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Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: May 1, 2022

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy weekend! In case you missed any Royal Caribbean news, here is a look at everything that happened this week!

If friends or family still have a future cruise credit laying around, there's good news that came out this week.

Promenade deck

Royal Caribbean will now allow guests to transfer a future cruise credit to someone else.

The process requires a phone call to Royal Caribbean to make a one-time name change of a FCC, but the process is pretty simple.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 452nd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, in which Matt answers emails from podcast listeners.

This week's episode focuses just on emails our listeners have sent to be answered.

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: What's you should know about a cruise contract

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 — What's in the cruise ship fine print that you should know about — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

I tried the cheapest cabin I could find

Inside cabin on Mariner of the Seas

What happens if you try to book the cheapest cruise cabin you can find? Is it a great or not-so-great experience?

By booking a cheap cruise fare, you can splurge on things like eating delicious food, drinking fun cocktails and exploring incredible cities.

Here's what happened when Allie went on Mariner of the Seas and booked the cheapest cabin she could find.

Check out our live blogs

This week we had a few live blogs from different Royal Caribbean cruise ships going, which provides a glimpse of what it's like on these ships.

Be sure to follow along with the fun of our live blogs across three ships!

Guide to Royal Caribbean cruises in May

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty

Check out what you should know about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise in May.

May is a slower month of the year, following the busy Spring Break season of the past two months. It's also a transitional month, with many ships starting service in Europe and Alaska.

Guide to picking the perfect Royal Caribbean shore excursion

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

You booked a Royal Caribbean cruise and now you want to figure out what you are going to do at the ports your ship will be visiting.

Where do you start?

Family excursion in St Kitts

Shore excursions are a major part of any Royal Caribbean cruise because a large part of your overall vacation is exploring the ports of call you will visit.  You have just a few hours at each stop, but it should be enough to get a taste of the city you are visiting.

The concern many guests have is figuring out what the options are to choose from and which ones are a good idea and which are a mistake.

The way to be assured that you have the most options and pick the right one for you, is to do your research ahead of time.  

Many of your fellow passengers will not do much, if any, research and will rely purely on the information Royal Caribbean provides them.  In fact, most will wait to get onboard the ship and then book something.

Besides risking a poor decision, they are also wasting time on their cruise from doing fun activities.

Let's explore what you need to know so that you can research your ports properly and make all of your reservations in advance, leaving you with more time onboard your ship to do what you really want to be doing.

Learn the basics about the ports

Before you even look at one shore excursion, you should research what each port is best known for.

Typically, the individual ports you visit are best known for something and there can be a few activities that stand out among the rest.

Depending on your itinerary, you may even know what each port is known for ahead of time, such as major cites like Boston, Rome, Barcelona, or Venice.

Start off with a list of the ports you will be visiting.  

The port you start and end your cruise with is a very important place because you may end up spending the most time of any ports here.  I recommend folks arrive to their embarkation port at least one day in advance to avoid travel delays impacting your ability to get to your Royal Caribbean cruise.  

Some people will tack on extra days beyond that on the beginning or end of the cruise, so you will find that you may be spending a lot of time in your embarkation/disembarkation port.  The most important factor can be aspects like an affordable hotel, dining and transportation to/from the ship.

For your embarkation port as well as the rest of the ports you are visiting, start off with some light reading.  I recommend doing an internet search for each city and learning about its significance.  

Wikipedia articles are often good starting points, because they will quickly get to why the port you are going to is frequented and some of the major attractions.

The goal of this step is to understand if you are visiting somewhere that is known for its beaches, or for its history, or for its culture, or for something else.  

Just because a port is known for its beaches does not mean you cannot take a tour of ancient ruins or go shopping, but you want to make sure you are not missing a big draw.  A good example would be going to Civitavecchia, Italy and not knowing that Rome is a quick drive from there.

Read more5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

Understanding the difference the two kinds of shore excursions

Lover's Beach in Cabo

Before you look at one shore excursion, it is important to know about some fundamental differences between shore excursions.

At a very basic level, there are two kinds of shore excursions: shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean and shore excursions offered by third parties.

Royal Caribbean shore excursions

Royal Caribbean shore excursions are sold directly by Royal Caribbean to its guests, and they are group activities managed by local companies in each port that Royal Caribbean has vetted and will stand by.  

Royal Caribbean also guarantees if you take one of its shore excursions, they will ensure you do not miss the ship if you are delayed on the excursion.  Even if the ship is slated to leave, the ship will wait for your group to return or provide transportation for your group to meet up with the ship at the next port.

Furthermore, if your ship cannot dock at a port for any reason, any shore excursions you booked with Royal Caribbean directly will be completely refunded.

Royal Caribbean excursion sign

The price of Royal Caribbean shore excursions are set in stone and are not negotiable.  The full cost of the shore excursion will be due upon booking and if you were to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion onboard your ship, you could use onboard credit to pay for it.

The price of a shore excursion will be no less expensive if you pre-purchase it online.  In many cases, shore excursions are more expensive on the ship than compared to buying it online before the cruise. Not to mention pre-purchasing before you get to the ship will guard against the tour being sold out.

Royal Caribbean shore excursion pros

  • Easy to find and learn about
  • Guaranteed return to your ship
  • Fully refundable if your ship skips a port

Royal Caribbean shore excursion cons

  • Tends to be more expensive than third party shore excursions
  • Group tours, which means tour will move at the slowest person in the group's pace
  • Limited offerings

Read moreWhat to do if Royal Caribbean's shore excursions are sold out

Third party shore excursions

Third party shore excursions are essentially any tour or activity you do on your own that is not sold to you by Royal Caribbean.  This can be a group tour or an individual tour.  It can even be you taking a taxi somewhere and doing something on your own.

With third party shore excursions, you are responsible for planning all aspects of the tour, so you will have to find a company or person, negotiate the rate and then find them in port and ensure you return on time.

The policies of what happens if your ship cannot dock at the port and refunds can vary from tour guide to tour guide.  Many will offer a refund policy if your ship cannot dock, but it is something else to consider.

Ketchikan charter boats

Prices for third party shore excursions can sometimes be negotiated, depending on the excursion and the guide.  Some excursions will require full payment at the time of booking, but many will require just a deposit to hold your spot, with full payment prior to the excursion beginning.

Third party excursions are far less limited than what Royal Caribbean offers, and you can price shop among many competing companies to find the one for you.  

Third party shore excursion pros

  • Far greater variety of choices
  • Tends to be less expensive than Royal Caribbean shore excursions
  • Possibility for personalization and be more efficient with your time

Third party shore excursion cons

  • You are responsible for getting back to the ship on time
  • Requires more leg work to learn about them all
  • You must handle any financial dealings, including cancelations.

Start with Royal Caribbean's shore excursions

Royal Caribbean's shore excursions are a good starting point because they are simple to find and will give you a basis to compare other options later.

To find all of the shore excursions for your cruise, it is best to register your cruise on Royal Caribbean's My Cruises section and then visit the Cruise Planner.

Shore excursions are divided up by the port you are visiting and then further categorized by the type of activity (culture, culinary, family, sightseeing, etc).

Go through each port and look at the various options to choose from.  

In addition of deciding if any of these excursions look appealing, you should be considering the following aspects of each shore excursion

  • Cost (adult vs child)
  • Duration (a few hours, half day, full day)
  • Physical and age limitations

Be sure to read the descriptions of any shore excursions that sound interesting for all the aspects of the excursion. Often a main activity is accompanied with smaller activities, such as a zip line adventure also including a beach break and lunch.

How to find third party shore excursions

Mediterranean cruise in Rome

Whereas Royal Caribbean's shore excursions are nicely laid out for you, third party excursions require some leg work to discover.

Between your initial port research and looking at Royal Caribbean's shore excursions, you probably have a good idea of what each port offers but there is plenty more to discover.  There are two resources I always go to when I want to find shore excursion ideas.

TripAdvisor

Mazatlan

TripAdvisor is a user submitted review site that has lists for hotels, activities, restaurants and more.  I find it to be a really good means of discovering popular activities as well as activities that float under the radar.

For each port, do an internet search for the port name and TripAdvisor.  If you are visiting Cozumel, then you would search for "Cozumel TripAdvisor".  The first result back should be TripAdvisor's page on Cozumel.  Going about it this way is faster and simpler than navigating TripAdvisor's site.

Click around and look at the activities mentioned.  You may find beaches, buildings, restaurants and other cultural spots listed, with reviews and photos from other people that have been there.

Read the reviews for insight into what the activity offers and what the people that left reviews liked and did not like about it.

In most cases, you will not find a vendor here, but you will discover the places you want to visit.

Message boards

Next, visit the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards for excursion ideas and recommendations.

Message boards are a little tricky to browse, but they are a wealth of knowledge.  What is great about this message board is you will not only find a list of things to do, but the activities here are focused on what cruise passengers will be interested in and often there are recommendations for which guides or companies to work with.

Read through the various forums for each port you will be visiting and read what others have to say.  You might even be inclined to sign up for the message boards and post your own question to get a more personalized answer.  

Skagway train

Like TripAdvisor, your goal is to narrow down what activities you want to do while in each port based on others advice as well as descriptions and photos you run across.

If you find individual companies at this stage, that's great but if you still have not found someone to work with yet, don't worry. The next step will take care of that.

