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Royal Caribbean changed the sushi roll sizes for its fixed price menu: is it worth it?

20 Feb 2023
Elizabeth Wright

We heard from our readers that Royal Caribbean's specialty sushi restaurant, Izumi, changed the portion sizes for sushi rolls ordered from the prix fixe menu. 


For a set price, you can pay once and get a certain amount of food included. The fixe menu costs $34.99 per person before the added 18% gratuity and includes one small plate, two large plates -- which can be a combination of sushi rolls, assorted sashimi, or rice and noodle bowls --, and a single dessert. 

When you purchase food from the menu à la carte, that means you are paying for each item that you order. You can opt to get one appetizer and large plate, one large plate and dessert, or just one large plate! In other words, you have more freedom when you order à la carte.

The size of the sushi rolls used to be the same no matter if you were ordering from the fixed price menu or à la carte; you would always get 8 pieces of sushi. Now, however, Izumi is only serving 4 pieces per roll ordered from the prix fixe menu. You still get the standard 8 if you pay for each roll individually. 

Royal Caribbean never announced a policy change, but readers reported it; that is why we tested it out! After speaking with Izumi wait staff, it is clear the fixed price menu has changed the sushi portion sizes.

Let's talk about the changes to the sushi at Izumi and why you are better off ordering from the à la carte menu.

Half sized portions


(Pictured is the new half portion of the crispy spicy tuna roll from Izumi ordered from the prix fixe menu)

If you order from the fixed price menu, you will receive a half portion of any sushi rolls (i.e., 4). 

If, for instance, you order a crispy spicy tuna roll and rainbow roll, you will get 8 total pieces, not 16. Unless, that is, you opt to pay for each roll à la carte. 


(Pictured is the full sized portion of the crispy spicy tuna roll from Izumi)

The prix fixe menu used to be a no brainer. An appetizer, 16 pieces of sushi, and dessert for less than $35? It does not get much better than that! Even if you opted to mix and match and get an ramen bowl and one sushi roll, you were still getting your money's worth.

What has not changed at Izumi?


(Pictured are the pork gyoza dumplings from Izumi)

As of February 2023, the appetizer, bowl, and dessert portions have not been changed when you order from the prix fixe menu.


(Pictured is the tofu-ginger appetizer salad from Izumi)

In other words, you will get the same size for everything else on the menu, no matter if you order from the fixed price menu or à la carte. The only thing that has changed is the amount of sushi served from the prix fixe menu versus à la carte.

Is the prix fixe menu at Izumi worth the cost?


(Pictured is the new half portion of the snow crab California roll from Izumi ordered from the prix fixe menu)

If you want to enjoy sushi on your cruise vacation, Izumi is always worth it! You are probably better off just ordering à la carte, though.

If you want an appetizer, 8 pieces of sushi, and a dessert (i.e., what you would get if you stuck with the prix fixe menu), 9 times out of 10, a smarter decision will be to order everything separately. 

Let's price out a few mock orders to see how the pricing compares to the prix fixe menu. 

The first order consists of the pork gyoza dumplings ($8), crispy Philly roll ($13), and chocolate lava cake ($5). These three items total $26. In this case, the fixed price menu is not worth it; you would save about $9 by ordering each item individually and still get the same amount of food. 

The second order is for the shrimp firecracker spring roll ($9), champagne lobster roll ($15), and assorted mochi ice cream ($6). Again, it is not worth it, as you would end up saving about $5 if you ordered à la carte versus defaulting to the prix fixe menu. The total for these three menu items is $30. 


(Pictured is the new half portion of the crispy spicy tuna roll from Izumi ordered from the prix fixe menu)

What if you want more than one kind of sushi roll? Well, that gets a bit tricky. You can stick with the new half portions on the fixed menu or pay extra to get two full sized rolls. 

If you would rather have 16 pieces of sushi and skip the appetizer and dessert, you can get two rolls for under $30. In fact, one crispy spicy tuna roll and one Izumi spider roll only costs $26. 

Over indulging in food is common on cruises, so do not feel like you have to get a three course meal at Izumi. If all you are hungry for is some sushi, save the extra money and just order the two rolls!

Of course, if you just get two rolls of sushi that means you will not get an appetizer or dessert. If you do want all three courses, you will spend more than the $34.99 that the prix fixe menu costs; however, you would be getting double the amount of food. 


(Pictured are the old portions of the snow crab California roll and spicy crispy shrimp roll ordered from the prix fixe menu

Choosing to order à la carte means that you will get the full sized portions of sushi, an appetizer, and dessert for about $5 to $10 more, depending on what your selections are. 

The shrimp & vegetable tempura appetizer ($11), rainbow roll ($14), snow crab California roll ($13), and crispy sesame balls ($5) costs $43 altogether. By paying only $8 more than the prix fixe menu, you would get double the amount of sushi. If you are looking to splurge on a specialty dining meal or just really like sushi, this makes more sense than settling for the half portions. 

One instance in which the prix fixe menu will still be worth it is if you are not a fan of sushi and looking to get two items from the "bowls and more" section. Each bowl costs at least $13, meaning that if you were to order the seaweed wakame salad ($7), yaki udon ($19), spicy miso ramen ($13), and green tea ice cream ($5), you would spend about $9 more, or $44 total, if you did not use the fixed price menu.

Similarly, if you want a sushi roll and bowl, rather than two of each, the prix fixe may be worth it if you do not want a full sushi roll in addition to a ramen or udon noodle bowl! Depending on your hunger level, the four pieces might be just enough. 

new California roll size

(Pictured is the new half portion of the snow crab California roll ordered from Izumi's prix fixe menu)

Before you decide whether or not you should order from the fixed price menu, you should discuss your options with your travel party. Would anybody be willing to split a few different rolls? Do some people strongly dislike sushi? Would you be okay with an appetizer and single sushi roll, rather than the three course meal? What's best for one group may not be what is best for another! 

Royal Caribbean News Round-Up: February 19, 2023

19 Feb 2023
Matt Hochberg

Hope you are having a great weekend.  Here is all of this week's Royal Caribbean cruise news.

There's a bunch of new cruises you can book in 2024 and 2025 that were released this week.

CocoCay aerial 2021

Royal Caribbean posted its short Caribbean sailings between April 2024 and April 2025.

The new sailings are across 8 different ships, with many of them weekend cruises that visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.  

Royal Caribbean News

New RCB Video: The downsides to cruising a lot

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 — The downsides to cruising a lot — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 487th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available that looks at the important takeaways from Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call.

In this episode, Matt points out the most important tidbits from the company's earnings call that cruise fans should pay attention to.

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

I spent $60 to eat at Royal Caribbean’s most bizarre restaurant

Wonderland specialty restaurant review

Royal Caribbean describes Wonderland specialty restaurant as "whimsical", and that's certainly an appropriate name for it.

Elizabeth tried Wonderland for the first time while onboard Symphony of the Seas, and everything about the experience exceeded her expectations. 

The decor is loosely based on the magical word of Alice and Wonderland. It makes it so that the entire experience is immersive; it is not just about the food.

The surprising things when you sail on a cruise ship for a month at a time

Greg on Odyssey of the Seas

Greg Brockman takes multiple cruises in a row to the point he will stay aboard a cruise ship for months at a time.

He's done six back-to-back cruises on 3- and 4-night sailings of Freedom of the Seas, as well as four back-to-back sailings on 6- and 8-night voyages on Explorer of the Seas in 2022.  That represents 4 weeks of cruising at a time.

With that many cruises at once, Greg has a lot experience with not only what Royal Caribbean has to offer, but sees what his fellow passengers do. It gives him an unique perspective on do's and don'ts of cruises.

We tried different cruise ship cabins to see how they compared

We booked every type of cabin on our recent Royal Caribbean cruise to see the differences among them.

Sailing on Liberty of the Seas, our team tested out 9 different staterooms to get a sense of how each compared.

These cabins ranged in price from $670 to over $2600, and we wanted to look at the advantages, disadvantages, and overall experience each team member had in their cabin to see which cabins were worth it—and which we’d skip next time.

40 essential things to bring on a cruise

18 Feb 2023
Allie Hubers

Packing for your cruise might be a little stress-inducing. There’s nothing worse than getting onboard your cruise ship and realizing you forgot something back home. 

As such, I always have my go-to list of essential things that I bring on my cruise vacations. While packing, I go through my list of everything essential that I need to bring. I am always grateful to have everything on this essential list, even if some of these items are just preventative (like band-aids, seasickness medication and stain remover pens). 

Here’s my list of 40 essential things that I always bring on my cruises, along with links to some of our favorite Amazon products.

Please note that we’ve linked items on Amazon, which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but Royal Caribbean Blog makes a small commission if you purchase it.

1. Packing Cubes

I didn’t understand the hype around packing cubes until I tried them for myself last year. Now, I am the biggest fan of these little packing cubes and literally never travel without them.  

Packing cubes help keep your suitcase perfectly organized. I’ve also found that I can simply pack more because they slightly compress everything. Since I often cruise with just a carry-on, optimizing the small space is important. 

The best part of it all? Once you get onboard your cruise ship, packing cubes make it SO much easier to get settled into your stateroom. You can whip out your packed cubes and simply place them in the drawers and shelves of your stateroom. 

Link to Amazon


2. Compression Travel Bags

In addition to packing cubes, I’ve also started to utilize these compression travel bags that are super convenient and easy to use.

Simply pack your clothes inside and roll the bag to release air. These types of compression bags truly save so much space, especially for bulkier items that you need to pack, like your winter coat for an Alaskan cruise! Another reason I love these compression bags is that they will protect your clothes from any water that gets inside your luggage.

Link to Amazon


3. Portable Phone Charger:

If you’re going on a cruise, it’s essential to pack a portable phone charger, especially if you’re sailing on an older ship with limited outlets and plugins. Older ships might only have one or two outlets in each stateroom - and they likely won’t be near your bed.

Portable charger

A portable charger is also great for long days spent in port exploring or on an excursion. You won’t want your phone battery to die, so having a portable charger is a must. 

Link to Amazon


4. Apple AirTags

Easily track your cruise items with Apple AirTags - I never travel or cruise without one these days. 

Apple AirTags are tiny tracking devices that you can use to monitor the location of your belongings; you simply use the Find My app on your iPhone to do this. Utilizing Bluetooth technology, these AirTags are the perfect solution for you to place in your suitcase to bring on your cruise. 

After experiencing airport chaos last year and hearing horror stories of bags getting left behind at the cruise port, having Apple AirTags allows me to track my items accurately and in real-time. 

Link to Amazon (or link to 4-pack)


5. Travel Jewelry Organizer

For ladies, packing jewelry can be unnecessarily difficult for cruising. There’s nothing worse than having tangled or damaged necklaces. 

I absolutely love cruising with my travel-sized jewelry organizer. Having a small case for my jewelry makes it easy to travel with. A hard-sided travel organizer like this also ensures that your jewelry will not get damaged while packed away.

