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Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: August 7, 2022

07 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We hope you are having a great weekend! Now it is time to sit back, relax, and catch up on all the Royal Caribbean news from the week!

Royal Caribbean announced an end to Covid testing for vaccinated passengers on short cruises.

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

Fully vaccinated guests will only have to show a test result at boarding if the sailing is 6 nights or longer.

For those that have to test, Royal Caribbean has made it easier by simplifying the testing time window. Guests will now have the same test standard, regardless of vaccination status: You can show a negative test result from a supervised PCR or antigen test taken within the 3 days before your boarding day. 

These new rules apply to cruises departing from U.S. homeports on or after August 8, 2022 that do not visit Bermuda or Canada. 

Royal Caribbean News

Video: Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Royal Caribbean Restaurant

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: Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Restaurant on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 463rd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt lists the things to do in the final days before your cruise.

This week's episode is about sharing a a list of the most important things you should be doing in those last couple days leading up to your cruise.

Please subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! 

Guide to RoyalUp

Need the inside scoop on how to bid for a stateroom upgrade?

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean’s stateroom bidding program that allows passengers to bid on higher cabin categories before their cruise, offering the chance to “win” an upgraded stateroom.

Before you bid, check out our RoyalUp tips and tricks for what to expect.

Why booking a last-minute cruise isn't always a great idea

While booking a last-minute cruise might seem like a great way to sneak in a cruise vacation, there are serious drawbacks to waiting to book.

There are a variety of considerations you should be aware of before booking a cruise in the final weeks or months prior to a cruise beginning that could make a last-minute cruise booking a problem.

From fewer choices to a higher overall vacation cost, here are the reasons why you shouldn't book a last minute cruise.

10 things I learned on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise

Angie just sailed on Mariner of the Seas for 8 nights and came back with her list of things she noticed, observed, and learned while onboard.

From dining to the Royal Caribbean app to secret areas of the ship, here's what Angie learned on her recent cruise.

Why booking a last-minute cruise isn't always a great idea

05 Aug 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

The benefits of booking a cruise at the last-minute are plentiful. Not only can you often find a great deal, but you’ll be able to enjoy a spontaneous vacation experience with little to no wait time!

That being said, there’s no perfect time to book a cruise, and you may find that the cons of booking a last-minute cruise vacation outweigh the pros. It’s important to remain flexible when booking at the last minute, and if you are set on a particular ship, itinerary, or stateroom, it’s probably best to book further in advance.

If you’re planning to book a last-minute cruise, consider the following factors when booking to ensure you don’t end up disappointed with your options and cruise fare cost.

Fewer ship choices and itinerary options

When looking for the best last-minute cruise, you’re unlikely to find deals on Royal Caribbean’s newest and biggest ships like Wonder of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas. While you'll likely come across rooms available on newer ships, you probably won’t be seeing any major discounts.

Instead, you’ll typically find the best last-minute deals on Royal Caribbean’s older ships (Vision, Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships).

Additionally, you won’t have much control over itinerary options if you’re looking for the best last-minute deal.

If you’re set on visiting the colorful streets of San Juan, mountains of St. Lucia, or fjords of Alaska, you’re probably better off booking a cruise to those destinations further in advance rather than hoping for a cheap last-minute deal to those ports.

Certain destinations are seasonal, too, so you won’t be finding any last-minute cruise deals to Alaska in December or Australia in July!

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

Limited stateroom categories

One of the main drawbacks of booking a cruise at the last minute is that there will be fewer stateroom categories available compared to booking a cruise far in advance. You might come across sold out stateroom categories, leaving you with no choice but to book a cabin category you otherwise would have skipped.

If you only cruise in balcony cabins, you might find that these are sold out, especially if the last-minute cruise is on a ship with fewer balconies, like Vision or Radiance Class ships.

Likewise, if you only cruise in interior staterooms to save the most money but they're all sold out, you might end up spending more on a higher category room than you would have originally spent on an interior.

Related: What's the best cruise ship cabin for my family?

Limited stateroom locations

Similar to having fewer stateroom categories to choose from, you’ll also have less control over where your cabin is located on the cruise.

If you prefer to sail midship or want an aft-facing balcony, there’s no guarantee these categories will be available when booking at the last minute. You may find that the only cabins available are located under the pool deck, far forward, etc. 

While some cruisers may not care where their cabin is located on the ship, others may prefer having complete control over cabin location.

Cruise add-ons can sell out or increase in price

A major perk of booking a cruise far in advance is also having the opportunity to book shore excursions, beverage packages, dining packages, and other cruise add-ons further in advance as well. Booking in advance not only means you can lock in the best price (or reprice if you notice a price drop), but it also means you can book cruise add-ons before they sell out.

This is most important for shore excursions, as some excursions are more prone to selling out than others. While Royal Caribbean will often add more tour options later on, this isn’t guaranteed, so booking a cruise earlier can give you dibs on top excursions.

Related: Guide to picking the perfect Royal Caribbean shore excursion

If you book a cruise at the last minute, you might also find that certain cruise add-ons, like the 3-night Dining Package or Unlimited Dining Package, are also sold out. Royal Caribbean offers a limited number of dining packages, and while they may add more over time if other passengers cancel, this is not guaranteed.

Expensive flights

If you have to fly to your cruise departure port, be sure to check airfare prices before booking the cruise. Last-minute airfare prices are often significantly higher than buying a flight several weeks or months in advance.

If a last-minute flight to Miami is $500 round trip but would usually cost only $200, you might be negating any cheap last-minute cruise deals with an expensive flight.

Last-minute prices aren't always cheaper

The term “last-minute cruise” can make some cruisers think they are getting the best deal out there, but this is not always the case. Just because a cruise is departing in a few weeks does not always mean the price will be cheaper than what you could have reserved several months in advance.

Related: Ultimate Guide to last-minute cruise deals

While Royal Caribbean will lower and raise prices to match supply and demand at any given time, there’s no set rule that cruises set to sail in the next week or month will be cheaper than a cruise a year in advance.

Before booking a cruise at the last minute, make sure you’re actually getting a deal and not paying just as much as you could for a future cruise where you’ll have more flexibility over ship, itinerary, and stateroom choice!

