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Royal Caribbean offering fall fares as low as $89 per person

05 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

If you can go on a cruise in the first two weeks of November or December, there are some seriously good fares available.

Splashaway Bay on Liberty of the Seas

Royal Caribbean routinely puts out a weekly offer with last-minute cruise deals out to its travel agent partners, but this week's offers include some really deep discounts.

Some sailings on 2- or 3-night cruises are coming in at just $89 or $99 per person based on double occupancy, which is pretty much the cheapest cruise fare you will find offered by Royal Caribbean.

Listed under the Going, Going, Gone rates, there are dozens of fares listed, with prices ranging in value.

Best of this week's cruise deals

Hot tub

I've gone through all the prices listed to find the lowest deals.

Keep in mind these prices are valid October 5 & 6, 2022, but could easily sell out at the rates listed. There's no way to know if it's still available until you go ahead and price out the cruise.

  • Freedom of the Seas 2-night Perfect Day Getaway Cruise from Miami on December 5, 2022: $89 per person
  • Independence of the Seas 3-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Port Canaveral on December 5, 2022: $99 per person
  • Liberty of the Seas 3-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Fort Lauderdale on November 1, 2022: $99 per person
  • Liberty of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Fort Lauderdale on November 7, 2022: $129 per person
  • Liberty of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Fort Lauderdale on November 14, 2022: $129 per person
  • Liberty of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Fort Lauderdale on November 7, 2022: $129 per person
  • Liberty of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Fort Lauderdale on November 28, 2022: $129 per person
  • Liberty of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Fort Lauderdale on December 5, 2022: $129 per person
Freedom of the Seas aerial at CocoCay
  • Freedom of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Miami on October 24, 2022: $149 per person
  • Freedom of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Miami on October 31, 2022: $149 per person
  • Freedom of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Miami on November 7, 2022: $149 per person
  • Freedom of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Miami on November 14, 2022: $149 per person
  • Freedom of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Miami on November 28, 2022: $149 per person
  • Freedom of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Miami on December 12, 2022: $149 per person
  • Independence of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Port Canaveral on October 24, 2022: $149 per person
  • Independence of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Port Canaveral on October 31, 2022: $149 per person
  • Independence of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Port Canaveral on November 7, 2022: $149 per person
  • Independence of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Port Canaveral on November 14, 2022: $149 per person
  • Independence of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Port Canaveral on November 28, 2022: $149 per person
  • Independence of the Seas 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Port Canaveral on December 12, 2022: $149 per person

Prices are per person, cruise only, based on double occupancy.

Prices listed are not combinable with any promotional offers or discounts with the exception of Crown & Anchor benefits and NextCruise Onboard Booking Bonus.

Governmental departure taxes and fees are additional.

Why are these cruises so cheap?

Freedom of the Seas in front of Rocks

Are you wondering why these prices are so inexpensive?

Cruise prices vary depending on the ship and time of year, but if you look at the dates listed, there's a common thread among them. They're all right around very popular times for vacations in Thanksgiving and Christmas, but in weeks before or after these major holidays.

Typically the first two weeks of November and first two weeks of December have much less demand for cruises than nearly any other time of the year. This is because most people get built-in time off from school and work over Thanksgiving or Christmas, so fewer people are able or willing to take time off just before or after these holidays.

And of course, these are all 3- and 4-night cruises.  Short cruises will almost always have a lower total price since there are less nights.

4-night cruises are always harder to fill because they begin on a Monday and end on a Friday. Arguably, you could take the same amount of days off of work and get a 7-night cruise for the same investment in time off when counting weekends.

With less people willing or able to cruise these times of year, you can find great deals.

The catch: taxes and fees

Couple at the pool

While the cruise prices are cheap, there is a catch when you get to the final price.

When you price out the cruise, you may find yourself paying more in taxes and fees than the cruise fare itself. These are fees charged by local governments for each passenger.

These come in the form of government taxes, fees, or surcharges that may be assessed by any governmental agencies, as well as third party fees and charges arising from a vessel’s presence in a harbor or port.

Adventure of the Seas sailing into Nassau

If you care to break it down, cruise taxes essentially cover these services and charges:

  • Tolls
  • Ship inspections 
  • Local harbor pilots
  • Air, hotel, or VAT taxes incurred as part of a land excursion 
  • Immigration and naturalization costs
  • Internal Revenue Service charges
  • Baggage handling at embarkation and disembarkation ports
  • Security services

In case you were thinking about it, there's no way to avoid paying government taxes and port charges.

The other catch: getting to the cruise

Freedom of the Seas side

If you live in Florida and can drive to these cruises, then the prices might just be a wonderful deal.  But others may find the value foiled by extra costs.

The cost of airfare to fly down for this cruise could negate the low prices, especially with how high airfare can be in the final weeks before the trip.  Then there's the food, parking, and hotel costs that come along with it.

There's no doubt these deals are primarily aimed at people with a lot of free time that can drive to the cruise ships easily.

Just like any cruise, alcoholic drinks, internet access, and shore excursions will all cost you extra.

