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What to do if your Royal Caribbean dining preference is not available

12 Oct 2015
Matt Hochberg

We get a lot of questions on the blog, and a common question is about what to do if the dining choice for dinner that a guest wants is not available.

Sometimes a guest will book a Royal Caribbean cruise, but discover that a particular traditional dinner seating is not available.  Or perhaps My Time Dining is booked up.  Is there any chance to change it?

The answer is, there are two strategies to use when trying to get into the dining option you really wanted.

Add yourself to a waitlist

When a particular dining option gets filled up, Royal Caribbean will allow guests to be added to a waitlist.

These waitlists are virtual queues, where if another guest leaves that dining option for some reason (usually due to cancelling or transferring their cruise reservation), the next guest "in line" can take their spot.

To be added to a waitlist, you need to contact either Royal Caribbean directly or have your travel agent do it on your behalf.

Once you are added to the waitlist, you should see a notation on your reservation in the My Cruises section of Royal Caribbean's web site.

In many cases, the waitlist will eventually come through and you will be automatically added to the dining option of your choice  You will likely not be notified of the change, so you will have to log in periodically to your cruise reservation to see if something has changed.

The fallback: speak to the head waiter

Sometimes, the waitlist option does not work and your next best option is to go speak to the head waiter on embarkation day.

Once you board your Royal Caribbean cruise, go to the main dining room in the afternoon to speak to the head waiter.

There should be a head waiter on duty in the main dining room for a few hours in the afternoon.  

Politely explain your request to the head waiter and ask if there is a way to be moved to the dining option you prefer.

In our experience, this fallback usually gets the job done.  Royal Caribbean wants their guests happy and the head waiters have a good sense of the guest dinner distribution.

More dining room tips

Check out these other helpful posts about dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Hopefully one of these two choices will get you the dining preference you really want!

5 things to know about ice skating on a Royal Caribbean cruise

08 Oct 2015
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is famous for the onboard innovations it offers its guests, including ice skating at sea!

Being in the middle of the Caribbean or Mediterranean does not mean you can't put on a pair of skates and go ice skating like it's December in Minnesota.  

If you want to enjoy ice skating as part of your Royal Caribbean cruise (it's complimentary), here are some important things to know.

Ships offering ice skating

Select Royal Caribbean ships offer ice skating, so be sure you are booked on one of these ships in order to enjoy it

  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Sympohony of the Seas

Long pants are required to skate

Regardless of how good or bad you are at ice skating, all guests must wear long pants to skate.

Be sure to pack accordingly, especially during summer months when you may not be thinking about packing pants.

You also should pack a pair of socks to wear with the skates.

Helmets are provided for you

Royal Caribbean requires all ice skaters to wear a helmet while skating.

This is for your safety because with ice skating, you have to not only worry about what you are doing but what others are doing as well.

Falls happen a lot during the course of an ice skating session, so there is no excuse for not being safe.

Have you ice skated on a Royal Caribbean cruise before? Tell us about it in the comments!

Everything about the Flowrider on Royal Caribbean ships

29 Sep 2015
Matt Hochberg

Perhaps no onboard activity is as synonymous with Royal Caribbean as the surf simulator known as the FlowRider.

When Royal Caribbean started adding FlowRiders to its cruise ships, it generated a lot of buzz and ever since then, the company has been working to add FlowRiders to more and more ships in its fleet.

If you want to give surfing a shot on your next cruise, here is what you need to know about this popular surf simulator.

What is the FlowRider?

Photo by Lawrence Smith

The FlowRider is a simulator that sends water a very high speed across a small area that mimics what it is like to surf on the ocean.

FlowRiders were first created as a business on land and have partnered with Royal Caribbean to offer guests cruising the chance to try it out there.

The FlowRider supports two surfing styles: stand up traditional surfing and boogie boarding.

Which Royal Caribbean ships have a FlowRider?

Royal Caribbean has added FlowRiders to more of its ships recently and here is the list of ships that offer a FlowRider

  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Allure of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Harmony of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Symphony of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas

How much does the FlowRider experience cost?

Photo by Royal Caribbean

A ride on the FlowRider is included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare.