Link to Amazon


6. Electronics Organizer

If you’re like me, you travel with quite a few electronics. I probably cruise with more electronics than the average cruiser if I am doing work for Royal Caribbean Blog or Cruise.Blog because I need to pack multiple cameras. 

As such, I purchased this electronics organizer for traveling and cruising - it’s been a total game changer! This organizer has tons of pouches and mesh pockets to keep everything perfectly organized in my carry-on bag and even in my stateroom.

Link to Amazon


7. Collapsable Duffle for Souvenirs

A new essential thing that I’ve started to bring on a cruise is an empty duffle bag. I’ve learned that I always love to shop on a cruise, especially in more unique destinations where I want a lot of souvenirs. I also don’t want to spend my last cruise night strategically stuffing my belongings back into my suitcase. 

This collapsable duffle is perfect because it takes up very little space but it can come in handy when we’ve really helped support the local economies. 

Link to Amazon


8. Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated on your cruise is very important. It’s super easy to get dehydrated when you’re drinking alcohol and spending a lot of time in the sun. In general, traveling dehydrates our bodies.

It’s essential to pack a reusable water bottle for your cruise. I never cruise without mine and I bring it everywhere from my stateroom to the pool deck and off the ship for excursions. 

Link to Amazon


9. Hanging Toiletry Bag

There are a few different cosmetic bags that I travel with, but I absolutely always cruise with my hanging toiletry bag. The bathrooms are so tiny on a cruise ship and counter space is limited. I prefer to have my toiletries hanging in a cosmetic bag on the door to keep the counter less cluttered. 

I've cruised with these hanging cosmetic bags for decades; it especially saved space when I cruised with my family having four of us share one bathroom!

Link to Amazon


10. USB Outlet Extender

If you’re cruising with multiple people in your stateroom, you will likely want more available plugins in your cabin. While newer ships are starting to incorporate more outlets in each cabin, older ships are still limited to just one or two outlets. 

Consider packing this foldable power strip with multiple outlets and USB plugs. This will allow you to charge many more devices.  

Link to Amazon


11. Pop-Up Hamper

This is another cruise essential that I absolutely love! Packing a pop-up hamper takes up very little space in the bottom of your suitcase and fits perfectly in your cruise ship cabin closet when it pops up.

As you have dirty clothes throughout the week, toss them into the hamper so they don’t overtake your closet and clean clothes. 

Link to Amazon


12. Lanyard with Key Holder

Onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will have a SeaPass card to use, which is how you will purchase items onboard and access your stateroom. As such, you have to carry it everywhere!

(Here's a candid shot of my sister and Royal Caribbean Blog social media manager, Angie, wearing her lanyard with our dad)

I prefer to have a lanyard with a card holder that I can take around the ship. This can easily go over my neck as I wander around the ship without having to bring my purse or wallet.

My favorite brand is the Vera Bradley lanyard with a zip ID case; I've used this same lanyard for probably 10 years and it's the perfect balance between functional and cute. 

Link to Amazon


13. Luggage Tag Holders

Printing off your luggage tags is an essential step for preparing for your cruise, but I always find that I never have a stapler or tape to properly add them to my luggage. 

These plastic tag holders are perfect for cruising and it protects the tag from getting ripped off at the cruise terminal. 

Link to Amazon


14. Magnetic Hooks

Your cruise ship cabin is made of magnetic walls, so you should definitely pack these handy little magnetic hooks for your stateroom!

magnetic hooks

These magnetic hooks are very strong and perfect for a variety of uses, from holding your hats, towels and jackets to decorating your cabin or door. 

Link to Amazon


15. Sea Bands 

As much as we all hope not to get sick onboard our cruise, it can happen to the best of us. I lived on a cruise ship for 100 days and relied on these Sea Bands to keep me healthy and help with potential sea sickness. 

These bands rely on acupuncture practice as a simple and effective way to provide nausea relief. 

Link to Amazon


16. Motion Sickness Medication

In the way of seasickness, it’s essential that you always pack motion sickness medication for your cruise. You never know when nausea will strike when you are sailing at sea. 

I prefer to cruise with these travel-sized containers. Dramamine makes a less drowsy formula, which is perfect for during the day when I don’t want to get too sleepy from the medication. The small container is easy to keep in my purse or bag while ashore too - as bus, boat and taxi rides can all induce motion sickness.

Link to Amazon


17. Travel-Size Hand Sanitizer

Keeping healthy is a top priority when cruising. Illnesses can spread in a variety of ways, especially on a cruise in close quarters. I keep these hand sanitizers attached directly to my lanyard that holds my SeaPass card. 

I find myself sanitizing frequently while I cruise, especially after using the tongs in the Windjammer before indulging in my plate of food. 

Link to Amazon


18. Pack of Laundry Detergent

On a longer cruise, another essential that I always bring is a travel-size packet of laundry detergent. Even though I get a free laundry bag onboard the ship, I am leery of handing off my dirty clothes to be washed onboard because I’ve heard horror stories. 

I lived at sea for 100 days and did my laundry exclusively in the sink and shower with these little Tide laundry detergent packets. It gets the job done!

Link to Amazon


19. Liquid IV Hydration

Staying hydrated is so important when you cruise. In addition to bringing a reusable water bottle, I absolutely always pack these Liquid IV packets - I am obsessed! These are hydration multipliers that you can add to water to boost your electrolytes. 

Personally, I love the strawberry flavor (linked below), but all of the Liquid IV flavors that I’ve tried have been excellent. I can truly tell a difference in my hydration when I use these on a cruise, as I know those mojitos are not doing my hydration any favors!

Link to Amazon


20. Variety of OTC Medication

One essential that I never cruise without is my tiny ‘pharmacy’. In a small pouch, I bring a variety of over-the-counter medication just to have on hand. Because medicine is so expensive onboard and I do not want to buy medication in port, I cruise with a small amount of medication.

It’s essential for me to bring a multi-symptom combo pack of daytime/nighttime cold and flu because it covers a variety of symptoms. Other essential OTC medication that I always cruise with in my tiny pharmacy includes laxatives, Imodium, sleep aid, nasal congestion spray, antihistamine, and cough drops. 

Link to Amazon


21. Mini First Aid and Emergency Kit

You never know when an emergency will strike, even on your cruise vacation! For this reason, I always travel with a mini first aid and emergency kit.

This mini emergency kit includes bandaids, gauze, alcohol wipes, a mini tweezers and so much more. I have peace of mind cruising with this little kit - and it’s the perfect size to fit in a backpack. 

Link to Amazon


22. Wrinkle Release Spray

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to wear a wrinkly dress on a cruise ship! Without an iron onboard due to fire hazard, it’s not uncommon to have very wrinkly clothes.

For this reason, it’s essential for me to pack wrinkle release spray. This travel-sized bottle is perfect for cruising and really helps get out those big wrinkles after I stuff my suitcase full of cruise clothes.

Link to Amazon


23. Swimsuit

This might seem like a no brainer when it comes to essential things to bring on a cruise, but some might not think if they are cruising to cooler destinations, like Norway, Iceland and Alaska, that they do not need a swimsuit.

However, it’s essential for me to pack a swimsuit - even to cooler destinations! Most of Royal Caribbean’s ships sailing to these cooler destinations have a covered Solarium with a heated pool. Additionally, there’s never a bad time for a hot tub. If you’re cruising somewhere cool, consider packing a long sleeve swimsuit to keep warm. 

Link to Amazon


24. Swimsuit Cover-Up

Along with a swimsuit, it’s essential to pack a swimsuit cover-up, or at least something that you can wear between the pool deck, deck and around the ship.

You’ll also need to cover up before you can grab food in the Windjammer on Royal Caribbean ships, so it’s best to always have one on hand. 

Link to Amazon


25. Travel-Size Sunscreen

If you’re planning to spend any amount of time in the sun on your Royal Caribbean cruise, it’s essential to pack sunscreen to protect your skin. 

If I am driving to the cruise port, I pack a bigger bottle of sunscreen for my husband and I; but if we are flying to a cruise, I don’t always check a bag so I love to pack travel-sized sunscreen lotion. In my experience, lotion goes further than spray.

Link to Amazon


26. Moisturizer with SPF

Similar to my travel-sized sunscreen, I always travel with an SPF moisturizer. Even if I am not basking in the sun or actively on the beach, I prefer to wear an SPF moisturizer to keep my skin protected.

Personally, I prefer this tinted moisturizer, as it’s perfect for cruising because it’s protective, easy to travel with and adds a little color to my skin. 

Link to Amazon


27. Beach Bag

It’s essential to pack a beach bag or small backpack on a cruise. Even if you plan to spend most of your time onboard, you will still be hauling things from your cabin to the pool deck, like flip flops, books, sunglasses, cover ups, towels, sunscreen, etc. 

I prefer to use a beach bag or some sort of canvas tote around the ship. A small backpack also works great if you are going ashore as well.

Link to Amazon


28. Kindle

Gone are the days of lugging around old fashioned books on your cruises. Cruising is about the only time I catch up on books that I’ve been wanting to read.

I prefer to travel with my Kindle these days because it takes up way less space in my suitcase than hauling around big books.

Link to Amazon


29. Sunglasses

Regardless of where I am cruising, it’s essential that I pack sunglasses. Even the Alaskan snow can be bright enough to require sunglasses.

I’m a budget traveler, so I prefer to cruise with a cheap pair of sunglasses so I won’t be heartbroken when I, inevitably, lose or break them. 

Link to Amazon


30. Ziplock baggies

It’s essential for me to pack a few empty ziplock baggies for a cruise. These are so versatile, from keeping cash dry at the beach to packing a snack for excursions. You can bring a variety of bag sizes, but sandwich is my preferred. 

Link to Amazon


31. Converter with USB Plugs

Most cruise ships have limited outlets in each stateroom, but it’s common to find European outlets in your cabin. I hated seeing these go unused, so I started to bring a European adapter with USB ports.

These work great for cruises and it's an essential thing for me to bring now. 

Link to Amazon


32. Chapstick (with SPF)

Cruise ships are always very dry, so I’d rather be buried alive than be stuck on a cruise ship without chapstick. I lather my lips multiple times a day, especially when I am cruising. I prefer to bring chapstick with SPF so my lips stay moisturized and protected from the sun. 

Link to Amazon


33. Poo-pourri

This one goes without much explanation, but you know all of that food you eat on a cruise has to go somewhere. That tiny bathroom can really hold a stench for longer than you'd imagine.

It’s essential for me to travel with a travel-sized air freshener to keep in the cabin. 

Link to Amazon


34. Liquid Hand Soap

This one might seem unnecessary, but it’s essential for me to bring a small bottle of hand soap to keep in my stateroom bathroom.

I hate using that little bar of soap and I feel like it’s just a small luxury that’s worthwhile; this is especially true if it’s a longer cruise where I will be planning to spend more time in my cabin. 