Photos show Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas construction progress - October 5, 2022

05 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

Icon of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship, and is making steady construction progress.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

It's still anyone's guess as to what the ship will look like because the cruise line has not revealed the ship's design, amenities, or features.

If you're like me, then you're very curious as to what Royal Caribbean has planned.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog commissioned its own aerial drone photos again this week to share with all of you what construction progress we can see from the shipyard.

Since these are exclusive photos, please do not redistribute these photos. Feel free to share a link to this article instead.

These drone photos were taken on the morning of October 5, 2022 at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

One noticeable difference from photos taken last month are the ship's bow has another section added to it.

Icon of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean International cruise ship with a parabolic bow design.  

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

This is a functional design element that creates a curved indentation in the bottom of the vessel’s hull. 

Sister company Celebrity Cruises first introduced within the Royal Caribbean Group this type of bow design with its Edge Class ships.

Moving back a bit, we can see another look at the area that appears to be some kind of a theater. Behind it and above a few decks could be a suite sun deck?

Royal Caribbean introduced a new suite sun deck design on Wonder of the Seas, and the area has space for loungers as well as a circular area that could be a hot tub or pool.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

The mid-ship area provides a good look at the top pool deck area.

It's all but certain the large oval shaped middle of the deck is where the Central Park neighborhood will be located. Not only have we known for months that Icon of the Seas will retain the neighborhood concept from the Oasis Class ships, but mockups for Central Park were strongly hinted by Royal Caribbean in last week's video update.

You'll also notice one of the large Crown and Anchor logos has been affixed to the side of the ship not facing the camera.

Something else worth noting here is the opposite side of the pool deck has a distinct curvature to it.  Moreover, there's actually a gap between two parts of the deck.  Could this be to make way for some kind of a feature?

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

Moving back to the next area, it seems clear to me waterslide support beams are in place.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

The series of white columns are very likely for waterslides. Note one set of columns are white, while the other are a brown/orange color. Different slides or a different feature all together?

Icon of the Seas slide supports

Looking at the back of this area, we can see a FlowRider surf simulator spot on the left side, and a pool area of some kind on the right.

Flowrider and pool area on Icon of the Seas

The FlowRider has been a staple of new Royal Caribbean cruise ships for many years, beginning with the Freedom Class ships.

In looking at the aft of Icon of the Seas, we get a much better idea of the ship's rear design.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

Similar to the Oasis Class ships, there is an open deck concept at the back, although it isn't clear this will be another Boardwalk neighborhood.

Aft of Icon of the Seas

With the Oasis Class ships, each deck cascades up in length, with the longest decks being at the bottom, and shortest at the top. Icon seems to have the opposite look with the longer decks at the top and shorter decks below it.

Icon of the Seas will have a baby blue hull color, which has been a design choice for Royal Caribbean's last few ships.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

Still behind the ship in the shipyard is what we presume to be the Solarium dome.

Photo from August 2022

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

There are far more panels attached today compared to a few weeks ago.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

Icon of the Seas is scheduled to start sailing in late 2023.

We should get more information about Icon of the Seas later this month at an event in Miami.

Is Black Friday the best time to buy a Royal Caribbean drink package?

04 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

If you're waiting on the sidelines to book a Royal Caribbean drink package, you're doing it wrong.

Frozen cocktail

Royal Caribbean runs sales every few weeks on pre-cruise purchases as a means to encourage its customers to pick up a drink package, internet package, or shore excursion.

Whether each sale saves any money depends on the sailing, but generally speaking, the cost of these items tends to be less when booked prior to the cruise than waiting to buy onboard.

Couple at Bar on Wonder of the Seas

Read moreWill a Royal Caribbean sale actually save me any money?

One mantra I see cruise fans repeat is the advice for people to wait for Black Friday to buy their cruise add-ons because they feel the best discounts are offered that week.

The problem with waiting for any one sale is you're putting a lot at risk for a potential discount that may or may not materialize.

Don't wait for Black Friday

If you're unfamiliar with Black Friday, it is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States and every retailer rolls out new sales and promotions to compel people to start their holiday shopping. The name "Black Friday" means when retails would usually "get back into the black" financially in terms of profit.

As the calendar gets closer to Black Friday, a lot of cruisers begin talking about a Royal Caribbean Black Friday sale and advocate waiting for that sale as the deal to pick up pre-cruise purchases.

There's two issues with waiting for Black Friday, or any sale for that matter.

Drink package prices

First, there is absolutely no guarantee the price will be any cheaper on Black Friday than it is today. Royal Caribbean regularly runs sales for guests to pre-purchase certain add-ons, such as drink packages, wifi, or shore excursions. As is the case with all sales, there is not a blanket discount applied to all items.

The sale price will vary from ship to ship and sailing to sailing, meaning there may or may not actually be any discounts applied to the cruise you have booked.

The other issue with waiting for Black Friday is the price could actually go up. Royal Caribbean's prices are very fluid, and the company uses dynamic pricing for its add-ons (and cruise fare too). This means prices go up, down, and back up again. There's no rhyme or reason as to if that drink package cost will go down or up.

So if you wait for Black Friday, you may not see any discount at all and/or an even higher price.