Payment is due upfront

If you plan a cruise vacation far in advance, you can make partial payments through Royal Caribbean in the months (or years) leading up to your cruise. Many people prefer booking vacations this way, as it can take some of the “sticker shock” away by paying little by little over time.

When booking a cruise at the last minute (i.e. after final payment date), you’ll have to pay the entire cruise fare upfront instead of paying over the course of a longer period of time. While this may not make a difference for some cruisers, others would prefer having the vacation paid for further in advance.

Bottom line

If you’re a flexible traveler, there’s no real harm in booking a last-minute cruise, especially if you need a vacation! While there are cons to last-minute deals, such as more expensive flights and fewer cabin options, you’ll still end up with an amazing cruise experience.

If you are not flexible, on the other hand, it’s probably best to skip a last-minute cruise and book the cruise you really want further in advance. Saving money and taking time off work for a vacation should, after all, be reserved for a cruise you’re really excited about!

Have you ever booked a last-minute cruise? Was it worth it? Let us know in the comments below!

Best Royal Caribbean itineraries with overnight ports

05 Aug 2022
Allie Hubers

Have you ever docked in a port on your Royal Caribbean cruise and wished you had more time to explore the city?

Voyager of the Seas in Malaysia

One of the biggest drawbacks of cruising is not having enough time in each port; in fact, this is often cited as one of the top reasons that people choose not to cruise and opt for land-based vacations.

Of course, one of the perks of cruising is getting to see multiple cities and countries in one vacation. It’s so nice to step onboard your cruise ship and unpack your suitcase just one time. Before you know it, you’re waking up in a new place every morning.

On the other hand, your time in port is usually limited on a cruise - ranging anywhere from just 6-9 hours at each stop. Also, you have little to no flexibility about what time you arrive and depart the port because you are at the mercy of the cruise ship to get there on schedule.

Cruise ship docked in Miami

The best way you can spend more time ashore on a Royal Caribbean cruise is choosing an itinerary that features overnight ports. 

How does it work when a cruise ship stays overnight?

Anthem of the Seas at night docked

For some cities, when the sun goes down, the city comes to life! Cruisers have felt for a long time that they miss out on everything a city has to offer because the ship leaves too soon. 

Normally, cruise ships are chasing the sunset and heading out to sea in the evening. When the sun goes down, the ship is already sailing off to the next destination on the itinerary.

But when you have an overnight stop, you’ll get to spend multiple days exploring all the port has to offer while your ship stays docked throughout the night. 

With more flexibility offered in an overnight port stay, your excursion and exploring options become multiplied. Your cruise ship essentially acts as a floating hotel during an overnight port. The cruise ship will allow you to come and go throughout the day and night rather than having a strict all aboard time after just one day of being docked in the port.

With an overnight port, you can explore throughout the day, come back for a quick bite to eat, and then head back ashore to experience the city’s nightlife. Maybe you head to the rooftop bar to see the night skyline or you might prefer to have dinner at a local restaurant! 

Ultimately, overnight ports allow cruisers to be more fully immersed in the culture of a destination. These port stops can occur mid-voyage or even at the beginning/end of the itinerary. 

Best Royal Caribbean Overnight Ports

To offer more flexibility and time to explore ports over multiple days, Royal Caribbean has started to incorporate more overnight ports in its itineraries. The cruise line has also announced itineraries that feature late-night departures and multi-stay destinations.

By adding these itinerary options, this certainly appeals to cruisers who want to see everything a city has to offer over the course of multiple days.


One of the most common itineraries to offer an overnight port is in Bermuda. Because of Bermuda’s location, there aren’t many options for port stops other than sailing down the east coast of the U.S. or down south to the Caribbean.

Most itineraries feature at least one overnight in Bermuda but some even offer two overnights. With plenty of shopping and restaurants nearby, you can spend all day and night exploring this country.

Royal Caribbean offers 2022 and 2023 summer sailings (May to October) to Bermuda from Cape Liberty (New Jersey), Orlando (Florida) and Baltimore (Maryland). Some ships sailing to Bermuda include Enchantment of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.  

Lisbon, Portugal

Anthem of the Seas in Lisbon

Across the pond and nestled in the Portuguese hillside is the historic city of Lisbon. With little trams running through the cobblestoned streets, you can experience quintessential Europe with all of the architecture and culture of Lisbon. 

Because of Lisbon’s bustling nightlife, Royal Caribbean has incorporated overnight stays on some of its longer Mediterranean itineraries. An overnight stay in Lisbon means you can watch the sunset on a rooftop bar or enjoy a local Portuguese dinner in Lisbon. Even better, the cruise port is right in the city center so everything is close by!

Also, with Royal Caribbean’s itineraries offering two days in the city, you can even venture out to Sintra. This nearby city features UNESCO World Heritage Sites that include the Jeronimos Monastery and Quinta da Regaleira. It’s a real life fairytale!

Royal Caribbean has itineraries featuring overnight stays in Lisbon on Anthem of the Seas sailing from Southampton for summer 2022 and 2023. 



If the Arctic Circle is more of your vibe, you’ll find plenty of itineraries that feature overnight stops in Iceland. Most of the itineraries will feature an overnight in Reykjavik, which is the capital of Iceland. 

Having multiple days allows you to explore the city’s museums and churches while still having time to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon.

Royal Caribbean also has numerous itineraries that feature overnight port stops in Akureyri, Iceland. This tiny Icelandic town is situated at the end of the Eyjafjordur and features a quaint old town and plenty of hot springs.


Because Iceland is a smaller country with tons to explore, having overnight stays allows cruisers to get an in-depth experience of the Arctic Circle. 

Itineraries featuring overnights in Iceland can be found sailing on Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam throughout the summer of 2022 and 2023. Transatlantic and Arctic Crossing itineraries are also available on Royal Caribbean, including a 17 night crossing in August 2023.



One of the more culturally immersive Royal Caribbean Mediterranean itineraries features overnight ports in Israel. With up to 3 days in Israel, cruisers are able to see all of the wildly historical places in cities like Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. 

With so many sites to see, most of which are located outside of the port city, it’s great to have multiple days to explore Israel while using your cruise ship as a home base each night. 

Haifa and Ashod are two of the most common cruise ports for Holy Land itineraries in Israel. These port cities give access to some of the most commonly visited biblical sites while also giving access to Tel Aviv and other cities in Israel. 