Link to Amazon


35. My own shampoo and conditioner

That mystery liquid in the shower onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise? Definitely not my favorite. It leaves my hair stringy and dry. It’s absolutely essential for me to pack my own shampoo and conditioner. 

In addition, if I have enough space, I like to pack my own body wash. If it’s a last resort, I will use the 3-in-1 product for body wash, but I will always have my own shampoo and conditioner packed for a cruise. 

Link to Amazon


36. Rubber Birkenstocks

Since moving to Florida, I purchased a pair of rubber Birkenstock sandals for the beach because my regular Birkenstocks weren't loving all the sun, sand and water. This was a nice upgrade from my $1 Old Navy flip flops.

Now, I never cruise without them! These rubber sandals are perfect for the beach or pool because they dry quickly, but they’re also very comfortable for walking in port too. 

Link to Amazon


37. Onboard Clutch

Ladies will know that it’s essential to have a purse that’s dedicated for evenings onboard a cruise ship.

I don’t want to lug around my daytime purse or backpack when I’m out and about on the cruise ship, so having a small clutch is the perfect solution.

Link to Amazon


38. Tide to Go Stain Remover

These handy little stain removing pens are perfect for cruising. It comes in clutch to have a Tide to Go Stick when my husband or I inevitably stain our cruise clothes. 

Link to Amazon


39. Passport and Vaccination Card

Closed-loop cruises departing and returning to the same US port allow cruisers to sail with just a birth certificate in leu of a passport. It is essential for me to always bring my passport when I cruise, as I never want to be stuck outside of the country without my passport. 

Likewise, I always bring my COVID-10 vaccination certification when I cruise. It might not be required anymore, but I plan to bring it for the foreseeable future. 

40. Extra prescription medication

Itineraries can change at anytime; it’s on the dotted line we all sign every time we book a cruise. Because you never know what could happen, I always cruise with extra doses of my prescription medication. I don’t want to ever rely on the cruise ship or a local port to accommodate my health needs.

I spent $60 to eat at Royal Caribbean’s most bizarre restaurant. I thought I would hate it, but it was one of the best meals of my cruise.

17 Feb 2023
Elizabeth Wright

From the whimsical decor to out-of-this-world, imaginative cuisine, Wonderland is Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurant that is meant for adventurous eaters. 

Wonderland specialty restaurant review

I tried the restaurant for the first time while onboard Symphony of the Seas, and everything about the experience exceeded my expectations. 

Unlike most specialty restaurants onboard Oasis Class ships, Wonderland is not located in Central Park; it is at the aft on deck 12. The exterior of the restaurant makes it hard to miss-- you are transported to a fantasy world before you even step inside. 

The price to dine at Wonderland is currently $59.99 before gratuity. If you book in advance via the Cruise Planner, you could score a reservation for less!


The decor is loosely based on the magical word of Alice and Wonderland. It makes it so that the entire experience is immersive; it is not just about the food.


You will see references to clocks and time, rabbits, including chairs with rabbit ears, as well as red and blue goblets that symbolize the "drink me" and "eat me" potion and cake that cause Alice to shrink and grow. 


As soon as I walked through the doors, I was greeted by the Mad Hatter, who escorted me down the stairs to my table. From there, I was introduced to my culinary guide -- aka a waiter -- for the evening. He was the one who walked me through the menu, as well as provided suggestions for each course. 


He, however, never provided a physical menu. Instead, the menu acts as part of the restaurant's table setting. My culinary guide instructed me to dip the paintbrush into water and stroke it across the "easel." When I did so, the menu magically appeared!

To begin the dining experience, I had to take the first step, and I thought that was a unique touch!


The menu is broken down into and inspired by five different natural elements: sun, ice, fire, earth, and sea. The first three -- sun, ice, and fire -- are the appetizers, while the latter two make up the entree dishes. The only exceptions being the liquid lobster and liquid truffle mushroom risotto, as both of those are one-bite appetizers. 

The sun element focuses on vegetable dishes that have been "playfully reinvented"; ice's are "chilled to exhilarate the palate"; and the final appetizer element, fire, radiates "wonderful warmth." 


My culinary guide said that most guests usually surprised by five different appetizers; however, you could select them if you wanted to. I opted to order the Mad Hatter's purple potted shrimp and reconstructed caprese, as well as the one-bite liquid lobster. For my table, the culinary guide also chose the bird's nest and sashimi of red and white tuna. 

The first appetizer we received was the bird's nest. Presentation wise, it was the most impressive of the evening! To reveal it, a lid was lifted off to release a thick cloud of smoke. When the dish was brought out, I could not even see what was inside due to the smoke. 


The two buffalo chicken eggs were served on top of a bed of dry noodles. The yolks had been mixed with blue cheese and hot sauce; however, they were not as creamy as I had expected (but I am not sure what I was actually expecting)! 


The eggs had a hot, smoky taste that I enjoyed-- it is almost like I was inhaling smoke as I ate! As for the noodles, I did not really care for them. Even though they are edible, I think they function best as presentation. 


The next appetizer was the reconstructed caprese, which is honestly a great dish for pickier eaters!

Three "tomatoes" were served on top of goat and bocconcini cheeses with a blue cheese meringue and basil puree.

The middle "tomato," however, was actually a reconstructed tomato! To successfully accomplish this, a tomato is first hung to dry, drained, then blended with agar and Bloody Mary mix. While that may sound a bit complicated, it did not taste much different than a regular caprese salad.

It was fun, too, as I had to tap the reconstructed tomato to break it open.


Next was the liquid lobster. Despite the name of the dish, there was, in fact, a chunk of lobster that was topped with caviar. Reading liquid lobster on the menu, that was not what I expected, so I was pleasantly surprised. This was also my first time trying caviar and bone marrow! After the bird's nest, this was my second favorite appetizer! 


I was most disappointed with the Mad Hatter's purple potted shrimp, as it was a single shrimp served in a holographic mini-mug that lacked the scotch bonnet flavor that was indicated on the menu. 

The shrimp is marinated in lime before being breaded with a crispy coating, which, in my opinion, was too thick, as it takes away from the flavor and texture of the shrimp. 

At the bottom of the mug was a mayonnaise based sauce that was infused with scotch bonnet; however, as someone who grew up eating scotch bonnet hot sauce, it did not have the level of kick I was expecting. 


I'll admit that I got a little too eager to get the full Wonderland experience when our culinary guide was walking us through the appetizers. When he asked if he could order the sashimi of red and white tuna, I said yes. I've had raw fish a couple of times before, and the texture is not one that I enjoy-- oops! 

Looking back, I should have at least tried the tuna; however, I ate the wafer crisp and citrus topping, both of which was good! As an ice element, everything on the plate was chilled. The sashimi was actually inside of ice balls that had to be broken open! I think if you are a fan of tuna, you might enjoy this dish!


The two entree elements are earth and sea. Earth dishes are "grounded in whimsy," while sea's are "oceanic inspirations from the tide of the imagination." 

For my entree, I ordered the rib "I" luscious short rib that was finished with a white wine reduction sauce and served with mashed potatoes. The generous sized portion of meat was cooked for five hours and served with red and yellow relish, pumpkin sauce, and a beet purée.

Truthfully, it was probably the best short rib I have ever had. The meat was incredibly tender, and I cannot get over the reduction sauce! I even liked to eat it with the beet purée.

This would be another dish that I would recommend for picky eaters! If you do not like sauces, it is easy to avoid them, as they are all served on the side. Plus, the mashed potatoes are pretty simple. 


There's not a dessert menu, so you will have to be prepared to be surprised by your culinary guide. The desserts, though, are where Wonderland shines! I would return to the restaurant just for them. 

Not only are the presentations fun, but they are delicious! I would argue that they taste even better than they look.

The mystical mushroom garden was comprised of three different "mushrooms." The large center one was made of white chocolate pistachio mousse, while the two little ones were infused with cayenne pepper. They had an interesting kick that I am not used to with desserts, so the small side of mango sorbet was a nice touch! Actually, the cayenne mushroom went very well with the sorbet; the flavors really balanced each other out. 


The second dessert was called a chocolate orb called "the world." While it was still good, I much preferred the mystical mushroom garden, as I am not the biggest fan of heavy chocolate desserts, so I really appreciated how my culinary guide brought two different kinds of desserts. I would have been disappointed if both were chocolate based! 


A hot chocolate sauce was poured overtop, which broke down the chocolate exterior to reveal a vanilla ice cream and peanut butter interior. While I thought that presentation was neat, the two pieces of popcorn and stray raspberries seemed to be rushed onto the plate without much intention or purpose. 


Throughout my dinner, I had the chance to try two of their signature cocktails: Down the Rabbit Hole and the Cheshire Cat Cosmo. While I thought the concept of the cosmo was better, I preferred the taste of Down the Rabbit Hole. 

It was crafted with Belvedere pink grapefruit vodka, St. Germaine, fresh lemon juice, simply syrup, and a little bit of sparkling wine. You get to choose if you want a red or blue "pill" at the bottom, referencing the same "Eat Me" and "Drink Me" potions as the goblets. 


With the Cheshire Cat Cosmo you get to watch the cotton candy dissolve when the cocktail portion is poured on top of it! However, I think it might be one of the sweetest cocktails I have ever. 

Should you eat at Wonderland?


Wonderland caters to guests who want to take their taste buds on a culinary journey unlike any other. Most of the dishes are rather unconventional (have you ever seen liquid mushrooms on any other menu?), so to get the most out of your experience, you need to be open minded and willing to trying new things. 

That being said, it is still possible to have a good time at Wonderland even if you are a pickier eater, as your culinary guide will help you choose appetizers and entrees based on your likes and dislikes. Due to the preparation methods, however, you will still need to be prepared for dishes unlike anything you've ever had. 

From decor, to service, and food quality, it is easy to say that this was one of the best meals I had on the cruise! 

If you don't think Wonderland is for you but still want to step inside this fantasy world, there's a bar that is located on the top level! You do not need to make reservations for it, and you can use your drink package there. 

I sail on cruise ships for a month at a time. Here are the surprising things and big mistakes I see passengers make

16 Feb 2023
Matt Hochberg

Most people take a cruise once a year at the most, but there are some people that cruise all the time, and they get to experience and see so much more of what cruising is all about.

Greg Brockman

Greg Brockman lives in Iowa, but manages to work in multiple cruises in a row to the point he will stay aboard a cruise ship for months at a time.

"Living in Iowa, it rarely makes sense to sail for just a week," he stated matter-of-factly as to why he will be on a ship for up to a month or longer.

How long does Greg actually cruise for?  He combines multiple cruises in a row, which is referred to by cruise fans as a "back-to-back" cruise because the voyages are consecutive.

B2B setsail passes

He's done six back-to-back cruises on 3- and 4-night sailings of Freedom of the Seas, as well as four back-to-back sailings on 6- and 8-night voyages on Explorer of the Seas in 2022.  That represents 4 weeks of cruising at a time.

In fact, Greg racked up 192 nights on a cruise ship in 2022.