Search for what you want to do


By this point you should have a really good idea of what you want to do in each port.  Maybe you know you want to spend the day at a particular beach or you really want to get a tour of a city's major historical landmarks.

For each port and activity, go to your favorite internet search engine and do a search for the port name and the activity.  Here are some examples

  • Cozumel beaches
  • New York landmark tour
  • St Thomas guided tour
Navigator of the Seas in Willemstad, Curacao

You should find a lot of listings for the kind of tours you are looking for.  If your search is coming back with too many results or they are too vague, try adding more keywords to specify exactly what you want.

  • Cozumel Paradise Beach
  • New York midtown tour bus
  • St Thomas private tour

For each tour operator you find that looks promising, consider sending them an email or calling and asking some basic questions.

  • Is the price the same for adults and kids/infants?
  • What happens if our ship cannot dock in the port?
  • What is your cancelation policy?
  • Would you be willing to accept $____ instead?

Ask as many questions as you want and also consider asking for more a more personalized experience.  The worst they will say is no, but often these people and companies want your business quite a bit and will work with you.

Make the decision

At this point, you have a pretty good idea of what each port offers, the prices and options available to you and expectations for the excursions.

Booking the excursion for you and your group is now a matter of weighing the pros and cons of booking with Royal Caribbean or not, as well as between individual excursions in each port.

Decisions such as, to book with Royal Caribbean or not, or which tour sounds the most interesting will vary from person to person and port to port.

Cabo

By engaging in the steps listed in this post, you should have a good understanding of what each port offers, which activities are of interest to you and the right price.

Although this may further complicate the decision, it is important to note that there is always a third choice in any of the ports of forgoing an organized tour all together and exploring the port on your own.

Many ports are conducive for walking off the ship, taking a taxi and exploring the port on your own.  

London

In the end, the decision can come down to price and one's comfort level with booking on their own versus Royal Caribbean.

You do not have to make a decision right away, but the longer you wait, the greater the risk of the shore excursion you want filling up.  This is especially true with Royal Caribbean shore excursions.

You should treat each port individually and not be concerned with if you book something on your own or go with Royal Caribbean across all ports. 

With this information, you should have the tools to make an informed decision and pick a great shore excursion before you set foot on your ship, leaving you more time onboard to enjoy the cruise.

Common shore excursion questions

Can you get off a cruise ship without an excursion?

Yes, in almost every port of call, you can walk off the ship with no tour or excursion booked and walk around on your own.

Depending on the port, there may or may not be much to see or do near where the ship docks.

Most ports have at least a few shops, bars, or restaurants near where the ship docks. These are usually not authentic offerings, but you cannot deny the convenience of having them so close to the ship.

Some people will walk to a downtown area, or take a taxi as well.

What are the different categories of shore excursions offered?

There are a few common types of shore excursions:

  • Accessible Shore Excursions
  • Active Adventures
  • Culinary
  • Culture
  • Destination Highlights
  • Family Friendly
  • Sustainable Tours

Accessible excursions are tours that are designed for parties that have wheelchair accessibility needs.

An active shore excursion refers to a tour that centers around physical activities, such as swimming, paddling, hiking, or something else requiring physical effort.

How much exertion is required truly depends on the tour, but these are not tours that are passive where the passengers take a bus tour of the area.

Culinary tours center the experience around food or drinks, usually the sort of eats the port you are visiting is known for.

Culture tours tend to highlight the historical sites and people of the country.

A destination highlight excursion will take you to the major tourist attractions your port is known for.

Family friendly tours ensure the tour is appropriate for children of all ages, which avoids any experiences that may have a height or age restriction.

Sustainable tours are certified excursions that are not hindering the local environment in anyway.

Are shore excursions cheaper on the ship?

No, shore excursions will not be any cheaper if you wait to book it onboard. In fact, it may cost more.

Royal Caribbean regularly discounts its shore excursions before the cruise on its website. So booking a tour online before the cruise will cost you nothing more.

How far in advance can you book excursions on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean will usually begin loading in shore excursions for booking up to 8-10 months before your cruise.

There is no set timeline for all sailings to expect shore excursions to be added, but you can start to look for tours once you are less than a year from your sail date.

You'll be able to book a tour up to 48 hours before your cruise begins via the Royal Caribbean website.

How much do you tip a cruise excursion guide?

Cuba tour driver

It is customary to tip your excursion guide at the conclusion of the tour, but the exact amount will depend on your experience.

Tipping the driver of your vehicle is also common.

How much to tip depends on what you are comfortable with, but usually tipping per person in your group is a good plan.

More information

Do you book shore excursions through Royal Caribbean or on your own? What shore excursion research benefited you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Hello from Radiance of the Seas! It's day two of our 7-night sailing to Alaska and today was a sea day. 

We lucked out with beautiful weather today for our day at sea! It was 60 degrees and sunny all day with not a cloud in the sky. The seas have been so calm both days. I can barely feel the ship moving. 

Breakfast with new friends

Sydney and I slept off our jet lag this morning thanks to our inside cabin being pitch black. I normally sleep with white noise but the ship has been so quiet, I didn't even need to. We woke up just in time to have breakfast in the main dining room, which was open until 9:30.

I started with a latte from Latitudes while Sydney waited to be seated. I'm low functioning without my coffee so this was a delicious way to start my day and use one of my drink vouchers.

We were seated with a really sweet couple from the UK who were on their very first cruise! I typically don’t love sitting with strangers but we really enjoyed our relaxing breakfast with new friends. We all started with yogurt parfaits and then I ordered the breakfast burrito while Sydney had the power bowl.

My burrito was delicious - filled with chorizo, hash browns and cheese. Sydney said the power bowl tasted healthy and definitely needed salt + pepper.

A morning stroll

As we were leaving breakfast, the atrium was filled with people doing a group Zumba class. I haven’t seen that many people in a workout class on a cruise in a long time! Everyone looked like they were having a lot of fun with the music and dance moves.

We bundled up and started to walk along the top deck. Sydney and I both love walks, so this was perfect after our breakfast.

The sea was perfectly calm with the water beautifully glistening in the sun. As we turned the corner, we even saw whales and dolphins off in the distance. The nature up here in Alaska is so untouched - it really does take your breath away.

Sydney and I couldn’t get over how nice the weather was. It was definitely nice to get on the top deck for a bit and take in the sunshine. The forecast for the next few days looks like it will be cloudy and rainy.

Apparently, there’s 100% chance of rain the next few days. The statistician in me questions that kind of certainty, so I am holding out hope we might have better weather than predicted.

I couldn’t believe the number of people who were walking and exercising. This is probably the most exercise I've seen happening on a cruise ship. Maybe it was just the weather, but we saw tons of people being active. Between everyone doing Zumba earlier and then lots of people doing their own workouts on the top deck, the ship seems to be full of active cruisers. The gym looked pretty busy as well.

This is a far cry from my spring break cruise on Mariner of the Seas the other week where the main activities were drinking, tanning and eating. 

Afternoon activities

After walking the top deck for about an hour, Sydney and I headed down to the Schooner Bar. There was a solo traveler meet-up at 12:00 PM and Alaska Trivia starting at 12:15 PM. We couldn’t really identify if there were any solo travelers meeting, so we opted just to wait for trivia to start.

Trivia was Alaska themed, but Sydney and I both warned one another that we were not good with trivia or knowing fun facts. To our surprise, we scored 7.5/15 questions! Nothing to write home about, but better than we expected.

I didn’t imagine we would be able to sit on the top deck during this cruise, but the weather was too gorgeous not to enjoy the pool deck today.

We bounced between the hot tub and pool chairs a few times. We also indulged in a pool-side cocktail. There weren't many people on the pool deck, as I think people assume it's cooler outside than it really is. The Solarium was much busier. The pool water was actually pretty comfortable; we even saw a few people in there while walking earlier.

Since we had a reservation for Samba Grill at 6:00 PM, we went back to our cabin to freshen up. We also treated ourselves to some downtime with face masks before getting ready for dinner.

If you are like us and love pampering yourself but don’t want to pay for the spa, consider bringing a few spa-like treatments onboard. We brought 2 kinds of face masks to enjoy each night and I packed some nail polish too. We also requested robes from our housekeeper to help us really bring the spa to our little inside cabin.

Samba Grill

Sydney and I made a reservation for 6:00 PM to dine at the specialty restaurant, Samba Grill. I’ve cruised a lot with Royal Caribbean and hadn’t even heard of this specialty option. Since I have a BOGO voucher to use on Day 1 or 2 for specialty dining, we thought it would be fun to try something new.

I was blown away by the experience!

We were greeted by servers from Brazil when we entered the restaurant. Sydney and I actually traveled to Brazil during our Semester at Sea, so we were excited to talk about the cities we visited and ask the servers about their hometowns.

Our waiter explained each part of the meal, which would start with a trip to the appetizer bar. This included a goat cheese and pineapple salad, Canja de galinha (chicken soup) and assorted meats and cheese.

The next course was a warm bread basket that had 3 different options. I have very fond memories of Brazilian Pau de Quejio, or small balls of cheesy bread goodness. We also enjoyed a warm, flaky empanada with cheese inside. It melted in your mouth as the cheese oozed from the pastry. There was also garlic bread in the basket, which was crispy and delicious.

Not to be dramatic, but the heavens opened when the bread basket was delivered. 

