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I tried the Miami hotel everyone says is the best pre-cruise option. It was comfortable, but my stay had some issues

08 May 2024
Calista Kiper

InterContinental Miami is one of the top pre-cruise hotels in Miami, so I decided to try staying there.

We always recommend you fly into the city your cruise leaves from the night before embarkation day. This ensures that any delays won't impact your cruise, since the ship won't wait for you.

A quick Google search will show you that many cruisers recommend InterContinental Miami, an IHG Hotel located in downtown Miami just 0.7 miles (a 7-minute drive) from the cruise port. 

InterContinental Miami is listed on TripAdvisor as the second-best hotel close to the port of Miami, with a total of 4.5 stars.

In preparation for my Royal Caribbean cruise out of Miami, I decided to give the hotel a try.

I booked a classic room with one king bed and an ocean view. 

The total cost (for two guests staying for one night) was $349.17, plus a $37.29 resort fee due upon arrival.

I had a late flight and arrived to the hotel's bright glass doors at11:00 P.M.

While I didn't expect anyone to help me with my bags, a valet stopped me and told me that someone would come to help.

I stood there and waited for about 15 minutes, watching valets continue to pass me by, before giving up and lugging my bags into the hotel myself.

I was disappointed with the speed of service, but understood that it was late and they probably didn't have many staff on duty at the time.

Check-in was quick and smooth, and the staff at the counter informed me that check-out time was noon, but I could call them if I needed to get that extended.

The hotel felt huge, as my room was located on the 24th floor.

When I arrived at my door, it was already open a crack, which put me on high alert. Had someone already walked in? Had staff left it open for the next guest? 

I took some time to walk around and examine the room to make sure it was completely safe.

It was a huge, spacious area, with a counter in the entryway. The counter held bottles of water, an ice bucket, and a coffee machine.

Below this counter, two mini fridges held a stunning variety of snacks and drinks.

In the entryway, I also found the door to the bathroom.

It was huge, nearly the size of the Royal Caribbean stateroom I would later stay in!

The sink was wide enough for three people to stand at together, with a bright light around the mirror.

The bathroom also came with one matching bathrobe for guests to wear during their stay.

The marble floor matched the walls of the shower.

Opposite the shower, there was also a large closet that held the safe, an iron, and storage space for clothing.

I thought the bathroom was almost unnecessarily large and luxurious.

However, I kept hearing strange gurgling noises throughout the night.

At first, I couldn't pinpoint what was making such loud noises, until I realized it was the hotel's toilet. 

There must have been something wrong with its mechanics, but I'm not sure why they wouldn't get that fixed before putting new guests in the room.

I saw that we had a large, comfortable king bed. It was decorated with half a dozen fluffy pillows and a tall blue headboard.

I shared the bed with my friend who was traveling with me, and when we woke up, I told them the bed was so large I could barely tell they were in it!

Each side of the bed had a bedside table and lamp beside it.

A large flat-screen TV also faced the bed.

Beside the bed, there was a comfortable L-shaped couch with a series of artful pictures and a lamp above it.

Opposite the couch, there was also a round table where we could sit and eat.

Between the two sat the long window, decorated with two automatic shades: a blackout curtain and a lighter-toned shade.

Both were controlled by buttons on the right side of the bed, so you just had to push one button to bring them down, or another to pull them up.

My friend said that the blackout curtains helped them sleep so well that they decided to get some at home.

That night, we headed out to the city to grab some dinner. When we returned, a man was getting arrested and pulled into a cop car directly in front of the hotel lobby.

While I'm sure this wasn't the hotel's fault, it added to the general anxiety for my safety that I'd already been feeling.

When we got back into the room, I noticed that we could hear our neighbors on the other side of the wall.

However, we slept comfortably and all was well. 

In the morning, I woke up excited to see the view from the hotel window.

Since our room was designated as an "oceanview" I had expected a direct ocean view.

However, directly in front of our window faced another side of the hotel.

I had to lean to the right to see a sliver of the ocean on the side. 

As we prepared to pack and check out of the hotel, we started our search for food.

To receive complimentary breakfast, you have to book the hotel's InterContinental's Breakfast for 2 offer.

Otherwise, the hotel has room service nearly 24/7 and several restaurants onsite where you can pay to dine.

These include Ole!, Starbucks, Bluewater, and Toro Toro.

It was quick and easy to checkout; despite everyone having the same checkout time there weren't many lines to the elevator or in front of the counter.

While we waited in the lobby for the Uber, I noticed the abundance of comfortable seating and the fun, jazzy house music playing.

As we exited the hotel, a staff member immediately took our bags from us and helped us into the Uber.

Hotel review: I stayed at the Intercontinental Miami for a pre-cruise stay

Photos show Utopia of the Seas beginning her sea trials

07 May 2024
Elizabeth Wright

Royal Caribbean's sixth Oasis Class ship has set sail for the first time. 

Utopia of the Seas will begin sea trials

On May 7, Utopia of the Seas departed from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France for a 5-day sea trial during which the ship will sail more than 1,000 miles. 

Utopia of the Seas sea trials

The ship isn't quite ready yet, as there's still a few more weeks before she is ready to take on passengers.

There are more than 900 experts onboard who specialize in areas such as naval architecture, navigation, engineering, and design. They'll help push the ship to her limits to ensure that she's ready to welcome guests aboard in just 10 weeks. 

Utopia of the Seas sea trials

Over the course of the next five days, Utopia of the Seas will undergo hundreds of tests and inspections, ranging from how the vessel moves through the open ocean to the operation of her navigation system, engine performance, back-of-house technical checks, and more. 

Utopia of the Seas sea trials

Once the sea trials have concluded, Utopia will return to the shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France to undergo the final phase of construction before being delivered to Royal Caribbean. 

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

Read more: Photos show Utopia of the Seas is nearing completion

Utopia of the Seas' inaugural voyage is slated for July 19


When Utopia's itineraries opened for booking, the maiden voyage was supposed to depart on July 22; however, construction moved faster than anticipated, so the cruise line bumped up the date of the inaugural sailing.

Instead of welcoming guests on a 4-night sailing, the maiden cruise will be a 3-night getaway to Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay. She'll then continue with her previously scheduled voyages, all of which target the short cruise market. 