Symphony of the Seas in Miami

With that many cruises at once, Greg has a lot experience with not only what Royal Caribbean has to offer, but sees what his fellow passengers do. It gives him an unique perspective on do's and don'ts of cruises.

I wanted to know more about what it's like to sail that much at a time, and what tips and advice he has for someone going on any cruise, regardless of length.

How do you pack for living on a cruise ship for a month?

SeaPass card

The logistics of living on a cruise ship for many weeks may seem daunting, but Greg has a few tricks.

"With my Crown and Anchor benefits of laundry, staying on for several weeks really doesn’t add much to the total luggage needed."

Read moreThe Crown and Anchor perks you should use on every Royal Caribbean cruise

Greg in Cozumel

His cruise ship packing strategy is centered on having a  core of clothes he can rely on, and then embrace Royal Caribbean's laundry services.

"Typically, I pack for 10-nights. Most of my cruise shirts are lightweight. I replace a shirt or shorts if one is damaged or wears out."

"I use Royal’s wash and fold service for everything except dress shirts, dress pants and blazers."

Packing for a cruise can be a struggle, even for the most seasoned cruiser.

Some people can actually manage to pack for a week-long cruise in just a carry-on, but it's easier said than done for most.

Odyssey of the Seas in the Mediterranean Sea

Inevitably, the question boils down to what is essential to pack for a cruise and it's easy to overpack. In a way, it is difficult to blame anyone for over packing because the longer the cruise, the harder it is to figure out just what clothing you will need.

Your luggage will have vastly different clothing in it if you cruise heads to the Mediterranean versus Caribbean or Australia.

Why cruise so much at once?

Greg on Odyssey of the Seas

Rather than cruise for many weeks at a time, Greg could spread out those cruises.  So what are the advantages of going on consecutive cruises?

"For me, one air flight and hotel on the front end saves over multiple trips," Greg pointed out.

"Also, my house sitter offers a discount for trips over 14 and 25 nights. So, that offers a savings."


I was curious if having the same restaurants and food choices was a problem, but Greg finds enough variety.

"Surprisingly, Royal does an amazing job in the main dining room to offer alternatives and “off-menu” meals to keep variety."

"Plus, each port offers alternatives for lunch."

Sun setting

Of course, there are negatives to all that cruising.

Greg admits being away from home for long periods isn't cheap, "The biggest downside for me is the credit card holds Royal places for onboard charges."

"I’m a casino player and sometimes have $2-3,000 charged to my SeaPass but pay down the balance with cash during the cruise."

"Royal can sometimes pre-authorize several times during the cruise and tie up much of a credit cards available balance. It can take 5 days for them to drop off. Sometimes requiring me to bring several credit cards to alternate between sailings."

Mariner of the Seas sailing away

As Greg has found, going on back-to-back cruises allows someone to maximize their airfare cost and get more out of a single vacation. This type of cruise allows you to get more bang for your buck by getting more time and experiences on the ship. Plus, you can often explore different ports and bring down the cost of travel by avoiding having to fly between cities.

Back-to-back cruises can be especially beneficial if you are looking to visit multiple ports or take an open-jaw sailing. With a back-to-back, you don’t have to worry about flying from one port to another - instead, you stay on board your cruise ship and enjoy all the amenities it has to offer while visiting several ports in succession.

Two ships docked in Cozumel

For example, if you are cruising in the Caribbean, many ships alternate between Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, meaning that with a back-to-back cruise you can experience both sides of the region without having to deal with costly flights or extended stays in one city.

In addition, back-to-back cruises allow for great savings when it comes to airfare costs since they require fewer flight tickets than traditional cruises do. Since back-to-backs last longer than regular cruises, they offer more time onboard which helps justify the airline price tag. Not only that but they also provide travelers with ample opportunity to explore all the ports and attractions available at their destination - allowing them to make their trip as memorable as possible. 

Planning many cruises

Two cruise ships at CocoCay

Picking out the perfect week-long cruise is its own challenge for many, but trying to coordinate multiple cruises in a row has its own set of challenges.

Anyone planning a cruise must consider the ship, itinerary, cabin and so many other factors.  New cruisers can struggle with navigating the myriad of choices. 

Read more8 questions to ask yourself before picking a cruise ship

Quantum of the Seas cabin drawers

When cruising as long as Greg does, he relies on the cabin selection as being a primary consideration, "I usually pick the cruises by where I can keep the same cabin back-to-back."

"I also try to follow crew I know that will be onboard. I have a few Cruise Directors, Hotel Directors and others I keep in touch with throughout the year."


Choosing a ship and itinerary is always a subjective choice, so it's important to prioritize the aspects of the voyage that are important to you.

You'll start off with the price, destination and length, but quickly you may find yourself choosing a cruise similar to Greg: considering which restaurants, shows, or activities are available on one ship over another.

Read more: Picking a Cruise Line and Ship

With so many places around the globe to choose from, it can be difficult to know which itinerary is best for you. 

For first-time cruisers, it’s important to pick a sailing that offers a good balance of sea days and port days. Too many days at sea or too many days in port can make for an exhausting vacation, so look for an itinerary that provides plenty of variety and chances to experience both the open sea and exciting ports of call.

A typical cruise will include several days at sea, during which you’ll enjoy amenities like swimming pools, spas, fitness classes and themed activities onboard the ship. You’ll also have your pick of delicious restaurants, bars and lounges where you can kick back and relax after each day of exploration. At night, take in the dazzling entertainment shows or dance the night away in the ship’s disco. Days at sea are just as fun as any other part of a cruise – so don’t skimp on them! 

But port days are equally important when planning your itinerary. After all, these destinations are what makes cruising so special! From historic European cities to exotic Caribbean islands, there are countless amazing places to explore while sailing around the world. 

Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter if you choose a short weekend getaway cruise or a month-long journey around the globe – as long as you make sure there is a healthy mix of both sea days and port stops included in your itinerary!

What do you wish other passengers did differently?

Drink vendor

When you sail for weeks at a time, it's easy to pick up on trends among other passengers. 

I asked Greg what stands out to him in observing other guests across his sailings.

"When you spend a lot of time onboard a ship you start to see the ship as the crew’s home. They live there and will be onboard long after passengers who sail once are long gone."

"It’s sad how disrespectful passengers are when they are actually guests in someone else’s home. Passenger frequently act entitled: 'it’s my vacation, I’ll do what I want.'"

Read more8 things some cruisers do that annoy everyone else

There's no excuse for being rude to any crew member, and it's an absolute faux-pas for anyone. 

What to wear on a cruise that works for all dress codes

16 Feb 2023
Allie Hubers

Knowing what to pack for your upcoming cruise can be stressful, especially if you’re a first-time cruiser with Royal Caribbean. From beach days to formal night, there’s a lot to consider when you're packing for your cruise vacation. 

Pool deck on Oasis of the Seas

For example, you’ll need to consider where your cruise is sailing to, as certain destinations will have different weather and climates. Also, you’ll want to consider how long your cruise is to pack appropriately for your sailing’s dress codes. The number of sea days can impact what you plan to pack, as you’ll either be spending more time onboard the ship or exploring ports of call. 

In addition, the amount you plan to pack can be impacted by whether you plan to fly or drive to your cruise departure port. If you are flying to your cruise departure port, you will need to consider airline restrictions on luggage. Also, you will need to decide if you plan to check your luggage or travel solely with a carry-on. 

At the end of the day, what you pack for a fun 3-night sailing to the Bahamas will be totally different than what you’d plan to wear on a 12-night cruise to Norway or 7-night cruise to Alaska. 

Woman wearing jacket in Alaska

Here’s what to wear on a cruise that works for all of Royal Caribbean’s dress codes, including destination-specific ideas. We've also included outfit ideas from Amazon with links to every item within each section.

Please note, these are affiliate links, meaning Royal Caribbean Blog receives a small commission if you purchase any items through the links below, which does not cost you anything additional. 

Overview of Dress Codes

Overall, Royal Caribbean’s dress code is fairly laid back with just a few general rules to keep in mind. It’s important to remember that these dress codes apply only to the main dining room. If you plan to eat in the Windjammer buffet for most of your meals, you don’t need to follow these guidelines.

Royal Caribbean outlines their dress code requirements online. You can expect to find three different dress codes on your Royal Caribbean cruise: Casual, Smart Casual and Formal (or Dress Your Best). 

Shorts are not permitted in the main dining room for dinner for any of the dress codes on Royal Caribbean cruises, other than breakfast or lunch meals. 

Here are a few basic definitions of each dress code according to Royal Caribbean standards. 

  • Casual: Exactly as it implies - you are on vacation, after all! Casual dress code implies jeans, sundresses, blouses and polos are all aligned with being laid back on vacation. Swimwear needs to be kept to the pool deck. Shorts are acceptable for breakfast and lunch in the main dining room.
  • Smart Casual: Consider this a step-up from typical dinner wear. Outfits for this evening could include collar shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses or pantsuits. For men, snazzy jackets, sports coats and blazers are welcomed. 
  • Formal or Dress Your Best: This is the night you’ll want to dress your fanciest. Consider packing cocktail dresses, evening gowns, ties, tuxedos or suits for your best black-tie look. 

Packing for your sailing’s more formal evening depends on how long your sailing is. Shorter sailings (3- to 5-night cruises) will have a "Dress Your Best" evening dress code while longer sailings (6+ nights) will have Formal Night onboard. If your cruise is even longer (11+ nights), you could have up to 3 Formal Nights.

Formal Night and Dress Your Best are essentially synonymous. Since shorter sailings are typically the most casual, Royal Caribbean tries to use more laid-back nomenclature. It’s up each ship’s discretion to determine how many Formal Nights will take place onboard.  

In all honesty, the formal evenings onboard have become more and more casual over the years. 

Family in dining room

While I used to go all-out and pack ballgowns and high-heels, I’ve gravitated more towards versatile dresses that can easily be dressed up or down. Perhaps I will curl my hair and wear a little extra makeup on formal night these days. For my husband, he prefers to wear his sports coat or casual blazer rather than a tuxedo or suit. 

This isn’t to say that you can’t dress to the nines in black-tie or evening gowns; rather, it’s truthfully no longer the standard. This is especially true if you’re sailing on a shorter cruise to the Caribbean or Bahamas. 

Now that you have a basic idea of how Royal Caribbean defines its dress codes, let’s take a look at what you can wear for each. We’ve broken these down by destination, along with including outfit ideas for sea days. 

What to wear on your European cruise

If you’re cruising to ports of call around Europe with Royal Caribbean, you’re most likely sailing during late spring, summer or early fall. The vast majority of Royal Caribbean’s European sailings start in April or May and end in September or October. 

Odyssey of the Seas in Port

European style features more neutral colors with muted patterns and bright colors. 

Therefore, you can plan to pack casual wear for warmer weather. In my experience, generally Europeans dress a bit nicer and follow the dress codes more strictly. Even on casual evenings, most guests look very polished and fashionable.

