisers making, and I started to compile a list in my head. There may have been others, but these were the ones I observed.

Take this as a good reminder not to do any of these yourself when you set sail.

Not buying add-ons before the cruise

Freedom-Cruise-Planner

If you want to save a lot of money, be sure to pre-buy all the extras for your cruise in the weeks and months leading up to your sailing. 

There were staggering price differences if you bought it onboard versus before the cruise began.

Drink package price onboard

I saw on embarkation day the advertised rate for Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink package was priced at $100 per person, per day. 

Had it been purchased before the cruise began, it was around $69.99 per person, per day.  I think the higher price had it around $74.99 per day.

Floating cabanas

The floating cabanas at the Coco Beach Club had a big price drop before the cruise began to about $1800 for a rental for up to 8 guests. But onboard the ship, they were charging $4,000.

Royal Caribbean offers pre-cruise discounts on most of its popular cruise add-ons. You can always cancel and rebook it if there's a price drop.

Don't wait to book these onboard the ship, because you'll only pay more for it.

Not applying sunscreen

I'm not sure if it was because January isn't a very hot month in the Caribbean, but I saw so many people walking back onto the ship after a fun day in Cozumel, Mexico completely sunburned.

Forgetting to apply sunscreen or re-apply it is one of the quickest ways to a miserable day or two as your body heals.

cococay slide

During our visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay, we had clouds for some of the day, but the sun came out later. I think the clouds may have given some people the false sense of security that they couldn't get sunburned.

It's true that clouds do block some UV light. But more than 90% of the sun's UV radiation can still pass through clouds on lightly overcast days.

When you're at the beach, pool, or walking around outdoors in the Caribbean, you need to get into the habit of remembering to apply sunscreen every couple of hours. It's annoying to have to stop what you're doing to do it, but the discomfort from a bad sunburn is worth taking a couple of minutes to do it.

Being rude to crew members

Windjammer table

This mistake infuriates me for the sheer lack of respect, but some passengers seem to think the rules don't apply to them.

While in the Windjammer a guest was stopped by a crew member because he had come from the pool deck and was not wearing shoes.

The crew member told him he had to wear shoes in order to go into the restaurant. He responded that no one had told him that the other day when he did the same thing, and then proceeded to walk past the crew member and ignoring their instruction.

There are rules in place for a reason, but more importantly, you don't get to pick and choose when you want to adhere to instructions given to you by crew members.

The crew members work hard to ensure everyone has a great (and safe) cruise. Always be respectful to them.

Forgetting their SeaPass card on disembarkation day

Mariner of the Seas in terminal 5

As I was walking off Mariner of the Seas, I witnessed two different cruise mistakes within about 10 minutes.

The first was the family that held up the entire disembarkation process because they didn't bring their SeaPass cards with them to leave the ship.

Seapass card

When it's your time to disembark the ship, you'll need your SeaPass card to leave. It's how Royal Caribbean knows you've left the ship.

If you don't have it, then the ship's security team needs to look you up manually and that slows down everyone.

Be sure to also have your travel documents for later when you go through customs.

Disembarking before luggage number called

Luggage in the terminal waiting to be picked up

Royal Caribbean assigns each passenger a luggage tag number so that if you left your luggage on the ship to be delivered to the cruise terminal on the final morning, it's there waiting for you.

However, every cruise there's a handful of passengers I see standing around the luggage area waiting for their bags, because they disembarked too early.

For these people, they'll have to wait for all the bags in their number to be delivered and called for them to be able to grab their bags.

You're much better off waiting onboard the ship for your number to called so you can avoid standing around the terminal for no reason later.

More cruise tips & tricks:

Royal Caribbean CEO: New smaller cruise ship could be announced in 2024

In:
05 Jan 2024
By: 
Allie Hubers

There’s a new update on the rumored smaller new Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

A new class of smaller Royal Caribbean cruise ships could be announced within the next year, according to a recent comment made by the cruise line’s President and CEO Michael Bayley.

Although Royal Caribbean is known for building the biggest cruise ships in the world, many loyal cruisers have been wondering about the possibility of a new ship class that could feature smaller vessels. Rumors have been circulating for years that Royal Caribbean might have plans to build a new cruise ship, although this has never been directly confirmed.

On Facebook, Royal Caribbean CEO and President Michael Bayley responded to one cruiser’s inquiry about the possibility of building new smaller cruise ships. In an exchange on Facebook, Bayley suggests the company is currently working on a new ship class with smaller vessels that could be announced this year - but details still need to be finalized.

Vision of the Seas sailing away

In a comment to Bayley on Facebook, Thomas Budzyn writes, “Mr Bayley, you said years ago that Royal Caribbean was going to come out with smaller ships to get to smaller ports that people want, but the ships get larger and larger - and it’s repetitive for CocoCay. It’s time to listen to guests who have stayed loyal for over 30 years. People want different ports”

In response, Bayley commented, “The Royal team is working on a new class and I hope if all the needed hurdles are tackled, we can announce something this year. It is a journey. Don’t forget, Serenade just sailed on the Ultimate World [Cruise] with 274 days of global adventures! Lots of new ports.”

The comment from Bayley comes just a few weeks before Royal Caribbean launches the brand-new Icon of the Seas, which is the biggest cruise ship in the world. The massive cruise ship can hold upwards of 10,000 people onboard, including crew members. Later in the year, Utopia of the Seas will launch as the newest Oasis-class ship and will be followed by Star of the Seas in 2025, which is the next Icon-class ship.

As Royal Caribbean continues to build bigger ships than ever before, the comment from Bayley alludes to the cruise line making plans to build a new ship class that would feature smaller cruise ships.

While mega cruise ships are becoming the norm, these larger cruise ships are limited when it comes to visiting certain ports. Some ports simply cannot accommodate larger ships due to size restrictions. Therefore, the idea of a new and smaller cruise ship from Royal Caribbean is exciting, to say the least.

This isn’t the first time that Bayley has alluded to a new smaller ship class coming.

michael-bayley-presidents-cruise-1

Photo credit to Jon Evans

While rumors have been circulating about a new ship class for a while, CEO and President Michael Bayley commented on the same topic over the summer. In July 2023, Bayley was sailing onboard Allure of the Seas for the President’s Cruise when he was asked about the possibility of a smaller Royal Caribbean ship being built. 

The audience member asked, “We are excited about Icon, but we were wondering the other ports where you can't have these large ships at, are you going to make other smaller ships?"