Typically, new builds begin their careers with longer sailings. Utopia of the Seas, however, marks the first time that Royal Caribbean has built a brand-new ship with the weekend market in mind to attract first-time cruisers. 

Utopia of the Seas night render

Shorter cruises allow passengers to get a taste of the best that Royal Caribbean has to offer without committing to a weeklong cruise. 

Plus, all sailings are scheduled to visit their award-winning private island in The Bahamas, giving guests more ways to dine and play. 

Read more: Utopia of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Though part of Royal Caribbean's beloved Oasis Class, Utopia of the Seas features amenities that aren't available on any other ship

Pesky Parrot

From the first-ever immersive train car dining experience to the brand-new Pesky Parrot bar in the Royal Promenade, those who are devout fans of Oasis Class ships can look forward to new experiences. 

Instead of the Bionic Bar, passengers can stop in for a lively pre-dinner drink at the Pesky Parrot, which will be home to tropical beverages made with rum, tequila, and gin, as well as some other "surprises" that have yet to be revealed. 

Afterward, head over to the one-of-a-kind Royal Railway - Utopia Station to enjoy a multi-course meal that combines adventure, food, and technology. 


Throughout your dining experience, you'll be transported to different times and places, such as America's Wild West and other remote destinations across the globe. 

Read more: First look at Royal Caribbean's new weekend party cruise ship

9 easy ways to save money on a European cruise

07 May 2024
Jenna DeLaurentis

Dreaming of a European cruise vacation? It doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think.

Rhapsody of the Seas in Kotor Montenegro

Sailing along the French Riviera, Greek Isles, and Norwegian fjords sounds nice and all, but it’s easy to assume that even entertaining the idea could have your bank account screaming for help.

Cruises remain an affordable vacation choice for millions of passengers per year, as they offer a fantastic value for those onboard. Food, select beverages, entertainment, thrilling activities, and visits to exciting ports are all included in guests’ cruise fares. As another plus, passengers can customize their experience to fit any budget, whether they’re cruising in a basic interior room or multi-story suite.

The truth is that cruises to Europe are not necessarily budget breakers, and just like any cruise destination, there are countless ways to save money on a European itinerary.

Before putting your vacation dreams to the wayside, consider using these 9 helpful tips to save money on a European cruise. That perfect Instagram shot could become a reality, after all.

Sail during the shoulder season instead of the summer

Le Havre cruise port

One of the easiest ways to save money on a European cruise, by far, is to book your cruise during the shoulder season instead of during the peak summer months.

Royal Caribbean’s European cruise season runs from May to October each year, but the most popular time to book is in June, July, and August, coinciding with school holidays. Unsurprisingly, these months see the highest cruise fares, along with the highest airfare prices.

Related: The worst months to cruise to Europe

If your schedule is flexible, consider booking a European cruise in May, September, or October rather than during the summer. While this might not be possible for those traveling with kids, it will almost certainly result in significant savings.

A $1,300 flight to Athens in July might only be $800 in May. The lower price, coupled with a cheaper cruise fare, could potentially save you over a thousand dollars per person!

As another plus, you’ll usually encounter fewer crowds and more pleasant temperatures in the shoulder season, too, which could make your overall experience more enjoyable.

Choose your itinerary wisely if on a tight budget

Colosseum in Rome

Before booking a European cruise, take a close look at the ports you will visit. Each cruise port offers pros and cons, especially those in Europe, and it’s important to be aware of what to expect before booking one itinerary over another.

Western Mediterranean cruises tend to visit bigger cities, such as Rome, Barcelona, and Naples. Although this means you can visit some of Europe’s most famous and historical sites, it also means you'll be shelling out a pretty penny for shore excursions.

You can expect to spend around, or even over, $200 per person for an excursion to visit sites like the Colosseum and Vatican City in Rome. When traveling with a family, these costs will quickly add up.

Related: How to save money on cruise excursions

Positano Italy

Although these destinations are undoubtedly worth a visit, consider whether you want to rush the experience on a short port day, or if you’d like to return when you can devote more time to these remarkable destinations. Plus, you will spend a fraction of the cost to visit these tourist sites on your own compared to with a cruise excursion.

Sure, you don’t need to book shore excursions at these ports, but if you’re only visiting the destination once, it would be a shame to not see the top attractions.

Therefore, instead of trying to knock off Europe’s biggest cities in a single day, why not book an itinerary that visits less busy destinations? A cruise to Split, for instance, will drop you off directly in the town center, allowing for stress-free exploration without the need to spend extra.

Similarly, cruises to Norway offer charming towns and breathtaking landscapes within a stone’s throw of your cruise ship, meaning you won’t have to spend hundreds on shore excursions to make your port day memorable.

Research cheap and free things to do in each port

Church in Palermo Italy

On the subject of forgoing expensive excursions in favor of exploring on your own, be sure to research budget-friendly activities in your ports of call before disembarking on a port day.

All European ports offer free and low-cost things to do, from visiting immaculate cathedrals to strolling along quaint seaside promenades. Europe’s cities are far more historic than what you might be used to at home, and simply wandering the narrow streets admiring the architecture is enough to occupy many visitors!

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

One of the easiest ways to discover what to do in port is to make a simple Google search. If your cruise visits Palma de Mallorca, search “How to spend one day in Palma de Mallorca” on Google. This should populate a wide range of articles highlighting the city’s top attractions, restaurants, points of interest, and general advice for visitors.

If you would prefer an excursion, search for tours from independent providers rather than booking directly through the cruise line. Using websites like GetYourGuide or Viator will likely be cheaper than booking a similar excursion on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner, allowing you to further stretch your budget.

Take public transport to the cruise terminal over private transfers

Train station in London

Many cruise ports in Europe are convenient to reach by public transit, and this can be a cost-effective way to reach the cruise terminal for those on a budget.

For cruises from Southampton, for example, you can board an 80 minute train directly from London to the city, which usually costs around £20. Upon arrival at the station in Southampton, you can walk 15 minutes to the port, or hail a taxi for the short ride. Taking a taxi all the way from London can be over £120.