Crete Greece

Depending on where you are cruising in Europe can also impact what you pack. Itineraries to the Mediterranean will have warmer weather with higher temperatures, especially in places like Italy, Greece, Spain and France. 

Northern Europe, including the Baltics, Norway, Iceland, and United Kingdom, will have cooler weather with more chances of rain. Cooler climates can add layers, such as a jean jacket or light sweater.

Casual Wear

Women can look to wear casual dresses, light-wash jeans, and rompers with blue hues to add a pop of color, this is especially perfect for the Greek Islands! These are great outfits that can also be worn during the day while you explore incredible ports like Rome, Paris and Athens. 

Men should pack a variety of polos and t-shirts for casual nights on a European cruise, along with either dark or light jeans. Similar to women, we've picked hues of blue and white to perfectly align with your Mediterranean cruise.

Women’s Links to Casual Outfits:

Casual Summer Short Sleeve, Black Dress

Tie Back, Ruffle Strap A-Line Flow, White & Blue Striped Dress

White Blouse with Sweetheart Neckline and Puff-Sleeves, Smocked

Summer Short Sleeve Romper, White Stripes

Short Sleeve, V-Neck Casual Midi Dress, Light Blue Tie-Wrap Dress

Levi’s Women’s Premium 501 Skinny Jeans, Light Wash

Men’s Links to Casual Outfits:

Men’s Casual Front Placket Basic Short Sleeve Henley T-Shirts

Men’s Classic Nautica Short Sleeve Performance Polo Shirt: Light Blue

Men’s Dark Wash Levis, Straight Fit

Men’s Light Wash Levis, Slim Fit

White Striped Golf Polo, Quick Dry Casual

Smart Casual

If you are packing for a European cruise with Royal Caribbean, you’ll want to ensure you’ve packed outfits for evenings onboard the ship. Picture sailing away into the sunset from Italy, Spain or Greece after you’ve had an incredible day exploring in the sun. 

Again, in my experience, Europeans dress more polished and on-trend than anywhere else I’ve cruised. It’s best to pack appropriately with dresses for women and a few button-down shirts for men. 


For women, mid-length dresses are perfect for Smart Casual evenings onboard, along with summery skirts or capris. The whites and blues are perfect for Mediterranean cruises while cooler climates can consider adding a blazer or stylish jacket for Northern Europe. 

Most of the time, men can wear a variety of button-down shirts for Smart Casual nights on European cruises with Royal Caribbean, especially breezy shirts made of linen for warmer sailings. Linen pants are great to pack for warmer months because it's very breathable. 

Women’s Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Casual Summer Flutter Sleeve Navy Dress, Smocked Waist

Off Shoulder, Casual Midi Dress with High Waist, Light Blue

Bohemian Floral Printed Blue Maxi Skirt with Pockets

Women’s Casual V-Neck Blouse, Bell Sleeve, Royal Blue

Women’s Ease Into Comfort Capri with buttons, White Capris

Men's Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Black button down smart casual shirt

Khaki Dockers, Classic Fit 360 FlexPants

White and Blue Stripped Button Down

White Linen Matching Set for Men

Formal Night

Of all the destinations you can cruise with Royal Caribbean, you can expect the most participation on Formal Night if you’re sailing on a European itinerary. This has been consistent across all of my European cruises and continues to be the trend. 

Similar to other European outfit ideas, I would encourage you to stick to more neutral colors and save the bright colors and bold patterns for your Caribbean sailing. Of course, these are just ideas for what you could consider wearing on formal night.

Formal night

Women can wear full-length evening gowns or maxi dresses. I’ve chosen a variety of dresses in the image below with differing necklines, material, sleeve length and style. Keep in mind, a more casual dress can be dressed-up with heels, accessories and some bolder makeup. 

Men should consider wearing a suit and tie on Formal Night, according to Royal Caribbean’s guide. A long-sleeve collared shirt with a tie, paired with nice dress pants, can also work well on Formal Night. 

Women’s Links to Formal Outfits:

Navy Women’s Evening Formal, Long Dress

Black Women’s Elegant Dress, Off Shoulder, Fitted

Velvet, Dark Green Dress for Women, Bell Sleeve

Royal Blue, Elegant Loose Chiffon Dress for Women 

Alex Evening Women’s Mesh Sleeve Dress, Embellished

Men's Links to Formal Outfits:

Docker’s Men’s Classic Fit, Long Sleeve Signature Comfort Flex Button Down Shirt

Men’s Casual Sport Coat, Suit Blazer

Men's 3-piece, Slim Fit Suit Set, including Blazer, Suit Vest and Dress Pants

What to wear on your Caribbean cruise

Packing for your Caribbean cruise will include bright colors, tropical patterns and plenty of swimsuits. You’ll be sailing in warm climates and spending your day in the sun or at the beach, so you can plan to wear most of your summer and spring clothes. 

Also, shorter Caribbean sailings, or those with less than 5 nights, will have the most casual atmosphere on a Royal Caribbean cruise - so keep this in mind while packing. Generally speaking, Caribbean cruises are all about relaxing, letting loose, and having fun. 

Here’s a breakdown of what to wear on your Caribbean cruise that works well for each of Royal Caribbean’s dress codes. 


To pack for casual nights onboard your Caribbean cruise, women can look to bring bright sundresses, tropical patterns and colorful outfits. I love to pack my dresses that are bright colors, like pink and yellow - these are just quintessential Caribbean cruise outfits for me. 

For men, this is your time to pack those Hawaiian shirts or fun patterns! Although shorts aren’t permitted in the dining room, pairing these fun patterned shirts with jeans is perfect for casual night on a Caribbean cruise for men. 

Women’s Links to Casual Outfits:

Women’s Ditsy Floral Plunge Deck, Tie Back

Strapless Casual Summer Dress, Tropical Pink

Women’s Wrap V-Neck Sleeveless Sundress, Red Floral

Women’s Smocked Romper, Tie Sleeve, Smocked Bodice

High Waist, Pattern Beach Linen Pants for Women

Men's Links to Casual Outfits:

Nautica Men’s Coral Polo, Cotton Stretch

Men’s Casual Hawaiian Shirt, Palm Trees

Amazon Basic, Men’s Athletic Stretch Jeans in Black

Men’s Duo-Pattern, Flamingo Button Down Shirt for Summer

Amazon Basic, Men’s Athletic Stretch Jeans

Smart Casual

In all honesty, most Caribbean cruises are very casual for the entirety of the sailing. It’s a fine line between Smart Casual compared to just Casual night, especially on a sun-filled Caribbean cruise. 

For Smart Casual evenings on a Caribbean cruise, consider packing outfits that are just a bit more dressy than what you’d wear for casual night. I've selected a jumpsuit, versatile blouse, floral skirt and two dresses that would work well with Royal Caribbean's dress code. 

Similarly, men can look to pack some khakis or grey slacks with a button-down shirt. The pink linen shirt is the perfect option for a Caribbean cruise!

Women’s Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Yellow Puff-Sleeve, Smocked Dress 

Women’s Puff Sleeve, Off Shoulder Pink Dress

Women’s Teal Floral Wrap Midi Skirt

Women’s Ruffle Chiffon Sleeveless White Tank

Women’s One Strap Jumpsuit with Wide Leg

Men's Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Amazon Basic, Men 5-Pocket Khaki Stretch Twill Pants

Men’s Grey Slim Fit Casual Stretch Khaki Pants

Long Sleeve Men’s Linen Blend Shirt, Button Down

Men’s Navy Button Down, Short Sleeve Shirt

Formal Night / Dress Your Best

During your Caribbean cruise, you can count on having at least one Formal Night or Dress Your Best. Shorter cruises will call this evening Dress Your Best while longer sailings will call it Formal Night. 

Either way, it’s essentially the exact same dress code and implies you should wear your fanciest outfit packed. Caribbean cruises are very casual, so you can probably leave the tuxedo and ballgown at home, if you prefer! 

It’s likely going to be warm; this might be perfect for tanning on the beach or the pool deck, but not great for heavy, satin ballgowns. A shorter, more elegant dress is perfect for a Caribbean cruise on Formal Night

For men sailing on a Caribbean cruise, opt for a collared shirt and dress pants for men. You could also include a tie to dress up the look. 

Women’s Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Women’s Tie Back, Black Summer Formal Dress, Long Sleeve, Elastic Waist

Women’s Long Sleeve V Neck Cocktail Dress, Elegant

Women’s Pink Off Shoulder Pleated Midi Dress

Sleeveless Lace Dress for Women, Blue, Knee Length for Party

Jumpsuit Romper for Women, Tie Front and Ruffle Sleeve, green

Male's Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Casual Men’s Blazer, Sport Coat: 

Men’s 3-Piece Suit Set with Pants, Jacket and Vest, Slim Fit

Men’s Long Sleeve, Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt

Black Dress Pants for Men, Amazon Essentials, Slim Fit

What to wear on your Alaska cruise

Alaska is known for its stunning scenery - and it’s one of our favorite places to cruise! However, you can almost guarantee that you will run into cooler weather during your cruise. Even in the heat of summer, you can be hit with cold and rainy weather in Alaska. 

Plan to pack layers for your Alaska cruise so your wardrobe is versatile for whatever weather you encounter. It’s going to be colder than any Caribbean cruise you’ve done, so packing requires a bit more planning.


For Alaska cruises, women should plan to pack casual outfits that can be versatile for daytime outfits or evening attire. You'll be packing bulky clothes and most of what you wear during the day would pass for evening casual wear. 

Women should look to wear sweaters or turtlenecks with jeans or leggings. A long sleeve dress in the evenings is also acceptable for casual night.

Men should also plan to pack versatile outfits that can work well as evening outfits for Casual Night. Consider packing half-zips, long sleeve shirts and crewnecks paired with jeans. 

Women’s Links to Casual Night Outfits:

Grey Long Sleeve Dress for Women with High Waist

Women’s Casual Turtleneck Sweater Tunic Pullover

Long Sleeve Green Dress for Women, Empire Waist, Loose Fit

Amazon Essentials, Women’s Light Wash Jeans, High Rise

Women’s Striped Turtleneck Dress with Button Detail

Men's Links to Casual Night Outfits:

Black Long Sleeve T-Shirt for Men

Men’s Wrangler Jeans, Regular Fit, Comfort Flex, Dark Wash

Men’s Half-Zip, Long Sleeve Athletic Pullover, Lightweight

Long Sleeve Henley Shirt with Buttons for Men, Cotton Shirt

Smart Casual

When it comes to Smart Casual during your Alaska cruise, you’ll also want to consider the weather for your sailing. Again, it’s more than likely going to be pretty cool so you’ll want to pack more of your winter and fall clothes. 

For women, you can look at wearing long sleeve dresses; even a sweater dress would be perfect for Alaska. You can pair this with leggings if it’s especially chilly. Women can also pack dress pants with a long-sleeve blouse for dinner.

Men should also pack for cooler weather when thinking about Smart Casual Night, such as plaid button-down flannels and crewneck sweaters. Jackets can be layered at dinner or outside during port exploration in the cool Alaska weather. 