In response to the question, Bayley said, “It is something that's certainly deeply in our consideration and our planning at the moment that we have a lot of conceptual work going on. I think when we're ready we can we can announce steps that will take to to do just that.”

During the President’s cruise, Bayley shared how Royal Caribbean is a brand that focuses on innovation and growth. With this in mind, the cruise line is constantly looking at ways to expand their fleet and build revolutionary cruise ships. Bayley shared how the cruise line is essentially always in a state of growth with new ideas constantly being considered.

However, Bayley was clear that nothing was set in stone and he could not confirm the new ship class.  He clarified, "It's very much in the forefront of our minds. We understand that we need to think and act on this. But we're in no position to make any statements or comments about it for obvious reasons.”

At the time, Royal Caribbean’s official order sheet showed the cruise line ordered Utopia of the Seas and three Icon-class ships. Of these three, we know this includes Icon of the Seas and the recently-announced Star of the Seas, which will debut in 2025. The third vessel name has yet to be released for the Icon-class.

In the same conversation, Bayley acknowledged that most of Royal Caribbean’s smallest ships are starting to show their age.

Enchantment and Brilliance of the Seas in Cozumel

Bayley said, ”We recognize that we have classes of ships now that are, you know, getting a little up there in the years," likely referring to the Vision class ships that are more than 20+ years old. Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship class is the Vision-class, which debuted in 1995. Grandeur of the Seas is the oldest vessel still sailing for Royal Caribbean. The ship is 27 years old and holds around 2,400 passengers.

The next smallest ship class for the cruise line is the Radiance-class, which is where you can usually find Royal Caribbean’s more interesting itineraries that feature smaller ports. These ships are around 90,000 gross tons while Vision-class ships are smaller at 70,000 gross tons.

In this way, Bayley’s most recent comment references Serenade of the Seas visiting new ports for the cruise line this year. Serenade of the Seas is a Radiance class ship currently sailing on the company’s first world cruise.

Serenade of the Seas in Amsterdam

While the voyage is visiting plenty of new and exciting ports across Europe, South America and Asia, the cruise is not necessarily accessible to the everyday cruiser. Even with individual segments available to book, each itinerary is only offered with one available date. The cost to embark on Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise for the entire 274-day cruise was anywhere from $60,000 to more than $100,000 per person. 

Although the biggest ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet receive most of the hype and attention, smaller vessels still play an important role. Some cruisers prioritize sailing on more interesting itineraries to unique ports - and prefer smaller ships for this very reason. 

For instance, Royal Caribbean's upcoming deployment schedule shows fewer ships sailing to Europe in 2025 with more itineraries sailing to the cruise line's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay. Instead, the cruise line announced that it would be sending bigger vessels to sail around Europe to maintain passenger capacity in the region. 

As mentioned earlier, larger vessels are restricted with their itineraries due to size issues with smaller ports. Because of this, there are fewer itineraries available to book in Europe for Royal Caribbean cruisers. Having a smaller, newer vessel would allow Royal Caribbean to offer cruises to more unique destinations.

While Bayley alludes to there being a real possibility of a new ship class coming for Royal Caribbean, rumors have been swirling for years.

Rumors about a new ship class have been floating around for years. Many Royal Caribbean passengers have heard rumors from crew members that Royal Caribbean was allegedly planning a new ship class with smaller vessels. The rumored name of the proposed class was called Project Discovery with a new class potentially being named the Discovery Class.

As recently as May 2023, Radiance of the Seas’ Captain made a comment that the cruise line was planning to build a new cruise ship called Discovery of the Seas that would be similar in size to Radiance-class vessels.

Although Royal Caribbean has never directly confirmed this rumor, it appears that the cruise line is certainly considering a new ship class with smaller vessels. With Bayley’s recent Facebook comments, Royal Caribbean fans can look forward to a potential announcement about a new, smaller Royal Caribbean ship in 2024.

Photos show Royal Caribbean's oldest and newest cabins - see how they compare

In:
05 Jan 2024
By: 
Allie Hubers

Royal Caribbean has come a long way with not only the design of its massive cruise ships, but also the accommodations onboard.

With so much hype around the brand-new Icon of the Seas, it’s easy to forget about Royal Caribbean’s forgotten new cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas. I sailed onboard Odyssey of the Seas last year for a 12-night itinerary around the Mediterranean and it was a fantastic cruise. During this sailing, I upgraded to an entry-level suite for just $300 from an inside cabin - an absolute steal!

Not long after, I also sailed on Grandeur of the Seas for a fun weekend getaway to Mexico. As the smallest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, “Lady G” is also the oldest ship for Royal Caribbean at 27 years old. In an effort to save money, we booked the cheapest cabin onboard - an inside cabin.

It was quite the change of scenery to go from sailing on Royal Caribbean’s new cruise ship to boarding the oldest ship in the cruise line’s fleet. There’s something to love about each of these ships, although the two are vastly different.

After sailing in Royal Caribbean’s oldest and newest cabins, it was eye-opening to see the progression of cruise cabin design from the cruise line. I was fascinated to see how the cruise line has improved cabin design over the span of 26 years. I had positive experiences sailing in both of these cabins from Royal Caribbean, even despite the age of Grandeur of the Seas.

Here is how the cabins compared onboard the oldest and newest ships from Royal Caribbean.

Looking at Royal Caribbean’s fleet of cruise ships, we can see vessels that were built across the span of nearly three decades.

Each ship class represents a new chapter of innovation for Royal Caribbean. It’s easy to see just how far the cruise line has come in terms of ship design, technology, and modernization when you compare her oldest ships to the newest vessels.

Some might argue that comparing a suite on a brand-new cruise ship to an inside cabin on a tired, old ship doesn’t make much sense. Although different stateroom types, there were many interesting features, amenities, and upgrades to note between the two cabins.

Odyssey of the Seas debuted as the newest ship from Royal Caribbean in July 2021 after a delayed launch during the pandemic. She did not hold the title for long, as Wonder of the Seas set sail as the newest ship for Royal Caribbean in early 2022.

Pool Deck

Some might call Odyssey of the Seas the forgotten new cruise ship from Royal Caribbean - but there are many reasons to love the Quantum-Ultra class ship. Odyssey of the Seas measures 167,000 gross tons and has a maximum capacity of 5,510 guests. The new ship offers many different types of cabins to book, including high-end suites in the Royal Suite Class to affordable inside cabins.