Next, we were served feijoada (pronounced like 'fish - wader'), which reminded me of a burrito bowl. The feijoada had a mixture of rice, beans, pork, bread crumbs, collard greens and oranges. Our server explained that Brazilians eat feijoada at least once a week so it was a must-try.

We were also served fried bananas, polenta and yuca fries. We loved the bananas and feijoada!

The main event was up next - THE MEATS! Served by a gaucho sporting a cowboy hat, we were given tongs to grab freshly carved meats as he made his way around the restaurant delivering the meats.

We started with bacon-wrapped chicken followed by sausage. The chicken was amazing. Next we had garlic marinated steak, which was so tender and flavorful. Then we were served parmesan crusted pork and lamb. These weren’t our favorites, as Sydney said the lamb was fatty and my pork was a bit dry.

The last one served was a filet mignon, which was a showstopper.

A few times we had to turn our green card back to red so we could have a break and make room for more food! Everything tasted really good but our tummies needed breaks once in a while.

We were lucky enough to start spotting whales during our dinner too! The seas have been so calm that it’s easy to spot any motion in the ocean. Sydney ran outside a few times to get pictures, even though they all look like splashing blobs in the distance.

At one point, there were 4 spouts that we could see at one time in the horizon. The whales were breaching and putting on quite the show for us.

It’s so funny when someone spots a whale or dolphin because everyone stands up and heads over to the windows at once. It’s a unifying moment onboard when wildlife is spotted!

Back at our table and after the whales swam off in the distance, we were served cinnamon spiced pineapple. The pineapple was warm and sweet, a perfect comfort food that hit the spot. This was Sydney’s favorite part of the meal.

As if we needed more food, we ended the meal with a dessert sampler, which included a domed, dense chocolate cake, a passion-fruit flavored parfait called mousse de maracuja, and a rum custard.

The mousse was our absolute favorite! 

The whole dining experience took about 2.5 hours between eating, talking with the servers and whale spotting. Apparently, it was our server’s second day of work on the ship! He said he had never worked on a cruise ship and we told him he did an excellent job. Alexander, who is from Brazil, took the time to explain everything in great detail, which made the experience more authentic.

We were planning to go to the 8:00 PM Tango production show, but we didn’t make it in time. We then planned to attend the Tango production show at 10 PM, but the seas were mesmerizing and we couldn't get ourselves down there in time. Also, 10 PM is a little late for us these days!

I am glad we took a long time to savor the meal and watch the wildlife, which you can’t predict! That's what this cruise is all about anyways - enjoying the Earth's beauty. 

Tomorrow's plans in Ketchikan

I am taking the time to write tonight’s blog from the Solarium, as it’s still light out at 10:00 PM. The ocean looks like a sheet of glass and I think our ship is moving at a snail’s pace as we work our way towards Ketchikan.

As I wrote earlier, we didn’t have any excursions planned for this cruise, but unfortunately the forecast looks bleak to just meander around town. We ended up booking an excursion tomorrow for $69 called Ketchikan Trolley and Lumberjack show. 

This seemed like a good option for seeing the city even if it’s raining most of the day. It would be a shame to come all this way and feel like we can’t do or see anything because we aren’t able to walk around.

We purchased tickets at the shore excursion desk because the app was giving us an error. The crew member who helped us was from Brazil and we told him how we just had an amazing meal at Samba Grill.

He said he actually worked with the head chef at Royal Caribbean, along with other Brazilian crew members, to develop the menu that is served to ensure it's authentic. He was happy to hear it was a great experience and I told him it was probably better than the steakhouse I tried when visiting Brazil!

Off to bed for us! Sydney was told the Alaskan pilot comes on the ship at 6am, which will be 5am with the time change. Lucky for me, she decided that was too early so we should be getting a restful night's sleep. 

How to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

No one likes to think about it, but occasionally there is a need to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Whether you are flat out cancelling the reservation or opting to postpone the cruise to a future sail date, there are important rules and policies to be aware of before you call in to change your booking.

No matter what the rationale, here is what you need to know on how to cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Updated: May 12, 2022

Know the cancellation policy

Before you cancel, you should be aware of the terms of cancellation you agreed to when placing that initial deposit.

Cruise Fares

There are two types of cruise fare deposits: refundable and non-refundable.  

If you booked refundable cruise fare, and have not yet made your final payment, you can cancel for a full refund of your deposit and any money paid.

If you booked a non-refundable cruise fare, and are outside of final payment, you will receive a Future Cruise Certificate in the amount of the cruise deposit, less a $100 per guest change fee.

Once you pass the final payment date, you may be subject to cancelation charges that vary depending on how close you are to your sailing. 

A traditional cruise cancellation will provide cash back, but potentially with penalties.

Cancellation Window

Once you pass the final payment date, cancellations that occur may incur a cancellation charge that depends on how close to sailing you decide not to cruise.

FOR 1 TO 4 NIGHT CRUISES
(including Holiday sailings)
IF CANCELLATION IS MADE
CANCELLATION CHARGE
75 days or more prior to the first day of the CruiseNo charge (except for Nonrefundable Deposit amounts)
74 to 61 days50% of total price
60 to 31 days75% of total price
30 days or less100% of total price (No refund)

 

FOR 5 NIGHTS OR LONGER CRUISES
(including Holiday sailings and Cruisetours)
IF CANCELLATION IS MADE
CANCELLATION CHARGE
90 days or more prior to the first day of the CruiseNo charge (except for Nonrefundable Deposit amounts)
89 to 75 days25% of total price
74 to 61 days50% of total price
60 to 31 days75% of total price
30 days or less100% of total price (No refund)

How to cancel a cruise

Once you determine you want to cancel your cruise, you need to contact whomever you booked your cruise with to make the change.

If you booked directly with Royal Caribbean via its website or on their site, you can call Royal Caribbean to cancel the reservation.

If you prefer to cancel a cruise online, you can refer to the online cancellation form that will provide the different options you have for cancellation.

If you booked the cruise with a travel agent, and/or any website other than Royal Caribbean's site, you must go through your travel provider to cancel the cruise.

Can I get a refund on my Royal Caribbean cruise?

You may be able to get a refund for your cruise, depending on how far in advance you cancel you cruise and the type of cruise deposit booked. It is critical you understand the terms and conditions of your cruise contract before booking a cruise to prevent any surprises if you decide to cancel later on.

Refer to the chart above for specific cancellation charges, but if you inform Royal Caribbean at least 90 days prior to your sailing date for 5-night or longer cruises (including Holiday sailings and Cruisetours), or 75 days for 1-4 night cruises (including Holiday sailings), you may qualify for a full or partial refund.

The type of cruise fare deposit on the reservation and timing of the decision to cancel will ultimately dictate how much of a refund you will receive.

Can I cancel my cruise if I booked it during Covid-19?

Depending on when you booked your cruise, your reservation may still qualify for a flexible cancellation policy.

For much of the public health emergency in 2020 and 2021, Royal Caribbean offered customers the "Cruise with Confidence" program that allowed for cancelling or changing cruise plans without the usual penalties or fees associated with typically cancelling a cruise.

If your cruise was booked before March 31, 2022 and is scheduled to sail on or before September 30, 2022, then your reservation can be cancelled up to 48 hours before the sailing is scheduled to begin in exchange for a 100% future cruise credit.

The future cruise credit you receive must be used on a sailing that departs within one year of when the FCC is issued.

Cruise with Confidence covers even non-refundable deposits, which means no penalty for cancelling under Cruise with Confidence.

Can I cancel my cruise if someone tests positive for Covid-19?

Woman taking covid test

While the Cruise with Confidence program is no longer being offered, Royal Caribbean still offers a full refund if you or someone in your group tests positive for Covid-19.

Royal Caribbean's Covid-19 assistance program covers guests who test positive for covid at no extra charge.

If you, or anyone in your traveling party, tests positive for Covid-19 within 10 days before your cruise begins (or at the cruise terminal), Royal Caribbean will refund 100% of the cruise fare to all of you. You also have the option for a future cruise credit (FCC) instead.

Royal Caribbean defines "traveling party" as your family members living with you in the same household and traveling companions assigned to your stateroom on the cruise.

This applies to cruises departing on or before March 31, 2023.

Royal Caribbean says your test result must be submitted as proof of a positive result in order to qualify for a refund, unless you tested positive from a test administered by Royal Caribbean.

Can I cancel my Royal Caribbean cruise online?

In order to expedite the amount of requests for cancellations, Royal Caribbean has set up an online form to cancel your cruise.

You will need the Booking ID, Ship, Sail Date, and Last Name from the reservation you wish to cancel.  At that point, the website will present options available to you.

If you booked with a travel agent, I strongly advise that you speak with them first to determine your options. Moreover, an agent can handle the paperwork required for a refund; and serve as a go-between when (not if) refund delays occur.

How can I get my money back if I want to cancel?

If you are interested in getting your cash back, here are the options available to you:

Traditional cancellations will provide cash back, minus any change fees or associated penalties.  Quite often, guests run into penalties because they booked a non-refundable cruise fare and/or they are past the final payment date.

What about travel insurance?

Travel insurance covers a great deal of scenarios, but cancelling your vacation because you want to cancel is usually not covered.

Refer to your travel insurance policy, but unless you have a 'Cancel For Any Reason' policy, most travel insurance does not kick in until an outside influence occurs that prevents you from going on the cruise, such as becoming ill or another covered scenario.

Non-Royal Caribbean related refunds

Of course, you may have other purchases made in conjunction with your cruise vacation that is outside of Royal Caribbean. 