Women’s Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Long Sleeve, Sweater Ribbed Dress with Turtleneck, Green

Long Sleeve, Midi Women’s Dress with Black Top and Pattern Bottom

Green Cocktail Dress with Long Bell Sleeve and Tie Front, Green

Black Jeans by Levi’s for Women, Traditional Jeans

Long Sleeve Blouse for Women, Pleated Sleeves, Sage Green

Men's Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Men’s Crewneck Sweater, Soft Casual, Long Sleeve

Casual Jacket for Men, Sportswear Bomber Jacket

Amazon Essentials Men’s Athletic, Casual Fit Chino Pants in Navy

Snap Button, Flannel Shirt for Men, Regular Fit, Green Plaid

Formal Night / Dress Your Best

Most Alaska sailings will be 7-nights long, so you can expect to have two Formal Nights during your Royal Caribbean cruise. Keeping with our theme of packing for cool weather, we’ve selected a few outfits that would be perfect for Formal Night on your cruise. 

Women can look at packing floor-length dresses with long sleeves. Alaska is also the perfect destination for a jumpsuit with pants or pantsuit to keep warm.

Similarly for men, consider packing dress pants with a long sleeve collared shirt for the Formal Nights on your Alaska cruise. Suits and tuxedos are also welcomed during these nights onboard.

Women’s Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Women’s Jumpsuit, Wide Leg, Tie Waist

Women’s Winter Dress with Puff Sleeve, Ruffle A-line dress

Dark Green, Women’s Plus Size Dress, Floor Length High Slit

Women’s Wide Leg Dress Pants, Black Chiffon Flow Pants

Women’s Long Sleeve Jumpsuit, Loose Fit in Sand Color

Men's Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Black Dress Pants for Men by Calvin Klein, Slim Fit

Van Hausen Men’s Dress Shirt, Regular Fit, Oxford Fit

Men’s Ski Fit, 3-Piece Suit with Vest, Jacket and Pants. Tie Included

Royal Caribbean releases Short Caribbean 2024-2025 cruise ship sailings

15 Feb 2023
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released its Short Caribbean sailings for April 2024 — April 2025, which are now available for booking.

Perfect Day at CocoCay beach

Royal Caribbean's website has been updated with the new itineraries, which are available to book immediately.

Eight cruise ships have new sailings you can book through mid-2025.

Short Caribbean sailings

Voyager of the Seas sunset

Allure of the Seas will continue offering 3- and 4-night weekend cruises from Port Canaveral that visit Nassau, Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Enchantment of the Seas will sail from Tampa and offer primarily 4- and 5-night Western Caribbean cruises to destinations in Mexico, and Grand Cayman. 

There's also a 10-night Southern Caribbean sailing included.

Read moreWhat is the best time to cruise to the Caribbean?

Grandeur of the Seas will also sail from Tampa and offer 4- and 5-night Western Caribbean cruises.   

Independence of the Seas will offer more of a variety of short Caribbean cruises, including 4-, 5- cruises. Independence will sail from Miami, Florida.

Read moreHow different is a 3-night vs 4-night cruise?

Liberty of the Seas

Liberty of the Seas will continue offering 3- and 4-night short Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas.

Mariner of the Seas will shift to Galveston, where she will offer 4- and 5-night Western Caribbean cruises.

Navigator of the Seas will remain in Los Angeles and offer a mix of 3- and 4-night cruises along with 7-night Mexican Riviera cruises.

Read moreI tried my first 3-night cruise, here's how it went

After completing a transatlantic from Barcelona, Voyager of the Seas will sail 4- and 5-night cruises from Port Canaveral.

View the full Short Caribbean 2024-2025 sailings:

Read moreShould I take a short or a long cruise

Adventure of the Seas sailing into Nassau

The release of the short Caribbean sailings is the first of the new spring deployments.

Over the next few months,  more sailings will be released for the 2024-2025 season, although changes to the deployment schedule are possible.

2024-2025 deployment schedule

Royal Caribbean's deployment schedule is as follows:

  • Week of February 20, 2023: Winter Caribbean
  • Week of May 1, 2023: Australia
  • Week of July 24, 2023: Singapore
  • TBD: China

Planning on booking a new cruise? These stories will help:

Here's when Royal Caribbean will put more 2024-2025 cruises on sale

15 Feb 2023
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has released its deployment schedule of when it will put new summer 2024 - 2025 cruises on sale.

In a follow up to Royal Caribbean's new itineraries that were released in November and December of 2022, more sailings will go on sale between February and July.

Royal Caribbean posted the new deployment schedule for a variety of itineraries, such as Short Caribbean, Australia and more.

While the schedule is out, most sailing windows are still to be determined.

  • Week of February 13, 2023: Short Caribbean
  • Week of February 20, 2023: Winter Caribbean
  • Week of May 1, 2023: Australia
  • Week of July 24, 2023: Singapore
  • TBD: China
2024-2025 deployment schedule

Keep in mind this deployment schedule is subject to change, and may end up being del

If you missed it, here is a look at the 2024-2025 cruises already available to book now:

What is a deployment schedule?

Aerial view of CocoCay from balloon

Essentially, the deployment schedule is when Royal Caribbean releases its new sailings to the public.

During a given week, at some point in that week, the new cruises go on sale. Usually, this happens in the evening of one day and then by morning of the next day all of the itineraries are fully available for booking.

Sunrise at sea

It's important not to interpret the date as meaning that this is when the sailings will first become bookable – rather, between Monday and Friday of any given week is when you'll find out what new cruises have been released and be able to start your journey toward an unforgettable trip.

Why do new deployments matter?

Royal Suite on Liberty of the Seas

The deployment schedule offers up so many exciting opportunities for those who love cruising with Royal Caribbean. Newly added options mean more choices when it comes time to plan your vacation: destinations ranging from Central America to Europe and Asia await you! Whether you're looking for a shorter itinerary or something longer-term, you're sure to find plenty of options within Royal Caribbean's ever-expanding selection of voyages. 

Cruising is one of the best ways to take a vacation, and it's always exciting when a new sailing is released. When you book at this time, you can lock in a low price and have first pick of all the best cabins–especially if you're looking for something special! 

Cruise ship pricing follows a supply and demand model that works similarly to airfare. At the start of each sailing, all cabins are available, meaning prices will be lower than usual. As more people book their stay on the cruise ship, supply decreases which causes the price to rise.

Booking early is essential if you want the best room; especially if you're interested in suites or cabins in popular areas like the aft. 

Royal Caribbean ships offer plenty of balcony and interior cabins, but suites tend to be most sought-after due to their luxurious amenities and spaciousness. Suites also often boast stellar views from large picture windows or balconies that overlook some of the world's most breathtaking destinations. Additionally, cabin selections located near popular areas like pools or lounges tend to fill up quickly – so make sure to reserve yours as soon as possible! 

What you can do now while you wait

Now is a great time to start planning for your next journey. With this announcement of new bookings coming soon, it's time to get excited - and start preparing! 

The best way to be proactive about this exciting development is to begin by talking to a trusted travel agent about your interests. Letting them know what type of cabin you are considering and what type of itinerary you are interested in will give you an edge over those who wait until the sailings open up. Exploring different options before any bookings go live can help make the decision-making process much quicker, easier, and less stressful. 

When researching possible cabins and itineraries, there are many aspects to consider. Think about how long you want to stay, where you would like to go, what type of activities interest you most, and which amenities are important for your group.

Promenade Deck

Speaking of booking plans, once the new Royal Caribbean sailings are released and ready for booking there will likely be high demand so it's important to have a plan in place in advance.

Start by looking into different payment options including installment plans if needed - this can help make budgeting easier on everyone involved. Also consider if deposits or onboard credits may be offered that could help stretch your dollar further during your vacation. 

Taking just a few steps ahead of time can save a lot of stress later on as well as help ensure that all aspects of the trip match up perfectly with what you had in mind from the very beginning!

Royal Caribbean begins construction on second Icon Class cruise ship

15 Feb 2023
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's second Icon Class cruise ship is on its way to becoming a reality.

Pool aerial on Icon of the Seas

A steel cutting ceremony was held yesterday for the second Icon Class cruise ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet.

When the first piece of steel is cut, it marks a pivotal point in the ship building process, setting off an array of crucial landmarks to follow. This major milestone indicates that the groundwork has been set and the foundations have been laid for any further adjustments 

The first piece of steel was cut at a ceremony at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, which is the same shipyard that is building Icon of the Seas and where Allure and Oasis of the Seas were built as well.

Icon 2 steel cutting

The second Icon Class ship is unnamed as of yet, but she will begin her first cruises in 2025.

Royal Caribbean has an order for a third Icon Class ship as well, which has a delivery date in 2026.

Icon 2 steel cutting ceremony
Icon 2 steel cutting ceremony

Both Royal Caribbean and Meyer Turku celebrated this event at the shipyard.

Icon 2 steel cutting ceremony

Essentially, when the first piece of steel is cut, it's one of the major milestones for ship construction. Other milestones include keel laying, floating out, and delivery.

Moreover, this is also a positive sign about the health of this project and Royal Caribbean's intention to continue forward with the new cruise ship.

What's different about the Icon Class?

Icon of the Seas render at sunset

The Icon Class is Royal Caribbean's newest class of cruise ship, and it's the first new class of ships in many years.

While we don't yet know anything about what Royal Caribbean has planned for the second Icon Class ship, there's no doubt it will inherit many aspects of Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from February 2023

These vessels represent the very best the cruise line has to offer going forward, and as we've seen with Icon of the Seas (the first ship in the class), there's a lot of innovations.

Icon of the Seas render at CocoCay

The Icon Class ships are not only bigger than the Oasis Class, coming in about 6% bigger, but they can hold more passengers too. Icon of the Seas has a maximum capacity of 7,600 passengers.

Royal Caribbean has already revealed a great deal of new concepts for Icon of the Seas. Boasting an impressive 20 decks and 7,600 passenger capacity, it's actually two decks higher than the Wonder of the Seas.

With new entertainment, 23 food venues, 8 fantastic neighborhoods, 7 pools and a waterpark, the ship offers something for everyone, including a vast array of cabin options not seen on other Royal Caribbean ships.

Hidewaway aerial

The Icon Class ships will be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas). LNG and the state-of-the-art ship’s additional environmentally friendly applications, such as shore power connection, will boost energy efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint. 

What will be the name of Icon 2?

Icon of the Seas on the water render

Royal Caribbean did not announce a name for the second Class ship, so it's anyone's guess at this point what to expect.

In November 2022,  Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider talked about naming the next two Icon Class ships, "I'm still taking ideas on Icon two and Icon three. I feel really confident in the name we have for Icon three, it's actually two that we're still working on."

Then in January 2023, Royal Caribbean launched an online poll to let the public vote on the name of its second Icon Class ship.