On the other end of the spectrum is Grandeur of the Seas, which is part of the Vision Class. At a fraction of the size, she measures 73,000 gross tons and holds around 2,446 guests at capacity. Before the pandemic, Royal Caribbean announced plans to retire Grandeur of the Seas; however, these plans were scraped and Grandeur of the Seas is here to stay!

Back in the 1990s, many cruise ships were built with few balconies and suites - and Grandeur of the Seas is no exception.

Of the 997 cabins onboard, Grandeur of the Seas has 122 balconies and 95 suites. The vast majority of cabins available to book are inside and oceanview staterooms, with 400 interior and 380 outside cabins on Grandeur of the Seas.

In comparison, Odyssey of the Seas has 1,000 more staterooms, amounting to 1,922 cabins in total. Of these, 125 are suites and an astonishing 1,482 are balconies. Surprisingly, the new cruise ship has fewer oceanview and interior staterooms than Grandeur of the Seas. Odyssey of the Seas only has 132 oceanview staterooms and 366 inside cabins for accommodations.

As such, many guests are likely to find more reasonable prices for a balcony on a newer Royal Caribbean ship. With more balconies available to book, demand is likely not as high as Grandeur’s coveted 122 balconies. Since we booked our weekend getaway cruise somewhat last minute, I was not surprised to find only interior and overview cabins available on Grandeur.

When sailing on Grandeur of the Seas, the interior cabin was surprisingly spacious, albeit rather outdated.

My expectations for our cheap cabin on Grandeur of the Seas were quite low considering the ship’s old age. However, I found the room to be quite spacious upon arrival - even though it was only 142 square feet. Comparatively, interior cabins on Odyssey of the Seas are larger and measure around 180 square feet.

The cabin featured a comfortable king bed, which we ended up separating into two twin beds, along with a vanity, closet, TV, and bathroom with shower. It was a "no frills" type of cabin with just enough for us to have a comfortable cruise vacation.

However, I appreciated that the communal space had a loveseat for additional seating. Most of the newer interior cabins that I’ve sailed on recently, including Norwegian Viva and Carnival Celebration, do not have anywhere to sit other than the cabin’s beds. I appreciated having this space to sit (or throw my belongings at the end of each day).

Our cabin certainly showed its age with dated decor, including darker accents and oak cabinets. Some of the cabinets looked worn down, which I anticipated given the ship’s age. But, we did not spend much time in our cabin since we were busy enjoying the ship anyway!

Grandeur of the Seas has not received a refurbishment in over ten years, so there could be some upgrades in the cabin.

The last time Grandeur of the Seas was refurbished was in 2012, so the cabins onboard have not received attention in quite some time. I anticipated the cabin would be in worse condition than it was; however, it was looking a little tired. A few modern upgrades would really enhance the stateroom experience on Grandeur of the Seas.

To start, there were only two US outlets in the cabin to share between the two of us, along with two European plugs. I appreciate newer ships that have many outlets and USB ports for charging devices. Of course, this was not a priority back in the 1990s when people traveled with very few electronics.

The worst part of our cabin was the bathroom, as it was a tiny, cramped space. Although the overall design elements of the bathroom had aged better than I expected, the shower was shaped like a trapezoid. 

The clingy shower curtain wrapped around me while using the shower, leaving very little space for maneuvering around. It was unpleasant, to say the least.

On the contrary, our bathroom was beautifully designed in our cabin on Odyssey of the Seas!

When I cruise on older ships, it feels like the cabin’s bathroom design was an afterthought. This was probably in an effort to cram as much as possible into a tiny space, leaving little room for the bathroom. Now, it’s pretty clear that cruise lines are designing bathrooms to be more spacious with larger showers.

For example, I just sailed on Norwegian Viva - the newest ship from Norwegian - and the interior cabin’s bathroom was truly stunning! I couldn’t believe the cruise line spent the time and energy to create such a beautiful bathroom for even the ship’s cheapest cabins.

(Bathroom for inside cabin on the brand-new Norwegian Viva)

Similarly, our bathroom on Odyssey of the Seas was also very stylish and modern, featuring a marble-pattern floor with a large walk-in shower and massive tub. The walk-in shower felt luxurious compared to most cruise ship showers!

The bathroom was particularly well designed with the toilet having its own separate space and entrance across the hallway. The toilet room also featured its own vanity and sink. Since the shower space also had its own sink, this meant my sister and I could get ready at the same time without fighting over the mirror. I loved the split-bathroom design and hope this trend continues with bathroom design.

While I agree that it’s tough to compare a new suite to an old interior cabin, I do think this upgrade emphasizes how Royal Caribbean is paying more attention to its bathroom design for cabins.

Over the years, Royal Caribbean has also placed an apparent emphasis on offering a more exclusive suite experience.

Odyssey of the Seas

It was clear onboard Odyssey of the Seas that Royal Caribbean’s newer cabins have come a long way in 27 years with improved design, amenities, and functionality. I felt spoiled staying in a suite on Odyssey of the Seas, as I normally cruise in the cheapest interior cabins available.

While I had originally booked an interior cabin on this cruise, I was super excited when my $300 bid to upgrade to a junior suite was accepted! This was my first experience staying in a Royal Suite Class stateroom.

(Coastal Kitchen restaurant - exclusive to suites only - on Odyssey of the Seas)

Odyssey of the Seas features Royal Suite Class, which includes Royal Caribbean’s most luxurious accommodations with three tiers of suites. These include lucrative benefits, such as access to an exclusive restaurant and some even include drink packages and concierge service.

In fact, most of the cruise industry has shifted towards offering a more enticing suite experience for guests with secluded areas onboard. The newest cruise ships have a resort-within-a-resort space for guests looking to splurge on a suite experience.

Our entry-level suite on Odyssey of the Seas was equally stylish as it was functional.

Since we would be sailing for 12 nights on Odyssey of the Seas, this junior suite became our home away from home - especially on a port-intensive itinerary. The cabin was very spacious with an extended balcony and large bathroom.

We also had a small living room area with a blue sectional next to the bed. Again, I love having a place to sit in my cabin that does not involve me sitting on my bed, particularly with dirty or sweaty clothes.

I appreciated the modern design elements of our stateroom on Odyssey of the Seas. The woodwork was light with marble countertops. This made the space feel light and airy compared to dark and cramped.