Royal Caribbean always advertises up to a certain percentage off pre-cruise purchases, but you can ignore that figure. The base price can change a lot, making the discount percentage irrelevant. 

Instead, you want to focus on what is the total price after taxes and gratuity.

When to book a Royal Caribbean drink package

Instead of waiting for Black Friday, you should book a drink package today.

If you know you want to get a drink package, the best time to book a Royal Caribbean drink package is today because the price can change at any time.

Cruise Planner on an iPad

If the price goes down on Black Friday, or at any point before your cruise, you can easily go into the Cruise Planner site and cancel your purchase and re-purchase it at the lower price. There's no penalty for cancelling a pre-cruise purchase and if you used onboard credit, it will be refunded instantly so you can apply it when re-purchasing.

By booking now, you lock in the price.  If the price goes up, you're guarded against it, and if there is a better sale on Black Friday, you can cancel and rebook.

How to cancel and rebook a Royal Caribbean drink package

Cruise Planner cancel

The process is pretty simple to cancel and rebook if you do it online.

You could call Royal Caribbean and do this over the phone, but I find it much faster to do it online.

  1. Log into the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner at
  2. Find your sailing and click Plan my cruise
  3. Look for your initials in the top right of the page and click that icon
  4. Click Order history
  5. Find the purchase you made for the drink package (it will show each order you made)
  6. Underneath the drink package listed, click Cancel

That's it! Now you can go back to the Beverage section of the cruise planner and buy it back again.

When will Royal Caribbean announce their 2022 Black Friday deal?

Drink vendor

We don't know exactly when the promotion details will be announced, but Royal Caribbean typically waits until a few days before the sale begins to reveal information.

Unlike Best Buy, Walmart or Amazon, cruise lines aren't quite that aggressive with their Black Friday promotions. So they typically wait to provide details.

Black Friday

In 2021, Royal Caribbean announced its Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on November 21, which was just a few days before Black Friday on November 25th. The sale prices did not begin until November 23rd.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean's past Black Friday deals

More helpful information

Royal Caribbean brings back kids cruise free promotion

04 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

If you've been waiting for a kids sail free deal, it's back!

Wonder of the Seas

Beginning today, Royal Caribbean has brought back its popular promotion that offers free cruises for children up to the age of 12 for new cruises booked in October.

Under the terms of the offer, children up to the age of 12 can sail for free when accompanying two paying passengers in the same cabin.

The offer is available today through October 31, 2022 for select sailings departing on or after November 4, 2022 – April 30, 2024.

Mason Jar entrance

Of course, there are blackout dates to the Kids Sail Free offer:

Kids Sail Free excludes:

  • Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022; November 17, 2023 – November 24, 2023
  • Holiday sailings departing December 18, 2022 – January 6, 2023; December 16, 2023 – January 5, 2024
  • Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023; March 8, 2024 – March 22, 2024
  • Holy Week/Easter sailings departing April 1, 2023 – April 11, 2023; March 22, 2024 – April 4, 2024
  • Summer Sailings departing May 24, 2023 – September 1, 2023
  • Radiance Alaska cruisetours
Boy after riding water slide on Mariner

In addition, the "free" kids fares still will be subject to taxes, fees and port expenses, which can amount to anywhere from $60 to more than $200 per person, depending on the itinerary.

Sweeting the deal is the fact you can combine Kids Sail Free with 30% off every guest, which provides 30% savings off the cruise fare for all guests in the stateroom.

Teenagers on cruise ship slide

30% Off Every Guest and Kids Sail Free are combinable with each other as well as promotional OBCs, Next Cruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts, and Shareholder Benefits.

30% Off Every Guest and Kids Sail Free are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Ultimate World Cruise, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

Will I save money with this deal?

They say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and similarly, how lucrative a deal is depends on the person trying to book it.

The biggest drawback of any Kids Sail Free offer are the blackout dates, which greatly hinder many families ability to book a cruise that qualifies for the offer.

If you can find a sailing date that isn't blacked out, kids sail free offers can absolutely save money, especially for higher category rooms. Suites, in particular, offer big savings with kids sail free.

Of course, Kids Sail Free deal requires the kids to be in the same stateroom as the parents, so you cannot split across multiple rooms and use the offer.

Using a good travel agent, you can easily compare and contrast prices between sailings.

Royal Caribbean cruises in October 2023: What to expect

03 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

Fall is in the air, but Royal Caribbean cruises in October are still taking you to places that are plenty warm.

This post will share important information what you should know before going on a cruise in October. This month we see the end of cruising in Alaska for the season, but there is still time to see Europe before that season comes to an end.  Meanwhile, Caribbean sailings will start to increase with ships returning to start winter itineraries.

Just like September, October is also one of the best times to get a great price on a cruise. The combination of school in session and the peak of hurricane season makes for some really low rates.  In fact, last minute cruise prices are pretty good if you can take advantage of certain October sailings.

Ships sailing in October 2023

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships will be operating in the Caribbean and Europe, with a few ships moving around to prepare for new homes in November.

October is the end of the Alaska and European cruise seasons, with ships in Europe heading back to the Caribbean.  Ships in Alaska typically move onto Australia for the summer cruise season down under.