List of ship names for Icon 2

Royal Caribbean posted on social media the choices of Star of the Seas, Idol of the Seas, Love of the Seas, or Queen of the Seas. There's been no indication of which, if any, of these names won.

On Twitter, Star of the Seas won the poll with 44% of the vote.

40 BEST Royal Caribbean tips, tricks & hidden secrets

14 Feb 2023
Matt Hochberg

A Royal Caribbean cruise is hands down my favorite type of vacation, and with so many years of going cruising, I have come across a lot of tricks and tips that really enhance my cruise.

These nifty little secrets can save money, time or both, and so I wanted to whittle them down to the best Royal Caribbean tips and tricks in hopes of saving you time and money!

Since these are Royal Caribbean cruise tips that apply primarily to just this cruise line, it's meant to provide advice that almost anyone sailing with Royal Caribbean can use right away.

After combing through my notes, here's the best tips and tricks for taking a Royal Caribbean cruise.

#1 Bring a bathing suit on embarkation day

Which Royal Caribbean ships have water slides? | Royal Caribbean Blog

On embarkation day, the pools are open so be sure to pack a bathing suit in your carry-on luggage so that you can enjoy them with less crowds!

Most guests pack their bathing suits in the checked luggage, which means they will not have access to it until later that day.  The result is far fewer guests in the pools, hot tubs and water slides than at any other time on your cruise.

You can change in a public restroom, and towels are available at the pool area to use.

#2 How to avoid the Deluxe Beverage Package rule

Did you know if one adult elects to buy the unlimited alcohol package, all other adults in the same room have to get it too?

If you have an adult in your room that does not drink (much) alcohol, you can get around this rule by calling Royal Caribbean and requesting that person get the Royal Refreshment package.

By having them get the non-alcoholic drink package, you will save a lot of money compared to buying them the Deluxe Beverage package that costs much more.

#3 Download Royal Caribbean's app before the cruise

Royal Caribbean's app is a must-have for your cruise, so make sure to download it before your cruise.

Downloading the app before you get on your ship means you'll be able to easily and quickly download it and set it up before you step aboard.

Why is it important to have the app?

In short, the app is tied to so much of the cruise experience now.  You can use it to check-into your cruise (more on that in the next tip), book entertainment, shore excursions and packages.

Plus, the Royal Caribbean app will have all of the activities for the day listed so that you can easily reference it during your sailing.

Don't worry, you don't need to buy an internet package to use the Royal Caribbean app.  Once you get onboard and connect to the ship's wifi, it will ask you if you want to just use the app.

#4 Check into your cruise as soon as you can 

Spotted: Royal Caribbean cruise expected check-in date added to app | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean now enforces its check-in times, so be sure to check-in for your cruise as soon as check-in opens.

By completing online check-in early, you will have the best choice of check-in times. And the earlier check-in time you have, the sooner you get to get onboard the ship and start vacation.

The price you pay for the cruise is the same whether you board at noon or 2pm, so you may as well get the extra two hours of fun!

#5 Book your cruise as early as you can to save money

There is no question that if you want to get the lowest price on a cruise, book it as early as you can.

Generally speaking, the best price for a Royal Caribbean cruise can be found when booked many months in advance.

Royal Caribbean sells its cruises largely based on the concept of supply and demand. When a sailing is first offered, supply is at its highest because no one has purchase a cruise ship cabin yet. As time progress, more and more staterooms are reserved and stateroom inventory drops, so the price increases conversely.

The earlier you can book, the best chance you will have at getting a good price on your cruise.

When we say "early", it essentially means as early as you can.  Royal Caribbean puts its itineraries on sale as much as two years in advance of the sailing, and while that may be too far in advance for many to plan vacations, the earlier you can book the cruise, the better for that bottom line price.

#6 Save money by pre-booking packages

Royal Caribbean offering up to 35% off Cruise Planner purchases with Sun's Out Sale's On | Royal Caribbean Blog

To save time and money, you really should pre-book beverage packages, dining packages, internet packages and more.

In many cases, Royal Caribbean promises a discount on select pre-cruise purchases compared to the price onboard.

When you purchase anything before your cruise via the Cruise Planner site, you will be required to pay for it at the time of purchase.  This provides the ability to break up the total cost of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean begins to roll out My Royal Cruise cruise planner upgrade | Royal Caribbean Blog

When you make purchases onboard your cruise, at the end of the cruise you get a final bill with all of the charges tallied up.  By pre-purchasing certain items, you can pay off parts of the cruise months or years in advance, allowing you to reduce the cruise bill at the conclusion of your cruise.

An intangible benefit to pre-purchasing anything is it saves you time onboard from doing the exact same thing, which means more vacation time back to you.

Taking the time to purchase anything onboard does not take very much time, but every little bit helps, and some purchases on the first day of the cruise can require waiting in a line, such as drink packages.

#7 Use a good travel agent

In short, to save time and money, use a good travel agent.

There is a lot that goes into a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation, from your cruise fare (and the slew of discounts available), to dining, shore excursions, air travel and more.  Using a travel agent simplifies this entire process.

The best reason to use an agent is to save you time, because they are the ones sitting on hold when calling Royal Caribbean.  Tasks such as repricing, making special requests, dealing with weather events and more are why I use a travel agent every single I book a cruise.

Keep in mind that travel agents are paid by Royal Caribbean, so there is no additional cost to you to use their services.   Talk to a few agents and feel them out for their knowledge of the product and when you find one that you are comfortable with, leverage their knowledge and expertise and book with them.

#8 Go to the helipad for sailaway

8 Secret spots on Royal Caribbean cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

On Voyager, Freedom or Radiance class ships, be sure to visit the helipad for my favorite sailaway spot.

The helipad on is located on the bow (front) of the ship and during sailaway, Royal Caribbean permits guests access to the helipad.  This is a great spot to see the port as you leave, especially for those that do not have a balcony stateroom or simply want something a little different.

#9  Fly to your cruise port at least one day early

If you are flying to your cruise port, be sure to fly in at least one day before the cruise is scheduled to depart to protect against a travel delay.

By planning to arrive to your departure port at least one day early, you assure yourself that a travel delay will not impact your ability to get on your cruise. Having an extra day or two provides a buffer to account for travel delays.  

As an added bonus, by arriving to your embarkation port at least a day early, that means you get to start your vacation sooner!  And in many cases, the port you are departing from has its own cultural and historical attractions that you can explore.

#10 Don't buy kids a dining package

Kids get special pricing at a specialty restaurant, so buy dining packages only for the adults.

Children between the ages of 0-5 are complimentary and ages 6-12 are $10 per child at any specialty restaurant.

When you make a reservation for a restaurant onboard, let your server know the adults have dining packages, but kids don't and you will get a better price than if you bought the dining package for everyone.

#11 Best times for deals at the spa

First time cruisers: Royal Caribbean's Vitality Spa | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you want to find the best prices for the spa on your cruise, consider booking things on port days, or early in the morning or late at night for the best prices.

The common thread among these times is it is when others are unable or unwilling to go to the spa, so prices tend to be better.

#12 Free breakfast at Johnny Rockets on Oasis Class ships

Johnny Rockets | Royal Caribbean Blog

Did you know that Johnny Rockets is complimentary for breakfast on Oasis Class ships?  

All Oasis-class ships offer this option, but many guests are unaware that breakfast is served here, nor that it is included with your cruise fare (Johnny Rockets has a cover charge for lunch and dinner).

Johnny Rockets tends to be not very crowded for breakfast, because many guests are unaware of this option, and it also has a large seating capacity (indoor and outdoor seating options).

#13 Avoid embarkation day lunch lines in the buffet

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Michael's Day 1 - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

The Windjammer is the go-to spot for most when they get onboard their Royal Caribbean ship for lunch, but there are good alternatives that are less crowded.

These locations include:

  • Park Cafe
  • Cafe @ Two70
  • Cafe Promenade
  • Sorrentos
  • Compass Deli (Majesty of the Seas only)

#14 Look for the cooking stations in the Windjammer

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Nassau | Royal Caribbean Blog

Freshly cooked food is always the best, and there are cooking stations available in the Windjammer that serve up some really tasty options.

In the morning, there is an omelet station available.  For lunch and dinner, you can find a rotating set of options that include pasta, stir-fry, crepes and more.

Check with the Windjammer wait staff for a schedule of options. 

#15 You can bring water or soda on embarkation day...

The best packing for a cruise list | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring up to 12 bottles/cans of non-alcoholic beverages per stateroom with them on embarkation day.

You can bring soda, water, energy drinks and any other non-alcoholic beverages.

Be sure to pack these items in your carry-on luggage, and not your checked luggage.

#16 ...and wine too!

Bringing wine on your Royal Caribbean cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

In addition to the non-alcoholic beverages, you can also bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom.

Each stateroom may bring up to two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne, as long as one guest is of legal drinking age. Corkscrews will be provided for guests to enjoy their drinks in their stateroom. If guests wish to enjoy their wine or champagne in our dining or bar venues, there will be a corkage fee applied.

#17 Cruise off-season to really save money

If your schedule allows, the best time to cruise when prices are the lowest are in the off-season and shoulder seasons.

These are the times of year when demand is less for cruises to certain regions. People often wonder what is the cheapest month to go on a cruise, and the key is cruise when others cannot.

Most people go on vacation based around their school or work schedules. If you can cruise during these times, there are some truly low prices to enjoy.

#18 Read a past Cruise Compass

How to plan your cruise vacation for when Royal Caribbean resumes sailing | Royal Caribbean Blog

Want to get an idea of what entertainment, activities and things to do (along with times) will be offered on your cruise? Read a past Cruise Compass!

Royal Caribbean does not post or publish Cruise Compasses for upcoming sailings in advance.  Nor do they publish their entertainment schedules prior to a cruise. So the best way to learn about what is offered on your cruise is to check out a past Cruise Compass.

There is no way to know in absolute terms what your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise will or will not offer, but Royal Caribbean insiders will consult past Cruise Compass' to see what was available on those similar sailings to get an idea of what to expect.

#19 Use the porters

Majesty of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Whether the first day or the last day of your cruise, be sure to grab a porter to make things easier on yourself.

Porters are available to assist with your luggage. Their services are complimentary, although a tip is expected for their trouble.

Commonly it is expected to tip somewhere around $1-$2 per bag. For just a few dollars, you can make the embarkation and disembarkation process significantly easier.

Not only can a porter help take a load off of you, they can greatly assist with disembarkation and getting you through the terminal faster. In many ports, porters have a special line for Customs that allows you to get through it all faster.

#20 Book entertainment before your cruise

99 days of Harmony: AquaTheater shows | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you are sailing on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship, you can pre-book shows in advance, such as the Broadway musicals or ice shows.

Royal Caribbean does not charge for its shows, nor does it charge for advanced reservations.  Take advantage of the opportunity to get tickets and not be stuck in a line waiting to enter the theater or worse, miss out on the show completely.

Just like dining, you can reserve shows in advance by going to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.  Once logged in, navigate to Onboard Activities and select the show you wish to reserve.