Guests can ride the FlowRider as many times as they like for free. They will simply need to wait in line for a turn.

There is the opportunity to book private lessons for an additional cost.  At last check, private lessons cost $60 per person and lasts about an hour. Each lesson will have six to eight guests.

Private lessons can be booked onboard the ship and is sometimes available via the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner.

What are the restrictions for using the FlowRider?

Guests participating in the FlowRider, for example, must be at least 52"/132 cm tall to use the bodyboard and 58"/147 cm tall to use the flowboard. 

Absolutely no footwear allowed, no goggles and no go-pro cams are allowed.

Important FlowRider tips

  • As the cruise goes on, the lines for the FlowRider can get quite long.  For shorter lines, embarkation day is always simple.  Port days and morning sessions tend to be less crowded.
  • Be sure to wear clothing that will not easily come off.  The force of the water has been known to cause "wardrobe malfunctions".  Women, especially, should consider wearing one piece bathing suits and/or t-shirts and shorts.
  • Guests can surf until they fall off the board, but the staff is pretty good at challenging the talented guests in an effort to improve their skills and increase the likelihood of falling off.
  • Check your Cruise Compass for session times. Often Royal Caribbean will offer special times for teens or adults.
  • The sports staff is there for your safety and your assistance. Ask them for advice, especially if you are new.
  • Tips for successfully surfing:
    • If you are stand up surfing, shift your weight to the back foot and never lift either foot off the board.
    • If you are boogie boarding, keep your elbows in and keep most, if not all of your legs in the water.

3 surprising facts about Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas

25 Sep 2015

Many of our blog readers are big fans of Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.  She has garnered the admiration of many over the years, offering a lot in a small size.

Here are some quick facts about Enchantment of the Seas that you might not have know about!

1. Enchantment of the Seas has been stretched

Enchantment of the Seas is a different sized ship today than she was when she was launched.

As part of a ship-wide revitalization, in 2005 the Vision-class ship was cut in half and then expanded with a new 73-foot section and then put back together.

This "stretching" has given Enchantment of the Seas an unique distinction for being a different size than her other Vision-class sister ships.

2. Her Godmother is Colleen Fain

When Royal Caribbean builds a cruise ship, they will choose a godmother and often that will be celebrity but for Enchantment of the Seas, Royal Caribbean decided to keep the honor in the family. Literally.

The ship's "godmother" is Colleen Fain, the wife of Royal Caribbean Ltd Chairman Richard Fain.

Mrs. Fain's duties as godmother included giving the vessel its name during the Southampton ceremonies when she released a giant 46-liter bottle of Taittinger champagne to break against the ship's bow, officially proclaiming the ship's name to be Enchantment of the Seas and wished safe journeys to all of its passengers and crew.

3. There is a bar over the ocean

Enchantment of the Seas has one pool bar that actually juts out over the ocean.

The Oasis pool bar features a glass floor that gives passengers a view of the ocean below them as they enjoy their drinks.

Talk about a bar with a view!

Sushi on Royal Caribbean: Everything you need to know

04 Sep 2015

One of the most popular foods these days has to be sushi and on a Royal Caribbean cruise, guests can enjoy sushi throughout their cruise.

Sushi is a healthy and incredibly tasty meal that seems to becoming more and more popular.  Here is where you can get sushi on a Royal Caribbean cruise, how much it will cost and everything else important to know.


When Royal Caribbean launched Oasis of the Seas back in 2009, the cruise line added a brand new specialty restaurant dedicated to sushi and Japanese cuisine, Izumi.

Izumi specialty restaurants have spread like wild fire to many other ships in the fleet and each Izumi restaurant offers guests popular sushi rolls, sashimi, hot rock (Ishiyaki) plates, sukiyaki and more.

For sushi lovers, Izumi is the place onboard Royal Caribbean to get sushi because of the quality and variety available.

The following Royal Caribbean ships have Izumi available onboard

Izumi is a specialty restaurant that charges a la carte for items on the menu.  There is no cover charge, and instead you are charged for what you order.

Izumi is open for dinner on every night and lunch on sea days.