Royal Caribbean has certainly prioritized keeping cabins feeling fresh and modern with its decor choices. I believe the cabins onboard Odyssey of the Seas will age nicely compared to the dated design of older ships.

Our newer cabin on Royal Caribbean had so much storage that we didn’t even use all of the drawers.

In my experience, Royal Caribbean’s newest cabins also have better storage options with more drawers, shelving, and closet space. Our suite obviously had inherently more space at 300 square feet, which is about double the size of our cabin on Grandeur of the Seas. I prefer to unpack my suitcase on every cruise when I first board so my luggage can be put away until it’s time to disembark.

Regardless, we had a lot of luggage for this cruise and still had empty storage spaces after unpacking. Royal Caribbean utilized much of the space to incorporate more areas for unpacking, such as the closet spaces next to the beds in addition to the large closet opposite of the bed as well.

This is another area of improvement that I’ve experienced with newer cruise ships. Since cruise cabins are small to begin with, Royal Caribbean has created storage with nooks and crannies that were once wasted space.

Although a minor improvement, we appreciated having plenty of outlets and USB chargers.

It’s not uncommon to find only one or two outlets in an older cruise ship cabin. In fact, our cabin on Grandeur of the Seas had more outlets than most ships that are comparable in age. When I sailed on the 31-year-old Carnival Ecstasy last year, the entire cabin only had one singular outlet!

Running out of outlets is not necessarily something you will need to worry about on a newer Royal Caribbean ship. With everyone bringing multiple devices that need daily charging, cruise lines have added more space for outlets and USB ports.

I still utilized my European adapter with more plugs because I had so many devices that needed charging; however, having so many outlets to use between the two of us was a necessary improvement.

Our Odyssey of the Seas suite was awesome, but I would also sail again in Grandeur of the Sea’s inside cabin.

The price was right for us to upgrade on Odyssey of the Seas, but that is not usually the case. This is especially true today as cruises are sailing at full capacity and prices are rising. In the future, I would absolutely spend $300 to upgrade to a junior suite again. Sailing in a suite on a brand-new cruise ship was a special treat for this inside-cabin fanatic.

When sailing on Grandeur of the Seas, there were a few apparent areas of improvement. For instance, the bathroom’s attention to detail and progressive design was a huge improvement on Odyssey of the Seas compared to Grandeur of the Seas. I do not doubt that the cruise line will continue allocating more space and investing more time into the bathroom design.

Even still, I would not hesitate to book another interior cabin on Grandeur of the Seas - or any other older Royal Caribbean ship for that matter. Interior cabins are always the most affordable and still provide everything you need for a comfortable stay.

However, I would be more likely to book a port-intensive sailing for an older Royal Caribbean ship in the future. In this case, the cabin is not as important since most of your vacation time is spent ashore.

8 ways I saved over $2,000 on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
04 Jan 2024
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

There are a few proven strategies I always use to save money on a cruise vacation, and my recent cruise was no exception.

Jenna on a cruise ship

After cruising over twenty times on a budget, I’ve learned how to stretch my vacation budget during every aspect of the process, from booking my cruise fare to planning shore excursions.

On my most recent cruise on Brilliance of the Seas—a 10-night sailing to the South Pacific from Sydney, Australia—I saved thousands of dollars by using a few of these travel “hacks”.

Not only was this itinerary the longest cruise I had ever booked, but it was the furthest from home I had ever traveled for a cruise. Wanting to make the most of my trip to Australia, I tried to stretch my budget as far as possible.

Here are the eight ways I saved thousands of dollars on my recent cruise vacation.

*All prices are in US Dollar (USD) unless otherwise noted

I booked an interior cabin

For my ten nights on Brilliance of the Seas, I stayed in an interior cabin. While staying in a windowless, closet-sized cabin is nothing luxurious, it’s definitely a money saver.

While booking my cruise, I compared the price of an interior cabin to the more spacious ocean view and balcony cabins, but higher cruise fares kept me from booking these rooms.

I paid $2,018 total for the cabin, or $1,009 per guest. If I had booked an oceanview or balcony cabin instead, my cruise fare would have increased by hundreds of dollars.

Related: Why you should book a cruise ship inside room

In most cases, I prefer to stretch my vacation budget as far as possible. Saving a few hundred dollars on my cruise fare gave me a bigger budget for other aspects of my vacation, whether the scuba diving trip I booked prior to the cruise or shore excursions in the South Pacific.

Additionally, there is not much scenery (aside from the ocean) when sailing to and from ports in the South Pacific. If I had booked a cruise to New Zealand, on the other hand, I might have decided to splurge on a balcony.

I booked my cruise a year in advance

When it comes to finding the cheapest cruise deals, it’s almost always better to book far in advance rather than at the last minute. Booking your cruise one or two years in the future can save hundreds (or possibly even thousands) of dollars compared to waiting until just a few months before the departure date.

Of course, it’s not always possible to book cruises so far in advance. It might be difficult to plan vacation days, school schedules, and other responsibilities years in the future. Fortunately for me, my biggest responsibility is my dog, so I was able to book my cruise a year in advance without worry.

Related: The best time to book cruises by day, month, and last-minute

Booking my cruise a year before the departure date not only offered a lower price compared to booking months later, but more options for cabins, too. For those looking to book a particular suite, it’s recommended to book your cruise early so the cabin doesn’t sell out.

When I repriced the cruise months after booking, I saw the price of my cabin had increased by around $1,000. I was glad to have booked the cruise as early as I did.

I split private shore excursions with other guests

I rarely book shore excursions when I cruise, typically preferring to explore on my own. Yet when researching the South Pacific islands on my itinerary, I realized a shore excursion might be the best way to explore several of the islands.

Looking to get the most bang for my buck, I decided against booking shore excursions directly through Royal Caribbean. While convenient, these excursions are almost always priced higher than tours booked through independent tour operators.

Instead, I booked shore excursions with other guests on my cruise. A few months prior to my sailing, I joined a Facebook group for my cruise date. Not only was the group a helpful resource when planning my first cruise from Australia, but I found several posts advertising open spots on excursions booked through independent tour companies.

In Noumea, New Caledonia, I snagged a spot on a private catamaran tour to nearby islands, and I joined a group of friends on an excursion in Luganville, Vanuatu.

Booking these tours on my own would have been much more costly—the catamaran would have set me back over $2,000 alone!