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

Similarly, if you're embarking in Civitavecchia, you can take the train directly from Rome to the port city in under 50 minutes, which costs about €11. Once you get to the train station, hop on the port shuttle bus for around €6. Taking a taxi from central Rome, on the other hand, will cost over €100.

Note that, when choosing how to get to the cruise port, it’s important to calculate the amount of people in your group before deciding between a private transfer and public transport. If you’re traveling with a large group, it could be more cost effective to arrange a taxi or shuttle to the port instead.

Book your flights to Europe with points

airplane window

Stockpiling credit card points? Why not use them on a flight to Europe?

For savvy travelers, redeeming points from credit cards can be an easy way to save thousands on a flight to Europe.

Whether you have a popular credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or an airline-specific card, it’s easy to earn points and miles for everyday purchases throughout the year.

Depending on your origin airport, destination, and time of year you travel, you could book a round trip flight to Europe for as little as 30,000 points, although spending 50-60,000 points is more likely.

Save for a few taxes and fees on the ticket, booking your flight with points is an easy money-saving trick for a European cruise. Plus, it allows you to save your budget for other aspects of the experience, such as a pre-cruise hotel stay and shore excursions.

Forgo cruise add-ons in favor of eating and drinking in port

Aperol spritz in Palermo sicily

You might be tempted to book add-ons like specialty dining packages and drink packages for your cruise, but consider skipping these purchases when visiting Europe.

When in the Caribbean, many passengers enjoy drinking cocktail after cocktail on a sunny sea day or at one of Royal Caribbean’s private destinations. Others enjoy the elevated dining experience of specialty restaurants, allowing guests to widen their cuisine selections during the cruise.

These add-ons can surely enhance a cruise experience, but they aren’t entirely necessary when cruising to Europe. European port days are often longer than those in the Caribbean—and have fewer sea days—thus lessening the amount of time you are onboard to utilize these add-ons.

Related: Must-eat foods on a cruise to Italy

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars for use solely onboard, allocate that money toward food and drink in port. Whether tasting an authentic pasta dish in Italy, a glass of sangria in Spain, or a chocolate crepe in France, you will not only save money, but have the chance to try unique dishes and cuisines around Europe, too!

Book your cruise far in advance, or look for a last-minute deal

Norway map of cruise itinerary

Most passengers will snag the lowest prices on a Royal Caribbean cruise by booking far in advance, regardless of their cruise destination.

New European itineraries are released each fall for cruises taking place two years in the future. For example, summer 2026 itineraries would be released in the fall of 2024. By staying up to date on when Royal Caribbean releases itineraries, you can not only find the widest range of cabin options, but you’re likely to see the lowest prices.

Even if your cruise fare does lower after you book, you can always reprice your cruise until the final payment date by contacting Royal Caribbean or your travel agent directly to update your booking with the lower price.

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

One way to find last-minute deals is to browse Royal Caribbean’s Going, Going, Gone rates. Each Monday, the cruise line updates this webpage with a list of last-minute deals available.

The list only updates once a week, though, so if you check the list on Saturday, it could be outdated, as other customers may have already booked the last cabins available.

Sail on an older, smaller cruise ship

Rhapsody of the Seas docked in Split Croatia

It’s tempting to book your next cruise on one of Royal Caribbean’s newest and biggest ships, such as Wonder of the Seas or Icon of the Seas. If you’re cruising within Europe, however, a smaller ship might be a better choice.

Each summer, Royal Caribbean sends several of its smallest and largest vessels to Europe, from Vision Class ships like Enchantment of the Seas to massive Oasis Class ships.

Although the biggest ships offer the most variety in entertainment, cabins, restaurants, and onboard activities, the prices usually reflect these added amenities.

Related: 12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

Pool deck on Rhapsody of the Seas

Smaller ships, on the other hand, are typically priced lower, but they still offer a comfortable stay with Royal Caribbean’s signature feel. You may not find the latest and greatest activities and production shows, but even the smallest ships offer a variety of cabins, dining choices, and pools to keep cruisers satisfied.

Plus, most European cruise itineraries tend to be port-heavy, with most 7-night itineraries offering only one or two sea days. You will likely spend far less time onboard compared to, say, a Caribbean cruise, which might make splurging on a bigger ship a waste for those on a tight budget.

Finally, consider flying into a major airport and taking a regional flight to your cruise port

Wizz Air flight embarking

Shocked by airline prices to Europe in the middle of the summer? If so, consider broadening your search.

Just because your flight leaves from Rome, Athens, or Amsterdam does not mean you need to fly into those cities for your cruise. Transportation within European cities can be extremely affordable and convenient, with budget airlines and high speed trains servicing much of the continent.

If your cruise leaves from Civitavecchia, for instance, but the flight to Rome is way out of your budget, don’t be afraid to search for flights to other cities like Milan, Venice, or even somewhere as faraway as London!

Venice Italy cityscape

You can travel between cities in Italy on high speed rail within just a few hours, or hop on a quick flight from a city like London to Rome instead.

If you choose this option, be sure to account for the cost of getting from one city to another to make sure you’re actually saving money. If the flight to London is $700 and the flight to Rome is $1,500, why not take the more adventurous route?

Of course, be sure to allocate enough time between flights in order to make it to your cruise embarkation city on time. You’ll also want to research transportation costs from one city to another before booking your flight to ensure it will actually result in savings.

9 easy ways to save money on a European cruise

I spent $2800 for 7 nights in a 157-square-foot room on the world's largest cruise ship. Take a look inside my tiny cabin

07 May 2024
Calista Kiper

Last week, I went on a 7-night cruise on Icon of the Seas, which is the world's largest cruise ship.

To get the cheapest possible price, I booked an interior stateroom through the guarantee cabin process.

The total cost came out to $2897 (including pre-paid gratuities), which was divided out for two people over seven nights. That breaks down to $207 a night, per person.

Icon of the Seas is the world's current largest cruise ship, standing at a whopping 20 total decks and weighing 248,663 gross tons. 

Read moreShould I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?

She has 2,805 staterooms, and mine was assigned a few weeks before the cruise.

I received an Interior Plus category room, which is described on Royal Caribbean's website as having "a deluxe closet and dressing area."