Izumi Hibachi & Sushi

Royal Caribbean re-imagined Izumi in recent refurbishments for the Oasis class ships, that combines what you would typically find in Izumi on other ships with a hibachi experience.

In addition to the sushi rolls and sashimi offered at Izumi, guests can also order from a full teppanyaki menu.

The hibachi meals have a cover charge that includes the entree. Choices include Beef, Chicken, Lobster or Shrimp.

Each meal includes soup or salad, edamame app, fried rice or lo mein noodles, cooked veggies and dessert.

Essentially, the restaurant is divided in two sections: one section for sushi and the other section for the hibachi.

Sushi is priced exactly the same at Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, with sushi priced for each individual roll or piece.

Izumi Express

As of July 1, 2016, all Royal Caribbean ships also offer an Izumi Express option, where guests can purchase take-out sushi.

Izumi Express is a takeaway service that offers packaged sushi, ready to go, at a very discounted price.


On some Royal Caribbean ships, there is a section in the Windjammer called Jade, where guests can enjoy Asian food of all kinds.

In the evenings, Jade usually offers sushi rolls to guests that are complimentary.

The selection of sushi available at Jade is more limited than Izumi, with usually a half dozen hand rolls available at any given time. There is no nigiri sushi and none of it is made to order.

The chief benefit to Jade is that it is complimentary and available in the evening for dinner.  

Jade sushi was Royal Caribbean's first foray into sushi but has largely been replaced or superceded by Izumi.  

Jade is still available on a number of Royal Caribbean ships, mostly those ships that lack an Izumi.

Which sushi have you had on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Tell us in the comments!

Top 10 Freedom of the Seas hidden secrets

03 Aug 2015

One of Royal Caribbean's most popular cruise ships is Freedom of the Seas and we have searched all over this ship for the best hidden secrets that you might miss on this impressive ship.

10. Best spot for sailaway

If you want the best spot on Freedom of the Seas to watch as she pulls out of port, then it has to be the helicopter pad at the front of the ship.

Located on the bow, guests can walk to the helicopter pad and enjoy the unobstructed views that you can only get from the helicopter pad.  The perspective from this spot is hard to beat and many guests do not know it is possible to go here.

To access the helicopter pad, go outside on deck 4 and then walk forward, climb up a set of stairs and continue walking forward until you reach the helicopter pad.

9. Hidden door to the helipad

Speaking of the helipad, if you want to avoid the stairs that lead up to the front of the ship, there is a secret door that will get you right there.

Walk all the way forward on Deck 5 and enter the Star Lounge.  In the daytime, it is usually empty.  Enter the lounge and take an immediate right, just past the DJ booth.

There's a set of unmarkes doors that you can simply open up an you will be let out right next to the helipad.  

This is especially helpful if you have a stroller or are in a wheelchair and stairs are a problem.

8. Second best spot for sailaway

A good alternative spot for sailaway that is less windy than the helipad (and has no stairs) are the little observation areas on deck 11 near the Solarium.

Go up to deck 11 and walk all the way forward.  Once in the Solarium, adjacent to the doors that lead to the elevator lobby are glass doors you must open manually.  

Inside is a small "room", with windows that look outwards and even some chairs to sit in.  This can be a great, uncrowded spot to enjoy sailaway.

7. Enjoy the view from Olive or Twist

It is really hard to beat the views of Freedom of the Seas' upper decks from the Olive or Twist Lounge.

Located on deck 14 at the aft of the ship the Olive or Twist lounge offers guests sweeping views of the upper decks and the ocean.  

To get to Olive or Twist, you must use the aft elevators and go up to deck 14.

6. Get a taste of it all at FreedomFest

An event unique to Freedom of the Seas is something called FreedomFest, where the Royal Promenade offers guests a little of everything unique on Freedom of the Seas.

There will be food and drink stations available, as well as towel and napkin folding demonstrations, watermelon carving, photos with the ship's officers, and more.

It is basically like a "best of" from the week's events held in one spot. 

FreedomFest is held on the Royal Promenade and is usually done on one of the last sea days of your cruise.  Check the Cruise Compass for more information.