On all ships, check for entertainment reservations once onboard the ship via the Royal Caribbean app.

#21 Research shore excursions before the cruise

The tours and excursions available to book in the ports your cruise will visit are many, so take advantage of the resources online to find the perfect tour before your cruise begins.

While you can book shore excursions onboard your ship, the lines at the shore excursion desk can often be quite long and doing your research from home gives you plenty of time to compare different options and learn what each port offers.

You can view all the shore excursions available by logging into Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner and browsing the shore excursions by port.  Each excursion will list the price, details of the activity and any physical or age restrictions.

How to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean offers a lot of shore excursions in every port and on top of that, you can also consider shore excursions through third party groups to further expand your options.

Keep in mind the differences between Royal Caribbean's shore excursions and third party shore excursions.  Here are some basic considerations

  • Royal Caribbean shore excursions guarantee your return to the ship, even if the excursion is delayed.
  • Third party shore excursions can offer more personalized tours at a lower price.
  • Royal Caribbean shore excursions are fully refundable if your ship cannot dock at a scheduled port.
  • Guests can use onboard credit towards purchasing Royal Caribbean's shore excursions if they book onboard.

#22 The Main Dining Room is open for lunch on sea days

Royal Caribbean working on new main dining room menu | Royal Caribbean Blog

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

On sea days, the main dining room is open for lunch and it serves up a different menu of options than what is offered during dinner.

No reservations needed, just walk on in and be seated.

#23 Make My Time Dining reservations

If you are in My Time Dining for dinner, your best strategy is to make reservations either before the cruise, or during the cruise.

By having a reservation, you will be seated faster. The larger the group, the more important having a reservation is to limiting the wait times.

Peak dinner time is between 6:30pm and 8:00pm, so if you plan to dine during these times, reservations are so important.

#24 Eat outside!

Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you are on a Radiance or Quantum Class ship, be sure to enjoy your meals outside while at the Windjammer.

The Windjammer on Radiance and Quantum class ships offers an area at the rear of the ship to enjoy any meal with a fantastic view of the ship's wake.  

Oasis Class ships offer outside dining is also available on Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods.

#25 Try the signature activities on embarkation day

If you want to try Sky Pad, FlowRider, rock climbing wall or zipline, take advantage of lower waits on the first day of the cruise.

Because so many guests are just getting onboard and acclimated to the new ship, many guests are unaware of where the headline attractions are or that they are open on embarkation day.

By going on embarkation day, not only will you likely have a short wait but you may be able to re-ride a number of times!

#26 Stock shareholder benefit

Did you know Royal Caribbean offers extra onboard credit if you own at least a certain amount of Royal Caribbean Group stock?

While buying stock in any company should be based on solid financial planning, if you happen to own at least 100 shares of Royal Caribbean Group stock, you can qualify for bonus credit to spend on your cruise.

Depending on the length of your sailing, you can get up to $250 onboard credit.

  • $250 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 14 or more nights
  • $100 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 6 to 13 nights
  • $50 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 5 nights or less

To redeem this benefit, you just need to email [email protected] with your name, address, confirmation number, ship and sailing date along with a copy of your shareholder proxy card or a current brokerage statement showing proof of share ownership.

#27 Buy travel insurance

No one wants to think worst case scenario, but you're probably better off buying a travel insurance plan for your cruise than risking not having it.

While you may want to save the added expense, regular medical insurance will not usually cover medical services onboard or in port. It’s recommended to have travel insurance.

Additionally, a cruise vacation, like any other type of travel, poses a risk for trip interruption, delays, and other unexpected issues. From a bag getting lost in transit to flight cancellations, it’s always better to be protected than to not have insurance when you need it most.

#28 Find a roll call for your sailing and meet other cruisers

Friends in a pub

One of the best ways to stay informed with what's happening on your sailing is to join a roll call for your sailing.

This is basically a forum for discussing your exact sailing with other people booked on it too. 

The benefit of doing this is you get to "meet" other people on your sailing, which may result in new friendships, or saving money on a shore excursion or other activity that has a group discount.

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

In addition, these roll calls are helpful because someone might spot a change or announcement before you, which can greatly benefit you by getting ahead of the pack.

We have an entire forum dedicated to Royal Caribbean roll calls on our message boards that is totally free to use!

#29 Avoid overpacking


Easier said than done, but you probably won't need all the clothes, shoes, and outfits you think you might need on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Dress codes look imposing, and you might feel like you need to have more outfit changes in a single day than most celebrities at an awards ceremony, but the reality is it's not nearly that stringent.

Not only are the dress codes quite liberal, you can also re-use the same clothes on the same sailing. Your fellow guests won't notice you wore that pair of jeans or dress from night two.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has onboard laundry services you can use to make wearing the same clothes later in the cruise more practical. Laundry costs extra, but it may save you money compared to paying to check an extra bag at the airport.

#30 Don't assume all Royal Caribbean ships are the same

One mistake a lot of new cruisers make is to book the cheapest cruise they can find because they assume the ships are more less all the same.

While Royal Caribbean maintains a core experience across all ships, each vessel has its own list of amenities and activities, and even ships within the same Royal Caribbean ship class can vary.

What you want to do is look at what the ship you're considering has to do onboard, and ensure it has the most important options that you want to experience.

Grease Broadway musical on Royal Caribbean cruise ship

An an example, if you have kids and water slides are a must-do, then skip the Vision Class ships and Explorer of the Seas. If you want a ship with a Broadway show, book Oasis or Harmony of the Seas, but skip Wonder of the Seas.

The key is to understand what the ship you're booking has and doesn't have so there's no disappointment later.

#31 Bring magnets for your cabin

One of the best cruise ship cabin hacks is to bring magnets with you on your cruise.

Your stateroom walls are made of metal, and that means you can stick a magnet on any of them (even the ceiling). If you buy heavy duty magnets with hooks, you can use these magnets to store certain items.

Things like hats, coverups, important paperwork and more would be ideal. This frees up storage space in your closets and drawers for other things.

#32 Your drink package works at CocoCay and Labadee

If you're on the fence about buying a Royal Caribbean drink package, keep in mind you can use them at Royal Caribbean's private islands.

In addition to being able to use your drink package benefits nearly anywhere onboard your ship, Royal Caribbean also extends the benefit to Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas and Labadee in Haiti.

This means you can get extra value from your drink package purchase while anywhere in these private destinations.

In addition to the drink package, a wifi package also works while at CocoCay.  Unfortunately, there's no wifi coverage in Labadee.

#33 Take advantage of all your loyalty benefits

There's an impressive amount of discounts and benefits included in Royal Caribbean's loyalty program that you should absolutely know about in advance.

The exact benefits you get depend on which tier of Crown and Anchor Society you belong to.  You start getting benefits after just one cruise, and you never lose your status.

There are discounts, vouchers, and even freebies anyone can take advantage of once onboard.

Be sure to look up all your benefits, and ensure you use the most lucrative Crown and Anchor Society perks during your sailing so you can reap the best rewards!

#34 Eat at specialty restaurants for lunch to save money

Couple dining at Giovannis

Some specialty restaurants will cost less if you eat there for lunch.

Regardless of which day you choose, some specialty restaurants offer a lunch discount compared to dinner.

The menu can vary from lunch to dinner, but the experience is still the same. Any money saved is always welcome!

Two restaurants that always offer a cheaper lunch price than dinner are Chops Grille and Giovanni's Italian Kitchen. In most cases, you should be able to save at least $10 per person compared to dinner (if not more).

#35 Sign up your kids for Adventure Ocean on the first day

Adventure Ocean with kids

Save time on your cruise by getting your kids signed up for Royal Caribbean's complimentary kids programming on the first day of the cruise.

Adventure Ocean will be open on the first evening of your cruise, but they have an open house on embarkation day in the afternoon too.

The open house is when you can go to meet the staff, register your kids, and ask any questions.

This is not only a great opportunity for your kids to become familiar with the kids club, but also save time later so all you have to do when the club opens up is drop them off and be done. Too many parents are unaware of the open house and waste time signing their kids up as the evening session is set to begin.

#36 You can shower in the gym

Fitness Center

If your stateroom shower is occupied by a family member, you could go to the gym and shower there instead.

Royal Caribbean's fitness center has separate showers for men and women that is complimentary to use. In fact, most people don't use these showers, so there's a good chance they are unoccupied when you would need it, especially in the evening.

#37 Put your phone into airplane mode

Avoid a huge cell phone bill by putting your phone into airplane mode while on your cruise.

A really common mistake is for passengers to leave their phone on like normal, and come home to a monster bill because of hefty roaming charges. Even if you have an international cell phone plan, cruise ship cellular coverage is rarely included.

In order to avoid having your phone try to use its cellular connection, all modern phones have an ability to turn off its cellular signal by enabling something called, "airplane mode."

By enabling airplane mode, your phone is incapable of using its cellular antenna.  It can, however, still use its WiFi and Bluetooth connections to stay connected, if you so choose.

Just turn airplane mode once you get onboard the ship.

This means you can still be on Royal Caribbean's wifi and use the app, but avoid a huge bill.

#38 Don't book a cabin under or above public areas

Grand Suite on Liberty of the Seas

Want to know one of the best tips for avoiding the worst cruise ship cabins? Don't book a cabin one deck above or below a public space, such as a pool, dining room, or bar.

Before you book a room, look at the ship's deck plans and look what is above and below your stateroom.  Ideally, you want other staterooms on either deck and not public venues like pools, restaurants or other public venues.

#39 Don't double tip


Tipping hard working crew members is a must-do, but double check the bill that it's not already included.

When you purchase a drink at a bar, a service at the spa, or almost anything else onboard, there's likely an automatic gratuity included with your bill.

When you get the receipt to sign, look for the line item that indicates if an automatic 18% gratuity is already included.  If it is, you should feel confident that the proper gratuity is being given to that crew member.

#40 You can re-book on your cruise for extra onboard credit

NextCruise sign

The NextCruise office offers incentives to book another cruise while you're still onboard.

The price of the cruise is the same whether you book at home or onboard.  The difference is booking onboard will get you extra onboard credit and reduced deposit.  

You can actually get hundreds of dollars of onboard credit by simply booking onboard, but the exact amount depends on how long a sailing you book and in which stateroom category.

Inside cabin on Icon of the Seas

Moreover, the onboard credit is stackable with other discounts Royal Caribbean is offering at the time!

If you're reading this at home, you're still better off booking a cruise now, rather than waiting to book onboard your ship.  The reason is Royal Caribbean cruise fares are very erratic, and can change at a moment's notice.

If you wait weeks or months to book a cruise onboard, the price of the cruise may increase and negate any savings you'd receive from the extra onboard credit.

Ideally, you'll book a cruise at NextCruise while on a sailing when struck with the inspiration to book another cruise.  But if you're at home, it's still a good idea to book as early as you can to lock in the lowest price.

Your Tips!

I would love to hear your tips and tricks! Share them in our comments on this post.