Royal Caribbean features Holy Land itineraries with overnights to Israel on Odyssey of the Seas through the summer of 2022 and 2023. 

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas Arch

You know all of your favorite celebrities are obsessed with Cabo - and for good reason! Cabo is an electrifying destination with plenty of nightlife located in Baja California.

With an overnight stay in Cabo, you can stay out all night partying in the night clubs, indulging in a margarita (or two), trying local Mexican cuisine or dancing the night away. During the day, you’ll have two full days to explore the town by foot and sea. 

Royal Caribbean offers 5-night cruises with overnight port stops in Cabo San Lucas in September 2022, March 2023 and April 2023 on Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California. 



If Southeast Asia is on your bucket list, Thailand is a destination that can't be missed. I can speak from personal experience that visiting the Thai islands by cruise ship is a great way to immerse yourself in their culture. 

With an overnight stay in Phuket, you have so much flexibility to really explore the island, like visiting elephant sanctuaries, beautiful temples, and stunning beaches. 

Our second day in Phuket, we ventured out to Phang Nga Bay to see the floating village by boat. It was absolutely stunning to sail around the islands. 

Ao Phang Nga

One of the most dazzling cities in Asia is Bangkok, Thailand. The city has centuries-old temples coupled with brand new skyscrapers and rooftop bars. There’s no city like Bangkok; lucky for Royal Caribbean cruisers, most itineraries feature an overnight stay in this fascinating port city.

From street-food vendors to tuk tuk rickshaws that run the streets, you’ll have two full days on your itinerary to see everything the city has to offer. Don’t forget about all of the Thai temples, museums and Buddha statues. 

Look for overnight ports in Bangkok and Phuket on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, sailing from Singapore throughout 2022 and 2023. 

Penang, Malaysia 

Ovation of the Seas in Penang

Most Southeast Asian itineraries will feature a stop in Penang, Malaysia; if you’re lucky, your itinerary will feature an overnight stay in the northwestern Malaysian port city to give you even more time to immerse yourself in the culture. 

You’ll find the port of Penang is filled with a rich and diverse culture, mostly because of its location as a trading center among India, China, Britain and the Middle East. Plenty of local food stalls accompanies the many religious temples scattered throughout the town. 

Overnight stays in Penang can be found on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, sailing in January 2023 from Singapore. 

Port Vila, Vanuatu


Those sailing in the South Pacific will appreciate Royal Caribbean adding overnight ports on some of its most popular itineraries. 

Port Vila is the energetic capital of Vanuatu, where you can spend 2 full days exploring the island. From the French-inspired city to waterfalls and heritage centers, you might wish you had even a second overnight!

Royal Caribbean offers overnight sailings to Port Vila on its South Pacific itineraries. Quantum of the Seas has multiple itineraries sailing from Brisbane, Australia throughout the winter of 2022 and 2023.


Visiting Hawaii on a Royal Caribbean cruise is one of the best ways to explore multiple islands. Even better, you can find itineraries with overnight ports to have ample time to squeeze in everything you want to do on the islands.

Royal Caribbean’s itineraries feature overnight port stays in Maui and Oahu, giving cruisers extra time to explore the island. With Maui having so much to offer - from hiking to luaus and surfing on the beach - you’ll be thankful to have all the time to explore ashore. 

Itineraries to Hawaii are typically during the transition seasons when cruise ships are transitioned to Australia from Alaska. Quantum of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas all have Hawaii itineraries featuring overnights in Hawaii. Sailings are October 2022/2023 and April 2022/2023. 

Honorable Mention: Late-Night Departures

Wonder of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - San Juan | Royal Caribbean Blog

Even if your cruise doesn’t feature an overnight port stop, you might get lucky and have some late-night port departures. While you won't have two full days in a city, you can still experience some of the nightlife with port stays that last up to 14 hours.

In this scenario, your cruise ship will depart the port around 9pm -10 pm instead of a more standard time like 6pm.  

One of the places you can find late departures is the Greek island of Santorini, known for its picturesque blue rooftops and white villas on the mountainside. But, Santorini is best known for its unparalleled sunsets from the town of Oia. 

Santorini sunset

Instead of having a typical departure time of 5 or 6pm, Royal Caribbean has some itineraries that feature late-night departures of 9pm or 10pm in Santorini so cruisers can see the incredible sunset. 

Rhapsody of the Seas features late-night departures from Haifa to Santorini in the fall of 2023. 

Another popular city that features late departures is Le Havre, France. This European port city is the closest place a cruise ship can dock to Paris, even though it’s still 2.5 hours each way to get to the city. 

Because of the distance to Paris, which is surely a top destination for cruisers, Royal Caribbean docks in Le Havre from 8am to 10pm. Having 14 hours in the port allows you to explore Paris during your cruise and catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.

Anthem of the Seas has late-night Le Havre departures on sailings throughout the summer and fall of both 2022 and 2023.  

Although one day is certainly not enough to see everything Paris and Santorini have to offer, Royal Caribbean’s late-night departures allow for more flexibility in port to experience the even more of what the cities and countries have to offer. 

Royal Caribbean drops testing for vaccinated passengers with new Covid protocols for U.S. sailings

04 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has posted its initial Covid-19 health protocols for cruises that include the dropping of Covid-19 testing on short sailings for vaccinated passengers.

Last week, Royal Caribbean Group announced it would not test passengers on short sailings from the U.S.

Royal Caribbean's website has been updated with new rules for cruises departing from U.S. homeports on or after August 8, 2022 that do not visit Bermuda or Canada. 

Guests on cruises visiting Canada or Bermuda will still need to follow the current testing protocols until further notice.

Wonder of the Seas aerial overhead

Royal Caribbean said in a posting on its website, "We are currently developing updated protocols that provide for the continued safety of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit, better align with the travel and hospitality sector, and meet destination regulations. This means we’re transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us."

New Covid policy changes

The major change is in testing for passengers sailing from the U.S. August 8 -  August 14th, 2022.

Fully vaccinated guests will only have to show a test result at boarding if the sailing is 6 nights or longer.

Unvaccinated children will still need to show a test result to board all sailings, regardless of length. However, they will not need to test again at the terminal.

Guests will now have the same test standard, regardless of vaccination status: You can show a negative test result from a supervised PCR or antigen test taken within the 3 days before your boarding day. 