October weather on a cruise

Paradise Beach Cozumel 2021 shore excursion review | Royal Caribbean Blog

No matter when you cruise in October in the Caribbean, expect very warm summer-like temperatures.

The first half of October is also the peak of hurricane season, but as the month goes on, the chances of a storm begin to diminish a bit.

According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 87 percent of minor and 96 percent of major hurricanes occur between August and October, peaking in early September.

Enchantment and Brilliance of the Seas in Cozumel

Even if there is a storm somewhere in the tropics, your ship will go around it to avoid going anywhere near the storm.

The biggest impact you could face on an October cruise is a last-minute itinerary change due to a hurricane.

Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

Royal Caribbean releases summer 2017 European itineraries | Royal Caribbean Blog

Over in Europe, fall temperatures means pleasant daytime temperatures in the Mediterranean. While temperatures can heat up over the summer, October weather offers a slight chill in the air and can sometimes be warm enough to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.

Expect daytime temperatures in the low 70s Fahrenheit. 

Plan to wear layers so you can adjust to warmer or colder than expected temperatures easily.

Is October a good time to cruise the Caribbean?

In short, you will find some of the best prices for Caribbean cruises in October.

Because families have kids in school, there is less demand for cruises this time of year. The result can be some excellent rates for a cruise in October.

In addition, the looming threat of hurricane season is a benefit and disadvantage of cruising in October. Demand is lower, so that means you pay less.  But the possibility of a storm impacting your cruise means some cruise fans are unwilling to risk the sailing could be altered.

Does Royal Caribbean celebrate Halloween?

Halloween on Royal Caribbean ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

If your cruise sails over October 31st, you should plan on Halloween fun onboard.

In years' past, Royal Caribbean has held various Halloween events onboard its ships that sail over the holiday.

Costume contests, haunted houses, trick or treating, and even face painting have all been offered in the past.

If your cruise does not sail over the Halloween holiday, then don't expect Halloween decorations or events on your cruise.

Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel Review

03 Oct 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Finding the perfect hotel before a cruise can be challenging, but Fort Lauderdale’s new Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport is a strong contender for the best place to stay before a cruise departing from Port Everglades.

Prior to my recent Allure of the Seas cruise, I spent the night at the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport hotel. When I stay at a pre-cruise hotel, I’m looking for the following requirements before booking:

  • Close to the airport and port, but within walking distance to nearby hotels, shopping, and attractions
  • New or updated amenities
  • Price between $200-300 per night for a standard room

The Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport hotel had all of these requirements and then some. Because the hotel opened in fall 2021, it was almost brand new and on the surface looks like a great choice for taking a cruise from Fort Lauderdale.

This review covers our stay at the hotel including our room, dining, and thoughts on Marriott’s amenities and services at their Fort Lauderdale Airport location.

*Disclaimer: Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel invited Royal Caribbean Blog to spend the night and write a review on our experience.

First impressions

I was impressed with how clean and bright the lobby was, and there were plenty of comfy seating areas. The lobby had a trendy ambiance, with the bar and restaurant in the middle of the area. This definitely wasn’t a throw-it-together type of hotel lobby.

I was in a standard room, which had a king bed, desk, television, large wardrobe, comfy lounge seating. The room did not have a balcony, but floor-to-ceiling windows brought more than enough light into the room.

The room had high ceilings, making it feel large, and there was no shortage of places to plug in your devices.

The Standard 1 King Bed room is priced around $200 on weekdays and $250 on weekends.

Proximity to airport and cruise port

I flew into Fort Lauderdale International Airport and caught a Lyft to the hotel, which was around $10 and took 10 minutes. The hotel also offers complimentary airport shuttles.

There is no self-parking at the hotel. Instead, valet parking is available for $25.

Traveling from the hotel to Port Everglades is a breeze, too, and the drive only takes around 10 minutes. Rideshare service to the port will cost around $13-15.

The hotel also offers a shuttle to the cruise port. Shuttle service is available three times throughout the day (9:55 AM, 12:30 PM, and 3:30 PM). Shuttles cost $15 per person.

The Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel is a 5-minute walk from Dania Pointe, an outdoor shopping and dining area in Dania Beach.

Being so close to Dania Pointe is convenient, especially for those flying into Fort Lauderdale and wanting to explore without the hassle of ordering an Uber.

I enjoyed walking around Dania Pointe and was even able to pick up some last-minute items I needed for the cruise at TJ Maxx. For those looking to dine outside the hotel, there were plenty of restaurants to choose from including a Brazilian steakhouse, ramen shop, and wine bar.


The Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport has one in-house restaurant, Radiant 166, which is located in the hotel’s lobby.

The menu was extensive with a balance of standard American fare and international cuisine, from Egyptian street food to Italian flatbreads and pasta. I appreciated the wide range of cuisines available as it wasn’t just a “choose a burger or sandwich” type of restaurant.

We started the meal with a hummus plate and avocado toast, both of which were excellent and made from fully fresh ingredients.

For my main course I chose the Chicken Alfredo (although I subbed for salmon). Others at the table enjoyed a pepperoni flatbread and a Mediterranean pita dish.