I used my Crown & Anchor Society discounts whenever possible

Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society program is among the most generous cruise line loyalty programs in the industry. You only need to cruise once to start reaping the most basic benefits of the program, such as discounts on internet packages and select beverages.

As a Diamond Plus member of the Crown & Anchor Society, the second highest tier, I receive a range of money-saving benefits, from a free bag of laundry to five complimentary drinks per day.

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

Taking advantage of these discounts during my 10-night cruise allowed me to save several hundred dollars, especially considering each cocktail costs around $15.

In total, I saved $25 by using a BOGO deal at a specialty restaurant, $35.99 on a bag of laundry, and over $750 on alcoholic beverages.

I took the train from the airport instead of an Uber

I may have saved hundreds of dollars by booking an interior room over a balcony, but even the smallest purchases can add up to great savings over time.

When I arrived at the airport in Sydney, I decided against taking a taxi or Uber into the city. Instead, I rode the train that goes directly from the airport to downtown for around $12.

Given that an Uber would have cost roughly $25-30, I found the train to be the better choice. As another plus, riding the train meant I didn’t have to wait in traffic while traveling downtown, and my hotel was within a short walk from the station.

I monitored flights to find the best deal

When I initially estimated the cost of my flight to Australia, I gave myself a budget of around $1,600. Given the distance between the United States and Australia, I assumed flights would be fairly expensive, especially since my home airport is quite small.

Because I booked my cruise so far in advance, I had a lot of time to monitor flights and try to find the best price. When I first looked, I saw prices around $1,500 to $1,600. While technically within my budget, I decided to risk it and wait for a better deal.

I checked and monitored flight prices on Google Flights every few weeks hoping for a price drop. A few months before my cruise began, I decided I should book my flight sooner rather than later; when I checked again, I saw that the price had dropped to just $1,273.

While $1,273 is still a hefty amount of money to spend on a flight, I found it extremely reasonable for a flight to Australia. Considering that it often costs me $600+ to fly to Florida from the west coast (yikes!), an extra $600 to fly to Australia felt like a bargain.

I utilized Priceline’s Express Deals for a cheaper hotel stay

One of the travel “hacks” I’ve utilized throughout the past year is to book my pre-cruise hotel stay through Priceline Express Deals.

Priceline Express Deals is a “blind booking” option on Priceline that can lead to significant savings on hotel stays. When searching for hotels with this feature, you cannot see the exact name and location in the search results. You can filter the results somewhat, such as selecting your preferred neighborhood in the city, but brands, hotel names, and locations remain hidden.

While this might seem risky, I found a hack for the program. Using Google Images’ reverse image search, you can take the image from Priceline and upload it to Google’s search engine. In most cases, the image will match an image online from the hotel, allowing you to see the exact hotel name and location.

I “blind” booked the Holiday Inn Express Darling Harbour through Priceline, and this saved me around $50 compared to booking the hotel directly on Holiday Inn’s website.

I avoided expensive add-ons on the ship

Finally, the last way I saved money during my recent cruise was by avoiding expensive purchases once onboard Brilliance of the Seas.

Everything you need is included on a Royal Caribbean cruise, from multiple dining venues to entertainment shows and comfortable cabins. Yet most passengers will spend extra on add-ons during their cruise, whether cocktails, spa treatments, or souvenirs.

During my cruise I tried to avoid spending money on extra add-ons whenever possible. While I would have loved to book a spa appointment, I couldn’t justify spending over $200 for a massage. Instead, I took advantage of a complimentary massage included with a cabana rental I reserved in port.

Related: How to have the best experience for cheap on Royal Caribbean

Likewise, I decided against booking specialty dining packages for the sailing. Because I was sailing on an older ship, specialty restaurant options were limited. None of the restaurants particularly appealed to me, so I dined primarily at complimentary restaurants instead.

Sticking mostly to complimentary venues and avoiding activities like gambling helped me save money while on the ship, and I never felt limited with so many free things to do onboard.

5 best reasons to stay onboard the ship while in Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
04 Jan 2024
By: 
Elizabeth Wright

Perfect Day at CocoCay is a popular port of call on Royal Caribbean cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean. As such, it's not uncommon to find yourself repeatedly visiting the private island if you frequently seek warm-weather itineraries on some of the largest ships at sea. 

When Royal Caribbean completed renovating the island in 2019, it became more than just your average beach day. Now, you can splurge on activities like riding the tallest water slide in North America, an upscale beach club, zip line, overwater cabana, and more. 

While there's no denying it's easy to have a great ashore no matter how many times you've visited, you should not always feel like you have to get off the ship. 

Sometimes, the perfect day at CocoCay isn't actually ON CocoCay. 

Here are the 5 best reasons to stay onboard the ship while in Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

You won't have to deal with chair hogs

If you awaken too late on a sea day, it's likely that when you head up to the pool deck, you'll see a sea (no pun intended) of chairs reserved with towels and personal belongings. 

Chair hogs are individuals who reserve chairs for the entire day, even if they are not planning on staying nearby. 

And while there should technically be pool attendants on the lookout, it's difficult for them to keep a watch on the entire pool deck. 

If you want to enjoy the pool with minimal people around, consider staying onboard when your ship docks at Perfect Day at CocoCay

Rather than rushing off the ship to claim the perfect beach chairs, you can sleep in, have a late breakfast, and enjoy the top deck like it's your own chartered yacht! 

RelatedHow to beat the chair hogs on your cruise ship

The lines for onboard thrills will be shorter

Zip line ride

Simiarly, the lines for onboard attractions can get rather long on sea days.

One of the best ways to ensure that you won't have a long wait for anything that's on your must-do list on days when everyone is onboard is to get to whatever you are hoping to do as soon as it opens. 

If you're someone who wants to ride the water slides more than once or become a Flowrider surf pro, you'll have more opportunities to do so while the ship is docked, as there will be fewer people in line. 

FlowRider

Plus, if you're short on time (i.e., on a 3- or 4-night cruise onboard Utopia of the Seas), you won't have as many chances to experience everything that's onboard. You may find it a more valuable use of time to stay on the ship, rather than spending the day on the beach. 

Additionally, if you are on a Quantum Class ship, you'll be able to ride the North Star for free while docked, whereas sea day rides are not included in the cost of your cruise fare. 

You'll be able to soar high above Perfect Day at CocoCay and look out over neighboring Bahamian islands, including Norwegian Cruise Line's Great Stirrup Cay. 