Previously, unvaccinated children were required to only take a PCR test. Moreover, vaccinated guests had to get their test done within 2 days of sailing. This new change gives vaccinated guests more time to get a test completed and unvaccinated kids the choice to take a rapid antigen test instead.

Required testing for all guests, regardless of vaccination status, must be completed using a PCR or antigen test that is supervised by a healthcare professional or a home test kit that is conducted under live video supervision.

Tests must be arranged on your own and are at your own expense. 

Guests confirmed on U.S. sailings departing on or before August 7, 2022, should adhere to protocols previously communicated.

For those guests booked after August 14, 2022, please await the specific protocol details from the cruise line related to those sailings. 

No change in vaccination policy yet

There's been no change as of yet to the vaccination requirements, despite Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirming a change was coming.

"Additional information will soon follow, however, until then, current vaccine guidance remains unchanged."

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

The website does include language that points to a change, but no policy shift has happened yet, "We are continuing to work with our destination partners to evolve and finalize other travel protocols, as we begin transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us."

"We look forward to providing more updates in coming days."

Last week, Mr. Bayley posted on Facebook that Royal Caribbean cruise ships will sail at 80% vaccinated, leaving the extra 20% for unvaccinated. 

Back-to-Back Sailings Testing

Allure of the Seas at the gangway

Celebrity Cruises also posted their new protocols, which include a mention of back-to-back sailings.

Testing for back-to-back sailings is not required for all sailings. Guests will be notified onboard if testing is required and will be provided testing at no cost if needed.

This back-to-back testing policy applies to sailings on any ships within the Royal Caribbean Group which includes Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and SilverSea.

Tips for taking an Alaska cruise on a budget

04 Aug 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

If you’re dreaming of visiting the gorgeous landscapes and fjords of Alaska on a Royal Caribbean cruise but you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be happy to learn that there are plenty of ways to save money on an Alaska cruise.

Flexibility is key when planning an Alaska cruise on a budget. If you don’t mind visiting one port over another, the departure port, the month you sail, or the type of cabin you book, you can easily find a way to visit the Last Frontier without breaking the bank.

From choosing to cruise in shoulder season to booking the cheapest stateroom, here are our top tips for taking an Alaska cruise on a budget.

Sail during the off-season

More often than not, the best way to save money on an Alaska cruise is to sail during the shoulder season. Alaska’s cruise season runs from late April through September each year, with the busiest season in June, July, and August.

Booking a cruise in the shoulder season months of April, May, and September can often lead to fantastic discounts compared to sailing in the middle of summer. An Alaska cruise in May, for example, can sometimes be half the price of cruising in July.

Related: When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

There are, of course, pros and cons to sailing during the off-season compared to peak season. While you’ll encounter fewer crowds and lower prices in shoulder season, you might also experience rougher seas, more rain, less daylight, and colder temperatures.

It’s never a good idea to book a cruise based solely on price, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before heading to Alaska in shoulder season:

Book an interior cabin

One of the best ways to save money not just on an Alaska cruise, but any cruise, is to book an interior stateroom. Interior staterooms can be priced hundreds of dollars cheaper per person than ocean view or balcony cabins, making for great savings for those on a budget.

Related: Why you should book a cruise ship inside room

Royal Caribbean’s interior staterooms offer most of the same amenities as higher-category cabins. You’ll find everything you need to keep comfortable in an interior cabin, with a comfy bed, couch or chair, television, vanity, dresser, closet, and private bathroom.

While interior cabins may not come with a private balcony, there are plenty of public areas onboard to watch Alaska’s scenery pass by during your sailing.

If you want to save even more money on an Alaska cruise, book a guarantee interior cabin. While you won’t be able to pick the exact location of your room when booking a guarantee interior cabin, you can save a bit more money on your cruise fare.

Related: Should I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?

Buy lightly-used winter weather gear

Packing for an Alaska cruise involves more research and planning than packing for a summer cruise to warm weather destinations. From water-resistant clothing to base layers, jackets, sweaters, and pants, there’s a lot to remember to ensure you remain warm and comfortable throughout your time in Alaska.

Before breaking the bank on new outfits, head to local thrift stores or check websites like Facebook Marketplace and eBay for lightly-used clothing. You can often find nice name brand clothing at a fraction of the price of buying new, which is extremely helpful for those on tight budgets.

Related: What should you bring on an Alaska cruise?

Do free or cheap activities in port

Once you’ve booked an Alaska cruise and begin searching for shore excursions, you might have sticker shock. Alaska excursions are often quite expensive, with many tours costing well over $100. Some tours, like helicopter excursions, might cost over $400!

Instead of booking shore excursions in each Alaska cruise port, do some research on what activities are available at little to no extra cost in each town.

All Alaska cruise ports have a walkable town center, where you’ll find landmarks, a scenic waterfront, restaurants, museums, shops, hiking trails, and more. Many of these activities come with no extra cost yet still provide an insightful look into Alaska’s history, nature, and culture.

Read through our guides on what to do in Alaska cruise ports to plan your budget-friendly days off the ship:

Consider your departure port

When browsing Royal Caribbean’s website for cruises to Alaska, you’ll find sailings departing from both Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia.

If you have to fly to the cruise departure port, it’s a good idea to check for typical flight prices and schedules to both Seattle and Vancouver before booking one cruise over another.

You don’t want to book an Alaska cruise departing from Vancouver because it is $100 cheaper per person only to find out that flying to Vancouver will cost $300 more per person than flying to Seattle!

This is extremely important if you’re considering booking a more port-intensive, one-way cruise to Alaska. These often come with cheaper prices, but you’ll have to factor in the cost of one-way flights to or from Vancouver and Anchorage, Alaska.

Do a little research on travel costs and flight schedules prior to booking your cruise to avoid any unexpected costs later on.

Related: How much does an Alaska cruise cost?

Skip specialty dining and drink packages

While Royal Caribbean ships offer incredible specialty dining venues, with everything from hibachi to Italian and a steakhouse, there are more than enough complimentary dining venues to choose from on a cruise. You can easily save $100-200 by dining only at complimentary venues, like the Main Dining Room and Windjammer, instead of specialty restaurants.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Additionally, consider not purchasing a beverage package when cruising to Alaska on a budget. Royal Caribbean’s deluxe beverage packages can be priced as high as $80+ per person, per day, and this can drastically increase the price of a 7-night Alaska cruise.