For dessert we opted for the strawberry and Nutella crêpe. Served with whipped cream and ice cream, it was certainly delicious.

I was impressed with the restaurant overall, and just like any hotel restaurant, it is extremely convenient to dine directly in the hotel. For those tired after a long travel day and not wanting to venture outside the hotel for dinner, it makes a solid option.

There is breakfast available every morning for an extra cost, and snacks and beverages are also available for purchase.

Other amenities

Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador Elite members of Marriott Bonvoy have access to the hotel’s M Club lounge.

The lounge offers complimentary buffet breakfast, light snacks throughout the day, and hors d'oeuvres in the evening. A coffee machine is also available for specialty drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.

Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport has an outdoor pool. The pool was quite large with plenty of chairs and comfortable day beds to enjoy. The pool's temperature was fairly chilly, although I thought it felt nice in the Florida humidity!

If you arrive at the hotel early the day before your cruise, this area is the best place to kick off your relaxing vacation as soon as possible.

A gym was also available with cardio and weight machines.

Final thoughts

I’ve stayed at three hotels near Fort Lauderdale’s airport, and this has been my favorite so far for the following reasons:

  • It’s basically a brand new hotel, so you get the benefits of a sparkly clean hotel with new amenities
  • Convenient location right by Dania Pointe shopping center
  • Close to the airport and cruise terminal

If I had to mention a drawback, it would be that the hotel does not have any suites. They offer rooms with two queen beds, but those hoping for separated bedrooms or living areas will have to look elsewhere.

The price of a standard room at the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport was comparable to other hotels I had stayed at in the same area, yet it offered more upgraded amenities and rooms.

I thought it offered the perfect place to get my cruise vacation the day before I boarded Allure of the Seas, and I would definitely book this hotel again on a future cruise departing Fort Lauderdale.

Bonus: hotel day pass

After my Allure of the Seas cruise, my flight from Fort Lauderdale International Airport did not leave until 3:30 PM. Instead of spending 6-7 hours waiting around at the airport, I purchased a $25 day pass to the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Hotel.

The day pass gave me access to the pool and fitness facilities, and it was a much more enjoyable experience than sitting at an airport terminal.

If you have a late flight booked following your cruise, a hotel day pass may be something to consider.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean makes face masks optional for crew members

02 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

It appears crew members now have the choice of wearing a face mask or not on cruise ships.

Crew member smiling at the bar

According to select crew members, Royal Caribbean has changed the policy so that it is up to the crew members to decide if they want to wear a face mask or not.

"The decision to wear a mask or not is up to the crew member," is what crew members are being advised via email as it pertains to "front of the house areas".  The phrase "front of the house" refers to places on the ship where guests are present, as opposed to backstage areas.

Top 10 questions about Royal Caribbean's new Muster 2.0 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Crew members will have the choice to wear a mask in:

  • Crew areas
  • Crew member offices & meetings
  • Hot working areas (galley, engine room)
  • Guest areas
  • Mixed inside/outside dining venues (bar counters, Johnny Rockets, Playmakers)
  • Outside: Private islands

The new guidance also says if a crew member decides not to wear a mask, they no longer need to wear the "smile behind the mask" buttons either.

It's not clear if the policy applies to certain locales, such as Singapore.

Masking for crew members may return as required should a ship deem it necessary based on internal factors the cruise line decides on.

Since the restart of cruises, mask-wearing requirements were common on cruise ships through much of 2021 and into early 2022.

While Royal Caribbean removed face mask rules for guests back in February 2022, crew members have been required to wear masks up until now.

Matching other forms of leisure travel

The entire cruise industry has been steadily moving its health protocols back towards a sense of normalcy in an attempt to match cruise ship protocols with that of leisure travel on land.

In April 2022, the mask mandate was removed for flight attendants as well as passengers. Walt Disney World removed its requirement for cast members to wear masks in February 2022.

Guest reaction

Crew members together

The change has been met warmly by cruise ship guests, who did not understand why the rules remained so different for crew members compared to passengers for months.

Some guests have been vocal about wanting Royal Caribbean to change the rule to make things the same for crew.

GKMCruising joked on the Royal Caribbean Blog message boards, "I told our Cruise Director that it's just a shame you can't have a fire onboard, crew should have a massive mask bonfire on the helipad."

WAAAYTOOO simply wrote, "Hallelujah!"

RGThibs on responded on Twitter, "Happy to see the crew have the option.  Love to see their smile!!"

Do I have to wear face mask on a cruise?

Face masks free zone Royal Caribbean

For nearly all sailings, face masks are not required by passengers on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

For sailings departing the U.S., Puerto Rico, Barbados, Canada, Europe & Israel, masks are optional for vaccinated guests and recommended for unvaccinated guests while onboard.

Face masks were a very visible and divisive protocol on cruise ships, but crew members were pretty much the last people on a ship required by the cruise line to wear them.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 2, 2022

02 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! It has been a busy week of Royal Caribbean news, and we have it all summarized for you in this round up.

Royal Caribbean made a change to its Covid-19 protocols by removing vaccine requirements for sailings that sail to Canada or Barbados.