RelatedTop 30 extra cruise costs that are not included

You might be able to save money on a spa treatment

Massage at the spa

Spa treatments onboard cruise ships are costly. Massages often start around $150 for 50 minutes, while a 75-minute deep tissue couples massage can be upwards of $390. 

If you want to save money while treating yourself to a much-needed day at the spa, head there on embarkation day to see if any deals are being offered. Plus, you can get a tour of the spa to get a glimpse of the treatment facilities. 

Usually, they will have something available on port days to entice people to stay onboard. You can also check the night before your ship is scheduled to arrive in CocoCay, as well as the morning of. 

There won't be as many people at the buffet for lunch

Windjammer table

You won't have to worry about being patient while waiting in line for lunch if you stay on the cruise ship while it's docked at CocoCay.

It's not uncommon to see long lines for various eateries at peak times on sea days. Something as simple as lunch could take longer than anticipated if you show up to the Windjammer around 12:30pm. 

When your Royal Caribbean ship is relatively empty with the majority of passengers ashore, it will be easy to grab a quick bite to eat and return to the more pressing matters, such as ensuring you have an even tan, playing a round of mini-golf, or soaring high above the Boardwalk on the zip line. 

RelatedGuide to Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe buffet

You won't feel the need to spend money on an excursion

Yes, it's true. The price of a Royal Caribbean cruise has increased. If you're planning on sailing onboard one of their newest ships, like Icon of the Seas, you can expect to spend around $1,500 per person for an interior room. 

Since there's so much to do onboard, these ships are a destination in and of themselves. On Icon, for instance, you can spend the day at the Category 6 Water Park or in the brand-new Surfside Neighborhood with activities for the whole family to enjoy. 

If you've visited Perfect Day at CocoCay before, you may not be willing to spend money on an excursion after splurging on one of these mega-ships. Even though the beach is complimentary, there are more active activities that can be found on the ship that you already paid for! 

Related10 genius things cruise ship passengers brought to Royal Caribbean's private island to make it even better

24 Do's and Don'ts for your Royal Caribbean cruise in 2024

In:
03 Jan 2024
By: 
Elizabeth Wright

2024 is poised to be a big year for Royal Caribbean. Not only are they launching two brand-new ships, but they’ll be unveiling a new adult-only experience at Perfect Day at CocoCay called Hideaway Beach! 

docked-cococay

Even if you’re a devout Royal Caribbean cruiser, there are some do’s and don’ts that you should keep in mind when planning your cruise in 2024 to help you maximize your time onboard and minimize any pre-vacation stress. 

As was the case in previous years, you'll want to ensure that you follow timeless cruise tips, such as arriving the night before your ship is scheduled to depart, purchasing travel insurance, and repricing your cruise until final payment. 

Here's our list of the best 24 do's and don'ts for your Royal Caribbean cruise in 2024. 

DO book your Royal Caribbean cruise through a travel agent

Travel agent

Travel agents are valuable resources, and they act as your go-to expert for all things Royal Caribbean. Whether you can't decide between an itinerary, want advice on a stateroom, or have some questions about the complimentary youth programming, you'll benefit from utilizing a travel agent when booking your 2024 Royal Caribbean cruise. 

In addition to their expertise, travel agents have access to the best deals, meaning that not only will they save you time when planning your cruise, but it is likely that they'll save you money, too! 

Even if you're eager to book your next cruise before you disembark your current one, you can still head to the NextCruise desk and then transfer the booking to your travel agent after you get home. 

Read moreTop 5 things to look for in a good travel agent for your cruise vacation

DON'T assume bigger is better

icon-sea-trial-official-2

With Icon of the Seas officially entering service, the "largest cruise ship at sea" will receive a new definition. For over ten years, that title has been held by Oasis Class vessels, all of which are relatively similar. 

Icon will be unlike anything that's ever been done before! With a recording-breaking water park, brand-new neighborhoods, dining experiences, shows, and more, she truly will be the ICON of the seas. 

Bigger, however, is not always better. If you are someone who prefers smaller ships that can visit more unique ports of call, Icon of the Seas might not be the best fit for you.

Ultimate Abyss slide

Similarly, despite Utopia of the Seas' unique features compared to other Oasis Class chips, the ship is only making 3- and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas. If you've already been to Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Utopia of the Seas may not have the ideal itinerary for you. 

Plus, you can often find better deals on older, smaller ships, meaning that you can stretch your vacation budget a little bit further than if you were to splurge on a stateroom on one of the newest ships. 

DO purchase travel insurance

travel insurance

Travel insurance is crucial regardless of whether you're going on a 3-night or 14-night cruise. While nobody wants to think about the worst-case scenario occurring while on vacation, life does, unfortunately, happen. Unexpected events, such as the sudden onset of an illness or injury, can impact your cruise. 

If you're a frequent traveler, it might behoove you to look into an annual policy, rather than purchasing insurance directly through Royal Caribbean for each sailing. 

A good policy will cover things like trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay coverage, baggage delays, emergency medical coverage, onboard medical expenses, and more. 

DON'T try and save money by booking the cheapest stateroom available 

Inside room on Serenade of the Seas

Sometimes, you might come across a deal that you think is too good to be true. If you find yourself questioning that, then it probably is! The cheapest cruise fares tend to be for inside cabins on older ships. While bigger isn't always better, Oasis and Icon Class ships are so popular for a reason! 

There are so many different ways to cruise; there's not a one-size-fits-all methodology. You may be someone who doesn't care too much about the itinerary so long as you're sailing on one of Royal Caribbean's mega-ships. 

If that sounds like you, bypass the cheaper cruises on older ships, like Radiance of the Seas or Vision of the Seas, as the lack of onboard amenities could lead to a disappointing vacation. 

Read moreThings you'll notice when cruising on the newest cruise ship

DO know what's new for Royal Caribbean in 2024

Hideaway Beach Club render

In addition to Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas, Hideaway Beach will finally open at Perfect Day at CocoCay. This new adults-only haven is not included in the cost of your cruise fare; however, it promises upgraded experiences including a private beach and pools, new bars and restaurants, cabanas, live music, and more.

Pricing for Hideaway Beach depends on your exact sailing, but costs seem to range between $43.99 and $79.99 per person, making it cheaper than Coco Beach Club

Hideaway Beach Club render

Additionally, you may not be docked beside another Royal Caribbean ship when visiting CocoCay, as Celebrity is going to begin cruising to Perfect Day at CocoCay in April 2024. 