Instead of buying a drink package, opt to enjoy a few drinks in port each day at historic saloons. Not only will drinks be cheaper on land compared to on the ship, but you’ll get a taste of Alaska’s local culture in the process.

Book your cruise far in advance

While it’s possible to find a last-minute cruise deal to Alaska, this is usually the exception and not the norm. Therefore, once you know you want to visit Alaska, book the cruise as soon as possible.

Royal Caribbean usually releases Alaska cruise itineraries in November for the season to come in two years. This is when you’ll often find the lowest prices on cruise fare.

Related: How far in advance to book an Alaska cruise

Even if you book an Alaska cruise for $2000, for example, and the price later lowers to $1500, you can reprice your cruise and save the $500 provided it is before the sailing’s final payment date. To reprice your cruise, call Royal Caribbean or speak to your travel agent to receive the price difference.

Long story short: there’s no harm in booking a cruise earlier rather than later so you’re able to lock-in the lowest price!

Don’t miss out because of a tight budget

Our last tip for taking an Alaska cruise on a budget is to not be too strict with yourself while onboard and in port. An Alaska cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for many cruisers, and there are certain aspects of the vacation where you may want to splurge.

If visiting Mendenhall Glacier is on your bucket list, don’t skip visiting just to save a few dollars. Likewise, if tasting freshly-caught salmon while in port is important to you, budget $20 for a meal instead of heading back to the ship for lunch.

While keeping to your budget is important, don’t restrict yourself too much that you end up regretting not trying something later on.

New Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in Galveston is nearly complete

04 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas is nearing completion.

Galveston cruise terminal construction

One of the few projects to continue work during the cruise industry shutdown of 2020-2021 was an expansion of Royal Caribbean's presence in Galveston. 

A construction update shared by the cruise line indicates they are 75% complete with construction.

The $125 million, 161,000-square-foot cruise terminal will cement the company's presence in the Texas cruise market for decades, not only with a larger building, but with increased capacity as well.

Galveston cruise terminal construction

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook, "Texas will soon be able to welcome our Oasis Class ships – some of the largest in the world! And we’re kicking off with Allure of the Seas!"

The first Allure of the Seas sailing is scheduled on November 13, 2022 to coincide with the opening of Terminal 3 cruise terminal.

Allure of the Seas aerial with sunset

Not only can Terminal 3 handle Oasis Class ships, it will also be able to accommodate Royal Caribbean's new Icon Class ships.

Allure will sail 7-night Western Caribbean cruises to destinations like Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.

Inside the terminal

New cruise terminals are more than just a place to check-in and board your cruise. With the new building comes a smoother process, as well as enhancements in the embarkation and disembarkation procedures.

Royal Caribbean says it will be a state-of-the-art building that will be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which means it will be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently. 

Galveston's new terminal will also have a special area for suite guests with their own "plussed" seating area before boarding begins.

Royal Caribbean cancels more Quantum of the Seas Alaska glacier viewings due to engine trouble

03 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

More sailings on Quantum of the Seas will have to skip scheduled glacier visits in Alaska this season.

Guests booked on late August and some September Quantum of the Seas sailings received an email from Royal Caribbean on Wednesday informing them due to "a speed limitation caused by a technical issue with one of the ship’s engines", planned visits to Dawes Glacier have been cancelled.

This new round of itinerary changes are a follow-up on cancelled visits to the glaciers for some August sailings that Royal Caribbean cancelled last month.

Previously, the August 1, 8, and 15 Alaska cruise sailings were impacted.

Glacier in Alaska

As a result of the "technical issue with one of the ship's engines", Quantum will skip visits to Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier and instead spend more time in Juneau, Alaska.

Quantum of the Seas is sailing 7-night Alaska cruises from Seattle.

Why the cancellation

Ovation of the Seas in Hubbard glacier

In the email to booked guests, Royal Caribbean said Quantum of the Seas has four engines, but one of them needs to be repaired.

"One requires some repair and there's a delay in receiving the parts needed. Additionally, another engine is schedule for routine maintenance soon, which means we'll have to reduce our overall speed."

"Our ships can safely sail in these kinds of situations at reduced speeds, and while we're working to expedite the repair process, the global supply chain issues that we're all experiencing are complication the situation."

Helicopter in Alaska

Royal Caribbean is offering onboard credit to guests booked as compensation for the change.

  • $75 USD for Interior and Ocean View staterooms
  • $100 USD for Balcony staterooms
  • $200 USD for Suites

Alternative ways to see a glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

While the glacier viewing at Dawes Glacier is not replaceable, there is still a way to see a glacier for anyone still booked on the cruise.

Juneau is home to Mendenhall Glacier, which can be accessed via helicopter, boat, or by driving to it by road to the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area.

Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. 

Mendenhall Glacier

You could see it from many spots in the park, such as from Nugget Falls, a 377 foot waterfall located near Mendenhall Glacier.

There are also helicopter tours you can book for a guided walk on the glacier or a dog sledding excursion.

Additionally, there are boat and kayak shore excursions that can take you close to the glacier.

Read moreTop 10 things to do in Juneau, Alaska

Davidson Glacier

While in Skagway, there are more glacier viewing opportunities via shore excursions.

Helicopter tours leaving from Skagway generally visit either Chilkat Glacier or Denver Glacier. 

Upon landing on the glacier, most tours will either include a guided glacier hike or dog sledding expedition.

Read moreTop 10 things to do in Skagway, Alaska

Full letter

Here's a copy of the full letter Royal Caribbean sent.

Thanks to Dan Goodlife for sharing the email.

Top 10 things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on a cruise

03 Aug 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Puerto Vallarta is a common port on Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries, and there’s plenty to discover and experience in this bustling resort town.

Puerto Vallarta

Located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta offers beaches, jungles, excellent cuisine, and trendy downtown neighborhoods to enjoy.

While it’s possible to disembark your cruise ship in Puerto Vallarta and explore without a plan, it’s always helpful to have an idea of what activities are available in port. From whale watching to snorkeling, shopping, and lounging at the beach, here’s our list of the top 10 things to do in Puerto Vallarta on a cruise.