Bow of cruise ship in Halifax

Both the Canadian and Barbadian governments recently announced a number of updates to their Covid protocols as it relates to tourists.

Starting October 1, 2022, for sailings of 9 nights or less, Royal Caribbean is welcoming all guests, regardless of vaccination status, for cruises that embark, debark, or visit Canada.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 470th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt and Jenna share a review of their Allure of the Seas cruise.

Recorded while onboard Allure, this week's episode talks about what Allure is like and the impact Hurricane Ian had on their sailing.

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

New RCB Video: Ultimate Cruise Packing List

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 — Ultimate Cruise Packing List — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Top 10 Allure of the Seas secrets

Psst, want to know the best Allure of the Seas insider tips and secrets?

From where to go for sailaway, to how to see the Aquatheater shows without a seat, to great seating areas, we have the best tricks in this article.

Anyone with an Allure of the Seas cruise will want to read this before they sail.

What it’s like on a cruise ship during a hurricane

Sea day view

The possibility of bad weather can happen on any cruise, but Royal Caribbean is prepared for those scenarios, especially if there's a hurricane.

Hurricane Ian disrupted many cruise ship itineraries in the Caribbean, and I was on Allure of the Seas for a 6-night cruise that had to get around the major hurricane.

While staying at sea and away from the storm is the safest decision, you might still want to know how bad things get and what possibilities could occur if your cruise ship vacation is disrupted by a tropical storm.

13 changes I'd love to see on future Royal Caribbean cruise ships

Have you ever thought what changes you'd make if you were in charge of Royal Caribbean?

While she loves going on each cruise, Jenna listed 13 things she would upgrade or change if she had the chance.

This list includes new specialty restaurants, onboard activities, and new cabins.

What Is the Biggest Royal Caribbean ship?

01 Oct 2022
Matt Hochberg

The answer to which Royal Caribbean cruise ship is the biggest depends on when you check.

Wonder of the Seas aerial photo

At the moment, Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship in the fleet and the world.

Wonder of the Seas measures 235,600 gross tons, and is 1,188 feet (362 metres) in length.

She is very close in size to her sister Oasis Class ships (Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas).

Wonder of the Seas departing Fort Lauderdale

Wonder of the Seas has a capacity of 5,734 guests at double occupancy, or 7,084 passengers if at maximum capacity.

Wonder offers plenty for guests to do onboard, such as the Ultimate Abyss, waterslides and FlowRider surf simulators. Dining is major component to a cruise on Wonder, with choices of complimentary and specialty dining, including Mason Jar, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade and El Loco Fresh.

Coming soon: Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas on the water render

Wonder of the Seas may be the biggest cruise ship at the moment, but that title will be relinquished in late 2023.

Icon of the Seas will be delivered to Royal Caribbean in late 2023, with an official start to cruises in January 2024.

Icon of the Seas aerial render from the aft

Icon of the Seas will carry 7,600 passengers at maximum occupancy (or nearly 10,000 people when you account for the crew) when it first sets sail with guests.

When completed, the ship will be 20 decks high and 1,198 feet long and measure 250,800 gross tons.

Crown's Edge on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas will only have 2,805 cabins compared to Wonder's 2,867, because Royal Caribbean wants to get more families onboard the ship. The ship will have more cabins that can accommodate three or four passengers than the typical two-passenger rooms.

Big or small ship?

Perfect Storm waterslides on Wonder of the Seas

There are pros and cons of going on a big cruise ship.

In general, the bigger the ship, the more space the cruise line has to add things to do while you are onboard.

Space is always at a premium on a cruise ship, so if a ship is bigger, it has more room to offer more activities.

Smaller cruise ships don't have nearly as many whiz-bang amenities, and for some people, this matters more than for others.

Read moreWhat’s the difference between a large and small cruise ship?

Royal Caribbean's reputation is building innovative and large ships, and many of the smallest ships in the fleet would still be pretty darn large if they suddenly became part of another cruise line.

Why cruise ships are getting bigger

The trend in the cruise industry is to build bigger ships, so typically the smaller ships are also the older ships.

There's lot of great things about older ships such as they being a better value, different itineraries than the usual ship and a more intimate feel.  

Newer ships, which are typically larger, offer the latest and greatest.  Different people feel differently about the importance of the age of your ship.  

Read more12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

So why are cruise lines building bigger ships?

Economy of Scale

Odyssey of the Seas at dusk

The other aspect of making money is cost control and economies of scale make these bigger ships more profitable. Whether it be 1000 or 5000 passengers there are common expenses such as wages for the captain, cruise director, chief engineer, and other staff that must be paid. Spreading these costs out over more passengers enhances profitability for the cruise line.   

What does this mean to the bottom line? According to Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean Group CEO, “newer, larger ships can breakeven on cash flow at around 35% capacity while older, smaller ships are closer to 50”, a significant difference.

Despite these news ships having a $1 billion plus price tag, they have proven to be more cost-effective as building one large ship is more feasible than building two smaller ones.

Once a cruise ship covers its costs, it can focus on additional revenue sources, the icing on the cake.