This, however, won't impact how many guests are ashore, as there are still only berths for two ships per day.

Those cruising to Perfect Day at CocoCay with Celebrity Cruises on Royal Caribbean can purchase Hideaway Beach admission. It is not exclusive it either cruise line, simply the island itself!

DON'T be afraid to status match with sister-line Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Logo

Even if you've been loyal to Royal Caribbean for decades, there's nothing wrong with deciding to switch it up and cruise with Celebrity Cruises. With some of the most modern and innovative ships at sea that are geared more towards adults, you may find it time to "graduate" to the more upscale cruise line. 

Have no fear! You don't have to completely abandon your status and the accompanying perks. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean match statuses with the other sister-line up to Diamond and Elite. If you're a top-tier member (i.e., Pinnacle Club or Zenith), you won't be able to instantly match into the other cruise line's highest loyalty tier.

Elite comes with some pretty lucrative perks, though. From a complimentary nightly happy hour to priority tendering, a free bag of laundry, and discounts on Wi-Fi and drink packages, matching your Diamond or above status with Celebrity can save you hundreds of dollars and make your cruise experience more memorable! 

DO remain flexible

rough-weather-cruise-ship

Nobody wants their dream cruise itinerary to be altered due to a storm or medical emergency; however, these things do happen. 

Sometimes, the weather will cause shows to be canceled. Other times, you might find that your favorite specialty restaurant is fully booked. When planning a cruise, it is important to remain flexible, rather than letting circumstances out of your control ruin your hard-earned trip. 

Rather than sulking because of a missed port, consider splurging on a spa treatment or upgraded excursion in your next port of call. While the trip will be memorable either way, it's important that you try to have as many good memories to negate the other ones!

DON'T be surprised by policy changes

crown-lounge-3

Royal Caribbean implemented various policy charges in 2023, including no longer allowing passengers to order unlimited lobster tails on formal night, limiting Diamond members' access to the Crown lounge on busy sailings with many top-tier members, and increasing the daily gratuity amount. 

Looking back at these changes and those that occurred in 2022, it's likely that additional policies may either be added, changed, or removed altogether in 2024. 

DO select your ideal dining preference

freedom-main-dining-room

When booking your cruise, you'll have to decide whether you want traditional or My Time Dining. If you select the latter, you'll be responsible for making your own dining reservations for each night of the cruise, whereas with traditional dining, you'll simply go to the Main Dining Room at the same time each night and have the same wait staff. 

If you make a selection that you are not happy with, you must contact your travel agent or Royal Caribbean as soon as possible. On embarkation day, you should always plan on stopping by the Main Dining Room to confirm. 

Choosing the wrong dining time or preference can damper your trip. If, for instance, you're used to eating around 6:00pm each day, you likely will not enjoy having dinner around 8:00pm. Likewise, if you choose My Time Dining but forget to make reservations for 7:00pm, you will have to either wait for an available table or dine a little bit later. 

Read moreRoyal Caribbean My Time Dining versus Traditional Dining 

DON'T fly into your cruise port the day your ship is scheduled to depart

Underbelly of airplane

One of the riskiest things you can do when making pre-cruise arrangements is booking your flight for the same day your ship is departing. A single flight delay or cancellation could cause you to miss the ship, and you might not have the opportunity to meet up with it at a later port of call. 

To be safe, you should always ensure that you fly into your cruise port at least the night prior. Even if you think your flight is scheduled to land early enough, you need to consider how long it will take to deplane, collect your luggage, and get to the port. 

While there might be a sigh of relief with an on-time arrival, traffic delays to the port, especially if it's located over an hour or two from the airport, are just as unpredictable. 

Read moreThe costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

DO expect ports to be busier

Party on the pier in Nassau

In mid-2023, Nassau opened the first phase of their port expansion, which increased capacity to 10,000 guests. There are berths for six ships per day, including three Oasis or Icon Class vessels.

By the end of 2024, it's estimated that Nassau will see roughly four million cruise visitors, and throughout the year, construction will continue, as builders work towards finishing the second phase. 

Additionally, while not all Royal Caribbean vessels, over 100 ships are reported to visit the island of the Dominican Republic in December. In fact, the country saw the largest amount of cruise traffic to date on December 19. 

Royal Caribbean ships docked with gangway

According to a Forbes research study, 49% of participants said that they expected to travel more in 2023 than they did in 2022, meaning that you can expect there to be more land-based tourists, too. If that trend continues, 2024 will be even busier! 

DON'T expect your ship to be sailing at half capacity

Sail away crowd

When cruise ships began operating after the pandemic, they were doing so at limited capacity. In the first quarter of 2023, however, Royal Caribbean Group ships sailed at 102.1% capacity

Prior to 2020, it was pretty usual for ships to sail above the 100% occupancy rate, simply meaning that some cabins had more than two people staying in them. In fact, mainstream lines typically sail between 103% and 107%, depending on the time of year and ship.

While you shouldn't expect to board a relatively empty cruise ship, a full sailing should not worry you, as venues are designed to accommodate a lot of guests at once. Plus, activities and other forms of entertainment are strategically offered to keep guests moving about the ship. 

DO understand how automatic gratuities work

Guest service crew members

As of November 2023, the gratuity rate for Royal Caribbean cruises is $18.00 per person, per day for standard cabins (Junior Suites and below) and $20.50 per person, per day for suites.

This means that a family of four in a standard stateroom on a 7-night cruise can expect to pay an extra $504 for the week. 

You have two options when it comes to paying them. First, you can opt to pre-pay them prior to your cruise. This can be done at the time of booking or by calling Royal Caribbean/your travel agent. Second, you can have them added to your onboard account to be settled at the end of the cruise. 

cabin-attendant

Even though you can adjust the amount by visiting Guest Services, this is not recommended, as the total amount is split amongst hard-working crew members, including those who stay behind the scenes and have important jobs.  

Read more11 cruise fees you should know about before booking

DON'T forget to check your travel documentation in advance

Passport

Not every cruise requires all guests to have valid passports. If, for instance, you're sailing on a round-trip cruise from Miami to the Caribbean, you can technically board with a government-issued photo I.D. and proof of citizenship, such as a driver's license and birth certificate or certificate of naturalization.

You will need a passport for specific sailings, though, like those from Vancouver to Whittier or Barcelona to Rome. While you can go off your memory and assume that your passport expires in 2026, it is best to make sure that you, one, know where it is and, two, ensure that it's valid at least six months after the end date of your cruise. 