5. Sun yourself on the St. Tropez deck

If you want to get that perfect tan or just enjoy being outside without all the noise of the pool deck (or the crowds), head up the St. Tropez deck.

Walk up to deck 12 and then walk all the way forward.  You will see a large open area with some deck chairs that you can use to enjoy a mostly uncrowded sun bathing spot.

What is special about the St. Tropez deck is there tends to be not many guests here at all, leaving it rather tranquil.  

4. Best parade spot

The DreamWorks parade on Freedom of the Seas is a terrific opportunity to see and meet the popular stars from hit DreamWorks films.

If you want a good spot to enjoy the parade and ensure your kids have a good chance to be close to the characters, try in front of the Bull and Bear pub.

The pub has tables outside the pub that you can sit at in the time leading up to the parade and since other families do not consider a pub the first spot to bring kids to for a parade, it can remain overlooked.

Once the parade is about to begin, stand up from your seats and you will be up front for all the action.  In addition, the pub is located right in the middle of the parade route.

3. Find the coolest mixed drinks here

These days, Royal Caribbean offers its guests a lot of opportunities to buy alcoholic beverages but the best place to find the most interesting mixed drinks has to be up on the pool deck on the port side.

This one spot near the main pool consistently serves up more than just mixed drinks.  You will find the neatest souvenir mugs as well as interesting choices for drinks that we could never find anywhere else onboard.

On one day, they were making mixed drinks that you could drink out of a hollowed out pineapple, and other days had different light up or color changing mugs.

Look for a stand on deck 11 at the main pool, close to the Solarium.  The choices available change daily, so be sure to ask about what is coming up and when.

2. Ride the FlowRider on embarkation day

Guests cannot seem to get enough of the FlowRider surf simulator on Freedom of the Seas.  It is really fun to try and learn to surf without having to wait for that perfect wave but there always seems to be a line.

To beat the lines, go to the FlowRider on embarkation day.  Bring your swimsuit in your carryon luggage (or wear it to the ship) and then head to the FlowRider in the afternoon.  

Most other guests onboard will not have their swim suits or even be aware the FlowRider is open.  It is the perfect time to get multiple rides in without little or no wait!

1. Book the Ben & Jerry's Suite

Photo by David Fiske

If you want a stateroom with some real character, try the "Ben & Jerry's Sweet" Promenade stateroom.

Stateroom 6305 may not appear different on the deck plans, but it one of the most unusual staterooms available anywhere.

Located directly above the Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop on the Royal Promenade, the sweet has a view of the Royal Promenade blocked by the two cows that make up the ice cream shop's recognizable facade.

Inside the stateroom, you will find a cow motif, with cow-sheets, pillows, cow, cow's picture on the wall and much more.

Booking this stateroom also gets you coupons for free Ben & Jerry's ice cream as well as access to the Concierge Lounge (for passengers over 18 years), which are otherwise only available to passengers reserved for those who booked a suite.

Did we miss any Freedom of the Seas secrets? Share them in our comments!

Coca-Cola Freestyle machines on Royal Caribbean

20 Jul 2015

When you sail on your next Royal Caribbean ship, there is a good chance you will find Coca-Cola's amazing self-serve beverage dispensers known as the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.

The Freestyle machine offers guests 100+ flavors of various Coca-Cola products that you can mix together to create the perfect drink for you.  Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line to offer Freestyle machines.

In order to use the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, guests must purchase an all-inclusive beverage package or the Royal refreshment package and use their complimentary Coca-Cola souvenir cup. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the machine.

The following Royal Caribbean ships have Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines

  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas
  • Majesty of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas (added in 2019)

It seems that Freestyle machines are only available in the United States, Canada and limited availability in the UK and Europe and Royal Caribbean has added the machines to ships based mostly in the United States.

Using the Freestyle machines is pretty simple too, you pick a base flavor (like Coke or Fanta) and you can customize the drink with fruit flavors (Orange Coke or Orange Fanta, Lime Fanta, etc).  You can also stop a drink mid-pour by just releasing the dispense button and select another drink to mix two together. So if you want to mix Orange Fanta with Mello Yello Grape you can!