"There's no such thing as overpacking in these staterooms," the deck plans read.

The website indicated the room measures 157 sq. ft. in total, but I was excited to see how it felt in person and as a home for the next seven days.

Because I opted for a guarantee cabin instead of picking a specific cabin, I assumed the leftover cabin choices would result in a less desirable location.

I received stateroom 10411, which is located far forward on deck 10.

Although this was close to the forward elevators, the deck was so crowded with staterooms that it was difficult to get orientated for the first couple of days.

We kept getting lost on the way to the stateroom, confused by the winding halls and multiple elevators.

Although I didn’t suffer too much seasickness from being so far forward, I did find that the room location was extremely noisy.

Sometimes we would hear stomping feet from above, or loud bangs coming through the walls.

It was so loud that I woke up in the middle of the night multiple times, thinking that someone was knocking on the stateroom door.

But the pitch black darkness you can only get in an inside stateroom and comfortable beds made it easy to fall back asleep.

When I first opened the stateroom door, I was shocked at how tiny living space was.

It narrowly fit the two stateroom beds and single armchair with a footrest.

This room was decorated with cute tropical paintings. Everything looked clean and bright, with warm lighting that spoke to how upgraded the room was.

With the two beds split apart, each one had a small shelf with a lamp on top. They were comfortable and clean beds, with large, fluffy pillows. 

The beds were what I expected, but I did feel like the blankets were lighter and more comfortable than on older Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Read more5 busted Icon of the Seas myths

The stateroom’s television faced the beds.

When I was preparing for my cruise, I eagerly looked forward to the possibility of casting from my phone to the smart TV. 

Casting allows you to send movies and shows to the TV with your phone, projecting them onto the wider screen, but it is only available on Royal Caribbean’s newer ships, such as Wonder of the Seas.

Since Icon is the cruise line’s newest ship, I fully expected the TV to also have casting abilities.

However, it did not, limiting us to watching the 25 free channels, which included sports, news, kids' shows, and Royal Caribbean information.

Beside the television there was a touchscreen temperature control unit. This modernized unit could adjust the temperature of the air conditioning, as well as change light settings.

With a touch of the finger, we could choose between four adjustable moods: morning, evening, movie, and sleep.

I enjoyed playing around with these settings and appreciated the fact that it saved me the trouble of going around to adjust each lamp and light switch individually.

Just in between the television and the main stateroom door, I found the door to the bathroom.

If I had been disappointed by the stateroom’s size, the bathroom made up for it.

It was wide, with a long sink and ample shelves.

Three shelves sat below the sink, and three shelves sat to the upper left.

There was also a deep drawer to the left of the sink and above the trash can, which I didn’t even need to use because the space had so many storage options.

Opposite the sink sat the toilet and a series of shelves going all the way down the wall.

Even with two people traveling for seven nights, we did not get close to filling up all the shelving space in this bathroom.

The best upgrade to this cabin—one that a comedian onboard even mentioned during his set—was the increased size of the shower.

I’m used to tiny, tube-like showers on Royal Caribbean ships, that have a tunnel so small that opening the door takes up all the space.

This shower was about twice the size of the typical showers I’ve been used to, and it even had a seat to the left. 

There was enough space in the shower to move around, bend over, and even sit down.

Although the water pressure was a little low, the water got hot quickly and made for an enjoyable shower.

As I walked back and further into the room, I saw the reason for the main room’s smaller size.

Typically most inside staterooms have one large area with the beds, chairs, closet, and desk/vanity combination.

However, in this Icon stateroom, the sleeping area and the closet and vanity area were divided into two separate spaces.

Past the bed on the far wall, I walked into a doorway.

This deluxe dressing area stored the room’s combination desk/vanity, a long desk with a ring light surrounding the oval mirror.

Below the desk, there was a drawer for storage and a beanbag chair to sit on.

This style of chair is another new aspect of Icon of the Seas. I thought that they were plenty comfortable, but I missed having a chair with a back on it so I could throw towels or jackets on top.

To the right of the vanity, I found the tall closet. One of my favorite aspects of the room was how this closet brought together almost all the storage elements into one space.

Read moreI took the inaugural cruise on Royal Caribbean's newest ship. It was a giant party, but not everything was totally ready

The first compartment was a tall hanging area, perfect for long clothes like dresses or suits. The second compartment also had hangers for shorter clothes like jackets.

At the bottom of the closet, there was a small safe on top of a wide shelf space.

Below that, two black metal baskets were set inside shelves, and to the right, I found the small cooler.

It helped to have one space to store all my clothes, items, and food.

However, the baskets were a confusing addition to the room. 

They didn’t seem to fit well in the shelves: they were heavy and slid harshly over the wood below. They didn’t slide as easily as a drawer, and I had to pull them all the way out if I wanted to get an item out of the basket.

In the end, I placed the basket on the larger shelf space above and used the shelves below to fold and stack my clothes.

The safe was small—barely the size of a book—so I was only able to fit my passport inside. All other valuables had to go unprotected.

The cooler, however, kept drinks, milk, and sandwiches just cold enough.

At the end of this small vanity room was a full-length mirror, the perfect complement to the classy lighting in this clothing area.

I loved this one area to get dressed and ready in, but recognized that it made the stateroom feel smaller overall, by becoming divided into two areas instead of one large one.

The stateroom also had more charger options than typical Royal Caribbean ships. Usually, the only chargers are located above the stateroom’s desk. 

But on Icon, I found charging ports at the desk, below the TV, inside the bathroom, and on the left bedside table.

Although the cabin was small, I was happy overall with the comfort, convenience, and organization of the stateroom.

Today only: Royal Caribbean drink packages up to 45% off

06 May 2024
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering a one-day promotion on its very popular unlimited drink packages.

Drink package sale on May 6

On Monday, May 6, Royal Caribbean is advertising up to 45% off beverage package purchases made via the Cruise Planner website or by calling Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean drink packages offer a flat fee for as many beers, wine by the glass, soda, or cocktails you'd like during your cruise.  There are also other drink packages that do not include alcohol. Guest that purchase a drink package are able to enjoy unlimited drinks each day of their cruise, including at Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee!