Let's say that you're going on a cruise in May 2024. If your passport's expiration date is before November 2024, you will want to give yourself enough time to get it renewed. 

DO frequently check the price of your booking before final payment

Ships docked at CocoCay

Everyone wants to save money on vacation. This might allow you to cruise more frequently or splurge on cruise add-ons to enhance your trip. Either way, it feels good to pay less for your base fare. 

For those of you who have not made your final payment yet, you should frequently re-price your cruise. If you notice that the price has dropped, simply contact Royal Caribbean, and they'll honor the lower price. 

Note, however, that this is only for residents of certain countries, such as the United States and Canada. 

radiance-juneau-royal-sailing

If you don't notice a price drop, you can rest assured knowing that you snagged your cruise for the lowest possible price!

Read moreThe biggest cruise hack you're not doing that has saved me thousands of dollars

DON'T forget to purchase cruise add-ons through the Cruise Planner

Freedom-Cruise-Planner

Planning a cruise and all the exciting things you can do both ashore and onboard can be just as fun as setting sail! The best place to begin your planning is no place other than Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner website. 

This is where you'll find Royal Caribbean-sponsored shore excursions, drink and Wi-Fi packages, specialty restaurants, and more. 

Nine times out of ten, you will save money by purchasing all of your cruise add-ons in advance, rather than waiting until you board, as Royal Caribbean has sales in the time leading up to your cruise. 

Plus, by making all of your reservations in advance, you will have the most options when it comes to availability. 

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner site

DO complete online check-in as soon as it opens

45 days before your cruise, you'll be able to complete the first step of Royal Caribbean's check-in process. This is where you'll input your documentation and credit card information, as well as select an arrival time at the terminal.

You should write the date check-in opens on your calendar or create a notification on your phone. This will ensure that you can complete the online portion as soon as possible and snag the best arrival time for your travel party. 

The earliest times tend to go first, so if you have hopes of being one of the first people onboard, make sure you don't wait too long! 

Read moreRoyal Caribbean check-in process

DON'T bring any prohibited items onboard

Marijuana

There's no denying that packing for a cruise is stressful. You want to make sure that you have everything you'll need since you won't be minutes away from a local drugstore. That being said, having an idea of what is and isn't allowed can help. 

There is no point packing things like steamers or irons since they'll be confiscated during the embarkation process. It is better to save space in your luggage for essential items, like bathing suits, cover-ups, and appropriate dinner attire. 

Note that if you bring something illegal onboard, you face being kicked off. TikTok user @infamousxdrew was forced to disembark his cruise onboard Mariner of the Seas while the ship was docked in Falmouth, Jamaica because the ship's crew figured out he had medicinal marijuana with him. 

"...[The crew] saw my medical marijuana...and all the senior security advisors or whatever they're called...have [come] to the conclusion that I must disembark," he said. 

Read more15 things you don't need to bring on a cruise

DO ensure that you complete the muster drill on time

eMuster process

Before you sail away, you must complete the muster drill, even if you have been on many cruises before. Guests who fail to complete the drill will be hunted down by crew members. 

Personally, I like to complete the mobile component while at breakfast on the morning of embarkation or while en route to the terminal. That way, all I have to do onboard is visit my physical muster station, which only takes a few minutes. To do this, however, you'll want to have the mobile app downloaded to your device ahead of time. 

You don’t want to be that one passenger who causes the ship's departure to be delayed because you couldn't spare ten minutes of your day to complete the mandatory safety drill. 

DON'T wait until the last minute to book your airfare

Airfare prices increase as the departure date approaches. If you wait too long, you could find yourself paying hundreds of dollars more for the same flight that was substantially cheaper a few months, or even weeks, prior. 

While sometimes, last-minute airfare is unavoidable — like when you book a cheap last-minute cruise — you should look at prices as soon as you've booked your cruise. If your cruise is over a year in advance, you should start looking at the one-year mark, as that's when the majority of airlines release their flight schedules. 

Plus, if you're hoping to use airline miles to reduce your out-of-pocket cost, airlines typically limit how many reward seats are available on each flight. 

DO expect higher prices 

Cash

Similarly, while you can find last-minute cruise deals, you should expect the overall cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise to be more than what you might've paid in the past. 

When the cruising industry was restarting after the pandemic, there was less of a demand, so prices were pretty low. Now, however, demand is reaching new peaks. 

Despite higher base fares, there are ways to cruise on a budget, including staying in inside cabins, refraining from specialty restaurants, and sailing during the shoulder season. 

Read moreHot demand: Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas has new bookings for world's largest cruise ship

DON'T wait until you're home to resolve any onboard issues

guest-services

If you notice any sort of discrepancy on your onboard account, don't wait until you are home to contact Royal Caribbean. You'll want to visit Guest Services as soon as possible. 

Any other issues should be addressed, too. Crew members are there to ensure that everything onboard is to your liking, and if there is a way that they can improve something, they will certainly try their hardest. 

Keeping problems to yourself and assuming they'll be resolved on their own is a surefire way to ruin your vacation. 

Read moreThe top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise 

DO step out of your comfort zone

Sun rising in Alaska

Royal Caribbean offers sailings all over the world. If you have been to The Bahamas or Caribbean a few times, perhaps you should consider going on your first-ever Alaska or European cruise. You will still get the same Royal Caribbean service that you have come to love, just new ports of call to explore! 

Perhaps stepping out of your comfort zone simply means trying an excursion that you've been thinking about for years, such as zip lining through the lush canopies of Jamaica or taking an ATV tour of St. Maarten. 

It could even mean going to an event that you would otherwise overlook. From pool deck parties to scavenger hunts, production shows, craft workshops, all-access tours, fitness classes, and more, there's so much offered on every sailing; it's impossible to do it all, no matter how hard you try!

Read more7 ways to do things differently on your next cruise

DON'T forget to leave your worries behind as you set sail

Sail away on Oasis of the Seas

No matter what is going on in your personal life when you board the ship, try your best to leave those worries behind. 

Grab a cocktail during sailaway and watch the horizon disappear, then head to dinner and enjoy a delicious three-course meal knowing that you are not responsible for any dishes! 

Plus, you do not have to worry about constantly entertaining your children, so you can truly have a well-deserved break! They will probably have even more fun in Adventure Ocean, anyway! 

24 do's and don'ts for your Royal Caribbean cruise in 2024