Some of the base flavors available to choose from are Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Fanta, Fanta Zero, Minute Maid Lemonade, Minute Maid Light, Dasani, Dasani Sensations, Powerade, Powerade Zero, Hi-C, Barq's, Diet Barq's and Seagram's Lemon Lime Seltzer. and more.

The special souvenir Coca-Cola cups that Royal Caribbean sells also has a time restriction, which prevents guests from getting refills until 10-15 minutes have passed since their last pour.  This time restriction is to prevent abuse of the Freestyle machine privileges.

Use of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines is available with a few unlimited drink packages:

  • Royal Refreshment package
    • $8.00 per day, per guest
  • Royal Replenish package
    • $22.42 per person, per day (includes service charge)
  • All of the Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol packages
    • Unlimited alcohol packages begin at $42 per person, per day

Have you tried the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines on your Royal Caribbean cruise? Thinking about using them on your next cruise? Tell us about it in the comments!

Johnny Rockets on Royal Caribbean ships

22 Jun 2015

Many Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer guests the opportunity to dine at Johnny Rockets, a retro-inspired restaurant where you’ll feel like you stepped back in time to an era of sock hops, soda fountains and drive-in theaters.  

Johnny Rockets has been working with Royal Caribbean since 1999, when the first Johnny Rockets debuted on Voyager of the Seas. Since then, Johnny Rockets has spread to over a dozen cruise ships.


When you step inside a Johnny Rockets, you will find a recreation of an American diner from the 1950's.  

Johnny Rockets on Freedom of the Seas

Walking into the diner, you will find booths with red vinyl seats opposite a long counter of white tile with chrome trim.  You will hear music from the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's that play continuously. 

The crew members working at Johnny Rockets look the part as well, with their paper hats and long white aprons.  

In fact, the crew members will stop what they are doing and jump into a line dance for certain songs.

Johnny Rockets on Quantum of the Seas

On the Quantum class ships, the set up is more open.  Instead of an enclosed restaurant, you will find an open air restaurant on the pool deck where you place your order at the counter and then wait for your food to be prepared and can eat it in the restaurant or take it elsewhere on the ship.


On most ships, Johnny Rockets comes with a cover charge of $6.95 per person that includes most food on the menu  You will be able to eat as much as you care to order.  Milk shakes and other beverages come with an extra cost.  

On the Quantum class cruise ships, Johnny Rockets does not have a cover charge and instead has an a la carte menu, where each item on the menu has an individual cost.

Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members will often get a coupon to dine at Johnny Rockets, which is usually a free cover charge.

The basics

On ships that offer Johnny Rockets, when the restaurant is open, guests can go dine there at any time and will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

There is seating in booths, at the counter and also outside the restaurant (weather permitting). 

As you are seated, you will be handed a menu by your waiter and have a choice between hamburgers, melts, hot dogs, sandwiches, fries, onion rings and more.

Each table is given a side of onion rings and french fries to start with, before your main courses arrive.

Breakfast too

On Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast and it's complimentary.

For breakfast, Johnny Rockets serves up fried or scrambled eggs, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, french toast, omelettes and more.

Juice, milk, coffee, tea and hot chocolate are included in the meal as well.

Ships with Johnny Rockets

  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Majesty of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas

Have you eaten at Johnny Rockets on a Royal Caribbean ship? Let us know in the comments!

Top 10 insider tips for Royal Caribbean's main dining room

13 Jun 2015
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's main dining room is likely to be somewhere you visit almost every night of your cruise.  It's hard to deny the fun experience of dining there as well as the really tasty food you can enjoy.  

The main dining room offers meals included in your cruise fare with an ever-so-faint hint of formality.  Each evening, there are many courses of dishes to try from entrees to appetizers to desserts and everything inbetween.

If you want to make sure your main dining room experience is the best possible, check out these top tips!

1. Order more than one of anything

When you dine in the main dining room, pretty much everything on the menu is included and that means you should feel free to order more than just one entree or appetizer.  Or even order multiples of your favorite dishes.