A key aspect to a successful marketing strategy is a great product, and bigger cruise ships are just that. These floating cities have tons of amazing amenities, especially for those guests who want to try the latest and greatest things.

With kids' areas, lounges, adult only sun-decks, and world class dining options, larger ships appeal to a broad target market.  Whether it be families, solo travelers, honeymooners or retirees, there is something for everyone.

New cruise ships create lots of buzz. With each new ship being bigger than the last, anticipation is heightened.  Facebook groups monitor the construction progress posting pictures and providing updates on sea trials.

Travel agents and media provide reviews and YouTube videos with all the new details, in an effort to excite would be passengers and drive sales. All good publicity.

Great amenities and activities

New ships like the Odyssey of the Seas and the Wonder of the Seas have all the newest bells and whistles, with the flexibility to operate in different regions such as the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Odyssey of the Seas with its 17 different restaurants and a variety of bars and lounges means that cruisers will not be short on great food and drink options. New onboard activities like a skydiving simulator, virtual reality bungee experience, and the SeaPlex activity center all keep kids and parents busy.

Guests can also rent casitas for an additional fee, so no worries about getting a great spot on the sundeck on busy sea days.

LAser tag on Oasis of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas features some brand new design elements such as a designated suite neighborhood with more suite only amenities.

In addition. the ship has a redesigned pool deck experience and a new kids playscape. These new features on the fleet’s biggest ship will no doubt be a big draw for consumers.


The purpose of these bigger ships is to make more money. A big part of this equation is to increase revenues, especially as it relates to the amount of onboard spending.

Gambling at the casino, specialty dining restaurants, spas, drink packages among other additional fee based activities are all geared toward this. Cruise lines are putting their newest ships on 7 day sailings, giving cruisers more to do and more time to spend. Older ships are more prevalent 3-4 day cruises.

For a 7 day cruise, Royal Caribbean makes an average of $ 300 per person after deducting expenses.  Passengers spending an extra couple hundred dollars on a drink or photo package, a massage of playing blackjack, all help to improve margins, a significant impact on their bottom line.


Loft Suite

Larger ships mean more space. The development of a suite only exclusive area is another revenue management strategy. The Wonder of the Seas has a new layout with a dedicated suite neighborhood that includes a suite only sundeck, a pool, a private lounge, and a restaurant, all at a premium for those willing to pay.

A Royal Caribbean suite can cost tens of thousands of dollars more than a standard balcony or interior room, providing added revenue for the cruise line. For example, for a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the Wonder of the Seas, an inside cabin is $821 per person while a one bedroom Owners Suite is priced at $5133. The suite is 5 times the price, for just over double the space.

Additionally, the demand for suites is growing even at the premium pricing associated with a new ship. 

13 changes I'd love to see on future Royal Caribbean cruise ships

01 Oct 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean has always been a cruise line known for innovation, from creating the Royal Promenade to building the first “Central Park” at sea and, of course, designing the largest cruise ships in the world.

I love everything about cruising with Royal Caribbean, but I can’t help but brainstorm new ideas and features I’d love to see on the fleet’s future cruise ships.

Whether new specialty restaurants, onboard activities, or new cabins, here are 13 changes and upgrades I’d love to see incorporated on Royal Caribbean ships.

Promenade deck pool area

Photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

The outdoor Promenade deck is one of my favorite places on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship, especially on ships where the Promenade deck wraps entirely around the ship’s circumference.

The Promenade deck is such valuable real estate, yet it seems Royal Caribbean does not take advantage of this space as much as other cruise lines.

Many cruise lines use this space for comfy seating, hot tubs, pools, outdoor dining, bars, and other hangout spaces. I’d love to see this concept on a Royal Caribbean ship as opposed to just a walking area!

Thai restaurant

Thai cuisine is one of my absolute favorites, but it’s something that’s hard to come by on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Other than the occasional “pad thai” served in the Windjammer, I’ve never seen any other Thai dish offered onboard.

My top wish list for a new specialty restaurant would be a Thai restaurant, although I’m not sure this is ever something that will come to fruition as Royal Caribbean ships already have Izumi onboard for Asian cuisine.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

While Royal Caribbean caters to a wide population of guests and therefore tends to select cuisines well-known by all age groups (Italian, Mexican, American fare, etc.), more and more people are enjoying cuisines like Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, etc.

Expanding culinary options might attract more young people and foodies to Royal Caribbean cruises.

Street food stand

Another random item on my wishlist for future Royal Caribbean ships is a “street food” cart that changes locations around the ship.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is tasting local street food, whether elotes in Mexico, falafel in Egypt, or bánh mì in Vietnam, and I think street food has become increasingly popular in recent years.

It would be interesting to see Royal Caribbean take advantage of this trend by introducing some sort of “street food” on their cruise ships. I’m imagining a food cart with easy, made-to-order dishes that moves around the ship each day offering cuisine not found elsewhere onboard.

Food hall/marketplace

Photo credit: Virgin Voyages

If the street food cart is a little too far-fetched, I think there is great potential for a food hall/marketplace option on future Royal Caribbean ships.