This deal is in honor of "National Beverage Day".

Deal basics

National Beverage Day sale

To get this offer, you need to either log into your Royal Caribbean account and go to the Cruise Planner or call Royal Caribbean to purchase a drink package.

The sale is valid for sailings departing May 9, 2024 through May 31, 2025. It's only available to bookings made May 6, 2024.

It applies to all three of Royal Caribbean's drink packages: Deluxe Beverage package, Refreshment Package, and Classic Soda package.

Keep in mind if you buy the Deluxe Beverage Package, if you have multiple guests 21 and older staying in the same stateroom, all adults will be required to purchase their own package. This is done to help reduce the sharing of benefits. 

Celebrity couple

Celebrity Cruises is also offering its own deal for today only, with up to 35% off with its National Beverage Day Flash Sale.

Celebrity's offer is for select sailings departing May 10 – March 28, 2025, excluding Celebrity Beyond June 23rd, charter sailings and holiday sailings.

Will this offer save me money?

Despite the flashy name for the sale, there's no guarantee the actual price of your drink package will be any different.

Royal Caribbean runs promotions throughout the year on its cruise add-ons, and there seems to be sales just about every week.

The difference with this sale is that it's being advertised more prominently, and it's just one day.  Plus, the promise of up to 45% off is intriguing.


To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

To find the discounted rates, log into the My Cruises section of the Royal Caribbean web site, and navigate to the Cruise Planner section for the sailing you are interested in.

Once logged in, navigate to the Beverage section and look for advertised rates. You will likely see something similar to this: 

Drink package listed in Cruise Planner

There's certainly no harm in checking if the price of a drink package for your particular sailing has gone down at all.  When it comes to Royal Caribbean sales, it's best to ignore the percentage off advertised, and focus on the total price when you add it your cart.

Remember, the pre-cruise price is almost certainly going to be better than the price onboard the ship if you wait to book it once you board the ship.

Read more: When is the best time to buy a Royal Caribbean Drink Package?

If the price of the drink package is cheaper than what you bought previously, you can cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the drink package again with this discount.

Beverage package purchases made online can be canceled and full refunded at any time, up until about 3 days before your sail date.

Advantage to pre-purchasing a drink package now

Lime and Coconut

If you are going to get a drink package, your best bet is to book it now to lock in the price.

One common mistake among cruisers is waiting to book a drink package, either because they want to see if the price will continue to drop or they hesitate to book.

Read more: 9 incredibly easy cruise mistakes to avoid

Mason Jar bar

The reason waiting to book a drink package until closer to your sail date is a mistake is because the price could go up, and then you would end you paying more than you originally saw it listed for online.

Instead, you should book the drink package at whatever price you see it for online before your cruise.  Remember, you can always cancel it if you change your mind later, up to 48 hours before your cruise begins.

By booking the drink package now, you lock in the price and protect yourself against a price increase while still being able to take advantage of a price drop.

Empty cruise ship is sailing without passengers and it's a more relaxed atmosphere for crew members

06 May 2024
Matt Hochberg

What's it like when a cruise ship sails without any passengers onboard?

No passengers on Mariner of the Seas

It's quite rare for a cruise ship not to be full with paying passengers to enjoy all the fun activities, restaurants, and ways to relax. The cruise industry is quite profitable, but it requires its ships to sail with every cabin sold in order to generate revenue from the cruise fare, but also the lucrative add-ons guests inevitably purchase.

For the last few days, Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas has been on her way from Port Canaveral, Florida to Galveston, Texas without a single passenger onboard, and that is quite rare.

The ship is in the process of transitioning from one homeport to another, and the Cruise Director has been sharing bits and pieces of what it's like.

Cruise Director Marc Walker

Marc Walker is a legend among cruisers, for having been a well-known and well-liked Cruise Director.  The Cruise Director's job is to ensure guests are having a great time by orchestrating entertainment from morning to night, every day of the cruise.

The ship's entertainment includes live musicians, dance parties, trivia, competitions, and activities.  The Cruise Director is even responsible for the ship's Adventure Ocean youth programming, more commonly referred to as "kids camp".

Even though there are no passengers onboard, crew members are still working onboard, albeit in a different atmosphere.

A laid back approach to work

Mariner of the Seas Royal Promenade

On Mr. Walker's Facebook page, he's been sharing photos of glimpses of what's happening on Mariner during this usual sailing.

The cruise began like all Royal Caribbean sailings, a buffet lunch.

Windjammer buffet
Photo by Marc Walker

Even though there were no passengers onboard, the ship's buffet that is usually for passengers was opened up to crew members.

"The crew for the next 4 days will experience the Windjammer Marketplace for breakfast, lunch and dinner! We have an amazing F&B team here," Mr. Walker posted.

Captain Tor
Photo by Marc Walker

In fact, the ship's Captain even joined in by serving his fellow crew members.

Crew members
Photo by Marc Walker

Later, his entire staff got to pose for a photo on the helipad, which is a rare opportunity for everyone working under the Cruise Director to gather in one spot.

This included:

  • Theater Cast
  • Ice Cast
  • Adventure Ocean
  • Activity Staff
  • Technicians
  • Stage Staff
  • Musicians
  • Sports Staff
  • Senior Staff 

One policy that changed for crew members on this sailing without guests is that uniforms aren't necessary.

Mr. Walker posed in a t-shirt for one photo.

Marc Walker
Photo by Marc Walker

Work is still happening on Mariner. After all, it needs to be ready for passengers when it arrives in Galveston.

The non-revenue sailing means not only do crew members not have to wear their uniforms, but they can address areas that might be difficult to get to ordinarily.

Workers on elevator
Photo by Marc Walker

Mr. Walker shared a look at one of his meetings, where the crew went through their routine, but in casual clothing.

Meeting of crew members
Photo by Marc Walker

Mr. Walker did not document everything that's different about life on a cruise ship without passengers. It's merely a glimpse of his work.

Over the years, other ships have done similar activities and we've seen guest areas opened up to crew members as a way to reward them.

Photo by Lera Synchro

There were auctions for being able to stay in a passenger cabin, enjoy guest activities, and crew member parties.