Royal Caribbean allows its guests to order as much as they want while dining in the main dining room.  This policy allows you to not just order the dishes that you love but also branch out and try something different.  It is all the same price, so there's nothing to lose!

2. Make dietary requests before you board

If you have a dietary restriction, such as you are vegetarian, need gluten free foods or any of the other dietary needs, then you will want to let Royal Caribbean know about them up front. 

Royal Caribbean can accomodate dietary needs such as food allergies, gluten-free, Kosher, low-fat, and low-sodium.

In additional, vegetarian meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available on all menus in the main dining room.  Guests do not need to make a special request for these meals.

Lactose-free/soy milk, Ensure, and Kosher meals are available no extra charge. All you have to do is notify Royal Caribbean at least 45 days prior to sailing (90 days for European/South American Itineraries).

You may also send an e-mail request to [email protected]; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date.  It's best to make requests like this at least 90 days in advance of your sailing.

3. You can change your table

If you get onboard your ship and realize the table layout is not what you prefer or perhaps the other guests you are seated with are not a good mix for you, there is usually opportunities to change your table.

Speak to the head waiter at any point in your cruise to arrange for a table change.

It may be a good idea to scope out your table situation on embarkation day and speak to the head waiter early that day to ensure you have ample opportunity to make a change.

If you prefer to dine alone, you can also email Royal Caribbean your table request.  Send an email 3 to 4 weeks prior to your cruise to [email protected]

4. You can bring your own wine

Since 2012, Royal Caribbean has allowed its passengers to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom onboard your cruise.

Bring the bottles to the main dining room and your waiter will be happy to open and serve it to you, with a small corkage fee.  This can be a great way to not only save money on wine, but also ensure you are drinking exactly the bottle of wine you love most.

5. Order food the way you want

Do not be afraid to ask your waiter for special requests that are not of the dietary need variety, but just something you really love.  Perhaps you like having a plate of vegetables to start your dinner off with or anything else that is not on the menu.  

Speak with your head waiter to make the request.  If the ship has the ingredients onboard to make it, odds are they will be happy to make it for you.

In general, we have found a 24 hour notice will ensure the chef's crew can take care of the request for you.  

In addition, if tonight's menu features an ingredient you do not enjoy, feel free to ask your waiter if they can make the dish without it.  The dining staff are looking to make your main dining room experience as good as possible.

6. Bring back extras to your room

If there is something on the menu that you just cannot finish or perhaps you want an extra for later, your main dining room wait staff are happy to wrap up food to go.

Sometimes making dinner on time just is not in the cards, but your waiter can arrange to have some or all of your food prepared to go up to your stateroom to enjoy when time permits.

Like so many of our tips, be sure to simply ask and they will be happy to arrange it for you.

7. Enjoy the main dining room for lunch and breakfast too

Naturally everyone thinks of the main dining room for dinner, but did you know it is often open for breakfast and lunch too?

Most days, the main dining room is open for breakfast in a first come, first served style.  In addition, on sea days the main dining room will be open for lunch as well.

The breakfast menu will remain largely the same each day but the lunch menus do change, just like the dinner menus.  There is also a wonderful salad bar for lunch that is sure to please almost anyone.

8. Make My Time Dining reservations before you board

If you opt for Royal Caribbean's main dining room experience that is available when it is convenient for you, My Time Dining, then be sure to make your reservations early and well before your cruise sets sail.

While you can make My Time Dining reservations during your cruise, for optimal availability, you will want to make reservations as soon as you can.

The peak dining times of 6:30pm to 8:00pm are always busy, so you will want to make reservations before your get onboard to avoid waiting for a table.  In fact, the larger your group, the more important making My Time Dining reservations are.

9. Pack for formal night

Depending on the length of your Royal Caribbean cruise, there can be one or more formal nights in the main dining room, so you will want to pack the right clothes for the occassion.

Despite the name, formal night is not nearly as dressed up as you might think.  Royal Caribbean describes formal night as ladies wearing something like a cocktail dress or pantsuit, while men should wear a suit (tie optional).

In practice, the dress code is a bit more relaxed, even for formal night.  Men can simply wear khakis or dress pants and a collared shirt.  For women, a nice dress or blouse with appropriate bottom will suffice.