Different from a buffet, a food hall consists of made-to-order food stands with diverse cuisines, from noodle bars to Texas-style barbecue and build-your-own salad stations.

Photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

This was a concept that first rolled out on Virgin Voyages cruise ships and recently debuted on the Norwegian Prima. Most items at the food halls on these ships are complimentary and it serves as a trendy dining location reminiscent of food truck parks and marketplaces in cities around the world.

I would love to see a food hall on a Royal Caribbean ship!

Solo travelers area

Many cruise passengers cruise solo, and it would be nice to see some sort of exclusive solo cruiser area onboard.

Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, has a solo cruiser-only area with studio cabins and a private Studio Lounge. Solo passengers can enjoy complimentary coffee, espresso, and snacks in the lounge as they get to know fellow solo cruisers.

This would be a nice concept to see on future Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and I would definitely take advantage of it when planning a solo cruise.

Related: What I learned from my first solo cruise

More hammocks

Both Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas have a set of hammocks on the ships’ Sports Courts and I love this feature!

Swinging in a hammock is extremely relaxing, especially when on a cruise ship, and it’s the perfect place to hang out and enjoy an ocean view. More hammocks, please!

World-themed ship

I visited Walt Disney World’s Epcot for the first time last year and enjoyed the global atmosphere of the park. Epcot’s World Showcase consists of 11 distinct areas representing countries around the world, including Canada, France, Morocco, Germany, Norway, and Mexico.

Each of these showcases features dining, shopping, architecture, and attractions themed by the country it represents, and it’s a unique way to “see the world” from one place.

A few months ago while onboard a cruise ship, I was reminiscing about my time in Epcot and thought the global theme could be a really cool idea for a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Because Royal Caribbean has so many restaurants from diverse cuisines already, the ship’s theme could incorporate these restaurants into their own “enclaves” themed by different countries in the world.

More outlets in public areas

It’s very difficult to find an electrical outlet in public areas on Royal Caribbean ships, and when you do, it’s often in an inconvenient location and a European-style outlet.

Many people work remotely nowadays and Royal Caribbean is adding Starlink internet to all of its ships. The combination of these two factors may mean demand for working remotely on a cruise ship will soar.

It would be nice to see more outlets in public spaces onboard, although I’m not totally sure this will happen. After all, Royal Caribbean wants its guests to be enjoying the cruise ship’s amenities (and spending money on drinks, shopping, etc.) instead of being on their laptop all day!

Labels on Windjammer food items

I love eating at the Windjammer on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but I wish they had labels on the items. Some cruise lines have more in-depth labels above each food item listing ingredients and allergy information, and this is really helpful for passengers with dietary restrictions or allergies.

Related: Guide to Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe buffet

While I don’t have any food allergies, I am a pescatarian and frequently find myself asking crew members in the Windjammer if they know which ingredients are in a particular food item. I imagine this is a lot worse for those with gluten sensitivities, dairy allergies, etc., so it would be nice to see more labels in the Windjammer and other food locations onboard.

More of The Bamboo Room bar locations

My favorite bar on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship is The Bamboo Room, a Polynesian-inspired tiki bar found only on Navigator and Mariner of the Seas.

The tropical vibes, bossa nova music, and island-themed drinks of The Bamboo Room make it a place I visit time and time again, but unfortunately it's only found on two ships in the fleet.

Related: Check out the signature cocktails at The Bamboo Room on Mariner of the Seas

The vibe of The Bamboo Room perfectly fits the atmosphere I’m looking for on a cruise vacation, and I would be super excited to see more locations on new Royal Caribbean ships or amplifications!

Roller coaster

Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line

While spending the day at Perfect Day at CocoCay’s Thrill Waterpark last year, I learned the hard way that water slides make me feel extremely claustrophobic.

Sliding in circles in a pitch-black slide with water gushing everywhere? I loved it when I was younger, but now not so much.

That being said, I still love adrenaline-filled activities and would be interested to see some sort of roller coaster ride onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival just debuted the BOLT Sea Coaster on the new Carnival Mardi Gras, and this ride looks like a ton of fun. I hope to see a similar feature incorporated on future Royal Caribbean ships!

Language classes

Earlier this year while sailing on Harmony of the Seas, I noticed a few short language classes appeared in the Cruise Compass. I’d never seen this before on a Royal Caribbean ship, so I made sure to attend the 45 minute Spanish class at the Schooner Bar.

I had a ton of fun at the class and would love to see this type of activity offered more often! On my cruise to Greece, for example, it would have been both fun and helpful to attend a short language class so I could have learned basic phrases to use in port.

Movie theater

I recently returned from an Alaska cruise on Radiance of the Seas, and one of my favorite features on the ship was the Cinema.

Every Radiance Class ship has a movie theater onboard which plays free movies several times per day, every day of the cruise. The cinema offered a much better viewing atmosphere than watching a movie on the pool deck, and it was fun to catch a movie on a sea day to pass the time.

While I’m not sure Royal Caribbean will incorporate more movie theaters into their new cruise ships, I certainly enjoyed my experience at the Cinema!

Which features would you love to see on new Royal Caribbean cruise ships? Do you agree with my ideas? Let me know in the comments!

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