Why are there no passengers onboard

Mariner of the Seas sailing away

You might be wondering why Royal Caribbean doesn't have any paying passengers on this particular sailing.  After all, there's probably some people who would want to pay to take a one-way cruise to Texas.

The cruise line hasn't said why, but the answer is likely based in maritime law.

Royal Caribbean wants to shift where Mariner of the Seas homeports, from Port Canaveral to Galveston. Changing homeports is common within the cruise industry, because the needs one cruise market can change.

Mariner of the Seas pool deck

This game of "cruise ship musical chairs" isn't instant, and it takes a few days for a ship to get from one homeport to another.  In the meantime, that means no cruises from either homeport.  Moreover, if they had paying passengers on the open-jaw sailing, it would take even longer to get from Florida to Texas, because the ship would need to make port stops along the way.

So why can't the ship just sail from Port Canaveral to Galveston with no stops, so that it can transition to its new home and make some money along the way? It's against United States maritime law.

All of Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are flagged in a foreign country, including Mariner of the Seas. 

The Passenger Vessel Service Act (PVSA) of 1886 requires foreign flagged cruise ships to call on a foreign port if sailing a closed-loop cruise form the United States.

This means, cruise ships cannot sail from Port Canaveral to Galveston without visiting a port of call outside the United States.

The justification for both the PVSA is to protect the U.S. Merchant Marine (the licensed (officers) and documented (trades) personnel on the ships) and to protect U.S. shipyards that both build and repair the ships.

Frankly, my opinion is it's an outdated and protectionist law, but it's the law of the land.

Since there's no passengers onboard, the PVSA regulations do not count.

Royal Caribbean News Round-Up: May 5, 2024

05 May 2024
Matt Hochberg

Stay up-to-date with all the Royal Caribbean news from this week with our roundup of all this week's news.

One of the best things about Icon of the Seas could be coming to more Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Allure of the Seas docked

Passengers on Allure of the Seas noticed a Royal Caribbean team working on testing destination elevators.

Destination elevators are a more efficient type of elevator first added to a Royal Caribbean ship with Icon, and it's substantially reduced waits.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Paradise Island pool

The 532nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, previewing the new beach club concept.

Royal Caribbean has plans for two Royal Beach Clubs (Nassau and Cozumel). What are they and what can you expect?

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

I hate these things about a cruise

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 — I hate these things about a cruise — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Lessons Learned After Trying a Mediterranean Cruise

After a few Caribbean cruises, Calista tried a European cruise, and it was different in many ways.

Planning a Mediterranean cruise is unlike a Caribbean cruise in many regards, especially logistics within the trip.

Here are the important lessons she learned trying a European cruise.

Things I Don't Pay Extra for on Royal Caribbean Cruises To Save Money

Spend extra on a cruise

Money saved by not spending it is more money to for your next cruise!

While a lot is included in your cruise fare, Royal Caribbean has a seemingly endless amount of add-ons that you can pay extra for to enhance your cruise experience.

Here are all the things you could skip paying for in order to save money for later.

Why you should book a 2025 cruise now

Icon of the Seas aft

The days of waiting for a last-minute cruise deal might be behind us.

After last week's earnings call with investors, it's clear Royal Caribbean Group is seeing record demand that shows no signs of slowing down.

If you're going to take a cruise vacation next year, you should consider booking it now, rather than waiting.

Answers to your really dumb cruise ship dining questions

In case you're wondering, there's no shame in asking questions about eating on a cruise ship that you may be too embarrassed to ask.

What seems like basic knowledge to frequent cruisers can cause confusion for first time cruisers. So much confusion, unsurprisingly, leads to a lot of questions about dining on a cruise ship.

To make your first cruise experience stress-free, we’re answering 17 of your really dumb cruise ship dining questions.

What is the wellness check?

04 May 2024
Calista Kiper

What is Royal Caribbean's wellness check, and why is it required before your cruise?

Wellness check

The check-in process encompasses a few steps, with the wellness check being the final step.

Royal Caribbean’s app provides an efficient guide to checking in online. Similar to how airlines provide online check-in, you can prepare for your cruise all on the app.

Before your cruise, you can create an account on the app or website, and use your information to prepare for the cruise.

The cruise line heavily emphasizes the importance of completing all the steps of the check-in process before your cruise to make embarkation day as smooth as possible.  No one likes waiting in line, especially if they could get that time back being on the cruise ship.

Read more: 15 Royal Caribbean boarding process tips for a fast embarkation

For guests’ health and safety, the wellness check is one of those steps.

The wellness check involves a series of health questions

Essentially, the wellness check is to ensure you're not getting on the cruise ship in poor health. 

Unlike the rest of the check-in process, you can only do the wellness check the day before your cruise.

At noon on the day before embarkation day, you will receive a notification from the app to complete the wellness check and answer some required health questions.

Until you complete this questionnaire, a message in the app will read “not yet cleared to board.” All guests must complete these health questions to be allowed to board.

Again, adults can fill in the information for any passenger under 21 years old.

Royal Caribbean’s website states that “It is required that each guest answers the set of questions within 24 hours of arrival at the port for their sailing in order to qualify to board.”

Once you are prompted, open up the app by touching the notification.

The health questions will vary depending on the requirements of the port you’re sailing from. All the COVID-19 specific questions have been removed from the wellness check.

Be sure that you answer these questions accurately—you should be honest and keep in mind that you can’t change your answers after submitting.

Over the years, the exact questions have changed.  When Royal Caribbean restarted sailings in 2021, there were many more questions. Most guests currently report they are being asked the following: 

  1. Will you be 23 or more weeks pregnant at any point in your cruise?
  2. Have you experiences any of these symptoms within the past 24 hours: Fever Chills, Muscle Aches, Fatigue, Sore Throat, Nasal Congestion, Runny Nose, Cough, Difficulty Breathing, New Loss of, Nausea, Vomiting, or Diarrhea?
Health questions

You should answer the questions truthfully, as lying about it sets yourself up for disappointment onboard the ship should your condition worsen. Plus, you're putting others at risk by knowingly being sick and spreading germs.

Once you complete these questions, your wellness check is done!