Each company you work with will have different cancellation policies, with some being far more flexible than others.

The airlines have modified their cancellation terms to be more flexible, although each airline has different rules regarding travel credits, refunds, or both. One loophole to getting a refund is if the airline cancels or changes your flight time, you may be able to jump in on a refund request.

Hotels have traditionally offered flexible cancellation terms, provided you did not opt for a non-refundable deposit. 

Perhaps car rentals have the most customer-friendly cancellations available; but you will have to refer to your rental reservation. 

Regardless of which refund you are requesting, the key is to be persistent and polite about getting answers to options available to you.

More information

Freedom of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

In:
01 May 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today is the second day of our 3-night Bahamas cruise and we docked in Nassau this morning around 7:30AM. I always love visiting the Bahamas, and I was looking forward to today's shore excursion to the picturesque Pearl Island.

Watching the ship sail into port is always a nice way to start the day, and I watched from the upper pool deck as Freedom of the Seas arrived in Nassau.

It's interesting to look at the western side of Paradise Island when sailing into Nassau. This land is what Royal Caribbean will be turning into the Royal Beach Club, one of the cruise line's upcoming major projects over the next couple years.

Related: What's New & Coming to Royal Caribbean in 2022, 2023, and 2024

A quick breakfast at the Windjammer was in order before getting my daypack ready to go ashore.

Pearl Island

I booked an excursion to Pearl Island, a small island located about a mile northeast of Paradise Island. I booked it through Royal Caribbean directly for around $93. My parents and I disembarked the ship around 8:15, where we met with the tour group and boarded a smaller vessel that would take us to the island.

The ride took around 30 minutes, and we were rewarded with beautiful views of Paradise Island and the large waterfront homes and golf courses along the way.

Our location on the boat right near the door meant we were the among first to be let off, so I quickly walked (ran) to find the best lounge chairs possible on the island. I had read reviews that the island could get crowded (note: it did not) and I wanted to make sure we had a nice shaded area to spend the day.

I picked three chairs under a covered structure with a perfect view of the beach.

A great benefit of an excursion to Pearl Island is that water sports activities are included in your tour price. While the water was a bit too choppy for standup paddles, my mom and I went kayaking around the beach and had a blast! The water was so clean and clear and we lucked out with perfectly sunny weather.

I was pretty shocked how relatively empty the island felt. Pearl Island sells both a regular beach-access day pass and a day pass that includes a snorkel tour on the opposite side of the island. Around half the guests on our boat had booked the snorkeling tour, so they were nowhere to be found at the beach for the first hour or two of the excursion.

Even when they finished snorkeling and when a second boat came to drop off passengers from the Disney Dream ship later in the morning, the island did not feel overly crowded.

Next up were drinks. Drinks (aside from iced tea and water at lunch) are not included in the excursion price at Pearl Island, but I found the prices to be fairly reasonable at $10-12 per cocktail. We ordered three Miami Vices which were extremely refreshing in the warm Caribbean sun.

A buffet lunch is included at Pearl Island, which consisted of Caribbean rice, BBQ chicken, fried grouper, and coleslaw. I thought it was pretty good for being included in the excursion cost.

We spent the next couple hours relaxing at Pearl Island before a nice, breezy ride back to Nassau at 1PM. I will be writing a full, in-depth review of Pearl Island, so be sure to check that out soon. Overall I liked the island even more than I initially thought I would!

Back in Nassau

My parents have never been to Nassau before, so I wanted to give them a short tour of the city. First we grabbed a beer at Pirate Republic Brewing followed by a walk around downtown Nassau.

Next I wanted to show them two places I discovered while wandering around Nassau during my Independence of the Seas cruise in January: the Queen's Staircase and Fort Fincastle.

These landmarks are adjacent to each other and the fort provides a fantastic view of downtown Nassau and the ocean. While the inside of the fort was not open, we walked around the grounds and took in the history and views.

The sun was extremely strong mid-day, so we got back onboard Freedom of the Seas around 3PM and headed to the pool deck.

It seems everyone else headed to the pool deck because it was packed! The atmosphere of a 3-night cruise is a lot different than a longer sailing, but I find the party atmosphere to be a lot of fun.

The lines, though, are crazy… I had to wait 20 minutes in line for a snack at El Loco Fresh!

Evening onboard

As this is a 3-night cruise and it doesn't give us much time to relax on the ship compared to longer sailings, we opted for another quick meal at the Windjammer tonight. This way we could eat quickly and spend the rest of the evening exploring other areas of Freedom of the Seas.

It turns out we stayed in the Windjammer longer than expected because we began sailing away from Nassau as soon as we sat down. We decided to stay for a while to take in the views.

Following dinner was a short round of mini golf and an hour spent watching the sunset from pool chairs on the running track. After such a busy day in port, it was nice to sit back and relax with the ocean view.

It was a bit chilly tonight, so we moved our hangout spot to the Viking Crown Lounge where we grabbed a drink before taking a walk through the Royal Promenade.

We stumbled upon karaoke in Star Lounge and I'm very glad we did. The venue was jam-packed and the karaoke was absolutely hilarious. While the singing was (purposely) not top-notch, the confidence and dance moves of the performers had the whole audience dying of laughter.

Tired from a long day, I went to my stateroom to get ready for another fun port day tomorrow at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Stray observations

I feel like the Viking Crown Lounge is underutilized. There are rarely many people in there, yet it has great views of the ship and ocean. My dad mentioned it would work well as a piano bar and I agree.

I always forget there is a Johnny Rockets on Voyager and Freedom Class ships due to its location on the way to the sports deck.

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Vancouver, Canada

In:
30 Apr 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

Reporting live from Radiance of the Seas in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! 

Today, Sydney and I embarked on our 7-night sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Alaska. It was a gorgeous spring day with the perfect temperature. We really couldn’t have asked for a better send off on our first cruise day!

Our boarding slot today was for 1:30 PM this afternoon and we packed in a full morning before boarding the ship. Sydney and I stayed at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center in downtown. This was a great location in the city for exploring. It was also a quick 5 minute drive to the cruise port, which was perfect for us. We enjoyed our stay and would recommend the hotel for any cruisers because of its prime location.

Vancouver and Stanley Park’s Seawall

Downtown Vancouver is a super fun city to explore. I would highly recommend allowing some time to enjoy the downtown area if you're cruising from here in the near future! They have great walking and biking paths right along the waterfront that shouldn’t be missed. Stanley Park is also gorgeous and has a 6-mile looped called The Seawall. 

With jet-lag on our side, our morning started early at 5:30 AM. Sydney and I had coffee and a lovely breakfast at the hotel before making our way towards Stanley Park. Sydney is someone who loves to be active when traveling, so we decided to rent bikes for an hour. Our plan was to our bikes around the 6-mile loop and enjoy the views from Stanley Park. 

It was only $5 USD to rent the bikes and included a helmet - very affordable and a nice activity for all ages to enjoy. As my luck would have it, the gear of my bike collapsed within a few blocks of renting the bike so I had to walk it back and trade for a new one. I am so glad this happened before we had made any headway on the trail because it was a pain waling back my broken bike. 

With a new bike ready for round 2, we made our way back to the biking trail. Once we were finally on our way, the bike ride was absolutely stunning. The weather was a brisk 55 degrees and we were comfortable with pants and a light jacket on. We could even see the ship in the port! To my pleasant surprise, the path is flat and paved for the entire 6 miles. The route takes you along the waterfront and even goes under Lions Gate Bridge.

After we finished biking The Seawall, we stopped for a snack at Break Bakery and Cafe. This was recommended to us as a good local cafe to grab coffee or a pastry, so I opted for a brownie cookie which was perfectly gooey and chocolatey. 

Sydney and I did a little bit of shopping downtown to pick up a few things for the cruise before getting ready to pack out bags and head to the ship. We forgot to pack enough conditioner for the week - and this is a cruising must! The showers only provide a 2-in-1 shampoo and body wash so it's nice to have your own conditioner.

ArriveCan Chaos 

We opted to take a Lyft from the hotel to the cruise port right around 1:15 PM for our slated arrival time. The Lyft was super cheap, only costing us $8 USD. The conversion rate right now is amazing!

When we arrived, it seemed pretty quiet in the terminal drop off area. We dropped off luggage and began the boarding process.

Before entering the terminal, one of the port workers simply asked if we had all our necessary documents and we showed her our Set Sail Passes. I was surprised she didn't verify we had the right documents, she just took our word for it! We went through security and then we had to complete customs and immigration since we are leaving Canada to enter the United States.

 

The line moved quick enough as fellow cruisers shuffled through the customs kiosks. These are similar to what you find in the airports where a slip is printed after scanning your passport and declaring any goods you have. Sydney and I weren’t selected for any additional screening luckily, so we went on our way to the next boarding phase.

Also, I have Global Entry and I am pretty sure I would have been able to bypass the line and the kiosks. I didn’t want to separate from Sydney so I chose not to go in the Global Entry line, but it seemed to be an option.

NOTE: If you are cruising from Canada soon, you will want to read this section to save yourself major headache!

One of the port workers asked to see our ArriveCan forms and we showed her the emails we received for our flights. (This was also when I realized that masks were seemingly required in the terminal because I lowered my mask to use my FaceID on my iPhone - she immediately snapped at me to get my mask back on). 