The key is to be aware formal nights exist and to pack something for them. 

10. Enjoy the main dining room experience

Dining with strangers, twirling your napkins, jumping into a conga-line...these are just some of the nuances of a main dining room meal on Royal Caribbean, and while they may not be something you would do most nights at home, it is best to drop your inhibitions and embrace it.

The antics of the main dining room will vary from ship to ship but instead of raising an eyebrow about these sort of experiences, let loose a little bit and "go for it".  Remember, you're on vacation and very likely, you will never see these people again.  Plus, it is much more fun when you are part of the experience than not.

OK — your turn!! What are YOUR top tips for dining on Royal Caribbean? Let us know in the comments section below!

Royal Caribbean Gratuities: What you need to know

19 May 2015

When you take a Royal Caribbean cruise, one of the costs to passengers are gratuities (tips) to crew members during your cruise.  Gratuities are the way guests can recognize great service aboard their cruise.

We provide this guide to help you understand how gratuities work on the cruise, when you can expect to pay them and how much it is.

Automatic gratuities

Royal Caribbean automatically adds a daily charge to each cruise passenger's SeaPass account to reward the great service its passengers receive.  

Each day of your cruise, Royal Caribbean will add a charge per person that will be divided among several people that you interact with likely on a daily basis:

  • stateroom attendant
  • head waiter
  • waiter
  • assistant waiter

As of January 2, 2018, the daily gratuity amount is $14.50 per guest, per day for those guests in standard accommodations.  Guests in suites will pay $17.50 per person, per day in gratuities.  The daily gratuity amount is the same for all passengers, regardless of age.

Guests have the choice to pre-pay their gratuities before their cruise to help split up the cost of their cruise vacation.

If you are a My Time Dining guest, you must prepay your gratuities.  

In addition, if a guest feels they want to alter the amount of gratuity they pay, guests can go to Guest Services aboard their cruise ship and ask to have their automatic gratuity charges changed or removed. 

How to pre-pay gratuities

Pre-paying gratuities allows you to lock in the current gratuity rate, as well as assist in budgeting the total vacation cost by having part of the cost be paid at different times.

Pre-paying gratuities is a simple process. If you booked directly with Royal Caribbean, you can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into Royal Caribbean's website before the sailing.

If you booked with a travel agent, simply let the travel agent know your preference and they can take care of the arrangements.

Beverage gratuities

If you order beverage onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, such as alcohol, you will be charged an automatic 18% gratuity when you receive the bill.

The gratuity amount is for the service you receive from the wait staff to serve your drink.  The gratuity amount is added to what you purchase and indicated at the bottom of your receipt.

You can add an additional tip on the receipt if you wish. 

Specialty restaurants

The surcharge you pay to dine at a specialty restaurant aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise includes the tip.

There is no need to pay a tip on top of the surcharge amount, unless you would like to.

Discretionary gratuities

In addition to the gratuities listed earlier, there are opportunities to give crew members an additional tip for excellent service.  

As the name implies, this is up to you and not expected in all cases.  Even crew members who receive an automatic gratuity can receive additional gratuities if you feel it is warranted.

Some instances where a discretionary tip may be appropriate are for room service deliveries or luggage service by porters.

You can remove the auto gratuities

As previously noted, Royal Caribbean will automatically charge you for every night of the cruise but that does not mean you have to pay it if you are not satisfied with the service. 

You can go to Guest Services at any point in your cruise and have them reduced or removed from your account if you would prefer to tip a different amount.

WOW Cards

While a monetary tip is always appreciated, if you want to recognize great service by a Royal Caribbean crew member that will have a lasting effect on their career, fill out a WOW card.

Royal Caribbean will sometimes dispense to guests at check-in special cards to write about why a particular crew member went above and beyond the kind of service you might expect.  A guest can fill out the card, give it to the crew member and the crew member will then turn the card into their manager, which will in turn be placed on their permanent file.

WOW cards can help elevate crew members when it comes time for promotions and help their careers in the long run. 

If you do not receive a WOW card at check-in, you can go to Guest Services and request them.