B2B setsail passes

Simply press submit and you will have access to your SetSail Pass.

From here, you can add it to your Apple Wallet, Google Wallet, or Samsung Pay for quick access on embarkation day.

If you are completing check-in on the Royal Caribbean website, you can print out your Set Sail Pass.

Expedited Arrival pass

Your SetSail pass is your temporary card until you get your SeaPass on embarkation day

Even if you’re not able to add the SetSail Pass to your phone—or the battery dies—the check-in agents will still be able to look up your reservation.

At the cruise terminal, all you need to do is show up and proceed through security.

At the terminal, the gate agent may ask if your answers on the questionnaire are still accurate, or if you’re currently experiencing any cough, fever, or chills.

Either way, you’ve already completed your wellness check by answering the questionnaire on the app.

Will I be denied boarding if I answer "yes" to any of the questions?


If you answer yes to any question, the app will deny your ability to board, but that's not necessarily the end of the story.

If you accidently selected "yes" and instead of "no", you can call Royal Caribbean's Resolutions Department at 1-800-205-9812. Alternatively, you can simply explain your situation when you arrive at the cruise terminal.

If you're more than 23 weeks pregnant, it's not safe for you to go on a cruise. Cruise ships don't have the proper facility to care for a pregnant woman and/or her baby for someone that far along in their pregnancy.

Things I Don't Pay Extra for on Royal Caribbean Cruises To Save Money

04 May 2024
Calista Kiper

One of the easiest ways to save money on your cruise vacation is by limiting your spending in the first place.

Spend extra on a cruise

While a lot is included in your cruise fare, Royal Caribbean has a seemingly endless amount of add-ons that you can pay extra for to enhance your cruise experience.

However, new cruisers want to know: how can you tell which add-ons are important, and which will be a waste of your money?

As I’ve gained experience in cruising with Royal Caribbean, I’ve learned which add-ons are a waste of money, and what I can avoid spending on.

Mariner of the Seas at CocoCay dock

While I love to splurge and have a great cruise experience, some extra-cost items are only a waste of money.

With the knowledge of which ones are worth it, you can skip the scams and avoid getting a long bill at the end of your sailing.

In the end, saving money on unnecessary items allows you to spend more on other luxuries, or even to put towards your next cruise.

From specialty dining to shore excursions on Perfect Day at Cococay, these are the Royal Caribbean add-ons I never pay for.

Specialty restaurants

On my first cruise, I went crazy trying various specialty restaurants.

However, I’ve come to learn that the complimentary cruise cuisine is just as tasty!

Steaks at the Main Dining Room taste almost the same as those at the extra-cost Chops Grille, and the Windjammer has fried fish similar to what’s served at the Mason Jar.

Even when the dishes are different, the complimentary venues serve tasty food that you can't find at specialty restaurants.


Not only that, but dining at free venues like the Windjammer and the Park Cafe also grants you a lot of freedom to choose when you eat and what you wear.

You can often serve yourself, and avoid having long meals with eager waiters.

I’ve come to appreciate all the complimentary cuisine onboard Royal Caribbean.

The grove

And since reservations at a specialty restaurant can range from $30 to $200 per guest, I’m saving tons of money each time I choose to eat a free meal.

Read more: How does specialty dining work on Royal Caribbean?

Extra-cost activities

Royal Caribbean ships have countless onboard activities for guests to experience.

However, you have to stay alert, because not all these activities are free!

For example, I’ve gotten excited seeing a cupcake decorating or sushi-making class in my Cruise Compass schedule, only to find out that the classes cost over $30 per person.


To avoid spending money on activities that cost extra, make sure to double-check the prices in your Cruise Compass.

Instead of wasting your money, go ahead and find free activities, whether that’s lounging by the pool, watching a movie, or enjoying a workout in the gym.

Balcony staterooms

The idea of staying in a stateroom with a balcony is tempting. You could have a private star-gazing area, a space to feel the wind in your hair, and dine in front of the sea.

Balcony cabins are also a little more spacious for couples or families who want more privacy.

But if you’re willing to give up these amenities, you can save hundreds of dollars.

Read more: Inside cabin vs. balcony room on a cruise ship

View from balcony in Alaska

Let’s take an Alaska vacation as an example. Say you want to cruise from Seattle to Alaska on Anthem of the Seas. 

If you look forward to 2025, you’ll see that the 7-night May 30th sailing is listed at $838 per person for an interior cabin.

Jumping up to a balcony cabin raises the price to $1,291 per person—a $453 difference.

If you were to cruise with two people to Alaska next year, you’d save almost $1000 by booking an interior cabin instead of a balcony.

While the costs vary depending on the cruise, an interior cabin will always give you the cheapest cruise fare option.

Over my many cruises with Royal Caribbean, I’ve sailed the majority of them in inside guarantee cabins—and I plan to keep doing so.

Read moreI always stay in an inside cabin on a cruise ship. Here's why I actually like these rooms

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

Saving money with my cabin choice pushes me to explore more onboard the ship, getting out of the room and only returning to sleep. 

I highly recommend them to anyone looking to save money on a cruise. 

If you need to view the ocean or feel a breeze, just head out and up to the pool deck.

Spa treatments

Massage at the spa

The first time I saw Royal Caribbean’s spa prices, my jaw dropped.

I had considered booking a couple’s deep tissue massage until I saw that it cost more than $450 for 100 minutes.

In contrast, a 5-star spa located near my home offers the same treatment for less than $360.

Since then, I’ve opted out of booking any spa treatments on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Spa on Voyager of the Seas

Save your money, and choose a luxurious spa treatment once you’re back on land.

There are plenty of other activities you can experience on a cruise, including free spa tasters that are offered onboard.

If you need other ways to relax, try soaking in a hot tub, lying down on a sunny beach, or taking a nap in your dark cabin.

Your wallet will thank you.

Onboard shopping

Much like the Vitality spa, almost all the shops onboard Royal Caribbean ships have higher prices than on land.

Whether I’m looking at toiletries, medicine, or some new jewelry, I’m careful not to buy anything unless it’s absolutely essential or on sale.

Once, I forgot to pack seasickness medicine and decided to shop onboard.