Discover downtown Puerto Vallarta

While there are endless tours and activities to book for your port day in Puerto Vallarta, spending extra on an excursion is not entirely necessary. While excursions can offer unique opportunities, such as boat tours and snorkeling, you can have just as much fun wandering around Puerto Vallarta on your own.

The main thoroughfare in Puerto Vallarta is the malecón (boardwalk). A promenade between the sea and city, the malecón is a car-free walkway where visitors can enjoy views of the ocean, street art, shopping, restaurants, and bars.

One neighborhood you’ll want to visit while in Puerto Vallarta is Zona Romántica, the city’s “romantic zone”. Zona Romántica is home to boutiques, restaurants, bars, and shops along narrow cobblestone streets.

Make it a beach day

Puerto Vallarta is arguably the best Mexican Riviera cruise port for swimming. Cabo San Lucas is prone to strong currents due to its position on the Baja peninsula, and while Mazatlán offers nice, long beaches, Puerto Vallarta’s beaches tend to be calmer due to its position in the Bay of Banderas.

One of the most conveniently-accessed beaches in Puerto Vallarta is Playa de Los Muertos, located near the Zona Romántica neighborhood downtown. Shops, restaurants, and bars are all located next to the beach, making it an easy option for a beach day combined with time exploring town.

Located at the end of Playa de Los Muertos is Conchas Chinas Beach, a natural cove with soft sand and calm, clear waters.


You may also want to consider purchasing a day pass to a resort in Puerto Vallarta. Day passes can be nice options for those looking to relax in an all-inclusive environment where they can enjoy unlimited food, drinks, and access to resort amenities at a set cost.

Related: A day spent in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on a cruise

Horseback ride through the countryside

Get up close and personal to Mexico’s rugged beauty on a horseback riding excursion, which will take you through the countryside and into the Mascota River canyon.

Horseback riding tours are led by an experienced guide and tend to visit destinations not as easily accessible by road, meaning you’ll be able to experience Puerto Vallarta in a way many tourists won’t.

Depending on the tour, horseback riding excursions may also visit tequila factories and/or local restaurants, allowing you to learn more about local culture while riding through the countryside.

Visit a tequila distillery

Puerto Vallarta is located in Mexico’s state of Jalisco, which is known for being the birthplace of tequila. In fact, tequila is named after the town of Tequila, Mexico, located just 175 miles from Puerto Vallarta.

Visitors to Puerto Vallarta will have the chance to discover Jalisco’s rich tequila culture and tradition with a visit to a tequila farm. While the town of Tequila itself is a bit too far for a port day excursion, there are many tequila distilleries nearby where you can taste and learn more about Mexico’s most famous liquor.

Whale watching

Whale watching is a popular shore excursion on any Mexican Riviera cruise, and Puerto Vallarta is one of the best ports to book a tour to spot these magnificent animals.

The best time to spot whales off the coast of Puerto Vallarta is from December through March, with January and February providing the best wildlife viewing opportunities. Humpback whales are the most common whales to spot near Puerto Vallarta.

Sail along the Bay of Banderas

Puerto Vallarta is situated in the Bay of Banderas, which boasts excellent scenery of the Sierra Madre Mountains and turquoise Pacific waters.

Yacht cruises are available to book along the bay, where you’ll spend the day cruising along the coast, swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and spotting wildlife like dolphins, whales, turtles, and manta rays.

Relax at La Caletas

Las Caletas is a private beach and tropical hideaway far from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta’s downtown beaches.

You’ll arrive at Las Caletas via boat, during which you’ll have the chance to enjoy the Pacific breeze and maybe even spot wildlife along the way.

Once at Las Caletas, enjoy relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, kayaking, or paddle boarding on the water. If you prefer to explore on land, walk along the area’s nature trails and spot parrots, macaws, and other animals as you enjoy this secluded paradise.

Visit Sayulita and San Pancho

If you’ve been to Puerto Vallarta before or are looking to try something a bit different, consider a day tour to both Sayulita and San Pancho, Mexico.

These two towns are located around an hour from port and offer a more laid-back feel than bustling Puerto Vallarta. While the towns are still fairly touristy, they're much smaller and less crowded than Puerto Vallarta. 

Sayulita is known for surfing whereas San Pancho has a more bohemian, eco-conscious vibe. Many tours combine visits to both towns in one excursion, so there's no need to choose one town over another!

Get your adrenaline pumping

If you’re hoping for a high-energy excursion in Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find plenty of tour opportunities that will surely get your adrenaline pumping.

Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains, where you can find ATV tours, zip lining, speedboats, and rappelling tours down waterfalls and cliffs.

Getting out into the jungle is one of the best ways to experience all that Puerto Vallarta’s surrounding area has to offer, and it is guaranteed to be fun and thrilling experience!

Enjoy a traditional lunch

You can’t cruise to Mexico without tasting local cuisine, which is both affordable and delicious, and Puerto Vallarta has plenty of local specialities to enjoy.

While at the beach, be sure to try pescado embarazado, which is fresh grilled fish marinated in lime and served on a stick.

If you’re in the mood for comfort food, try birria, a spicy stew that originated in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The stew is made with goat meat, beef, or chicken and served with tortillas and chilis.

Ceviche tostadas, tamales, chilaquiles, tortas, gorditas, and elotes can also be found in Puerto Vallarta. Needless to say, you won’t go hungry while visiting this city!

More Mexican Riviera cruise information

Royal Caribbean's RoyalUp guide, tips, and tricks

02 Aug 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Planning a cruise often starts with setting a budget, which sometimes means forgoing the cruise cabin of your dreams for something smaller and cheaper.

In the past, you could only switch your cabin category by paying the “sticker price” on an upgraded stateroom, but now there’s a second option: RoyalUp.

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean’s stateroom bidding program that allows passengers to bid on higher cabin categories before their cruise, offering the chance to “win” an upgraded stateroom.

RoyalUp upgrades often come at a lower price than upgrading your stateroom on your own, making it an attractive option for those looking for the best deal on a better stateroom. Whether switching from an interior to balcony or Junior Suite to Grand Suite, here’s what you need to know about Royal Caribbean’s RoyalUp program.