Currently, if you fly into Canada, you will need to enter your travel plans and upload vaccination proof before entering the country. You receive a QR code after and can download the ArriveCAN app that will have your info and QR code. I only needed to show the gate agent for my flight into Vancouver in order to board the flight. 

The port worker snipped at us and said we needed another ArriveCAN form to board the ship. We were dumbfounded and had no idea this needed to be done.  

None of the communication from RCL mentioned that we would need to fill out ANOTHER form on ArriveCAN to board the cruise. Clearly, no one knew about this because it was utter chaos in the terminal.

Everyone was on their phone - and clogging the cell network - trying to get another ArriveCAN form submitted because you couldn’t board the ship without having the form completed.

We saw a lot of older guests who were struggling trying to fill out this information on their phones; that is, if they even had a phone to use because there were no computers available that I saw. 

We also received no direction on how to fill out the marine entry form, as it’s different than the airline one with just arrival date information. Sydney and I were frazzled as the app was slow to respond.

Finally, we were able to complete the marine travel form on the app and thought we had done them correctly. We got in line with our QR codes only to get told at the front of the line that we entered the wrong information.

Apparently you have to enter the entire duration of the cruise from start to end. I guess we had just entered today’s date for departure. 

By this point, we were super annoyed with how everything was being handled. People were sitting on the ground trying to upload proof of vaccination and complete the forms. Lots of older guests were receiving little to no assistance either for filling out the required document. 

Finally, our information was correctly entered and we were able to board the ship. This was also where our passport was scanned, negative test was verified and health questionnaire was complete. 

The port worker said that they had just heard of the requirement that morning. I am not sure if RCL dropped the ball on the ArriveCAN app or if the requirements were only made known to RCL right before the cruise. Either way, this was poorly executed and left many of us frustrated and frazzled.

Either way, if you sail on Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, save yourself the headache and complete the marine travel form on the ArriveCAN app before arriving at the terminal. 

Sailaway

After boarding the ship (finally!), we dropped off our luggage at our stateroom. We are sailing in an inside cabin (3071) for the ship and it’s very comfortable with plenty of storage. We booked an inside guarantee and our cabin is located almost midship, so we can't complain!

Next, we made our way to the dining room to schedule our My Time Dining. I guess you can book your dinner time online prior to the cruise because they were barely able to accommodate us for dinner at 5:30 PM.

I used to just take it day by day with My Time Dining, but my cruises this year made me realize you need to apparently book your dinner time prior to boarding if you want to eat before 8 PM. I thought My Time Dining was meant to be a flexible option, but I guess not.

Eventually, we made our way to the top deck for lunch at the Windjammer. We ate outside on the back deck and the weather was perfect for spring. I had a hot dog and Sydney had a salad and small ice cream cone.

The trauma from boarding was only cured by the cocktails we enjoyed on the top deck as were admired the beautiful scenery. The Sailaway party started around 4:00 PM and the pool deck slowly filled with people wanting to watch us leave port. There was actually some lively energy on the pool deck and everyone was enjoying the scenery. We were looking for whales and seals from above but didn't have any luck.

At 5:00 PM, Radiance pushed back and we were on our way to Alaska! We sailed out of Vancouver and under Lion’s Gate Bridge, which was stunning!

Dinner in the Main Dining Room

It was well past 5:30 PM, so we made a pitstop at our cabin to change and made our way to deck 4 for dinner. There was a long line at the entrance, so I was glad we took care of our reservation right after we boarded. 

Our table for 2 was tucked between two other tables of 2 with less than a foot between the tables. It seemed that the waitstaff was very busy, essentially trying to accommodate multiple tables of 2 each ordering at different times. 

We are seated near a window and saw whales from afar, which was so fun!

Sydney started with the crab cake and I chose the wild mushroom soup. My mom dies for the crab cakes, so I was surprised when Sydney said it was a little mushy. My soup was pretty good but I could have used more truffle flavor. 

For dinner, I had the prime rib and Sydney the herb-crusted salmon. We both really enjoyed our meals, although the service was a bit slower than normal. We also didn’t have a beverage waiter stop by for a while, so we asked the main waiter if we could order cocktails. I think it added some more stress to his plate, so I will opt to get a drink before we head to dinner again. 

Dessert tonight was key lime pie, warm hazelnut chocolate cake and peach berry cobbler. Sydney didn’t know the cobbler was low sugar, so she said it was a little tart. The key lime pie and chocolate cake were fabulous. 

After dinner, we were pretty pooped so we came back to our room and unpacked. There was no headliner show tonight except for some movies playing, trivia in the pub and karaoke tonight. 

Tomorrow is a sea day so I am excited to relax a bit tomorrow. We also booked dinner at Samba Grill Brazilian Steakhouse tomorrow! I’ve never heard of this speciality dining restaurant onboard a Royal Caribbean ship! Our dinner table friends said they heard amazing things about it, so I have high hopes. 

Freedom of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

In:
29 Apr 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Embarkation day is always an exciting day, and today I got to board Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas for the first time for a quick 3-night cruise to the Bahamas.

The main objective of this cruise is to explore all that Freedom of the Seas has to offer while filming a full tour of the ship for the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel. However, I'll also be visiting Pearl Island in the Bahamas and trying out my first 3-night cruise, which is the shortest cruise I've been on other than a short non-revenue sailing on Navigator of the Seas.

As Freedom of the Seas visits Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay twice every week, I've seen the ship countless times when visiting those ports on other Royal Caribbean ships. I woke up this morning excited to get onboard and finally see the ship up close.

Embarkation

After disembarking Oasis of the Seas yesterday, I spent the night at an Airbnb in Miami Beach. My parents are joining me on this cruise, so we spent yesterday and this morning walking around South Beach and enjoying delicious food.

When I boarded Oasis of the Seas five days ago, I noticed that no one was checking boarding times. Therefore, even though we had a boarding time of 12PM, I ordered a Lyft to Terminal A at 11AM.

Just like I thought, we were able to board as soon as we got to the terminal with no problem! From arrival at the terminal to walking onboard was around 15-20 minutes.

I'm staying in an interior cabin on this cruise and my parents are in the connecting room. This is my first time experiencing a cruise with connecting staterooms and it's great! My interior room feels so much bigger when I can open a door to my parents' cabin. It's also convenient for coordinating schedules and making plans.

Pool deck fun

The first thing we did once onboard Freedom of the Seas was head to the pool deck. When Freedom was amplified in early 2020, the pool deck was enhanced with the Caribbean resort-style pool deck, which has bright colors and The Lime & Coconut Bar.

I had a classic piña colada from The Lime & Coconut to start the cruise, followed by a small lunch in the Windjammer.

We spent some time relaxing on the pool deck, which quickly got busy as more people embarked the ship. Freedom of the Seas is at nearly full capacity this weekend.

Right before sailaway I decided to climb the rock climbing wall a few times. I made my dad try it, too!

We watched sailaway from the back of the sports court on deck 12. Viewing the Miami skyline while sailing out of port was just as beautiful as last week's departure on Oasis of the Seas, and the sports deck was not very crowded.

After sailaway I took a walk on the Promenade deck, which is my favorite place to be on Voyager and Freedom Class ships. It's the most peaceful place onboard and I especially love hanging out on the helicopter pad.

Evening activities

Tonight's dinner was in the Main Dining Room. I really enjoy eating in the Main Dining Room, but I haven't eaten there much at all since I started cruising last August. I tend to eat at the Windjammer while cruising solo or at specialty dining when with a big group, but it's always nice to have a sit-down meal in the Main Dining Room.

I heard that Royal Caribbean had started to sit multiple parties together at one table, and I wanted to eat with only my parents. Therefore, I went to the dining room as soon as I got onboard to confirm that we could have our own table (I probably should have done this ahead of time but I forgot).

The Main Dining Room crew member told me we had our own private table. However, when we got to the dining room for dinner this was not the case and we found out we would be seated with strangers.

I'm not opposed to eating with other passengers, but I would much rather have a private meal. Luckily, we were able to be seated at a private table in the My Time Dining room.

My meal was really great tonight! I ordered butternut squash soup to start the meal, Indian curry for the main course, and key lime pie for dessert. If I'm being honest, I ate far too much bread earlier in the meal and I was not very hungry by the time the main course came, but it was still delicious.

After dinner my parents and I went to FreedomIce.com: An Ice Adventure, the ice skating show in Studio B. This may have been my favorite ice show yet. It focused mainly on the music and vibe of the 1970s and displaying the concept of "freedom" through costuming and music. The whole show was upbeat and extremely colorful!

As the show ended at 10:30, I called it a night and went back to my stateroom. Tomorrow we are in Nassau where we will be going on an excursion to Pearl Island.

Stray observations

It's funny how "small" Freedom of the Seas feels after my previous three cruises being on Oasis Class ships, even though Freedom of the Seas is still a gigantic vessel.

Full capacity is crazy busy compared to what I am used to! I never knew so many lines could form everywhere.

I haven't received paper Cruise Compasses on Oasis or Freedom this week.

I tried the cheapest Royal Caribbean cabin I could find and here's how it went

In:
29 Apr 2022
By: 
Allie Hubers

There’s nothing I love more than snagging a great travel deal, especially on cruises. By booking a cheap cruise fare, I can splurge on things that matter most to me on vacation - like eating delicious food, drinking fun cocktails and exploring incredible cities.