Items for same

I ended up buying an essential oil mix for around $15. Painfully, I had the same essential oils sitting (for free) at home.

Before you spend money in those onboard shops, consider whether you can buy those items anywhere else. 

I guarantee you, it will be cheaper.

Add-ons at CocoCay

Beach bed

Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas is a tropical paradise.

With bars, pools, beaches, waterparks, and even wildlife, there are endless adventures to experience.

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


However, there’s no reason to spend any extra money while visiting this island.

From tram rides to beaches, there are dozens of free activities and dining venues available.

I’ve stopped buying any shore excursions for sale on Perfect Day at CocoCay, having learned to save my money and enjoy the complimentary venues.


Coffee on Brilliance of the Seas

As a coffee addict, I’m here to inform you that you don’t have to spend extra on Royal Caribbean coffee.

Yes, there are cafés onboard. These cafés usually serve Starbucks coffee, with a selection of specialty lattes and milks.

However, there’s no reason to waste money on extra-cost coffee, whether it’s hot or iced.

Coffee included

Royal Caribbean’s free brewed coffee is about the same quality, and you can request any special milk you need onboard.

Add your own sugar and milk or cream, and you have an adequate coffee drink.


Laundry bags

Royal Caribbean does not provide any self-service laundry services onboard.

If you want to do any laundry throughout your cruise, you’ll have to pay extra.

The cost depends on which service you select, but the most basic service—a wash and fold package—costs $34.99 per bag of small clothing.

This cost can really add up, especially if you want to wash clothes for more than one person.


Instead of spending $35 per bag of clothing, you can save money by packing efficiently, and leaving the washing until after the vacation.

By packing lots of re-wearable, light clothing, I avoid doing laundry at all, making my cruise an even more relaxing vacation.

Another option is to pack detergent packets and do small clothing items in your sink.  There is a clothes line in the shower to dry your clothes.

I don’t have to worry about any household chores, nor do I have to pay someone else to do them for me.

Why you should book a 2025 cruise after last week's Royal Caribbean meeting

03 May 2024
Matt Hochberg

When getting the best price for your cruise, getting the timing right is critical.

High demand for cruises

Vacationers are used to seeking last-minute deals on cruises when planning their cruise, but bookings for cruises has been so red-hot for the past few months that new booking records are being set and then eclipsed regularly.

In a call with Wall Street analysts, Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty shared how 88% of cabins for all of 2024 are booked up, leaving spares choices for a 2024 cruise.

"We only have about 12% load factors left to build for the year," Mr. Liberty said during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Icon of the Seas aft

That leaves very few rooms left for this year's cruises, but the incredible demand this year is opening the door for Royal Caribbean to take advantage of this by raising prices even more next year.

"That will provide opportunity for us to a degree this year. But what that I think means in terms of the opportunity into 2025 and beyond is very appealing," he went on to say right after sharing the fact about load factors.

Later in the meeting, Mr. Liberty pointed out that new cruise bookings for 2025 would soon eclipse bookings for this year, "we're getting close to the point where we'll soon be taking more bookings for '25 than we are for 2024."

Why you should book a 2025 cruise now after Royal Caribbean's comments in their meeting

wonder of the seas

If there's one takeaway for cruisers from Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call, it's that new cruise bookings aren't slowing down, and you're going to be competing with more people than ever for a cruise.

Here are the big reasons why you should book a 2025 (or 2026) cruise following last week's meeting:

More people than ever are cruising

Utopia of the Seas pool deck

The cruise market is attracting new cruisers more so than ever before. 

The amount of people who have never taken a cruise and booked one grew by 16% year over year. On top of that, the rate of repeat customers returning is over 30% higher compared to 2019. 

When you have loyal customers coming back over and over again and add onto it a healthy serving of new customers, it leads to very full cruise ships.

Read more: Millennials are taking over cruise ships

High demand means higher prices

Balcony room on Wonder of the Seas

Cruise ship inventory is fixed, so as inventory drops, prices tend to go up.

Cruise fares can change at a moment's notice based on demand, which means as more cabins are booked up for a given sailing, the price of remaining cabins can go up.

Icon of the Seas Central Park Infinite Cabin

In May 2023, Mr. Liberty divulged the company withholds cabins to manage prices and ultimately drive up revenue.

"We used to kind of put everything out there and all the suites would be sold basically right off the bat. And then you would kind of work your way down to the inside cabins," he explained.

Read more: What are the different types of cabins on a cruise ship?

"Now we hold back inventory and we release it, based off of the much more sophisticated revenue management models that we have today."

Overlooking Surfside

With this approach to pricing, you can expect higher prices the closer to the sail date you get.

Generally speaking, the best prices for a cruise are when a new sailing is put on sale and all the cabins are open to book. Inventory is at its highest, and prices only go up as rooms get booked.

Ovation of the Seas docked

Cruise itineraries are usually released around two years in advance. The first batch of new cruises go on sale around November and December, and the rest come out in February, March or April.

In short, booking a 2025 cruise now is probably going to get you a lower price than if you wait.

Read more: 15 ways to get a deal on a cruise

Less cabin choices later


Prices aside, the other reason to book a 2025 cruise now is to get the stateroom type you want.

One major disadvantage to waiting for the last-minute to book a cruise is you're at the mercy of the leftover cabins that haven't sold yet.

Suites are usually the first cabin category to sell out, because there are relatively far fewer than any other cabin category.  Those that would be in the market for a suite would want to book earlier than ever to be able to get one.

Icon of the Seas in Miami

Moreover, other desirable cabins that are not in a bad location or simply offer enough space for everyone also sell out quickly.

Read more: The rare cruise ship cabins that everyone wants to book immediately

Being able to get the right stateroom choice that you prefer is a compelling reason to lock in a booking now.

Bottom line

Star of the Seas concept art

In just the last two quarters, Royal Caribbean Group has reported gangbuster demand for cruises, and that trend doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

Higher demand means it's less likely there will be a last-minute deal and more likely sailings will sell out far earlier than usual. 

Consumers looking to secure a cruise vacation in 2025 will want to act quickly in order to head off higher prices down the road while getting the stateroom category they prefer.

And if you're really smart, you'll book that early 2026 cruise now too.