How RoyalUp works

When RoyalUp bidding opens for your sailing, you’ll receive an email offering you the chance to bid on select stateroom options. The bidding process has a few steps:

  1. Browse through the stateroom options available and choose the amount you’re willing to pay for each upgrade. You don’t have to make bids on every room category, so just bid on the staterooms you’re interested in.
  2. You will enter your credit card information when making the bid. If you win the bid, you’ll receive an email confirmation and your card will be charged the bid amount automatically. Note that your card is not charged unless you win the bid.
  3. Once you win the upgrade and have your credit card charged, you are automatically switched to the higher-category stateroom!

Note that RoyalUp is non-refundable, although cancellations and modifications are allowed prior to a bid being accepted. Bids can be accepted up to 2 days before your sail date.

Related: How to upgrade your cabin on Royal Caribbean

How to increase chances of a RoyalUp upgrade

Sailing at less busy times of the year

You may have a higher chance of winning a RoyalUp bid on a cruise with less capacity. Cruises during the off-season may have fewer guests onboard, meaning there are more rooms available.

Even if your cruise will likely be at near-full capacity (cruising during peak season, during holidays, etc.), it doesn’t hurt to make a bid. Stateroom categories can open up through last-minute cancellations, meaning you can still have a chance to be upgraded even on the busiest of sailings.

Related: The best time to go on a Caribbean cruise

Bid higher than the minimum

RoyalUp bids have a minimum and maximum bid. Minimum bids depend on the stateroom category, with some upgrades starting at $30 per person whereas other bids may begin at $200+ per person. Bid amounts on RoyalUp range from weak to strong.

While no winnings are guaranteed, it’s recommended to bid at least a little bit higher than the minimum bid. Many passengers may bid the minimum and hope they win the upgrade, but if your bid is even $10 more than another passenger, you will have a higher chance of receiving the upgrade.

Top things to consider before bidding through RoyalUp

If you’re on the fence between bidding and not bidding for a stateroom upgrade through RoyalUp, there are a few key considerations that may help you decide if it’s right for you. While the idea of receiving a cabin upgrade may seem appealing, RoyalUp comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Look at the cost to upgrade yourself before bidding

Before bidding on an upgraded stateroom category with RoyalUp, contact your travel agent or Royal Caribbean to check how much it would cost to upgrade your cabin outright instead of through RoyalUp.

Sometimes you may discover that the cost to upgrade your cabin without RoyalUp is not unreasonable. In fact, it’s not unheard of to upgrade your cabin for the same price of a low bid or even less! Be sure to check to see what the cost of a (guaranteed) upgrade is before placing a bid through Royal Up.

Related: Royal Caribbean suites guide & review

Understand the room category and possible cabin locations

RoyalUp cannot guarantee a specific cabin location, so if location is of utmost importance to you, it may be better to upgrade a stateroom on your own instead of through the bidding process.

If you’re bidding on an upgrade from a midship Grand Suite to an AquaTheater suite, for example, your new cabin will be located at the very aft of the ship, which can be prone to more motion throughout the cruise.

Additionally, if you bid from an ocean view to a balcony, you have no control over where the balcony will be located. It may be located midship, or it might be far forward or aft, close to the pool deck, etc.

Bidding is priced per person

Keep in mind that bids placed through RoyalUp are priced per person on a double capacity basis. If you are a solo traveler, you’ll still have to pay the bid amount x2, which can make upgrades more expensive for those cruising solo.

If your stateroom has more than two people, however, you’ll only be charged the bid amount for 2 passengers in the stateroom category. Therefore, a $500 bid per person in a room with four guests will only be $1000 total instead of $2000.

Gratuity amounts increase

If your RoyalUp bid takes you from an interior, ocean view, balcony, or Junior Suite to a Grand Suite or above, your daily gratuities will increase from $14.50 per person, per day to $17.50 per person, per day. This will add $21 per person to a 7-night cruise.

RoyalUp will not maintain connecting rooms

One important note for families before bidding on RoyalUp is that the bidding program will not maintain connecting rooms. If you originally booked a connecting room with friends or family, ensure you are comfortable with the fact that you will no longer be in a connecting room if you win a RoyalUp upgrade.

Related: What’s the best cruise ship cabin for my family?

You won’t receive double Crown & Anchor Society points

If you’re upgrading from a standard stateroom (interior, ocean view, balcony) to a suite, keep in mind that you won’t receive double Crown & Anchor Society points through RoyalUp.

RoyalUp stateroom categories available

RoyalUp upgrade opportunities differ based on the original stateroom you booked. Usually you'll be able to upgrade on stateroom categories that are 1-2 steps up from your original cabin.

If you booked an interior cabin, for example, you won’t typically see the opportunity to bid on staterooms like Owner’s Suites and Loft Suites. You will, however, be able to upgrade to ocean view and balcony cabins. The exact room categories available to book depend on the ship.

Many passengers bid on suites with RoyalUp, as you can often find a lower price through bidding than upgrading to the suite category outright.

One possibility of a RoyalUp upgrade is from a regular suite category to Star Class, Royal Caribbean’s top-tier suite level. Star Class benefits include a personalized Royal Genie service, complimentary specialty dining, complimentary deluxe beverage package, complimentary VOOM internet, and more.

Related: A beginner’s guide to sailing in Star Class

How can I access RoyalUp?

You should receive an email a couple months before your cruise offering you the chance to bid with RoyalUp.

If you haven’t received an email, make sure to opt-in to Royal Caribbean International’s marketing emails. To do this, sign up on the Royal Caribbean website, opt-in during online check-in, or through the My Reservations area on Royal Caribbean’s website.

You can also check if you’re eligible to bid on RoyalUp on Royal Caribbean’s RoyalUp portal.

Bidding rules and cancellations

If you bid on RoyalUp and later decide you don’t want to upgrade your stateroom, you can choose to cancel the bid. Likewise, if you prefer to modify the bid to a higher or lower offer, you can modify each stateroom category’s bid. Be sure to make any modifications or cancellations right away, as you never know when you might receive an upgrade confirmation.

Always be sure to double check your bids before hitting submit, too. While it’s unlikely that your RoyalUp bid will be accepted immediately after bidding, be sure to double check your bid amounts. If you meant to bid only $200 per person on an upgrade, do a double check to make sure you didn’t accidentally move the slider to $300 or $400!