Inside cabin on Mariner of the Seas

Also, by booking cheap cruises, I can cruise more often. I'd rather travel more frequently on a budget than dump thousands of dollars into one single vacation.

There are some incredible cruise deals out there if you know what to look for. When you book a cheap cruise, you have so much that’s already included in your cruise fare - like food, lodging, entertainment and transportation. This means you can stick to your budget easier!

Originally, I had a super cheap cruise booked in January that I unfortunately had to cancel because I caught covid. With my future cruise credit in hand, I was on the hunt to find another cheap cruise. 

How I found my cheap cruise

Since I live in Florida, I was only interested in ports that were within driving distance. Currently, that includes Port Canaveral and Tampa, both of which are 6 hours away. 

I had a few weeks throughout April that I was available, so I filtered the cruise search to show me only cruises during that time frame. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a great deal or not, as it was pretty last minute and my search was fairly limited. 

I sorted the results by 'Price Low to High' so I could find the cheapest fares first. Most of the time, the cheapest cruises are also the shortest ones. However, this sorting feature doesn’t show you the cheapest price per night, but rather the cheapest total cost.

This is an important distinction - as sometimes short cruises can have higher nightly costs compared to longer sailings. But, a higher daily cost on a shorter sailing can still provide an affordable vacation at the end of the day. 

I’ve seen transatlantic cruises cost as little as $42 per day, but these are often 12-14 nights. This is an incredible deal per night, but not everyone can afford being gone for 2 weeks; for me, that means paying a dog sitter for 2 weeks, which gets pricey.

Some of my options for a cheap cruise in April had affordable fares on a per day basis, but most of these were 7 night sailings. I prefer to drive to the port the night before, so that turns into an 8 night vacation. Again, leaving my dogs last minute for 8 nights would be pretty tough logistically and financially. 

Shorter Cruises = More Flexibility

For this last minute sailing, I decided to look for something on the shorter side. This also gave me more flexibility to choose a sailing that was between 3 to 5 nights. I was open to sailings over the weekend or during the work week since I can work remotely. 

One of the best options was a 4-night Bahamas Getaway Cruise out of Port Canaveral on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. This fit my calendar nicely and my sister was already flying down to visit on April 17.

The total cost was $499, down from the advertised price of $571 because of my Florida resident discount. 

This fare was for an inside guarantee stateroom, meaning I would be assigned at least an inside cabin, likely right before the cruise departed. The stateroom could be located anywhere on the ship. I’ve always had good luck with inside cabins, so I was totally fine with this kind of stateroom for the price.

Last Minute Logistics

As a longtime cruiser, living in Florida was always a dream of mine. I couldn’t imagine how nice it would be to just drive to a cruise port and hop on a cruise ship. 

With my husband serving in the military, I have little to no say where we live; needless to say, I couldn’t be more thankful that he is stationed in Florida because it allows me to live my best cruising life and take advantage of these last minute opportunities. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t find cheap cruises that are in the future and not considered last minute. There are plenty of cruises with very cheap fares that are available through the rest of the year and even into next year. 

Last minute cruising deals can be great but do require some flexibility and logistics that need to be sorted out quickly to make it work. 

Being able to drive to the port negated any consideration for airfare prices. My aunt and uncle live near Orlando where we can stay the night before a cruise, which means we didn’t need to consider the cost of a hotel. We also have great friends who were able to help watch the dogs with only 2 weeks notice. 

With everything falling into place, we pulled the trigger and booked our cheap cruise! My sister would be sailing with me as my cruise buddy - our first sister cruise.

Cruise Expectations

Since the cruise was relatively cheap, I expected the ship to be sailing at a low capacity. I figured with basic economics that demand was low for this sailing, so Royal Caribbean was dropping the price to get more reservations booked. 

Most of my cruising in recent years has been on longer sailings and smaller ships. The other cruises I’ve done since the pandemic have been on ships sailing at 30% and 50% capacity. 

I also figured that most schools had already had their spring break. Since our sailing was Tuesday to Saturday, I assumed the low cost was because most families couldn’t sail during this time. In fact, I haven’t sailed during the spring break time frame since my own college spring break back in 2016!

Mariner of the Seas is a mid-sized cruise ship for Royal Caribbean and recently refurbished. I was excited that our cheap sailing was on a cruise ship with some really fun additions and amenities, as our canceled cheap cruise in January was on a smaller and older ship. 

I figured a shorter sailing would have a more party-like atmosphere than the other cruises I’ve done in recent years. 

Since we normally book inside cabins, I knew what to expect in the stateroom. However, I haven’t booked a guaranteed inside cabin, meaning our cabin location could be anywhere. I assumed we would be located either at the front or back of the ship and potentially in a bad location - like under the pool deck or night club. 

Cruising Day

Since our cruise left on a Tuesday, we drove to Debary, FL to stay with my aunt and uncle on Monday afternoon. 

The day of our cruise, we were slotted for a 1:30pm arrival. As we arrived at the port, Mariner looked like she was in great shape and felt even bigger than I remembered. 

Parking at the cruise port cost $85 for the duration of the cruise while gas to the port had cost right around $75. We did not get there early enough to snag a spot in the parking ramp, unfortunately. This was my first indication that the cruise would be busier than I expected. Back in February, we were able to park much closer to the terminal when sailing on a bigger ship at a lower capacity. 

Stateroom Impressions

After checking in, we went to our stateroom to drop off our luggage and check out the room for the first time. We had been assigned to cabin 8371, which was an interior stateroom almost at the back of the ship. 

This is what I had expected with our inside guarantee stateroom selection. Honestly, I was a little worried we would feel more of the ship’s motion that far back. I don’t think I’ve actually had a cabin that far back on a cruise ship before!

Although Mariner of the Seas had been refurbished in 2018, I’d argue that most of the renovation budget went to upgrading public spaces and very little went to upgrading cabins. 

The cabins looked exactly as I remembered from when I sailed on the same cruise ship in 2017. The decor was a little dated, but it did ooze with nostalgia since we had sailed on Voyager Class ships often growing up.

The cabin also had a couch, which was nice to have because newer ships don't always have sofas for inside cabins. Even if it just became a spot for us to pile our clothes and bags slowly throughout the cruise, it filled the space nicely and it was comfortable.

There was plenty of storage with a large closet that had shelving on the side. There were 4 sets of drawers on both sides of the vanity, along with a mini cooler under the TV. We had more than enough space to unpack and get comfortable in the room. The room also had a hair dryer in one of the drawers and a safe above the TV, which also had more shelving.

The bathroom was very standard for a cruise bathroom with a small shower and toilet. Certainly not spacious but everything you need in a bathroom. There was a shelf under the bathroom sink for more storage and mirror panels that opened to uncover even more shelving for cosmetics and bathroom toiletries. 

Our TV was playing the infamous “wash your hands” tune so we tried to change the channel. Either our remote didn’t work or the TV itself was struggling, so we ended up unplugging it entirely. 

Something that I’ve grown more accustomed to with traveling these days is having USB plugs in my room. On a recent trip to Europe, I didn’t even need to use my converter because all of our rooms had USB plugs on the nightstand and desk. 

Our cruise on Harmony of the Seas, which is one of Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, had USB plugs in the room. This is super nice because it allows for more charging and overall convenience. Honestly, it’s something I just expect to have these days when traveling. We had to constantly trade between charging our phones and laptops. 

Good thing my husband wasn’t there with all of his electronics because we would be struggling to get everything charged without some sort of USB extender. 

Our beds were very comfortable and we both slept well throughout the cruise. We had them separated, which is similar to a sleeping in a twin size bed.

Other than being slightly outdated with decor and electronics, our inside cabin felt spacious and had everything we needed for a place to sleep, change and shower each day. We were overall pleased with the cabin and felt comfortable staying there throughout the cruise.

Cruising Itinerary 

Our original cruise had stops in Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas with one day at sea. Upon arrival in our stateroom, we found a letter that our sea day would be replaced with a maintenance stop in Freeport, Bahamas. 

This was a welcomed change for us since we could choose to stay onboard as scheduled or go ashore to a new port we’ve never visited. We opted to walk around the port area and enjoy most of our day onboard, as we had planned.

If you followed our live blog, you’ll know our visit to Freeport was eventful when Mariner of the Seas was struck by a cargo ship. Luckily, this did not impact our sailing further but certainly caused some commotion onboard. 

Our second port was Perfect Day at CocoCay, which we were excited to have a relaxing beach day at Royal Caribbean’s private island. We enjoyed chicken sandwiches at Snack Shack, drinks in Oasis Lagoon and a visit to the floating tiki bar on South Beach. 

CocoCay is a great stop because it feels like you’re at an all inclusive resort. Everything is conveniently located and there’s already so much included. Of course, you can spend extra to have a private cabana or ride the wild waterslides; but, those of us cruising on a budget can still have a great day without spending anything extra.

 

The final port of our cruise was Nassau, Bahamas. For this day, we opted to spend a little extra to spend the day at RIU Palace using Resort for a Day. (This link contains an affiliate link)

This gave us unlimited drinks and food with access to the resort’s main pool, infinity pool, swim-up bar and private beach. 

For $100 each, this was a relaxing way to spend our day. The resort was a short 10 minute drive from the port and located on Paradise Island next to Atlantis. The taxi’s cost was $30 roundtrip. 

The only thing I would consider in the future when doing another resort pass is the amount of time you have in port and how long you can use your pass for. Our pass was valid from 10am to 6pm but we were in port from 7am to 3pm. I don’t like to risk being back to the ship late, so we really only had from 10am to 2pm at the resort, only utilizing 4 of the 8 hours we paid for.  

Full Capacity Sailing

To my surprise, the cruise was sailing with 3,000 passengers which is nearly at 100% capacity. Because of the cruise’s cheap pricing, I was convinced the cruise would be sailing at a lower capacity. 

Again to my surprise, there were tons of families and spring breakers. I guess our cruise was at the tail-end of the spring break season. I also hadn’t considered that the Sunday before our sailing was Easter so it was a holiday weekend as well.  

Here's a picture of the pool deck during the belly flop contest - it was pretty packed!

With the ship sailing at full capacity, it was very busy. We didn’t have any lines at the Windjammer, but there were lines at places like Cafe Promenade and Playmakers. Most of the onboard thrills like SkyPad and FlowRider had lines too.

 

We had to sit behind a pole at the ice show on the first night because we didn’t get there early enough. 

I wouldn’t say this damped our cruise by any means, but I did feel the ship was slightly understaffed. For example, the servers at Playmakers said it would take 45 minutes to get the campfire cookie skillet (worth it!). The first night’s entertainment in the Royal Theater was just playing a movie (Sing 2). Of course, this is an issue plaguing all industries right now so I guess I should have expected there to be some staffing issues onboard. 

Another thing I didn’t miss was the chair hogging that took place at some of the coveted spots, like the daybeds in the Solarium. I normally love spending time in the Solarium, but we had the hardest time finding a good spot. The bar was also packed in the Solarium so we didn’t spend much time here at all. 

Dining Options

Since our cruise was so cheap, we did choose to splurge on specialty dining a few times. We’ve always enjoyed our meals in the main dining room when cruising, but have grown to appreciate the quality and experience of specialty dining in recent years. 

Before cruising, we purchased the Chops + 1 dining package. This was $75 each and included dinner at Chops plus a second specialty restaurant. Since Chops is $55 each, this meant we could dine at a second specialty restaurant for only $20. 

On the first night, we dined at Chops Grille for a delicious 4-course steak meal. We had excellent service and great food. 

For our second and third nights, we opted to dine in the main dining room. To our dismay, our original table was being seated with 2 other couples that we didn’t know. We were accommodated by the hostess to have a table where just the two of us could dine, which we appreciated. Our original table was with older cruises and didn't look very lively.

In the spirit of transparency, I didn’t love that we were assigned to sit with strangers. Since the cruise was sailing at full capacity, I suppose they didn’t have many options to accommodate everyone without seating strangers together. We did have great service both nights and enjoyed our experience, regardless.

In fact, we were in and out of the dining room in less than an hour both nights. This was actually perfect since we wanted to get to the shows earlier to snag seats. 

On our final night, we had an amazing dinner at Jamie’s Italian. The food was very fresh and we could tell the pasta was homemade. I did feel that the food was better onboard Harmony of the Seas back in February, but it was still delicious. We also had great service here. 

One of the best things we ate during our cruise was the campfire cookie at Playmakers. Although it cost $7, this was absolutely worth it to enjoy its ooey, gooey chocolatey goodness. 

The Bamboo Room was another spot that we loved and we went there 3 of the 4 nights of our cruise. The atmosphere was very tropical and we loved the tiki-themed cocktails. We also enjoyed getting to know the bartenders here!

We ate breakfast each morning at The Windjammer buffet and we were pleased with the food options and quality. Surprisingly, we didn’t have any issues finding a table each morning, but we were only looking for a table to accommodate the 2 of us. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, we had a phenomenal cruise vacation, especially considering the price we paid for the cruise. 

Because our cruise fare itself was so cheap, we did treat ourselves to specialty dining and the all-inclusive resort pass in Nassau. The resort pass was $130 each including tax and the taxi ride from the port to the resort. Our specialty dining was $75 each, making these extras around $205 for each of us. 

Gas round trip from my house was $130 and parking was an additional $85, which adds $107 to the total cruise cost.  

Gratuities for this cruise were $58 per person, although we did tip some servers and bartenders extra.  

With our base cruise costing $250 each, the total cost with gas, parking, gratuities, specialty dining and the all-inclusive resort was right around $620. 

It would have been easy to still have a great cruise on a budget without specialty dining and the all-inclusive resort. When booking a cheaper fare, you have more wiggle room to spend money on other things you enjoy. It’s always good to consider the extras that come with cruising that aren’t included in your cruise fare - for us, that was gas, gratuities and parking at the terminal. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to book another cheap last minute cruise. It was a great getaway and it’s convinced me that vacation really is a state of mind. 

What to do on a rainy day on your cruise

In:
29 Apr 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

As much as everyone on a cruise hopes for endless days of sun, a slight breeze, and warm temperatures, the truth is that sometimes you will encounter unfavorable weather conditions onboard or in port.

Royal Caribbean works hard to forecast weather conditions in advance and deviate course whenever necessary, but it’s not always possible to avoid rainy conditions. If your cruise ship encounters rain, though, don’t fret!

There are countless ways to spend a rainy day onboard, and here are some of our favorites.

Relax in the Solarium

Royal Caribbean ships, aside from those in the Voyager and Freedom Classes, have a covered Solarium for guests aged 16 and older. On chilly, rainy, or windy days, relaxing in the Solarium provides an escape from the weather outdoors while still allowing you to enjoy time by the pool or jacuzzi.

Related: Everything about Royal Caribbean’s Solarium

Additionally, if you are sailing on a Quantum Class ship (with the exception of Odyssey of the Seas), take advantage of the indoor pool, which is available for all ages. While the pools will be closed if the ship encounters any severe weather like lightning, they will generally remain open during normal rainy days.

Read a book

A classic cruise activity for a rainy day is to find a quiet corner onboard and read a book. Despite the fact that cruise ships are packed with entertainment, activities, music, and lounges, there are always places onboard to get away from the crowds.

Related: Chill spots to get away from the crowd on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship
Here are some of the best places to read a book on a rainy day:

  • Two70 (Quantum Class ships)
  • “Hidden” seating on the running track (Oasis Class ships)
  • Star Lounge (Voyager and Freedom Class ships)
  • Library or card room
  • Vintages wine bar

If you’re looking for book recommendations, check out our lists of the best reads to bring on your cruise:

See a show

If your rainy day is on a sea day, check the ship’s entertainment schedule to see if there are any matinee performances in venues like the Royal Theater, Two70, or Studio B.

Spending an hour or two in a show is a great way to pass time on a rainy day while being entertained in the process. Plus, by seeing the show in the afternoon instead of in the evening, your evening schedule is opened up for other activities onboard.

Listen to live music

If you encounter a rainy day on your cruise, take a look at the Cruise Compass to see what live music is available throughout the day. From live Spanish guitar at Boleros to jazz in the Royal Promenade, listening to live music can be a cozy, relaxing way to spend your time as the rain passes through.

Grab a drink

Relaxing with a drink in hand is always a fun way to spend time on a cruise, but can be especially nice during a rainy day. There are many places indoors on a cruise ship to grab a drink, plenty of which have large windows looking toward the ocean.

Here are some of the best bars or venues to relax in while waiting for the sun to come back out:

  • Viking Crown Lounge (Vision, Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class)
  • Two70 (Quantum Class)
  • Schooner Bar

Related: A look at Royal Caribbean's new fleetwide drink menu

Depending on the ship, you may find covered seating at outdoor bars. The North Star Bar on Quantum Class ships, for example, has a covered seating area at the bar where you can watch the ocean and enjoy the sea breeze while remaining covered.

Go to trivia

Trivia is a fun activity on any Royal Caribbean cruise, but can make an excellent option on a rainy day. There are numerous trivia categories available, from geography to Harry Potter and sports.

Trivia usually only lasts around 30 or 45 minutes and is located indoors, making it a quick activity to do while rain passes through. Plus, you have the opportunity to put your knowledge to the test and maybe even win a prize!

Take a class

While browsing your cruise’s daily schedule in the Royal Caribbean app, you’ll likely see a few unique classes that you might otherwise skip over in favor of relaxing by the pool. A rainy day, however, can be an excellent time to try some of these classes.

Classes may include:

  • Scrapbooking
  • Card making class
  • Italian/Spanish/Portuguese language class
  • Zumba class
  • Morning stretch
  • Seminars

Hang out at the sports bar

Royal Caribbean’s classic sports bar, Playmakers, makes a fantastic hangout spot on a rainy day, where you can cheer on your favorite team while enjoying classic bar food like burgers, wings, and french fries.

The amount of televisions in Playmakers means there is no shortage of games and sports to watch, which you can enjoy while playing bar games like shuffleboard, pool, and Pac-Man.

Related: Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade review

Royal Caribbean ships without Playmakers will usually have a venue available for watching sports, such as in the pub, but there are generally only one or two small TVs there.

Hang out at the SeaPlex

Quantum Class cruise ships may be the best Royal Caribbean ships to sail on through inclement weather, as they were built to sail in all weather conditions while still offering the latest and greatest amenities and activities onboard.

The SeaPlex is a wonderful place to go with kids on a rainy day, as they can get their energy out while running around the sports court, playing basketball, soccer, or going head-to-head with other passengers in bumper cars.