Learn more about cruise ship cabins and upgrades:

10 Things I learned on the Royal Caribbean cruise I just took

02 Aug 2022
Angie Vognild

Though I consider myself to be a seasoned cruiser on Royal Caribbean ships, I still learned some new things to remember for upcoming sailings. 

Take a look at the top 10 things I learned while I was on the Mariner of the Seas this July. Knowing a few of these simple tricks can help you during your next cruise!

Importance of the Royal Caribbean app

Before 2020, I had never needed to use the Royal Caribbean app on my smartphone while I was on a cruise. We always had our compass given to us in our stateroom, a physical menu in the main dining room, and an in-person muster drill. Now, Royal Caribbean highly encourages you to download the app before your sailing so you can access all this information online.

I like most aspects of the app, but I missed being able to receive a compass every night in our stateroom. Same in the dining room - I like to look at a physical menu rather than scrolling on my phone.

Luckily, both of these can be easily resolved by asking your stateroom attendant for a physical compass and your waiter for a physical menu. 

I have no complaints about the muster drill, though. It was so much easier and faster to do it on your own following the steps on the app.

Food options

Windjammer food on a plate

While I was aware that Royal Caribbean ships have plenty of food options, I learned a few interesting facts for those that are vegan or gluten-free.

To accommodate a gluten-free diet, the main dining room takes your order the day before so they can prepare your meal for the next evening. The dining staff tries their hardest to accommodate these requests, and it seems as though they can make almost any meal work. 

Dining room menu

As I was scrolling through the app one evening, I noticed there was a vegan menu in addition to the regular main dining room menu. If you only have a normal menu, you can ask to see the vegan menu.

Read moreVegetarian and Vegan Guide to Royal Caribbean

I had previously been on the Mariner of the Seas earlier in 2022, and it had a build-your-own omelet station at the Windjammer. This time around, it was not there, which I was sad about. On the bright side, they still made various pre-made omelets to choose from, such as ham and cheese, vegetable, and cheese.

Diamond Drinks

For those that love sweet treats like I do, this next tip will be important to remember.

I wanted to learn the differences between Ben & Jerry’s milkshakes and Johnny Rockets’ milkshakes. While you have to pay for anything from Ben & Jerry’s, I did not have to at Johnny Rockets.

In the past, the milkshakes were not included as one of my Diamond drink vouchers, but it was this time! The worker explained to me since the milkshake is under the $13 drink limit, it qualifies like any other cocktail or mixed drink.

Another discovery I made was the coffee drinks at Cafe Promenade. I did not think these drinks were included either, so I waited until the end of the cruise to ask if they were included. Low and behold, they were as well! 

Check-in time matters

Since I booked this cruise pretty last minute, I had only a few options to pick from when it came to the arrival time. I had the option of either 1:30 or 2 p.m. I went with the 2 p.m. slot because I did not want to be rushed to leave my hotel. In the end, it didn't matter what time I picked, because the line was so long!

While I was waiting in line, I could hear people saying they had an arrival time of 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, etc. I was shocked to hear this, but I later learned that this sailing was at full capacity and wasn’t located at its normal launching terminal. Those two things combined made for a 1.5-hour wait just to check-in. 

After finally getting on the ship, I found out that those that had an early arrival time did not have a long wait like I did. If your travel allows, sign up for an early check-in time so you can avoid the crowds and start your vacation sooner!

Rideshare apps to and from port

Ride share

This was my first time using a rideshare app to get to and from the cruise. I was worried the price was going to be extremely expensive to drive 45 minutes (I was at the Orlando airport going to Port Canaveral), but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my options. 

Each way, Lyft was cheaper, so I used this app. (Uber was at least another $50-$100 more.) It was easy to find a ride to the ship, but it was more difficult to get one after the cruise. 

After getting off the ship, I immediately put in a request for a Lyft, and it notified me that it was busy and may take a long time to have a driver pick me up. I did not mind waiting, but I had to request a driver two times before someone picked me up. It did take about 45 minutes in total to order the ride and have them find me at the port.

In the future, it may be worthwhile to schedule a Lyft or Uber to pick you up. Or, you can take the airport shuttle instead.

Dinner theme nights

I remember on past cruises how there would only be formal nights and casual nights. Now, there seems to be a new theme every once in a while! From Caribbean to Tropical, cruisers are encouraged to fit the theme when dining in the main dining room.

A big change I saw was formal night now being called “Dress Your Best.” There was certainly a range of different attires - some people brought their gowns and tuxedos, while others wore dresses or a nice top with dress pants. I usually went with the latter and wore business casual, as did most cruisers.

Ask your stateroom attendant

In addition to requesting a physical compass, I learned of two other things you can request from your stateroom attendant.

After three nights of sleeping with a lumpy pillow and waking up with a sore neck, I asked my attendant for a new pillow. That night, he gave me a feather pillow, and it was so much better than the pillows we were originally given.

Also, since the showers only have a 2-1 body wash and shampoo, I asked my attendant for some conditioner. He certainly delivered because he gave me plenty to use for the rest of the cruise.

Helicopter pad access

When the sun would set in the evening, I wanted to find a great spot on the ship to admire the views. I tried deck four, but some nights I just could not see the sunset. 

I then saw some stairs that led up to the helicopter pad. It was a little difficult to find the access point, but just head towards the front of the ship on deck four, and you should see the stairs.

Once I was there, I saw other people had the same idea. It was truly an excellent place to view everything that was happening. This place would also be great to go when the ship sails in and out of port!

Walking path substitute

The Mariner of the Seas does have a walking path on deck 12, but it is hard to use because it is surrounded by chairs and people. 

Deck four is a good place to get your steps in because there is a path that goes almost the entire way around the ship. To go all the way around, you would need to cut through the sliding doors near the front of the ship and walk to the other side. More than half of this loop around the ship is shaded, so it is the perfect place to walk with little to no interruptions.

Solarium tip

I always love to relax in the Solarium, and many others do too. That makes it hard to find a spot during the day because it is a busy spot among cruisers. I found that a great time to enjoy the Solarium is around 8 p.m. or later. There was no one in the daybeds, so I was finally able to snag one! It was so quiet that I could hear the waves as I relaxed. 

Another important tip I learned: while there are hot tubs in the Solarium, they may be closed when you first arrive. However, there is always at least one hot tub open 24 hours a day, either in the Solarium or outside on the pool deck.