Enjoy a sit-down meal

Whereas dinner on a cruise ship is usually a more formal, sit-down event, most guests tend to favor a casual, quick lunch onboard. Whether grabbing a burrito at El Loco Fresh or heading to the Windjammer, eating lunch on a cruise is often something to do quickly in-between activities.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

On rainy days, though, consider dining in the Main Dining Room or at a specialty restaurant for lunch. Having a sit-down meal will help pass the time on a rainy day while enjoying a relaxing, multi-course meal.

Go to the arcade (or casino)

All Royal Caribbean ships have an arcade, but it’s not only for kids! From skee-ball to air hockey, there are plenty of games to keep you occupied on a rainy day. The arcade comes at an extra cost, with most games costing between $0.75 and $2.50.

Alternatively, if you would like the chance to win money, head to the casino to pass a few hours on a rainy day.

Book a treatment at the spa

If you look at the weather forecast on your cruise and see a day with unfavorable weather, don’t hesitate to book a treatment at the Vitality Spa. After all, not much is more relaxing than a massage.

If you don’t want to spend extra money on a spa treatment, check if your cruise ship has a complimentary sauna and steam room. Select Royal Caribbean ships (excluding Quantum and Oasis Class ships) have free-of-charge saunas available in the fitness center locker rooms.

If your ship has a thermal suite, you can purchase a pass that allows you to use the facilities at any time, which include a rainforest shower, hot stone loungers, and sauna.

Related: Thermal Suite on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Indoor signature activities

While many of Royal Caribbean’s signature activities are located outdoors, such as rock climbing, ziplining, and the FlowRider, there are several indoor activities to enjoy on a rainy day. Depending on the ship, these activities can be enjoyed rain or shine:

  • RipCord by iFLY
  • Puzzle Break Center (escape room)
  • Zone Zero
  • Ice skating
  • Laser tag

Check the Cruise Compass to see which activities are offered. Some, like the escape room, RipCord by iFLY, and Zone Zero, require reservations.

See a movie

Whether on land or at sea, watching a movie is a nice way to pass time on a rainy or cold day. While all Royal Caribbean ships have an outdoor movie screen, there are often indoor movies played as well in venues like the Royal Theater.

In fact, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class ships have their own indoor movie theater which plays a variety of movies throughout the day!

Related: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

To see if any movies are playing on your cruise, check out the Cruise Compass or the Royal Caribbean app. Movies are free-of-charge, but get to the theater or cinema early to ensure you get the best seat!

How much does a Mediterranean cruise cost?

In:
28 Apr 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

A Mediterranean cruise is a dream itinerary for many cruisers. From exploring the Colosseum to sunbathing on the French Riviera and walking the cobblestone streets of Dubrovnik, plenty of unique adventures await visitors in the Mediterranean.

With proper planning, a Mediterranean cruise can fit both low, modest, and high-end budgets. From interior staterooms on Royal Caribbean’s smaller ships to suites on the newest and largest ships, options are plentiful for planning a Mediterranean cruise no matter your budget.

Therefore, there is no “one price fits all” on a Mediterranean cruise, as the cost can vary drastically in cruise fares, shore excursions, onboard spending, and time of year you sail. If you’re planning a Mediterranean cruise, this guide should help you decide how to make cruising this fantastic region of the world fit into your budget and vacation style.

Mediterranean cruise prices by ship

Royal Caribbean sends both its oldest and newest cruise ships to the Mediterranean during the summer months, offering guests the choice between a traditional cruise experience or a ship filled with the cruise line’s most unique and updated activities and amenities.

Unsurprisingly, Royal Caribbean’s newest ships come at a higher price tag compared to its older ships in the Mediterranean. How much a cruise costs can vary depending if you choose to sail on a larger ship compared to a smaller ship.

Let’s look at a few examples to see how the ship you choose for a European cruise can affect your cruise fare. 

First let’s compare an 8-night Greek Isles cruise on both Rhapsody of the Seas (Vision Class ship) and Odyssey of the Seas (Quantum Class ship). The price listed is the total fare for two adults in an ocean view cabin on a September cruise, including taxes and fees:

  • Rhapsody of the Seas: $1658.28 ($207 per night)
  • Odyssey of the Seas: $2998.14 ($374 per night)

Next let’s compare a 7-night Western Mediterranean on Brilliance of the Seas (Radiance Class ship) and Symphony of the Seas (Oasis Class ship). The price listed is the total fare for two adults in a balcony cabin on a June cruise, including taxes and fees:

  • Brilliance of the Seas: $2254.54 ($322 per night)
  • Symphony of the Seas: $3796.34 ($542 per night)

While a smaller ship will come at a lower price tag, it’s never a good idea to pick a cruise solely based on price. Looking into each ship’s amenities, dining options, cabin categories, and onboard activities can help you decide which size ship will suit you best.

Mediterranean cruise prices by month

Just like the ship you book, the month you cruise in the Mediterranean can have an impact on the overall cost of your cruise. In fact, a cruise in May can be several hundred dollars cheaper per person than a cruise in July or August.

Shoulder season in the Mediterranean is found in the months of April, May, September, and October, and this is when you tend to see the lowest cruise fares. As the school year is still in session, there is less demand for Mediterranean cruises, leading to lower prices.

Peak season, on the other hand, is found in the summer months: June, July, and August. While early June may see some lower prices due to the fact that summer travel to Europe is just getting started, expect the highest fares in July and August. At this time of year demand is highest and ships are likely to be near full capacity.

Let’s take a look at just how varied the price of a cruise can be based on the month you sail. First let’s compare the difference in a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Symphony of the Seas in mid-April and mid-July.

The price listed is the total cost for two adults in an ocean view balcony cabin:

  • April 16 departure: $2999.48 ($428 per night)
  • July 16 departure: $4338.40 ($620 per night)

Such a huge price difference is not always the case, though. Next let’s compare the difference in an 8-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Vision of the Seas in mid-May and mid-July.

The price listed is the total cost for two adults in an interior cabin:

  • May 13 departure: $1634.90 ($233 per night)
  • July 8 departure: $1729.80 ($247 per night)

As you can see, the price difference between spring and summer can be either drastic or only slightly different. A more drastic price difference will be seen on the most in-demand ships, such as Oasis and Quantum Class ships, whereas a smaller price difference will be seen on older ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

Does itinerary matter?

Mediterranean cruises generally fit into two categories: Western Mediterranean (Spain, France, and Italy) and Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, the Adriatic, and countries like Cyprus and Israel). You will not see a notable difference in cruise fare from one region of the Mediterranean to another.

That being said, countries in the eastern Mediterranean, such as Croatia, Montenegro, and Turkey, tend to be cheaper destinations to visit, which may influence shore excursion pricing as well as the cost of things like local guides, taxis, food, souvenirs, etc.

Shore excursion prices in the Mediterranean

Remembering to budget for shore excursions is important on a Mediterranean cruise. Those used to cruising in the Caribbean may not put too much thought into planning shore excursions, where choosing what to do can be as simple as picking one beach over another.

In the Mediterranean, though, it’s good to have an idea of what you would like to do in each port and book excursions accordingly. Many Mediterranean ports are easy to explore on your own, which will save you money in the long run, but plenty of cruisers prefer the security and ease of an organized shore excursion.

Here are a few Royal Caribbean excursion ideas along with their prices (these prices are subject to change based on sailing and time of year):

  • Essential Rome with the Vatican, Colosseum & St. Peter’s Basilica: $279.00/adult or child
  • Barcelona City Sights: $53.75/adult, $44.75/child
  • Monaco Hop On Hop Off Bus from Nice: $119.0/adult, $89.00/child
  • Best of Mykonos full day adventure: $148.99/adult, $103.99/child
  • Mykonos walking tour: $35.99/adult, $17.99/child
  • Kotor Bay Catamaran Sail and Beach Break: $121.99/adult or child
  • Plantaze Vineyards Wine Tasting (Kotor): $188.99/adult or child
  • Dalmatian Coastline & Village Life (Split): $117.99/adult, $92.99/child

Some excursions soley offer transportation to and from certain destinations that are far from where cruise ships dock. For example, cruise ships to Rome actually port in Civitavecchia, which is around 40 minutes from Rome on a high-speed train.

Therefore, Royal Caribbean offers tours that provide transport to and from cities while giving you several hours of free time upon arrival. The “Explore Rome” excursion, as an example, provides round trip transport to Rome from Civitavecchia for $69.95/adult or $54.75/child.

Of course, you do not have to book any excursions and can instead figure out activities and transportation on your own. Alternatively, you can find shore excursions with tour operators outside of Royal Caribbean, which may come at a lower cost and offer a wider selection of tours.

Personal preferences and onboard spending

Outside of picking a ship, itinerary, and booking shore excursions, the total cost of your cruise will ultimately depend on your preferences. From the type of cabin you book to extras like specialty dining and drink packages, the total cost of a cruise vacation can vary widely from person to person, even if they paid the same base cruise fare.

Here are some examples of what you may pay extra for on your Mediterranean cruise:

  • Drink packages (alcoholic or nonalcoholic packages) or paying for drinks individually
  • Specialty dining
  • Onboard activities
  • Gratuities
  • Spa treatments
  • Wifi

For a more in-depth look at what extra costs are not included on a Royal Caribbean cruise, check out our article on the top 30 extra cruise costs that are not included.

It’s possible to cruise the Mediterranean on a budget or splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. No matter what cabin you book, ship you choose, or activities you do in port, though, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable vacation in one of the most beautiful and historic regions of the world.